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Neoliberals has amazingly elaborate set of myths. Successfully competing with Marxism and Trotskyism in this respect. It also creates its special "neoliberal-speak" a language for indoctrinated, much like "Marxism-speak" in the USSR. Among them
|Our work will be guided by a shared belief that market principles,
open trade and investment regimes, and effectively regulated financial markets
foster the dynamism, innovation, and entrepreneurship that are essential
for economic growth, employment, and poverty reduction. […]
We recognize that these reforms will only be successful if grounded in a commitment to free market principles, including the rule of law, respect for private property, open trade and investment, competitive markets, and efficient, effectively regulated financial systems. These principles are essential to economic growth and prosperity and have lifted millions out of poverty, and have significantly raised the global standard of living.
Recognizing the necessity to improve financial sector regulation, we must avoid over-regulation that would hamper economic growth and exacerbate the contraction of capital flows, including to developing countries. We underscore the critical importance of rejecting protectionism and not turning inward in times of financial uncertainty.
-Declaration from the G-20 Washington Summit 2008
Amid the burgeoning financial crisis, the Group of Twenty (G-20) met in 2008 for the Washington Summit, attended by then President Rodríguez Zapatero of the ruling Socialist party (PSOE), where the world’s wealthiest nations called for concerted international cooperation to reform the financial sector, favorable to reviving global flows of capital.
The many points identified in the declaration (the need to strengthen transparency and accountability, enhance regulation, promote integrity in the financial markets, reform international financial institutions, and foster prudential oversight and risk management), may have been a legible indicator that the world’s leading economic powers were coming to terms with the responsibility of unethical business practices and systemic flaws, among other factors, in the successive tumbling of international markets in a domino effect ( Declaration of the Summit ).
Yet, despite the different nuances of policy positions in the European Union at large, political and financial powers have upheld structural reform as the basis from which to pursue deeper austerity measures and labor reforms that favor precarity, thereby dismantling the welfare state and social rights in Spain under the aegis of neoliberal reform. In the neoliberal policies of the EU, reducing the deficit by cutting public expenditures on social measures (on public healthcare, education, pensions, social programs, and so on) while leaving others untouched (investments in private enterprise, the military, national security programs, and so on) has been expressed, and indeed imposed, as part of the only solution to the crisis in Spain, as elsewhere. According to this logic, as the G-20 declaration asserts, greater competition, private investments, and the surveillance and tempered regulation of the free market. In sum, free market activity with minimal state intervention, as deemed necessary equate directly to greater opportunity, entrepreneurship, and prosperity that deliver poverty reduction and a higher standard of living on a global scale. And yet, in extensive literature on the effects of neoliberal policies in general and of austerity in particular, nothing could be farther from the social reality experienced by world populations, as these reforms have correlated to greater inequality, unrest, disease, and mortality.In the forging of its myth, neoliberal policies are asserted by the G-20 as providing a better quality of life for all. On what bases is the claim made that a higher standard of living follows naturally from austerity and the "flexibilization" of labor, among other neoliberal reforms? Myth, writes Roland Barthes, bears an ideological mechanics that ‘naturalizes’ its constructed character in order to assert and legitimize itself as truth. Exemplified in
Barthes’ reading of a magazine photograph in which a soldier of African descent salutes the French flag, myth produces a sleight of hand here, forged from an image of colonial subservience to the French Empire that collapses the signified into a signifier
These reforms have proved historically “damaging [to] the welfare of the common people in those countries, causing enormous suffering,” writes Vicenç Navarro. “[T]hese policies had consequences for the welfare and quality of life of ordinary people, creating death, disease, and social unrest” (“The IMF’s Mea Culpa?”).
Also see Basu and Stuckler; Blyth; Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism ; and Lustig and her contributors, to name a few. by reducing its connotative meaning into a self-evident truth: “that France is a great Empire, that all her sons, without any color discrimination, faithfully serve under her flag, and that there is no better answer to the detractors of an alleged colonialism than the zeal shown by this Negro [ sic] in serving his so-called oppressors” ( Mythologies 116). By attributing the constructed character of presumptions to nature, myth may become an accomplice to legitimize power relations by forging an alibi. Here, to the ‘natural order’ of the cultural (and ethnic) ‘ superiority ’ of the metropolis and its right to (military) rule over the colonial subject, demonstrated in the subordinate’s allegiance to the empire. In this sense, as in Barthes’ s reading, myth may adopt or invert the arguments of its opposition, despite the lack of veracity in its production of meanings or claims. “Myth is a value, truth is no guarantee for it; nothing prevents it from being a perpetual alibi: it is enough that its signifier has two sides for it always to have an ‘elsewhere’ at its disposal”— an elsewhere which Barthes locates in the empire’s benevolent intentions as its alibi to implicit racial subordination and colonial oppression (123). Thereby myth becomes indisputable material if its alibi is taken literally, at once passing itself off as a natural order that has always been and that bears a malleable disposition to be appropriated in further myth-making, say, in Barthes’ s reading, at the service of imperial power and its legitimacy of rule. Let us return then to the assertion that neoliberal governmentality delivers greater good on a global scale.The myth that neoliberalism produces poverty reduction and social wellbeing for all has become an alibi for the dismantling of the welfare state in Spain and with it, an accomplice to the dismantling of social rights, on the one hand, and to the channeling of state coffers into private interests to the benefit of banks, financial institutions, and private business, on the other. Such a polemic has been flagged by economist Vicenç Navarro, who argues that Spain’s ‘ oft’ multi-billion euro bailout from the European Central Bank (ECB) does not alleviate the crisis of credit-lending in Spain, as this capital is destined for Spanish banks to pay off interest on loans from European financial institutions abroad, while the Spanish state incurs this burden of debt, on the one hand, and must also adopt austerity policies to dismantle social welfare programs, on the other (“The Euro Is Not in Trouble”). Public funds, in other words, are redirected to private interests in neoliberal practice at the expense of labor
“If I focus on a full signifier, in which I clearly distinguish the meaning and the form, and consequently the distortion which the one imposes on the other, I undo the signification of the myth, and I receive the latter as an imposture” (128). See Roland Barthes,
As Navarro notes, the ECB and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have placed conditions on Spain’s eligibility to receive financial assistance by urging the government to pursue measures that would increase the flexibility of labor, reduce public expenditures on pensions, and privatize the welfare state — in sum, to deepen neoliberal reforms (“The Euro Is Not in Trouble”).
One form of what David Harvey calls the “accumulation by dispossession” of capital, these measures entail the “reversion to the private domain of common property rights won through past class struggles (the right to a state pension, to welfare, or to national health care),” which often, if not exclusively, benefit the greatest fortunes at the expense of social programs (“The ‘New’ Imperialism” 75).
That is, where the private accumulation of capital reaches its limits of projected growth, the sustainability of a given enterprise must be secured through dispossession, through takeovers, expropriation, the payment of private debts from public funds, and so on. However, one should not presume that these reforms are adopted coercively alone, as government officials in Spain’s predominant left and right parties (PSOE and PP, respectively) have welcomed likeminded policies, historically, in order to meet the accords for Spain’s adhesion to the European Union after the Maastricht Treaty of 1992.
Amid neoliberal governance, contemporary times have witnessed the rise of new transnational actors and financial players. The state, in other words, experiences a crisis of sovereignty for its accentuated lack of autonomous decision-making on fiscal and labor matters, in which government officials and policy-makers often succumb to corporate, banking, and financial interests beyond the state, and sometimes do so voluntarily. This circumstance is not new, however, nor is it unique to Spain. In the 1970s, foreign credit lending from financial institutions in the United States would wield powerful leverage to reshape strategically the economic policies of indebted countries.
As David Harvey notes, after Mexico was pushed into default on its debt to New York financial institutions in 1982-84, this circumstance provided the test case for the IMF and United States government to work in concert to demand neoliberal reforms of Mexico towards greater labor flexibility (the deregulation of labor protections for workers), free market laws, and privatization (, 28-31). Echoing the test case of Mexico, today the European Commission (EC), the IMF, and the ECB, known popularly as the Troika, have urged the European member states of intervened economies to pursue further neoliberal “structural adjustments”
Apr 11, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
Galluses , 11 Apr 2019 07:26What has been very noticeable about the development of bureaucracy in the public and private spheres over the last 40 years (since Thatcher govt of 79) has been the way systems are designed now to place responsibility and culpability on the workers delivering the services - Teachers, Nurses, social workers, etc. While those making the policies, passing the laws, overseeing the regulations- viz. the people 'at the top', now no longer take the rap when something goes wrong- they may be the Captain of their particular ship, but the responsibility now rests with the man sweeping the decks. Instead they are covered by tying up in knots those teachers etc. having to fill in endless check lists and reports, which have as much use as clicking 'yes' one has understood those long legal terms provided by software companies.... yet are legally binding. So how the hell do we get out of this mess? By us as individuals uniting through unions or whatever and saying NO. No to your dumb educational directives, No to your cruel welfare policies, No to your stupid NHS mismanagement.... there would be a lot of No's but eventually we could say collectively 'Yes I did the right thing'.promisingproper -> Dianeandguy , 11 Apr 2019 08:00Staff distress? Cleaning ( in another county) was privatised to make profit in Thatcher times.The work of two cleaners became the task of one person. Extra duties were loaded on -serving meals and drinks, fetching blankets and equipment. Wages dropped by a small degree -but important when we ere earning, say, £65 a week. Indemnity/insurance against catching infections was withdrawn. Firstly owned by Jeyes and then sold on to Rentokill ,obviously good for shareholders. A new 'manager' appeared with their own office.fairshares -> rjb04tony , 11 Apr 2019 07:17'The left wing dialogue about neoliberalism used to be that it was the Wild West and that anything goes. Now apparently it's a machine of mass control.'
It is the Wild West and anything goes for the corporate entities, and a machine of control of the masses. Hence the wish of neoliberals to remove legislation that protects workers and consumers.
Apr 10, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
mirotto -> ID7696310, 10 Apr 2019 17:26No-one.
They're businesses, therefore by definition efficient and responsible. Haha.
The assessment and monitoring are for the little people - teachers and children, as they can't be trusted.
Apr 10, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
penelo , 10 Apr 2019 20:43Quantomania -- this is the word I have been needing for some time now! So much better than having to say "obsession with quantity" all the time.
Would it be useful to add quantism and quantist too? Maybe even quantistic and quantistical ?
Apr 10, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
izaakwalton , 11 Apr 2019 00:55As someone who thinks von Mises and Hayek made invaluable contributions to economics I was surprised to see such a ringing endorsement for Mises's ideas in the Guardian:
"Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd."
That is spot on. Yes, Mises thought that workers should no more be allowed to corner a market in labour than companies should be allowed to create monopolies in products, and this is certainly a point where he can be criticized. Using the name "neoliberal" to cover
such very different ideas as Milton's and Hayek's though is absurd - they had completely opposite ideas about vast government spending to recover from recession. Try looking up John James Cowperthwaite, who oversaw post-war development in Hong Kong by getting government out of the way.
He forbade the use of any performance targets of the type Blair brought in, and refused to compile GDP statistics, thinking the government would game them.
Both von Mises and Hayek would be horrified at the money printing of modern central banks, especially since 2008. To ascribe modern policy to their ideas is simply nonsense - they did not (as far as I know) ever suggest central control of interest rates , stock buying by central banks or saving a bank that has failed through fraud and greed.
If "neoliberalism" is our present dominant ideology, then please do not use the word to describe their work.
Apr 10, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
marshwren , 10 Apr 2019 22:29As a matter of semantics, neo-liberalism delivered on the promise of freedom...for capitalists to be free of ethical accountability, social responsibility, and government regulation and taxes...
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
economicalternative , 11 Apr 2019 20:42Finally. A writer who can talk about neoliberalism as NOT being a retro version of classical laissez faire liberalism. It is about imposing "The Market" as the sole arbiter of Truth on us all.
Only the 'Market' knows what is true in life - no need for 'democracy' or 'education'.
Neoliberals believe - unlike classical liberals with their view of people as rational individuals acting in their own self-interest - people are inherently 'unreliable', stupid.
Only entrepreneurs - those close to the market - can know 'the truth' about anything.
To succeed we all need to take our cues in life from what the market tells us. Neoliberalism is not about a 'small state'. The state is repurposed to impose the 'all knowing' market on everyone and everything. That is neoliberalism's political project. It is ultimately not about 'economics'.
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
HolyInsurgent -> GeorgeMonbiot , 5 Mar 2012 22:44
But the world didn't work like that, and the people who didn't fit had to be shoved under the wheel of history.
This is a remarkably similar summation of Rand's worldview of entire classes of people: if you are poor, you deserve it. Expect nothing from the State to raise you from the cycle of poverty. The State is evil and should be eliminated. No evil can come from the Business Culture (or more accurately the Business Cult). The U.S. Republican worldview summed up right there.
The only sane response to Ayn Rand is the creation of the Human Values Project , where creating a better world for all is its manifesto and mandate.
Many thanks for the article. The Right keep erecting her on a pedestal and saying her ideas are infallible like the Pope. She can't be pulled down off that pedestal enough times.
Apr 12, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
wariquari -> Pushers11 , 12 Apr 2019 16:56Your claim is not that people decide rights via participation in political process (social contract), it is that there are universal natural individual rights that cannot be violated based in... something; there is no negotiability like there is with the social contract. Your apparantly foundationless rights cannot be changed by political process - so where do they come from?Pushers11 -> wariquari , 12 Apr 2019 10:44
Your claim is that some quality of people grants immutable rights, not that rights are decided by people. Are you of the strain that thinks we should be allowed to starve our kids (Rothbard)? Or that non-capitalist societies are fair game to be killed and enslaved, to have thier land put to 'better' use (Locke)? Perhaps that latter one underlies the feeling that it would be easy to up sticks and move to some undefined piece of land.
You have changed the nice things you listed now, you said maternity leave/pay, weekends, etc. Those were granted by collective potitical action, not the generosity of the capitalists. If Jeff Bezos could hire 1st graders he obviously would.
So you having to leave because you don't wamt to participate in tax paying is coercion, but people having to leave because they don't want to live under Libertarianism isn't?
Incidentally, which countries at the top of the PISA or OECD rankings do not have massive state education?
As for Hong Kong, its entire existence is predicated on extreme acts of aggression by the British. The opium trade and its profits started the ball rolling after an aggressive war. The Hong Kong authority also owns most of the land, leasing it; they therefore have massive influence on who gets what and what they do with it - more so than most other nations.
"As you are free to leave, no individual state institution is is forcing you to participate under pain of violence. If the fact you have no place to go that does not take tax means that you are coerced, then someone who cannot live but by participation in free-market capitalism would also be coerced into participation"
I think we won't agree on this because we have a fundamentally different understanding of coercion. The way I see it, I should not have a leave the place I live in to not have coercive action taking away my money. I should be able to say, no thanks. It is the difference between my willingly purchasing something and a mugger taking my money at gunpoint. The State is the gun. Always has been, always will be. And yes, there is a place for the gun in society - defence - but not in extorting money from peaceful people.
And people can and do live without being part of the capitalist system. They can live off the land. They can set up communes. They can use a barter system if they want. Capitalism just gives people more opportunities, but they can opt out if they want. Or move to a place that doesn't have capitalism, like many places in Africa or South America or Cuba. Funny who must people try to leave those places though. Millions do not flock there. They do the other way round.
"In your opinion."
Yes, true. In my opinion. But I have backed that opinion up with a well reasoned argument for my position. It didn't just come out of thin air. It comes from recognising the nature of government is force, violence and coercion. Again, it is the gun in society. And in my opinion, I think it is wrong, immoral and will always lead to bad outcomes to use the gun to solve societies more tricky problems. And we can clearly see the bad results of public / State education, socialised healthcare, welfare, government involvement in the economy, etc, etc, etc. All do badly.
"Did I? I didn't sign up before birth to participate, and I have no other options but to participate or die."
You have other options, as previously mentioned. Live off the land, move to a non-capitalist country, set up a commune, etc.
"Still unsure upon what these rights are based. The mere fact that people can reason does not necessarily instill or ground right."
Where else can they come from? If you say "government". Well when does government get its power and decide on your rights? From the people that make up government. So we are back to people again.
"You tell us elsewhere that we don't really have capitalism, the state and other actors dominate and fiddle etc. Now you clam capitalism has provided all these nice things* - pick one."
No. It is not a case of picking one. It is not an "either / or" situation. Economic freedom and economic oppression exist on a sliding scale. You have more free economies, like the US (especially prior to 1913) and you have less free economies, like the USSR or Cuba. The parts of freedom we have, give us the good stuff, gives us innovation and allows society to grow richer and lift more people out of poverty. The more bad stuff that gets involved, the less we have, the more society stagnates. The USSR was a lot poorer and dirtier (environmentally) and had a lot more famine and waste because it was highly centrally controlled.
"So it had nothing to do with quasi-British authorities selling narcotics to mainland China then?"
Not much. There may have been some of that but nowhere near enough to explain the explosion of wealth in HK.
Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com
PSmd , 6 Mar 2012 09:35@silverwhistle
We ARE social animals. Which is why I laugh when I hear right-wing opinions compared to the laws of the jungle. As far as I can gather, in the jungle, there are no such things as property laws, inheritance, land enclosure, or indeed money! Humanity's development is as socialised societies, with surpluses, consent, and so on.
And there has never been free-market capitalism. A misnomer if ever there was one.
Apr 11, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
mi Griffin , 11 Apr 2019 01:152 simple points that epitomize neo liberalism.
1. Hayek's book 'The Road to Serfdom' uses an erroneous metaphor. He argues that if we allow gov regulation, services and spending to continue then we will end up serfs. However, serfs are basically the indentured or slave labourers of private citizens and landowners not of the state. Only in a system of private capital can there be serfs. Neo liberalism creates serfs not a public system.
2. According to Hayek all regulation on business should be eliminated and only labour should be regulated to make it cheap and contain it so that private investors can have their returns guaranteed. Hence the purpose of the state is to pass laws to suppress workers.
These two things illustrate neo-liberalism. Deception and repression of labour.
Jun 19, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. This post describes how the forces driving the US suicide surge started well before the Trump era, but explains how Trump has not only refused to acknowledge the problem, but has made matters worse.
However, it's not as if the Democrats are embracing this issue either.
BY Rajan Menon, the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Professor of International Relations at the Powell School, City College of New York, and Senior Research Fellow at Columbia University's Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. His latest book is The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention Originally published at TomDispatch .
We hear a lot about suicide when celebrities like Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade die by their own hand. Otherwise, it seldom makes the headlines. That's odd given the magnitude of the problem.
In 2017, 47,173 Americans killed themselves. In that single year, in other words, the suicide count was nearly seven times greater than the number of American soldiers killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars between 2001 and 2018.
A suicide occurs in the United States roughly once every 12 minutes . What's more, after decades of decline, the rate of self-inflicted deaths per 100,000 people annually -- the suicide rate -- has been increasing sharply since the late 1990s. Suicides now claim two-and-a-half times as many lives in this country as do homicides , even though the murder rate gets so much more attention.
In other words, we're talking about a national epidemic of self-inflicted deaths.
Anyone who has lost a close relative or friend to suicide or has worked on a suicide hotline (as I have) knows that statistics transform the individual, the personal, and indeed the mysterious aspects of that violent act -- Why this person? Why now? Why in this manner? -- into depersonalized abstractions. Still, to grasp how serious the suicide epidemic has become, numbers are a necessity.
According to a 2018 Centers for Disease Control study , between 1999 and 2016, the suicide rate increased in every state in the union except Nevada, which already had a remarkably high rate. In 30 states, it jumped by 25% or more; in 17, by at least a third. Nationally, it increased 33% . In some states the upsurge was far higher: North Dakota (57.6%), New Hampshire (48.3%), Kansas (45%), Idaho (43%).
Alas, the news only gets grimmer.
Since 2008 , suicide has ranked 10th among the causes of death in this country. For Americans between the ages of 10 and 34, however, it comes in second; for those between 35 and 45, fourth. The United States also has the ninth-highest rate in the 38-country Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Globally , it ranks 27th.
More importantly, the trend in the United States doesn't align with what's happening elsewhere in the developed world. The World Health Organization, for instance, reports that Great Britain, Canada, and China all have notably lower suicide rates than the U.S., as do all but six countries in the European Union. (Japan's is only slightly lower.)
World Bank statistics show that, worldwide, the suicide rate fell from 12.8 per 100,000 in 2000 to 10.6 in 2016. It's been falling in China , Japan (where it has declined steadily for nearly a decade and is at its lowest point in 37 years), most of Europe, and even countries like South Korea and Russia that have a significantly higher suicide rate than the United States. In Russia, for instance, it has dropped by nearly 26% from a high point of 42 per 100,000 in 1994 to 31 in 2019.
We know a fair amount about the patterns of suicide in the United States. In 2017, the rate was highest for men between the ages of 45 and 64 (30 per 100,000) and those 75 and older (39.7 per 100,000).
The rates in rural counties are almost double those in the most urbanized ones, which is why states like Idaho, Kansas, New Hampshire, and North Dakota sit atop the suicide list. Furthermore, a far higher percentage of people in rural states own guns than in cities and suburbs, leading to a higher rate of suicide involving firearms, the means used in half of all such acts in this country.
There are gender-based differences as well. From 1999 to 2017, the rate for men was substantially higher than for women -- almost four-and-a-half times higher in the first of those years, slightly more than three-and-a-half times in the last.
Education is also a factor. The suicide rate is lowest among individuals with college degrees. Those who, at best, completed high school are, by comparison, twice as likely to kill themselves. Suicide rates also tend to be lower among people in higher-income brackets.
The Economics of Stress
This surge in the suicide rate has taken place in years during which the working class has experienced greater economic hardship and psychological stress. Increased competition from abroad and outsourcing, the results of globalization, have contributed to job loss, particularly in economic sectors like manufacturing, steel, and mining that had long been mainstays of employment for such workers. The jobs still available often paid less and provided fewer benefits.
Technological change, including computerization, robotics, and the coming of artificial intelligence, has similarly begun to displace labor in significant ways, leaving Americans without college degrees, especially those 50 and older, in far more difficult straits when it comes to finding new jobs that pay well. The lack of anything resembling an industrial policy of a sort that exists in Europe has made these dislocations even more painful for American workers, while a sharp decline in private-sector union membership -- down from nearly 17% in 1983 to 6.4% today -- has reduced their ability to press for higher wages through collective bargaining.
Furthermore, the inflation-adjusted median wage has barely budged over the last four decades (even as CEO salaries have soared). And a decline in worker productivity doesn't explain it: between 1973 and 2017 productivity increased by 77%, while a worker's average hourly wage only rose by 12.4%. Wage stagnation has made it harder for working-class Americans to get by, let alone have a lifestyle comparable to that of their parents or grandparents.
The gap in earnings between those at the top and bottom of American society has also increased -- a lot. Since 1979, the wages of Americans in the 10th percentile increased by a pitiful 1.2%. Those in the 50th percentile did a bit better, making a gain of 6%. By contrast, those in the 90th percentile increased by 34.3% and those near the peak of the wage pyramid -- the top 1% and especially the rarefied 0.1% -- made far more substantial gains.
And mind you, we're just talking about wages, not other forms of income like large stock dividends, expensive homes, or eyepopping inheritances. The share of net national wealth held by the richest 0.1% increased from 10% in the 1980s to 20% in 2016. By contrast, the share of the bottom 90% shrank in those same decades from about 35% to 20%. As for the top 1%, by 2016 its share had increased to almost 39% .
The precise relationship between economic inequality and suicide rates remains unclear, and suicide certainly can't simply be reduced to wealth disparities or financial stress. Still, strikingly, in contrast to the United States, suicide rates are noticeably lower and have been declining in Western European countries where income inequalities are far less pronounced, publicly funded healthcare is regarded as a right (not demonized as a pathway to serfdom), social safety nets far more extensive, and apprenticeships and worker retraining programs more widespread.
Evidence from the United States , Brazil , Japan , and Sweden does indicate that, as income inequality increases, so does the suicide rate. If so, the good news is that progressive economic policies -- should Democrats ever retake the White House and the Senate -- could make a positive difference. A study based on state-by-state variations in the U.S. found that simply boosting the minimum wage and Earned Income Tax Credit by 10% appreciably reduces the suicide rate among people without college degrees.
The Race Enigma
One aspect of the suicide epidemic is puzzling. Though whites have fared far better economically (and in many other ways) than African Americans, their suicide rate is significantly higher . It increased from 11.3 per 100,000 in 2000 to 15.85 per 100,000 in 2017; for African Americans in those years the rates were 5.52 per 100,000 and 6.61 per 100,000. Black men are 10 times more likely to be homicide victims than white men, but the latter are two-and-half times more likely to kill themselves.
The higher suicide rate among whites as well as among people with only a high school diploma highlights suicide's disproportionate effect on working-class whites. This segment of the population also accounts for a disproportionate share of what economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton have labeled " deaths of despair " -- those caused by suicides plus opioid overdoses and liver diseases linked to alcohol abuse. Though it's hard to offer a complete explanation for this, economic hardship and its ripple effects do appear to matter.
According to a study by the St. Louis Federal Reserve , the white working class accounted for 45% of all income earned in the United States in 1990, but only 27% in 2016. In those same years, its share of national wealth plummeted, from 45% to 22%. And as inflation-adjusted wages have decreased for men without college degrees, many white workers seem to have lost hope of success of any sort. Paradoxically, the sense of failure and the accompanying stress may be greater for white workers precisely because they traditionally were much better off economically than their African American and Hispanic counterparts.
In addition, the fraying of communities knit together by employment in once-robust factories and mines has increased social isolation among them, and the evidence that it -- along with opioid addiction and alcohol abuse -- increases the risk of suicide is strong . On top of that, a significantly higher proportion of whites than blacks and Hispanics own firearms, and suicide rates are markedly higher in states where gun ownership is more widespread.
Trump's Faux Populism
The large increase in suicide within the white working class began a couple of decades before Donald Trump's election. Still, it's reasonable to ask what he's tried to do about it, particularly since votes from these Americans helped propel him to the White House. In 2016, he received 64% of the votes of whites without college degrees; Hillary Clinton, only 28%. Nationwide, he beat Clinton in counties where deaths of despair rose significantly between 2000 and 2015.
White workers will remain crucial to Trump's chances of winning in 2020. Yet while he has spoken about, and initiated steps aimed at reducing, the high suicide rate among veterans , his speeches and tweets have never highlighted the national suicide epidemic or its inordinate impact on white workers. More importantly, to the extent that economic despair contributes to their high suicide rate, his policies will only make matters worse.
The real benefits from the December 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act championed by the president and congressional Republicans flowed to those on the top steps of the economic ladder. By 2027, when the Act's provisions will run out, the wealthiest Americans are expected to have captured 81.8% of the gains. And that's not counting the windfall they received from recent changes in taxes on inheritances. Trump and the GOP doubled the annual amount exempt from estate taxes -- wealth bequeathed to heirs -- through 2025 from $5.6 million per individual to $11.2 million (or $22.4 million per couple). And who benefits most from this act of generosity? Not workers, that's for sure, but every household with an estate worth $22 million or more will.
As for job retraining provided by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the president proposed cutting that program by 40% in his 2019 budget, later settling for keeping it at 2017 levels. Future cuts seem in the cards as long as Trump is in the White House. The Congressional Budget Office projects that his tax cuts alone will produce even bigger budget deficits in the years to come. (The shortfall last year was $779 billion and it is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2020.) Inevitably, the president and congressional Republicans will then demand additional reductions in spending for social programs.
This is all the more likely because Trump and those Republicans also slashed corporate taxes from 35% to 21% -- an estimated $1.4 trillion in savings for corporations over the next decade. And unlike the income tax cut, the corporate tax has no end date . The president assured his base that the big bucks those companies had stashed abroad would start flowing home and produce a wave of job creation -- all without adding to the deficit. As it happens, however, most of that repatriated cash has been used for corporate stock buy-backs, which totaled more than $800 billion last year. That, in turn, boosted share prices, but didn't exactly rain money down on workers. No surprise, of course, since the wealthiest 10% of Americans own at least 84% of all stocks and the bottom 60% have less than 2% of them.
And the president's corporate tax cut hasn't produced the tsunami of job-generating investments he predicted either. Indeed, in its aftermath, more than 80% of American companies stated that their plans for investment and hiring hadn't changed. As a result, the monthly increase in jobs has proven unremarkable compared to President Obama's second term, when the economic recovery that Trump largely inherited began. Yes, the economy did grow 2.3% in 2017 and 2.9% in 2018 (though not 3.1% as the president claimed). There wasn't, however, any "unprecedented economic boom -- a boom that has rarely been seen before" as he insisted in this year's State of the Union Address .
Anyway, what matters for workers struggling to get by is growth in real wages, and there's nothing to celebrate on that front: between 2017 and mid-2018 they actually declined by 1.63% for white workers and 2.5% for African Americans, while they rose for Hispanics by a measly 0.37%. And though Trump insists that his beloved tariff hikes are going to help workers, they will actually raise the prices of goods, hurting the working class and other low-income Americans the most .
Then there are the obstacles those susceptible to suicide face in receiving insurance-provided mental-health care. If you're a white worker without medical coverage or have a policy with a deductible and co-payments that are high and your income, while low, is too high to qualify for Medicaid, Trump and the GOP haven't done anything for you. Never mind the president's tweet proclaiming that "the Republican Party Will Become 'The Party of Healthcare!'"
Let me amend that: actually, they have done something. It's just not what you'd call helpful. The percentage of uninsured adults, which fell from 18% in 2013 to 10.9% at the end of 2016, thanks in no small measure to Obamacare , had risen to 13.7% by the end of last year.
The bottom line? On a problem that literally has life-and-death significance for a pivotal portion of his base, Trump has been AWOL. In fact, to the extent that economic strain contributes to the alarming suicide rate among white workers, his policies are only likely to exacerbate what is already a national crisis of epidemic proportions.
Seamus Padraig , June 19, 2019 at 6:46 am
Trump has neglected his base on pretty much every issue; this one's no exception.
DanB , June 19, 2019 at 8:55 am
Trump is running on the claim that he's turned the economy around; addressing suicide undermines this (false) claim. To state the obvious, NC readers know that Trump is incapable of caring about anyone or anything beyond his in-the-moment interpretation of his self-interest.
JCC , June 19, 2019 at 9:25 am
Not just Trump. Most of the Republican Party and much too many Democrats have also abandoned this base, otherwise known as working class Americans.
The economic facts are near staggering and this article has done a nice job of summarizing these numbers that are spread out across a lot of different sites.
I've experienced this rise within my own family and probably because of that fact I'm well aware that Trump is only a symptom of an entire political system that has all but abandoned it's core constituency, the American Working Class.
sparagmite , June 19, 2019 at 10:13 am
Yep It's not just Trump. The author mentions this, but still focuses on him for some reason. Maybe accurately attributing the problems to a failed system makes people feel more hopeless. Current nihilists in Congress make it their duty to destroy once helpful institutions in the name of "fiscal responsibility," i.e., tax cuts for corporate elites.
dcblogger , June 19, 2019 at 12:20 pm
Maybe because Trump is president and bears the greatest responsibility in this particular time. A great piece and appreciate all the documentation.
Svante , June 19, 2019 at 7:00 am
I'd assumed, the "working class" had dissappeared, back during Reagan's Miracle? We'd still see each other, sitting dazed on porches & stoops of rented old places they'd previously; trying to garden, fix their car while smoking, drinking or dazed on something? Those able to morph into "middle class" lives, might've earned substantially less, especially benefits and retirement package wise. But, a couple decades later, it was their turn, as machines and foreigners improved productivity. You could lease a truck to haul imported stuff your kids could sell to each other, or help robots in some warehouse, but those 80s burger flipping, rent-a-cop & repo-man gigs dried up. Your middle class pals unemployable, everybody in PayDay Loan debt (without any pay day in sight?) SHTF Bug-out bags® & EZ Credit Bushmasters began showing up at yard sales, even up North. Opioids became the religion of the proletariat Whites simply had much farther to fall, more equity for our betters to steal. And it was damned near impossible to get the cops to shoot you?
Man, this just ain't turning out as I'd hoped. Need coffee!
Svante , June 19, 2019 at 7:55 am
We especially love the euphemism "Deaths O' Despair." since it works so well on a Chyron, especially supered over obese crackers waddling in crusty MossyOak™ Snuggies®
DanB , June 19, 2019 at 9:29 am
This is a very good article, but I have a comment about the section titled, "The Race Enigma." I think the key to understanding why African Americans have a lower suicide rate lies in understanding the sociological notion of community, and the related concept Emil Durkheim called social solidarity. This sense of solidarity and community among African Americans stands in contrast to the "There is no such thing as society" neoliberal zeitgeist that in fact produces feelings of extreme isolation, failure, and self-recriminations. An aside: as a white boy growing up in 1950s-60s Detroit I learned that if you yearned for solidarity and community what you had to do was to hang out with black people.
Amfortas the hippie , June 19, 2019 at 2:18 pm
" if you yearned for solidarity and community what you had to do was to hang out with black people."
amen, to that. in my case rural black people.
and I'll add Hispanics to that.
My wife's extended Familia is so very different from mine.
Solidarity/Belonging is cool.
I recommend it.
on the article we keep the scanner on("local news").we had a 3-4 year rash of suicides and attempted suicides(determined by chisme, or deduction) out here.
all of them were despair related more than half correlated with meth addiction itself a despair related thing.
ours were equally male/female, and across both our color spectrum.
that leaves economics/opportunity/just being able to get by as the likely cause.
David B Harrison , June 19, 2019 at 10:05 am
What's left out here is the vast majority of these suicides are men.
Christy , June 19, 2019 at 1:53 pm
Actually, in the article it states:
"There are gender-based differences as well. From 1999 to 2017, the rate for men was substantially higher than for women -- almost four-and-a-half times higher in the first of those years, slightly more than three-and-a-half times in the last."
jrs , June 19, 2019 at 1:58 pm
which in some sense makes despair the wrong word, as females are actually quite a bit more likely to be depressed for instance, but much less likely to "do the deed". Despair if we mean a certain social context maybe, but not just a psychological state.
Ex-Pralite Monk , June 19, 2019 at 10:10 am
You lay off the racial slur "cracker" and I'll lay off the racial slur "nigger". Deal?
rd , June 19, 2019 at 10:53 am
Suicide deaths are a function of the suicide attempt rate and the efficacy of the method used. A unique aspect of the US is the prevalence of guns in the society and therefore the greatly increased usage of them in suicide attempts compared to other countries. Guns are a very efficient way of committing suicide with a very high "success" rate. As of 2010, half of US suicides were using a gun as opposed to other countries with much lower percentages. So if the US comes even close to other countries in suicide rates then the US will surpass them in deaths. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_methods#Firearms
Now we can add in opiates, especially fentanyl, that can be quite effective as well.
The economic crisis hitting middle America over the past 30 years has been quite focused on the states and populations that also tend to have high gun ownership rates. So suicide attempts in those populations have a high probability of "success".
Joe Well , June 19, 2019 at 11:32 am
I would just take this opportunity to add that the police end up getting called in to prevent on lot of suicide attempts, and just about every successful one.
In the face of so much blanket demonization of the police, along with justified criticism, it's important to remember that.
B:H , June 19, 2019 at 11:44 am
As someone who works in the mental health treatment system, acute inpatient psychiatry to be specific, I can say that of the 25 inpatients currently here, 11 have been here before, multiple times. And this is because of several issues, in my experience: inadequate inpatient resources, staff burnout, inadequate support once they leave the hospital, and the nature of their illnesses. It's a grim picture here and it's been this way for YEARS. Until MAJOR money is spent on this issue it's not going to get better. This includes opening more facilities for people to live in long term, instead of closing them, which has been the trend I've seen.
B:H , June 19, 2019 at 11:53 am
One last thing the CEO wants "asses in beds", aka census, which is the money maker. There's less profit if people get better and don't return. And I guess I wouldn't have a job either. Hmmmm: sickness generates wealth.
Jun 16, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
https://eus.rubiconproject.com/usync.html <img src="http://b.scorecardresearch.com/p?c1=2&c2=16807273&cv=2.0&cj=1" /> Economic Growth: A Short History of a Controversial Idea Posted on June 15, 2019 by Yves Smith By Gareth Dale, who teaches at Brunel University. He publishes occasionally in The Ecologist . This article includes passages from previously published texts, including 'The tide is rising, don't rock the boat!' Economic growth and the legitimation of inequality (2018), Seventeenth century origins of the growth paradigm (2017), and The growth paradigm: A critique (2012). Originally published at openDemocracy
The politics of economic growth are complex and contested as never before. In rich countries, rates of GDP growth have declined, decade after decade since the 1960s. The 2008 crash was deep, and the post-crisis recovery has been slow. This poses problems for governments, given that their 'performance legitimacy' requires some degree of popular approval of their perceived success in charting a growth path that satisfies the citizenry's demand for goods and services. Where growth is low and governments choose to respond with austerity programmes, these bring additional misery and hardship -- including tens of thousands of premature deaths in Britain alone .
In the same decades, growth scepticism has thrived. It takes two main forms: one highlights the impact of infinite growth on finite resources and on the natural environment. Recognition of the dangers of climate breakdown has transformed this debate – while mainstream opinion retains the traditional faith in growth, now refashioned as ' green growth ', the heretics are rallying to ' degrowth '.
The other emphasises the disconnect between growth and social well-being. The days are long gone when growth was seen as the fast track to general prosperity, as normal and natural as sunrise. It is well established that the relationship between growth and well-being is partial at best. Such a correlation does exist, but weakens after a certain point -- roughly speaking when per capita GDP exceeds $15,000. At higher levels, the translation of growth into improvements in health and well-being is tenuous. Other variables, notably levels of equality, are critical.
In combination, these developments have motivated the ' Beyond GDP ' agenda. Whether for reasons of growth scepticism or out of concern that if GDP growth remains slack governments' performance legitimacy will suffer too, political leaders, civil servants and academics -- among them Nicolas Sarkozy , Jacinda Ardern , Gus O'Donnell , Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen -- are promoting alternative yardsticks.
To assess these debates it helps to dig into the history and morphology of the 'growth paradigm' -- the belief that economic growth is good, imperative, essentially limitless, and the principal remedy for a litany of social problems – and ask the following: when and how did this paradigm originate?
From Rain Dance to Nasdaq
One response was offered in 1960 by Elias Canetti . In quasi-Nietzschean vein, he invoked a transhistorical 'will to grow'. Humans are always striving for more . Whether the parent monitoring her child's weight or the state official seeking to augment her power, or the community expanding its population, we all want growth. The desire to accumulate goods, the drive for economic growth, the wish for prosperity – they are all innate to human social being. Humans in groups are driven to seek increase: of their numbers, of the conditions of production, and of the products they require and desire. The very earliest homo sapiens sought the enlargement of their "own horde through a plentiful supply of children." And later, in the age of modern industrial production, the growth drive came into its own.
"If there is now one faith, it is faith in production, the modern frenzy of increase; and all the peoples of the world are succumbing to it one after the other. Every factory is a unit serving the same cult. What is new is the acceleration of the process. What in former days was generation and increase of expectancy, directed towards rain or corn, has today become production itself." A straight line runs from the rain dance to the Nasdaq.
But this is to confuse the wiring of our current economy with the wiring of the human brain. Canetti's 'will to grow' doesn't withstand scrutiny. The diverse behaviours he describes can't be reduced to a single logic. The 'will' behind creating babies is quite unlike the will to accumulate acreage or gold. And the latter is relatively recent. For much of the human story, societies were nomadic or semi-nomadic, and organised in immediate-return systems . Stashes of food were set aside to tide the group over for days or weeks, but long-term storage was impractical. The accumulation of possessions would hamper mobility. The measures that such societies used to reduce the risks of scarcity centred not on accumulating stores of goods but on knowledge of the environment, and interpersonal relationships (borrowing, sharing, and so on). The moral economy of sharing necessitates a muscular egalitarianism that is undermined by the accumulation of property.
Logics of accumulation -- and, in the loosest sense, growth -- were not initiated until the Neolithic revolution. Its technological and institutional transformations included settled agriculture and storage, class division, states, warfare and territoriality, and, later, the invention of money. Population growth joined with class exploitation and interstate competition to expand the sway of agrarian empires. Farmers enlarged the ploughlands, scholars penned proposals for improving the organisation of agriculture or trade, merchants amassed wealth, and rulers, seeking to enlarge population and tribute, extended their domains. Only now -- in the post-Neolithic age -- did gold achieve its fetish quality as the source and symbol of power.
Scour the documents from ancient civilisations and you'll find tales of competition for territory and the accumulation of property, but nothing that resembles the modern growth paradigm. No conception of 'an economy' that can grow, still less of one that tends to the infinite. And you'll find little, if any, notion of linear historical progress. Instead, cyclical cosmologies prevailed. A partial exception is the fourteenth century polymath, Ibn Khaldun . He developed a sophisticated analysis of growth dynamics. But his ideas weren't widely adopted, and his theory is cyclical: it describes negative feedback mechanisms that ensure any economic upticks will necessarily hit barriers and retreat.
When, then, did the modern growth paradigm originate -- and why?
The evolution of the growth paradigm was integrally connected to the capitalist system and its colonial thrusts. The basic link between the growth drive and capitalism is transparent. The latter is a system of competitive accumulation. The former, in suggesting that the system is natural and brings benefit also to the '99%', provides ideological cover in that growth serves as an idealised and democratised redescription of capital accumulation. But there's more to it than that. The capitalist transition was to a system of generalised commodity production, in which formal 'productive' economic activity takes the shape of commodities interacting through the price mechanism, in a regularised manner. If earlier political-economic thought had construed its subject as the affairs of the royal household, during the capitalist transition a new model emerged, with an interconnected market field posited as essentially outside the state.
In seventeenth-century England, just as the universe was being re-imagined by Newton et al as a machine determined by lawful regularities, the idea that economic behaviour follows natural laws became commonplace. By the close of the following century, Richard Cantillon had presented the market system as self-equilibrating, a machine that functions in a law-like manner; Quesnay's Tableau had depicted the economic system as a unified process of reproduction; Adam Smith had theorised the dynamics of economic growth; and philosophers (such as William Paley) had developed the creed that steady economic growth legitimates the social system and renders system-critical demands unnecessary and dangerous.
The same centuries experienced a revolution in statistics. In the England of 1600, the growth paradigm could scarcely have existed. No one knew the nation's income, or even its territory or population. By 1700 all these had been calculated , at least in some rough measure, and as new data arrived England's 'material progress' could be charted. Simultaneously, the usage of 'growth' had extended from the natural and concrete toward abstract phenomena: the growth of England's colonies in Virginia and Barbados, the ' growth of trade ,' and suchlike.
But the capitalist transition revolutionised much more than the formal economy and economic concepts. As land came to be regarded as a commodity-like object, the idea -- found to some degree in antiquity -- that nature exists to serve the purposes of landowners and is fundamentally external to human beings, gained definition. The early-modern regimes of abstract social labour and abstract social nature (i.e. the constitution of labour and nature as commodities) were sustained by the scientific revolution, and also by the construction of capitalist time . Over centuries, time became flattened into an abstract, infinite and divisible continuum, one that permitted economic life to be re-imagined as subject to continuous growth and cultivation . Morality was upended, too, most significantly in the discarding of the age-old proscriptions against acquisitiveness.
The more that economic activity came to be marshalled behind the imperatives of capital accumulation, the more it became subject to regimes of 'improvement' and quantification. In Jacobean and Cromwellian England, these practices and discourses proliferated. Agrarian-capitalist improvement was fuelled by scientific discoveries. These, in turn, were spurred on by the navigational and martial demands of explorers, freebooters and conquerors. European settlers in the New World not only exterminated and subjugated 'new' peoples, but turned to objectifying and cataloguing them, drawing comparisons with their own kind and 'improving' them. 'Improvement' and its theologically-intoxicated transplantation to colonial locations generated new data and new demands for detailed knowledge. How profitable is this tract of land, and its denizens? How can they be made more profitable ? Answering such questions was enabled by modern accounting techniques, with their sharper definition of such abstractions as profit and capital.
No surprise, then, that the first statistically rigorous accounting of the wealth of a country (as distinct from, say, a royal household) was conducted by a capitalist on a colonial mission . William Petty planted quantification at the heart of scientific economics, crafted to the purposes of English merchants and empire, and gaining ideological force from the sheen of objectivity with which economic statistics -- or 'political arithmetic' as he termed it -- comes coated. In his work the conquest of nature and the idea of nature as a machine, and of the economy as a productive engine, blended to produce a new concept of wealth as " resources and the productive power to harness them " in contrast to the mercantilist concept, centred on the accumulation of bullion.
Colonisation of the New World contributed powerfully to capital accumulation in Western Europe, but it also spurred Europe's philosophers to elaborate a racialised progress ideology . The question of what to make of the peoples encountered in the Americas, and what implications followed from their property arrangements, stimulated a new reading of the human story: a narrative of social progress. From the vantage point of the colonialists, if 'they' were at the primitive stage, had 'we' once occupied it too?
Centred on a mythical ladder that climbs up from barbarism to civilisation, the progress idea hammered the diversity of human populations into a single temporal-economic chain . By indexing the richer and higher-tech nations (and 'races') as history's vanguard, it justified their bossing of the rest. It was a manifesto that drummed out capital's rhythms, and later found new forms as ' modernisation theory ,' 'the development project,' and so forth, articulated through a grammar of 'growth.' Through its marriage to progress and development, in the belief that social advance requires a steady upward ratchet in national income, growth gained its ideological heft.
The Globalisation of an Ideology
In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the consolidation and globalisation of capitalist relations was accompanied by the growth paradigm. The first half of the twentieth century saw its definition sharpen. A pronounced shift occurred from a rather vague sense -- long prevalent -- that government should preside over economic 'improvement' and 'material progress' to an urgent conviction that promoting growth is a matter of national priority. Factors behind the shift included intensified geopolitical rivalry, and the increasing 'muscularity' of states, with their expanded bureaucratic apparatuses, surveillance systems and welfare provision, as well as the segue from the age of empires to that of nation states , a shift that helped consolidate the discourse of the 'national economy.' In many countries the expansion of suffrage was an additional factor: rights were extended and an infrastructure and ideology of national belonging was constructed with the aim of incorporating the lower orders as citizens into the body politic. With the Great Depression, restoring growth became an urgent project of states, and provided the context for the national income accounting that eventually led to GDP.
The acme of the growth paradigm was reached in the mid twentieth century. Growth was firmly established everywhere: in the state-capitalist economies of the 'Second World,' the market economies of the West, and the postcolonial world too. It became part of the economic-cultural furniture, and played a decisive part in binding 'civil society' into capitalist hegemonic structures -- with social democratic parties and trade unions crucial binding agents. It came to be seen as the key metric of national progress and as a magic wand to achieve all sorts of goals: to abolish the danger of returning to depression, to sweeten class antagonisms, to reduce the gap between 'developed' and 'developing' countries, to carve a path to international recognition, and so on. There was a military angle too. For the Cold War rivals, growth promised geopolitical success. "If we lack a first-rate growing economy," cautioned JFK on the campaign trail, " we cannot maintain a first-rate defense ." The greater the rate of growth, it was universally supposed, the lesser the economic, social and political challenges, and the more secure the regime.
The growth paradigm, I suggest, is a form of fetishistic consciousness. It functions as commodity fetishism at one remove. Growth, although the result of social relations among people, assumes the veneer of objective necessity. The growth paradigm elides the exploitative process of accumulation, portraying it instead as a process in the general interest. As Mike Kidron and Elana Gluckstein note, as a system of competition "capitalism depends on the growth of capital; as a class system it depends on obscuring the sources of that growth."
For a long time, GDP growth was widely assumed to be the route to prosperity. Since then, cracks have appeared. In the rich world, we are beginning to realise that continuous GDP growth leads not simply to wealth and wellbeing, but to environmental collapse and barbecued grandchildren. But growth is not its own cause. GDP mirrors the power structure and form of value of capitalist society, but it doesn't define the system's core goal. That goal is the competitive accumulation of capital, and the accounting principles that guide it are those at the level of the firm, not the state. Put differently, the relentless increase in global resource throughput and environmental despoliation is not principally the result of states aspiring to a metric – higher GDP – but of industrial and financial firms, driven by market competition to expand turnover, develop new products, and increase profits and interest.
If the above analysis is correct, insofar as critical debates on growth focus solely on GDP while being coy about capital, they are enacting a form of displacement .
Abi , June 15, 2019 at 3:24 am
In writing a dissertation in 2014 I read Alchian's theory of the firm where he said cooperation is what fosters a peaceful condition for growth to occur, where as competition does the opposite. I've lived by that idea since, at least for us here in Lagos we have a chance to build a more cooperative and less competitive society
Sound of the Suburbs , June 15, 2019 at 4:18 am
If we were actually pursuing growth things would be a lot better.
The current goal is making money (capital accumulation).
What is this GDP thing anyway?
In the 1930s, they pondered over where all that wealth had gone to in 1929 and realised inflating asset prices doesn't create real wealth, they came up with the GDP measure to track real wealth creation in the economy.
The transfer of existing assets, like stocks and real estate, doesn't create real wealth and therefore does not add to GDP. The real wealth creation in the economy is measured by GDP.
Inflated asset prices aren't real wealth, and this can disappear almost over-night, as it did in 1929 and 2008.
The economics of globalisation precedes the GDP measure when they thought inflating asset prices created real wealth.
Real wealth creation involves real work, producing new goods and services in the economy.
We need an economics that focuses on GDP to grow GDP.
Neoclassical economics makes you think you are creating real wealth by inflating asset prices and we have been faffing about doing that.
The new scientific economics of globalisation = 1920's neoclassical economics with some complex maths on top.
skippy , June 15, 2019 at 4:30 am
Cambridge Controversy – ?????
Jos Oskam , June 15, 2019 at 4:57 am
" Distinctions must be kept in mind between quantity and quality of growth, between its costs and return, and between the short and the long term. Goals for more growth should specify more growth of what and for what "
This is not by me, but by the creator of the GDP formula, Simon Kuznets. GDP is a very poor indicator for many reasons, even apart from those mentioned above. Borrowing money and squandering it adds to GDP while the resulting debt is ignored. Extracting and burning fossil fuels adds to GDP while the future depletion is ignored. Stripmining and deforesting nature adds to GDP while you get my drift. To paraphrase Bastiat, the growth in GDP that is seen tends to mask decline in areas like nature and wellbeing that are not seen.
It is tragic to see politicians and pundits thoughtlessly raving about a few tenths of a percent change in GDP while never seeming to realize how poorly this represents things that are really important to humanity.
When will people stop worshipping at the GDP altar?
Steve Ruis , June 15, 2019 at 8:50 am
I might add that someone said back in the 60's that "growth for growth's sake is the philosophy of a cancer cell."
Ian Perkins , June 15, 2019 at 12:18 pm
BrainyQuote attributes it ("Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.") to Edward Abbey, who also came out with "Society is like a stew. If you don't stir it up every once in a while then a layer of scum floats to the top."
John Wright , June 15, 2019 at 11:54 pm
A variation on the theme, from https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Kenneth_Boulding
"Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist."
"Attributed to Kenneth Boulding in: United States. Congress. House (1973) Energy reorganization act of 1973: Hearings, Ninety-third Congress, first session, on H.R. 11510. p. 248"
The Rev Kev , June 15, 2019 at 5:46 am
Where the author says 'For much of the human story, societies were nomadic or semi-nomadic, and organized in immediate-return systems.' that is not entirely true that. Here I am thinking of the early Bantu in their expansion in Africa. Their wealth for them were in their cattle herds which being mobile, made possible the expansion of the Bantu down eastern Africa and into Southern Africa. These were long-term investments and Bantu society evolved to take care of these herds as they expanded. Your wealth in that society was in how many cattle you had.
I suppose when you think about it, the paradigm of growth works – to an extent – when there are more lands to discover, more continents to be opened up, more frontiers to be discovered. But all of that ran out a century ago and so with no more new resources to be found to be exploited, we have now reached the point where where we have come up hard against the natural limits of this planet. And yet, our economies still use the same mode of operating when we lived in an ever-expanding world. We are far beyond the point where we should have evolved into a closed-loop economy.
skippy , June 15, 2019 at 5:54 am
Cattle = Status.
The Rev Kev , June 15, 2019 at 6:22 am
More than that. For example. A young man could only really use cattle to be the dowry that he would need to attract a bride so cattle was a sign of his wealth. The status came with it. Cattle shaped their society immensely. Their villages were huge rings where the cattle would be locked in of a night and were called kraals. The people were so familiar with their cattle that a herdsman at a glance of a herd of several hundred cattle would be able to tell straight away if one were missing. It was a fascinating society.
Off The Street , June 15, 2019 at 8:17 am
On Wall Street, people used to ask Where are the client's yachts ?
As a sign of the times, now they can ask Where are the client's cattle, or hats ?
Dan , June 15, 2019 at 9:15 pm
The statement "For much of the human story, societies were nomadic or semi-nomadic, and organized in immediate-return systems" is absolutely true. Please see the book "Limited Wants, Unlimited Means" for a good primer. It includes an excerpt from Marshall Sahlins' "The Original Affluent Society" – a great introduction to hunter-gatherer societies. There is also a wonderful comparison of immediate return and delayed return societies as exemplified in the Hadza people, and the problems that arise once an immediate return society begins to settle, even minimally.
The Bantu evolved later and are agro-pastoralists, not foragers. The Hadza have persisted as foragers even after contact with the Bantu and other groups. They have also repeatedly resisted government and missionary efforts to introduce farming and Christianity. The Hadza are perhaps the best example of how human beings lived on earth for over 99% of our existence, that being in a largely cooperative, egalitarian manner, devoid of concepts such as wealth.
Abi , June 16, 2019 at 2:17 pm
Bantu people were not cattle herders, west central and much of Southern Africa is basically forest, there's no way in this world anyone could move herds this way; it's our northern brothers and sisters that are cattle herders. That being said, culturally we (Bantu) generally moved to set up new families/villages that's how we spread not through some farming technique, that's false
Ignacio , June 15, 2019 at 5:53 am
When I comment with someone, my wife for instance, about the need to get rid of GDP growth as the main political objective and think of small well being objectives I tipically receive commiseration in their eyes: "Yes Nacho, you are right, go and rest for a while"
animalogic , June 15, 2019 at 7:43 am
"I tipically receive commiseration in their eyes"
Its the burden of being right in the world of wrong.
Steven B kurtz , June 15, 2019 at 6:53 am
As usual, scale is ignored. In my (still living) 94 year old mother's lifetime, human population quadrupled. In large mammals, this is sometimes called "plague phase." Add a (minimally) tenfold increase in technological leverage in converting finite resources into infrastructure, food, transportation, consumable goods and services, and the increasingly rapid decline of the ecosphere is hardly a surprise. Dematerialization of the economy is a myth! And don't expect money printing or cyber tokens as solutions. They are simply power tools to access real stuff.
Godfree Roberts , June 15, 2019 at 7:22 am
Except China. Just sayin'
Wukchumni , June 15, 2019 at 7:40 am
One of the drivers of growth in the UK in the late 18th century that was missing, was money. It reached a crisis stage in 1797.
A chronic shortage of coins, silver specie in particular.
Then, the freebooters came to the rescue!
Silver 8 Reales coins plundered from the Spanish were reworked into being coins of the British realm & many other outposts in the colonies.
The first effort was pretty weak, all that was done was they were counterstamped with a small portrait of King George III upon the countenance of King Charles IIII, which led to this ditty:
"In order to enable the Spanish Dollar to pass, the head of a fool was struck on the neck of an ass."
Wukchumni , June 15, 2019 at 7:53 am
A couple of drivers of growth showed up both around the same time, the Haber Bosch process that allowed for pretty much unlimited food resources, and worldwide fiat money, which also had no limits to production.
We've quadrupled the world's population since these 2 events.
Ian Perkins , June 15, 2019 at 12:28 pm
The Haber-Bosch process allowed for a vast, but in no way unlimited, expansion of production.
Fiat money can be produced in unlimited amounts, but, according to both common sense and MMT, actual production also has actual limits.
Wukchumni , June 15, 2019 at 12:38 pm
Setting the world free from first gold and then silver restraints (the last silver coins issued for circulation in the 1st world was in 1969) allowed for a as much as you'd like fiat economy, beyond limits and also risk. (for now, that is)
For what it's worth, there has never been an instance of hyperinflation in the cyber money age.
Wukchumni , June 15, 2019 at 12:47 pm
Whoops, my bad. Germany issued silver 5 Mark coins for use in circulation until 1974, forgot about that.
Ian Perkins , June 15, 2019 at 1:10 pm
As much wood, steel and cement, or as many doctors, teachers and entertainers as you'd like, without limits, just because money can be printed without limits?
Wukchumni , June 15, 2019 at 1:18 pm
Money is only the lubricant, the ball bearings if you will. It has no agency over where it goes, other than in a tight circle.
Ian Perkins , June 15, 2019 at 1:38 pm
In a tight circle, or into a tight circle – aka the 0.1%?
Oregoncharles , June 15, 2019 at 4:26 pm
It's a fundamental issue: money is an abstraction that can increase without limits; the real world, the real economy, is not. MMT does address that, but I think it's a root source of the persistent inflation that plagued the economy until rather recently. Apparently the Fed, or somebody, can stop it if they wish. However, I think that that history is one reason for the resistance to MMT – it sounds like a formula for more inflation. Since it hasn't actually been tried as a policy (the Pentagon's limitless funds are really just corruption), we won't know for sure until it's tried. There always seems to be a lot that the economists don't know or won't admit.
deplorado , June 16, 2019 at 3:26 pm
Thuto , June 15, 2019 at 8:55 am
Politicians don't have the analytical tools to pick apart the "constant growth" argument so they default to trumpeting it as a cure for all social ills (no doubt with encouragement from mainstream economists). On the other end of the spectrum, the growth story seduces ordinary people because they're told their share of the spoils, courtesy of the trickling down effect, will lead them to a "better life". As such, nothing short of a massive ideological decolonization effort is needed to strip growth of the superhero status it enjoys in contemporary economic discourse.
Norb , June 15, 2019 at 1:27 pm
The only positive hope is that enough people take it upon themselves to rise to the occasion. People who have freed themselves from the tyranny of the current economic system need to be examples for others to follow. Those that can, must change their lifestyles. They indirectly become leaders by example.
There is a spiritual component in this transformation that has not really surfaced yet, but feels like it is stirring under the surface. There is so much denial going on that something will burst forth. What form that takes is anyones guess, but most people are just looking for leadership when pressed.
Instead of the neoliberal message of selfish pursuits lead to a better life, the message of self-sacrifice and service to something greater resonates with most people. Instead of being just lip-service or propaganda, this sentiment must be channeled into concrete policies and actions- beginning with oneself.
Underlying all this is the need for peace. The Big Lie of growth pales in comparison to the Big Lie of perpetual war. Both lies reinforce each other.
How to explain the conflict between capitalists and well, all the rest, other than a spiritual war. Where does one place ones faith? Violent and selfish Nationalism will not suffice.
Strength in humility instead of conquest is the dividing line. The decolonization of the human mind must be followed by an awareness and consciousness that the world is here to live in, not conquer. That is an enormous shift in human action and consciousness- those that live this ideal must be valued and emulated.
The attempt must be made- is being made.
Carolinian , June 15, 2019 at 8:59 am
The growth paradigm, I suggest, is a form of fetishistic consciousness.
Elsewhere today Lambert talks about religion as Marx's "opiate of the people" but there are many versions of that drug and our secular overlords seem to have replaced the Bible with other unquestioned assumptions, many of them economic. Perhaps at some point rationality has its limits and illusions of some kind of are necessary to make the engine go. The problem unfortunately is that the current engineers seem to believe those illusions themselves and follow them blindly. They are addicts too. Is it time to "just say no"?
lyman alpha blob , June 15, 2019 at 10:13 am
Good essay. The author gets the the heart of it with this –
The evolution of the growth paradigm was integrally connected to the capitalist system and its colonial thrusts. The basic link between the growth drive and capitalism is transparent. The latter is a system of competitive accumulation. The former, in suggesting that the system is natural and brings benefit also to the '99%', provides ideological cover in that growth serves as an idealised and democratised redescription of capital accumulation.
– where the theory of growth is an attempt to rationalize the greed of the few who really like playing capitalist at the expense of everyone else. How about they get their jollies playing Monopoly and leave the rest of us alone?
I'll just leave this here, a beautiful tune by one of my favorite bands, Old Crow Medicine Show. Four minutes that will make you feel better after reading of all the nastiness in the world, and very apropos to this article –
Ain't It Enough?
hemeantwell , June 15, 2019 at 12:52 pm
I agree with the thrust of your comment but
is an attempt to rationalize the greed of the few who really like playing capitalist at the expense of everyone else.
As noxious as their displays of wealth are, and as much as it's possible to make a case that pathological narcissism infuses the system, the motive to accumulate to compete with rivals, current and future, is central. It's politically useful to attack the way that this motive draws others into its van, i.e. to make them personally despicable. But it might be worthwhile to consider how much the accumulation motive is embodied as a kind of social contract in the firm's organization. I imagine that individual capitalists say to themselves "I've made my pile, time to sail away in my yacht," but the firm and those who will stay on want to keep things going.
rod , June 15, 2019 at 11:12 am
. The moral economy of sharing necessitates a muscular egalitarianism that is undermined by the accumulation of property.
this really stuck out to me.
and I can't really identify why, however I couldn't stop thinking about the growing proliferation of plastic while reading the article
David J. , June 15, 2019 at 12:01 pm
Back in the early 80s, the professor for whom I was a grad assistant frequently urged me to read Canetti's "Crowds and Power." It's a powerful and useful book. Well-written and accessible and full of thought-provoking ideas. I'd recommend it for anyone who wants to ponder social relations.
In this case, Dale seems to use Canetti's book as a kind of straw-man entry to his real topic:an intro to his discussion of growth/degrowth. I guess you gotta start somewhere? Maybe he should have simply directly referenced Canetti on his notion of "feast crowds" (pg 62 of my edition of Crowds and Power.)
The above comments by Sound of the Suburbs and Joe Oskam are incisive, imo. The essence of the matter boils down to developing a more rigorous distinction (and understanding) of the difference between productive economic activity and non-productive economic activity. Hudson is really good on this.
Wukchumni , June 15, 2019 at 12:17 pm
Go back further and Gustave Le Bon's The Crowd from 1896 ages well, because human motives don't change much
"The masses have never thirsted after truth. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim."
"A crowd thinks in images, and the image itself calls up a series of other images, having no logical connection with the first A crowd scarcely distinguishes between the subjective and the objective. It accepts as real the images invoked in its mind, though they most often have only a very distant relation with the observed facts .Crowds being only capable of thinking in images are only to be impressed by images."
"We see, then, that the disappearance of the conscious personality, the predominance of the unconscious personality, the turning by means of suggestion and contagion of feelings and ideas in an identical direction, the tendency to immediately transform the suggested ideas into acts; these, we see, are the principal characteristics of the individual forming part of a crowd. He is no longer himself, but has become an automaton who has ceased to be guided by his will."
JEHR , June 15, 2019 at 1:16 pm
As I read these quoted words it is hard not to think of the crowds that surround Trump on his so-called "rallies" for his base. One cannot but help ask, Why is anyone listening to this man? Ans: "He is no longer himself, but has become an automaton who has ceased to be guided by his will."
Norb , June 15, 2019 at 3:06 pm
What makes the masses the masses is that they are followers. This is a double edged sword the elite exploit relentlessly- that is what makes them the elite. They hold the power, and desire, to manipulate the masses through narrative and image. These stories and images make the world and human experience comprehensible. When corruption sinks in, that whole group is doomed to eventual failure if a self-correcting mechanism is not present. Leaders/elite and masses both fail.
It is very self-serving for the elite to blame the masses when the "illusions" stop working their magic. Have the elite ever "thirsted after truth" either? Truth meaning a universal truth applicable to all, or the Truth embodied in a personal view as apposed to a public view? Such Truths tend to obfuscate the drive for personal power, which doesn't sit well within groups of people let alone groups of differing cultural or ethnic experiences.
Manipulation of the masses is not the problem, it is manipulation to what end that is the issue. In that respect, the elite leadership should take more responsibility and bear a greater portion of blame for failure- for in fact, they are driving the whole process.
In a nutshell, this is the failure of the current human situation. A greedy elite incapable or unwilling to use the powers at hand to bring about a fair and equatable world. It is just too easy for them to continue their deceitful manipulations and blame hapless or trusting victims.
Another way is for the elite leadership to listen to the people/masses and take their needs and desires into account when molding public opinion. Such an elite will foster the population's wellbeing, not fear them or treat them as a mob. That process makes the elite leadership legitimate.
The most stupid leadership is one that fails to change course when the images and narratives moving its society are failing. The whole society becomes weak and ineffective on multiple levels.
At some point, the factional fighting must stop. It seems inevitable that human society will rebalance itself to manageable levels. The question becomes how violent that transition will be.
hemeantwell , June 15, 2019 at 6:31 pm
LeBon writes of crowds as though there is a complete discontinuity between a person's thought and behavior when they are in a crowd and when they are not. That's nonsense, a cocktail party generalization. I've been in plenty of political crowds and the remarkable transformation he purports was not evident. Le Bon was a rank conservative and his analysis reflected his detestation of the French left, fueled by his experience of the Commune. He's writing in a way that helps justify the massacres that concluded it.
Ian Perkins , June 15, 2019 at 12:04 pm
I often wondered about this fetishisation of growth in GDP (I'm in my sixties now), when in developed countries it seemed to have as many negatives as positives.
Then I realised that capital, in its most general sense, doesn't invest in the hope of getting its money back, but in the hope of its money back plus some more . The only way that can carry on for very long is through growth.
I'm not an economist, but that explanation really rang true for me.
notabanktoadie , June 15, 2019 at 12:59 pm
Usury based finance REQUIRES growth to pay the interest.
Why then government privileges for private credit creation?
nothing but the truth , June 16, 2019 at 10:36 am
by infinite growth they actually mean infinite growth of debt, which is required for the current financial system to survive.
Oregoncharles , June 15, 2019 at 4:37 pm
One answer: CASSE, Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy, Herman Daly's legacy. https://steadystate.org/ .
Susan the other` , June 15, 2019 at 5:20 pm
Just Thank You. Thank You tons. I will remember the name Gareth Dale and The Ecologist. And the reference to the (unexplained) runaway condition of human economics as "Capitalist Time" v. (of course) real time. Because as we have learned here at NC "financial time goes much faster than real time." And etc. This essay was wonderful, and now we have an outline of why that is true.
John Wright , June 16, 2019 at 12:08 am
From the text:
"roughly speaking when per capita GDP exceeds $15,000. At higher levels, the translation of growth into improvements in health and well-being is tenuous."
The implications of this statement are large, for it multiplies out to a US GDP of 330E6 x 15E3 = 4.95 Trillion or about ONE FOURTH of the current USA economic output (19.39 trillion in 2017).
Forget the Green New Deal, shrink economic output by 3/4 in the USA while drastically lowering inequality to share the shrunken economic pie and one should observe a large positive effect on future climate change while having a reasonable USA citizen well-being,.
Jun 14, 2019 | www.amazon.com
From the Introduction
... ... ...
Mean Girls, which was based on interviews with high school girls conducted by Rosalind Wiseman for her 2002 book Queen Bees and War/tubes, reflects the emotional atmosphere of the age of the Plastics (as the most popular girls at Actional North Shore High are called), as well as the era of Wall Street's Gordon Gekko, whose motto is “Greed is Good.”1 The culture of greed is the hallmark of the neoliberal era, the period beginning in the 1970s when the protections of the U.S. and European welfare states, and the autonomy of postcolonial states around the world, came under attack. Advocates of neoliberalism worked to reshape global capitalism by freeing transnational corporations from restrictive forms of state regulation, stripping away government efforts to redistribute wealth and provide public services, and emphasizing individual responsibility over social concern.
From the 1980s to 2008, neoliberal politics and policies succeeded in expanding inequality around the world. The political climate Ayn Rand celebrated—the reign of brutal capitalism—intensified. Though Ayn Rand’s popularity took off in the 1940s, her reputation took a dive during the 1960s and ’70s. Then after her death in 1982, during the neoliberal administrations of Ronald Reagan in the United States and Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom, her star rose once more. (See chapter 4 for a full discussion of the rise of neoliberalism.)
During the global economic crisis of 2008 it seemed that the neoliberal order might collapse. It lived on, however, in zombie form as discredited political policies and financial practices were restored. But neoliberal capitalism has always been contested, and competing and conflicting political ideas and organizations proliferated and intensified after 2008 as well.
Protest politics blossomed on the left with Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and opposition to the Dakota Access oil pipeline at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in the United States, and with the Arab Spring, and other mobilizations around the world. Anti-neoliberal electoral efforts, like the Bernie Sanders campaign for the U.S. presidency, generated excitement as well.
But protest and organizing also expanded on the political right, with reactionary populist, racial nationalist, and protofascist gains in such countries as India, the Philippines, Russia, Hungary, and the United States rapidly proliferating. Between these far-right formations on the one side and persistent zombie neoliberalism on the other, operating sometimes at odds and sometimes in cahoots, the Season of Mean is truly upon us.
We are in the midst of a major global, political, economic, social, and cultural transition — but we don’t yet know which way we’re headed. The incoherence of the Trump administration is symptomatic of the confusion as politicians and business elites jockey with the Breitbart alt-right forces while conservative evangelical Christians pull strings. The unifying threads are meanness and greed, and the spirit of the whole hodgepodge is Ayn Rand.
Rand’s ideas are not the key to her influence. Her writing does support the corrosive capitalism at the heart of neoliberalism, though few movers and shakers actually read any of her nonfiction. Her two blockbuster novels, 'The Fountainpen and Atlas Shrugged, are at the heart of her incalculable impact. Many politicians and government officials going back decades have cited Rand as a formative influence—particularly finance guru and former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, who was a member of Rand's inner circle, and Ronald Reagan, the U.S. president most identified with the national embrace of neoliberal policies.
Major figures in business and finance are or have been Rand fans: Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia), Peter Thiel (Paypal), Steve Jobs (Apple), John Mackey (Whole Foods), Mark Cuban (NBA), John Allison (BB&T Banking Corporation), Travis Kalanik (Uber), Jelf Bezos (Amazon), ad infinitum.
There are also large clusters of enthusiasts for Rand’s novels in the entertainment industry, from the 1940s to the present—from Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Crawford, and Raquel Welch to Jerry Lewis, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Rob Lowe, Jim Carrey, Sandra Bullock, Sharon Stone, Ashley Judd, Eva Mendes, and many more.
The current Trump administration is stuffed to the gills with Rand acolytes. Trump himself identifies with Fountainhead character Howard Roark; former secretary of state Rex Tillerson listed Adas Shrugged as his favorite book in a Scouting magazine feature; his replacement Mike Pompeo has been inspired by Rand since his youth. Ayn Rand’s influence is ascendant across broad swaths of our dominant political culture — including among public figures who see her as a key to the Zeitgeist, without having read a worth of her writing.’’
But beyond the famous or powerful fans, the novels have had a wide popular impact as bestsellers since publication. Along with Rand’s nonfiction, they form the core texts for a political/ philosophical movement: Objectivism. There are several U.S.- based Objectivist organizations and innumerable clubs, reading groups, and social circles. A 1991 survey by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club found that only the Bible had influenced readers more than Atlas Shrugged, while a 1998 Modern Library poll listed The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged as the two most revered novels in English.
Atlas Shrugged in particular skyrocketed in popularity in the wake of the 2008 financial crash. The U.S. Tea Party movement, founded in 2009, featured numerous Ayn Rand—based signs and slogans, especially the opening line of Atlas Shrugged: “Who is John Galt?” Republican pundit David Frum claimed that the Tea Party was reinventing the GOP as “the party of Ayn Rand.” During 2009 as well, sales of Atlas Shrugged tripled, and GQ_magazine called Rand the year’s most influential author. A 2010 Zogby poll found that 29 percent of respondents had read Atlas Shrugged, and half of those readers said it had affected their political and ethical thinking.
In 2018, a business school teacher writing in Forbes magazine recommended repeat readings: “Recent events — the bizarro circus that is the 2016 election, the disintegration of Venezuela, and so on make me wonder if a lot of this could have been avoided bad we taken Atlas Shrugged's message to heart. It is a book that is worth re-reading every few years.”3
Rand biographer Jennifer Burns asserts simply that Ayn Rand's fiction is “the gateway drug” to right-wing politics in the United States — although her influence extends well beyond the right wing.4
But how can the work of this one novelist (also an essayist, playwright, and philosopher), however influential, be a significant source of insight into the rise of a culture of greed? In a word: sex. Ayn Rand made acquisitive capitalists sexy. She launched thousands of teenage libidos into the world of reactionary politics on a wave of quivering excitement. This sexiness extends beyond romance to infuse the creative aspirations, inventiveness, and determination of her heroes with erotic energy, embedded in what Rand called her “sense of life.” Analogous to what Raymond Williams has called a “structure of feeling,” Rand’s sense of life combines the libido-infused desire for heroic individual achievement with contempt for social inferiors and indifference to their plight.5
Lauren Berlant has called the structure of feeling, or emotional situation, of those who struggle for a good life under neoliberal conditions “cruel optimism”—the complex of feelings necessary to keep plugging away hopefully despite setbacks and losses.'’ Rand's contrasting sense of life applies to those whose fantasies of success and domination include no doubt or guilt. The feelings of aspiration and glee that enliven Rand’s novels combine with contempt for and indifference to others. The resulting Randian sense of life might be called “optimistic cruelty.” Optimistic cruelty is the sense of life for the age of greed.
Ayn Rand’s optimistic cruelty appeals broadly and deeply through its circulation of familiar narratives: the story of “civilizational” progress, die belief in American exceptionalism, and a commitment to capitalist freedom.
Her novels engage fantasies of European imperial domination conceived as technological and cultural advancement, rather than as violent conquest. America is imagined as a clean slate for pure capitalist freedom, with no indigenous people, no slaves, no exploited immigrants or workers in sight. The Fountainhead and especially Atlas Shrugged fabricate history and romanticize violence and domination in ways that reflect, reshape, and reproduce narratives of European superiority' and American virtue.
Their logic also depends on a hierarchy of value based on radicalized beauty and physical capacity — perceived ugliness or disability' are equated with pronounced worthlessness and incompetence.
Through the forms of romance and melodrama, Rand novels extrapolate the story of racial capitalism as a story of righteous passion and noble virtue. They retell The Birth of a Ntation through the lens of industrial capitalism (see chapter 2). They solicit positive identification with winners, with dominant historical forces. It is not an accident that the novels’ fans, though gender mixed, are overwhelmingly white Americans of the professional, managerial, creative, and business classes."
aslan , June 1, 2019devastating account of the ethos that shapes contemporary AmericaWreck2 , June 1, 2019
Ayn Rand is a singular influence on American political thought, and this book brilliantly unfolds how Rand gave voice to the ethos that shapes contemporary conservatism. Duggan -- whose equally insightful earlier book Twilight of Equality offered an analysis of neoliberalism and showed how it is both a distortion and continuation of classical liberalism -- here extends the analysis of American market mania by showing how an anti-welfare state ethos took root as a "structure of feeling" in American culture, elevating the individual over the collective and promoting a culture of inequality as itself a moral virtue.
Although reviled by the right-wing press (she should wear this as a badge of honor), Duggan is the most astute guide one could hope for through this devastating history of our recent past, and the book helps explain how we ended up where we are, where far-right, racist nationalism colludes (paradoxically) with libertarianism, an ideology of extreme individualism and (unlikely bed fellows, one might have thought) Silicon Valley entrepreneurship.
This short, accessible book is essential reading for everyone who wants to understand the contemporary United States.contemporary crueltykerwynk , June 2, 2019
Does the pervasive cruelty of today's ruling classes shock you? Or, at least give you pause from time to time? Are you surprised by the fact that our elected leaders seem to despise people who struggle, people whose lives are not cushioned and shaped by inherited wealth, people who must work hard at many jobs in order to scrape by? If these or any of a number of other questions about the social proclivities of our contemporary ruling class detain you for just two seconds, this is the book for you.
Writing with wit, rigor, and vigor, Lisa Duggan explains how Ayn Rand, the "mean girl," has captured the minds and snatched the bodies of so very many, and has rendered them immune to feelings of shared humanity with those whose fortunes are not as rosy as their own. An indispensable work, a short read that leaves a long memory.Valuable and insightful commentary on Rand and Rand's influence on today's world
Mean Girl offers not only a biographical account of Rand (including the fact that she modeled one of her key heroes on a serial killer), but describes Rand's influence on neoliberal thinking more generally.
As Duggan makes clear, Rand's influence is not just that she offered a programmatic for unregulated capitalism, but that she offered an emotional template for "optimistic cruelty" that has extended far beyond its libertarian confines. Mean Girl is a fun, worthwhile read!
Sister, June 3, 2019
Superb poitical and cultural exploration of Rand's influence
Lisa Duggan's concise but substantive look at the political and cultural influence of Ayn Rand is stunning. I feel like I've been waiting most of a lifetime for a book that is as wonderfully readable as it is insightful. Many who write about Rand reduce her to a caricature hero or demon without taking her, and the history and choices that produced her seriously as a subject of cultural inquiry. I am one of those people who first encountered Rand's books - novels, but also some nonfiction and her play, "The Night of January 16th," in which audience members were selected as jurors – as a teenager.
Under the thrall of some right-wing locals, I was so drawn to Rand's larger-than-life themes, the crude polarization of "individualism" and "conformity," the admonition to selfishness as a moral virtue, her reductive dismissal of the public good as "collectivism."
Her work circulated endlessly in those circles of the Goldwater-ite right. I have changed over many years, and my own life experiences have led me to reject the casual cruelty and vicious supremacist bent of Rand's beliefs.
But over those many years, the coterie of Rand true believers has kept the faith and expanded. One of the things I value about Duggan's compelling account is her willingness to take seriously the far reach of Rand's indifference to human suffering even as she strips away the veneer that suggests Rand's beliefs were deep.
In fact, though her views are deeply-seated, Rand is, at heart, a confidence artist, appealing only to narrow self-interest at the expense of the well-being of whole societies.
I learned that the hard way, but I learned it. Now I am recommending Duggan's wise book to others who seek to understand today's cultural and political moment in the United States and the rise of an ethic of indifference to anybody but the already affluent. Duggan is comfortable with complexity; most Randian champions or detractors are not.
Jun 11, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
MG , Jun 11, 2019 8:40:24 AM | 129
You stated, "Let's also ignore the fact that the sons and grandsons of the unionised postwar generation for the most part subsequently rejected blue collar work no matter what the pay. This is a sign of decadence I will grant you, and I am guilty as charged. "
This canard doesn't hold up in the face of empirical evidence. One example: 20,000 waiting in line for lousy warehouse jobs at Amazon. The fact is, open borders and illegal immigration are NeoLiberal tactics to promote wage arbitrage. In California, those impacted the most by illegal immigration are African Americans. Whole sectors, such as hotel maintenance and janitorial service, had been unionized, and had principally employed black workers whose salaries enabled them to move into the middle class. The hotel industry welcomed the influx of illegal immigrants willing to work for drastically lower wages. Black workers were replaced and the union destroyed. Unfortunately, many in the US and globally have been so propagandized about illegal immigration that even mentioning illegal immigration gets one falsely labeled racist. in the US, Democrats use illegal immigration as a "demographic strategy," which enables Democrats to remain in power while remaining wholly loyal to Wall Street and doing nothing to ameliorate the misery of the bottom 90%.
Jun 09, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
vk , Jun 9, 2019 4:04:26 PM | 27Two important posts from Michael Roberts' Facebook.
About the USA:The end of the American dream (if it ever existed)..
In America and also much of Europe, the current post-war baby boomer generation will be the first that cannot expect their children to get higher living standards than them. The percentage of 30-year olds earning more than their parents is at its lowest level ever recorded.
Inequality of income is at its highest in 100 years, when you compare the share of the top 1% to the bottom 90%.
The economic mobility rate in the US is now one of the worst in the developed world. In the US, people in the bottom income quartile have a 40% chance of having a father in the bottom quartile (in the father's prime earning years) and people in the top quartile have only about an 8% chance of having a father in the bottom quartile, suggesting half of the average probability of moving up and one of the worst probabilities of all the countries analyzed.
About Japan and Germany:Two key G7 economies continue to show a significant slowdown in economic growth.
German industrial production plunged 1.9 percent from a month earlier in April 2019, much worse than market expectations of a 0.4 percent fall and after a 0.5 percent gain in the previous month.
That was the biggest drop in output since August 2015, amid falls in the production of capital goods (-3.3 percent), intermediate goods (-2.1 percent), energy (-1.1 percent) and consumer goods (-0.8 percent). Year-on-year, industrial production dropped 1.8 percent in April, following a 0.9 percent fall in March. Manufacturing output dropped 3.4% over the year. Both exports and imports fell.
The German Bundesbank cut its GDP growth forecast for this year to just 0.6%, down from 1.6% at the beginning of 2019.
Japanese wages fell for the fourth consecutive month and overall household spending slowed sharply. Unemployment, currently at record lows, is set to rise.
Jan 13, 2019 | www.nytimes.com
Meredith New York Jan. 6Darsan54 Grand Rapids, MI Jan. 5
NYT David Leonhardt "When the Rich Said No To Getting Richer". Quite a contrast. "A half-century ago, a top automobile executive named George Romney -- yes, Mitt's father -- turned down several big annual bonuses. He told his company's board he believed that no executive should make more than $225,000 a year (which translates into almost $2 million today).
He worried that "the temptations of success" could distract people from more important matters. This belief seems to have stemmed from both Romney's Mormon faith and a culture of financial restraint that was once commonplace in this country. Romney didn't try to make every dollar he could, or anywhere close to it. The same was true among many of his corporate peers. In the early 1960s, the typical chief executive at a large U.S. company made only 20 times as much as the average worker, rather than the current 271-to-1 ratio. Today, some C.E.O.s make $2 million in a single month. The old culture of restraint had multiple causes. One was the tax code. When Romney was saying no to bonuses, the top marginal tax rate was 91%." That was under GOP Eisenhower. And jobs here, unions strong, state college tuition tax subsidized-- the middle/working class had upward mobility and faith in the future. Now, per the international GINI Index of middle class security and upward economic mobility, the USA ranks behind many other capitalist democracies. What would George Romney say about Trump as president?Len Charlap Princeton, NJ Jan. 5
@Tom: Could it be possible too many loopholes and deductions are written into the system to make it effective? We have been defunding the IRS and building a tax system that favors creative returns for decades. Maybe it's time to go in another direction.Penningtonia princeton Jan. 5
@Ron Cohen "The salary of the chief executive of a large corporation is not a market award for achievement. It is frequently in the nature of a warm personal gesture by the individual to himself." John Kenneth GalbraithBrinton Los Angeles Jan. 5
@WPLMMT; You mistunderstand. The 70% applies only to income OVER the threshold. So theoretically, the first 50 thousand (above the standard deduction) could be taxed at ,say 10%, the next 50K at 20%, from 100K - 500K at 30%, from 500k to a million at 50%. So the takehome from a million would be 715K, enough for anyone to live on. The exact details don't matter. It is the idea that only income above a very high number would be taxed at the marginal rate.Andrew NY Jan. 6
If the goal is to raise revenue by taxing high earners at a higher rate, it seems to me that a good place to begin would be to raise the effective tax rate on the rich to around 40% by eliminating the 50% discount on capital gains, and the depreciation allowances for real estate investments.fatrexhadswag DC Jan. 6
Income tax rate increases at high income levels would help but they miss the point. The real wealth in this country is from those who own assets, not those who draw a paycheck. The real deal would be to raise taxes on passive income and estate taxes on an ever increasing scale where, say, anything over $1m in annual passive income and $50m in estate value is taxed at 50% or higher. America is the land of opportunity; if those of us lucky enough to make it just leave it all to our heirs, they will have little incentive to work and add value to their own lives as well as to society. Plus the velocity of capital that would occur from heirs being forced to sell companies, real estate and other assets to pay estate taxes will place those assets in the hands of those best able to maximize their value going forward. Paul and AOC, I hope you are reading this and plugging it into your thinking.Jeffrey Bank Baltimore Maryland Jan. 6
I only wish the democrats would try to educate what the marginal tax means when they discuss policy in the public sphere. The media is going to go nuts with this 70% rate without taking the time to explain that it's only an additional bracket at the tippy top of the scale. This proposal wouldn't affect 99% of the country.LM Jersey Jan. 6
Every day I see and hear more about this young woman, I am more impressed. Disclaimer: I am a 68 year old white guy (Jew). She is smart, articulate, talks truth to power, and is also very hot! A tough combination to beat.Her Twitter comebacks against old Republican men are witty and hilarious, and hit home. I say AOC has a great future. She will learn the political ropes quickly. In ten years, stand by to stand by.Thomas K. Ray Marquette, Michigan Jan. 6
A high percentage of wealthy people inherited their money. There are many examples of highly successful men who marry beautiful, but not necessarily intelligent women. Their children's IQs are somewhere in between their parents IQ numbers. The end result is greed-driven wealth management and less than honorable decisions, including buying politicians. Narcissism runs rampant among this group with POTUS and some of his children as a prime example. Thomas Jefferson strongly felt that large inheritances should be heavily taxed to prevent the harmful activities of the very rich from destroying our democracy. He was right.Earl Philadelphia Jan. 7
We all benefit from living in this great nation of opportunity. Once you make more than 100K per month you should pay 70% tax. It is OFFENSIVE that our great nation does not provide free education through college, provide health insurance (especially, since there are people making millions ripping off the medical system), provide free daycare, housing and food for those who need support. TAX INCOME OVER 1 million....if this is a disinsentive then there is something seriously wrong with you.GG New Windsor Jan. 7
The U.S. has had a long history of a graduated income tax. In the Reagan era, the tax rate was at 50 percent having come down from 70 percent. We are not funding government spending, and are instead running up substantial deficits. Moreover, as the baby-boom population retires, social security and medicare will become unsustainable. While we can certainly reduce government spending significantly (especially the sacred cow of military spending), we will need to increase tax revenues. Tax increases are inevitable, and the most fair way to distribute the burden of increased taxes is through a graduated income tax. Those with the ability to pay, should pay more. After all, they are certainly enjoying the benefits of a free and stable country more than those at the other end of the income spectrum. While we can argue what the top marginal rate should be, it certainly should be 50 percent or greater. We should also eliminate the special tax preference given to dividends and capital gains, which mainly inure to the wealthy. To those whom much is given, much is expected.hammond San Francisco Jan. 5
@Jason First, no one is talking about taxing businesses at 73%, only individuals who are at extreme high levels of income. Second, why do the rich always seem to think that the "unwashed masses" owe them something? Go to Canada where in addition to a higher tax rate on your business you will also be paying for single payer health care for employees and subject to common sense regulations that businesses here are no subject to. The grass is always greener.Andy House The Sane White North Jan. 6
@NR Agreed and same here with our money. How much does anyone really need, beyond a certain point? Wherever that point is, I passed it decades ago. It's so disheartening to see how many people, often quite poor people, fully believe the mantra that taking money from rich people will reduce jobs and growth. Very little of my wealth goes towards growth. It's in index funds and T-bills and other instruments that mostly hold it until it's traded to some other wealthy person, hopefully at a profit to me. About the only way my money leads to growth is through the start-ups I have self-funded over the years. And even these were sold to large corporations (or they failed) by the time they had a few hundred employees. Most exits occurred with just a dozen or so employees. Mostly the wealthy barter and trade pieces of their portfolios with one another. It's just a game.Thomas Zaslavsky Binghamton, N.Y. Jan. 5
The most obvious thought to share here is about the laughable efforts of people who don't know economics from shoe boxes to try and sound more knowledgeable than a Nobel prize winning economist quoting... Nobel prize winning economists. The second most obvious thought is that the threat/boogie man of all the "rich people" leaving the US for "greener pastures" is both ludicrous and historically refuted. They simply DID NOT LEAVE in the 20th century, despite the economy becoming more mixed. They DID NOT LEAVE when the top MARGINAL tax rates were above 75%. And they did not leave when their research (you know, there actually is a fairly high correlation between affuence and intelligence...) revealed the FACT that the best places in the world to live are almost universally even more "mixed" than the US, are almost universally further left than what passes for a "left" in the US, and almost universally have significantly higher taxes. Folks, they just aren't going to bag up their bucks and blow town.The Observer Pennsylvania Jan. 5
@hm1342 It goes for politicians, some of whom are notably stupid, but not economists, who tend to be quite smart, if not necessarily correct.Paul Phoenix, AZ Jan. 6
Before Ronald Reagan, the top marginal tax rate was 70%. The country was doing fine and the rich were doing well also. Reagan reduced it to 50% and the rate was further reduced in subsequent administrations. For the last 40 years, there has been a massive transfer of wealth from the middle and the bottom earners to the very top. A main reason for the income inequality that we see in the country today. The top marginal rate should be raised above 70%. Money made by labor and money made by money (investment) should be taxed at the same rate if we want to narrow the income inequality in the country and also find the money for investments in infrastructure etc. What AOC is saying is nothing radical but common sense.B NYC Jan. 5
"You see, the mere thought of having a young, articulate, telegenic nonwhite woman serve is driving many on the right mad -- and in their madness they're inadvertently revealing their true selves." Actually, professor, the mere thought of having a young, articulate, telegenic nonwhite man as president for 8 years DROVE many on the right mad- and in their madness they're inadvertently revealing their true selves.sjs Bridgeport, CT Jan. 5
But rich people also benefit from raising their taxes in that the society as a whole takes a huge leap forward. Investment in our society leads to lower crime rates and less incarceration lead to a bigger tax base. Improvements to infrastructure and health care reduce enormous drains on the economy. Investment in education increase the value of labor, and most of all eliminating the deficit makes us strong at home and abroad. Everyone wins.Pam Skan Jan. 7
@Red Sox, '04, '07, '13, '18, It is worth remembering just how much the companies of the mega-rich depend on tax paid for services and infrastructure. Where would Amazon be with out the road and US postal service?Blunt NY Jan. 5
@Billy Walker At less than $100k/year in income, you needn't worry. In income tax terminology, the term "marginal" means a rate that's applied only to income above a high threshold affecting the top percentile of earners. In your IRS Form 1040, you'll note that you are taxed at a certain percentage based on your adjusted gross income (AGI). Your AGI places you in a tax bracket, or income range. A marginal rate of 70% would apply to the highest tax bracket, because it would affect only those dollars that exceed a certain threshold (such as the $10 million mentioned by Ocasio-Cortez) - a threshold most of us will never even imagine earning, much less topping. Don't let the number scare you, Billy Walker - unless you hit the Powerball.Trippe Vancouver BC Jan. 5
Professor Krugman, I am delighted that you are back to writing what you know best and help the nation understand what is behind the noisy rhetoric. Ocasio-Cortez is an impressive politician. By getting good advice from experts, whether it is economists, sociologist, climate scientists and political philosophers, she will deliver to the congress a much needed intelligent and sunny feedback to propose and implement good policy. Please seek her out and offer her your advice. People like Saez, Piketty, Reich, Stiglitz and yourself are treasures (except for the second and perhaps the first national treasures) politicians should tap into. We need the GOP out of our lives. Rational taxation policy is one of the key elements of a successful Democratic government. It will help pay for all the good ideas: universal healthcare (you are lagging behind there), free public education from Kindergarten through College, environmental sanity. Regulation of Big Pharma, Wall Street (tax algorithmic trading for one, bring back G-S for another), Big Tech and of course Big Healthcare will all help getting back our country to sound governance of the FDR era, tax policies included. Thank you in advance.Bruce Shigeura Berkeley, CA Jan. 6
@Charlie in NY I do get tired of this type of comment, 'outsourced their military defence to the US'. The cold reality is that US administrations have very much wanted to have the largest military and a stunning number of military bases around the world. Your governments have embraced the role of world's police force including covertly (and openly) pursuing regime change in many jurisdictions. Over the decades your country has very much wanted this role, at the expense of other important priorities and needs in your country. Don't blame the rest of us for wanting a more balanced approach to military and other spending. Your wars in the Middle East, which have nothing to do with Europe, have cost you tremendously.Rob NYC Jan. 5
AOC is a ground-breaker on taxing the rich. I hope she takes on raising the corporate tax, which Bernie has hinted at. Chris Rock once explained, "Shaq is rich, but the white man who signs his check is wealthy." Raise Bezos' income and capital gains taxes, sure, but go for the big money -- tax Amazon's profits, assets, stock trading, acquisitions, and end all tax break/corporate welfare. Apple spent its Trump tax break buying back stock to enrich stockholders and executives; Sheldon Adelson put his on Republicans in the '18 election. Hedge funds bought, dismembered and stripped, then bankrupted Toys R Us and Sears, and another is ripping off Puerto Rico.
Neoliberal capitalism has gutted the American middle and working classes, leaving only gig economy jobs, like Saturn eating his children. Tax 'em and put their money to use on health care, education, the Green New Deal and job creation, affordable daycare, and rebuilding communities.Carole East Chatham, NY Jan. 5
@Michael Evans-Layng, PhD Yes, I agree with this comment. It's not even possible to conclude that there is a correlation here; my guess is that a correlation would not hold up to statistical analysis. However, it is certainly clear that, "high taxes on the wealthy and solid economic performance can coexist just fine". And that's all one needs to know, as a higher marginal rate will bring many benefits without having to hold the burden of being a single-variable driver of growth.Grove California Jan. 6
If 20% of this country understands what marginal rates are, then I'd be surprised. I have been a financial professional for 30+ years, and I rarely have a client - no matter how sophisticated - that understands it. And somehow I wonder how much of Congress understands it. Our country experienced strong growth and a healthy economy when marginal rates were high. And the concentration of wealth did not exist back then. We are just rationalizing a greed is good mentality by using terms like 70% tax rate - to scare people - instead of just saying raise taxes on the top 5%.SC Boston Jan. 5
The Republicans are looting the country with no one stopping them. The rich control all three branches of our government, which explains our current fiscal policy. The rich obviously don't want to be part of America other than to own it.William NY Jan. 7
@MV This reminds me of when, I believe it was towards the end of the last recession, I accidentally found myself on a Republican phone list. I got a call during which they were pitching tax breaks for the wealthy saying how it would create jobs. My response was to say that they wouldn't add jobs, just spend it on more Hermes scarves. (They go from several hundred to a couple thousand dollars.) I thought I was wise-cracking but sure enough I saw in the news a day or two later that Hermes stock was doing remarkably well.Concernicus Hopeless, America Jan. 6
@Jason, the rationale here is that society is better served with more equitable wealth distribution, as seen in Scandinavian countries, rather then the obscene wealth disparities seen here in the U.S. Your answer to this is, if you try and raise my taxes in order to benefit society as a whole, rather then just me I will run to anywhere that has the lowest tax rate. Well this is the mantra of every wealthy individual and business globally and as a result we have a tax base comprised of higher rates for middle income Americans who are squeezed financially in every direction and actually need the money, who carry the financial burden, while the wealthy use their money to buy political influence and over time further lower their tax rate for themselves and the business's they own, thus skirting their financial responsiblity to society which they benefit from. The rich have done plenty wrong, that is the point. We would not be in the horrible situation we are in now as a country without the sociopathic levels of greed seen in the upper echelons of wealth. Its time to take back the country from people like yourself who would rather run and preserve or hide their wealth then be willing to pay their fair share of taxes.79 RecommendJimB NY Jan. 5
@Allan Reagan I doubt very seriously that you or just about anyone else regularly works 75 hours a week. That would very roughly translate into just under 11 hours a day seven days a week. Meaning you are at the office by 8:00 AM and leave around 8:00 PM seven days a week. I am being very conservative in allocating only one hour for eating, bathroom breaks, personal phone calls, etc... Your wealth would likely mean a mansion in the suburbs. Figure a minimum of 45 minutes each way drive time. Total round trip an hour and a half. An hour to shower, shave, have coffee and quickly check the daily newspaper. I have allocated zero time for dinner time, shopping for clothes or food, etc... Zero family time. The math just does not add up. If by some freak of nature you really do work 75 hours a week then you are an all-time terrible husband and/or father. No matter how big your bank account is or how many houses you own. Ask your family....would they rather have less things and you only working 45-50 hours a week or more things. If they even care anymore. Promoting absentee husbands and fathers is certainly not the way to craft a truly civil society.79 RecommendKeith Dow Folsom Jan. 6
Zillionaires work harder by investing smarter. Investing smarter often means certainty in return on that investment. How better to insure that certainty than to invest in a "low tax" congressperson? Much easier and better expected return than say R&D or infrastructure.79 RecommendPdxtran Minneapolis Jan. 5
@Barking Doggerel Intel is a prime example. The first Intel CEO who was a Republican, was a Bush supporter named Paul Otellini. He famously told Steve Jobs that Intel did not want to make the microprocessor for the iPhone. Intel then went from being the number one maker of microprocessors to being the number two. The second Intel CEO who was a Republican, was a Trump supporter named Brian Krzanich. He was an "expert" at manufacturing. Under his leadership Intel went for being the number one semiconductor company to being the number two. Apparently Republicans have a penchant for turning everything into number two.78 RecommendWalter Toronto Jan. 6
@vulcanalex: As a frequent commenter here, you SHOULD know about marginal tax rates, namely, that even with a top tax rate of 90%, nobody would pay that on their entire income. In the days when that rate was in force, it kicked in at an income level that would be equal to about $4 million per year. In order to avoid that, rich people upped their charitable contributions and did other things that might benefit society. Best of all, none of them starved.77 RecommendTessa NYC Jan. 7
@Andrew You are right - Warren Buffett stated that he pays less income tax than his secretary as his income derives from capital gains and dividends, and hers from employment.75 RecommendJohn C MA Jan. 6
His article was about personal income tax, not business tax. Unless you relinquish your US citizenship, you will have to pay income tax regardless of where your business is located. The point of discussing an increase in income tax on the ultra rich is to be able to fund social security, Medicare and Medicaid, and the other federal programs and agencies. Why is this relevant? Because Republicans routinely cut taxes for the wealthy and then say they need to cut funding for all these programs to balance the federal budget. If we can generate sufficient revenue for the federal government then we don't need to cut funding for all these federal programs.71 RecommendVesuviano Altadena, California Jan. 5
The Trump tax cut has added $2trillion to the national debt -- -an increase of 10%. The tax cut was supposed to pay for itself, because the increase in wages and profits would provide enough in tax revenue ( even at the lower tax rate). The deficits would shrink and eventually go away. None of these fantasies have ever been realized. Not under Reagan, W, or Trump. Its time to Ms. Cortez-Ocasio's "insane" ideas -- a 90% tax on income over $10 million per year is no crazier than these Republican tax schemes and the "suffering" only affects a tiny nunber of citizens. A return to Eisenhower-era tax rates hardly constitutes Bolshevism.Reply 71 RecommendKen L Atlanta Jan. 5
There are a lot of comments here criticizing AOC and Professor Krugman over the idea of such a high tax on the mega-wealthy. To them I simply say this: You can't get away from our country's history. We were collectively at our most prosperous as a nation for the twenty-five years after the Second World War, during which time our middle class was the envy of the world. During that time, taxes on the very rich were in line with what AOC is proposing. Corporate taxes were also high. Union membership was also high. Our country was much better off for all of those things. I'm already a fan of AOC. She's going to make a lot of right-wing heads explode.Reply 70 RecommendTMSquared Santa Rosa CA Jan. 5
I'd be interested in knowing to what extent much higher tax rates on the wealthy drive severe tax avoidance behavior, like parking money overseas. Clearly higher rates would have to be accompanied by stricter enforcement and tighter rules to avoid losing the expected revenue windfall.69 Recommendazlib AZ Jan. 5
@hammond Good point about the postwar conditions that went along with high marginal rates. But even if we avoid the mistake of concluding that high rates caused growth, there is still no reason to conclude that high rates impede growth.68 Recommendhm1342 NC Jan. 5
Maybe a higher marginal tax rate with stricter enforcement woudl have driven Trump out of the country and saved us the horror of the last two years. :-)Reply 67 RecommendSteve Berkeley CA Jan. 6
@Barking Doggerel: "And the very wealthy I've known are not smarter, more creative or virtuous than the folks who work for them or for other wealthy executives." That goes for politicians and economists, too.66 RecommendDan Kravitz Harpswell, ME Jan. 6
What is stupendous wealth good for? The marginal utility of wealth is quickly decreasing for ordinary survival goods like food and tents. But very expensive goods can only be had by the most wealthy. To get the most expensive and desirable things you must outbid other wealthy people. If you want to influence a key senator, for instance, you're going to have to come up with more than the opposition. If you want an original Van Gogh to impress others, you're going to have to outbid everybody else. If you need a kidney transplant quickly it won't be cheap. Wealth buys power. A mere millionaire nowadays only has leverage against common folk but is seen as a whiff by any billionaire. Power is roughly proportional to wealth, it's a relative thing. Those more wealthy can always kick sand in your face and that's still aggravating despite that you can kick sand in the faces of the myriads of the poor. The wealthy believe in the legitimacy of wealth and strive to purify this. There are always illegitimate jerks trying to beat the system, trying to circumvent the power of wealth. Jerks yammer about things like truth, science and justice. What they're really trying to do is get power without properly paying for it. It's necessary to put down those upstarts who whine about such things. This is another thing wealth is good for and another reason why you can never have enough.Reply 66 RecommendFourteen Boston Jan. 5
You quote economists in defense of your argument, or as the Republicans would say 'pointy-headed intellectuals'. But if Ocasio-Cortez is crazy, what would the Republicans call Dwight David Eisenhower? He thought a marginal tax rate of 91% was just right. So he's obviously far crazier than Ocasio-Cortez. Dan KravitzReply 65 RecommendLennerd Seattle Jan. 6
@Rima Regas The Rich really do believe they're entitled to rob the poor, and they've created various laws that make it easy and legal, which further entitles them, or so they believe. It's all part of the Rich-person alt-reality - a perk of being rich.65 RecommendHoward Stambor Seattle, WA Jan. 5
On the other hand, "...having a young, articulate, telegenic nonwhite woman serve . . . " in Congress is just exactly the ticket!62 Recommendr a Toronto Jan. 6
Just a reminder – and of course this is obvious to most readers – but neither the article nor many of the comments make it clear that the 73% or 80% is the last step of a progressive scale. Krugman and AOC are not proposing that ALL income be taxed at that rate. The maximum rate would apply only to that portion of a taxpayer's income above a certain dollar amount. The 73% or 80% rate could actually be set at a very high level of income, say $1 million or more. The benefits to all would be enormous. The detriment to high earners would be small.61 RecommendPenningtonia princeton Jan. 6
How about fixing the tax code - created by and for racketeers.Reply 61 RecommendSuzanne O'Neill Colorado Jan. 5
@Barking Doggerel; You neglected to mention golf, which was a major factor in getting promoted at the large corporation I worked at.60 RecommendPeter Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Jan. 6
@vulcanalex And what is good for the country and your fellow citizens? I would hope that it is not all about you. If one's goal is to have a vibrant economy, good infrastructure and education are needed. I have two suggestions as to where to look for the needed funds: corporations (especially those paying employees less than a living wage and depending on taxpayers to provide food stamps and subsidize health care) and the very high income individuals. You may not be in the latter class. I believe a fact-based national conversation about tax rates (individual and corporate, earned and unearned income and capital gains) would benefit the nation. I am not optimistic this could occur without significant leadership.59 RecommendR. Law Texas Jan. 5
Paul, I must plainly admit, not too often do a shed a tear when reading, your article today was such a moment. It was on a sidewalk in Paris or New York to celebrate my daughters birthday, that surfaced as I read on. Pretty sure it was Paris, as we walked along, I noticed a family. I looked only at the father - sitting on some cardboard, his two children and his wife beside him - I gave what i could and his eyes spoke thanks and my eyes spoke hope for his obviously wonderful family(and himself as well). Paul, as the good man said "the times they are a changin" and I believe with all my heart that Equality really needs to be spoken of at many dinner tables. Sincerely, PeterReply 59 RecommendPhillip Wynn Beer Sheva, Israel Jan. 6
Very interesting how AOC understands economics in this country, and how many GOP'er bugaboos are about to get skewered :) Why, we might even find ourselves in a public discussion of democracy and unrestrained capitalism being polar opposites, with GOP'ers having to admit there was democracy in this country - which heavily restrained capitalism - long before the vaunted animal spirits of free marketeer piracy descended upon us. As in, democracy provided the environment for capitalism to succeed, not the other way 'round, and that democracy should take precedence over free marketeering piracy. After all, the original settlers and colonists only allowed corporations to exist with charters which had automatic expiration dates, corpoorations were only allowed to exist for the purpose of some public works project, and a corporation's charter was immediately revoked if it was found to be trying to influence a political campaign; in no sense of the word were corporations people, too, my friend (quoting a famous American). My, my, my, what an interesting history discussion is about to occur - could Elizabeth Warren please be the Professor, Professor Professeur K. ?59 RecommendRichie by New Jersey Jan. 5
Hate to disagree, but there's clear evidence AOC doesn't understand economics. For instance, she has argued it's impossible for her to find affordable housing in Washington DC. Whereas it's become plain that she is living rent-free in the heads of many Republicans.Reply 59 RecommendMatthew Carnicelli Brooklyn, NY Jan. 5
@Red Sox, '04, '07, '13, '18, The rich that benefit from profits of large companies, like Walmart for example, do not do the actual work themselves. Instead they rely on the working poor to create their profits and then they hoard it all, while the rest of us provide money for food stamps etc.59 RecommendCitizenTM NYC Jan. 6
@Kenneth Johnson The 73% rate would only be on income above a stipulated amount, say $10,000,000 a year. Are your yearly earnings above $10.000.000 a year? The problem with unregulated capitalism is that it leads to people eventually wanting to impose an unrealistic form of socialism. Experience strongly suggests that a mixed capitalist-socialist economy is as good as it gets.58 RecommendEllen San Diego Jan. 5
'... privilege combined with aggression ...' THANK YOU.58 RecommendTMSquared Santa Rosa CA Jan. 5
@MV "Those who get that little extra $1,000 will easily spend it on a necessity, like an appliance". Exactly. And, given the tax giveaway the Republicans gave to corporations and the 1% last year, there probably won't be that little extra $1,000 for the appliance buyers this year. They'll probably owe.57 RecommendGator USA Jan. 7
@SandraH. Exactly. Impose high marginal rates on capital gains at the same time. We could make them a bit lower than income tax rates to incentivize capital investment. But now, even with low income tax rates, the difference between capital gains and income tax rates is a scandal--basically a fat loophole for rich capitalists.57 RecommendChris philadelphia Jan. 6
@Billy Walker How much of Jeff Bezo's (for example, nothing against him specifically) billions in annual income would have been possible without the existence of the interstate highway system? How about without the existence of the US postal service? How about without the internet (it wouldn't exist without DARPA's pioneering research)? Seems to me the government and US taxpayers were equal partners (or greater) in his earnings.57 RecommendAWG nyc Jan. 5
I would be more inclined to not laugh at Ms. Ocasio-Cortez if she had articulate and well reasoned thoughts. Instead she spouts leftist talking points and when asked for detail or context she almost always struggle to provide it. But because leftists like what she is saying they give her credibility just like Mr. Krugman.55 RecommendJohnson Smith TN Jan. 6
My father was a CPA during the years from 1947 to 1983. We had this discussion about tax rates early on when the highest rate (during the Eisenhower administration) was 90%. When I asked him about it as a child, he said simply that no one paid 90% of their income to the government. First of all the tax code had many more loopholes than later on, and secondly, he taught me the idea of a "graduated tax", which we still have on the books. All of us pay 10% on the first 15,000 or so that we earn, then 12% on the next 10,000 or so, then 15% on the next, and so to the top rate of 36%. The problem, as AOC and Prof. Krugman point out is that those at the very top of the income scale pay practically nothing compared to those below. The same is true when speaking about the Social Security tax (FICA) which is something like 6% of you pretax income and is capped, at I believe, around 128,000. Which simply means that if you make 100,000 a year your paying 6000 into the system, if you make 10 million, your still paying only around 6000 into the system (or about 0.0006%).55 RecommendArturo Belano Austin Jan. 6
So much greed by these socialists. No, you do not have a right to someone else's properties simply because they have more than you do. The rich already pays an oversized amount of taxes, while the bottom 50% pay zero in federal taxes. That does not sound fair. In America, everyone is free to start a business and make money, and most billionaires in this country are self made. They worked harder than anyone else. Bill Gates, for instance, started Microsoft at age 18, when most other guys his age were wasting their time at meaningless night clubs. He worked hard and long, and for ten years, did not take a single day off from work. Eventually, it began to pay off. The the greedy socialists came out of the woodwork, demanding to "tax the rich" to pay their "fair" share. Well, the rich already pay more than their fair share.54 RecommendRick Garber Minneapolis Jan. 5
Paul Krugman clearly hit a nerve. The dubious right is out in force here in the comments section to defend the rights of the beleaguered rich.Reply 54 Recommendcjl miami Jan. 5
The comments to this piece have reinforced my belief that a sizable portion of American taxpayers do not have a clue as to how the calculation of their federal tax bill is actually structured. At the very least, the term "marginal tax rate" is synonymous with "total tax rate" for most. To those who are trying to effect a sane change to our country's taxation policies, I say you need a structured PR campaign to raise awareness of just what the heck "marginal tax rate" actually means. You could start by showing how, even under current rates, it's possible for someone making an average income (Warren Buffett's secretary?) to pay a higher effective/total tax rate than someone (Warren Buffett?) whose income puts them in the top 0.1%. If you don't believe me, next time you're discussing taxes with friends, ask them the following math problem: John's adjusted gross income is $1M; The top marginal rate on that income is 37%; How much tax does John pay? If the answer you get is, $370k, well, that's my point. Most people won't say that there's too little information given to solve the problem. (This is, the current top rate on that income, by the way.) Once a sizable majority of Americans actually understand this, getting the support to enact a top MARGINAL rate of 70% shouldn't be too hard of a sell.53 RecommendDaniel USA Jan. 7
@Charlie in NY The Scandinavian countries are facing a whole lot less difficulties than the US. The military spending argument is a red herring. The US deal with NATO is/was that the Europeans would provide the cannon fodder for WW3, while the US would provide the nukes and high tech systems. This allowed the US to funnel money into the defense industry, while not maintaining as large an army as would otherwise be required. Back out of NATO, and all those European countries will "go nuclear" as fast as they can buy the technology from Israel. Is this in the US's best interests? We didn't think so after WW2. The saying was: NATO was designed to Keep the US in, the Russians out, and the Germans down.53 Recommendrj1776 Seatte Jan. 5
@Freda Pine the top rate 70% would not apply to you and if it did, the author of this opinion piece and most of its supporters would likely agree that you should not pay anywhere near 70% if you are making 300,000$52 RecommendGT NYC Jan. 6
"We can have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can`t have both." --Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis A fundamental reason for higher tax rates on the rich.Reply 52 RecommendJD Smith Pittsburgh Jan. 5
We tried this ... it was called the 70's. Did not end well .....Reply 52 RecommendPeter G Brabeck Carmel CA Jan. 5
I think it would serve progressives well to clarify their rhetoric and policy proposals and speak about raising taxes on the ULTRA RICH? I think there are many people who might be considered "rich", who already pay quite a bit in taxes, but aren't earning enough to engage in the complicated tax-dodging schemes that the ultra rich use. They bear the brunt of a tax code that allows ultra rich earners off the hook while they pay a lot in relation to their earnings. I know many upper-middle class people who might otherwise agree with Democratic policies, but when they hear "tax the rich" they vote Republican because they can't imagine paying more in taxes. It's the Jared Kushners of the world who should pay more, not the small business owner with a few million in a retirement portfolio.52 RecommendLisa Cabbage Portland, OR Jan. 5
A more pedestrian way to view Prof. Krugman's argument is to compare social unease and income/wealth distribution during what many, including conservatives, regard as the nostalgic fifties (fifty years ago, they commonly were labeled the fabulous fifties) with those of today. The 1950s, while it certainly had its problems and the civil rights movement still was in its nascency of emerging from 150 years of overwhelming oppression, nevertheless marked a decade of arguably America's most prosperous period when the prosperity metric is distributed proportionately across all socio-economic classes. The wealthiest lived very well indeed. Private railroad cars still adorned rail lines before the advent of private jets. While extreme poverty existed, especially among urban blacks and other minorities, and some rural communities, for the most part, the vast middle class was progressing and living comfortably. Top-tier marginal tax rates for large corporations and the wealthiest hovered close to AOC's proffered 80%. Most importantly, large corporations still operated on the principle that they were accountable to their stakeholders, i.e., investors, employees, customers, suppliers and communities, not solely to shareholders. Companies offered retirement pension plans rather than 401ks and they honored them. Management was compensated reasonably for their services, not with get-ultra-rich schemes that were backed by ludicrous fail-safe parachutes for malperformance. AOC is right.Reply 51 RecommendJason Dallas Jan. 7
@hammond Look at the dates on the graph, the high growth came AFTER 1960. Which war are you thinking "supercharged" the manufacturing sector? As far as causality and causation, gee wiz, this is a newspaper, not an academic journal, the man can only give so much evidence without losing readers. For a more complete presentation, read Jacob Hacker, "American Amnesia: How the War on Government Made Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper." Government investment is critical for high growth rates, and the wealthy need to pay taxes for that to happen.51 RecommendWhite Buffalo SE PA Jan. 5
@Jason The rich do something wrong every day. From the perspective of someone concerned with labor rights, which perhaps you aren't, they receive compensation vastly disproportional to the amount of labor they expend, and outrageously disproportional to the amount of labor expended by people who aren't rich who work equally long hours and make similar sacrifices. That is what is wrong with the notion of a free market. It is immoral and unethical, and you have to put an academic faith in the superiority of the free market system above your concern for what's right in order to participate in a system like that, and most of us either do or simply don't have any choice in the matter. Not everyone cares about that. From the perspective of someone who is just concerned with incentives and outputs, who has bought into the notion of a free market system, what is wrong is that, as Krugman points out, we don't operate within perfectly competitive markets, not even close. From that perspective, the rich profit from a system that naturally favors them completely independent of variables like labor, risk, demand, etc. I don't guess you have to go to confession for having done something wrong, but a little humility and perspective never hurt.51 RecommendT Ontario, Canada Jan. 5
@Bruce Rozenblit " To top off the entire royalty thing, much of their wealth was most likely generated from tax breaks, tax giveaways, tax shelters and the like. Odds are that a substantial portion of their wealth was never taxed to begin with and with the loss of the estate tax, they get to will it to their heirs tax free." Example #1. Trump and his family. Example #2 Mitt Romney, whose Bain Capital wealth derived from tax breaks earned by bankrupting once solid corporations and raiding their pension funds, etc, then delivering the bill to the tax payers to pay through the Federal Pension Insurance agency and other tax payer funded sources like welfare, Medicaid and unemployment insurance for those who lost their jobs and benefits.51 RecommendAppu Nair California Jan. 6
Bravo, AOC. Hopefully this will mean growth in the middle class. Many of the very wealthy don't like to admit that their wealth was largely contingent upon economic and tax policies that drove many from the middle class down to have-not status. Hopefully this kind of policy will right that wrong.51 RecommendJim Davis California Jan. 6
Squeezing the top 5% will not be enough to fill the Federal coffers. The super rich have superbly qualified accountants. In our borderless economy, tax havens and loopholes galore to attract and retain rich folks from all over the world. They exist right now but the incentives to hide from Uncle Sam are far less than the overtaxed, nanny states of Europe. Cortex the conquistador needs to earn money on her own by working first, pay taxes, meet payroll or know people who are not on the doll in order to understand taxes make the wealthy flee. And, investment will sink. Talks like this has already made her the East Coast counterpart of the elder stateswomen of stupidity, Rep. Maxine Waters. It is hard to recover from absurd public pronouncements that are etched in hard disks forever.Reply 51 RecommendBrendon Carr Seoul, Korea Jan. 6
A 90% tax rate on anybody doesn't seem to be a fair number. Nor 80% or 70%. Sorry but how about institute a luxury tax penalty on corporations who give out huge CEO payouts. Works for the NBAReply 50 RecommendMark Thomason Clawson, MI Jan. 5
The unstated but glaringly obvious assumption in Paul Krugman's and Sandy Ocasio's worldview is that "The Rich" are not citizens and human individuals with their own rights and interests, and families for which to care, but rather livestock to be farmed, milked, and slaughtered for the sustenance of everyone else -- under the wise instruction of Paul Krugman and Sandy Ocasio, of course, who as the will not be required to make the same sacrifices they demand of their fellows amongst The Rich. It's appalling in its entitlement. No thanks, Comrades.Reply 49 RecommendFrank Colorado Jan. 6
Diminished utility? How can they get that fourth mansion, complete with a set of cars and matching clothes in the closets of all houses? How can they get a second, bigger yacht? How can they get that private plane upgrade? That costs tens of millions. That is their utility. It just comes with much higher price tags. They need those things to be "part of the world" in which they live. That is how they can lend a plane or a yacht to a politician. It is how they show they are real people, not just those little tax payers. Readers may think I'm exaggerating here. I'm not. That really is their world. We are so far outside it we never see it, but it does leak into the press, only to be hushed up. Remember Mitt Romney's car elevator? That was paid for with the retirement funds of workers stripped out of closed companies wrecked by Bain Capital, a vulture capitalist firm. They have no retirement, but he's got a car elevator. Utility.49 RecommendHoward Boston Jan. 5
Luke 12:48: "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required." You'd think all those good Christians on the right, even if they are not that much into economics could find some direction from the New Testament. Trickle Down is a Big Con. The president is the Grifter in Chief. And the GOP knows it. They just don't want to kill the orange goose that laid their tax rates (among other things).Reply 48 RecommendGary Bernier Holiday, FL Jan. 6
Assume the Republican congress had drastically cut taxes on everyone named Howard (either first or last name). Our extra spending would have stimulated the economy and created jobs. Could the reason that Republicans did not do this is that we Howards did not band together and give the Republicans massive campaign contributions? If we had, I am sure the Republicans would have claimed that the tax cuts to the Howards would have paid for themselves. This is the intellectual depth, or lack thereof, at which the Republican Congress operates.Reply 48 RecommendKagetora New York Jan. 6
The unfortunate truth is that there are really three kinds of Republicans when it comes to tax policy. The ignorant; those who have "faith" in the conservative shibboleth that low taxes drive growth and everyone benefits. Like most faithful, they deny facts and endorse lies that support their superstition. There are the brainwashed; people who might be capable of rational thought, but have been reciting the low tax mantra for so long they've stopped thinking about it and just repeat it from rote. Then are the cynics; people who actually know they are selling snake oil, but don't care because it is so lucrative to them and their financial supporters. These are the worst. They knowingly create misery and decimate the middle class for own economic advantage. It is time to put an end to Republican rule.47 RecommendJohn Marshall New York Jan. 7
Never-mind the validity of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's positions, which I totally support, but it's hard to understand the right's hysteria surrounding AOC, until we remember their similar hysteria surrounding Barack Obama. Let's not forget that he was a secret muslim who was born in Kenya and secretly wanted to take away our guns. What most irritated them was the fact that he was an articulate, charismatic, highly educated man who was BLACK, and try as they might, they were unable to make the lies and stereotypes stick. Now, we have an articulate, educated WOMAN who is HISPANIC, and they are breaking out the same tired bag of tricks. President Obama, both because of his character but also because he was highly conscious of the image he had to portray being the first black president, was always diplomatic and tended to ignore these racist attacks. AOC, however, grew up during the Obama years, and she saw what that battlefield looked like. I love the fact that she always fights back, quickly, intelligently, and bitingly. And each time she does, she shows up her critics as the hypocrites they are. Bravo.Reply 47 RecommendEd Watters San Francisco Jan. 6
@Freda Pine I'm thinking you have absolutely no idea how taxation works. No one would pay 70% on their income. They'd pay 70% on income over $X, which in AOC's instance is $10 million. But... let's take your wrong approach and say it's a flat 70%. You wouldn't "get out of bed" for $3 million? You must be quite rich. Not only would I get out of bed for $3 million, I'd show up early and go home late. At $300,000, you would be paying about 30% as a GRADUATED tax, not flat. Please, if you're going to post on this stuff, at least familiarize yourself with the BASIC concepts in taxation, like marginal versus effect rates.47 RecommendClaudia New Hampshire Jan. 6
Establishment Democrats are just as incensed by AOC's 70% proposal as Republicans, but can't say so, for PR purposes.Reply 47 Recommendheysus Mount Vernon Jan. 6
I don't give a hoot about female, of color or young. If she has solid ideas, that's all that counts. If taxing the billionaires works, I'm all for AOC. Personally, if you look at politicians for entertainment value, I much prefer her roof top steps to watching a mouth unconnected to brain standing in front of "that dump" the White House.Reply 47 RecommendAndrew Chapel Hill, NC Jan. 6
Atta woman AOC. Just what we needed. A women who knows something and speaks her mind. I'm all in. Tax em!Reply 47 RecommendOld blue Chapel Hill, N.C. Jan. 7
@Payton Some politician's pipe dream legacy project... you mean like a certain Border Wall? And everything you've talked about with wanting to keep track of money - X% in Education, Y% for Healthcare, Z% for Military Spending, is written down in the form of the Congressional Omnibus Spending Bill, passed every year. It dictates what money goes where as a combination of smaller appropriations bills. I suggest you read it. You might learn something. I would rather trust a (functioning) government with my money than a collection of wealthy private individuals or corporations, because I can participate in government. I can vote my President out of office.I cannot do anything to tell Tim Cook, or Jeff Bezos, or the Waltons to use my money more efficiently, or that I disagree with what they're doing. Conservatives love to whine about government inefficiency any say the private sector does it better, but that's simply because the private sector cuts corners to do it faster and cheaper. Those cut corners get people sick when water infrastructure breaks down prematurely due to mismanagement by a private utility company, or a large farm corp dumps its waste into the river system instead of going through proper disposal procedures. The government is not necessarily inefficient - it is Thorough.47 RecommendJason Dallas Jan. 7
@Billy Walker With all due respect, Mr. Walker, if taxation is theft, it is theft regardless of the percentage taken. Your notion that taxation becomes theft at a certain percentage is... just your notion.46 RecommendCharlie in NY New York, NY Jan. 5
@Mjxs "When did we begin to believe that mega-millions to CEOs will magically transform into wealth for all...?" We don't believe that, but we've been told that we do. Additionally, some of our less useful democratic institutions--the Senate, the electoral college--guarantee ongoing, electorally unearned power to the side that propagates this falsehood.46 RecommendAna Luisa Belgium Jan. 5
@SJP. In fact the EU and Scandinavian countries are facing great difficulties bordering on stagnation or worse in some cases. It is also useful to recall that since the end of WWII, these Western countries mostly outsourced their military defense onto the US - that huge savings was what underpinned their growth.46 RecommendNovember 2018 has Come; 2020 is Coming Vallejo Jan. 6
@George There's nothing like an anti-tax conservative who didn't even start fact-checking his own ideological prejudices ... The wealthiest 1% don't have a $200k income, but at least a $390k income, with an average of $1.5 million. Now can you please explain why asking billionaires to start paying back the debt (in part caused by massive tax cuts given to them, by the way) so that people who were never lucky enough to earn so much can at least have access to decent healthcare and education would be a bad idea ... ? How about putting America first, rather than the wealthiest 1%? Any objections?46 RecommendLew San Diego, CA Jan. 7
It's great to see that the age-old competitive male trick of casting every smart, well-spoken, attractive, or youngish woman as a dumb "nit-wit" has lost its power. People who aren't unsuccessful right-wing males know that such men are simply frightened by ambitious, smart, up-and-coming women. And, at long last, today's ambitious, smart, up-and-coming women are not one bit intimidated by men who insist on taking absurd potshots at them. This is wonderful progress! Go Nancy, go AOC, go freshman House Democrats!Reply 45 RecommendLuke NYC Jan. 5
@Freda Pine: No, economists are not physiologists. They're not philologists or entomologists either. So what does physiology have to do with any of this???45 RecommendLen Charlap Princeton, NJ Jan. 6
@Kenneth Johnson You are missing lots of things, including the fact that under such a system there would be more tax brackets for higher incomes (rather than one bracket for all incomes over $500k.) And the tiered system would still apply, so the 73% rate would only affect income above a certain amount. Re: moving out of the country, if your income is being generated in the US, it would be subject to US taxes. Maybe use your affluence and tax savings in Texas to educate yourself?45 RecommendJdavid Jax fl Jan. 6
Let's see if we can understand why tax cuts for the Rich or more generally, income and wealth inequality, is bad for the economy. Economists have a concept called the velocity of money. It is the frequency, how often, that money changes hands in domestic commerce. Here's an example. Suppose the government gives Scrooge McDuck a Billion for advice on the comic book market, If Scrooge puts the bucks in his basement, and forgets about it, that doesn't help the economy at all. That Billion has a velocity of 0. Also, if Scrooge loses a financial bet to Daddy Warbucks, and the Billion moves from Scrooge's basement to Daddy's, that is a change, but the velocity does not change because it is not a useful change. It doesn't affect commerce. Money going to the Rich has a lower velocity than money going to the non-rich. The Rich spend a lower percentage of their money. What's a guy or gal who already has so many houses he can't remember how many & an elevator for his horse gonna spend his money on? The answer is he is going to use it to speculate.There is a correlation between inequality & financial speculation. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1661746 Speculation is bad for the economy. That money has a very low velocity. AND it increases risk which we have seen in 2008 ain't a good thing. Since 2007, the velocity of money has plunged. https://fredblog.stlouisfed.org/2016/04/a-plodding-dollar-the-recent-decrease-in-the-velocity-of-money /45 RecommendM.R. Khan Chicago Jan. 6
I own three businesses and I as I write this on a Saturday night in a hotel away from my business trying to expand it I can assure the professor I would not be doing this at a 70 percent tax rate!the ivory elite economists who write this drivel has never owned a business created one job or made one payroll. Did you just see the last jobs report the growth rate after trump cut taxes .44 RecommendRima Regas Southern California Jan. 5
These frauds who claim economic expertise without any real academic qualifications include Larry Kudlow.Reply 44 RecommendJessa Forthofer Maui Jan. 6
@Fourteen This sense of entitlement by the white patriarchy is rooted in America's original sin. From an essay I wrote in 2016: "Now, there are three things that we must deal with and we're going to transform this neighborhood into a brotherhood. We've got to deal with the problem of racism. We've got to deal with the problem of economic injustice or poverty. And we've got to deal with the problem of war."" The issues King delineated for his audiences in the months leading up to his assassination are the very same issues present day candidates are grappling with – the only difference is that in the intervening fifty plus years, the three fundamental problems identified by King have grown exponentially. Inequality is far wider today. Today's poverty is far deeper and encompasses a much wider segment of America's population. https://wp.me/p2KJ3H-1Tb Nothing can change until we have truth, reconciliation, and reparations because if it is OK to go on without apologizing as a nation, then it is OK to go on exploiting the classes in cycle after cycle of economic ups and downs and cycle after cycle of racial divide and conquer.44 RecommendAnother Joe Maine Jan. 5
I read this article as I sit on a patio at my Airbnb in Maui, looking out across the ocean. My girlfriend and I worked hard and tucked away any extra pennies we had for this vacation - doing so for a couple years. We are here to celebrate her 30th birthday, and it feels rich and lovely because this trip was hard-earned and marks a goal accomplished. It is unlikely we'll take another vacation like this for quite some time. The thing that strikes me the most as I read this article is that I sit here looking across the water toward the island of Lanai. Larry Ellison of Oracle owns 98% of that Hawaiian island (where the Dole pineapple plantation used to be). It is not a small island. Why do the rich need such things? Why is it reasonable to say that an individual man should even be able to purchase such a lavish, absurd amount of this beautiful paradise (and then only really allow the extremely wealthy to visit at the Four Seasons there, where a "bad" room runs over $1000 per night)? Why? The rich are not taxed enough.44 RecommendFourteen Boston Jan. 6
I'm not sure if this is still strictly true, but as of a couple of years ago the richest woman in the USA was the widow of one of Sam Walton's (i.e., Walmart) sons. In other words, the wealthiest woman in America was the heiress of an heir of someone who actually created a business. In case that isn't quite clear, the richest woman in America is someone who never, as far as is known, never did a lick of actual labor in her life. What is utterly astonishing is how many people have been brainwashed to believe our system is actually a meritocracy, and taxes on the wealthy are taxes on people who earned their wealth by the sweat of their brow. . .Reply 43 RecommendMiriam Chua Long Island Jan. 6
@Socrates The Rich have rigged the system to favor themselves against us. They don't know how to make money the old-fashioned way. They'd be lost in a competitive market. Instead, these Takers live in an alt-reality echo-chamber slapping each other on their backs for being "Makers." The Progressives see them clearly as parasites.43 RecommendJames Thornburgh San Diego Jan. 7
"...Republicans almost universally advocate low taxes on the wealthy, based on the claim that tax cuts at the top will have huge beneficial effects on the economy." Trickle-down economics, voodoo economics; when will people stop accepting this drivel, which was disproven by Reagan? As for the average middle-class American, what I find remarkable is that most people want lower taxes AND more services; I read letters in Newsday about it all the time. Totally illogical.Reply 43 RecommendSuzanne O'Neill Colorado Jan. 5
@romanette Well said.43 RecommendFourteen Boston Jan. 5
@Andy The quote that comes to mind is, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it." - Upton Sinclair42 RecommendSandraH. California Jan. 5
@Bruce Rozenblit I would add another prime motivation beyond wealth and power and control. For those with wealth and power in excess of what they could ever need, why do they continue to arrogantly pile it up regardless of the cost to others? I believe it is fear - the fear that people will object to the imbalance and try to right it. Great wealth and power engender insecurity. The Rich are afraid of us.42 RecommendGwe Ny Jan. 5
@Plennie Wingo, true. Our first tax reform should be to tax all income at the same rates. We should also eliminate different tax schedules for tax payers, depending on their marital status.42 Recommendch Indiana Jan. 5
@Barking Doggerel Yes and no. In today's world, male privilege has given you that view. However, and this is not a small point, that is YOUR view. In reality, MOST people at the top marginal rate that *I* know are not merely CEOs. The people that I know, peeps that would qualify for this tax hike, are the upper managers, high wage earners, typically at the height of their career. They tend to be first generation high earners...otherwise they would not need to work in this manner because their investments would otherwise feed them. They do not have independent wealth but they are trying desperately to accumulate it. Because they typically live in one of the two coasts, they tend to have high property taxes and a high cost of living. They have the means to pay for their kids education, but they worry about their children ability to build on their current success. In my experience, the high earners I know come in different flavors and nationalities. They only thing they all have in common is achievement: academic and economic. But I will tell you something I do know about the CEO types and they don't grow on trees. Try and recruit talent and not pay them. You won't be able to.... and it will make a difference to the bottom line, because I have seen it. This plan will push down the upper middle class down the way that the GOP already decimated the other middle class. To combat income inequality, close the "Mitt Romney" loopholes.42 RecommendLarry L Dallas, TX Jan. 6
The wealthy CEO's don't even work an extra hour for that extra $1,000. They just negotiate for obscene amounts of compensation that they cannot in any way spend. There was a study awhile ago - I think I read about it in the NYT - that suggested that a higher marginal tax rate might reduce the incentive for CEO's to negotiate for higher and higher compensation, because that would bump them up to a higher marginal tax rate. If that is correct, then corporations would have more to pay ordinary workers, and income inequality would be reduced.Reply 39 RecommendDavid Andrew Henry Chicxulub Puerto Yucatan Mexico Jan. 5
@Gwe, frankly, I think the executive management of American companies back in the 1950s and 1960s were more competent because they were better at balancing the needs across a number of constituencies. Even after adjusting for inflation, they made much, much less. Now THAT'S value! What has changed is an attitude of me-ism that an older generation that had to survive WWII and the Great Depression did NOT have. Unfortunately, that sort of zeitgeist died with them and the country is poorer as a society for it.39 RecommendMarjorie Riverhead Jan. 5
Paul, in your previous column you noted that corporations were sitting on a mountain of savings. The money is mostly in foreign banks, because the corporations don't want to bring it home, because they can't find good investments. I recently visited with a retired Canadian banker who said his best years were when he was working with young entrepreneurs...contractors, builders, small business owners. He watched them grow and helped through some of the rough parts. Is there something wrong with today's bankers? (Everyone please revisit The Big Short) Back to today's tax story. About forty years a go I needed three American engineers with experience we couldn't find in Canada. They didn't want to come..."taxes are too high." I explained that their private health insurance was a tax. When we factored in the cost of US health insurance they would have more after tax income in Canada. They came to Canada. Please continue to write about taxes. Thank you. Ancient Canadian economist In a Mayan fishing villageReply 39 RecommendIgnatius J. Reilly N.C. Jan. 6
My dad owned a small business on the Gold Coast of L.I. during the 60's which catered to old money WASPS whose wealth was taxed at upwards of 90%. However, they all "summered" on L.I. or Cape Cod, had homes in Manhattan, Paris, London and yachts in the Caribbean. And, as a middle class young adult, I was able to attend community college for $50 per semester. That's when we had real upward mobility, a dynamic economy and a strong middle class.38 RecommendDave Lafayette, CO Jan. 6
Who is this "The Rich"? Let's face it, it's sort of a Boogeyman. The REAL tax amounts come from BUSINESSES. BIG BUSINESSES. And that's who should be taxed and taxed well. There shouldn't even be an individual income tax. Everyone's income comes from a BUSINESS one way or another and should be taken out and adjusted for on the Business end. And as we know Business just got a HUGE break under Trump and the Republicans.Reply 37 RecommendEd L. Syracuse Jan. 6
As Mr. Krugman is often fond of saying: "Your spending is my income, and my spending is your income." Or, to quote Barack Obama in 2008: "When you spread the wealth around a bit, it's good for everyone." For his quote above, Obama was eviscerated by the Right for "advocating socialism". Of course for those who believed Saint Ronnie when he said, "It's all YOUR money" - ALL taxation is "socialism". That would be the GOP's mantra if it wasn't for the military-industrial complex (socialism for defense contractors). But I digress. The message behind both the Krugman and Obama quotes above is simply that we are currently on a political and economic path to neo-feudalism (where the Lords own 90% of the wealth and we Serfs squabble over the remaining crumbs). By contrast, "everyone" benefits from a European-style "social democracy" - where government actually "provides for the General Welfare" so the average citizen doesn't have to worry much about food, clothing, shelter, education and health care. These basics are the foundation of Maslow's "hierarchy of needs". Once these basic needs are met, citizens are free to concentrate their energies on "productive pursuits" (whether that's earning more money or writing a symphony). And everyone (even the wealthy) suffers from far less stress than in our current jungle system where most Americans literally struggle from paycheck-to-paycheck - just one illness or job loss from total destitution. Yet we continue to vote for serfdom.37 RecommendMytake North Carolina Jan. 7
Never in the field of human conflict has so much been written about one who has accomplished so little.37 RecommendRich Fairbanks Jacksonville Oregon Jan. 6
@Jason Let the wealthy flee and see if living outside of the USA on a daily basis holds much of a candle to living every day in the USA (e.g., Seattle, LA, or NYC) to name a few. Good luck.37 RecommendRudy Berkeley, CA Jan. 6
I own a small forestry company. Despite a competent tax preparer I pay well over 20% in federal income taxes. A large forestry company (Weyerhauser) with billions in revenue pays 0% federal tax. AOC knows exactly what she is talking about.37 RecommendJohn Mardinly Chandler, AZ Jan. 5
@Thomas Zaslavsky There no way to create wealth other than inventions and discoveries that 20-21st century science has shown us. All the other money making schemes are either rent seeking or exploitational. So the way we compensate scientists and scientist makers (teachers, aides etc) is so flawed that our sustainable scientific growth is in jeopardy (check the time it takes a PhD in biology to get a permanent job!). I don't see CEO any better than the scientists I've met in my life. The only difference is that CEOs are uber competitive whereas great scientists are excellent collaborators. There will be no capitalism, only feudalism without scientific discovery and inventions ... stop lionizing the CEOs.36 RecommendKim Terre Haute Jan. 7
It's time to end the salary limit for Social Security taxes. Also, people like Warren Buffet, who don't get a salary but make their income from dividends, should pay into Social Security by a 'Payroll Tax' on dividends.36 RecommendRudy Berkeley, CA Jan. 6
@Jason People and capital are not more mobile than they have ever been. The median income in the US has been stagnant for decades, and the buying power of that income declines every year. This is happening as the ultra-rich see tax breaks and hundred-percent increases in their income.36 RecommendMike Tucson Jan. 5
@Allan Reagan I've seen 100s of scientists who forego consumption, risk their life on finding truth (less than 1 in 10 PhDs land permanent jobs in Academia presently) that in turn help move the 20-21st century machine into creating wealth for all. I don't see them asking for 10 million plus to get rewarded. Einstein refused a pay hike at Princeton to $8K (present value $40) but without him there'll be no internet, mobile phones etc for supposedly "self-made" men (yes men) like you to make money from! We're all incredibly hard working like you (mothers, teachers, drivers, painters etc). You're incredibly lucky to make 10 million plus! Modesty would be a nice gesture ...36 RecommendFrom Where I Sit Gotham Jan. 5
I wonder what our country would be like if we had the same distribution of income by deciles as we had in, say, 1980 before the Regan tax cuts and subsequent cuts. How much more money would people in the bottom three quartiles have in their pockets? With more money to enjoy life, could productivity have continued to increase rather than decrease. I suspect with all of that money in their pockets they would have consumed more, GDP growth would have been higher, there would have been less impetus to drive work to cheaper labor markets in Asia because people could afford things from higher labor markets like the good old USA. We would have more money to invest in infrastructure. We would have enough money for universal health care. So in turns out, I believe, the Republican tax policy is just one big scam to create a landed gentry in this country, something I doubt the founding fathers would be ok with having just gotten out of a country where the landed gentry were everything. And my having a universal health care growing at GDP rather than 2x GDP, would would have a low cost and better health care system.36 RecommendGary Monterey, California Jan. 7
Please don't repeat what you wrote here. It is tragically WRONG though it is widely repeated! No one pays 70% on ALL their income. Each tax rate applies ONLY to monies in that bracket. If a theoretical 70% applied to income above $10,000,000, and someone made $11,000,000, then they would pay the rate of 70% on $1,000,000. Furthermore, if there is an exemption for the first $12,000 of income, and a rate of 5% from $12,001-$20,000, then you, me and our millionaire example would all pay no tax on the first $12k, $399.95 on the next bracket and so on. The end result is what's known as the effective tax rate and that's the progressive part of it.36 RecommendEllen San Diego Jan. 5
@Billy Walker Sigh .... another failure to understand the meaning of marginal tax rate.36 RecommendJohn Quinn Virginia Beach Jan. 6
@Red Sox, '04, '07, '13, '18, I think if you scratch them deep, many very wealthy people in the U.S. would like to see better infrastructure, universal healthcare, more people in homes than on the street, etc., plus a progressive program to deal with climate change. And if a logical, sensible tax proposal could be put forth, they would vote and help pay for it, slowing our nation's slide toward becoming a third world country.36 RecommendYuri Asian Bay Area Jan. 5
Progressive taxation is a fraud and unfair. Everyone should pay a flat rate; around 20%. There is no reason not to tax all taxpayers with the same rate.Reply 36 RecommendJohn D. Out West Jan. 6
Jesse "Big Daddy" Unruh -- when he was California State Assembly Speaker ran against incumbent Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1970 promising a confiscatory tax of 100% on income above $1 million a year. Unruh, known for his quip "Money is the Mother's Milk of Politics" ran as a progressive populist against Reagan, who was re-elected with a decisive margin of 52.8% to 45.1%. Post-election Analysts were surprised that working class Democrats rejected Unruh because they said they strongly opposed his 100% tax on all income above $1 million annually. After Unruh lost there was an apocryphal interview with a taxi driver who said "if I make more than a million a year I don't want the state taking it away." When the reporter asked the cab driver if he really thought he'd ever make that much, the cab driver said "who knows, I might get lucky." Stamped on the politically modified DNA of too many working Americans is the fable that everyone is just a sliver of luck away from tycoon wealth. It's a fantasy of American Exceptionalism that explains the celebrity and allure of privatized wealth trumping common good and common sense. To paraphrase Marx: Money lust is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people". To misquote the late Carter Ag Secretary Bob Bergland, "the rich know the cost of everything but the value of nothing." Amen to that.36 RecommendTony Long San Francisco Jan. 5
@Ron Cohen, exactly right. A reduction in incentive for the ultra-wealthy to make an extra million or two also can help reduce the cutthroat nature of this economy & society. What would the rich guy have to do to add that extra couple of million? Lie about the asbestos in his company's talcum powder? Ignore product safety standards to save on manufacturing cost? Fire a wad of people and drive the remaining skeleton crew over the edge into stress-induced disease? Find a way to get that toxic waste off your hands, say as an ineffective, downright toxic fire retardant for furniture and baby clothes? Anything society can do to lower the probability of outcomes like those is a significant benefit for all.36 RecommendAndrew Zuckerman Port Washington, NY Jan. 5
"So why not tax them at 100 percent? The answer is that this would eliminate any incentive to do whatever it is they do to earn that much money, which would hurt the economy." And yet, as both you and Thomas Piketty have pointed out, most of the wealth being generated now is through investment, in other words making money from money. So nothing useful is being produced and these people are not "job creators." Go ahead. Tax them at 100 percent.35 RecommendEllen San Diego Jan. 7
@Matthew Carnicelli America isn't happier but rich Republican donors are. Republicans work for their rich donors, not for America so the party is just doing its job.35 RecommendNelson Austin Jan. 5
@Mjxs Rather than restore the draft, have a national conversation on our outsized military, and its (our?) goals. Perhaps reducing its budget significantly, instigating universal community domestic service for all our youth, and giving some of the savings to repair our tattered safety net would get us to where we would like to be.35 RecommendRyan GA Jan. 5
@Geoffrey Please read the comment from "Barking Doggeral," I think it answers your question. Basically, "super compensated" does not equal super productive by a long shot.35 RecommendJim California Jan. 5
I'll tell you how Ocasio-Cortez will perform as a member of Congress: She won't. She is too intelligent and her policies are too sane and sensible to mesh with the crooks and corporate shills who control our modern political system. The people want wild, outlandish, showbiz personalities, not a return to the stable social democracy that made us the greatest country in the world during the 1950s. AOC may know how to use Twitter, but unlike Trump she doesn't know how to use fear and deceit to influence an entrenched profit-driven plutocracy, and unlike Trump her ideas won't allow global megacorporations to consolidate their money and control over us so any hope of financial support is out of the question. And her ideas concerning policy would promote America's strength and stability, something that our foreign enemies will fight tooth and nail to prevent. With no corporate cash and an army of foreign agents and their Republican employees undermining her, AOC's agenda will go nowhere. Furthermore, she will accomplish nothing in Congress because there is no Congress. Trump has eliminated it. The shutdown is not a means to the end of building the wall. The Wall fight is just a means to an end: Trump and his followers want the government to remain shut down. They want to undermine our government and punish Federal employees by putting them out of work. Their motivations are resentment, spite, and the driving need to hurt Americans. Trump's goal is two branches of government.35 RecommendDoug Brockman springfield, mo Jan. 6
Facts are always disconcerting because they challenge beliefs and in this situation sense of personal self worth amongst the highly compensated.Reply 35 RecommendJim Muncy Florida Jan. 6
Imagine yourself a cardiologist making 900K a year. Now imagine taxing his income at 90% inclding state taxes. How likely is he to get out of bed at 3 AM to do y our emergency angioplasty, since his income depends on aperformance based compensation model and his sleepless night, before working the next day as well, isnt going to earn him beans a fter taxes?35 Recommendmpound USA Jan. 6
Yes, but 80% -- holy cow! That just sounds outrageous. It's very bad optics if nothing else. How can the IRS agent, with a straight face anyway, demand, "Okay, buddy, for the privilege of living here, you owe us eight out of every ten dollars you earn." Really? Isn't that absurd overreach? No? It's fine with me personally: I'm poor, living on a modest Social Security check. It's also fine with me if you outlaw booze and cigarettes, too, because I'm not a patron. I've no skin in these games. And I do love the idea of financing our deeply in debt, democratic government and helping the poor, I'm one of them, but, yeow, 80%? That's going to be a hard-sell just on the face of it, although I concede to the wisdom of my superiors -- the Ph.d. economists, especially the Nobel-Prize winners. Just as I did when called upon to fight the noble Vietnam War. They know more than me, right? So, AO-C, carry on, girl. You have the money gurus behind you, while this layman remains bemused, stymied, and not a little red-faced by the paradox, appropriateness, and effectiveness of an 80% tax rate. Holy cow! Good morning, Vietnam.Reply 34 RecommendVan Owen Lancaster PA Jan. 5
"The controversy of the moment involves AOC's advocacy of a tax rate of 70-80 percent on very high incomes, which is obviously crazy, right? I mean, who thinks that makes sense? Naturally, Krugman and the cocktail waitress/tax policy savant known as "AOC" don't even bother to define what constitutes "very high incomes", which demonstrates just how poorly thought out their magical thinking really is. Try again, Paul.Reply 34 RecommendJoe Public Merrimack, NH Jan. 6
Great article. No need to argue the point. Raise tax rates on those earning north of one million to 73%. Just do it. Now.34 RecommendAnatomically modern human At large Jan. 7
Taxation is theft. It is wrong to tax people at 70%, because you are stealing from them.Reply 34 RecommendPeter Z Los Angeles Jan. 5
". . . a tax rate of 70-80 percent on very high incomes . . . is a policy nobody has ever implemented, aside from the United States, for 35 years after World War II -- including the most successful period of economic growth in our history." I've been waiting for decades now for someone to notice this. For several years during world war II, the top tax rate was 95%. It dropped a bit at the end of the war, but by 1950 it was back above 90%, and there it remained until 1963. When vast amounts of public money flow into private pockets in the form of defense spending, which has been the case since the 1940s, high marginal tax rates are what keep public money public. Anything less amounts to a huge transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich. Which is exactly what's been happening since the Reagan-Thatcher years. Call it "socialism for the rich". It's time to get back to the common sense policies of working for the common good, and that means progressive taxation.34 RecommendSteve California Jan. 5
Paul.....Taxing the wealthy is the ONLY way to provide income equality to all Americans. The rich never, ever, make their money without the Democratic Capitalistic system for them to operate within. The US infrastructure, the laws, the labor of the many, and other common benefits to all businesses provide Americans the opportunity to build personal wealth. If the wealth Gap gets too big, the many "have nots" will revolt. It's in the interest of the 1% to make sure the 99% is taken care of. It's a matter of survival.Reply 34 Recommendhikenandclimbin MV, WA Jan. 7
Currently the 1% own 50% of global wealth, they will own 66% by 2030. Left unchecked, they will eventually own virtually all wealth, which reduces you and I to serfs, and is intrinsically unstable. The reason for this is simple: the return on capital is about 6-10% while GDP growth is 2-4% which means that wealth will accumulate with those who own capital: aka: the rich get richer. That is a systemic outcome. The solution is simple: tax at the top, invest at the bottom.34 RecommendTom New Jersey Jan. 5
@Jason You clearly didn't read the editorial: Why is it that the Conservatives never articulate a policy proposal based on factual analysis ? Because, much like Jason's suggestion that he would move his business out of the country & Jason's criticism that the left's answer is soak the rich, has no basis in reality. Jason may or may not move his business but this of little consequence as his 'income' would be distinct from business profit. & the notion that the rich are soaked is difficult to reconcile with our current economic situation. The Far-Right seems to misunderstand how tax structure works & how tax income is used. Jason's suggestion that the private sector applies superior critical thinking skills is belied by his comments & this is driven home by the mere fact of his comment being an 'Times Pick'33 RecommendGeoffrey Dallas Jan. 6
@SJP The only country that has tried a marginal income tax rate above 55% recently (France, 70%) abandoned it as unproductive, i.e. it wasn't collecting much because people successfully avoided paying it. That speaks more to me than what may be optimal in theory. With state and local taxes added in, marginal tax in US blue states is already about 50%. An 80% tax rate is a political fantasy, even in Sweden (total top marginal rate 56%)33 RecommendLaurie USA Jan. 6
It sounds like a strategy to discriminate against a minority group based solely upon the one characteristic that defines their minority status - their income. No law-abiding group should be targeted for disproportionate, punitive taxation based upon their income. The ultra wealthy, who broke no laws while attaining their wealth, should not be financially exploited after the fact simply because the majority would like to siphon off their wealth rather than innovate and work for their own. Who are you, or anyone else to say how much of a person's hard earned income is "enough for them" or to decide how "bothered" they will be if you forcibly take the portion of their money you've deemed to be excessive. What have you done that entitles you to deserve any portion of another person's earnings? I could find a large group of impoverished, homeless people who would feel that the middle-class income you earn is too much for you and that you should be forced to distribute any amount over a subsistence income to them since they are less fortunate than you. I doubt you'd be as quick to advocate for their claim to your money as you are for your own claim to the money of the wealthy.33 RecommendRudy Berkeley, CA Jan. 6
@Annie. "What if we stopped believing that government could fix all of our problems?" The US Constitution is written so that the Federal Government provides for the common good. If we stop believing that, we might as well move to Russia.32 RecommendMeredith New York Jan. 6
@dmckj So Denmark is Cuba?32 RecommendBenjamin ben-baruch Ashland OR Jan. 6
Of course Repubs say tax cuts for the rich will benefit the whole economy---that's you and me. What else can they say---the truth? That they want to confiscate our national productivity---meaning what you and me produce at work? Because it's their due, as superior beings who call the shots? Then decide how little to pay you and me in return? Or that it's perfectly ok to send our jobs away to low wage countries, and leave us to scramble? Can they say that they should dominate our govt like the aristocrats of olden days? Those ones we overthrew way back when? No, would sound awful. So they and well paid consultants make up these economic slogans---and millions believe them! And many go along with it to be in with the influential and powerful. The politicians taking donor money spread the lie. The big con is to equate corporate wealth with Americanism and Freedom. They manipulate us with the implied threat and contrast of a true Communist dictatorship where the govt owns everything. But as Krugman's favorite 2016 candidate Bernie Sanders said---Yes, of course we want capitalism, but regulated capitalism! If elected govt doesn't regulate corporations then the corporations will regulate the govt. That's what we have now, disguised. Btw-- PK says, " if a rich man works..." How about if a rich woman works? Or rich person, Or rich people. Times have changed. Hard habit to break. Man is not synonomous with humanity.Reply 32 RecommendBlank Venice Jan. 7
Wow! A congressperson who understands economics and who can dance too!Reply 31 RecommendJW New York Jan. 7
@Allan Reagan I had an accountant in my early days of entrepreneurship who wisely explained to me that paying taxes was far better than not paying them. He was right, as I earned more income, I paid more taxes and became more successful so I could earn more income and pay more taxes. Paying the 70% rate on your earnings over $10m means you already earned $10m. In a year. Now stop complaining already.31 RecommendMarc Herlands San Diego, CA Jan. 6
@Billy Walker Regardless of whether we are talking about marginal rates, the idea that taxation is "theft" is something that the wealthy have been pounding into the heads of the population for decades now. If that were true, then those that don't want to pay taxes should not be permitted to use OUR roadways, or seek protection from OUR police force, or expect their trash to be picked up by OUR sanitation workers. If and when a natural disaster strikes and your home is destroyed, please don't look to US for relief. If you are in trouble in a foreign country do not look to OUR embassy. When you want to sue your business partners or you get into an accident and need to sue the negligent party or even when you are arrested and accused of a crime, please don't look to OUR courts for redress. If you have not paid for these services, please don't steal them from those that have paid. Also, if you have a business, please do not steal the use of OUR railways, roadways, bridges and tunnels, postal system, shipping ports, waterways, rivers, lakes, airports, airways, traffic controllers, etc. Because the more you are making, the more you will be using OUR infrastructure and services. Get your own and stop putting such heavy demands on what is OURS. Freeloading rich people will not be tolerated despite the fact that they are and always have been amongst the most self entitled people to grace this country. Pay your taxes or stop stealing.30 RecommendSteve Crouse CT Jan. 5
Eisenhower said that high marginal income tax rates on wealthy people and corporations was not socialism but sound economic policy. He said corporations would pay a greater portion of their profits from increased worker productivity to workers rather than pay an increased amount in taxes to government. For decades workers received annual increases in wages and benefits when marginal income tax rates were high. Then Reaganomics was introduced which lowered greatly those marginal income tax rates on wealthy people and corporations while raising payroll taxes on workers and businesses. The result has been no growth or loss of real income for 90% of the country, a small to moderate gain for the top 9%, and a huge gain in real income for the top 1% of income earners. Businesses gave bonuses to management for increasing before tax profits. They did this by reducing the growth rate of wages and benefits and moving production to Mexico and China where wages and benefits and regulations are much less than in the US. It has been goodbye good industrial jobs and hello to bad service jobs for the past 35 years. It's time to go back to that which helps most people and not the top 1%. Goodbye to trickle down economics which has never worked to help the bottom 99%.Reply 30 RecommendAlexanderTheGoodEnough Pennsylvania Jan. 6
@Ellen All correct, our infrastructure has already become third world. Next time you're stuck in traffic under a bridge, look up at the rusted steel and spalled concrete. I do this often because I've been involved with road construction all my life and I'm aware of the collapse of our infrastructure. However, few people ever look up at a bridge when below it, and don't recognize what they see. The politicians don't look either, but the engineers do.30 RecommendJack SF Bay Area Jan. 6
What's good for the USA is good for General Bullmoose!! https://youtu.be/Kj65AcbekIE I've been saying this for years. The wealth of the wealthy is founded upon and maintained by the prosperity of America's working people. Those among the ±1%, and most especially the 0.1%, who are not sociopaths ("It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail." ~ Gore Vidal et al.) must realize that the best investment that the well-to-do have ever made in all of human history was in America's infrastructure and its middle class during the 3+ decades following WW II. Even though at the time the taxes on the wealthy were overly confiscatory, not only did it result in remarkable economic prosperity for all, including the wealthy, it also meant that the wealthy could sleep safely in their beds and not have to cower behind walls and private armies for fear that their heads might end up on a pike. Sadly, those days seem to be passing. A person with no hope can be deadly, so, as the people lose more and more, the rich must, perforce, fear more and more. Some of them know that, and know better, but... "We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." ~ Justice Louis D. Brandeis When John D. Rockefeller was asked once, "How much money is enough money?" He replied, "Just a little bit more."Reply 30 RecommendMolesh NY Jan. 6
It's not just higher tax brackets for the wealthy. It's also tax breaks on dividends as opposed to dividends as well as all of the other tax breaks that rich people receive. It's also unaudited and untracked overspending on the military, subsidies for fossil fuel companies, and all of that stuff. The result is that young people pay for their education for the rest of their lives; roads, bridges, railroads, airports, water systems, etc., are in a state of advanced decay and our society as a whole is suffering from structural deterioration. So good for Krugman and Ocasio-Cortez. It's about time.30 Recommendsjs Bridgeport, CT Jan. 5
Taxing the rich at 75% is a fools errand. President Holland tried only to see rich leave France. In a global economy, the rich move, when taxed too much, (in their opinion) to where taxes are lower. It is just as lovely to live in London - with the source of your income conveniently located in the Channel Island) then in NYC30 RecommendThomas Zaslavsky Binghamton, N.Y. Jan. 5
@WPLMMT I am a liberal and a progressive and what I want is for the ultra rich to stop grabbing everything for themselves aided by unfair tax laws and bought politicians. Write back in 2.5 years, WPLMMT, and see if your prediction about her longevity comes true. I wouldn't take the bet, if I were you.30 RecommendJMM Worcester, MA Jan. 5
@Robert Orban Reagan did not do it. Volcker did it, with the approval of Carter, before Reagan became president, and continued the same policy under Reagan.30 Recommendbud mckinney Jan. 6
@Ron Cohen A bigger contribution to the "why" is the changes in accounting rules on options and stock compensation. This plus the SEC rule changes regarding advanced advice (forecasting company performance) have allowed executives to play the expectations game and manage their payout.29 RecommendKaty NYC Jan. 7
Krugman,as usual,you are wrong.When you pay 70% or more in taxes;what is your incentive to work.The people taxed at the 70% rate will leave,just like France.Then France reduced the tax rate.Cortez is an individual with scant knowledge of economics/taxation.I find it amazing she grew up in affluent Yorktown Heights in Westchester County yet wants us to believe she's a poor hispanic from the Bronx.Reply 29 RecommendCharles New York Jan. 5
@Billy Walker Under Dwight D Eisenhower, taxes on the wealthy were much higher percentage. Ocasio regurgitated a Republican's tax plan and called it her own. During Ike's tenure, those monies were used to build the greatest infrastructure America ever built, and the last time America made any meaningful investment in our infrastructure - because Reganonomics paved the way to decrease taxes on the wealthy and there went America's infrastructure monies. Why are you so determined to make sure the rich get richer?29 Recommendlester ostroy Redondo Beach, CA Jan. 5
@Geoffrey "Why not punish the unproductive with high taxes as an incentive for them to become more productive".... It's rich to imply someone making $20 an hour is unproductive as opposed to one born to the investor or heir class who may have never lifted a finger or even earned their original wealth in the first place.29 RecommendDenise Johnson Claremont, CA Jan. 7
@Plennie Wingo When considering tax rates, the so called payroll tax should be folded in. Most observers of our tax rates seem to forget that part of the deal. Since the government uses the payroll taxes collected no differently than it uses any other funds collected, I think it would be smart to get rid of it altogether. Right now, the payroll tax, which is supposedly funding Social Security and Medicare has a surplus every year and is added ludicrously to the national "debt." Let's get rid of all of these fictions and start over so that the actual taxes everyone pays will be more equitable.29 RecommendMark Portland, ME Jan. 6
@Billy Walker So who cares about the data, history, experts- you know what you know. Our current tax laws have been written by the rich & corporations. Do you think that is why they favor the rich & corporations with little regard to what is best for our country? I do.28 Recommended connor camp springs, md Jan. 5
I think this quote by Mr. Krugman is a dangerous mentality to have for us citizens. "Or to put it a bit more succinctly, when taxing the rich, all we should care about is how much revenue we raise." Boy could this logic justify some madness down the road.28 RecommendEllen San Diego Jan. 5
Capital, and capitalists, can flee. It's why the Beatles left the U.K. in their prime. Remember "Tax Man"? Paul, you more than anyone have spoken about the fact that capital knows no borders; it just seeks the highest return.28 Recommendjas2200 Carlsbad, CA Jan. 7
Isn't a major elephant in the room the amount of our taxes that goes to (Eisenhower's famous phrase) the Military Industrial Complex? As Martin Luther King said :" A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom."Reply 28 RecommendMidnight Scribe Chinatown, New York City Jan. 6
@Allan Reagan: If you are making under $100,000, you won't be hurt by the higher tax rates Democrats, including AOC, are talking about. AOC floated higher rates on income over $10,000,000. I think you are safe.28 RecommendAKJ Pennsylvania Jan. 6
The future has arrived and we'll do anything to stop it dead in its tracks. AOC is a symptom of the future, not the full-blown terminal illness lying in wait for the oligarchy. Beto O'Rourke may also be a symptom of this new dreaded epidemic. The GOP has been doing this smoke-and-mirrors act with the economy for decades: the "job creators" who can't be taxed, the efficient markets which result in a major financial catastrophe every ten years, the "competition" which only results in the consolidation of economic control and power in the hands of a few big corporations (monopolists) and big banks. And the whole thing runs on free money - zero interest rate policy - or effectively zero when inflation is factored in. We have a cult. A cult of "conservatism" which is profligate, wasteful, irresponsible, fatuous, anti-scientific, anti-fact, and anti-intellectual. Cults work better without facts. They're hostile to fact. And cults are dangerous like ignorance, and greed, and chicanery. Conservative = Insurgent. Up = Down. Donkey = Aristotle. And doesn't it sell like hotcakes along with those $40 red hats...Reply 28 RecommendMij Sirron California Jan. 6
@sharon Not to mention how Mitt shoveled a bunch of options into his retirement account without having to pay taxes on their full value.28 RecommendScott Texas Jan. 6
Great idea, let's raise more tax money so that we can do truly productive activities such as flying dead ex-presidents and senators across the country (several times) in 747's. Maybe they needed the security or were in a hurry to be buried. Then, of course, look at the great value-for-dollar we get from military spending.Reply 27 RecommendWizarat Moorestown, NJ Jan. 6
I don't need some 29 year-old who has never started a business, made payroll, created something that didn't exist before, took the chance, made the investment, and suffered the many setbacks before the idea was a success to tell me how I should or shouldn't spend my money. Taxing it is the same as saying how I should spend it. I also do not need an academic who has never started a business, made payroll, created something that didn't exist before, took the chance, made the investment, and suffered the many setbacks before the idea was a success to tell me how I should or shouldn't spend my money. Taxing it is the same as saying how I should spend it. Both of these folks are sad examples of the "let me tell you what is best for you" paternalistic, liberal ideology that we should all be very afraid of.27 RecommendWorldPeace2017 US Expat in SE Asia Jan. 6
Professor Krugman, AOC is no flake and the Republicans know that. Trumpian Republicans are running scared of the new freshman class of 116th Congress as it is the most diverse and educated ever. They are looking for ways to discredit these young, energetic, and educated Representatives of the People who came/got elected to take back the Government from the Corporations. They promised to make it work for all the people. Just to add one more item in your list of why we should tax the top 1% with a 70%-75% tax rate is the fact that the utility of extra money to people with middle and low income is certainly very high as compared to higher income folks/corporations. The marginal propensity to save is almost zero for extra money received as a result of tax cuts/reductions in the lower income individuals, essentially they are going to spend all of it in the local economy to obtain the necessities of life. This extra money spent in the economy would have a major multiplier effect in the economy. We do live in a consumer based economy. The revenue generated by taxing the extremely wealthy individuals/corporations would go a long way to fund a lot of Progressive ideas/values for our citizen. The freshman class of 116th Congress gives me a lot of hope for the future of our country.27 RecommendnotBillWalker New Britain, CT Jan. 7
@paulkrugman You have stated things I learned 65 years ago in my first economics class when good teachers were proud to say the names like Samuel Gompers and the like. Thank you. You were right about the timing and prosperity that the US had in the period after WW II. The US growth rate was doubling every 11years, as shown in graphs on The Guardian on 5 January. Only after Reagan did the US begin a real spiral down in growth, but still ahead of all others except China. Real productivity increases are hindered by some almost immovable obstacles; Greed by the rich, over weight among all groups and failures in educating/inspiring the masses. The three are global phenomenons but only addressing the first can lead to having the wherewithal's to address the other 2. I look forward to reading and following @AOC in her work in the future, she has great guts. I'm with her.Reply 27 RecommendPrede New Jersey Jan. 7
@Billy Walker It's a marginal tax rate, Billy. You're not going to be paying anywhere close to 70%.27 RecommendJoel Sanders New Jersey Jan. 6
@Jason Capital controls, high tariff walls, and high interest rates fix this. You know what the united states had from 1947-1970ish26 RecommendDave From Auckland Auckland Jan. 5
Mr. Krugman's citation of a utility analysis lacks a grounding in property rights, which arguably define and distinguish the US from all other political economies. That said, if we want to use utility as the standard of value, then let's use rule-based utility vs. act-based utility. On that standard, how have the socialist / communist / so-called "progressive" / fascist / generally collectivist countries performed over the last 100 years in relation to the US? Who has flourished? Who has perished? If you are in doubt, take a drive through a typical Pyongyang or Naypyidaw suburb and compare it to a typical US suburb. Also consider Moscow and Havana; they love collectivist thought almost as much as the US academy. Earth to Mr. Krugman: human beings are more than widgets in your economic toolbox. [No, not a Republican.]Reply 26 RecommendTim Kane Mesa, Arizona Jan. 6
If 'everyday' people had guaranteed healthcare, education for their kids and food on the table, they would not be so overwhelmed with making and saving money. Whatever tax rate that requires on whomever could pay would be worth itReply 26 RecommendMichael London UK Jan. 7
According to the late Nobel Laureate & Econ Historian Douglas C. North's "Structure & Change in Economic History" @ the time of the collapse of the Roman Empire wealth was so concentrated that 6 senators owned half of North Africa, specie so concentrated that trade was reduced to barter & the commercial economy collapsed. Serfdom was created to tie workers to the land. The Roman legion still held a tactical advantage over their adversaries, but it had thinned, as a result the empire needed a bigger army however the wealthy & powerful used their influence to avoid paying taxes; as a result the empire lacked the funds & the political will to defend its borders @ a time when it controlled all the resources of Western Civilization @ a time when that included Turkey, Syria, Egypt & North Africa as well as the best part of Europe against barbarians. Similar events lead to the collapse of Ancient Egypt's New Kingdom, Byzantium, Mideavel Japan, Hapsburg Spain, Bourbon France, Romanov Russia, Coolege-Hoover America (triggering the Great Depression, Hitler, WWII, the Holoust), oh, & BushJr America. Concentrated wealth destroys great empires, civilizations & nations. Marx got in trouble for pointing out that industrial capitalism grows slower than the rate of wealth concentration. The right likes to shoot the messenger. He was doing them a favor. High taxes & redistribution of bargaining power is needed to stave off instability & collapse & hardship so vast you can't conceive it.26 RecommendMike NY Jan. 5
Really fascinating article and very informative. More please. What's the lowest rate in the US? When I started work in 1981 in the U.K. I paid 30%. Now down to 20%. Plus about 3% for national insurance which is income tax really but is meant to be hypothecated to the NHS. I'm happy to pay some more to ensure the continued cohesion of our society. I don't know why some people find that such a problem.Reply 26 RecommendNextGeneration Portland Jan. 6
This ignores the fact that most people with a lot of money don't make their income in the form of a paycheck. What we really need to do is return the tax rate on investment income, not earned income. That would also help end these wild swings and speculation we see on Wall Street.Reply 26 RecommendJS Seattle Jan. 7
Appreciate the reporting, but NYT why not report on what Nancy Pelosi is saying or doing vs. a freshman in Congress? The Speaker of the House has years and years of experience; is one of the few members of the government who has been recorded effectively talking "back" to Trump; and as her daughter says, is someone who clearly knows what she is doing, so people (in America) can sleep at night.Reply 26 RecommendPaul Wortman Providence Jan. 5
@Jason, you wouldn't move to CA or Ireland, you'd move to countries like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, or Macedonia. Go ahead, be my guest!26 RecommendGary Durst Boston Jan. 6
It's been clear since Ronald Reagan that tax cuts don't trickle down while workers wages stagnate. It's time to reverse course, especially when Trump has nearly bankrupted the Treasury and Republicans have been shown to be hypocrites on deficit reduction. It's time to address income inequality and provide funds for Medicare-for-All; an infrastructure program that will bring the nation into the 21st century with high-speed rail and a modern energy grid that includes solar and wind; and prods states to return to tuition-free higher education at state colleges and universities. A.O.C. is "right on the money" with a top bracket of 70 percent. It's time to end the Trump kleptocracy and fully restore the graduated income tax.Reply 25 RecommendMax Dither Ilium, NY Jan. 7
Fascinating...an oversimplified correlation of two variables (tax rates and growth) to justify redistribution of wealth. "Hey, Mr/Ms X, I know you earned your income based on the value of what you do in a competitive marketplace, but you don't really need all of what you earned...so we the government, arbiters of wise decisions about how to spend money, are going to take most of what you earned and give it to someone else." Poppycock.... Rep Ocasio-Cortez seems both nice and sincere; I'd venture to say she's a very good person based upon her concern and empathy, and I don't understand the flawed tactics of the right in picking on her extra-legislative habits (dancing, clothing choices, etc.) Her empathy and personality don't balance her terrible politics regarding redistribution of wealth. As for economists -- Nobel Prizes notwithstanding -- the good ones are driving gorwth today and not publishing opinion pieces based on poor economic theoryReply 25 Recommendmrfreeze6 Seattle, WA Jan. 5
The point AOC (and, surprisingly, you) miss is that the kinds of wealthy people she wants to target with a 70 percent marginal tax rate don't make their income from wages. They make it from capital gains instead. So, if she wants to create a more sustainable revenue flow to the government, she needs to work on getting those rates up to reasonable levels. But capital gains have different forms. The part that she needs to focus is on speculative capital gains, not investment gains. Short term gains resulting from just flipping securities is gambling writ large, and there's no reason why the taxpayers should have to subsidize that risk-taking with low tax rates for the flippers. Treating these gains as ordinary income is goodness, but only if that rate matches the higher rate AOC wants. In fact, those should be higher than the top marginal rate, and expenses related to them should not be deductible. (This should include carried interest, too.) Long term capital gains tend to create jobs, infrastructure, and retirement savings, so those need to be encouraged with deductions of related expenses, and lower tax rates, too. In any event, I encourage AOC in her thinking. We need to readjust our tax system to make it more fair to the taxpayers, and to stop the robber barons on Wall Street from ripping us off.Reply 25 RecommendA Populist Wisconsin Jan. 5
@Prof Forgive me for not feeling sorry for the wealthy. They have benefited greatly under the system of government we call the U.S., a system we all pay for. There are plenty of other taxes people pay besides federal taxes (excise, state, city, local, property, etc.). They don't have armies of lobbyists, attorneys and loopholes to protect their capital. As for moving all of their money offshore, good riddance.25 RecommendART Boston Jan. 6
@hammond Paul Krugman has written about the "Europe was Rubble" myth - the idea that the unprecedented creation of a large and prosperous U.S. middle class, was only possible because of those special conditions. https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/19/the-europe-in-rubble-excuse / Here it is about tax policy, but it is also brought up as an excuse not to try policy responses to high unemployment, low wages, etc. In addition to PK's arguments: First, the whole idea that we had faster growth due to having had trade *surpluses*, doesn't make sense. Those surpluses actually required *more* output - not less. So, in theory, if Europe had *not* been rubble (dubious, as PK points out), US growth should have been *higher*. OK, that is all based on theoretical supply side constraints. But what about Demand? OK, now you have something. The trade surpluses increased demand (AD = C+I+G+(X-M). It is long past time to start talking about aggregate demand, and how that has been creating a dysfunctional economy. Also, how destruction of the New Deal, has allowed wages to stagnate, which has given us lots of low productivity jobs at low pay, reducing productivity growth through compositional effects - but more importantly, making US poorer, less efficient, and with less job satisfaction. Workers can tell when their job is really not valued. Finally, if indeed making low skilled US workers compete with foreign starvation wages is a problem, we need to acknowledge and fix that.25 RecommendCitizen RI Jan. 5
One of the biggest myths out there is the one in which an individual says "I did it all on my own". The truth is, no you did not. You had an education, passed down from other generations that made discoveries, you had paved roads, police and fireman, an educated workforce, safe food to eat, clean water to drink. All things paid for by everyone. We should have high taxes that are progressive. People use the misnomer, "The Government" to try and discredit as others the people charging the taxes. But come on people, stop being stupid. Our constitution says "Government by the people for the people". We are our government. Anyone of you, or I, can run for office. Enough of this fake individualism conservative fairy tale. We need to work together in order to build a more just and perfect society.25 RecommendRational not Rationalize Milwaukee, WI Jan. 7
You can put all the charts and graphs you want in front of people, provide all the historical evidence available, and provide evidence of how things have never and are not now working the way Republicans say it has or will, and they still will refuse to believe their lying eyes. The Republican experiment to fleece the middle and lower classes is ongoing and successful, in part supported by the middle and lower classes' willful blind ignorance and devotion to self flagellation.Reply 25 RecommendKenneth Johnson Pennsylvania Jan. 5
Please don't forget we are talking about the highest MARGINAL tax rate, e. g., the tax due on the income over $600,000 for a couple filing jointly was 37% in 2018 and the same couple paid 35% on $400,001 to $600,00, and 32% on $315,000 to $400,000, and 24% on $165,001 to ¥315,000, and 22% on $77,401 $165,000, and 12% on $19,051 to $77,400, and 10% on income up to $19,050. What we need are more margins on the high end; to equate a $600,000 earner with a $10,000,000 earner is absurd. Nearly half the top %1 of earners make $10,000,000 or more! Why should they be taxed at the same rate as someone making 6% as much??? A family making $36,000 (6% of $600,000) pays a highest marginal rate of 12%, while the family making $600,001 pays a highest marginal rate of 37% and a family making $10,000,000 pays at the same highest marginal rate of 37%! The incentive for the top .1% in this set up is not to put money back into their businesses or employ more people, but rather, it's to buy off politicians dedicated to keeping their tax rate on the bulk of their income ridiculously low! When the Koch brothers thanked Paul Ryan for passing Trump's tax cuts it cost them $500,000 (in donations to Ryan), but gained them $1,000,000,000 to $1,400,000,000 in reduced taxes. See how it works? Forget about the 1%! Go after the .1%!!!Reply 25 RecommendYW New York, NY Jan. 6
As an affluent retired person, I left New Jersey for Texas, where I'm originally from. With 'an optimal tax rate of 73%', I'll be leaving the USA. I can still spend 182 days a year here. Let them tax those affluent people who must remain behind. As Margaret Thatcher said: 'The problem with socialism is you eventually run out of other people's money'. Or am I missing something here?25 RecommendMarvant Duhon Bloomington Indiana Jan. 5
Love the fact that the article is punctuated by a slick advertisement pushing sales of $13 million co-ops. Does Krugman think that high-earning W-2 taxpayers will continue living in New York City, or even the US, when rates are 70-80%? France tried this just a few years ago; it was an instant failure resulting in a quick exodus of the country's largest taxpayers. Krugman is living in the fifties. We are now a globalized economy where capital and human resources are far more mobile.24 RecommendBBB Australia Jan. 7
I will quibble with one small and tangential claim in this article. Krugman writes that additional taxes on the very rich will not affect their life satisfaction, since they can still buy what they want. This is not always the case. Many of the very wealthy want to buy more things than they can afford. And some, not just the Koch family, want to buy the government. They pour billions into the attempt. And as it happens, that's another reason for increasing the marginal tax rate on the very rich.Reply 24 RecommendLisa NC Jan. 6
Why not tax labor lower than capital gains? Labor will have more incentive to work because they can keep more of what they earn. People who live off capital will just keep doing what they are doing. I doubt they'll rush out to get W-2 jobs. We're tried the reverse for long enough, let's flip it around and give the majority their turn.Reply 24 Recommendjoyce santa fe Jan. 5
As a recent retiree, I was surprised to learn that my husband and I wouldn't be paying any taxes on our substantial capital gains, dividends, and interest, as long as we kept below the ~ 77,000 income level. We're living on current cash and taxable accounts, and are fortunate not to need to sign up for SS until 70 1/2 nor pull from our retirement accounts (except to fill up the bracket). This is basically ridiculous. We're affluent, not Uber-wealthy, but certainly can afford to pay more than the piddling amount that we've paid the last couple of years.24 Recommendmt Portland OR Jan. 6
A country where taxes are basically fair and social programs give people, all of them, basic security, is a calm and efficiently working society that does not have regular massacres in schools and churches, and does not have a restless and frustrated public. and so on. there is a country like this next door. The contrast with the disfunctional US today is striking.Reply 24 Recommendttrumbo Fayetteville, Ark. Jan. 5
@Barking Doggerel Excellent comment. A keeper.24 RecommendSocrates Downtown Verona. NJ Jan. 6
Equality. That is a necessary component of civilized society and democracy. You have to have a certain level of equality. Freedom to become a billionaire is not good for America or any country. Community, compassion, belonging, love, equality. Not selfish riches.24 RecommendThomas Zaslavsky Binghamton, N.Y. Jan. 5
@Jay For the full context, the 1999 Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act was authored by three Randian Republicans from Republican-majority Senate and House. While Bill Clinton should not have signed it, Republicans authored it. In April 2003 - under the Bush Reign of Error - the attorneys general of two states went to Washington with a stern warning for the nation's top bank regulator. In the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in Wash DC, the AGs from North Carolina and Iowa said lenders were pushing increasingly risky mortgages. Their host, John Hawke, expressed skepticism. Roy Cooper of North Carolina and Tom Miller of Iowa headed a committee of state officials concerned about new forms of "predatory" lending. They urged Hawke to give states more latitude to limit exorbitant interest rates and fine-print fees. "People out there are struggling with oppressive loans," Cooper recalls saying. Hawke, a veteran banking industry lawyer appointed to head the OCC by Bill Clinton in 1998, wouldn't budge. He said he would reinforce federal policies that hindered states from reining in lenders. The AGs left the tense hour-long meeting realizing that Bush-Cheney's Washington had become a foe in the fight against reckless real estate finance. The OCC "took 50 sheriffs off the job during the time the mortgage lending industry was becoming the Wild West," Cooper says. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/27121535/ns/business-us_business/t/states-warned-about-impending-mortgage-crisis /24 RecommendDeb Blue Ridge Mtns. Jan. 6
@Red Sox, '04, '07, '13, '18, The rich never work for the poor. The relatively poor work for the rich, after which the rich complain that they are being asked to pay taxes for services for the people they underpay.24 Recommendalan san francisco, ca Jan. 5
@vulcanalex - Did it ever occur to you that if Charles and David Koch, together worth upwards of 90 BILLION, paid taxes proportionally the same as you do now, your taxes might be lower? The middle class has been footing the bill for 50 yrs. and needs actual relief. No one, no one, no one needs 90 Billion $$. That's pure greed and it's economically stupid as well.23 RecommendJohn McCoy Washington, DC Jan. 7
One should tax every source of income at the same rates. Thus, incomve from dividends, capital gains, and inheritances should all be taxed at the higher rates. The distinction between earned and passive income is false and makes no difference to the recipient.23 RecommendJack Irvine, CA Jan. 5
@Gwe A true win-win. Pay the CEO's excessively to satisfy their egos and tax them appropriately to foster equality.23 RecommendSusan Fitzwater Ambler, PA Jan. 6
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 took away: SALT deductions (limited $10,000 fout of $19,883)) Personal exemptions ($12,150) Unreimbursed business expenses ($9,906). This increased my TAXABLE INCOME by + $32,209. Sure, marginal rate dropped from 24% to 22%, but my Federal tax INCREASE this year was $7,085 or 71%. MAGA!23 RecommendErik Nordheim Seattle Jan. 6
Some scattered thoughts. Bear with me. I just got back from an Orthodox Jewish wedding (a lovely experience!). While there, I fell into conversation with a good friend--a conservative. A moderate conservative--but conservative nonetheless. A dichotomy struck me--which I kept to myself. My friend's view of "classical liberalism" was "limited government." Enable people to rise as far as their talents and determination take them. And get out of the way. Such (he declared) was the philosophy of our sixteenth President--the sainted Lincoln. The Civil War (he said) garnished him with a bright shining halo he might never have achieved otherwise. Okay--maybe so. Maybe not. Who knows? So what's my own philosophy? Which I never got around to articulating. Protection, Mr. Krugman. Protection. Protection of an oppressed minority from an oppressive majority. OR-- --of an oppressed majority from an oppressive minority. Protection of the weak from the strong. Of the poor from the rich. Of the honorably striving working people that never won a place in the heart--or the books--of that conservative icon, Ayn Rand. So, Mr. Krugman-- --I read your piece with considerable sympathy. Tax the rich? Sounds good to me. Even out the horrendous inequality now plaguing and poisoning American life. But part of this feeling, Mr. Krugman, is old-fashioned SPITE. Sorry! I'd love to hear the Koch brothers howl. Someday. Soon.Reply 23 Recommendjames jordan Falls church, Va Jan. 5
@Gwe AOC's 70% tax rate proposal applies to dollars earns $10,000,001 and above. E.g. 70¢ on that one dollar instead of today's 37¢.23 RecommendSN Los Angeles Jan. 7
AOC has her work cut out for her. She will need your help. In reality, she will need all the support she can get to persuade the Democratic Caucus that a tax rate of 70-80 percent on very high incomes makes sense. Clearly, she and many noted highly respected economists have found that the trend in inequality has not been beneficial to the performance of the larger U.S. economy. She appears to have the energy and intelligence to develop a narrative that the Caucus could use but ultimately she and the proponents of the 70-80% will not hurt their chances for re-election in 2020. Equally important in making our society more egalitarian are the issue of tax shelters and the definition of income in the tax code, e.g. the treatment of income from capital gains vs. income from salaries and wages. My very rich friends seem to load a large portion of the "winnings" in offshore shelters. A big difference that needs to be addressed is the "cap" on payroll tax rates that are clearly unfair to the average wage-earning employee, and the self-employed "gig" economy worker. I hope someone will take up this very unfair provision. I suggest that requiring ALL income be treated equally with NO CAP for the FICA-HI payroll deduction would make the Social Security Trust Fund flush and possibly the funds required for Medicare for All a reality. With this kind of payroll tax package, there is a possibility that the payroll tax rate could be reduced or payments to recipients increased.23 RecommendJulie Carter Maine Jan. 7
@Joe, it appears you're confusing the marginal tax rate (the rate at which your highest additional dollar of income is taxed) with the overall rate at which your income is taxed. They're not the same. People won't be paying the highest rates except on their highest additional dollars of income -- those last several million dollars, for example.23 RecommendBewley5 Austin Jan. 7
What needs to be pointed out in every article on tax rates is that the 70% or 35% or whatever rate is in force is not on ones entire income, but only on the topmost part. It might only be on the top 10% of an individuals income, not on the entire amount. That is where people who oppose these rates don't get it. And when the "alternative minimum tax" was passed, it was meant to make sure everyone paid some tax because they weren't allowed to use all of they deductions. But somehow, some are more privileged than others and get to pay nothing, like the Trumps and Kushner's. In the meantime, some of us retirees who saved like crazy for retirement and had some decent investments have to pay through the nose every year when the law requires us to sell a certain portion of our retirement funds and pay capital gains rates. We have paid alternative minimum tax for years with far less annual income per year than Ivanka has per month.23 RecommendRoscoe Fort Myers, FL Jan. 7
The decline of the American middle class started with the election of Reagan and his voodoo economics. The investments we made say in college education could no longer be sustained at the lower tax rate and the result? No one but the upper ten percent can afford college.23 RecommendJeremy Kaplan Brooklyn Jan. 7
The other intended consequence of low taxes for the rich has been the accumulation of money that can be used to buy political power. I think that's the real purpose of the right, to have the power to take over our country. To counter that we need to look at wealth taxes and taxing more capital gains. We don't need more Donald Trumps and Koch brothers.23 RecommendEllen San Diego Jan. 5
@Billy Walker Just because 70% sounds "insane" to you does not mean it isn't the best policy. Are you an economist?23 RecommendBBB Australia Jan. 6
Bravo to Ocasio-Cortez, and to Krugman. But what I'd like to know is why is it that such sensible and fair taxing policies have not been promoted by current Democratic members of Congress? To answer my own question - they've been "bought" by corporate/1% campaign contributions. This said, how will Ms. Ocasio-Cortez fare in the House? Conversely, how will the House fare with her in it? Should be interesting to watch.Reply 23 RecommendBill B Fulton, MD Jan. 7
We need a "Jobs Created" form in the 1040 stack. In exchange for the tax cut, the very wealthy should be required to file it for the same reason that the very poor are required to prove they qualify for the Earned Income Credit. How many jobs did you create? How much were they worth? Write it down. Some ridiculously rich American volunteer should step forward with the last 10 years of their tax returns and corespondingly matched annual budgets to confirm 2 things that the GOP refuses to admit but uses to underpin tax cuts for people who do not need one: 1-The Uber Wealthy aren't big job creators. 2-The impact they have on the economy is far less than the average person who spends all their tax cut on goods and services. A higher tax rate, better matched with uber high personal income generated by the global multiplier effect, will have a greater impact on the economy in one year that one person can achieve in a lifetime. Kill the Trickle Down Theory before the GOP recycles it again.22 RecommendSandraH. California Jan. 6
@romanette I suspect that for every Jason who actually makes enough to pay the 73% marginal rate there are 50 Jason's that don't.22 RecommendVizitei Missouri Jan. 6
@Geoffrey, you're mythologizing wealth. Most annual income over $10 million has nothing to do with being "super productive." That's only true in an Ayn Rand novel.22 RecommendChris Toronto Jan. 7
I am fully aligned with Mr. Krugman when he bashes the idiocy of Trump's economic "policies". I part ways with him over his advocacy of super high tax rates. He makes a case that we did so well when we had it but he, of all people, knows the difference between correlation and causation. In the years without internet and with international movement by people and companies was full of friction, this kind of extortion and "not caring" about what the "rich" thought held up. In today's world, you would massive exodus of the most productive and economically active members of our society. It failed. In Europe and in the US, countries had to contend with real competition from other geographies who were only too happy to welcome these folks. Another point, which Mr. Krugman fails to address is this: who will put the capital in question to a more productive use - the government which collected it as a tax or the businessman who has an opportunity to invest in the improvement he finds most efficient and effective? This does argue for policies that encourage the 'right choice", but overall, the answer is known. This is why every true socialist system has failed economically, and will continue to do so. 70% tax bracket is not the answer. It never was.Reply 22 Recommendlinearspace Italy Jan. 7
Many of the comments here are dismaying. The point here is that both the US economy and society are not sustainable in the long-term with a tax system that creates massive inequality, public debt and disproportionately supports the enrichment of the already-wealthy. There is a self-centred, growing (mostly Republican) billionaires club buying the political system, defining public policy and not surprisingly they are the primary beneficiaries. US democracy is very broken and the rest of the world no longer views it as the example it once was. The US needs more voices like OAC's.Reply 22 Recommendpendragn52 South Florida Jan. 7
I thought I already liked AOC a lot; now I like her even more, especially after her political platform about a free universal health care reform proper of one of the major powers in the world.22 RecommendJacob Sommer Medford, MA Jan. 6
@Jason "apply some creativity and critical thinking (you know - the kind that happens in the private sector)." Worked in the private sector for 30 years. Never saw much of that.22 RecommendKurt Chicago Jan. 7
So often, it seems like the Republicn tax plan is, "We need to lower taxes on the rich because eventually it will be good for the middle class! Pay no attention to that sliver of middle class tax hike behind the curtain..." Why anybody takes their economic rhetoric seriously when there are no credible cases that their plans have worked lo these past 40 years remains a mystery to me.22 RecommendD I Francis London Jan. 7
The real crime is how much of the pie so few take home in the first place and how little the great bulk of Americans see. If there were a small village, and one powerful man making the rules on wealth distribution decided to give himself a ninety percent cut of the wealth and leave the remaining ten percent to the rest of the townsfolk, they'd go after him with torches and pitchforks. But we have a giant complicated impersonal economy, and this simple economic injustice gets lost and confused in the mix. But the fact remains, the people with power - the stewards of our government and our economy - are abusing their power, and we as individuals, and all of us as a society suffer greatly.22 Recommendmarkymark Lafayette, CA Jan. 5
@Joe Hi, It would be progressive and banded, so you would only pay 70% on the very highest part of your earnings. So you would be paying 30% on earnings up to say 100K, then 40% on earnings between 100K and 250K, and so on. Hope this helps.22 RecommendQuinn New Providence, NJ Jan. 5
If this country ever aspires to greatness again, it will take campaign finance reform and the end to vulture capitalism, including raising tax rates on wealthy individuals and corporations. The supreme court has given corporations way too much power and it's past time to take it back.22 RecommendMary M Raleigh Jan. 6
@Brinton I agree - a fair tax system would look at all income equally. A dollar of income would be treated the same regardless of its source. The discount on capital gains makes no economic sense - this is "picking winners and losers", something the GOP hates. Think of this: why is interest income taken at a higher rate than capital gains? The wrong answer is that the capital gain came from taking a higher risk. Why does the tax law reward risk taking and by contrast punish safer investing with a higher tax rate?22 Recommenddcf nyc Jan. 5
Thomas Picketty studied centuries of income inequality and found that without progressive government intervention, wealth disparities tend to worsen. The single most effective way to shrink wealth disparities and grow the middle class is through progressive taxation, aka, soak the rich. This is how Denmark does it. Funny thing, growing the middle class increases national happiness and strengthens a sense of community. Big difference from the uber rich who buy islands just to live without neighbors. Living in a more equitable society makes everyone happier.22 Recommend617to416 Ontario via Massachusetts Jan. 6
@Tom Dr. K is all in on the taxing of wealth and cap gains at higher rates, and while I haven't read AOC's particular proposals yet, no doubt she would agree.21 RecommendM. Ng New York, NY Jan. 7
@Annie I'm not sure a small local community group would effectively or efficiently provide some of the things we rely on the government to provide -- healthcare coverage for instance (at least here in Canada) or a police force. Those skeptical of what government does should try living in a country without musth government: Somalia, maybe.21 RecommendAna Luisa Belgium Jan. 5
We only need to look as far back as Kansas in 2012 to see a real life case study of republican tax policy in all its theoretical glory. Governor Brownback and the republican legislature passed into law a low individual income tax rate and eliminated state income taxes entirely for pass-through entities (ie small businesses) to spur job creation and investment in businesses. Not only did it not create said jobs nor spur investment in businesses, the state collected $750mm less in income tax ($2.2b vs. $2.9b) over 2014-16 and the state began FY 2017 with a $350mm deficit. Sadly the people who suffered disproportionately were residents of small towns and districts whose districts didn't have strong enough balance sheets to weather unusually low levels of tax revenue, where public services such as safety and schools struggled (many of which had to consider closing or consolidating). In addition, the state diverted funds from infrastructure spending and universities to the general fund and spend down the state's cash reserves. That is the result of a republican tax plan enacted.Reply 21 RecommendJenna X. Gadflye Atlanta, GA Jan. 6
@bcw And the exact same also goes for Trump himself, of course. Compare that to what Obama and the Democrats did: they increased taxes for people like themselves multiple times, and then used that money to cover 20 million more Americans all while curbing federal healthcare cost increases, AND by doing so saving an additional half a million American lives a decade. THAT is "putting America first", outside of the GOP "alternative facts" world.21 RecommendCO fan Boulder Jan. 6
Another reason to tax the 1% at the highest rate possible: they would have considerably less money to spend on buying politicians who will rig the system to benefit the wealthy at the expense of everyone else. I'm sure NYT's conservative commenters will say "but...job creators!" Right. "Job creators" who are rapidly automating the means of production because robots don't need to be paid a living wage. They never get sick or need vacations, either. Robots can work 24/7 without lunch or or bathroom breaks, too. Unlike us pesky peasants with our quaint notions about Constitutional and civil rights, including "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." The misanthropic rich deserve a good soaking, every now and then, to remind them that they're no better than us and just as human as we are.Reply 21 RecommendJ San Diego Jan. 6
What Paul Krugman does not say (but knows all too well) is that due to various deductions and tax shelters, the effective (as opposed to nominal) % of income paid in the 50's, 60's and 70's was not much more than now. For example, until 1986 taxpayers were allowed to exclude 1/2 of their capital gains. So, if you were in a 70% tax bracket, the capital gains tax was 35%, in the 50% bracket you paid 25% and so on. Krugman knows this, but obviously does not mention it. He has to do his part to bamboozle the rubes. Remember, this is the same guy who predicted on election night 2016, that the stock market would "never recover".21 RecommendMV CC Jan. 5
AOC should run for president in 2028, the first year she is eligible. She's smart and super-attractive, which will turn R's into even crazier people than they are now, because people will always vote for someone who looks great. Would've worked for Beto in Texas if not for the massive voter suppression they have there.Reply 21 RecommendAndrew Connecticut Jan. 7
What we have going on right now here in the US is representation WITHOUT taxation.Reply 21 RecommendDave Westwood Jan. 6
@Billy Walker - "What policy on Planet Earth could possibly justify the government becoming an equal partner, or better, with someone's earnings?" Because there isn't a single person on the planet that works hard enough to "earn" $10 million per year, let alone those who actually have that as an income. There's comes a point at which a person's "earnings" are nothing more than benefits of position - which in and of itself isn't a problem. But it's important to acknowledge that this extra income is earned solely because of the individuals below them, as well as the advantages the state/government has provided to allow those earnings (typically through infrastructure, policies, protections, other indirect features, etc.), becoming an equal partner in redistributing that extra income to those that actually worked to make it happen, or paid for the ability to earn it, is reasonable.21 RecommendJohn Miami, FL Jan. 7
@Jose "aren't rich people part of our democracy? Don't they get a say as to whether they have to work and give away their earnings?" They do ... they get one vote person just like everyone else. They do not get one vote per dollar of income, although some of them act as if they should.21 RecommendSteve California Jan. 5
@Billy Walker "As someone who earns well less than $100k a year I simply cannot believe this nonsense of 70 or 80% tax rates. Just because I am not smart enough to earn $5 or $10 million or more a year does not give the government the right to take most of it. This tax concept is pure insanity. Even if it applies to earnings that only exceed the $10 mil number. Insane." You start out with the wrong premise right out of the gate. Many in the top 1-2% have done nothing especially noteworthy to achieve their wealth. They neither earned nor were particularly inventive. Some like Elon Musk definitely earned it. Others like the presidents children just inherited the fruits of a lifetime of cons and scams against ordinary working Americans. In either case there is a such a thing as an inflection point beyond which amassing further wealth means nothing. I see nothing wrong with taxing wealth beyond that critical maximum at those higher rates. After all many of those people enjoy the fruits and stability of a society made possible by the collective sacrifices of generations of Americans in wars past, present, and future. Much of the infrastructure (bridges, highways, waterways, court systems, property rights etc) that exists today (such as it is) that makes the current economic engine possible was bought and paid for by the millions upon millions of ordinary working Americans. The rich should pay more because they benefit the most from this sacrifices others have made!21 Recommendm.waterbury Seattle Washington Jan. 5
@George No one is suggesting people who make $200k pay 70% tax, these are rates for those making $10 million or more.21 RecommendRobert Out West Jan. 6
@Georgia M If you believe that the obscenely high and ever-rising incomes of the extremely rich are "their property" and that their rigging of our economy, our taxation rules, and our political process played no role in their good fortune, you have not been paying attention. A "young brilliant doctor" isn't even remotely in the class of the ultra-rich and is exactly the kind of misleading example they love to point at, like "small businessmen." We are talking billionaires and close to it.21 RecommendRich Berkeley CA Jan. 5
I can see why the righties are angry, and demanding that the corporate and the wealthy pay less. After all, worked great in Kansas.Reply 21 Recommendbcw Yorktown Jan. 5
@Peter, that's a marginal tax rate, not the rate on all your income. Only income above, say, $1M per year would be taxed that high. I assume most people can survive quite well on $1M per year, plus 30% of amounts above that.21 RecommendDavid St Louis Jan. 6
The rich have figured out how to maximize their returns on investment - the most productive dollars the rich spend is to buy Republican (and some Democratic) politicians. The Koch brothers invested a mere few hundred million to buy some elections and have so far made about 1.4 billion dollars from the Republican tax cut, a return of a few hundred percent in one year; which will continue every year going forward.21 RecommendABC123 USA Jan. 5
Hey, Prof Paul. I think we as a body politic need a refresher on what a marginal tax rate is? A 70% top marginal tax rate does not mean that the people 'earning' a million only take home 300K. It just means that after some other threshold has been crossed in terms of income after deductions, income above that level is taxed at increasingly higher levels. So that, say, the first 100k is taxed at a certain level (n), but the last 100k is taxed at a level that equals 'n minus 100K' and minus the other increments in income that kick in the higher marginal rates on the scale? Not elegantly stated, I know, but I find, over and over again, that people seem to not have been taught the difference between a tax rate and marginal tax rate.Reply 20 RecommendSusan Cambridge Jan. 7
From the article: "AOC's advocacy of a tax rate of 70-80 percent on very high incomes." This shows her naivete as a young person with limited years of working for a paycheck. At a certain point, if I'm only going to keep 20-30-cents of each additional dollar I'm making no thanks time to pack up for the day, go home, relax and enjoy time with my family. I think at least 95% of people would say the same thing. It's just not worth it especially to be paying for people who are staying home and people who are staying home and pumping out more and more babies, while I responsibly only brought two children into the world and pay for them myself.20 RecommendKevin Shoemaker Seattle, WA Jan. 7
The Swiss have a wealth tax. People are taxed approximately 1% for money lying around in bank accounts and other assets. This means taxes aren't focused on income per se, but accumulated wealth. I think it's an interesting idea for taxing the super wealthy. The tax could be prorated, higher for those with more money and very low for those with just a little savings.20 RecommendGuy Sajer Boston, MA Jan. 5
What this incredibly focused and accurate opinion piece does not mention is the uses that marginal taxes were put to or the incentives people and companies had to lower their marginal taxes through reinvestment. Infrastructure was created, low cost higher public education was expanded, basic research in those institutions was greater, and entire new industries were created, employees were invested in. Now, we have the rich playing the W.S. casino, mostly controlled by bots, employees are commodities or apprenticed and indebted, wages are supressed, there is not a strong infrastucture plan, I could go on. I say Make America Great Again, and tax the rich.Reply 20 Recommendcdearman Santa Fe, NM Jan. 5
@wes evans - I don't think that that is actually true. Furthermore, I'm not sure that the folks who do that work and are in that tax bracket are working because of the money. Jeff Bezos? Bill Gates? Warren Buffett? (the list could be quite long). If you taxed them at a higher rate, they wouldn't quit. In addition, many of those folks are no longer actually working, but simply accruing wealth though investments. They won't suddenly uninvest because of higher taxes. Instead, we'd have better schools, better healthcare, better transportation for everyone, and the economy would benefit much more as a result.20 RecommendA. Stanton Dallas, TX Jan. 6
Obviously, the public is unaware that the tax rate during the Eisenhower Administration, for people making above $400,000, was 90%. So, the idea that a 75% rate on the 0.1% is excessive is laughable. People in the 0.1% have many legal ways to reduce their tax liability. As Warren Buffet had stated many time, he pays less taxes that his secretary and Buffet is one of the four richest people in the world. The tax rate for people in his income bracket is not more than 39%. He, obviously, does not pay taxes at that level. Go figure.20 RecommendWilliam LeGro Oregon Jan. 7
Ms. AOC comes off to me as a non-threatening American Congresswoman of Puerto-Rican descent. What is it about her that makes her appear so dangerous to Trump's crazed male supporters? I blame most of it on her bright red lipstick, which for some reason is always threatening to insecure men.20 RecommendWhite Buffalo SE PA Jan. 6
@Freda Pine Here's an early commenter who already detailed this out and should have gotten NYT Picked since a lot of readers needed to read it in order to help shake loose a stuck wrong notion about what marginal rate means: Rational not Rationalize Milwaukee, WI Please don't forget we are talking about the highest MARGINAL tax rate, e. g., the tax due on the income over $600,000 for a couple filing jointly was 37% in 2018 and the same couple paid 35% on $400,001 to $600,00, and 32% on $315,000 to $400,000, and 24% on $165,001 to $315,000, and 22% on $77,401 $165,000, and 12% on $19,051 to $77,400, and 10% on income up to $19,050. What we need are more margins on the high end; to equate a $600,000 earner with a $10,000,000 earner is absurd. Nearly half the top %1 of earners make over $10M. Why should they be taxed at the same rate as someone making 6% as much? A family making $36,000 (6% of $600,000) pays a highest marginal rate of 12%, while the family making $600,001 pays a highest marginal rate of 37% and a family making $10M pays at the same highest marginal rate of 37%! The incentive for the top .1% in this set up is not to put money back into their businesses or employ more people, but rather, it's to buy off politicians dedicated to keeping their tax rate on the bulk of their income ridiculously low! When the Koch brothers thanked Paul Ryan for passing Trump's tax cuts it cost them $500,000 (in donations to Ryan), but gained them $1 - $1.4 Billion in reduced taxes.20 RecommendTony B NY, NY Jan. 6
@Red Sox, '04, '07, '13, '18, How many uber rich like Romney or wealthy CEOs or golf club developers actually worked for poor people? Gee, that's a tough one. Let me make it easy for you. Try zero. I am not wealthy and yet I never worked for a poor person in my life either, because a poor person would not have had sufficient money to pay even my meager earnings. When you work and pay taxes, you are not working for the poor, you are working taxes to support this country, and the many things it does for you. Remind me again how many of Romney's many sons enlisted. Another toughie. Again, let me make it easy for you. The answer is zero. Oh, that's right. Their "service to their country" consisted of helping Romney get elected. Kind of like Trump's sons service to their country. Or Trump's purple heart.20 RecommendNed Roberts Truckee Jan. 6
We're allowed to call people articulate?!? I thought that was a hate crime.Reply 20 RecommendMichael Rochester, NY Jan. 5
@talesofgenji Americans abroad are still required to file US tax statements. Of course, if they want to get rid of their US citizenship, they can. My guess is there is a way to capture that tax revenue. Perhaps starting with reminding the rich that they live in a society, and their wealth is tied to the health of the society.20 RecommendGaff New York Jan. 6
Paul, One of your best analyzes ever, and, your timing is impeccable. Thank you.Reply 20 RecommendDaycd San diego Jan. 7
Why are so many dead set against paying taxes? To use an old cliche "there is no such thing as a free lunch". This is how government services are paid for. Where would we be without government services? Are you willing to do without police, firemen, road crews, sanitation, the armed forces, aviation regulators, stop signs, parks and countless other things that government provides. Tax rates need to take into account income. The poor and the middle class should be taxed at a much lower rate than the wealthy. The wealthy can afford to have more taken in taxes. Do you really think they would notice? Greed is not an exemption. We should all be proud to pay our fair share of taxes. We live in a great country. Taxes are the levy we pay to keep it great.20 RecommendJosh Los Angeles Jan. 5
@Gwe the proposed 70% tax rate only kicks in after the executives are already earning 180X more than the average earner. Note that no other country comes closes to those inflated incomes! So your argument that they'll not get quality CEO's for less is nonsensical. https://www.statista.com/statistics/424159/pay-gap-between-ceos-and-average-workers-in-world-by-country /20 RecommendWhite Buffalo SE PA Jan. 6
Hey Paul why don't we just tax everyone at 100% and then redistribute to everyone perfectly equally? That would minimize the effect of diminishing marginal utility!! Hey Paul when are you going to wake up? Stagflation happened your position has been losing the argument for 40 years now, I am surprised you aren't used to it by now. Free movement of capital, free movement of labor, free trade. And no redistribution, that is where we are heading.19 RecommendJeong Yeob Kim Los Angeles Jan. 5
@jrinsc Too right. Let's make American marginal income tax rates great again! Bring back Eisenhower Republican tax rates!19 RecommendEddie Lew NYC Jan. 6
When I first saw AOC's tax proposal as a headline (and not reading the article), I did think, "Wow, that's too high!" But after thinking through the issue with Krugman's help, I've come around and now agree with AOC. I do think it'll be a tough sell to a sceptical public (surely made worse by conservative lobbying), but if Democrats can tune the public with what prosperity was like in the '50 with progressive taxes in place, I think there's a good chance that a majority of Americans will back this vision. But the work had to start now and with urgency (and without the shutdown of our government!).Reply 19 Recommendtrue patriot earth Jan. 6
George Bernard Shaw: "The more I see of the moneyed class, the more I understand the guillotine. "19 RecommendJon Washington DC Jan. 6
1. end the carry exemption for VC money 2. see 1Reply 19 RecommendBascom Hill Bay Area Jan. 5
There's this popular myth that supposedly tons of conservatives went "hysterical" over a perfectly innocent video of Ocasio-Cortez dancing around with friends. How many people exactly were "hysterical"? I keep reading this, and as far as I can tell it's just a myth. Was there maybe one fool who posted the video in a misguided attempt to somehow embarrass her? I guess, probably. But please just face reality and recognize that beyond a few negligible cranks, nobody cares.Reply 19 RecommendMark Koerner wisconsin Jan. 6
Please make a list of productive Americans by job title. Or is your list by income level? Are public school teachers productive? If so, why have their incomes been nearly flat for decades? Why has the median income of Americans not kept pace with inflation for over 25 years? They haven't been productive? They have been. Big Business hasn't shared those gains in productivity via $wages. The IBT of those businesses has soared.19 RecommendNelson Alexander New York Jan. 5
We hear a lot about "hard-earned" income and "hard-earned" dollars. Very well. It IS hard to earn money, at least for most people, so perhaps the government shouldn't tax income from wages, salaries and professional fees--and even from gambling--at such a high rate. Maybe we should change the system by pushing the top income tax rate downward and then raising the estate tax (often called the "inheritance tax"). That way, more "hard-earned" money will stay with the taxpayers who earned it, and the government would take a little more of the genuinely unearned money. An old saying about the people who were born on third base and thought they hit a triple comes to mindReply 19 RecommendR Biggs Boston Jan. 7
First, I believe Picketty also recommends similar highly progressive rates. Second, I'd be curious know what effect such rates would have on top-tier inflation? It seems clear that "inflation" is relatively low and stable because it no longer enters into wages. At the upper income level, meanwhile, inflation appears rampant. Everything in top-tier consumption, from art and high-end property to financial advice, bespoke suits, opera tickets, luxury hotels, political leverage, and legal fees, seems to be almost hyperinflating. This in turn drives the rivalrous demand for even more concentrated wealth at the top, a keep-up-with-the-Jones among billionaires . We might be doing the rich a favor by putting a tax chill on their metastasizing lifestyles.19 RecommendJack Nargundkar Germantown, Maryland Jan. 5
I assume that you work hard to make a living. Do you think that investment bankers and tech CEOs work 5000 times harder than you? I know a guy who wrote a computer program to trade stocks. He doesn't work at all, but makes more in a week than you make all year. Does that seem fair? The super-rich are able to buy influence, subjugate our democratic system, and push through laws that make them even richer - while making it harder for folks like you to get ahead. Does that seem fair? And you are worried about billionaires only bringing home $2 million / year?19 RecommendGeorgia M Canada Jan. 5
But this entire column presumes that the Republicans believe in science, data and facts. Despite 70+ years of evidence, knowledge and truth has not "trickled down" into the average Republican's mind. In fact, in the Trump era, it's gotten worse -- Republicans now believe in "alternative facts," which they make up to match whatever it is that they want to justify, and they assert that "truth isn't the truth." So good luck to OAC as she tries to convince Republicans about the efficacy of "a tax rate of 70-80 percent on very high incomes." Republicans, including the Trump administration, do believe that the 1950s was the best decade ever in the post-WWII era – not because of its 91% top tax rate on income, but for entirely different reasons that have nothing to do with fiscal policy.Reply 19 RecommendJoe Rockbottom califonria Jan. 7
I'm your average democratic socialist living north of your country and, yet I confess this article doesn't sit right with me. I enjoy reading Mr Krugman and I will read him first in your paper. What irks me though is his yup yup it's okay to soak the rich because it makes economic sense. Even if you could prove that taxing the rich at 75% won't harm economy, should you do it? That is to say, the wealth of the rich is their property. Just like my meagre possessions are my property. As a Canadian I pay around 29% income taxes (even working class Canadians pay a fair amount of tax). Wealthier Canadians pay around 55% of their income. We are fortunate that wealthy people feel invested in the community here and tolerate the higher taxes. The well-being of our public services is dependent on all people feeling they get something in return for their tax dollars. I guess what I am getting at is that there is a sort of social contract that all citizens are invested in-poor and rich. I recently spoke to a young brilliant doctor and asked if he wanted to move to the US (he has had some great offers). He said no, he wants to use his skills in the community. I am grateful this young man will work and contribute here. So, why increase his tax level even further? Saying that he has the money for the taking is not acceptable. I wish Ms Ocasio Cortez luck, but I hope these young socialists reign in the glee at the prospect of fleecing their fellow citizens.19 Recommend617to416 Ontario via Massachusetts Jan. 6
@Billy Walker they don't take "most of it." they only take that rate in the highest income percentile. So only the last marginal dollars earned. It is doubtful ANY CEO is worth the pay they get. and most of it is in stock options, the proceeds of which are not even discussed here because they are capital gains, not income. So, most CEO's only make a few hundred thousand in "income" and the rest is in stock options for which they are taxed at a much, much lower rate. That is how skewed our idiotic tax system is. They game it and don't even have to count their obvious income as actual income. Totally corrupt.19 RecommendTom Philadelphia Jan. 5
While there's no denying that many of the wealthy achieve success by their talent and hard work, no one becomes wealthy solely on his or her own. Chance always plays a role in anyone's success, and no one's success is achieved without extensive support from our society's institutions and from others. The success of any individual is therefore always a collective success -- created by a combination of the individual's own talents, the support of others, the advantages provided by our society, and the vagaries of chance. Because of this it is completely justified to expect -- and to demand if necessary -- that the wealthy give back some portion of their wealth to the community that contributes so much to their ability to become wealthy. Whether the share given back is 20%, 50%, or 80% should be determined based on two factors: first, how much does society need from the wealthy to continue to provide an environment in which as many as possible can succeed and, second, how important is it to maintain individually-held concentrations of wealth either to provide incentives for success or to allow for significant private expenditures and investment to complement our public expenditures and investment. While a 70% marginal tax rate on the wealthy sounds high given recent policy, the crumbling state of our public infrastructure, our fraying social safety net, and the growing inequities in access to the benefits of our society suggest a need for higher tax rates.19 RecommendJH NY Jan. 5
In 1960 when Eisenhower was president, the top marginal tax rate in the US was 93 percent, we were building interstate highways and quadrupling our higher education system via the GI bill, and the American economy was the envy of the world. So this notion that the country is better off if the rich don't pay taxes utterly ludicrous -- it is simply the invention of rich people who think they deserve to live tax-free. Since our democracy is broken and the rich basically own Congress, we will probably keep cutting taxes on rich people until they go negative, at which point American taxpayers will be paying the rich just for their overwhelming wonderfulness.19 RecommendGG New Windsor Jan. 7
As a small retail business owner I am continuously flabbergasted by chamber of commerce type's resistance to taxing the rich and increasing the minimum wage. My customers are NOT the 1% and every time wages have gone up my payroll has gone up 20% but my gross income has also increased by 20%. That is a good deal, and if my income taxes went up as a result of all my increased profit it would still be a good deal.19 RecommendBJ New York City Jan. 6
@Freda Pine here we go again. What do you not understand that this is likely a tax rate on those who make millions annually?19 Recommendbobg earth Jan. 5
Shouldn't we be talking about effective tax rates? Did people actually pay those high marginal rates? Given all the tax loopholes at the time, I don't think so.Reply 19 RecommendGrennan Green Bay Jan. 7
@Josh I have an even better idea--let's tax everyone at 0%! We'll all have lotsa money and we'll have a great big party. There are some downsides like not having an electricity grid, police, or firemen but on the other hand--whoopee!19 RecommendTom Kocis Austin Jan. 7
Good job making taxation policy interesting to read about. Maybe Dr. Krugman could clarify why and how the "taxes are bad" crowd insists on misrepresenting the marginal rate as the total rate, among other inaccuracies in a four-decade campaign to demonize taxation.19 RecommendProf San Diego Jan. 5
We need to assess the question of wether many of the rich "earn" money. You don't earn $200M in stock options and grants. What you have done is benefitted from a system that increasing rewards those with the power and the influence to rewrite the rules to their benefit and the the detriment of everyone else. How these people can take such a large portion of the corporate pie when lower paid employees barely get by is unconscionable.Reply 19 RecommendFromDublin Dublin, Ireland Jan. 6
Here are some facts Krugman will not mention. From 2014 At least 45% of Americans pay ZERO Federal income tax. The top 1 percent of taxpayers earned 20% of all Adjusted Gross Income. That same top 1% of taxpayers paid almost 40% of all federal income taxes. The top 1% of taxpayers accounted for more income taxes paid than the bottom 90% collected. One-fifth of the US population gets more back in refunds than they pay in Federal taxes. Keep doing the Robin Hood routine and the 1%' ers will move ALL of their money off shore.19 RecommendRG Bellevue, WA Jan. 6
@Barking Doggerel This last paragraph... so so true19 RecommendDisillusioned Colorado Jan. 5
@Ma Ah, yes - the wisdom of simplistic remarks. Unfortunately it takes actual information and insight to even begin to compete with an economist of Krugman's expertise. You seem to be confused about what profit is, or the theory used in optimization of profit (incremental spending). You absolutely want to spend up to the point where the next dollar brings in another dollar of profit but not beyond. Spending less leaves money (profit) on the table. Could it be that you don't understand calculus? I'm afraid that economics, and incremental tax rates are a bit more complex than that. Your dig about social conscience is duly noted, as is your missing the point of his analysis. None of this is based on social conscience, but in what generates maximum economic growth. Paul not only gives direct evidence of a reduction in the growth rate that correlates with the reduction of tax rates, he dissects the reasons why. Want is not a straight line curve, something that the 'greed is good' crowd has neglected for over 40 years. Of course, your only retort to evidence and thoughtful analysis by a Nobel laureate is to label his thesis 'lunacy'. Sorry, but without evidence, solid reasoning or even standing in the field no one is going to pay attention. Which is a good thing, it's time rationality regained the upper hand in public policy and politics.18 RecommendHBD NYC Jan. 7
@Prof Here are some facts you didn't mention. Many Americans aren't paid enough by the "job creators" to have enough tax liability. When you pay people low enough wages, they end up being below the standard deduction. The top 1% has significantly more *wealth* than their wages indicate. Our tax scheme is mildly progressive at this point, so it should not be surprising that they pay a higher percent tax per dollar earned than someone earning, say, $25,000 a year. As of 2015, 13.5% of Americans lived in poverty. That's over 40 million people. Hard to have much income to tax in the first place when one is poor. Keep doing the reverse Robin Hood routine and the social fabric of this nation will tear so badly that our norms will disappear and we will descend into the chaos that permeates nation-states with extreme wealth inequality.18 RecommendVin NYC Jan. 6
At the very least, the FICA paycheck deduction should be based on every dollar earned rather than being capped at $128,000, (or so.) For one thing, this would go a long way to solve the problem of shortfalls in the Social Security fund for the large baby boom bump. How is it justified that this deduction should be capped for the highest earners??!Reply 18 RecommendRjW SprucePine NC Jan. 5
@Smokey geo Amazing. We've literally tried the approach you advocate for the past 30+ years, and all the evidence shows that we're worse off. Giving rich people more money on the hop that it trickles down has literally led to stagnant wages, obscene inequality, and lower growth than in the previous decades. You can try to dress it up however you want - feel free to throw another equation our way - but the proof is in the pudding. We've had almost four decades of evidence that refutes your argument.18 RecommendEd New York Jan. 6
@Michael Evans-Layng, PhD, Correlation v. Causation notwithstanding, as in life , tines change. Deductions were abused but companies were reinvesting heavily. Today they buy back their shares and salt the rest away offshore. Bring back the taxes but invest it wisely. Infrastructure, education, health care , research, you know, like China kinda sorta.18 RecommendStacia Redmond, WA Jan. 6
Please, no socialism in the US. It has been tested in many many many places, it is always a failure. Why try??? France has the second highest taxes in the world and massive protests. It is a tempting policy, Why not tax the super rich? Seems to make so much sense. The problem is that IT DOES NOT WORK. Tax at whatever rate you want, 76%, 80%, 99%, lets try for a few year, you'll get some money first and then less, less, less because society gets poorer, people and capital leave, so eventually you're back to where you were but with less wealth. Society needs to create wealth not be obsessed with taking from others. Policy of envy is the worse.18 RecommendMark Zaitz Denver Jan. 5
@Ed So the high tax rates in the mid-20th century were...socialism? Scare tactics aren't helpful. The rest of your comment is demonstrably not true based on our own history. It creates wealth *for our country* when we tax the rich appropriately. We should definitely not be focused on trying to create wealth just for individuals. How does that promote the general welfare? Try again.18 RecommendDr joe yonkers ny Jan. 5
The Dems need to articulate this with greater understanding and confidence. Most people do not understand "effective tax rate," and thus hear 73% and think it's on the entire earnings of an individual. Americans don't understand carried interest, the Soc Sec contribution max on earnings, and SEP and other pre-tax benefits for the wealthy. Then they hear, "Vote for me, I'll cut your taxes," and we deepen the mess.Reply 18 RecommendLarry St. Paul, MN Jan. 6
All I know is that Romney confirmed that he only pays 14 percent. Many of us ordinary folk pay far more and thats ok, but 14 percent?18 RecommendTom New Jersey Jan. 5
Discussions of higher taxes on the wealthy typically fail to clarify that higher taxation rates in all likelihood will only kick in once you reach a certain (much higher) level of income So a taxation rate of 50% on a $1 milllion salary doesn't mean that the individual pays $500,000 in federal taxes. In the 1950s the top tax rate was 91%, but it didn't kick in until you reached an annual income of $200,000, which in today's dollars is about $1.85 million. So what seems like grossly unfair government confiscation of hard-earned income -- when you start throwing around numbers like a 50% tax rate -- is nowhere near as harsh as it seems. According to one website, effective tax rates in the 1950s on the wealthy were closer to 42%. https://taxfoundation.org/taxes-rich-1950-not-high /18 RecommendRichard Waugaman Potomac MD Jan. 5
@Darsan54 Yes, there are too many deductions, but if Democrats are going to protest over removing the deduction for state taxes (a highly progressive reform that only affected high earners), Democrats aren't likely to do away with the mortgage interest deduction, which is the most significant remaining income tax distortion. . AOC and PK both ignore the real elephant in the room, which is the rates of divident (22%) and capital gains (20%) tax rates. We should be taxing capital income at labor income rates, or even better taxing capital itself. Once again, though, the educated elite donor base in the Democratic party would be hurt by taxes on their accumulated wealth. The debate over labor income taxes is mostly a snow-screen so the Democratic party doesn't have to talk about wealth inequality and our failure to tax wealth.18 RecommendBarbara Connecticut Jan. 5
Growing income inequality saps our strength as a nation, as it widens economic disparities and undermines our sense of common purpose. Higher marginal rates for the wealthy will help everyone. The wealthy will surely put patriotism and the common good above greed and self-interest.18 RecommendDeborah Altman Ehrlich Sydney Australia Jan. 5
I know this opinion piece addresses only personal income tax but I don't think you should separate the issue from corporate income tax. As many economists have already noted, based on current research, corporations have plowed most of their windfall from their lower tax rates into buying back stock and rewarding the officers of the company,rather than into higher wages for middle class workers in the company. Let's not forget this crucial inequity and make restitutions in both cases.18 RecommendRAD61 New York Jan. 6
It's not just taxing high earners. In Australia we lose more tax revenue from corporations avoiding taxation. For example, News Corporation (owned by Rupert Murdoch): -- had revenue of A$2 billion and paid no tax on it -- received A$30 million tax dollars from the Federal Government to develop women's sports coverage on his TV channel, Foxtel, coverage which never eventuated. -- his nephew, Matt Handbury, received A$14 million for 'research' which has been totally undocumented, but is believed to have gone to the IPA, a conservative 'think tank' established by Keith Murdoch, Rupert's father. I've no doubt the same largesse to corporations & their owners is seen in the USA, which provides our lot of kleptocrats with so much inspiration.Reply 18 RecommendJulie Carter Maine Jan. 7
Unfortunately, with second-rate economists and third-rate human beings like Arthur Laffer advising them, Republicans are not likely to change their views. It will need Democrat's getting hold of both the legislative and presidential branches of government for sense to prevail.18 Recommend
@Tessa One more time, the tax rate is only on the topmost of the income, not all of it. And not on anything below $10,000,000.
Jun 06, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com
Anomander64 -> Davesnothereman , 3 Jun 2018 16:44Shhhh... whatever you do, don't ever let them hear you criticizing the "job creators" or there will be trouble.
You know we can't touch the corporations - they are sacrosanct because they are the supposed "job creators" - this one title gives them carte blanche to act however they like, to make spurious claims about economies faltering, businesses going offshore and unemployment. They also donate heavily to the political parties.
Repeat after me:
"Blessed are the job creators"
"Blessed are the job creators"
"Blessed are the job creators"
"For THEY shall inherit the wealth"
May 24, 2019 | medium.com
Entrepreneurship is having a moment. Innovative people with the resources, know-how and spunk to bring their ideas to life have been doing so since the dawn of civilization, but in the age of Silicon Valley tech startup success stories, crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, and investment programs like Dragons' Den, you could say entrepreneurs have reached celebrity status.
Like the countless young girls singing into their hairbrushes and dreaming of becoming the next Beyonce, it seems like more and more people are setting their sights on venturing out on their own to create the next big thing and become the next Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, or Elon Musk.
Being inspired by stories of success is one thing, but I think we've gone too far and created the cult of the entrepreneur. It starts with people idolizing the billionaires in hoodies and assuming they'll have the same success trajectory, despite the fact that most people don't experience that type of success with any of their businesses, let alone their first. Then enter a new vocabulary focused on "hustle" and "lean startup" and "minimum viable product," which glorifies working practically 24/7 for nothing more than equity and crossed fingers. Then add a dash of absurd investments, like the $41 million that went into startup Color before it even launched (it eventually failed spectacularly).
The first problem I see with the cult of the entrepreneur is that for some people the title seems to take precedence over the success of the product or service they created. Like an author who's never had a book published, calling yourself an entrepreneur is meaningless if you can't point to the fruits of your entrepreneurship. The word has a misleading air of success.
The glorification of entrepreneurship naturally tempts people to use the term to build themselves up. This is especially evident on Twitter and LinkedIn where I've often seen entrepreneur listed in someone's bio without being able to figure out what he or she actually does. It also has the consequence of undermining people who work hard, achieve great success and are integral to a company's success without being entrepreneurs -- the Sheryl Sandberg rather than the Zuckerberg.
The focus of any business should always be its customers and how you're providing value for them while making sure your business model is sound and adaptable. There are a lot of moving parts and nobody can make it work alone. There are investors, business partners, people who offer advice along the way, and, of course, the people who end up working for that company in its early stages and as it grows. In fact, these people probably possess a lot of entrepreneurial qualities, but they don't get to call themselves entrepreneurs because they work for someone else.
With all the hype surrounding entrepreneurs, there's an elephant in the room: most people want the money, accolades, and power that come with being a successful entrepreneur, but they don't want to put in the years of hard work.
Even if you accept the fact that being an entrepreneur involves no time off, long hours, and extremely limited resources, you still have to contend with luck. As much as you might want to be the next TechCrunch headline, and as much as you might have a great concept and the skills to make it happen, it might be the wrong time or the wrong place for your idea.
As an entrepreneur you're betting your livelihood and your career at every stage. You might see examples of perceived overnight successes all around you, but you don't see the years of struggle and failure that often preceded them.
Bitstrips , which exploded onto the app scene recently, was founded in 2007, the same year the first iPhone came out. Even if you have all the confidence in the world in your idea, you don't know when (if ever) the exact conditions needed for success will come together.
Not everyone is prepared to spend years on a project that likely won't work out, and there's nothing wrong with that.
Eschewing years of financial struggle and uncertainty to work for a company that has already proven itself does not mean you've given up on success or sold yourself short.
The entrepreneurial spirit is a great thing that can manifest itself in different people in many different ways, regardless of what position they hold in a company. Trying to impress people by calling yourself an entrepreneur on social media is not one of them.
May 17, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
The fall of the Berlin Wall and the corresponding end of the Soviet Empire gave the fullest impetus imaginable to the forces of globalized capitalism, and correspondingly unfettered access to the world's cheapest labor. What was not to like about that? It afforded multinational corporations vastly expanded opportunities to fatten their profit margins and increase the bottom line with seemingly no risk posed to their business model.
Or so it appeared. In 2000, aerospace engineer L.J. Hart-Smith's remarkable paper, sardonically titled "Out-Sourced Profits – The Cornerstone of Successful Subcontracting," laid out the case against several business practices of Hart-Smith's previous employer, McDonnell Douglas, which had incautiously ridden the wave of outsourcing when it merged with the author's new employer, Boeing. Hart-Smith's intention in telling his story was a cautionary one for the newly combined Boeing, lest it follow its then recent acquisition down the same disastrous path.
Of the manifold points and issues identified by Hart-Smith, there is one that stands out as the most compelling in terms of understanding the current crisis enveloping Boeing: The embrace of the metric "Return on Net Assets" (RONA). When combined with the relentless pursuit of cost reduction (via offshoring), RONA taken to the extreme can undermine overall safety standards.
Related to this problem is the intentional and unnecessary use of complexity as an instrument of propaganda. Like many of its Wall Street counterparts, Boeing also used complexity as a mechanism to obfuscate and conceal activity that is incompetent, nefarious and/or harmful to not only the corporation itself but to society as a whole (instead of complexity being a benign byproduct of a move up the technology curve).
All of these pernicious concepts are branches of the same poisoned tree: " shareholder capitalism ":
[A] notion best epitomized by Milton Friedman that the only social responsibility of a corporation is to increase its profits, laying the groundwork for the idea that shareholders, being the owners and the main risk-bearing participants, ought therefore to receive the biggest rewards. Profits therefore should be generated first and foremost with a view toward maximizing the interests of shareholders, not the executives or managers who (according to the theory) were spending too much of their time, and the shareholders' money, worrying about employees, customers, and the community at large. The economists who built on Friedman's work, along with increasingly aggressive institutional investors, devised solutions to ensure the primacy of enhancing shareholder value, via the advocacy of hostile takeovers, the promotion of massive stock buybacks or repurchases (which increased the stock value), higher dividend payouts and, most importantly, the introduction of stock-based pay for top executives in order to align their interests to those of the shareholders. These ideas were influenced by the idea that corporate efficiency and profitability were impinged upon by archaic regulation and unionization, which, according to the theory, precluded the ability to compete globally.
"Return on Net Assets" (RONA) forms a key part of the shareholder capitalism doctrine. In essence, it means maximizing the returns of those dollars deployed in the operation of the business. Applied to a corporation, it comes down to this: If the choice is between putting a million bucks into new factory machinery or returning it to shareholders, say, via dividend payments, the latter is the optimal way to go because in theory it means higher net returns accruing to the shareholders (as the "owners" of the company), implicitly assuming that they can make better use of that money than the company itself can.
It is an absurd conceit to believe that a dilettante portfolio manager is in a better position than an aviation engineer to gauge whether corporate investment in fixed assets will generate productivity gains well north of the expected return for the cash distributed to the shareholders. But such is the perverse fantasy embedded in the myth of shareholder capitalism.
Engineering reality, however, is far more complicated than what is outlined in university MBA textbooks. For corporations like McDonnell Douglas, for example, RONA was used not as a way to prioritize new investment in the corporation but rather to justify disinvestment in the corporation. This disinvestment ultimately degraded the company's underlying profitability and the quality of its planes (which is one of the reasons the Pentagon helped to broker the merger with Boeing; in another perverse echo of the 2008 financial disaster, it was a politically engineered bailout).
RONA in Practice
When real engineering clashes with financial engineering, the damage takes the form of a geographically disparate and demoralized workforce: The factory-floor denominator goes down. Workers' wages are depressed, testing and quality assurance are curtailed. Productivity is diminished, even as labor-saving technologies are introduced. Precision machinery is sold off and replaced by inferior, but cheaper, machines. Engineering quality deteriorates. And the upshot is that a reliable plane like Boeing's 737, which had been a tried and true money-spinner with an impressive safety record since 1967, becomes a high-tech death trap.
The drive toward efficiency is translated into a drive to do more with less. Get more out of workers while paying them less. Make more parts with fewer machines. Outsourcing is viewed as a way to release capital by transferring investment from skilled domestic human capital to offshore entities not imbued with the same talents, corporate culture and dedication to quality. The benefits to the bottom line are temporary; the long-term pathologies become embedded as the company's market share begins to shrink, as the airlines search for less shoddy alternatives.
You must do one more thing if you are a Boeing director: you must erect barriers to bad news, because there is nothing that bursts a magic bubble faster than reality, particularly if it's bad reality.
The illusion that Boeing sought to perpetuate was that it continued to produce the same thing it had produced for decades: namely, a safe, reliable, quality airplane. But it was doing so with a production apparatus that was stripped, for cost reasons, of many of the means necessary to make good aircraft. So while the wine still came in a bottle signifying Premier Cru quality, and still carried the same price, someone had poured out the contents and replaced them with cheap plonk.
And that has become remarkably easy to do in aviation. Because Boeing is no longer subject to proper independent regulatory scrutiny. This is what happens when you're allowed to " self-certify" your own airplane , as the Washington Post described: "One Boeing engineer would conduct a test of a particular system on the Max 8, while another Boeing engineer would act as the FAA's representative, signing on behalf of the U.S. government that the technology complied with federal safety regulations."
This is a recipe for disaster. Boeing relentlessly cut costs, it outsourced across the globe to workforces that knew nothing about aviation or aviation's safety culture. It sent things everywhere on one criteria and one criteria only: lower the denominator. Make it the same, but cheaper. And then self-certify the plane, so that nobody, including the FAA, was ever the wiser.
Boeing also greased the wheels in Washington to ensure the continuation of this convenient state of regulatory affairs for the company. According to OpenSecrets.org , Boeing and its affiliates spent $15,120,000 in lobbying expenses in 2018, after spending, $16,740,000 in 2017 (along with a further $4,551,078 in 2018 political contributions, which placed the company 82nd out of a total of 19,087 contributors). Looking back at these figures over the past four elections (congressional and presidential) since 2012, these numbers represent fairly typical spending sums for the company.
But clever financial engineering, extensive political lobbying and self-certification can't perpetually hold back the effects of shoddy engineering. One of the sad byproducts of the FAA's acquiescence to "self-certification" is how many things fall through the cracks so easily.
May 14, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by Patrick Buchanan via The Unz Review,
As his limo carried him to work at the White House Monday, Larry Kudlow could not have been pleased with the headline in The Washington Post: "Kudlow Contradicts Trump on Tariffs."
The story began: "National Economic Council Director Lawrence Kudlow acknowledged Sunday that American consumers end up paying for the administration's tariffs on Chinese imports, contradicting President Trump's repeated inaccurate claim that the Chinese foot the bill."
A free trade evangelical, Kudlow had conceded on Fox News that consumers pay the tariffs on products made abroad that they purchase here in the U.S. Yet that is by no means the whole story.
A tariff may be described as a sales or consumption tax the consumer pays, but tariffs are also a discretionary and an optional tax.
If you choose not to purchase Chinese goods and instead buy comparable goods made in other nations or the USA, then you do not pay the tariff.China loses the sale. This is why Beijing, which runs $350 billion to $400 billion in annual trade surpluses at our expense is howling loudest. Should Donald Trump impose that 25% tariff on all $500 billion in Chinese exports to the USA, it would cripple China's economy. Factories seeking assured access to the U.S. market would flee in panic from the Middle Kingdom.
Tariffs were the taxes that made America great. They were the taxes relied upon by the first and greatest of our early statesmen, before the coming of the globalists Woodrow Wilson and FDR.
Tariffs, to protect manufacturers and jobs, were the Republican Party's path to power and prosperity in the 19th and 20th centuries , before the rise of the Rockefeller Eastern liberal establishment and its embrace of the British-bred heresy of unfettered free trade.
The Tariff Act of 1789 was enacted with the declared purpose, "the encouragement and protection of manufactures." It was the second act passed by the first Congress led by Speaker James Madison. It was crafted by Alexander Hamilton and signed by President Washington.
After the War of 1812, President Madison, backed by Henry Clay and John Calhoun and ex-Presidents Jefferson and Adams, enacted the Tariff of 1816 to price British textiles out of competition, so Americans would build the new factories and capture the booming U.S. market. It worked.
Tariffs financed Mr. Lincoln's War. The Tariff of 1890 bears the name of Ohio Congressman and future President William McKinley, who said that a foreign manufacturer "has no right or claim to equality with our own. He pays no taxes. He performs no civil duties."
That is economic patriotism, putting America and Americans first.
The Fordney-McCumber Tariff gave Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge the revenue to offset the slashing of Wilson's income taxes, igniting that most dynamic of decades -- the Roaring '20s.
That the Smoot-Hawley Tariff caused the Depression of the 1930s is a New Deal myth in which America's schoolchildren have been indoctrinated for decades.
The Depression began with the crash of the stock market in 1929, nine months before Smoot-Hawley became law. The real villain: The Federal Reserve, which failed to replenish that third of the money supply that had been wiped out by thousands of bank failures. Milton Friedman taught us that.
A tariff is a tax, but its purpose is not just to raise revenue but to make a nation economically independent of others, and to bring its citizens to rely upon each other rather than foreign entities.
The principle involved in a tariff is the same as that used by U.S. colleges and universities that charge foreign students higher tuition than their American counterparts.
What patriot would consign the economic independence of his country to the "invisible hand" of Adam Smith in a system crafted by intellectuals whose allegiance is to an ideology, not a people?
What great nation did free traders ever build?
Free trade is the policy of fading and failing powers, past their prime. In the half-century following passage of the Corn Laws, the British showed the folly of free trade.
They began the second half of the 19th century with an economy twice that of the USA and ended it with an economy half of ours, and equaled by a Germany, which had, under Bismarck, adopted what was known as the American System.
Of the nations that have risen to economic preeminence in recent centuries -- the British before 1850, the United States between 1789 and 1914, post-war Japan, China in recent decades -- how many did so through free trade? None. All practiced economic nationalism.
The problem for President Trump?
Once a nation is hooked on the cheap goods that are the narcotic free trade provides, it is rarely able to break free. The loss of its economic independence is followed by the loss of its political independence, the loss of its greatness and, ultimately, the loss of its national identity.
Brexit was the strangled cry of a British people that had lost its independence and desperately wanted it back.
May 07, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
How the Medal of Freedom Became a Fraud Before we pass out any more of these devalued trophies, we need to figure out what "freedom" means. By Andrew J. Bacevich • May 7, 2019
As headlines go, the one appearing in The New York Times on November 16, 2018 does not qualify as a showstopper. "Trump Awards Medals of Freedom to Elvis, Babe Ruth and Miriam Adelson," the Times reported. Most readers taking note of this ceremony, which presidents have been hosting annually for over a half-century now, probably shrugged and poured themselves another cup of coffee. Yet here, in this accolade conferred on the King, the Bambino, and the wife of a casino mogul, we get a glimpse of how far down the road to perdition our beloved country has traveled.
For a century and a half after declaring its independence, the United States managed to survive -- nicely, in fact -- without any such means of conferring presidential favor. Only in the 1960s did John F. Kennedy discover this void in American civic life and set out to fill it. His decision to do so cannot be understood except in the context of the then-ongoing and frosty Cold War.
Kennedy's predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower, had made much ado about America's close association with the divine, inserting "under God" into the Pledge of Allegiance and signing legislation making "In God We Trust" the national motto. Here, according to Ike, was the essence of what distinguished us from our adversaries. We believed; they did not.
Under Kennedy, God suffered a demotion of sorts, supplanted by freedom in the hierarchy of objects deemed worthy of worship. In his famous inaugural address, Kennedy not only anointed freedom as the supreme value but also declared that it was in imminent peril. Simultaneously celebrating freedom -- implicitly defined as opposing communism -- while warning of its impending demise emerged as an abiding theme of JFK's abbreviated and largely undistinguished presidency.Advertisement
Considered in that context, the Medal of Freedom forms part of a larger effort to package in a single word America's mission, history's purpose, and the aspirations of all humanity, with Kennedy himself their foremost champion. According to the directive establishing the award, its aim was to honor individuals making an especially meritorious contribution to (1) the security or national interests of the United States, or (2) world peace, or (3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
The criteria are worth noting. The first and second qualify as straightforward and unobjectionable, if perhaps not mutually consistent. The third criterion, by comparison, is broad and vague -- sufficiently elastic to include just about anyone doing anything that happens to catch a president's fancy.
Almost from the outset, recipients of the Medal of Freedom have tended to fall into one of three categories. In the first are individuals who testify to the incumbent president's preferred self-image. For Kennedy that meant sophistication and class. So the first tranche of those selected to receive the Medal of Freedom featured such notables as singer Marian Anderson, cellist Pablo Casals, photographer Edward Steichen, and literary critic Edmund Wilson.
The second category is all about virtue signaling, as exemplified by Richard Nixon's choices of labor leader David Dubinsky and composer Duke Ellington to receive the Medal of Freedom. Evidence suggesting that Nixon was particularly fond of left-leaning labor organizers or African Americans is sparse. Yet by honoring Dubinsky and Ellington, Nixon could strike an appearance of being broad-minded, tolerant, and even hip, at virtually no cost to himself.
In the third category are individuals chosen to make a political statement, more often than not catering to a particular constituency. Ronald Reagan's selection of Louis L'Amour, author of potboiler cowboy novels, pleased his Western fan base. Similarly, his choices of Milton Friedman, Clare Boothe Luce, and Albert Wohlstetter found favor with free marketeers, devout anti-communists, and neoconservatives, respectively.
Little of this mattered. The Medal of Freedom's substantive impact was on a par with the presidential pardon granted to a couple of lucky turkeys just prior to Thanksgiving each year. It amounted to little more than a photo-op. In the larger scheme of things, the Medal of Freedom did nothing to hasten the downfall of the Evil Empire. The best we can say is that it did not retard the eventual outcome of the long twilight struggle.
With the end of the Cold War, however, and especially after 9/11, the Medal of Freedom went from being irrelevant to somewhere between whimsical and fraudulent. Any correlation with freedom as such, never more than tenuous in the first place, dissolved altogether. For evidence, we need look no further than the current crop of awardees.
That the Sultan of Swat and Elvis each left an indelible mark on American life is no doubt the case. Yet Babe Ruth died in 1948 while Presley "left the building" in 1977. Awarding them the Medal of Freedom at this point adds nothing to their stature and smacks of presumption, more or less akin to the Congress promoting George Washington to the rank of General of the Armies back in 1976. Besides, if Ruth, why not Lou Gehrig? Why not the entire 1927 Yankees starting lineup? If Presley, why not Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper? Why not every member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?
As for Ms. Adelson, while her philanthropic activities are admirable, they fall well short of being unique. In fact, her selection to receive this presidential bauble stems less from Adelson's charitable giving than from her marriage to a billionaire who donated $25 million to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign while kicking in another $113 million to support the Republican Party two years later. The Adelson Medal of Freedom was bought and paid for many times over.
I do not mean to imply that Trump deserves principal blame for trivializing and degrading the Medal of Freedom. On that score, primary credit goes to George W. Bush, who conferred this ostensibly great distinction on three individuals who figured prominently in engineering the debacle of the Iraq war: former CIA director George "Slam Dunk" Tenet, General Tommy Franks, and failed American viceroy L. Paul Bremer. Passing out laurels to mediocrities who screw up: for evidence of the sense of entitlement that has come to pervade the American establishment, one need look no further.
President Barack Obama's contribution to the Medal of Freedom's decline in status was of a different order: he gave out medals like pieces of Halloween candy, his 123 being the most ever awarded by any president. As any list of honorees becomes longer, it necessarily becomes less selective. So Ellen DeGeneres got one from Obama, as did Ernie Banks, Michael Jordan, and basketball coach Dean Smith. All estimable individuals no doubt, but arguably not what JFK had in mind when he instituted the Medal of Freedom in the first place.
Whatever modest value JFK's initiative may once have possessed has long since dissipated. In the present moment, with Americans disagreeing vehemently as to what freedom requires, permits, or prohibits, it just might be time to give the Medal of Freedom a rest. Let's figure out what freedom means. Then it may once more become appropriate to honor those who exemplify it.
Andrew J. Bacevich is TAC 's writer at large. His new book Twilight of the American Century has just been published.
Apr 27, 2019 | angrybearblog.com
My reading is that the core psychological principle of neoliberalism, that life is an accumulation of moments of utility and disutility, is alive and well within certain sectors of the "left". A speech (or email or comment at a meeting) should be evaluated by how it makes us feel, and no one should have the right to make us feel bad.
Not sure about this "utility/disutility" dichotomy (probably you mean market fundamentalism -- belief that market ( and market mechanisms) is a self regulating, supernaturally predictive force that will guide human beings to the neoliberal Heavens), but, yes, neoliberalism infected the "left" and, especially, Democratic Party which was converted by Clinton into greedy and corrupt "DemoRats' subservient to Wall Street and antagonistic to the trade unions. And into the second War Party, which in certain areas is even more jingoistic and aggressive then Republicans (Obama color revolution in Ukraine is one example; Hillary Libya destruction is another; both were instrumental in unleashing the civil war on Syria and importing and arming Muslim fundamentalists to fight it).
It might make sense to view neoliberalism as a new secular religion which displaced Marxism on the world arena (and collapse of the USSR was in part the result of the collapse of Marxism as an ideology under onslaught of neoliberalism; although bribes of USSR functionaries and mismanagement of the economy due to over centralization -- country as a single gigantic corporation -- also greatly helped) .
Neoliberalism demonstrates the same level of intolerance (and actually series of wars somewhat similar to Crusades) as any monotheistic religion in early stages of its development. Because at this stage any adept knows the truth and to believe in this truth is to be saved; everything else is eternal damnation (aka living under "authoritarian regime" ;-) .
And so far there is nothing that will force the neoliberal/neocon Torquemadas to abandon their loaded with bombs jets as the tool of enlightenment of pagan states ;-)
Simplifying, neoliberalism can be viewed an a masterfully crafted, internally consistent amalgam of myths and pseudo theories (partially borrowed from Trotskyism) that justifies the rule of financial oligarchy and high level inequality in the society (redistribution of the wealth up). Kind of Trotskyism for the rich with the same idea of Permanent Revolution until global victory of neoliberalism.
That's why neoliberals charlatans like Hayek and Friedman were dusted off, given Nobel Prizes and promoted to the top in economics: they were very helpful and pretty skillful in forging neoliberal myths. Especially Hayek. A second rate economist who proved to be the first class theologian .
Promoting "neoliberal salvation" was critical for the achieving the political victory of neoliberalism in late 1979th and discrediting and destroying the remnants of the New Deal capitalism (already undermined at this time by the oil crisis)
Neoliberalism has led to the rise of corporate (especially financial oligarchy) power and an open war on labor. New Deal policies aimed at full employment and job security have been replaced with ones that aim at flexibility in the form of unstable employment, job loss and rising inequality.
This hypotheses helps to explain why neoliberalism as a social system survived after its ideology collapsed in 2008 -- it just entered zombie stage like Bolshevism after WWII when it became clear that it can't achieve higher standard of living for the population then capitalism.
Latest mutation of classic neoliberalism into "national neoliberalism" under Trump shows that it has great ability to adapt to the changing conditions. And neoliberalism survived in Russia under Putin and Medvedev as well, despite economic rape that Western neoliberals performed on Russia under Yeltsin with the help of Harvard mafia.
That's why despite widespread criticism, neoliberalism remains the dominant politico-economic theory amongst policy-makers both in the USA and internationally. All key global neoliberal global institutions, such as the G20, European Union, IMF, World bank, and WTO still survived intact and subscribe to neoliberalism. .
Neoliberalism has led to the rise of corporate (especially financial oligarchy) power and an open war on labor. New Deal policies aimed at full employment and job security have been replaced with ones that aim at flexibility in the form of unstable employment, job loss and rising inequality.
This hypotheses helps to explain why neoliberalism as a social system survived after its ideology collapsed in 2008 -- it just entered zombie stage like Bolshevism after WWII when it became clear that it can't achieve higher standard of living for the population then capitalism.
Latest mutation of classic neoliberalism into "national neoliberalism" under Trump shows that it has great ability to adapt to the changing conditions.
that's why despite widespread criticism, neoliberalism remains the dominant politico-economic theory amongst policy-makers both in the USA and internationally. All key global neoliberal global institutions, such as the G20, European Union, IMF, World bank, and WTO still survived intact and subscribe to neoliberalism. .
Apr 16, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
...you may have missed weeks of debate on the Right over a reasonable comment made by the popular Fox News host.
"Market capitalism is not a religion. Market capitalism is a tool, like a staple gun or a toaster," Carlson said. "Any economic system that weakens and destroys families isn't worth having." Does this observation make Tucker a socialist? Hardly. As is often the case, TAC founding editor Patrick J. Buchanan was more than a decade ahead of the curve.
"To me, the country comes before the economy; and the economy exists for the people," Buchanan said in a 1998 speech to the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. "I believe in free markets, but I do not worship them. In the proper hierarchy of things, it is the market that must be harnessed to work for man -- and not the other way around."
Kouros, says: April 16, 2019 at 2:05 pmMaybe someone should read a bit of Amartya Sen?John Roche, says: April 16, 2019 at 2:18 pm
https://aeon.co/ideas/why-amartya-sen-remains-the-centurys-great-critic-of-capitalismThe free market thinks these questions of culture, family and social cohesiveness are cute but ultimately irrelevant. Conservatives need to come to terms that global capital has no mercy or care for its concerns and ultimate ends. You cant tax credit your way out of that confrontation. City of God vs the city of man is still the battle.ked_x, says: April 16, 2019 at 2:53 pmIt would have been nice if the Conservative Movement had started this "search for answers" after the failure of the 2012 election where the Republican Party picked a vulture capitalist as a Presidential nominee.
Apr 05, 2019 | www.commondreams.org
Why "free" why not "fair". Neoliberals are as dangerious as Big brother in 1994. Actually neoliberal state is as close to Big Brother regine described in 1994. We have total surveillance, with technological capabiltiies which probably exceed anything rulers of 1984 world possessed, Russiagate as "hour of anger", permanent war for permanent people (and total victory of "democracy") , and of course "[neoliberal] freedom is [debt[ slavery..." in neoliberal MSM.Fast forward from one Gilded Age to another. Citizens United, granting unions and corporations the right to spend unlimited amounts of money to advocate for and against political candidates, is often regarded as a singularly dangerous challenge to our democratic norms, especially with its infamous assertion that money is speech. Less attention, however, is pad to the context in which this decision occurred, including corporate consolidation in most sectors of the economy, obscene levels of economic inequality, and near religious reverence for deregulated markets.
Media consolidation itself has played an enormous role in driving up the cost of political campaigns. How did we get to this second Gilded Age and what lessons can we infer regarding our democratic prospects?
The post World War II decades saw white working class gains in income made possible by unionization, the GI bill, and a federal commitment to full employment. Positive as these gains were, they carried with them unintended consequences. Workers and employers, having less fear of depression, periodically drove wages and prices up.
Bursts of inflation and an unprecedented profit squeeze led to unemployment even in the midst of inflation, an unprecedented and unexpected circumstance. Blacks had been left out of the full benefits of the New Deal welfare state and raised demands not only for political equality but also for economic opportunity, one of Reconstruction's forgotten promises.
These events provided an opening for a group of academics who had long despised the New Deal welfare state. Notre Dame University 's Philip Mirowski Never Let a Serious Crisis G to Waste has provided a careful and detailed analysis of this neoliberal movement in American politics.
These neoliberals shared with their nineteenth- century predecessors a faith in markets, but with an important difference. Adam Smith and JS Mill saw markets as non-coercive means to allocate resources and produce goods and services. Neoliberals regarded markets as perfect information processing machines that could provide optimal solutions to all social problems. Hence a commitment not only to lift rent control on housing but also to privatize prisons, water and sewer systems, and to deregulate all aspects of personal finance and treat education and health care as commodities to be pursued on unregulated markets. An essential part of this faith in markets is the post Reagan view of corporate consolidation. Combinations are to be judged only on the basis of cheap products to the consumer.
Older antitrust concerns about worker welfare or threat to democracy itself are put aside. Corporate mergers and the emergence of monopoly are seen as reflections of the omniscient market. In practice, however as we shall see, such a tolerant attitude is not applied to worker associations.
Neoliberals differ from their classical predecessors in a second important way. Market is miraculous and a boon to many, but paradoxically only a strong state can assure its arrival and maintenance. Sometimes it may appear that the market is yielding iniquitous or unsustainable outcomes, which my lead to premature or disastrous rejection of its wisdom. The answer to this anger is more markets, but that requires a strong state staffed by neoliberals. They would have the capacity and authority to enact and impose these markets and distract the electorate and divert them into more harmless pursuits. Recognition of the need for a powerful state stands in partial contradiction to the neoliberal's professed deification of pure markets and was seldom presented to public gatherings. As Mirowski put it, neoliberals operated on the basis of a dual truth, an esoteric truth for its top scholars and theorists and an exoteric version for then public. Celebration of the spontaneous market was good enough for Fox News, whereas top neoliberal scholars discussed how to reengineer government in order to recast society.
The signs of neoliberalism are all around us. Worried about student debt? There is a widely advertised financial institution that will refinance your loan. Trapped in prison with no money for bail. There are corporations and products that will take care of that. Cancer cures, money for funerals and burial expenses can all be obtained via the market. Any problem the market creates the market can solve. The implications of this view have been ominous for democracy and social justice.
The neoliberal deification of markets has many parents. This mindset encouraged and was encouraged by a revolt against democracy. The wealthy had always been concerned that a propertyless working class might vote to expropriate them, but neoliberalism gave them further reason to bypass democracy. Markets were seen as better indicators of truth than democratic elections, though that point was seldom expressed as directly.
Here is FA Hayek's oblique expression of this concern: "if we proceed on the assumption that only the exercises of freedom that the majority will practice are important, we would be certain to create a stagnant society with all the characteristics of unfreedom."
The revolt against democracy has occurred on several different levels of the political process. The question of who can vote is just as contested as during Reconstruction, and not just in the South. As during Reconstruction, it does not take the form of explicit racial appeals. The strategy includes further limiting the time polls are open, reduction in the number of polling places, voter identification cards that take time and money to obtain. Who can vote is also a function of the racist legacy of our history, with prohibitions on voting by felons serving to exclude large numbers of potential voters, disproportionately minorities. It should be mentioned more than it is that these techniques also work to the disadvantage of poor whites. Political scientists Walter Dean Burnham and Thomas Ferguson point out: "In Georgia in 1942, for example, turnout topped out at 3.4 percent (that's right, 3.4 percent; no misprint). Why is no mystery: the Jim Crow system pushed virtually all African-Americans out of the system, while the network of poll taxes, registration requirements, literacy tests and other obstacles that was part of that locked out most poor whites from voting, too. Since the civil rights revolution, turnouts in the South have risen fitfully to national levels, amid much pushback, such as the raft of new voter ID requirements (though these are not limited to the South)."
Minorities, poor, and even substantial segments of the working class are further disadvantaged by efforts to defund the labor opposition. Unions have been the one big money source that Democrats had available, but as the party from Bill Clinton on increasingly became a kind of neoliberalism light, embracing corporate trade agreements with a little bit of job training assistance thrown in, unions lost members, many corporations forced decertification elections. Democrats lost not only financial resources but also the ground troops that had mobilized their voters.
One result of and partial driving force behind these changes is that both parties become big money parties. Burnham and Ferguson-( December 2014)- The President and the Democratic Party are almost as dependent on big money – defined, for example, in terms of the percentage of contributions (over $500 or $1000) from the 1 percent as the Republicans. To expect top down money-driven political parties to make strong economic appeals to voters is idle. Instead the Golden Rule dominates: Money-driven parties emphasize appeals to particular interest groups instead of the broad interests of working Americans that would lead their donors to shut their wallets.
As David Stockman, President Reagan's Budget Director once all but confessed,
"in the modern era the party has never really pretended to have much of a mass constituency. It wins elections by rolling up huge percentages of votes in the most affluent classes while seeking to divide middle and working class voters with various special appeals and striving to hold down voting by minorities and the poor."
Challenging this bipartisan money driven establishment becomes even more difficult as state level ballot access laws are notoriously hostile to third parties. Add to this the private, deceptively named Presidential Debate Commission, which specializes in depriving even candidates about whom large segment s of the population are curious access to the widely watched debates. Unfortunately the celebrated voting reform proposal, HR1, though containing some democratic initiatives such as early voting and automatic voter registration, makes it own contribution to economic and political consolidation.
Bruce Dixon, editor of Black Agenda Report, maintains that only two provisions of this bill are likely to become law and both are destructive: "by raising the qualifying amount from its current level of $5,000 in each of 20 states to $25,000 in 20 states. HR 1 would cut funding for a Green presidential candidate in half, and by making ballot access for a Green presidential candidate impossible in several states it would also guarantee loss of the party's ability to run for local offices." Dixon also predicts that some Democrats "will cheerfully cross the aisle to institutionalize the Pentagon, spies and cops to produce an annual report on the threat to electoral security.
"Democrats are a capitalist party, they are a government party, and this is how they govern. HR 1 reaches back a hundred years into the Democrat playbook politicians created a foreign menace to herd the population into World War 1, which ended in the Red Scare and a couple of red summers, waves of official and unofficial violence and deportations against US leftists and against black people. The Red Scare led to the founding of the FBI, the core of the nation's permanent political police . Fifty years ago these were the same civil servants who gave us the assassinations, the disinformation and illegality of COINTELPRO, and much, much more before that and since then. HR 1 says let's go to the Pentagon and the cops, let's order them to discover threats to the electoral system posed by Americans working to save themselves and the planet."
Dixon is surely right that both parties are capitalist parties, but capitalism itself has taken different forms. New Deal and neoliberal capitalism had far different implications for working class Americans. The New Deal itself was heavily influenced by Norman Thomas and the socialist tradition. In this regard, if what Paul Wellstone used to call the democratic wing of the Democratic Party wishes to see its ideals translated into practice, it must resist efforts to exclude third parties or to deny primary opponents an even playing field.
I am not claiming that there has been a carefully coordinated conspiracy among the individuals and groups that supported these policies, but leaders did act out of a general animus toward popular movements that further reinforced their reverence for corporate markets, and the faith in markets drove the worries about popular movements.
One positive conclusion to be drawn is that if this attack on democracy exists on several levels, activism might be fruitful in many domains and may have a spillover effect. Unions are still not dead, and there is a fight now for the soul of the Democratic Party and that fight might stimulate voter access and eligibility reforms. These in turn could reshape the party's orientation and ideology. Even at the Federal level Dark money is worrisome to many voters and could be an incentive to mobilize for better disclosure laws. There are ample fronts on which to fight and good reason to keep up the struggle.
Mar 20, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. This post focuses on an important slice of history in what "freedom" has meant in political discourse in the US. But I wish it had at least mentioned how a well-funded, then extreme right wing effort launched an open-ended campaign to render US values more friendly to business. They explicitly sought to undo New Deal programs and weaken or end other social safety nets. Nixon Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell codified the strategy for this initiative in the so-called Powell Memo of 1971.
One of the most effective spokesmen for this libertarian program was Milton Friedman, whose bestseller Free to Choose became the foundation for a ten-part TV series.
By Thom Hartman, a talk-show host and author of more than 25 books in print . He is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute . Produced by the Independent Media Institute
America is having a heated debate about the meaning of the word socialism . We'd be better served if, instead, we were debating the meaning of freedom .
The Oregonian reported last week that fully 156,000 families are on the edge of homelessness in our small-population state. Every one of those households is now paying more than 50 percent of its monthly income on rent, and none of them has any savings; one medical bill, major car repair or job loss, and they're on the streets.
While socialism may or may not solve their problem, the more pressing issue we have is an entire political party and a huge sector of the billionaire class who see homelessness not as a problem, but as a symptom of a "free" society.
The words freedom and liberty are iconic in American culture -- probably more so than with any other nation because they're so intrinsic to the literature, declarations and slogans of our nation's founding.
The irony -- of the nation founded on the world's greatest known genocide (the systematic state murder of tens of millions of Native Americans) and over three centuries of legalized slavery and a century and a half of oppression and exploitation of the descendants of those slaves -- is extraordinary. It presses us all to bring true freedom and liberty to all Americans.
But what do those words mean?
If you ask the Koch brothers and their buddies -- who slap those words on pretty much everything they do -- you'd get a definition that largely has to do with being "free" from taxation and regulation. And, truth be told, if you're morbidly rich, that makes a certain amount of sense, particularly if your main goal is to get richer and richer, regardless of your behavior's impact on working-class people, the environment, or the ability of government to function.
On the other hand, the definition of freedom and liberty that's been embraced by so-called "democratic socialist" countries -- from Canada to almost all of Europe to Japan and Australia -- you'd hear a definition that's closer to that articulated by Franklin D. Roosevelt when he proposed, in January 1944, a " second Bill of Rights " to be added to our Constitution.
FDR's proposed amendments included the right to a job, and the right to be paid enough to live comfortably; the right to "adequate food and clothing and recreation"; the right to start a business and run it without worrying about "unfair competition and domination by monopolies"; the right "of every family to a decent home"; the right to "adequate medical care to achieve and enjoy good health"; the right to government-based "protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment"; and the right "to a good education."
Roosevelt pointed out that, "All of these rights spell security." He added, "America's own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world."
The other nations mentioned earlier took President Roosevelt's advice to heart. Progressive "social democracy" has kept Europe, Canada, and the developed nations of the East and South Pacific free of war for almost a century -- a mind-boggling feat when considering the history of the developed world since the 1500s.
Just prior to FDR winning the White House in the election of 1932, the nation had been treated to 12 years of a bizarre Republican administration that was the model for today's GOP. In 1920, Warren Harding won the presidency on a campaign of "more industry in government, less government in industry" -- privatize and deregulate -- and a promise to drop the top tax rate of 91 percent down to 25 percent.
He kept both promises, putting the nation into a sugar-high spin called the Roaring '20s, where the rich got fabulously rich and working-class people were being beaten and murdered by industrialists when they tried to unionize. Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover (the three Republican presidents from 1920 to 1932) all cheered on the assaults, using phrases like "the right to work" to describe a union-free nation.
In the end, the result of the " horses and sparrows " economics advocated by Harding ("feed more oats to the horses and there'll be more oats in the horse poop to fatten the sparrows" -- that generation's version of trickle-down economics) was the Republican Great Depression (yes, they called it that until after World War II).
Even though Roosevelt was fabulously popular -- the only president to be elected four times -- the right-wingers of his day were loud and outspoken in their protests of what they called "socialist" programs like Social Security, the right to unionize, and government-guaranteed job programs including the WPA, REA, CCC, and others.
The Klan and American Nazis were assembling by the hundreds of thousands nationwide -- nearly 30,000 in Madison Square Garden alone -- encouraged by wealthy and powerful "economic royalists" preaching "freedom" and " liberty ." Like the Kochs' Freedomworks , that generation's huge and well-funded (principally by the DuPonts' chemical fortune) organization was the Liberty League .
Roosevelt's generation had seen the results of this kind of hard-right "freedom" rhetoric in Italy, Spain, Japan and Germany, the very nations with which we were then at war.
Speaking of "the grave dangers of 'rightist reaction' in this Nation," Roosevelt told America in that same speech that: "[I]f history were to repeat itself and we were to return to the so-called 'normalcy' of the 1920s -- then it is certain that even though we shall have conquered our enemies on the battlefields abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of Fascism here at home."
Although right-wingers are still working hard to disassemble FDR's New Deal -- the GOP budget for 2019 contains massive cuts to Social Security, as well as to Medicare and Medicaid -- we got halfway toward his notion of freedom and liberty here in the United States:You're not free if you're old and deep in poverty, so we have Social Security (although the GOP wants to gut it). You're not free if you're hungry, so we have food stamps/SNAP (although the GOP wants to gut them). You're not free if you're homeless, so we have housing assistance and homeless shelters (although the GOP fights every effort to help homeless people). You're not free if you're sick and can't get medical care, so we have Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare (although the GOP wants to gut them all). You're not free if you're working more than 40 hours a week and still can't meet basic expenses, so we have minimum wage laws and the right to unionize (although the GOP wants to gut both). You're not free if you can't read, so we have free public schools (although the GOP is actively working to gut them). You're not free if you can't vote, so we've passed numerous laws to guarantee the right to vote (although the GOP is doing everything it can to keep tens of millions of Americans from voting).
The billionaire class and their wholly owned Republican politicians keep trying to tell us that "freedom" means the government doesn't provide any of the things listed above.
Instead, they tell us (as Ron Paul famously did in a GOP primary debate years ago) that, if we're broke and sick, we're "free" to die like a feral dog in the gutter.
Freedom is homelessness, in the minds of the billionaires who own the GOP.
Poverty, lack of education, no access to health care, poor-paying jobs, and barriers to voting are all proof of a free society, they tell us, which is why America's lowest life expectancy, highest maternal and childhood death rates, lowest levels of education, and lowest pay are almost all in GOP-controlled states .
America -- particularly the Democratic Party -- is engaged in a debate right now about the meaning of socialism . It would be a big help for all of us if we were, instead, to have an honest debate about the meaning of the words freedom and liberty .
cuibono , , March 20, 2019 at 2:53 am
Know Your Rights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lfInFVPkQs
WheresOurTeddy , , March 20, 2019 at 12:28 pm
I have been informed by Fox that knowing your rights is un-American
everydayjoe , , March 20, 2019 at 4:26 am
Let us not forget the other propaganda arm of Republican party and big money- Fox news. They spew the freedom nonsense while not adhering to any definition of the word.
I worked in the midwest as an Engineer in the 90s to early 2000s and saw plants being gutted/shifted overseas, Union influence curtailed and mid level and bottom pay stay flat for decades; all in the name of free market.
Sadly the same families that are the worst affected vote Republican! But we know all this and have known it for a while. What will change?
lyman alpha blob , , March 20, 2019 at 8:00 am
They want freedom -- for the wolves to eat the sheep.
PKMKII , , March 20, 2019 at 1:08 pm
And then act like it's fair because they don't have laws against the sheep eating the wolves.
Norb , , March 20, 2019 at 8:39 am
The intro to this post is spot on. The Powell memo outlined a strategy for a corporate coup d'eta. Is was completely successful. Now that the business class rules America, their only vision is to continue the quest and cannibalize the country and enslave its people by any means possible. What tools do they use to achieve these ends? -- debt, fear, violence and pandering to human vanity as a motivator. Again, very successful.
Instead of honest public debate- which is impossible when undertaken with liars and thieves, a good old manifesto or pamphlet like Common Sense is in order. Something calling out concrete action that can be taken by commoners to regain their social respect and power. That should scare the living daylights out of the complacent and smug elite.
Its that, or a lot of public infrastructure is gong to be broken up by the mob- which doesn't work out in the long run. The nations that learn to work with and inspire their populations will prosper- the rest will have a hard time of it. Look no further than America's fall.
Carla , , March 20, 2019 at 12:00 pm
Thank you, Norb. You've inspired me to start by reading Common Sense.
Jamie S , , March 20, 2019 at 9:13 am
This piece raises some important points, but aims too narrowly at one political party, when the D-party has also been complicit in sharing the framing of "freedom" as less government/regulation/taxation. After all, it was the Clinton administration that did welfare "reform", deregulation of finance, and declared the end of the era of "big government", and both Clinton and Obama showed willingness to cut Social Security and Medicare in a "grand bargain".
WJ , , March 20, 2019 at 12:10 pm
If in place of "the GOP," the author had written, "The national Democratic and Republican parties over the past fifty years," his claim would be much more accurate. To believe what he says about "the GOP," you have to pretend that Clinton, and Obama, and Pelosi, and Schumer, and Feinstein simply don't exist and never did. The author's implicit valorization of Obamacare is even more disheartening.
But perhaps this is the *point* of the piece after all? If I were a consultant to the DNC (and I make less than $100,000/yr so I am clearly not), I would advocate that they commission, underscore, and reward pieces exactly like this one. For the smartest ones surely grasp that the rightist oligarchic policy takeover has in fact happened, and that it has left in its wake millions of disaffected, indebted, uneducated, uninsured Americans.
(Suggesting that it hadn't was the worst idiocy of Clinton's 2016 campaign. It would have been much better had she admitted it and blamed it on the Republican Senate while holding dear old Obama up as a hamstrung martyr for the cause. I mean, this is what everybody at DailyKos already believes, and the masses -- being poor and uneducated and desperate -- can be brought around to believe anything, or anyway, enough of them can be.)
I would advocate that the DNC double down on its rightful claims to Roosevelt's inheritance, embrace phrases like "social democracy" and "freedom from economic insecurity," and shift leftward in all its official rhetoric. Admit the evisceration of the Roosevelt tradition, but blame it all on the GOP. Maybe *maybe* even acknowledge that past Democratic leaders were a little naive and idealistic in their pursuit of bipartisanship, and did not understand the truly horrible intentions of the GOP. But today's Democrats are committed to wresting back the rights of the people from the evil clutches of the Koch Republicans. This sort of thing.
Would my advice be followed? Or would the *really* smart ones in the room demure? If so, why do you think they would?
In short, I read this piece as one stage in an ongoing dialectic in the Democratic Party in the run-up to the 2020 election wherein party leaders try to determine how leftward its "official" rhetoric is able to sway before becoming *so* unbelievable (in light of historical facts) that it cannot serve as effective propaganda -- even among Americans!
NotTimothyGeithner , , March 20, 2019 at 1:34 pm
Team Blue elites are the children of Bill Clinton and the Third Way, so the echo chamber was probably terrible. Was Bill Clinton a bad President? He was the greatest Republican President! The perception of this answer is a key. Who rose and joined Team Blue through this run? Many Democrats don't recognize this, or they don't want to rock the boat. This is the structural problem with Team Blue. The "generic Democrat" is AOC, Omar, Sanders, Warren, and a handful of others.
Can the Team Blue elites embrace a Roosevelt identity? The answer is no. Their ideology is so wildly divergent they can't adjust without a whole sale conversion.
More succinctly, the Third Way isn't about helping Democrats win by accepting not every battle can be won. Its about advancing right wing politics and pretending this isn't what its about. If they are too clear about good policy, they will be accused of betrayal.
jefemt , , March 20, 2019 at 9:18 am
Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose Kris Kristofferson
shinola , , March 20, 2019 at 1:06 pm
"nothin' ain't worth nothin' but it's free"
Trick Shroade , , March 20, 2019 at 9:46 am
The modern GOP has a very brutalist interpretation of Christianity, one where the money changers bring much needed liquidity to the market.
where , , March 20, 2019 at 12:30 pm
it's been 2 generations, but we assure you, the wealth will eventually trickle down
Dwight , , March 20, 2019 at 1:51 pm
Be patient, the horse has to digest your oat.
The Rev Kev , , March 20, 2019 at 10:13 am
This article makes me wonder if the GOP is still a political party anymore. I know, I know, they have the party structure, the candidates, the budget and all the rest of it but when you look at their policies and what they are trying to do, the question does arise. Are they doing it because this is what they believe is their identity as a party or is it that they are simply a vehicle with the billionaires doing the real driving and recruiting? An obvious point is that among billionaires, they see no need to form their own political party which should be telling clue. Certainly the Democrats are no better.
Maybe the question that American should ask themselves is just what does it mean to be an American in the year 2020? People like Norman Rockwell and his Four Freedoms could have said a lot of what it meant some 60 years ago and his work has been updated to reflect the modern era ( https://www.galeriemagazine.com/norman-rockwell-four-freedoms-modern/ ) but the long and the short of it is that things are no longer working for most people anymore -- and not just in America. But a powerful spring can only be pushed back and held in place for so long before there is a rebound effect and I believe that I am seeing signs of this the past few years.
GF , , March 20, 2019 at 11:06 am
And don't forget FRD's Second Bill of Rights:
" a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all -- regardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security."
Frank Little , , March 20, 2019 at 10:20 am
America is having a heated debate about the meaning of the word socialism. We'd be better served if, instead, we were debating the meaning of freedom.
I agree, and we should also be having a debate about capitalism as it actually exists. In the US capitalism is always talked about in rosy non-specific terms (e.g. a preference for markets or support for entrepreneurship) while anybody who says they don't necessarily support capitalism has to answer for Stalin's gulag's or the Khmer Rouge. All the inequalities and injustices that have helped people like Howard Schultz or Jeff Bezos become billionaire capitalists somehow aren't part of capitalism, just different problems to be solved somehow but definitely not by questioning capitalism.
Last night I watched the HBO documentary on Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos and I couldn't help but laugh at all these powerful politicians, investors, and legal giants going along with someone who never once demonstrated or even explained how her groundbreaking innovation actually worked. $900 million was poured into that company before people realized something that a Stanford professor interviewed in the documentary saw when she first met Holmes. Fracking companies have been able to consistently raise funding despite consistently losing money and destroying the environment in the process. Bank balance sheets were protected while working people lost everything in the name of preserving American capitalism. I think it's good to debate socialism and capitalism, but there's not really any point if we aren't going to be talking about Actually Existing Capitalism rather than the hypothetical version that's trotted out anytime someone suggests an alternative.
Trick Shroade , , March 20, 2019 at 10:53 am
There was a great comment here on NC a little while ago, something to the effect of "capitalism has the logic of a cancer cell. It's a pile of money whose only goal is to become a bigger pile of money." Of course good things can happen as a side effect of it becoming a bigger pile of money: innovation, efficiencies, improved standard of living, etc. but we need government (not industry) regulation to keep the bad side effects of capitalism in check (like the cancer eventually killing its host).
Carey , , March 20, 2019 at 12:21 pm
"efficiency" is very often not good for the Commons, in the long term.
Frank Little , , March 20, 2019 at 12:31 pm
Shoot, must have missed that comment but it's a good metaphor. Reminds me of Capital vol. 1, which Marx starts with a long and dense treatment of the nature of commodities and commodification in order to capture this process whereby capitalists produce things people really do want or need in order to get at what they really want: return on their investment.
Jack Gavin , , March 20, 2019 at 12:36 pm
I also agree but I think we need to have a the same heated debate over what capitalism means. Over the years I have been subjected to (exposed) to more flavors of socialism than I can count. Yet, other than an introductory economics class way back when, no debatable words about what 'capitalism' is seems to get attention. Maybe it's time to do that and hope that some agreeable definition of 'freedom' falls out.
jrs , , March 20, 2019 at 12:42 pm
of course maybe socialism is the only thing that ever really could solve homelessness, given that it seems to be at this point a worldwide problem, although better some places than others (like the U.S. and UK).
Stratos , , March 20, 2019 at 11:11 am
This article lets the Dems off the hook. They have actively supported the Billionaire Agenda for decades now; sometimes actively (like when they helped gut welfare) and sometimes by enabling Repubs objectives (like voter suppression).
At this point in time, the Dem leadership is working to deep six Medicare for All.
With 'friends' like the Dems, who needs the Repubs?
WheresOurTeddy , , March 20, 2019 at 12:30 pm
our last democratic president was Carter
thump , , March 20, 2019 at 12:38 pm
1) In the history, a mention of the attempted coup against FDR would be good. See The Plot to Seize the White House by Jules Archer. ( Amazon link )
2) For the contemporary intellectual history, I really appreciated Nancy MacLean's Democracy in Chains . ( Amazon link ) Look her up on youtube or Democracy Now . Her book got a bit of press and she interviews well.
Bob of Newton , , March 20, 2019 at 1:58 pm
Please refer to these folks as 'rightwingers'. There are Democratic as well as Republicans who believe in this type of 'freedom'.
Jerry B , , March 20, 2019 at 2:38 pm
This post seems heavily slanted against the GOP and does not take into account how pro-business the Democrats have become. I tenuously agree with Yves intro that much of the current pro business value system campaign in the US was started with the political far right and the Lewis Powell Memo. And that campaign kicked into high gear during the Reagan Presidency.
But as that "pro business campaign" gained steam, the Democratic Party, IMO, realized that they could partake in the "riches" as well and sold their political soul for a piece of the action. Hartman's quote about the billionaire class should include their "wholly owned Republicans and Democrat politicians".
As Lambert mentions (paraphrasing), "The left puts the working class first. Both liberals and conservatives put markets first, liberals with many more layers of indirection (e.g., complex eligibility requirements, credentialing) because that creates niches from which their professional base benefits".
As an aside, while the pro-business/capitalism on steroids people have sought more "freedom", they have made the US and the world less free for the rest of us.
Also the over focusing on freedom is not uniquely GOP. As Hartman mentions, "the words freedom and liberty are iconic in American culture -- probably more so than with any other nation because they're so intrinsic to the literature, declarations and slogans of our nation's founding." US culture has taken the concept of freedom to an extreme version of individualism.
That is not surprising given our history.
The DRD4 gene is a dopamine receptor gene. One stretch of the gene is repeated a variable number of times, and the version with seven repeats (the "7R" form) produces a receptor protein that is relatively unresponsive to dopamine. Being unresponsive to dopamine means that people who have this gene have a host of related traits -- sensation and novelty seeking, risk taking, impulsivity, and, probably most consistently, ADHD. -- -- Seems like the type of people that would value extreme (i.e. non-collective) forms of freedom
The United States is the individualism poster child for at least two reasons. First there's immigration. Currently, 12 percent of Americans are immigrants, another 12 percent are children of immigrants, and everyone else except for the 0.9 percent pure Native Americans descend from people who emigrated within the last five hundred years.
And who were the immigrants?' Those in the settled world who were cranks, malcontents, restless, heretical, black sheep, hyperactive, hypomanic, misanthropic, itchy, unconventional, yearning to be free, yearning to be rich, yearning to be out of their, damn boring repressive little hamlet, yearning. -- -- Again seems like the type of people that would value freedom in all aspects of life and not be interested in collectivism
Couple that with the second reason -- for the majority of its colonial and independent history, America has had a moving frontier luring those whose extreme prickly optimism made merely booking passage to the New World insufficiently, novel -- and you've got America the individualistic.
The 7R variant mentioned above occurs in about 23 percent of Europeans and European Americans. And in East Asians? 1 percent. When East Asians domesticated rice and invented collectivist society, there was massive selection against the 7R variant. Regardless of the cause, East Asian cultural collectivism coevolved with selection against the 7R variant.
So which came first, 7R frequency or cultural style? The 4R and 7R variants, along with the 2R, occur worldwide, implying they already existed when humans radiated out of Africa 60,000 to 130,000 years ago. A high incidence of 7R, associated with impulsivity and novelty seeking, is the legacy of humans who made the greatest migrations in human history.
So it seems that many of the people who immigrated to the US were impulsive, novelty seeking, risk takers. As a counterpoint, many people that migrated to the US did not do so by choice but were forced from their homes and their countries by wars.
The point of this long comment is that for some people the concept of freedom can be taken to extreme -- a lack of gun control laws, financial regulation, extremes of wealth, etc. After a brief period in the 1940's, 1950's, and early 1960's when the US was more collective, we became greedy, consumerist, and consumption oriented, aided by the political and business elites as mentioned in the post.
If we want the US to be a more collective society we have to initially do so in our behaviors i.e. laws and regulations that rein in the people who would take the concept of freedom to an extreme. Then maybe over an evolutionary time period some of the move impulsive, sensation seeking, ADHDness, genes can be altered to a more balance mix of what makes the US great with more of the collective genes.
IMO, if we do not begin to work on becoming a collective culture now, then climate change, water scarcity, food scarcity, and resource scarcity will do it for us the hard way.
In these days of short attention spans I apologize for the long comment. The rest of my day is busy and I do not have more time to shorten the comment. I wanted to develop an argument for how the evolutionary and dysfunctional forms of freedom have gotten us to this point. And what we need to do to still have some freedom but also "play nice and share in the future sandbox of climate change and post fossil fuel society.
Aug 21, 2017 | www.globalresearch.caRegion: USA Theme: Media Disinformation , Police State & Civil Rights
More people are becoming alienated, cynical, resentful or resigned, while too much of mass and social media reinforces less-than-helpful narratives and tendencies. The frog's in the frying pan and the heat is rising.
On the big screens above us beautiful young people demonstrated their prowess. We were sitting in the communications center, waiting for print outs to tell us what they'd done before organizing the material for mass consumption. Outside, people were freezing in the snow as they waited for buses. Their only choice was to attend another event or attempt to get home.
The area was known as the Competition Zone, a corporate state created for the sole purpose of showcasing these gorgeous competitors. Freedom was a foreign idea here; no one was more free than the laminated identification card hanging around your neck allowed.
Visitors were more restricted than anyone. They saw only what they paid for, and had to wait in long lines for food, transport, or tickets to more events. They were often uncomfortable, yet they felt privileged to be admitted to the Zone. Citizens were categorized by their function within the Organizing Committee's bureaucracy. Those who merely served -- in jobs like cooking, driving and cleaning -- wore green and brown tags. They could travel between their homes and work, but were rarely permitted into events. Their contact with visitors was also limited. To visit them from outside the Zone, their friends and family had to be screened.
Most citizens knew little about how the Zone was actually run, about the "inner community" of diplomats, competitors and corporate officials they served. Yet each night they watched the exploits of this same elite on television.
The Zone, a closed and classified place where most bad news went unreported and a tiny elite called the shots through mass media and computers, was no futuristic fantasy. It was Lake Placid for several weeks in early 1980 -- a full four years before 1984.
In a once sleepy little community covered with artificial snow, the Olympics had brought a temporary society into being. Two thousand athletes and their entourage were its royalty, role models for the throngs of spectators, townspeople and journalists. This convergence resulted in an ad hoc police state, managed by public and private forces and a political elite that combined local business honchos with an international governing committee. They dominated a population all too willing to submit to arbitrary authority.
Even back then, Lake Placid's Olympic "village" felt like a preview of things to come. Not quite George Orwell's dark vision, but uncomfortably close.
In Orwell's imagination, society was ruled in the future by Big Brother. It wasn't a computer, but rather the collective expression of the Party. But not like the Republicans; this Party was an autonomous bureaucracy and advanced surveillance state interested only in perpetuating itself as a hierarchy. In this dystopia, "the people" had become insignificant, without the power of "grasping that the world could be other than it is."
Concepts like freedom were perverted by a ruthless Newspeakperpetuated by the Party through the media. A Goodthinker was someone who followed orders without thinking. Crimestop was the instinctual avoidance of any dangerous thought, and Doublethink was the constant distortion of reality to maintain the Party's image of infallibility.
Writing in 1948, Orwell was projecting what could happen in just a few decades. By most measures, even 70 years later we're not quite there yet. But we do face the real danger that freedom and equality will be seriously distorted by a new form of Newspeak, a Trumpian version promoted by the administration and its allies through their media. We already have Trumpian Goodthinkers -- the sychophantic surrogates who follow his lead without thinking, along with Crimestop -- the instinctual avoidance of "disloyal" thought, and Doublethink -- the constant distortion of reality to maintain Trump's insatiable ego and image of infallibility. Orwellian ideas are simply resurfacing in a post-modern/reality TV form.
Our fast food culture is also taking a long-term toll. More and more people are becoming alienated, cynical, resentful or resigned, while too much of mass and social media reinforces less-than-helpful narratives and tendencies. The frog's in the frying pan and the heat is rising.
Much of what penetrates and goes viral further fragments culture and thought, promoting a cynicism that reinforces both rage and inaction. Rather than true diversity, we have the mass illusion that a choice between polarized opinions, shaped and curated by editors and networks, is the essence of free speech and democracy. In reality, original ideas are so constrained and self-censored that what's left is usually as diverse as brands of peppermint toothpaste.
When the Bill of Rights was ratified, the notion that freedom of speech and the press should be protected meant that the personal right of self-expression should not be repressed by the government. James Madison, author of the First Amendment, warned that the greatest danger to liberty was that a majority would use its power to repress everyone else. Yet the evolution of mass media and the corporate domination of economic life have made these "choicest privileges" almost obsolete.
As community life unravels and more institutions fall into disrepute, media have become among of the few remaining that can potentially facilitate some social cohesion. Yet instead they fuel conflict and crisis. It's not quite Crimestop, but does often appeal to some of the basest instincts and produce even more alienation and division.
In general terms, what most mass media bring the public is a series of images and anecdotes that cumulatively define a way of life. Both news and entertainment contribute to the illusion that competing, consuming and accumulating are at the core of our aspirations. Each day we are repeatedly shown and told that culture and politics are corrupt, that war is imminent or escalating somewhere, that violence is random and pervasive, and yet also that the latest "experts" have the answers. Countless programs meanwhile celebrate youth, violence, frustrated sexuality, and the lives of celebrities.
Between the official program content are a series of intensely packaged sales pitches. These commercial messages wash over us, as if we are wandering in an endless virtual mall, searching in vain for fulfillment as society crumbles.
In 1980, Ralph Nader called the race for president at that time -- between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan -- a choice between mediocrity and menace. It was funny then, but now we can see what real menace looks like. Is Trump-ism what Orwell warned us about? Not quite, though there are similarities. Like Trump, you can't talk to Big Brother. And he rarely gives you the truth, only doublespeak. But Trump is no Big Brother. More like a Drunk Uncle with nukes.
So, is it too late for a rescue? Will menace win this time? Or can we still save the environment, reclaim self-government, restore communities and protect human rights? What does the future hold?
It could be summer in Los Angeles in 2024, the end of Donald Trump's second term. The freeways are slow-moving parking lots for the Olympics. Millions of people hike around in the heat, or use bikes and cycles to get to work. It's difficult with all the checkpoints, not to mention the extra-high security at the airports. Thousands of police, not to mention the military, are on the lookout for terrorists, smugglers, protesters, cultists, gangs, thieves, and anyone who doesn't have money to burn or a ticket to the Games.
Cash isn't much good, and gas has become so expensive that suburban highways are almost empty.
Security is tight and hard to avoid, on or offline. There are cameras everywhere, and every purchase and move most people make is tracked by the state. Still, there are four bombings in the first week of the Games. There is also another kind of human tragedy. Four runners collapse during preliminary rounds as a result of a toxic mix -- heat and pollution.
... ... ...
Greg Guma is the Vermont-based author of Dons of Time, Uneasy Empire, Spirits of Desire, Big Lies, and The People's Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution.
This article was originally published by Greg Guma: For Preservation & Change .
Feb 26, 2019 | www.unz.com
densa , says: February 26, 2019 at 11:04 pm GMT@Mike from Jersey This:
Don't the people pulling the strings behind the media understand what they have done? They have convinced a large part of the nation that everything that they were taught from childhood is a fraud.
Civilizations are only held together by the "glue" of shared beliefs. The deep-state-media-complex has just applied a solvent to the very glue that holds the entire culture together.
And Hopkins says a disillusioned people might realize
in reality they are living in a neo-feudalist, de facto global capitalist empire administrated by omnicidal money-worshipping human parasites that won't be satisfied until they've remade the whole of creation in their nihilistic image.
There has been a longstanding bipartisan attack against the nation, and I use that term as defined as "a stable, historically developed community of people with a territory, economic life, distinctive culture, and language in common."
But I don't think the "deep-state-media-complex" is concerned by this. Again, feature not bug.
Feb 26, 2019 | www.unz.com
obwandiyag , says: February 26, 2019 at 6:34 pm GMT@Digital Samizdat Excellent intelligence. As opposed to the "high IQ" idiocy promulgated on here.
You may like the way an acquaintance, a PhD from Chicago School of Business, who had just finished working on a project for Big Pharma, observed when I brought up the concept of "free market."
"'Free market?!'" he exclaimed. "No such thing. Because it's all crooked."
Jan 20, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,
Following what the Washington Post has described as "the highest-profile misstep yet for a news organization during a period of heightened and intense scrutiny of the press," mass media representatives are now flailing desperately for an argument as to why people should continue to place their trust in mainstream news outlets.
On Thursday Buzzfeed News delivered the latest "bombshell" Russiagate report to fizzle within 24 hours of its publication, a pattern that is now so consistent that I've personally made a practice of declining to comment on such stories until a day or two after their release. "BOOM!" tweets were issued by #Resistance pundits on Twitter, "If true this means X, Y and Z" bloviations were made on mass media punditry panels, and for about 20 hours Russiagaters everywhere were riding the high of their lives, giddy with the news that President Trump had committed an impeachable felony by ordering Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a proposed Trump office tower in Moscow, a proposal which died within weeks and the Kremlin never touched .
There was reason enough already for any reasonable person to refrain from frenzied celebration, including the fact that the story's two authors, Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier, were giving the press two very different accounts of the information they'd based it on, with Cormier telling CNN that he had not personally seen the evidence underlying his report and Leopold telling MSNBC that he had. Both Leopold and Cormier, for the record, have already previously suffered a Russiagate faceplant with the clickbait viral story that Russia had financed the 2016 election, burying the fact that it was a Russian election .
Then the entire story came crashing down when Mueller's office took the extremely rare step of issuing an unequivocal statement that the Buzzfeed story was wrong , writing simply, "BuzzFeed's description of specific statements to the special counsel's office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen's congressional testimony are not accurate."
According to journalist and economic analyst Doug Henwood, the print New York Times covered the Buzzfeed report on its front page when the story broke, but the report on Mueller's correction the next day was shoved back to page 11 . This appalling journalistic malpractice makes it very funny that NYT's Wajahat Ali had the gall to tweet , "Unlike the Trump administration, journalists are fact checking and willing to correct the record if the Buzzfeed story is found inaccurate. Not really the actions of a deep state and enemy of the people, right?"
This is the behavior of a media class that is interested in selling narratives, not reporting truth. And yet the mass media talking heads are all telling us today that we must continue to trust them.
"Those trying to tar all media today aren't interested in improving journalism but protecting themselves," tweeted NBC's Chuck Todd.
"There's a lot more accountability in media these days than in our politics. We know we live in a glass house, we hope the folks we cover are as self aware."
More accountability in media than in politics, Chuck? Really? Accountability to whom? Your advertisers? Your plutocratic owners? Certainly not to the people whose minds you are paid exorbitant sums to influence; there are no public elections for the leadership of the mass media.
"Mueller didn't do the media any favors tonight, and he did do the president one," griped the odious Chris Cuomo on CNN. "Because as you saw with Rudy Giuliani and as I'm sure you'll see with the president himself, this allows them to say 'You can't believe it! You can't believe what you read, you can't believe what you hear! You can only believe us. Even the Special Counsel says that the media doesn't get it right.'"
"The larger message that a lot of people are going to take from this story is that the news media are a bunch of leftist liars who are dying to get the president, and they're willing to lie to do it, and I don't think that's true" said Jeffrey Toobin on a CNN panel , adding "I just think this is a bad day for us."
"It does reinforce bad stereotypes about the news media," said Brian Stelter on the same CNN panel.
"I am desperate as a media reporter to always say to the audience, judge folks individually and judge brands individually. Don't fall for what these politicians out there want you to do. They want you to think we're all crooked. We're not. But Buzzfeed now, now the onus is on Buzzfeed. "
CNN, for the record, has been guilty of an arguably even more embarrassing Russiagate flub than Buzzfeed 's when they wrongly reported that Donald Trump Jr had had access to WikiLeaks' DNC email archives prior to their 2016 publication, an error that was hilariously due to to the simple misreading of an email date by multiple people.
The mass media, including pro-Trump mass media like Fox News, absolutely deserves to be distrusted. It has earned that distrust. It had earned that distrust already with its constant promotion of imperialist wars and an oligarch-friendly status quo, and it has earned it even more with its frenzied promotion of a narrative engineered to manufacture consent for a preexisting agenda to shove Russia off the world stage.
The mainstream media absolutely is the enemy of the people; just because Trump says it doesn't mean it's not true. The only reason people don't rise up and use the power of their numbers to force the much-needed changes that need to happen in our world is because they are being propagandized to accept the status quo day in and day out by the mass media's endless cultural engineering project .
They are the reason why wars go unopposed, why third parties never gain traction, why people consent to money hemorrhaging upward to the wealthiest of the wealthy while everyone else struggles to survive. The sooner people wake up from the perverse narrative matrix of the plutocratic media, the better.
* * *
The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website , which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My articles are entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook , following my antics on Twitter , throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal , purchasing some of my sweet new merchandise , buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone , or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers .
Feb 12, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
For more than two years U.S. politicians, the media and some bloggers hyped a conspiracy theory. They claimed that Russia had somehow colluded with the Trump campaign to get him elected.
An obviously fake 'Dirty Dossier' about Trump, commissioned by the Clinton campaign, was presented as evidence. Regular business contacts between Trump flunkies and people in Ukraine or Russia were claimed to be proof for nefarious deals. A Russian click-bait company was accused of manipulating the U.S. electorate by posting puppy pictures and crazy memes on social media. Huge investigations were launched. Every rumor or irrelevant detail coming from them was declared to be - finally - the evidence that would put Trump into the slammer. Every month the walls were closing in on Trump.
At the same time the very real Trump actions that hurt Russia were ignored.
Finally the conspiracy theory has run out of steam. Russiagate is finished :After two years and 200 interviews, the Senate Intelligence Committee is approaching the end of its investigation into the 2016 election, having uncovered no direct evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to both Democrats and Republicans on the committee.
Democrats and other Trump opponents have long believed that special counsel Robert Mueller and Congressional investigators would unearth new and more explosive evidence of Trump campaign coordination with Russians. Mueller may yet do so, although Justice Department and Congressional sources say they believe that he, too, is close to wrapping up his investigation.
Nothing, zero, nada was found to support the conspiracy theory. The Trump campaign did not collude with Russia. A few flunkies were indicted for unrelated tax issues and for lying to the investigators about some minor details. But nothing at all supports the dramatic claims of collusion made since the beginning of the affair.
In a recent statement House leader Nancy Pelosi was reduced to accuse Trump campaign officials of doing their job:"The indictment of Roger Stone makes clear that there was a deliberate, coordinated attempt by top Trump campaign officials to influence the 2016 election and subvert the will of the American people. ...
No one called her out for spouting such nonsense.
Russiagate created a lot of damage.
The alleged Russian influence campaign that never happened was used to install censorship on social media. It was used to undermine the election of progressive Democrats. The weapon salesmen used it to push for more NATO aggression against Russia. Maria Butina, an innocent Russian woman interested in good relation with the United States, was held in solitary confinement (recommended) until she signed a paper which claims that she was involved in a conspiracy.
In a just world the people who for more then two years hyped the conspiracy theory and caused so much damage would be pushed out of their public positions. Unfortunately that is not going to happen. They will jump onto the next conspiracy train continue from there.
Posted by b on February 12, 2019 at 01:38 PM | Permalink
Comments next page " Legally, Maria Butina was suborned into signing a false declaration. If there were the rule of law, such party or parties that suborned her would be in gaol. Considering Mueller's involvement with Lockerbie, I am not holding my breath. FWIW the Swiss company that made the timers allegedly involved in Lockerbie have some comments of its own .
james , Feb 12, 2019 2:00:14 PM | linkthanks b..Zanon , Feb 12, 2019 2:03:26 PM | link
I will be really glad when this 'get Russia' craziness is over, but I suspect even if the Mueller investigation has nothing, all the same creeps will be pulling out the stops to generate something... Skripal, Integrity Initiative, and etc. etc. stuff like this just doesn't go away overnight or with the end of this 'investigation'... folks are looking for red meat i tell ya!
as for Maria Butina - i look forward to reading the article.. that was a travesty of justice but the machine moves on, mowing down anyone in it's way... she was on the receiving end of all the paranoia that i have come to associate with the western msm at this point...Considering Mueller hasn't produced its report nor the House dito, its way to early to say Russia gate is "finished".Jackrabbit , Feb 12, 2019 2:11:44 PM | linkAnd Russiagate was used ...Rob , Feb 12, 2019 2:28:50 PM | link... by Hillary to justify her loss to Trump
Hillary's loss is actually best explained as her throwing the election to Trump . The Deep State wanted a nationalist to win as that would best help meet the challenge from Russia and China - a challenge that they had been slow to recognize.
... to smear Wikileaks as a Russian agent
The DNC leak is best explained as a CIA false flag.
... to remove and smear Michael Flynn
Trump said that he fired Flynn for lying to VP Pence but Flynn's conversations with the Russian Ambassador after Obama threw them out for "meddling" in the US election was an embarrassment to the Administration as Putin's Putin's decision not to respond was portrayed as favoritism toward the Trump Administration.You can take this to the bank. Hardcore Russiagaters will never give up their belief in collusion and Russian influence in the 2016 campaign -- never. Congress and Mueller will be accused of engaging in a coverup. This is typical behavior for conspiracy theorists.bj , Feb 12, 2019 2:30:41 PM | linkJimmy Dore on same: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgBxfHdb4OU Enjoy!Ort , Feb 12, 2019 2:34:14 PM | linkI hope that Russiagate is indeed "finished", but I think it needs to be draped with garlic-clove necklaces, shot up with silver bullets, sprinkled with holy water, and a wooden stake driven through its black heart just to make sure.worldblee , Feb 12, 2019 2:38:17 PM | link
I don't dispute the logical argument B. presents, but it may be too dispassionately rational. I know that the Russiagate proponents and enthralled supporters of the concept are too invested psychologically in this surrealistic fantasy to let go, even if the official outcome reluctantly admits that there's no "there" there.
The Democratic Party, one of the major partners mounting the Russophobic psy-op, has already resolved to turn Democratic committee chairmen loose to dog the Trump administration with hearings aggressively flogging any and all matters that discredit and undermine Trump-- his business connections, social liaisons, etc.
They may hope to find the Holy Grail: the elusive "bombshell" that "demands" impeachment, i.e., some crime or illicit conduct so heinous that the public will stand for another farcical impeachment proceeding. But I reckon that the Dems prefer the "soft" impeachment of harassing Trump with hostile hearings in hopes of destroying his 2020 electability with the death of a thousand innuendoes and guilt-by-association.
Thus, even if the Mueller report is underwhelming, I think that the Democrats and TDS-saturated Trump opponents will attempt to rehabilitate it by pretending that it contains important loose ends that need to be pursued. In other words, to perpetuate the Mueller-driven political Russophobia by all other available means.
Put more succinctly, I fear that Russiagate won't be finished until Rachel Maddow says it's finished. ;)Once a hypothesis is fixed in people's minds, whether true or not, it's hard to get them to let go of it. And let's not forget how many times the narrative changed (and this is true in the Skripal case as well), with all past facts vanishing to accommodate a new narrative.karlof1 , Feb 12, 2019 2:43:34 PM | link
So I, like others, expect the fake scandal to continue while many, many other real crimes (the US attempted coup in Venezuela and the genocidal war in Yemen, for instance) continue unabated.Putin solicits public input for essential national policy goals . If ever there was a template to follow for an actual MAGAgenda, Putin's Russia provides one. While US politicos argue over what is essentially Bantha Pudu, Russians are hard at work improving their nation which includes restructuring their economy.BlunderOn , Feb 12, 2019 2:48:51 PM | link
Russiagate has exposed the great degree of corruption within the Justice Department bureaucracy, particularly within FBI, and within the entire Democrat Party.mmm...james , Feb 12, 2019 2:52:33 PM | link
I very much doubt it it is over. Trump is corrupt and has links to corrupt Russians. Collusion, maybe not, but several stinking individuals are in the frame for, guess what - ...bring it on... The fact that Hilary was arguably even worse (a point made ad-nauseum on here) is frankly irrelevant. The vilification of Trump will not affect the warmongers efforts. He is a useful idiotfor a take on the alternative reality some are living in emptywheel has an article up on the nbc link b provides and the article on butina is discussed in the comments section... as i said - they are looking for red meat and will not be happy until they get some... they are completely zonkers...Blooming Barricade , Feb 12, 2019 2:55:18 PM | linkNow that this racket has been admitted as such, I expect all of the media outlets that devoted banner headlines, hundreds of thousands of hours of cable TV time, thousands of trees, and free speech online to immediately fire all of their journalists and appoint Glenn Greenwald as the publisher of the New York Times, Michael Tracey at the Post, Aaron Matte at the Guardian, and Max Blumenthal at the Daily Beast.jayc , Feb 12, 2019 3:03:51 PM | link
Since this is obviously not going to be allowed to happen, and since these people get away with everything, expect this to never end, despite all evidence to the contrary. It doesn't matter if they've been exposed as CIA propagandists or Integrity Initiative stooges, the game goes on...and on.... the job security of these disgraced columnists is the greatest in the Western world.Stephen Cohen discusses how rational viewpoints are banned from the mainstream media, and how several features of US life today resemble some of the worst features of the Soviet system. https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/02/12/stephen-cohen-on-war-with-russia-and-soviet-style-censorship-in-the-us/Heath , Feb 12, 2019 3:18:29 PM | linkIt turned out getting rid of the Clintons has been a long term project.Harry Law , Feb 12, 2019 3:21:58 PM | linkThe US needs an enemy, how else can they ask NATO members to cough up 2% of GDP [just for one example Germany's GDP is nearly 4 Trillion dollars  for defence spending, what a crazy sum all NATO members must fork out to please the US, but then most of that money must be spent on the US MIC 'interoperability' of course.folktruther , Feb 12, 2019 3:27:32 PM | link
Then of course Russia has to be surrounded by NATO should they try and take over Europe by surging through the Fulda gap./s
Then of course there are the professional pundits who have built careers on anti Russian propaganda, Rachel Maddow for instance who earns 30,000$ per day to spew anti Russian nonsense.Another great damage of Russiagate was the instigating of a nuclear arms race directed primarily at Russia, and ideologically justified by its diabolical policies.frances , Feb 12, 2019 3:31:11 PM | link
I'm sorry b is so down on Conspiracy Theories, since they reveal quite real staged homicidal false flag operations of US power. Feeding into the stigmatizing of the truth about reality is not in the interests of the earth's people.somehow I see this "revelation: tied to Barr's approaching tenure. I think they (FBI/DOJ) didn't want his involvement in their noodle soup of an investigation and the best way to accomplish that was to end it themselves. I also suspect that a deal has been made with Trump, possibly in exchange for leaving his family alone.Ash , Feb 12, 2019 3:35:06 PM | link
So we will see no investigation of Hillary, her 650,000 emails or the many crimes they detailed (according to NYPD investigation of Weiner's laptop) and the US will continue to be at war all day, every day. Team Swamp rules.Meanwhile, MSM is prepping its readers for the possibility that the Mueller report will never be released to us proles. If that's the case, I'm sure nobody will try to use innuendo to suggest it actually contains explosive revelations after all...Heath , Feb 12, 2019 3:38:37 PM | link@16Anne Jaclard , Feb 12, 2019 3:54:47 PM | link
Harry, its vitally important as the US desperately wants to keep Europe under its thumb and to stop this European army which means Europe lead by Paris and Berlin becomes a world power. Trump's attempts to make nice with Russia is to keep it out of the EU bloc.Well, the liberal conspiracy car crash ensured downmarket Mussolini a second term, it appears...Hard Brexit Tories also look likely to win thanks to centrist sabatoge of the left. You reap what you sow, corporate presstitutes!wagelaborer , Feb 12, 2019 4:05:25 PM | linkSane people have predicted the end of Russiagate almost as many times as insane people have predicted that the "smoking gun that will get rid of Trump" has been found. And yet the Mighty Wurlitzer grinds on, while social media is more and more censored.Jen , Feb 12, 2019 4:15:57 PM | link
I expect it all to continue until the 2020 election circus winds up into full-throated mode, and no one talks about anything but the next puppet to be appointed. Oops, I mean "elected".Ort @ 7:Jackrabbit , Feb 12, 2019 4:16:59 PM | link
You also need to behead the corpse, stuff the mouth with a lemon and then place the head down in the coffin with the body in supine (facing up) position. Weight the coffin with stones and wild roses and toss it into a fast-flowing river.
Russiagate won't be finished until a wall is built around Capitol Hill and all its inhabitants and worker bees declared insane by a properly functioning court of law.frances @18:Jackrabbit , Feb 12, 2019 4:33:16 PM | linkI also suspect that a deal has been made with Trump, possibly in exchange for leaving his family alone. So we will see no investigation of Hillary ...Underlying your perspective is the assumption that USA is a democracy where a populist "outsider" could be elected President, Yet you also believe that Hillary and the Deep State have the power to manipulate government and the intelligence agencies and propose a "conspiracy theory" based on that power.
Isn't it more likely that Trump made it clear (behind closed doors, of course) that he was amenable to the goals of the Deep State and that the bogus investigation was merely done to: 1) cover their own election meddling; 2) eliminate threats like Flynn and Assange/Wikileaks; 3) anti-Russian propaganda?JenMichael McNulty , Feb 12, 2019 4:49:32 PM | link
Steven Cohen once lamented that there were no "wise men" left in foreign policy. All the independent realists were shut out.US anti-Russian hysteria is moving into that grey area beyond McCarthyism approaching Nazism.Circe , Feb 12, 2019 4:58:40 PM | linkDowd, Trump's former lawyer on Russiagate stated there may not even be a report. If this is the case then the Zionist rulers have gotten to Mueller who no doubt figured out that the election collusion breadcrumbs don't lead to Putin, they lead to Netanyahu and Zionist billionaire friends! So Mueller may have to come up with a nothing burger to hide the truth.Danny , Feb 12, 2019 5:02:34 PM | linkB is the only alternative media blogger I've followed for a significant amount of time without becoming disenfranchised. Not because he has no blind spot - his is just one I can deal with... optimism.
hopehely , Feb 12, 2019 5:14:49 PM | linkI will believe Russiagate is finished when expelled Russian staff gets back, when the US returns the seized Russian properties, when the consulate is Seattle reopens and when USA issues formal apology to Russia.bevin , Feb 12, 2019 5:16:18 PM | link
Posted by: hopehely | Feb 12, 2019 5:14:49 PM | linkNobody has ever advanced the tiniest shred of credible evidence that 'Russia' or its government at any level was in any way implicated either in Wikileaks' acquisition of the DNC and Podesta emails or in any form of interference with the Presidential election.Baron , Feb 12, 2019 5:16:49 PM | link
This has been going on for three years and not once has anything like evidence surfaced.
On the other hand there has been an abundance of evidence that those alleging Russian involvement consistently refused to listen to explore the facts.
Incredibly, the DNC computers were never examined by the FBI or any other agency resembling an official police agency. Instead the notorious Crowdstrike professionally russophobic and caught red handed faking data for the Ukrainians against Russia were commissioned to produce a 'report.'
Nobody with any sense would have credited anything about Russiagate after that happened.
Thgen there was the proof, from VIPS and Bill Binney (?) that the computers were not hacked at all but that the information was taken by thumbdrive. A theory which not only Wikileaks but several witnesses have offered to prove.
Not one of them has been contacted by the FBI, Mueller or anyone else "investigating."
In reality the charges from the first were ludicrous on their face. There is, as b has proved and every new day's news attests, not the slightest reason why anyone in the Russian government should have preferred Trump over Clinton. And that is saying something because they are pretty well indistinguishable. And neither has the morals or brains of an adolescent groundhog.
Russiagate is over, alright, The Nothingburger is empty. But that means nothing in this 'civilisation': it will be recorded in the history books, still to be written, by historians still in diapers, that "The 2016 Presidential election, which ended in the controversial defeat of Hillary Clinton, was heavily influenced by Russian agents who hacked ..etc etc"
What will not be remembered is that every single email released was authentic. And that within those troves of correspondence there was enough evidence of criminality by Clinton and her campaign to fill a prison camp.
Another thing that will not be recalled is that there was once a young enthusiastic man, working for the DNC, who was mugged one evening after work and killed.The 'no collusion' result will only spur the 'beginning of the end' baboons to shout even more, they'll never stop until they die in their beds or the plebs of the Republic made them adore the street lamp posts, you'll see. The former is by far more likely, the unwashed of American have never had a penchant for foreign affairs except for the few spasms like Vietnam.Circe , Feb 12, 2019 5:20:11 PM | linkThere was collusion alright but the only Russians who helped Trump get elected and were in on the collusion are citizens of ISRAEL FIRST, likewise for the American billionaires who put Trump in the power perch. ISRAEL FIRST.Les , Feb 12, 2019 5:24:36 PM | link
That's why Trump is on giant billboards in Israel shaking hands with the Yahoo. Trump is higher in the polls in Israel than in the U.S. If it weren't that the Zionist upper crust need Trump doing their dirty work in America, like trying today get rid of Rep. Omar Ilhan, then Trump would win the elections in Ziolandia or Ziostan by a landslide cause he's been better for the Joowish state than all preceding Presidents put together. Mazel tov to them bullshet for the rest of us servile mass in the vassal West and Palestinians the most shafted class ever. Down with Venezuela and Iran, up with oil and gas. The billionare shysters' and Trump's payola is getting closer. Onward AZ Empire!He proved himself so easy to troll during the election. It wouldn't surprise me if aim of the domestic intelligence agencies all along was to get him elected and have a candidate they could manipulate.Zachary Smith , Feb 12, 2019 5:38:03 PM | link@ Harry Law #16Zachary Smith , Feb 12, 2019 5:43:19 PM | link
At least Germany has the good sense not to throw taxpayer money at the F-35. German F-35 decision sacrifices NATO capability for Franco-German industrial cooperation I don't know what they have in mind with a proposed airplane purchase. If they need fighters, buy or lease Sweden's Gripen. If attack airplanes are what they're after, go to Boeing and get some brand new F-15X models. If the prickly French are agreeable to build a 6th generation aircraft, that would be worth a try.
Regarding Rachel Maddow, I recently had an encounter with a relative who told me 1) I visited too many oddball sites and 2) he considered Rachel M. to be the most reliable news person in existence. I think we're talking "true believer" here. :)@ Les @42Pft , Feb 12, 2019 5:44:54 PM | linkIt wouldn't surprise me if aim of the domestic intelligence agencies all along was to get him elected and have a candidate they could manipulate.
Considering how those "intelligence agencies" are hard pressed to find their own tails, even if you allow them to use both hands, it would surprise me.
That Trump would turn out to be a tub of jello in more than just a physical way has been a surprise to an awful lot of us.Jackrabbit , Feb 12, 2019 6:29:51 PM | link
Russiagate was very successful. You just have to understand the objectives. It was a great distraction. Diverting peoples attention from the continued fleecing of the "real people" which are the bottom 90% by the "Corporate People" and their Government Lackeys.
It provided an excuse for the acting CEO (a figurehead) of the Corporate Empire to go back on many of the promises made that got him elected, and to fill the swamp with Neocon and Koch Brother creatures with the excuse the Deep State made him do it. More proof that there is no deception that is too ridiculous to be believed so long as you have enough pundits claiming it to be so
Allowed the bipartisan support for the clamp down on alt media with censorship by social media (Deep State Tools) and funded by the Ministry of Truth set up by Obama in his last days in office to under the false pretense of protecting us from foreign governments interference in elections (except Israel of course) . Similar agencies have been set up or planned to be in other countries followig the US example such as UK, France, Russia, etc.
Did anyone really expect Mr "Cover It Up " Mueller to find anything? Mueller is Deep State all the way and Trump is as well, not withstanding the "Fake Wrestling " drama that they are bitter enemies. All the surveillance done over the past 2-3 decades would have so much dirt on the Trumpet they could silence him forever . Trump knew that going in and I sometimes wonder if he was pressured to run as a condition to avoid prosecution. Pretty sure every President since Carter has been "Kompromat"james, bevinstevelaudig , Feb 12, 2019 6:34:12 PM | link
If you've done just a cursory look into Seth Rich, you'd be very suspicious about the story of his life and death. IMO Assange/Wikilleaks were set up. And Flynn was set up too. What they are doing is Orwellian: White Helmets, election manipulation, propaganda, McCarthism, etc. If you're not angry, you're not paying attention.Russians and likely at the behest of the Russian state interfered and it was fair payback for Yeltsin's election. It is time to move on but not in feigned ignorance of what was done. Was it "outcome" affecting, possibly, but not clearly and if the US electoral college and electoral system generally is so decrepit that a second level power in the world can influence then its the US's fault.spudski , Feb 12, 2019 6:52:50 PM | link
It's not like the 2000 election wasn't a warning shot about the rottenness of system and a system that doesn't understand a warning shot deserves pretty much what it gets. But there's enough non-hype evidence of acts and intent to say yes, the Russians tried and may have succeeded. They certainly are acting guilty enough. but still close the book move and move on to Trump's 'real' crimes which were done without a Russian assist.@38 bevin @47 jamesJohan Meyer , Feb 12, 2019 6:55:54 PM | link
I seem to recall former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray saying that it was not a hack and that he had been handed a thumb drive in a field near American University by a disgruntled Democrat whistleblower. Further, I seem to recall William Binney, former NSA Technical Leader for intelligence, conducting an experiment to show that internet speeds at the time would not allow the information to be hacked - they knew the size of the files and the period over which they were downloaded. Plus, Seth Rich. So why does anyone even believe it was a hack, @32 THN?Just another comment re Mueller. There is a great documentary by (Dutch, not Israeli---different person) Gideon Levy, Lockerbie Revisited. The narration is in Dutch, but the interviews are in English, and there is a small segment of a German broadcast. The documentary ends abruptly where one set of FBI personnel contradict statements by another set of FBI personnel. See also this primer on Mueller's MO.frances , Feb 12, 2019 7:11:07 PM | linkreply to Les 42AriusArmenian , Feb 12, 2019 8:44:27 PM | link
"It wouldn't surprise me if aim of the domestic intelligence agencies all along was to get him elected and have a candidate they could manipulate."
Not the intelligence agencies, the Military IMO. They knew HC for what she was; horrifically corrupt and,again IMO,they know she is insane.
They saw and I think still see Trump as someone they could work with, remember Rogers (Navy) of the NSA going to him immediately once he was elected? That was the Military protecting him as best they could.
They IMO have kept him alive and as long as he doesn't send any troops into "real" wars, they will keep on keeping him alive.
This doesn't mean Trump hasn't gone over to the Dark Side, just that no military action will take place that the military command doesn't fully support.
Again, I could be wrong, he could be backed by fiends from Patagonia for all I really know:)The button pushers behind the Trump collusion and Russia election hacking false narratives got what they wanted: to walk the democrats and republicans straight into Cold War v2; to start their campaign to suppress alternative voices on the internet; to increase military spending; and more, more, more war.james , Feb 12, 2019 9:34:59 PM | linkot - further to @65 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kK5YFos56ZU and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kK5YFos56ZUben , Feb 12, 2019 10:11:05 PM | link
as jr says - welcome to the rabbit hole..Hope you're right b. Maybe now we can get on with some real truths.Circe , Feb 12, 2019 10:52:22 PM | link
- That there is really only one party with real influence, the party of $.
- That most of the Dems belong to that club, and virtually all the Repubs.
- That the U$A is not a real democracy, but an Oligarchy.
- That the corporate empire is the greatest purveyor of evil the world has ever known.
And these are just a few truths. Thanks for the therapy b, hope you feel better...Boy, I hope Jackrabbit sees this. Everyone knows I believe Trump is the anointed chosen of the Zionist 1%. There was no Russia collusion; it was Zionist collusion with a Russian twist...Circe , Feb 12, 2019 11:11:17 PM | linkOh yeah! Forgot to mention the latest. Trump is asking Kim to provide a list of his nuclear scientists! Before Kim acts on this request, he should call up the Iranian government for advise 'cause they have lots of experience and can warn Kim of what will happen to each of those scientists. They'll be put on a kill-list and will be extrajudicially wacked as in executed. Can you believe the chutzpah? Trump must think Kim is really stupid to fall for that one!PHC , Feb 13, 2019 2:25:44 AM | link
Aye! The thought of six more years of Zionist pandering Trump. Barf-inducing prospect is too tame.V , Feb 13, 2019 2:25:48 AM | link
Russiagate is finished. So, now is the time to create Chinagate. But how ??The view from the hermitage is, we are in the age of distractions. Russiagate will be replaced with one of a litany of distractions, purely designed to keep us off target. The target being, corruption, vote rigging, illegal wars, war crimes, overthrowing sovereign governments, and political assasinations, both at home and abroad. Those so distracted, will focus on sillyness; not the genuine danger afoot around the planet. Get used to it; it's become the new normal.Circe , Feb 13, 2019 3:53:19 AM | link@76HwCirce , Feb 13, 2019 4:15:37 AM | link
I have yet to read anything more delusional, nay, utterly preposterous. Methinks you over-project too much. Even Trump would have a belly-ache laugh reading that sheeple spiel. You're the type that sees the giant billboard of Zionist Trump and Yahoo shaking hands and drones on and on that our lying eyes deceive us and it's really Trump playing 4-D chess. I suppose when he tried to pressure Omar Ilhan into resigning her seat in Congress yesterday, that too was reverse psychology?
Trump instagramed the billboard pic, he tweeted it, he probably pasted it on his wall; maybe with your kind of wacky, Trump infatuation, you should too!
Starring roleRussiagate is finished because Mueller discovered an embarrassing fact: The collusion was and always will be with Israel. Here's Trump professing his endless love for Zionism: Trump Resignsnake , Feb 13, 2019 5:13:14 AM | linksnake , Feb 13, 2019 6:08:16 AM | link
Russiagate was very successful <=pls read, re-read Pft @ 46.. he listed many things. divide and conquer accomplished.
a nation state is defined as an armed rule making structure, designed by those who control a territory, and constructed by the lawyers, military, and wealthy and run by the persons the designers appoint, for the appointed are called politicians.
Most designs of armed nation states provide the designers with information feedback and the designers use that information to appoint more obedient politicians and generals to run things, and to improve the design to better serve the designers. The armed rule making structure is designed to give the designers complete control over those targeted to be the governed. Why so stupid the governed? ; always they allow themselves to be manipulated like sheep.
When 10 angry folks approach you with two pieces of ropes: one to throw over the tree branch under which your horse will be supporting you while they tie the noose around your neck and the other shorter piece of rope to tie your hands behind ..your back you need at that point to make your words count , if five of the people are black and five are white. all you need do is say how smart the blacks are, and how stupid the whites are, as the two groups fight each other you manage your escape. democrat vs republican= divide to conquer. gun, no gun = divide to conquer, HRC vs DJT = divide to conquer, abortion, no abortion = divide to conquer, Trump is a Russian planted in a high level USA position of power = divide to conquer, They were all in on it together,, Muller was in the white house to keep the media supplied with XXX, to keep the law enforcement agencies in the loop, and to advise trump so things would not get out of hand ( its called Manipulation and the adherents to the economic system called Zionism
For the record, Zionism is not related to race, religion or intelligence. Zionism is a system of economics that take's no captives, its adherents must own everything, must destroy and decimate all actual or imaginary competition, for Zionist are the owners and masters of everything? Zionism is about power, absolute power, monopoly ownership and using governments everywhere to abuse the governed. Zionism has many adherents, whites, blacks, browns, Christians, Jews, Islamist, Indians, you name it among each class of person and walk of life can be found persons who subscribe to the idea that they, and only they, should own everything, and when those of us, that are content to be the governed let them, before the kill and murder us, they usually end up owning everything.Here might the subject matter that Russia Gate sought to camouflage https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/02/13/588433/US-Saudi-Arabia-nuclear-deal-nuclear-weapons 'This comes as US Energy Secretary Rick Perry has been holding secret talks with Saudi officials on sharing US nuclear technology.'Kiza , Feb 13, 2019 8:26:29 AM | link
Finally, a hypothesis to explain
1. why the Joint non nuclear agreement with Iran and the other nuclear power nations, that prevented Iran from developing nuclear weapons, was trashed? Someone needs to be able to say Iran is developing ..., at the right time.
2. Why Netanyohu made public a video that claimed Iran was developing nuclear stuff in violation of the Iran non nuclear agreement, and everybody laughed,
3. Why the nuclear non proliferation agreement with Russia, that terminated the costly useless arms race a decade ago, has been recently terminated, to reestablish the nuclear arms race, no apparent reason was given the implication might be Russia could be a target, but
4. why it might make sense to give nukes to Saudi Arabia or some other rogue nation, and
5. why no one is allowed to have nuclear weapons except the Zionist owned and controlled nation states.
Statement: Zionism is an economic system that requires the elimination of all competition of whatever kind. It is a winner get's all, takes no prisoners, targets all who would threaten or be a challenge or a threat; does not matter if the threat is in in oil and gas, technology or weapons as soon as a possibility exist, the principles of Zionism would require that it be taken out, decimated, and destroyed and made where never again it could even remotely be a threat to the Empire, that Zionism demands..
Hypothesis: A claim that another is developing nuclear weapon capabilities is sufficient to take that other out?I am glad that most commenters understand that Russiagate will not go away. But the majority appear to miss the real reason. Russiagate is not an accusation, it is the state of mind.NemesisCalling , Feb 13, 2019 8:46:48 AM | link
At the beginnng of Russiagate, I wrote on Robert Parry's Consirtium News that Russiagate is Idiocracy piggy-backing on decades and literally billions of dollars of anti-Soviet and anti-Russian propaganda. How hard would it be to brainwash an already brainwashed population?
The purveyors of Russiagate will re-compose themselves, brush off all reports and continue on. One just cannot get away from one's nature, even when that nature is pure idiocy. Of course, the most ironic in the affair is that it is the so called US "intellectuals", academics and other assorted cretins who are the most fervent proponents. If you were wondering how Russia can make such amazing defensive weapons that US can only deny exist and wet dream of having, there is your answer. It is the state of mind. The whole of US establishment are legends in their on lunch time and totally delusional about the reality surrounding them - both Russiagate and MAGA cretins, no report can help the Russiagate nation.
Finally, I am thinking of that crazy and ugly professor bitch from the British Cambridge University who gives her lectures naked to protest something or other. I am so lucky that I do not have to go to a Western university ever again. What a catastrophic decline! No Brexit can help the Skripal nation.Russiagate is finished, but is DJT also among the rubble?morongobill , Feb 13, 2019 9:52:25 AM | link
Hardly any money for the border wall and still lingering in the ME?
If Hoarsewhisperer proves to be correct above re: DJT, he will really have to knock our socks off before election 2020. To do this he will have to unequivocally and unceremoniously withdraw from the MENA and Afghanistan and possibly declare a National Emergency for more money for the wall.
The problem is, when he does this, he will look impulsively dangerous and this may harm his mystique to the lemmings who need a president to be more "presidential."
My money is on status quo all the way to 2020 and the rethugz hoping the Dems will eat their own in an orgy of warring identities.
I would love to be proven wrong.Rush Limbaugh has been on a roll with his analysis of Russiagate, in fact, his analysis is in line with the writer/editor here at MOA.Bart Hansen , Feb 13, 2019 10:52:12 AM | linkThe collusion story may be faltering, but the blame for Russia poisoning the Skripals lives on. The other night on The News Hour, "Judy" led off the program with this: "It has been almost a year since Kremlin intelligence officers attempted to kill a Russian defector in the British city of Salisbury by poisoning him with a nerve agent. That attack, and the subsequent death of a British woman, scared away tourists and shoppers, but authorities and residents are working to get the town's economy back on track. Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports."Erelis , Feb 13, 2019 12:15:48 PM | link
Russiagate will not go away unfortunately because it has evolved in the "Russiagate Industry". As mentioned by others, the Russiagate Industry has been very profitable for many industries and people. Russiagate has generated an entire cottage industry of companies around censorship and "find us a Russian". Dow Jones should have an index on the Russiagate Industry.
Here is one recent example. You know the measles outbreak in the US Pacific Northwest. Yup, the Russians. How do we know. A government funded research grant. The study found that 899 tweets caused people to doubt vaccines. Looks like money is to be had even by academics for the right results.
Measles outbreak: Anti-vaccination misinformation fueled by Russian propagandists, study finds
Feb 11, 2019 | www.unz.com
sentido kumon , says: February 3, 2019 at 10:17 am GMT'Liber' in Latin means:
1) free (man)
2) free from tribute
3) independent, outspoken/frank
5) void of
The author needs to recheck his definitions. Voluntary exchange, consent, free markets, free will, etc are just some of the concepts at the heart of the true libertarian thought. The ruling class has successfully ruled out any concept of consent. Keep bringing consent up and their philosophies will be shown to be the same as gang rapists.
"The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office. Every man but one a subordinate clerk in a bureau. What an alluring utopia! What a noble cause to fight!" – Ludwig Von Mises
Jan 31, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
The Rev Kev , , January 31, 2019 at 8:08 am
Do you think that the Guardian will shortly report that Iraq's WMD were snuck out of Iraq and hidden in Venezuela all those years ago?
Colonel Smithers , , January 31, 2019 at 8:36 am
Thank you, Kev.
Please don't give the scoundrels at King's Place any ideas.
Jan 19, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
Jackrabbit , Jan 15, 2019 9:31:08 PM | lin kkarlof1
According to Wolin, domestic and foreign affairs goals are each important and on parallel tracks, as summarized at Wikipedia, the United States has two main totalizing dynamics:The first, directed outward, finds its expression in the global War on Terror and in the Bush Doctrine that the United States has the right to launch preemptive wars. This amounts to the United States seeing as illegitimate the attempt by any state to resist its domination.
The second dynamic, directed inward, involves the subjection of the mass of the populace to economic "rationalization", with continual "downsizing" and "outsourcing" of jobs abroad and dismantling of what remains of the welfare state created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal and President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society. Neoliberalism is an integral component of inverted totalitarianism. The state of insecurity in which this places the public serves the useful function of making people feel helpless, therefore making it less likely they will become politically active and thus helping maintain the first dynamic.
<> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <>
Wolin's Inverted Totalitarianism provides the ground work for my suspicions regarding faux populists Obama and Trump:By using managerial methods and developing management of elections, the democracy of the United States has become sanitized of political participation, therefore managed democracy is "a political form in which governments are legitimated by elections that they have learned to control".
Under managed democracy, the electorate is prevented from having a significant impact on policies adopted by the state because of the opinion construction and manipulation carried out by means of technology, social science, contracts and corporate subsidies.
Jan 13, 2019 | www.unz.com
obwandiyag , says: January 13, 2019 at 6:37 am GMTIdiots on here are always going on about how we don't got capitalism, if we only had capitalism, we don't got free markets, if only we had free markets, then everything would be hunky-dory. Without any proof, of course, because there never was and never will be a "free" "market." The US has plenty capitalism. And everything sucks. And they want more. Confused, stupid, disingenuous liars.obwandiyag , says: January 13, 2019 at 6:42 am GMTLook, what you call "capitalism" and "free markets" just means scams to make rich people richer. You read some simple-minded description of some pie-in-the-sky theory of some perfect world where rational actors make the best possible decisions in their own interest without any outside interference, and you actually think you are reading a description of something real.
I'll tell you what's real. Crookedness. Free markets are crookedness factories. As a PhD from Chicago Business School told me, "Free markets?! What free markets?! There is no free market! It's all crooked!"
Jan 13, 2019 | www.nytimes.com
That said, the truth is that libertarian ideology isn't a real force within the G.O.P.; it's more of a cover story for the party's actual agenda.
In the case of the party establishment, that agenda is about redistributing income up the scale, and in particular helping important donor interests. Republican politicians may invoke the rhetoric of free markets to justify cutting taxes for the rich and benefits for the poor, or removing environmental regulations that hurt polluters' profits, but they don't really care about free markets per se. After all, the party had little problem lining up behind Trump's embrace of tariffs.
Meanwhile, the philosophy of the party's base is, in essence, big government for me but not for thee. Stick it to the bums on welfare, but don't touch those farm subsidies. Tellingly, the centerpiece of the long G.O.P. jihad against Obamacare was the false claim that it would hurt Medicare.
And as it happens, many of the spending cuts being forced by the shutdown fall heavily and obviously on base voters. Small business owners are much more conservative than the nation as a whole, but they really miss those government loans. Rural voters went Republican during a Democratic midterm blowout, but they want those checks. McConnell may have trash-talked food stamps in the past, but a sudden cutoff would have a catastrophic effect on the most Republican parts of his home state.
C Wolfe Bloomington IN Jan. 10AndyE Berkley MI Jan. 10
I had an idiot,er, libertarian friend once who actually believed the market would take care of food safety, because people wouldn't buy food from a source if that source was known to have sold tainted food. "What about the people who die in the meantime?" I asked. "Well, it's up to people to decide what to eat. The government shouldn't tell people what to eat." "But how are you supposed to know? How much tainted food has to be sold and eaten before people even know to avoid it? People get sick or die.
What about people's lives?" "Argh, 'people's lives.'" (Eye roll.) "Liberals are always talking about 'people's lives.'" I swear this is an actual conversation that I repeated so many times I have it memorized.DB NC Jan. 11 Times Pick
Ironically, the likelihood of chronic dependency on federal dollars is directly proportional to the redness of the state.Socrates Downtown Verona. NJ Jan. 10
One of the big obstacles I've observed is that conservatives, in general, have to experience negative consequences directly to understand the link between cause and effect. Liberals, in general, are better at imagining negative consequences and taking preventive action before they directly experience it. It has to do with empathy and solidarity, I think. Liberals see someone suffering, and they think, "We should find out what caused that and fix it so it doesn't happen to the rest of us." Conservatives see someone suffering, and they think, "That guy must be a terrible person. He totally deserves what happened to him. It can never happen to me because I'm a good guy." It is only when the negative thing does directly happen to the conservative that he may reconsider. That's when it is important to find a scapegoat- illegal immigrants, minorities, Jews- to blame in order to obscure the causal link.Larry St. Paul, MN Jan. 11 Times Pick
Libertarianism attracts the finest stunted teenaged and hypocritical minds that are either disconnected from reality or that suffer from cognitive dissonance that allows hypocrisy and selfishness to flourish like mutant bacteria. Taxes and good government are the price of any decent civilization...and both of these concepts are completely demonized by Republicans even though Republicans are some of the greatest welfare queens in the nation. Productive, modern, blue Democratic state federal tax dollars have long subsidized rural, religious Republican states that hate the federal government....they curse they horse that feeds them and then they curse even more when the federal teat is turned off. America's 0.1% Robber Barons and crony vulture capitalists curse 'high tax rates' that aren't particularly high compared to the rest of the world while using America's infrastructure, legal system, government-funded research and technology, and corrupted electoral system to make parasitic profits that dwarf those of foreign corporations who pay their fair share of taxes to countries with increasingly better infrastructure and educational systems. The libertarian theology followed to fruition is Somalia-like; an unregulated anarchy of human misery. Decent human beings understand that healthy taxes produce healthy civilization. Today's version of libertarian Republicanism is a demented form of arrested emotional development that's been destroying the USA since 1980. Nice GOPeople.Wilbray Thiffault Ottawa. Canada Jan. 10
Those who believe, like Ronald Reagan, that government is the problem, are about to discover that the absence of government is an even worse problem.Eric Bremen Jan. 11 Times Pick
Senator Mitch McConnel said that the food stamp program is "making it excessively easy to be non productive." Well, Mitch McConnel is not on the food stamp program and he manages to be one of the most "non productive" senator in the history of the US Senate. Congratulation Senator!jrinsc South Carolina Jan. 11 Times Pick
Almost unfailingly, the stoutest Republican supporters seem to be the biggest beneficiaries of government: the military, farmers, pensioners or small business owners. Growing up in a military family, I remember subsidized gas, medical treatment for free and school trips paid by the DoD. Yet anytime there was a Democratic president, it sounded like there would be a coup when our military parents met at picnicks and had a few beers. If anything, Trump and the GOP have finally shown common decent folk what the democratic experiment in America has become: a system that looks alot like feudal systems of the past. Including walls!TM Muskegon, MI Jan. 10
There is no such thing as a free market. Let me repeat it again for effect: there is NO such thing as a free market. Whether one calls it libertarianism or neoliberalism, the idea is pretty much the same: if we just unleash the power of human greed, the market will equal everything out, and we'll all be freer because of it. Sorry, but it doesn't work that way. Our government gives huge incentives to large corporations with the idea that wealth will trickle down into middle class jobs and prosperity. But guess what? Those corporations keep most of the incentives and profits for themselves and their shareholders. The comparatively minuscule recent tax cuts for the middle class pale in comparison to the huge corporate cuts that added $2 trillion to our national deficit. The only thing stopping corporate excess and monopolies is government. Many libertarians cry "starve the beast." Well, they shouldn't complain if they get food poisoning because their food wasn't properly inspected by a government they loath. And neither should President Trump complain, if, like most Americans, his next Big Mac doesn't agree with him.Lex DC Jan. 10
For those who despise government regulations, I offer 3 observations: 1. I lived near Muskegon, MI, prior to the EPA, when 3 foundries were constantly belching smoke and foundry dust into the air. Breathing the air was equivalent to smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day.
2. I lived in Cairo, Egypt for 3 years. I purchased 4 pairs of prescription eyeglasses before finally giving up. None of them were right - and no regulations meant that I had no recourse.
3. I lived in Accra, Ghana for 3 years. No construction codes meant that the brand new luxury apartment building I moved into suffered numerous problems with plumbing, resulting in mold, flooded floors and sudden loss of water pressure.
In Cairo and in Accra, there was no social safety net. Beggars were a constant. Often they would be horribly disfigured and with no family what were they to do? I am happily retired now, back in Western Michigan, thoroughly enjoying the clean air, safe food, and clean parks. Obama said it best - it's not the size of government, it's the effectiveness of it. And if it's not working, that's on us - we're the ones who put those people in office. 2020 can't arrive soon enough.Michael W. Espy Flint, MI Jan. 11 Times Pick
The Trump voter in my family was a libertarian before switching to the Party of Trump and still believes that government is an interference. One conversation we had was about electricians needing to be licensed. He said electricians did not need to be licensed because if their work led to customers being injured or killed due to a fire, that information would circulate and those electricians would be forced out of the market. I asked him if he cared about the people injured or killed, he shrugged his shoulders and said that's just the way things are. I then asked him what if he was one the customers injured or killed. He looked rather shocked at that question and immediately dropped the subject. That is all that I ever needed to know about libertarianism.Pat Somewhere Jan. 10
I like to pay taxes, I get civilization in return.Goodglud Flagstaff, AZ Jan. 10
"Libertarianism" according to the GOP means that YOU need the discipline of the "free market," but I deserve all the protections and support of the nanny state (financed with your tax dollars, thank you very much.)Michael McLemore Athens, Georgia Jan. 11 Times Pick
As George Lakoff reminded us, what the anti-government folks call "regulations" are, for the most part, "protections." We shouldn't let the Kochs, Trumps, McConnells, and Ryans frame the discussion. "The term "regulation" is framed from the viewpoint of corporations and other businesses. From their viewpoint, "regulations" are limitations on their freedom to do whatever they want no matter who it harms. But from the public's viewpoint, a regulation is a protection against harm done by unscrupulous corporations seeking to maximize profit at the cost of harm to the public." https://georgelakoff.com/2017/01/28/the-publics-viewpoint-regulations-are-protectionsFunkyIrishman member of the resistance Jan. 11 Times Pick
At some point the American people need to realize that conservative/libertarian pundits are just on-air hucksters selling a product. Instead of selling Vegematics, Ginsu knives or non-stick cookware, they are peddling right-wing bile for a profit. And the profits derived from their corporate advertisers are huge. Forget truth or journalism, Rush Linbaugh openly proclaims himself to be an "entertainer" and not a "journalist" (mainly to make it more difficult to sue him for falsehood). Ann Coulter similarly declares herself a "polemicist". Forget for a moment the subversive influence of Russian money and hacking on American politics. Our own homegrown corporate advertisers are eagerly subverting America by underwriting glib purveyors of corrosive right-wing propaganda, who will slyly proclaim the gospel of unbridled greed and not of social responsibility. Of course drug companies don't want the FDA. Why would they want oversight to keep the public safe, when safety costs them money? Why would banks want regulation to safeguard the financial system and consumers, when regulation interferes with short-term profits? The Koch brothers don't want pesky interference from the EPA in regulating their mega-refinery in Minnesota. Their family homes are in Aspen, Palm Beach and Manhattan, so why should it concern them if effluent rolls through St. Louis, Memphis, and New Orleans? Don't dare call this something so plain as "greed". Wrap it in a bow and call it "libertarianism".earlyman Portland Jan. 10
Republican mantra (even Libertarian) is to be left alone, so long as THEIR way of life is left alone, and they are subsidized by you for living that way. That may mean a MASSIVE military to be a deterrent, or to go invade some other country to keep the oil flowing. That may mean subsidizing all sorts of industries, businesses and the like, because they cannot compete at all on a truly free open market. That might mean support for all sorts of social programs, health programs, education programs and the like as well, because bootstraps only take you so far. I would use the word hypocrisy, but that would entail that many know what they speak of when describing what Libertarian, or Socialist. or another ''ist'' form of government actually means. We are all in this together or we are not. There is no in between, but many would have you believe it is possible. It is not.Linda Sausalito, CA Jan. 10
@Bill Once you our you loved one eats salmonella contaminated lettuce and nearly dies, good luck going after, or even finding, the agra-business across the country who caused it.Will Schmidt perlboy on a ranch 6 miles from Ola, AR Jan. 10
European food is heavily regulated, uh, by governments. Much tastier and doesn't contain known carcinogens. Watching the train wreck of the United States.Michael Kelly Bellevue, Nebraska Jan. 10
@C Wolfe This rings so true for me too. I majored in economics at UICC in the early seventies. My favorite prof was a PhD candidate at U of Chicago, and one of his advisors was Milton Friedman. Being at UICC, I did not study under the great man, but I did under one of his acolytes, who was close to tenure (ABD, if I remember correctly), and I thought, a very intelligent one. One of his two areas of doctoral specialty (you had to have two; his other was labor) was macro, and I took him for among other things, money & banking. In fact, I took M&B twice, because the first time (I got an A) was from a Keynesian, and I wanted to get it from a Quantity Theory guy; another A.) Because my prof was a diciple of M.F., I got to attend several special lectures at UC, and partake of the kool-aid. Well, I heard directly from the horse's mouth how consumers would boycotte inferior suppliers and only the best would survive. The free market would favor the best and punish the worst. Of course, this required perfect information. Unfortunately, no good case was made how a perfect information economy could be achieved nor how consumers could afford to acquire perfect information. The price of discovering bad suppliers of tainted food would surely include the deaths of some number of consumers before that information became generally available. We debated perfect markets and perfect information but never did get a convincing case for abandoning government inspection of food products.LT Chicago Jan. 10
The famous Republican philosopher Grover Norquist once said that he's want to have government so small that one could drown it in the bathtub. Right now, nearly one million government workers are facing the prospect of drowning in debt. Trump suggests that they could make do like he always used to, namely declare bankruptcy or go to daddy for a loan. All this while court jester Pence 'handles' the negotiations. His idea is to make more requests while staying firm on a wall.Norm Weaver Buffalo NY Jan. 10
Perhaps the GOP base will finally learn just how dependent they really are on the government they profess to hate. Trump loving farmers and small town business owners are in for a particularly nasty surprise. It's not just farm subsidies. As described by Michael Lewis in "The Fifth Risk": "As the U.S.D.A.'s loans were usually made through local banks, the people on the receiving end of them were often unaware of where the money was coming from. There were many stories very like the one Tom Vilsack told, about a loan they had made, in Minnesota, to a government-shade-throwing, Fox News-watching, small-town businessman. The bank held a ceremony and the guy wound up being interviewed by the local paper. "He's telling the reporter how proud he is to have done it on his own," said Vilsack. "The U.S.D.A. person goes to introduce herself, and he says, 'So who are you?' She says, 'I'm the U.S.D.A. person.' He asks, 'What are you doing here?' She says, 'Well, sir, we supplied the money you are announcing.' He was white as a sheet." There are rural counties in this country that are only viable with government money. Trump counties. It's going to be an expensive and painful education. Trump University lives.George Chicago Jan. 10
If ever there was a group that lives in a fantasy world, it's the libertarians. In another article in another newspaper that dealt with "intrusive" government, I submitted a comment saying that I wouldn't be surprised if Libertarians would be opposed to STOP signs and traffic lights because these would constitute an unnecessary infringement on their freedom. Wouldn't you know that a person of that persuasion actually replied to my comment and confirmed my suspicion. Working in an IT position for three decades I dealt with this type daily. Many were 30-something white males, often both cognitively and physically well above average, who had learned to program computers. They were blessed with being raised in two-parent families. I acknowledge the hard work they did to learn to wrestle with computers, but they lacked the perspective to realize that they had not hit a home run but rather had been born on second or third base due to the intellectual and physical gifts they possess that many others don't.They could not understand why others in society could not emulate their success. In one conversation about affirmative action, one such person asked "Why do we need that anymore? There are laws against discrimination.". Many of this type get bit in the behind when some government regulation is repealed then it turns out that THEY are the ones adversely affected by the repeal. But don't waste your breath trying to pierce the fantasy balloon. They hold tight to those fantasies.Red Sox, '04, '07, '13, '18, Boston Jan. 10
I'm waiting for Grover Norquist and the other small government proponents to relocate to Somalia, home of no real government. Why it's not thriving without the yoke of onerous regulations is surprising.Dominic Holland San Diego Jan. 10
"...making it excessively easy to be non-productive." -- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The irony is too rich here. While he and his president and the "non-productive" Republican Senators draw a paycheck for soaking up the public dime, kids will go hungry; start-up hopefuls will lose loans; farmers will feel the bite; food will become contaminated and people will fill hospital ER's and strain their health insurance. For openers. The Right is getting its own back on FDR's New Deal. All because "government is the problem." Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy.Paul K Michigan USA Jan. 11 Times Pick
A relatively minor point: "Maybe you believe that private companies could take over the F.D.A.'s role in keeping food safe, but such companies don't exist now and can't be conjured up in a matter of weeks." Such inspection companies could only exist if they were funded by the food companies they were inspecting. Competition among inspection companies would then obviously lead to grade inflation: hire some other company that is more likely to give you a passing grade, who in turn will be happy to lower standards to attract more customers. This is not an avenue for effective replacement of the FDA. Libertarianism is for chumps and fanatics, no one else.Tom B New York Jan. 11 Times Pick
We lived in a small West African nation for 25 years. There were no collectable taxes because the tax collectors kept what they could extort from poor people, no safety nets such as social security or medicaid/medicare, no fire fighters, no functional road departments, no regulation of pharmaceuticals, an unprepared and unarmed military, no paid federal, regional of local police forces, no judges who were not bought by the highest bidder, no standards for the public hospitals, no communication systems, no running water in major cities, no electric power that functioned more than 4-6 hours a day, and not a single government official who was not on the take.
What we did have were cholera epidemics that killed 5000 people, annual measle epidemics that killed children under 5 years old , villages burned to the ground by wildfire, a school system which did not pay its teachers and finally a 12 year civil war which killed over 200,000 people and a [post war ebola epidemic which killed 12,000 more.
The proper use of taxes was not even a dream. Now in the USA, the "leadership" under its current president and his sycophants are playing personal and infantile grade school games with your and my tax dollars and the congress is helping them do it. Amazing! I feel like I am back home in my 3rd world village .Kinsale Charlottesville, VA Jan. 10
Anarchy is oligarchy. The rule of law -- law crafted by dedicated public servants, who are elected by sober and informed citizens -- is the closest we can come to freedom. Governance that provides basic order and rules and a safety net for when people fail (either from behavior that is unwise or from ill fortune) is part of the rule of law. There are also necessary things that the government can provide (without a profit motive) better than either charity of for profit organizations. Roads and basic science are good examples. Other things are best left alone by government -- things like sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll. These should be principles that we all can live by, but it seems like the so-called conservatives believe quite the opposite. They believe in unregulated guns, flows of money to unregulated trusts, defunded public goods, and violent repression of sex, drugs, and free expression.James Wallis Martin Christchurch, New Zealand Jan. 10
@earlyman correct. The first thing those large corporations responsible will do is use their lobbying power to legislate liability caps on what they have to pay in settlement costs. That's the way the real world works. We're not living in some libertarian utopia.John Moran Tennessee Jan. 11
Problems with the food industry in the US isn't just a new issue since the Trump administration, it has been an issue for decades. The problems of Big Ag and Food Manufacturers lobbying has been so bad, that whenever I see doctors in Germany and New Zealand, the first question they ask is have I been and eaten food in the US in the last six months, when they are trying to ascertain health issues". When the medical community around the world asks about US food intake, you know corporate libertarianism has run afoul and at the cost of the health of America. The fact that foods that can't be sold in Europe for health reasons are dumped in the US just highlights how it is no longer the United States of America, but rather the Corporate States of America. When will the people demand for Separation of Corporation and State?Pete Victoria, BC Jan. 10
I had serious Libertarian leanings up until a few years ago when my family and I moved to Bangalore, India to work for three years. It was an eye opening experience to see what actually happens when you don't have a strong central government regulating things like the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the food you eat.
Bangalore was once known as the Garden City and is considered the Silicon Valley of India, but corporate greed, unchecked expansion, and government corruption, along with no meaningful environmental laws that are actually enforced, has turned it into a nightmare-- or maybe into what Libertarianism looks like in the real world, outside of Ayn Rand novels.
The river beside our street was so polluted it had layers of chemical foam that would reach ten feet in height and blow across the road, stopping traffic.
The nearby lake would literally catch on fire, burning for days. Open sewers ran into nearby water sources. Forget tap water, it would make Flint, Michigan's water crisis seem desirable by comparison. Food safety? Roll the dice and take your chances.
Within a year any trace of Libertarian beliefs were wiped clean from my mind and I longed for strong government regulations to protect me and my family. This U.S. shutdown isn't even a minor taste of what it truly means to live without powerful and enforceable government regulations and protections.Thomas Zaslavsky Binghamton, N.Y. Jan. 10
@Bill it is important to keep in mind that contaminated food can kill you before you even have a chance to pursue remedies. The critical elements for us now leaving much longer than our ancestors involve personal and public hygiene (e.g. safe food, sewer systems), medicine and healthy environments (e.g. pollution controls). I recommend watching the Trashopolis series, its quite informative.Karen Garcia New York Jan. 10
@C Wolfe Decades ago I had a very similar conversation with a doctrinaire libertarian, though it was about a less essential question. I also repeated it many times. The incredulity factor is large. I mean, I couldn't believe the degree to which rationality disappeared.Chris Hunter WA State Jan. 10
On the bright side, a federal judge just ruled Iowa's so-called Ag-Gag law to be unconstitutional, making it easier to expose the filthy and inhumane conditions on factory farms. So agribusiness will be smacked with the double whammy of losing their corporate welfare checks and bribery payments, and having their own cruelty exposed at the same time.
It's obvious that Trump's tantrum of a shutdown is the latest episode of disaster capitalism, or what Naomi Klein has dubbed the Shock Doctrine. Create a crisis, like neglecting New Orleans levees, or most recently, the criminally negligent homicides of Hurricane Maria victims in Puerto Rico, and you allow the vulture capitalists to swoop in and cash in. The entire school system of N.O. is now privatized, and libertarian billionaires are buying up huge chunks of Puerto Rico at bargain basement prices to create palaces. With walls, of course. The trash and overflowing toilets at our national parks are just the ticket for corporations to take them over and charge exorbitant admissions... before selling out to ranchers and drillers to further speed up the Anthropocene. The other semi-bright upshot of this disaster capitalism is that rich conservatives will get just as sick from eating tainted food as the poor. Trump probably figures he is immune, because he likes the polluting cow flesh he consumes to be well-done to burnt. But without getting paid, how long will the White House chefs continue to serve him? : -)hen3ry Westchester, NY Jan. 10
Exactly so. It has been my experience that my libertarian friends are only able to be libertarian because they have been protected all their lives (at great expense, they would argue) by the very government they deride.Mark McHenry Jan. 10
What's fascinating about all of this is how the Gutless Obnoxious Popinjays refuse to take any responsibility at all for the problems. It's always the Democrats fault. I'm surprised that none of them have pointed a finger at Obama. After all, he didn't try to build a wall so it must be his fault that Trump is demanding money for a beautiful wall that will protect all Americans from the outside world. It's fascinating to realize that McConnell, Pence, Trump, and the rest of the obnoxious crowd are getting paid by the government they want to drown. They are contributing to the very cycles of misfortune that they blame people for. Are they going to write letters for every federal employee who loses a home, falls farther behind on loan payments than they should, who can't afford to pay for medical care or the premium? No. The GOP has no plans to share the misery it's causing. Trump doesn't understand or care. This is what happens when a complete incompetent is elected to run a country: chaos, uncertainty, and worse. The party that abhorred communism and the Russians now has a president who may be owned by the Russians. Even if he's not, the entire debacle that is Trump's presidency must warming the hearts of Putin and his "friends" each day it continues. As Obama said, elections have consequences. This is one of them. I don't know about the GOP and the libertarians but I prefer to eat, drink, and breathe safely. It's why I like a functioning government.Lake trash Lake ozarks Jan. 10
The libertarian philosophy is this: while you're young and healthy and productive, you can help make money for your boss. However, once you are old and no longer capable of making a contribution to someone else, it is your obligation to simply die.
If you look at all the proposals of the Republicans, this seems to be the guiding force. Privatizing Social Security so that investment firms can get a piece of the action, privatizing Medicare so that insurance companies can get a piece of the action, and privatizing the military, so that private paramilitary companies can get more than their fair share of the action. It's theft in plain sight. We can't believe it, because it's so obvious.Cowsrule SF CA Jan. 11
It's the chaos this president keeps thrusting on all of us. We can't keep up day to day of his lack of self control, his lack of understanding how government works, the principles of the constitution, the rule of law that has sustained us through the years. He seems to believe that he has the support to destroy everything that keeps us safe. The foundation that made this a great country is at risk. I'm old now and can not believe what I see every day from this American President.Aram Hollman Arlington, MA Jan. 10
@Zhou "I'll sue the company producing it". How will you do that in the absence of any governmental mechanism to enforce compliance with a law suit? And how will you prove contamination in the absence of any recognized standard to show it is present?Otis-T Los Osos, CA Jan. 10
@Bill So, you prefer the pound of cure known as a lawsuit to a regulatory ounce of prevention. Personally, I'd prefer to avoid both the discomfort of food poisoning and the expense of a lawsuit. Besides, do you really think you'd win? None of the many people poisoned by contaminated vegetables at Taco Bell stores a few years ago had any chance of even bringing a lawsuit, much less winning one and gettting compensation. It took regulatory agencies, public health departments, and the national Center for Disease Control simply to track down the offending vegetables and force Taco Belll to clean up its act. As for your checks and balances, most of the checks go from lobbyists to congressmen, and that throws any balances way out of whack. Your annual deficit figure of $1 trillion is out of date. The latest Trump tax cuts raised it to $1.5 trillion. So, start worrying real fast. But, I'd start worrying more not merely about the deficit, but about how money is being spent. You seem to worry more about the comparative peanuts spent on the FDA (which, by the way, also regulates drugs and medical devices) or the USDA (which also helps regulate food safety). than on the far larger amounts spent on the military (e.g. latest technology F-35 jets that can't fly in the rain), US taxpayer funding of arms sales to foreign countries that neither share our values nor help keep us safe (e.g. Saudi Arabia).JaneF Denver Jan. 10
I work with alot of big Ag companies -- they're constantly raging about government regs and the red tape, etc, etc., but they have HUGE lobby and political power. On an average year, they get an amazing amount of subsidies coming in all kinds of forms, from direct compensation packages to float an industry a la corn, or from electric rates that are lower for them at the expense of the other rate classes. And when any hint of hardship comes, nevermind true hardship, they're front and center for the hand-outs. And they get plenty. All this before we even address immigrant labor! Ha! Libertarian Ag would look WAY different out in the fields. And one thing that would surely be needed: Cheap immigrant (sometimes illigal) labor. You get what you vote for.John Quixote NY Jan. 10
@michjas Except the Republicans could reopen the government if they chose to. They could pass the same bill they passed in December, and then override the President's veto. Their conspiracy is that they won't do that.Cathy NJ Jan. 10
So the party of fiscal responsibility which is already running up the deficit insists on building a wall over 2000 miles of border, seizing private property along the way . When we stopped teaching Geography and Citizenship and dismissed literature as irrelevant to getting a good job, we created an electorate that could be gulled by such propaganda and conned into thinking that fear is our avatar: fear of otherness, fear of government, fear of taxes, fear of liberals, fear of fear itself.Jake Reeves Atlanta Jan. 10
@Aoy when food is contaminated, the FDA is able to locate "ground zero" with utmost efficiency--Food Science 101. Without the FDA--which was established under T. Roosevelt's administration--there is no coordination between the food chain and the population. You can wash your lettuce to your heart's content, but if it was grown in contaminated soil, the cells within are contaminated. So, yes, the FDA is extremely necessary.keith San Miguel de Allende Jan. 11 Times Pick
"Government," declared Ronald Reagan in his first Inaugural Address, "is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem." Yup, Republicans say government is the problem and then they get in power and prove it. The Party of Problem Government.Castor Troy D.C. Jan. 10
Anyone who thinks enforced food safety is unnecessary should go to India and eat in a restaurant anywhere but a first-tier hotel for foreigners. Your odds of getting sick are very high. Ditto in Alexandria, Egypt, and other places I've experienced where profit is important and product is, well, less so. Remedies? Seriously? How will you prove anything? Especially when all the restaurants have the same cavalier attitude toward washing food and hands. You ate the salad? More fool you.alank Wescosville, PA Jan. 11 Times Pick
I wish that shutdowns were actually that-- shut things down. That means no air traffic controllers, no TSA, no border agents. Wonder how quickly the politicians would solve their differences if they couldn't rely on slave labor from unpaid federal employees forced to work?Ecce Homo Jackson Heights Jan. 10
Paraphrasing Marie Antoinette "Let them eat contaminated cake"Ben Chicago Jan. 10
Funny how libertarians never argue for privatizing the military, or law enforcement. When they think it's really important, even libertarians come running back to government. The facts are that markets are only free if they are transparent, and in all of history nobody has come up with a better way than government regulation to make markets transparent. We tried unregulated markets in food production, and it was a disaster - which is why we have federal regulation of food production today. We tried unregulated labor markets and it was also a disaster - which is why we have child labor laws, minimum wage laws, and the full range of other labor regulations we have today. politicsbyeccehomo.wordpress.comCal Prof Berkeley, USA Jan. 10
People forget that government workers are themselves participants in the economy. They buy cars and houses. They go to the grocery and the hardware store. When they don't get paid, the businesses they patronize -- private businesses -- also go without. Yesterday, I had lunch at a famous old restaurant right near the federal plaza in Chicago's Loop. One of the workers there told me that because of the shutdown the place's business had fallen way off. (And that's with the federal courthouse still open. Just wait until the courts shut, too.) It's a closed system, folks.Tom B New York Jan. 10
Spot on. Naïveté about libertarianism runs deep. It was brought home to me when I worked with programmers in Silicon Valley in the 1980s. A fair number espoused libertarian ideas. Yet they had all had their computer science degrees paid for by the Defense Department, many at state universities. I was not too sophisticated myself but even I could see the disconnect between the ideas they were pushing and the real world implications.Rich Davidson Lake Forest, IL Jan. 10
Have you ever actually tried a personal injury case? For a food borne illness? I ask those questions rhetorically because I can tell from your comment that you haven't. As a lawyer, who doesn't often get involved in personal injury cases, I can tell you that people often think they aren't hurting anyone by cutting corners, and are only restrained from doing things like serving contaminated food or doing illegal gas line plumbing by the threat of fines if caught cutting those corners. It's not the lawsuit that makes them take care.Linda Oklahoma Jan. 10
The gilded age of the 1890's seem like a wonderful time for libertarians. The productivity of the nation was high and gaining. But, it came with dirty air and water, bad food and medicine, quackery and robber barons. It was followed by the Roaring 20's where stocks grew without limits and borrowed money paid for it. That did not end well, either. Finally, in FDR's first 100 days, government stepped in and wrote the rules that made life good for most of us. The GOP does not know history and forgot what happened when there was a libertarian society. They are getting an education, finally.Yuri Asian Bay Area Jan. 10
One of the things that might end is the Indian Health Services. The government made contracts with tribes that in exchange for their land, the federal government would provide education and healthcare. It's not a welfare program. It is payment for millions of acres of land. If Indian Health Services ends, that's the same as reneging on a contract. Trump may see tribes going to court to get what was promised to them in exchange for land and lifestyle. If the shutdown continues, lots of people may be taking Trump to court.OUTsider deep south Jan. 10
Do you believe in magic? Religious extremists do. So do Libertarians. And so do Republicans though what they believe is a variant of magic that might be called delusion or magic mixed with whisky and soda, which we call cynicism. What they all have in common is a collective inability to see the forest from the trees: central to their emptiness is the absence of humanity and all the messy ambiguity that entails, instead substituting a bogus certainty that's nothing more than a palliative for existential panic at the absence of self identity grounded in community. Bertrand Russell called it cosmic anxiety. It drives the compulsion for religion, ideology, in fact all systems of coping that avoid the crushing weight of freedom that comes without compass or owner's manual. Whether the god of the invisible hand that directs the market, or the god of clubs with exclusive membership and status, or the god of ancient fables told and retold for a millennium of successive generations, all are rationales for the irrational aversion of responsibility to do the work necessary to make freedom meaningful without making it meaningless for others. The two bargain bins in the basement of modern life are religion and ideology. Libertarianism can be found on the clearance rack for one size fits all.Elizabeth Moore Pennsylvania Jan. 11
Paul, you included this quote from Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader... When talking about Food Stamps he has denounced the program for "making it excessively easy to be nonproductive." He has no business being so judgmental. Being productive implies a positive result for society. When it comes to being productive, his entire career is in question.Sherry Washington Jan. 10
@ebmem You don't know anything. For one thing, you are DEAD WRONG. Medicare DOES NOT PAY FOR NURSING HOME CARE AT ALL! MEDICAID DOES, but only for the poor. It is WEALTHY REPUBLICANS who "Medicaid Plan" their assets so the government will cover their living expenses so they can preserve wealth for their heirs. How do I know this to be the truth? I spend 23 years as a government regulator for Medicaid (Medical Assistance) in the state of Pennsylvania.
I cannot enumerate the number of rich Republicans who tried to get the government to support their elderly while the children of those elderly got the money. I could tell you stories, including one about a certain Republican Governor of Pennsylvania who tried to put his adult, but mentally handicapped child on Medicaid.Will Hogan USA Jan. 11
It is remarkable how farmers, who are particularly reliant on federal government programs to buy seed, equipment, get loans, get crop subsidies, and market their food, still support Trump, even though these programs are shut down and he's started a trade war. One farmer in today's issue supports Trump, saying "we need some border security", even though it means he might lose his farm. What kind of politics is this where people support a President who intentionally ruins their prospects and their way of life? It reminds me how dictators keep power through propaganda, rewriting history and painting its leadership as heroic. Fox News is like North Korean TV rewiring Republican brains to believe that Republicans, no matter how bone-headed, are always good, and Democrats are always bad, so much so they are willing to lose the farm, like North Koreans are willing to starve.ridgeguy No. CA Jan. 10
@Mark Nuckols all the government programs that help business mean that the wealthy owe some money back. when 5000 workers of a large corporation all drive the company trucks on free public roads built with tax dollars, when those roads need repair, it sure should be taxes on the company that helps pay, along with the gas tax we all pay. Your mistake is in thinking that the income of the company owner was earned by him and him alone, but in reality, the taxpayers helped him plenty every step of the way. You just did not see it all.Chris DC Jan. 10
The article focuses on food inspections, but what about drug inspections? Is the FDA inspecting pharma manufacturing houses? Are they inspecting precursor chemicals commonly imported from, say, China? Libertarians (along with the rest of us) may be in for much more consequential disappointments than bad lettuce.Areader Huntsville Jan. 10
Well, at this point it certainly comes as no surprise that the narrowly tailored ideological conceit republicans like to think of as - laughably - 'Libertarianism' was little more than an economic grubsteak to the plutocratic interests. Indeed, it makes my head spin to think how quickly the so-called libertarians of the republican party would support rollbacks on women's reproductive liberties, not to mention the liberties of minorities and the LGBTQ community, not to mention how they would import the Christian Right's version of theology into the public domain. (Ah yes, get government off our backs, but shove God into every home.) The issue that looms broadly over all this, however, is the republican's intent to liquidate this nation's status as technologically advanced, industrialized liberal democracy. Apparently the maintenance/perpetuation of modernity is not compatible with right wing notions of 'liberty,' let alone libertarianism.Peter CT Jan. 10
The first libertarian I knew was a slum landlord who did not want the Government regulations concerning maintenance of apartments and the like. This seems like a common trait among the political group as I think libertarians are more interested in profit.Sophia chicago Jan. 11
No one complains more loudly and more often about attempts to curtail his first amendment rights "guaranteed by the constitution," than my libertarian friend, who refuses to pay taxes, then expects the government he won't support to protect his freedoms. If you really miss those debate club arguments from jr. high school, go try to talk sense to some libertarians. For the rest of us, plain old Republicans are a perfectly adequate source of flawed reasoning.sapere aude Maryland Jan. 10
@Mark Nuckols Wrong! Cutting tax rates on the wealthy are stealing from the rest of us. We make contributions every hour of every day which are hoovered up by the wealthy and the powerful. Meanwhile we cannot afford the cost of living, which has skyrocketed vs wages and benefits. The cost of an apartment is exorbitant. The cost of health care is exorbitant. Meanwhile the commons suffer. Infrastructure suffers. Sidewalks are a menace. There is lead in the water. Rich people who do not pay their fair share of taxes are stealing from the people in so many ways it's impossible to count them. But count them in years lost, in lives cut short, in lives blighted.Helena Princeton New Jersey Jan. 10
Republicans aren't against government, it has grown more under every Republican president including Reagan himself. They simply have their preferences as to who benefits from it.YoursTruly Pakistan Jan. 11 Times Pick
I'm surprised that the air traffic controllers haven't all called in sick. They have the collective power to bring air travel to a standstill. I've long felt that a general nationwide strike would finally get the attention of our corporate overlords. After all, all they care about is money--just like Trump and the GOP.dpaqcluck Cerritos, CA Jan. 10
When two elephants fight, its the grass that gets uprooted. In this show of arrogance and egos its the lives of many ordinary Americans that is adversely affected. I only wish that this crisis comes to an end soon to the relief of many.PB USA Jan. 10
@jrinsc, exactly right with an academic exception. Adam Smith and his ideas of free market competition assumed that there would be large number of companies competing with each other with their sole means of competition being consumer satisfaction, price and employee efficiency. Anyone who couldn't compete went out of business, hence "free market". The government's only role is to enforce anti-trust laws to keep businesses small and competitive, and assure that the competitive triangle of business, labor, and consumer are kept in balance. Fundamentally big business is bad, always! What real "free markets" DO NOT include is the idea that a small number of huge companies pay the government to create a competition free environment. The term "free market" has been stolen to mean that companies can do anything they want to succeed, including creating laws with profitable loopholes, laws to inhibit labor participation in the competition, and laws that inhibit consumers from using fraud laws to suppress shoddy products. In reality there is no "free market", as @jrinsc said, except to mean that big companies are free to do whatever they want to be profitable.White Buffalo SE PA Jan. 11
My first lecture in economics dealt with free. The professor, then the Chief Economist at the Cleveland Fed, made the point that nothing was free: no free lunch; no free air; no free love. The point that he made was that somebody always pays. For everything; maybe not you, not now; but somebody does. So every time that I hear this Republican rant about free markets, I begin to laugh.J. Benedict Bridgeport, Ct Jan. 10
@dpaqcluck Adam Smith believed corporate entities needed to be regulated. something always left out.John California California Jan. 11
I am wondering if Mitch McConnell and his close Republican allies have been living off food stamps because it seems to me they all have been incredibly unproductive for years which he sights as a consequence of anyone using food stamps.James Lee Arlington, Texas Jan. 11
@Joel Sanders This is completely specious reasoning. There are any number of non-state food groups that compete to set, e.g., organic, standards for food... for their participants. And they can restrict anyone from using their seal of approval without meeting their requirements. What they can't do, and the State can, is to require tainted products to be removed from distribution. Having the power of the State depends on law that transcends private agreement. And in the case of food, drugs, highways, airlines, and a number of other avenues of social life, that strikes me as a valuable thing. Why is this SO difficult for you, Mr. Sanders?Aubrey Alabama Jan. 10
I once heard a conservative economist give a speech in which he denounced the FDA for its suppression of competition in the pharmaceutical industry. I asked him what would protect the consumer if the market replaced the Feds as regulator of new drugs. He responded that, if my wife died from the effects of a toxic drug, I could always sue the firm that produced it. I found this notion deeply comforting. I might lose my wife, but the drug company would have to compensate me with a pile of dollars, assuming I could prove its negligence. For this libertarian, a life and money weighed equally in the scales of justice.Stan Sutton Westchester County, NY Jan. 10
The people who support libertarianism are like those who support biblical literalism (fundamentalism). The libertarians want to get rid of some laws and regulations but not all of them. Just the ones they don't like. Usually these are laws which make corporations and businesses sell clean and safe food, treat employees fairly, pay taxes, etc. The libertarians don't want to get rid of laws which help business, corporations, and the well-to-do. They want to be sure that Boeing, Lockheed, and others get cushy defense contracts, the petroleum companies get subsidies, Big Pharma gets to charge a lot for drugs, etc. It is just a new name for the same old playbook -- make things tough on the weak and poor -- those with dark skins, immigrants, etc. All the while being solicitous for the well-off and powerful. Religious literalist do the same -- pick out the Bible verses which support the desired message. Ignore those which don't. So many things don't change. We get give them a new name.RLiss Fleming Island, Florida Jan. 11
Actually, Krugman didn't confuse Libertarians and Republicans. He said that Republicans used Libertarian rhetoric but weren't true Libertarians, and he didn't accuse Libertarians of favoring Republican policies across the board.DB NC Jan. 10
@Bill: See Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 11/9, which covers the Flint water crisis in depth. These people didn't even know they were drinking contaminated water until a health worker broke ranks and made it public. THEN nothing was done.....(Oh, the state provided bottled water for a while, to drink).... The children of Flint were suffering IRREVERSIBLE brain damage due to lead in the water.....would suing 20 years later fix that? AND why did this happen at all? The Republican governor of the state wanted to help his buddies make a lot of money....Red Sox, '04, '07, '13, '18, Boston Jan. 10
@Goodglud Excellent link! We need to call it what it is. No more reduce "regulations" which people hear as reducing red tape. Make them advocate to "reduce protections."Buck Santa Fe, NM Jan. 10
@AndyE, Berkley, MI: Nice turn on Jennings' corollary to Murphy's Law (the chances of the toast falling buttered side down on the carpet is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet).NM NY Jan. 10
@Mamawalrus72 We are living Government by the Kochs now. We have been living Government by corporations for some time.Chris Toronto Jan. 10
Money talks louder than reason. So long as moneyed libertarians like the Koch Brothers buy political influence, they will purchase an agenda to benefit themselves at our expense.Richard NM Jan. 10
"In the case of the party establishment, that agenda is about redistributing income up the scale, and in particular helping important donor interests. Republican politicians may invoke the rhetoric of free markets to justify cutting taxes for the rich and benefits for the poor, or removing environmental regulations that hurt polluters' profits, but they don't really care about free markets per se." Head of nail, meet hammer. The US used to be the world's beacon of democratic values. No longer. The political system has been severely corrupted by PACs, Super PACs, self-funding billionaire politicians, skewed campaign funding rules, cynical electoral manipulation, self-interest and a lack of statesmanship amongst the political classes. You'd think a credible third political party would be able to drive a bus straight through the middle of this division. Two choices, left or right, just can't be enough to sustain a democracy.Audrey Germany Jan. 11
@Will Schmidt perlboy "We debated perfect markets ..." Like in engineering somebody would design a car without engine because there is no friction and you just have to give it a push to get around. I am so happy I am an engineer, forces me into reality.Mike Albany, New York Jan. 10
"Knowing that the food you're eating is now more likely than before to be contaminated, does that potential contamination smell to you like freedom?" Exactly. One of the most thing I appreciated of being in the EU is a strong consumer protection and safety regulations. But I guess, it's to "socialist" for some. Let's wait and see how the UK consumers will enjoy post-Brexit "freedom".JRM Melbourne Jan. 11
In answer to to Bill from Michigan, the problem with food and water contamination is that it may take years to find out that the food or water is actually contaminated, and then additional time for the public to be informed. After all this time passes, the damage is already done and lives are irreversibly damaged. As an example, the FDA has very strict limits on the amount of mycotoxin and bacterial contamination in our food supply. While E. coli contamination may be detected due to severe acute health effects, the carcinogenic effects of mycotoxin contamination may not be detected in years. The Flint Michigan lead contamination occurred in 2014 and wasn't declared an emergency until two years later, when public health officials alerted the public in 2016. Although this was largely a local issue, the H.R. 4470, the Safe Drinking Water Act Improved Compliance Awareness Act, mandates that consumers be informed. So, personally I'd rather have the Federal Government be on the side of the public and not rely on greedy lawyers.SandraH. California Jan. 11
@ebmem Republicans get in office and go to work to prove that Government doesn't work and is the problem. Government works fine as long as Republicans are not in charge. The sabotage any effort to resolve or solve a problem. They complain about the debt and deficit until they are in office and then they blow the budget to smithereens with invented reasons for war so they can enrich themselves. They are the problem, not Government.ben220 brooklyn Jan. 10
@Bill, good luck with that. If you survive long enough to sue--and if you can prove the source of your cancer or other illness--you'll find that personal injury lawsuits get you nowhere. The big boys always win. Your best remedy is prevention. Don't let yourself or your loved ones ingest or breathe toxins. Don't let toxins into your groundwater or soil. How do you do that without government regulation?Robert David South Watertown NY Jan. 11
Today, medical expenses are stratospheric. Meanwhile, the conservative movement strangles the welfare state so that nearly everyone in the middle class (regardless of political affiliation) who wants to live on more than $900 a month must go through legalized fiscal contortions to be able to pay for adequate care.Socrates Downtown Verona. NJ Jan. 10
@TM Exactly the correct response to libertarians. They like to talk about what "would" happen, as though lack of government were a theoretical that can be calculated. There are plenty of real world examples of what "would" happen. There are historical examples too, but they "would" be different, of course.Buttons Cornell Toronto, Canada Jan. 11
@Aubrey Excellent analogy, although we can also use a good old-fashioned term to describe these 'libertarians', 'conservatives' and religious types -- -- hypocrites ..... of the highest despicable order.george Iowa Jan. 11
What courts? Courts are set up, run by and paid for by government. No government means no court system. You, the little, dying from tainted food, up against a huge agricultural corporation with deep pockets. Libertarianism is a bully system. Those with the money win and the rest die. That's it.HN Philadelphia, PA Jan. 10
@jrinsc How quickly we forget, of course sometimes it isn`t that we forget but rather our memory is clouded by the smoke from the fires set by vulture capitalism. Upton Sinclair The Jungle should be required reading for all congress critters and all incoming Presidents. The Jungle is a mirror to where todays American Nobility, the 21st century Robber Barons, would like to take us. A disposable population for profit.Independent the South Jan. 11
Where you see Libertarians, I see people who are so self-unaware and entitled that they believe the only apt government subsidies are the ones that benefit them. Remember the ACA debate line - "keep government out of my medicare?" Most people have no idea of what the government does! What about the staunch GOP voters who nonetheless complain when the government doesn't provide immediate aid to them after a disaster, but hesitate when the aid is going to others? And do they comprehend that all disasters - even those claimed to be "natural" - are actually man made? And do those that value privacy and their right to do what they want - do they really think that corporations and businesses will keep their products fair and safe? No, because corporations and businesses take the short view, while fairness and safety - both of which contribute to the health of the nation and its people - take the long view. Libertarians and their ilk are self-entitled peoples who only think about the immediate impact on themselves and their wallets. They change their tunes quickly when government is needed to help their bottom line.Son Of Liberty nyc Jan. 10
@Bill The idea is not to sue after you get sick but to prevent you from getting sick. And if you want to reduce deficits, vote for Democrats.Elizabeth Moore Pennsylvania Jan. 11
What people with GOP/libertarian leanings should realize is that government regulations were ONLY put into place in response to the horrifying abuses of laissez faire capitalism.Nova yos Galan California Jan. 10
@Bill You keep right on believing. THE FACTS ARE that people who would sell you contaminated food have ways of covering up all the evidence. Besides, they could always hide behind the fact that the USDA and FDA inspectors weren't working and "they didn't know" because of that. You would lose any lawsuit because the inspectors didn't reveal any problems and the business owner "did not know to the best of his/her knowledge." EVERYTHING would be blamed on the shutdown, and you would LOSE>Mark Rubin Tucson, AZ Jan. 10
@Goodglud Yes, regulations are limitations on their freedom to pollute.gbb Boston, MA Jan. 10
Boy howdy, but it's easy to spout the libertarian line when the FDA, FTC, SEC, EPA, etc. do what they do, day in and day out. Government succeeds quietly! Many post smack about what seem like excesses, while they enjoy safe food and drugs, modest limits on fraudsters, clean air and water, etc.: Now, maybe, we'll see what happens when those who mouth off get the freedom they have demanded for decades. With a months' long shutdown lives will be lost, but those who disparage the regulatory state might get their come-uppance. The coming months, if they involve a partial shutdown, will highlight the value government offers. Opportunities like this one don't appear often. This writer, for one, hopes it represents a crisis which won't be wasted.JS Boston Ma Jan. 11
Government in this country seems to me to be run pretty well. I wish that more businesses were run as well as the US Postal Service.Lawyermama Buffalo Jan. 10
@C Wolfe I made friends with Libertarian from Texas in college my freshman year. He got me to read Ayn Rand's Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. My first take was that Ayn Rand was a pretty weak writer and clearly had serious empathy issues to the point of being a bit creepy. My friend insisted that everyone should be self reliant and was responsible for their own destiny until the day he flunked out because his academically weak high school left him unprepared to survive in our highly selective college. I really felt sorry for him but he was so far behind I could not help him. I have no idea where he ended up.Jim Brokaw California Jan. 10
As the saying goes, you never miss your water until your well runs dry. A very big part of me says this is the only way red states will learn how to stop biting the hand that feeds them: they've been blindly following a party that made no secret that it wished to "starve the beast". This is what it looks like. This new perspective has delighted me even as I worry for my friends, family and colleagues who are feeling the effects. I hope our nation survives this president and learns from the mistakes.Pat Stonington, CT Jan. 11
The problem I have with libertarian utopias is that 'the market' isn't going to work to address all conflicts. So you need to hire enforcement, since government isn't doing it... or are we keeping the courts? And if the courts rule for you, and the other party just refuses to pay, now you have to go get your payment. Good luck with that. It all seems likely to devolve into a 'might makes right' series of standoffs, until people band together into unified groups to collectively agree to a set of rules, and work together with those rules. Sounds a lot like government. Or you can just hire some soldiers and go take what you want. Dare the other guys to take it back. Sounds a lot like anarchy. Libertarians always seems to me like trying to cherry-pick what they like about government, what benefits them, and then dump the rest, the stuff that costs them but they can't see the benefit for. Maybe they'll understand better if they get some contaminated lettuce next time they go grocery shopping...Steve Nirvana Jan. 10
@Bill Who exactly administers said courts that you would turn to for justice? Oh that's right, the government. I hope the irony is not lost on you. Libertarians seem to forgot that no man is an island to himself.Spiro Jetti Jan. 11
The people I have met who (loudly) espouse libertarian ideas tend to be of three types - all of whom benefit from this philosophy at the expense of others: 1) wealthy heirs like tRump who don't want to pay their taxes since it reduces their ability to live large AND pass on a dynasty to their heirs. 2) those with the luck to obtain the particular skills and education that provide a secure job with high remuneration. (Yes, it is usually a lot of luck) 3) good looking women who are confident that they can latch on to one of those described in 1) or in a pinch, 2) 2) will complain bitterly when the job market shifts - as it did for many in computer science after the glory years of the 80s. 3) will complain if their lawyer doesn't get them a big enough divorce settlement and their looks will no longer give them a second chance. A good economic system works equally for all people, not just those benefiting as members of the lucky gene club.SunnyG Kentucky Jan. 10
@Socrates Amen. Something also came to mind in reading your comment: Productive modern blue states subsidize receiving red states, who then, thanks to their outsize representation via the electoral college, bludgeon the blue states with red policies like deregulation and taking of health care etc. Like I am paying someone to punch me. "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark."Rick Cedar Hill, TX Jan. 10
We don't see the few inspectors who quietly keep our food safe, the EPA folks testing our air and rivers. The impact will be felt much later, and with no one to do the forensics, the story won't be told until well after the shutdown ends. I'm wondering how long the shutdown will last when visible folks start to go on strike. Will the federal employees who will perform the promised IRS, Food Stamp and farm distributions go to work, or ally themselves with their less visible brethren? With transportation, chaos will be most evident. After no paycheck on Friday, what if TSA doesn't shows or they picket Atlanta, OHare, JFK, SFO, IAD and DFW? Ditto for their compatriots in the Control Towers. Chaos. Who benefits? Perhaps we'll learn from Michael Cohen.Rima Regas Southern California Jan. 10
We as a nation are in this condition because the American character is one of greed, selfishness, one who does not think for himself/herself, and one that is controlled through fear. Maybe once our empire crumbles it will be divided into smaller countries that are easier to manage like the western European countries. I will move to one of the new countries that support a balanced budget, hates the concept of Citizens United and K Street lobbyists, wants to educate their masses, and provides healthcare for everyone rich and not so rich. An ignorant populous is easier to control and manhandle. The US is a good example.javierg Miami, Florida Jan. 10
@hen3ry "It's fascinating to realize that McConnell, Pence, Trump, and the rest of the obnoxious crowd are getting paid by the government they want to drown." When you go the rest of the way you finally get a true sense of how perverted these people are.Ron Silverlake WA Jan. 11
Thank you Dr. Krugman for a great perspective. It reminds me of the saying "be careful of what you wish for" ... for it may actually come true. Save for the sacrifice of many good Americans who depend on jobs and government benefits and the public in general, this may be the medicine those Republicans need to cure themselves of their hands off philosophy.Jody Quincy, IL Jan. 10
@Bill I don't believe for a nano-second you would be willing to expose your family to contaminated or adulterated food on the chance you might be able sue someone after the fact. It could take you years and many thousands of dollars to get justice that way. There is a good reason we have agencies like the FDA. Many years before you were born, we in fact had the very situation you say you would be fine with. It was buyer beware for all foodstuffs. You could not trust food producers to put on the label what was actually in the can or bottle. Meat packers were packing and sending out absolute filth. If you want a hint of what it would be like here without these protective agencies, do a little research on food safety in China. It will make you sick when you see what the Chinese are exposed to.Thomas Zaslavsky Binghamton, N.Y. Jan. 10
@C Wolfe Libertarian or not, in this country money is always more valued than human life. Again, it took Western Europe more than 2,000 years to become somewhat civilized and it will take this continent at least that long.Anne CA Jan. 10
@Eleanor How will you get around this? Reagan said, 'The nine most terrifying words in the English language are "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help."'Teresa MN Jan. 11
Does the shutdown mean that government will stop collecting tax money while services are suspended? Does it work both ways?James K. Lowden Camden, Maine Jan. 11
@ebmem I am an employee of Medicaid who sees countless fellow workers toil long after quitting time to cover the most people, with the least potential harm or burden to them, to get the best services and quality of life possible, AND doing all that earning maybe half the compensation of a comparable private sector position. It saddens me that even the program ensuring our loved ones - or ourselves! - have care at the end of life is not safe from this kind of bitter, distorted partisan anger.Joe Glendale, Arizona Jan. 11
@Bill Two words for you: Blue Milk. Look it up. Food contamination is an old story, as old as tort law. The FDA was created because tort law was unequal to the task. If you think the modern day is different, how is that romaine lettuce lawsuit going for you? As far as I know, no one knows where the contamination came from, much less who to sue. The romaine situation illustrates another flaw in your libertarian fantasy. The individual harm is collectively huge but individually small. Any action -- preventive or retributive -- requires collective action. Which, actually, is what democracy is, and why democracy created the FDA.Blue Moon Old Pueblo Jan. 11
@Linda You said it, Linda. I just returned from Europe. And I could not believe again how much tastier the meat and produce was - not only in restaurants but in humble meals in the country. Commercial food produced in the United States is terrible, tasteless, and full of pernicious additives. Ma and Pa Kettle have become inured to it, and don't know any better.Sunny NYC Jan. 10
@Wilbray Thiffault "Well, Mitch McConnell is not on the food stamp program, and he manages to be one of the most 'non productive' senators in the history of the US Senate." Correction: Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans are indeed on the food stamp program, the best one ever, and the government shutdown is not preventing them all from being paid. They will never give it up willingly.
Prof. Krugman says, "Meanwhile, the philosophy of the party's base is, in essence, big government for me but not for thee." I totally agree. It is indeed Trump and the Republican party who is disrupting the free market. The free market can be sustained only when it is run by smart and fair-minded people including top-notched economists and politicians. Otherwise, the socialism-monster would threaten and collapse the free market anytime. What I mean by 'the socialism-monster' is not the economies of Northern European countries such as the Netherlands, Sweden, etc. Some Americans call their economies 'socialism', but that's very wrong; their economies are indeed one of the most advanced capitalistic systems. How can't they be? Capitalism in a sense started from there, i.e., the business markets of the Netherlands, Denmark, Portugal, etc. Only when capitalism is truly advanced can well-rounded safety nets exist. In any case, genuinely socialist countries such as North-Korea and China do not protect human rights and thus prohibit freedom. The real problem with Trump and his allies is that they offer the strongest momentum for socialism by killing the chance for developing truly healthy free market. Trump, with Putin, is turning the whole world back into the days of nationalism, ideologism, and colonialism. They all champion big , huge, monstrous government. If there is any American crisis, it is not border security but gun violence. But Trump underwrites the NRA.
Jan 10, 2019 | www.vox.com
"All I'm saying is don't act like the way things are is somehow ordained by God."
Last Wednesday, the conservative talk show host Tucker Carlson started a fire on the right after airing a prolonged monologue on his show that was, in essence, an indictment of American capitalism.
America's "ruling class," Carlson says, are the "mercenaries" behind the failures of the middle class -- including sinking marriage rates -- and "the ugliest parts of our financial system." He went on: "Any economic system that weakens and destroys families is not worth having. A system like that is the enemy of a healthy society."
He concluded with a demand for "a fair country. A decent country. A cohesive country. A country whose leaders don't accelerate the forces of change purely for their own profit and amusement."
The monologue was stunning in itself, an incredible moment in which a Fox News host stated that for generations, "Republicans have considered it their duty to make the world safe for banking, while simultaneously prosecuting ever more foreign wars." More broadly, though, Carlson's position and the ensuing controversy reveals an ongoing and nearly unsolvable tension in conservative politics about the meaning of populism, a political ideology that Trump campaigned on but Carlson argues he may not truly understand.
Moreover, in Carlson's words: "At some point, Donald Trump will be gone. The rest of us will be gone too. The country will remain. What kind of country will be it be then?"
The monologue and its sweeping anti-elitism drove a wedge between conservative writers. The American Conservative's Rod Dreher wrote of Carlson's monologue, "A man or woman who can talk like that with conviction could become president. Voting for a conservative candidate like that would be the first affirmative vote I've ever cast for president." Other conservative commentators scoffed. Ben Shapiro wrote in National Review that Carlson's monologue sounded far more like Sens. Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren than, say, Ronald Reagan.
I spoke with Carlson by phone this week to discuss his monologue and its economic -- and cultural -- meaning. He agreed that his monologue was reminiscent of Warren, referencing her 2003 book The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents Are Growing Broke . "There were parts of the book that I disagree with, of course," he told me. "But there are parts of it that are really important and true. And nobody wanted to have that conversation."
Carlson wanted to be clear: He's just asking questions. "I'm not an economic adviser or a politician. I'm not a think tank fellow. I'm just a talk show host," he said, telling me that all he wants is to ask "the basic questions you would ask about any policy." But he wants to ask those questions about what he calls the "religious faith" of market capitalism, one he believes elites -- "mercenaries who feel no long-term obligation to the people they rule" -- have put ahead of "normal people."
But whether or not he likes it, Carlson is an important voice in conservative politics. His show is among the most-watched television programs in America. And his raising questions about market capitalism and the free market matters.
"What does [free market capitalism] get us?" he said in our call. "What kind of country do you want to live in? If you put these policies into effect, what will you have in 10 years?"Populism on the right is gaining, again
Carlson is hardly the first right-leaning figure to make a pitch for populism, even tangentially, in the third year of Donald Trump, whose populist-lite presidential candidacy and presidency Carlson told me he views as "the smoke alarm ... telling you the building is on fire, and unless you figure out how to put the flames out, it will consume it."
Populism is a rhetorical approach that separates "the people" from elites. In the words of Cas Mudde, a professor at the University of Georgia, it divides the country into "two homogenous and antagonistic groups: the pure people on the one end and the corrupt elite on the other." Populist rhetoric has a long history in American politics, serving as the focal point of numerous presidential campaigns and powering William Jennings Bryan to the Democratic nomination for president in 1896. Trump borrowed some of that approach for his 2016 campaign but in office has governed as a fairly orthodox economic conservative, thus demonstrating the demand for populism on the right without really providing the supply and creating conditions for further ferment.
When right-leaning pundit Ann Coulter spoke with Breitbart Radio about Trump's Tuesday evening Oval Office address to the nation regarding border wall funding, she said she wanted to hear him say something like, "You know, you say a lot of wild things on the campaign trail. I'm speaking to big rallies. But I want to talk to America about a serious problem that is affecting the least among us, the working-class blue-collar workers":
Coulter urged Trump to bring up overdose deaths from heroin in order to speak to the "working class" and to blame the fact that working-class wages have stalled, if not fallen, in the last 20 years on immigration. She encouraged Trump to declare, "This is a national emergency for the people who don't have lobbyists in Washington."
Ocasio-Cortez wants a 70-80% income tax on the rich. I agree! Start with the Koch Bros. -- and also make it WEALTH tax.-- Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) January 4, 2019
These sentiments have even pitted popular Fox News hosts against each other.
Sean Hannity warned his audience that New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's economic policies would mean that "the rich people won't be buying boats that they like recreationally, they're not going to be taking expensive vacations anymore." But Carlson agreed when I said his monologue was somewhat reminiscent of Ocasio-Cortez's past comments on the economy , and how even a strong economy was still leaving working-class Americans behind.
"I'm just saying as a matter of fact," he told me, "a country where a shrinking percentage of the population is taking home an ever-expanding proportion of the money is not a recipe for a stable society. It's not."
Carlson told me he wanted to be clear: He is not a populist. But he believes some version of populism is necessary to prevent a full-scale political revolt or the onset of socialism. Using Theodore Roosevelt as an example of a president who recognized that labor needs economic power, he told me, "Unless you want something really extreme to happen, you need to take this seriously and figure out how to protect average people from these remarkably powerful forces that have been unleashed."
"I think populism is potentially really disruptive. What I'm saying is that populism is a symptom of something being wrong," he told me. "Again, populism is a smoke alarm; do not ignore it."
But Carlson's brand of populism, and the populist sentiments sweeping the American right, aren't just focused on the current state of income inequality in America. Carlson tackled a bigger idea: that market capitalism and the "elites" whom he argues are its major drivers aren't working. The free market isn't working for families, or individuals, or kids. In his monologue, Carlson railed against libertarian economics and even payday loans, saying, "If you care about America, you ought to oppose the exploitation of Americans, whether it's happening in the inner city or on Wall Street" -- sounding very much like Sanders or Warren on the left.
Carlson's argument that "market capitalism is not a religion" is of course old hat on the left, but it's also been bubbling on the right for years now. When National Review writer Kevin Williamson wrote a 2016 op-ed about how rural whites "failed themselves," he faced a massive backlash in the Trumpier quarters of the right. And these sentiments are becoming increasingly potent at a time when Americans can see both a booming stock market and perhaps their own family members struggling to get by.
Capitalism/liberalism destroys the extended family by requiring people to move apart for work and destroying any sense of unchosen obligations one might have towards one's kin.-- Jeremy McLallan (@JeremyMcLellan) January 8, 2019
At the Federalist, writer Kirk Jing wrote of Carlson's monologue, and a response to it by National Review columnist David French:
Our society is less French's America, the idea, and more Frantz Fanon's "Wretched of the Earth" (involving a very different French). The lowest are stripped of even social dignity and deemed unworthy of life . In Real America, wages are stagnant, life expectancy is crashing, people are fleeing the workforce, families are crumbling, and trust in the institutions on top are at all-time lows. To French, holding any leaders of those institutions responsible for their errors is "victimhood populism" ... The Right must do better if it seeks to govern a real America that exists outside of its fantasies.
J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy , wrote that the [neoliberal] economy's victories -- and praise for those wins from conservatives -- were largely meaningless to white working-class Americans living in Ohio and Kentucky: "Yes, they live in a country with a higher GDP than a generation ago, and they're undoubtedly able to buy cheaper consumer goods, but to paraphrase Reagan: Are they better off than they were 20 years ago? Many would say, unequivocally, 'no.'"
Carlson's populism holds, in his view, bipartisan possibilities. In a follow-up email, I asked him why his monologue was aimed at Republicans when many Democrats had long espoused the same criticisms of free market economics. "Fair question," he responded. "I hope it's not just Republicans. But any response to the country's systemic problems will have to give priority to the concerns of American citizens over the concerns of everyone else, just as you'd protect your own kids before the neighbor's kids."Who is "they"?
And that's the point where Carlson and a host of others on the right who have begun to challenge the conservative movement's orthodoxy on free markets -- people ranging from occasionally mendacious bomb-throwers like Coulter to writers like Michael Brendan Dougherty -- separate themselves from many of those making those exact same arguments on the left.
When Carlson talks about the "normal people" he wants to save from nefarious elites, he is talking, usually, about a specific group of "normal people" -- white working-class Americans who are the "real" victims of capitalism, or marijuana legalization, or immigration policies.
In this telling, white working-class Americans who once relied on a manufacturing economy that doesn't look the way it did in 1955 are the unwilling pawns of elites. It's not their fault that, in Carlson's view, marriage is inaccessible to them, or that marijuana legalization means more teens are smoking weed ( this probably isn't true ). Someone, or something, did this to them. In Carlson's view, it's the responsibility of politicians: Our economic situation, and the plight of the white working class, is "the product of a series of conscious decisions that the Congress made."
The criticism of Carlson's monologue has largely focused on how he deviates from the free market capitalism that conservatives believe is the solution to poverty, not the creator of poverty. To orthodox conservatives, poverty is the result of poor decision making or a lack of virtue that can't be solved by government programs or an anti-elite political platform -- and they say Carlson's argument that elites are in some way responsible for dwindling marriage rates doesn't make sense .
But in French's response to Carlson, he goes deeper, writing that to embrace Carlson's brand of populism is to support "victimhood populism," one that makes white working-class Americans into the victims of an undefined "they:
Carlson is advancing a form of victim-politics populism that takes a series of tectonic cultural changes -- civil rights, women's rights, a technological revolution as significant as the industrial revolution, the mass-scale loss of religious faith, the sexual revolution, etc. -- and turns the negative or challenging aspects of those changes into an angry tale of what they are doing to you .
And that was my biggest question about Carlson's monologue, and the flurry of responses to it, and support for it: When other groups (say, black Americans) have pointed to systemic inequities within the economic system that have resulted in poverty and family dysfunction, the response from many on the right has been, shall we say, less than enthusiastic .
Really, it comes down to when black people have problems, it's personal responsibility, but when white people have the same problems, the system is messed up. Funny how that works!!-- Judah Maccabeets (@AdamSerwer) January 9, 2019
Yet white working-class poverty receives, from Carlson and others, far more sympathy. And conservatives are far more likely to identify with a criticism of "elites" when they believe those elites are responsible for the expansion of trans rights or creeping secularism than the wealthy and powerful people who are investing in private prisons or an expansion of the militarization of police . Carlson's network, Fox News, and Carlson himself have frequently blasted leftist critics of market capitalism and efforts to fight inequality .
I asked Carlson about this, as his show is frequently centered on the turmoils caused by " demographic change ." He said that for decades, "conservatives just wrote [black economic struggles] off as a culture of poverty," a line he includes in his monologue .
He added that regarding black poverty, "it's pretty easy when you've got 12 percent of the population going through something to feel like, 'Well, there must be ... there's something wrong with that culture.' Which is actually a tricky thing to say because it's in part true, but what you're missing, what I missed, what I think a lot of people missed, was that the economic system you're living under affects your culture."
Carlson said that growing up in Washington, DC, and spending time in rural Maine, he didn't realize until recently that the same poverty and decay he observed in the Washington of the 1980s was also taking place in rural (and majority-white) Maine. "I was thinking, 'Wait a second ... maybe when the jobs go away the culture changes,'" he told me, "And the reason I didn't think of it before was because I was so blinded by this libertarian economic propaganda that I couldn't get past my own assumptions about economics." (For the record, libertarians have critiqued Carlson's monologue as well.)
Carlson told me that beyond changing our tax code, he has no major policies in mind. "I'm not even making the case for an economic system in particular," he told me. "All I'm saying is don't act like the way things are is somehow ordained by God or a function or raw nature."
And clearly, our market economy isn't driven by God or nature, as the stock market soars and unemployment dips and yet even those on the right are noticing lengthy periods of wage stagnation and dying little towns across the country. But what to do about those dying little towns, and which dying towns we care about and which we don't, and, most importantly, whose fault it is that those towns are dying in the first place -- those are all questions Carlson leaves to the viewer to answer.
Jan 08, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Stephen Gardner , , January 8, 2019 at 2:23 pm
Human capital. This word as well as any other captures the dehumanizing nature of capitalism. Just a factor of production. We don't have blood and bone and families. We have exploitable skills. Screw that.
Leave not one stone upon another when you rise up and destroy the dystopian economy these swine have created.
cnchal , , January 8, 2019 at 8:47 am
"Human capital" is a deceptive way of saying "buy low, sell high". As an employee, you are bought for as little as possible, and sold for as much as possible, with Davos Man collecting that difference, making him filthy rich off the sweat of your brow. When you can no longer sweat for Davos Man, you are no longer human capital, and Davos Man would prefer you die quietly, so he can enjoy his jets and yachts without looking at the wreckage left behind.
Jan 04, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
flora , January 4, 2019 at 3:13 pm
re: Tucker Carlson on FoxNews
Our system was created by human beings for the benefit of human beings. We do not exist to serve markets.
Wait, you mean the old 'Twilight Zone' episode about Martians landing and handing out booklets titled "To Serve Man" weren't Martians at all? They were neoliberals?!? /s
Great rant. Fox is a bellwether of sorts, knowing where the public is going, and following for the ratings, imo.
Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg , January 4, 2019 at 4:07 pm
Re: Tucker Carlson's epiphany: Well it'd be nice if the Republicans ascendancy from the 80s to Bush II marked the high water tide of the Libertarian Future. I always hope they'd figure out that Free Market worship is idolatry and it's not a god that gets you any results. Unless you have 'grace' (being born into a connected lineage, like the Vanderbilt or deVos noble houses.
Harold , January 4, 2019 at 6:42 pm
The " fetish of capitalism" as Karl Marx aptly termed it. Fetish = idol.
Craig H. , January 4, 2019 at 5:01 pm
Class Warfare section missing Drouet arrest?
French police arrest "yellow vest" spokesman Eric Drouet
By Anthony Torres
4 January 2019
( World Socialist Web Site)
More than 70 percent of French people support the "yellow vests," who have evoked broad sympathy from workers around the world. But the established political parties and the union bureaucracies, totally integrated into the state and already furious that the "yellow vests" have outflanked them, are violently hostile.
Does anybody know where a good poll can be seen?
Oregoncharles , January 4, 2019 at 5:52 pm
Oh boy, now they're creating a martyr. Good strategy, Macron.
Oregoncharles , January 4, 2019 at 6:01 pm
So Macron actually WANTS an insurrection. If the Yellow Vests still control the roads, he may be sorry.
ChiGal in Carolina , January 4, 2019 at 5:24 pm
Re Medium piece on mental health care: none of that is new. I and my colleagues have been fighting those battles as psychotherapists in community mental health since the 90s.
Everything to be concrete and measurable so once your goals are "operationalized" the treatment plan sounds more like marching orders, not to mention being nonsensical:
"Client will achieve 25% reduction in depression as evidenced by daily crying spells reduced to 2x/wk and social interactions increased from 0x/wk to 2x/wk"
Believe me, therapists for the elite don't take insurance because they know the paperwork requirements are bullshit.
Not to mention the records insurance require totally blows confidentiality. It took me several years to accept that there was no way around making dual sets of notes, one in the official chart for purposes of compliance, and another handwritten one for purposes of actual treatment. Sad!
HIPPAA btw is about portability, not privacy. Don't let 'em fool ya.
Dec 27, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com
Jas636 -> Friarbird , 4 Jun 2018 01:38Why would I refute points that I agree with?internationalist07 07 -> Jas636 , 4 Jun 2018 01:34
I'm not the one who has a problem with neo-liberalism, it's provided for me more than adequately. Having spent a lot of time living overseas, it's provided ALL Australians with a far better deal than a few billion others.
If you are too naive to see this, then maybe you need to try an alternative for a while. It's quite ok, i'll be waiting for when the alternative fails (they always do) and I can come back and pick off the assets from the carcus of that little experiment for less than a cent in the dollar.
The dog eat dog economy simply represents our nature, it's who we are, we thrive under libertarianism.I think you mean Neo liberal utopiaFriarbird -> GoronwyPrice , 4 Jun 2018 01:31Po-faced, Libertarian BOLLOCKS.GreyBags -> Shiner01 , 4 Jun 2018 01:29
Privatisation is sucker-farming.
Milking the punters, like ants milk aphids.
Farming them, like bellbirds do with leaf-bugs.
And even THAT is only part of the equation.
The fondest goal, the one which gives the management class hard-ons ?
Privatisation de-unionises their workforces.It is quite strange that the biggest supporters of neo-liberal economics with its belief that giving money to the rich will solve all our problems call themselves 'Christians'.Friarbird -> RobertJREYNOLDS , 4 Jun 2018 01:20
I can't remember when Jesus preached trickle down. I don't remember the bit where Jesus said to treat those seeking asylum and fleeing violence like they are the scum of the earth. I don't remember when Jesus said the poor needed a good kick in the guts while they are down to motivate them to work harder. I don't remember when Jesus said we should cut funds from the sick to balance the budget. I don't remember Jesus saying that if you bear false witness often enough then you will fool enough of the people enough to keep power so you can look after your corporate buddy buddies.
In fact, almost all of the politicians in the Coalition who proclaim to be 'Christian' must have their own secret bible because nothing I have heard from the New Testament justifies their actions.
Me, I'm an atheist and I have more care, consideration, ethics and compassion than the entire collection of right wing bible bashers sitting in parliament today."......the scam that is neo-liberalism."Ozponerised , 4 Jun 2018 01:19
No throwaway line.
A 'farming the suckers' scam is all it ever was.
With a view to massive wealth transfer.
Hasn't it worked well ?Thanks for this. We need more of these articles pointing out the bullshit behind this story that the Coalition has been feeding the gullible peasantry with for over 30 years, sneering, smirking and sniggering as truckloads of public money goes to private corporations. The money received from selling off public assets has been shoved into private businesses who then feel very free to charge like bulls.Mal_Function , 4 Jun 2018 01:16
It's a shame so many folk still fall for this bullshit meaning that their own families, work colleagues and community get shafted through diminishing public services.Brother Can You Spare a Dimeprettygoody -> GoronwyPrice , 4 Jun 2018 01:11
They used to tell me I was building a dream
And so I followed the mob
When there was earth to plow or guns to bear
I was always there right on the job
They used to tell me I was building a dream
With peace and glory ahead
Why should I be standing in line
Just waiting for bread?
Once I built a railroad, I made it run
Made it race against time
Once I built a railroad, now it's done
Brother, can you spare a dime?
Once I built a tower up to the sun
Brick and rivet and lime
Once I built a tower, now it's done
Brother, can you spare a dime?
Once in khaki suits, gee we looked swell
Full of that yankee doodle de dum
Half a million boots went sloggin' through hell
And I was the kid with the drum
Say, don't you remember, they called me Al
It was Al all the time
Say, don't you remember, I'm your pal
Buddy, can you spare a dime?
Songwriters: E. Y. Harburg / Jay Gorney
Brother Can You Spare a Dime lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Next Decade Entertainment, Inc, Shapiro Bernstein & Co. Inc.'This is more or less the definition of increased productivity and it is what ultimately leads to improved living standards for everyone'Friarbird -> ADamnSmith2016 , 4 Jun 2018 01:05
Lazy, neoliberal, supply-side economic guff. Neoliberals undermine government and democracy and then scavenge on the wreckage. When does 'ultimately' begin for 'everyone'? Never.
'Private companies provide the same service with much less labour'
Firing people is the answer? What a hardened realist you are. Must be great to be so certain in your neoliberal convictions. Are you really telling us that every privatisation has been a success?
These pieces of infrastructure have been built through generations of work and wise investment - they are not any one government's to sell. It's just easier for a corrupt, rudderless, feckless neoliberal shill to sell it than it is for them to to run it.Can't even begin to address the characteristic Libertarian slyness in all that.Tasmanian Cryptik -> 20thCenturyFox , 4 Jun 2018 00:58
But I'll try.
"What you call neoliberalism was a set of responses to the failure of socialism or as Tony Blair said 'what matters is what works'."
What I--what the world--calls "Neoliberalism', is the corpse of Classical economics, resurrected post-WW2 by Friedman and Hayek's 'Mont Pelerin Society. '
Why was it buried ?
Because during the Great Depression, its dogmatic insistence on continued austerity and wage cuts only made things worse.
After all, in an economic slump, whats the worst thing you can do ?
Deprive people of whatever little purchasing power they have.
So, goodbye Classical economics.
After which, govts SPENT their societies out of slump, putting people to work.
(O, the horror ! O, the heresy !)
The public works of that era include Germany's autobahns and the US New Deal projects, including the Tennessee Valley system and similar in Western States.
( O the horror ! O the heresy !)
Friedman, Hayek and the gang looked at those and post-WW2 programs of public benefit, such as the UK's NHS and shat themselves. Typical fear-driven conservatives, they were convinced such programs represented the thin end of the wedge which MUST end in imposition of Soviet-style conditions.
What utter paranoid crap.
Their resurrected corpse of Classical economics ?.
THAT is what is 'Neoliberalism'.
Whether or not I call it so is immaterial.
Then, this lofty bit of finger-wagging assertion;
"This process of economic evolution is necessarily imperfect and incomplete...."
Your Lordship's overview is appreciated...
"....but currently leaves you free to own a computer, read news on-line, communicate using the internet (maybe using NBN?) and express your views freely. "
Sez who ?
Besides, the only one talking about that old bogey, "socialism" is you.
Because its a conveniently perjorative label, eh ?
Pretty infantile, though.
"Anybody who doesn't agree with EVERYTHING I say, must be a 'socialist.' And they can't play with my toys."
PS 'Adam', why do LIbertarians always project a Superiority Complex ?
Why are the buggers always so PLEASED WITH THEMSELVES ?Socialise the losses, privatise the gains.RatioDecidend -> Elizabeth Connor , 4 Jun 2018 00:55intelligent comment. Due to corporate media indoctrinating propaganda it will take sometime for others to understand where the problem lies.20thCenturyFox , 4 Jun 2018 00:41Neoliberalism = Socialism for the Rich - Capitalism for the Poor.grumpyom -> Fred1 , 4 Jun 2018 00:28
Politics needs reform, plain & simple. Fed ICAC and Integrity Commission is a good start but it's not enough. The rules have to change too. Major decisions like privatising services or tax handouts to the rich, shouldn't by law be allowed to get through parliament or the senate unless the claims being made to justify them are quantifiable & demonstrated to be in the National Interest. Currently politicians have no obligation to do either.
e.g. claiming that jobs will be created if Penalty rates are cut = there's no way to quantify such a BS claim and Doug Cameron got them to admit that in Senate Estimates. Even so they were allowed to lie through their teeth and impose it anyway with no requirement to prove their BS claims. This corporate tax handout = once again they claim it will lead to more wealth to average Australians and more jobs but it can't be quantified or guaranteed via regulation so it's all bullshit. The rich will hoard the wealth & kick Australians in the guts as usual. That's what they've always done and always will do. Privatisation of electricity..what a crock of shit. They claimed it would create competition and drive down prices. What's happened? The complete opposite but politicians KNOW they're not accountable and therein 'lies' the problem. The shortsheeting of the original NBN, = yet another lie. They've totally crippled Australia's ability to compete in a digital age and completely screwed regional 2nd tier cities and towns in terms of growth. As far as the National interest is concerned the shortsheeting of the NBN is the complete opposite. Even so they were allowed to bastardise that too without any accountability whatsoever. Australians need to start demanding political reform so these bastards are accountable to the people.Neoliberalism is just the academic name for the political ideology of greed, corruption, self interest, self entitlement, corporate welfare, inequality, user pays, and poverty is your fault.grumpyom , 4 Jun 2018 00:18
George Monbiot does it well too.
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/15/neoliberalism-ideology-problem-george-monbiotDo you see any contradiction between privatised electricity and socialised stadiums?Elizabeth Connor , 4 Jun 2018 00:10
Neoliberalism explains it all. Corruption in politics means that only profitable assets are privatised. Stadiums lose money, so are kept in private hands as corporate welfare for the various billionaire team owners and TV networks.I love Richard Denniss! What a brilliantly concise and yet well supported argument. Now we just need someone who can say it in terms that will persuade unwilling voters to think carefully about their vote. If they do think carefully they simply cannot return this government to power, now that they're all revealed as nothing but crony capitalists.sierrasierra -> telbraithwaite , 4 Jun 2018 00:04
I must admit that like many people I also thought neoliberalism was an ideology, but then I couldn't understand why they were so inconsistent in their spending of 'tax-payers' funds'.
From now on I'll be pointing out those inconsistencies with more confidence - armed with Richard's incontrovertible points, and also by a closer reading of Canadian Kean Birch's article:
Here's Birch's definition of neoliberalism:
[The term neoliberalism ] is used to refer to an economic system in which the "free" market is extended to every part of our public and personal worlds.
And here's wikipedia's definition of crony capitalism:
Crony capitalism is an economy in which businesses thrive not as a result of risks they take, but rather as a return on money amassed through a nexus between a business class and the political class.
NB But there's a more explicit definition here, which I like much better:
Crony capitalism is a term describing an economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of state interventionism.
And from where I sit, crony capitalism cannot be defended by anyone with any kind of integrity.Yes, we have a spot of bother, and I think that their name - Institute of Public Affairs - is quite a misnomer.Billyswagg , 4 Jun 2018 00:03
The way these people operate is more akin to Opus Dei and many other 'secret societies' that have another public face altogether.
Given that IPA's agenda is a private members wish list which has a huge impact on matters of a broad public nature, it's rather akin to incest, and we know where the confusion between Church and State takes us regarding separation of powers, exactly where we are right now .two Royal Commissions that are joined at the hip, Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (2013 – 2017) and our current horror show Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation, and Financial Services Industry which could for all intents and purposes be as long as aforementioned.
Stay with me, as these are issues that relate to other 'energy' systems, namely money, sex and power, and if we have any doubts as to how far this cancer has spread, a quick purview of the following members ought to resolve it for you:
For the 70th Birthday big bash, we know that guests to the party were:
• Gina Rinehart
• Rupert Murdoch
• Tony Abbott
• George Pell - Australian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church
• Michael Kroger - President of the Victorian division of the Liberal Party of Australia and former director of the IPA
• Mitch Fifield - Communications Minister
Think horizontal and vertical industries/associations and you begin to get the picture, and that's before thinking about BCA and VECCI.First, elect the other mob next time around. They're in the pockets of the multinationals and the US alliance as well, but they're not quite as bad, yet. The next thing is a full-on assault on mainstream media. The frontline of the revolution, if there is to be one, is the media. No more guns or territorial claims, it's a battle for the mind. Education is the key. The "Neolibs" attack education at every opportunity - teachers, curriculum, funding etc. etc. but there's nothing wrong with education - the real problem is that the mainstream media relentlessly, all day every day works to an agenda of dis-education, deliberately undermining and destroying the work of our schools. They preach doubt and mistrust - of learning, facts, truth, intelligence, pure science, art, music, culture, thoughtfulness, forbearance, empathy and altruism. They teach us to monetise and gamble on everything. Their aim is to dumb everyone down to the point where not only can't they read an analog clock or drive their own car but become entirely dependent on the word of authority (of which they are the mouthpiece) for a continued existence. Today, with our vast social platforms we can target their lies and threats, one by one. Pick each one, attack it, viciously, loudly, risibly, with facts, comedy, derision and invitations to dance. Spread it wide. Call them out at every opportunity. Sneer them into oblivion. Mainstream media is the primary problem. That's what must be destroyed.Dunkey2830 -> Dave Bradley , 3 Jun 2018 23:53BiggerPictureCait -> Stopthelibs , 3 Jun 2018 23:53
Maybe the ALP have learnt from their mistakes
No, regrettably they have not.
The neoliberalist 'mistake' has been going on for around 40 yrs now - it has proved a relentless descent into inequality and austerity.
Chris Bowen at the National Press Club :
"...Labor will go to the next election:
Achieving budget balance in the same year as the government;
Delivering bigger cumulative budget surpluses over forward estimates as well as substantially bigger surpluses over the ten year medium term; and
That the majority of savings raised from our revenue measures over the medium term will go towards budget repair and paying down debt...."
Pure neoliberal economic poison that will create further hardship for our citizens, worsen inequality and recess the economy yet further.
People have got to come to understand that the bigger surpluses Bowen speaks of are federal tax collection surpluses; i.e. he intends to withdraw further spending capacity from the private sector, all while the current account deficit already draws 3.5% GDP (~$30bn) a yr from that same heavily indebted private sector.
This Bowen statement report from the SMH :
"The whiff of a surplus, not reaching at least 1 per cent of GDP until 2026-27, does not adequately protect Australia against the potential roiling seas of international uncertainty," he will say.
"Australia needs bigger surpluses, sooner than the government is scheduling.
"We can't afford to let the next four years go to waste in the efforts for a healthier, safer budget surplus."
Absolute macroeconomic stupidity, arrogant, vandalous ideological madness.
When will the people come to their senses and stop supporting such socially destructive errant neoliberal economic alchemy?Just look at the Citizens Assembly overseeing the law change in the recent Irish referendum. Worked a treat, cause those involved wanted to find the bvest alternative, rather than feather their own nest.
Dec 27, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com
jclucas , 3 Jun 2018 23:25It is indeed important to make the distinction between the ideology of neoliberalism - the ideology of private enterprise is good, and public spending is bad - and the operational system of crony capitalism - the game of mates played by government and the special interests.
And it is certainly equally important to call out the monumental hypocrisy involved in the government's application of the ideology's set of rules to the powerless and public and the government's application of corrupt practice rules to the special interests.
The system is destroying the egalitarian character of Australia and fanning the flames of nativist authoritarianism here.
But what's even more dangerous is the fundamental dishonesty that the system necessitates, and the alienating influence it has - on top of the growing economic inequality.
The system has destroyed the economic and environmental viability and sustainability of the planet on which human civilization depends.
What is becoming increasingly clear to more and more of the public is that - simple put- the system cannot be allowed to go on as it has been proceeding because it threatens the future of civilization on earth.
Change is imperative now. However, how that will unfold is unclear, as well as, the toll the destruc5turing system will take.
What is clear is that a great restructuring must happen - and soon.
Dec 21, 2018 | www.wsws.org
... In the introduction to the second volume in his series, The State and the Opposition , Rogovin noted:In this work, Rogovin argued that the fundamental problem facing the USSR was "a deepening of socially unjustified differentiation of incomes and the comforts of life." "Workers regularly encounter instances of unearned enrichment through the deceit and the ripping-off of the state and the people. [ ] Certain groups of the population have the means to meet their needs at a scale beyond any reasonable norms and outside of their relationship to social production. [ ] There does not exist any systematic control of sources of income and the acquisition of valuable goods," he wrote.
A peculiarity of the counter-revolution realized by Stalin and his accomplices was that it took place under the ideological cover of Marxist phraseology and never-ending attestations of loyalty to the October Revolution Naturally, such a counter-revolution demanded historically unprecedented conglomerations of lies and falsifications, the fabrication of ever-newer myths
Similar to the Stalinists, modern anti-communists use two kinds of myths: namely, ideological and historical. Under ideological myths we have in mind false ideas, oriented to the future -- that is, illusory prognoses and promises. These sorts of products of false consciousness reveal their mythological character by way of their practical realization.
Myths that appeal not to the future but to the past are another matter.
In principle, it is easier to expose these myths than anti-scientific prognoses and reactionary projects.
Like ideological ones, historical myths are a product of immediate class interests products of historical ignorance or deliberate falsification -- that is, the concealment of some historical facts, the tendentious exaggeration, and the distorted interpretation of others.
Refuting these myths is only possible by rehabilitating historical truth -- the honest portrayal of actual facts and tendencies of the past.
In a remarkable statement, inequality, he insisted, not wage-leveling, expressed "in essence, the social structure of [Soviet] society."
Rogovin called for the implementation of income declarations, whereby people would be required to report the size of their total income, not just their official wages, so that the government and researchers might actually know the real distribution of earnings. He advocated for the establishment of a "socially-guaranteed maximum income" to combat "unjustified inequality."Vadim Rogovin and Nina Naumova's 1984 Social Development and Societal Morals
Elsewhere, Rogovin further argued that inequality lay at the center of the USSR's falling labor productivity. In a work co-authored with Nina Naumova, Social Development and Societal Morals , he maintained that the socio-economic crisis facing the USSR stemmed from the fact that inequality was growing in Soviet society; people worked poorly in the Soviet Union not because their work was inadequately remunerated relative to others, but because their commitment to social production had been eroded by intensifying social stratification that was unrecorded in official statistics.
In 1983, the very same year that Rogovin authored his critical report on the state of inequality in the USSR that ended up in the hands of the Moscow authorities, another sociologist, Tatyana Zaslavskaya, would issue a report, kept secret at first but later leaked to the Western press, advocating a transition to "economic methods of management," -- in other words, market-based reforms. A central aspect of this was policy centered around increasing inequality in workers' compensation in order to stimulate production. Zaslavskaya noted at the time that such reforms would be opposed by what she described as "the more apathetic, the more elderly, and the less qualified groups of workers."
In a few years, Zaslavskaya would become a leading advisor to Mikhail Gorbachev and one of the main architects of the pro-market, perestroika reforms. In 1986, she was appointed the head of the Soviet Sociological Association. Her positions were widely embraced by the discipline.Tatiana Zaslavskaya and Mikhail Gorbachev 1989 at Congress of People's Deputies. [Copyright RIA Novosti]
In contrast, Rogovin's views were frequently, and ever more so, the object of sharp criticism. In 1985, a discussion occurred at the Institute of Sociology regarding a report produced by Rogovin and his research team about Soviet lifestyles. In it, Rogovin made openly critical comments about the anti-egalitarian impact of the shadow economy and the transfer of wealth through inheritance. It was sharply criticized by some of the Institute's top scholars, who both disagreed with its content and were nervous about the response it might get from the authorities. At the discussion, one such individual remarked:
The report by the author presented here has two basic failings: 1) it is inadequately self-critical; 2) the authors, and in particular, Rogovin himself, aren't appropriately thinking of the addressee to whom this report is directed. The report is going to the highest levels [of the Communist Party] and superfluous emotion is not necessary. The next criticism [I have] is about "unjustified inequality." In principle, there can be no such thing.
[ ] in the note to the TsK KPSS [Central Committee of the Communist Party] [ ] the recommendations [that you make] demand the utmost care in how you approach them, particularly those that relate to the "third economy" and taxes on inheritance. [There should be] a minimum of categoricalness and a maximum of conciliatoriness.
As the decade wore on, Rogovin began to adopt an ever more critical stance on perestroika , whose devastating economic consequences were increasingly showing themselves. Rather than bringing prosperity to the masses, Gorbachev's reforms created a total crisis in the state sector of the economy, exacerbating widespread shortages in food, clothing and other basic necessities. Economic growth declined from 1986 onwards. In 1989, inflation reached 19 percent, eroding the gains the population had made in income over the preceding years. As the scholar John Elliot noted, "When account is taken of additional costs, real per capita income and real wages probably decreased, particularly for the bottom half of the population. These costs included: deteriorating quality and unavailability of goods; proliferation of special distribution channels; longer and more time-consuming lines; extended rationing; higher prices and higher inflation-rates in non-state stores (e.g., collective farm market prices were nearly three times those in state stores in 1989); virtual stagnation in the provision of health and education; and the growth of barter, regional autarky, and local protectionism."
Newly established private enterprises had great leeway to set prices because they faced little to no competition from the state sector. They charged whatever the market would bear, which led to substantial increases in income inequality and poverty, with the most vulnerable layers of the population hardest hit. The changes were so severe that Elliot insists that "income inequalities had actually become greater in the USSR than in the USA." In the late 1980s, fully two-thirds of the Soviet population had an income that fell below the officially-recommended "decent level" of 100 to 150 rubles a month. At the same time, the shadow economy alone is estimated to have produced 100,000–150,000 millionaires in the late 1980s. By the early 1990s, one-quarter of the population or 70 million people were destitute according to official Soviet estimates. Miners' strikes and other signs of social discontent erupted across the country.
Sociologists were intimately aware of the growing popular discontent. The Communist Party bureaucracy called upon them to help manage the situation. In 1989, the director of the Institute of Sociology received a request from the highest layers of the Communist Party. He was asked to respond to a letter from a rank-and-file party member that expressed extreme hostility towards the country's "elites." The letter writer described the party as dominated by an "opportunist nucleus" and called for the waging of a "class war" by the working masses against their policies. The ideology division of the Central Committee of the Communist Party wanted the Institute's director to respond to the letter because the sentiments expressed in it were "widespread (representative) [sic] among the working class."Soviet economist and sociologist Genady Lisichkin
In the midst of these circumstances, Rogovin came under fire in one of the country's media outlets for articles he was writing against the promotion of social inequality. Since the mid-1980s, he had been championing the implementation of income declarations that would require people to report their full earnings, progressive taxes, and a socially-declared maximum income. Based on the amount of positive correspondence he was receiving from readers, it was clear that his views resonated with the population, a fact noted by Western scholars at the time. In a public press debate with the economist Gennady Lisichkin, the latter accused Rogovin of wanting to strengthen the hand of the bureaucracy and implied that he was a Stalinist. He was allegedly guilty of "Luddism," religious-like preaching, misquoting Marx to find support for his arguments, wanting the state to have the power to move people around "like cattle," defending a deficit-system of distribution based on "ration cards," suffering from "left-wing" infantilism, and being a "demagogue" and a "war communist." He attempted to link Rogovin to the very force to which he was most hostile -- Stalinism. The head of the Soviet Sociological Association, Tatiana Zaslavskaya, openly endorsed Lisichkin's positions.
The disagreements between Rogovin and other scholars over perestroika evolved into a fierce dispute about Soviet history and the nature of Stalinism. Rogovin identified a relationship between cheerleading for pro-market reforms and historical falsification. There was an increasingly widespread effort to link egalitarianism with Stalinism, the struggle for equality with political repression. In Was There an Alternative? , Rogovin frequently talked about the fact that the move towards a market economy was accompanied by the propagation of myths about Soviet history. This was one of those myths.
In 1991, Zaslavskaya co-authored a book that claimed that the Soviet Union's problems lay in the fact that in the late 1920s it abandoned the New Economic Policy (NEP), during which the government had loosened state control of the economy and restored market relations to an extent, in an effort to revitalize the economy under conditions of isolation, backwardness, and near economic collapse due to years of war. A one-sided and historically dishonest account of the NEP, this work did not contain any discussion of the political struggle that occurred during the NEP between Stalin and the Left Opposition over the malignant growth of inequality, the bureaucratization of the state and economy, and the crushing of inner-party democracy. The book skipped over this history because it would have cut across one of the central arguments made at the time in favor of perestroika -- that market relations were inherently at odds with the interests of the Communist Party bureaucracy. The book's account of labor policy under Stalin was also false. It insisted that during the 1930s revolutionary enthusiasm was the primary method used to stimulate people to work, ignoring the fact that income inequality rose substantially at this time. As the scholar Murray Yanowitch has pointed out, under Stalin "equality mongering" was labeled the brainchild of "Trotskyites, Zinovievites, Bukharinites and other enemies of the people."
In the 1980s, sociologists and other scholars promoting perestroika sought to imbue these policies with a humanitarian mission, insisting that market reforms would allow "the human factor," which had been crushed under the weight of bureaucratic stagnation, to rise again. The "human factor" was defined as man's desire for personal recognition through differentiated, material reward. It was supposedly the primary driver of human activity. To the degree that official wage policy in the USSR led to a relatively egalitarian distribution of social resources with wages leveled-out between skilled and unskilled labor, it flew in the face of man's desire for recognition of his own individual contribution. Rising inequality in income -- necessitated by the demands of socio-economic development -- was part of the process of "humanizing socialism." The argument was made that increasing social stratification would ultimately provide real "socialist justice."
As Tatiana Zaslavskaya claimed in 1990, "Despite all its limitations, the 'classical' market is, in fact, a democratic (and therefore anti-bureaucratic) economic institution. Within the framework of its exchange relationships, all participants are at least formally equal; no-one is subordinated to anyone else. Buyers and sellers act in their own interests and nobody can make them conclude deals they do not want to conclude. The buyers are free to select sellers who will let them have goods on the most advantageous terms, but the sellers too can chose buyers offering the best price."
In making this argument, scholars relied upon the official Soviet definition of socialism -- "from each according to his ability, to each according to his labor" -- that was enshrined in the country's 1936 constitution. This was also known as the Stalin constitution.
In 1988, Rogovin used the concept of the "human factor" to make a very different argument. In a piece entitled, "The Human Factor and the Lessons of the Past," he insisted that the defense of social inequality by the Soviet elite was one of the key reasons why the "human factor" had degenerated in the USSR. The very best elements of "the human factor" had been crushed by Stalin during the Terror. Corruption, disillusionment, parasitism, careerism and individual self-promotion -- the most distinctive features of the Brezhnev era -- were the "human factor" created by Stalinism. In promoting inequality and the market, Rogovin insisted, perestroika did not mark a break with Stalinism or the legacy of the Brezhnev era, as was so often claimed, but rather their further realization.
One year later he wrote, "The adherents of the new elitist conceptions want to see Soviet society with such a level of social differentiation that existed under Stalin but having gotten rid of Stalinist repression. It is forgotten that the debauched character of these repressions [ ] flowed from the effort to not simply restrain, but rather physically annihilate above all those forces in the party and in the country that, though silenced, rejected the social foundations of Stalinism."
After years of studying these questions in near-total isolation, Rogovin was finally able to write openly about this subject. He tested the waters by first publishing "L.D. Trotsky on Art" in August 1989 in the journal Theater . It was followed shortly thereafter by an article entitled "The Internal Party Struggles of the 1920s: Reasons and Lessons," also published in a journal outside of his discipline, Political Education . Moving closer to a forum likely to be followed by his colleagues in sociology, in early 1990 Rogovin published "L.D. Trotsky on NEP" in Economic Sciences . And finally, a few months later, "L.D. Trotsky on Social Relations in the USSR" came out in the flagship journal of his discipline, Sociological Research .
Rogovin's first article on the subject within his discipline reviewed Trotsky's role in Soviet history during the 1920s and summarized his seminal work, The Revolution Betrayed . It made clear to whom Rogovin fundamentally owed the views he had been advancing over the course of the previous decade.
Trotsky, however, continued to be vilified by Soviet officialdom. In 1987, on the 70th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, Gorbachev described Trotsky as "the arch-heretic of Soviet history, an 'excessively self-assured politician who always vacillated and cheated."
As a result of Rogovin's profound sympathies for Trotskyism and efforts to place his work in the tradition of the Left Opposition's critique of Stalinism, he was increasingly isolated from his colleagues, several of whom entered the Yeltsin administration and helped facilitate the eventual implementation of shock therapy, a key component of capitalist restoration in Russia. His discipline never forgave him for his intransigence and principles. One will find almost no mention of Rogovin or his contributions in the numerous monographs and other publications that have come out over the last 20 years about sociology in the USSR.
But Rogovin's isolation from Soviet sociology did not undermine his capacity to work. Rather, it coincided with the start of the publication of Was There an Alternative? In 1992, Rogovin met the International Committee of the Fourth International, and established a close political and intellectual relationship with the world Trotskyist movement that would intensify over the course of the next several years. This relationship was the basis upon which Rogovin made his immense contribution to the fight to defend Trotsky and historical truth. Two recently republished tributes to Rogovin by David North review this history.
Despite his death twenty years ago, through his work Rogovin continues his struggle to arm the working class with historical consciousness.
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Themiddlegound -> Themiddlegound , 11 Jun 2013 05:42The American Chamber of Commerce subsequently expanded its base from around 60,000 firms in 1972 to over a quarter of a million ten years later. Jointly with the National Association of Manufacturers (which moved to Washington in 1972) it amassed an immense campaign chest to lobby Congress and engage in research. The Business Roundtable, an organization of CEOs 'committed to the aggressive pursuit of political power for the corporation', was founded in 1972 and thereafter became the centrepiece of collective pro-business action.
The corporations involved accounted for 'about one half of the GNP of the United States' during the 1970s, and they spent close to $900 million annually (a huge amount at that time) on political matters. Think-tanks, such as the Heritage Foundation, the Hoover Institute, the Center for the Study of American Business, and the American Enterprise Institute, were formed with corporate backing both to polemicize and, when necessary, as in the case of the National Bureau of Economic Research, to construct serious technical and empirical studies and political-philosophical arguments broadly in support of neoliberal policies.
Nearly half the financing for the highly respected NBER came from the leading companies in the Fortune 500 list. Closely integrated with the academic community, the NBER was to have a very significant impact on thinking in the economics departments and business schools of the major research universities. With abundant finance furnished by wealthy individuals (such as the brewer Joseph Coors, who later became a member of Reagan's 'kitchen cabinet') and their foundations (for example Olin, Scaife, Smith Richardson, Pew Charitable Trust), a ﬂood of tracts and books, with Nozick's Anarchy State and Utopia perhaps the most widely read and appreciated, emerged espousing neoliberal values. A TV version of Milton Friedman's Free to Choose was funded with a grant from Scaife in 1977. 'Business was', Blyth concludes, 'learning to spend as a class.
In singling out the universities for particular attention, Powell pointed up an opportunity as well as an issue, for these were indeed centers of anti-corporate and anti-state sentiment (the students at Santa Barbara had burned down the Bank of America building there and ceremonially buried a car in the sands). But many students were (and still are) affluent and privileged, or at least middle class, and in the US the values of individual freedom have long been celebrated (in music and popular culture) as primary. Neoliberal themes could here find fertile ground for propagation. Powell did not argue for extending state power. But business should 'assiduously cultivate' the state and when necessary use it 'aggressively and with determination'
In order to realize this goal, businesses needed a political class instrument and a popular base. They therefore actively sought to capture the Republican Party as their own instrument. The formation of powerful political action committees to procure, as the old adage had it, 'the best government that money could buy' was an important step. The supposedly 'progressive' campaign finance laws of 1971 in effect legalized the financial corruption of politics.
A crucial set of Supreme Court decisions began in 1976 when it was first established that the right of a corporation to make unlimited money contributions to political parties and political action committees was protected under the First Amendment guaranteeing the rights of individuals (in this instance corporations) to freedom of speech.15 Political action committees could thereafter ensure the financial domination of both political parties by corporate, moneyed, and professional association interests. Corporate PACs, which numbered eighty-nine in 1974, had burgeoned to 1,467 by 1982.
The Republican Party needed, however, a solid electoral base if it was to colonize power effectively. It was around this time that Republicans sought an alliance with the Christian right. The latter had not been politically active in the past, but the foundation of Jerry Falwell's 'moral majority' as a political movement in 1978 changed all of that. The Republican Party now had its Christian base.
It also appealed to the cultural nationalism of the white working classes and their besieged sense of moral righteousness. This political base could be mobilized through the positives of religion and cultural nationalism and negatively through coded, if not blatant, racism, homophobia, and anti feminism.
The alliance between big business and conservative Christians backed by the neoconservatives consolidated, not for the first time has a social group been persuaded to vote against its material, economic, and class interests the evangelical Christians eagerly embraced the alliance with big business and the Republican Party as a means to further promote their evangelical and moral agenda.
Themiddlegound -> Themiddlegound , 11 Jun 2013 05:23Any political movement that holds individual freedoms to be sacrosanct is vulnerable to incorporation into the neoliberal fold.
The worldwide political upheavals of 1968, for example, were strongly inﬂected with the desire for greater personal freedoms. This was certainly true for students, such as those animated by the Berkeley 'free speech' movement of the 1960s or who took to the streets in Paris, Berlin, and Bangkok and were so mercilessly shot down in Mexico City shortly before the 1968 Olympic Games. They demanded freedom from parental, educational, corporate, bureaucratic, and state constraints. But the '68 movement also had social justice as a primary political objective.
Neoliberal rhetoric, with its foundational emphasis upon individual freedoms, has the power to split off libertarianism, identity politics, multiculturalism, and eventually narcissistic consumerism from the social forces ranged in pursuit of social justice through the conquest of state power. It has long proved extremely difficult within the US left, for example, to forge the collective discipline required for political action to achieve social justice without offending the the Construction of Consent desire of political actors for individual freedom and for full recognition and expression of particular identities. Neoliberalism did not create these distinctions, but it could easily exploit, if not foment, them.
In the early 1970s those seeking individual freedoms and social justice could make common cause in the face of what many saw as a common enemy. Powerful corporations in alliance with an interventionist state were seen to be running the world in individually oppressive and socially unjust ways. The Vietnam War was the most obvious catalyst for discontent, but the destructive activities of corporations and the state in relation to the environment, the push towards mindless consumerism, the failure to address social issues and respond adequately to diversity, as well as intense restrictions on individual possibilities and personal behaviors by state-mandated and 'traditional' controls were also widely resented. Civil rights were an issue, and questions of sexuality and of reproductive rights were very much in play.
For almost everyone involved in the movement of '68, the intrusive state was the enemy and it had to be reformed. And on that, the neoliberals could easily agree. But capitalist corporations, business, and the market system were also seen as primary enemies requiring redress if not revolutionary transformation: hence the threat to capitalist class power.
By capturing ideals of individual freedom and turning them against the interventionist and regulatory practices of the state, capitalist class interests could hope to protect and even restore their position. Neoliberalism was well suited to this ideological task. But it had to be backed up by a practical strategy that emphasized the liberty of consumer choice, not only with respect to particular products but also with respect to lifestyles, modes of expression, and a wide range of cultural practices. Neoliberalization required both politically and economically the construction of a neoliberal market-based populist culture of differentiated consumerism and individual libertarianism. As such it proved more than a little compatible with that cultural impulse called 'postmodernism' which had long been lurking in the wings but could now emerge full-blown as both a cultural and an intellectual dominant. This was the challenge that corporations and class elites set out to finesse in the 1980s.
In the US case a confidential memo sent by Lewis Powell to the US Chamber of Commerce in August 1971. Powell, about to be elevated to the Supreme Court by Richard Nixon, argued that criticism of and opposition to the US free enterprise system had gone too far and that 'the time had come––indeed it is long overdue––for the wisdom, ingenuity and resources of American business to be marshaled against those who would destroy it'.
Powell argued that individual action was insufficient. 'Strength', he wrote, 'lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations'. The National Chamber of Commerce, he argued, should lead an assault upon the major institutions––universities, schools, the media, publishing, the courts––in order to change how individuals think 'about the corporation, the law, culture, and the individual'. US businesses did not lack resources for such an effort, particularly when they pooled their resources together.
Nov 14, 2017 | www.theguardian.comAs even its harshest critics concede, neoliberalism is hard to pin down. In broad terms, it denotes a preference for markets over government, economic incentives over cultural norms, and private entrepreneurship over collective action. It has been used to describe a wide range of phenomena – from Augusto Pinochet to Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, from the Clinton Democrats and the UK's New Labour to the economic opening in China and the reform of the welfare state in Sweden.
The term is used as a catchall for anything that smacks of deregulation, liberalisation, privatisation or fiscal austerity. Today it is routinely reviled as a shorthand for the ideas and practices that have produced growing economic insecurity and inequality, led to the loss of our political values and ideals, and even precipitated our current populist backlash .
We live in the age of neoliberalism, apparently. But who are neoliberalism's adherents and disseminators – the neoliberals themselves? Oddly, you have to go back a long time to find anyone explicitly embracing neoliberalism. In 1982, Charles Peters, the longtime editor of the political magazine Washington Monthly, published an essay titled A Neo-Liberal's Manifesto . It makes for interesting reading 35 years later, since the neoliberalism it describes bears little resemblance to today's target of derision. The politicians Peters names as exemplifying the movement are not the likes of Thatcher and Reagan, but rather liberals – in the US sense of the word – who have become disillusioned with unions and big government and dropped their prejudices against markets and the military.
The use of the term "neoliberal" exploded in the 1990s, when it became closely associated with two developments, neither of which Peters's article had mentioned. One of these was financial deregulation, which would culminate in the 2008 financial crash and in the still-lingering euro debacle . The second was economic globalisation, which accelerated thanks to free flows of finance and to a new, more ambitious type of trade agreement. Financialisation and globalisation have become the most overt manifestations of neoliberalism in today's world.
That neoliberalism is a slippery, shifting concept, with no explicit lobby of defenders, does not mean that it is irrelevant or unreal. Who can deny that the world has experienced a decisive shift toward markets from the 1980s on? Or that centre-left politicians – Democrats in the US, socialists and social democrats in Europe – enthusiastically adopted some of the central creeds of Thatcherism and Reaganism, such as deregulation, privatisation, financial liberalisation and individual enterprise? Much of our contemporary policy discussion remains infused with principles supposedly grounded in the concept of homo economicus , the perfectly rational human being, found in many economic theories, who always pursues his own self-interest.
But the looseness of the term neoliberalism also means that criticism of it often misses the mark. There is nothing wrong with markets, private entrepreneurship or incentives – when deployed appropriately. Their creative use lies behind the most significant economic achievements of our time. As we heap scorn on neoliberalism, we risk throwing out some of neoliberalism's useful ideas.
The real trouble is that mainstream economics shades too easily into ideology, constraining the choices that we appear to have and providing cookie-cutter solutions. A proper understanding of the economics that lie behind neoliberalism would allow us to identify – and to reject – ideology when it masquerades as economic science. Most importantly, it would help us to develop the institutional imagination we badly need to redesign capitalism for the 21st century.
N eoliberalism is typically understood as being based on key tenets of mainstream economic science. To see those tenets without the ideology, consider this thought experiment. A well-known and highly regarded economist lands in a country he has never visited and knows nothing about. He is brought to a meeting with the country's leading policymakers. "Our country is in trouble," they tell him. "The economy is stagnant, investment is low, and there is no growth in sight." They turn to him expectantly: "Please tell us what we should do to make our economy grow."
The economist pleads ignorance and explains that he knows too little about the country to make any recommendations. He would need to study the history of the economy, to analyse the statistics, and to travel around the country before he could say anything.Facebook Twitter Pinterest Tony Blair and Bill Clinton: centre-left politicians who enthusiastically adopted some of the central creeds of Thatcherism and Reaganism. Photograph: Reuters
But his hosts are insistent. "We understand your reticence, and we wish you had the time for all that," they tell him. "But isn't economics a science, and aren't you one of its most distinguished practitioners? Even though you do not know much about our economy, surely there are some general theories and prescriptions you can share with us to guide our economic policies and reforms."
The economist is now in a bind. He does not want to emulate those economic gurus he has long criticised for peddling their favourite policy advice. But he feels challenged by the question. Are there universal truths in economics? Can he say anything valid or useful?
So he begins. The efficiency with which an economy's resources are allocated is a critical determinant of the economy's performance, he says. Efficiency, in turn, requires aligning the incentives of households and businesses with social costs and benefits. The incentives faced by entrepreneurs, investors and producers are particularly important when it comes to economic growth. Growth needs a system of property rights and contract enforcement that will ensure those who invest can retain the returns on their investments. And the economy must be open to ideas and innovations from the rest of the world.
But economies can be derailed by macroeconomic instability, he goes on. Governments must therefore pursue a sound monetary policy , which means restricting the growth of liquidity to the increase in nominal money demand at reasonable inflation. They must ensure fiscal sustainability, so that the increase in public debt does not outpace national income. And they must carry out prudential regulation of banks and other financial institutions to prevent the financial system from taking excessive risk.
Now he is warming to his task. Economics is not just about efficiency and growth, he adds. Economic principles also carry over to equity and social policy. Economics has little to say about how much redistribution a society should seek. But it does tell us that the tax base should be as broad as possible, and that social programmes should be designed in a way that does not encourage workers to drop out of the labour market.
By the time the economist stops, it appears as if he has laid out a fully fledged neoliberal agenda. A critic in the audience will have heard all the code words: efficiency, incentives, property rights, sound money, fiscal prudence. And yet the universal principles that the economist describes are in fact quite open-ended. They presume a capitalist economy – one in which investment decisions are made by private individuals and firms – but not much beyond that. They allow for – indeed, they require – a surprising variety of institutional arrangements.
So has the economist just delivered a neoliberal screed? We would be mistaken to think so, and our mistake would consist of associating each abstract term – incentives, property rights, sound money – with a particular institutional counterpart. And therein lies the central conceit, and the fatal flaw, of neoliberalism: the belief that first-order economic principles map on to a unique set of policies, approximated by a Thatcher/Reagan-style agenda.
Consider property rights. They matter insofar as they allocate returns on investments. An optimal system would distribute property rights to those who would make the best use of an asset, and afford protection against those most likely to expropriate the returns. Property rights are good when they protect innovators from free riders, but they are bad when they protect them from competition. Depending on the context, a legal regime that provides the appropriate incentives can look quite different from the standard US-style regime of private property rights.
This may seem like a semantic point with little practical import; but China's phenomenal economic success is largely due to its orthodoxy-defying institutional tinkering. China turned to markets, but did not copy western practices in property rights. Its reforms produced market-based incentives through a series of unusual institutional arrangements that were better adapted to the local context. Rather than move directly from state to private ownership, for example, which would have been stymied by the weakness of the prevailing legal structures, the country relied on mixed forms of ownership that provided more effective property rights for entrepreneurs in practice. Township and Village Enterprises (TVEs), which spearheaded Chinese economic growth during the 1980s, were collectives owned and controlled by local governments. Even though TVEs were publicly owned, entrepreneurs received the protection they needed against expropriation. Local governments had a direct stake in the profits of the firms, and hence did not want to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.
China relied on a range of such innovations, each delivering the economist's higher-order economic principles in unfamiliar institutional arrangements. For instance, it shielded its large state sector from global competition, establishing special economic zones where foreign firms could operate with different rules than in the rest of the economy. In view of such departures from orthodox blueprints, describing China's economic reforms as neoliberal – as critics are inclined to do – distorts more than it reveals. If we are to call this neoliberalism, we must surely look more kindly on the ideas behind the most dramatic poverty reduction in history.
One might protest that China's institutional innovations were purely transitional. Perhaps it will have to converge on western-style institutions to sustain its economic progress. But this common line of thinking overlooks the diversity of capitalist arrangements that still prevails among advanced economies, despite the considerable homogenisation of our policy discourse.
What, after all, are western institutions? The size of the public sector in OECD countries varies, from a third of the economy in Korea to nearly 60% in Finland. In Iceland, 86% of workers are members of a trade union; the comparable number in Switzerland is just 16%. In the US, firms can fire workers almost at will; French labour laws have historically required employers to jump through many hoops first. Stock markets have grown to a total value of nearly one-and-a-half times GDP in the US; in Germany, they are only a third as large, equivalent to just 50% of GDP.Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'China turned to markets, but did not copy western practices ... ' Photograph: AFP/Getty
The idea that any one of these models of taxation, labour relations or financial organisation is inherently superior to the others is belied by the varying economic fortunes that each of these economies have experienced over recent decades. The US has gone through successive periods of angst in which its economic institutions were judged inferior to those in Germany, Japan, China, and now possibly Germany again. Certainly, comparable levels of wealth and productivity can be produced under very different models of capitalism. We might even go a step further: today's prevailing models probably come nowhere near exhausting the range of what might be possible, and desirable, in the future.
The visiting economist in our thought experiment knows all this, and recognises that the principles he has enunciated need to be filled in with institutional detail before they become operational. Property rights? Yes, but how? Sound money? Of course, but how? It would perhaps be easier to criticise his list of principles for being vacuous than to denounce it as a neoliberal screed.
Still, these principles are not entirely content-free. China, and indeed all countries that managed to develop rapidly, demonstrate the utility of those principles once they are properly adapted to local context. Conversely, too many economies have been driven to ruin courtesy of political leaders who chose to violate them. We need look no further than Latin American populists or eastern European communist regimes to appreciate the practical significance of sound money, fiscal sustainability and private incentives.
O f course, economics goes beyond a list of abstract, largely common-sense principles. Much of the work of economists consists of developing stylised models of how economies work and then confronting those models with evidence. Economists tend to think of what they do as progressively refining their understanding of the world: their models are supposed to get better and better as they are tested and revised over time. But progress in economics happens differently.
Economists study a social reality that is unlike the physical universe. It is completely manmade, highly malleable and operates according to different rules across time and space. Economics advances not by settling on the right model or theory to answer such questions, but by improving our understanding of the diversity of causal relationships. Neoliberalism and its customary remedies – always more markets, always less government – are in fact a perversion of mainstream economics. Good economists know that the correct answer to any question in economics is: it depends.
Does an increase in the minimum wage depress employment? Yes, if the labour market is really competitive and employers have no control over the wage they must pay to attract workers; but not necessarily otherwise. Does trade liberalisation increase economic growth? Yes, if it increases the profitability of industries where the bulk of investment and innovation takes place; but not otherwise. Does more government spending increase employment? Yes, if there is slack in the economy and wages do not rise; but not otherwise. Does monopoly harm innovation? Yes and no, depending on a whole host of market circumstances.