Softpanorama

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Atomization and oppression of workforce

News Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Recommended Links The neoliberal myth of human capital Audacioues Oligarchy and Loss of Trust Neoliberal rationality Neoliberalism war on organized labor
Scapegoating and victimization of poor and unemployed Destruction of the New Deal Glass-Steagall repeal Think Tanks as Enabler of Neoliberal Coup d'ιtat  Identity politics as diversion of attention from social inequality Identity politics as divide and conquer Class Struggle In The USA
Attack of Think Tanks Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite The Deep State Predator state Lewis Powell Memo The Essential Rules for Dominating Population
New American Militarism Neoconservatism Neo-fashism National Security State Propaganda  Inverted Totalitarism  Totalitarian Decisionism
Neoliberalism and Christianity Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism The Iron Law of Oligarchy Anglican Church on danger of neoliberalism Animal Farm   Neoconservatism as an attack dog of neoliberalism
The Great Betrayal: "Soft" neoliberals as Vichy Left Crowd manipulation Agenda-setting theory Manufacturing Consent Jingoism of the US neoliberal elite Media-Military-Industrial Complex War is Racket
Small government smoke screen "Starving the beast" bait and switcht Bill Clinton, the man who sold Democratic Party to Wall Street and helped FIRE sector to convert the country into casino Over-consumption of Luxury Goods as Market Failure Two Party System American Imperialism, Transnational Capitalist Class and Globalization of Capitalism The Grand Chessboard
Ethno-linguistic and "Cultural" Nationalism as a reaction to Neoliberalism induced decline of standards of living American Exceptionalism Anatol Leiven on American Messianism Machiavellism Skeptic Quotations Humor Etc

Atomization of workforce and establishment of national security state after 9/11 so far prevented large organized collective actions (recent riots were not organized, and with the current technical capabilities of the three letter agencies any organization is difficult or impossible). I think that conversion of the state into national security state was the key factor that saved a couple of the most notorious neoliberals from being hanged on the electrical posts in 2008 although I remember slogan "Jump suckers" on the corner of Wall Street.

But neoliberal attacks on labor and especially organized labor started much earlier with Ronald Reagan and then continued under all subsequent presidents with Bill Clinton doing the bulk of this dirty job. Clinton's creation of the "New labor" (read neoliberal stooges of Wall Street masked as Democratic Party) was based on explicit betrayal or workers (" they have nowhere to go") .  And for several election cycles that was true.

But eventually that changes. Vichy left, represented by "Clintonized" Democratic Party got a crushing defeat in 2016 Presidential elections. Does not mean that Trump is better or less neoliberal, but it does suggest that working class does not trust Democratic Party any longer. 

2008 was the time of the crisis of neoliberal ideology, much like Prague spring signified the crisis of Communist ideology. While there was some level of harassment, individual beatings of banksters in 2008 were non-existent.


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NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

[Dec 12, 2017] Can Uber Ever Deliver Part Eleven Annual Uber Losses Now Approaching $5 Billion

Notable quotes:
"... Total 2015 gross passenger payments were 200% higher than 2014, but Uber corporate revenue improved 300% because Uber cut the driver share of passenger revenue from 83% to 77%. This was an effective $500 million wealth transfer from drivers to Uber's investors. ..."
"... Uber's P&L gains were wiped out by higher non-EBIDTAR expense. Thus the 300% Uber revenue growth did not result in any improvement in Uber profit margins. ..."
"... In 2016, Uber unilaterally imposed much larger cuts in driver compensation, costing drivers an additional $3 billion. [6] Prior to Uber's market entry, the take home pay of big-city cab drivers in the US was in the $12-17/hour range, and these earnings were possible only if drivers worked 65-75 hours a week. ..."
"... An independent study of the net earnings of Uber drivers (after accounting for the costs of the vehicles they had to provide) in Denver, Houston and Detroit in late 2015 (prior to Uber's big 2016 cuts) found that driver earnings had fallen to the $10-13/hour range. [7] Multiple recent news reports have documented how Uber drivers are increasing unable to support themselves from their reduced share of passenger payments. [8] ..."
"... Since mass driver defections would cause passenger volume growth to collapse completely, Uber was forced to reverse these cuts in 2017 and increased the driver share from 68% to 80%. This meant that Uber's corporate revenue, which had grown over 300% in 2015 and over 200% in 2016 will probably only grow by about 15% in 2017. ..."
"... Socialize the losses, privatize the gains, VC-ize the subsidies. ..."
"... The cold hard truth is that Uber is backed into a corner with severely limited abilities to tweak the numbers on either the supply or the demand side: cut driver compensation and they trigger driver churn (as has already been demonstrated), increase fare prices for riders and riders defect to cheaper alternatives. ..."
"... "Growth and Efficiency" are the sine qua non of Neoliberalism. Kalanick's "hype brilliance" was to con the market with "revenue growth" and signs ..."
Dec 12, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Uber lost $2.5 billion in 2015, probably lost $4 billion in 2016, and is on track to lose $5 billion in 2017.

The top line on the table below shows is total passenger payments, which must be split between Uber corporate and its drivers. Driver gross earnings are substantially higher than actual take home pay, as gross earning must cover all the expenses drivers bear, including fuel, vehicle ownership, insurance and maintenance.

Most of the "profit" data released by Uber over time and discussed in the press is not true GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) profit comparable to the net income numbers public companies publish but is EBIDTAR contribution. Companies have significant leeway as to how they calculate EBIDTAR (although it would exclude interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization) and the percentage of total costs excluded from EBIDTAR can vary significantly from quarter to quarter, given the impact of one-time expenses such as legal settlements and stock compensation. We only have true GAAP net profit results for 2014, 2015 and the 2nd/3rd quarters of 2017, but have EBIDTAR contribution numbers for all other periods. [5]

Uber had GAAP net income of negative $2.6 billion in 2015, and a negative profit margin of 132%. This is consistent with the negative $2.0 billion loss and (143%) margin for the year ending September 2015 presented in part one of the NC Uber series over a year ago.

No GAAP profit results for 2016 have been disclosed, but actual losses likely exceed $4 billion given the EBIDTAR contribution of negative $3.2 billion. Uber's GAAP losses for the 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2017 were over $2.5 billion, suggesting annual losses of roughly $5 billion.

While many Silicon Valley funded startups suffered large initial losses, none of them lost anything remotely close to $2.6 billion in their sixth year of operation and then doubled their losses to $5 billion in year eight. Reversing losses of this magnitude would require the greatest corporate financial turnaround in history.

No evidence of significant efficiency/scale gains; 2015 and 2016 margin improvements entirely explained by unilateral cuts in driver compensation, but losses soared when Uber had to reverse these cuts in 2017.

Total 2015 gross passenger payments were 200% higher than 2014, but Uber corporate revenue improved 300% because Uber cut the driver share of passenger revenue from 83% to 77%. This was an effective $500 million wealth transfer from drivers to Uber's investors. These driver compensation cuts improved Uber's EBIDTAR margin, but Uber's P&L gains were wiped out by higher non-EBIDTAR expense. Thus the 300% Uber revenue growth did not result in any improvement in Uber profit margins.

In 2016, Uber unilaterally imposed much larger cuts in driver compensation, costing drivers an additional $3 billion. [6] Prior to Uber's market entry, the take home pay of big-city cab drivers in the US was in the $12-17/hour range, and these earnings were possible only if drivers worked 65-75 hours a week.

An independent study of the net earnings of Uber drivers (after accounting for the costs of the vehicles they had to provide) in Denver, Houston and Detroit in late 2015 (prior to Uber's big 2016 cuts) found that driver earnings had fallen to the $10-13/hour range. [7] Multiple recent news reports have documented how Uber drivers are increasing unable to support themselves from their reduced share of passenger payments. [8]

A business model where profit improvement is hugely dependent on wage cuts is unsustainable, especially when take home wages fall to (or below) minimum wage levels. Uber's primary focus has always been the rate of growth in gross passenger revenue, as this has been a major justification for its $68 billion valuation. This growth rate came under enormous pressure in 2017 given Uber efforts to raise fares, major increases in driver turnover as wages fell, [9] and the avalanche of adverse publicity it was facing.

Since mass driver defections would cause passenger volume growth to collapse completely, Uber was forced to reverse these cuts in 2017 and increased the driver share from 68% to 80%. This meant that Uber's corporate revenue, which had grown over 300% in 2015 and over 200% in 2016 will probably only grow by about 15% in 2017.

MKS , December 12, 2017 at 6:19 am

"Uber's business model can never produce sustainable profits"

Two words not in my vocabulary are "Never" and "Always", that is a pretty absolute statement in an non-absolute environment. The same environment that has produced the "Silicon Valley Growth Model", with 15x earnings companies like NVIDA, FB and Tesla (Average earnings/stock price ratio in dot com bubble was 10x) will people pay ridiculous amounts of money for a company with no underlying fundamentals you damn right they will! Please stop with the I know all no body knows anything, especially the psychology and irrationality of markets which are made up of irrational people/investors/traders.

JohnnySacks , December 12, 2017 at 7:34 am

My thoughts exactly. Seems the only possible recovery for the investors is a perfectly engineered legendary pump and dump IPO scheme. Risky, but there's a lot of fools out there and many who would also like to get on board early in the ride in fear of missing out on all the money to be hoovered up from the greater fools. Count me out.

SoCal Rhino , December 12, 2017 at 8:30 am

The author clearly distinguishes between GAAP profitability and valuations, which is after all rather the point of the series. And he makes a more nuanced point than the half sentence you have quoted without context or with an indication that you omitted a portion. Did you miss the part about how Uber would have a strong incentive to share the evidence of a network effect or other financial story that pointed the way to eventual profit? Otherwise (my words) it is the classic sell at a loss, make it up with volume path to liquidation.

tegnost , December 12, 2017 at 9:52 am

apples and oranges comparison, nvidia has lots and lots of patented tech that produces revenue, facebook has a kajillion admittedly irrational users, but those users drive massive ad sales (as just one example of how that company capitalizes itself) and tesla makes an actual car, using technology that inspires it's buyers (the put your money where your mouth is crowd and it can't be denied that tesla, whatever it's faults are, battery tech is not one of them and that intellectual property is worth a lot, and tesla's investors are in on that real business, profitable or otherwise)

Uber is an iphone app. They lose money and have no path to profitability (unless it's the theory you espouse that people are unintelligent so even unintelligent ideas work to fleece them). This article touches on one of the great things about the time we now inhabit, uber drivers could bail en masse, there are two sides to the low attachment employees who you can get rid of easily. The drivers can delete the uber app as soon as another iphone app comes along that gets them a better return

allan , December 12, 2017 at 6:52 am

Yet another source (unintended) of subsidies for Uber, Lyft, etc., which might or might not have been mentioned earlier in the series:

Airports Are Losing Money as Ride-Hailing Services Grow [NYT]

For many air travelers, getting to and from the airport has long been part of the whole miserable experience. Do they drive and park in some distant lot? Take mass transit or a taxi? Deal with a rental car?

Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft are quickly changing those calculations. That has meant a bit less angst for travelers.

But that's not the case for airports. Travelers' changing habits, in fact, have begun to shake the airports' financial underpinnings. The money they currently collect from ride-hailing services do not compensate for the lower revenues from the other sources.

At the same time, some airports have had to add staff to oversee the operations of the ride-hailing companies, the report said. And with more ride-hailing vehicles on the roads outside terminals,
there's more congestion.

Socialize the losses, privatize the gains, VC-ize the subsidies.

Thuto , December 12, 2017 at 6:55 am

The cold hard truth is that Uber is backed into a corner with severely limited abilities to tweak the numbers on either the supply or the demand side: cut driver compensation and they trigger driver churn (as has already been demonstrated), increase fare prices for riders and riders defect to cheaper alternatives. The only question is how long can they keep the show going before the lights go out, slick marketing and propaganda can only take you so far, and one assumes the dumb money has a finite supply of patience and will at some point begin asking the tough questions.

Louis Fyne , December 12, 2017 at 8:35 am

The irony is that Uber would have been a perfectly fine, very profitable mid-sized company if Uber stuck with its initial model -- sticking to dense cities with limited parking, limiting driver supply, and charging a premium price for door-to-door delivery, whether by livery or a regular sedan. And then perhaps branching into robo-cars.

But somehow Uber/board/Travis got suckered into the siren call of self-driving cars, triple-digit user growth, and being in the top 100 US cities and on every continent.

Thuto , December 12, 2017 at 11:30 am

I've shared a similar sentiment in one of the previous posts about Uber. But operating profitably in decent sized niche doesn't fit well with ambitions of global domination. For Uber to be "right-sized", an admission of folly would have to be made, its managers and investors would have to transcend the sunk cost fallacy in their strategic decision making, and said investors would have to accept massive hits on their invested capital. The cold, hard reality of being blindsided and kicked to the curb in the smartphone business forced RIM/Blackberry to right-size, and they may yet have a profitable future as an enterprise facing software and services company. Uber would benefit from that form of sober mindedness, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

David Carl Grimes , December 12, 2017 at 6:57 am

The question is: Why did Softbank invest in Uber?

Michael Fiorillo , December 12, 2017 at 9:33 am

I know nothing about Softbank or its management, but I do know that the Japanese were the dumb money rubes in the late '80's, overpaying for trophy real estate they lost billions on.

Until informed otherwise, that's my default assumption

JimTan , December 12, 2017 at 10:50 am

Softbank possibly looking to buy more Uber shares at a 30% discount is very odd. Uber had a Series G funding round in June 2016 where a $3.5 billion investment from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund resulted in its current $68 billion valuation. Now apparently Softbank wants to lead a new $6 billion funding round to buy the shares of Uber employees and early investors at a 30% discount from this last "valuation". It's odd because Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund has pledged $45 billion to SoftBank's Vision Fund , an amount which was supposed to come from the proceeds of its pending Aramco IPO. If the Uber bid is linked to SoftBank's Vision Fund, or KSA money, then its not clear why this investor might be looking to literally 'double down' from $3.5 billion o $6 billion on a declining investment.

Yves Smith Post author , December 12, 2017 at 11:38 am

SoftBank has not yet invested. Its tender is still open. If it does not get enough shares at a price it likes, it won't invest.

As to why, I have no idea.

Robert McGregor , December 12, 2017 at 7:04 am

"Growth and Efficiency" are the sine qua non of Neoliberalism. Kalanick's "hype brilliance" was to con the market with "revenue growth" and signs of efficiency, and hopes of greater efficiency, and make most people just overlook the essential fact that Uber is the most unprofitable company of all time!

divadab , December 12, 2017 at 7:19 am

What comprises "Uber Expenses"? 2014 – $1.06 billion; 2015 $3.33 billion; 2016 $9.65 billion; forecast 2017 $11.418 billion!!!!!! To me this is the big question – what are they spending $10 billion per year on?

ALso – why did driver share go from 68% in 2016 to 80% in 2017? If you use 68% as in 2016, 2017 Uber revenue is $11.808 billion, which means a bit better than break-even EBITDA, assuming Uber expenses are as stated $11.428 billion.

Perhaps not so bleak as the article presents, although I would not invest in this thing.

Phil in Kansas City , December 12, 2017 at 7:55 am

I have the same question: What comprises over 11 billion dollars in expenses in 2017? Could it be they are paying out dividends to the early investors? Which would mean they are cannibalizing their own company for the sake of the VC! How long can this go on before they'll need a new infusion of cash?

lyman alpha blob , December 12, 2017 at 2:37 pm

The Saudis have thrown a few billion Uber's way and they aren't necessarily known as the smart money.

Maybe the pole dancers have started chipping in too as they are for bitcoin .

Vedant Desai , December 12, 2017 at 10:37 am

Oh article does answer your 2nd question. Read this paragraph:-

Since mass driver defections would cause passenger volume growth to collapse completely , Uber was forced to reverse these cuts in 2017 and increased the driver share from 68% to 80%. This meant that Uber's corporate revenue, which had grown over 300% in 2015 and over 200% in 2016 will probably only grow by about 15% in 2017.

As for the 1st, read this line in the article:-

There are undoubtedly a number of things Uber could do to reduce losses at the margin, but it is difficult to imagine it could suddenly find the $4-5 billion in profit improvement needed merely to reach breakeven.

Louis Fyne , December 12, 2017 at 8:44 am

in addition to all the points listed in the article/comments, the absolute biggest flaw with Uber is that Uber HQ conditioned its customers on (a) cheap fares and (b) that a car is available within minutes (1-5 if in a big city).

Those two are not mutually compatible in the long-term.

Alfred , December 12, 2017 at 9:49 am

Thus (a) "We cost less" and (b) "We're more convenient" -- aren't those also the advantages that Walmart claims and feeds as a steady diet to its ever hungry consumers? Often if not always, disruption may repose upon delusion.

Martin Finnucane , December 12, 2017 at 11:06 am

Uber's business model could never produce sustainable profits unless it was able to exploit significant anti-competitive market power.

Upon that dependent clause hangs the future of capitalism, and – dare I say it? – its inevitable demise.

Altandmain , December 12, 2017 at 11:09 am

When this Uber madness blows up, I wonder if people will finally begin to discuss the brutal reality of Silicon Valley's so called "disruption".

It is heavily built in around the idea of economic exploitation. Uber drivers are often, especially when the true costs to operate an Uber including the vehicle depreciation are factored in, making not very much per hour driven, especially if they don't get the surge money.

Instacart is another example. They are paying the deliver operators very little.

Jim A. , December 12, 2017 at 12:21 pm

At a fundamental level, I think that the Silicon Valley "disruption" model only works for markets (like software) where the marginal cost for production is de minimus and the products can be protected by IP laws. Volume and market power really work in those cases. But out here in meat-space, where actual material and labor are big inputs to each item sold, you can never just sit back on your laurels and rake in the money. Somebody else will always be able to come and and make an equivalent product. If they can do it more cheaply, you are in trouble.

Altandmain , December 12, 2017 at 5:40 pm

There aren't that many areas in goods and services where the marginal costs are very low.

Software is actually quite unique in that regard, costing merely the bandwidth and permanent storage space to store.

Let's see:

1. From the article, they cannot go public and have limited ways to raise more money. An IPO with its more stringent disclosure requirements would expose them.

2. They tried lowering driver compensation and found that model unsustainable.

3. There are no benefits to expanding in terms of economies of scale.

From where I am standing, it looks like a lot of industries gave similar barriers. Silicon Valley is not going to be able to disrupt those.

Tesla, another Silicon Valley company seems to be struggling to mass produce its Model 3 and deliver an electric car that breaks even, is reliable, while disrupting the industry in the ways that Elon Musk attempted to hype up.

So that basically leaves services and manufacturing out for Silicon Valley disruption.

Joe Bentzel , December 12, 2017 at 2:19 pm

UBER has become a "too big to fail" startup because of all the different tentacles of capital from various Tier 1 VCs and investment bankers.

VCs have admitted openly that UBER is a subsidized business, meaning it's product is sold below market value, and the losses reflect that subsidization. The whole "2 sided platform" argument is just marketecture to hustle more investors. It's a form of service "dumping" that puts legacy businesses into bankruptcy. Back during the dotcom bubble one popular investment banker (Paul Deninger) characterized this model as "Terrorist Competition", i.e. coffers full of invested cash to commoditize the market and drive out competition.

UBER is an absolute disaster that has forked the startup model in Silicon Valley in order to drive total dependence on venture capital by founders. And its current diversification into "autonomous vehicles", food delivery, et al are simply more evidence that the company will never be profitable due to its whacky "blitzscaling" approach of layering on new "businesses" prior to achieving "fit" in its current one.

It's economic model has also metastasized into a form of startup cancer that is killing Silicon Valley as a "technology" innovator. Now it's all cargo cult marketing BS tied to "strategic capital".

UBER is the victory of venture capital and user subsidized startups over creativity by real entrepreneurs.

It's shadow is long and that's why this company should be ..wait for it UNBUNDLED (the new silicon valley word attached to that other BS religion called "disruption"). Call it a great unbundling and you can break up this monster corp any way you want.

Naked Capitalism is a great website.

Phil in KC , December 12, 2017 at 3:20 pm

1. I Agree with your last point.

2. The elevator pitch for Uber: subsidize rides to attract customers, put the competition out of business, and then enjoy an unregulated monopoly, all while exploiting economically ignorant drivers–ahem–"partners."

3. But more than one can play that game, and

4. Cab and livery companies are finding ways to survive!

Phil in KC , December 12, 2017 at 3:10 pm

If subsidizing rides is counted as an expense, (not being an accountant, I would guess it so), then whether the subsidy goes to the driver or the passenger, that would account for the ballooning expenses, to answer my own question. Otherwise, the overhead for operating what Uber describes as a tech company should be minimal: A billion should fund a decent headquarters with staff, plus field offices in, say, 100 U.S. cities. However, their global pretensions are probably burning cash like crazy. On top of that, I wonder what the exec compensation is like?

After reading HH's initial series, I made a crude, back-of-the-envelope calculation that Uber would run out of money sometime in the third fiscal quarter of 2018, but that was based on assuming losses were stabilizing in the range of 3 billion a year. Not so, according to the article. I think crunch time is rapidly approaching. If so, then SoftBank's tender offer may look quite appetizing to VC firms and to any Uber employee able to cash in their options. I think there is a way to make a re-envisioned Uber profitable, and with a more independent board, they may be able to restructure the company to show a pathway to profitability before the IPO. But time is running out.

A not insignificant question is the recruitment and retention of the front line "partners." It would seem to me that at some point, Uber will run out of economically ignorant drivers with good manners and nice cars. I would be very interested to know how many drivers give up Uber and other ride-sharing gigs once the 1099's start flying at the beginning of the year. One of the harsh realities of owning a business or being an contractor is the humble fact that you get paid LAST!

Jan Stickle , December 12, 2017 at 5:00 pm

We became instant Uber riders while spending holidays with relatives in San Diego. While their model is indeed unique from a rider perspective, it was the driver pool that fascinates me. These are not professional livery drivers, but rather freebooters of all stripes driving for various reasons. The remuneration they receive cannot possibly generate much income after expenses, never mind the problems associated with IRS filing as independent contractors.

One guy was just cruising listening to music; cooler to get paid for it than just sitting home! A young lady was babbling and gesticulating non stop about nothing coherent and appeared to be on some sort of stimulant. A foreign gentleman, very professional, drove for extra money when not at his regular job. He was the only one who had actually bought a new Prius for this gig, hoping to pay it off in two years.

This is indeed a brave new world. There was a period in Nicaragua just after the Contra war ended when citizens emerged from their homes and hit the streets in large numbers, desperately looking for income. Every car was a taxi and there was a bipedal mini Walmart at every city intersection as individuals sold everything and anything in a sort of euphoric optimism towards the future. Reality just hadn't caught up with them yet .

[Dec 03, 2017] Business Has Killed IT With Overspecialization by Charlie Schluting

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... What happened to the old "sysadmin" of just a few years ago? We've split what used to be the sysadmin into application teams, server teams, storage teams, and network teams. There were often at least a few people, the holders of knowledge, who knew how everything worked, and I mean everything. ..."
"... Now look at what we've done. Knowledge is so decentralized we must invent new roles to act as liaisons between all the IT groups. Architects now hold much of the high-level "how it works" knowledge, but without knowing how any one piece actually does work. In organizations with more than a few hundred IT staff and developers, it becomes nearly impossible for one person to do and know everything. This movement toward specializing in individual areas seems almost natural. That, however, does not provide a free ticket for people to turn a blind eye. ..."
"... Does your IT department function as a unit? Even 20-person IT shops have turf wars, so the answer is very likely, "no." As teams are split into more and more distinct operating units, grouping occurs. One IT budget gets split between all these groups. Often each group will have a manager who pitches his needs to upper management in hopes they will realize how important the team is. ..."
"... The "us vs. them" mentality manifests itself at all levels, and it's reinforced by management having to define each team's worth in the form of a budget. One strategy is to illustrate a doomsday scenario. If you paint a bleak enough picture, you may get more funding. Only if you are careful enough to illustrate the failings are due to lack of capital resources, not management or people. A manager of another group may explain that they are not receiving the correct level of service, so they need to duplicate the efforts of another group and just implement something themselves. On and on, the arguments continue. ..."
Apr 07, 2010 | Enterprise Networking Planet

What happened to the old "sysadmin" of just a few years ago? We've split what used to be the sysadmin into application teams, server teams, storage teams, and network teams. There were often at least a few people, the holders of knowledge, who knew how everything worked, and I mean everything. Every application, every piece of network gear, and how every server was configured -- these people could save a business in times of disaster.

Now look at what we've done. Knowledge is so decentralized we must invent new roles to act as liaisons between all the IT groups. Architects now hold much of the high-level "how it works" knowledge, but without knowing how any one piece actually does work. In organizations with more than a few hundred IT staff and developers, it becomes nearly impossible for one person to do and know everything. This movement toward specializing in individual areas seems almost natural. That, however, does not provide a free ticket for people to turn a blind eye.

Specialization

You know the story: Company installs new application, nobody understands it yet, so an expert is hired. Often, the person with a certification in using the new application only really knows how to run that application. Perhaps they aren't interested in learning anything else, because their skill is in high demand right now. And besides, everything else in the infrastructure is run by people who specialize in those elements. Everything is taken care of.

Except, how do these teams communicate when changes need to take place? Are the storage administrators teaching the Windows administrators about storage multipathing; or worse logging in and setting it up because it's faster for the storage gurus to do it themselves? A fundamental level of knowledge is often lacking, which makes it very difficult for teams to brainstorm about new ways evolve IT services. The business environment has made it OK for IT staffers to specialize and only learn one thing.

If you hire someone certified in the application, operating system, or network vendor you use, that is precisely what you get. Certifications may be a nice filter to quickly identify who has direct knowledge in the area you're hiring for, but often they indicate specialization or compensation for lack of experience.

Resource Competition

Does your IT department function as a unit? Even 20-person IT shops have turf wars, so the answer is very likely, "no." As teams are split into more and more distinct operating units, grouping occurs. One IT budget gets split between all these groups. Often each group will have a manager who pitches his needs to upper management in hopes they will realize how important the team is.

The "us vs. them" mentality manifests itself at all levels, and it's reinforced by management having to define each team's worth in the form of a budget. One strategy is to illustrate a doomsday scenario. If you paint a bleak enough picture, you may get more funding. Only if you are careful enough to illustrate the failings are due to lack of capital resources, not management or people. A manager of another group may explain that they are not receiving the correct level of service, so they need to duplicate the efforts of another group and just implement something themselves. On and on, the arguments continue.

Most often, I've seen competition between server groups result in horribly inefficient uses of hardware. For example, what happens in your organization when one team needs more server hardware? Assume that another team has five unused servers sitting in a blade chassis. Does the answer change? No, it does not. Even in test environments, sharing doesn't often happen between IT groups.

With virtualization, some aspects of resource competition get better and some remain the same. When first implemented, most groups will be running their own type of virtualization for their platform. The next step, I've most often seen, is for test servers to get virtualized. If a new group is formed to manage the virtualization infrastructure, virtual machines can be allocated to various application and server teams from a central pool and everyone is now sharing. Or, they begin sharing and then demand their own physical hardware to be isolated from others' resource hungry utilization. This is nonetheless a step in the right direction. Auto migration and guaranteed resource policies can go a long way toward making shared infrastructure, even between competing groups, a viable option.

Blamestorming

The most damaging side effect of splitting into too many distinct IT groups is the reinforcement of an "us versus them" mentality. Aside from the notion that specialization creates a lack of knowledge, blamestorming is what this article is really about. When a project is delayed, it is all too easy to blame another group. The SAN people didn't allocate storage on time, so another team was delayed. That is the timeline of the project, so all work halted until that hiccup was restored. Having someone else to blame when things get delayed makes it all too easy to simply stop working for a while.

More related to the initial points at the beginning of this article, perhaps, is the blamestorm that happens after a system outage.

Say an ERP system becomes unresponsive a few times throughout the day. The application team says it's just slowing down, and they don't know why. The network team says everything is fine. The server team says the application is "blocking on IO," which means it's a SAN issue. The SAN team say there is nothing wrong, and other applications on the same devices are fine. You've ran through nearly every team, but without an answer still. The SAN people don't have access to the application servers to help diagnose the problem. The server team doesn't even know how the application runs.

See the problem? Specialized teams are distinct and by nature adversarial. Specialized staffers often relegate themselves into a niche knowing that as long as they continue working at large enough companies, "someone else" will take care of all the other pieces.

I unfortunately don't have an answer to this problem. Maybe rotating employees between departments will help. They gain knowledge and also get to know other people, which should lessen the propensity to view them as outsiders

[Nov 28, 2017] The Stigmatization of the Unemployed

"This overly narrow hiring spec then leads to absurd, widespread complaint that companies can't find people with the right skills" . In the IT job markets such postings are often called purple squirrels
Notable quotes:
"... In particular, there seems to be an extremely popular variant of the above where the starting proposition "God makes moral people rich" is improperly converted to "Rich people are more moral" which is then readily negated to "Poor people are immoral" and then expanded to "Poor people are immoral, thus they DESERVE to suffer for it". It's essentially the theological equivalent of dividing by zero ..."
"... That said, the ranks of the neoliberals are not small. They constitute what Jonathan Schell calls a "mass minority." I suspect the neoliberals have about the same level of popular support that the Nazis did at the time of their takeover of Germany in 1932, or the Bolsheviks had in Russia at the time of their takeover in 1917, which is about 20 or 25% of the total population. ..."
"... The ranks of the neoliberals are made to appear far greater than they really are because they have all but exclusive access to the nation's megaphone. The Tea Party can muster a handful of people to disrupt a town hall meeting and it gets coast to coast, primetime coverage. But let a million people protest against bank bailouts, and it is ignored. Thus, by manipulation of the media, the mass minority is made to appear to be much larger than it really is. ..."
Mar 20, 2011 | naked capitalism

Spencer Thomas:

Very good post. Thank you.

Over the past three decades, large parts of our culture here in the US have internalized the lessons of the new Social Darwinism, with a significant body of literature to explain and justify it. Many of us have internalized, without even realizing it, the ideas of "dog eat dog", "every man for himself", "society should be structured like the animal kingdom, where the weak and sick simply die because they cannot compete, and this is healthy", and "everything that happens to you is your own fault. There is no such thing as circumstance that cannot be overcome, and certainly no birth lottery."

The levers pulled by politicians and the Fed put these things into practice, but even if we managed get different (better) politicians or Fed chairmen, ones who weren't steeped in this culture and ideology, we'd still be left with the culture in the population at large, and things like the "unemployed stigma" are likely to die very, very hard. Acceptance of the "just-world phenomenon" here in the US runs deep.

perfect stranger:

"Religion is just as vulnerable to corporate capture as is the government or the academy."

This is rather rhetorical statement, and wrong one. One need to discern spiritual aspect of religion from the religion as a tool.

Religion, as is structured, is complicit: in empoverishment, obedience, people's preconditioning, and legislative enabler in the institutions such as Supreme – and non-supreme – Court(s). It is a form of PR of the ruling class for the governing class.

DownSouth:

perfect stranger,

Religion, just like human nature, is not that easy to put in a box.

For every example you can cite where religion "is complicit: in empoverishment, obedience, people's preconditioning, and legislative enabler in the institution," I can point to an example of where religion engendered a liberating, emancipatory and revolutionary spirit.

Examples:

•Early Christianity •Nominalism •Early Protestantism •Gandhi •Martin Luther King

Now granted, there don't seem to be any recent examples of this of any note, unless we consider Chris Hedges a religionist, which I'm not sure we can do. Would it be appropriate to consider Hedges a religionist?

perfect stranger:

Yes, that maybe, just maybe be the case in early stages of forming new religion(s). In case of Christianity old rulers from Rome were trying to save own head/throne and the S.P.Q.R. imperia by adopting new religion.

You use examples of Gandhi and MLK which is highly questionable both were fighters for independence and the second, civil rights. In a word: not members of establishment just as I said there were (probably) seeing the religion as spiritual force not tool of enslavement.

Matt:

This link may provide some context:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosperity_theology

In particular, there seems to be an extremely popular variant of the above where the starting proposition "God makes moral people rich" is improperly converted to "Rich people are more moral" which is then readily negated to "Poor people are immoral" and then expanded to "Poor people are immoral, thus they DESERVE to suffer for it". It's essentially the theological equivalent of dividing by zero

DownSouth:

Rex,

I agree.

Poll after poll after poll has shown that a majority of Americans, and a rather significant majority, reject the values, attitudes, beliefs and opinions proselytized by the stealth religion we call "neoclassical economics."

That said, the ranks of the neoliberals are not small. They constitute what Jonathan Schell calls a "mass minority." I suspect the neoliberals have about the same level of popular support that the Nazis did at the time of their takeover of Germany in 1932, or the Bolsheviks had in Russia at the time of their takeover in 1917, which is about 20 or 25% of the total population.

The ranks of the neoliberals are made to appear far greater than they really are because they have all but exclusive access to the nation's megaphone. The Tea Party can muster a handful of people to disrupt a town hall meeting and it gets coast to coast, primetime coverage. But let a million people protest against bank bailouts, and it is ignored. Thus, by manipulation of the media, the mass minority is made to appear to be much larger than it really is.

The politicians love this, because as they carry water for their pet corporations, they can point to the Tea Partiers and say: "See what a huge upwelling of popular support I am responding to."

JTFaraday:

Well, if that's true, then the unemployed are employable but the mass mediated mentality would like them to believe they are literally and inherently unemployable so that they underestimate and under-sell themselves.

This is as much to the benefit of those who would like to pick up "damaged goods" on the cheap as those who promote the unemployment problem as one that inheres in prospective employees rather than one that is a byproduct of a bad job market lest someone be tempted to think we should address it politically.

That's where I see this blame the unemployed finger pointing really getting traction these days.

attempter:

I apologize for the fact that I only read the first few paragraphs of this before quitting in disgust.

I just can no longer abide the notion that "labor" can ever be seen by human beings as a "cost" at all. We really need to refuse to even tolerate that way of phrasing things. Workers create all wealth. Parasites have no right to exist. These are facts, and we should refuse to let argument range beyond them.

The only purpose of civilization is to provide a better way of living and for all people. This includes the right and full opportunity to work and manage for oneself and/or as a cooperative group. If civilization doesn't do that, we're better off without it.

psychohistorian:

I am one of those long term unemployed.

I suppose my biggest employment claim would be as some sort of IT techie, with numerous supply chain systems and component design, development, implementation, interfaces with other systems and ongoing support. CCNP certification and a history of techiedom going back to WEYCOS.

I have a patent (6,209,954) in my name and 12+ years of beating my head against the wall in an industry that buys compliance with the "there is no problem here, move on now" approach.

Hell, I was a junior woodchuck program administrator back in the early 70's working for the Office of the Governor of the state of Washington on CETA PSE or Public Service Employment. The office of the Governor ran the PSE program for 32 of the 39 counties in the state that were not big enough to run their own. I helped organize the project approval process in all those counties to hire folk at ( if memory serves me max of $833/mo.) to fix and expand parks and provide social and other government services as defined projects with end dates. If we didn't have the anti-public congress and other government leadership we have this could be a current component in a rational labor policy but I digress.

I have experience in the construction trades mostly as carpenter but some electrical, plumbing, HVAC, etc. also.

So, of course there is some sort of character flaw that is keeping me and all those others from employment ..right. I may have more of an excuse than others, have paid into SS for 45 years but still would work if it was available ..taking work away from other who may need it more .why set up a society where we have to compete as such for mere existence???????

One more face to this rant. We need government by the people and for the people which we do not have now. Good, public focused, not corporate focused government is bigger than any entities that exist under its jurisdiction and is kept updated by required public participation in elections and potentially other things like military, peace corps, etc. in exchange for advanced education. I say this as someone who has worked at various levels in both the public and private sectors there are ignorant and misguided folks everywhere. At least with ongoing active participation there is a chance that government would, once constructed, be able to evolve as needed within public focus .IMO.

Ishmael:

Some people would say I have been unemployed for 10 years. In 2000 after losing the last of my four CFO gigs for public companies I found it necessary to start consulting. This has lead to two of my three biggest winning years. I am usually consulting on cutting edge area of my profession and many times have large staffs reporting to me that I bring on board to get jobs done. For several years I subcontacted to a large international consulting firm to clean up projects which went wrong. Let me give some insight here.

  1. First, most good positions have gate keepers who are professional recruiters. It is near impossible to get by them and if you are unemployed they will hardly talk to you. One time talking to a recruiter at Korn Fery I was interviewing for a job I have done several times in an industry I have worked in several times. She made a statement that I had never worked at a well known company. I just about fell out of my chair laughing. At one time I was a senior level executive for the largest consulting firm in the world and lived on three continents and worked with companies on six. In addition, I had held senior positions for 2 fortune 500 firms and was the CFO for a company with $4.5 billion in revenue. I am well known at several PE firms and the founder of one of the largest mentioned in a meeting that one of his great mistakes was not investing in a very successful LBO (return of in excess of 20 multiple to investors in 18 months) I was the CFO for. In a word most recruiters are incompetent.
  2. Second, most CEO's any more are just insecure politicians. One time during an interview I had a CEO asked me to talk about some accomplishments. I was not paying to much attention as I rattled off accomplishments and the CEO went nuclear and started yelling at me that he did not know where I thought I was going with this job but the only position above the CFO job was his and he was not going anywhere. I assured him I was only interested in the CFO position and not his, but I knew the job was over. Twice feed back that I got from recruiters which they took at criticism was the "client said I seemed very assured of myself."
  3. Third, government, banking, business and the top MBA schools are based upon lying to move forward. I remember a top human resource executive telling me right before Enron, MCI and Sarbanes Oxley that I needed to learn to be more flexible. My response was that flexibility would get me an orange jump suit. Don't get me wrong, I have a wide grey zone, but it use to be in business the looked for people who could identify problems early and resolve them. Now days I see far more of a demand for people who can come up with PR spins to hide them. An attorney/treasurer consultant who partnered with me on a number of consulting jobs told me some one called me "not very charming." He said he asked what that meant, and the person who said that said, "Ish walks into a meeting and within 10 minutes he is asking about the 10,000 pound guerilla sitting in the room that no one wants to talk about." CEO do not want any challenges in their organization.
  4. Fourth, three above has lead to the hiring of very young and inexperienced people at senior levels. These people are insecure and do not want more senior and experienced people above them and than has resulted in people older than 45 not finding positions.
  5. Fifth, people are considered expendable and are fired for the lamest reasons anymore. A partner at one of the larger and more prestigious recruiting firms one time told me, "If you have a good consulting business, just stick with it. Our average placement does not last 18 months any more." Another well known recruiter in S. Cal. one time commented to me, "Your average consulting gig runs longer than our average placement."

With all of that said, I have a hard time understanding such statements as "@attempter "Workers create all wealth. Parasites have no right to exist." What does that mean? Every worker creates wealth. There is no difference in people. Sounds like communism to me. I make a good living and my net worth has grown working for myself. I have never had a consulting gig terminated by the client but I have terminated several. Usually, I am brought in to fix what several other people have failed at. I deliver basically intellectual properties to companies. Does that mean I am not a worker. I do not usually lift anything heavy or move equipment but I tell people what and where to do it so does that make me a parasite.

Those people who think everyone is equal and everyone deserves equal pay are fools or lazy. My rate is high, but what usually starts as short term projects usually run 6 months or more because companies find I can do so much more than what most of their staff can do and I am not a threat.

I would again like to have a senior challenging role at a decent size company but due to the reasons above will probably never get one. However, you can never tell. I am currently consulting for a midsize very profitable company (grew 400% last year) where I am twice the age of most people there, but everyone speaks to me with respect so you can never tell.

Lidia:

Ishmael, you're quite right. When I showed my Italian husband's resume to try and "network" in the US, my IT friends assumed he was lying about his skills and work history.

Contemporaneously, in Italy it is impossible to get a job because of incentives to hire "youth". Age discrimination is not illegal, so it's quite common to see ads that ask for a programmer under 30 with 5 years of experience in COBOL (the purple squirrel).

Hosswire

Some good points about the foolishness of recruiters, but a great deal of that foolishness is forced by the clients themselves. I used to be a recruiter myself, including at Korn Ferry in Southern California. I described the recruiting industry as "yet more proof that God hates poor people" because my job was to ignore resumes from people seeking jobs and instead "source" aka "poach" people who already had good jobs by dangling a higher salary in front of them. I didn't do it because I disparaged the unemployed, or because I could not do the basic analysis to show that a candidate had analogous or transferrable skills to the opening.

I did it because the client, as Yves said, wanted people who were literally in the same job description already. My theory is that the client wanted to have their ass covered in case the hire didn't work out, by being able to say that they looked perfect "on paper." The lesson I learned for myself and my friends looking for jobs was simple, if morally dubious. Basically, that if prospective employers are going to judge you based on a single piece of paper take full advantage of the fact that you get to write that piece of paper yourself.

Ishmael:

Hosswire - I agree with your comment. There are poor recruiters like the one I sited but in general it is the clients fault. Fear of failure. All hires have at least a 50% chance of going sideways on you. Most companies do not even have the ability to look at a resume nor to interview. I did not mean to same nasty things about recruiters, and I even do it sometimes but mine.

I look at failure in a different light than most companies. You need to be continually experimenting and changing to survive as a company and there will be some failures. The goal is to control the cost of failures while looking for the big pay off on a winner.

Mannwich:

As a former recruiter and HR "professional" (I use that term very loosely for obvious reasons), I can honestly say that you nailed it. Most big companies looking for mid to high level white collar "talent" will almost always take the perceived safest route by hiring those who look the best ON PAPER and in a suit and lack any real interviewing skills to find the real stars. What's almost comical is that companies almost always want to see the most linear resume possible because they want to see "job stability" (e.g. a CYA document in case the person fails in that job) when in many cases nobody cares about the long range view of the company anyway. My question was why should the candidate or employee care about the long range view if the employer clearly doesn't?

Ishmael:

Manwhich another on point comment. Sometimes either interviewing for a job or consulting with a CEO it starts getting to the absurd. I see all the time the requirement for stability in a persons background. Hello, where have they been the last 15 years. In addition, the higher up you go the more likely you will be terminated sometime and that is especially true if you are hired from outside the orgnanization. Companies want loyalty from an employee but offer none in return.

The average tenure for a CFO anymore is something around 18 months. I have been a first party participant (more than once) where I went through an endless recruiting process for a company (lasting more than 6 months) they final hire some one and that person is with the company for 3 months and then resigns (of course we all know it is through mutual agreement).

Ishmael:

Birch:

The real problem has become and maybe this is what you are referring to is the "Crony Capitalism." We have lost control of our financial situation. Basically, PE is not the gods of the universe that everyone thinks they are. However, every bankers secret wet dream is to become a private equity guy. Accordingly, bankers make ridiculous loans to PE because if you say no to them then you can not play in their sand box any more. Since the govt will not let the banks go bankrupt like they should then this charade continues inslaving everyone.

This country as well as many others has a large percentage of its assets tied up in over priced deals that the bankers/governments will not let collapse while the blood sucking vampires suck the life out of the assets.

On the other hand, govt is not the answer. Govt is too large and accomplishes too little.

kevin de bruxelles:

The harsh reality is that, at least in the first few rounds, companies kick to the curb their weakest links and perceived slackers. Therefore when it comes time to hire again, they are loath to go sloppy seconds on what they perceive to be some other company's rejects. They would much rather hire someone who survived the layoffs working in a similar position in a similar company. Of course the hiring company is going to have to pay for this privilege. Although not totally reliable, the fact that someone survived the layoffs provides a form social proof for their workplace abilities.

On the macro level, labor has been under attack for thirty years by off shoring and third world immigration. It is no surprise that since the working classes have been severely undermined that the middle classes would start to feel some pressure. By mass immigration and off-shoring are strongly supported by both parties. Only when the pain gets strong enough will enough people rebel and these two policies will be overturned. We still have a few years to go before this happens.

davver:

Let's say I run a factory. I produce cars and it requires very skilled work. Skilled welding, skilled machinists. Now I introduce some robotic welders and an assembly line system. The plants productivity improves and the jobs actually get easier. They require less skill, in fact I've simplified each task to something any idiot can do. Would wages go up or down? Are the workers really contributing to that increase in productivity or is it the machines and methods I created?

Lets say you think laying off or cutting the wages of my existing workers is wrong. What happens when a new entrant into the business employs a smaller workforce and lower wages, which they can do using the same technology? The new workers don't feel like they were cut down in any way, they are just happy to have a job. Before they couldn't get a job at the old plant because they lacked the skill, but now they can work in the new plant because the work is genuinely easier. Won't I go out of business?

Escariot:

I am 54 and have a ton of peers who are former white collar workers and professionals (project managers, architects, lighting designers, wholesalers and sales reps for industrial and construction materials and equipment) now out of work going on three years. Now I say out of work, I mean out of our trained and experienced fields.

We now work two or three gigs (waiting tables, mowing lawns, doing free lance, working in tourism, truck driving, moving company and fedex ups workers) and work HARD, for much much less than we did, and we are seeing the few jobs that are coming back on line going to younger workers. It is just the reality. And for most of us the descent has not been graceful, so our credit is a wreck, which also breeds a whole other level of issues as now it is common for the credit record to be a deal breaker for employment, housing, etc.

Strangely I don't sense a lot of anger or bitterness as much as humility. And gratitude for ANY work that comes our way. Health insurance? Retirement accounts? not so much.

Mickey Marzick:

Yves and I have disagreed on how extensive the postwar "pact" between management and labor was in this country. But if you drew a line from say, Trenton-Patterson, NJ to Cincinatti, OH to Minneapolis, MN, north and east of it where blue collar manufacturing in steel, rubber, auto, machinery, etc., predominated, this "pact" may have existed but ONLY because physical plant and production were concentrated there and workers could STOP production.

Outside of these heavy industrial pockets, unions were not always viewed favorably. As one moved into the rural hinterlands surrounding them there was jealously and/or outright hostility. Elsewhere, especially in the South "unions" were the exception not the rule. The differences between NE Ohio before 1975 – line from Youngstown to Toledo – and the rest of the state exemplified this pattern. Even today, the NE counties of Ohio are traditional Democratic strongholds with the rest of the state largely Republican. And I suspect this pattern existed elsewhere. But it is changing too

In any case, the demonization of the unemployed is just one notch above the vicious demonization of the poor that has always existed in this country. It's a constant reminder for those still working that you could be next – cast out into the darkness – because you "failed" or worse yet, SINNED. This internalization of the "inner cop" reinforces the dominant ideology in two ways. First, it makes any resistance by individuals still employed less likely. Second, it pits those still working against those who aren't, both of which work against the formation of any significant class consciousness amongst working people. The "oppressed" very often internalize the value system of the oppressor.

As a nation of immigrants ETHNICITY may have more explanatory power than CLASS. For increasingly, it would appear that the dominant ethnic group – suburban, white, European Americans – have thrown their lot in with corporate America. Scared of the prospect of downward social mobility and constantly reminded of URBAN America – the other America – this group is trapped with nowhere to else to go.

It's the divide and conquer strategy employed by ruling elites in this country since its founding [Federalist #10] with the Know Nothings, blaming the Irish [NINA - no Irish need apply] and playing off each successive wave of immigrants against the next. Only when the forces of production became concentrated in the urban industrial enclaves of the North was this strategy less effective. And even then internal immigration by Blacks to the North in search of employment blunted the formation of class consciousness among white ethnic industrial workers.

Wherever the postwar "pact of domination" between unions and management held sway, once physical plant was relocated elsewhere [SOUTH] and eventually offshored, unemployment began to trend upwards. First it was the "rustbelt" now it's a nationwide phenomenon. Needless to say, the "pact" between labor and management has been consigned to the dustbin of history.

White, suburban America has hitched its wagon to that of the corporate horse. Demonization of the unemployed coupled with demonization of the poor only serve to terrorize this ethnic group into acquiescence. And as the workplace becomes a multicultural matrix this ethnic group is constantly reminded of its perilous state. Until this increasingly atomized ethnic group breaks with corporate America once and for all, it's unlikely that the most debilitating scourge of all working people – UNEMPLOYMENT – will be addressed.

Make no mistake about it, involuntary UNEMPLOYMENT/UNDEREMPLYEMT is a form of terrorism and its demonization is terrorism in action. This "quiet violence" is psychological and the intimidation wrought by unemployment and/or the threat of it is intended to dehumanize individuals subjected to it. Much like spousal abuse, the emotional and psychological effects are experienced way before any physical violence. It's the inner cop that makes overt repression unnecessary. We terrorize ourselves into submission without even knowing it because we accept it or come to tolerate it. So long as we accept "unemployment" as an inevitable consequence of progress, as something unfortunate but inevitable, we will continue to travel down the road to serfdom where ARBEIT MACHT FREI!

FULL and GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT are the ultimate labor power.

Eric:

It's delicate since direct age discrimination is illegal, but when circumstances permit separating older workers they have a very tough time getting back into the workforce in an era of high health care inflation. Older folks consume more health care and if you are hiring from a huge surplus of available workers it isn't hard to steer around the more experienced. And nobody gets younger, so when you don't get job A and go for job B 2 weeks later you, you're older still!

James:

Yves said- "This overly narrow hiring spec then leads to absurd, widespread complaint that companies can't find people with the right skills"

In the IT job markets such postings are often called purple squirrels. The HR departments require the applicant to be expert in a dozen programming languages. This is an excuse to hire a foreigner on a temp h1-b or other visa.

Most people aren't aware that this model dominates the sciences. Politicians scream we have a shortage of scientists, yet it seems we only have a shortage of cheap easily exploitable labor. The economist recently pointed out the glut of scientists that currently exists in the USA.

http://www.economist.com/node/17723223

This understates the problem. The majority of PhD recipients wander through years of postdocs only to end up eventually changing fields. My observation is that the top ten schools in biochem/chemistry/physics/ biology produce enough scientists to satisfy the national demand.

The exemption from h1-b visa caps for academic institutions exacerbates the problem, providing academics with almost unlimited access to labor.

The pharmaceutical sector has been decimated over the last ten years with tens of thousands of scientists/ factory workers looking for re-training in a dwindling pool of jobs (most of which will deem you overqualified.)

http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/2011/03/03/a_postdocs_lament.php

Abe, NYC:

I wonder how the demonization of the unemployed can be so strong even in the face of close to 10% unemployment/20% underemployment. It's easy and tempting to demonize an abstract young buck or Cadillac-driving welfare queen, but when a family member or a close friend loses a job, or your kids are stuck at your place because they can't find one, shouldn't that alter your perceptions? Of course the tendency will be to blame it all on the government, but there has to be a limit to that in hard-hit places like Ohio, Colorado, or Arizona. And yet, the dynamics aren't changing or even getting worse. Maybe Wisconsin marks a turning point, I certainly hope it does

damien:

It's more than just stupid recruiting, this stigma. Having got out when the getting was good, years ago, I know that any corporate functionary would be insane to hire me now. Socialization wears off, the deformation process reverses, and the ritual and shibboleths become a joke. Even before I bailed I became a huge pain in the ass as economic exigency receded, every bosses nightmare. I suffered fools less gladly and did the right thing out of sheer anarchic malice.

You really can't maintain corporate culture without existential fear – not just, "Uh oh, I'm gonna get fired," fear, but a visceral feeling that you do not exist without a job. In properly indoctrinated workers that feeling is divorced from economic necessity. So anyone who's survived outside a while is bound to be suspect. That's a sign of economic security, and security of any sort undermines social control.

youniquelikeme:

You hit the proverbial nail with that reply. (Although, sorry, doing the right thing should not be done out of malice) The real fit has to be in the corporate yes-man culture (malleable ass kisser) to be suited for any executive position and beyond that it is the willingness to be manipulated and drained to be able to keep a job in lower echelon.

This is the new age of evolution in the work place. The class wars will make it more of an eventual revolution, but it is coming. The unemployment rate (the actual one, not the Government one) globalization and off shore hiring are not sustainable for much longer.

Something has to give, but it is more likely to snap then to come easily. People who are made to be repressed and down and out eventually find the courage to fight back and by then, it is usually not with words.

down and out in Slicon Valley:

This is the response I got from a recruiter:

"I'm going to be overly honest with you. My firm doesn't allow me to submit any candidate who hasn't worked in 6-12 months or more. Recruiting brokers are probably all similar in that way . You are going to have to go through a connection/relationship you have with a colleague, co-worker, past manager or friend to get your next job .that's my advice for you. Best of luck "

I'm 56 years old with MSEE. Gained 20+ years of experience at the best of the best (TRW, Nortel, Microsoft), have been issued a patent. Where do I sign up to gain skills required to find a job now?

Litton Graft :

"Best of the Best?" I know you're down now, but looking back at these Gov'mint contractors you've enjoyed the best socialism money can by.

Nortel/TRW bills/(ed) the Guvmint at 2x, 3x your salary, you can ride this for decades. At the same time the Inc is attached to the Guvmint ATM localities/counties are giving them a red carpet of total freedom from taxation. Double subsidies.

I've worked many years at the big boy bandits, and there is no delusion in my mind that almost anyone, can do what I do and get paid 100K+. I've never understood the mindset of some folks who work in the Wermacht Inc: "Well, someone has to do this work" or worse "What we do, no one else can do" The reason no one else "can do it" is that they are not allowed to. So, we steal from the poor to build fighter jets, write code or network an agency.

Hosswire:

I used to work as a recruiter and can tell you that I only parroted the things my clients told me. I wanted to get you hired, because I was lazy and didn't want to have to talk to someone else next.

So what do you do? To place you that recruiter needs to see on a piece of paper that you are currently working? Maybe get an email or phone call from someone who will vouch for your employment history. That should not be that hard to make happen.

Francois T :

The "bizarre way that companies now spec jobs" is essentially a coded way for mediocre managers to say without saying so explicitly that "we can afford to be extremely picky, and by God, we shall do so no matter what, because we can!"

Of course, when comes the time to hire back because, oh disaster! business is picking up again, (I'm barely caricaturing here; some managers become despondent when they realize that workers regain a bit of the higher ground; loss of power does that to lesser beings) the same idiots who designed those "overly narrow hiring spec then leads to absurd, widespread complaint that companies can't find people with the right skills" are thrown into a tailspin of despair and misery. Instead of figuring out something as simple as "if demand is better, so will our business", they can't see anything else than the (eeeek!) cost of hiring workers. Unable to break their mental corset of penny-pincher, they fail to realize that lack of qualified workers will prevent them to execute well to begin with.

And guess what: qualified workers cost money, qualified workers urgently needed cost much more.

This managerial attitude must be another factor that explain why entrepreneurship and the formation of small businesses is on the decline in the US (contrary to the confabulations of the US officialdumb and the chattering class) while rising in Europe and India/China.

Kit:

If you are 55-60, worked as a professional (i.e., engineering say) and are now unemployed you are dead meat. Sorry to be blunt but thats the way it is in the US today. Let me repeat that : Dead Meat.

I was terminated at age 59, found absolutely NOTHING even though my qualifications were outstanding. Fortunately, my company had an old style pension plan which I was able to qualify for (at age 62 without reduced benefits). So for the next 2+ years my wife and I survived on unemployment insurance, severance, accumulated vacation pay and odd jobs. Not nice – actually, a living hell.

At age 62, I applied for my pension, early social security, sold our old house (at a good profit) just before the RE crash, moved back to our home state. Then my wife qualified for social security also. Our total income is now well above the US median.

Today, someone looking at us would think we were the typical corporate retiree. We surely don't let on any differently but the experience (to get to this point) almost killed us.

I sympathize very strongly with the millions caught in this unemployment death spiral. I wish I had an answer but I just don't. We were very lucky to survive intact.

Ming:

Thank you Yves for your excellent post, and for bringing to light this crucial issue.

Thank you to all the bloggers, who add to the richness of the this discussion.

I wonder if you could comment on this Yves, and correct me if I am wrong I believe that the power of labor was sapped by the massive available supply of global labor. The favorable economic policies enacted by China (both official and unofficial), and trade negotiations between the US government and the Chinese government were critical to creating the massive supply of labor.

Thank you. No rush of course.

Nexus:

There are some odd comments and notions here that are used to support dogma and positions of prejudice. The world can be viewed in a number of ways. Firstly from a highly individualised and personal perspective – that is what has happened to me and here are my experiences. Or alternatively the world can be viewed from a broader societal perspective.

In the context of labour there has always been an unequal confrontation between those that control capital and those that offer their labour, contrary to some of the views exposed here – Marx was a first and foremost a political economist. The political economist seeks to understand the interplay of production, supply, the state and institutions like the media. Modern day economics branched off from political economy and has little value in explaining the real world as the complexity of the world has been reduced to a simplistic rationalistic model of human behaviour underpinned by other equally simplistic notions of 'supply and demand', which are in turn represented by mathematical models, which in themselves are complex but merely represent what is a simplistic view of the way the world operates. This dogmatic thinking has avoided the need to create an underpinning epistemology. This in turn underpins the notion of free choice and individualism which in itself is an illusion as it ignores the operation of the modern state and the exercise of power and influence within society.

It was stated in one of the comments that the use of capital (machines, robotics, CAD design, etc.) de-skills. This is hardly the case as skills rise for those that remain and support highly automated/continuous production factories. This is symptomatic of the owners of capital wanting to extract the maximum value for labour and this is done via the substitution of labour for capital making the labour that remains to run factories highly productive thus eliminating low skill jobs that have been picked up via services (people move into non productive low skilled occupations warehousing and retail distribution, fast food outlets, etc). Of course the worker does not realise the additional value of his or her labour as this is expropriated for the shareholders (including management as shareholders).

The issue of the US is that since the end of WW2 it is not the industrialists that have called the shots and made investments it is the financial calculus of the investment banker (Finance Capital). Other comments have tried to ignore the existence of the elites in society – I would suggest that you read C.W.Mills – The Power Elites as an analysis of how power is exercised in the US – it is not through the will of the people.

For Finance capital investments are not made on the basis of value add, or contribution through product innovation and the exchange of goods but on basis of the lowest cost inputs. Consequently, the 'elites' that make investment decisions, as they control all forms of capital seek to gain access to the cheapest cost inputs. The reality is that the US worker (a pool of 150m) is now part of a global labour pool of a couple of billion that now includes India and China. This means that the elites, US transnational corporations for instance, can access both cheaper labour pools, relocate capital and avoid worker protection (health and safety is not a concern). The strategies of moving factories via off-shoring (over 40,000 US factories closed or relocated) and out-sourcing/in-sourcing labour is also a representations of this.

The consequence for the US is that the need for domestic labour has diminished and been substituted by cheap labour to extract the arbitrage between US labour rates and those of Chinese and Indians. Ironically, in this context capital has become too successful as the mode of consumption in the US shifted from workers that were notionally the people that created the goods, earned wages and then purchased the goods they created to a new model where the worker was substituted by the consumer underpinned by cheap debt and low cost imports – it is illustrative to note that real wages have not increased in the US since the early 1970's while at the same time debt has steadily increased to underpin the illusion of wealth – the 'borrow today and pay tomorrow' mode of capitalist operation. This model of operation is now broken. The labour force is now being demonized as there is a now surplus of labour and a need to drive down labour rates through changes in legislation and austerity programs to meet those of the emerging Chinese and Indian middle class so workers rights need to be broken. Once this is done a process of in-source may take place as US labour costs will be on par with overseas labour pools.

It is ironic that during the Regan administration a number of strategic thinkers saw the threat from emerging economies and the danger of Finance Capital and created 'Project Socrates' that would have sought to re-orientate the US economy from one that was based on the rationale of Finance Capital to one that focused in productive innovation which entailed an alignment of capital investment, research and training to product innovative goods. Of course this was ignored and the rest is history. The race to the lowest input cost is ultimately self defeating as it is clear that the economy de-industrialises through labour and capital changes and living standards collapse. The elites – bankers, US transnational corporations, media, industrial military complex and the politicians don't care as they make money either way and this way you get other people overseas to work cheap for you.

S P:

Neoliberal orthodoxy treats unemployment as well as wage supression as a necessary means to fight "inflation." If there was too much power in the hands of organized labor, inflationary pressures would spiral out of control as supply of goods cannot keep up with demand.

It also treats the printing press as a necessary means to fight "deflation."

So our present scenario: widespread unemployment along with QE to infinity, food stamps for all, is exactly what you'd expect.

The problem with this orthodoxy is that it assumes unlimited growth on a planet with finite resources, particularly oil and energy. Growth is not going to solve unemployment or wages, because we are bumping up against limits to growth.

There are only two solutions. One is tax the rich and capital gains, slow growth, and reinvest the surplus into jobs/skills programs, mostly to maintain existing infrastructure or build new energy infrastructure. Even liberals like Krugman skirt around this, because they aren't willing to accept that we have the reached the end of growth and we need radical redistribution measures.

The other solution is genuine classical liberalism / libertarianism, along the lines of Austrian thought. Return to sound money, and let the deflation naturally take care of the imbalances. Yes, it would be wrenching, but it would likely be wrenching for everybody, making it fair in a universal sense.

Neither of these options is palatable to the elite classes, the financiers of Wall Street, or the leeches and bureaucrats of D.C.

So this whole experiment called America will fail.

[Nov 27, 2017] This Is Why Hewlett-Packard Just Fired Another 30K

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Imagine working at HP and having to listen to Carly Fiorina bulldoze you...she is like a blow-torch...here are 4 minutes of Carly and Ralph Nader (if you can take it): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vC4JDwoRHtk ..."
"... My husband has been a software architect for 30 years at the same company. Never before has he seen the sheer unadulterated panic in the executives. All indices are down and they are planning for the worst. Quality is being sacrificed for " just get some relatively functional piece of shit out the door we can sell". He is fighting because he has always produced a stellar product and refuses to have shit tied to his name ( 90% of competitor benchmarks fail against his projects). They can't afford to lay him off, but the first time in my life I see my husband want to quit... ..."
"... HP basically makes computer equipment (PCs, servers, Printers) and software. Part of the problem is that computer hardware has been commodized. Since PCs are cheap and frequent replacements are need, People just by the cheapest models, expecting to toss it in a couple of years and by a newer model (aka the Flat screen TV model). So there is no justification to use quality components. Same is become true with the Server market. Businesses have switched to virtualization and/or cloud systems. So instead of taking a boat load of time to rebuild a crashed server, the VM is just moved to another host. ..."
"... I hung an older sign next to the one saying Information Technology. Somehow MIS-Information Technology seemed appropriate.) ..."
"... Then I got to my first duty assignment. It was about five months after the first moon landing, and the aerospace industry was facing cuts in government aerospace spending. I picked up a copy of an engineering journal in the base library and found an article about job cuts. There was a cartoon with two janitors, buckets at their feet and mops in their hands, standing before a blackboard filled with equations. Once was saying to the other, pointing to one section, "you can see where he made his mistake right here...". It represented two engineers who had been reduced to menial labor after losing their jobs. ..."
"... So while I resent all the H1Bs coming into the US - I worked with several for the last four years of my IT career, and was not at all impressed - and despise the politicians who allow it, I know that it is not the first time American STEM grads have been put out of jobs en masse. In some ways that old saying applies: the more things change, the more they stay the same ..."
"... Just like Amazon, HP will supposedly make billions in profit analyzing things in the cloud that nobody looks at and has no use to the real economy, but it makes good fodder for Power Point presentations. I am amazed how much daily productivity goes into creating fancy charts for meetings that are meaningless to the actual business of the company. ..."
"... 'Computers' cost as much - if not more time than they save, at least in corporate settings. Used to be you'd work up 3 budget projections - expected, worst case and best case, you'd have a meeting, hash it out and decide in a week. Now you have endless alternatives, endless 'tweaking' and changes and decisions take forever, with outrageous amounts of time spent on endless 'analysis' and presentations. ..."
"... A recent lay off here turned out to be quite embarrassing for Parmalat there was nobody left that knew how to properly run the place they had to rehire many ex employees as consultants-at a costly premium ..."
"... HP is laying off 80,000 workers or almost a third of its workforce, converting its long-term human capital into short-term gains for rich shareholders at an alarming rate. The reason that product quality has declined is due to the planned obsolescence that spurs needless consumerism, which is necessary to prop up our debt-backed monetary system and the capitalist-owned economy that sits on top of it. ..."
"... The world is heading for massive deflation. Computers have hit the 14 nano-meter lithography zone, the cost to go from 14nm to say 5nm is very high, and the net benefit to computing power is very low, but lets say we go from 14nm to 5nm over the next 4 years. Going from 5nm to 1nm is not going to net a large boost in computing power and the cost to shrink things down and re-tool will be very high for such an insignificant gain in performance. ..."
"... Another classic "Let's rape all we can and bail with my golden parachute" corporate leaders setting themselves up. Pile on the string of non-IT CEOs that have been leading the company to ruin. To them it is nothing more than a contest of being even worse than their predecessor. Just look at the billions each has lost before their exit. Compaq, a cluster. Palm Pilot, a dead product they paid millions for and then buried. And many others. ..."
"... Let's not beat around the bush, they're outsourcing, firing Americans and hiring cheap labor elsewhere: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-09-15/hewlett-packard-to-cut-up-to-30-000-more-jobs-in-restructuring It's also shifting employees to low-cost areas, and hopes to have 60 percent of its workers located in cheaper countries by 2018, Nefkens said. ..."
"... Carly Fiorina: (LOL, leading a tech company with a degree in medieval history and philosophy) While at ATT she was groomed from the Affirmative Action plan. ..."
"... It is very straightforward. Replace 45,000 US workers with 100,000 offshore workers and you still save millions of USD ! Use the "savings" to buy back stock, then borrow more $$ at ZIRP to buy more stock back. ..."
"... If you look on a site like LinkedIN, it will always say 'We're hiring!'. YES, HP is hiring.....but not YOU, they want Ganesh Balasubramaniamawapbapalooboopawapbamboomtuttifrutti, so that they can work him as modern day slave labor for ultra cheap. We can thank idiot 'leaders' like Meg Pasty Faced Whitman and Bill 'Forced Vaccinations' Gates for lobbying Congress for decades, against the rights of American workers. ..."
"... An era of leadership in computer technology has died, and there is no grave marker, not even a funeral ceremony or eulogy ... Hewlett-Packard, COMPAQ, Digital Equipment Corp, UNIVAC, Sperry-Rand, Data General, Tektronix, ZILOG, Advanced Micro Devices, Sun Microsystems, etc, etc, etc. So much change in so short a time, leaves your mind dizzy. ..."
Sep 15, 2015 | Zero Hedge

SixIsNinE

yeah thanks Carly ... HP made bullet-proof products that would last forever..... I still buy HP workstation notebooks, especially now when I can get them for $100 on ebay .... I sold HP products in the 1990s .... we had HP laserjet IIs that companies would run day & night .... virtually no maintenance ... when PCL5 came around then we had LJ IIIs .... and still companies would call for LJ I's, .... 100 pounds of invincible Printing ! .

This kind of product has no place in the World of Planned-Obsolesence .... I'm currently running an 8510w, 8530w, 2530p, Dell 6420 quad i7, hp printers hp scanners, hp pavilion desktops, .... all for less than what a Laserjet II would have cost in 1994, Total.

Not My Real Name

I still have my HP 15C scientific calculator I bought in 1983 to get me through college for my engineering degree. There is nothing better than a hand held calculator that uses Reverse Polish Notation!

BigJim

HP used to make fantastic products. I remember getting their RPN calculators back in th 80's; built like tanks. Then they decided to "add value" by removing more and more material from their consumer/"prosumer" products until they became unspeakably flimsy. They stopped holding things together with proper fastenings and starting hot melting/gluing it together, so if it died you had to cut it open to have any chance of fixing it.

I still have one of their Laserjet 4100 printers. I expect it to outlast anything they currently produce, and it must be going on 16+ years old now.

Fuck you, HP. You started selling shit and now you're eating through your seed corn. I just wish the "leaders" who did this to you had to pay some kind of penalty greater than getting $25M in a severance package.

Automatic Choke

+100. The path of HP is everything that is wrong about modern business models. I still have a 5MP laserjet (one of the first), still works great. Also have a number of 42S calculators.....my day-to-day workhorse and several spares. I don't think the present HP could even dream of making these products today.

nope-1004

How well will I profit, as a salesman, if I sell you something that works? How valuable are you, as a customer in my database, if you never come back? Confucious say "Buy another one, and if you can't afford it, f'n finance it!" It's the growing trend. Look at appliances. Nothing works anymore.

Normalcy Bias

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_obsolescence

Son of Loki

GE to cut Houston jobs as work moves overseas http://www.bizjournals.com/houston/news/2015/09/15/ge-to-cut-houston-job... " Yes we can! "

Automatic Choke

hey big brother.... if you are curious, there is a damn good android emulator of the HP42S available (Free42). really it is so good that it made me relax about accumulating more spares. still not quite the same as a real calculator. (the 42S, by the way, is the modernization/simplification of the classic HP41, the real hardcord very-programmable, reconfigurable, hackable unit with all the plug-in-modules that came out in the early 80s.)

Miss Expectations

Imagine working at HP and having to listen to Carly Fiorina bulldoze you...she is like a blow-torch...here are 4 minutes of Carly and Ralph Nader (if you can take it): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vC4JDwoRHtk

Miffed Microbiologist

My husband has been a software architect for 30 years at the same company. Never before has he seen the sheer unadulterated panic in the executives. All indices are down and they are planning for the worst. Quality is being sacrificed for " just get some relatively functional piece of shit out the door we can sell". He is fighting because he has always produced a stellar product and refuses to have shit tied to his name ( 90% of competitor benchmarks fail against his projects). They can't afford to lay him off, but the first time in my life I see my husband want to quit...

unplugged

I've been an engineer for 31 years - our managements's unspoken motto at the place I'm at (large company) is: "release it now, we'll put in the quality later". I try to put in as much as possible before the product is shoved out the door without killing myself doing it.

AGuy

Do they even make test equipment anymore?

HP test and measurement was spun off many years ago as Agilent. The electronics part of Agilent was spun off as keysight late last year.

HP basically makes computer equipment (PCs, servers, Printers) and software. Part of the problem is that computer hardware has been commodized. Since PCs are cheap and frequent replacements are need, People just by the cheapest models, expecting to toss it in a couple of years and by a newer model (aka the Flat screen TV model). So there is no justification to use quality components. Same is become true with the Server market. Businesses have switched to virtualization and/or cloud systems. So instead of taking a boat load of time to rebuild a crashed server, the VM is just moved to another host.

HP has also adopted the Computer Associates business model (aka Borg). HP buys up new tech companies and sits on the tech and never improves it. It decays and gets replaced with a system from a competitor. It also has a habit of buying outdated tech companies that never generate the revenues HP thinks it will.

BullyBearish

When Carly was CEO of HP, she instituted a draconian "pay for performance" plan. She ended up leaving with over $146 Million because she was smart enough not to specify "what type" of performance.

GeezerGeek

Regarding your statement "All those engineers choosing to pursue other opportunities", we need to realize that tech in general has been very susceptible to the vagaries of government actions. Now the employment problems are due to things like globalization and H1B programs. Some 50 years ago tech - meaning science and engineering - was hit hard as the US space program wound down. Permit me this retrospective:

I graduated from a quite good school with a BS in Physics in 1968. My timing was not all that great, since that was when they stopped granting draft deferments for graduate school. I joined the Air Force, but as an enlisted airman, not an officer. Following basic training, I was sent to learn to operate PCAM operations. That's Punched Card Accounting Machines. Collators. Sorters. Interpreters. Key punches. I was in a class with nine other enlistees. One had just gotten a Masters degree in something. Eight of us had a BS in one thing or another, but all what would now be called STEM fields. The least educated only had an Associate degree. We all enlisted simply to avoid being drafted into the Marines. (Not that there's anything wrong with the Marines, but all of us proclaimed an allergy to energetic lead projectiles and acted accordingly. Going to Canada, as many did, pretty much ensured never getting a job in STEM fields later in life.) So thanks to government action (fighting in VietNam, in this case) a significant portion of educated Americans found themselves diverted from chosen career paths. (In my case, it worked out fine. I learned to program, etc., and spent a total of over 40 years in what is now called IT. I think it was called EDP when I started the trek. Somewhere along the line it became (where I worked) Management Information Systems. MIS. And finally the department became simply Information Technology. I hung an older sign next to the one saying Information Technology. Somehow MIS-Information Technology seemed appropriate.)

Then I got to my first duty assignment. It was about five months after the first moon landing, and the aerospace industry was facing cuts in government aerospace spending. I picked up a copy of an engineering journal in the base library and found an article about job cuts. There was a cartoon with two janitors, buckets at their feet and mops in their hands, standing before a blackboard filled with equations. Once was saying to the other, pointing to one section, "you can see where he made his mistake right here...". It represented two engineers who had been reduced to menial labor after losing their jobs.

So while I resent all the H1Bs coming into the US - I worked with several for the last four years of my IT career, and was not at all impressed - and despise the politicians who allow it, I know that it is not the first time American STEM grads have been put out of jobs en masse. In some ways that old saying applies: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

If you made it this far, thanks for your patience.

adr

Just like Amazon, HP will supposedly make billions in profit analyzing things in the cloud that nobody looks at and has no use to the real economy, but it makes good fodder for Power Point presentations. I am amazed how much daily productivity goes into creating fancy charts for meetings that are meaningless to the actual business of the company.

IT'S ALL BULLSHIT!!!!!

I designed more products in one year for the small company I work for than a $15 billion corporation did throughout their entire design department employing hundreds of people. That is because 90% of their workday is spent preparing crap for meetings and they never really get anything meaningful done.

It took me one week to design a product and send it out for production branded for the company I work for, but it took six months to get the same type of product passed through the multi billion dollar corporation we license for. Because it had to pass through layer after layer of bullshit and through every level of management before it could be signed off. Then a month later somebody would change their mind in middle management and the product would need to be changed and go through the cycle all over again.

Their own bag department made six bags last year, I designed 16. Funny how I out produce a department of six people whose only job is to make bags, yet I only get paid the salary of one.

Maybe I'm just an imbecile for working hard.

Bear

You also have to add all the wasted time of employees having to sit through those presentations and the even more wasted time on Ashley Madison

cynicalskeptic

'Computers' cost as much - if not more time than they save, at least in corporate settings. Used to be you'd work up 3 budget projections - expected, worst case and best case, you'd have a meeting, hash it out and decide in a week. Now you have endless alternatives, endless 'tweaking' and changes and decisions take forever, with outrageous amounts of time spent on endless 'analysis' and presentations.

EVERY VP now has an 'Administrative Assistant' whose primary job is to develop PowerPoint presentations for the endless meetings that take up time - without any decisions ever being made.

Computers stop people from thinking. In ages past when you used a slide rule you had to know the order of magnitude of the end result. Now people make a mistake and come up with a ridiculous number and take it at face value because 'the computer' produced it.

Any exec worht anythign knew what a given line in their department or the total should be +or a small amount. I can't count the number of times budgets and analyses were WRONG because someone left off a few lines on a spreadsheet total.

Yes computer modeling for advanced tech and engineering is a help, CAD/CAM is great and many other applications in the tech/scientific world are a great help but letting computers loose in corporate and finance has produced endless waste AND - worsde - thigns like HFT (e.g. 'better' more effective ways to manipulate and cheat markets.

khnum

A recent lay off here turned out to be quite embarrassing for Parmalat there was nobody left that knew how to properly run the place they had to rehire many ex employees as consultants-at a costly premium

Anopheles

Consultants don't come at that much of a premium becaue the company doesn't have to pay benefits, vacation, sick days, or payroll taxes, etc. Plus it's really easy and cheap to get rid of consultants.

arrowrod

Obviously, you haven't worked as a consultant. You get paid by the hour. To clean up a mess. 100 hours a week are not uncommon. (What?, is it possible to work 100 hours a week? Yes, it is, but only for about 3 months.)

RaceToTheBottom

HP Executives are trying hard to bring the company back to its roots: The ability to fit into one garage...

PrimalScream

ALL THAT Meg Whitman needs to do ... is to FIRE EVERYBODY !! Then have all the products made in China, process all the sales orders in Hong Kong, and sub-contract the accounting and tax paperwork to India. Then HP can use all the profits for stock buybacks, except of course for Meg's salary ... which will keep rising astronomically!

Herdee

That's where education gets you in America.The Government sold out America's manufacturing base to Communist China who holds the debt of the USA.Who would ever guess that right-wing neo-cons(neo-nazis) running the government would sell out to communists just to get the money for war? Very weird.

Really20

"Communist"? The Chinese government, like that of the US, never believed in worker ownership of businesses and never believed that the commerical banking system (whether owned by the state, or private corporations which act like a state) should not control money. Both countries believe in centralization of power among a few shareholders, who take the fruits of working people's labor while contributing nothing of value themselves (money being but a token that represents a claim on real capital, not capital itself.)

Management and investors ought to be separate from each other; management should be chosen by workers by universal equal vote, while a complementary investor board should be chosen by investors much as corporate boards are now. Both of these boards should be legally independent but bound organizations; the management board should run the business while the investor board should negotiate with the management board on the terms of equity issuance. No more buybacks, no more layoffs or early retirements, unless workers as a whole see a need for it to maintain the company.

The purpose of investors is to serve the real economy, not the other way round; and in turn, the purpose of the real economy is to serve humanity, not the other way around. Humans should stop being slaves to perpetual growth.

Really20

HP is laying off 80,000 workers or almost a third of its workforce, converting its long-term human capital into short-term gains for rich shareholders at an alarming rate. The reason that product quality has declined is due to the planned obsolescence that spurs needless consumerism, which is necessary to prop up our debt-backed monetary system and the capitalist-owned economy that sits on top of it.

NoWayJose

HP - that company that sells computers and printers made in China and ink cartridges made in Thailand?

Dominus Ludificatio

Another company going down the drain because their focus is short term returns with crappy products.They will also bring down any company they buy as well.

Barnaby

HP is microcosm of what Carly will do to the US: carve it like a pumpkin and leave the shell out to bake in the sun for a few weeks. But she'll make sure and poison the seeds too! Don't want anything growing out of that pesky Palm division...

Dre4dwolf

The world is heading for massive deflation. Computers have hit the 14 nano-meter lithography zone, the cost to go from 14nm to say 5nm is very high, and the net benefit to computing power is very low, but lets say we go from 14nm to 5nm over the next 4 years. Going from 5nm to 1nm is not going to net a large boost in computing power and the cost to shrink things down and re-tool will be very high for such an insignificant gain in performance.

What does that mean

  1. Computers (atleast non-quantum ones) have hit the point where about 80-90% of the potential for the current science has been tap'd
  2. This means that the consumer is not going to be put in the position where they will have to upgrade to faster systems for atleast another 7-8 years.... (because the new computer wont be that much faster than their existing one).
  3. If no one is upgrading the only IT sectors of the economy that stand to make any money are software companies (Microsoft, Apple, and other small software developers), most software has not caught up with hardware yet.
  4. We are obviously heading for massive deflation, consumer spending levels as a % are probably around where they were in the late 70s - mid 80s, this is a very deflationary environment that is being compounded by a high debt burden (most of everyones income is going to service their debts), that signals monetary tightening is going on... people simply don't have enough discretionary income to spend on new toys.

All that to me screams SELL consumer electronics stocks because profits are GOING TO DECLINE , SALES ARE GOING TO DECLINE. There is no way , no amount of buy backs will float the stocks of corporations like HP/Dell/IBM etc... it is inevitable that these stocks will be worth 30% less over the next 5 - 8 years

But what do I know? maybe I am missing something.

In anycase a lot of pressure is being put on HP to do all it can at any cost to boost the stock valuations, because so much of its stock is institution owned, they will strip the wallpaper off the walls and sell it to a recycling plant if it would give them more money to boost stock valuations. That to me signals that most of the people pressuring the board of HP to boost the stock, want them to gut the company as much as they can to boost it some trivial % points so that the majority of shares can be dumped onto muppets.

To me it pretty much also signals something is terribly wrong at HP and no one is talking about it.

PoasterToaster

Other than die shrinks there really hasn't been a lot going on in the CPU world since Intel abandoned its Netburst architecture and went back to its (Israeli created) Pentium 3 style pipeline. After that they gave up on increasing speed and resorted to selling more cores. Now that wall has been hit, they have been selling "green" and "efficient" nonsense in place of increasing power.

x86 just needs to go, but a lot is invested in it not the least of which is that 1-2 punch of forced, contrived obsolesence carried out in a joint operation with Microsoft. 15 years ago you could watch videos with no problem on your old machine using Windows XP. Fast forward to now and their chief bragging point is still "multitasking" and the ability to process datastreams like video. It's a joke.

The future is not in the current CPU paradigm of instructions per second; it will be in terms of variables per second. It will be more along the lines of what GPU manufacturers are creating with their thousands of "engines" or "processing units" per chip, rather than the 4, 6 or 12 core monsters that Intel is pushing. They have nearly given up on their roadmap to push out to 128 cores as it is. x86 just doesn't work with all that.

Dojidog

Another classic "Let's rape all we can and bail with my golden parachute" corporate leaders setting themselves up. Pile on the string of non-IT CEOs that have been leading the company to ruin. To them it is nothing more than a contest of being even worse than their predecessor. Just look at the billions each has lost before their exit. Compaq, a cluster. Palm Pilot, a dead product they paid millions for and then buried. And many others.

Think the split is going to help? Think again. Rather than taking the opportunity to fix their problems, they have just duplicated and perpetuated them into two separate entities.

HP is a company that is mired in a morass of unmanageable business processes and patchwork of antiquated applications all interconnected to the point they are petrified to try and uncouple them.

Just look at their stock price since January. The insiders know. Want to fix HP? All it would take is a savvy IT based leader with a boatload of common sense. What makes money at HP? Their printers and ink. Not thinking they can provide enterprise solutions to others when they can't even get their own house in order.

I Write Code

Let's not beat around the bush, they're outsourcing, firing Americans and hiring cheap labor elsewhere: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-09-15/hewlett-packard-to-cut-up-to-30-000-more-jobs-in-restructuring It's also shifting employees to low-cost areas, and hopes to have 60 percent of its workers located in cheaper countries by 2018, Nefkens said.

yogibear

Carly Fiorina: (LOL, leading a tech company with a degree in medieval history and philosophy) While at ATT she was groomed from the Affirmative Action plan.

Alma Mater: Stanford University (B.A. in medieval history and philosophy); University of Maryland (MBA); Massachusetts Institute of Technology

==================================================================

Patricia Russo: (Lucent) (Dedree in Political Science). Another lady elevated through the AA plan, Russo got her bachelor's degree from Georgetown University in political science and history in 1973. She finished the advanced management program at Harvard Business School in 1989

Both ladies steered their corporations to failure.

Clowns on Acid

It is very straightforward. Replace 45,000 US workers with 100,000 offshore workers and you still save millions of USD ! Use the "savings" to buy back stock, then borrow more $$ at ZIRP to buy more stock back.

You guys don't know nuthin'.

homiegot

HP: one of the worst places you could work. Souless.

Pancho de Villa

Ladies and Gentlemen! Integrity has left the Building!

space junk

I worked there for a while and it was total garbage. There are still some great folks around, but they are getting paid less and less, and having to work longer hours for less pay while reporting to God knows who, often a foreigner with crappy engrish skills, yes likely another 'diversity hire'. People with DEEP knowledge, decades and decades, have either gotten unfairly fired or demoted, made to quit, or if they are lucky, taken some early retirement and GTFO (along with their expertise - whoopsie! who knew? unintended consequences are a bitch aren't they? )....

If you look on a site like LinkedIN, it will always say 'We're hiring!'. YES, HP is hiring.....but not YOU, they want Ganesh Balasubramaniamawapbapalooboopawapbamboomtuttifrutti, so that they can work him as modern day slave labor for ultra cheap. We can thank idiot 'leaders' like Meg Pasty Faced Whitman and Bill 'Forced Vaccinations' Gates for lobbying Congress for decades, against the rights of American workers.

Remember that Meg 'Pasty Faced' Whitman is the person who came up with the idea of a 'lights out' datacenter....that's right, it's the concept of putting all of your computers in a building, in racks, in the dark, and maybe hiring an intern to come in once a month and keep them going. This is what she actually believed. Along with her other statement to the HP workforce which says basically that the future of HP is one of total automation.....TRANSLATION: If you are a smart admin, engineer, project manager, architect, sw tester, etc.....we (HP management) think you are an IDIOT and can be replaced by a robot, a foreigner, or any other cheap worker.

Race to the bottom is like they say a space ship approaching a black hole......after a while the laws of physics and common sense, just don't apply anymore.

InnVestuhrr

An era of leadership in computer technology has died, and there is no grave marker, not even a funeral ceremony or eulogy ... Hewlett-Packard, COMPAQ, Digital Equipment Corp, UNIVAC, Sperry-Rand, Data General, Tektronix, ZILOG, Advanced Micro Devices, Sun Microsystems, etc, etc, etc. So much change in so short a time, leaves your mind dizzy.

[Nov 27, 2017] The Robot Productivity Paradox and the concept of bezel

This concept of "bezel" is an important one
Notable quotes:
"... "In many ways the effect of the crash on embezzlement was more significant than on suicide. To the economist embezzlement is the most interesting of crimes. Alone among the various forms of larceny it has a time parameter. Weeks, months or years may elapse between the commission of the crime and its discovery. (This is a period, incidentally, when the embezzler has his gain and the man who has been embezzled, oddly enough, feels no loss. There is a net increase in psychic wealth.) ..."
"... At any given time there exists an inventory of undiscovered embezzlement in – or more precisely not in – the country's business and banks. ..."
"... This inventory – it should perhaps be called the bezzle – amounts at any moment to many millions [trillions!] of dollars. It also varies in size with the business cycle. ..."
"... In good times people are relaxed, trusting, and money is plentiful. But even though money is plentiful, there are always many people who need more. Under these circumstances the rate of embezzlement grows, the rate of discovery falls off, and the bezzle increases rapidly. ..."
"... In depression all this is reversed. Money is watched with a narrow, suspicious eye. The man who handles it is assumed to be dishonest until he proves himself otherwise. Audits are penetrating and meticulous. Commercial morality is enormously improved. The bezzle shrinks ..."
Feb 22, 2017 | econospeak.blogspot.com

Sandwichman -> Sandwichman ... February 24, 2017 at 08:36 AM

John Kenneth Galbraith, from "The Great Crash 1929":

"In many ways the effect of the crash on embezzlement was more significant than on suicide. To the economist embezzlement is the most interesting of crimes. Alone among the various forms of larceny it has a time parameter. Weeks, months or years may elapse between the commission of the crime and its discovery. (This is a period, incidentally, when the embezzler has his gain and the man who has been embezzled, oddly enough, feels no loss. There is a net increase in psychic wealth.)

At any given time there exists an inventory of undiscovered embezzlement in – or more precisely not in – the country's business and banks.

This inventory – it should perhaps be called the bezzle – amounts at any moment to many millions [trillions!] of dollars. It also varies in size with the business cycle.

In good times people are relaxed, trusting, and money is plentiful. But even though money is plentiful, there are always many people who need more. Under these circumstances the rate of embezzlement grows, the rate of discovery falls off, and the bezzle increases rapidly.

In depression all this is reversed. Money is watched with a narrow, suspicious eye. The man who handles it is assumed to be dishonest until he proves himself otherwise. Audits are penetrating and meticulous. Commercial morality is enormously improved. The bezzle shrinks."

Sanwichman, February 24, 2017 at 05:24 AM

For nearly a half a century, from 1947 to 1996, real GDP and real Net Worth of Households and Non-profit Organizations (in 2009 dollars) both increased at a compound annual rate of a bit over 3.5%. GDP growth, in fact, was just a smidgen faster -- 0.016% -- than growth of Net Household Worth.

From 1996 to 2015, GDP grew at a compound annual rate of 2.3% while Net Worth increased at the rate of 3.6%....

-- Sanwichman

anne -> anne... February 24, 2017 at 05:25 AM

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=cOU6

January 15, 2017

Gross Domestic Product and Net Worth for Households & Nonprofit Organizations, 1952-2016

(Indexed to 1952)

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=cPq1

January 15, 2017

Gross Domestic Product and Net Worth for Households & Nonprofit Organizations, 1992-2016

(Indexed to 1992)

anne -> Sandwichman ... February 24, 2017 at 03:35 PM

The real home price index extends from 1890. From 1890 to 1996, the index increased slightly faster than inflation so that the index was 100 in 1890 and 113 in 1996. However from 1996 the index advanced to levels far beyond any previously experienced, reaching a high above 194 in 2006. Previously the index high had been just above 130.

Though the index fell from 2006, the level in 2016 is above 161, a level only reached when the housing bubble had formed in late 2003-early 2004.

Real home prices are again strikingly high:

http://www.econ.yale.edu/~shiller/data.htm Reply Friday, February 24, 2017 at 03:34 PM anne -> Sandwichman ... February 24, 2017

Valuation

The Shiller 10-year price-earnings ratio is currently 29.34, so the inverse or the earnings rate is 3.41%. The dividend yield is 1.93. So an expected yearly return over the coming 10 years would be 3.41 + 1.93 or 5.34% provided the price-earnings ratio stays the same and before investment costs.

Against the 5.34% yearly expected return on stock over the coming 10 years, the current 10-year Treasury bond yield is 2.32%.

The risk premium for stocks is 5.34 - 2.32 or 3.02%:

http://www.econ.yale.edu/~shiller/data.htm

anne -> anne..., February 24, 2017 at 05:36 AM

What the robot-productivity paradox is puzzles me, other than since 2005 for all the focus on the productivity of robots and on robots replacing labor there has been a dramatic, broad-spread slowing in productivity growth.

However what the changing relationship between the growth of GDP and net worth since 1996 show, is that asset valuations have been increasing relative to GDP. Valuations of stocks and homes are at sustained levels that are higher than at any time in the last 120 years. Bear markets in stocks and home prices have still left asset valuations at historically high levels. I have no idea why this should be.

Sandwichman -> anne... February 24, 2017 at 08:34 AM

The paradox is that productivity statistics can't tell us anything about the effects of robots on employment because both the numerator and the denominator are distorted by the effects of colossal Ponzi bubbles.

John Kenneth Galbraith used to call it "the bezzle." It is "that increment to wealth that occurs during the magic interval when a confidence trickster knows he has the money he has appropriated but the victim does not yet understand that he has lost it." The current size of the gross national bezzle (GNB) is approximately $24 trillion.

Ponzilocks and the Twenty-Four Trillion Dollar Question

http://econospeak.blogspot.ca/2017/02/ponzilocks-and-twenty-four-trillion.html

Twenty-three and a half trillion, actually. But what's a few hundred billion? Here today, gone tomorrow, as they say.

At the beginning of 2007, net worth of households and non-profit organizations exceeded its 1947-1996 historical average, relative to GDP, by some $16 trillion. It took 24 months to wipe out eighty percent, or $13 trillion, of that colossal but ephemeral slush fund. In mid-2016, net worth stood at a multiple of 4.83 times GDP, compared with the multiple of 4.72 on the eve of the Great Unworthing.

When I look at the ragged end of the chart I posted yesterday, it screams "Ponzi!" "Ponzi!" "Ponz..."

To make a long story short, let's think of wealth as capital. The value of capital is determined by the present value of an expected future income stream. The value of capital fluctuates with changing expectations but when the nominal value of capital diverges persistently and significantly from net revenues, something's got to give. Either economic growth is going to suddenly gush forth "like nobody has ever seen before" or net worth is going to have to come back down to earth.

Somewhere between 20 and 30 TRILLION dollars of net worth will evaporate within the span of perhaps two years.

When will that happen? Who knows? There is one notable regularity in the data, though -- the one that screams "Ponzi!"

When the net worth bubble stops going up...
...it goes down.

[Nov 27, 2017] Nineteen Ninety-Six: The Robot/Productivity Paradox and the concept of bezel

This concept of "bezel" is an important one
Feb 22, 2017 | econospeak.blogspot.com

Sandwichman -> Sandwichman ... February 24, 2017 at 08:36 AM

John Kenneth Galbraith, from "The Great Crash 1929":

"In many ways the effect of the crash on embezzlement was more significant than on suicide. To the economist embezzlement is the most interesting of crimes. Alone among the various forms of larceny it has a time parameter. Weeks, months or years may elapse between the commission of the crime and its discovery. (This is a period, incidentally, when the embezzler has his gain and the man who has been embezzled, oddly enough, feels no loss. There is a net increase in psychic wealth.)

At any given time there exists an inventory of undiscovered embezzlement in – or more precisely not in – the country's business and banks.

This inventory – it should perhaps be called the bezzle – amounts at any moment to many millions [trillions!] of dollars. It also varies in size with the business cycle.

In good times people are relaxed, trusting, and money is plentiful. But even though money is plentiful, there are always many people who need more. Under these circumstances the rate of embezzlement grows, the rate of discovery falls off, and the bezzle increases rapidly.

In depression all this is reversed. Money is watched with a narrow, suspicious eye.

The man who handles it is assumed to be dishonest until he proves himself otherwise. Audits are penetrating and meticulous. Commercial morality is enormously improved. The bezzle shrinks."

Sanwichman, February 24, 2017 at 05:24 AM

For nearly a half a century, from 1947 to 1996, real GDP and real Net Worth of Households and Non-profit Organizations (in 2009 dollars) both increased at a compound annual rate of a bit over 3.5%. GDP growth, in fact, was just a smidgen faster -- 0.016% -- than growth of Net Household Worth.

From 1996 to 2015, GDP grew at a compound annual rate of 2.3% while Net Worth increased at the rate of 3.6%....

-- Sanwichman

anne -> anne... February 24, 2017 at 05:25 AM

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=cOU6

January 15, 2017

Gross Domestic Product and Net Worth for Households & Nonprofit Organizations, 1952-2016

(Indexed to 1952)

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=cPq1

January 15, 2017

Gross Domestic Product and Net Worth for Households & Nonprofit Organizations, 1992-2016

(Indexed to 1992)

anne -> Sandwichman ... February 24, 2017 at 03:35 PM

The real home price index extends from 1890. From 1890 to 1996, the index increased slightly faster than inflation so that the index was 100 in 1890 and 113 in 1996. However from 1996 the index advanced to levels far beyond any previously experienced, reaching a high above 194 in 2006. Previously the index high had been just above 130.

Though the index fell from 2006, the level in 2016 is above 161, a level only reached when the housing bubble had formed in late 2003-early 2004.

Real home prices are again strikingly high:

http://www.econ.yale.edu/~shiller/data.htm Reply Friday, February 24, 2017 at 03:34 PM anne -> Sandwichman ... February 24, 2017

Valuation

The Shiller 10-year price-earnings ratio is currently 29.34, so the inverse or the earnings rate is 3.41%. The dividend yield is 1.93. So an expected yearly return over the coming 10 years would be 3.41 + 1.93 or 5.34% provided the price-earnings ratio stays the same and before investment costs.

Against the 5.34% yearly expected return on stock over the coming 10 years, the current 10-year Treasury bond yield is 2.32%.

The risk premium for stocks is 5.34 - 2.32 or 3.02%:

http://www.econ.yale.edu/~shiller/data.htm

anne -> anne..., February 24, 2017 at 05:36 AM

What the robot-productivity paradox is puzzles me, other than since 2005 for all the focus on the productivity of robots and on robots replacing labor there has been a dramatic, broad-spread slowing in productivity growth.

However what the changing relationship between the growth of GDP and net worth since 1996 show, is that asset valuations have been increasing relative to GDP. Valuations of stocks and homes are at sustained levels that are higher than at any time in the last 120 years. Bear markets in stocks and home prices have still left asset valuations at historically high levels. I have no idea why this should be.

Sandwichman -> anne... February 24, 2017 at 08:34 AM

The paradox is that productivity statistics can't tell us anything about the effects of robots on employment because both the numerator and the denominator are distorted by the effects of colossal Ponzi bubbles.

John Kenneth Galbraith used to call it "the bezzle." It is "that increment to wealth that occurs during the magic interval when a confidence trickster knows he has the money he has appropriated but the victim does not yet understand that he has lost it." The current size of the gross national bezzle (GNB) is approximately $24 trillion.

Ponzilocks and the Twenty-Four Trillion Dollar Question

http://econospeak.blogspot.ca/2017/02/ponzilocks-and-twenty-four-trillion.html

Twenty-three and a half trillion, actually. But what's a few hundred billion? Here today, gone tomorrow, as they say.

At the beginning of 2007, net worth of households and non-profit organizations exceeded its 1947-1996 historical average, relative to GDP, by some $16 trillion. It took 24 months to wipe out eighty percent, or $13 trillion, of that colossal but ephemeral slush fund. In mid-2016, net worth stood at a multiple of 4.83 times GDP, compared with the multiple of 4.72 on the eve of the Great Unworthing.

When I look at the ragged end of the chart I posted yesterday, it screams "Ponzi!" "Ponzi!" "Ponz..."

To make a long story short, let's think of wealth as capital. The value of capital is determined by the present value of an expected future income stream. The value of capital fluctuates with changing expectations but when the nominal value of capital diverges persistently and significantly from net revenues, something's got to give. Either economic growth is going to suddenly gush forth "like nobody has ever seen before" or net worth is going to have to come back down to earth.

Somewhere between 20 and 30 TRILLION dollars of net worth will evaporate within the span of perhaps two years.

When will that happen? Who knows? There is one notable regularity in the data, though -- the one that screams "Ponzi!"

When the net worth bubble stops going up...
...it goes down.

[Nov 08, 2017] Labour coercion and outside options

Notable quotes:
"... Coercion of the worker can be quite simply introduced into this setup by allowing firms to pay a 'negative wage' if the bad outcome occurs. This is simply the more cost-effective flipside of paying a higher wage if the good outcome occurs. Negative wages describe a world in which workers can be 'punished' (i.e. a world with coercion). ..."
www.theamericanconservative.com

Christian Dippel, Daniel Trefler 05 November 2017

One way employers can compel workers to accept contracts they otherwise would not accept is by limiting the outside options for those workers...

Related

Labour coercion is arguably as old human civilisation. In the words of Acemoglu and Wolitzky (2011), "the majority of labour transactions throughout much of history and a significant fraction of such transactions in many developing countries today are coercive".

Indeed, labour coercion is at the heart of much of the literature on long run development and institutional change (Domar 1970, Acemoglu et al. 2001, Engerman and Sokoloff 2002, Nunn 2008, Dell 2010, Naidu and Yuchtman 2013, Bobonis and Morrow 2014, Ashraf et al. 2017). Despite this, rigorous empirical evidence on labour coercion is scarce and is mostly focused on relating present-day outcomes to historical labour coercion.

The term 'labour coercion' is used quite broadly to describe the use of, or threat of, force in convincing workers to accept labour contracts they otherwise would not.

However, labour coercion can take two quite distinct forms, and this important distinction is often not well articulated. The distinction is best seen by imagining a standard principal-agent framework. In broad terms, a firm (the principal) offers a labour contract to a worker (the agent). If effort is not observable, it can only be inferred from the outcome, which can be 'good' or 'bad' (e.g. high output or low output). The firm can incentivise its workers to exert effort by offering them a higher wage if the good outcome materialises. The difference in the wages the firm pays in the good and bad state needs to be sufficiently high that workers exert effort (i.e. the 'incentive compatibility constraint' binds). The second constraint on the contract is that workers may walk away from it if they can earn a higher expected wage elsewhere. The expected wage (averaging over the effort-dependent outcome probabilities) thus needs to exceed the worker's outside option (i.e. the 'participation constraint' binds).

Coercion of the worker can be quite simply introduced into this setup by allowing firms to pay a 'negative wage' if the bad outcome occurs. This is simply the more cost-effective flipside of paying a higher wage if the good outcome occurs. Negative wages describe a world in which workers can be 'punished' (i.e. a world with coercion). In this way, slavery, serfdom, or indenture can be nested inside a standard economic framework and, indeed, there is a long tradition in economics that does this (Chwe 1990). However, the participation constraint still binds when there is coercion. Even in the extreme case of slavery, outside options were usually not zero so long as slaves could run away and had a chance of evading capture. The interaction of the two constraints implies that there is complementarity in coercive activities – firms can punish workers more severely if they can also reduce their outside options.

In many modern-day labour markets, it may be entirely impossible for a firm to reduce a worker's outside options and the complementarity between coercion that punishes workers and coercion that reduces outside options can therefore safely be ignored. However, for countries at the early stages of structural transformation – where workers' outside options are not to work for a different firm or in a different sector, but to be self-employed in the informal sector as a yeoman farmer or artisan (a state that describes most of modern economic history and many developing countries today) 1 – coercion that reduces workers' outside options was and still is critical.

This was recognised by early development economists, as attested, for example, by Arthur Lewis' famous quote that "the fact that the wage level in the capitalist sector depends upon earnings in the subsistence sector is of immense political importance, since its effect is that capitalists have a direct interest in holding down the productivity of the subsistence workers. Thus the owners of plantations, if they are influential in government, are often found engaged in turning the peasants off their lands" (Lewis 1954).

[Oct 31, 2017] The threat of offshored jobs and outsourced supply chains is wielded to discipline the domestic workforce in the United States, and Zucman points out that tax havens have effectively allowed the wealthy to choose their own tax system and regulatory regime

Oct 31, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Class Warfare

"The Unseen Threat of Capital Mobility" [ The Boston Review ]. "Two new books link rising inequality to unseen forces: tax havens in economist Gabriel Zucman's case, and overseas labor and environmental exploitation in historian Erik Loomis's. The adverse consequences of the free movement of capital suffuse both narratives. Loomis recognizes that the threat of offshored jobs and outsourced supply chains is wielded to discipline the domestic workforce in the United States, and Zucman points out that tax havens have effectively allowed the wealthy to choose their own tax system and regulatory regime. They each question received wisdom and ideologically charged models in which "globalization" is an inexorable force innocent of politics or power, which operates to either universal benefit or at worst whose ill effects can be compensated. In fact, thanks to globalization, the economic body -- what its ideological affiliates call 'The Market' -- is able to transcend the national body politic, to the benefit of multinational corporations and the wealthy individuals who own them."

"Why You're Not Getting a Raise" [ The Minskys ]. "A sure way to speed up wage growth again is fiscal stimulus. Government spending lifts aggregate demand directly and effectively. If enough spending is injected into the economy, it will create enough jobs to bring full employment. The momentum and labor scarcity created by the stimulus will force wages up and give workers and labor unions more bargaining power. A Job Guarantee Program , if ever implemented, would effectively set a wage floor in the economy, since any person working at a lower wage than the Job Guarantee offers will be given work in the public sector.:

"One of Arkansas' top politicians relies on unpaid workers from a local drug rehabilitation center at his plastics company, which makes dock floats sold at Home Depot and Walmart" [ Review News ]. "Hendren Plastics, owned by Arkansas State Senate Majority Leader Jim Hendren, partners with a rehab program under scrutiny for making participants work grueling jobs for free, under the threat of prison, according to interviews with former workers and a new lawsuit." That reminds me of something

"What makes me tired when organising with middle class comrades" [ Guardian ].

"What I've observed over and over again is this inherent need for middle class people to censor, control and mediate emotions. There's a deep fear of conflict, loosing status and control. I've been told to be less angry on demos, less emotional at events and more serious. Stop telling me how to feel. When you've had a life of teachers, social workers and probation officers telling you how you should act, you don't need the same mediating middle class behaviour in your collectives."

[Oct 27, 2017] Why didn't Democrats pass legislation in 2009 to eliminate the right to work legislation by states? The answeer is they want Wall street money.

Oct 27, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

DJG , October 27, 2017 at 2:34 pm

Portside article about NAFTA, unions, and Canadian unions: Here is a paragraph from the underlying article at New York Magazine about the three sponsors:

On Wednesday, Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, and Kirsten Gillibrand announced their agreement -- and introduced legislation to ban "right-to-work" laws throughout the United States.

[NY Mag article is dated 20 Sept 2017]

The sooner we collectively kill off the feudal idea of "right to work," the better. Right now, though, we're only what -- sixty, seventy–years too late?

Scott , October 27, 2017 at 3:41 pm

Why didn't Democrats pass legislation in 2009 to eliminate it?

It was one of the few policies that I could think of what would actually, you know, help the win elections. But then I realized the the purpose of the DNC isn't actually to win elections, it's to raise money from Wall Street, Hollywood and Silcon Valley to pay for consultants.

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

Why didn't Democrats pass legislation in 2009 to eliminate it?

Yeah, Captain Hope'N-Change failed to deliver labor any meaningful legislation during his eight years in office.

Labor was essentially told "We put some friendly faces on the NLRB and in the judiciary. Be thankful, and forget about card check or right to work preemption."

Sid_finster , October 27, 2017 at 7:40 pm

" the purpose of the DNC isn't actually to win elections, it's to raise money from Wall Street, Hollywood and Silcon Valley to pay for consultants."

Money.

Henry Moon Pie , October 27, 2017 at 4:25 pm

Good luck with that. The Rs ads write themselves.

And it's a bad look anyway. With the basically insurmountable barriers to organizing under the Wagner Act these days, a focus on making sure the money keeps flowing, much of it ending up in the Ds campaign coffers. How about repealing Taft-Hartley?

Maybe unions would be better off with less bureaucracy and more member participation. Do it like the Wobs: you come to the meeting, you pay your dues, you voice your opinion and you vote.

Huey Long , October 27, 2017 at 5:16 pm

How about repealing Taft-Hartley?

Here here!

Repealing Taft-Hartley would bring back:

The Closed Shop
Jurisdictional Strikes
Secondary Boycotts
Common Situs Picketing
A Ban on Right-to-Work
A Ban on presidential interventions in strikes
Supervisor's Unions
Employer Nuetrality

Hopefully this happens before I die. I would absolutely love to see the yacht and learjet owning class in tears!

a different chris , October 27, 2017 at 6:06 pm

>The Rs ads write themselves.

They not only write themselves they've already been written and burned into the brain. True or not, there they are. So what are you risking?

The thing is the D-time is well past the point (no House, no Senate, no Pres, vanishing amount of Govs, vanishing amount of State leges..) where saying "That's not true!!" can be considered a winning strategy, even if you could show me what you've won by saying it.

How about "hell yeah that's how we feel, America rocked (when we had strong labor)". Stand up to the bully for once, again whaddya got to lose now. I often wonder what Steve Gilliard would say at this point, he always made sure that us white people realized that something was better than nothing when you were looking at absolutely nothing at all . but things have sunk so low would he still feel that what has become nothing more than an orderly, but continuous retreat should be sustained? Or is it time to dig in and really declare full throated opposition?

(like the rest of your post, just think the time to avoid things is past)

DJG , October 27, 2017 at 6:13 pm

Henry Moon Pie: So? Let's repeal the Wagner Act and Taft-Hartley. And let's not pre-defeat ourselves.

Just as Lambert keeps reminding us, Who would have though five years ago that the momentum is now toward single-payer health insurance even if the current couple of bills don't pass? For years, John Conyers carried on the fight almost single-handedly. And now we have influential physicians stumping for single-payer.

[Oct 17, 2017] Agents of Neoliberal Globalization Corporate Networks, State Structures, and Trade Policy by Michael C. Dreiling, Derek Y. Darve

Notable quotes:
"... Amid the global financial crisis of 2008, a new chapter in the history of neoliberal globalization emerged. Simple assumptions about markets as pure and neutral arbiters of economic transactions faced new challenges from beyond the pages of economic history and sociology. ..."
"... The apparent triumph of global capitalism came into temporary question, and with it, the reigning economic paradigm of neoliberalism. ..."
"... The specter of the Occupy movement in 1011, with its sweeping critique of corporate power, took root in ways not seen in the United States since the 1999 World Trade Organization protests in Seattle. ..."
"... In response, proponents of neoliberalism heightened their demands for a market-governed society, further tax cuts, deregulation, trade liberalization, and more. From the GOP and Tea Party's politics of austerity arose a fresh defense of free market politics in the United States, as well as a rcinvigorated denial of class as a structuring force in US society. These social tensions persist even as neoliberalism, as an ideology and a model for institutional restructuring, exhibits remarkable resilience. ..."
"... From the early 1980s onward, it provided the basic policy framework for "structural adjustment" in the global south, for "rescuing" the welfare state in the global north, and as a vision for a global economy unbound from centrally planned markets, dying industries, or rent-seeking interest groups. ..."
"... One cornerstone of this paradigm that remains mostly unchallenged among political elites is the principal of "free trade." Broadly speaking, neoliberalism and free trade have provided the ideological framework for most reciprocal trade agreements since the early 1980s, when President Reagan initiated a wave of new trade policies in February 1982 during a speech to the Organization of American States (OAS). ..."
"... This formulaic discourse of free markets, free trade, and personal liberty - hallmark features of Reagan's popular rhetoric - also captured what would later be acknowledged as core principles of an incipient neoliberal ideology that promised a restoration of US economic hegemony (Mudge 2008). Domestically and internationally, neoliberal trade proposals were generally presented in tandem with calls for privatization, deregulation, and a reduction in the size of government spending as a share of GDP. ..."
"... Was it the fever pitch of a new' policy ideology acted out by government partisans and policy makers committed to its mantra? Or did the very economic actors benefitting from market liberalization act politically and concertedly to unleash it? And if so, did this coordinated corporate political campaign arise from a reorganized and newly emboldened economic class, or simply through ad hoc alignments created by shared organizational interests? Specifically, can we detect class political signatures on the wave of free trade policies, like the CBI, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), or the World Trade Organization (WTO), that erected the institutional framework of neoliberal globalization? 6 ..."
"... We believe that our approach, rooted in the "elite studies" and "power structure" research traditions, expands (and, in some areas, corrects) conventional explanations of neoliberal trade and globalization that emphasize market, institutional, and ideological factors, while neglecting to incorporate a concept of class political action ..."
Oct 17, 2017 | www.amazon.com

Amid the global financial crisis of 2008, a new chapter in the history of neoliberal globalization emerged. Simple assumptions about markets as pure and neutral arbiters of economic transactions faced new challenges from beyond the pages of economic history and sociology.

The apparent triumph of global capitalism came into temporary question, and with it, the reigning economic paradigm of neoliberalism. From the left wing of US politics, a newly invigorated discourse of class and income inequality began to challenge corporate power with calls for greater accountability on Wall Street. The specter of the Occupy movement in 1011, with its sweeping critique of corporate power, took root in ways not seen in the United States since the 1999 World Trade Organization protests in Seattle.

In response, proponents of neoliberalism heightened their demands for a market-governed society, further tax cuts, deregulation, trade liberalization, and more. From the GOP and Tea Party's politics of austerity arose a fresh defense of free market politics in the United States, as well as a rcinvigorated denial of class as a structuring force in US society. These social tensions persist even as neoliberalism, as an ideology and a model for institutional restructuring, exhibits remarkable resilience.

Neoliberalism - which promises to efficiently generate wealth while disciplining states and bureaucracies with market forces - took shape over the course of decades. As a kind of governing philosophy, it has been offered, variously, as a remedy for economic stagnation, bureaucratic bloat, corruption, inflation, and more (Bourdieu 1999; Mirowski and Plehwe 2009; Mudge 2008). From the early 1980s onward, it provided the basic policy framework for "structural adjustment" in the global south, for "rescuing" the welfare state in the global north, and as a vision for a global economy unbound from centrally planned markets, dying industries, or rent-seeking interest groups.

One cornerstone of this paradigm that remains mostly unchallenged among political elites is the principal of "free trade." Broadly speaking, neoliberalism and free trade have provided the ideological framework for most reciprocal trade agreements since the early 1980s, when President Reagan initiated a wave of new trade policies in February 1982 during a speech to the Organization of American States (OAS). There, Reagan unilaterally called for a Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) that would "make use of the magic of the marketplace of the Americas, to earn their own way toward self-sustaining growth" (quoted in Polanyi-Levitt 1985: 232)/ This formulaic discourse of free markets, free trade, and personal liberty - hallmark features of Reagan's popular rhetoric - also captured what would later be acknowledged as core principles of an incipient neoliberal ideology that promised a restoration of US economic hegemony (Mudge 2008). Domestically and internationally, neoliberal trade proposals were generally presented in tandem with calls for privatization, deregulation, and a reduction in the size of government spending as a share of GDP. 5

Although a large and varied group of economists, policy wonks, and government leaders supported the general principles of neoliberal globalization, the "market fever" of the 1980s did not spread simply because certain individuals espoused free trade and domestic deregulation. The fact that many of these noncorporate actors assume a central role in many popular and academic accounts of this era does not reduce the many empirical problems with this view.

In particular, the problem with this "triumphant" vision of neoliberal history is the manner in which the very engines of capital behind the market mania - globalizing corporations appear as liberated historical agents acting out their market freedoms, not as class political actors foisting new institutional realities on the world. We contest this prevailing view and instead ask who liberated, or in Blyth's (2001) terminology, "disembedded," these markets from national social and political institutions?

Was it the fever pitch of a new' policy ideology acted out by government partisans and policy makers committed to its mantra? Or did the very economic actors benefitting from market liberalization act politically and concertedly to unleash it? And if so, did this coordinated corporate political campaign arise from a reorganized and newly emboldened economic class, or simply through ad hoc alignments created by shared organizational interests? Specifically, can we detect class political signatures on the wave of free trade policies, like the CBI, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), or the World Trade Organization (WTO), that erected the institutional framework of neoliberal globalization? 6

The answer to these questions and, in particular, the role of class agency within these macroeconomic shifts, is not simply a question of whether one likes Karl Marx or Adam Smith. Notwithstanding the recent tendency to equate the mention of class with "class warfare," it is our contention that removing class from accounts of recent economic history creates, at best, a narrow and distorted perspective on this important era. The primary purpose of this book, then, is to introduce and empirically validate a concept of class agency that deepens our understanding of both the trade policy-making apparatus as well as the neoliberal globalization "project" more generally.

We believe that our approach, rooted in the "elite studies" and "power structure" research traditions, expands (and, in some areas, corrects) conventional explanations of neoliberal trade and globalization that emphasize market, institutional, and ideological factors, while neglecting to incorporate a concept of class political action .

Our general line of argument historicizes US trade policy and neoliberal globalization, highlighting the active and at times contradictory processes that shape the state and class relationships responsible for propelling institutions, like the WTO, into existence. Following McMichael (2001: 207), we concur that globalization is best understood as a "historical project rather than a culminating process." Treating neoliberal trade policies as part of a much larger historical project - made and remade by collective actors - offers a more realistic and empirically grounded framework for exploring the intersection of class and state actors in the political articulation of globalization.

Whereas much of the literature on globalization assigns an important role to the economic activity of multinational corporations, the force of their collective political agency in pressuring states to ratify trade agreements and enact institutional reforms is mostly attributed to narrow sectoral interests, like factor mobility', economies of scale, or various industry-specific characteristics...

[Oct 11, 2017] The effects of opioids and heroin in Huntington, W.Va

Oct 11, 2017 | www.unz.com

republic, October 11, 2017 at 4:14 pm GMT

@Issac Nothing could be more laughable than to suggest sixty years of deck-stacking against middle and working class whites was a design that favored them over minorities. Hedges clearly hates those elites, but appears to share the majority of their biases. re: working class whites

Brilliant documentary by Louis Theroux, first aired last Sunday on BBC2

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQ1tszdWoTs

It shows the effects of opioids and heroin in Huntington, W.Va

[Oct 08, 2017] Profiting Without Producing How Finance Exploits Us All by Costas Lapavitsas

Notable quotes:
"... the lives of people in the Western world have reached levels of unprecedented material well-being and there is a middle class who are not emiserated materially. ..."
"... So the surplus value ( profit ) which is socially produced by a community gets appropriated and its potential productive value is turned to the use and benefit of a very tiny percentage of the population who produce the wealth socially, rather than redistributed into the community according to the wishes of the community. ..."
Oct 07, 2017 | www.amazon.com
Introduction

The 2000s were an extraordinary period for finance in terms of prices, profits, and volume of transactions, but also in terms of influence and arrogance. By the middle of the decade a vast bubble had been inflated in the US and the UK, the bursting of which could not be reliably timed but whose aftermath was likely to be devastating. Trivial as this point might seem in 2013, it was almost impossible to convey it at the time to spe- cialists and students of finance, and even to activists and socialists. Public perceptions were dominated by the so-called expert skills of the financial system in 'slicing and dicing' risk, and by the putative wisdom of the 'Great Moderation' in inflation policy. Structural crises were a thing of the past, or of the developing world, not of mature countries, where institutions were strong and economists well trained. It seemed that finance had discovered the perpetuum mobile of profit making.

By the middle of the first decade of the new century, it was also apparent that the processes under way amounted to more than financial excess. The bubble reflected profound changes in the conduct of non-financial enterprises, banks, and households. Alter years of financial ascendancy, the agents of capitalist accumulation assigned to financial operations a weight that was historically unprecedented. Finance was pivotal to profit making and to organizing everyday life, but also to determining economic policy as a whole. Mature capitalism had become financialized.

This book was initially conceived in that context, and its aim was to analyse the ascendancy of finance and the concomitant financialization of capitalism. By bringing to bear previous work on money and finance, the intention was to develop a theoretical analysis of financialization with clear Marxist characteristics. It was to be a book that would draw on Anglo-Saxon political economy and Japanese Uno Marxism, while being familiar with mainstream theory of money and finance. It would thus contribute to filling the hole still gaping in political economy in this field.

As is often the case with plans of this sort, reality intervened. In August 2007 the US money market had a heart attack, and in August-September 2008 the global financial system had a near-death experience. The bubble had indeed burst and a catastrophe was in the offing. The destructive influence of finance on the rest of the economy had become evident, as had the role of the state in supporting and promoting financialization. More than that, however, it soon became clear that this was a structural crisis that would not go away quickly. The bursting of the bubble had ushered in a crisis of financialization that cast fresh light on the historic transformation of mature capitalism during the preceding decades. It became necessary to re-examine the underlying tendencies of financialization, focusing in particular on the sources of financial profit. The book would have to be delayed.

And then in 2010-2012 the crisis took an even more dangerous turn. States had become perilously exposed to debt because recession had reduced tax revenues, while rescuing finance had imposed fresh costs on the exchequer. A bubble inflated by private capital had resulted in a crisis of public finance. Rising state indebtedness created turmoil of extraordinary ferocity in the eurozone, bringing into sharp relief the split between core and periphery, pushing several peripheral countries toward default, and threatening a break-up of the monetary union. The spectre of a gigantic crisis hung over the world economy. It became clear that financialization would have to be rethought still further in view of its monetary dimension, particularly the precariousness of its domestic and international monetary underpinnings.

The crisis was far from over at the time of writing this book. However, the temptation had to be resisted to delay publication still further in the expectation that other important features of financialization would emerge. It was time to submit to the public sphere the analysis of the structural and historical content of financialization, even if that meant trying to hit a moving target. The monetary and financial aspects of the transformation of capitalism during the last four decades have been increasingly discussed by political economy, particularly its Marxist strain. This book has a distinctive argument to make regarding financialization, including particularly the predatory and expropriating character of financial profit and its implications for social stratification. Light could thus be shed on the tendency to crisis that has characterized financialization since its inception.

kievite on October 8, 2017

Insightful book on "financialization"

The concept of "casino capitalism" which was put forward by Susan Strange in her 1983 book is closely related to the concept of "financialization". So this is not new and not the first attempt to analyze this aspect of neoliberalism. But the author managed to write a very interesting and insightful book.

Again, the fact that financialization is at the core of neoliberalism (as the term "Casino Capitalism" implies) is well established, but the details of how this mechanism works and how finance institutions position themselves under neoliberalism as universal intermediaries of almost any economic and even social activity: education (via student loans), pensions (via 401k Plans), heath (via heath insurance), consumption (via credit cards), extracting rents from each of them is not well known or understood.

This is the area in which this book provide some deep insights. Brief overview of the book from the author can be found in his lecture on YouTube (Profiting Without Producing How Finance Exploits Us All -- A lecture by Costas Lapavitsas ) and in his Guardian article "Finance's hold on our everyday life must be broken ".

Converting the whole economy into one giant casino where you can bet on almost anything, commodities prices, interests rate and even volatility of the market has profound social effects. And those effects are different on large enterprises and small enterprises and population at large.

The author argues that "Financialization represents a historic and deep-seated transformation of mature capitalism. Big businesses have become "financialised" as they have ample profits to finance investment, rely less on banks for loans and play financial games with available funds. Big banks, in turn, have become more distant from big businesses, turning to profits from trading in open financial markets and from lending to households. Households have become "financialised" too, as public provision in housing, education, health, pensions and other vital areas has been partly replaced by private provision, access to which is mediated by the financial system. Not surprisingly, households have accumulated a tremendous volume of financial assets and liabilities over the past four decades. "

When like in casino sheer luck begins to determine more and more of what happens to financial well-being of people due to their exposition to stock markets (hypertrophied under neoliberalism into some incredible monster due to 401K plans participation) , and skill, effort, initiative, determination and hard work count for less and less, then inevitably faith and confidence in the social and political system quickly fades.

That's what happened with casino capitalism in the USA and that's why Trump was elected.

Paradoxically, as people more and more play in stock market (including with their 401K money) then respect the system less and less. In a way neoliberalism brings with is 'casino capitalism" mentality" its own demise. Frustration and anger become sharper and prone to be violently expressed when the realm of inequality becomes too large and when the system seems to operate so very unequally and biased toward the top 1% or, more correctly, the top 0.01%. While many people find themselves without jobs and without any opportunity to earn a decent living. Thrown out of "economy for winners." That's the problem Pope Francis "LAUDATO SI" was devoted to.

As author states "This book has a distinctive argument to make regarding financialization, including particularly the predatory and expropriating character of financial profit and its implications for social stratification. Light could thus be shed on the tendency to crisis that has characterized financialization since its inception."

Highly recommended.

merjet December 2, 2014

Clear and informative but a Marxist bias

I discovered this book by chance. The title looked intriguing and I have seen very few books about financialization, so I decided to read it. It was good enough to keep my interest, despite the influence by the distorting lens of Marxist thought. It doesn't live up to its title of showing how financial people profit without producing and exploit us all. (I make an exception for those in government who do that.) Indeed, despite "exploit" in the subtitle, it appears in the book only two other places, which likely helped hold my interest. Also, the writing was good.

The author makes a fundamental distinction between productive capital and financial capital. Add '-ist' to each to denote the people. I think it's safe to say the book implicitly says:

1. The former are capital providers who also work in the productive business. The business produces non-financial products, e.g. food, or services, e.g. transportation.

2. The latter provide the non-financial business capital but don't work in said business, like outside stockholders, bondholders and lenders.

Lenders are mostly banks. The author is not critical of productive capital, but, as a Marxist, he regards financial capitalists as expropriators who profit without producing. The fact that many of these financial capitalists are individuals who worked productively for decades and are now retired and depend on income from said capital for living expenses is conveniently omitted.

Marx's notions of money and exchange value are flawed. Firstly, money is the medium of _indirect_ exchange, which Marx didn't recognize and Lapavitsas's reference to Carl Menger didn't recognize. Also, Austrians like Menger realize that indirect exchange increases with the division of labor. Despite its huge significance, division of labor is an idea barely worth mention by Marx, and then only negatively. Also, indirect exchange encompasses more than just "spot market" exchanges. It includes X now for Y later, like in a forward or futures contract. It also includes both X and Y being money and Y is indeterminate when X occurs. X and Y may even be in different currencies and utilize a financial mediator.

Page 200 says, "the financial system is an intermediate entity that does not produce value." Page 201 says the financial system's services include creation of credit money, safekeeping of funds, money transfers, facilitating foreign exchange, mobilization of loanable capital, and turning that into loans. "The financial, consequently, acts as the nerves and brains of the capitalist economy." Extending his metaphor, what he considers the productive part of the economy must be the bones, muscle, and other organs. If that isn't a bad analogy, it's an amazing contradiction of Marxist thought unrecognized by the author. It implies that the nerves and brains of an animal's body provide no value to the rest of the body.

Marxist thought cherry-picks who is a producer or worker. Those in roles readily visible to making products or providing services, and roles easy to understand rank high. Roles less visible and understandable like research and development, executive-level decision-making, marketing, and especially financial people rank low and may even be considered expropriators. Union leaders and organizers whose livelihood is extracted from union dues? Many government employees? While the author gives a significant role to governments (states) and central banks in financialization, Lapavitsas blames mostly financial capitalists. Governments and central banks are more like their assistants. However, what people typically call "capitalist economies" are more properly called "mixed economies" with extensive government control well beyond prevention and punishment for coercion and fraud. So assigning all blame to capitalism is quite biased.

Interest is often not simply exploitation of labor. It is mainly a reward for savings and the cost of borrowing. The author occasionally refers to savings with the perjorative term "hoarding." Consider those retirees mentioned above again.

The author often attributes to surplus value predation and exploitation, as if all surplus value does is put money in the financial capitalist's pocket and extracts from labor. Not so. Surplus value, i.e. profit, is often the source of funds for growth, upgrades, and replacement of old capital. The author himself acknowledges this when he writes about 'internal' financing, along with graphs showing 'internal' financing over time averaging about 100% in the U.S. He does not integrate these two things, which shows an incoherence in Marxist thought. Surplus value can also be the reward from entrepreneurship.

About mortgages the author says: "In short, the money revenue of workers is transformed into loanable capital at a stroke, allowing financial intermediaries to absorb parts of it as financial profit by trading securities that are based on future wage payments. The path is thus opened for financial institutions to bring to bear predatory practices reflecting the systematic difference in power and outlook between financial institutions and workers" (p. 167).

My comments:

1. Loanable capital doesn't arise simply because a worker wants a mortgage. Unless the money is newly created "out of thin air" by government-backed banks, loanable capital is the result of somebody saving, the saver not spending the money on something else.

2. The worker's future wages are in fact a condition for obtaining the mortgage. Rather than being exploited, the worker is given the opportunity to become a homeowner at the stroke of a pen.

3. Regarding working people you know who have purchased a house with a mortgage, which may include you, have they felt elated or exploited?

4. All or most working people living in many of the poorer countries of the world can't even get a mortgage. There is not enough savings to offer loanable capital to support a mortgage market.

5. Granted, there have been victims of predatory practices by lenders, but lenders also become victims if the borrower defaults on the mortgage. Also, such predatory practices by lenders is a recent phenomena for a _part_ of the market for mortgages, hardly characteristic of the mortgage market generally.

Chapter 9 is a pretty good description of the recent financial crisis. It also covers different Marxist theories about how crises develop. All typically claim that capitalism is inherently unstable due to 'contradictions' in production. Unlike free market advocates, they hardly ever cite government intervention as a cause of instability. They don't distinguish between a capitalist economy and mixed economy.

The final chapter, Controlling Finance, addresses what has been done and what the author wishes can be done. It makes an interesting distinction between market-negating and market-conforming regulation. I don't agree with the author's utopian visions about government ownership and/or control of finance. Indeed, I found it puzzling to see after (1) his earlier saying elected politicians are plain dishonest (p. 195), (2) describing how much states and central banks have aided financial capitalists in recent decades with deregulation and bailouts, and (3) his saying "there are no clear paths to regulatory change" (p. 324). By the way, a good way to avoid such utopian visions is to compare East and West Germany, North and South Korea, and the USSR and the USA.

7 comments 22 people found this helpful.

Stergios D. Marangos 1 year ago

This reviewer is more concerned with trying to critique Marx than this book. Needless to say, the second someone says surplus value = profit ( not to mention the muddle that surplus value can come from entrepreneurship) you know there is something wrong...

merjet 2 years ago (Edited) In reply to an earlier post Robert Fenton 2 years ago

Fenton: "The contradictions of money are fairly evident from this point."

A thing having more than one attribute does not make a "contradiction." I suggest you learn some logic.

Fenton: "Difference between capitalist and mixed economy makes no sense."

I suppose the difference between voluntary and coerced, or non-political versus political, makes no sense to you either.

Fenton: "For Marx, who lived in the 19th century, the idea of a "free market" made no sense at all."

No wonder he was so confused and fabricated nonsense about it.

Fenton: "The USA practiced protectionism to build up its industrial capacity, the USSR directed production from central committee."

The consequence of USSR's centrally-directed agricultural production was millions dying by starvation. Ditto for China. Perhaps you should read the histories of countries that have implemented Marxist ideas. While I don't approve of protectionism, it is paltry compared to millions dying by starvation.

Fenton: "This review ... is laden with ideological positions."

The pot calls the kettle black.

Robert Fenton 2 years ago (Edited)

People without an intimate knowledge of Marxism should probably refrain from commenting on it like they know what they are talking about. First of all, Marx's theory of money does account for "indirect" exchange: this is key to his entire dialectical edifice. Prices do not equal values, they are merely representations of value (i.e., exchange value). But Marx's theory of money is even more complex, and rests on a three-fold determination of money as 1.) measure of value, 2.) means of circulation and exchange (your "indirect" means), and 3.) store of value. The contradictions of money are fairly evident from this point. The Austrians assume the problematic position by conflating the value of money with its price: it is what it is. Their wholesale acceptance of Say's Law is troubling too, considering they accept money as "indirect" means of exchange. But by failing to recognize money's other determinations, they basically treat it as direct exchange in theorem.

Secondly, to claim that the division of labor is an afterthought for Marxist thought is asinine. It is literally at the core of his entire Critique. Marx actually has a rosier interpretation of it than Adam Smith (see book 3 Wealth of Nations). Marx's entire critique of political economy (read: critique of economic science and practice) is that capitalists need to extract surplus value from nominally free workers. How do they do this? Both absolutely, by extending duration of work day, and relatively, buy increasing productivity (in practice, Marx acknowledges that we can see a combination of both). This is not visible in the wage or in the act of exchange, but in the relations of production and the dual character of the commodity "labor-power." But the division of labor is actually the basis for new forms of "Co-operation" (perhaps the best chapter in Capital Vol. I) and solidarity. It is dialectical. If you only see the negative in Marx it is because you have an ideological predisposition to dislike his work, or you don't understand how dialectics work--I would say it is probably both.

M-C-M' (circuit of expanded production); M-M' (fictitious capital arising from speculative credit economy). You need to read about this on your own. Central to the entire argument in Capital.

I don't think you understand Marx's notion of "exploitation," which I have briefly summarized above. It is not treating someone badly, it is not some morally repugnant slavery, per se. It is a legal means of covering the ways in which surpluses are generated in capitalist society. Workers make things but never receive the values they produce back as wages. There is a temporal issue at play, but it is all highly predicated on how capitalists must work: they need to constantly expand their capital (increase profits and invest those profits into expanding production, etc., accumulation for accumulation's sake). A capitalist pays a worker a certain wage, the worker works as the capitalist wants him/her to, the worker produces something they don't have control over, the capitalist receives (if the product can find a market) money back from that product that needs to be more than the outlays in fixed capital (buildings, supplies, equipment) and variable capital (labor) he originally spent to produce. This is exploitation. Mortgaging and other consumption-based loans are basically a means of recouping surpluses that were paid to workers in wages. Marx clearly does not buy into any these of material immiseration (Ricardo's Iron law of wages), nor does he deny the productive capabilities of capitalist economies. He says workers can get paid more for labor-power than the value of labor, it is in Capital. This is part of the entire business cycle theory Marx develops.

Difference between capitalist and mixed economy makes no sense. It is a product of ridiculous bifurcation of economic and political spheres prevalent in bourgeois (liberal) thought, hence economic liberalism and political liberalism. Capitalist economies are characterized by the generalization of the commodity, wage labor, and private (i.e., not collective, which a class of government bureaucrats certainly aren't) ownership of the means of production (factories, tools, etc.). Marx and later Marxist show exactly how something like a welfare state is untenable, the law of value prohibits it. This goes back to your issue understanding what productive laborers are for Marx (btw, research and development is part of productive labor). For Marx, who lived in the 19th century (read Karl Polanyi's Great Transformation), the idea of a "free market" made no sense at all. The political and economic forces were aligned, forcing peasants from their lands and into towns and factories ("On so-called Primitive Accumulation"). But why should we avoid utopian visions by comparing "mixed economies" with "mixed economies"? Perhaps you should read the histories about the countries you listed. The USA practiced protectionism to build up its industrial capacity, the USSR directed production from central committee. South Korean had a capitalist dictator who controlled the entire country and murdered anyone with communist sympathies, the North did roughly the same thing. Two sides of the same coin. The real utopia is the "free market." It never has and never will exist because there are too many factors that impinge upon it. If you want to see something approximating a "free market" come down to Latin America. Even in "socialist" Ecuador things are more laissez-faire.

I have not read this book yet, but I plan to. This review shows an utter lack of understand, however, for even the most basic points of Marxist critiques. It is laden with ideological positions and insinuates a variety of banalities about Marxism and communism which don't hold true on close scrutiny of Marx's work. Please educate yourself.

Frank 2 years ago (Edited)

There is a critical response to your example of house ownership. Again that gets very complex but, just a part of that response, to your 2nd point:
"2. The worker's future wages are in fact a condition for obtaining the mortgage. Rather than being exploited, the worker is given the opportunity to become a homeowner at the stroke of a pen."

This could be described as a bargain with the devil. The worker has to work extra to pay 3 times the current market value of the home due to the interest. The capitalist makes a good profit out of that.

Frank 2 years ago (Edited)

So what I think you miss here is a connection between capitalism criticised as a means of exploitation and capitalism described as a working economic system with its own character and good and bad points.

So what is being gotten at, amongst other points, in Marxist critiques of capitalism is that:

  1. Capitalism is a very productive system
  2. Its productivity has to do with the division of labour and refinements of productive activity which is linked into supply and demand
  3. But Marx's point, amongst others, was that this would lead to a polarisation into a class of capitalists who became richer through appropriation of surplus value (including its redeployment in further profit producing enterprises) and those "workers" who produce by transforming the raw materials into actual goods and services who become or remain emiserated over time. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
  4. This last point 3 is quite possibly historically inaccurate in the sense that capitalism is enormously productive and has produced increasing levels of material well being through this increased production. Hence the lives of people in the Western world have reached levels of unprecedented material well-being and there is a middle class who are not emiserated materially.

But there is some sort of residual truth in that given the increasing levels of inequality on the one hand and global impoverishment on the other. In respect of global impoverishment it is credible to propose that the billions who live in poverty can't attain to the levels of affluence in the West due to the ecological limits of capitalism - that the western lifestyle of the wealthy is a phantasmorgoria to them. So its arguable that an alternative means that might be more socialist might in fact be needed for that relief of impoverishment to happen. That proposal needs to be moderated by the fact that there is a lot that can be done through refinements of production without coming into conflict with those ecological limits. For instance cities could be made a lot more liveable without increasing ecological damage.

So the main point that you miss (in an otherwise clear critical statement) is that a tiny percentage of the global population own and control a huge percentage of the world's wealth.

In part this is done through the translation of the production of goods and services into financial ie monetary equivalents which is distributed through private ownership and systems thereof into further capitalist enterprise. That seems to me what the book is actually getting at.

So I would think that "exploitation" would need to be conceived of as some sort of taking of an undeserved share of the productive potential of a social project ie the surplus value that is produced (surplus to whatever is needed for production or reproduction) then that becomes exclusively available to the capitalist entrepreneur who then reinvests it unlocking further profitability and production. So its the productive potential for further deployment that is expropriated by the capitalist entrepreneur.

This surplus value is produced by all those who work in the enterprise, in other words socially, but then that is leveraged into further productive activity which in turn increases the financial wealth of the capitalist. The entrepreneurial capitalist is also, initially, a participating worker, eg an organiser, co-ordinator, innovator and even sometimes an inventor but once enough surplus value is realised the system begins to work for him instead of his own activity being responsible so he makes a transition himself. Eventually the entrepreneurial capitalist is virtually free from the necessity of work.

So the surplus value ( profit ) which is socially produced by a community gets appropriated and its potential productive value is turned to the use and benefit of a very tiny percentage of the population who produce the wealth socially, rather than redistributed into the community according to the wishes of the community.

Most of these comments of mine are, I know, just partial thoughts needing to be made more adequate rather than completed. I am not a committed Marxist but neither am I in love with capitalism as a system. In fact I wouldn't claim much authority here just a partial understanding at a preliminary sort of level of something complex that I don't understand fully. The mixed modes that you talk about seem to me part of a continuing search for ways of reconciling socialism and capitalism. Hence my way of expressing this as what he or Marx is "trying to get at".

[Oct 05, 2017] How Billionaires become Billionaires - The Unz Review

Notable quotes:
"... Billionaires in the commercial conglomerates, like Walmart, exploit workers by paying poverty wages and providing few, if any, benefits. Walmart earns $16 billion dollar a year in profits by paying its workers between $10 and $13 an hour and relying on state and federal assistance to provide services to the families of its impoverished workers through Medicaid and food stamps. ..."
"... Inequality is not a result of 'technology' and 'education'- contemporary euphemisms for the ruling class cult of superiority – as liberals and conservative economists and journalists like to claim. Inequalities are a result of low wages, based on big profits, financial swindles, multi-trillion dollar public handouts and multi-billion-dollar tax evasion. ..."
"... Workers pay disproportional taxes for education, health, social and public services and subsidies for billionaires ..."
"... First and foremost, billionaires and their political, legal and corporate associates dominate the political parties. They designate the leaders and key appointees, thus ensuring that budgets and policies will increase their profits, erode social benefits for the masses and weaken the political power of popular organizations ..."
"... As a result, wage and salary workers are less organized and less influential; they work longer and for less pay, suffer greater workplace insecurity and injuries – physical and mental – fall into decline and disability, drop out of the system, die earlier and poorer, and, in the process, provide unimaginable profits for the billionaire class ..."
"... The bulk of repatriated profits are directed to buy back stock to increase dividends for investors; they are not invested in the productive economy. Lower taxes and greater profits for conglomerates means more buy-outs and greater outflows to low wage countries. In real terms taxes are already less than half the headline rate and are a major factor heightening the concentration of income and power – both cause and effect. ..."
"... In other words, the capitalist class as a whole, globalist and domestic alike, pursues the same regressive policies, promoting inequalities while struggling over shares of the profits. One hundred and fifty million wage and salaried taxpayers are excluded from the political and social decisions that directly affect their income, employment, rates of taxation, and political representation. ..."
"... However, worker hostility and despair is directed against 'immigrants' and against the 'liberals' who have backed the import of cheap skilled and semi-skilled labor under the guise of 'freedom'. This 'politically correct' image of imported labor covers up a policy, which has served to lower wages, benefits and living standards for American workers, whether they are in technology, construction or production. ..."
"... The pro and anti-immigrant issue avoids the root cause for the economic exploitation and social degradation of the working class – the billionaire owners operating in alliance with the political elite. ..."
Oct 05, 2017 | www.unz.com

Billionaires in the commercial conglomerates, like Walmart, exploit workers by paying poverty wages and providing few, if any, benefits. Walmart earns $16 billion dollar a year in profits by paying its workers between $10 and $13 an hour and relying on state and federal assistance to provide services to the families of its impoverished workers through Medicaid and food stamps. Amazon plutocrat Jeff Bezos exploits workers by paying $12.50 an hour while he has accumulated over $80 billion dollars in profits. UPS CEO David Albany takes $11 million a year by exploiting workers at $11 an hour. Federal Express CEO, Fred Smith gets $16 million and pays workers $11 an hour.

Inequality is not a result of 'technology' and 'education'- contemporary euphemisms for the ruling class cult of superiority – as liberals and conservative economists and journalists like to claim. Inequalities are a result of low wages, based on big profits, financial swindles, multi-trillion dollar public handouts and multi-billion-dollar tax evasion. The ruling class has mastered the 'technology' of exploiting the state, through its pillage of the treasury, and the working class. Capitalist exploitation of low paid production workers provides additional billions for the 'philanthropic' billionaire family foundations to polish their public image – using another tax avoidance gimmick – self-glorifying 'donations'.

Workers pay disproportional taxes for education, health, social and public services and subsidies for billionaires.

Billionaires in the arms industry and security/mercenary conglomerates receive over $700 billion dollars from the federal budget, while over 100 million US workers lack adequate health care and their children are warehoused in deteriorating schools.

Workers and Bosses: Mortality Rates

Billionaires and multi-millionaires and their families enjoy longer and healthier lives than their workers. They have no need for health insurance policies or public hospitals. CEO's live on average ten years longer than a worker and enjoy twenty years more of healthy and pain-free lives.

Private, exclusive clinics and top medical care include the most advanced treatment and safe and proven medication which allow billionaires and their family members to live longer and healthier lives. The quality of their medical care and the qualifications of their medical providers present a stark contrast to the health care apartheid that characterizes the rest of the United States.

Workers are treated and mistreated by the health system: They have inadequate and often incompetent medical treatment, cursory examinations by inexperienced medical assistants and end up victims of the widespread over-prescription of highly addictive narcotics and other medications. Over-prescription of narcotics by incompetent 'providers' has significantly contributed to the rise in premature deaths among workers, spiraling cases of opiate overdose, disability due to addiction and descent into poverty and homelessness. These irresponsible practices have made additional billions of dollars in profits for the insurance corporate elite, who can cut their pensions and health care liabilities as injured, disabled and addicted workers drop out of the system or die.

The shortened life expectancy for workers and their family members is celebrated on Wall Street and in the financial press. Over 560,000 workers were killed by opioids between 1999-2015 contributing to the decline in life expectancy for working age wage and salary earners and reduced pension liabilities for Wall Street and the Social Security Administration.

Inequalities are cumulative, inter-generational and multi-sectorial.

Billionaire families, their children and grandchildren, inherit and invest billions. They have privileged access to the most prestigious schools and medical facilities, and conveniently fall in love to equally privileged, well-connected mates to join their fortunes and form even greater financial empires. Their wealth buys favorable, even fawning, mass media coverage and the services of the most influential lawyers and accountants to cover their swindles and tax evasion.

Billionaires hire innovators and sweat shop MBA managers to devise more ways to slash wages, increase productivity and ensure that inequalities widen even further. Billionaires do not have to be the brightest or most innovative people: Such individuals can simply be bought or imported on the 'free market' and discarded at will.

Billionaires have bought out or formed joint ventures with each other, creating interlocking directorates. Banks, IT, factories, warehouses, food and appliance, pharmaceuticals and hospitals are linked directly to political elites who slither through doors of rotating appointments within the IMF, the World Bank, Treasury, Wall Street banks and prestigious law firms.

Consequences of Inequalities

First and foremost, billionaires and their political, legal and corporate associates dominate the political parties. They designate the leaders and key appointees, thus ensuring that budgets and policies will increase their profits, erode social benefits for the masses and weaken the political power of popular organizations .

Secondly, the burden of the economic crisis is shifted on to the workers who are fired and later re-hired as part-time, contingent labor. Public bailouts, provided by the taxpayer, are channeled to the billionaires under the doctrine that Wall Street banks are too big to fail and workers are too weak to defend their wages, jobs and living standards.

Billionaires buy political elites, who appoint the World Bank and IMF officials tasked with instituting policies to freeze or reduce wages, slash corporate and public health care obligations and increase profits by privatizing public enterprises and facilitating corporate relocation to low wage, low tax countries.

As a result, wage and salary workers are less organized and less influential; they work longer and for less pay, suffer greater workplace insecurity and injuries – physical and mental – fall into decline and disability, drop out of the system, die earlier and poorer, and, in the process, provide unimaginable profits for the billionaire class . Even their addiction and deaths provide opportunities for huge profit – as the Sackler Family, manufacturers of Oxycontin, can attest.

The billionaires and their political acolytes argue that deeper regressive taxation would increase investments and jobs. The data speaks otherwise. The bulk of repatriated profits are directed to buy back stock to increase dividends for investors; they are not invested in the productive economy. Lower taxes and greater profits for conglomerates means more buy-outs and greater outflows to low wage countries. In real terms taxes are already less than half the headline rate and are a major factor heightening the concentration of income and power – both cause and effect.

Corporate elites, the billionaires in the Silicon Valley-Wall Street global complex are relatively satisfied that their cherished inequalities are guaranteed and expanding under the Demo-Republican Presidents- as the 'good times' roll on.

Away from the 'billionaire elite', the 'outsiders' – domestic capitalists – clamor for greater public investment in infrastructure to expand the domestic economy, lower taxes to increase profits, and state subsidies to increase the training of the labor force while reducing funds for health care and public education. They are oblivious to the contradiction.

In other words, the capitalist class as a whole, globalist and domestic alike, pursues the same regressive policies, promoting inequalities while struggling over shares of the profits. One hundred and fifty million wage and salaried taxpayers are excluded from the political and social decisions that directly affect their income, employment, rates of taxation, and political representation. They understand, or at least experience, how the class system works. Most workers know about the injustice of the fake 'free trade' agreements and regressive tax regime, which weighs heavy on the majority of wage and salary earners.

However, worker hostility and despair is directed against 'immigrants' and against the 'liberals' who have backed the import of cheap skilled and semi-skilled labor under the guise of 'freedom'. This 'politically correct' image of imported labor covers up a policy, which has served to lower wages, benefits and living standards for American workers, whether they are in technology, construction or production. Rich conservatives, on the other hand, oppose immigration under the guise of 'law and order' and to lower social expenditures – despite that fact that they all use imported nannies, tutors, nurses, doctors and gardeners to service their families. Their servants can always be deported when convenient.

The pro and anti-immigrant issue avoids the root cause for the economic exploitation and social degradation of the working class – the billionaire owners operating in alliance with the political elite.

In order to reverse the regressive tax practices and tax evasion, the low wage cycle and the spiraling death rates resulting from narcotics and other preventable causes, which profit insurance companies and pharmaceutical billionaires, class alliances need to be forged linking workers, consumers, pensioners, students, the disabled, the foreclosed homeowners, evicted tenants, debtors, the under-employed and immigrants as a unified political force.

Sooner said than done, but never tried! Everything and everyone is at stake: life, health and happiness.

conatus > , October 5, 2017 at 9:02 am GMT

Ronald Reagan can be blamed for the excess of billionaires we now have. His lauding of the entrepreneurial spirit and how we are all brave individual risk takers makes it seem you are an envious chickensh$t if you advocate against unlimited assets.

But even Warren Buffet has come out for the estate tax saying something like now the Forbes 400 now possesses total assets of 2.5 trillion in a 20 trillion economy when 40 years ago they totaled in the millions. The legal rule against perpetuities generally used to limit trusts to a lifetime of 100 years, now some states offer 1000 year trusts which will only concretize an outlandishly high Gini coefficient(a measure of income inequality).
The rationale for lowering taxes and the untouchable rich is usually the trickle down theory but, as one of these billionaires said, "How many pairs of pants can I buy?" It takes 274 years spending 10,000 a day to spend a billion dollars.
Better Henry Ford's virtuous circle than Ronald Reagan's entrepreneur.
Ban all billionaires. Bring back the union label. Otherwise .. what do we have to lose?

http://nobillionairescom.dotster.com/

jacques sheete > , October 5, 2017 at 2:29 pm GMT

@Wally "According to the US Internal Revenue Service, billionaire tax evasion amounts to $458 billion dollars in lost public revenues every year – almost a trillion dollars every two years by this conservative estimate."

No, it's $458 billion that the government has not managed to steal.

https://www.ronpaul.com/taxes/


An income tax is the most degrading and totalitarian of all possible taxes. Its implementation wrongly suggests that the government owns the lives and labor of the citizens it is supposed to represent.

Tellingly, "a heavy progressive or graduated income tax" is Plank #2 of the Communist Manifesto, which was written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and first published in 1848.
To provide funding for the federal government, Ron Paul supports excise taxes, non-protectionist tariffs, massive cuts in spending

"We could eliminate the income tax, replace it with nothing, and still fund the same level of big government we had in the late 1990s. We don't need to "replace" the income tax at all. I see a consumption tax as being a little better than the personal income tax, and I would vote for the Fair-Tax if it came up in the House of Representatives, but it is not my goal. We can do better."

https://youtu.be/qI5lC4Z_T80

No, it's $458 billion that the government has not managed to steal.

There was a time that I would have agreed with that, and technically still get the point, but what it really means is that the government merely allows the corporations which they favor, subsidize, and bail out to keep the chump change they've stolen from the workers, besides that which the government steals from the workers and hands to the corporations.

Corporations and government work hand in hand to fleece the herd and most of the herd apparently think it's just fine.

Never forget that thanks to government, corporations socialize risk while privatizing profit. They are partners in gangsterism.

advancedatheist > , October 5, 2017 at 2:53 pm GMT

Private, exclusive clinics and top medical care include the most advanced treatment and safe and proven medication which allow billionaires and their family members to live longer and healthier lives.

Sorry, I don't buy the notion that billionaires have access to some super-healthcare that the rest of us don't know about. In the real world rich people notoriously waste a lot of money on quackery, like the current fad of receiving plasma transfusions from young people as a phony "anti-aging" treatment.

More likely the kinds of men who become billionaires just enjoy better health and longevity for genetic reasons. They tend to have higher IQ's, for example, and some scientists think that IQ correlates with "system integrity" in their bodies which just make higher IQ people more resilient. Look up the growing body of research on cognitive epidemiology.

anonymous > , Disclaimer October 5, 2017 at 3:05 pm GMT

I'm disappointed there was no mention of the "Billionaires" use of social media. They've always controlled the press of course: startin' wars, hatin' on those guys, gettin' the blood up, jailin' the 'bad guys', preaching an empty delusion of social justice propaganda, payin' Ken Burns to propagandize and put a new coat of paint on the industrial scale killing of Vietnam. Probably just in time for more violence.

Let's face it, many of the workin' stiff will blow a hedge fund manager and kneel before the so-called free market corpse of Sam Walton but most importantly they'll grab their guns outa' patriotic fervor and social media will be right there with 'em. "I love Elon Musk!"

It's a great thing we're watched and datamined for our own good – information is how billionaires became billionaires along with a lot of help from the Government they usually encourage you to dislike. Keep posting!

MarkinLA > , October 5, 2017 at 3:29 pm GMT

Rich conservatives, on the other hand, oppose immigration under the guise of 'law and order' and to lower social expenditures – despite that fact that they all use imported nannies, tutors, nurses, doctors and gardeners to service their families. Their servants can always be deported when convenient.

BZZZZ – wrong. Rich conservative support massive immigration so they can get cheap labor while simutaneously virtue signaling. I thought you just got done sayiong they don't pay for the costs of the working poor? The middle class is who is against immigratioin. They bear the burden and pay the taxes that support it.

[Oct 04, 2017] Nothing damage the interests of financial oligarchy more than restricting immigration labor supply and creating a more homogeneous politi that has a greater sense of ownership of the nation

Unrestricted immigration is form of war on labor.
Notable quotes:
"... Nothing does more to damage to the interests of runaway Capital than restricting immigration labour supply and creating a more homogeneous politi that has a greater sense of ownership of the nation. ..."
"... Nothing solidifies neo-liberalism like mass migration. ..."
Oct 04, 2017 | www.unz.com

Altai > , October 4, 2017 at 1:36 pm GMT

Nothing does more to damage to the interests of runaway Capital than restricting immigration labour supply and creating a more homogeneous politi that has a greater sense of ownership of the nation.

Nothing solidifies neo-liberalism like mass migration.

Brazil will never be Denmark. Icelanders young and old, mothers with their small children were able to assemble and demand justice, they actually got it and a few of the bankers were jailed because they were a highly cohesive, homogeneous community with a sense of ownership of their nation. (For a little while anyway, mass pressure from the US and other governments to do away with any unpleasant examples lead to appallingly early releases)

There is nothing else to discuss at this point. Tax rates and regulations can be changed and will be changed back and forth.

If Chomsky wants to play pretend that it's 1968 that's his business, but if he has himself fallen so deep into the very elitist narratives he professes to challenge and advocate essentially open borders (A position even the likes of Sanders not too long ago were very much aware was the greatest threat to reducing inequality and social democracy.) for socialism, there is no hope.

Sadly Chomsky seems to relish the idea of ethnic cleansing of whites in opposition to everything he claimed he stood for for decades. In doing so, for (((no apparent reason))), he simply becomes another alt-right meme.

[Oct 02, 2017] Techs push to teach coding isnt about kids success – its about cutting wages by Ben Tarnoff

Highly recommended!
IT is probably one of the most "neoliberalized" industry (even in comparison with finance). So atomization of labor and "plantation economy" is a norm in IT. It occurs on rather high level of wages, but with influx of foreign programmers and IT specialists (in the past) and mass outsourcing (now) this is changing. Completion for good job positions is fierce. Dog eats dog competition, the dream of neoliberals. Entry level jobs are already paying $15 an hour, if not less.
Programming is a relatively rare talent, much like ability to play violin. Even amateur level is challenging. On high level (developing large complex programs in a team and still preserving your individuality and productivity ) it is extremely rare. Most of "commercial" programmers are able to produce only a mediocre code (which might be adequate). Only a few programmers can excel if complex software projects. Sometimes even performing solo. There is also a pathological breed of "programmer junkie" ( graphomania happens in programming too ) who are able sometimes to destroy something large projects singlehandedly. That often happens with open source projects after the main developer lost interest and abandoned the project.
It's good to allow children the chance to try their hand at coding when they otherwise may not had that opportunity, But in no way that means that all of them can became professional programmers. No way. Again the top level of programmers required position of a unique talent, much like top musical performer talent.
Also to get a decent entry position you iether need to be extremely talented or graduate from Ivy League university. When applicants are abundant, resume from less prestigious universities are not even considered. this is just easier for HR to filter applications this way.
Also under neoliberalism cheap labor via H1B visas flood the market and depresses wages. Many Silicon companies were so to say "Russian speaking in late 90th after the collapse of the USSR. Not offshoring is the dominant way to offload the development to cheaper labor.
Notable quotes:
"... As software mediates more of our lives, and the power of Silicon Valley grows, it's tempting to imagine that demand for developers is soaring. The media contributes to this impression by spotlighting the genuinely inspiring stories of those who have ascended the class ladder through code. You may have heard of Bit Source, a company in eastern Kentucky that retrains coalminers as coders. They've been featured by Wired , Forbes , FastCompany , The Guardian , NPR and NBC News , among others. ..."
"... A former coalminer who becomes a successful developer deserves our respect and admiration. But the data suggests that relatively few will be able to follow their example. Our educational system has long been producing more programmers than the labor market can absorb. ..."
"... More tellingly, wage levels in the tech industry have remained flat since the late 1990s. Adjusting for inflation, the average programmer earns about as much today as in 1998. If demand were soaring, you'd expect wages to rise sharply in response. Instead, salaries have stagnated. ..."
"... Tech executives have pursued this goal in a variety of ways. One is collusion – companies conspiring to prevent their employees from earning more by switching jobs. The prevalence of this practice in Silicon Valley triggered a justice department antitrust complaint in 2010, along with a class action suit that culminated in a $415m settlement . Another, more sophisticated method is importing large numbers of skilled guest workers from other countries through the H1-B visa program. These workers earn less than their American counterparts, and possess little bargaining power because they must remain employed to keep their status. ..."
"... Guest workers and wage-fixing are useful tools for restraining labor costs. But nothing would make programming cheaper than making millions more programmers. ..."
"... Silicon Valley has been unusually successful in persuading our political class and much of the general public that its interests coincide with the interests of humanity as a whole. But tech is an industry like any other. It prioritizes its bottom line, and invests heavily in making public policy serve it. The five largest tech firms now spend twice as much as Wall Street on lobbying Washington – nearly $50m in 2016. The biggest spender, Google, also goes to considerable lengths to cultivate policy wonks favorable to its interests – and to discipline the ones who aren't. ..."
"... Silicon Valley is not a uniquely benevolent force, nor a uniquely malevolent one. Rather, it's something more ordinary: a collection of capitalist firms committed to the pursuit of profit. And as every capitalist knows, markets are figments of politics. They are not naturally occurring phenomena, but elaborately crafted contraptions, sustained and structured by the state – which is why shaping public policy is so important. If tech works tirelessly to tilt markets in its favor, it's hardly alone. What distinguishes it is the amount of money it has at its disposal to do so. ..."
"... The problem isn't training. The problem is there aren't enough good jobs to be trained for ..."
"... Everyone should have the opportunity to learn how to code. Coding can be a rewarding, even pleasurable, experience, and it's useful for performing all sorts of tasks. More broadly, an understanding of how code works is critical for basic digital literacy – something that is swiftly becoming a requirement for informed citizenship in an increasingly technologized world. ..."
"... But coding is not magic. It is a technical skill, akin to carpentry. Learning to build software does not make you any more immune to the forces of American capitalism than learning to build a house. Whether a coder or a carpenter, capital will do what it can to lower your wages, and enlist public institutions towards that end. ..."
"... Exposing large portions of the school population to coding is not going to magically turn them into coders. It may increase their basic understanding but that is a long way from being a software engineer. ..."
"... All schools teach drama and most kids don't end up becoming actors. You need to give all kids access to coding in order for some can go on to make a career out of it. ..."
"... it's ridiculous because even out of a pool of computer science B.Sc. or M.Sc. grads - companies are only interested in the top 10%. Even the most mundane company with crappy IT jobs swears that they only hire "the best and the brightest." ..."
"... It's basically a con-job by the big Silicon Valley companies offshoring as many US jobs as they can, or "inshoring" via exploitation of the H1B visa ..."
"... Masters is the new Bachelors. ..."
"... I taught CS. Out of around 100 graduates I'd say maybe 5 were reasonable software engineers. The rest would be fine in tech support or other associated trades, but not writing software. Its not just a set of trainable skills, its a set of attitudes and ways of perceiving and understanding that just aren't that common. ..."
"... Yup, rings true. I've been in hi tech for over 40 years and seen the changes. I was in Silicon Valley for 10 years on a startup. India is taking over, my current US company now has a majority Indian executive and is moving work to India. US politicians push coding to drive down wages to Indian levels. ..."
Oct 02, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

This month, millions of children returned to school. This year, an unprecedented number of them will learn to code.

Computer science courses for children have proliferated rapidly in the past few years. A 2016 Gallup report found that 40% of American schools now offer coding classes – up from only 25% a few years ago. New York, with the largest public school system in the country, has pledged to offer computer science to all 1.1 million students by 2025. Los Angeles, with the second largest, plans to do the same by 2020. And Chicago, the fourth largest, has gone further, promising to make computer science a high school graduation requirement by 2018.

The rationale for this rapid curricular renovation is economic. Teaching kids how to code will help them land good jobs, the argument goes. In an era of flat and falling incomes, programming provides a new path to the middle class – a skill so widely demanded that anyone who acquires it can command a livable, even lucrative, wage.

This narrative pervades policymaking at every level, from school boards to the government. Yet it rests on a fundamentally flawed premise. Contrary to public perception, the economy doesn't actually need that many more programmers. As a result, teaching millions of kids to code won't make them all middle-class. Rather, it will proletarianize the profession by flooding the market and forcing wages down – and that's precisely the point.

At its root, the campaign for code education isn't about giving the next generation a shot at earning the salary of a Facebook engineer. It's about ensuring those salaries no longer exist, by creating a source of cheap labor for the tech industry.

As software mediates more of our lives, and the power of Silicon Valley grows, it's tempting to imagine that demand for developers is soaring. The media contributes to this impression by spotlighting the genuinely inspiring stories of those who have ascended the class ladder through code. You may have heard of Bit Source, a company in eastern Kentucky that retrains coalminers as coders. They've been featured by Wired , Forbes , FastCompany , The Guardian , NPR and NBC News , among others.

A former coalminer who becomes a successful developer deserves our respect and admiration. But the data suggests that relatively few will be able to follow their example. Our educational system has long been producing more programmers than the labor market can absorb. A study by the Economic Policy Institute found that the supply of American college graduates with computer science degrees is 50% greater than the number hired into the tech industry each year. For all the talk of a tech worker shortage, many qualified graduates simply can't find jobs.

More tellingly, wage levels in the tech industry have remained flat since the late 1990s. Adjusting for inflation, the average programmer earns about as much today as in 1998. If demand were soaring, you'd expect wages to rise sharply in response. Instead, salaries have stagnated.

Still, those salaries are stagnating at a fairly high level. The Department of Labor estimates that the median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations is $82,860 – more than twice the national average. And from the perspective of the people who own the tech industry, this presents a problem. High wages threaten profits. To maximize profitability, one must always be finding ways to pay workers less.

Tech executives have pursued this goal in a variety of ways. One is collusion – companies conspiring to prevent their employees from earning more by switching jobs. The prevalence of this practice in Silicon Valley triggered a justice department antitrust complaint in 2010, along with a class action suit that culminated in a $415m settlement . Another, more sophisticated method is importing large numbers of skilled guest workers from other countries through the H1-B visa program. These workers earn less than their American counterparts, and possess little bargaining power because they must remain employed to keep their status.

Guest workers and wage-fixing are useful tools for restraining labor costs. But nothing would make programming cheaper than making millions more programmers. And where better to develop this workforce than America's schools? It's no coincidence, then, that the campaign for code education is being orchestrated by the tech industry itself. Its primary instrument is Code.org, a nonprofit funded by Facebook, Microsoft, Google and others . In 2016, the organization spent nearly $20m on training teachers, developing curricula, and lobbying policymakers.

Silicon Valley has been unusually successful in persuading our political class and much of the general public that its interests coincide with the interests of humanity as a whole. But tech is an industry like any other. It prioritizes its bottom line, and invests heavily in making public policy serve it. The five largest tech firms now spend twice as much as Wall Street on lobbying Washington – nearly $50m in 2016. The biggest spender, Google, also goes to considerable lengths to cultivate policy wonks favorable to its interests – and to discipline the ones who aren't.

Silicon Valley is not a uniquely benevolent force, nor a uniquely malevolent one. Rather, it's something more ordinary: a collection of capitalist firms committed to the pursuit of profit. And as every capitalist knows, markets are figments of politics. They are not naturally occurring phenomena, but elaborately crafted contraptions, sustained and structured by the state – which is why shaping public policy is so important. If tech works tirelessly to tilt markets in its favor, it's hardly alone. What distinguishes it is the amount of money it has at its disposal to do so.

Money isn't Silicon Valley's only advantage in its crusade to remake American education, however. It also enjoys a favorable ideological climate. Its basic message – that schools alone can fix big social problems – is one that politicians of both parties have been repeating for years. The far-fetched premise of neoliberal school reform is that education can mend our disintegrating social fabric. That if we teach students the right skills, we can solve poverty, inequality and stagnation. The school becomes an engine of economic transformation, catapulting young people from challenging circumstances into dignified, comfortable lives.

This argument is immensely pleasing to the technocratic mind. It suggests that our core economic malfunction is technical – a simple asymmetry. You have workers on one side and good jobs on the other, and all it takes is training to match them up. Indeed, every president since Bill Clinton has talked about training American workers to fill the "skills gap". But gradually, one mainstream economist after another has come to realize what most workers have known for years: the gap doesn't exist. Even Larry Summers has concluded it's a myth.

The problem isn't training. The problem is there aren't enough good jobs to be trained for . The solution is to make bad jobs better, by raising the minimum wage and making it easier for workers to form a union, and to create more good jobs by investing for growth. This involves forcing business to put money into things that actually grow the productive economy rather than shoveling profits out to shareholders. It also means increasing public investment, so that people can make a decent living doing socially necessary work like decarbonizing our energy system and restoring our decaying infrastructure.

Everyone should have the opportunity to learn how to code. Coding can be a rewarding, even pleasurable, experience, and it's useful for performing all sorts of tasks. More broadly, an understanding of how code works is critical for basic digital literacy – something that is swiftly becoming a requirement for informed citizenship in an increasingly technologized world.

But coding is not magic. It is a technical skill, akin to carpentry. Learning to build software does not make you any more immune to the forces of American capitalism than learning to build a house. Whether a coder or a carpenter, capital will do what it can to lower your wages, and enlist public institutions towards that end.

Silicon Valley has been extraordinarily adept at converting previously uncommodified portions of our common life into sources of profit. Our schools may prove an easy conquest by comparison.

See also:

willyjack, 21 Sep 2017 16:56

"Everyone should have the opportunity to learn how to code. " OK, and that's what's being done. And that's what the article is bemoaning. What would be better: teach them how to change tires or groom pets? Or pick fruit? Amazingly condescending article.

MrFumoFumo , 21 Sep 2017 14:54
However, training lots of people to be coders won't automatically result in lots of people who can actually write good code. Nor will it give managers/recruiters the necessary skills to recognize which programmers are any good.

congenialAnimal -> alfredooo , 24 Sep 2017 09:57

A valid rebuttal but could I offer another observation? Exposing large portions of the school population to coding is not going to magically turn them into coders. It may increase their basic understanding but that is a long way from being a software engineer.

Just as children join art, drama or biology classes so they do not automatically become artists, actors or doctors. I would agree entirely that just being able to code is not going to guarantee the sort of income that might be aspired to. As with all things, it takes commitment, perseverance and dogged determination. I suppose ultimately it becomes the Gattaca argument.

alfredooo -> racole , 24 Sep 2017 06:51
Fair enough, but, his central argument, that an overabundance of coders will drive wages in that sector down, is generally true, so in the future if you want your kids to go into a profession that will earn them 80k+ then being a "coder" is not the route to take. When coding is - like reading, writing, and arithmetic - just a basic skill, there's no guarantee having it will automatically translate into getting a "good" job.
Wiretrip , 21 Sep 2017 14:14
This article lumps everyone in computing into the 'coder' bin, without actually defining what 'coding' is. Yes there is a glut of people who can knock together a bit of HTML and JavaScript, but that is not really programming as such.

There are huge shortages of skilled developers however; people who can apply computer science and engineering in terms of analysis and design of software. These are the real skills for which relatively few people have a true aptitude.

The lack of really good skills is starting to show in some terrible software implementation decisions, such as Slack for example; written as a web app running in Electron (so that JavaScript code monkeys could knock it out quickly), but resulting in awful performance. We will see more of this in the coming years...

Taylor Dotson -> youngsteveo , 21 Sep 2017 13:53
My brother is a programmer, and in his experience these coding exams don't test anything but whether or not you took (and remember) a very narrow range of problems introduce in the first years of a computer science degree. The entire hiring process seems premised on a range of ill-founded ideas about what skills are necessary for the job and how to assess them in people. They haven't yet grasped that those kinds of exams mostly test test-taking ability, rather than intelligence, creativity, diligence, communication ability, or anything else that a job requires beside coughing up the right answer in a stressful, timed environment without outside resources.

The_Raven , 23 Sep 2017 15:45

I'm an embedded software/firmware engineer. Every similar engineer I've ever met has had the same background - starting in electronics and drifting into embedded software writing in C and assembler. It's virtually impossible to do such software without an understanding of electronics. When it goes wrong you may need to get the test equipment out to scope the hardware to see if it's a hardware or software problem. Coming from a pure computing background just isn't going to get you a job in this type of work.
waltdangerfield , 23 Sep 2017 14:42
All schools teach drama and most kids don't end up becoming actors. You need to give all kids access to coding in order for some can go on to make a career out of it.
TwoSugarsPlease , 23 Sep 2017 06:13
Coding salaries will inevitably fall over time, but such skills give workers the option, once they discover that their income is no longer sustainable in the UK, of moving somewhere more affordable and working remotely.
DiGiT81 -> nixnixnix , 23 Sep 2017 03:29
Completely agree. Coding is a necessary life skill for 21st century but there are levels to every skill. From basic needs for an office job to advanced and specialised.
nixnixnix , 23 Sep 2017 00:46
Lots of people can code but very few of us ever get to the point of creating something new that has a loyal and enthusiastic user-base. Everyone should be able to code because it is or will be the basis of being able to create almost anything in the future. If you want to make a game in Unity, knowing how to code is really useful. If you want to work with large data-sets, you can't rely on Excel and so you need to be able to code (in R?). The use of code is becoming so pervasive that it is going to be like reading and writing.

All the science and engineering graduates I know can code but none of them have ever sold a stand-alone software. The argument made above is like saying that teaching everyone to write will drive down the wages of writers. Writing is useful for anyone and everyone but only a tiny fraction of people who can write, actually write novels or even newspaper columns.

DolyGarcia -> Carl Christensen , 22 Sep 2017 19:24
Immigrants have always a big advantage over locals, for any company, including tech companies: the government makes sure that they will stay in their place and never complain about low salaries or bad working conditions because, you know what? If the company sacks you, an immigrant may be forced to leave the country where they live because their visa expires, which is never going to happen with a local. Companies always have more leverage over immigrants. Given a choice between more and less exploitable workers, companies will choose the most exploitable ones.

Which is something that Marx figured more than a century ago, and why he insisted that socialism had to be international, which led to the founding of the First International Socialist. If worker's fights didn't go across country boundaries, companies would just play people from one country against the other. Unfortunately, at some point in time socialists forgot this very important fact.

xxxFred -> Tomix Da Vomix , 22 Sep 2017 18:52
SO what's wrong with having lots of people able to code? The only argument you seem to have is that it'll lower wages. So do you think that we should stop teaching writing skills so that journalists can be paid more? And no one os going to "force" kids into high-level abstract coding practices in kindergarten, fgs. But there is ample empirical proof that young children can learn basic principles. In fact the younger that children are exposed to anything, the better they can enhance their skills adn knowlege of it later in life, and computing concepts are no different.
Tomix Da Vomix -> xxxFred , 22 Sep 2017 18:40
You're completely missing the point. Kids are forced into the programming field (even STEM as a more general term), before they evolve their abstract reasoning. For that matter, you're not producing highly skilled people, but functional imbeciles and a decent labor that will eventually lower the wages.
Conspiracy theory? So Google, FB and others paying hundreds of millions of dollars for forming a cartel to lower the wages is not true? It sounds me that you're sounding more like a 1969 denier that Guardian is. Tech companies are not financing those incentives because they have a good soul. Their primary drive has always been money, otherwise they wouldn't sell your personal data to earn money.

But hey, you can always sleep peacefully when your kid becomes a coder. When he is 50, everyone will want to have a Cobol, Ada programmer with 25 years of experience when you can get 16 year old kid from a high school for 1/10 of a price. Go back to sleep...

Carl Christensen -> xxxFred , 22 Sep 2017 16:49
it's ridiculous because even out of a pool of computer science B.Sc. or M.Sc. grads - companies are only interested in the top 10%. Even the most mundane company with crappy IT jobs swears that they only hire "the best and the brightest."
Carl Christensen , 22 Sep 2017 16:47
It's basically a con-job by the big Silicon Valley companies offshoring as many US jobs as they can, or "inshoring" via exploitation of the H1B visa - so they can say "see, we don't have 'qualified' people in the US - maybe when these kids learn to program in a generation." As if American students haven't been coding for decades -- and saw their salaries plummet as the H1B visa and Indian offshore firms exploded......
Declawed -> KDHughes , 22 Sep 2017 16:40
Dude, stow the attitude. I've tested code from various entities, and seen every kind of crap peddled as gold.

But I've also seen a little 5-foot giggly lady with two kids, grumble a bit and save a $100,000 product by rewriting another coder's man-month of work in a few days, without any flaws or cracks. Almost nobody will ever know she did that. She's so far beyond my level it hurts.

And yes, the author knows nothing. He's genuinely crying wolf while knee-deep in amused wolves. The last time I was in San Jose, years ago , the room was already full of people with Indian surnames. If the problem was REALLY serious, a programmer from POLAND was called in.

If you think fighting for a violinist spot is hard, try fighting for it with every spare violinist in the world . I am training my Indian replacement to do my job right now . At least the public can appreciate a good violin. Can you appreciate Duff's device ?

So by all means, don't teach local kids how to think in a straight line, just in case they make a dent in the price of wages IN INDIA.... *sheesh*

Declawed -> IanMcLzzz , 22 Sep 2017 15:35
That's the best possible summarisation of this extremely dumb article. Bravo.

For those who don't know how to think of coding, like the article author, here's a few analogies :

A computer is a box that replays frozen thoughts, quickly. That is all.

Coding is just the art of explaining. Anyone who can explain something patiently and clearly, can code. Anyone who can't, can't.

Making hardware is very much like growing produce while blind. Making software is very much like cooking that produce while blind.

Imagine looking after a room full of young eager obedient children who only do exactly, *exactly*, what you told them to do, but move around at the speed of light. Imagine having to try to keep them from smashing into each other or decapitating themselves on the corners of tables, tripping over toys and crashing into walls, etc, while you get them all to play games together.

The difference between a good coder and a bad coder is almost life and death. Imagine a broth prepared with ingredients from a dozen co-ordinating geniuses and one idiot, that you'll mass produce. The soup is always far worse for the idiot's additions. The more cooks you involve, the more chance your mass produced broth will taste bad.

People who hire coders, typically can't tell a good coder from a bad coder.

Zach Dyer -> Mystik Al , 22 Sep 2017 15:18
Tech jobs will probably always be available long after your gone or until another mass extinction.
edmundberk -> AmyInNH , 22 Sep 2017 14:59
No you do it in your own time. If you're not prepared to put in long days IT is not for you in any case. It was ever thus, but more so now due to offshoring - rather than the rather obscure forces you seem to believe are important.
WithoutPurpose -> freeandfair , 22 Sep 2017 13:21
Bit more rhan that.
peter nelson -> offworldguy , 22 Sep 2017 12:44
Sorry, offworldguy, but you're losing this one really badly. I'm a professional software engineer in my 60's and I know lots of non-professionals in my age range who write little programs, scripts and apps for fun. I know this because they often contact me for help or advice.

So you've now been told by several people in this thread that ordinary people do code for fun or recreation. The fact that you don't know any probably says more about your network of friends and acquaintances than about the general population.

xxxFred , 22 Sep 2017 12:18
This is one of the daftest articles I've come across in a long while.
If it's possible that so many kids can be taught to code well enough so that wages come down, then that proves that the only reason we've been paying so much for development costs is the scarcity of people able to do it, not that it's intrinsically so hard that only a select few could anyway. In which case, there is no ethical argument for keeping the pools of skilled workers to some select group. Anyone able to do it should have an equal opportunity to do it.
What is the argument for not teaching coding (other than to artificially keep wages high)? Why not stop teaching the three R's, in order to boost white-collar wages in general?
Computing is an ever-increasingly intrinsic part of life, and people need to understand it at all levels. It is not just unfair, but tantamount to neglect, to fail to teach children all the skills they may require to cope as adults.
Having said that, I suspect that in another generation or two a good many lower-level coding jobs will be redundant anyway, with such code being automatically generated, and "coders" at this level will be little more than technicians setting various parameters. Even so, understanding the basics behind computing is a part of understanding the world they live in, and every child needs that.
Suggesting that teaching coding is some kind of conspiracy to force wages down is well, it makes the moon-landing conspiracy looks sensible by comparison.
timrichardson -> offworldguy , 22 Sep 2017 12:16
I think it is important to demystify advanced technology, I think that has importance in its own right.Plus, schools should expose kids to things which may spark their interest. Not everyone who does a science project goes on years later to get a PhD, but you'd think that it makes it more likely. Same as giving a kid some music lessons. There is a big difference between serious coding and the basic steps needed to automate a customer service team or a marketing program, but the people who have some mastery over automation will have an advantage in many jobs. Advanced machines are clearly going to be a huge part of our future. What should we do about it, if not teach kids how to understand these tools?
rogerfederere -> William Payne , 22 Sep 2017 12:13
tl;dr.
Mystik Al , 22 Sep 2017 12:08
As automation is about to put 40% of the workforce permanently out of work getting into to tech seems like a good idea!
timrichardson , 22 Sep 2017 12:04
This is like arguing that teaching kids to write is nothing more than a plot to flood the market for journalists. Teaching first aid and CPR does not make everyone a doctor.
Coding is an essential skill for many jobs already: 50 years ago, who would have thought you needed coders to make movies? Being a software engineer, a serious coder, is hard. IN fact, it takes more than technical coding to be a software engineer: you can learn to code in a week. Software Engineering is a four year degree, and even then you've just started a career. But depriving kids of some basic insights may mean they won't have the basic skills needed in the future, even for controlling their car and house. By all means, send you kids to a school that doesn't teach coding. I won't.
James Jones -> vimyvixen , 22 Sep 2017 11:41
Did you learn SNOBOL, or is Snowball a language I'm not familiar with? (Entirely possible, as an American I never would have known Extended Mercury Autocode existed we're it not for a random book acquisition at my home town library when I was a kid.)
William Payne , 22 Sep 2017 11:17
The tide that is transforming technology jobs from "white collar professional" into "blue collar industrial" is part of a larger global economic cycle.

Successful "growth" assets inevitably transmogrify into "value" and "income" assets as they progress through the economic cycle. The nature of their work transforms also. No longer focused on innovation; on disrupting old markets or forging new ones; their fundamental nature changes as they mature into optimising, cost reducing, process oriented and most importantly of all -- dividend paying -- organisations.

First, the market invests. And then, .... it squeezes.

Immature companies must invest in their team; must inspire them to be innovative so that they can take the creative risks required to create new things. This translates into high skills, high wages and "white collar" social status.

Mature, optimising companies on the other hand must necessarily avoid risks and seek variance-minimising predictability. They seek to control their human resources; to eliminate creativity; to to make the work procedural, impersonal and soulless. This translates into low skills, low wages and "blue collar" social status.

This is a fundamental part of the economic cycle; but it has been playing out on the global stage which has had the effect of hiding some of its' effects.

Over the past decades, technology knowledge and skills have flooded away from "high cost" countries and towards "best cost" countries at a historically significant rate. Possibly at the maximum rate that global infrastructure and regional skills pools can support. Much of this necessarily inhumane and brutal cost cutting and deskilling has therefore been hidden by the tide of outsourcing and offshoring. It is hard to see the nature of the jobs change when the jobs themselves are changing hands at the same time.

The ever tighter ratchet of dehumanising industrialisation; productivity and efficiency continues apace, however, and as our global system matures and evens out, we see the seeds of what we have sown sail home from over the sea.

Technology jobs in developed nations have been skewed towards "growth" activities since for the past several decades most "value" and "income" activities have been carried out in developing nations. Now, we may be seeing the early preparations for the diffusion of that skewed, uneven and unsustainable imbalance.

The good news is that "Growth" activities are not going to disappear from the world. They just may not be so geographically concentrated as they are today. Also, there is a significant and attention-worthy argument that the re-balancing of skills will result in a more flexible and performant global economy as organisations will better be able to shift a wider variety of work around the world to regions where local conditions (regulation, subsidy, union activity etc...) are supportive.

For the individuals concerned it isn't going to be pretty. And of course it is just another example of the race to the bottom that pits states and public sector purse-holders against one another to win the grace and favour of globally mobile employers.

As a power play move it has a sort of inhumanly psychotic inevitability to it which is quite awesome to observe.

I also find it ironic that the only way to tame the leviathan that is the global free-market industrial system might actually be effective global governance and international cooperation within a rules-based system.

Both "globalist" but not even slightly both the same thing.

Vereto -> Wiretrip , 22 Sep 2017 11:17
not just coders, it put even IT Ops guys into this bin. Basically good old - so you are working with computers sentence I used to hear a lot 10-15 years ago.
Sangmin , 22 Sep 2017 11:15
You can teach everyone how to code but it doesn't necessarily mean everyone will be able to work as one. We all learn math but that doesn't mean we're all mathematicians. We all know how to write but we're not all professional writers.

I have a graduate degree in CS and been to a coding bootcamp. Not everyone's brain is wired to become a successful coder. There is a particular way how coders think. Quality of a product will stand out based on these differences.

Vereto -> Jared Hall , 22 Sep 2017 11:12
Very hyperbolic is to assume that the profit in those companies is done by decreasing wages. In my company the profit is driven by ability to deliver products to the market. And that is limited by number of top people (not just any coder) you can have.
KDHughes -> kcrane , 22 Sep 2017 11:06
You realise that the arts are massively oversupplied and that most artists earn very little, if anything? Which is sort of like the situation the author is warning about. But hey, he knows nothing. Congratulations, though, on writing one of the most pretentious posts I've ever read on CIF.
offworldguy -> Melissa Boone , 22 Sep 2017 10:21
So you know kids, college age people and software developers who enjoy doing it in their leisure time? Do you know any middle aged mothers, fathers, grandparents who enjoy it and are not software developers?

Sorry, I don't see coding as a leisure pursuit that is going to take off beyond a very narrow demographic and if it becomes apparent (as I believe it will) that there is not going to be a huge increase in coding job opportunities then it will likely wither in schools too, perhaps replaced by music lessons.

Bread Eater , 22 Sep 2017 10:02
From their perspective yes. But there are a lot of opportunities in tech so it does benefit students looking for jobs.
Melissa Boone -> jamesbro , 22 Sep 2017 10:00
No, because software developer probably fail more often than they succeed. Building anything worthwhile is an iterative process. And it's not just the compiler but the other devs, oyur designer, your PM, all looking at your work.
Melissa Boone -> peterainbow , 22 Sep 2017 09:57
It's not shallow or lazy. I also work at a tech company and it's pretty common to do that across job fields. Even in HR marketing jobs, we hire students who can't point to an internship or other kind of experience in college, not simply grades.
Vereto -> savingUK , 22 Sep 2017 09:50
It will take ages, the issue of Indian programmers is in the education system and in "Yes boss" culture.

But on the other hand most of Americans are just as bad as Indians

Melissa Boone -> offworldguy , 22 Sep 2017 09:50
A lot of people do find it fun. I know many kids - high school and young college age - who code in the leisure time because they find it pleasurable to make small apps and video games. I myself enjoy it too. Your argument is like saying since you don't like to read books in your leisure time, nobody else must.

The point is your analogy isn't a good one - people who learn to code can not only enjoy it in their spare time just like music, but they can also use it to accomplish all kinds of basic things. I have a friend who's a software developer who has used code to program his Roomba to vacuum in a specific pattern and to play Candy Land with his daughter when they lost the spinner.

Owlyrics -> CapTec , 22 Sep 2017 09:44
Creativity could be added to your list. Anyone can push a button but only a few can invent a new one.
One company in the US (after it was taken over by a new owner) decided it was more profitable to import button pushers from off-shore, they lost 7 million customers (gamers) and had to employ more of the original American developers to maintain their high standard and profits.
Owlyrics -> Maclon , 22 Sep 2017 09:40
Masters is the new Bachelors.
Maclon , 22 Sep 2017 09:22
So similar to 500k a year people going to university ( UK) now when it used to be 60k people a year( 1980). There was never enough graduate jobs in 1980 so can't see where the sudden increase in need for graduates has come from.
PaulDavisTheFirst -> Ethan Hawkins , 22 Sep 2017 09:17

They aren't really crucial pieces of technology except for their popularity

It's early in the day for me, but this is the most ridiculous thing I've read so far, and I suspect it will be high up on the list by the end of the day.

There's no technology that is "crucial" unless it's involved in food, shelter or warmth. The rest has its "crucialness" decided by how widespread its use is, and in the case of those 3 languages, the answer is "very".

You (or I) might not like that very much, but that's how it is.

Julian Williams -> peter nelson , 22 Sep 2017 09:12
My benchmark would be if the average new graduate in the discipline earns more or less than one of the "professions", Law, medicine, Economics etc. The short answer is that they don't. Indeed, in my experience of professions, many good senior SW developers, say in finance, are paid markedly less than the marketing manager, CTO etc. who are often non-technical.

My benchmark is not "has a car, house etc." but what does 10, 15 20 years of experience in the area generate as a relative income to another profession, like being a GP or a corporate solicitor or a civil servant (which is usually the benchmark academics use for pay scaling). It is not to denigrate, just to say that markets don't always clear to a point where the most skilled are the highest paid.

I was also suggesting that even if you are not intending to work in the SW area, being able to translate your imagination into a program that reflects your ideas is a nice life skill.

AmyInNH -> freeandfair , 22 Sep 2017 09:05
Your assumption has no basis in reality. In my experience, as soon as Clinton ramped up H1Bs, my employer would invite 6 same college/degree/curriculum in for interviews, 5 citizen, 1 foreign student and default offer to foreign student without asking interviewers a single question about the interview. Eventually, the skipped the farce of interviewing citizens all together. That was in 1997, and it's only gotten worse. Wall St's been pretty blunt lately. Openly admits replacing US workers for import labor, as it's the "easiest" way to "grow" the economy, even though they know they are ousting citizens from their jobs to do so.
AmyInNH -> peter nelson , 22 Sep 2017 08:59
"People who get Masters and PhD's in computer science" Feed western universities money, for degree programs that would otherwise not exist, due to lack of market demand. "someone has a Bachelor's in CS" As citizens, having the same college/same curriculum/same grades, as foreign grad. But as citizens, they have job market mobility, and therefore are shunned. "you can make something real and significant on your own" If someone else is paying your rent, food and student loans while you do so.
Ethan Hawkins -> farabundovive , 22 Sep 2017 07:40
While true, it's not the coders' fault. The managers and execs above them have intentionally created an environment where these things are secondary. What's primary is getting the stupid piece of garbage out the door for Q profit outlook. Ship it amd patch it.
offworldguy -> millartant , 22 Sep 2017 07:38
Do most people find it fun? I can code. I don't find it 'fun'. Thirty years ago as a young graduate I might have found it slightly fun but the 'fun' wears off pretty quick.
Ethan Hawkins -> anticapitalist , 22 Sep 2017 07:35
In my estimation PHP is an utter abomination. Python is just a little better but still very bad. Ruby is a little better but still not at all good.

Languages like PHP, Python and JS are popular for banging out prototypes and disposable junk, but you greatly overestimate their importance. They aren't really crucial pieces of technology except for their popularity and while they won't disappear they won't age well at all. Basically they are big long-lived fads. Java is now over 20 years old and while Java 8 is not crucial, the JVM itself actually is crucial. It might last another 20 years or more. Look for more projects like Ceylon, Scala and Kotlin. We haven't found the next step forward yet, but it's getting more interesting, especially around type systems.

A strong developer will be able to code well in a half dozen languages and have fairly decent knowledge of a dozen others. For me it's been many years of: Z80, x86, C, C++, Java. Also know some Perl, LISP, ANTLR, Scala, JS, SQL, Pascal, others...

millartant -> Islingtonista , 22 Sep 2017 07:26
You need a decent IDE
millartant -> offworldguy , 22 Sep 2017 07:24

One is hardly likely to 'do a bit of coding' in ones leisure time

Why not? The right problem is a fun and rewarding puzzle to solve. I spend a lot of my leisure time "doing a bit of coding"

Ethan Hawkins -> Wiretrip , 22 Sep 2017 07:12
The worst of all are the academics (on average).
Ethan Hawkins -> KatieL , 22 Sep 2017 07:09
This makes people like me with 35 years of experience shipping products on deadlines up and down every stack (from device drivers and operating systems to programming languages, platforms and frameworks to web, distributed computing, clusters, big data and ML) so much more valuable. Been there, done that.
Ethan Hawkins -> Taylor Dotson , 22 Sep 2017 07:01
It's just not true. In SV there's this giant vacuum created by Apple, Google, FB, etc. Other good companies struggle to fill positions. I know from being on the hiring side at times.
TheBananaBender -> peter nelson , 22 Sep 2017 07:00
You don't work for a major outsourcer then like Serco, Atos, Agilisys
offworldguy -> LabMonkey , 22 Sep 2017 06:59
Plenty of people? I don't know of a single person outside of my work which is teaming with programmers. Not a single friend, not my neighbours, not my wife or her extended family, not my parents. Plenty of people might do it but most people don't.
Ethan Hawkins -> finalcentury , 22 Sep 2017 06:56
Your ignorance of coding is showing. Coding IS creative.
Ricardo111 -> peter nelson , 22 Sep 2017 06:56
Agreed: by gifted I did not meant innate. It's more of a mix of having the interest, the persistence, the time, the opportunity and actually enjoying that kind of challenge.

While some of those things are to a large extent innate personality traits, others are not and you don't need max of all of them, you just need enough to drive you to explore that domain.

That said, somebody that goes into coding purelly for the money and does it for the money alone is extremely unlikelly to become an exceptional coder.

Ricardo111 -> eirsatz , 22 Sep 2017 06:50
I'm as senior as they get and have interviewed quite a lot of programmers for several positions, including for Technical Lead (in fact, to replace me) and so far my experience leads me to believe that people who don't have a knack for coding are much less likely to expose themselves to many different languages and techniques, and also are less experimentalist, thus being far less likely to have those moments of transcending merely being aware of the visible and obvious to discover the concerns and concepts behind what one does. Without those moments that open the door to the next Universe of concerns and implications, one cannot do state transitions such as Coder to Technical Designer or Technical Designer to Technical Architect.

Sure, you can get the title and do the things from the books, but you will not get WHY are those things supposed to work (and when they will not work) and thus cannot adjust to new conditions effectively and will be like a sailor that can't sail away from sight of the coast since he can't navigate.

All this gets reflected in many things that enhance productivity, from the early ability to quickly piece together solutions for a new problem out of past solutions for different problems to, later, conceiving software architecture designs fittted to the typical usage pattern in the industry for which the software is going to be made.

LabMonkey , 22 Sep 2017 06:50
From the way our IT department is going, needing millions of coders is not the future. It'll be a minority of developers at the top, and an army of low wage monkeys at the bottom who can troubleshoot from a script - until AI comes along that can code faster and more accurately.
LabMonkey -> offworldguy , 22 Sep 2017 06:46

One is hardly likely to 'do a bit of coding' in ones leisure time

Really? I've programmed a few simple videogames in my spare time. Plenty of people do.

CapTec , 22 Sep 2017 06:29
Interesting piece that's fundamentally flawed. I'm a software engineer myself. There is a reason a University education of a minimum of three years is the base line for a junior developer or 'coder'.

Software engineering isn't just writing code. I would say 80% of my time is spent designing and structuring software before I even touch the code.

Explaining software engineering as a discipline at a high level to people who don't understand it is simple.

Most of us who learn to drive learn a few basics about the mechanics of a car. We know that brake pads need to be replaced, we know that fuel is pumped into an engine when we press the gas pedal. Most of us know how to change a bulb if it blows.

The vast majority of us wouldn't be able to replace a head gasket or clutch though. Just knowing the basics isn't enough to make you a mechanic.

Studying in school isn't enough to produce software engineers. Software engineering isn't just writing code, it's cross discipline. We also need to understand the science behind the computer, we need too understand logic, data structures, timings, how to manage memory, security, how databases work etc.

A few years of learning at school isn't nearly enough, a degree isn't enough on its own due to the dynamic and ever evolving nature of software engineering. Schools teach technology that is out of date and typically don't explain the science very well.

This is why most companies don't want new developers, they want people with experience and multiple skills.

Programming is becoming cool and people think that because of that it's easy to become a skilled developer. It isn't. It takes time and effort and most kids give up.

French was on the national curriculum when I was at school. Most people including me can't hold a conversation in French though.

Ultimately there is a SKILL shortage. And that's because skill takes a long time, successes and failures to acquire. Most people just give up.

This article is akin to saying 'schools are teaching basic health to reduce the wages of Doctors'. It didn't happen.

offworldguy -> thecurio , 22 Sep 2017 06:19
There is a difference. When you teach people music you teach a skill that can be used for a lifetimes enjoyment. One might sit at a piano in later years and play. One is hardly likely to 'do a bit of coding' in ones leisure time.

The other thing is how good are people going to get at coding and how long will they retain the skill if not used? I tend to think maths is similar to coding and most adults have pretty terrible maths skills not venturing far beyond arithmetic. Not many remember how to solve a quadratic equation or even how to rearrange some algebra.

One more thing is we know that if we teach people music they will find a use for it, if only in their leisure time. We don't know that coding will be in any way useful because we don't know if there will be coding jobs in the future. AI might take over coding but we know that AI won't take over playing piano for pleasure.

If we want to teach logical thinking then I think maths has always done this and we should make sure people are better at maths.

Alex Mackaness , 22 Sep 2017 06:08
Am I missing something here? Being able to code is a skill that is a useful addition to the skill armoury of a youngster entering the work place. Much like reading, writing, maths... Not only is it directly applicable and pervasive in our modern world, it is built upon logic.

The important point is that American schools are not ONLY teaching youngsters to code, and producing one dimensional robots... instead coding makes up one part of their overall skill set. Those who wish to develop their coding skills further certainly can choose to do so. Those who specialise elsewhere are more than likely to have found the skills they learnt whilst coding useful anyway.

I struggle to see how there is a hidden capitalist agenda here. I would argue learning the basics of coding is simply becoming seen as an integral part of the school curriculum.

thecurio , 22 Sep 2017 05:56
The word "coding" is shorthand for "computer programming" or "software development" and it masks the depth and range of skills that might be required, depending on the application.

This subtlety is lost, I think, on politicians and perhaps the general public. Asserting that teaching lots of people to code is a sneaky way to commodotise an industry might have some truth to it, but remember that commodotisation (or "sharing and re-use" as developers might call it) is nothing new. The creation of freely available and re-usable software components and APIs has driven innovation, and has put much power in the hands of developers who would not otherwise have the skill or time to tackle such projects.

There's nothing to fear from teaching more people to "code", just as there's nothing to fear from teaching more people to "play music". These skills simply represent points on a continuum.

There's room for everyone, from the kid on a kazoo all the way to Coltrane at the Village Vanguard.

sbw7 -> ragingbull , 22 Sep 2017 05:44
I taught CS. Out of around 100 graduates I'd say maybe 5 were reasonable software engineers. The rest would be fine in tech support or other associated trades, but not writing software. Its not just a set of trainable skills, its a set of attitudes and ways of perceiving and understanding that just aren't that common.
offworldguy , 22 Sep 2017 05:02
I can't understand the rush to teach coding in schools. First of all I don't think we are going to be a country of millions of coders and secondly if most people have the skills then coding is hardly going to be a well paid job. Thirdly you can learn coding from scratch after school like people of my generation did. You could argue that it is part of a well rounded education but then it is as important for your career as learning Shakespeare, knowing what an oxbow lake is or being able to do calculus: most jobs just won't need you to know.
savingUK -> yannick95 , 22 Sep 2017 04:35
While you roll on the floor laughing, these countries will slowly but surely get their act together. That is how they work. There are top quality coders over there and they will soon promoted into a position to organise the others.

You are probably too young to remember when people laughed at electronic products when they were made in Japan then Taiwan. History will repeat it's self.

zii000 -> JohnFreidburg , 22 Sep 2017 04:04
Yes it's ironic and no different here in the UK. Traditionally Labour was the party focused on dividing the economic pie more fairly, Tories on growing it for the benefit of all. It's now completely upside down with Tories paying lip service to the idea of pay rises but in reality supporting this deflationary race to the bottom, hammering down salaries and so shrinking discretionary spending power which forces price reductions to match and so more pressure on employers to cut costs ... ad infinitum.
Labour now favour policies which would cause an expansion across the entire economy through pay rises and dramatically increased investment with perhaps more tolerance of inflation to achieve it.
ID0193985 -> jamesbro , 22 Sep 2017 03:46
Not surprising if they're working for a company that is cold-calling people - which should be banned in my opinion. Call centres providing customer support are probably less abuse-heavy since the customer is trying to get something done.
vimyvixen , 22 Sep 2017 02:04
I taught myself to code in 1974. Fortran, COBOL were first. Over the years as a aerospace engineer I coded in numerous languages ranging from PLM, Snowball, Basic, and more assembly languages than I can recall, not to mention deep down in machine code on more architectures than most know even existed. Bottom line is that coding is easy. It doesn't take a genius to code, just another way of thinking. Consider all the bugs in the software available now. These "coders", not sufficiently trained need adult supervision by engineers who know what they are doing for computer systems that are important such as the electrical grid, nuclear weapons, and safety critical systems. If you want to program toy apps then code away, if you want to do something important learn engineering AND coding.
Dwight Spencer , 22 Sep 2017 01:44
Laughable. It takes only an above-average IQ to code. Today's coders are akin to the auto mechanics of the 1950s where practically every high school had auto shop instruction . . . nothing but a source of cheap labor for doing routine implementations of software systems using powerful code libraries built by REAL software engineers.
sieteocho -> Islingtonista , 22 Sep 2017 01:19
That's a bit like saying that calculus is more valuable than arithmetic, so why teach children arithmetic at all?

Because without the arithmetic, you're not going to get up to the calculus.

JohnFreidburg -> Tommyward , 22 Sep 2017 01:15
I disagree. Technology firms are just like other firms. Why then the collusion not to pay more to workers coming from other companies? To believe that they are anything else is naive. The author is correct. We need policies that actually grow the economy and not leaders who cave to what the CEOs want like Bill Clinton did. He brought NAFTA at the behest of CEOs and all it ended up doing was ripping apart the rust belt and ushering in Trump.
Tommyward , 22 Sep 2017 00:53
So the media always needs some bad guys to write about, and this month they seem to have it in for the tech industry. The article is BS. I interview a lot of people to join a large tech company, and I can guarantee you that we aren't trying to find cheaper labor, we're looking for the best talent.

I know that lots of different jobs have been outsourced to low cost areas, but these days the top companies are instead looking for the top talent globally.

I see this article as a hit piece against Silicon Valley, and it doesn't fly in the face of the evidence.

finalcentury , 22 Sep 2017 00:46
This has got to be the most cynical and idiotic social interest piece I have ever read in the Guardian. Once upon a time it was very helpful to learn carpentry and machining, but now, even if you are learning those, you will get a big and indispensable headstart if you have some logic and programming skills. The fact is, almost no matter what you do, you can apply logic and programming skills to give you an edge. Even journalists.
hoplites99 , 22 Sep 2017 00:02
Yup, rings true. I've been in hi tech for over 40 years and seen the changes. I was in Silicon Valley for 10 years on a startup. India is taking over, my current US company now has a majority Indian executive and is moving work to India. US politicians push coding to drive down wages to Indian levels.

On the bright side I am old enough and established enough to quit tomorrow, its someone else's problem, but I still despise those who have sold us out, like the Clintons, the Bushes, the Googoids, the Zuckerboids.

liberalquilt -> yannick95 , 21 Sep 2017 23:45
Sure markets existed before governments, but capitalism didn't, can't in fact. It needs the organs of state, the banking system, an education system, and an infrastructure.
thegarlicfarmer -> canprof , 21 Sep 2017 23:36
Then teach them other things but not coding! Here in Australia every child of school age has to learn coding. Now tell me that everyone of them will need it? Look beyond computers as coding will soon be automated just like every other job.
Islingtonista , 21 Sep 2017 22:25
If you have never coded then you will not appreciate how labour intensive it is. Coders effectively use line editors to type in, line by line, the instructions. And syntax is critical; add a comma when you meant a semicolon and the code doesn't work properly. Yeah, we use frameworks and libraries of already written subroutines, but, in the end, it is all about manually typing in the code.

Which is an expensive way of doing things (hence the attractions of 'off-shoring' the coding task to low cost economies in Asia).

And this is why teaching kids to code is a waste of time.

Already, AI based systems are addressing the task of interpreting high level design models and simply generating the required application.

One of the first uses templates and a smart chatbot to enable non-tech business people to build their websites. By describe in non-coding terms what they want, the chatbot is able to assemble the necessary components and make the requisite template amendments to build a working website.

Much cheaper than hiring expensive coders to type it all in manually.

It's early days yet, but coding may well be one of the big losers to AI automation along with all those back office clerical jobs.

Teaching kids how to think about design rather than how to code would be much more valuable.

jamesbro -> peter nelson , 21 Sep 2017 21:31
Thick-skinned? Just because you might get a few error messages from the compiler? Call centre workers have to put up with people telling them to fuck off eight hours a day.
Joshua Ian Lee , 21 Sep 2017 21:03
Spot on. Society will never need more than 1% of its people to code. We will need far more garbage men. There are only so many (relatively) good jobs to go around and its about competing to get them.
canprof , 21 Sep 2017 20:53
I'm a professor (not of computer science) and yet, I try to give my students a basic understanding of algorithms and logic, to spark an interest and encourage them towards programming. I have no skin in the game, except that I've seen unemployment first-hand, and want them to avoid it. The best chance most of them have is to learn to code.
Evelita , 21 Sep 2017 14:35
Educating youth does not drive wages down. It drives our economy up. China, India, and other countries are training youth in programming skills. Educating our youth means that they will be able to compete globally. This is the standard GOP stand that we don't need to educate our youth, but instead fantasize about high-paying manufacturing jobs miraculously coming back.

Many jobs, including new manufacturing jobs have an element of coding because they are automated. Other industries require coding skills to maintain web sites and keep computer systems running. Learning coding skills opens these doors.

Coding teaches logic, an essential thought process. Learning to code, like learning anything, increases the brains ability to adapt to new environments which is essential to our survival as a species. We must invest in educating our youth.

cwblackwell , 21 Sep 2017 13:38
"Contrary to public perception, the economy doesn't actually need that many more programmers." This really looks like a straw man introducing a red herring. A skill can be extremely valuable for those who do not pursue it as a full time profession.

The economy doesn't actually need that many more typists, pianists, mathematicians, athletes, dietitians. So, clearly, teaching typing, the piano, mathematics, physical education, and nutrition is a nefarious plot to drive down salaries in those professions. None of those skills could possibly enrich the lives or enhance the productivity of builders, lawyers, public officials, teachers, parents, or store managers.

DJJJJJC , 21 Sep 2017 14:23

A study by the Economic Policy Institute found that the supply of American college graduates with computer science degrees is 50% greater than the number hired into the tech industry each year.

You're assuming that all those people are qualified to work in software because they have a piece of paper that says so, but that's not a valid assumption. The quality of computer science degree courses is generally poor, and most people aren't willing or able to teach themselves. Universities are motivated to award degrees anyway because if they only awarded degrees to students who are actually qualified then that would reflect very poorly on their quality of teaching.

A skills shortage doesn't mean that everyone who claims to have a skill gets hired and there are still some jobs left over that aren't being done. It means that employers are forced to hire people who are incompetent in order to fill all their positions. Many people who get jobs in programming can't really do it and do nothing but create work for everyone else. That's why most of the software you use every day doesn't work properly. That's why competent programmers' salaries are still high in spite of the apparently large number of "qualified" people who aren't employed as programmers.

[Oct 01, 2017] Neoliberalism Is a Political Project

Notable quotes:
"... I've always treated neoliberalism as a political project carried out by the corporate capitalist class as they felt intensely threatened both politically and economically towards the end of the 1960s into the 1970s. They desperately wanted to launch a political project that would curb the power of labor. ..."
"... In many respects the project was a counterrevolutionary project. It would nip in the bud what, at that time, were revolutionary movements in much of the developing world ..."
"... So in that situation there was, in effect, a global threat to the power of the corporate capitalist class and therefore the question was, What to do?. The ruling class wasn't omniscient but they recognized that there were a number of fronts on which they had to struggle: the ideological front, the political front, and above all they had to struggle to curb the power of labor by whatever means possible. Out of this there emerged a political project which I would call neoliberalism. ..."
"... The ideological front amounted to following the advice of a guy named Lewis Powell . He wrote a memo saying that things had gone too far, that capital needed a collective project. The memo helped mobilize the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable. ..."
"... Ideas were also important to the ideological front. The judgment at that time was that universities were impossible to organize because the student movement was too strong and the faculty too liberal-minded, so they set up all of these think tanks like the Manhattan Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Ohlin Foundation. These think tanks brought in the ideas of Freidrich Hayek and Milton Friedman and supply-side economics. ..."
"... This process took a long time. I think now we've reached a point where you don't need something like the Heritage Foundation anymore. Universities have pretty much been taken over by the neoliberal projects surrounding them. ..."
"... With respect to labor, the challenge was to make domestic labor competitive with global labor. One way was to open up immigration. In the 1960s, for example, Germans were importing Turkish labor, the French Maghrebian labor, the British colonial labor. But this created a great deal of dissatisfaction and unrest. ..."
"... Instead they chose the other way -- to take capital to where the low-wage labor forces were. But for globalization to work you had to reduce tariffs and empower finance capital, because finance capital is the most mobile form of capital. So finance capital and things like floating currencies became critical to curbing labor. ..."
"... At the same time, ideological projects to privatize and deregulate created unemployment. So, unemployment at home and offshoring taking the jobs abroad, and a third component: technological change , deindustrialization through automation and robotization. That was the strategy to squash labor. ..."
"... It was an ideological assault but also an economic assault. To me this is what neoliberalism was about: it was that political project ..."
"... I think they just intuitively said, We gotta crush labor, how do we do it? And they found that there was a legitimizing theory out there, which would support that. ..."
Oct 01, 2017 | www.jacobinmag.com

I've always treated neoliberalism as a political project carried out by the corporate capitalist class as they felt intensely threatened both politically and economically towards the end of the 1960s into the 1970s. They desperately wanted to launch a political project that would curb the power of labor.

In many respects the project was a counterrevolutionary project. It would nip in the bud what, at that time, were revolutionary movements in much of the developing world -- Mozambique, Angola, China etc. -- but also a rising tide of communist influences in countries like Italy and France and, to a lesser degree, the threat of a revival of that in Spain.

Even in the United States, trade unions had produced a Democratic Congress that was quite radical in its intent. In the early 1970s they, along with other social movements, forced a slew of reforms and reformist initiatives which were anti-corporate: the Environmental Protection Agency , the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, consumer protections, and a whole set of things around empowering labor even more than it had been empowered before.

So in that situation there was, in effect, a global threat to the power of the corporate capitalist class and therefore the question was, What to do?. The ruling class wasn't omniscient but they recognized that there were a number of fronts on which they had to struggle: the ideological front, the political front, and above all they had to struggle to curb the power of labor by whatever means possible. Out of this there emerged a political project which I would call neoliberalism.

BSR Can you talk a bit about the ideological and political fronts and the attacks on labor? DH The ideological front amounted to following the advice of a guy named Lewis Powell . He wrote a memo saying that things had gone too far, that capital needed a collective project. The memo helped mobilize the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable.

Ideas were also important to the ideological front. The judgment at that time was that universities were impossible to organize because the student movement was too strong and the faculty too liberal-minded, so they set up all of these think tanks like the Manhattan Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Ohlin Foundation. These think tanks brought in the ideas of Freidrich Hayek and Milton Friedman and supply-side economics.

The idea was to have these think tanks do serious research and some of them did -- for instance, the National Bureau of Economic Research was a privately funded institution that did extremely good and thorough research. This research would then be published independently and it would influence the press and bit by bit it would surround and infiltrate the universities.

This process took a long time. I think now we've reached a point where you don't need something like the Heritage Foundation anymore. Universities have pretty much been taken over by the neoliberal projects surrounding them.

With respect to labor, the challenge was to make domestic labor competitive with global labor. One way was to open up immigration. In the 1960s, for example, Germans were importing Turkish labor, the French Maghrebian labor, the British colonial labor. But this created a great deal of dissatisfaction and unrest.

Instead they chose the other way -- to take capital to where the low-wage labor forces were. But for globalization to work you had to reduce tariffs and empower finance capital, because finance capital is the most mobile form of capital. So finance capital and things like floating currencies became critical to curbing labor.

At the same time, ideological projects to privatize and deregulate created unemployment. So, unemployment at home and offshoring taking the jobs abroad, and a third component: technological change , deindustrialization through automation and robotization. That was the strategy to squash labor.

It was an ideological assault but also an economic assault. To me this is what neoliberalism was about: it was that political project, and I think the bourgeoisie or the corporate capitalist class put it into motion bit by bit.

I don't think they started out by reading Hayek or anything, I think they just intuitively said, We gotta crush labor, how do we do it? And they found that there was a legitimizing theory out there, which would support that.

[Sep 11, 2017] Neoliberalism is creating loneliness. That's what is wrenching society apart by George Monbiot

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Consumerism fills the social void. But far from curing the disease of isolation, it intensifies social comparison to the point at which, having consumed all else, we start to prey upon ourselves. Social media brings us together and drives us apart, allowing us precisely to quantify our social standing, and to see that other people have more friends and followers than we do. ..."
"... A recent survey in England suggests that one in four women between 16 and 24 have harmed themselves, and one in eight now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety, depression, phobias or obsessive compulsive disorder affect 26% of women in this age group. This is what a public health crisis looks like. ..."
"... Opioids relieve both physical agony and the distress of separation. Perhaps this explains the link between social isolation and drug addiction. ..."
"... Children who experience emotional neglect, according to some findings, suffer worse mental health consequences than children suffering both emotional neglect and physical abuse: hideous as it is, violence involves attention and contact. Self-harm is often used as an attempt to alleviate distress: another indication that physical pain is not as bad as emotional pain. As the prison system knows only too well, one of the most effective forms of torture is solitary confinement. ..."
"... It's unsurprising that social isolation is strongly associated with depression, suicide, anxiety, insomnia, fear and the perception of threat. It's more surprising to discover the range of physical illnesses it causes or exacerbates. Dementia, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, lowered resistance to viruses, even accidents are more common among chronically lonely people. Loneliness has a comparable impact on physical health to smoking 15 cigarettes a day: it appears to raise the risk of early death by 26%. This is partly because it enhances production of the stress hormone cortisol, which suppresses the immune system. ..."
"... Neoliberalism is a project that explicitly aims, and has achieved, the undermining and elimination of social networks in favour of market competition ..."
"... In practice, loosening social and legal institutions has reduced social security (in the general sense rather than simply welfare payments) and encouraged the limitation of social interaction to money based activity ..."
"... All powerful institutions have a vested interest in keeping us atomized and individualistic. The gangs at the top don't want competition. They're afraid of us. In particular, they're afraid of men organising into gangs. That's where this very paper comes in ..."
"... The alienation genie was out of the bottle with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and mass migration to cities began and we abandoned living in village communities ..."
"... Neoliberalism expressly encourages 'atomisation'- it is all about reducing human interaction to markets. And so this is just one of the reasons that neoliberalism is such a bunk philosophy. ..."
"... My stab at an answer would first question the notion that we are engaging in anything. That presupposes we are making the choices. Those who set out the options are the ones that make the choices. We are being engaged by the grotesquely privileged and the pathologically greedy in an enterprise that profits them still further. It suits the 1% very well strategically, for obvious reasons, that the 99% don't swap too many ideas with each other. ..."
"... According to Robert Putnam, as societies become more ethnically diverse they lose social capital, contributing to the type of isolation and loneliness which George describes. Doesn't sound as evil as neoliberalism I suppose. ..."
"... multiculturalism is a direct result of Neoliberalism. The market rules and people are secondary. Everything must be done for business owners, and that everything means access to cheap labor. ..."
"... I'd have thought what he really wants to say is that loneliness as a phenomenon in modern Western society arises out of an intent on the part of our political and social elites to divide us all into competing against one another, as individuals and as members of groups, all the better to keep us under control and prevent us from working together to claim our fair share of resources. ..."
"... Has it occurred to you that the collapse in societal values has allowed 'neo-liberalism' to take hold? ..."
"... No. It has been the concentrated propaganda of the "free" press. Rupert Murdoch in particular, but many other well-funded organisations working in the background over 50 years. They are winning. ..."
"... We're fixated on a magical, abstract concept called "the economy". Everything must be done to help "the economy", even if this means adults working through their weekends, neglecting their children, neglecting their elderly parents, eating at their desks, getting diabetes, breaking down from stress, and giving up on a family life. ..."
"... You can make a reasonable case that 'Neoliberalism' expects that every interaction, including between individuals, can be reduced to a financial one. ..."
"... As can be seen from many of the posts, neo-liberalism depends on, and fosters, ignorance, an inability to see things from historical and different perspectives and social and intellectual disciplines. On a sociological level how other societies are arranged throws up interesting comparisons. Scandanavian countries, which have mostly avoided neo-liberalism by and large, are happier, healthier places to live. America and eastern countries arranged around neo-liberal, market driven individualism, are unhappy places, riven with mental and physical health problems and many more social problems of violence, crime and suicide. ..."
"... The people who fosted this this system onto us, are now either very old or dead. We're living in the shadow of their revolutionary transformation of our more equitable post-war society. Hayek, Friedman, Keith Joseph, Thatcher, Greenspan and tangentially but very influentially Ayn Rand. Although a remainder (I love the wit of the term 'Remoaner') , Brexit can be better understood in the context of the death-knell of neoliberalism. ..."
"... Criticism of his hypotheses on this thread (where articualted at all) focus on the existence of solitude and loneliness prior to neo liberalism, which seems to me to be to deliberately miss his point: this was formerly a minor phenomenon, yet is now writ on an incredible scale - and it is a social phenomenon particular to those western economies whose elites have most enthusiastically embraced neo liberalism. ..."
"... We all want is to: (and feel we have the right to) wear the best clothes, have the foreign holidays, own the latest tech and eat the finest foods. At the same time our rights have increased and awareness of our responsibilities have minimized. The execution of common sense and an awareness that everything that goes wrong will always be someone else fault. ..."
"... We are not all special snowflakes, princesses or worthy of special treatment, but we act like self absorbed, entitled individuals. Whether that's entitled to benefits, the front of the queue or bumped into first because its our birthday! ..."
"... Unhealthy social interaction, yes. You can never judge what is natural to humans based on contemporary Britain. Anthropologists repeatedly find that what we think natural is merely a social construct created by the system we are subject to. ..."
"... We are becoming fearful of each other and I believe the insecurity we feel plays a part in this. ..."
"... We have become so disconnected from ourselves and focused on battling to stay afloat. Having experienced periods of severe stress due to lack of money I couldn't even begin to think about how I felt, how happy I was, what I really wanted to do with my life. I just had to pay my landlord, pay the bills and try and put some food on my table so everything else was totally neglected. ..."
"... We need a radical change of political thinking to focus on quality of life rather than obsession with the size of our economy. High levels of immigration of people who don't really integrate into their local communities has fractured our country along with the widening gap between rich and poor. Governments only see people in terms of their "economic value" - hence mothers being driven out to work, children driven into daycare and the elderly driven into care homes. Britain is becoming a soulless place - even our great British comedy is on the decline. ..."
"... Quality of life is far more important than GDP I agree but it is also far more important than inequality. ..."
"... Thatcher was only responsible for "letting it go" in Britain in 1980, but actually it was already racing ahead around the world. ..."
"... Eric Fromm made similar arguments to Monbiot about the psychological impact of modern capitalism (Fear of Freedom and The Sane Society) - although the Freudian element is a tad outdated. However, for all the faults of modern society, I'd rather be unhappy now than in say, Victorian England. Similarly, life in the West is preferable to the obvious alternatives. ..."
"... Whilst it's very important to understand how neoliberalism, the ideology that dare not speak it's name, derailed the general progress in the developed world. It's also necessary to understand that the roots this problem go much further back. Not merely to the start of the industrial revolution, but way beyond that. It actually began with the first civilizations when our societies were taken over by powerful rulers, and they essentially started to farm the people they ruled like cattle. On the one hand they declared themselves protector of their people, whilst ruthlessly exploiting them for their own political gain. I use the livestock farming analogy, because that explains what is going on. ..."
"... Neo-liberalism allows psychopaths to flourish, and it has been argued by Robert Hare that they are disproportionately represented in the highest echelons of society. So people who lack empathy and emotional attachment are probably weilding a significant amount of influence over the way our economy and society is organised. Is it any wonder that they advocate an economic model which is most conducive to their success? Things like job security, rigged markets, unions, and higher taxes on the rich simply get in their way. ..."
"... . Data suggests that inequality has widened massively over the last 30 years ( https://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/infographic-income-inequality-uk ) - as has social mobility ( https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/may/22/social-mobility-data-charts ). Homelessness has risen substantially since 1979. ..."
"... As a director and CEO of an organisation employing several hundred people I became aware that 40% of the staff lived alone and that the workplace was important to them not only for work but also for interacting with their colleagues socially . ..."
"... A thoughtful article. But the rich and powerful will ignore it; their doing very well out of neo liberalism thank you. Meanwhile many of those whose lives are affected by it don't want to know - they're happy with their bigger TV screen. Which of course is what the neoliberals want, 'keep the people happy and in the dark'. An old Roman tactic - when things weren't going too well for citizens and they were grumbling the leaders just extended the 'games'. Evidently it did the trick ..."
"... Sounds like the inevitable logical outcome of a society where the predator sociopathic and their scared prey are all that is allowed. This dynamic dualistic tautology, the slavish terrorised to sleep and bullying narcissistic individual, will always join together to protect their sick worldview by pathologising anything that will threaten their hegemony of power abuse: compassion, sensitivity, moral conscience, altruism and the immediate effects of the ruthless social effacement or punishment of the same ie human suffering. ..."
"... "Alienation, in all areas, has reached unprecedented heights; the social machinery for deluding consciousnesses in the interest of the ruling class has been perfected as never before. The media are loaded with upscale advertising identifying sophistication with speciousness. Television, in constant use, obliterates the concept under the image and permanently feeds a baseless credulity for events and history. Against the will of many students, school doesn't develop the highly cultivated critical capacities that a real sovereignty of the people would require. And so on. ..."
"... There's no question - neoliberalism has been wrenching society apart. It's not as if the prime movers of this ideology were unaware of the likely outcome viz. "there is no such thing as society" (Thatcher). Actually in retrospect the whole zeitgeist from the late 70s emphasised the atomised individual separated from the whole. Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene" (1976) may have been influential in creating that climate. ..."
"... I would add that the basic concepts of the Neoliberal New world order are fundamentally Evil, from the control of world population through supporting of strife starvation and war to financial inducements of persons in positions of power. Let us not forget the training of our younger members of our society who have been induced to a slavish love of technology. ..."
"... The kind of personal freedom that you say goes hand in hand with capitalism is an illusion for the majority of people. It holds up the prospect of that kind of freedom, but only a minority get access to it. ..."
"... Problems in society are not solved by having a one hour a week class on "self esteem". In fact self-esteem and self-worth comes from the things you do. ..."
"... Neoliberalism is the bastard child of globalization which in effect is Americanization. The basic premise is the individual is totally reliant on the corporate world state aided by a process of fear inducing mechanisms, pharmacology is one of the tools. No community no creativity no free thinking. Poded sealed and cling filmed a quasi existence. ..."
"... Having grown up during the Thatcher years, I entirely agree that neoliberalism has divided society by promoting individual self-optimisation at the expensive of everyone else. ..."
"... There is no such thing as a free-market society. Your society of 'self-interest' is really a state supported oligarchy. If you really want to live in a society where there is literally no state and a more or less open market try Somalia or a Latin American city run by drug lords - but even then there are hierarchies, state involvement, militias. ..."
"... Furthermore, a society in which people are encouraged to be narrowly selfish is just plain uncivilized. Since when have sociopathy and barbarism been something to aspire to? ..."
"... Why don't we explore some of the benefits?.. Following the long list of some the diseases, loneliness can inflict on individuals, there must be a surge in demand for all sort of medications; anti-depressants must be topping the list. There is a host many other anti-stress treatments available of which Big Pharma must be carving the lion's share. Examine the micro-economic impact immediately following a split or divorce. There is an instant doubling on the demand for accommodation, instant doubling on the demand for electrical and household items among many other products and services. But the icing on the cake and what is really most critical for Neoliberalism must be this: With the morale barometer hitting the bottom, people will be less likely to think of a better future, and therefore, less likely to protest. In fact, there is nothing left worth protecting. ..."
"... Your freedom has been curtailed. Your rights are evaporating in front of your eyes. And Best of all, from the authorities' perspective, there is no relationship to defend and there is no family to protect. If you have a job, you want to keep, you must prove your worthiness every day to 'a company'. ..."
Oct 12, 2016 | www.theguardian.com

What greater indictment of a system could there be than an epidemic of mental illness? Yet plagues of anxiety, stress, depression, social phobia, eating disorders, self-harm and loneliness now strike people down all over the world. The latest, catastrophic figures for children's mental health in England reflect a global crisis.

There are plenty of secondary reasons for this distress, but it seems to me that the underlying cause is everywhere the same: human beings, the ultrasocial mammals, whose brains are wired to respond to other people, are being peeled apart. Economic and technological change play a major role, but so does ideology. Though our wellbeing is inextricably linked to the lives of others, everywhere we are told that we will prosper through competitive self-interest and extreme individualism.

In Britain, men who have spent their entire lives in quadrangles – at school, at college, at the bar, in parliament – instruct us to stand on our own two feet. The education system becomes more brutally competitive by the year. Employment is a fight to the near-death with a multitude of other desperate people chasing ever fewer jobs. The modern overseers of the poor ascribe individual blame to economic circumstance. Endless competitions on television feed impossible aspirations as real opportunities contract.

Consumerism fills the social void. But far from curing the disease of isolation, it intensifies social comparison to the point at which, having consumed all else, we start to prey upon ourselves. Social media brings us together and drives us apart, allowing us precisely to quantify our social standing, and to see that other people have more friends and followers than we do.

As Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett has brilliantly documented, girls and young women routinely alter the photos they post to make themselves look smoother and slimmer. Some phones, using their "beauty" settings, do it for you without asking; now you can become your own thinspiration. Welcome to the post-Hobbesian dystopia: a war of everyone against themselves.

Social media brings us together and drives us apart, allowing us precisely to quantify our social standing

Is it any wonder, in these lonely inner worlds, in which touching has been replaced by retouching, that young women are drowning in mental distress? A recent survey in England suggests that one in four women between 16 and 24 have harmed themselves, and one in eight now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety, depression, phobias or obsessive compulsive disorder affect 26% of women in this age group. This is what a public health crisis looks like.

If social rupture is not treated as seriously as broken limbs, it is because we cannot see it. But neuroscientists can. A series of fascinating papers suggest that social pain and physical pain are processed by the same neural circuits. This might explain why, in many languages, it is hard to describe the impact of breaking social bonds without the words we use to denote physical pain and injury. In both humans and other social mammals, social contact reduces physical pain. This is why we hug our children when they hurt themselves: affection is a powerful analgesic. Opioids relieve both physical agony and the distress of separation. Perhaps this explains the link between social isolation and drug addiction.

Experiments summarised in the journal Physiology & Behaviour last month suggest that, given a choice of physical pain or isolation, social mammals will choose the former. Capuchin monkeys starved of both food and contact for 22 hours will rejoin their companions before eating. Children who experience emotional neglect, according to some findings, suffer worse mental health consequences than children suffering both emotional neglect and physical abuse: hideous as it is, violence involves attention and contact. Self-harm is often used as an attempt to alleviate distress: another indication that physical pain is not as bad as emotional pain. As the prison system knows only too well, one of the most effective forms of torture is solitary confinement.

It is not hard to see what the evolutionary reasons for social pain might be. Survival among social mammals is greatly enhanced when they are strongly bonded with the rest of the pack. It is the isolated and marginalised animals that are most likely to be picked off by predators, or to starve. Just as physical pain protects us from physical injury, emotional pain protects us from social injury. It drives us to reconnect. But many people find this almost impossible.

It's unsurprising that social isolation is strongly associated with depression, suicide, anxiety, insomnia, fear and the perception of threat. It's more surprising to discover the range of physical illnesses it causes or exacerbates. Dementia, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, lowered resistance to viruses, even accidents are more common among chronically lonely people. Loneliness has a comparable impact on physical health to smoking 15 cigarettes a day: it appears to raise the risk of early death by 26%. This is partly because it enhances production of the stress hormone cortisol, which suppresses the immune system.

Studies in both animals and humans suggest a reason for comfort eating: isolation reduces impulse control, leading to obesity. As those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder are the most likely to suffer from loneliness, might this provide one of the explanations for the strong link between low economic status and obesity?

Anyone can see that something far more important than most of the issues we fret about has gone wrong. So why are we engaging in this world-eating, self-consuming frenzy of environmental destruction and social dislocation, if all it produces is unbearable pain? Should this question not burn the lips of everyone in public life?

There are some wonderful charities doing what they can to fight this tide, some of which I am going to be working with as part of my loneliness project. But for every person they reach, several others are swept past.

This does not require a policy response. It requires something much bigger: the reappraisal of an entire worldview. Of all the fantasies human beings entertain, the idea that we can go it alone is the most absurd and perhaps the most dangerous. We stand together or we fall apart.

RachelL , 12 Oct 2016 03:57

Well its a bit of a stretch blaming neoliberalism for creating loneliness. Yet it seems to be the fashion today to imagine that the world we live in is new...only created just years ago. And all the suffering that we see now never existed before. Plagues of anxiety, stress, depression, social phobia, eating disorders, self-harm and loneliness never happened in the past, because everything was bright and shiny and world was good.

Regrettably history teaches us that suffering and deprivation have dogged mankind for centuries, if not tens of thousands of years. That's what we do; survive, persist...endure. Blaming 'neoliberalism' is a bit of cop-out. It's the human condition man, just deal with it.

B26354 , 12 Oct 2016 03:57
Some of the connections here are a bit tenuous, to say the least, including the link to political ideology. Economic liberalism is usually accompanied with social conservatism, and vice versa. Right wing ideologues are more likely to emphasize the values of marriage and family stability, while left wing ones are more likely to favor extremes of personal freedom and reject those traditional structures that used to bind us together.
ID236975 -> B26354 , 12 Oct 2016 04:15
You're a little confused there in your connections between policies, intentions and outcomes. Nevertheless, Neoliberalism is a project that explicitly aims, and has achieved, the undermining and elimination of social networks in favour of market competition.

In practice, loosening social and legal institutions has reduced social security (in the general sense rather than simply welfare payments) and encouraged the limitation of social interaction to money based activity.

As Monbiot has noted, we are indeed lonelier.

DoctorLiberty -> B26354 , 12 Oct 2016 04:18
That holds true when you're talking about demographics/voters.

Economic and social liberalism go hand in hand in the West. No matter who's in power, the establishment pushes both but will do one or the other covertly.

All powerful institutions have a vested interest in keeping us atomized and individualistic. The gangs at the top don't want competition. They're afraid of us. In particular, they're afraid of men organising into gangs. That's where this very paper comes in.

deskandchair , 12 Oct 2016 04:00
The alienation genie was out of the bottle with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and mass migration to cities began and we abandoned living in village communities. Over the ensuing approx 250 years we abandoned geographically close relationships with extended families, especially post WW2. Underlying economic structures both capitalist and marxist dissolved relationships that we as communal primates evolved within. Then accelerate this mess with (anti-) social media the last 20 years along with economic instability and now dissolution of even the nuclear family (which couldn't work in the first place, we never evolved to live with just two parents looking after children) and here we have it: Mass mental illness. Solution? None. Just form the best type of extended community both within and outside of family, be engaged and generours with your community hope for the best.
terraform_drone -> deskandchair , 12 Oct 2016 04:42
Indeed, Industrialisation of our pre-prescribed lifestyle is a huge factor. In particular, our food, it's low quality, it's 24 hour avaliability, it's cardboard box ambivalence, has caused a myriad of health problems. Industrialisation is about profit for those that own the 'production-line' & much less about the needs of the recipient.
afinch , 12 Oct 2016 04:03

It's unsurprising that social isolation is strongly associated with depression, suicide, anxiety, insomnia, fear and the perception of threat.

Yes, although there is some question of which order things go in. A supportive social network is clearly helpful, but it's hardly a simple cause and effect. Levels of different mental health problems appear to differ widely across societies just in Europe, and it isn't particularly the case that more capitalist countries have greater incidence than less capitalist ones.

You could just as well blame atheism. Since the rise of neo-liberalism and drop in church attendance track each other pretty well, and since for all their ills churches did provide a social support group, why not blame that?

ID236975 -> afinch, 12 Oct 2016 04:22
While attending a church is likely to alleviate loneliness, atheism doesn't expressly encourage limiting social interactions and selfishness. And of course, reduced church attendance isn't exactly the same as atheism.

Neoliberalism expressly encourages 'atomisation'- it is all about reducing human interaction to markets. And so this is just one of the reasons that neoliberalism is such a bunk philosophy.

anotherspace , 12 Oct 2016 04:05
So why are we engaging in this world-eating, self-consuming frenzy of environmental destruction and social dislocation, if all it produces is unbearable pain?

My stab at an answer would first question the notion that we are engaging in anything. That presupposes we are making the choices. Those who set out the options are the ones that make the choices. We are being engaged by the grotesquely privileged and the pathologically greedy in an enterprise that profits them still further. It suits the 1% very well strategically, for obvious reasons, that the 99% don't swap too many ideas with each other.

notherspace -> TremblingFactHunt , 12 Oct 2016 05:46
We as individuals are offered the 'choice' of consumption as an alternative to the devastating ennui engendered by powerlessness. It's no choice at all of course, because consumption merely enriches the 1% and exacerbates our powerlessness. That was the whole point of my post.

The 'choice' to consume is never collectively exercised as you suggest. Sadly. If it was, 'we' might be able to organise ourselves into doing something about it.

Burstcouch , 12 Oct 2016 04:09
According to Robert Putnam, as societies become more ethnically diverse they lose social capital, contributing to the type of isolation and loneliness which George describes. Doesn't sound as evil as neoliberalism I suppose.
ParisHiltonCommune -> Burstcouch , 12 Oct 2016 07:59
Disagree. Im British but have had more foreign friends than British. The UK middle class tend to be boring insular social status obsessed drones.other nationalities have this too, but far less so
Dave Powell -> Burstcouch , 12 Oct 2016 10:54
Multiculturalism is destroying social cohesion.
ParisHiltonCommune -> Dave Powell , 12 Oct 2016 14:47
Well, yes, but multiculturalism is a direct result of Neoliberalism. The market rules and people are secondary. Everything must be done for business owners, and that everything means access to cheap labor.

Multiculturalism isn't the only thing destroying social cohesion, too. It was being destroyed long before the recent surges of immigrants. It was reported many times in the 1980's in communities made up of only one culture. In many ways, it is being used as the obvious distraction from all the other ways Fundamentalist Free Marketers wreck live for many.

Rozina , 12 Oct 2016 04:09
This post perhaps ranges too widely to the point of being vague and general, and leading Monbiot to make some huge mental leaps, linking loneliness to a range of mental and physical problems without being able to explain, for example, the link between loneliness and obesity and all the steps in-between without risking derailment into a side issue.

I'd have thought what he really wants to say is that loneliness as a phenomenon in modern Western society arises out of an intent on the part of our political and social elites to divide us all into competing against one another, as individuals and as members of groups, all the better to keep us under control and prevent us from working together to claim our fair share of resources.

Go on, George, you can say that, why not?

MSP1984 , 12 Oct 2016 04:18
Are you familiar with the term 'Laughter is the best medicine'? Well, it's true. When you laugh, your brain releases endorphins, yeah? Your stress hormones are reduced and the oxygen supply to your blood is increased, so...

I try to laugh several times a day just because... it makes you feel good! Let's try that, eh? Ohohoo... Hahaha... Just, just... Hahahaha... Come on, trust me.. you'll feel.. HahaHAhaha! O-o-o-o-a-hahahahaa... Share

ID8701745 , 12 Oct 2016 04:19
>Neoliberalism is creating loneliness.

Has it occurred to you that the collapse in societal values has allowed 'neo-liberalism' to take hold?

totaram -> ID8701745 , 12 Oct 2016 05:00
No. It has been the concentrated propaganda of the "free" press. Rupert Murdoch in particular, but many other well-funded organisations working in the background over 50 years. They are winning.
greenwichite , 12 Oct 2016 04:20
We're fixated on a magical, abstract concept called "the economy". Everything must be done to help "the economy", even if this means adults working through their weekends, neglecting their children, neglecting their elderly parents, eating at their desks, getting diabetes, breaking down from stress, and giving up on a family life.

Impertinent managers ban their staff from office relationships, as company policy, because the company is more important than its staff's wellbeing.

Companies hand out "free" phones that allow managers to harrass staff for work out of hours, on the understanding that they will be sidelined if thy don't respond.

And the wellbeing of "the economy" is of course far more important than whether the British people actually want to merge into a European superstate. What they want is irrelevant.

That nasty little scumbag George Osborne was the apotheosis of this ideology, but he was abetted by journalists who report any rise in GDP as "good" - no matter how it was obtained - and any "recession" to be the equivalent of a major natural disaster.

If we go on this way, the people who suffer the most will be the rich, because it will be them swinging from the lamp-posts, or cowering in gated communities that they dare not leave (Venezuela, South Africa). Those riots in London five years ago were a warning. History is littered with them.

DiscoveredJoys -> greenwichite , 12 Oct 2016 05:48
You can make a reasonable case that 'Neoliberalism' expects that every interaction, including between individuals, can be reduced to a financial one. If this results in loneliness then that's certainly a downside - but the upside is that billions have been lifted out of absolute poverty worldwide by 'Neoliberalism'.

Mr Monbiot creates a compelling argument that we should end 'Neoliberalism' but he is very vague about what should replace it other than a 'different worldview'. Destruction is easy, but creation is far harder.

concerned4democracy , 12 Oct 2016 04:28
As a retired teacher it grieves me greatly to see the way our education service has become obsessed by testing and assessment. Sadly the results are used not so much to help children learn and develop, but rather as a club to beat schools and teachers with. Pressurised schools produce pressurised children. Compare and contrast with education in Finland where young people are not formally assessed until they are 17 years old. We now assess toddlers in nursery schools.
SATs in Primary schools had children concentrating on obscure grammatical terms and usage which they will never ever use again. Pointless and counter-productive.
Gradgrind values driving out the joy of learning.
And promoting anxiety and mental health problems.
colddebtmountain , 12 Oct 2016 04:33
It is all the things you describe, Mr Monbiot, and then some. This dystopian hell, when anything that did work is broken and all things that have never worked are lined up for a little tinkering around the edges until the camouflage is good enough to kid people it is something new. It isn't just neoliberal madness that has created this, it is selfish human nature that has made it possible, corporate fascism that has hammered it into shape. and an army of mercenaries who prefer the take home pay to morality. Crime has always paid especially when governments are the crooks exercising the law.

The value of life has long been forgotten as now the only thing that matters is how much you can be screwed for either dead or alive. And yet the Trumps, the Clintons, the Camerons, the Johnsons, the Merkels, the Mays, the news media, the banks, the whole crooked lot of them, all seem to believe there is something worth fighting for in what they have created, when painfully there is not. We need revolution and we need it to be lead by those who still believe all humanity must be humble, sincere, selfless and most of all morally sincere. Freedom, justice, and equality for all, because the alternative is nothing at all.

excathedra , 12 Oct 2016 04:35
Ive long considered neo-liberalism as the cause of many of our problems, particularly the rise in mental health problems, alienation and loneliness.

As can be seen from many of the posts, neo-liberalism depends on, and fosters, ignorance, an inability to see things from historical and different perspectives and social and intellectual disciplines. On a sociological level how other societies are arranged throws up interesting comparisons. Scandanavian countries, which have mostly avoided neo-liberalism by and large, are happier, healthier places to live. America and eastern countries arranged around neo-liberal, market driven individualism, are unhappy places, riven with mental and physical health problems and many more social problems of violence, crime and suicide.

The worst thing is that the evidence shows it doesn't work. Not one of the privatisations in this country have worked. All have been worse than what they've replaced, all have cost more, depleted the treasury and led to massive homelessness, increased mental health problems with the inevitable financial and social costs, costs which are never acknowledged by its adherents.

Put crudely, the more " I'm alright, fuck you " attitude is fostered, the worse societies are. Empires have crashed and burned under similar attitudes.

MereMortal , 12 Oct 2016 04:37
A fantastic article as usual from Mr Monbiot.

The people who fosted this this system onto us, are now either very old or dead. We're living in the shadow of their revolutionary transformation of our more equitable post-war society. Hayek, Friedman, Keith Joseph, Thatcher, Greenspan and tangentially but very influentially Ayn Rand. Although a remainder (I love the wit of the term 'Remoaner') , Brexit can be better understood in the context of the death-knell of neoliberalism.

I never understood how the collapse of world finance, resulted in a right wing resurgence in the UK and the US. The Tea Party in the US made the absurd claim that the failure of global finance was not due to markets being fallible, but because free markets had not been enforced citing Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac as their evidence and of Bill Clinton insisting on more poor and black people being given mortgages.

I have a terrible sense that it will not go quietly, there will be massive global upheavals as governments struggle deal with its collapse.

flyboy101 , 12 Oct 2016 04:39
I have never really agreed with GM - but this article hits the nail on the head.

I think there are a number of aspects to this:

  1. The internet. The being in constant contact, our lives mapped and our thoughts analysed - we can comment on anything (whether informed or total drivel) and we've been fed the lie that our opinion is is right and that it matters) Ive removed fscebook and twitter from my phone, i have never been happier
  2. Rolling 24 hour news. That is obsessed with the now, and consistently squeezes very complex issues into bite sized simple dichotomies. Obsessed with results and critical in turn of everyone who fails to feed the machine
  3. The increasing slicing of work into tighter and slimmer specialisms, with no holistic view of the whole, this forces a box ticking culture. "Ive stamped my stamp, my work is done" this leads to a lack of ownership of the whole. PIP assessments are an almost perfect example of this - a box ticking exercise, designed by someone who'll never have to go through it, with no flexibility to put the answers into a holistic context.
  4. Our education system is designed to pass exams and not prepare for the future or the world of work - the only important aspect being the compilation of next years league tables and the schools standings. This culture is neither healthy no helpful, as students are schooled on exam technique in order to squeeze out the marks - without putting the knowledge into a meaningful and understandable narrative.

Apologies for the long post - I normally limit myself to a trite insulting comment :) but felt more was required in this instance.

Taxiarch -> flyboy101 , 12 Oct 2016 05:42
Overall, I agree with your points. Monbiot here adopts a blunderbuss approach (competitive self-interest and extreme individualism; "brutal" education, employment social security; consumerism, social media and vanity). Criticism of his hypotheses on this thread (where articualted at all) focus on the existence of solitude and loneliness prior to neo liberalism, which seems to me to be to deliberately miss his point: this was formerly a minor phenomenon, yet is now writ on an incredible scale - and it is a social phenomenon particular to those western economies whose elites have most enthusiastically embraced neo liberalism. So, when Monbiot's rhetoric rises:

"So why are we engaging in this world-eating, self-consuming frenzy of environmental destruction and social dislocation, if all it produces is unbearable pain?"

the answer is, of course, 'western capitalist elites'.

We stand together or we fall apart.

Hackneyed and unoriginal but still true for all that.

flyboy101 -> Taxiarch , 12 Oct 2016 06:19
I think the answer is only

the answer is, of course, 'western capitalist elites'.

because of the lies that are being sold. We all want is to: (and feel we have the right to) wear the best clothes, have the foreign holidays, own the latest tech and eat the finest foods. At the same time our rights have increased and awareness of our responsibilities have minimized. The execution of common sense and an awareness that everything that goes wrong will always be someone else fault.

We are not all special snowflakes, princesses or worthy of special treatment, but we act like self absorbed, entitled individuals. Whether that's entitled to benefits, the front of the queue or bumped into first because its our birthday!

I share Monbiots pain here. But rather than get a sense of perspective - the answer is often "More public money and counseling"

DGIxjhLBTdhTVh7T , 12 Oct 2016 04:42
George Monbiot has struck a nerve. They are there every day in my small town local park: people, young and old, gender and ethnically diverse, siting on benches for a couple of hours at a time.

Trite as it may seem, this temporary thread of canine affection breaks the taboo of strangers passing by on the other side. Conversations, sometimes stilted, sometimes deeper and more meaningful, ensue as dog walkers become a brief daily healing force in a fractured world of loneliness. It's not much credit in the bank of sociability. But it helps.

Trite as it may seem from the outside, their interaction with the myriad pooches regularly walk

wakeup99 -> DGIxjhLBTdhTVh7T , 12 Oct 2016 04:47
Do a parkrun and you get the same thing. Free and healthy.
ParisHiltonCommune -> SenseCir , 12 Oct 2016 08:47
Unhealthy social interaction, yes. You can never judge what is natural to humans based on contemporary Britain. Anthropologists repeatedly find that what we think natural is merely a social construct created by the system we are subject to.

If you don't work hard, you will be a loser, don't look out of the window day dreaming you lazy slacker. Get productive, Mr Burns millions need you to work like a machine or be replaced by one.

Sandra Hannen Gomez , 12 Oct 2016 04:46
Good article. You΄re absoluately right. And the deeper casue is this: separation from God. If we don΄t fight our way back to God, individually and collectively, things are going to get a lot worse. With God, loneliness doesn΄t exist. I encourage anyone and everyone to start talking to Him today and invite Him into your heart and watch what starts to happen.
wakeup99 -> Sandra Hannen Gomez , 12 Oct 2016 04:52
Religion divides not brings people together. Only when you embrace all humanity and ignore all gods will you find true happiness. The world and the people in it are far more inspiring when you contemplate the lack of any gods. The fact people do amazing things without needing the promise of heaven or the threat of hell - that is truly moving.
TeaThoughts -> Sandra Hannen Gomez , 12 Oct 2016 05:23
I see what you're saying but I read 'love' instead of God. God is too religious which separates and divides ("I'm this religion and my god is better than yours" etc etc). I believe that George is right in many ways in that money is very powerful on it's impact on our behavior (stress, lack etc) and therefore our lives. We are becoming fearful of each other and I believe the insecurity we feel plays a part in this.

We have become so disconnected from ourselves and focused on battling to stay afloat. Having experienced periods of severe stress due to lack of money I couldn't even begin to think about how I felt, how happy I was, what I really wanted to do with my life. I just had to pay my landlord, pay the bills and try and put some food on my table so everything else was totally neglected.

When I moved house to move in with family and wasn't expected to pay rent, though I offered, all that dissatisfaction and undealt with stuff came spilling out and I realised I'd had no time for any real safe care above the very basics and that was not a good place to be. I put myself into therapy for a while and started to look after myself and things started to change. I hope to never go back to that kind of position but things are precarious financially and the field I work in isn't well paid but it makes me very happy which I realise now is more important.

geoffhoppy , 12 Oct 2016 04:47
Neo-liberalism has a lot to answer for in bringing misery to our lives and accelerating the demise of the planet but I find it not guilty on this one. The current trends as to how people perceive themselves (what you've got rather than who you are) and the increasing isolation in our cities started way before the neo-liberals. It is getting worse though and on balance social media is making us more connected but less social. Share
RandomName2016 , 12 Oct 2016 04:48
The way that the left keeps banging on about neoliberalism is half of what makes them such a tough sell electorally. Just about nobody knows what neoliberalism is, and literally nobody self identifies as a neoliberal. So all this moaning and wailing about neoliberalism comes across as a self absorbed, abstract and irrelevant. I expect there is the germ of an idea in there, but until the left can find away to present that idea without the baffling layer of jargon and over-analysis, they're going to remain at a disadvantage to the easy populism of the right.
Astrogenie , 12 Oct 2016 04:49
Interesting article. We have heard so much about the size of our economy but less about our quality of life. The UK quality of life is way below the size of our economy i.e. economy size 6th largest in the world but quality of life 15th. If we were the 10th largest economy but were 10th for quality of life we would be better off than we are now in real terms.

We need a radical change of political thinking to focus on quality of life rather than obsession with the size of our economy. High levels of immigration of people who don't really integrate into their local communities has fractured our country along with the widening gap between rich and poor. Governments only see people in terms of their "economic value" - hence mothers being driven out to work, children driven into daycare and the elderly driven into care homes. Britain is becoming a soulless place - even our great British comedy is on the decline.

wakeup99 -> Astrogenie , 12 Oct 2016 04:56
Quality of life is far more important than GDP I agree but it is also far more important than inequality.
MikkaWanders , 12 Oct 2016 04:49
Interesting. 'It is the isolated and marginalised animals that are most likely to be picked off by predators....' so perhaps the species is developing its own predators to fill a vacated niche.

(Not questioning the comparison to other mammals at all as I think it is valid but you would have to consider the whole rather than cherry pick bits)

johnny991965 , 12 Oct 2016 04:52
Generation snowflake. "I'll do myself in if you take away my tablet and mobile phone for half an hour".
They don't want to go out and meet people anymore. Nightclubs for instance, are closing because the younger generation 'don't see the point' of going out to meet people they would otherwise never meet, because they can meet people on the internet. Leave them to it and the repercussions of it.....
johnny991965 -> grizzly , 12 Oct 2016 05:07
Socialism is dying on its feet in the UK, hence the Tory's 17 point lead at the mo. The lefties are clinging to whatever influence they have to sway the masses instead of the ballot box. Good riddance to them.
David Ireland -> johnny991965 , 13 Oct 2016 12:45
17 point lead? Dying on it's feet? The neo-liberals are showing their disconnect from reality. If anything, neo-liberalism is driving a people to the left in search of a fairer and more equal society.
justask , 12 Oct 2016 04:57
George Moniot's articles are better thought out, researched and written than the vast majority of the usual clickbait opinion pieces found on the Guardian these days. One of the last journalists, rather than liberal arts blogger vying for attention.
Nada89 , 12 Oct 2016 04:57
Neoliberalism's rap sheet is long and dangerous but this toxic philosophy will continue unabated because most people can't join the dots and work out how detrimental it has proven to be for most of us.

It dangles a carrot in order to create certain economic illusions but the simple fact is neoliberal societies become more unequal the longer they persist.

wakeup99 -> Nada89 , 12 Oct 2016 05:05
Neoliberal economies allow people to build huge global businesses very quickly and will continue to give the winners more but they also can guve everyone else more too but just at a slower rate. Socialism on the other hand mires everyone in stagnant poverty. Question is do you want to be absolutely or relatively better off.
totaram -> wakeup99 , 12 Oct 2016 05:19
You have no idea. Do not confuse capitalism with neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is a political ideology based on a mythical version of capitalism that doesn't actually exist, but is a nice way to get the deluded to vote for something that doesn't work in their interest at all.
peterfieldman , 12 Oct 2016 04:57
And things will get worse as society falls apart due to globalisation, uberization, lack of respect for authority, lacks of a fair tax and justice system, crime, immorality, loss of trust of politicians and financial and corporate sectors, uncontrolled immigration bringing with it insecurity and the risk of terrorism and a dumbing down of society with increasing inequality. All this is in a new book " The World at a Crossroads" which deals with the major issues facing the planet.
Nada89 -> wakeup99 , 12 Oct 2016 05:07
What, like endless war, unaffordable property, monstrous university fees, zero hours contracts and a food bank on every corner, and that's before we even get to the explosion in mental distress.
monsieur_flaneur -> thedisclaimer , 12 Oct 2016 05:10
There's nothing spurious or obscure about Neoliberalism. It is simply the political ideology of the rich, which has been our uninterrupted governing ideology since Reagan and Thatcher: Privatisation, deregulation, 'liberalisation' of housing, labour, etc, trickledown / low-tax-on-the-rich economics, de-unionization. You only don't see it if you don't want to see it.
arkley , 12 Oct 2016 05:03
I'm just thinking what is wonderful about societies that are big of social unity. And conformity. Those societies for example where you "belong" to your family. Where teenage girls can be married off to elderly uncles to cement that belonging. Or those societies where the belonging comes through religious centres. Where the ostracism for "deviant" behaviour like being gay or for women not submitting to their husbands can be brutal. And I'm not just talking about muslims here.

Or those societies that are big on patriotism. Yep they are usually good for mental health as the young men are given lessons in how to kill as many other men as possible efficiently.

And then I have to think how our years of "neo-liberal" governments have taken ideas of social liberalisation and enshrined them in law. It may be coincidence but thirty years after Thatcher and Reagan we are far more tolerant of homosexuality and willing to give it space to live, conversely we are far less tolerant of racism and are willing to prosecute racist violence. Feminists may still moan about equality but the position of women in society has never been better, rape inside marriage has (finally) been outlawed, sexual violence generally is no longer condoned except by a few, work opportunities have been widened and the woman's role is no longer just home and family. At least that is the case in "neo-liberal" societies, it isn't necessarily the case in other societies.

So unless you think loneliness is some weird Stockholm Syndrome thing where your sense of belonging comes from your acceptance of a stifling role in a structured soiety, then I think blaming the heightened respect for the individual that liberal societies have for loneliness is way off the mark.

What strikes me about the cases you cite above, George, is not an over-respect for the individual but another example of individuals being shoe-horned into a structure. It strikes me it is not individualism but competition that is causing the unhappiness. Competition to achieve an impossible ideal.

I fear George, that you are not approaching this with a properly open mind dedicated to investigation. I think you have your conclusion and you are going to bend the evidence to fit. That is wrong and I for one will not support that. In recent weeks and months we have had the "woe, woe and thrice woe" writings. Now we need to take a hard look at our findings. We need to take out the biases resulting from greater awareness of mental health and better and fuller diagnosis of mental health issues. We need to balance the bias resulting from the fact we really only have hard data for modern Western societies. And above all we need to scotch any bias resulting from the political worldview of the researchers.

Then the results may have some value.

birney -> arkley , 12 Oct 2016 05:10
It sounded to me that he was telling us of farm labouring and factory fodder stock that if we'd 'known our place' and kept to it ,all would be well because in his ideal society there WILL be or end up having a hierarchy, its inevitable.
EndaFlannel , 12 Oct 2016 05:04
Wasn't all this started by someone who said, "There is no such thing as Society"? The ultimate irony is that the ideology that championed the individual and did so much to dismantle the industrial and social fabric of the Country has resulted in a system which is almost totalitarian in its disregard for its ideological consequences.
wakeup99 -> EndaFlannel , 12 Oct 2016 05:08
Thatcher said it in the sense that society is not abstract it is just other people so when you say society needs to change then people need to change as society is not some independent concept it is an aggregation of all us. The left mis quote this all the time and either they don't get it or they are doing on purpose.
HorseCart -> EndaFlannel , 12 Oct 2016 05:09
No, Neoliberalism has been around since 1938.... Thatcher was only responsible for "letting it go" in Britain in 1980, but actually it was already racing ahead around the world.

Furthermore, it could easily be argued that the Beatles helped create loneliness - what do you think all those girls were screaming for? And also it could be argued that the Beatles were bringing in neoliberalism in the 1960s, via America thanks to Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis etc.. Share

billybagel -> wakeup99 , 12 Oct 2016 05:26
They're doing it on purpose. ""If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." -- Joseph Boebbels
Luke O'Brien , 12 Oct 2016 05:08
Great article, although surely you could've extended the blame to capitalism has a whole?

In what, then, consists the alienation of labor? First, in the fact that labor is external to the worker, i.e., that it does not belong to his nature, that therefore he does not realize himself in his work, that he denies himself in it, that he does not feel at ease in it, but rather unhappy, that he does not develop any free physical or mental energy, but rather mortifies his flesh and ruins his spirit. The worker, therefore, is only himself when he does not work, and in his work he feels outside himself. He feels at home when he is not working, and when he is working he does not feel at home. His labor, therefore, is not voluntary, but forced--forced labor. It is not the gratification of a need, but only a means to gratify needs outside itself. Its alien nature shows itself clearly by the fact that work is shunned like the plague as soon as no physical or other kind of coercion exists.

Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844

JulesBywaterLees , 12 Oct 2016 05:08
We have created a society with both flaws and highlights- and we have unwittingly allowed the economic system to extend into our lives in negative ways.

On of the things being modern brings is movement- we move away from communities, breaking friendships and losing support networks, and the support networks are the ones that allow us to cope with issues, problems and anxiety.

Isolation among the youth is disturbing, it is also un natural, perhaps it is social media, or fear of parents, or the fall in extra school activities or parents simply not having a network of friends because they have had to move for work or housing.

There is some upsides, I talk and get support from different international communities through the social media that can also be so harmful- I chat on xbox games, exchange information on green building forums, arts forums, share on youtube as well as be part of online communities that hold events in the real world.

LordMorganofGlossop , 12 Oct 2016 05:11
Increasingly we seem to need to document our lives on social media to somehow prove we 'exist'. We seem far more narcissistic these days, which tends to create a particular type of unhappiness, or at least desire that can never be fulfilled. Maybe that's the secret of modern consumer-based capitalism. To be happy today, it probably helps to be shallow, or avoid things like Twitter and Facebook!

Eric Fromm made similar arguments to Monbiot about the psychological impact of modern capitalism (Fear of Freedom and The Sane Society) - although the Freudian element is a tad outdated. However, for all the faults of modern society, I'd rather be unhappy now than in say, Victorian England. Similarly, life in the West is preferable to the obvious alternatives.

Interestingly, the ultra conservative Adam Smith Institute yesterday decided to declare themselves 'neoliberal' as some sort of badge of honour:
http://www.adamsmith.org/blog/coming-out-as-neoliberals

eamonmcc , 12 Oct 2016 05:15
Thanks George for commenting in such a public way on the unsayable: consume, consume, consume seems to be the order of the day in our modern world and the points you have highlighted should be part of public policy everywhere.

I'm old enough to remember when we had more time for each other; when mothers could be full-time housewives; when evenings existed (evenings now seem to be spent working or getting home from work). We are undoubtedly more materialistic, which leads to more time spent working, although our modern problems are probably not due to increasing materialism alone.

Regarding divorce and separation, I notice people in my wider circle who are very open to affairs. They seem to lack the self-discipline to concentrate on problems in their marriage and to give their full-time partner a high level of devotion. Terrible problems come up in marriages but if you are completely and unconditionally committed to your partner and your marriage then you can get through the majority of them.

CEMKM , 12 Oct 2016 05:47
Aggressive self interest is turning in on itself. Unfortunately the powerful who have realised their 'Will to Power' are corrupted by their own inflated sense of self and thus blinded. Does this all predict a global violent revolution?
SteB1 -> NeverMindTheBollocks , 12 Oct 2016 06:32

A diatribe against a vague boogieman that is at best an ill-defined catch-all of things this CIFer does not like.

An expected response from someone who persistently justifies neoliberalism through opaque and baseless attacks on those who reveal how it works. Neoliberalism is most definitely real and it has a very definite history.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism
http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=376

However, what is most interesting is how nearly all modern politicians who peddle neoliberal doctrine or policy, refuse to use the name, or even to openly state what ideology they are in fact following.

I suppose it is just a complete coincidence that the policy so many governments are now following so closely follow known neoliberal doctrine. But of course the clever and unpleasant strategy of those like yourself is to cry conspiracy theory if this ideology, which dare not speak its name is mentioned.

Your style is tiresome. You make no specific supported criticisms again, and again. You just make false assertions and engage in unpleasant ad homs and attempted character assassination. You do not address the evidence for what George Monbiot states at all.

heian555 , 12 Oct 2016 05:56
An excellent article. One wonders exactly what one needs to say in order to penetrate the reptilian skulls of those who run the system.

As an addition to Mr Monbiot's points, I would like to point out that it is not only competitive self-interest and extreme individualism that drives loneliness. Any system that has strict hierarchies and mechanisms of social inclusion also drives it, because such systems inhibit strongly spontaneous social interaction, in which people simply strike up conversation. Thailand has such a system. Despite her promoting herself as the land of smiles, I have found the people here to be deeply segregated and unfriendly. I have lived here for 17 years. The last time I had a satisfactory face-to-face conversation, one that went beyond saying hello to cashiers at checkout counters or conducting official business, was in 1999. I have survived by convincing myself that I have dialogues with my books; as I delve more deeply into the texts, the authors say something different to me, to which I can then respond in my mind.

SteB1 , 12 Oct 2016 05:56

Epidemics of mental illness are crushing the minds and bodies of millions. It's time to ask where we are heading and why

I want to quote the sub headline, because "It's time to ask where we are heading and why", is the important bit. George's excellent and scathing evidence based criticism of the consequences of neoliberalism is on the nail. However, we need to ask how we got to this stage. Despite it's name neoliberalism doesn't really seem to contain any new ideas, and in some way it's more about Thatcher's beloved return to Victorian values. Most of what George Monbiot highlights encapsulatec Victorian thinking, the sort of workhouse mentality.

Whilst it's very important to understand how neoliberalism, the ideology that dare not speak it's name, derailed the general progress in the developed world. It's also necessary to understand that the roots this problem go much further back. Not merely to the start of the industrial revolution, but way beyond that. It actually began with the first civilizations when our societies were taken over by powerful rulers, and they essentially started to farm the people they ruled like cattle. On the one hand they declared themselves protector of their people, whilst ruthlessly exploiting them for their own political gain. I use the livestock farming analogy, because that explains what is going on.

To domesticate livestock, and to make them pliable and easy to work with the farmer must make himself appear to these herd animals as if they are their protector, the person who cares for them, nourishes and feeds them. They become reliant on their apparent benefactor. Except of course this is a deceitful relationship, because the farmer is just fattening them up to be eaten.

For the powerful to exploit the rest of people in society for their own benefit they had to learn how to conceal what they were really doing, and to wrap it in justifications to bamboozle the people they were exploiting for their own benefit. They did this by altering our language and inserting ideas in our culture which justified their rule, and the positions of the rest of us.

Before state religions, generally what was revered was the Earth, the natural world. It was on a personal level, and not controlled by the powerful. So the powerful needed to remove that personal meaningfulness from people's lives, and said the only thing which was really meaningful, was the religion, which of course they controlled and were usually the head of. Over generations people were indoctrinated in a completely new way of thinking, and a language manipulated so all people could see was the supposed divine right of kings to rule. Through this language people were detached from what was personally meaningful to them, and could only find meaningfulness by pleasing their rulers, and being indoctrinated in their religion.

If you control the language people use, you can control how perceive the world, and can express themselves.

By stripping language of meaningful terms which people can express themselves, and filling it full of dubious concepts such as god, the right of kings completely altered how people saw the world, how they thought. This is why over the ages, and in different forms the powerful have always attempted to have full control of our language through at first religion and their proclamations, and then eventually by them controlling our education system and the media.

The idea of language being used to control how people see the world, and how they think is of course not my idea. George Orwell's Newspeak idea explored in "1984" is very much about this.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newspeak

This control of language is well known throughout history. Often conquerors would abolish languages of those they conquered. In the so called New World the colonists eventually tried to control how indigenous people thought by forcibly sending their children to boarding school, to be stripped of their culture, their native language, and to be inculcated in the language and ideas of their colonists. In Britain various attempts were made to banish the Welsh language, the native language of the Britons, before the Anglo-Saxons and the Normans took over.

However, what Orwell did not deal with properly is the origin of language style. To Orwell, and to critics of neoliberalism, the problems can be traced back to the rise of what they criticised. To a sort of mythical golden age. Except all the roots of what is being criticised can be found in the period before the invention of these doctrines. So you have to go right back to the beginning, to understand how it all began.

Neoliberalism would never have been possible without this long control of our language and ideas by the powerful. It prevents us thinking outside the box, about what the problem really is, and how it all began.

clarissa3 -> SteB1 , 12 Oct 2016 06:48
All very well but you are talking about ruthlessness of western elites, mostly British, not all.

It was not like that everywhere. Take Poland for example, and around there..

New research is emerging - and I'd recommend reading of prof Frost from St Andrew's Uni - that lower classes were actually treated with respect by elites there, mainly land owners and aristocracy who more looked after them and employed and cases of such ruthlessness as you describe were unknown of.

So that 'truth' about attitudes to lower classes is not universal!

SteB1 -> Borisundercoat , 12 Oct 2016 06:20

What is "neoliberalism" exactly?

It's spouted by many on here as the root of all evil.

I'd be interested to see how many different definitions I get in response...


The reason I call neoliberalism the ideology which dare not speak it's name is that in public you will rarely hear it mentioned by it's proponents. However, it was a very important part of Thatcherism, Blairism, and so on. What is most definite is that these politicians and others are most definitely following some doctrine. Their ideas about what we must do and how we must do it are arbitrary, but they make it sound as if it's the only way to do things.

If you want to learn more about neoliberalism, read a summary such as the Wikipedia page on it.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism
http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=376

However, as I hint, the main problem in dealing with neoliberalism is that none of the proponents of this doctrine admit to what ideology they are actually following. Yet very clearly around the world leaders in many countries are clearly singing from the same hymn sheet because the policy they implement is so similar. Something has definitely changed. All the attempts to roll back welfare, benefits, and public services is most definitely new, or they wouldn't be having to reverse policy of the past if nothing had change. But as all these politicians implementing this policy all seem to refuse to explain what doctrine they are following, it makes it difficult to pin down what is happening. Yet we can most definitely say that there is a clear doctrine at work, because why else would so many political leaders around the world be trying to implement such similar policy.

Winstons1 -> TerryMcBurney , 12 Oct 2016 06:24

Neo-liberalism doesn't really exist except in the minds of the far left and perhaps a few academics.

Neoliberalism is a policy model of social studies and economics that transfers control of economic factors to the private sector from the public sector. ... Neoliberal policies aim for a laissez-faire approach to economic development.

I believe the term 'Neo liberalism' was coined by those well known 'Lefties'The Chicago School .
If you don't believe that any of the above has been happening ,it does beg the question as to where you have been for the past decade.

UnderSurveillance , 12 Oct 2016 06:12
The ironies of modern civilization - we have never been more 'connected' to other people on global level and less 'connected' on personal level.

We have never had access to such a wide range of information and opinions, but also for a long time been so divided into conflicting groups, reading and accessing in fact only that which reinforces what we already think.

John Pelan , 12 Oct 2016 06:18
Sir Harry Burns, ex-Chief Medical Officer in Scotland talks very powerfully about the impact of loneliness and isolation on physical and mental health - here is a video of a recent talk by him - http://www.befs.org.uk/calendar/48/164-BEFS-Annual-Lecture
MightyDrunken , 12 Oct 2016 06:22
These issues have been a long time coming, just think of the appeals of the 60's to chill out and love everyone. Globalisation and neo-liberalism has simply made society even more broken.
The way these problems have been ignored and made worse over the last few decades make me think that the solution will only happen after a massive catastrophe and society has to be rebuilt. Unless we make the same mistakes again.
A shame really, you would think intelligence would be useful but it seems not.
ParisHiltonCommune -> MightyDrunken , 12 Oct 2016 07:19
Contemporary Neo-liberalism is a reaction against that ideal of the 60s
DevilMayCareIDont , 12 Oct 2016 06:25
I would argue that it creates a bubble of existence for those who pursue a path of "success" that instead turns to isolation . The amount of people that I have met who have moved to London because to them it represents the main location for everything . I get to see so many walking cliches of people trying to fit in or stand out but also fitting in just the same .

The real disconnect that software is providing us with is truly staggering . I have spoken to people from all over the World who seem to feel more at home being alone and playing a game with strangers . The ones who are most happy are those who seem to be living all aloe and the ones who try and play while a girlfriend or family are present always seemed to be the ones most agitated by them .

We are humans relying on simplistic algorithms that reduce us ,apps like Tinder which turns us into a misogynist at the click of a button .

Facebook which highlights our connections with the other people and assumes that everyone you know or have met is of the same relevance .

We also have Twitter which is the equivalent of screaming at a television when you are drunk or angry .

We have Instagram where people revel in their own isolation and send updates of it . All those products that are instantly updated and yet we are ageing and always feeling like we are grouped together by simple algorithms .

JimGoddard , 12 Oct 2016 06:28
Television has been the main destroyer of social bonds since the 1950s and yet it is only mentioned once and in relation to the number of competitions on it, which completely misses the point. That's when I stopped taking this article seriously.
GeoffP , 12 Oct 2016 06:29
Another shining example of the slow poison of capitalism. Maybe it's time at last to turn off the tap?
jwestoby , 12 Oct 2016 06:30
I actually blame Marx for neoliberalism. He framed society purely in terms economic, and persuaded that ideology is valuable in as much as it is actionable.

For a dialectician he was incredibly short sighted and superficial, not realising he was creating a narrative inimical to personal expression and simple thoughtfulness (although he was warned). To be fair, he can't have appreciated how profoundly he would change the way we concieve societies.

Neoliberalism is simply the dark side of Marxism and subsumes the personal just as comprehensively as communism.

We're picked apart by quantification and live as particulars, suffering the ubiquitous consequences of connectivity alone . . .

Unless, of course, you get out there and meet great people!

ParisHiltonCommune -> jwestoby , 12 Oct 2016 07:16
Marxism arose as a reaction against the harsh capitalism of its day. Of course it is connected. It is ironic how Soviet our lives have become.
zeeeel , 12 Oct 2016 06:30
Neo-liberalism allows psychopaths to flourish, and it has been argued by Robert Hare that they are disproportionately represented in the highest echelons of society. So people who lack empathy and emotional attachment are probably weilding a significant amount of influence over the way our economy and society is organised. Is it any wonder that they advocate an economic model which is most conducive to their success? Things like job security, rigged markets, unions, and higher taxes on the rich simply get in their way.
Drewv , 12 Oct 2016 06:30
That fine illustration by Andrzej Krauze up there is exactly what I see whenever I walk into an upscale mall or any Temple of Consumerism.

You can hear the Temple calling out: "Feel bad, atomized individuals? Have a hole inside? Feel lonely? That's all right: buy some shit you don't need and I guarantee you'll feel better."

And then it says: "So you bought it and you felt better for five minutes, and now you feel bad again? Well, that's not rocket science...you should buy MORE shit you don't need! I mean, it's not rocket science, you should have figured this out on your own."

And then it says: "Still feel bad and you have run out of money? Well, that's okay, just get it on credit, or take out a loan, or mortgage your house. I mean, it's not rocket science. Really, you should have figured this out on your own already...I thought you were a modern, go-get-'em, independent, initiative-seizing citizen of the world?"

And then it says: "Took out too many loans, can't pay the bills and the repossession has begun? Honestly, that's not my problem. You're just a bad little consumer, and a bad little liberal, and everything is your own fault. You go sit in a dark corner now where you don't bother the other shoppers. Honestly, you're just being a burden on other consumers now. I'm not saying you should kill yourself, but I can't say that we would mind either."

And that's how the worms turn at the Temples of Consumerism and Neoliberalism.

havetheyhearts , 12 Oct 2016 06:31
I kept my sanity by not becoming a spineless obedient middle class pleaser of a sociopathic greedy tribe pretending neoliberalism is the future.

The result is a great clarity about the game, and an intact empathy for all beings.

The middle class treated each conscious "outsider" like a lowlife, and now they play the helpless victims of circumstances.

I know why I renounced to my privileges. They sleepwalk into their self created disorder. And yes, I am very angry at those who wasted decades with their social stupidity, those who crawled back after a start of change into their petit bourgeois niche.

I knew that each therapist has to take a stand and that the most choose petty careers. Do not expect much sanity from them for your disorientated kids.
Get insightful yourself and share your leftover love to them. Try honesty and having guts...that might help both of you.

Likewhatever , 12 Oct 2016 06:32
Alternatively, neo-liberalism has enabled us to afford to live alone (entire families were forced to live together for economic reasons), and technology enables us to work remotely, with no need for interaction with other people.

This may make some people feel lonely, but for many others its utopia.

Peter1Barnet , 12 Oct 2016 06:32
Some of the things that characterise Globalisation and Neoliberalism are open borders and free movement. How can that contribute to isolation? That is more likely to be fostered by Protectionism. And there aren't fewer jobs. Employment is at record highs here and in many other countries. There are different jobs, not fewer, and to be sure there are some demographics that have lost out. But overall there are not fewer jobs. That falls for the old "lump of labour" fallacy.
WhigInterpretation , 12 Oct 2016 06:43
The corrosive state of mass television indoctrination sums it up: Apprentice, Big Brother, Dragon's Den. By degrees, the standard keeps lowering. It is no longer unusual for a licence funded TV programme to consist of a group of the mentally deranged competing to be the biggest asshole in the room.

Anomie is a by-product of cultural decline as much as economics.

Pinkie123 -> Stephen Bell , 12 Oct 2016 07:18

What is certain, is that is most ways, life is far better now in the UK than 20, 30 or 40 years ago, by a long way!

That's debatable. Data suggests that inequality has widened massively over the last 30 years ( https://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/infographic-income-inequality-uk ) - as has social mobility ( https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/may/22/social-mobility-data-charts ). Homelessness has risen substantially since 1979.

Our whole culture is more stressful. Jobs are more precarious; employment rights more stacked in favor of the employer; workforces are deunionised; leisure time is on the decrease; rents are unaffordable; a house is no longer a realistic expectation for millions of young people. Overall, citizens are more socially immobile and working harder for poorer real wages than they were in the late 70's.

As for mental health, evidence suggest that mental health problems have been on the increase over recent decades, especially among young people. The proportion of 15/16 year olds reporting that they frequently feel anxious or depressed has doubled in the last 30 years, from 1 in 30 to 2 in 30 for boys and 1 in 10 to 2 in ten for girls ( http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/news/increased-levels-anxiety-and-depression-teenage-experience-changes-over-time

Unfortunately, sexual abuse has always been a feature of human societies. However there is no evidence to suggest it was any worse in the past. Then sexual abuse largely took place in institutional settings were at least it could be potentially addressed. Now much of it has migrated to the great neoliberal experiment of the internet, where child exploitation is at endemic levels and completely beyond the control of law enforcement agencies. There are now more women and children being sexually trafficked than there were slaves at the height of the slave trade. Moreover, we should not forget that Jimmy Saville was abusing prolifically right into the noughties.

My parents were both born in 1948. They say it was great. They bought a South London house for next to nothing and never had to worry about getting a job. When they did get a job it was one with rights, a promise of a generous pension, a humane workplace environment, lunch breaks and an ethos of public service. My mum says that the way women are talked about now is worse.

Sounds fine to me. That's not to say everything was great: racism was acceptable (though surely the vile views pumped out onto social media are as bad or worse than anything that existed then), homosexuality was illegal and capital punishment enforced until the 1960's. However, the fact that these things were reformed showed society was moving in the right direction. Now we are going backwards, back to 1930's levels or inequality and a reactionary, small-minded political culture fueled by loneliness, rage and misery.

Pinkie123 -> Stephen Bell , 12 Oct 2016 07:28
And there is little evidence to suggest that anyone has expanded their mind with the internet. A lot of people use it to look at porn, post racist tirades on Facebook, send rape threats, distributes sexual images of partners with their permission, take endless photographs of themselves and whip up support for demagogues. In my view it would much better if people went to a library than lurked in corporate echo chambers pumping out the like of 'why dont theese imagrantz go back home and all those lezbo fems can fuckk off too ha ha megalolz ;). Seriously mind expanding stuff. Share
Pinkie123 -> Pinkie123 , 12 Oct 2016 07:38
Oops ' without their permission...
maldonglass , 12 Oct 2016 06:49
As a director and CEO of an organisation employing several hundred people I became aware that 40% of the staff lived alone and that the workplace was important to them not only for work but also for interacting with their colleagues socially . This was encouraged and the organisation achieved an excellent record in retaining staff at a time when recruitment was difficult. Performance levels were also extremely high . I particulalry remember with gratitude the solidarity of staff when one of our colleagues - a haemophiliac - contracted aids through an infected blood transfusion and died bravely but painfully - the staff all supported him in every way possible through his ordeal and it was a privilege for me to work with such kind and caring people .
oommph -> maldonglass , 12 Oct 2016 07:00
Indeed. Those communities are often undervalued. However, the problem is, as George says, lots of people are excluded from them.

They are also highly self-selecting (e.g. you need certain trains of inclusivity, social adeptness, empathy, communication, education etc to get the job that allows you to join that community).

Certainly I make it a priority in my life. I do create communities. I do make an effort to stand by people who live like me. I can be a leader there.

Sometimes I wish more people would be. It is a sustained, long-term effort. Share

forkintheroad , 12 Oct 2016 06:50
'a war of everyone against themselves' - post-Hobbesian. Genius, George.
sparclear , 12 Oct 2016 06:51
Using a word like 'loneliness' is risky insofar as nuances get lost. It can have thousand meanings, as there are of a word like 'love'.

isolation
grief
loneliness
feeling abandoned
solitude
purposelessness
neglect
depression
&c.

To add to this discussion, we might consider the strongest need and conflict each of us experiences as a teenager, the need to be part of a tribe vs the the conflict inherent in recognising one's uniqueness. In a child's life from about 7 or 8 until adolescence, friends matter the most. Then the young person realises his or her difference from everyone else and has to grasp what this means.

Those of us who enjoyed a reasonably healthy upbringing will get through the peer group / individuation stage with happiness possible either way - alone or in friendship. Our parents and teachers will have fostered a pride in our own talents and our choice of where to socialise will be flexible and non-destructive.

Those of us who at some stage missed that kind of warmth and acceptance in childhood can easily stagnate. Possibly this is the most awkward of personal developmental leaps. The person neither knows nor feels comfortable with themselves, all that faces them is an abyss.
Where creative purpose and strength of spirit are lacking, other humans can instinctively sense it and some recoil from it, hardly knowing what it's about. Vulnerabilities attendant on this state include relationships holding out some kind of ersatz rescue, including those offered by superficial therapists, religions, and drugs, legal and illegal.

Experience taught that apart from the work we might do with someone deeply compassionate helping us where our parents failed, the natural world is a reliable healer. A kind of self-acceptance and individuation is possible away from human bustle. One effect of the seasons and of being outdoors amongst other life forms is to challenge us physically, into present time, where our senses start to work acutely and our observational skills get honed, becoming more vibrant than they could at any educational establishment.

This is one reason we have to look after the Earth, whether it's in a city context or a rural one. Our mental, emotional and physical health is known to be directly affected by it.

Buster123 , 12 Oct 2016 06:55
A thoughtful article. But the rich and powerful will ignore it; their doing very well out of neo liberalism thank you. Meanwhile many of those whose lives are affected by it don't want to know - they're happy with their bigger TV screen. Which of course is what the neoliberals want, 'keep the people happy and in the dark'. An old Roman tactic - when things weren't going too well for citizens and they were grumbling the leaders just extended the 'games'. Evidently it did the trick
worried -> Buster123 , 12 Oct 2016 07:32
The rich and powerful can be just as lonely as you and me. However, some of them will be lonely after having royally forked the rest of us over...and that is another thing
Hallucinogen , 12 Oct 2016 06:59

We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war. Our Great Depression is our lives.

- Fight Club
People need a tribe to feel purpose. We need conflict, it's essential for our species... psychological health improved in New York after 9/11.
ParisHiltonCommune , 12 Oct 2016 07:01
Totally agree with the last sentences. Human civilisation is a team effort. Individual humans cant survive, our language evolved to aid cooperation.

Neo-liberalism is really only an Anglo-American project. Yet we are so indoctrinated in it, It seems natural to us, but not to hardly any other cultures.

As for those "secondary factors. Look to advertising and the loss of real jobs forcing more of us to sell services dependent on fake needs. Share

deirdremcardle , 12 Oct 2016 07:01
Help save the Notting Hill Carnival
http://www.getwestlondon.co.uk/news/west-london-news/teen-disembowelled-years-notting-hill-11982129

It's importance for social cohesion -- yes inspite of the problems , can not be overestimated .Don't let the rich drive it out , people who don't understand ,or care what it's for .The poorer boroughs cannot afford it .K&C have easily 1/2billion in Capital Reserves ,so yes they must continue . Here I can assure you ,one often sees the old and lonely get a hug .If drug gangs are hitting each other or their rich boy customers with violence - that is a different matter . And yes of course if we don't do something to help boys from ethnic minorities ,with education and housing -of course it only becomes more expensive in the long run.

Boris Johnson has idiotically mouthed off about trying to mobilise people to stand outside the Russian Embassy , as if one can mobilise youth by telling them to tidy their bedroom .Because that's all it amounts to - because you have to FEEL protest and dissent . Well here at Carnival - there it is ,protest and dissent . Now listen to it . And of course it will be far easier than getting any response from sticking your tongue out at the Putin monster --
He has his bombs , just as Kensington and Chelsea have their money. (and anyway it's only another Boris diversion ,like building some fucking stupid bridge ,instead of doing anything useful)

Lafcadio1944 , 12 Oct 2016 07:03
"Society" or at least organized society is the enemy of corporate power. The idea of Neoliberal capitalism is to replace civil society with corporate law and rule. The same was true of the less extreme forms of capitalism. Society is the enemy of capital because it put restrictions on it and threatens its power.

When society organizes itself and makes laws to protect society from the harmful effects of capitalism, for example demands on testing drugs to be sure they are safe, this is a big expense to Pfizer, there are many examples - just now in the news banning sugary drinks. If so much as a small group of parents forming a day care co-op decide to ban coca cola from their group that is a loss of profit.

That is really what is going on, loneliness is a big part of human life, everyone feels it sometimes, under Neoliberal capitalism it is simply more exaggerated due to the out and out assault on society itself.

Joan Cant , 12 Oct 2016 07:10
Well the prevailing Global Capitalist world view is still a combination 1. homocentric Cartesian Dualism i.e. seeing humans as most important and sod all other living beings, and seeing humans as separate from all other living beings and other humans and 2. Darwinian "survival of the fittest" seeing everything as a competition and people as "winners and losers, weak or strong with winners and the strong being most important". From these 2 combined views all kinds of "games" arise. The main one being the game of "victim, rescuer, persecutor" (Transactional Analysis). The Guardian engages in this most of the time and although I welcome the truth in this article to some degree, surprisingly, as George is environmentally friendly, it kinda still is talking as if humans are most important and as if those in control (the winners) need to change their world view to save the victims. I think the world view needs to zoom out to a perspective that recognises that everything is interdependent and that the apparent winners and the strong are as much victims of their limited world view as those who are manifesting the effects of it more obviously.
Zombiesfan , 12 Oct 2016 07:14
Here in America, we have reached the point at which police routinely dispatch the mentally ill, while complaining that "we don't have the time for this" (N. Carolina). When a policeman refuses to kill a troubled citizen, he or she can and will be fired from his job (West Virginia). This has become not merely commonplace, but actually a part of the social function of the work of the police -- to remove from society the burden of caring for the mentally ill by killing them. In the state where I live, a state trooper shot dead a mentally ill man who was not only unarmed, but sitting on the toilet in his own home. The resulting "investigation" exculpated the trooper, of course; in fact, young people are constantly told to look up to the police.
ianita1978 -> Zombiesfan , 12 Oct 2016 08:25
Sounds like the inevitable logical outcome of a society where the predator sociopathic and their scared prey are all that is allowed. This dynamic dualistic tautology, the slavish terrorised to sleep and bullying narcissistic individual, will always join together to protect their sick worldview by pathologising anything that will threaten their hegemony of power abuse: compassion, sensitivity, moral conscience, altruism and the immediate effects of the ruthless social effacement or punishment of the same ie human suffering.
Ruby4 , 12 Oct 2016 07:14
The impact of increasing alienation on individual mental health has been known about and discussed for a long time.

When looking at a way forward, the following article is interesting:

"Alienation, in all areas, has reached unprecedented heights; the social machinery for deluding consciousnesses in the interest of the ruling class has been perfected as never before. The media are loaded with upscale advertising identifying sophistication with speciousness. Television, in constant use, obliterates the concept under the image and permanently feeds a baseless credulity for events and history. Against the will of many students, school doesn't develop the highly cultivated critical capacities that a real sovereignty of the people would require. And so on.

The ordinary citizen thus lives in an incredibly deceiving reality. Perhaps this explains the tremendous and persistent gap between the burgeoning of motives to struggle, and the paucity of actual combatants. The contrary would be a miracle. Thus the considerable importance of what I call the struggle for representation: at every moment, in every area, to expose the deception and bring to light, in the simplicity of form which only real theoretical penetration makes possible, the processes in which the false-appearances, real and imagined, originate, and this way, to form the vigilant consciousness, placing our image of reality back on its feet and reopening paths to action."

https://www.marxists.org/archive/seve/lucien_seve.htm

ianita1978 -> Ruby4 , 12 Oct 2016 08:18
For the global epidemic of abusive, effacing homogenisation of human intellectual exchange and violent hyper-sexualisation of all culture, I blame the US Freudian PR guru Edward Bernays and his puritan forebears - alot.
bonhee -> Ruby4 , 12 Oct 2016 09:03
Thanks for proving that Anomie is a far more sensible theory than Dialectical Materialistic claptrap that was used back in the 80s to terrorize the millions of serfs living under the Jack boot of Leninist Iron curtain.
RossJames , 12 Oct 2016 07:15
There's no question - neoliberalism has been wrenching society apart. It's not as if the prime movers of this ideology were unaware of the likely outcome viz. "there is no such thing as society" (Thatcher). Actually in retrospect the whole zeitgeist from the late 70s emphasised the atomised individual separated from the whole. Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene" (1976) may have been influential in creating that climate.

Anyway, the wheel has turned thank goodness. We are becoming wiser and understanding that "ecology" doesn't just refer to our relationship with the natural world but also, closer to home, our relationship with each other.

Jayarava Attwood -> RossJames , 12 Oct 2016 07:37
The Communist manifesto makes the same complaint in 1848. The wheel has not turned, it is still grinding down workers after 150 years. We are none the wiser.
Ben Wood -> RossJames , 12 Oct 2016 07:49
"The wheel is turning and you can't slow down,
You can't let go and you can't hold on,
You can't go back and you can't stand still,
If the thunder don't get you then the lightning will."
R Hunter
ianita1978 -> Ben Wood , 12 Oct 2016 08:13
Yep. And far too many good people have chosen to be the grateful dead in order to escape the brutal torture of bullying Predators.
magicspoon3 , 12 Oct 2016 07:30
What is loneliness? I love my own company and I love walking in nature and listening to relaxation music off you tube and reading books from the library. That is all free. When I fancied a change of scene, I volunteered at my local art gallery.

Mental health issues are not all down to loneliness. Indeed, other people can be a massive stress factor, whether it is a narcissistic parent, a bullying spouse or sibling, or an unreasonable boss at work.

I'm on the internet far too much and often feel the need to detox from it and get back to a more natural life, away from technology. The 24/7 news culture and selfie obsessed society is a lot to blame for social disconnect.

The current economic climate is also to blame, if housing and job security are a problem for individuals as money worries are a huge factor of stress. The idea of not having any goal for the future can trigger depressive thoughts.

I have to say, I've been happier since I don't have such unrealistic expectations of what 'success is'. I rarely get that foreign holiday or new wardrobe of clothes and my mobile phone is archaic. The pressure that society puts on us to have all these things- and get in debt for them is not good. The obsession with economic growth at all costs is also stupid, as the numbers don't necessarily mean better wealth, health or happiness.

dr8765 , 12 Oct 2016 07:34
Very fine article, as usual from George, until right at the end he says:

This does not require a policy response.

But it does. It requires abandonment of neoliberalism as the means used to run the world. People talk about the dangers of man made computers usurping their makers but mankind has, it seems, already allowed itself to become enslaved. This has not been achieved by physical dependence upon machines but by intellectual enslavement to an ideology.

John Smythe , 12 Oct 2016 07:35
A very good "Opinion" by George Monbiot one of the best I have seen on this Guardian blog page.

I would add that the basic concepts of the Neoliberal New world order are fundamentally Evil, from the control of world population through supporting of strife starvation and war to financial inducements of persons in positions of power. Let us not forget the training of our younger members of our society who have been induced to a slavish love of technology. Many other areas of human life are also under attack from the Neoliberal, even the very air we breathe, and the earth we stand upon.

Jayarava Attwood , 12 Oct 2016 07:36
The Amish have understood for 300 years that technology could have a negative effect on society and decided to limit its effects. I greatly admire their approach. Neal Stephenson's recent novel Seveneves coined the term Amistics for the practice of assessing and limiting the impact of tech. We need a Minister for Amistics in the government. Wired magazine did two features on the Amish use of telephones which are quite insightful.

The Amish Get Wired. The Amish ? 6.1.1993
look Who's talking . 1.1.1999

If we go back to 1848, we also find Marx and Engels, in the Communist Manifesto, complaining about the way that the first free-market capitalism (the original liberalism) was destroying communities and families by forcing workers to move to where the factories were being built, and by forcing women and children into (very) low paid work. 150 years later, after many generations of this, combined with the destruction of work in the North, the result is widespread mental illness. But a few people are really rich now, so that's all right, eh?

Social media is ersatz community. It's like eating grass: filling, but not nourishing.

ICYMI I had some thoughts a couple of days ago on how to deal with the mental health epidemic .

maplegirl , 12 Oct 2016 07:38
Young people are greatly harmed by not being able to see a clear path forward in the world. For most people, our basic needs are a secure job, somewhere secure and affordable to live, and a decent social environment in terms of public services and facilities. Unfortunately, all these things are sliding further out of reach for young people in the UK, and they know this. Many already live with insecure housing where their family could have to move at a month or two's notice.

Our whole economic system needs to be built around providing these basic securities for people. Neoliberalism = insecure jobs, insecure housing and poor public services, because these are the end result of its extreme free market ideology.

dynamicfrog , 12 Oct 2016 07:44
I agree with this 100%. Social isolation makes us unhappy. We have a false sense of what makes us unhappy - that success or wealth will enlighten or liberate us. What makes us happy is social connection. Good friendships, good relationships, being part of community that you contribute to. Go to some of the poorest countries in the world and you may meet happy people there, tell them about life in rich countries, and say that some people there are unhappy. They won't believe you. We do need to change our worldview, because misery is a real problem in many countries.
SavannahLaMar , 12 Oct 2016 07:47
It is tempting to see the world before Thatcherism, which is what most English writers mean when they talk about neo-liberalism, as an idyll, but it simply wasn't.

The great difficulty with capitalism is that while it is in many ways an amoral doctrine, it goes hand in hand with personal freedom. Socialism is moral in its concern for the poorest, but then it places limits on personal freedom and choice. That's the price people pay for the emphasis on community, rather than the individual.

Close communities can be a bar on personal freedom and have little tolerance for people who deviate from the norm. In doing that, they can entrench loneliness.

This happened, and to some extent is still happening, in the working class communities which we typically describe as 'being destroyed by Thatcher'. It's happening in close-knit Muslim communities now.

I'm not attempting to vindicate Thatcherism, I'm just saying there's a pay-off with any model of society. George Monbiot's concerns are actually part of a long tradition - Oliver Goldsmith's Deserted Village (1770) chimes with his thinking, as does DH Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover.

proteusblu -> SavannahLaMar , 12 Oct 2016 08:04
The kind of personal freedom that you say goes hand in hand with capitalism is an illusion for the majority of people. It holds up the prospect of that kind of freedom, but only a minority get access to it. For most, it is necessary to submit yourself to a form of being yoked, in terms of the daily grind which places limits on what you can then do, as the latter depends hugely on money. The idea that most people are "free" to buy the house they want, private education, etc., not to mention whether they can afford the many other things they are told will make them happy, is a very bad joke. Hunter-gatherers have more real freedom than we do. Share
Stephen Bell -> SavannahLaMar , 12 Oct 2016 09:07
Well said. One person's loneliness is another's peace and quiet.
stumpedup_32 -> Firstact , 12 Oct 2016 08:12
According to Wiki: 'Neoliberalism refers primarily to the 20th century resurgence of 19th century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism. These include extensive economic liberalization policies such as privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade, and reductions in government spending in order to enhance the role of the private sector in the economy.'
queequeg7 , 12 Oct 2016 07:54
We grow into fear - the stress of exams and their certain meanings; the lower wages, longer hours, and fewer rights at work; the certainty of debt with ever greater mortgages; the terror of benefit cuts combined with rent increases.

If we're forever afraid, we'll cling to whatever life raft presents.

It's a demeaning way to live, but it serves the Market better than having a free, reasonably paid, secure workforce, broadly educated and properly housed, with rights.

CrazyGuy , 12 Oct 2016 07:54
Insightful analysis... George quite rightly pinpoints the isolating effects of modern society and technology and the impact on the quality of our relationships. The obvious question is how can we offset these trends and does the government care enough to do anything about them?

It strikes me that one of the major problems is that [young] people have been left to their own devices in terms of their consumption of messages from Social and Mass online Media - analogous to leaving your kids in front of a video in lieu of a parental care or a babysitter. In traditional society - the messages provided by Society were filtered by family contact and real peer interaction - and a clear picture of the limited value of the media was propogated by teachers and clerics. Now young and older people alike are left to make their own judgments and we cannot be surprised when they extract negative messages around body image, wealth and social expectations and social and sexual norms from these channels. It's inevitable that this will create a boundary free landscape where insecurity, self-loathing and ultimately mental illness will prosper.

I'm not a traditionalist in any way but there has to be a role for teachers and parents in mediating these messages and presenting the context for analysing what is being said in a healthy way. I think this kind of Personal Esteem and Life Skills education should be part of the core curriculum in all schools. Our continued focus on basic academic skills just does not prepare young people for the real world of judgementalism, superficiality and cliques and if anything dealing with these issues are core life skills.

We can't reverse the fact that media and modern society is changing but we can prepare people for the impact which it can have on their lives.

school10 -> CrazyGuy , 12 Oct 2016 08:04
A politician's answer. X is a problem. Someone else, in your comment it will be teachers that have to sort it out. Problems in society are not solved by having a one hour a week class on "self esteem". In fact self-esteem and self-worth comes from the things you do. Taking kids away from their academic/cultural studies reduces this. This is a problem in society. What can society as a whole do to solve it and what are YOU prepared to contribute.
David Ireland -> CrazyGuy , 12 Oct 2016 09:28
Rather difficult to do when their parents are Thatchers children and buy into the whole celebrity, you are what you own lifestyle too....and teachers are far too busy filling out all the paperwork that shows they've met their targets to find time to teach a person centred course on self-esteem to a class of 30 teenagers.
Ian Harris , 12 Oct 2016 07:54
I think we should just continue to be selfish and self-serving, sneering and despising anyone less fortunate than ourselves, look up to and try to emulate the shallow, vacuous lifestyle of the non-entity celebrity, consume the Earth's natural resources whilst poisoning the planet and the people, destroy any non-contributing indigenous peoples and finally set off all our nuclear arsenals in a smug-faced global firework display to demonstrate our high level of intelligence and humanity. Surely, that's what we all want? Who cares? So let's just carry on with business as usual!
BetaRayBill , 12 Oct 2016 08:01
Neoliberalism is the bastard child of globalization which in effect is Americanization. The basic premise is the individual is totally reliant on the corporate world state aided by a process of fear inducing mechanisms, pharmacology is one of the tools. No community no creativity no free thinking. Poded sealed and cling filmed a quasi existence.
Bluecloud , 12 Oct 2016 08:01 Contributor
Having grown up during the Thatcher years, I entirely agree that neoliberalism has divided society by promoting individual self-optimisation at the expensive of everyone else.

What's the solution? Well if neoliberalism is the root cause, we need a systematic change, which is a problem considering there is no alternative right now. We can however, get active in rebuilding communities and I am encouraged by George Monbiot's work here.

My approach is to get out and join organizations working toward system change. 350.org is a good example. Get involved.

SemenC , 12 Oct 2016 08:09
we live in a narcissistic and ego driven world that dehumanises everyone. we have an individual and collective crisis of the soul. it is our false perception of ourselves that creates a disconnection from who we really are that causes loneliness.
rolloverlove -> SemenC , 12 Oct 2016 11:33
I agree. This article explains why it is a perfectly normal reaction to the world we are currently living in. It goes as far as to suggest that if you do not feel depressed at the state of our world there's something wrong with you ;-)
http://upliftconnect.com/mutiny-of-the-soul/
HaveYouFedTheFish , 12 Oct 2016 08:10
Surely there is a more straightforward possible explanation for increasing incidence of "unhapiness"?

Quite simply, a century of gradually increasing general living standards in the West have lifted the masses up Maslows higiene hierarchy of needs, to where the masses now have largely only the unfulfilled self esteem needs that used to be the preserve of a small, middle class minority (rather than the unfulfilled survival, security and social needs of previous generations)

If so - this is good. This is progress. We just need to get them up another rung to self fulfillment (the current concern of the flourishing upper middle classes).

avid Ireland -> HaveYouFedTheFish , 12 Oct 2016 08:59
Maslow's hierarchy of needs was not about material goods. One could be poor and still fulfill all his criteria and be fully realised. You have missed the point entirely.
HaveYouFedTheFish -> David Ireland , 12 Oct 2016 09:25
Error.... Who mentioned material goods? I think you have not so much "missed the point" as "made your own one up" .

And while agreed that you could, in theory, be poor and meet all of your needs (in fact the very point of the analysis is that money, of itself, isn't what people "need") the reality of the structure of a western capitalist society means that a certain level of affluence is almost certainly a prerequisite for meeting most of those needs simply because food and shelter at the bottom end and, say, education and training at the top end of self fulfillment all have to be purchased. Share

HaveYouFedTheFish -> David Ireland , 12 Oct 2016 09:40
Also note that just because a majority of people are now so far up the hierarchy does in no way negate an argument that corporations haven't also noticed this and target advertising appropriately to exploit it (and maybe we need to talk about that)

It just means that it's lazy thinking to presume we are in some way "sliding backwards" socially, rather than needing to just keep pushing through this adversity through to the summit.

I have to admit it does really stick in my craw a bit hearing millenials moan about how they may never get to *own* a really *nice* house while their grandparents are still alive who didn't even get the right to finish school and had to share a bed with their siblings.

Pinkie123 -> Loatheallpoliticians , 12 Oct 2016 08:25
There is no such thing as a free-market society. Your society of 'self-interest' is really a state supported oligarchy. If you really want to live in a society where there is literally no state and a more or less open market try Somalia or a Latin American city run by drug lords - but even then there are hierarchies, state involvement, militias.

What you are arguing for is a system (for that is what it is) that demands everyone compete with one another. It is not free, or liberal, or democratic, or libertarian. It is designed to oppress, control, exploit and degrade human beings. This kind of corporatism in which everyone is supposed to serve the God of the market is, ironically, quite Stalinist. Furthermore, a society in which people are encouraged to be narrowly selfish is just plain uncivilized. Since when have sociopathy and barbarism been something to aspire to?

LevNikolayevich , 12 Oct 2016 08:17
George, you are right, of course. The burning question, however, is not 'Is our current social set-up making us ill' (it certainly is), but 'Is there a healthier alternative?' What form of society would make us less ill? Socialism and egalatarianism, wherever they are tried, tend to lead to their own set of mental-illness-inducing problems, chiefly to do with thwarted opportunity, inability to thrive, and constraints on individual freedom. The sharing, caring society is no more the answer than the brutally individualistic one. You may argue that what is needed is a balance between the two, but that is broadly what we have already. It ain't perfect, but it's a lot better than any of the alternatives.
David Ireland -> LevNikolayevich , 12 Oct 2016 08:50
We certainly do NOT at present have a balance between the two societies...Have you not read the article? Corporations and big business have far too much power and control over our lives and our Gov't. The gov't does not legislate for a real living minimum wage and expects the taxpayer to fund corporations low wage businesses. The Minimum wage and benefit payments are sucked in to ever increasing basic living costs leaving nothing for the human soul aside from more work to keep body and soul together, and all the while the underlying message being pumped at us is that we are failures if we do not have wealth and all the accoutrements that go with it....How does that create a healthy society?
Saul Till , 12 Oct 2016 08:25
Neoliberalism. A simple word but it does a great deal of work for people like Monbiot.

The simple statistical data on quality of life differences between generations is absolutely nowhere to be found in this article, nor are self-reported findings on whether people today are happier, just as happy or less happy than people thirty years ago. In reality quality of life and happiness indices have generally been increasing ever since they were introduced.
It's more difficult to know if things like suicide, depression and mental illness are actually increasing or whether it's more to do with the fact that the number of people who are prepared to report them is increasing: at least some of the rise in their numbers will be down to greater awareness of said mental illness, government campaigns and a decline in associated social stigma.

Either way, what evidence there is here isn't even sufficient to establish that we are going through some vast mental health crisis in the first place, never mind that said crisis is inextricably bound up with 'neoliberalism'.

Furthermore, I'm inherently suspicious of articles that manage to connect every modern ill to the author's own political bugbear, especially if they cherry-pick statistical findings to support their point. I'd be just as, if not more, suspicious if it was a conservative author trying to link the same ills to the decline in Christianity or similar. In fact, this article reminds me very much of the sweeping claims made by right-wingers about the allegedly destructive effects of secularism/atheism/homosexuality/video games/South Park/The Great British Bake Off/etc...

If you're an author and you have a pet theory, and upon researching an article you believe you see a pattern in the evidence that points towards further confirmation of that theory, then you should step back and think about whether said pattern is just a bit too psychologically convenient and ideologically simple to be true. This is why people like Steven Pinker - properly rigorous, scientifically versed writer-researchers - do the work they do in systematically sifting through the sociological and historical data: because your mind is often actively trying to convince you to believe that neoliberalism causes suicide and depression, or, if you're a similarly intellectually lazy right-winger, homosexuality leads to gang violence and the flooding of(bafflingly, overwhelmingly heterosexual) parts of America.

I see no sign that Monbiot is interested in testing his belief in his central claim and as a result this article is essentially worthless except as an example of a certain kind of political rhetoric.

Rapport , 12 Oct 2016 08:38

social isolation is strongly associated with depression, suicide, anxiety, insomnia, fear and the perception of threat .... Dementia, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, lowered resistance to viruses, even accidents are more common among chronically lonely people.

Loneliness has a comparable impact on physical health to smoking 15 cigarettes a day:

it appears to raise the risk of early death by 26%

Why don't we explore some of the benefits?.. Following the long list of some the diseases, loneliness can inflict on individuals, there must be a surge in demand for all sort of medications; anti-depressants must be topping the list. There is a host many other anti-stress treatments available of which Big Pharma must be carving the lion's share. Examine the micro-economic impact immediately following a split or divorce. There is an instant doubling on the demand for accommodation, instant doubling on the demand for electrical and household items among many other products and services. But the icing on the cake and what is really most critical for Neoliberalism must be this: With the morale barometer hitting the bottom, people will be less likely to think of a better future, and therefore, less likely to protest. In fact, there is nothing left worth protecting.

Your freedom has been curtailed. Your rights are evaporating in front of your eyes. And Best of all, from the authorities' perspective, there is no relationship to defend and there is no family to protect. If you have a job, you want to keep, you must prove your worthiness every day to 'a company'.

[Sep 11, 2017] The only countervailing force, unions, were deliberately destroyed. Neoliberalism needs to atomize work force to function properly and destroys any solidarity among workers. Unions are anathema for neoliberalism, because they prevent isolation and suppression of workers.

Highly recommended!
Apr 15, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Denis Drew , April 15, 2017 at 06:58 AM
What's missing in each and every case above -- at least in the USA! -- is countervailing power. 6% labor union density in private business is equivalent to 20/10 blood pressure in the human body: it starves every other healthy process.

It is not just labor market bargaining power that has gone missing, it is not only the lost political muscle for the average person (equal campaign financing, almost all the votes), it is also the lack of machinery to deal with day-to-day outrages on a day-to-day basis (that's called lobbying).

Late dean of the Washington press corps David Broder told a young reporter that when he came to DC fifty years ago (then), all the lobbyists were union. Big pharma's biggest rip-offs, for profit school scams, all the stuff you hear about for one day on the news but no action is ever taken -- that's because there is no (LABOR UNION) mechanism to stay on top of all (or any) of it (LOBBYISTS).

cm -> Denis Drew ... , April 15, 2017 at 12:16 PM
It is a chicken and egg problem. Before large scale automation and globalization, unions "negotiated" themselves their power, which was based on employers having much fewer other choices. Any union power that was ever legislated was legislated as a *result* of union leverage, not to enable the latter (and most of what was legislated amounts to limiting employer interference with unions).

It is a basic feature of human individual and group relations that when you are needed you will be treated well, and when you are not needed you will be treated badly (or at best you will be ignored if that's less effort overall). And by needed I mean needed as a specific individual or narrowly described group.

What automation and globalization have done is created a glut of labor - specifically an oversupply of most skill sets relative to all the work that has to be done according to socially mediated decision processes (a different set of work than what "everybody" would like to happen as long as they don't have to pay for it, taking away from other necessary or desired expenditure of money, effort, or other resources).

Maybe when the boomers age out and become physically too old to work, the balance will tip again.

Peter K. -> cm... , April 15, 2017 at 12:18 PM
"What automation and globalization have done is created a glut of labor - "

No it's been policy and politics. Automation and globalization are red herrings. They've been used to enrich the rich and stick it to everyone else.

They don't have to be used that way.

There is nothing natural or inherent about it. It's all politics and class war and the wrong side is winning.

cm -> Peter K.... , April 15, 2017 at 01:32 PM
OK - they have *enabled* it. The agency is always on the human side. But at the same time, you cannot wish or postulate away human greed.
cm -> Peter K.... , April 15, 2017 at 01:44 PM
Same thing with the internet - it has been hailed as a democratizing force, but instead it has mostly (though not wholly) amplified the existing power differentials and motivation structures.

Anecdotally, a lot of companies and institutions are either restricting internal internet access or disconnecting parts of their organizations from the internet altogether, and disabling I/O channels like USB sticks, encrypting disks, locking out "untrusted" boot methods, etc. The official narrative is security and preventing leaks of confidential information, but the latter is clearly also aimed in part at whistleblowers disclosing illegal or unethical practices. Of course that a number of employees illegitimately "steal" data for personal and not to uncover injustices doesn't really help.

Denis Drew -> cm... , April 15, 2017 at 03:19 PM
Surely there is a huge difference between the labor market here and the labor market in continental Europe -- though labor there faces the same squeezing forces it faces here. Think of German auto assembly line workers making $60 an hour counting benefits.

Think Teamster Union UPS drivers -- and pity the poor, lately hired (if they are even hired) Amazon drivers -- maybe renting vans.

The Teamsters have the only example here of what is standard in continental Europe: centralized bargaining (aka sector wide labor agreements): the Master National Freight Agreement: wherein everybody doing the same job in the same locale (entire nation for long distance truckers) works under one common contract (in French Canada too).

Imagine centralized bargaining for airlines. A few years ago Northwest squeezed a billion dollars in give backs out of its pilots -- next year gave a billion dollars in bonuses to a thousand execs. Couldn't happen under centralized bargaining -- wouldn't even give the company any competitive advantage.

libezkova -> Denis Drew ... , April 15, 2017 at 04:14 PM
"What's missing in each and every case above -- at least in the USA! -- is countervailing power."

It was deliberately destroyed. Neoliberalism needs to "atomize" work force to function properly and destroys any solidarity among workers. Unions are anathema for neoliberalism, because they prevent isolation and suppression of workers.

Amazon and Uber are good examples. Both should be prosecuted under RICO act. Wall-Mart in nor far from them.

Rising fatalities from heart disease and stroke, diabetes, drug overdoses, accidents and other conditions caused the lower life expectancy revealed in a report by the National Center for Health Statistics .

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db267.htm

http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2017/03/paul-krugman-the-scammers-the-scammed-and-americas-fate.html#comment-6a00d83451b33869e201b7c8e3c7c6970b

== quote ==
Anne Case and Angus Deaton garnered national headlines in 2015 when they reported that the death rate of midlife non-Hispanic white Americans had risen steadily since 1999 in contrast with the death rates of blacks, Hispanics and Europeans. Their new study extends the data by two years and shows that whatever is driving the mortality spike is not easing up.
... ... ..

Offering what they call a tentative but "plausible" explanation, they write that less-educated white Americans who struggle in the job market in early adulthood are likely to experience a "cumulative disadvantage" over time, with health and personal problems that often lead to drug overdoses, alcohol-related liver disease and suicide.

== end of quote ==

Greed is toxic. As anger tends to accumulate, and then explode, at some point neoliberals might be up to a huge surprise. Trump was the first swan.

Everybody bet on Hillary victory. And then...

[Aug 26, 2017] Seventy-eight percent of full-time workers in the USA said they live paycheck to paycheck, up from 75 percent last year, according to a recent report from CareerBuilder.

Aug 25, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

ucgsblog , August 25, 2017 at 11:59 am

Meanwhile in the US:

"No matter how much you earn, getting by is still a struggle for most people these days. Seventy-eight percent of full-time workers said they live paycheck to paycheck, up from 75 percent last year, according to a recent report from CareerBuilder. Overall, 71 percent of all U.S. workers said they're now in debt, up from 68 percent a year ago, CareerBuilder said. While 46 percent said their debt is manageable, 56 percent said they were in over their heads. About 56 percent also save $100 or less each month, according to CareerBuilder. The job-hunting site polled over 2,000 hiring and human resource managers and more than 3,000 full-time employees between May and June.

Most financial experts recommend stashing at least a six-month cushion in an emergency fund to cover anything from a dental bill to a car repair -- and more if you are the sole breadwinner in your family or in business for yourself. While household income has grown over the past decade, it has failed to keep up with the increased cost-of-living over the same period."

Two things. First, the cost of medicine in the US is so fucking ridiculous that a dental bill, for someone with insurance, is the same as the cost of car repair. And by that they mean car repair for cars like BMWs, Fords, and the most crashable one – the Prius. Don't buy the Prius.

Second, 3/4ths live from paycheck to paycheck. That means that you have to make over $100k in the US to avoid living from paycheck to paycheck, and half of that goes to taxes and various insurances, to pay for things like wars in the Middle East, thanks for Afghanistan, Trumpo, the ever increasing cost of healthcare, (yes, it really does cost as much to repair your teeth as it does to repair a BMW after the crash,) and complete indifference on Capitol Hill to anything and everything that the people care about.

Economy? Name a single bill that was passed. Healthcare? It's like the fucking Democrats and fucking Republicans are playing the game of who can be most incompetent. But hey, Afghanistan's getting fucked again – so that's something, right?

Sorry, just had to rant. I also see there's a new article up – I'll respond to it in a bit!

[Jul 25, 2017] Anti-Populism Ideology of the Ruling Class by James Petras

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... ' Anti-populism' is the simple ruling class formula for covering-up their real agenda, which is pro-militarist, pro-imperialist (globalization), pro-'rebels' (i.e. mercenary terrorists working for regime change), pro crisis makers and pro-financial swindlers. ..."
"... The economic origins of ' anti-populism' are rooted in the deep and repeated crises of capitalism and the need to deflect and discredit mass discontent and demoralize the popular classes in struggle. By demonizing ' populism', the elites seek to undermine the rising tide of anger over the elite-imposed wage cuts, the rise of low-paid temporary jobs and the massive increase in the reserve army of cheap immigrant labor to compete with displaced native workers. ..."
"... Demonization of independent popular movements ignores the fundamental programmatic differences and class politics of genuine populist struggles compared with the contemporary right-wing capitalist political scarecrows and clowns. ..."
"... The anti-populist ideologues label President Trump a 'populist' when his policies and proposals are the exact opposite. Trump champions the repeal of all pro-labor and work safety regulation, as well as the slashing of public health insurance programs while reducing corporate taxes for the ultra-elite. ..."
"... The media's ' anti-populists' ideologues denounce pro-business rightwing racists as ' populists' . In Italy, Finland, Holland, Austria, Germany and France anti-working class parties are called ' populist' for attacking immigrants instead of bankers and militarists. ..."
"... In other words, the key to understanding contemporary ' anti-populism' is to see its role in preempting and undermining the emergence of authentic populist movements while convincing middle class voters to continue to vote for crisis-prone, austerity-imposing neo-liberal regimes. ' Anti-populism' has become the opium (or OxyContin) of frightened middle class voters. ..."
Jul 07, 2017 | www.unz.com

Introduction

Throughout the US and European corporate and state media, right and left, we are told that ' populism' has become the overarching threat to democracy, freedom and . . . free markets. The media's ' anti-populism' campaign has been used and abused by ruling elites and their academic and intellectual camp followers as the principal weapon to distract, discredit and destroy the rising tide of mass discontent with ruling class-imposed austerity programs, the accelerating concentration of wealth and the deepening inequalities.

We will begin by examining the conceptual manipulation of ' populism' and its multiple usages. Then we will turn to the historic economic origins of populism and anti-populism. Finally, we will critically analyze the contemporary movements and parties dubbed ' populist' by the ideologues of ' anti-populism' .

Conceptual Manipulation

In order to understand the current ideological manipulation accompanying ' anti-populism ' it is necessary to examine the historical roots of populism as a popular movement.

Populism emerged during the 19 th and 20 th century as an ideology, movement and government in opposition to autocracy, feudalism, capitalism, imperialism and socialism. In the United States, populist leaders led agrarian struggles backed by millions of small farmers in opposition to bankers, railroad magnates and land speculators. Opposing monopolistic practices of the 'robber barons', the populist movement supported broad-based commercial agriculture, access to low interest farm credit and reduced transport costs.

In all cases, the populist governments in Latin America were based on a coalition of nationalist capitalists, urban workers and the rural poor. In some notable cases, nationalist military officers brought populist governments to power. What they had in common was their opposition to foreign capital and its local supporters and exporters ('compradores'), bankers and their elite military collaborators. Populists promoted 'third way' politics by opposing imperialism on the right, and socialism and communism on the left. The populists supported the redistribution of wealth but not the expropriation of property. They sought to reconcile national capitalists and urban workers. They opposed class struggle but supported state intervention in the economy and import-substitution as a development strategy.

Imperialist powers were the leading anti-populists of that period. They defended property privileges and condemned nationalism as 'authoritarian' and undemocratic. They demonized the mass support for populism as 'a threat to Western Christian civilization'. Not infrequently, the anti-populists ideologues would label the national-populists as 'fascists' . . . even as they won numerous elections at different times and in a variety of countries.

The historical experience of populism, in theory and practice, has nothing to do with what today's ' anti-populists' in the media are calling ' populism' . In reality, current anti-populism is still a continuation of anti-communism , a political weapon to disarm working class and popular movements. It advances the class interest of the ruling class. Both 'anti's' have been orchestrated by ruling class ideologues seeking to blur the real nature of their 'pro-capitalist' privileged agenda and practice. Presenting your program as 'pro-capitalist', pro-inequalities, pro-tax evasion and pro-state subsidies for the elite is more difficult to defend at the ballot box than to claim to be ' anti-populist' .

' Anti-populism' is the simple ruling class formula for covering-up their real agenda, which is pro-militarist, pro-imperialist (globalization), pro-'rebels' (i.e. mercenary terrorists working for regime change), pro crisis makers and pro-financial swindlers.

The economic origins of ' anti-populism' are rooted in the deep and repeated crises of capitalism and the need to deflect and discredit mass discontent and demoralize the popular classes in struggle. By demonizing ' populism', the elites seek to undermine the rising tide of anger over the elite-imposed wage cuts, the rise of low-paid temporary jobs and the massive increase in the reserve army of cheap immigrant labor to compete with displaced native workers.

Historic 'anti-populism' has its roots in the inability of capitalism to secure popular consent via elections. It reflects their anger and frustration at their failure to grow the economy, to conquer and exploit independent countries and to finance growing fiscal deficits.

The Amalgamation of Historical Populism with the Contemporary Fabricated Populism

What the current anti-populists ideologues label ' populism' has little to do with the historical movements.

Unlike all of the past populist governments, which sought to nationalize strategic industries, none of the current movements and parties, denounced as 'populist' by the media, are anti-imperialists. In fact, the current ' populists' attack the lowest classes and defend the imperialist-allied capitalist elites. The so-called current ' populists' support imperialist wars and bank swindlers, unlike the historical populists who were anti-war and anti-bankers.

Ruling class ideologues simplistically conflate a motley collection of rightwing capitalist parties and organizations with the pro-welfare state, pro-worker and pro-farmer parties of the past in order to discredit and undermine the burgeoning popular multi-class movements and regimes.

Demonization of independent popular movements ignores the fundamental programmatic differences and class politics of genuine populist struggles compared with the contemporary right-wing capitalist political scarecrows and clowns.

One has only to compare the currently demonized ' populist' Donald Trump with the truly populist US President Franklin Roosevelt, who promoted social welfare, unionization, labor rights, increased taxes on the rich, income redistribution, and genuine health and workplace safety legislation within a multi-class coalition to see how absurd the current media campaign has become.

The anti-populist ideologues label President Trump a 'populist' when his policies and proposals are the exact opposite. Trump champions the repeal of all pro-labor and work safety regulation, as well as the slashing of public health insurance programs while reducing corporate taxes for the ultra-elite.

The media's ' anti-populists' ideologues denounce pro-business rightwing racists as ' populists' . In Italy, Finland, Holland, Austria, Germany and France anti-working class parties are called ' populist' for attacking immigrants instead of bankers and militarists.

In other words, the key to understanding contemporary ' anti-populism' is to see its role in preempting and undermining the emergence of authentic populist movements while convincing middle class voters to continue to vote for crisis-prone, austerity-imposing neo-liberal regimes. ' Anti-populism' has become the opium (or OxyContin) of frightened middle class voters.

The anti-populism of the ruling class serves to confuse the 'right' with the 'left'; to sidelight the latter and promote the former; to amalgamate rightwing 'rallies' with working class strikes; and to conflate rightwing demagogues with popular mass leaders.

Unfortunately, too many leftist academics and pundits are loudly chanting in the 'anti-populist' chorus. They have failed to see themselves among the shock troops of the right. The left ideologues join the ruling class in condemning the corporate populists in the name of 'anti-fascism'. Leftwing writers, claiming to 'combat the far-right enemies of the people' , overlook the fact that they are 'fellow-travelling' with an anti-populist ruling class, which has imposed savage cuts in living standards, spread imperial wars of aggression resulting in millions of desperate refugees- not immigrants –and concentrated immense wealth.

The bankruptcy of today's ' anti-populist' left will leave them sitting in their coffee shops, scratching at fleas, as the mass popular movements take to the streets!

[Jul 19, 2017] The First Neoliberals: How free-market disciples and union busters became the prophets of American liberalism by Corey Robin

Notable quotes:
"... New Republic ..."
"... Washington Monthly ..."
"... Washington Monthly ..."
"... Returning to that first paragraph of Peters's piece, we find the basic positions of the neoliberal persuasion: opposition to unions and big government, support for the military and big business. ..."
"... Above all, neoliberals loathed unions, especially teachers unions. They still do , except insofar as they're useful funding devices for the contemporary Democratic Party. ..."
"... But reading Peters, it's clear that unions were, from the very beginning, the main target. The problems with unions were many: they protected their members' interests (no mention of how important unions were to getting and protecting Social Security and Medicare); they drove up costs, both in the private and the public sector; they defended lazy, incompetent workers ("we want a government that can fire people who can't or won't do the job"). ..."
"... The Other America ..."
www.jacobinmag.com

On Tuesday, New York magazine's Jonathan Chait tweeted , "What if every use of 'neoliberal' was replaced with, simply, 'liberal'? Would any non-propagandistic meaning be lost?"

It was an odd tweet.

On the one hand, Chait was probably just voicing his disgruntlement with an epithet that leftists and Sanders liberals often hurl against Clinton liberals like Chait.

On the other hand, there was a time, not so long ago, when journalists like Chait would have proudly owned the term neoliberal as an apt description of their beliefs. It was the New Republic , after all, the magazine where Chait made his name, that, along with the Washington Monthly , first provided neoliberalism with a home and a face.

Now, neoliberalism, of course, can mean a great many things , many of them associated with the Right. But one of its meanings -- arguably, in the United States, the most historically accurate -- is the name that a small group of journalists, intellectuals, and politicians on the Left gave to themselves in the late 1970s in order to register their distance from the traditional liberalism of the New Deal and the Great Society.

The original neoliberals included, among others, Michael Kinsley, Charles Peters, James Fallows, Nicholas Lemann, Bill Bradley, Bruce Babbitt, Gary Hart, and Paul Tsongas. Sometimes called " Atari Democrats ," these were the men -- and they were almost all men -- who helped to remake American liberalism into neoliberalism, culminating in the election of Bill Clinton in 1992.

These were the men who made Jonathan Chait what he is today. Chait, after all, would recoil in horror at the policies and programs of mid-century liberals like Walter Reuther or John Kenneth Galbraith or even Arthur Schlesinger, who claimed that "class conflict is essential if freedom is to be preserved, because it is the only barrier against class domination." We know this because he so resolutely opposes the more tepid versions of that liberalism that we see in the Sanders campaign.

It's precisely the distance between that lost world of twentieth century American labor-liberalism and contemporary liberals like Chait that the phrase "neoliberalism" is meant, in part , to register.

We can see that distance first declared, and declared most clearly, in Charles Peters's famous " A Neoliberal's Manifesto ," which Tim Barker reminded me of last night. Peters was the founder and editor of the Washington Monthly , and in many ways the éminence grise of the neoliberal movement.

In re-reading Peters's manifesto -- I remember reading it in high school; that was the kind of thing a certain kind of nerdy liberal-ish sophomore might do -- I'm struck by how much it sets out the lineaments of Chait-style thinking today.

The basic orientation is announced in the opening paragraph:

We still believe in liberty and justice for all, in mercy for the afflicted and help for the down and out. But we no longer automatically favor unions and big government or oppose the military and big business. Indeed, in our search for solutions that work, we have to distrust all automatic responses, liberal or conservative.

Note the disavowal of all conventional ideologies and beliefs, the affirmation of an open-minded pragmatism guided solely by a bracing commitment to what works. It's a leitmotif of the entire manifesto: everyone else is blinded by their emotional attachments to the ideas of the past.

We, the heroic few, are willing to look upon reality as it is, to take up solutions from any side of the political spectrum, to disavow anything that smacks of ideological rigidity or partisan tribalism.

That Peters wound up embracing solutions in the piece that put him comfortably within the camp of GOP conservatism (he even makes a sop to school prayer) never seemed to disturb his serenity as a self-identified iconoclast. That was part of the neoliberal esprit de corps: a self-styled philosophical promiscuity married to a fairly conventional ideological fidelity.

Listen to how former New Republic owner Marty Peretz described that ethos in his look-back on the New Republic of the 1970s and 1980s:

My then-wife and I bought the New Republic in 1974. I was at the time a junior faculty member at Harvard, and I installed a former student, Michael Kinsley, as its editor. We put out a magazine that was intellectually daring, I like to think, and politically controversial.

We were for the Contras in Nicaragua; wary of affirmative action; for military intervention in Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur; alarmed about the decline of the family. The New Republic was also an early proponent of gay rights. We were neoliberals. We were also Zionists, and it was our defense of the Jewish state that put us outside the comfort zone of modern progressive politics.

Except for gay rights and one or two items in that grab bag of foreign interventions, what is Peretz saying here beyond the fact that his politics consisted mainly of supporting various planks from the Republican Party platform? That was the intellectual daring, apparently.

Returning to that first paragraph of Peters's piece, we find the basic positions of the neoliberal persuasion: opposition to unions and big government, support for the military and big business.

Above all, neoliberals loathed unions, especially teachers unions. They still do , except insofar as they're useful funding devices for the contemporary Democratic Party.

But reading Peters, it's clear that unions were, from the very beginning, the main target. The problems with unions were many: they protected their members' interests (no mention of how important unions were to getting and protecting Social Security and Medicare); they drove up costs, both in the private and the public sector; they defended lazy, incompetent workers ("we want a government that can fire people who can't or won't do the job").

Against unions, or conventional unions, Peters held out the promise of employee stock-ownership plans ( ESOPs ), where workers would forgo higher wages and benefits in return for stock options and ownership. He happily pointed to the example of Weirton Steel :

. . . where the workers accepted a 32 percent wage cut to keep their company alive. They will not be suckers because they will own the plant and share in the future profits their sacrifice makes possible. It's better for a worker to keep a job by accepting $12 an hour than to lose it by insisting on $19.

(Sadly, within two decades, Weirton Steel was dead, and with it, those future profits and wages for which those workers had sacrificed in the early 1980s.)

But above all, Peters and other neoliberals saw unions as the instruments of the most vile subjugation of the most downtrodden members of society:

A poor black child might have a better chance of escaping the ghetto if we fired his incompetent middle-class teacher . . .

The urban public schools have in fact become the principal instrument of class oppression in America, keeping the lower orders in their place while the upper class sends its children to private schools.

And here we see how in utero how the neoliberal argument works its magic on the Left.

On the one hand, Peters showed how much the neoliberal was indebted to the Great Society ethos of the 1960s. That ethos was a departure from the New Deal insofar as it proclaimed its solidarity with the most desperate and the most needy.

Michael Harrington's The Other America , for example, treated the poor not as a central part of the political economy, as the New Deal did. The poor were superfluous to that economy: there was America, which was middle-class and mainstream; there was the "other," which was poor and marginal. The Great Society declared a War on Poverty, which was thought to be a project different from managing and regulating the economy.

On the other hand, Peters showed how potent, and potently disabling, that kind of thinking could be. In the hands of neoliberalism, it became fashionable to pit the interests of the poor not against the power of the wealthy but against the unionized working class.

(We still see that kind of talk among today's Democrats, particularly in debates around free trade, where it is always the unionized worker -- never the well-paid journalist or economist or corporate CEO -- who is expected to make sacrifices on behalf of the global poor. Or among Hillary Clinton supporters, who leverage the interests of African American voters against the interests of white working-class voters, but never against the interests of capital.)

Teachers unions in the inner cities were ground zero of the neoliberal obsession. But it wasn't just teachers unions. It was all unions:

In both the public and private sector, unions were seeking and getting wage increases that had the effect of reducing or eliminating employment opportunities for people who were trying to get a foot on the first run of the ladder.

And it wasn't just unions that were a problem. It was big-government liberalism as a whole:

Too many liberals . . . refused to criticize their friends in the industrial unions and the civil service who were pulling up the ladder. Thus liberalism was becoming a movement of those who had arrived, who cared more about preserving and expanding their own gains than about helping those in need.

That government jobs are critical for women and African Americans -- as Annie Lowrey shows in an excellent recent piece -- has long been known in traditional liberal and labor circles.

That it is only recently registered among journalists -- who, even when they take the long view, focus almost exclusively, as Lowrey does, on the role of GOP governors in the aughts rather than on these long-term shifts in Democratic Party thinking -- tells us something about the break between liberalism and neoliberalism that Chait believes is so fanciful.

Oddly, as soon as Peters was done attacking unions and civil-service jobs for doling out benefits to the few -- ignoring all the women and people of color who were increasingly reliant on these instruments for their own advance -- he turned around and attacked programs like Social Security and Medicare for doing precisely the opposite: protecting everyone.

Take Social Security. The original purpose was to protect the elderly from need. But, in order to secure and maintain the widest possible support, benefits were paid to rich and poor alike. The catch, of course, is that a lot of money is wasted on people who don't need it . . .

Another way the practical and the idealistic merge in neoliberal thinking in is our attitude toward income maintenance programs like Social Security, welfare, veterans' pensions, and unemployment compensation. We want to eliminate duplication and apply a means test to these programs. They would all become one insurance program against need.

As a practical matter, the country can't afford to spend money on people who don't need it -- my aunt who uses her Social Security check to go to Europe or your brother-in-law who uses his unemployment compensation to finance a trip to Florida. And as liberal idealists, we don't think the well-off should be getting money from these programs anyway -- every cent we can afford should go to helping those really in need.

Kind of like Hillary Clinton criticizing Bernie Sanders for supporting free college education for all on the grounds that Donald Trump's kids shouldn't get their education paid for? (And let's not forget that as recently as the last presidential campaign, the Democratic candidate was more than willing to trumpet his credentials as a cutter of Social Security and Medicare , though thankfully he never entertained the idea of turning them into means-tested programs.)

It's difficult to make sense of what truly drives this contradiction, whereby one liberalism is criticized for supporting only one segment of the population while another liberalism is criticized for supporting all segments, including the poor.

It could be as simple as the belief that government should work on behalf of only the truly disadvantaged, leaving everyone else to the hands of the market. That that turned out to be a disaster for the truly disadvantaged -- with no one besides themselves to speak up on behalf of anti-poverty programs, those programs proved all too easy to eliminate, not by a Republican but by a Democrat -- seems not to have much troubled the sleep of neoliberalism.

Indeed, in the current election, it is Hillary Clinton's support for the 1994 crime bill rather than the 1996 welfare reform bill that has gotten the most attention, even though she proudly stated in her memoir that she not only supported the 1996 bill but rounded up votes for it.

Or perhaps it's that neoliberals of the Left, like their counterparts on the Right , simply came to believe that the market was for winners, government for losers. Only the poor needed government; everyone else was made for capitalism.

"Risk is indeed the essence of the movement," declared Peters of his merry band of neoliberal men, and though he had something different in mind when he said that, it's clear from the rest of his manifesto that the risk-taking entrepreneur really was what made his and his friends' hearts beat fastest.

Our hero is the risk-taking entrepreneur who creates new jobs and better products. "Americans," says Bill Bradley, "have to begin to treat risk more as an opportunity and not as a threat."

Whatever the explanation for this attitude toward government and the poor, it's clear that we're still living in the world the neoliberals made.

When Clinton's main line of attack against Sanders is that his proposals would increase the size of the federal government by 40 percent, when her hawkishness remains an unapologetic part of her campaign, when unions barely register except as an ATM for the Democratic Party, and Wall Street firmly declares itself to be in her camp, we can hear that opening call of Peters -- "But we no longer automatically favor unions and big government or oppose the military and big business" -- shorn of all awkward hesitation and convoluted formulations, articulated instead in the forthright syntax of common sense and everyday truth.

Perhaps that is why Jonathan Chait cannot tell the difference between liberalism and neoliberalism.

[Jul 19, 2017] A 21st-Century Form of Indentured Servitude Has Already Penetrated Deep into the American Heartland

Notable quotes:
"... By Thom Hartmann. a talk-show host and author of over 25 books in print.. Originally published at AlterNet . ..."
"... Yes. I thank Hartmann for pointing out the latest power grabs by our corporate masters. Still, his ignoring Clinton, Obama and the rest just puts him in with all the other political tribalists, who by their tribalism distract from the main problems – and their ultimate solutions. It's a class war, Thom, The Only War That Matters. ..."
"... I can disagree with you that this here republic is a democracy. ..."
"... Fair enough. The United States is no longer a representative democracy (and it was only that way occasionally in the past); it's currently an oligarchic plutocracy. But if we hope to regain any semblance of a representative democracy, we need to actively participate. There are many reasons why we've degenerated into a plutocracy, and one of those reasons is that people don't participate enough. ..."
"... "And anything that would make somebody not want to move here or start a company here is going to slow down our progress." ..."
"... The vast majority of the labor market is shifting gears to function as the servant class to the very rich. It is a painful transition as recent gains in labor rights are lost. ..."
"... The last 70 years was an aberration. It will not return, short of a major uprising. Given the state's security apparatus that prospect is extremely unlikely. ..."
"... And I do not agree with Thom's Indentured servitude meme; he gives no real examples, just generalities. I would submit that a neo-feudal system is the fact on the ground. The difference; a serf has land (and yes, he's attached to it), a house, and a modicum of freedom; as long as he takes care of his lord. ..."
"... All information is managed; and this includes the unemployment figures; pure fiction by the way. An indentured servant has work; 20 million(?) or more Usians have no work, and little hope of finding meaningful employment. ..."
"... The importance of this can not be underestimated; human dignity is at stake; we're a society brought up on the importance of being "gainfully" employed. Our society is being intentionally crushed to make us serfs in a neo-feudal society. ..."
"... 20+ years ago in Athens, GA, there was a local chicken place. Good food if you like that kind of thing. Come to find the employees who fried the chicken and worked the service counter were forbidden by the language of their "contracts" to quit for a dollar an hour more at another local restaurant. The first company didn't actually have the means to take its former employees to court, but they had the "right" to do so. Bill Clinton, neoliberal to his rotten core, was happily the president, feeling our pain. ..."
"... These days, even janitors are being required to sign non-compete clauses. When Krishna Regmi started work as a personal care aide for a Pittsburgh home health agency in 2015, he was given a stack of paperwork to sign. "They just told us, 'It's just a formality, sign here, here, here,' " he said. Regmi didn't think much of it. That is, until he quit his job nine months later and announced his decision to move to a rival agency -- and his ex-employer sued him for violating a noncompete clause Regmi says he didn't know he had signed. The agreement barred Regmi from working as a personal care aide at another home health agency for two years. ..."
"... In California, North Dakota and Oklahoma, the law says the agreements are unenforceable; judges will just throw them out. In other states, statutes and case law create a set of tests that the agreements must pass. In Oregon, for instance, they can only be enforced if workers have two weeks to consider them before taking a job, or if the worker gets a "bona fide advancement" in return, such as a raise. ..."
"... The author fails to point out that H1-B is also indentured servitude. ..."
"... The merging of corporate power with the state is called "fascism." This was described by both Benito Mussolini and FDR's vice-president Henry Wallace. But the term "fascism" isn't mentioned in the article. Importantly, fascists are sworn enemies of communism and socialism, and this is how they can be identified. ..."
"... The US is definitely getting more feudal. ..."
"... It's about bullying and intimidation. Like most bullies, the companies are cowards who would back down if challenged, because it would make little economic sense to sue minimum-wage ex-employees. They're relying on the employees being too cowed to call their bluff, so they choose to stay even if unhappy. ..."
"... Non-compete clauses sound like something that will create a hostile work force; that may not be so good for these companies. Articles like this make me think of "Space Merchants", an amusing science fiction satire on capitalism by Pohl and Kornbluth. ..."
"... Perhaps there are other options in responding to the types of abuse detailed in this post, in addition to the political action Thom Hartmann called for. One such action might be characterized as "Passive NonParticipation" with your brains, craftsmanship and know-how to the extent possible, yet still retain your job. ..."
Jul 19, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
July 19, 2017 by Lambert Strether By Thom Hartmann. a talk-show host and author of over 25 books in print.. Originally published at AlterNet .

Indentured servitude is back in a big way in the United States, and conservative corporatists want to make sure that labor never, ever again has the power to tell big business how to treat them.

Idaho , for example, recently passed a law that recognizes and rigorously enforces non-compete agreements in employment contracts, which means that if you want to move to a different, more highly paid, or better job, you can instead get wiped out financially by lawsuits and legal costs.

In a way, conservative/corporatists are just completing the circle back to the founding of this country.

Indentured servitude began in a big way in the early 1600s, when the British East India Company was establishing a beachhead in the (newly stolen from the Indians) state of Virginia (named after the "virgin queen" Elizabeth I, who signed the charter of the BEIC creating the first modern corporation in 1601). Jamestown (named after King James, who followed Elizabeth I to the crown) wanted free labor, and the African slave trade wouldn't start to crank up for another decade.

So the company made a deal with impoverished Europeans: Come to work for typically 4-7 years (some were lifetime indentures, although those were less common), legally as the property of the person or company holding your indenture, and we'll pay for your transport across the Atlantic.

It was, at least philosophically, the logical extension of the feudal economic and political system that had ruled Europe for over 1,000 years. The rich have all the rights and own all the property; the serfs are purely exploitable free labor who could be disposed of ( indentured servants , like slaves, were commonly whipped, hanged, imprisoned, or killed when they rebelled or were not sufficiently obedient).

This type of labor system has been the dream of conservative/corporatists, particularly since the "Reagan Revolution" kicked off a major federal war on the right of workers to organize for their own protection from corporate abuse.

Unions represented almost a third of American workers when Reagan came into office (and, since union jobs set local labor standards, for every union job there was typically an identically-compensated non-union job, meaning about two-thirds of America had the benefits and pay associated with union jobs pre-Reagan).

Thanks to Reagan's war on labor, today unions represent about 6 percent of the non-government workforce.

But that wasn't enough for the acolytes of Ayn Rand, Ronald Reagan and Milton Friedman. They didn't just want workers to lose their right to collectively bargain; they wanted employers to functionally own their employees.

Prior to the current Reaganomics era, non-compete agreements were pretty much limited to senior executives and scientists/engineers.

If you were a CEO or an engineer for a giant company, knowing all their processes, secrets and future plans, that knowledge had significant and consequential value!company value worth protecting with a contract that said you couldn't just take that stuff to a competitor without either a massive payment to the left-behind company or a flat-out lawsuit.

But should a guy who digs holes with a shovel or works on a drilling rig be forced to sign a non-compete? What about a person who flips burgers or waits tables in a restaurant? Or the few factory workers we have left, since neoliberal trade policies have moved the jobs of tens of thousands of companies overseas?

Turns out corporations are using non-competes to prevent even these types of employees from moving to newer or better jobs.

America today has the lowest minimum wage in nearly 50 years , adjusted for inflation. As a result, people are often looking for better jobs. But according to the New York Times , about 1 in 5 American workers is now locked in with a non-compete clause in an employment contract.

Before Reaganomics, employers didn't keep their employees by threatening them with lawsuits; instead, they offered them benefits like insurance, paid vacations and decent wages. Large swaths of American workers could raise a family and have a decent retirement with a basic job ranging from manufacturing to construction to service industry work.

My dad was one of them; he worked 40 years in a tool-and-die shop, and the machinist's union made sure he could raise and put through school four boys, could take 2-3 weeks of paid vacation every year, and had full health insurance and a solid retirement until the day he died, which continued with my mom until she died years later. Most boomers (particularly white boomers) can tell you the same story.

That America has been largely destroyed by Reaganomics, and Americans know it. It's why when Donald Trump told voters that the big corporations and banksters were screwing them, they voted for him and his party (not realizing that neither Trump nor the GOP had any intention of doing anything to help working people).

And now the conservatives/corporatists are going in for the kill, for their top goal: the final destruction of any remnant of labor rights in America.

Why would they do this? Two reasons: An impoverished citizenry is a politically impotent citizenry, and in the process of destroying the former middle class, the 1 percent make themselves trillions of dollars richer.

The New York Times has done some great reporting on this problem, with an article last May and a more recent piece about how the state of Idaho has made it nearly impossible for many workers to escape their servitude.

Historically, indentured servants had their food, health care, housing, and clothing provided to them by their "employers." Today's new serfs can hardly afford these basics of life, and when you add in modern necessities like transportation, education and child-care, the American labor landscape is looking more and more like old-fashioned servitude.

Nonetheless, conservatives/corporatists in Congress and state-houses across the nation are working hard to hold down minimum wages. Missouri's Republican legislature just made it illegal for St. Louis to raise their minimum wage to $10/hour, throwing workers back down to $7.70. More preemption laws like this are on the books or on their way.

At the same time, these conservatives/corporatists are working to roll back health care protections for Americans, roll back environmental protections that keep us and our children from being poisoned, and even roll back simple workplace, food and toy safety standards.

The only way these predators will be stopped is by massive political action leading to the rollback of Reaganism/neoliberalism.

And the conservatives/corporatists who largely own the Republican Party know it, which is why they're purging voting lists , fighting to keep in place easily hacked voting machines , and throwing billions of dollars into think tanks, right-wing radio, TV, and online media.

If they succeed, America will revert to a very old form of economy and politics: the one described so well in Charles Dickens' books when Britain had " maximum wage laws " and "Poor Laws" to prevent a strong and politically active middle class from emerging.

Conservatives/corporatists know well that this type of neo-feudalism is actually a very stable political and economic system, and one that's hard to challenge. China has put it into place in large part, and other countries from Turkey to the Philippines to Brazil and Venezuela are falling under the thrall of the merger of corporate and state power.

So many of our individual rights have been stripped from us, so much of America's middle-class progress in the last century has been torn from us , while conservatives wage a brutal and oppressive war on dissenters and people of color under the rubrics of "security," "tough on crime," and the "war on drugs."

As a result, America has 5 percent of the world's population and 25 percent of the world's prisoners , more than any other nation on earth, all while opiate epidemics are ravaging our nation. And what to do about it?

Scientists have proven that the likelihood the desires of the bottom 90 percent of Americans get enacted into law are now equal to statistical " random noise ." Functionally, most of us no longer have any real representation in state or federal legislative bodies: they now exist almost exclusively to serve the very wealthy.

The neo-feudal corporate/conservative elite are both politically and financially committed to replacing the last traces of worker power in America with a modern system of indentured servitude.

Only serious and committed political action can reverse this; we're long past the point where complaining or sitting on the sidelines is an option.

As both Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama regularly said (and I've closed my radio show for 14 years with), "Democracy is not a spectator sport."

griffen , July 19, 2017 at 5:43 am

Wait, no mention of the Clinton administration and those Rubin acolytes? I find that hard to believe, those 8 years in the 90s were significant for today's outsized CEO pay and incentives.

WheresOurTeddy , July 19, 2017 at 5:48 am

First-Term Reagan Baby approves this post. New Deal was under attack before FDR's body got cold. Truman instead of Wallace in the VP slot in '44 was a dark day for humanity.

Remember the Four Freedoms.

Arizona Slim , July 19, 2017 at 8:37 am

The New Deal was under attack from day one.

Disturbed Voter , July 19, 2017 at 6:24 am

To keep doing what doesn't work, is insane. So keep voting for your incumbents! Not!

r.turner , July 19, 2017 at 12:57 pm

Massive political action? Not gonna happen.

BoycottAmazon , July 19, 2017 at 6:40 am

Then there is probation board / court bonds slavery. The slave is captured by the police, then chained to debt and papers first by a bond and then later upon "early" release to a probation officer. The slave has restrictions on his freedom by the probation orders, and must make good the money owed the bondsman and the court ordered fines. The slaves work for the benefit of the political and monied class who don't need to pay much if any tax burden for all their government delivered goods thanks to this system of slavery.

DanB , July 19, 2017 at 6:45 am

Hartmann closes with, "As both Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama regularly 'Democracy is not a spectator sport'." Hello Thom: Sanders has twisted himself with pretzel logic regarding neoliberalism and Obama is a full-blown neoliberal (who you seem to forget admired Ronald Reagan).

Colonel Smithers , July 19, 2017 at 7:17 am

Thank you, Dan.

That sentence also caught my attention and reminded me of John Kennedy junior's George magazine, marketing "politics as a lifestyle choice" and featuring Cindy Crawford on the inaugural cover. Allied to the MSM's obsession with identity politics, as a neo-liberal and neo-con driver of news, one is soon distracted from, if not disgusted with, what's going on. Thank God for (the) Naked Capitalism (community).

Livius Drusus , July 19, 2017 at 7:28 am

Yeah like Obama cared about unions and workers' rights. What happened to EFCA? What happened to the comfy shoes Obama said he would wear to walk with public sector workers in Wisconsin? Obama never fought for workers but he fought like hell for the TPP even going on Jimmy Fallon's show and slow jamming for it.

Obama is like the rest of the neoliberal Democrats. They think that unions and workers' rights are anti-meritocratic. Unions are only good for money and foot soldiers during the election. After the election they are basically told to get bent.

lyman alpha blob , July 19, 2017 at 8:11 am

Yes thanks for mentioning the EFCA. I'm so old I remember when the Democrat party campaigned hard on that – "If you give us back the majority in Congress blah blah blah .". And as soon as they won said majority they never mentioned it again.

Dirk77 , July 19, 2017 at 9:38 am

Yes. I thank Hartmann for pointing out the latest power grabs by our corporate masters. Still, his ignoring Clinton, Obama and the rest just puts him in with all the other political tribalists, who by their tribalism distract from the main problems – and their ultimate solutions. It's a class war, Thom, The Only War That Matters.

Vatch , July 19, 2017 at 12:50 pm

One can disagree with Obama or Sanders about various issues, but democracy is definitely not a spectator sport. People need to vote in both primary and general elections, and not just in the big Presidential years. People need to vote in midterm primary and general elections, as well as the elections in odd numbered years, if their states have such elections.

They also need to actively support good candidates, and communicate their opinions to the politicians who hold office. Periodically, people post comments about the futility of voting, or they say that not voting is a way to send a message. Nonsense! Failure to participate is not a form of participation, it's just a way of tacitly approving of the status quo.

Eureka Springs , July 19, 2017 at 2:01 pm

Well I hope I can disagree with you that this here republic is a democracy. There isn't even a party I can think of which operates democratically.

Supporting a good candidate is asking people to participate in spectator sport-like activity. The people, party members, should determine a platform and the candidate/office holder should be obligated to sell/enact/administrate it.

The rich tell their politicians/parties what to do so should the rest of us.

Vatch , July 19, 2017 at 3:56 pm

" I can disagree with you that this here republic is a democracy. "

Fair enough. The United States is no longer a representative democracy (and it was only that way occasionally in the past); it's currently an oligarchic plutocracy. But if we hope to regain any semblance of a representative democracy, we need to actively participate. There are many reasons why we've degenerated into a plutocracy, and one of those reasons is that people don't participate enough.

"Supporting a good candidate is asking people to participate in spectator sport-like activity"

Sure, if people don't participate in the primary process, all they have to choose from in the general election is a couple of tools of the oligarchs. They also need to do many of the things in the quote from Howard Zinn that Alejandro provided.

Alejandro , July 19, 2017 at 3:11 pm

"If democracy were to be given any meaning, if it were to go beyond the limits of capitalism and nationalism, this would not come, if history were any guide, from the top. It would come through citizen's movements, educating, organizing, agitating, striking, boycotting, demonstrating, threatening those in power with disruption of the stability they needed."–Howard Zinn

AND this:

" Democracy is not a spectator sport."– Lotte Scharfman
http://www.capecodtimes.com/article/20081004/opinion/810040340

David, by the lake , July 19, 2017 at 7:04 am

As others have pointed out already, it is important to note that corporatism is not a uniquely Republican characteristic.

Roger Smith , July 19, 2017 at 7:33 am

Great post, although I think it goes a little out of its way to ignore referencing Democrats as an equal part of the problem, as they too are "conservative/corporatists". Party politics is theater for the plebes, nothing more. These "people" have the same values and desires.

Colonel Smithers , July 19, 2017 at 7:40 am

Thank you to Lambert. Indentured labourers were also used by the French colonial ventures, including Mauritius / Ile Maurice, known as Isle de France when under French rule from 1715 – 1810.

Many of the labourers lived alongside slaves and, later, free men and women. They also intermarried, beginning what are now called Creoles in the Indian Ocean, Caribbean and Louisiana. I am one of their descendants.

In 1936, my great grandfather and others, mainly Creoles, founded the Labour Party in Mauritius. A year later, they organised the first strike, a general, which resulted in four sugar factory workers being shot and killed at Union-Flacq sugar estate. From what my grandmother and her aunt and sister, all of whom used to knit banners and prepare food and drink for the 1 May, and my father report, it's amazing and depressing to see the progress of the mid-1930s to 1970s being rolled back . It's also depressing to hear from so many, let's call them the 10%, criticise trade unions and think that progress was achieved by magic. Plutonium Kun wrote about that recently.

19battlehill , July 19, 2017 at 8:12 am

Thom – I agree with your outrage; however, the truth is that economically the US has been broke since the 1970's and it doesn't matter. Nothing will change until our we have an honest monetary system, and until unearned income is tax properly – the rich have gotten richer and corporations have hijacked our government, whining about it does nothing, this will go on until something breaks and then we will see what happens.

cnchal , July 19, 2017 at 8:14 am

What is going on in Idaho? Why would the state politicians do such a thing? From the Idaho link which is the NY Times, reveals the real reason. Believe it or not.

"We're trying to build the tech ecosystem in Boise," said George Mulhern, chief executive of Cradlepoint, a company here that makes routers and other networking equipment. "And anything that would make somebody not want to move here or start a company here is going to slow down our progress."

Alex LaBeau, president of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry , a trade group that represents many of the state's biggest employers, countered: "This is about companies protecting their assets in a competitive marketplace ."

Alex doesn't get irony. What price discovery? Where are economists on this? Why are they radio silent? To paraphrase Franklin, a market, if you can keep it.

Again and again and again, we see narcissist lawyer/politicians doing stuff that is completely demented, from a normal person's point of view. They will be gone in a few years, but the idiotic laws remain.

Arizona Slim , July 19, 2017 at 8:42 am

Note the use of the word "ecosystem." A bullshhhh tell if there ever was one.

jrs , July 19, 2017 at 10:28 am

Tech is neither here nor there in it, I mean they say being able to leave jobs easily was a tech advantage in California where people could leave to start new businesses etc.. So I'm not sure how tech actually lines up on it, and it's almost not the point, even when it does good it's no substitute for an organization that really represents labor. It might be better in California due to tech pressure, but probably mostly because it's a deep blue state, which tends to make places slightly more tolerable places to live. Well as much as we're going to get when what we really need is socialists in the legislature but nonetheless.

Yes these practices are slavery. Indentured servitude is almost too polite, but I get it's more P.C..

Vatch , July 19, 2017 at 4:54 pm

It's not exactly the same as employee non-competition contracts, but remember the scandal about the Silicon Valley companies that privately agreed not to hire each others' employees? Here's one of the many articles about this:

http://www.businessinsider.com/emails-eric-schmidt-sergey-brin-hiring-apple-2014-3

Tom G. , July 19, 2017 at 12:12 pm

I imagine that a few companies will move to Idaho to take advantage of the favorable legal climate, and will leave even more quickly when they can't recruit the talent they need. Speaking as a Software Engineer, the only impact this new law has is to put Idaho at the top of my list of "places I won't consider for relocation."

MG , July 19, 2017 at 12:41 pm

Mulhern is an idiot then because there is a fair amount of evidence that CA's lax enforcement and very skeptical enforcement of non competes is an important factor on why Silicon Valley has thrived. My sense is that this is purely to protect the status quo among large local employers and nothing to do with growing the local ecosystem or smaller firms. Good luck trying to recruit top-flight talent especially engineers/programmers to Boise with most companies have a vigorous year or 2-year non-competes in place.

cnchal , July 19, 2017 at 8:18 pm

> Mulhern is an idiot . . .

Ultimately, Idahoans will shoot themselves in the asses, never mind assets. I know "ecosystem" is a bullshit tell but it's another word for network effects and the network is short circuited by these laws.

Laws preventing an employee from leaving means there is less mixing of talent, making everyone worse off. That's how we learn, getting in there and doing it, whatever it is, and by moving to another employer you transfer and pick up knowledge and experience.

What makes it farcical, is that Big Co Management never envisions itself in their employees shoes.

Mike G , July 19, 2017 at 1:29 pm

"And anything that would make somebody not want to move here or start a company here is going to slow down our progress."

He's right, but in the wrong way. Idaho's new feudal employment laws ensure I will never move there for a tech job.

RenoDino , July 19, 2017 at 8:29 am

The vast majority of the labor market is shifting gears to function as the servant class to the very rich. It is a painful transition as recent gains in labor rights are lost. Becoming a willing supplicant and attaching oneself to a rich and powerful family is the best way to better one's prospects. The last 70 years was an aberration. It will not return, short of a major uprising. Given the state's security apparatus that prospect is extremely unlikely.

Anti Schmoo , July 19, 2017 at 8:54 am

Not a Thom Hartmann fanboy; he deals in glittering generalities and treats serious subject matter in a deeply superficial manner. Having been a Teamster in warehousing and metal trades; they were corrupt and in management's pocket in those places I worked. I'm a huge proponent for labor and the ideal of labor unions (as imagined by the wobblies); not the reality on the ground today.

And I do not agree with Thom's Indentured servitude meme; he gives no real examples, just generalities. I would submit that a neo-feudal system is the fact on the ground. The difference; a serf has land (and yes, he's attached to it), a house, and a modicum of freedom; as long as he takes care of his lord.

Usian's are now, in fact, prisoners of war. Living in a broken system where voting no longer counts; the very back bone of a democratic society. The "two" parties have merged into one entity looking very much like the ouroboros (a snake eating its tail).

All information is managed; and this includes the unemployment figures; pure fiction by the way. An indentured servant has work; 20 million(?) or more Usians have no work, and little hope of finding meaningful employment.

The importance of this can not be underestimated; human dignity is at stake; we're a society brought up on the importance of being "gainfully" employed. Our society is being intentionally crushed to make us serfs in a neo-feudal society.

RickM , July 19, 2017 at 8:56 am

20+ years ago in Athens, GA, there was a local chicken place. Good food if you like that kind of thing. Come to find the employees who fried the chicken and worked the service counter were forbidden by the language of their "contracts" to quit for a dollar an hour more at another local restaurant. The first company didn't actually have the means to take its former employees to court, but they had the "right" to do so. Bill Clinton, neoliberal to his rotten core, was happily the president, feeling our pain. And his own, courtesy of Newt Gingrich et al.

Colonel Smithers , July 19, 2017 at 9:05 am

Thank you, Rick. It was not just our pain that Clinton and Nootie were feeling. Speaking of Mr Bill, his family's role in Haiti, amongst other places reduced to penury, should earn them a place in infamy.

oaf , July 19, 2017 at 9:39 am

"we're long past the point where complaining or sitting on the sidelines is an option."

but marches and *Occupy*s (sp?) FEEL SO GOOD!!! like we are ACTUALLY MAKING A DIFFERENCE!

jrs , July 19, 2017 at 10:41 am

he didn't suggest that, maybe that's what he meant, maybe somewhere else in his communications he says that, but it's not in the article.

Yes a problem is people don't know where or even how to apply any sort of pressure to change things

But one plus of these things being somewhat decided on the state level, is it is more obvious how to go about change there than with the Fed gov where things seem almost hopeless, try to elect people who stand against these policies for instance, easier done some places than others of course, but

jawbon , July 19, 2017 at 11:30 am

Occupy did make a difference, at least in how the public paying attention mostly to broadcast news and the "important" newspapers were concerned. Young people, especially, began to realize what they were up against in this corporatized economy where all the power went to the wealthy.

I'll bet a lot of Occupiers actually began to understand just what Neoliberalism meant!

And the amount of planning and effort the Obama WH spent organizing the Federal agencies and state/local governments to shut down the Occupy encampments indicated to me just how much they feared the effects of Occupy.

different clue , July 19, 2017 at 8:02 pm

Well . . . Occupy was clearly making enough of a difference that the Obama Administration worked with the 18 Democratic Party Mayors of 18 different cities to stamp it out with heavy police stompout presence. The Zucotti clearout in NYC, for example, was just exactly the way Obama liked it done.

Enquiring Mind , July 19, 2017 at 10:03 am

People subject to politicians should begin a coordinated effort to use a common approach to get the truth. Demand transparency, with all campaign contributions, lobbyist contacts, voting records, committee memberships and such all in one place. Use that information to provide a score to show the degree of voter representation. Not sure how that would work, just brainstorming to try some new approach as current ones have failed.

Vatch , July 19, 2017 at 10:05 am

A couple of months ago, this article was published:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/05/27/noncompete-clauses-jobs-workplace/348384001/

These days, even janitors are being required to sign non-compete clauses. When Krishna Regmi started work as a personal care aide for a Pittsburgh home health agency in 2015, he was given a stack of paperwork to sign. "They just told us, 'It's just a formality, sign here, here, here,' " he said. Regmi didn't think much of it. That is, until he quit his job nine months later and announced his decision to move to a rival agency -- and his ex-employer sued him for violating a noncompete clause Regmi says he didn't know he had signed. The agreement barred Regmi from working as a personal care aide at another home health agency for two years.

. . . . .

Bills in Maine, Maryland and Massachusetts would restrict noncompete agreements that involve low-wage employees; New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, is pushing for the same change in his state. Proposals in Massachusetts and Washington would also restrict the agreements for other types of workers, such as temporary employees and independent contractors.

Such bills face an uphill struggle, however, often because of stiff opposition from business. "Non-compete agreements are essential to the growth and viability of businesses by protecting trade secrets and promoting business development," the Maryland Chamber of Commerce said in written testimony opposing a bill Carr introduced that would have voided agreements signed by workers who earn less than $15 an hour. The bill passed the House in February but died in the Senate.
. . . . . .

Some good news:

In California, North Dakota and Oklahoma, the law says the agreements are unenforceable; judges will just throw them out. In other states, statutes and case law create a set of tests that the agreements must pass. In Oregon, for instance, they can only be enforced if workers have two weeks to consider them before taking a job, or if the worker gets a "bona fide advancement" in return, such as a raise.

States have tightened up enforcement criteria in recent years, propelled by news reports, Starr's research and encouragement from the Obama White House. In addition to Illinois' law banning noncompete agreements for low-wage workers, last year Utah passed a law that voided agreements that restricted workers for more than a year; Rhode Island invalidated them for physicians; and Connecticut limited how long and in what geographic area physicians can be bound.

Yet Starr's survey research suggests that tweaking the criteria may have a limited effect on how often the agreements are signed. In California, where noncompete agreements can't be enforced, 19 percent of workers have signed one, he said. In Florida, where the agreements are easily enforced, the share is the same: 19 percent.

Softie , July 19, 2017 at 10:30 am

The author fails to point out that H1-B is also indentured servitude.

Jacob , July 19, 2017 at 11:00 am

The merging of corporate power with the state is called "fascism." This was described by both Benito Mussolini and FDR's vice-president Henry Wallace. But the term "fascism" isn't mentioned in the article. Importantly, fascists are sworn enemies of communism and socialism, and this is how they can be identified.

gepay , July 19, 2017 at 11:23 am

NC is one of the few blogs where I read the comments.- this was a good article until the wtf comment at the end. Great Britain in an 1833 Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom abolished slavery throughout the British Empire (with the exceptions "of the Territories in the Possession of the East India Company" (how is that not surprising), Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, and Saint Helena; the exceptions were eliminated in 1843). "Who ya gonna get to do the dirty work when all the slaves are free?" Indentured servants from India – the biggest ethnic group in British Guiana (now Guyana) are from India Indians. The US is definitely getting more feudal.

d , July 19, 2017 at 12:58 pm

while i dont disagree thats it not happening, it just seems extremely short sighted, as without a large growing middle class, corporations are dooming them selves to lower income (profits) in the long term. but then no one can really accuse corporations of having a long term view

different clue , July 19, 2017 at 8:09 pm

But perhaps the rich people hiding behind the corporate veil are motivated by class sadism, not class greed. Perhaps they are ready to lose half what they have in order to destroy both halves of what we have.

Benedict@Large , July 19, 2017 at 1:30 pm

I don't see the problem. You're getting somewhere around minimum wage, and so a lawyer wouldn't take you even if you knew how to find one suitable, which you don't.

So you look at your boss and say, "Sue me." What's the gut to do? Hire a lawyer? Use one on staff? This is a civil case, so what damages is he claiming?

Then how's the judge going to look on this. Any judge I've known would be pissed livid to get stuck with a bullcrap case like this. Imagine when every judge is looking at his docket filled with this nonsense. How long before he starts slapping your boss with contempt?

We're sitting around complaining how bad our bosses are, bet we have another, must worse problem. Employees have turned to wimps over their boss's every utterance. Here's a tip. Probably a half and more of whatever is in you employment "contract" (it probably doesn't even qualify legally as one) is either illegal or unenforceable. Pretend it isn't there.

And above all, STOP rolling over to these jerks. If your biggest problem is a non-compete on a minimum wage contract, your world has already fallen apart. If your bosses problem is that he thinks he needs them, his world is about to.

Mike G , July 19, 2017 at 5:27 pm

It's about bullying and intimidation. Like most bullies, the companies are cowards who would back down if challenged, because it would make little economic sense to sue minimum-wage ex-employees. They're relying on the employees being too cowed to call their bluff, so they choose to stay even if unhappy.

Edward , July 19, 2017 at 2:31 pm

Non-compete clauses sound like something that will create a hostile work force; that may not be so good for these companies. Articles like this make me think of "Space Merchants", an amusing science fiction satire on capitalism by Pohl and Kornbluth.

Swamp Yankee , July 19, 2017 at 2:49 pm

The East India Company did not establish a foothold in Virginia! That was the Virginia Company! This basic factual error mars an article that otherwise makes a very good point.

Swamp Yankee , July 19, 2017 at 2:58 pm

Nor was Virginia a State at the time -- a colony until the Revolution. These are critical distinctions.

This is the kind of thing that drives history teachers crazy.

Chauncey Gardiner , July 19, 2017 at 7:28 pm

Perhaps there are other options in responding to the types of abuse detailed in this post, in addition to the political action Thom Hartmann called for. One such action might be characterized as "Passive NonParticipation" with your brains, craftsmanship and know-how to the extent possible, yet still retain your job.

In the waning years of the Soviet Union, the mantra was "They pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work." I suspect many American workers have already figured out the minimum amount of work necessary to retain their jobs and incomes, hence the recent decline in one of the "elite's" most cherished metrics, "productivity" (besides wealth concentration, of course).

[Jul 19, 2017] The First Neoliberals: How free-market disciples and union busters became the prophets of American liberalism by Corey Robin

Notable quotes:
"... New Republic ..."
"... Returning to that first paragraph of Peters's piece, we find the basic positions of the neoliberal persuasion: opposition to unions and big government, support for the military and big business. ..."
"... Above all, neoliberals loathed unions, especially teachers unions. They still do , except insofar as they're useful funding devices for the contemporary Democratic Party. ..."
"... But reading Peters, it's clear that unions were, from the very beginning, the main target. The problems with unions were many: they protected their members' interests (no mention of how important unions were to getting and protecting Social Security and Medicare); they drove up costs, both in the private and the public sector; they defended lazy, incompetent workers ("we want a government that can fire people who can't or won't do the job"). ..."
"... The Other America ..."
04, 2016 | www.jacobinmag.com

On Tuesday, New York magazine's Jonathan Chait tweeted , "What if every use of 'neoliberal' was replaced with, simply, 'liberal'? Would any non-propagandistic meaning be lost?"

It was an odd tweet.

On the one hand, Chait was probably just voicing his disgruntlement with an epithet that leftists and Sanders liberals often hurl against Clinton liberals like Chait.

On the other hand, there was a time, not so long ago, when journalists like Chait would have proudly owned the term neoliberal as an apt description of their beliefs. It was the New Republic , after all, the magazine where Chait made his name, that, along with the Washington Monthly , first provided neoliberalism with a home and a face.

Now, neoliberalism, of course, can mean a great many things , many of them associated with the Right. But one of its meanings -- arguably, in the United States, the most historically accurate -- is the name that a small group of journalists, intellectuals, and politicians on the Left gave to themselves in the late 1970s in order to register their distance from the traditional liberalism of the New Deal and the Great Society.

The original neoliberals included, among others, Michael Kinsley, Charles Peters, James Fallows, Nicholas Lemann, Bill Bradley, Bruce Babbitt, Gary Hart, and Paul Tsongas. Sometimes called " Atari Democrats ," these were the men -- and they were almost all men -- who helped to remake American liberalism into neoliberalism, culminating in the election of Bill Clinton in 1992.

These were the men who made Jonathan Chait what he is today. Chait, after all, would recoil in horror at the policies and programs of mid-century liberals like Walter Reuther or John Kenneth Galbraith or even Arthur Schlesinger, who claimed that "class conflict is essential if freedom is to be preserved, because it is the only barrier against class domination." We know this because he so resolutely opposes the more tepid versions of that liberalism that we see in the Sanders campaign.

It's precisely the distance between that lost world of twentieth century American labor-liberalism and contemporary liberals like Chait that the phrase "neoliberalism" is meant, in part , to register.

We can see that distance first declared, and declared most clearly, in Charles Peters's famous " A Neoliberal's Manifesto ," which Tim Barker reminded me of last night. Peters was the founder and editor of the Washington Monthly , and in many ways the éminence grise of the neoliberal movement.

In re-reading Peters's manifesto -- I remember reading it in high school; that was the kind of thing a certain kind of nerdy liberal-ish sophomore might do -- I'm struck by how much it sets out the lineaments of Chait-style thinking today.

The basic orientation is announced in the opening paragraph:

We still believe in liberty and justice for all, in mercy for the afflicted and help for the down and out. But we no longer automatically favor unions and big government or oppose the military and big business. Indeed, in our search for solutions that work, we have to distrust all automatic responses, liberal or conservative.

Note the disavowal of all conventional ideologies and beliefs, the affirmation of an open-minded pragmatism guided solely by a bracing commitment to what works. It's a leitmotif of the entire manifesto: everyone else is blinded by their emotional attachments to the ideas of the past.

We, the heroic few, are willing to look upon reality as it is, to take up solutions from any side of the political spectrum, to disavow anything that smacks of ideological rigidity or partisan tribalism.

That Peters wound up embracing solutions in the piece that put him comfortably within the camp of GOP conservatism (he even makes a sop to school prayer) never seemed to disturb his serenity as a self-identified iconoclast. That was part of the neoliberal esprit de corps: a self-styled philosophical promiscuity married to a fairly conventional ideological fidelity.

Listen to how former New Republic owner Marty Peretz described that ethos in his look-back on the New Republic of the 1970s and 1980s:

My then-wife and I bought the New Republic in 1974. I was at the time a junior faculty member at Harvard, and I installed a former student, Michael Kinsley, as its editor. We put out a magazine that was intellectually daring, I like to think, and politically controversial.

We were for the Contras in Nicaragua; wary of affirmative action; for military intervention in Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur; alarmed about the decline of the family. The New Republic was also an early proponent of gay rights. We were neoliberals. We were also Zionists, and it was our defense of the Jewish state that put us outside the comfort zone of modern progressive politics.

Except for gay rights and one or two items in that grab bag of foreign interventions, what is Peretz saying here beyond the fact that his politics consisted mainly of supporting various planks from the Republican Party platform? That was the intellectual daring, apparently.

Returning to that first paragraph of Peters's piece, we find the basic positions of the neoliberal persuasion: opposition to unions and big government, support for the military and big business.

Above all, neoliberals loathed unions, especially teachers unions. They still do , except insofar as they're useful funding devices for the contemporary Democratic Party.

But reading Peters, it's clear that unions were, from the very beginning, the main target. The problems with unions were many: they protected their members' interests (no mention of how important unions were to getting and protecting Social Security and Medicare); they drove up costs, both in the private and the public sector; they defended lazy, incompetent workers ("we want a government that can fire people who can't or won't do the job").

Against unions, or conventional unions, Peters held out the promise of employee stock-ownership plans ( ESOPs ), where workers would forgo higher wages and benefits in return for stock options and ownership. He happily pointed to the example of Weirton Steel :

. . . where the workers accepted a 32 percent wage cut to keep their company alive. They will not be suckers because they will own the plant and share in the future profits their sacrifice makes possible. It's better for a worker to keep a job by accepting $12 an hour than to lose it by insisting on $19.

(Sadly, within two decades, Weirton Steel was dead, and with it, those future profits and wages for which those workers had sacrificed in the early 1980s.)

But above all, Peters and other neoliberals saw unions as the instruments of the most vile subjugation of the most downtrodden members of society:

A poor black child might have a better chance of escaping the ghetto if we fired his incompetent middle-class teacher . . .

The urban public schools have in fact become the principal instrument of class oppression in America, keeping the lower orders in their place while the upper class sends its children to private schools.

And here we see how in utero how the neoliberal argument works its magic on the Left.

On the one hand, Peters showed how much the neoliberal was indebted to the Great Society ethos of the 1960s. That ethos was a departure from the New Deal insofar as it proclaimed its solidarity with the most desperate and the most needy.

Michael Harrington's The Other America , for example, treated the poor not as a central part of the political economy, as the New Deal did. The poor were superfluous to that economy: there was America, which was middle-class and mainstream; there was the "other," which was poor and marginal. The Great Society declared a War on Poverty, which was thought to be a project different from managing and regulating the economy.

On the other hand, Peters showed how potent, and potently disabling, that kind of thinking could be. In the hands of neoliberalism, it became fashionable to pit the interests of the poor not against the power of the wealthy but against the unionized working class.

(We still see that kind of talk among today's Democrats, particularly in debates around free trade, where it is always the unionized worker -- never the well-paid journalist or economist or corporate CEO -- who is expected to make sacrifices on behalf of the global poor. Or among Hillary Clinton supporters, who leverage the interests of African American voters against the interests of white working-class voters, but never against the interests of capital.)

Teachers unions in the inner cities were ground zero of the neoliberal obsession. But it wasn't just teachers unions. It was all unions:

In both the public and private sector, unions were seeking and getting wage increases that had the effect of reducing or eliminating employment opportunities for people who were trying to get a foot on the first run of the ladder.

And it wasn't just unions that were a problem. It was big-government liberalism as a whole:

Too many liberals . . . refused to criticize their friends in the industrial unions and the civil service who were pulling up the ladder. Thus liberalism was becoming a movement of those who had arrived, who cared more about preserving and expanding their own gains than about helping those in need.

That government jobs are critical for women and African Americans -- as Annie Lowrey shows in an excellent recent piece -- has long been known in traditional liberal and labor circles.

That it is only recently registered among journalists -- who, even when they take the long view, focus almost exclusively, as Lowrey does, on the role of GOP governors in the aughts rather than on these long-term shifts in Democratic Party thinking -- tells us something about the break between liberalism and neoliberalism that Chait believes is so fanciful.

Oddly, as soon as Peters was done attacking unions and civil-service jobs for doling out benefits to the few -- ignoring all the women and people of color who were increasingly reliant on these instruments for their own advance -- he turned around and attacked programs like Social Security and Medicare for doing precisely the opposite: protecting everyone.

Take Social Security. The original purpose was to protect the elderly from need. But, in order to secure and maintain the widest possible support, benefits were paid to rich and poor alike. The catch, of course, is that a lot of money is wasted on people who don't need it . . .

Another way the practical and the idealistic merge in neoliberal thinking in is our attitude toward income maintenance programs like Social Security, welfare, veterans' pensions, and unemployment compensation. We want to eliminate duplication and apply a means test to these programs. They would all become one insurance program against need.

As a practical matter, the country can't afford to spend money on people who don't need it -- my aunt who uses her Social Security check to go to Europe or your brother-in-law who uses his unemployment compensation to finance a trip to Florida. And as liberal idealists, we don't think the well-off should be getting money from these programs anyway -- every cent we can afford should go to helping those really in need.

Kind of like Hillary Clinton criticizing Bernie Sanders for supporting free college education for all on the grounds that Donald Trump's kids shouldn't get their education paid for? (And let's not forget that as recently as the last presidential campaign, the Democratic candidate was more than willing to trumpet his credentials as a cutter of Social Security and Medicare , though thankfully he never entertained the idea of turning them into means-tested programs.)

It's difficult to make sense of what truly drives this contradiction, whereby one liberalism is criticized for supporting only one segment of the population while another liberalism is criticized for supporting all segments, including the poor.

It could be as simple as the belief that government should work on behalf of only the truly disadvantaged, leaving everyone else to the hands of the market. That that turned out to be a disaster for the truly disadvantaged -- with no one besides themselves to speak up on behalf of anti-poverty programs, those programs proved all too easy to eliminate, not by a Republican but by a Democrat -- seems not to have much troubled the sleep of neoliberalism.

Indeed, in the current election, it is Hillary Clinton's support for the 1994 crime bill rather than the 1996 welfare reform bill that has gotten the most attention, even though she proudly stated in her memoir that she not only supported the 1996 bill but rounded up votes for it.

Or perhaps it's that neoliberals of the Left, like their counterparts on the Right , simply came to believe that the market was for winners, government for losers. Only the poor needed government; everyone else was made for capitalism.

"Risk is indeed the essence of the movement," declared Peters of his merry band of neoliberal men, and though he had something different in mind when he said that, it's clear from the rest of his manifesto that the risk-taking entrepreneur really was what made his and his friends' hearts beat fastest.

Our hero is the risk-taking entrepreneur who creates new jobs and better products. "Americans," says Bill Bradley, "have to begin to treat risk more as an opportunity and not as a threat."

Whatever the explanation for this attitude toward government and the poor, it's clear that we're still living in the world the neoliberals made.

When Clinton's main line of attack against Sanders is that his proposals would increase the size of the federal government by 40 percent, when her hawkishness remains an unapologetic part of her campaign, when unions barely register except as an ATM for the Democratic Party, and Wall Street firmly declares itself to be in her camp, we can hear that opening call of Peters -- "But we no longer automatically favor unions and big government or oppose the military and big business" -- shorn of all awkward hesitation and convoluted formulations, articulated instead in the forthright syntax of common sense and everyday truth.

Perhaps that is why Jonathan Chait cannot tell the difference between liberalism and neoliberalism.

[Jul 04, 2017] Economics of the Populist Backlash naked capitalism

Populism is a weasel word that is use by neoliberal MSM to delitimize the resistance. This is a typical neoliberal thinking.
Financial globalization is different from trade. It is more of neocolonialism that racket, as is the case with trade.
Notable quotes:
"... Financial globalisation appears to have produced adverse distributional impacts within countries as well, in part through its effect on incidence and severity of financial crises. Most noteworthy is the recent analysis by Furceri et al. (2017) that looks at 224 episodes of capital account liberalisation. They find that capital-account liberalisation leads to statistically significant and long-lasting declines in the labour share of income and corresponding increases in the Gini coefficient of income inequality and in the shares of top 1%, 5%, and 10% of income. Further, capital mobility shifts both the tax burden and the burden of economic shocks onto the immobile factor, labour. ..."
"... I suggest that the fact that these two countries are arguably the most unequal in the advanced world has something to do with this. Also, on many measures I believe these two countries appear to be the most 'damaged' societies in the advanced world – levels of relationship breakdown, teenage crime, drug use, teenage pregnancies etc. I doubt this is a coincidence. ..."
"... Forced Free Trade was intended to be destructive to American society, and it was . . . exactly as intended. Millions of jobs were abolished here and shipped to foreign countries used as economic aggression platforms against America. So of course American society became damaged as the American economy became mass-jobicided. On purpose. With malice aforethought. ..."
"... "Populism" seems to me to be a pejorative term used to delegitimize the grievances of the economically disenfranchised and dismiss them derision. ..."
"... In the capitalist economies globalization is/was inevitable; the outcome is easy to observe ..and suffer under. ..."
"... they never get into the nitty-gritty of the "immobility" of the general populations who have been crushed by the lost jobs, homes, families, lives ..."
"... This piece was a lengthy run-on Econ 101 bollocks. Not only does the writer dismiss debt/interest and the effects of rentier banking, but they come off as very simplistic. Reads like some sheltered preppy attempt at explaining populism ..."
"... But like almost all economists, Rodrik is ignoring the political part of political economy. Historically, humanity has developed two organizational forms to select and steer toward preferred economic destinies: governments of nation states, and corporations. ..."
"... The liberalization of trade has come, I would argue, with a huge political cost no economist has reckoned yet. Instead, economists are whining about the reaction to this political cost without facing up to the political cost itself. Or even accept its legitimacy. ..."
"... Second, there are massive negative effects of trade liberalization that economists simply refuse to look at. Arbitration of environmental and worker safety laws and regulations is one. ..."
"... As I have argued elsewhere, the most important economic activity a society engages in us the development and diffusion of new science and technology. ..."
"... Rodrik is also wrong about the historical origins of agrarian populism in USA. It was not trade, but the oligopoly power of railroads, farm equipment makers, and banks that were the original grievances of the Grangers, Farmers Alliances after the Civil War. ..."
"... The salient characteristic of populism is favoring the people vs. the establishment. The whole left/right dichotomy is a creation of the establishment, used to divide the public and PREVENT an effective populist backlash. As Gore Vidal astutely pointed out decades ago, there is really only one party in the U.S. – the Property Party – and the Ds and Rs are just two heads of the same hydra. Especially in the past 10 years or so. ..."
Jul 04, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

'Populism' is a loose label that encompasses a diverse set of movements. The term originates from the late 19th century, when a coalition of farmers, workers, and miners in the US rallied against the Gold Standard and the Northeastern banking and finance establishment. Latin America has a long tradition of populism going back to the 1930s, and exemplified by Peronism. Today populism spans a wide gamut of political movements, including anti-euro and anti-immigrant parties in Europe, Syriza and Podemos in Greece and Spain, Trump's anti-trade nativism in the US, the economic populism of Chavez in Latin America, and many others in between. What all these share is an anti-establishment orientation, a claim to speak for the people against the elites, opposition to liberal economics and globalisation, and often (but not always) a penchant for authoritarian governance.

The populist backlash may have been a surprise to many, but it really should not have been in light of economic history and economic theory.

Take history first. The first era of globalisation under the Gold Standard produced the first self-conscious populist movement in history, as noted above. In trade, finance, and immigration, political backlash was not late in coming. The decline in world agricultural prices in 1870s and 1880s produced pressure for resumption in import protection. With the exception of Britain, nearly all European countries raised agricultural tariffs towards the end of the 19th century. Immigration limits also began to appear in the late 19th century. The United States Congress passed in 1882 the infamous Chinese Exclusion Act that restricted Chinese immigration specifically. Japanese immigration was restricted in 1907. And the Gold Standard aroused farmers' ire because it was seen to produce tight credit conditions and a deflationary effect on agricultural prices. In a speech at the Democratic national convention of 1896, the populist firebrand William Jennings Bryan uttered the famous words: "You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold."

To anyone familiar with the basic economics of trade and financial integration, the politically contentious nature of globalisation should not be a surprise. The workhorse models with which international economists work tend to have strong redistributive implications. One of the most remarkable theorems in economics is the Stolper-Samuelson theorem, which generates very sharp distributional implications from opening up to trade. Specifically, in a model with two goods and two factors of production, with full inter-sectoral mobility of the factors, owners of one of the two factors are made necessarily worse off with the opening to trade. The factor which is used intensively in the importable good must experience a decline in its real earnings.

The Stolper-Samuelson theorem assumes very specific conditions. But there is one Stolper-Samuelson-like result that is extremely general, and which can be stated as follows. Under competitive conditions, as long as the importable good(s) continue to be produced at home – that is, ruling out complete specialisation – there is always at least one factor of production that is rendered worse off by the liberalisation of trade. In other words, trade generically produces losers. Redistribution is the flip side of the gains from trade; no pain, no gain.

Economic theory has an additional implication, which is less well recognised. In relative terms, the redistributive effects of liberalisation get larger and tend to swamp the net gains as the trade barriers in question become smaller. The ratio of redistribution to net gains rises as trade liberalisation tackles progressively lower barriers.

The logic is simple. Consider the denominator of this ratio first. It is a standard result in public finance that the efficiency cost of a tax increases with the square of the tax rate. Since an import tariff is a tax on imports, the same convexity applies to tariffs as well. Small tariffs have very small distorting effects; large tariffs have very large negative effects. Correspondingly, the efficiency gains of trade liberalisation become progressively smaller as the barriers get lower. The redistributive effects, on the other hand, are roughly linear with respect to price changes and are invariant, at the margin, to the magnitude of the barriers. Putting these two facts together, we have the result just stated, namely that the losses incurred by adversely affected groups per dollar of efficiency gain are higher the lower the barrier that is removed.

Evidence is in line with these theoretical expectations. For example, in the case of NAFTA, Hakobyan and McLaren (2016) have found very large adverse effects for an "important minority" of US workers, while Caliendo and Parro (2015) estimate that the overall gains to the US economy from the agreement were minute (a "welfare" gain of 0.08%).

In principle, the gains from trade can be redistributed to compensate the losers and ensure no identifiable group is left behind. Trade openness has been greatly facilitated in Europe by the creation of welfare states. But the US, which became a truly open economy relatively late, did not move in the same direction. This may account for why imports from specific trade partners such as China or Mexico are so much more contentious in the US.

Economists understand that trade causes job displacement and income losses for some groups. But they have a harder time making sense of why trade gets picked on so much by populists both on the right and the left. After all, imports are only one source of churn in labour markets, and typically not even the most important source. What is it that renders trade so much more salient politically? Perhaps trade is a convenient scapegoat. But there is another, deeper issue that renders redistribution caused by trade more contentious than other forms of competition or technological change. Sometimes international trade involves types of competition that are ruled out at home because they violate widely held domestic norms or social understandings. When such "blocked exchanges" (Walzer 1983) are enabled through trade they raise difficult questions of distributive justice. What arouses popular opposition is not inequality per se, but perceived unfairness.

Financial globalisation is in principle similar to trade insofar as it generates overall economic benefits. Nevertheless, the economics profession's current views on financial globalisation can be best described as ambivalent. Most of the scepticism is directed at short-term financial flows, which are associated with financial crises and other excesses. Long-term flows and direct foreign investment in particular are generally still viewed favourably. Direct foreign investment tends to be more stable and growth-promoting. But there is evidence that it has produced shifts in taxation and bargaining power that are adverse to labour.

The boom-and-bust cycle associated with capital inflows has long been familiar to developing nations. Prior to the Global Crisis, there was a presumption that such problems were largely the province of poorer countries. Advanced economies, with their better institutions and regulation, would be insulated from financial crises induced by financial globalisation. It did not quite turn out that way. In the US, the housing bubble, excessive risk-taking, and over-leveraging during the years leading up to the crisis were amplified by capital inflows from the rest of the world. In the Eurozone, financial integration, on a regional scale, played an even larger role. Credit booms fostered by interest-rate convergence would eventually turn into bust and sustained economic collapses in Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland once credit dried up in the immediate aftermath of the crisis in the US.

Financial globalisation appears to have produced adverse distributional impacts within countries as well, in part through its effect on incidence and severity of financial crises. Most noteworthy is the recent analysis by Furceri et al. (2017) that looks at 224 episodes of capital account liberalisation. They find that capital-account liberalisation leads to statistically significant and long-lasting declines in the labour share of income and corresponding increases in the Gini coefficient of income inequality and in the shares of top 1%, 5%, and 10% of income. Further, capital mobility shifts both the tax burden and the burden of economic shocks onto the immobile factor, labour.

The populist backlash may have been predictable, but the specific form it took was less so. Populism comes in different versions. It is useful to distinguish between left-wing and right-wing variants of populism, which differ with respect to the societal cleavages that populist politicians highlight and render salient. The US progressive movement and most Latin American populism took a left-wing form. Donald Trump and European populism today represent, with some instructive exceptions, the right-wing variant (Figure 2). What accounts for the emergence of right-wing versus left-wing variants of opposition to globalization?

Figure 2 Contrasting patterns of populism in Europe and Latin America

Notes : See Rodrik (2017) for sources and methods.

I suggest that these different reactions are related to the forms in which globalisation shocks make themselves felt in society (Rodrik 2017). It is easier for populist politicians to mobilise along ethno-national/cultural cleavages when the globalisation shock becomes salient in the form of immigration and refugees. That is largely the story of advanced countries in Europe. On the other hand, it is easier to mobilise along income/social class lines when the globalisation shock takes the form mainly of trade, finance, and foreign investment. That in turn is the case with southern Europe and Latin America. The US, where arguably both types of shocks have become highly salient recently, has produced populists of both stripes (Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump).

It is important to distinguish between the demand and supply sides of the rise in populism. The economic anxiety and distributional struggles exacerbated by globalisation generate a base for populism, but do not necessarily determine its political orientation. The relative salience of available cleavages and the narratives provided by populist leaders are what provides direction and content to the grievances. Overlooking this distinction can obscure the respective roles of economic and cultural factors in driving populist politics.

Finally, it is important to emphasise that globalization has not been the only force at play - nor necessarily even the most important one. Changes in technology, rise of winner-take-all markets, erosion of labour market protections, and decline of norms restricting pay differentials all have played their part. These developments are not entirely independent from globalisation, insofar as they both fostered globalization and were reinforced by it. But neither can they be reduced to it. Nevertheless, economic history and economic theory both give us strong reasons to believe that advanced stages of globalisation are prone to populist backlash.

Anonymous2 , July 3, 2017 at 6:43 am

An interesting post.

One question he does not address is why the opposition to globalization has had its most obvious consequences in two countries:- the US and the UK with Trump and Brexit respectively.

I suggest that the fact that these two countries are arguably the most unequal in the advanced world has something to do with this. Also, on many measures I believe these two countries appear to be the most 'damaged' societies in the advanced world – levels of relationship breakdown, teenage crime, drug use, teenage pregnancies etc. I doubt this is a coincidence.

For me the lessons are obvious – ensure the benefits of increased trade are distributed among all affected, not just some; act to prevent excessive inequality; nurture people so that their lives are happier.

John Wright , July 3, 2017 at 9:39 am

re: "ensure the benefits of increased trade are distributed among all affected"

Note that for the recent TPP, industry executives and senior government officials were well represented for the drafting of the agreement, labor and environmental groups were not.

There simply may be no mechanism to "ensure the benefits are distributed among all affected" in the USA political climate as those benefits are grabbed by favored groups, who don't want to re-distribute them later.

Some USA politicians argue for passing flawed legislation while suggesting they will fix it later, as I remember California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein stating when she voted for Bush Jr's Medicare Part D ("buy elderly votes for Republicans").

It has been about 15 years, and I don't remember any reform efforts on Medicare Part D from Di-Fi.

Legislation should be approached with the anticipated inequality problems solved FIRST when wealthy and powerful interests are only anticipating increased wealth via "free trade". Instead, the political process gifts first to the wealthy and powerful first and adopts a "we'll fix it later" attitude for those harmed. And the same process occurs, the wealthy/powerful subsequently strongly resist sharing their newly acquired "free trade" wealth increment with the free trade losers..

If the USA adopted a "fix inequality first" requirement, one wonders if these free trade bills would get much purchase with the elite.

different clue , July 4, 2017 at 4:14 am

Forced Free Trade was intended to be destructive to American society, and it was . . . exactly as intended. Millions of jobs were abolished here and shipped to foreign countries used as economic aggression platforms against America. So of course American society became damaged as the American economy became mass-jobicided. On purpose. With malice aforethought.

NAFTA Bill Clinton lit the fuse to the bomb which finally exploded under his lovely wife Hillary in 2016.

Ignacio , July 3, 2017 at 7:35 am

The big problem I find in this analysis is that it completely forgets how different countries use fiscal/financial policies to play merchantilistic games under globalization.

Doug , July 3, 2017 at 7:41 am

Yves, thanks for posting this from Dani Rodrik - whose clear thinking is always worthwhile. It's an excellent, succinct post. Still, one 'ouch': "Redistribution is the flip side of the gains from trade; no pain, no gain."

This is dehumanizing glibness that we cannot afford. The pain spreads like wildfire. It burns down houses, savings, jobs, communities, bridges, roads, health and health care, education, food systems, air, water, the 'real' economy, civility, shared values - in short everything for billions of human beings - all while sickening, isolating and killing.

The gain? Yes, as you so often point out, cui bono? But, really it goes beyond even that question. It requires asking, "Is this gain so obscene to arguably be no gain at all because its price for those who cannot have too many homes and yachts and so forth is the loss of humanity?

Consider, for example, Mitch McConnell. He cannot reasonably be considered human. At all. And, before the trolls create any gifs for the Teenager-In-Chief, one could say the same - or almost the same - for any number of flexians who denominate themselves D or R (e.g. Jamie Gorelick).

No pain, no gain? Fine for getting into better shape or choosing to get better at some discipline.

It's an abominable abstraction, though, for describing phenomena now so far along toward planet-o-cide.

Thuto , July 3, 2017 at 7:56 am

"Populism" seems to me to be a pejorative term used to delegitimize the grievances of the economically disenfranchised and dismiss them derision.

Another categorization that I find less than apt, outmoded and a misnomer is the phrase "advanced economies", especially given that level of industrialization and gdp per capita are the key metrics used to arrive at these classifications. Globalization has shifted most industrial activity away from countries that invested in rapid industrialization post WW2 to countries with large pools of readily exploitable labour while gdp per capita numbers include sections of the population with no direct participation in creating economic output (and the growth of these marginalized sections is trending ever upward).

Meanwhile the financial benefits of growing GDP numbers gush ever upwards to the financial-political elites instead of "trickling downwards" as we are told they should, inequality grows unabated, stress related diseases eat away at the bodies of otherwise young men and women etc. I'm not sure any of these dynamics, which describe perfectly what is happening in many so called advanced economies, are the mark of societies that should describe themselves as "advanced"

Yves Smith Post author , July 3, 2017 at 8:24 pm

Sorry, but the original populist movement in the US called themselves the Populists or the Populist Party. Being popular is good. You are the one who is assigning a pejorative tone to it.

Hiho , July 4, 2017 at 1:32 am

Populism is widely used in the mainstream media, and even in the so called alternative media, as a really pejorative term. That is what he means (I would say).

witters , July 3, 2017 at 7:56 am

"What all these share is an anti-establishment orientation, a claim to speak for the people against the elites, opposition to liberal economics and globalisation, and often (but not always) a penchant for authoritarian governance."

On the other hand:

"What all these share is an establishment orientation, a claim to speak for the elites against the people, support for liberal economics and globalisation, and always a penchant for authoritarian governance."

Wisdom Seeker , July 3, 2017 at 1:29 pm

You nailed it. Let me know when we get our Constitution back!

Eclair , July 3, 2017 at 8:09 am

"Financial globalisation appears to have produced adverse distributional impacts within countries as well, in part through its effect on incidence and severity of financial crises. Most noteworthy is the recent analysis by Furceri et al. (2017) that looks at 224 episodes of capital account liberalisation. They find that capital-account liberalisation leads to statistically significant and long-lasting declines in the labour share of income and corresponding increases in the Gini coefficient of income inequality and in the shares of top 1%, 5%, and 10% of income. Further, capital mobility shifts both the tax burden and the burden of economic shocks onto the immobile factor, labour."

So, translated, Rodrick is saying that the free flow of money across borders, while people are confined within these artificial constraints, results in all the riches flowing to the fat cats and all the taxes, famines, wars, droughts, floods and other natural disasters being dumped upon the peasants.

The Lakota, roaming the grassy plains of the North American mid-continent, glorified their 'fat cats,' the hunters who brought back the bison which provided food, shelter and clothing to the people. And the rule was that the spoils of the hunt were shared unequally; the old, women and children got the choice high calorie fatty parts. The more that a hunter gave away, the more he was revered.

The Lakota, after some decades of interaction with the European invaders, bestowed on them a disparaging soubriquet: wasi'chu. It means 'fat-taker;' someone who is greedy, taking all the best parts for himself and leaving nothing for the people.

sierra7 , July 4, 2017 at 12:04 am

"So, translated, Rodrick is saying that the free flow of money across borders, while people are confined within these artificial constraints .."

Nailed it!! That's something that has always bothered me it's great for the propagandists to acclaim globalization but they never get into the nitty-gritty of the "immobility" of the general populations who have been crushed by the lost jobs, homes, families, lives .there should be a murderous outrage against this kind of globalized exploitation and the consequent sufferings. Oh, but I forgot! It's all about the money that is supposed to give incentive to those who are left behind to "recoup", "regroup" and in today's age develop some kind of "app" to make up for all those losses .

In the capitalist economies globalization is/was inevitable; the outcome is easy to observe ..and suffer under.

Left in Wisconsin , July 4, 2017 at 11:09 am

they never get into the nitty-gritty of the "immobility" of the general populations who have been crushed by the lost jobs, homes, families, lives

That's a feature, not a bug. Notice that big corporations are all in favor of globalization except when it comes to things like labor law. Then, somehow, local is better.

edr , July 3, 2017 at 9:35 am

"The economic anxiety and distributional struggles exacerbated by globalization generate a base for populism, but do not necessarily determine its political orientation. The relative salience of available cleavages and the narratives provided by populist leaders are what provides direction and content to the grievances. "

Excellent and interesting point. Which political party presents itself as a believable tool for redress affects the direction populism will take, making itself available as supply to the existing populist demand. That should provide for 100 years of political science research.

Anonymous2 : "For me the lessons are obvious – ensure the benefits of increased trade are distributed among all affected, not just some; act to prevent excessive inequality; nurture people so that their lives are happier."

Seems so simply, right ?

Anonymous2 , July 3, 2017 at 11:09 am

It ought to be but sadly I fear our politicians are bought. I am unsure I have the solution . In the past when things got really bad I suspect people ended up with a major war before these sorts of problems could be addressed. I doubt that is going to be a solution this time.

Kuhio Kane , July 3, 2017 at 10:10 am

This piece was a lengthy run-on Econ 101 bollocks. Not only does the writer dismiss debt/interest and the effects of rentier banking, but they come off as very simplistic. Reads like some sheltered preppy attempt at explaining populism

Hiho , July 4, 2017 at 2:27 am

Well said.

washunate , July 4, 2017 at 9:35 am

Yep, Rodrik has been writing about these things for decades and has a remarkable talent for never actually getting anywhere. He's particularly enamored by the neoliberal shiny toy of "skills", as if predation, looting, and fraud simply don't exist.

Left in Wisconsin , July 4, 2017 at 11:11 am

And yet, in the profession, he is one of the least objectionable.

Tony Wikrent , July 3, 2017 at 10:44 am

This is a prime example of what is wrong with professional economic thinking. First, note that Rodrik is nominally on our side: socially progressive, conscious of the increasingly frightful cost of enviro externalities, etc.

But like almost all economists, Rodrik is ignoring the political part of political economy. Historically, humanity has developed two organizational forms to select and steer toward preferred economic destinies: governments of nation states, and corporations.

Only nation states provide the mass of people any form and extent of political participation in determining their own destiny. The failure of corporations to provide political participation can probably be recited my almost all readers of NC. Indeed, a key problem of the past few decades is that corp.s have increasingly marginalized the role of nation states and mass political participation. The liberalization of trade has come, I would argue, with a huge political cost no economist has reckoned yet. Instead, economists are whining about the reaction to this political cost without facing up to the political cost itself. Or even accept its legitimacy.

Second, there are massive negative effects of trade liberalization that economists simply refuse to look at. Arbitration of environmental and worker safety laws and regulations is one. Another is the aftereffects of the economic dislocations Rodrik alludes to.

One is the increasing constriction of government budgets. These in turn have caused a scaling back of science R&D which I believe will have huge but incalculable negative effects in coming years. How do you measure the cost of failing to find a cure for a disease? Or failing to develop technologies to reverse climate change? Or just to double the charge duration of electric batteries under load? As I have argued elsewhere, the most important economic activity a society engages in us the development and diffusion of new science and technology.

FluffytheObeseCat , July 3, 2017 at 12:32 pm

Intellectually poisoned by his social environment perhaps. The biggest problems with this piece were its sweeping generalizations about unquantified socio-political trends. The things that academic economists are least trained in; the things they speak about in passing without much thought.

I.e. Descriptions of political 'populism' that lumps Peronists, 19th century U.S. prairie populists, Trump, and Sanders all into one neat category. Because, social movements driven by immiseration of the common man are interchangeable like paper cups at a fast food restaurant.

sierra7 , July 4, 2017 at 12:15 am

Agree with much of what you comment .I believe that the conditions you describe are conveniently dismissed by the pro economists as: "Externalities" LOL!! They seem to dump everything that doesn't correlate to their dream of "Free Markets", "Globalization", etc .into that category .you gotta love 'em!!

Tony Wikrent , July 3, 2017 at 11:16 am

Rodrik is also wrong about the historical origins of agrarian populism in USA. It was not trade, but the oligopoly power of railroads, farm equipment makers, and banks that were the original grievances of the Grangers, Farmers Alliances after the Civil War.

In fact, the best historian of USA agrarian populism, Lawrence Goodwyn, argued that it was exactly the populists' reluctant alliance with Byran in the 1896 election that destroyed the populist movement. It was not so much an issue of the gold standard, as it was "hard money" vs "soft money" : gold AND silver vs the populists' preference for greenbacks, and currency and credit issued by US Treasury instead of the eastern banks.

A rough analogy is that Byran was the Hillary Clinton of his day, with the voters not given any way to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs or the House of Morgan.

Massinissa , July 3, 2017 at 9:33 pm

Honestly I would say Bryan is more an unwitting Bernie Sanders than a Hillary Clinton. But the effect was essentially the same.

flora , July 3, 2017 at 9:35 pm

"the oligopoly power of railroads, farm equipment makers, and banks that were the original grievances "

That power was expressed in total control of the Congress and Presidential office. Then, as now, the 80-90% of the voters had neither R or D party that represented their economic, property, and safety interests. Given the same economic circumstances, if one party truly pushed for ameliorating regulations or programs the populist movement would be unnecessary. Yes, Bryan was allowed to run (and he had a large following) and to speak at the Dem convention, much like Bernie today. The "Bourbon Democrats" kept firm control of the party and downed Jennings' programs just as the neolib Dem estab today keep control of the party out of the hands of progressives.

an aside: among many things, the progressives pushed for good government (ending cronyism), trust busting, and honest trade, i.e not selling unfit tinned and bottled food as wholesome food. Today, we could use an "honest contracts and dealings" act to regulate the theft committed by what the banks call "honest contract enforcement", complete with forges documents. (Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle (1906) about the meatpacking industry. What would he make of today's mortgage industry, or insurance industry, for example.)

washunate , July 3, 2017 at 11:26 am

For an author and article so interested in international trade, I'm fascinated by the lack of evidence or argumentation that trade is the problem. The real issue being described here is excessive inequality delivered through authoritarianism, not international trade. The intra-city divergence between a hospital administrator and a home health aid is a much bigger problem in the US than trade across national borders. The empire abroad and the police state at home is a much bigger problem than competition from China or Mexico. Etc. Blaming international trade for domestic policies (and opposition to them) is just simple misdirection and xenophobia, nothing more.

Wisdom Seeker , July 3, 2017 at 1:52 pm

I take exception to most of Prof. Rodrik's post, which is filled with factual and/or logical inaccuracies.

"Populism appears to be a recent phenomenon, but it has been on the rise for quite some time (Figure 1)."

Wrong. Pretending that a historical generic is somehow new Populism has been around since at least the time of Jesus or William Wallace or the American Revolution or FDR.

"What all these share is an anti-establishment orientation, a claim to speak for the people against the elites, opposition to liberal economics and globalisation, and often (but not always) a penchant for authoritarian governance."

Wrong. Creating a straw man through overgeneralization. Just because one country's "populism" appears to have taken on a certain color, does not mean the current populist movement in another part of the world will be the same. The only essential characteristics of populism are the anti-establishment orientation and seeking policies that will redress an imbalance in which some elites have aggrandized themselves unjustly at the expense of the rest of the people. The rest of the items in the list above are straw men in a generalization. Rise of authoritarian (non-democratic) governance after a populist uprising implies the rise of a new elite and would be a failure, a derailing of the populist movement – not a characteristic of it.

"Correspondingly, the efficiency gains of trade liberalisation become progressively smaller as the barriers get lower."

If, in fact, we were seeing lower trade barriers, and this was driving populism, this whole line of reasoning might have some value. But as it is, well over half the US economy is either loaded with barriers, subject to monopolistic pricing, or has not seen any "trade liberalization". Pharmaceuticals, despite being commodities, have no common global price the way, say, oil does. Oil hasn't had lowered barriers, though, and thus doesn't count in favor of the argument either. When China, Japan and Europe drop their import barriers, and all of them plus the U.S. get serious about antitrust enforcement, there might be a case to be made

"It is useful to distinguish between left-wing and right-wing variants of populism"

Actually it isn't. The salient characteristic of populism is favoring the people vs. the establishment. The whole left/right dichotomy is a creation of the establishment, used to divide the public and PREVENT an effective populist backlash. As Gore Vidal astutely pointed out decades ago, there is really only one party in the U.S. – the Property Party – and the Ds and Rs are just two heads of the same hydra. Especially in the past 10 years or so.

About the only thing the author gets right is the admission that certain economic policies unjustly create pain among many groups of people, leading to popular retribution. But that's not insightful, especially since he fails to address the issue quantitatively and identify WHICH policies have created the bulk of the pain. For instance, was more damage done by globalization, or by the multi-trillion-$ fleecing of the U.S. middle class by the bankers and federal reserve during the recent housing bubble and aftermath? What about the more recent ongoing fleecing of the government and the people by the healthcare cartels, at about $1.5-2 trillion/year in the U.S.?

This is only the top of a long list

PKMKII , July 3, 2017 at 2:28 pm

What arouses popular opposition is not inequality per se, but perceived unfairness.

Which is the primary worldview setting for the neo-reactionary right in America. Everything is a question of whether or not ones income was "fairly earned."

So you get government employees and union members voting for politicians who've practically declared war against those voters' class, but vote for them anyway because they set their arguments in a mode of fairness morality: You can vote for the party of hard workers, or the party of handouts to the lazy. Which is why China keeps getting depicted as a currency manipulator and exploiter of free trade agreements.

Economic rivals can only succeed via "cheating," not being industrious like the US.

Livius Drusus , July 3, 2017 at 6:45 pm

That describes a number of my relatives and their friends. They are union members and government employees yet hold hard right-wing views and are always complaining about lazy moochers living on welfare. I ask them why they love the Republicans so much when this same party demonizes union members and public employees as overpaid and lazy and the usual answer is that Republicans are talking about some other unions or other government employees, usually teachers.

I suspect that the people in my anecdote hate public school teachers and their unions because they are often female and non-white or teach in areas with a lot of minority children. I see this a lot with white guys in traditional masculine industrial unions. They sometimes look down on unions in fields that have many female and non-white members, teachers being the best example I can think of.

tongorad , July 3, 2017 at 10:11 pm

Economists understand that trade causes job displacement and income losses for some groups.

No, no they don't.

[Jun 30, 2017] Andy Haldane told BBC Newsnight that businesses had not invested enough to give the productivity improvements necessary to push up pay.

Jun 30, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com
Warren , June 30, 2017 at 3:29 pm

https://www.youtube.com/embed/TTXWBm8Xpgo?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

Published on 29 Jun 2017
People in the UK feel "frustrated and squeezed" because their pay has flatlined for a decade, the Bank of England's chief economist has said.

Andy Haldane told BBC Newsnight that businesses had not invested enough to give the productivity improvements necessary to push up pay.

Newsnight is the BBC's flagship news and current affairs TV programme – with analysis, debate, exclusives, and robust interviews.

[Jun 21, 2017] Unions in Decline Some International Comparisons

Jun 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
libezkova , June 21, 2017 at 11:55 AM
" This pattern suggests that existence of unions, one way or another, may be less important for economic outcomes than the way in which those unions function. "

This is a typical neoliberal Newspeak. Pretty Orwellian.
In reality atomization of workforce and decimation of unions is the explicit goal of neoliberal state.

Neoliberalism war on organized labor started with Reagan.

Neoliberalism is based on unconditional domination of labor by capital ("socialism for rich, feudalism for labor").

American scholar and cultural critic Henry Giroux alleges neoliberalism holds that market forces should organize every facet of society, including economic and social life, and promotes a social Darwinist ethic which elevates self-interest over social needs.

That means maintaining the unemployment level of sufficiently high level and political suppression of workers rights to organize.

A new class of workers, facing acute socio-economic insecurity, emerged under neoliberalism. It is called 'precariat'.

Neoliberal policies led to the situation in the US economy in which 30% of workers earn low wages (less than two-thirds the median wage for full-time workers), and 35% of the labor force is underemployed; only 40% of the working-age population in the U.S. is adequately employed.

The Center for Economic Policy Research's (CEPR) Dean Baker (2006) argued that the driving force behind rising inequality in the US has been a series of deliberate, neoliberal policy choices including anti-inflationary bias, anti-unionism, and profiteering in the health industry.

Amazon, Uber and several other companies have shown that neoliberal model can be as brutal as plantation slavery.

Central to the notion of the skills agenda as pursued by neoliberal governments is the concept of "human capital."

Which involves atomization of workers, each of which became a "good" sold at the "labor market". Neoliberalism discard the concept of human solidarity. It also eliminated government support of organized labor, and decimated unions.

Under neoliberalism the government has to actively intervene to clear the way for the free "labor market." Talk about government-sponsored redistribution of wealth under neoliberalism -- from Greenspan to Bernanke, from Rubin to Paulson, the government has been a veritable Robin Hood in reverse.

[Jun 18, 2017] Even raising wages can be the way to squeeze workforce

Notable quotes:
"... The Fed should initiate a campaign: 'Patriotism is paying your workers more." ..."
Jun 18, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

JohnH - , June 17, 2017 at 11:27 AM

The Fed should initiate a campaign: 'Patriotism is paying your workers more." It worked for Henry Ford. And it would work to restore robust economic growth.

Strangely, most economists want to REDUCE workers' purchasing power, which makes sense for individual firms but is bad for the economy as a whole.

pgl - , June 17, 2017 at 11:54 AM
Henry Ford - progressive? Seriously? He did this in order to get workers to put in more effort. In other words - good for the bottom line. Something call efficiency wages. We would provide you with a reading list but we know you would not actually read any of it. You never do.
Christopher H. - , June 17, 2017 at 12:40 PM
If the Fed wanted tighter labor markets where workers had more bargaining power, they wouldn't have started tightening monetary policy in 2013.

No need to start a PR campaign aimed at employers.

Funny how it was only a George W. Bush guy, Neel Kashkari, who dissented on raising rates.

djb - , June 18, 2017 at 06:16 AM
dean baker once pointed out that fiscal policy is problematic if it is just going to be reversed by monetary policy

monetary policy focuses on not having unemployment levels get lower than nairu,

and thus no matter what the fiscal interventions, we can never get unemployment below a certain level

believing that nairu is some "natural phenomenon" that is where the universe will always tend to

puts monetary policy, otherwise theoretically sound, in the way of achieving true full employment
not helping achieve it

so you don't just need fiscal, you need policies that work on the actual value of nairu and the amount of inflation that occurs when unemployment is low than nairu

apparently this guy William vickery has a lot of ideas on how to accomplish that

Paine - , June 18, 2017 at 07:19 AM
Lerners map

Market anti inflation policy

This is he answer to market power of firms
Old man Galbraith wanted the state
to administer the prices of the oligoplistic corporate core of the economy

MAP is the mechanism to impose

Paine - , June 18, 2017 at 08:54 AM
A report by David colander abba Lerners partner on map

https://www.jec.senate.gov/reports/97th%20Congress/Incentive%20Anti-Inflation%20Plan%20(1034).pdf

anne - , June 18, 2017 at 09:10 AM
https://www.jec.senate.gov/reports/97th%20Congress/Incentive%20Anti-Inflation%20Plan%20(1034).pdf

APRIL 28, 1981.

INCENTIVE ANTI-INFLATION PLANS
By David Colander

I. INTRODUCTION

How can something as simple as inflation be so difficult to solve? If inflation were simply a matter of "too much money chasing too few goods," then one would expect that the government could control the money supply and consequently control the inflation. The government has failed to act in this way and unless one subscribes to a sadistic theory of government, its failure suggests that there are non-monetary or "real` causes embedded in our political and economic institutions.

This study provides some insight into the nature of those real causes, and develops a strategy to combat inflation. Part of that strategy includes monetary restraint; however. to be politically acceptable, monetary restraint must be made more efficient. Some method must be developed to translate quickly a decrease in the growth of the money supply into a decrease in the price level, not into a decrease in employment and output.

The method suggested by this report is an incentive based incomes policy or incentive anti-inflation plan. These policies minimize government intervention in the market economy while channeling restrictive monetary policy into anti-inflation incentives rather than into anti-production incentives. They provide the necessary supply side incentives to stop inflation.

Incentive anti-inflation plans take various forms. Many of the arguments for and against such policies have incorrectly interpreted the methodology and goals of these policies. Specifically, these policies are not designed to solve inflation by themselves, but instead must function as complements to, rather than substitutes for, the appropriate monetary and fiscal policy. These proposals are not meant to replace the market with government regulation; they recognize the market's advantages and use market incentives to check inflation programs as strong as, and no stronger than, the pressures for inflation.

To function properly, incentive anti-inflation plans must be supported by an effective legal structure, an enforcement mechanism and a general public acceptance that the plans are fair. These are difficult requirements but all markets need these foundations. There is a fundamental difference between the government's role in establishing a legal framework and its role in directly regulating market decisions. Anti-inflation incentive plans require only the former....

djb - , June 18, 2017 at 11:52 AM
"If inflation were simply a matter of "too much money chasing too few goods," then one would expect that the government could control the money supply and consequently control the inflation"

first off, they should NOT be looking at it as money supply paying for the goods

they should be looking at it as income paying for the goods

money times velocity of money

cm - , June 17, 2017 at 12:45 PM
Ford paid workers more to be able to squeeze more assembly line output from them with limited risk of turnover, as leaving for another job would mean a pay cut. He also had ideas about intervening in their home lives.

[Jun 17, 2017] The Collapsing Social Contract by Gaius Publius

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Until elites stand down and stop the brutal squeeze , expect more after painful more of this. It's what happens when societies come apart. Unless elites (of both parties) stop the push for "profit before people," policies that dominate the whole of the Neoliberal Era , there are only two outcomes for a nation on this track, each worse than the other. There are only two directions for an increasingly chaotic state to go, chaotic collapse or sufficiently militarized "order" to entirely suppress it. ..."
"... Mes petits sous, mon petit cri de coeur. ..."
"... But the elite aren't going to stand down, whatever that might mean. The elite aren't really the "elite", they are owners and controllers of certain flows of economic activity. We need to call it what it is and actively organize against it. Publius's essay seems too passive at points, too passive voice. (Yes, it's a cry from the heart in a prophetic mode, and on that level, I'm with it.) ..."
"... American Psycho ..."
"... The college students I deal with have internalized a lot of this. In their minds, TINA is reality. Everything balances for the individual on a razor's edge of failure of will or knowledge or hacktivity. It's all personal, almost never collective - it's a failure toward parents or peers or, even more grandly, what success means in America. ..."
"... unions don't matter in our TINA. Corporations do. ..."
"... our system promotes specialists and disregards generalists this leads to a population of individualists who can't see the big picture. ..."
"... That social contract is hard to pin down and define – probably has different meanings to all of us, but you are right, it is breaking down. We no longer feel that our governments are working for us. ..."
"... Increasing population, decreasing resources, increasingly expensive remaining resources on a per unit basis, unresolved trashing of the environment and an political economy that forces people to do more with less all the time (productivity improvement is mandatory, not optional, to handle the exponential function) much pain will happen even if everyone is equal. ..."
"... "Social contract:" nice Enlightment construct, out of University by City. Not a real thing, just a very incomplete shorthand to attempt to fiddle the masses and give a name to meta-livability. ..."
"... Always with the "contract" meme, as if there are no more durable and substantive notions of how humans in small and large groups might organize and interact Or maybe the notion is the best that can be achieved? ..."
"... JTMcFee, you have provided the most important aspect to this mirage of 'social contract'. The "remedies" clearly available to lawless legislation rest outside the realm of a contract which has never existed. ..."
"... Unconscionable clauses are now separately initialed in an "I dare you to sue me" shaming gambit. Meanwhile the mythical Social Contract has been atomized into 7 1/2 billion personal contracts with unstated, shifting remedies wholly tied to the depths of pockets. ..."
"... Here in oh-so-individualistic Chicago, I have been noting the fraying for some time: It isn't just the massacres in the highly segregated black neighborhoods, some of which are now in terminal decline as the inhabitants, justifiably, flee. The typical Chicagoan wanders the streets connected to a phone, so as to avoid eye contact, all the while dressed in what look like castoffs. Meanwhile, Midwesterners, who tend to be heavy, are advertisements for the obesity epidemic: Yet obesity has a metaphorical meaning as the coat of lipids that a person wears to keep the world away. ..."
"... My middle / upper-middle neighborhood is covered with a layer of upper-middle trash: Think Starbucks cups and artisanal beer bottles. ..."
"... The class war continues, and the upper class has won. As commenter relstprof notes, any kind of concerted action is now nearly impossible. Instead of the term "social contract," I might substitute "solidarity." Is there solidarity? No, solidarity was destroyed as a policy of the Reagan administration, as well as by fantasies that Americans are individualistic, and here we are, 40 years later, dealing with the rubble of the Obama administration and the Trump administration. ..."
"... The trash bit has been linked in other countries to how much the general population views the public space/environment as a shared, common good. Thus, streets, parks and public space might be soiled by litter that nobody cares to put away in trash bins properly, while simultaneously the interior of houses/apartments, and attached gardens if any, are kept meticulously clean. ..."
"... The trash bit has been linked in other countries to how much the general population views the public space/environment as a shared, common good. ..."
"... There *is* no public space anymore. Every public good, every public space is now fair game for commercial exploitation. ..."
"... The importance of the end of solidarity – that is, of the almost-murderous impulses by the upper classes to destroy any kind of solidarity. ..."
"... "Conditions will only deteriorate for anyone not in the "1%", with no sight of improvement or relief." ..."
"... "Four Futures" ..."
"... Reminds me of that one quip I saw from a guy who, why he always had to have two pigs to eat up his garbage, said that if he had only one pig, it will eat only when it wants to, but if there were two pigs, each one would eat so the other pig won't get to it first. Our current economic system in a nutshell – pigs eating crap so deny it to others first. "Greed is good". ..."
"... Don't know that the two avenues Gaius mentioned are the only two roads our society can travel. In support of this view, I recall a visit to a secondary city in Russia for a few weeks in the early 1990s after the collapse of the USSR. Those were difficult times economically and psychologically for ordinary citizens of that country. Alcoholism was rampant, emotional illness and suicide rates among men of working age were high, mortality rates generally were rising sharply, and birth rates were falling. Yet the glue of common culture, sovereign currency, language, community, and thoughtful and educated citizens held despite corrupt political leadership, the rise of an oligarchic class, and the related emergence of organized criminal networks. There was also adequate food, and critical public infrastructure was maintained, keeping in mind this was shortly after the Chernobyl disaster. ..."
Jun 16, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. I have been saying for some years that I did not think we would see a revolution, but more and more individuals acting out violently. That's partly the result of how community and social bonds have weakened as a result of neoliberalism but also because the officialdom has effective ways of blocking protests. With the overwhelming majority of people using smartphones, they are constantly surveilled. And the coordinated 17-city paramilitary crackdown on Occupy Wall Street shows how the officialdom moved against non-violent protests. Police have gotten only more military surplus toys since then, and crowd-dispersion technology like sound cannons only continues to advance. The only way a rebellion could succeed would be for it to be truly mass scale (as in over a million people in a single city) or by targeting crucial infrastructure.

By Gaius Publius , a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius , Tumblr and Facebook . GP article archive here . Originally published at DownWithTyranny

"[T]he super-rich are absconding with our wealth, and the plague of inequality continues to grow. An analysis of 2016 data found that the poorest five deciles of the world population own about $410 billion in total wealth. As of June 8, 2017 , the world's richest five men owned over $400 billion in wealth. Thus, on average, each man owns nearly as much as 750 million people."
-Paul Buchheit, Alternet

"Congressman Steve Scalise, Three Others Shot at Alexandria, Virginia, Baseball Field"
-NBC News, June 14, 2017

"4 killed, including gunman, in shooting at UPS facility in San Francisco"
-ABC7News, June 14, 2017

"Seriously? Another multiple shooting? So many guns. So many nut-bars. So many angry nut-bars with guns."
-MarianneW via Twitter

"We live in a world where "multiple dead" in San Francisco shooting can't cut through the news of another shooting in the same day."
-SamT via Twitter

"If the rich are determined to extract the last drop of blood, expect the victims to put up a fuss. And don't expect that fuss to be pretty. I'm not arguing for social war; I'm arguing for justice and peace."
- Yours truly

When the social contract breaks from above, it breaks from below as well.

Until elites stand down and stop the brutal squeeze , expect more after painful more of this. It's what happens when societies come apart. Unless elites (of both parties) stop the push for "profit before people," policies that dominate the whole of the Neoliberal Era , there are only two outcomes for a nation on this track, each worse than the other. There are only two directions for an increasingly chaotic state to go, chaotic collapse or sufficiently militarized "order" to entirely suppress it.

As with the climate, I'm concerned about the short term for sure - the storm that kills this year, the hurricane that kills the next - but I'm also concerned about the longer term as well. If the beatings from "our betters" won't stop until our acceptance of their "serve the rich" policies improves, the beatings will never stop, and both sides will take up the cudgel.

Then where will we be?

America's Most Abundant Manufactured Product May Be Pain

I look out the window and see more and more homeless people, noticeably more than last year and the year before. And they're noticeably scruffier, less "kemp,"​ if that makes sense to you (it does if you live, as I do, in a community that includes a number of them as neighbors).

The squeeze hasn't let up, and those getting squeezed out of society have nowhere to drain to but down - physically, economically, emotionally. The Case-Deaton study speaks volumes to this point. The less fortunate economically are already dying of drugs and despair. If people are killing themselves in increasing numbers, isn't it just remotely maybe possible they'll also aim their anger out as well?

The pot isn't boiling yet - these shootings are random, individualized - but they seem to be piling on top of each other. A hard-boiling, over-flowing pot may not be far behind. That's concerning as well, much moreso than even the random horrid events we recoil at today.

Many More Ways Than One to Be a Denier

My comparison above to the climate problem was deliberate. It's not just the occasional storms we see that matter. It's also that, seen over time, those storms are increasing, marking a trend that matters even more. As with climate, the whole can indeed be greater than its parts. There's more than one way in which to be a denier of change.

These are not just metaphors. The country is already in a pre-revolutionary state ; that's one huge reason people chose Trump over Clinton, and would have chosen Sanders over Trump. The Big Squeeze has to stop, or this will be just the beginning of a long and painful path. We're on a track that nations we have watched - tightly "ordered" states, highly chaotic ones - have trod already. While we look at them in pity, their example stares back at us.

Mes petits sous, mon petit cri de coeur.

elstprof , June 16, 2017 at 3:03 am

But the elite aren't going to stand down, whatever that might mean. The elite aren't really the "elite", they are owners and controllers of certain flows of economic activity. We need to call it what it is and actively organize against it. Publius's essay seems too passive at points, too passive voice. (Yes, it's a cry from the heart in a prophetic mode, and on that level, I'm with it.)

"If people are killing themselves in increasing numbers, isn't it just remotely maybe possible they'll also aim their anger out as well?"

Not necessarily. What Lacan called the "Big Other" is quite powerful. We internalize a lot of socio-economic junk from our cultural inheritance, especially as it's been configured over the last 40 years - our values, our body images, our criteria for judgment, our sense of what material well-being consists, etc. Ellis's American Psycho is the great satire of our time, and this time is not quite over yet. Dismemberment reigns.

The college students I deal with have internalized a lot of this. In their minds, TINA is reality. Everything balances for the individual on a razor's edge of failure of will or knowledge or hacktivity. It's all personal, almost never collective - it's a failure toward parents or peers or, even more grandly, what success means in America.

The idea that agency could be a collective action of a union for a strike isn't even on the horizon. And at the same time, these same students don't bat an eye at socialism. They're willing to listen.

But unions don't matter in our TINA. Corporations do.

Moneta , June 16, 2017 at 8:08 am

Most of the elite do not understand the money system. They do not understand how different sectors have benefitted from policies and/or subsidies that increased the money flows into these. So they think they deserve their money more than those who toiled in sectors with less support.

Furthermore, our system promotes specialists and disregards generalists this leads to a population of individualists who can't see the big picture.

jefemt , June 16, 2017 at 9:45 am

BAU, TINA, BAU!! BOHICA!!!

Dead Dog , June 16, 2017 at 3:09 am

Thank you Gaius, a thoughtful post. That social contract is hard to pin down and define – probably has different meanings to all of us, but you are right, it is breaking down. We no longer feel that our governments are working for us.

Of tangential interest, Turnbull has just announced another gun amnesty targeting guns that people no longer need and a tightening of some of the ownership laws.

RWood , June 16, 2017 at 12:24 pm

So this inheritance matures: http://www.nature.com/news/fight-the-silencing-of-gun-research-1.22139

willem , June 16, 2017 at 2:20 pm

One problem is the use of the term "social contract", implying that there is some kind of agreement ( = consensus) on what that is. I don't remember signing any "contract".

Fiery Hunt , June 16, 2017 at 3:17 am

I fear for my friends, I fear for my family. They do not know how ravenous the hounds behind nor ahead are. For myself? I imagine myself the same in a Mad Max world. It will be more clear, and perception shattering, to most whose lives allow the ignoring of gradual chokeholds, be them political or economic, but those of us who struggle daily, yearly, decadely with both, will only say Welcome to the party, pals.

Disturbed Voter , June 16, 2017 at 6:33 am

Increasing population, decreasing resources, increasingly expensive remaining resources on a per unit basis, unresolved trashing of the environment and an political economy that forces people to do more with less all the time (productivity improvement is mandatory, not optional, to handle the exponential function) much pain will happen even if everyone is equal.

Each person does what is right in their own eyes, but the net effect is impoverishment and destruction. Life is unfair, indeed. A social contract is a mutual suicide pact, whether you renegotiate it or not. This is Fight Club. The first rule of Fight Club, is we don't speak of Fight Club. Go to the gym, toughen up, while you still can.

JTMcPhee , June 16, 2017 at 6:44 am

"Social contract:" nice Enlightment construct, out of University by City. Not a real thing, just a very incomplete shorthand to attempt to fiddle the masses and give a name to meta-livability.

Always with the "contract" meme, as if there are no more durable and substantive notions of how humans in small and large groups might organize and interact Or maybe the notion is the best that can be achieved? Recalling that as my Contracts professor in law school emphasized over and over, in "contracts" there are no rights in the absence of effective remedies. It being a Boston law school, the notion was echoed in Torts, and in Commercial Paper and Sales and, tellingly, in Constitutional Law and Federal Jurisdiction, and even in Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure. No remedy, no right. What remedies are there in "the system," for the "other halves" of the "social contract," the "have-naught" halves?

When honest "remedies under law" become nugatory, there's always the recourse to direct action of course with zero guarantee of redress

sierra7 , June 16, 2017 at 11:22 am

"What remedies are there in "the system," for the "other halves" of the "social contract," the "have-naught" halves?" Ah yes the ultimate remedy is outright rebellion against the highest authorities .with as you say, " zero guarantee of redress."

But, history teaches us that that path will be taken ..the streets. It doesn't (didn't) take a genius to see what was coming back in the late 1960's on .regarding the beginnings of the revolt(s) by big money against organized labor. Having been very involved in observing, studying and actually active in certain groups back then, the US was acting out in other countries particularly in the Southern Hemisphere, against any social progression, repressing, arresting (thru its surrogates) torturing, killing any individuals or groups that opposed that infamous theory of "free market capitalism". It had a very definite "creep" effect, northwards to the mainstream US because so many of our major corporations were deeply involved with our covert intelligence operatives and objectives (along with USAID and NED). I used to tell my friends about what was happening and they would look at me as if I was a lunatic. The agency for change would be "organized labor", but now, today that agency has been trashed enough where so many of the young have no clue as to what it all means. The ultimate agenda along with "globalization" is the complete repression of any opposition to the " spread of money markets" around the world". The US intends to lead; whether the US citizenry does is another matter. Hence the streets.

Kuhio Kane , June 16, 2017 at 12:33 pm

JTMcFee, you have provided the most important aspect to this mirage of 'social contract'. The "remedies" clearly available to lawless legislation rest outside the realm of a contract which has never existed.

bdy , June 16, 2017 at 1:32 pm

The Social Contract, ephemeral, reflects perfectly what contracts have become. Older rulings frequently labeled clauses unconscionable - a tacit recognition that so few of the darn things are actually agreed upon. Rather, a party with resources, options and security imposes the agreement on a party in some form of crisis (nowadays the ever present crisis of paycheck to paycheck living – or worse). Never mind informational asymmetries, necessity drives us into crappy rental agreements and debt promises with eyes wide open. And suddenly we're all agents of the state.

Unconscionable clauses are now separately initialed in an "I dare you to sue me" shaming gambit. Meanwhile the mythical Social Contract has been atomized into 7 1/2 billion personal contracts with unstated, shifting remedies wholly tied to the depths of pockets.

Solidarity, of course. Hard when Identity politics lubricate a labor market that insists on specialization, and talented children of privilege somehow manage to navigate the new entrepreneurism while talented others look on in frustration. The resistance insists on being leaderless (fueled in part IMHO by the uncomfortable fact that effective leaders are regularly killed or co-opted). And the overriding message of resistance is negative: "Stop it!"

But that's where we are. Again, just my opinion: but the pivotal step away from the jackpot is to convince or coerce our wealthiest not to cash in. Stop making and saving so much stinking money, y'all.

Moneta , June 16, 2017 at 6:54 am

The pension system is based on profits. Nothing will change until the profits disappear and the top quintile starts falling off the treadmill.

Susan the other , June 16, 2017 at 1:01 pm

and there's the Karma bec. even now we see a private banking system synthesizing an economy to maintain asset values and profits and they have the nerve to blame it on social spending. I think Giaus's term 'Denier' is perfect for all those vested practitioners of profit-capitalism at any cost. They've already failed miserably. For the most part they're just too proud to admit it and, naturally, they wanna hang on to "their" money. I don't think it will take a revolution – in fact it would be better if no chaos ensued – just let these arrogant goofballs stew in their own juice a while longer. They are killing themselves.

roadrider , June 16, 2017 at 8:33 am

There's a social contract? Who knew?

Realist , June 16, 2017 at 8:41 am

When I hear so much impatient and irritable complaint, so much readiness to replace what we have by guardians for us all, those supermen, evoked somewhere from the clouds, whom none have seen and none are ready to name, I lapse into a dream, as it were. I see children playing on the grass; their voices are shrill and discordant as children's are; they are restive and quarrelsome; they cannot agree to any common plan; their play annoys them; it goes poorly. And one says, let us make Jack the master; Jack knows all about it; Jack will tell us what each is to do and we shall all agree. But Jack is like all the rest; Helen is discontented with her part and Henry with his, and soon they fall again into their old state. No, the children must learn to play by themselves; there is no Jack the master. And in the end slowly and with infinite disappointment they do learn a little; they learn to forbear, to reckon with another, accept a little where they wanted much, to live and let live, to yield when they must yield; perhaps, we may hope, not to take all they can. But the condition is that they shall be willing at least to listen to one another, to get the habit of pooling their wishes. Somehow or other they must do this, if the play is to go on; maybe it will not, but there is no Jack, in or out of the box, who can come to straighten the game. -Learned Hand

DJG , June 16, 2017 at 9:24 am

Here in oh-so-individualistic Chicago, I have been noting the fraying for some time: It isn't just the massacres in the highly segregated black neighborhoods, some of which are now in terminal decline as the inhabitants, justifiably, flee. The typical Chicagoan wanders the streets connected to a phone, so as to avoid eye contact, all the while dressed in what look like castoffs. Meanwhile, Midwesterners, who tend to be heavy, are advertisements for the obesity epidemic: Yet obesity has a metaphorical meaning as the coat of lipids that a person wears to keep the world away.

My middle / upper-middle neighborhood is covered with a layer of upper-middle trash: Think Starbucks cups and artisanal beer bottles. Some trash is carefully posed: Cups with straws on windsills, awaiting the Paris Agreement Pixie, who will clean up after these oh-so-earnest environmentalists.

Meanwhile, I just got a message from my car-share service: They are cutting back on the number of cars on offer. Too much vandalism.

Are these things caused by pressure from above? Yes, in part: The class war continues, and the upper class has won. As commenter relstprof notes, any kind of concerted action is now nearly impossible. Instead of the term "social contract," I might substitute "solidarity." Is there solidarity? No, solidarity was destroyed as a policy of the Reagan administration, as well as by fantasies that Americans are individualistic, and here we are, 40 years later, dealing with the rubble of the Obama administration and the Trump administration.

JEHR , June 16, 2017 at 11:17 am

DJG: My middle / upper-middle neighborhood is covered with a layer of upper-middle trash: Think Starbucks cups and artisanal beer bottles. Some trash is carefully posed: Cups with straws on windsills, awaiting the Paris Agreement Pixie, who will clean up after these oh-so-earnest environmentalists.

Yes, the trash bit is hard to understand. What does it stand for? Does it mean, We can infinitely disregard our surroundings by throwing away plastic, cardboard, metal and paper and nothing will happen? Does it mean, There is more where that came from! Does it mean, I don't care a fig for the earth? Does it mean, Human beings are stupid and, unlike pigs, mess up their immediate environment and move on? Does it mean, Nothing–that we are just nihilists waiting to die? I am so fed up with the garbage strewn on the roads and in the woods where I live; I used to pick it up and could collect as much as 9 garbage bags of junk in 9 days during a 4 kilometer walk. I don't pick up any more because I am 77 and cannot keep doing it.

However, I am certain that strewn garbage will surely be the last national flag waving in the breeze as the anthem plays junk music and we all succumb to our terrible future.

jrs , June 16, 2017 at 1:09 pm

Related to this, I thought one day of who probably NEVER gets any appreciation but strives to make things nicer, anyone planning or planting the highway strips (government workers maybe although it could be convicts also unfortunately, I'm not sure). Yes highways are ugly, yes they will destroy the world, but some of the planting strips are sometimes genuinely nice. So they add some niceness to the ugly and people still litter of course.

visitor , June 16, 2017 at 1:04 pm

The trash bit has been linked in other countries to how much the general population views the public space/environment as a shared, common good. Thus, streets, parks and public space might be soiled by litter that nobody cares to put away in trash bins properly, while simultaneously the interior of houses/apartments, and attached gardens if any, are kept meticulously clean.

Basically, the world people care about stops outside their dwellings, because they do not feel it is "theirs" or that they participate in its possession in a genuine way. It belongs to the "town administration", or to a "private corporation", or to the "government" - and if they feel they have no say in the ownership, management, regulation and benefits thereof, why should they care? Let the town administration/government/corporation do the clean-up - we already pay enough taxes/fees/tolls, and "they" are always putting up more restrictions on how to use everything, so

In conclusion: the phenomenon of litter/trash is another manifestation of a fraying social contract.

Big River Bandido , June 16, 2017 at 1:47 pm

The trash bit has been linked in other countries to how much the general population views the public space/environment as a shared, common good.

There *is* no public space anymore. Every public good, every public space is now fair game for commercial exploitation.

I live in NYC, and just yesterday as I attempted to refill my MetroCard, the machine told me it was expired and I had to replace it. The replacement card doesn't look at all like a MetroCard with the familiar yellow and black graphic saying "MetroCard". Instead? It's an ad. For a fucking insurance company. And so now, every single time that I go somewhere on the subway, I have to see an ad from Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

visitor , June 16, 2017 at 2:39 pm

There *is* no public space anymore. Every public good, every public space is now fair game for commercial exploitation.

And as a result, people no longer care about it - they do not feel it is their commonwealth any longer.

Did you notice whether the NYC subway got increasingly dirty/littered as the tentacles of privatization reached everywhere? Just curious.

DJG , June 16, 2017 at 9:37 am

The importance of the end of solidarity – that is, of the almost-murderous impulses by the upper classes to destroy any kind of solidarity. From Yves's posting of Yanis Varoufakis's analysis of the newest terms of the continuing destruction of Greece:

With regard to labour market reforms, the Eurogroup welcomes the adopted legislation safeguarding previous reforms on collective bargaining and bringing collective dismissals in line with best EU practices.

I see! "Safeguarding previous reforms on collective bargaining" refers, of course, to the 2012 removal of the right to collective bargaining and the end to trades union representation for each and every Greek worker. Our government was elected in January 2015 with an express mandate to restore these workers' and trades unions' rights. Prime Minister Tsipras has repeatedly pledged to do so, even after our falling out and my resignation in July 2015. Now, yesterday, his government consented to this piece of Eurogroup triumphalism that celebrates the 'safeguarding' of the 2012 'reforms'. In short, the SYRIZA government has capitulated on this issue too: Workers' and trades' unions' rights will not be restored. And, as if that were not bad enough, "collective dismissals" will be brought "in line with best EU practices". What this means is that the last remaining constraints on corporations, i.e. a restriction on what percentage of workers can be fired each month, is relaxed. Make no mistake: The Eurogroup is telling us that, now that employers are guaranteed the absence of trades unions, and the right to fire more workers, growth enhancement will follow suit! Let's not hold our breath!

Daniel F. , June 16, 2017 at 10:44 am

The so-called "Elites"? Stand down? Right. Every year I look up the cardinal topics discussed at the larger economic forums and conferences (mainly Davos and G8), and some variation of "The consequences of rising inequality" is a recurring one. Despite this, nothing ever comes out if them. I imagine they go something like this:

A wet dream come true, both for an AnCap and a communist conspiracy theorist. I'm by no means either. However, I think capitalism has already failed and can't go on for much longer. Conditions will only deteriorate for anyone not in the "1%", with no sight of improvement or relief.

I'd very much like to be proven wrong.

Bobby Gladd , June 16, 2017 at 12:01 pm

"Conditions will only deteriorate for anyone not in the "1%", with no sight of improvement or relief." Frase's Quadrant Four. Hierarchy + Scarcity = Exterminism (From "Four Futures" )

Archangel , June 16, 2017 at 11:33 am

Reminds me of that one quip I saw from a guy who, why he always had to have two pigs to eat up his garbage, said that if he had only one pig, it will eat only when it wants to, but if there were two pigs, each one would eat so the other pig won't get to it first. Our current economic system in a nutshell – pigs eating crap so deny it to others first. "Greed is good".

oh , June 16, 2017 at 12:10 pm

Our country is rife with rent seeking pigs who will stoop lower and lower to feed their greed.

Vatch , June 16, 2017 at 12:37 pm

In today's Links section there's this: https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2017/jun/14/tax-evaders-exposed-why-super-rich-are-even-richer-than-we-thought which has relevance for the discussion of the collapsing social contract.

Chauncey Gardiner , June 16, 2017 at 1:00 pm

Don't know that the two avenues Gaius mentioned are the only two roads our society can travel. In support of this view, I recall a visit to a secondary city in Russia for a few weeks in the early 1990s after the collapse of the USSR. Those were difficult times economically and psychologically for ordinary citizens of that country. Alcoholism was rampant, emotional illness and suicide rates among men of working age were high, mortality rates generally were rising sharply, and birth rates were falling. Yet the glue of common culture, sovereign currency, language, community, and thoughtful and educated citizens held despite corrupt political leadership, the rise of an oligarchic class, and the related emergence of organized criminal networks. There was also adequate food, and critical public infrastructure was maintained, keeping in mind this was shortly after the Chernobyl disaster.

Here in the US the New Deal and other legislation helped preserve social order in the 1930s. Yves also raises an important point in her preface that can provide support for the center by those who are able to do so under the current economic framework. That glue is to participate in one's community; whether it is volunteering at a school, the local food bank, community-oriented social clubs, or in a multitude of other ways; regardless of whether your community is a small town or a large city.

JTMcPhee , June 16, 2017 at 1:21 pm

" Yet the glue of common culture, sovereign currency, language, community, and thoughtful and educated citizens held despite corrupt political leadership, the rise of an oligarchic class, and the related emergence of organized criminal networks."

None of which applies to the Imperium, of course. There's glue, all right, but it's the kind that is used for flooring in Roach Motels (TM), and those horrific rat and mouse traps that stick the rodent to a large rectangle of plastic, where they die eventually of exhaustion and dehydration and starvation The rat can gnaw off a leg that's glued down, but then it tips over and gets glued down by the chest or face or butt

I have to note that several people I know are fastidious about picking up trash other people "throw away." I do it, when I'm up to bending over. I used to be rude about it - one young attractive woman dumped a McDonald's bag and her ashtray out the window of her car at one of our very long Florida traffic lights. I got out of my car, used the mouth of the McDonald's bag to scoop up most of the lipsticked butts, and threw them back into her car. Speaking of mouths, that woman with the artfully painted lips sure had one on her

[Jun 16, 2017] Future of Unions in Balance as Trump Prepares to Reshape National Labor Board

Notable quotes:
"... NLRB v. Noel Canning ..."
Jun 16, 2017 | www.truth-out.org

The NLRB is the administrative agency that is tasked with enforcing the National Labor Relations Act , the federal statute that gives employees the right to unionize and collectively bargain. The NLRB consists of five members who are appointed to five-year terms by the president upon the advice and consent of the Senate.

Right now, there are two vacancies on the board that President Donald Trump will fill. Once the Senate confirms President Trump's nominees, Republicans will control the board for the first time since 2007 .

The background of the three candidates reportedly under consideration suggests that the board will in fact be much friendlier to business interests under the Trump administration. One of the potential nominees, Doug Seaton , has made a career of being a " union-buster ," the term used to describe a consultant brought in by employers to beat a unionization campaign. Another, William Emanuel , is a partner at Littler Mendelson, one of the largest and most successful anti-labor law firms in the country. Less is known about the third potential candidate, Marvin Kaplan, but his history as a Republican staffer suggests he may also represent employers' interests.

Many observers assume that this new board will overturn many Obama-era precedents that favored unions. These precedents include questions such as how to define bargaining units, at issue at both Yale and Elderwood.

But the new board could go even further and roll back pro-union decisions dating back decades. This could be devastating to already weakened unions. With private sector union membership hovering at a dismal 6.4 percent -- down from about 17 percent in 1983 -- nothing short of the end of the labor movement could be at stake.

(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics) (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics )

How Politics Intruded on the NLRB

The composition of the NLRB is important because most claims regarding the right to organize and collectively bargain are decided by the agency.

Unlike other employment statutes, such as Title VII and the Fair Labor Standards Act , individuals and unions cannot file claims in federal court and instead must participate in the administrative process set up by the National Labor Relations Act. While aggrieved parties can appeal board rulings to federal appeals courts, judges grant a high degree of deference to NLRB decisions.

In other words, three board members -- a bare majority of the board -- have an enormous ability to influence and shape American labor policy.

Given the amount of power these three individuals can wield, it is no wonder that the NLRB has become highly politicized in the decades since its creation in the 1930s. Ironically, the board was originally established as a way to try to insulate labor policy from political influences.

The drafters of the labor act believed that the federal courts were hostile to labor rights and would chip away at the protections in a way that would be bad for unions. Instead, the board has become a political battlefield for the two parties who hold very different views about labor policy.

This politicization came to a head during the Obama administration, when it became impossible to confirm anyone to serve on the NLRB. In response, Obama appointed several members using his recess appointment power, which allows the president to avoid Senate confirmation of nominees when Congress is in recess.

Employers challenged the move, and the Supreme Court eventually invalidated the recess appointments as executive overreach in NLRB v. Noel Canning . After the decision, Obama and the Senate finally agreed on five members that were confirmed. This new board, with a Democratic majority, then decided many of the precedents that employers hope the new members will overturn.

Flaws in the National Labor Relations Act

So what will happen if Elderwood and Yale bet wrong and lose their appeals in front of the new Republican-controlled board?

In all likelihood, not much. The board process is long and cumbersome. It often takes years from the filing of a charge for failure to bargain to the board's decision. In the meantime, employers hope that unions will have turnover in their membership, become disorganized and lose support.

Moreover, the penalties available under the National Labor Relations Act are weak . If an employer is found to have violated the act, the board can issue a "cease-and-desist" letter and require the employer to post a notice promising not to engage in further violations. These penalties hardly encourage employers to comply with their obligations, especially when they have so much to gain from obstructing attempts to unionize and collectively bargain.

If the labor movement is to survive, the National Labor Relations Act needs to be reformed to fix these problems. Instead, a few years of a Republican-controlled NLRB could be organized labor's death knell .

[Jun 08, 2017] What is the Last Man (Nietzsche) - Apotheosis Magazine

Jun 08, 2017 | www.apotheosismagazine.com
The glorious German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in Thus Spoke Zaratustra brought up the concept of the Last Man. Trawling through the internet you will hear about the Last Man constantly, but no accurate definition or statement about what a Last Man actually is. So this article will discuss the character traits of the Last Man – let's just hope that the Last Man does not remind you of yourself.

The Last Man is primarily characterized as the type of individual that is fat, lazy and falls asleep watching TV after over indulging in junk food. This clearly denotes the type of man that is content with living a life whose primary and only purpose is to exist in a perpetual state of comfort, security and pleasure. This is a value system that does not idealize or extol higher values, challenging circumstances or hard work.

Zarathustra after descending the mountains is trying to deliver a sermon to a crowd of people that are hanging around the marketplace. Individuals that normally hang around a marketplace are typically known as commoners – especially in Nietzsche's time – and their primary concern is grotesque entertainment, gossip, manners and commerce.

After delivering his sermon about the Overman/Superman (or Ubersmensch) Nietzsche receives an apathetic and mocking response. One must imagine how extremely jarring this was for Zarathustra considering he has just descended from his sojourn in the mountains to proclaim this message. Rather comically, you can imagine Nietzsche's Zarathustra as the typical hobo you hear in the town centre raving about God or some other incoherent babble, whilst others walk past laughing, scared or neutral. Except this raving mystic is much more coherent than usual and is delivering some badass Nietzschean theory.

Nietzsche: " There they stand; there they laugh: they do not understand me; I am not the mouth for these ears They have something of which they are proud. What do they call it, that which makes them proud? Culture, they call it; it distinguishes them from the goatherds. They dislike, therefore, to hear of "contempt" of themselves. So I will appeal to their pride.
I will speak to them of the most contemptible thing: that, however, is the Last Man !"

Contempt here is being used in its typical notion, the feeling that something is worthless and should not be considered. Here, as suggested by the text, Nietzsche will appeal to their "pride" by talking to them about what he believes is the most contemptible thing – The Last Man . This Last Man is the embodiment of their culture. So, Nietzsche is clearly telling us that the Last Man is valueless and worthless.

What is the Last Man :

Nietzsche: "I tell you: one must still have chaos in oneself, to give birth to a dancing star. I tell you: you have still chaos in yourselves.
Alas! There comes the time when man will no longer give birth to any star. Alas! There comes the time of the most despicable man, who can no longer despise himself.
Lo! I show you the Last Man ."

The Last Man cannot despise himself. That is, he cannot feel or understand that his actions, values or decisions may under some or all circumstances be lacking in value. This is important. To not have the orientation that your actions may be lacking, be worthless or unsubstantial entails that you do not have any serious self-reflective capacity to evaluate your actions. The Last Man we can reasonably assume acts in a manner that is contemptible and embarrassing for a culture to promote. So the fact that the Last Man does not have the consciousness nor the insight to evaluate his actions as lacking value or real meaningful substance means that he is unable to change them in a positive manner and be something other than the Last Man . Only the Last Man can be the type of man that lacks insight to such degree that he finds it not only acceptable, content, but also agreeable to be the Last Man.

Nietzsche: "What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?" -- so asks the Last Man, and blinks. The earth has become small, and on it hops the Last Man, who makes everything small. His species is ineradicable as the flea; the Last Man lives longest."

The Last Man according to Nietzsche's rendering of him is the type of individual that does not care or even remotely try to answer the questions of his existence, those that profoundly affect and determine his life. The Last Man , by this characterization, is neither a romantic, a philosopher, a scientist or a poet.

And due to the unquestioning nature of this type of man, the world has been made small and manageable. According to this type of man, the striving, the ambition, the determination to battle against hardship and the desire to become more than we currently are is a deterrent to happiness.

Nietzsche: "The earth has become small, and on it hops the Last Man, who makes everything small. His species is ineradicable as the flea; the Last Man lives longest.

Yet despite all of this, the Last Man , due to his security, comfort and pleasure believes:

Nietzsche: ""We have discovered happiness" -- say the Last Men, and they blink."

Nietzsche goes on to discuss the herd-like collective behaviour and the smug mentality of this group that dogmatically and unquestionably believes the man of the present to better than the men of the past. If this is true, then the values and behaviors that instantiate the Last Man are, according to him, to be preferred over all other values. Once again, the Last Man is unwilling to question his values against any other lifestyle or generational values, due to their inability to evaluate values that should guide their or others' behaviour.

Nietzsche: "No shepherd, and one herd! Everyone wants the same; everyone is the same: he who feels differently goes voluntarily into the madhouse. Formerly all the world was insane," -- say the subtlest of them, and they blink.

Despite Zarathustra's attempt to shame the market crowd with a contemptible notion of their culture through the concept of the Last Man , the crowd continue to mock him by clamoring to become the Last Man . As we can see, they have truly misunderstood Nietzsche's message and this market crowd is the collective manifestation of the Last Man .

--

If you're interested in buying Thus Spoke Zarathustra please use the link below to support and improve Apotheosis Magazine

[Jun 02, 2017] Union busting should be a crime

Notable quotes:
"... Nobody would argue I think that when 1935 Congress passed the NLRA(a) it consciously left criminal prosecution of union busting blank because it desired states to individually take that up in their localities. Conversely, I don't think anybody thinks Congress deliberately left out criminal sanctions because it objected to such. ..."
"... I'm thinking that if we cannot get (would be) progressive academics, journalists, politicians to get off their duffs about making union busting a felony -- that maybe unions can start putting the question on the ballot wherever that can be done. ..."
Jun 02, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Denis Drew , June 01, 2017 at 08:12 AM

[CUT-AND-PASTE]

Trump won by trading places with Obama.

NYT's Nate Cohn: "Just as Mr. Obama's team caricatured Mr. Romney, Mr. Trump caricatured Mrs. Clinton as a tool of Wall Street" ... "At every point of the race, Mr. Trump was doing better among white voters without a college degree than Mitt Romney did in 2012 - by a wide margin.

" ... Mr. Obama] would have won Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin each time even if Detroit, Cleveland and Milwaukee had been severed from their states and cast adrift into the Great Lakes.)"
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/23/upshot/how-the-obama-coalition-crumbled-leaving-an-opening-for-trump.html

America should feel perfectly free to rebuild labor union density one state at a time -- making union busting a felony.

Republicans will have no place to hide.


[CUT-AND-PASTE]
Nobody would argue I think that when 1935 Congress passed the NLRA(a) it consciously left criminal prosecution of union busting blank because it desired states to individually take that up in their localities. Conversely, I don't think anybody thinks Congress deliberately left out criminal sanctions because it objected to such.

Congress left criminal sanctions blank in US labor law because it thought it had done enough. States disagree? States are perfectly free to fill in the blanks protecting not just union organizing but any kind of collective bargaining more generally -- without worrying about federal preemption. Don't see why even Trump USC judge would find fault with that.

This column from the other day gives me hope that Krugman may (finally) be catching on to the centrality of re-building union density.
https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2017/05/23/trucking-and-blue-collar-woes/

Republicans will have no place to hide.

Denis Drew - Denis Drew ... , June 01, 2017 at 08:17 AM
I'm thinking that if we cannot get (would be) progressive academics, journalists, politicians to get off their duffs about making union busting a felony -- that maybe unions can start putting the question on the ballot wherever that can be done.

Mostly a matter of overcoming inertia and proceeding to become like every other modern democracy on every issue (wages, medical, education and more). That all starts with upending the power equation -- political as well as economic: rebuilding union density is the alpha and omega of doing that.

REPUBLICANS WILL HAVE NO PLACE TO HIDE.

[May 31, 2017] Exploitation is an outcome. A nebulous description of the status quo. I suggest we are talking about moving people toward slavery

Notable quotes:
"... Exploitation is an outcome. A nebulous description of the status quo. I suggest we are talking about moving people toward slavery. ..."
May 29, 2017 | econospeak.blogspot.ca
Sandwichman, May 27, 2017 at 03:52 PM
The "future of work" has a checkered past.
Paine - Sandwichman ... , May 28, 2017 at 06:01 AM
The future of exploitation
That is primarily the exploitation of nature and of workers

This Is the Sphynx of capitalism

Private ownership of vast self renewing fully automatic
production complexes
Strikes us all as improbable

And yet

Look at "the Private essence"
of the fire sector --


It grows ever more robust ferocious all conquering

JF - , May 28, 2017 at 06:34 AM
Apt. The best representative of the controling force of the financial sector is the ECB. It is able to buy financial assets with the stroke of keys on a computer but someone, somehow also made sure the publics' governments cannot di thus even though it is the publics' governments who maintain the laws, enforcement mechanisms, infrastructures for the markets, and social securities that benefit those who trade among the financial trading marketplaces.

Europe needs even more that the US to watch this. A new polity comes to mind for me, returning control to the people (catchy phrase, I just made it up, call it a trumpism).

Helicopter bikini-s 1☮ - , May 28, 2017 at 07:37 AM
F inance
I nsurance
R eality
E ducation

S ubsidized debt servitude
E xcessive propaganda
C onsutant's fees, disguised kickbacks
T ort litigation, added value
O rganized crime
R hetoric

Johannes Y O Highness - , May 29, 2017 at 06:00 AM

.....In Memoria

To celebrate Memorial Day here is my impression of MF, Milton Friedmann :

The Pilkington process of production of soda-lime float-glass requires extremely high temperatures. The process takes some time to cool down and turn off, days to warm back up for more process. In other words, the factory is geared to continuous production at steady velocity thus requires constant market for the product.

Need for constant output leads to the convention of middle-man contracts from middle-man who agrees to buy product at same volume for month after month.

The middle-man's sales vary month over month but his inventory grows or shrinks from the steady contracted inflow from factory. In short, the inventory fluctuates not from inflow but only from fluctuations in outflow.

Outflow is controlled by price adjustments to whatever volume the market will bear. Price depend only on customer demand not supply fluctuations.

The middle-man dumps inventory by dropping the price but builds inventory by raising price. When he has inflationary expectations he hoards inventory in hopes of selling later at higher price.

When he has deflationary expectations to avoid future drop in profit margin he dumps inventory quickly using price incentives.

In other words, deflationary expectations accelerates his M2V, but inflationary expectations decelerates his money stock velocity.

His customers have the liquidity to buy more during deflation, lower prices. They buy less during high prices, inflation.

This same mechanism of expectations controls many other assembly line industries where steady output of production owns maximum economy of scale.

And that, Girls, Boys & little MF-s, is my

impression of
MF --

Mr. Bill - , May 28, 2017 at 04:54 PM
Exploitation is an outcome. A nebulous description of the status quo. I suggest we are talking about moving people toward slavery.

I was thinking today, since it is in fact, Memorial Day and, according to Wickapedia :

"Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country's armed forces.[1]".

This is not what they fought and died for. They fought and died for an inclusive society with abundant opportunity for their children and, for themselves.

It is shameful that we are honoring our war dead, today. Like the last 50 years, when Ronny Reagan, draft dodger, took over.

[May 30, 2017] This is a new status quo -- neoliberal status quo .

Notable quotes:
"... There will be a third world country within the USA segregated from the rest of society. It already exists (Wall-mart and retail workers are definitely a part of it; single mothers is another category). But it will grow. ..."
May 30, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Tom aka Rusty Tuesday, May 30, 2017 at 08:32 AM

Seems to me there are several problems here:

too many involuntary part-timers
too little bargaining power by workers
downward pressure from global labor markets on our labor market
geographical mismatches supply/demand (and difficulty relocating)
etc.

The fix? I'm not certain what will work at this point.

libezkova, May 30, 2017 at 03:32 PM

"The fix? I'm not certain what will work at this point."

This is a new status quo -- "neoliberal status quo".

So there is no fix in the pipeline. The idea is to suppress the protest, not to meet the workers demands. And so far they are very successful.

And, I think, unless there is a open rebellion (unlikely in the national security state) there will be no fix in the future. When goals of a particular society are so screwed, there can be no fix.

There will be a third world country within the USA segregated from the rest of society. It already exists (Wall-mart and retail workers are definitely a part of it; single mothers is another category). But it will grow.

In a way, we can think about election of Trump as kind of rebellion against the destruction of jobs and associated destruction of standard of living for a large part of the US population.

Destruction of jobs is why the USA has an opiates epidemics. That's like epidemic of alcoholism in the USSR. Sign of desperation.

And it is the neoliberal establishment which imposed on people those "several problems":

[May 20, 2017] Demand, Secular Stagnation and the Vanishing Middle-Class

Notable quotes:
"... The anger and despair crystalized into a 'groundswell of discontent' among those left behind, which likely helped to propel Donald Trump into the White House on the promise of 'making America great again'. ..."
"... That's my feeling too about one of the key factor that propelled Trump -- "the anger and despair". For some, voting for Trump was a showing middle finger to Washington establishment. ..."
"... Thus, the battle lines between neoliberal and a "social contract" approach to employment are clearly cut. So far Wall Street, the City, and other worldwide "epicenters for free-market discipline," are winning the battle. According to "free market discipline" dogma, if you are hired at below living wave (as in Wall Mart or other retail chain) it's your own fault. Very convenient theory. The fact that it produce strong desire to shoot or hang all neoliberal economists notwithstanding ;-) ..."
May 20, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Christopher H., May 20, 2017 at 10:36 AM
From INET in today's links.

https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspectives/blog/the-new-normal

The New Normal

By Servaas Storm

MAY 19, 2017

Demand, Secular Stagnation and the Vanishing Middle-Class

The Great Financial Crisis of 2008 deeply scarred the U.S. economy, bringing nine dire years of economic stagnation, high and rising inequalities in income and wealth, steep levels of indebtedness, and mounting uncertainty about jobs and incomes

. Big parts of the U.S. were hit by elevated rates of depression, drug addiction and 'deaths of despair' (Case and Deaton 2017), as 'good jobs' (often in factories and including pension benefits and health care coverage) leading to careers, were destroyed and replaced by insecure, freelance, or precarious 'gigs'. All this is evidence that the U.S. is becoming a dual economy-two countries, each with vastly different resources, expectations and potentials, as America's middle class vanishes (Temin 2015, 2017).

The anger and despair crystalized into a 'groundswell of discontent' among those left behind, which likely helped to propel Donald Trump into the White House on the promise of 'making America great again'.

likezkova, May 20, 2017 at 12:35 PM

"The anger and despair crystalized into a 'groundswell of discontent' among those left behind, which likely helped to propel Donald Trump into the White House on the promise of 'making America great again'."

That's my feeling too about one of the key factor that propelled Trump -- "the anger and despair". For some, voting for Trump was a showing middle finger to Washington establishment. When jobs are gone, people are essentially put against the wall. Neoliberal politicians, be it "DemoRats", or "Repugs" do not care, as under neoliberalism this is a domain of "individual responsibility". The neoliberal stance is that you need to increase your value in the "job market" so that you will be eventually hired on better conditions. Very convenient theory for capital owners.

Thus, the battle lines between neoliberal and a "social contract" approach to employment are clearly cut. So far Wall Street, the City, and other worldwide "epicenters for free-market discipline," are winning the battle. According to "free market discipline" dogma, if you are hired at below living wave (as in Wall Mart or other retail chain) it's your own fault. Very convenient theory. The fact that it produce strong desire to shoot or hang all neoliberal economists notwithstanding ;-)

Academic prostitution is not that different and probably less noble that a regular one.

[May 15, 2017] Neoliberalisms Latin American Struggle by Robert Hunziker

Notable quotes:
"... "For example, when we say that the Chilean state should become a true guarantor of material rights, that is certainly antithetical to the neoliberal capitalist vision which turns rights into a business to be regulated by the market," - ..."
"... Robert Hunziker lives inLos Angeles and can be reached at roberthunziker@icloud.com ..."
Jan 09, 2015 | www.counterpunch.org

"For example, when we say that the Chilean state should become a true guarantor of material rights, that is certainly antithetical to the neoliberal capitalist vision which turns rights into a business to be regulated by the market," - Camila Vallejo (former Chilean student protest leader) interview by Zoltαn Glόck at CUNY Graduate Center, Oct. 15, 2012.

Neoliberalism has been an "occupying force in Latin America" for over three decades while it has stripped the nation/state(s) of the functionality of a social contract, pushed through wholesale privatization of public enterprises, and expropriated the people's rights to formal employment, health, and education, all of which are crowning glories for "free-market determinism."

Throughout Latin America (as well as around the world), neoliberalism's motif consists of assault on the state, in favor of the market, on politics, in favor of economics, and on political parties, in favor of corporations. Singularly, neoliberalism brings in its wake a "corporate state."

Henceforth, the corporate state, shaped and formed by neoliberal principles, pushes the social contract backwards in time to the age of feudalism, a socio-economic pyramid with all of the wealth and influence at the pinnacle, but, over time, like an anvil balanced on balsa wood.

Albeit, the Left, with renewed vigor, has pushed back against neoliberalism's robbing the poor to enrich the rich. And, there are clear signals that this pushback has gained traction throughout Latin America.

The harsh social consequence of neoliberalism's free-market economics propels social movements in Latin America into the forefront of resistance. These social movements, including the Zapatistas (Chiapas, Mexico), the Landless Peasant Movement ("MST") in Brazil, the indigenous movements of Bolivia and Ecuador, and the Piqueteros or Unemployed Workers' Activists in Argentina, and the students in Chile constitute some of the more prominent groups in opposition to neoliberalism's tendency for subjugating the people, similar to a plantation economy like the American South, circa 19th century, whereby "slaves" are reclassified as "workers." It's worked for decades.

In that regard, as much as neoliberalism started (1970s) in Chile at the behest of Milton Friedman, its comeuppance is now coming to a head, as the legacy of the Latin American Left revitalizes throughout the continent.

People protesting in the streets understand the principle "to democratize means to de-marketize, to recuperate for the terrain of people's rights that which neoliberalism has delivered into the hands of the market," Emir Sader, The Weakest Link? Neoliberalism in Latin America, New Left Review 52, July-August 2008.

"Latin America is seeing its biggest wave of protests in years," Sara Schaefer Munoz, Protest Wave Poses Test for Latin American Leaders, The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 9, 2013. Tens of thousands hit the streets in Brazil, Mexico, Columbia, and Chile where, across the board, they demand the return of some alikeness of a viable social contract.

The Free Market Battles The People

In strong opposition to interference with neoliberalism, as stated in the Wall Street Journal: "There is always the temptation [for governments] to spend, to improve roads or give credit to small producers,' said Alejandro Grisanti, an economist with Barclays PLC, 'But if the market smells even a little fiscal relaxation, it will be a negative."

Thus, the battle lines between neoliberalism and a social contract are embedded within the dictates of the "free market," which, if it "smells" a little fiscal relaxation, negative consequences will hit the country via Wall Street and the City, the worldwide "epicenters for free-market discipline," chastising the perpetrators.

Thus and so, the battle lines are clear, Markets on one side, people on the other. The markets control the press, the banks, the military, the educational establishment, the media, the communications, and the police. The People control protests. The war continues in the streets.

As it happens, the Western press does not follow it in any detail, but hidden wars have been ongoing throughout Latin America for years.

Chiapas, Mexico, "The Zapatistas form the most important resistance movement of the last two decades," Chris Hedges, We All Must Become Zapatistas, Truthdig, June 1, 2014: "They understood that corporate capitalism had launched a war against us. They showed us how to fight back. The Zapatistas began by using violence, but they soon abandoned it for the slow, laborious work of building 32 autonomous, self-governing municipalities."

In Bolivia, the Cochabamba Water War of 2000 erupted in protest of privatization of the city's municipal water supply accompanied by blatant increases in water bills. Coordinadora in Defense of Water and Life, a community coalition of citizens of Cochabamba, activated tens of thousands protesting in the streets. This massive public pressure caused the city to reverse the water privatization.

Brazil's landless peasant movement ("MST"), 2,000,000 strong, commenced three decades ago, campaigning across the country to change a semi-feudal situation in which, they claim, less than 3% of the population owns two-thirds of the land and more than half the farmland lies idle, while millions of rural workers lack employment. Government forces have killed fifteen hundred (1,500) land reform activists. This hidden war continues to this day, as their struggle is carried out in the remote hinterlands.

Institutionally, the past decade has resulted in a pronounced shift away from pro-market forces, as repudiation of pro-market policies i.e., the Washington Consensus, is the raison d'etre of opposition candidates. By 2010, " roughly 330 million people – or two thirds of Latin America's total population - living in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Uruguay, and Venezuela were governed by the left at the national level," Gustavo A. Flores-Macias, After Neoliberalism? The Left and Economic Reforms in Latin America, Oxford University Press, 2012.

"It's not hard to understand why: Economics. Few want to go back to the disastrous neoliberalism of the 1980s and 1990s," Greg Grandin, Why the Left Continues to Win in Latin America, The Nation, October 27, 2014, "The inability of the right to pull together a coalition and articulate a larger vision shows the depths to which the Cold War in Latin America served as something like a five-decade-long voter-preference-suppression project. Washington-led and financed anti-communism united the right's various branches. Without such an organizing principle the right can't electorally compete, at least for now, with what voters, all things considered, want: economic justice, a dignified life, peace and social welfare."

The Twilight of Neoliberalism

"There is no alternative [to free market policies]," the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once (1980s) pronounced, but across Latin America, there has been a steady erosion of support for the free market model.

Wherever Latin American countries have rejected neoliberalism, life is better. "Poverty in Latin America has been reduced substantially in the last three decades. In the late 1980s, nearly half of Latin America's population lived in poverty. Today the fraction is about a third. This marks important progress, and it has continued in some area nations. However, it is worth noting that between 2002 and 2008, poverty contracted most in Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Argentina, countries which had largely abandoned neoliberalism," Dr. Ronn Pineo, Senior Research Fellow, The Free Market Experiment in Latin America: Assessing Past Policies and the Search for a Pathway Forward, Council on Hemispheric Affairs, April 11, 2013.

Overall income inequality data for Latin America is less positive; however, during the 2000s the Gini coefficient (a measure of economic inequality) improved in seven countries, five of which, Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Paraguay have moved the furthest away from neoliberalism.

In 1970, the richest one percent in the continent earned 363 times more than the poorest one percent. Thirty years later, on the heels of the neoliberal experiment, it's 417 times.

Mainstream economic publications, like The Economist, claim the continent is well on its way to building middle class societies. Au contraire, the evidence suggest otherwise, as 8 out of 10 new jobs in Latin America are in the "informal sector" where more than half of all Latin American workers slug it out as itinerant retail sales clerks, day laborers and other loosely organized day jobs, slugging it out without regulations or benefits, slugging it out by scratching out a measly day-by-day existence. Proof positive of neoliberalistic policies enfeebling Latin American life.

Furthermore, because the bar is set so low for middle class status in Latin America, it's in the sewer.

For example, in Chile, which is the darling of neoliberalists: "Mid-level income is very low in Chile. As a result the distance between the lower classes and the middle class is very small. Their precarious economic position makes them susceptible to social decline due to unemployment, illness, or poverty in old age," Chile's Middle Class Survives on Shaky Ground, Deutsche Welle, 2014. The middle class is defined as those who make more than $500 per month, which equates to $3.12 per hour.

Throughout Latin America, neoliberalism does not work for society because, by siphoning away funds for the betterment of society to enrichment of the elite, two-thirds of Latin American municipalities do not have the funds to treat their sewage but do dump in rivers, and three-fourths do not check public drinking water, so, little wonder tourists get diarrhea on regular occasion.

Here's what Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang says about neoliberal policies in Latin America: "Over the last three decades, economists provided theoretical justifications for financial deregulation and the unrestrained pursuit of short-term profits Economics has been worse than irrelevant. Economics, as it has been practiced in the last three decades, has been positively harmful," Ibid.

Neoliberalism in Latin America has been a bust, a dud, a fiasco, except for the wealthy for whom it turned into the bonanza of a lifetime. The people know it, and they're slowly, methodically, assuredly turning left.

What of the rest of the world?

Robert Hunziker lives inLos Angeles and can be reached at roberthunziker@icloud.com

[May 15, 2017] Chris Hedges The Whoredom of the Left - Chris Hedges - Truthdig

May 15, 2017 | www.truthdig.com

VANCOUVER, British Columbia

Prostitution is the quintessential expression of global capitalism. Our corporate masters are pimps. We are all being debased and degraded, rendered impoverished and powerless, to service the cruel and lascivious demands of the corporate elite. And when they tire of us, or when we are no longer of use, we are discarded as human refuse. If we accept prostitution as legal, as Germany has done, as permissible in a civil society, we will take one more collective step toward the global plantation being built by the powerful. The fight against prostitution is the fight against a dehumanizing neoliberalism that begins, but will not end, with the subjugation of impoverished girls and women.

Poverty is not an aphrodisiac. Those who sell their bodies for sex do so out of desperation. They often end up physically injured, with a variety of diseases and medical conditions, and suffering from severe emotional trauma. The left is made morally bankrupt by its failure to grasp that legal prostitution is another face of neoliberalism. Selling your body for sex is not a choice. It is not about freedom. It is an act of economic slavery.

On a rainy night recently I walked past the desperate street prostitutes in the 15 square blocks that make up the Downtown Eastside ghetto in Vancouver-most of them impoverished aboriginal women. I saw on the desolate street corners where women wait for customers the cruelty and despair that will characterize most of our lives if the architects of neoliberalism remain in power. Downtown Eastside has the highest HIV infection rate in North America. It is filled with addicts, the broken, the homeless, the old and the mentally ill, all callously tossed onto the street.

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

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

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

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

globinfo freexchange

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

As Temin states, among other things:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read also:

[May 14, 2017] IMF to Greece Sorry Well Destroy You by Michael Hudson

Notable quotes:
"... It doesn't matter what the people vote for. Either you do what we say or we will smash your banking system." Tsipras's job is to say, "Yes I will do whatever you want. I want to stay in power rather than falling in election." ..."
"... Somebody's going to suffer. Should it the wealthy billionaires and the bankers, or should it be the Greek workers? Well, the Greek workers are not the IMF's constituency. It says: "We feel your pain, but we'd rather you suffer than our constituency." ..."
"... The basic principle at work is that finance is the new form of warfare. You can now destroy a country's economy not merely by invading it. You don't even have to bomb it, as you've done in the Near East. All you have to do is withdraw all credit to the banking system, isolate it economically from making payments to foreign countries so that you essentially put sanctions on it. You'll treat Greece like they've treated Iran or other countries. ..."
"... The class war is back in business – the class war of finance against labor, imposing austerity and shrinking living standards, lowering wages and cutting back social spending. It's demonstrating who's the winner in this economic warfare that's taking place. ..."
"... Then why is the Greek population still supportive of Syriza in spite of all of this? I mean, literally not only have they, as a population, been cut to no social safety net, no social security, yet the Syriza government keeps getting supported, elected in referendums, and they seem to be able to maintain power in spite of these austerity measures. Why is that happening? ..."
"... You also need a contingency plan for when the European Union wrecks the Greek banks, which basically have been the tool of the oligarchy in Greece. The government is going to have to take over these banks and socialize them, and use them for public purposes. Unfortunately, Tsipras never gave Varoufakis and his staff the go ahead. In effect, he ended up double crossing them after the referendum two years ago that said not to surrender. That lead to Varoufakis resigning from the government. ..."
"... Tsipras decided that he wanted to be reelected, and turned out to be just a politician, realizing that in order to he had to represent the invader and act as a client politician. His clientele is now the European Union, the IMF and the bondholders, not the Greeks. What that means is that if there is an election in Greece, people are not going to vote for him again. He knows that. He is trying to prevent an election. But later this month the Greek parliament is going to have to vote on whether or not to shrink the economy further and cut pensions even more. ..."
"... The Greek government has not said that no country should be obliged to disregard its democratic voting, dismantle its public sector and give up its sovereignty to bondholders. No country should be obliged to pay foreign creditors if the price of that is shrinking and self destruction of that economy. ..."
"... They haven't translated this political program of not paying into what this means in practice to cede sovereignty to the Brussels bureaucracy, meaning the European Central Bank on behalf of its bondholders. ..."
May 14, 2017 | www.unz.com
Sharmini Peries: The European Commission announced on May 2, that an agreement on Greek pension and income tax reforms would pave the way for further discussions on debt release for Greece. The European Commission described this as good news for Greece. The Greek government described the situation in similar terms. However, little attention has been given as to how the wider Greek population are experiencing the consequences of the policies of the Troika. On May Day thousands of Greeks marked International Workers Day with anti-austerity protests. One of the protester's a 32-year-old lawyer perhaps summed the mood, the best when he said
"The current Greek government, like all the ones before it, have implemented measures that has only one goal, the crushing of the workers, the working class and everyone who works themselves to the bone. We are fighting for the survival of the poorest who need help the most."

To discuss the most recent negotiations underway between Greece and the TROIKA, which is a European Central Bank, the EU and the IMF, here's Michael Hudson. Michael is a distinguished research professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He is the author of many books including, "Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage the Global Economy" and most recently "J is for Junk Economics: A Survivor's Guide to Economic Vocabulary in the Age of Deception" .Michael, let's start with what's being negotiated at the moment.

Michael Hudson: I wouldn't call it a negotiation. Greece is simply being dictated to. There is no negotiation at all. It's been told that its economy has shrunk so far by 20%, but has to shrink another 5% making it even worse than the depression. Its wages have fallen and must be cut by another 10%. Its pensions have to be cut back. Probably 5 to 10% of its population of working age will have to immigrate.

The intention is to cut the domestic tax revenues (not raise them), because labor won't be paying taxes and businesses are going out of business. So we have to assume that the deliberate intention is to lower the government's revenues by so much that Greece will have to sell off even more of its public domain to foreign creditors. Basically it's a smash and grab exercise, and the role of Tsipras is not to represent the Greeks because the Troika have said, "The election doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter what the people vote for. Either you do what we say or we will smash your banking system." Tsipras's job is to say, "Yes I will do whatever you want. I want to stay in power rather than falling in election."

Sharmini Peries: Right. Michael you dedicated almost three chapters in your book "Killing the Host" to how the IMF economists actually knew that Greece will not be able to pay back its foreign debt, but yet it went ahead and made these huge loans to Greece. It's starting to sound like the mortgage fraud scandal where banks were lending people money to buy houses when they knew they couldn't pay it back. Is it similar?

Michael Hudson: The basic principle is indeed the same. If a creditor makes a loan to a country or a home buyer knowing that there's no way in which the person can pay, who should bear the responsibility for this? Should the bad lender or irresponsible bondholder have to pay, or should the Greek people have to pay?

IMF economists said that Greece can't pay, and under the IMF rules it is not allowed to make loans to countries that have no chance of repaying in the foreseeable future. The then-head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, introduced a new rule – the "systemic problem" rule. It said that if Greece doesn't repay, this will cause problems for the economic system – defined as the international bankers, bondholder's and European Union budget – then the IMF can make the loan.

This poses a question on international law. If the problem is systemic, not Greek, and if it's the system that's being rescued, why should Greek workers have to dismantle their economy? Why should Greece, a sovereign nation, have to dismantle its economy in order to rescue a banking system that is guaranteed to continue to cause more and more austerity, guaranteed to turn the Eurozone into a dead zone? Why should Greece be blamed for the bad malstructured European rules? That's the moral principle that's at stake in all this.

Sharmini Peries: Michael, The New York Times has recently published an article titled, "IMF torn over whether to bail out Greece again." It essentially describes the IMF as being sympathetic towards Greece in spite of the fact, as you say, they knew that Greece could not pay back this money when it first lent it the money with the Troika. Right now, the IMF sounds rational and thoughtful about the Greek people. Is this the case?

Michael Hudson: Well, Yanis Varoufakis, the finance minister under Syriza, said that every time he talked to the IMF's Christine Lagarde and others two years ago, they were sympathetic. They said, "I am terribly sorry we have to destroy your economy. I feel your pain, but we are indeed going to destroy your economy. There is nothing we can do about it. We are only following orders." The orders were coming from Wall Street, from the Eurozone and from investors who bought or guaranteed Greek bonds.

Being sympathetic, feeling their pain doesn't really mean anything if the IMF says, "Oh, we know it is a disaster. We are going to screw you anyway, because that's our job. We are the IMF, after all. Our job is to impose austerity. Our job is to shrink economies, not help them grow. Our constituency is the bondholders and banks."

Somebody's going to suffer. Should it the wealthy billionaires and the bankers, or should it be the Greek workers? Well, the Greek workers are not the IMF's constituency. It says: "We feel your pain, but we'd rather you suffer than our constituency."

So what you read is simply the usual New York Times hypocrisy, pretending that the IMF really is feeling bad about what it's doing. If its economists felt bad, they would have done what the IMF European staff did a few years ago after the first loan: They resigned in protest. They would write about it and go public and say, "This system is corrupt. The IMF is working for the bankers against the interest of its member countries." If they don't do that, they are not really sympathetic at all. They are just hypocritical.

Sharmini Peries: Right. I know that the European Commission is holding up Greece as an example in order to discourage other member nations in the periphery of Europe so that they won't default on their loans. Explain to me why Greece is being held up as an example.

Michael Hudson: It's being made an example for the same reason the United States went into Libya and bombed Syria: It's to show that we can destroy you if you don't do what we say. If Spain or Italy or Portugal seeks not to pay its debts, it will meet the same fate. Its banking system will be destroyed, and its currency system will be destroyed.

The basic principle at work is that finance is the new form of warfare. You can now destroy a country's economy not merely by invading it. You don't even have to bomb it, as you've done in the Near East. All you have to do is withdraw all credit to the banking system, isolate it economically from making payments to foreign countries so that you essentially put sanctions on it. You'll treat Greece like they've treated Iran or other countries.

"We have life and death power over you." The demonstration effect is not only to stop Greece, but to stop countries from doing what Marine Le Pen is trying to do in France: withdraw from the Eurozone.

The class war is back in business – the class war of finance against labor, imposing austerity and shrinking living standards, lowering wages and cutting back social spending. It's demonstrating who's the winner in this economic warfare that's taking place.

Sharmini Peries: Then why is the Greek population still supportive of Syriza in spite of all of this? I mean, literally not only have they, as a population, been cut to no social safety net, no social security, yet the Syriza government keeps getting supported, elected in referendums, and they seem to be able to maintain power in spite of these austerity measures. Why is that happening?

Michael Hudson: Well, that's the great tragedy. They initially supported Syriza because it promised not to surrender in this economic war. They said they would fight back. The plan was not pay the debts even if this led Europe to force Greece out of the European Union.

In order to do this, however, what Yanis Varoufakis and his advisors such as James Galbraith wanted to do was say, "If we are going not to pay the debt, we are going to be expelled from the Euro Zone. We have to have our own currency. We have to have our own banking system." But it takes almost a year to put in place your own physical currency, your own means of reprogramming the ATM machines so that people can use it, and reprogramming the banking system.

You also need a contingency plan for when the European Union wrecks the Greek banks, which basically have been the tool of the oligarchy in Greece. The government is going to have to take over these banks and socialize them, and use them for public purposes. Unfortunately, Tsipras never gave Varoufakis and his staff the go ahead. In effect, he ended up double crossing them after the referendum two years ago that said not to surrender. That lead to Varoufakis resigning from the government.

Tsipras decided that he wanted to be reelected, and turned out to be just a politician, realizing that in order to he had to represent the invader and act as a client politician. His clientele is now the European Union, the IMF and the bondholders, not the Greeks. What that means is that if there is an election in Greece, people are not going to vote for him again. He knows that. He is trying to prevent an election. But later this month the Greek parliament is going to have to vote on whether or not to shrink the economy further and cut pensions even more.

If there are defections from Tsipras's Syriza party, there will be an election and he will be voted out of office. I won't say out of power, because he has no power except to surrender to the Troika. But he'd be out of office. There will probably have to be a new party created if there's going to be hope of withstanding the threats that the European Union is making to destroy Greece's economy if it doesn't succumb to the austerity program and step up its privatization and sell off even more assets to the bondholders.

Sharmini Peries: Finally, Michael, why did the Greek government remove the option of Grexit from the table in order to move forward?

Michael Hudson: In order to accept the Eurozone. You're using its currency, but Greece needs to have its own currency. The reason it agreed to stay in was that it had made no preparation for withdrawing. Imagine if you are a state in the United States and you want to withdraw: you have to have your own currency. You have to have your own banking system. You have to have your own constitution. There was no attempt to put real thought behind what their political program was.

They were not prepared and still have not taken steps to prepare for what they are doing. They haven't made any attempt to justify non-payment of the debt under International Law: the law of odious debt, or give a reason why they are not paying.

The Greek government has not said that no country should be obliged to disregard its democratic voting, dismantle its public sector and give up its sovereignty to bondholders. No country should be obliged to pay foreign creditors if the price of that is shrinking and self destruction of that economy.

They haven't translated this political program of not paying into what this means in practice to cede sovereignty to the Brussels bureaucracy, meaning the European Central Bank on behalf of its bondholders.

Note: Wikipedia defines Odious Debt: "In international law, odious debt, also known as illegitimate debt, is a legal doctrine that holds that the national debt incurred by a regime for purposes that do not serve the best interests of the nation, should not be enforceable."

Michael Hudson is the author of Killing the Host (published in e-format by CounterPunch Books and in print by Islet ). His new book is J is For Junk Economics . He can be reached at mh@michael-hudson.com

[May 10, 2017] Globalization and the End of the Labor Aristocracy, Part 4 naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... By Jayati Ghosh, Professor of Economics and Chairperson at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. This is Part 3 of a four-part article, published in the March/April 2017 special "Costs of Empire" issue of Dollars & Sense magazine. Parts 1, 2 and 3 are available here. here , and here , respectively. Cross posted from Triple Crisis ..."
May 10, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Globalization and the End of the Labor Aristocracy, Part 4 Posted on May 9, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. More and more news stories and academic studies confirm not simply that the middle class in the US has been shrinking and having its standard of living stagnate (at best). They are also showing that things have been decaying for longer than the pundits admitted. Consider what the Washington Post reports today, based on a new NEBR study :

America is getting richer every year. The American worker is not.

Far from it: On average, workers born in 1942 earned as much or more over their careers than workers born in any year since, according to new research - and workers on the job today shouldn't expect to catch up with their predecessors in their remaining years of employment .

While economists have been concerned about recent data on earnings, the new paper suggests that ordinary Americans have been dealing with serious economic problems for much longer than may be widely recognized.

The new paper includes some "astonishing numbers," said Gary Burtless, an economist at the nonpartisan Brookings Institution who was not involved in the research. "The stagnation of living standards began so much earlier than people think," he said

For instance, the typical 27-year-old man's annual earnings in 2013 were 31 percent less than those of a typical 27-year-old man in 1969. The data suggest that today's young men are unlikely to make up for that decline by earning more in the future.

By Jayati Ghosh, Professor of Economics and Chairperson at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. This is Part 3 of a four-part article, published in the March/April 2017 special "Costs of Empire" issue of Dollars & Sense magazine. Parts 1, 2 and 3 are available here. here , and here , respectively. Cross posted from Triple Crisis

A recent report from the McKinsey Global Institute, "Poorer than Their Parents? Flat or falling incomes in advanced economies" (July 2016) shows how the past decade has brought significantly worse economic outcomes for many people in the developed world.

Falling Incomes

In 25 advanced economies, 65-70% of households (540-580 million people) "were in segments of the income distribution whose real incomes were flat or had fallen" between 2005 and 2014. By contrast, between 1993 and 2005, "less than 2 percent, or fewer than ten million people, experienced this phenomenon."

In Italy, a whopping 97% of the population had stagnant or declining market incomes between 2005 and 2014. The equivalent figures were 81% for the United States and 70% for the United Kingdom.

The worst affected were "young people with low educational attainment and women, single mothers in particular." Today's younger generation in the advanced countries is "literally at risk of ending up poorer than their parents," and in any case already faces much more insecure working conditions.

Shifting Income Shares

The McKinsey report noted that "from 1970 to 2014, with the exception of a spike during the 1973–74 oil crisis, the average wage share fell by 5 percentage points in the six countries studied in depth" (United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden); in the "most extreme case, the United Kingdom, by 13 percentage points."

These declines occurred "despite rising productivity, suggesting a disconnect between productivity and incomes." Productivity gains were either grabbed by employers or passed on in the form of lower prices to maintain competitiveness.

Declining wage shares are widely seen as results of globalization and technological changes, but state policies and institutional relations in the labor market matter. According to the McKinsey report. "Swedish labor policies such as contracts that protect both wage rates and hours worked" resulted in ordinary workers receiving a larger share of income.

Countries that have encouraged the growth of part-time and temporary contracts experienced bigger declines in wage shares. According to European Union data, more than 40% of EU workers between 15 and 25 years have insecure and low-paying contracts. The proportion is more than half for the 18 countries in the Eurozone, 58% in France, and 65% in Spain.

The other side of the coin is the rising profit shares in many of these rich countries. In the United States, for example, "after-tax profits of U.S. firms measured as a share of the national income even exceeded the 10.1 percent level last reached in 1929."

Policy Matters

Government tax and transfer policies can change the final disposable income of households. Across the 25 countries studied in the McKinsey report, only 20-25% of the population experienced flat or falling disposable incomes. In the United States, government taxes and transfers turned a "decline in market incomes for 81 percent of all income segments into an increase in disposable income for nearly all households."

Government policies to intervene in labor markets also make a difference. In Sweden, the government "intervened to preserve jobs, market incomes fell or were flat for only 20 percent, while disposable income advanced for almost everyone."

In most of the countries examined in the study, government policies were not sufficient to prevent stagnant or declining incomes for a significant proportion of the population.

Effects on Attitudes

The deteriorating material reality is reflected in popular perceptions. A 2015 survey of British, French, and U.S. citizens confirmed this, as approximately 40% "felt that their economic positions had deteriorated."

The people who felt worse-off, and those who did not expect the situation to improve for the next generation, "expressed negative opinions about trade and immigration."

More than half of this group agreed with the statement, "The influx of foreign goods and services is leading to domestic job losses." They were twice as likely as other respondents to agree with the statement, "Legal immigrants are ruining the culture and cohesiveness in our society."

The survey also found that "those who were not advancing and not hopeful about the future" were, in France, more likely to support political parties such as the far-right Front National and, in Britain, to support Brexit.

Effects on Politics

Decades of neoliberal economic policies have hollowed out communities in depressed areas and eliminated any attractive employment opportunities for youth. Ironically, in the United States this favored the political rise of Donald Trump, who is himself emblematic of the plutocracy.

Similar tendencies are also clearly evident in Europe. Rising anti-EU sentiment has been wrongly attributed only to policies allowing in more migrants. The hostile response to immigration is part of a broader dissatisfaction related to the design and operation of the EU. For years now, it has been clear that the EU has failed as an economic project. This stems from the very design of the economic integration-flawed, for example, in the enforcement of monetary integration without banking union or a fiscal federation that would have helped deal with imbalances between EU countries-as well as from the particular neoliberal economic policies that it has forced its members to pursue.

This has been especially evident in the adoption of austerity policies across the member countries, remarkably even among those that do not have large current-account or fiscal deficits. As a result, growth in the EU has been sclerotic at best since 2004, and even the so-called "recovery" after 2012 has been barely noticeable. Even this lacklustre performance has been highly differentiated, with Germany emerging as the clear winner from the formation of the Eurozone. Even large economies like France, Italy, and Spain experienced deteriorating per capita incomes relative to Germany from 2009 onwards. This, combined with fears of German domination, probably added to the resentment of the EU that is now being expressed in both right-wing and left-wing movements across Europe.

The union's misguided emphasis on neoliberal policies and fiscal austerity packages has also contributed to the persistence of high rates of unemployment, which are higher than they were more than a decade ago. The "new normal" therefore shows little improvement from the period just after the Great Recession-the capitalist world economy may no longer be teetering on the edge of a cliff, but that is because it has instead sunk into a mire.

It is sad but not entirely surprising that the globalization of the workforce has not created a greater sense of international solidarity, but rather undermined it. Quite obviously, progressive solutions cannot be found within the existing dominant economic paradigm. But reversions to past ideals of socialism may not be all that effective either. Rather, this new situation requires new and more relevant economic models of socialism to be developed, if they are to capture the popular imagination.

Such models must transcend the traditional socialist paradigm's emphasis on centralized government control over an undifferentiated mass of workers. They must incorporate more explicit emphasis on the rights and concerns of women, ethnic minorities, tribal communities, and other marginalised groups, as well as recognition of ecological constraints and the social necessity to respect nature. The fundamental premises of the socialist project, however, remain as valid as ever: The unequal, exploitative and oppressive nature of capitalism; the capacity of human beings to change society and thereby alter their own futures; and the necessity of collective organisation to do so.

NOTE: Parts of this article appeared in "The Creation of the New Imperialism: The Institutional Architecture," Monthly Review , July 2015.

Thuto, May 9, 2017 at 6:50 am

While incomes in the developed world are flat, the outcomes globalization has imposed on labour in the developing world are even more dire. Lets face it, the global south is effectively a labour reserve pool that is used by trans-national corporations as a de facto income growth suppresant in the global north. This dynamic is particurlarly pernicious for global south workers because they enter labour markets at or near subsistence level wages, with upward income mobility nearly impossible as ill informed developing country governments, in their naive quest to create investor friendly environments, bargain away any protections that could ensure said upward income mobility. Furthermore, these trans-national corporations are running a globalized exploitation racket where developing nations are pitted against one another in a race to see who can enslave their labour force more fervently in service of global capital. This of course has the effect of, at best, depressing incomes in developed economies, and at worst, completely eliminating large swathes of jobs in many developed economy sectors

JTMcPhee, May 9, 2017 at 9:11 am

I'd offer that the corporate entities that pretty much rule us are more completely described as post- and supra-national than simply transnational. Creatures birthed like Aliens that ate their way out of the mothers that spawned them. Given life by legalisms born out of nation-states and other grafters of "franchise" and "legitimacy," now ingesting and digesting their parents and lesser siblings.

Also, that there's just too many people living off a declining carrying capacity of the planet. And what is with the notion that we all have some kind or reasonable expectation to be "richer" than our parents? Is that not part of the algo-rhythms that are killing us mopes, wracked with dreams of sugarplum carboconsumption and hyped with fevered visions of "innovation" and "progress" based on "disruption" and monetization? And thus willing (on the part of those who are aware of the vague shape of the Bezzle and hope to gain from it, against the well-being of our fellows) or are so oppressed and oblivious and Bernays-ized not to see it at all.

Immunity, impunity, invulnerability, the hallmarks of the looters. "Upward income mobility" except for the very few that by birth or other lucky happenstance can manipulate their way into the self-feeding gyre of wealth accumulation and attendant power, is an awful example of unobtainium dangled at the end of the carrot-stick

John Wright, May 9, 2017 at 9:24 am

The article points to the elephant in the room when it closes with "as well as recognition of ecological constraints and the social necessity to respect nature."

One can suggest that TPTB may recognize that climate change/ecological damage is quite real and continuing apace.

They know they have a "denominator/divisor" problem with respect to a growing world wide population and resource allocation.

TPTB are hoovering up all they can for their future use.

Austerity policies and encouragement of subsistence level wages delay the ecological day of reckoning as WW consumption is lower as a consequence.

Susan the other, May 9, 2017 at 11:01 am

as Wolfgang Schδuble and many others have said, We can't all trade our way out of this mess. If we carry that insight one step further it becomes, We can't all manufacture our way out of this mess. The problem with trying to invent an inclusive economy is that we don't know how to do so without industry and industry will soon end life on this planet. If the oceans collapse, it's over. So instead of using a mild form of identity politics and a new social contract for sharing the gains of capitalism/socialism we will have to confine ourselves to making and using/recycling what we need and nothing more. No surplus. No trade. No finance based on debt servicing. And in an overpopulated world that means no labor policies as we once knew them. For lack of imagination we are looking at a New Communism. What else?

DavidBarrera, May 9, 2017 at 1:15 pm

From Yves: "On average, workers born in 1942 earned as much or more over their careers than workers born in any year since, according to new research"
1942 makes Schumpeter come to mind. His book Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy is the most celebrated Marxism's bashing to date. Schumpeter's reading of Marx or Marxism does not qualify as unfair; his was a non-reading activity. Here is an excerpt from Schumpeter, the visionary (my emphasis added)
"For the RELATIVE SHARE OF WAGES AND SALARIES IN TOTAL INCOME varies but little from year to year and is remarkably constant over time-it certainly does not reveal any tendency to fall"

Alejandro, May 9, 2017 at 6:03 pm

"creative destruction" has seemed mostly about breaking then remaking a social order that serves the "masters of mankind" not to mention, spinning the fodder that rationalizes an endless war racket, by their sycophantic apologists

"David" makes David Harvey come to mind "Neo-liberalism and the restoration of class power"

https://books.google.com.pr/books?id=Z7sS53uqTJoC&pg=PP3&source=gbs_selected_pages&cad=2#v=onepage&q&f=false

diptherio, May 9, 2017 at 3:55 pm

The new paper includes some "astonishing numbers," said Gary Burtless, an economist at the nonpartisan Brookings Institution who was not involved in the research. "The stagnation of living standards began so much earlier than people think,"

Who are these "people" to whom he refers? Some of us have known that since waaaaay before these numbers came out.

Pelham, May 9, 2017 at 6:19 pm

I wonder whether living standards have suffered much more than is typically documented. The stuff that we're forced to buy - housing, medical care, education - are all way up and, I suspect, make up a much larger share of the inflation-measuring typical basket of household goods.

And other items take a big and probably under-measured chunk of income as well. I've lost track of how many cellphones I've had to buy over the past 10 years, even though I hate them and try to keep my consumption of these toxic little marvels to a minimum (unfortunately, I'm required to have a smartphone for work).

McWatt, May 9, 2017 at 6:23 pm

On the flip side, from an owners perspective, I was able to hire 36 people in 1983 on a given business gross income and today I struggle to employ 2 on that same gross.

[May 04, 2017] Atomized workforce make it difficult to unionize

May 04, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Workers in the so-called 'gig economy' face heightening conditions of precarity and exploitation. From delivery couriers to taxi drivers, this series has shown that conditions of work are increasingly deleterious and show little sign of improvement.

To combat this, innovative new strategies of organisation and mobilisation have been developed. New, and more direct, tactics of trade union struggle have been at the heart of successful disputes led by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain in London and via spontaneous strikes by Uber drivers and others across the USA , the UK , France , and beyond .

As yet, there has been less traction for these forms of the gig economy in Latin America. This may be about to change, as according to a recent Bloomberg report Uber HQ is responding to recent negative press attention by turning to the region as its new 'Promised Land'.

Three reasons may explain why the gig economy has had little success so far in the region. First, it relies on a business model that requires particular market conditions, namely a high volume of relatively high-income consumers living alongside significant surplus labour. Such conditions are not as widespread in Latin America as in Europe and North America.

oho , May 4, 2017 at 8:01 am

sorry to be a debbie downer--Uber-Lyft drivers have been trying to organize (both work slowdowns and unions) for years with no success outside of Seattle, Austin, NYC. (wouldn't count Denver) (see the organization forums at uberpeople dot net)

problems: workers' don't have the capital to organize a viable alternative unless there is a very pro-driver local govt/regulatory system (eg, Austin). Austin is literally one of the few municipalities who didn't buy Uber-Lyft's Orwellian it-aint-a-cab-it's "rideshare" nonsense.

Yes, while the app can be replicated--Uber's moats are ultracheap/subsidized fares, regulatory capture, a global network and user inertia as Uber is the go-to app.

More problems: atomized workforce; lots of part-timers who have different incentives v. full-timers; (sorry if this sounds awful) desperate or innumerate natives or recent immigrants who don't mind working at/or below minimum wage as it's > $0; drivers are commodities easily replaced, lack of support/indifference from customers; customers are addicted to low fares and don't want to care about the externalities (like Americans are with cheap meat); people had a low opinion of the taxi industry.

Bottom line; many drivers have been thinking these problems for a while it's David v. Goliath and his lobbyists and his investor cash hoarde.

Cite: I was a driver who completed literally thousands of rides.

oho , May 4, 2017 at 8:22 am

>>so too do the foundations for collective actions and the terms on which workers can begin to fight bac

one more thing the collective action problem's been around FOREVER. And gig economy workers ain't no different.

see "Logic of Collective Action" Mansur Olson.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Logic_of_Collective_Action

Left in Wisconsin , May 4, 2017 at 11:29 am

Gig workers won't organize into unions – until they do. Something will spark it, it will happen first in Seattle and the other places where the organizing infrastructure is in place, and then it will happen lots of other places all at once, well ahead of any drawn out organizing activity. This is how it happens, how it always happens.

Because we have an existing private sector labor law that says independent contractors are not employees, the legal part will be awkward and confusing. But when the spark is lit, that won't really matter. The law will, eventually, accommodate itself to the reality.

The only question is whether this happens sometime in the next two years or in the next twenty years.

FidderHill , May 4, 2017 at 12:52 pm

Actually, I gave up reading the article after the first paragraph (skipped right to the always insightful comments section). Anyone who uses the words 'precarity" (I don't even think that's real word) and "deleterious" in the first two sentences is someone whose clarity of thinking is immediately suspect. Inflated academic jargon has become the death rattle of the university intellectual class. A long time ago Joan Didion hit the nail on the head: "As it happens, I am still committed to the idea that the ability to think for one's self depends upon one's mastery of the language."

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

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

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

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

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

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