Softpanorama

May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)
Contents Bulletin Scripting in shell and Perl Network troubleshooting History Humor

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'état  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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Old News ;-)

[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] 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 Zoltán Glück 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 Schäuble 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, like a herb, before [we] can smell freedom."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Apr 21, 2017] Petty bourgeois class is not the same thing as middle income: source of income matters hugely

Notable quotes:
"... Petty rentiers live off others above the compensation for inflation and retireds are not earning wages anymore. Even if they live on social security and pensions ..."
"... Income ranking regardless of source is a muddle ..."
"... Most people are in the job class, not the asset owning / one percent class. "High taxes and redistribution do the job nicely, just ask Norway." Not a sufficient answer to issues Marxism raises, just a facile one. ..."
"... I don't have a problem with class warfare. I don't have a problem with Democrats either. I have a problem with losing. ..."
"... I agree with above on workers now retired. However their solidarity with the still active workers is not a sure thing ..."
"... Yep. Further proof that the rich are parasites killing their host. ..."
"... Torturing, not killing is how they get their satisfaction. ..."
"... Yes, but their lack of restraint is killing the host. ..."
Apr 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
paine -> paine... April 20, 2017 at 06:09 AM
Bourgeois (petty) class is not the same thing as middle income: source of income matters hugely

Petty rentiers live off others above the compensation for inflation and retireds are not earning wages anymore. Even if they live on social security and pensions

Income ranking regardless of source is a muddle

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> paine... , April 20, 2017 at 06:44 AM

Easy on those retireds. Prefer to think of them as former wage class living off their social dividend for past services rendered. In any case, retirement is still the best job that I have ever had. Got to go cut the grass now, first time this season and way too tall. We were in a drought for a time, but it broke last weekend.
reason -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , April 20, 2017 at 08:33 AM
Good thanks. I just think that paine's world view is dated. I don't like class war of either type (down or up) it is too costly for the bystanders (just like any war). Today most people don't fit cleanly into one class (workers) or the other (capitalists) -- actually they never did women and children are a majority not to mention the increasing ranks of the retired. We live in a world where most people are both workers and owners - that is almost the definition of a middle class society. And many rely on "rents" from their hard won qualifications. Marxism is just too simple a view of world, and as it turns out unnecessary. High taxes and redistribution do the job nicely, just ask Norway.
Peter K. -> reason ... , April 20, 2017 at 08:49 AM
Most people are in the job class, not the asset owning / one percent class. "High taxes and redistribution do the job nicely, just ask Norway." Not a sufficient answer to issues Marxism raises, just a facile one.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> reason ... , April 21, 2017 at 03:49 AM
I don't have a problem with class warfare. I don't have a problem with Democrats either. I have a problem with losing.

I also have a problem with winning and then just flubbing the replacement. I am mostly for just letting future generations work this out however they can once given the tools of a more democratic political system.

paine -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , April 20, 2017 at 09:00 AM
I agree with above on workers now retired. However their solidarity with the still active workers is not a sure thing
ilsm -> paine... , April 20, 2017 at 03:13 PM
instead of make it easier poor make it frequent to escape poor
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> ilsm... , April 21, 2017 at 03:50 AM
Yep.
DrDick -> reason ... , April 20, 2017 at 06:45 AM
Yep. Further proof that the rich are parasites killing their host.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> DrDick... , April 20, 2017 at 07:21 AM
Torturing, not killing is how they get their satisfaction.
DrDick -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , April 20, 2017 at 08:34 AM
Yes, but their lack of restraint is killing the host.

[Apr 19, 2017] Neoliberalism is creating loneliness. Thats whats wrenching society apart George Monbiot

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 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. ..."
"... You can make a reasonable case that 'Neoliberalism' expects that every interaction, including between individuals, can be reduced to a financial one. ..."
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 idealogues are more likely to emphasise the values of marriage and family stability, while left wing ones are more likely to favour 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 atomised 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. Share Facebook Twitter
, 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 Share Facebook Twitter
, Dave Powell Burstcouch , 12 Oct 2016 10:54
Multiculturalism is destroying social cohesion. Share Facebook Twitter
, 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 labour.

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 remainer (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.

Apologiers 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 lonliness 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 minimised. 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 thats 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 counselling"

, 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.
They have at least one thing in common.
They each sit alone, isolated in their own thoughts..
But many share another bond: they usually respond to dogs, unconditional in their behaviour patterns towards humankind.
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. Share Facebook Twitter
, 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 behaviour (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 wnated 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 bit 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. Share Facebook Twitter
, 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. Share Facebook Twitter
, 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. Share Facebook Twitter

, 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. Share Facebook Twitter
, 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. Share Facebook Twitter
, 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. Share Facebook Twitter
, 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. Share Facebook Twitter
, 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. Share Facebook Twitter
, 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. Share Facebook Twitter
, 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? Share Facebook Twitter
, 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... Share Facebook Twitter
, 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 pivilege 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. Share
, 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. Share
, 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. Share Facebook Twitter
, 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. Share Facebook Twitter
, 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 Share Facebook Twitter
, 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. Share
, 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. Share Facebook Twitter
, 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 organisations 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. Share Facebook Twitter
, 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/ Share Facebook Twitter
, 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. Share Facebook Twitter
, 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 heirachy 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.

, Loatheallpoliticians , 12 Oct 2016 08:11
I prefer the competitive self interest and individualism.

Really I do not want to be living under a collectivist state society thanks. Share Facebook Twitter

, poppetmaster Loatheallpoliticians , 12 Oct 2016 08:21
there is a civilised compromise...we just have to keep searching Share Facebook Twitter
, 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 Neolibralism 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'.

[Apr 18, 2017] Atomization of workforce and a part of atomization of society under neoliberalism

Notable quotes:
"... a friend of mine, born in Venice and a long-time resident of Rome, pointed out to me that dogs are a sign of loneliness. ..."
"... And the cafes and restaurants on weekends in Chicago–chockfull of people, each on his or her own Powerbook, surfing the WWW all by themselves. ..."
"... The preaching of self-reliance by those who have never had to practice it is galling. ..."
"... Katherine: Agreed. It is also one of the reasons why I am skeptical of various evangelical / fundi pastors, who are living at the expense of their churches, preaching about individual salvation. ..."
"... So you have the upper crust (often with inheritances and trust funds) preaching economic self-reliances, and you have divines preaching individual salvation as they go back to the house provided by the members of the church. ..."
Apr 18, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
DJG , April 17, 2017 at 11:09 am
Neoliberalism is creating loneliness. That's what's wrenching society apart George Monbiot, Guardian

George Monbiot on human loneliness and its toll. I agree with his observations. I have been cataloguing them in my head for years, especially after a friend of mine, born in Venice and a long-time resident of Rome, pointed out to me that dogs are a sign of loneliness.

A couple of recent trips to Rome have made that point ever more obvious to me: Compared to my North Side neighborhood in Chicago, where every other person seems to have a dog, and on weekends Clark Street is awash in dogs (on their way to the dog boutiques and the dog food truck), Rome has few dogs. Rome is much more densely populated, and the Italians still have each other, for good or for ill. And Americans use the dog as an odd means of making human contact, at least with other dog owners.

But Americanization advances: I was surprised to see people bring dogs into the dining room of a fairly upscale restaurant in Turin. I haven't seen that before. (Most Italian cafes and restaurants are just too small to accommodate a dog, and the owners don't have much patience for disruptions.) The dogs barked at each other for while–violating a cardinal rule in Italy that mealtime is sacred and tranquil. Loneliness rules.

And the cafes and restaurants on weekends in Chicago–chockfull of people, each on his or her own Powerbook, surfing the WWW all by themselves.

That's why the comments about March on Everywhere in Harper's, recommended by Lambert, fascinated me. Maybe, to be less lonely, you just have to attend the occasional march, no matter how disorganized (and the Chicago Women's March organizers made a few big logistical mistakes), no matter how incoherent. Safety in numbers? (And as Monbiot points out, overeating at home alone is a sign of loneliness: Another argument for a walk with a placard.)

Katharine , April 17, 2017 at 11:39 am

I particularly liked this point:

In Britain, men who have spent their entire lives in quadrangles – at school, at college, at the bar, in parliament – instruct us to stand on our own two feet.

With different imagery, the same is true in this country. The preaching of self-reliance by those who have never had to practice it is galling.

DJG , April 17, 2017 at 11:48 am

Katherine: Agreed. It is also one of the reasons why I am skeptical of various evangelical / fundi pastors, who are living at the expense of their churches, preaching about individual salvation.

So you have the upper crust (often with inheritances and trust funds) preaching economic self-reliances, and you have divines preaching individual salvation as they go back to the house provided by the members of the church.

[Apr 15, 2017] What's missing in each and every case above -- at least in the USA! -- is countervailing power.

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.

[Apr 15, 2017] Th eobly 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.

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...

[Apr 14, 2017] Automation as a way to depress wages

Apr 14, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
point , April 14, 2017 at 04:59 AM
http://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/04/notes-working-earning-and-learning-in-the-age-of-intelligent-machines.html

Brad said: Few things can turn a perceived threat into a graspable opportunity like a high-pressure economy with a tight job market and rising wages. Few things can turn a real opportunity into a phantom threat like a low-pressure economy, where jobs are scarce and wage stagnant because of the failure of macro economic policy.

What is it that prevents a statement like this from succeeding at the level of policy?

Peter K. -> point... , April 14, 2017 at 06:41 AM
class war

center-left economists like DeLong and Krugman going with neoliberal Hillary rather than Sanders.

Sanders supports that statement, Hillary did not. Obama did not.

PGL spent the primary unfairly attacking Sanders and the "Bernie Bros" on behalf of the center-left.

[Apr 07, 2017] Tyson applauds labor arbitrage

Apr 07, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
point , April 06, 2017 at 05:11 AM
https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/trump-mexico-renegotiate-nafta-by-laura-tyson-2017-04

Tyson applauds labor arbitrage:

"Perhaps more important, the US and Mexico aren't just exchanging finished goods. Rather, much of their bilateral trade occurs within supply chains, with companies in each country adding value at different points in the production process. The US and Mexico are not just trading goods with each other; they are producing goods with each other."

One also looks in vain for a mention of the devastation of the small farm corn business in Mexico, which depended on native corn varieties but could not compete with the flood of market rate subsidized US production.

pgl -> point... , April 06, 2017 at 06:15 AM
Have you heard - Mexico is about to place tariffs on corn imported from the US.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> pgl... , April 06, 2017 at 06:51 AM
Its about time. They really need to tax drug cartel income though since it may be their only growth industry.
Julio -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , April 06, 2017 at 08:54 AM
No, they should not tax exports. We should legalize the drugs and then tax imports, support our local industry.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Julio ... , April 06, 2017 at 09:24 AM
Excellent idea!
Peter K. -> Julio ... , April 06, 2017 at 09:25 AM
Then you'd like Ryan's DBCFT or BAT!

Yes drug users in the U.S. are funding the cartel.

kurt -> Peter K.... , April 06, 2017 at 09:35 AM
True - however, the incentive to push drugs for local dealers and US based cartels would cease to exist if these drugs were legal and if the profit margin was taxed away. Nobody enslaves their neighbor, friend or anyone else if there is no money in it. We did this effectively with alcohol (margins are around 3-5% except for the craft low volume guys) and should do the same with other drugs. It turns out that junkies can respond to treatment if it isn't trade addiction for addiction, and addicted people can function if they aren't cut off or forced to constantly engage in seeking more product.
Peter K. -> kurt... , April 06, 2017 at 01:26 PM
Agreed. Legalize it, mon.

Pay for treatment and government jobs, part time, whatever.

Too bad Trump's AG Sessions is for criminalization.

point -> pgl... , April 06, 2017 at 10:20 AM
I missed that. Perhaps the deal is to give up dispersed gains from trade to allow indigenous farmers to avoid early death. I can't remember whether Ricardo factored in death...
JohnH -> point... , April 06, 2017 at 07:02 AM
You would think that a former chair of the US President's Council of Economic Advisers could make a better case for NAFTA...by giving examples of how the deal improved the lives of somebody or other. But she can't.

Instead, Tyson can only talk about how great the deal was for cross border supply chains...as if that was the goal of economic policy (which it probably is.)

With people like this advising Democrats, they will surely continue to lose, which is apparently their goal.

pgl -> JohnH... , April 06, 2017 at 08:51 AM
She wasn't very effective at communication when she was at the CEA. Which is why she was not in that position for all that long.

[Apr 07, 2017] Republicans is what went wrong. They were all about the globalization and the opportunity to make money in China - but they were unwilling to tax or to engage in redistribution. It isnt like this is hard to figure out - it is their platform.

Apr 07, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Jerry Brown

, April 05, 2017 at 10:28 PM
Artificial Intelligence and Artificial Problems - J. Bradford DeLong

Brad Delong- "If the government is properly fulfilling its duty to prevent a demand-shortfall depression, technological progress in a market economy need not impoverish unskilled workers."
And- "Our market economy should promote, rather than undermine, societal goals that correspond to our values and morals."
And- "First, we need to make sure that governments carry out their proper macroeconomic role, by maintaining a stable, low-unemployment economy so that markets can function properly."
And- "Second, we need to redistribute wealth to maintain a proper distribution of income."
He is real good when he sounds like a semi-socialist capitalist. In my opinion. In any event, I agree with him here.

Tom aka Rusty said in reply to Jerry Brown... , April 06, 2017 at 06:31 AM
Delong always has the same solution.

Let a small but brilliant elite advise an activist government to manage the macro economy. He is, of course, a member of that elite.

This will guarantee sunshine, lollypops and rainbows.

Like NAFTA and China's entry into the WTO was good for US workers.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to Tom aka Rusty... , April 06, 2017 at 06:48 AM
:<)
Jerry Brown said in reply to Tom aka Rusty... , April 06, 2017 at 07:40 AM
Maybe NAFTA and China would have been good for workers if Brad could have got the government to "carry out their proper macroeconomic role, by maintaining a stable, low unemployment economy" and to "redistribute wealth to maintain a proper distribution of income".

Unfortunately, something went wrong with that plan.

kurt -> Jerry Brown... , April 06, 2017 at 09:26 AM
Republicans is what went wrong. They were all about the globalization and the opportunity to make money in China - but they were unwilling to tax or to engage in redistribution. It isn't like this is hard to figure out - it is their platform.
anne , April 06, 2017 at 05:31 AM
http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/robert-atkinson-pushes-pro-rich-protectionist-agenda-in-the-washington-post

April 6, 2017

Robert Atkinson Pushes Pro-Rich Protectionist Agenda in the Washington Post

The Washington Post is always open to plans for taking money from ordinary workers and giving it to the rich. For this reason it was not surprising to see a piece * by Robert Atkinson, the head of the industry funded Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, advocating for more protectionism in the form of stronger and longer patent and copyright monopolies.

These monopolies, legacies from the medieval guild system, can raise the price of the protected items by one or two orders of magnitudes making them equivalent to tariffs of several hundred or several thousand percent. They are especially important in the case of prescription drugs.

Life-saving drugs that would sell for $200 or $300 in a free market can sell for tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars due to patent protection. The country will spend over $440 billion this year for drugs that would likely sell for less than $80 billion in a free market. The strengthening of these protections is an important cause of the upward redistribution of the last four decades. The difference comes to more than $2,700 a year for an average family. (This is discussed in "Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer," ** where I also lay out alternative mechanisms for financing innovation and creative work.)

Atkinson makes this argument in the context of the U.S. relationship with China. He also is explicitly prepared to have ordinary workers pay the price for this protectionism. He warns that not following his recommendation for a new approach to dealing with China, including forcing them to impose more protection for U.S. patents and copyrights, would lead to a lower valued dollar.

Of course a lower valued dollar will make U.S. goods and services more competitive internationally. That would mean a smaller trade deficit as we sell more manufactured goods elsewhere in the world and buy fewer imported goods in the United States. This could increase manufacturing employment by 1-2 million, putting upward pressure on the wages of non-college educated workers.

In short, not following Atkinson's path is likely to mean more money for less-educated workers, less money for the rich, and more overall growth, as the economy benefits from the lessening of protectionist barriers.

* https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/how-trump-can-stop-china-from-eating-our-lunch/2017/04/05/b83e4460-1953-11e7-bcc2-7d1a0973e7b2_story.html

** http://deanbaker.net/images/stories/documents/Rigged.pdf

-- Dean Baker

anne -> anne... , April 06, 2017 at 05:32 AM
http://deanbaker.net/images/stories/documents/Rigged.pdf

October, 2016

Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer
By Dean Baker

The Old Technology and Inequality Scam: The Story of Patents and Copyrights

One of the amazing lines often repeated by people in policy debates is that, as a result of technology, we are seeing income redistributed from people who work for a living to the people who own the technology. While the redistribution part of the story may be mostly true, the problem is that the technology does not determine who "owns" the technology. The people who write the laws determine who owns the technology.

Specifically, patents and copyrights give their holders monopolies on technology or creative work for their duration. If we are concerned that money is going from ordinary workers to people who hold patents and copyrights, then one policy we may want to consider is shortening and weakening these monopolies. But policy has gone sharply in the opposite direction over the last four decades, as a wide variety of measures have been put into law that make these protections longer and stronger. Thus, the redistribution from people who work to people who own the technology should not be surprising - that was the purpose of the policy.

If stronger rules on patents and copyrights produced economic dividends in the form of more innovation and more creative output, then this upward redistribution might be justified. But the evidence doesn't indicate there has been any noticeable growth dividend associated with this upward redistribution. In fact, stronger patent protection seems to be associated with slower growth.

Before directly considering the case, it is worth thinking for a minute about what the world might look like if we had alternative mechanisms to patents and copyrights, so that the items now subject to these monopolies could be sold in a free market just like paper cups and shovels.

The biggest impact would be in prescription drugs. The breakthrough drugs for cancer, hepatitis C, and other diseases, which now sell for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, would instead sell for a few hundred dollars. No one would have to struggle to get their insurer to pay for drugs or scrape together the money from friends and family. Almost every drug would be well within an affordable price range for a middle-class family, and covering the cost for poorer families could be easily managed by governments and aid agencies.

The same would be the case with various medical tests and treatments. Doctors would not have to struggle with a decision about whether to prescribe an expensive scan, which might be the best way to detect a cancerous growth or other health issue, or to rely on cheaper but less reliable technology. In the absence of patent protection even the most cutting edge scans would be reasonably priced.

Health care is not the only area that would be transformed by a free market in technology and creative work. Imagine that all the textbooks needed by college students could be downloaded at no cost over the web and printed out for the price of the paper. Suppose that a vast amount of new books, recorded music, and movies was freely available on the web.

People or companies who create and innovate deserve to be compensated, but there is little reason to believe that the current system of patent and copyright monopolies is the best way to support their work. It's not surprising that the people who benefit from the current system are reluctant to have the efficiency of patents and copyrights become a topic for public debate, but those who are serious about inequality have no choice. These forms of property claims have been important drivers of inequality in the last four decades.

The explicit assumption behind the steps over the last four decades to increase the strength and duration of patent and copyright protection is that the higher prices resulting from increased protection will be more than offset by an increased incentive for innovation and creative work. Patent and copyright protection should be understood as being like very large tariffs. These protections can often the raise the price of protected items by several multiples of the free market price, making them comparable to tariffs of several hundred or even several thousand percent. The resulting economic distortions are comparable to what they would be if we imposed tariffs of this magnitude.

The justification for granting these monopoly protections is that the increased innovation and creative work that is produced as a result of these incentives exceeds the economic costs from patent and copyright monopolies. However, there is remarkably little evidence to support this assumption. While the cost of patent and copyright protection in higher prices is apparent, even if not well-measured, there is little evidence of a substantial payoff in the form of a more rapid pace of innovation or more and better creative work....

[Mar 31, 2017] Does productivity drive wages? No, instead of increased pay the demand was met with borrowing, instead of increased pay, this was bound to collapse

Mar 31, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

djb , March 31, 2017 at 05:15 AM
" Does productivity drive wages? Evidence from sectoral data - Bank Underground


in order to have demand to match increased product

real income increases must match increase production

so

unless the rich who are getting richer have an identical propensity to consume

then is would have to be true that not only does real total income have to keep up with real production but also real median incomes must keep up with real production

simple

for years instead of increased pay the demand was met with borrowing, instead of increased pay, this was bound to collapse

anne -> djb... , March 31, 2017 at 05:23 AM
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=dbTX

January 30, 2017

Labor Share of Nonfarm Business Income and Real After-Tax Corporate Profits, 1992-2016

(Indexed to 1992)

Decline in labor share of income:

92.7 - 100 = - 7.3%

Increase in real profits:

281.0 - 100 = 181.0%

anne -> djb... , March 31, 2017 at 05:23 AM
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=dbTM

January 30, 2017

Labor Share of Nonfarm Business Income and Real After-Tax Corporate Profits, 2000-2016

(Indexed to 2000)

Decline in labor share of income:

91.2 - 100 = - 8.8%

Increase in real profits:

213.9 - 100 = 113.9%

[Mar 31, 2017] A capitalist economy appears to inevitably lead to an accumulation of a surplus in the hands of the few.

Mar 31, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

RGC March 31, 2017 at 05:09 AM

The Surplus:

A capitalist economy appears to inevitably lead to an accumulation of a surplus in the hands of the few.

That seems to be detrimental for the many. What should be done?

Karl Marx said the many (the proletariat) should establish a dictatorship and confiscate the surplus going forward.

Henry George said the unearned income of landowners, monopolists and the like(rentiers) should be taxed such that all public needs would be supported by that tax.

John Bates Clark said the capitalists deserved what they received and the system should stay as it was.

John Maynard Keynes said the state should direct and control the economy such that the surplus would accrue to the state to such an extent that private capital would become superfluous (euthanasia of the rentier).

[Mar 31, 2017] The reason for this mess is the decline price offered to labor, which is in contrast to the four decades long conservative effort to increase the prices of capital above the cost of labor, which requires restricting labor additions to capital to create a reduction in demand to cut the price of labor

Mar 31, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
mulp , March 30, 2017 at 04:26 PM
"In the U.S. labor market unemployed individuals that are actively looking for work are more than three times as likely to become employed as those individuals that are not actively looking for work and are considered to be out of the labor force (OLF). Yet, on average, every month twice as many people make the transition from OLF to employment than do from unemployment to employment." H-K-L via Justin Fox

"But mostly these men have dropped out of the labor force for other, unhappier reasons, as Nicholas Eberstadt recounted in his recent book "Men Without Work: America's Invisible Crisis." I think it's fair to characterize this as "a mess with jobs" -- although it's a mess that's been many decades in the making, and I doubt President Trump really knows what to do about it."

As someone OLF since Bush cut my taxes in 2001, the reason for this "mess" is the decline price offered to labor, which is in contrast to the four decades long conservative effort to increase the prices of capital above the cost of labor, which requires restricting labor additions to capital to create a reduction in demand to cut the price of labor.

And as women enter the labor force, men attached to women can become OLF when the labor price falls too low, while being primed to become employed when the price offered exceeds their price minimum. Alternatively, men with capital that is inflating in price can become OLF by selling capital until the price offered for their labor increases high enough.

These men actually remain connected to the job market, either by avocation, networking with peers, getting job training, etc.

But the bottom line, if you want more workers in the labor force who are actually working full time, your policies must be focused on increasing the offered price for labor. Keynes and FDR in the 30s provide the foundations for such policy:

1) remove the unemployed from the market by hiring them to build public capital assets, paying them a wage intended to be 90% of the market rate for part-time work, providing transportation to new locates to do the work in community with peers, offering them job skills beyond work discipline. Aka the CCC.

2) structure taxes to favor businesses that build lots of labor capital: tax economic profits and rents heavily while exempting from taxes all labor costs paid, including labor costs building capital.

3) invest tax revenue from today and tomorrow in new capital with high labor cost with long horizons to recover the cost of these capital assets. Building rail lines in the 19th century involved lots of public investment, but the taxes paid in the subsequent century provided positive returns in excess of cost to the public, and these assets still generate returns to the public, even when privately operated for private return.

China has focused heavily on 3, building a high labor cost transportation system. They have also had tax policy that favored building lots of productive capital using lots of labor, shifting to high labor cost capital: taxes on exports are very low.

It's the latter that is driving the Republican BAT, a tax that does not tax US labor at the same rate as imported labor. Unfortunately, it's a bandaid to Republican tax policy that makes paying labor more have a high after tax cost: if your profits are taxed at zero, paying higher labor costs means a 100% reduction in profits in the short term, while building capital, and the lower profits as capital increases supply beyond demand and prices are forced down, destroying profits. An the tax policy means a dollar reduction in before tax profits means a dollar reduction in after tax profits.

In the last chart Fox includes, I see each of the declines coming in response to tax cuts, increases in employment coming with tax increases, recently in stealth tax hikes, like the AMT and the tax on SS benefits. Both have a fixed baseline intentionally not indexed so that the tax hits more people and generates more revenue. All revenue gets spent by government with all of it going to workers directly or indirectly by way of people who must pay workers. (Sick, disabled, young, old).

[Mar 31, 2017] Blame the victim: anti-labor neoliberal propaganda in Boston Globe

Mar 31, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne , March 30, 2017 at 05:49 AM
http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/the-generation-of-nonsense-in-the-boston-globe

March 30, 2017

The Generation of Nonsense in the Boston Globe

The main economic story of the last four decades is the massive upward redistribution of income that has taken place. The top one percent's share of national income has more than doubled over this period from roughly ten percent in the late 1970s to over twenty percent today. And, this is primarily a before-tax income story, the rich have used their control over the levers of economic power to ensure that an ever larger share of the country's wealth goes into their pockets. (Yes, this is the topic of my book, "Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer" * -- it's free.)

Anyhow, the rich don't want people paying attention to these policies (hey, they could try to change them), so they endlessly push out nonsense stories to try to divert the public's attention from how they structured the rules to advance their interests. And, since the rich own the newspapers, they can make sure that we hear these stories.

This meant that yesterday the New York Times gave us the story ** of how robots are taking all the jobs and driving down wages. Never mind that productivity growth is at its slowest pace in the last seven decades. Facts and data don't matter in the alternative world where we try to divert folks' attention from things like the Federal Reserve Board (who are not robots, last I checked) raising interest rates to make sure that we don't have too many jobs.

One of the other big alternative facts for the diverters is the generational story. This is the one where we tell folks to ignore all those incredibly rich people with vast amounts of money, the reason most people are not seeing rising living standards is the damn baby boomers who expect to get Social Security and Medicare, just because they paid for it. The Boston Globe gave us this story *** by Bruce Cannon Gibney, conveniently titled "how the baby boomers destroyed everything." (Full disclosure: I am one of those baby boomers.)

There is not much confusion about the nature of the argument, only its substance. Gibney complains about:

"the unusual prevalence of sociopathy in an unusually large generation. How does that disorder manifest? Improvidence is reflected in low levels of savings and high levels of bankruptcy. Deceit shows up as a distaste for facts, a subject on display in everything from Enron's quarterly reports to daily press briefings. Interpersonal failures and unbridled hostility appeared in unusually high levels of divorce and crime from the 1970s to early 1990s."

Starting with the bankruptcy story, the piece to which Gibney helpfully linked noted a doubling of bankruptcy rates for those over 65 since 1991. It reported:

"Expensive health care costs from a serious illness before a patient received Medicare and the inability to work during and after a serious illness are the prime contributors to financial crises among those 55 and older."

Yes, we have clear evidence of a moral failing here.

The crime rate story is interesting. We had a surge in crime beginning in the 1960s and running through the 1980s, with a sharp fall beginning in the 1990s. Gibney would apparently tie this one to the youth and peak crime years of the baby boomers. There is an alternative hypothesis for which there is considerable evidence: exposure to lead. While the case is far from conclusive, it is likely that lead exposure was an important factor. **** More importantly, the point is that crime was a story of what was done to baby boomers, not just kids acting badly.

I really like the complaint about the low level of savings among baby boomers. I guess Gibney is the Boston Globe's Rip Van Winkle who missed the housing bubble collapse and resulting recession. A main complaint among economic policy types in the last decade has been that people were not spending enough. The argument was that people were being too cautious in the wake of the crash and not spending the sort of money needed to bring the economy back to full employment.

But Gibney wants to blame baby boomers for spending too much. Oh well, it's alternative facts day at the Boston Globe!

The rest of the piece is in the same vein. Boomers are blamed for "unaddressed climate change." Well, boomers also were the force behind the modern environmental movement. Many of us boomers might look more to folks like Exxon-Mobil and the Koch brothers who have used their vast wealth to try to stifle efforts to combat climate change -- but hey, why focus on rich people acting badly when we can blame a whole generation?

Gibney blames boomers for every bad policy of the last four decades, including the war on crime, which took off in the late 1970s, when many of the boomers had not even reached voting age. We even get blamed for the repeal of Glass-Steagall, another great generational cause.

The amount of confusion in this piece is impressive. We get this one:

"From 1989 to 2013, wealth gaps between older and younger households grew in the same way as those between the top 5 percent and the bottom 95 percent. Today's seniors (boomers) are much wealthier relative to the present young than the seniors of the 1980s were to then-young boomers. All those tax breaks, bailouts, easy money, deregulation, and the bubbles they spawned supported that boomer wealth accumulation while shifting the true costs to the future, to the young."

Wealth is a virtually meaningless measure for the young. Gibney is crying for the Harvard Business school grad with $150,000 in debt. Young people do have too much debt, but the bigger issue is the horrible labor market they face (partly the result of boomers saving too much money). Furthermore, while the ratio of boomer wealth to wealth of the young has risen (because of college debt), the typical boomer reaching retirement actually has less wealth than their parents. ***** It's also important to remember in these comparisons that boomer parents likely had a traditional pension (an income stream that does not get included in most wealth measures). If boomers are to have any non-Social Security income in retirement, it will likely be in the form of a 401(k) that does count as wealth.

And of course we get the completely meaningless national debt horror story:

"Still, no amount of tax reallocation could keep the government together and goodies flowing, so boomers tolerated astounding debt expansion while chopping other parts of the budget. Gross national debt, 35 percent of GDP when the boomers came of age, is now 105 percent, a peacetime record expanding 3 percent annually, forever."

Economics fans would note that interest on the debt (net of money refunded by the Federal Reserve Board) is around 0.8 percent of GDP, near a post-war low. They would also point out that formal borrowing is just one way in which the government can create obligations for the future. The government also pays for things like innovation and creative work with patent and copyright monopolies.

These monopolies effectively allow their owners to impose taxes on consumers. Due to these monopolies we will pay $440 billion on prescription drugs this year for drugs that would likely sell for less than $80 billion in a free market. The difference of $360 billion is more than twice the net interest burden of the debt that Gibney wants us to worry about. And this is just patent protection for prescription drugs, the costs for the full range and patent and copyright monopolies throughout the economy would almost certainly be two or three times as large.

Of course Gibney could also blame the commitment of these monopoly rents on baby boomers (after all, people elected by baby boomers were the ones who made these monopolies stronger and longer), but that might be a bit hard to sell. It would look pretty obvious that the story is one of a massive upward redistribution to the rich -- some of whom happen to be baby boomers -- and that would undermine the whole effort at distraction in which Gibney and the Globe is engaged.

* http://deanbaker.net/images/stories/documents/Rigged.pdf

** https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/28/upshot/evidence-that-robots-are-winning-the-race-for-american-jobs.html

*** https://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2017/02/26/how-baby-boomers-destroyed-everything/lVB9eG5mATw3wxo6XmDZFL/story.html

**** http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5632&context=etd

***** http://cepr.net/documents/wealth-scf-2014-10.pdf

-- Dean Baker

New Deal democrat , March 30, 2017 at 05:55 AM
A quick comment on the Case-Deaton study that Noah Smith discusses in the link above. I think there is a very good case that economic depression, a decline in labor force participation, opioid use, and voting for populist candidates (like Donald Trump last year) is all linked.

If I am right that the biggest factor behind the 60 year decline in prime age male work force participation has been the increase in disability, coupled with better long-term medical care and longevity, then everything else follows.

The biggest drivers in the increase in disability claims are mental health issues and neck and back problems.

Most people over age 35 have one or more herniated discs in their neck or back (and frequently, those bulging or herniated discs touch on one of the nerves leading out from the spine. With better medical imaging, this is easier to document.

So when the local mills close, one alternative to being penniless is to go on disability for a herniated disc or associated problems.

And do we have pills for that? Yes we do! Opioids!

And since opioids are one step away from heroin, they are extremely addictive, even after just a few days' use.

So now we have a heroin-like epidemic in white Appalachia and the Rust Belt where the mills have closed, not just in black urban areas.

Opioid use leads to deaths by overdose.

And now the opioid abuse and epidemic of deaths just compounds the economic depression.

And those people looking for an answer turn to populists, no matter how rancidly racist they are.

QED (IMO).

anne -> New Deal democrat... , March 30, 2017 at 06:07 AM
A quick comment on the Case-Deaton study that Noah Smith discusses in the link above....

[ Where is the reference link? ]

Peter K. -> anne... , March 30, 2017 at 07:19 AM
https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-03-29/how-to-help-the-white-working-class-live-longer

How to Help the White Working Class Live Longer

MARCH 29, 2017 6:00 AM EDT

By Noah Smith

The U.S. white working class is in big trouble. The data is piling up. Economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton have a new paper out, exploring mortality trends in the U.S. The results confirm the finding of their famous 2015 study -- white Americans without college degrees are dying in increasing numbers, even as other groups within and outside of the country live longer. And the negative trends continued over the past year.

The problem appears to be specific to white Americans:

Mortality rates among blacks and Hispanics continue to fall; in 1999, the mortality rate of white non-Hispanics aged 50-54 with only a high school degree was 30 percent lower than the mortality rate of blacks in the same age group; by 2015, it was 30 percent higher. There are similar crossovers between white and black mortality in all age groups from 25-29 to 60-64

In contrast to the US, mortality rates in Europe are falling for those with low levels of educational attainment, and are doing so more rapidly than mortality rates for those with higher levels of education.
You can see this pattern clearly in this chart from their 2015 study:

[graph]

Why is this happening? Case and Deaton don't really know. Obesity would seem like a possible culprit, but it's also up among black Americans and British people, whose mortality rates from heart disease have fallen. Deaths from suicide, alcoholism and drug overdoses -- what the authors collectively call "deaths of despair" -- have been climbing rapidly. But they only account for a minority of the increase. And no one knows the definitive reason for white despair.

One tempting explanation -- especially for those on the political right -- might be that immigration and diversity are causing white people to lose a sense of community and cultural homogeneity, driving them to self-destruction. But mortality rates for working-class white people in the U.K. and Europe, which are experiencing even bigger fights over immigration, have fallen very rapidly in recent years. Europe also casts doubt on the hypothesis that the decline in marriage is to blame, since marriage also fell in European countries and among black Americans.

Case and Deaton instead suggest economic causes -- lack of opportunity, economic insecurity and inequality. But this is hard to square with falling mortality for black Americans, who also suffered mightily in the Great Recession and have been on the losing end of increasing inequality.

So the reason for the increase non-college white mortality remains a mystery, for now. Perhaps it will always just be a mysterious nationwide episode of anomie, like the massive increase in Russian death rates after the Soviet Union's fall. But whatever the cause, I know of one policy that would go a long way toward fighting the baleful trend -- national health care.

A national health service -- which also goes by the names of single-payer health care and socialized medicine -- would drive down the price of basic health care. Because an NHS would be such a huge customer, it would be able to use its market power to get better deals from providers. This is probably why the same health-care treatments and services cost so much less in Europe than in the U.S. -- those other countries have their governments do the bargaining. In fact, this already works in the U.S. -- Medicare, the single-payer system that ensures the elderly, has seen much lower cost growth than private health insurance, even though Medicare isn't yet allowed by law to negotiate for cheaper drugs.

Another way an American NHS would be able to help the white working class is by having doctors monitor patients' behavior. In the U.K., doctors ask patients about their alcohol consumption, exercise and other habits at free checkups. There's some evidence that this sort of checkup doesn't increase health in Canada, but that may be because Canadians already mostly avoid heroin, alcoholism and suicide. A U.S. NHS would be able to check patients' mental health (to prevent suicide), their alcohol intake, their opiate and other drug use, and a variety of warning signs.

Finally, an NHS could prevent overuse of opioids. Prescription of painkillers has been a major factor in the opiate epidemic, which has hit the white working class hard. Drug manufacturers, however, have lobbied to preserve widespread access to opioids. These companies have also given doctors incentives and perks -- essentially, bribes -- to keep prescribing these dangerous drugs. An NHS would be able to resist lobbying pressure and make sure doctors didn't have an incentive to hand out too many opioid pills.

A NHS wouldn't require the creation of a new bureaucracy -- it would just require expanding Medicare to cover the whole nation. There's already a campaign to do this, led by none other than Senator Bernie Sanders. An NHS also wouldn't prevent rich people from buying expensive or rapid treatment in private markets.

So while an NHS might not solve all the health problems of the U.S. white working class, it would go a long way toward doing so. If President Donald Trump wanted to prevent the people who elected him from continuing to die in rising numbers, he would join Sanders in the campaign to extend Medicare to cover all Americans. Unfortunately, the health-care proposal that Trump backed went in the opposite direction, reducing health coverage rather than expanding it. The self-styled champion of the white working class has not yet answered their despair with action.

Peter K. -> Peter K.... , March 30, 2017 at 07:21 AM
"Perhaps it will always just be a mysterious nationwide episode of anomie, like the massive increase in Russian death rates after the Soviet Union's fall."

Economics is science!

lol Russia's economic output fell by half. Poverty rates and suicides skyrocketed.

Anomie?

Peter K. -> Peter K.... , March 30, 2017 at 07:22 AM
The Economics Guild and former CEA Chairs should write Smith letter excommunicating him.
Paine -> Peter K.... , March 30, 2017 at 08:40 AM
Yes
The White male American wage class has a close relative in Russia

Trump v Putin suggests what that leads to

Paine -> Peter K.... , March 30, 2017 at 08:41 AM
Sudden massive De industrialization plus real wage collapse

Pass the vodka !

[Mar 31, 2017] A tao of politics

Mar 31, 2017 | www.interfluidity.com
A tao of politics Most uses of language can be understood in both referential and functional terms. If I tell the policeman "He ran the red light", in referential terms I am claiming that, in some world external to my language, there was a car driven by a person I refer to as "he" which crossed an intersection while a red lightbulb was lit. But my words have functions as well, quite apart from what they refer to. A person might be fined or go to jail as a consequence of what I say. I might be conveniently exonerated of responsibility for an accident. Those consequences might be independent of the referential accuracy of the remark. Or they might not be. Perhaps there will be other corroborations, and inconvenient penalties if I am deemed to have lied. Regardless, it is simultaneously true that words refer to things and utterances have consequences. Both as speakers and as listeners (or as writers and as readers) we need to consider the "meaning" of a use of language on both levels if we are to communicate effectively.

Often there are tensions between referential accuracy and functional utility. Referential accuracy does not necessarily imply virtue. Whether we agree with the practice or not, we all understand what is meant by a "white lie". Statements with identical referential meaning can yield profoundly different social consequences depending on how they are said. To "speak diplomatically" does not mean to lie, but rather to pay especial attention to the likely effects of an utterance while trying to retain referential accuracy. To "spin" has a similar meaning but a different connotation, it suggests subordinating referential clarity to functional aspects of speech in a crassly self-interested way. But paying attention to the functional role of language is not in itself self-interested or crass. We all pay attention to how we speak as well as what we say. If we did not, we would needlessly harm people. Even if we are scrupulously truthful, we all make choices about what to say and what to omit, when to speak and when to remain silent. When we discuss our inner lives, often the consequences of our utterances are more clear (even to ourselves) than their referential accuracy, and perhaps we let the desirability of the consequences define what we take to be the truth. Perhaps that is not, or not always, without virtue.

This bifurcation of language into referential and functional strikes me as illuminating of the stereotyped left-right axis in politics. In broad, almost cartoonish, terms, one might describe a "left" view that humans as individuals have limited power over their own lives, so the work of politics is to organize collectively to create circumstances and institutions that yield desirable social outcomes. The "right" view is that, absent interference by collectivities that are inevitably blind to fine-grained circumstances (and that usually are corrupt), individuals have a great deal of power over their own lives, so that differences in outcome mostly amount to "just desserts". It's obvious why there might be some conflict between people who hold these different views.

On the key, core, question of whether individuals have a great deal of power or very limited power to control outcomes in their own lives, the stereotyped left view is, in referential terms, more accurate. If you are born in poverty in a war-torn country and fail to achieve a comfortable American-style upper-middle-class life style, it's hard to say that's on you, even if some very tiny sliver of your countrymen do manage to survive to adulthood, emigrate, and prosper. In narrower contexts, the question becomes less clear. For those lucky enough to be born in a developed country, are differences in outcome mostly a result of individual agency? For Americans born white, raised in middle-class comfort, and provided an education? For people born with identical genes? The case that differences in outcome result from choices under the control of individuals, for which they might be held responsible, grows stronger as we restrict the sample to people facing more similar circumstances. But even among the most narrow of cohorts, shit happens. People get sick, debilitated even, through no fault of their own. As a general proposition, individual human action is overwhelmed by circumstance and entropy. Policies designed with grit and bootstraps for their engine and individual choice for their steering wheel usually fail to achieve good social outcomes. This is the sense in which it's true that " the facts have a well-known liberal bias ".

But, before the left-ish side of the world takes a self-satisfied gloat, it should face an uncomfortable hitch. In functional terms, widespread acceptance of the false-ish right-ish claim - that people have a great deal of power over their own lives, and so should be held responsible as individuals for differences in outcome - may be important to the success of the forms of collective organization that people with more accurate, left-ish views strive to implement. This isn't a hard case to make. A good society, qua left-ish intuitions, might provide a lot of insurance to citizens against vicissitudes of circumstance. A generous welfare state might cushion the experience of joblessness, housing and medical care might be provided as a right, a basic cash income might be provided to all. But a prosperous society with a generous welfare state requires a lot of people to be doing hard work, including lots of work people might prefer not to do. If people are inclined to see their own and others' affairs as products of circumstance, they might easily forgive themselves accepting the benefits of a welfare state while working little to support it, and even lobbying for more. They might find it difficult to criticize or stigmatize others who do the same. That would lead to welfare-state collapse, the standard right-wing prediction. But if an ethos of agency and personal responsibility prevails, if differences in outcome are attributed to individual choices even in ways that are not descriptively accurate, if as a social matter people discriminate between justifiable and unjustifiable uses of public benefits and stigmatize the latter, the very prevalence of a right-wing view of human affairs might falsify the right-wing prediction and help to sustain the left-wing welfare state. Conversely, the existence of a left-wing social democratic welfare state renders the right-wing view less wrong, because it diminishes disparity of circumstance, increasing the degree to which differences in outcome actually can be attributed to individuals' choices. Irreconcilable views reinforce one another.

God is an ironist. If left-ish views are referentially accurate while right-ish views are functionally useful, then a wise polity will require an awkward superposition of left-ish perspectives to inform policy design and right-ish perspectives as public ethos. Singapore is ostentatiously capitalist, is widely perceived as a kind of protolibertarian paradise, yet it builds a rich welfare state out of mandatory, government-controlled "savings" and extensive intervention in health care and housing markets. The Scandinavian countries are left-wing social democracies, built on a politics of trade union solidarity, yet the right-wing Heritage Foundation ranks them about as "economically free" as the United States despite governments that spend much larger shares of GDP . Nordic politicians bristle at being called "socialist" , and they maintain higher levels of labor-force participation than the welfare-stingy US.

Like Yin and Yang, black and white, right and left might stand perpetually in opposition even as they require one another to form a coherently incoherent whole.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 29th, 2017 at 8:21 pm PDT.

[Mar 31, 2017] Automation -- a convenient way to absolve the oligarchy.

Notable quotes:
"... Agree: "I've seen a few articles recently claiming that low wage growth is because productivity by workers has been stalling. A convenient way to absolve the oligarchy." ..."
Mar 31, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
New Deal democrat March 30, 2017 at 05:05 AM

I've seen a few articles recently claiming that low wage growth is because productivity by workers has been stalling. A convenient way to absolve the oligarchy.

Except, if the theory were true, we should see bigger wage gains in the sectors of the economy with the most productivity growth.

Well, some British researchers studied that:
https://bankunderground.co.uk/2017/03/30/does-productivity-drive-wages-evidence-from-sectoral-data/

And here is what they found:

"Does productivity growth help predict wage growth at an industry level?

Not really, no. The distribution of productivity growth across industries ispositively correlated with subsequent wage growth – industries with higher productivity growth now will tend to have higher wage growth in subsequent quarters. However, productivity growth has little additional value in predicting wage growth over and above univariate models...."

The real conclusion is buried in the prior discussion:

"These correlations may also tell us something about how an increase in productivity in a particular industry feeds through into real wages. Rather than bidding up relative nominal wages (and therefore, the relative RCW in that industry), an increase in productivity leads to lower relative prices for the output of that industry, increasing RPW for given nominal wage. This boosts the real consumption wages of workers in all industries."

So, productivity gains lead to a deceleration in consumer inflation, *not* better nominal wage growth.

Oops!

So I am sure mainstream economists will do what they typically do when the theory is contradicted by the data ....

Peter K. said in reply to New Deal democrat... , March 30, 2017 at 06:35 AM
Good point. I've seen Dean Baker make this point as well.

High productivity sectors should see wage gains.

They don't because the savings are passed on to the consumer (must be competitive industries with competitive firms).

Tighter labor markets would see nominal wage growth. But the Fed will see that labor markets don't get too tight by rationing demand to the economy.

Anyway, robots!

JohnH -> New Deal democrat... , March 30, 2017 at 07:21 AM
Agree: "I've seen a few articles recently claiming that low wage growth is because productivity by workers has been stalling. A convenient way to absolve the oligarchy."

When productivity was rising rapidly in the past, wages were still stalling...because capital absconded with the gains.
http://www.epi.org/productivity-pay-gap/

Class warfare at its finest! Apparently 'librul' economists know which side of the bread the butter is on...capital's side.

Paine -> JohnH... , March 30, 2017 at 08:17 AM
Let's cut thru the fluttering birds surrounding this pivotal subject


Simply heat up job markets and see what happens

That is the job class pov

More jobs
tighter markets
higher wage rates
more hours

JohnH -> Paine ... , March 30, 2017 at 10:59 AM
Heresy!

[Mar 30, 2017] 80 years ago Congress forgot to put criminal enforcement in the NLRA(a)

Mar 30, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
We can start to protect collective bargaining at the state by state level.

Peter K. -> Denis Drew ... , March 29, 2017 at 06:59 AM

"80 years ago Congress forgot to put criminal enforcement in the NLRA(a). Had union busting been a felony all along we would be like Germany today."

Many of us on the left ask why we can't be more like Germany (or Denmark?) Germany is still international and outward-looking. The center-left like Krugman, EMichael, bakho, Sanjait, Summers etc keep saying it's robots not politics/trade policy.

Nothing we can do. The Left says look at Germany which kept output up despite trade, robots and bad monetary policy.

Center-left Hillary says we are not Denmark/Germany.

Denis Drew -> Peter K.... , March 29, 2017 at 07:23 AM
There is something we can do. We can start to protect collective bargaining at the state by state level.

Old saw is that federal preemption cuts states out of protecting collective bargaining rights. But just because Congress never included felony prosecution for union busting doesn't mean Congress did not want anyone else to -- and would not have mattered if Congress did not want it. All state protection does is reinforce the (toothless) federal set-up.

Congress could not constitutionally pass a law that states may not protect bargaining (OF ANY KIND!) from being muscled. No more than Congress may prevent states from making their own minimum wages (which Republicans would have tried a long time ago if it were possible).

Jimmy Hoffa said: "A union is a business." There is no reason one business (owner) should have carte blanche to bust the bargaining power of another business (labor) in a democracy.

Progressive state to start with: WA, OR, CA, NV, MN, IL, MA, NY, MD, etc.

And don't forget to get around to centralized bargaining (like the Teamster's National Master Freight Agreement -- or, where else, German, Denmark, etc.). Supermarket and airline workers (especially employees under RLA) would kill for (legally mandated?) centralized bargaining.

[Mar 30, 2017] Truly populist up politics in the long run reduce financialization, for-profit scams, phara gouging

Notable quotes:
"... Centralized bargaining (sector wide labor agreements) practiced by the Teamster's National Master Freight Agreement -- also by French Canada, continental Europe and I think Argentina and Indonesia -- blocks the Walmart-killing-supermarket-contracts race to the bottom. Airline employees would kill for centralized too. ..."
"... Truly populist up politics in the long run reduce financialization, for-profit scams, phara gouging, etc. etc., etc. Dean of Washington press corps said when he came to Washington (1950s?) all the lobbyists were union. ..."
"... The center-left are technocrats and don't really believe in unions or economic democracy. ..."
"... They're all about the meritocracy and so instead of arguing for workers to get organized and political and instead of arguing for a hot economy so labor markets are tight, they scold workers for not "skilling up" and acquiring the skills business want for their jobs. ..."
Mar 30, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Denis Drew , March 29, 2017 at 06:42 AM

STARTS OUT A LITTLE OFF TOPIC BUT THEN GOES PRECISELY WHERE THE AUTHOR WANTS US TO GO I THINK

Re: Keynes' flaws - Stumbling and Mumbling
[cut-and-paste]
Neither rust-belt Americans nor Chicago gang-bangers are interested in up-to-date kitchens or two vans in the driveway. Both are most especially not interested in $10 an hour jobs.

Both would be very, very especially interested in $20 an hour jobs.

80 years ago Congress forgot to put criminal enforcement in the NLRA(a). Had union busting been a felony all along we would be like Germany today. Maybe at some point our progressives might note that collective bargaining is the T-Rex in the room -- or the missing T-Rex.

The money is there for $20 jobs. 49 years -- and half the per capita income ago -- the fed min wage was $11. Since then the bottom 45% went from 20% overall income share to 10% -- while the top 1% went from 10% to 20%.

How to get it -- how to get collective bargaining set up? States can make union busting a felony without worrying about so-called federal preemption:

+ a state law sanctioning wholesalers, for instance, using market power to block small retail establishments from combining their bargaining power could be the same one that makes union busting a felony -- overlap like min wage laws -- especially since on crim penalties the fed has left nothing to overlap since 1935

+ First Amendment right to collectively bargain cannot be forced by the fed down (the current) impassable road. Double ditto for FedEx employees who have to hurdle the whole-nation-at-once certification election barrier

+ for contrast, examples of state infringement on federal preemption might be a state finding of union busting leading to a mandate for an election under the fed setup -- or any state certification setup for labor already covered by NLRA(a) or RLA(a). (Okay for excluded farm workers.)

Collective bargaining would ameliorate much competition for jobs from immigrants because labor's price would be set by how much the consumer can be squeezed before (s)he goes somewhere else -- not by how little the most desperate worker will hire on for. Your kid will be grabbed before somebody still mastering English.

Centralized bargaining (sector wide labor agreements) practiced by the Teamster's National Master Freight Agreement -- also by French Canada, continental Europe and I think Argentina and Indonesia -- blocks the Walmart-killing-supermarket-contracts race to the bottom. Airline employees would kill for centralized too.

Republicans would have no place to hide -- rehabs US labor market -- all (truly) free market.

Truly populist up politics in the long run reduce financialization, for-profit scams, phara gouging, etc. etc., etc. Dean of Washington press corps said when he came to Washington (1950s?) all the lobbyists were union.

PS. After I explained the American spinning wheels labor market to my late brother John (we were not even talking about race), he came back with: "Martin Luther King got his people on the up escalator just in time for it to start going down for everybody."

Peter K. -> Denis Drew ... , March 29, 2017 at 06:52 AM
I agree. All of the center-left are like Keynes in a bad way. Chris Dillow nails it.

The center-left are technocrats and don't really believe in unions or economic democracy.

They're all about the meritocracy and so instead of arguing for workers to get organized and political and instead of arguing for a hot economy so labor markets are tight, they scold workers for not "skilling up" and acquiring the skills business want for their jobs.

They enjoy scolding the backward rural and dying manufacturing towns where the large employers have closed.

The technocrats are running the economy the best they can, it's up to the workers to educate themselves so they can be "competitive" on international markets.

Meanwhile for the past 40 years the technocrats have been doing a poor job.

(or maybe a good job from their sponsors' perspective as Chris Dillow points out.)

DeLong is right about mainstream economics. SWL is wrong. "Mainstream" economics is complicit as the technocrats are complicit.

Peter K. -> Peter K.... , March 29, 2017 at 06:53 AM
Perhaps even DeLong is too much like Keynes and too much the "neoliberal" technocrat to understand why businessmen keep voting Republican even though the economy does better on Democrats.

[Mar 28, 2017] normal use of resources = Normal rate of wage growth suppression

Mar 28, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Paine -> Peter K.... , March 28, 2017 at 12:04 PM

"normal use of resources "

Translation

Normal rate of wage growth suppression

"Volatility" here means an asset market contraction

Yes the capitalist class needs to be protected from excessive policy induced capital loses !

Would that the fed were as concerned about lost potential wage gains

[Mar 26, 2017] Plant-Closing Threats, Union Organizing and the North American Free Trade Agreement

Notable quotes:
"... These overall percentages actually underestimate the extent employers use plant-closing threats, since they include industries and sectors of the economy where threats to shut down and move facilities are much less likely and carry less weight because the industry or product is less mobile. In mobile industries such as manufacturing, transportation and warehouse/distribution, the percentage of campaigns with plant-closing threats is 62 percent, compared to only 36 percent in relatively immobile industries such as construction, health care, education, retail and other services. Where employers can credibly threaten to shut down or move their operations in response to union activity, they do so in large numbers. ..."
economistsview.typepad.com

anne -> anne... March 24, 2017 at 05:22 AM

http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1018&context=cbpubs

March, 1997

We 'll Close! Plant Closings, Plant-Closing Threats, Union Organizing and the North American Free Trade Agreement
By Kate Bronfenbrenner

Abstract

This article is based on "Final Report: The Effects of Plant Closing or Threat of Plant Closing on the Right of Workers to Organize." The report was commissioned by the tri-national Labor Secretariat of the Commission for Labor Cooperation (the North American Free Trade Agreement labor commission) "on the effects of the sudden closing of the plant on the principle of freedom of association and the right of workers to organize in the three countries."

Plant-closing threats and actual plant closings are extremely pervasive and effective components of U.S. employer anti-union strategies. From 1993 to 1995, employers threatened to close the plant in 50 percent of all union certification elections and in 52 percent of all instances where the union withdrew from its organizing drive ("withdrawals"). In another 18 percent of the campaigns, the employer threatened to close the plant during the first-contract campaign after the election was won.

Nearly 12 percent of employers followed through on threats made during the organizing campaign and shut down all or part of the plant before the first contract was negotiated. Almost 4 percent of employers closed down the plant before a second contract was reached.

This 15 percent shutdown rate within two years of the certification election victory is triple the rate found by researchers who examined post-election plant-closing rates in the late 1980s, before the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect.

These overall percentages actually underestimate the extent employers use plant-closing threats, since they include industries and sectors of the economy where threats to shut down and move facilities are much less likely and carry less weight because the industry or product is less mobile. In mobile industries such as manufacturing, transportation and warehouse/distribution, the percentage of campaigns with plant-closing threats is 62 percent, compared to only 36 percent in relatively immobile industries such as construction, health care, education, retail and other services. Where employers can credibly threaten to shut down or move their operations in response to union activity, they do so in large numbers.

[Mar 24, 2017] There is no such thing as an automated factory. Manufacturing is done by people, *assisted* by automation. Or only part of the production pipeline is automated, but people are still needed to fill in the not-automated pieces

Notable quotes:
"... And it is not only automation vs. in-house labor. There is environmental/compliance cost (or lack thereof) and the fully loaded business services and administration overhead, taxes, etc. ..."
"... When automation increased productivity in agriculture, the government guaranteed free high school education as a right. ..."
"... Now Democrats like you would say it's too expensive. So what's your solution? You have none. You say "sucks to be them." ..."
"... And then they give you the finger and elect Trump. ..."
"... It wasn't only "low-skilled" workers but "anybody whose job could be offshored" workers. Not quite the same thing. ..."
"... It also happened in "knowledge work" occupations - for those functions that could be separated and outsourced without impacting the workflow at more expense than the "savings". And even if so, if enough of the competition did the same ... ..."
"... And not all outsourcing was offshore - also to "lowest bidders" domestically, or replacing "full time" "permanent" staff with contingent workers or outsourced "consultants" hired on a project basis. ..."
"... "People sure do like to attribute the cause to trade policy." Because it coincided with people watching their well-paying jobs being shipped overseas. The Democrats have denied this ever since Clinton and the Republicans passed NAFTA, but finally with Trump the voters had had enough. ..."
"... Why do you think Clinton lost Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennysylvania and Ohio? ..."
Feb 20, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Sanjait -> Peter K.... February 20, 2017 at 01:55 PM

People sure do like to attribute the cause to trade policy.

Do you honestly believe that fact makes it true? If not, what even is your point? Can you even articulate one?

Tom aka Rusty -> Sanjait... , February 20, 2017 at 01:18 PM

If it was technology why do US companies buy from low labor producers at the end of supply chains 2000 - 10000 miles away? Why the transportation cost. Automated factories could be built close by.

ken melvin said in reply to Tom aka Rusty... , February 20, 2017 at 02:24 PM
Send for an accountant.
cm -> Tom aka Rusty... , February 20, 2017 at 03:14 PM
There is no such thing as an automated factory. Manufacturing is done by people, *assisted* by automation. Or only part of the production pipeline is automated, but people are still needed to fill in the not-automated pieces.

And it is not only automation vs. in-house labor. There is environmental/compliance cost (or lack thereof) and the fully loaded business services and administration overhead, taxes, etc.

You should know this, and I believe you do.

Peter K. said in reply to Sanjait... , February 20, 2017 at 03:14 PM
Trade policy put "low-skilled" workers in the U.S. in competition with workers in poorer countries. What did you think was going to happen? The Democrat leadership made excuses. David Autor's TED talk stuck with me. When automation increased productivity in agriculture, the government guaranteed free high school education as a right.

Now Democrats like you would say it's too expensive. So what's your solution? You have none. You say "sucks to be them."

And then they give you the finger and elect Trump.

cm -> Peter K.... , February 20, 2017 at 03:19 PM
It wasn't only "low-skilled" workers but "anybody whose job could be offshored" workers. Not quite the same thing.

It also happened in "knowledge work" occupations - for those functions that could be separated and outsourced without impacting the workflow at more expense than the "savings". And even if so, if enough of the competition did the same ...

And not all outsourcing was offshore - also to "lowest bidders" domestically, or replacing "full time" "permanent" staff with contingent workers or outsourced "consultants" hired on a project basis.

Peter K. said in reply to cm... , February 20, 2017 at 03:33 PM
True.
Peter K. said in reply to Sanjait... , February 20, 2017 at 03:35 PM
"People sure do like to attribute the cause to trade policy." Because it coincided with people watching their well-paying jobs being shipped overseas. The Democrats have denied this ever since Clinton and the Republicans passed NAFTA, but finally with Trump the voters had had enough.

Why do you think Clinton lost Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennysylvania and Ohio?

[Mar 24, 2017] We are in a sea of McJobs

Feb 26, 2017 | http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2017/02/links-for-02-24-17.html
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... February 24, 2017 at 10:05 AM

Instead of looking at this as an excuse for job losses due to trade deficits then we should be seeing it as a reason to gain back manufacturing jobs in order to retain a few more decent jobs in a sea of garbage jobs. Mmm. that's so wrong. Working on garbage trucks are now some of the good jobs in comparison. A sea of garbage jobs would be an improvement. We are in a sea of McJobs.

Paine -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... February 24, 2017 at 04:25 AM ,
Assembly lines paid well post CIO
They were never intrinsically rewarding

A family farm or work shop of their own
Filled the dreams of the operatives

Recall the brilliantly ironic end of Rene Clair's a la nous la Liberte

Fully automated plant with the former operatives enjoying endless picnic frolic

Work as humans' prime want awaits a future social configuration

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Paine... , February 24, 2017 at 11:27 AM
Yes sir, often enough but not always. I had a great job as an IT large systems capacity planner and performance analyst, but not as good as the landscaping, pool, and lawn maintenance for myself that I enjoy now as a leisure occupation in retirement. My best friend died a greens keeper, but he preferred landscaping when he was young. Another good friend of mine was a poet, now dying of cancer if depression does not take him first.

But you are correct, no one but the welders, material handlers (paid to lift weights all day), machinists, and then almost every one else liked their jobs at Virginia Metal Products, a union shop, when I worked there the summer of 1967. That was on the swing shift though when all of the big bosses were at home and out of our way. On the green chain in the lumber yard of Kentucky flooring everyone but me wanted to leave, but my mom made me go into the VMP factory and work nights at the primer drying kiln stacking finished panel halves because she thought the work on the green chain was too hard. The guys on the green chain said that I was the first high school graduate to make it past lunch time on their first day. I would have been buff and tan by the end of summer heading off to college (where I would drop out in just ten weeks) had my mom not intervened.

As a profession no group that I know is happier than auto mechanics that do the same work as a hobby on their hours off that they do for a living at work, at least the hot rod custom car freaks at Jamie's Exhaust & Auto Repair in Richmond, Virginia are that way. The power tool sales and maintenance crew at Arthur's Electric Service Inc. enjoy their jobs too.

Despite the name which was on their incorporation done back when they rebuilt auto generators, Arthur's sells and services lawnmowers, weed whackers, chain saws and all, but nothing electric. The guy in the picture at the link is Robert Arthur, the founder's son who is our age roughly.

http://www.arthurselectric.com/

[Mar 24, 2017] New research identifies a 'sea of despair' among white, working-class Americans

Notable quotes:
"... 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. ..."
"... 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. ..."
Mar 24, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne -> George H. Blackford ... March 24, 2017 at 05:00 AM
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/new-research-identifies-a-sea-of-despair-among-white-working-class-americans/2017/03/22/c777ab6e-0da6-11e7-9b0d-d27c98455440_story.html

March 23, 2017

New research identifies a 'sea of despair' among white, working-class Americans
By Joel Achenbach and Dan Keating - Washington Post

Sickness and early death in the white working class could be rooted in poor job prospects for less-educated young people as they first enter the labor market, a situation that compounds over time through family dysfunction, social isolation, addiction, obesity and other pathologies, according to a study published Thursday by two prominent economists.

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.

The two Princeton professors say the trend affects whites of both sexes and is happening nearly everywhere in the country. Education level is significant: People with a college degree report better health and happiness than those with only some college, who in turn are doing much better than those who never went.

[Graph]

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.

"Ultimately, we see our story as about the collapse of the white, high-school-educated working class after its heyday in the early 1970s, and the pathologies that accompany that decline," they conclude....

anne -> anne... , March 24, 2017 at 05:26 AM
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=d5HR

January 4, 2017

Employment-Population Ratios, * 2000-2017

* Bachelor's Degree and Higher, Some College or Associate Degree, High School Graduates, No College; Employment age 25 and over

jonny bakho said in reply to anne... , March 24, 2017 at 05:26 AM
The white working class only thrived because of unions

Reagan destroyed the unions

The white working class abandoned the unions and the Dems for white christian patriarchal identity politics.

They vote to prop up a dying culture that is not adapted to the modern economy.

The culture is dysfunctional and must change, but people would rather fight the windmills of economic change than travel the difficult road of cultural change

anne -> jonny bakho... , March 24, 2017 at 05:52 AM
http://www.bls.gov/webapps/legacy/cpslutab3.htm

January 15, 2017

United States Union Membership Rates, 1992-2016

Private wage and salary workers

1992 ( 11.5)
1993 ( 11.2) Clinton
1994 ( 10.9)

1995 ( 10.4)
1996 ( 10.2)
1997 ( 9.8)
1998 ( 9.6)
1999 ( 9.5)

2000 ( 9.0)
2001 ( 8.9) Bush
2002 ( 8.6)
2003 ( 8.2)
2004 ( 7.9)

2005 ( 7.8)
2006 ( 7.4)
2007 ( 7.5)
2008 ( 7.6)
2009 ( 7.2) Obama

2010 ( 6.9)
2011 ( 6.9)
2012 ( 6.6)
2013 ( 6.7)
2014 ( 6.6)

2015 ( 6.7)
2016 ( 6.4)

[Mar 16, 2017] Wages are stagnant

Mar 16, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

pgl : March 14, 2017 at 02:13 AM , 2017 at 02:13 AM

Kevin Drum reads some WSJ spin about how wages (nominal) rose by 2.8%. The footnote alone takes this to task:

'This is not adjusted for inflation, so even for the broad labor market, wage gains haven't been all that impressive recently.'

He also notes how the broad measure likely overstates the wage 'increase' for ordinary workers. When reading WSJ spin, it is always important to check out the details.

anne -> pgl... , March 14, 2017 at 03:52 AM
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=d0Rg

January 4, 2017

Average Hourly Earnings of All Private and Production & Nonsupervisory Workers, 2007-2017

(Percent change)

[Mar 10, 2017] Unions were brutally eliminated by neoliberals, starting from Reagan, as the main danger to their newly acquired power. As a result wages of workers stagnate and then slide

Notable quotes:
"... Decline in labor share of income (after tax): 92.7 - 100 = - 7.3% Increase in real profits: 276.8 - 100 = 176.8% ..."
Mar 10, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne -> anne... March 09, 2017 at 06:03 PM

http://www.bls.gov/webapps/legacy/cpslutab3.htm

January 15, 2017

United States Union Membership Rates, 1992-2016

Private wage and salary workers

1992 ( 11.5)
1993 ( 11.2) Clinton
1994 ( 10.9)

1995 ( 10.4)
1996 ( 10.2)
1997 ( 9.8)
1998 ( 9.6)
1999 ( 9.5)

2000 ( 9.0)
2001 ( 8.9) Bush
2002 ( 8.6)
2003 ( 8.2)
2004 ( 7.9)

2005 ( 7.8)
2006 ( 7.4)
2007 ( 7.5)
2008 ( 7.6)
2009 ( 7.2) Obama

2010 ( 6.9)
2011 ( 6.9)
2012 ( 6.6)
2013 ( 6.7)
2014 ( 6.6)

2015 ( 6.7)
2016 ( 6.4)

libezkova -> anne.. March 09, 2017 at 07:37 PM

"since labor unions lost significance influence in the 1980s"

Or, more correctly, were brutally eliminated by neoliberals, starting from Reagan, as the main danger to their newly acquired power.

Not that union movement was without problem in and by itself... But that only helped.

If you think that this was a natural process, you are deeply mistaken.

anne -> anne... March 09, 2017 at 06:09 PM

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=cYl1

January 30, 2017

Labor Share of Nonfarm Business Income and Real After-Tax Corporate Profits, 1992-2016

(Indexed to 1992)

Decline in labor share of income (after tax): 92.7 - 100 = - 7.3% Increase in real profits: 276.8 - 100 = 176.8%

anne -> anne... March 09, 2017 at 06:10 PM

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

January 30, 2017

Labor Share of Nonfarm Business Income and Real After-Tax Corporate Profits, 2000-2016

(Indexed to 2000)

Decline in labor share of income:

91.2 - 100 = - 8.8%

Increase in real profits:

210.7 - 100 = 110.7%

anne -> anne... March 09, 2017 at 06:15 PM \

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

January 30, 2017

Labor Share of Business Income and Real After-Tax Corporate Profits, 2007-2016

(Indexed to 2007)
Decline in labor share of income:

96.6 - 100 = - 3.4%

Increase in real profits:

126.7 - 100 = 26.7%

[Mar 10, 2017] US retailers war on union labor

Mar 10, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
March 09, 2017 at 12:21 PM , 2017 at 12:21 PM
'Superstar Firms' May Have Shrunk Workers'
Share of Income https://nyti.ms/2mGiVmQ
NYT - PATRICIA COHEN - MARCH 8, 2017

For much of the last century it seemed that the slice of the total economic pie going to workers was - like the speed of light - constant. No matter what the economy's makeup, labor could collectively depend on taking home roughly two-thirds of the country's total output as compensation for its efforts. Workers' unchanging share, the economist John Maynard Keynes declared in 1939, was "one of the most surprising, yet best-established, facts in the whole range of economic statistics."

But in recent decades, that steady share - which includes everything from the chief executive's bonuses and stock options to the parking-lot attendant's minimum wage and tips - started to flutter. In the 2000s, it slipped significantly. Although the numbers have inched up in the last couple of years, labor's portion has not risen above 59 percent since before the recession.

The decline has coincided with a slowdown in overall growth as well as a stark leap in inequality. "Labor is getting a shrinking slice of a pie that's not growing very much," David Autor, an economist at M.I.T., said. It is a development that is upending political establishments and economic policies in the United States and abroad.

The reason for workers' shrinking portion of the economy's rewards is puzzling.

Shrinking Labor Share

(graph at link)

The labor share is the percentage of economic output that accrues to workers in the form of compensation.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Some economists argue that technological advancements are to blame as employers have replaced workers with machines. Others point to trade powered by cheap foreign labor, a view championed by President Trump that particularly resonated among voters.

Alternate culprits include tax policies that treat investment income more favorably than wages; flagging skills and education that have rendered workers less productive or unsuited to an information- and service-based economy; or a weakening of labor unions that has chipped away at workers' bargaining power and protections.

Over the last 15 years, for example, labor productivity has grown faster than wages, a sign that workers are not being adequately compensated for their contributions. And some industries have fared worse than others. Slices of the pie going to mining and manufacturing narrowed the most, while service workers (including professional and business services) had the biggest gains. ...

---

Instead of a robot tax, @Noahpinion suggests sharing the profits they create http://bv.ms/2lPl7HC
via @Bloomberg - Noah Smith - February 28, 2017

Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates made a splash in a recent interview, when he suggested that robots should be taxed in order to help humans keep their jobs:

'Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed and you get income tax, social security tax, all those things. If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you'd think that we'd tax the robot at a similar level.'

Gates is only one of many people in the tech world who have worried about automation and its threat to workers. ...


Gerald Scorse : March 09, 2017 at 06:48 AM , 2017 at 06:48 AM
Re those "superstar" firms cited in the NY Times story as causing the decline in labor's share of national income:

That wouldn't be the case if the employees in those firms (e.g., Amazon) were unionized. The long, precipitous drop in union membership is often given as the No. 1 cause of a smaller labor share of the income pie. To this reader, the rise of superstar firms doesn't take away from that cause; if anything, it adds to it.

P.S. Amazon, BTW, is a textbook case of union-crushing by management.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Gerald Scorse... , March 09, 2017 at 06:48 AM
Good point about Amazon. I have never bought anything from them and never will. I have been unable to get my wife to stop using them although I have been successful in intervening to prevent her from buying me things from Amazon. I prefer to source locally where possible and for stuff not locally available then use mail order by phone from vendors that use domestic call centers such as Gempler's and Cabela's and even Breck's which has a call center in the US even though most of the bulbs ship from Netherlands.

I am buying a Silky Hayate pole pruner today from the Sherrill Tree local retailer (Vermeer Mid Atlantic LLC). Aside from the extra 20 mile trip up the highway to Ashland VA (from Sandston where I live) the price is the same as it was at the lowest cost Internet retailers. I do like the Internet for price checking and comparative shopping of products. I just don't buy anything there. Of course, being retired now there is less temptation to let my wife buy it for me on the Internet to save me the time and trouble.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , March 09, 2017 at 06:54 AM
BTW, Amazon is a whole separate case from the Internet in general. I only previously knew about Amazon though because an Amazon fulfillment center opened up "next door" to the VITA/Northrop Grumman data center in Chester VA where I worked until mid-June 2015. Word got around as they say. It was the worst sweat shop in town.

But I don't do any online shopping. With Amazon though I don't even want my wife buying stuff for me there.

Anachronism -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , March 09, 2017 at 07:08 AM
About Amazon's union-crushing.

Do you shop at Wal-Mart? Because they're just as anti-union as any other corporation. Do you know why companies like to set up manufacturing operations in little towns? Because the town is then dependent on that manufacturing operation for it's jobs, so the company can then threaten to move if the town tries to unionize.

I'm just saying that unions (outside of a few remaining stragglers) are effectively dead in this country.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Anachronism ... , March 09, 2017 at 07:50 AM
I do shop at Walmart. They have snuffed out most of the decent competition. The local Kroger's sucks. There is a decent Kroger's in Richmond about twenty miles away. On the way back from Vermeer's today I will swing by one of the last remaining Martin's (a.k.a., Giant Foods in other zip codes) for some groceries, but it is over twice as far from my house as Walmart. Later this year either a Food Lion or a Publix will open up where our local Martin's was until last Thanksgiving. There is a Lowes near where our Martin's used to be, so that keeps me out of Walmart for lawn and garden. Before Martin's there was a local grocer (Ukrop's) where I did my grocery shopping and it was great until competition, largely from Walmart, snuffed them out.
anne -> Gerald Scorse... , March 09, 2017 at 07:35 AM
Amazon, by the way, is a textbook case of union-crushing by management.

[ This assertion needs to be precisely referenced. ]

Gerald Scorse -> anne... , March 09, 2017 at 08:49 AM
Here's one link; there are plenty of others.

http://time.com/956/how-amazon-crushed-the-union-movement/

DrDick -> Gerald Scorse... , March 09, 2017 at 07:37 AM
Both declining union membership and market concentration are a result of a "business friendly" regulatory environment which enables ever greater rent extractions. Yet another nail in the coffin of "the robots did it!"

[Mar 09, 2017] 'Superstar Firms' May Have Shrunk Workers'

Mar 09, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Fred C. Dobbs -> Gerald Scorse... March 09, 2017 at 12:21 PM , 2017 at 12:21 PM
'Superstar Firms' May Have Shrunk Workers'
Share of Income https://nyti.ms/2mGiVmQ
NYT - PATRICIA COHEN - MARCH 8, 2017

For much of the last century it seemed that the slice of the total economic pie going to workers was - like the speed of light - constant. No matter what the economy's makeup, labor could collectively depend on taking home roughly two-thirds of the country's total output as compensation for its efforts. Workers' unchanging share, the economist John Maynard Keynes declared in 1939, was "one of the most surprising, yet best-established, facts in the whole range of economic statistics."

But in recent decades, that steady share - which includes everything from the chief executive's bonuses and stock options to the parking-lot attendant's minimum wage and tips - started to flutter. In the 2000s, it slipped significantly. Although the numbers have inched up in the last couple of years, labor's portion has not risen above 59 percent since before the recession.

The decline has coincided with a slowdown in overall growth as well as a stark leap in inequality. "Labor is getting a shrinking slice of a pie that's not growing very much," David Autor, an economist at M.I.T., said. It is a development that is upending political establishments and economic policies in the United States and abroad.

The reason for workers' shrinking portion of the economy's rewards is puzzling.

Shrinking Labor Share

(graph at link)

The labor share is the percentage of economic output that accrues to workers in the form of compensation.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Some economists argue that technological advancements are to blame as employers have replaced workers with machines. Others point to trade powered by cheap foreign labor, a view championed by President Trump that particularly resonated among voters.

Alternate culprits include tax policies that treat investment income more favorably than wages; flagging skills and education that have rendered workers less productive or unsuited to an information- and service-based economy; or a weakening of labor unions that has chipped away at workers' bargaining power and protections.

Over the last 15 years, for example, labor productivity has grown faster than wages, a sign that workers are not being adequately compensated for their contributions. And some industries have fared worse than others. Slices of the pie going to mining and manufacturing narrowed the most, while service workers (including professional and business services) had the biggest gains. ...

---

Instead of a robot tax, @Noahpinion suggests sharing the profits they create http://bv.ms/2lPl7HC
via @Bloomberg - Noah Smith - February 28, 2017

Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates made a splash in a recent interview, when he suggested that robots should be taxed in order to help humans keep their jobs:

'Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed and you get income tax, social security tax, all those things. If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you'd think that we'd tax the robot at a similar level.'

Gates is only one of many people in the tech world who have worried about automation and its threat to workers. ...

[Mar 06, 2017] Robots are Wealth Creators and Taxing Them is Illogical

Notable quotes:
"... His prescription in the end is the old and tired "invest in education and retraining", i.e. "symbolic analyst jobs will replace the lost jobs" like they have for decades (not). ..."
"... "Governments will, however, have to concern themselves with problems of structural joblessness. They likely will need to take a more explicit role in ensuring full employment than has been the practice in the US." ..."
"... Instead, we have been shredding the safety net and job training / creation programs. There is plenty of work that needs to be done. People who have demand for goods and services find them unaffordable because the wealthy are capturing all the profits and use their wealth to capture even more. Trade is not the problem for US workers. Lack of investment in the US workforce is the problem. We don't invest because the dominant white working class will not support anything that might benefit blacks and minorities, even if the major benefits go to the white working class ..."
"... Really nice if your sitting in the lunch room of the University. Especially if you are a member of the class that has been so richly awarded, rather than the class who paid for it. Humph. The discussion is garbage, Political opinion by a group that sat by ... The hypothetical nuance of impossible tax policy. ..."
"... The concept of Robots leaving us destitute, is interesting. A diversion. It ain't robots who are harvesting the middle class. It is an entitled class of those who gave so little. ..."
"... Summers: "Let them eat training." ..."
"... Suddenly then, Bill Gates has become an accomplished student of public policy who can command an audience from Lawrence Summers who was unable to abide by the likes of the prophetic Brooksley Born who was chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission or the prophetic professor Raghuram Rajan who would become Governor of the Reserve Bank of India. Agreeing with Bill Gates however is a "usual" for Summers. ..."
"... Until about a decade or so ago many states I worked in had a "tangible property" or "personal property" tax on business equipment, and sometimes on equipment + average inventory. Someday I will do some research and see how many states still do this. Anyway a tax on manufacturing equipment, retail fixtures and computers and etc. is hardly novel or unusual. So why would robots be any different? ..."
"... Thank you O glorious technocrats for shining the light of truth on humanity's path into the future! Where, oh where, would we be without our looting Benevolent Overlords and their pompous lapdogs (aka Liars in Public Places)? ..."
"... While he is overrated, he is not completely clueless. He might well be mediocre (or slightly above this level) but extremely arrogant defender of the interests of neoliberal elite. Rubin's boy Larry as he was called in the old days. ..."
"... BTW he was Rubin's hatchet man for eliminating Brooksley Born attempt to regulate the derivatives and forcing her to resign: ..."
Mar 05, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Larry Summers: Robots are wealth creators and taxing them is illogical : I usually agree with Bill Gates on matters of public policy and admire his emphasis on the combined power of markets and technology. But I think he went seriously astray in a recent interview when he proposed, without apparent irony, a tax on robots to cushion worker dislocation and limit inequality. ....

pgl : , March 05, 2017 at 02:16 PM

Has Summers gone all supply-side on his? Start with his title:

"Robots are wealth creators and taxing them is illogical"

I bet Bill Gates might reply – "my company is a wealth creator so it should not be taxed". Oh wait – Microsoft is already shifting profits to tax havens. Summers states:

"Third, and perhaps most fundamentally, why tax in ways that reduce the size of the pie rather than ways that assure that the larger pie is well distributed? Imagine that 50 people can produce robots who will do the work of 100. A sufficiently high tax on robots would prevent them from being produced."

Yep – he has gone all supply-side on us.

cm -> pgl... , March 05, 2017 at 02:46 PM
Summers makes one, and only one, good and relevant point - that in many cases, robots/automation will not produce more product from the same inputs but better products. That's in his words; I would replace "better" with "more predictable quality/less variability" - in both directions. And that the more predictable quality aspect is hard or impossible to distinguish from higher productivity (in some cases they may be exactly the same, e.g. by streamlining QA and reducing rework/pre-sale repairs).

His prescription in the end is the old and tired "invest in education and retraining", i.e. "symbolic analyst jobs will replace the lost jobs" like they have for decades (not).

anne -> cm... , March 05, 2017 at 04:36 PM
Incisive all the way through.
jonny bakho -> pgl... , March 05, 2017 at 02:52 PM
Pundits do not write titles, editors do. Tax the profits, not the robots.

The crux of the argument is this:

"Governments will, however, have to concern themselves with problems of structural joblessness. They likely will need to take a more explicit role in ensuring full employment than has been the practice in the US."

Instead, we have been shredding the safety net and job training / creation programs. There is plenty of work that needs to be done. People who have demand for goods and services find them unaffordable because the wealthy are capturing all the profits and use their wealth to capture even more. Trade is not the problem for US workers. Lack of investment in the US workforce is the problem. We don't invest because the dominant white working class will not support anything that might benefit blacks and minorities, even if the major benefits go to the white working class

pgl -> jonny bakho... , March 05, 2017 at 03:35 PM
"Tax the profits, not the robots." Exactly. I suspect this is how it would have to work since the company owns the robots.
cm -> pgl... , March 05, 2017 at 03:53 PM
In principle taxing profits is preferable, but has a few downsides/differences:

Not very strong points, and I didn't read the Gates interview so I don't know his detailed motivation to propose specifically a robot tax.

cm -> pgl... , March 05, 2017 at 03:58 PM
When I was in Amsterdam a few years ago, they had come up with another perfidious scheme to cut people out of the loop or "incentivize" people to use the machines - in a large transit center, you could buy tickets at a vending machine or a counter with a person - and for the latter you would have to pay a not-so-modest "personal service" surcharge (50c for a EUR 2-3 or so ticket - I think it was a flat fee, but may have been staggered by type of service).

Maybe I misunderstood it and it was a "congestion charge" to prevent lines so people who have to use counter service e.g. with questions don't have to wait.

cm -> cm... , March 05, 2017 at 04:03 PM
And then you may have heard (in the US) the term "convenience fee" which I found rather insulting when I encountered it. It suggests you are charged for your convenience, but it is to cover payment processor costs (productivity enhancing automation!).
anne -> cm... , March 05, 2017 at 04:59 PM
And then you may have heard (in the US) the term "convenience fee" which I found rather insulting when I encountered it. It suggests you are charged for your convenience, but it is to cover payment processor costs (productivity enhancing automation!)

[ Wonderful. ]

JohnH -> pgl... , March 05, 2017 at 06:43 PM
Why not simplify things and just tax capital? We already property? Why not extend it to all capital?
Paine -> jonny bakho... , March 05, 2017 at 05:10 PM
Lack of adequate compensation to the lower half of the job force is the problem. Lack of persistent big macro demand is the problem . A global traiding system that doesn't automatically move forex rates toward universal. Trading zone balance and away from persistent surplus and deficit traders is the problem

Technology is never the root problem. Population dynamics is never the root problem

anne -> Paine... , March 05, 2017 at 05:31 PM
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=cVq0

January 15, 2017

Nonfarm Business Productivity and Real Median Household Income, 1953-2015

(Indexed to 1953)

anne -> Paine... , March 05, 2017 at 05:35 PM
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)

Mr. Bill -> anne... , March 05, 2017 at 06:30 PM
Really nice if your sitting in the lunch room of the University. Especially if you are a member of the class that has been so richly awarded, rather than the class who paid for it. Humph. The discussion is garbage, Political opinion by a group that sat by ... The hypothetical nuance of impossible tax policy.
Mr. Bill -> pgl... , March 05, 2017 at 06:04 PM
The concept of Robots leaving us destitute, is interesting. A diversion. It ain't robots who are harvesting the middle class. It is an entitled class of those who gave so little.
run75441 -> Mr. Bill... , March 05, 2017 at 06:45 PM
Sigh>

After one five axis CNC cell replaces 5 other machines and 4 of the workers, what happens to the four workers?

The issue is the efficiency achieved through better through put forcing the loss of wages. If you use the 5-axis CNC, tax the output from it no more than what would have been paid to the 4 workers plus the Overhead for them. The Labor cost plus the Overhead Cost is what is eliminated by the 5-Axis CNC.

It is not a diversion. It is a reality.

anne -> anne... , March 05, 2017 at 02:20 PM
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/03/economists-behaving-badly/

January 3, 2009

Economists Behaving Badly
By Paul Krugman

Ouch. The Wall Street Journal's Real Time Economics blog has a post * linking to Raghuram Rajan's prophetic 2005 paper ** on the risks posed by securitization - basically, Rajan said that what did happen, could happen - and to the discussion at the Jackson Hole conference by Federal Reserve vice-chairman Don Kohn *** and others. **** The economics profession does not come off very well.

Two things are really striking here. First is the obsequiousness toward Alan Greenspan. To be fair, the 2005 Jackson Hole event was a sort of Greenspan celebration; still, it does come across as excessive - dangerously close to saying that if the Great Greenspan says something, it must be so. Second is the extreme condescension toward Rajan - a pretty serious guy - for having the temerity to suggest that maybe markets don't always work to our advantage. Larry Summers, I'm sorry to say, comes off particularly badly. Only my colleague Alan Blinder, defending Rajan "against the unremitting attack he is getting here for not being a sufficiently good Chicago economist," emerges with honor.

* http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2009/01/01/ignoring-the-oracles/

** http://www.kc.frb.org/publicat/sympos/2005/PDF/Rajan2005.pdf

*** http://www.kc.frb.org/publicat/sympos/2005/PDF/Kohn2005.pdf

**** https://www.kansascityfed.org/publicat/sympos/2005/PDF/GD5_2005.pdf

cm -> pgl... , March 05, 2017 at 03:07 PM
No, his argument is much broader. Summers stops at "no new taxes and education/retraining". And I find it highly dubious that compensation/accommodation for workers can be adequately funded out of robot taxes.

Baker goes far beyond that.

cm -> cm... , March 05, 2017 at 03:09 PM
What Baker mentioned: mandatory severance, shorter work hours or more vacations due to productivity, funding infrastructure.

Summers: "Let them eat training."

Paine -> anne... , March 05, 2017 at 05:19 PM
We should never assign a social task to the wrong institution. Firms should be unencumbered by draconian hire and fire constraints. The state should provide the compensation for lay offs and firings. The state should maintain an adequate local Beveridge ratio of job openings to Job applicants

Firms task is productivity max subject to externality off sets. Including output price changed. And various other third party impacts

anne -> anne... , March 05, 2017 at 02:33 PM
Correcting:

Suddenly then, Bill Gates has become an accomplished student of public policy who can command an audience from Lawrence Summers who was unable to abide by the likes of the prophetic Brooksley Born who was chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission or the prophetic professor Raghuram Rajan who would become Governor of the Reserve Bank of India. Agreeing with Bill Gates however is a "usual" for Summers.

Tom aka Rusty : , March 05, 2017 at 02:19 PM
Until about a decade or so ago many states I worked in had a "tangible property" or "personal property" tax on business equipment, and sometimes on equipment + average inventory. Someday I will do some research and see how many states still do this. Anyway a tax on manufacturing equipment, retail fixtures and computers and etc. is hardly novel or unusual. So why would robots be any different?
pgl -> Tom aka Rusty... , March 05, 2017 at 02:38 PM
I suspect it is the motivation of Gates as in what he would do with the tax revenue. And Gates might be thinking of a higher tax rate for robots than for your garden variety equipment.
Paine -> Tom aka Rusty... , March 05, 2017 at 05:22 PM
There is no difference Beyond spin
Paine -> Paine... , March 05, 2017 at 05:28 PM
Yes some equipment in side any one firm compliments existing labor inside that firm including already installed robots Robots new robots are rivals

Rivals that if subject to a special " introduction tax " Could deter installation
As in
The 50 for 100 swap of the 50 hours embodied in the robot
Replace 100. Similarly paid production line labor
But ...

There's a 100 % plusher chase tax on the robots

Why bother to invest in the productivity increase
If here are no other savings

anne : , March 05, 2017 at 02:28 PM
http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/bill-gates-wants-to-undermine-donald-trump-s-plans-for-growing-the-economy

February 20, 2017

Bill Gates Wants to Undermine Donald Trump's Plans for Growing the Economy

Yes, as Un-American as that may sound, Bill Gates is proposing * a tax that would undermine Donald Trump's efforts to speed the rate of economic growth. Gates wants to tax productivity growth (also known as "automation") slowing down the rate at which the economy becomes more efficient.

This might seem a bizarre policy proposal at a time when productivity growth has been at record lows, ** *** averaging less than 1.0 percent annually for the last decade. This compares to rates of close to 3.0 percent annually from 1947 to 1973 and again from 1995 to 2005.

It is not clear if Gates has any understanding of economic data, but since the election of Donald Trump there has been a major effort to deny the fact that the trade deficit has been responsible for the loss of manufacturing jobs and to instead blame productivity growth. This is in spite of the fact that productivity growth has slowed sharply in recent years and that the plunge in manufacturing jobs followed closely on the explosion of the trade deficit, beginning in 1997.

[Manufacturing Employment, 1970-2017]

Anyhow, as Paul Krugman pointed out in his column **** today, if Trump is to have any hope of achieving his growth target, he will need a sharp uptick in the rate of productivity growth from what we have been seeing. Bill Gates is apparently pushing in the opposite direction.

* https://qz.com/911968/bill-gates-the-robot-that-takes-your-job-should-pay-taxes/

** https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=cABu

*** https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=cABr

**** https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/20/opinion/on-economic-arrogance.html

-- Dean Baker

anne -> anne... , March 05, 2017 at 02:30 PM
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=cABu

January 4, 2017

Nonfarm Business Labor Productivity, * 1948-2016

* Output per hour of all persons

(Percent change)


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

January 4, 2017

Nonfarm Business Labor Productivity, * 1948-2016

* Output per hour of all persons

(Indexed to 1948)

anne -> anne... , March 05, 2017 at 02:32 PM
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=cN2z

January 15, 2017

Manufacturing employment, 1970-2017


https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=cN2H

January 15, 2017

Manufacturing employment, 1970-2017

(Indexed to 1970)

Ron Waller : , March 05, 2017 at 02:43 PM
Yes, it's far better that our betters in the upper class get all the benefits from productivity growth. Without their genetic entitlement to wealth others created, we would just be savages murdering one another in the streets.

These Masters of the Universe of ours put the 'civil' in our illustrious civilization. (Sure it's a racist barbarian concentration camp on the verge of collapse into fascist revolutions and world war. But, again, far better than people murdering one another in the streets!)

People who are displaced from automation are simply moochers and it's only right that they are cut out of the economy and left to die on the streets. This is the law of Nature: survival of the fittest. Social Darwinism is inescapable. It's what makes us human!

Instead of just waiting for people displaced from automation to die on the streets, we should do the humane thing and establish concentration camps so they are quickly dispatched to the Void. (Being human means being merciful!)

Thank you O glorious technocrats for shining the light of truth on humanity's path into the future! Where, oh where, would we be without our looting Benevolent Overlords and their pompous lapdogs (aka Liars in Public Places)?

Peter K. : , March 05, 2017 at 03:14 PM
I think it would be good if the tax was used to help dislocated workers and help with inequality as Gates suggests. However Summers and Baker have a point that it's odd to single out robots when you could tax other labor-saving, productivity-enhancing technologies as well.

Baker suggests taxing profits instead. I like his idea about the government taking stock of companies and collecting taxes that way.

"They likely will need to take a more explicit role in ensuring full employment than has been the practice in the US.

Among other things, this will mean major reforms of education and retraining systems, consideration of targeted wage subsidies for groups with particularly severe employment problems, major investments in infrastructure and, possibly, direct public employment programmes."

Not your usual neoliberal priorities. Compare with Hillary's program.

greg : , March 05, 2017 at 03:34 PM
All taxes are a reallocation of wealth. Not taxing wealth creators is impossible.

On the other hand, any producer who is not taxed will expand at the expense of those producers who are taxed. This we are seeing with respect to mechanical producers and human labor. Labor is helping to subsidize its replacement.

Interesting that Summers apparently doesn't see this.

pgl -> greg ... , March 05, 2017 at 03:38 PM
"Not taxing wealth creators is impossible."

Substitute "impossible" with "bad policy" and you are spot on. Of course the entire Paul Ryan agenda is to shift taxes from the wealthy high income to the rest of us.

cm -> pgl... , March 05, 2017 at 04:12 PM
Judging by the whole merit rhetoric and tying employability to "adding value", one could come to the conclusion that most wealth is created by workers. Otherwise why would companies need to employ them and wring their hands over skill shortages? Are you suggesting W-2 and payroll taxes are bad policy?
pgl -> cm... , March 05, 2017 at 05:15 PM
Payroll taxes to fund Soc. Sec. benefits is a good thing. But when they are used to fund tax cuts for the rich - not a good thing. And yes - wealth may be created by workers but it often ends up in the hands of the "investor class".
Paine -> cm... , March 05, 2017 at 05:45 PM
Let's not conflate value added from value extracted. Profits are often pure economic rents. Very often non supply regulating. The crude dynamics of market based pricing hardly presents. A sea of close shaveed firms extracting only. Necessary incentivizing profits of enterprise
Paine -> Paine... , March 05, 2017 at 05:47 PM
Profiteers extract far more value then they create. Of course disentangling system improving surplus ie profits of enterprise
From the rest of the extracted swag. Exceeds existing tax systems capacity
Paine -> Paine... , March 05, 2017 at 05:51 PM
One can make a solid social welfare case for a class of income stream
that amounts to a running residue out of revenue earned by the firm
above compensation to job holders in that firm

See the model of the recent oboe laureate


But that would amount to a fraction of existing corporate " earnings "
Errr extractions

Chris G : , March 05, 2017 at 04:21 PM
Taking this in a different direction, does it strike anyone else as important that human beings retain the knowledge of how to make the things that robots are tasked to produce?
Paine -> Chris G ... , March 05, 2017 at 05:52 PM
As hobbies yes
Chris G -> Paine... , March 05, 2017 at 05:55 PM
That's it? Only as hobbies? Eesh, I must have a prepper gene.
cm -> Chris G ... , March 05, 2017 at 06:50 PM
The current generation of robots and automated equipment isn't intelligent and doesn't "know" anything. People still know how to make the things, otherwise the robots couldn't be programmed.

However in probably many cases, doing the actual production manually is literally not humanly possible. For example, making semiconductor chips or modern circuit boards requires machines - they cannot be produced by human workers under any circumstances, as they require precision outside the range of human capability.

Chris G -> cm... , March 05, 2017 at 08:22 PM
Point taken but I was thinking more along the lines of knowing how to use a lathe or an end mill. If production is reduced to a series of programming exercises then my sense is that society is setting itself up for a nasty fall.

(I'm all for technology to the extent that it builds resilience. However, when it serves to disconnect humans from the underlying process and reduces their role to simply knowledge workers, symbolic analysts, or the like then it ceases to be net positive. Alternatively stated: Tech-driven improvements in efficiency are good so long as they don't undermine overall societal resilience. Be aware of your reliance on things you don't understand but whose function you take for granted.)

Dan : , March 05, 2017 at 05:00 PM
Gates almost certainly meant tax robots the way we are taxed. I doubt he meant tax the acquisition of robots. We are taxed in complex ways, presumably robots will be as well.

Summers is surely using a strawman to make his basically well thought out arguments.

In any case, everyone is talking about distributional impacts of robots, but resource allocation is surely to be as much or more impacted. What if robots only want to produce antennas and not tomatoes? That might be a damn shame.

It all seems a tad early to worry about and it's hard to see how what ever the actual outcome is, the frontier of possible outcomes has to be wildly improved.

Paine -> Dan ... , March 05, 2017 at 05:57 PM
Given recent developments in labor productivity Your Last phrase becomes a gem

That is If you end with "it's hard to see whatever the actual outcome is The frontier of possible outcomes shouldn't be wildly improved By a social revolution "

Sandwichman : , March 05, 2017 at 08:02 PM
Larry Summers is clueless on robots.

Robots do not CREATE wealth. They transform wealth from one kind to another that subjectively has more utility to robot user. Wealth is inherent in the raw materials, the knowledge, skill and effort of the robot designers and fabricators, etc., etc.

The distinction is crucial.

libezkova -> Sandwichman ... , March 05, 2017 at 08:23 PM
"Larry Summers is clueless on robots."

While he is overrated, he is not completely clueless. He might well be mediocre (or slightly above this level) but extremely arrogant defender of the interests of neoliberal elite. Rubin's boy Larry as he was called in the old days.

BTW he was Rubin's hatchet man for eliminating Brooksley Born attempt to regulate the derivatives and forcing her to resign:

== quote ==
"I walk into Brooksley's office one day; the blood has drained from her face," says Michael Greenberger, a former top official at the CFTC who worked closely with Born. "She's hanging up the telephone; she says to me: 'That was [former Assistant Treasury Secretary] Larry Summers. He says, "You're going to cause the worst financial crisis since the end of World War II."... [He says he has] 13 bankers in his office who informed him of this. Stop, right away. No more.'"

libezkova : March 05, 2017 at 08:09 PM
Market is, at the end, a fully political construct. And what neoliberals like Summers promote is politically motivated -- reflects the desires of the ruling neoliberal elite to redistribute wealth up.

BTW there is a lot of well meaning (or fashion driven) idiotism that is sold in the USA as automation, robots, move to cloud, etc. Often such fashion driven exercises cost company quite a lot. But that's OK as long as bonuses are pocketed by top brass, and power of labor diminished.

Underneath of all the "robotic revolution" along with some degree of technological innovation (mainly due to increased power of computers and tremendous progress in telecommunication technologies -- not some breakthrough) is one big trend -- liquidation of good jobs and atomization of the remaining work force.

A lot of motivation here is the old dirty desire of capital owners and upper management to further to diminish the labor share. Another positive thing for capital owners and upper management is that robots do not go on strike and do not demand wage increases. But the problem is that they are not a consumers either. So robotization might bring the next Minsky moment for the USA economy closer. Sighs of weakness of consumer demand are undeniable even now. Look at auto loan delinquency rate as the first robin. http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2016/02/27/subprime-auto-loan-delinquencies-hit-six-year-high/81027230/

== quote ==
The total of outstanding auto loans reached $1.04 trillion in the fourth-quarter of 2015, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. About $200 billion of that would be classified as subprime or deep subprime.
== end of quote ==

Summers as a staunch, dyed-in-the-wool neoliberal of course is against increasing labor share. Actually here he went full into "supply sider" space -- making richer more rich will make us better off too. Pgl already noted that by saying: "Has Summers gone all supply-side on his? Start with his title"

BTW, there is a lot of crazy thing that are going on with the US large companies drive to diminish labor share. Some o them became barely manageable and higher management has no clue what is happening on the lower layers of the company.

The old joke was: GM does a lot of good things except making good cars. Now it can be expanded to a lot more large US companies.

The "robot pressure" on labor is not new. It is actually the same old and somewhat dirty trick as outsourcing. In this case outsourcing to robots. In other words "war of labor" by other means.

Two caste that neoliberalism created like in feudalism occupy different social spaces and one is waging the war on other, under the smoke screen of "free market" ideology. As buffet remarked "There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning."

BTW successes in robotics are no so overhyped that it is not easy to distinguish where reality ends and the hype starts.

In reality telecommunication revolution is probably more important in liquation of good jobs in the USA. I think Jonny Bakho or somebody else commented on this, but I can't find the post.

[Feb 27, 2017] Even the most zealous Friedmanite or cheerleader for the 'creative class' would have a hard time passing those lies about prosperity for all Workers need to fight for thier rights

Notable quotes:
"... it's not the only one ..."
"... not ..."
"... competition ..."
"... Competitiveness ..."
Feb 27, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
paul Tioxon , February 24, 2017 at 3:03 pm

http://www.andnowuknow.com/bloom/east-coast-workers-call-strike-docks/melissa-de-leon/52651#.WK-hWW_yu70

https://gcaptain.com/spanish-dockworkers-plan-nine-day-strike/

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/port-liverpool-workers-set-ballot-12643143

Paid Outside agitators coordinating NATO seaport strikes. See, men can get together and march in the street around the world at the same time for a cause.

clinical wasteman , February 24, 2017 at 8:11 pm

Many thanks Paul for putting these things together. Encouraging and important for a bunch of reasons at once.

1. Even the most zealous Friedmanite (M. or T., does it matter?) or Richard Florida-type cheerleader for the 'creative class' (deceased) would have a hard time passing global logistics off as a 'dinosaur' industry.

With the disclaimer that most of what I'm about to recommend comes from friends/comrades or publications I'm somehow entangled with, there's serious thinking about the latent global power of logistics workers on the German 'Wildcat' site - [http://wildcat-www.de/en/wildcat/100/e_w100_koper.html] for a recent example from a fair-sized English and huge German-language archive - and years' worth of great writing about much the same thing by Brian Ashton, a 1995-97 Liverpool dock strike organizer and one of the first people to describe coherently the industrial uses of what's now sold as 'the internet of things'. See eg. [http://www.metamute.org/editorial/articles/liverpools-docks-dust-and-dirt] (with images by David Jacques), but if you're interested it's worth searching that site and Libcom.org - just to start with - for more.

And 2.: because right now it can't be repeated often enough that face-to-face community experience can be a powerful source of class solidarity but it's not the only one . Cultural sameness is not the only possible basis for collective action for shared interests. It can happen in a meaningful way even over long distances and long periods, as shown by international support for the Liverpool Dockers of 95-7 (and the California port truck drivers of 2012? Please correct the latter if misremebered).

Admittedly this a sort of a priori principle for me, but not just because it sounds like something it would be nice to believe. No, it's because the 'choice' between globally co-ordinated hyperexploitation and perpetual petty warfare* between internally close-knit groups (with no way out of those groups for individuals or sub-collectives, thus: conscript warfare) is a recipe for general despair.

[*'Warfare' here applies literally in some cases and figuratively in others. But even when it stops short of physical violence it's competition , which puts it well on the way to global exploitation anyway. Who knows why it's not considered obvious that EU-type transnational management institutions and the National Preference revivalists 'opposed' to them share the same obsession with national Competitiveness . (And sub- and supra-national Competitiveness too, but it amounts to the same thing because each arena of economic bloodsports is supposed to toughen the gladiators (upscale slaves, remember) for the next one up.

Peer-to-peer prizefighting is officially healthy for everyone, because even what does kill me makes "my" brand/parent corporation/city/country/supra-national trading bloc stronger. And one day glorious victory over Emerging (capitalist) Planets will kill the Zero that screams in the Sum.)]

lambert strether , February 25, 2017 at 1:10 am

The supply chain . Now that's strategic.

Jeremy Grimm , February 25, 2017 at 1:18 pm

An economy - just like an Army - marches on its stomach. Supply chains for the US economy are long - reaching to distant countries including many countries that aren't our best of friends - and shallow - often depending on few to as few as a single source for many products and key components. Just-in-time deliveries support local inventories trimmed to within a few days of demand. The US economy has a great exposed underbelly.

[Feb 26, 2017] If one takes it as a matter of faith (religious or secular) that human activity inherently leads to good outcomes thatll be a huge influence on how you engage with the world. It blows away humility and restraint. It fosters a sense of entitlement

Notable quotes:
"... "Precarity" has become a popular way to refer to economic and labor conditions that force people-and particularly low-income service workers-into uncertainty. Temporary labor and flexwork offer examples. ..."
"... Such conditions are not new. As union-supported blue-collar labor declined in the 20th century, the service economy took over its mantle absent its benefits. But the information economy further accelerated precarity. ..."
"... ...Facebook and Google, so the saying goes, make their users into their products-the real customer is the advertiser or data speculator preying on the information generated by the companies' free services. ..."
"... Consider phone answering services. Its simple speech recognition, which was once at the forefront of artificial intelligence, has made them ubiquityous. Yet Dante would need a new circle for a person who said "I just heard you say 5...3...7...is this correct?" ..."
"... Some of these adaptations subtract from our quality of life, as the article nicely describes. Some add to it, e.g we no longer spend time at the mall arranging when and where to meet if we get separated. Some are interesting and hard to evaluate, e.g. Chessplayers' relation to the game has changed radically since computers became good at it. ..."
"... And there is one I find insidious: the homogeneization of human activity and even thought. The information we ALL get on a subject will be what sorts to the top among google answers; the rest might as well not exist, much like newspaper articles buried in a back page. ..."
"... And on the economic front, the same homogeneization, with giant multinationals and crossmarketing deals. You'll be in a country with great food, like Turkey, get into your rented Toyota, say "I want dinner", and end up at a Domino's because they have a deal with Toyota. ..."
Feb 26, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Chris G : February 24, 2017 at 04:48 AM
On the Crooked Timber piece: Quiggin makes a very astute observation about 'propertarians' and Divine Providence in his concluding paragraphs. If one takes it as a matter of faith (religious or secular) that human activity inherently leads to good outcomes that'll be a huge influence on how you engage with the world. It blows away humility and restraint. It fosters a sense of entitlement.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Chris G ... , -1
Yep. All roads lead to scapegoating. The anti-social capabilities of base desires and greed are often paled in comparison to those of detached indifference supported by abstract high-mindedness. For example, both sides can blame the robots for the loss of decent blue collar jobs.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , February 24, 2017 at 04:58 AM
Not sure that there are "both sides" any more in elite circles. There are at least two types though. There is very little presence among elites on the progressive side.
Chris G -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , February 24, 2017 at 05:11 AM
Hard to call this related but worth reading, Why Nothing Works Anymore - https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/02/the-singularity-in-the-toilet-stall/517551/
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Chris G ... , February 24, 2017 at 05:54 AM
[THANKS! This was LOL funny:]

"...When spun on its ungeared mechanism, an analogous, glorious measure of towel appears directly and immediately, as if sent from heaven..."

[This was highly relevant to today's lead article "The Jobs Americans Do:"]

... "Precarity" has become a popular way to refer to economic and labor conditions that force people-and particularly low-income service workers-into uncertainty. Temporary labor and flexwork offer examples.

That includes hourly service work in which schedules are adjusted ad-hoc and just-in-time, so that workers don't know when or how often they might be working. For low-wage food service and retail workers, for instance, that uncertainty makes budgeting and time-management difficult. Arranging for transit and childcare is difficult, and even more costly, for people who don't know when-or if-they'll be working.

Such conditions are not new. As union-supported blue-collar labor declined in the 20th century, the service economy took over its mantle absent its benefits. But the information economy further accelerated precarity. For one part, it consolidated existing businesses and made efficiency its primary concern. For another, economic downturns like the 2008 global recession facilitated austerity measures both deliberate and accidental. Immaterial labor also rose-everything from the unpaid, unseen work of women in and out of the workplace, to creative work done on-spec or for exposure, to the invisible work everyone does to construct the data infrastructure that technology companies like Google and Facebook sell to advertisers...

[This was very insightful into its own topic of the separation of technology "from serving human users to pushing them out of the way so that the technologized world can service its own ends," but I would rather classify that as serving owners of proprietary technology rights.]


...Facebook and Google, so the saying goes, make their users into their products-the real customer is the advertiser or data speculator preying on the information generated by the companies' free services. But things are bound to get even weirder than that. When automobiles drive themselves, for example, their human passengers will not become masters of a new form of urban freedom, but rather a fuel to drive the expansion of connected cities, in order to spread further the gospel of computerized automation.

If artificial intelligence ends up running the news, it will not do so in order to improve citizen's access to information necessary to make choices in a democracy, but to further cement the supremacy of machine automation over human editorial in establishing what is relevant...

[THANKS! It was an exceptionally good article in places despite that it wandered a bit off into the ozone at times.] ...

Julio -> Chris G ... , February 24, 2017 at 09:26 AM
Excellent article, thanks!

It hits on one of the reasons why I am less skeptical than Darryl that AI will succeed, an soon, in all kinds of fields: it may remain stupid in some ways, but we will adapt to it.

Consider phone answering services. Its simple speech recognition, which was once at the forefront of artificial intelligence, has made them ubiquityous. Yet Dante would need a new circle for a person who said "I just heard you say 5...3...7...is this correct?"

Some of these adaptations subtract from our quality of life, as the article nicely describes. Some add to it, e.g we no longer spend time at the mall arranging when and where to meet if we get separated. Some are interesting and hard to evaluate, e.g. Chessplayers' relation to the game has changed radically since computers became good at it.

And there is one I find insidious: the homogeneization of human activity and even thought. The information we ALL get on a subject will be what sorts to the top among google answers; the rest might as well not exist, much like newspaper articles buried in a back page.

On the political front, Winston will not be necessary, nobody will click through to the old information, we will all just know that we were always at war with Eurasia.

And on the economic front, the same homogeneization, with giant multinationals and crossmarketing deals. You'll be in a country with great food, like Turkey, get into your rented Toyota, say "I want dinner", and end up at a Domino's because they have a deal with Toyota.

Resist!

Paine -> Julio ... , February 24, 2017 at 09:55 AM
Humans are more contrarian then not

The middle third of the twentieth century was hysterical about the totalitarian state
And the erasure of micro scale cultural heritage

That seems laughable since at least 1965 as lots of old long dormant memes
Revived in these frightfully "totalized " civil societies

The Motions of human Society reveal underlying dialectics not mechanics

Paine -> Paine... , February 24, 2017 at 09:59 AM
"1984 " is way past it's sell by date. Much like Leviathan and the declaration of independence
cm -> Julio ... , February 25, 2017 at 12:01 AM
There was probably more than one movie about this topic - people not happy with their "peaceful" but bland, boring, and intellectually stifling environment.

Not too far from Huxley's "Brave New World" actually.

[Feb 25, 2017] Tyler Cowen as a yet another corrupt neoliberal economist

Feb 25, 2017 | www.nytimes.com

Peter K. said...February 25, 2017 at 08:20 AM

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-09-12/debating-government-s-role-in-boosting-growth

September 12, 2016

Tyler Cowen: There are a few reasons, but the internet may be the biggest. It is easier to have fun while unemployed. That's a social problem for some people.

Noah Smith: If that's true -- if we're seeing a greater preference for leisure -- why are we not seeing wages go up as a result? Is that market also broken?

Cowen: Maybe employers just aren't that keen to hire those males who prefer to live at home, watch porn and not get married. Is that more of a personal failure on the part of the worker than a market failure?

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

And Sanjait likes Tyler Cowen. He's a scumbag.

[Feb 21, 2017] The consequences of the Reagan deficits were to cream midwestern manufacturing and destroy worker bargaining power in export and import-competing industries. The switch from government surpluses to deficits under George W. Bush had much the same consequences

Feb 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
PPaine : February 20, 2017 at 02:41 PM

, 2017 at 02:41 PM
"The consequences of the Reagan deficits were to cream midwestern manufacturing and destroy worker bargaining power in export and import-competing industries. The switch from government surpluses to deficits under George W. Bush had much the same consequences. "


Where's carters volcker ?


And the bit about going from surplus to deficit
Is utterly undeveloped here
Lots of Rubinte lice crawling around under that mossy rock

anne -> PPaine ... , February 20, 2017 at 02:48 PM
Lots of -------- ---- crawling around...

[ Using such language is intolerable. ]

PPaine -> PPaine ... , February 20, 2017 at 02:51 PM
Blaming the GOP ...The business class party...f or this thirty year decimation
Is grotesque ...of course they didn't give a damn about wage types !


The people's party the party of the CIO and the new deal
That is the party that betrayed the assembly line workers of America !

Peter K. -> PPaine ... , February 20, 2017 at 03:32 PM
"Where's carters volcker ?"

"Lots of Rubinte lice crawling around under that mossy rock"

Which PGL always fails to mention, dishonest neoliberal that he is.

Think Harder? Let's study the effects of Lincoln's sky high tariffs? Or East Asian Mercantilism? Globalization not a natural disaster : , February 20, 2017 at 02:54 PM
There was no coming of "globalization" as if it were a hurricane.

US financial sector elites pushed pro-trade deficit policies so that the US would have huge surpluses on the capital accounts, boosting asset prices and financial sector wealth.

Globalization for East Asia means dramatically undervalued currencies and taking over every and all tradable goods sectors.

The US can return to wealth but only if it adopts Abraham Lincoln-inspired strict protectionism - sky high tariffs to fund industrial and infrastructure development and nurture infant industries. Think harder? Why don't economists stop lying and stop shilling for the big banks? THEN and only then can we speak of "alternative facts".

President Trump should draw on Lincoln's example for inspiration...

anne : , February 20, 2017 at 04:11 PM
The consequences of the Reagan deficits were to cream midwestern manufacturing and destroy worker bargaining power in export and import-competing industries....

Brad DeLong

[ I do not understand this passage. ]

Chris G : , -1
Related reading: Josh Bivens, "Brad DeLong is far too lenient on trade policy's role in generating economic distress for American workers" - http://www.epi.org/blog/brad-delong-too-lenient-on-trade-policy-economic-distress/

[Feb 20, 2017] Lots of Rubinte lice crawling around under that mossy rock

Feb 20, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
PPaine : , February 20, 2017 at 02:41 PM
"The consequences of the Reagan deficits were to cream midwestern manufacturing and destroy worker bargaining power in export and import-competing industries. The switch from government surpluses to deficits under George W. Bush had much the same consequences. "


Where's carters volcker ?


And the bit about going from surplus to deficit
Is utterly undeveloped here
Lots of Rubinte lice crawling around under that mossy rock

PPaine -> PPaine ... , February 20, 2017 at 02:51 PM
Blaming the GOP ...The business class party...f or this thirty year decimation
Is grotesque ...of course they didn't give a damn about wage types !


The people's party the party of the CIO and the new deal
That is the party that betrayed the assembly line workers of America !

libezkova -> PPaine ... , February 20, 2017 at 07:08 PM
"The people's party the party of the CIO and the new deal. That is the party that betrayed the assembly line workers of America !"

Exactly: CIO realigned with the capital owners.

Peter K. -> PPaine ... , February 20, 2017 at 03:32 PM
"Where's carters volcker ?"

"Lots of Rubinte lice crawling around under that mossy rock"

Which PGL always fails to mention, dishonest neoliberal that he is.

[Feb 20, 2017] Union busting that started under Reagan emasculated the US work force

Feb 20, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Denis Drew : , February 20, 2017 at 02:10 PM
Manufacturing, manufacturing, manufacturing. Everybody misses the BRONTOSAURUS in the room. 4% of jobs gone from automation and trade - half and half -- true. But, 50% of employees have lost 10% of overall income -- out of the 20% of a couple of generations back.

(This reminds me of comparing EITC's 1/2 1% redistribution with 45% of workers earning less than $15 an hour.)

Could 50% of the workforce squeeze 10% of income back out of the 49% who take 70% (14% of their earnings!)? They sure could if they could collectively agree not to show up for work otherwise. Could if the 49% in turn could squeeze 10% out of the 1% (the infamous one percent) who lately take 20% of overall income -- up from 10% a couple of generations back.

(Does the Chicago Bears quarterback really need $126 million for seven years -- up from to top NFL paid Joe Namath's $600,000 [adjusted truly] a couple of generations back?)

Mechanism? Ask Germany (ask Jimmy Hoffa).
* * * * * *
In case nobody thought about it -- I never thought about until Trump -- it goes like this. The NLRA(a) was written in 1935 leaving blank the use criminal sanctions for muscling the labor market. Even if it did specify jail time for union busting it is extremely arguable that state penalties for muscling ANY persons seeking to collectively bargain (not just union organizers and joiners following fed procedure) would overlap, not violate federal preemption.

It seems inarguable -- under long established First Amendment right to organize collective bargaining -- that federal preemption cannot force employees down an organizing road that is unarguably impassable, because unenforceable.

Upshot: states may make union busting a felony -- hopefully backed by RICO for persistent violators.

6% union density is like 20/10 blood pressure. It starves every other healthy process.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Denis Drew ... , February 20, 2017 at 02:14 PM
Understood. Lost manufacturing jobs was a big hit to union employment aside from the longshoremen.
ken melvin said in reply to RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , February 20, 2017 at 02:37 PM
In 1967-68 was working the waterfront in SF. Saw the crews of Stevedores and Longshoremen load the ships; on the docks, down in the holds, using boom winches, forklifts, and muscle (dangerous work). By 1970, containerization had replaced 90% of them. And, it continues with computerization of storage and loading of containers (something I worked on in 1975). Remember the nephew in the 'Wire'? One day a week if he was lucky. David Simon knew of what he wrote.