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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. his calculation in creating "New labor" (read neoliberal stooges of Wall Street masked as Democratic Party) was right and for a couple of elections voters allow Democrats to betray them after the elections. 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 crush of neoliberal ideology, much like Prague string signified the crush of Communist ideology. While there was some level of harassment, individual beatings of banksters in 2008 were non-existent.


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[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.
cm -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , February 20, 2017 at 05:02 PM
One of the Michael Moore movies (probably but not sure whether about Flint) made the point rather explicitly - former manufacturing workers retrained as law enforcement or prison officers perhaps for employment in other states or "dealing with" their former colleagues driven to crime or at least into the arms of the law enforcement system.
libezkova said in reply to Denis Drew ... , February 20, 2017 at 07:06 PM
"6% union density is like 20/10 blood pressure. It starves every other healthy process."

That was the goal. Or more correctly an important strategy for achieving the goal: redistribution of wealth up.

Union busing is the key part of the strategy of "atomization" of labor which is probably one of the most important programs under neoliberalism.

Again, this is a government supported, and government implemented strategy.

[Feb 12, 2017] Still Seeking Growth From Tax Cuts and Union Busting

Feb 12, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Denis Drew : February 11, 2017 at 08:29 AM , 2017 at 08:29 AM
Re: Still Seeking Growth From Tax Cuts and Union Busting - Noah Smith


States 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.

Suppose the 1935 Congress passed the NLRA(a) intending to leave any criminal sanctions for obstructing union organizing to the states. Might have been because NLRB(b) conducted union elections take place local by local (not nationwide) and Congress could have opined states would deal more efficiently with home conditions -- or whatever. What extra words might Congress have needed to add to today's actual bill? Actually, today's identical NLRA wording would have sufficed perfectly.

Suppose, again, that under the RLA (Railroad Labor Act -- covers railroads and airlines, FedEx) -- wherein elections are conducted nationally -- that Congress desired to forbid states criminalizing the firing of organizers -- how could Congress have worded such a preemption (assuming it was constitutionally valid)? Shouldn't matter to us. Congress did not! :-O

NYT's Nate Cohn reports Trump won by trading places with Obama as blue collar hero v Wall Street -- trade (unions) back. Republicans will have no place to hide.

or more musings on what and how else to rebuild union density locally: http://ontodayspage.blogspot.com/2016/12/wet-backs-and-narrow-backs-irish.html

[Feb 01, 2017] Disingenuous talk about loss on manliness from neoliberals who destroyed the US jobs in seeking redistribution of profits up

Feb 01, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Fred C. Dobbs : January 29, 2017 at 06:13 AM , 2017 at 06:13 AM
The end of manly labor
http://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2017/01/29/the-end-manly-labor/WjzhrUhDCFnWGN1NcR0clL/story.html?event=event25
via @BostonGlobe - Rob Walker - January 29, 2017

It may be simplistic, or even wrongheaded, but the working-class man has become a political obsession. President Trump won this voting bloc with promises of resurrecting the "good jobs" of America's industrial heyday, ostensibly by toughening trade rules and jawboning individual companies. Democrats agree on the need to appeal to working-class men, but the party's strategy for doing so hasn't changed much since Nov. 8: Mostly we hear about addressing income inequality by raising the minimum wage, improving family leave, and making college more affordable.

But it's not clear that those issues resonate with the archetypal Rust Belt factory worker displaced by globalism, technology, or both. For starters, there's no grand-gesture proposal - no modern heir to the job-creating Works Progress Administration, let's say - to capture the imagination. The minimum wage doesn't mean much to this group, and family leave is more of a "new working class" issue, says Lance Compa, who teaches US labor law and international labor rights at Cornell University. After all, we're talking about a theoretical voter who once earned up to $30 an hour and could support a family without advanced skills or education beyond high school - and basically wants that life back.

And maybe there's another factor lurking in the background: This guy - you pictured a guy, right? - frames his concerns more bluntly. "Manly dignity is a big deal for most men," argued Joan C. Williams, founding director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, in a November essay for Harvard Business Review. "So is breadwinner status: Many still measure masculinity by the size of a paycheck. White working-class men's wages hit the skids in the 1970s and took another body blow during the Great Recession. . . . For many blue-collar men, all they're asking for is basic human dignity (male varietal)."

Let's acknowledge the obvious: The collision between 21st-century economic realities and the male ego makes an odd topic for think tank symposiums or congressional hearings. To consider "manly dignity" in the context of economic policy is no excuse to bring back a "when men were men" vision of Manhood 1.0 - much less to embrace the alt-right tweeters raining hatred upon women.

But just because an issue is awkward for scholars and politicians to address doesn't mean it isn't shaping our economy and our politics. "Look," Williams wrote, "I wish manliness worked differently."

Ultimately, men who are truly stuck in the past are going to find out that sloganeering and braggadocio won't revive it. Economist Betsey Stevenson has a point when she argues that "Manly Men Need to Do More Girly Jobs," as the title of her recent Bloomberg View column put it.

Still, as a straightforward matter of both policy and rhetoric, courting any group involves understanding, not belittling, its core concerns and addressing them in ways that make sense specifically to members of that group. Boosting an industrial policy that speaks to this class of men on its own terms "has just not been on the radar of the Democratic Party or progressives in general," Williams said in an interview.

After all, the wave of post-election attention notwithstanding, blue-collar men have been or felt under assault for decades. Writing in The Baffler, author Susan Faludi recently revisited some of her reporting for her 1999 book, "Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man." Her subjects, bitter about lost jobs, declining status, shifting gender values, and untrustworthy elite power structures, seem remarkably familiar.

It's not quite right to suggest that no one before Trump paid attention to these men. One popular and pragmatic-sounding solution is retraining: taking workers from sectors that economic change has destroyed and equipping them with the skills to participate in those it is creating. The problem is that men often don't seem to want those newer jobs. "These are working-class people," Ohio congressman Tim Ryan told NPR not long after the election, when he was challenging Nancy Pelosi for the Democratic House leadership role. "They don't want to get retrained, you know, to run a computer. They want to run a backhoe. They want to build things."

Moreover, newer job categories often involve work that has been dominated by women. Janette Dill, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Akron, has researched lower-level jobs in the health care industry - a fast-growing category, according to government statistics - such as medical and nursing assistants. Very few men pursue such work. "There's some stigma around doing these kind of feminized job tasks," Dill says, such as helping a patient get out of bed or use the bathroom. While it's often physically demanding, it's "seen as women's work," she adds.

At the same time, Dill has seen some evidence of an uptick in younger male workers embracing health care positions with "more of a technical dimension." A gig as a surgical technician, respiratory therapist, or occupational therapist can pay $40,000. The proliferation of jobs like these may not sound as exciting as lightning-bolt gestures toward new car plants. But these new health care jobs generally require a two-year degree, not a four-year baccalaureate, and they "seem more masculine," as Dill carefully puts it.

Meanwhile, manufacturing itself isn't a lost cause, even if its golden age is unlikely to return, argues Timothy Bartik, a senior economist at the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Kalamazoo, Mich. Bartik advocates several ideas that could appeal to the working-man crowd: a more demand-driven approach to retraining; manufacturing extension services designed to help existing smaller manufacturers grow; and economic "empowerment zones" - a Bill Clinton-era policy that provided block grants to regions that devised plans to deploy them according to strategic local needs. These involve federal help but, importantly, play out at regional levels.

This could be more effective than doling out company-specific tax breaks or deploying the blunt instrument of tariffs on the one hand and a more macro-oriented, top-down approach on the other. Empowerment zones are an unlikely successor to the Works Progress Administration - the Depression-era federal agency that put unemployed men to work on public building projects - but could be positioned as a WPA-like expression of tangible government action.

Bartik notes the importance of "rhetorical emphasis" - selling these ideas as specifically beneficial to communities built on old-school working-class economics. Hillary Clinton did propose policies (including some that overlap with these ideas) to help US manufacturing, but for whatever reason, he says, "that didn't seem to get much attention."

What's missing is a more sweeping vision that gives alienated men - and others - a sense that the economy has a use for the kind of work they want to do.

Williams, of UC Hastings, says this is where progressives have been misguided and failed to think big and advocate a comprehensive industrial and educational policy. She points to the Markle Foundation's Rework America initiative, which calls for better matching of skills and training with real job demand. Germany's approach, involving apprenticeship programs and educational structures that also produce middle-skill workers that industry actually needs, offers an example. The point is to think beyond a one-size-fits-all advocacy of the four-year college degree - a "delusory" solution, as Williams puts it, that leaves some workers cold. "The kind of work that college grads do doesn't appeal to them," she says. "That's not their skill set."

Clearly this shift would take time, but Compa, the Cornell labor scholar, adds a couple of practical suggestions that could speak directly and immediately to displaced manufacturing workers. One is an effort to reinvigorate workers' compensation laws, which have withered in many states. Another is to improve COBRA policies, which allow laid-off workers to hang onto health benefits, by extending their duration and forcing companies to pay for them. "I don't want to stereotype," he says, "but men want to feel that they're providing for their family, and one way to provide for your family is to make sure they have health insurance." (Bartik further suggests considering ways of bridging later-career manufacturing layoff victims to retirement if retraining isn't a realistic possibility.)

Finally, Compa thinks we should embrace another facet of America's industrial peak: unions. Building bonds among working-class people as they take their own interests into their own hands, unions can still help provide the sense of dignity that some feel is lost. "The idea that we're going to stand together against this powerful force on the other side," he says, "I think that gives a sense of meaning and purpose."

That basic idea speaks to lost manliness, but also transcends it. Compa mentions that he was surprised to learn how little the sorts of low-level health care workers that Dill studies earn - maybe $12 an hour. "I understand they didn't go to college," he says. "But their work is so important, and requires the same skill and care and attention that a machinist job requires. They should get those kind of wages." Since the market's not making that happen, maybe organizing could.

Dill herself points out that these low wages are symptomatic of a direct link between the "stigma" of feminized labor that those manly men avoid and its direct economic consequences: "The kind of work that women do is often not as valued, by society." So more broadly, maybe this suggests that policy could speak to "the working man" in a way that's also heard by the broader and more diverse working class.

For all her frustration with the way she feels Democrats have ignored or misunderstood seekers of "dignity (male varietal)," Williams thinks so, too. "I don't think this is a zero-sum game," she says. Aggressively advocating for ways to create more and better middle-skill jobs will benefit workers of any race or gender.

But doing that will require progressive policy thinkers to dream bigger and push harder - to man up, you might say.


jonny bakho -> Fred C. Dobbs... , January 29, 2017 at 09:02 AM
Not helpful
Our media relentlessly markets "culture" to males
Sports culture, car culture, gun culture &c are supported by Big$
It is difficult to change the culture when Ad$$ are creating headwinds.
It is all a BigLie, but very appealing
Cultural change is slow, one funeral at a time
libezkova -> Fred C. Dobbs... , January 29, 2017 at 02:56 PM
This talk about "manliness" is disingenuous.

Loss of work is a loss of social status in any industrial society.

And often involves real hardships, such as loss of home, breakup of family, etc.

libezkova -> libezkova... , January 29, 2017 at 02:59 PM
Neoliberals seek to redistribute profits up and for this noble goal all means are good. Including decimation of lower 80% of their compatriots. Who cares. They are all cosmopolitans now.

[Jan 29, 2017] James F on Hatred in Our Divided Nation: Anger at Flyover Country

Notable quotes:
"... By reader James F. Hoisted from comments ..."
Jan 27, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
By reader James F. Hoisted from comments

I, too, am worried by our descent into prewar hatred. I had a friend from Dubrovnik in the'80s. She was a typical Yugoslav – half Croatian, quarter Serbian, and a quarter Russian. She was full of hope, smart, pretty, and heartbreakingly naïve. If she survived the war, I'm pretty sure my friend lost what made her a beautiful human being. She haunts me. Civil wars seem implausible until they start and then they follow the devil's logic. People like my friend tend to die in them or turn into something less than they were in order to survive.

I'm an old man now working on my doctorate through a senior citizens' scholarship. I grew on the North-East Coast. I live in the rural South now. I know people from everywhere because I've been around a long time. Comfortable people from the cities, Democrat or Republican, want to hit someone, hard but they have by and large never worn a uniform or had a gun pointed at their heads. They're frustrated which makes sense but they don't know when a bloody fight is coming. You can smell it coming like folks down here can smell a tornado or like mothers smell death on its way and snatch their children off the front porch.

Here in Flyover Country things are bad, really bad. I recently visited family in Northern California. Things were pretty nice. Not opulent by any means but the shelves were stocked. Security guards in Target let the kids play around. Around here – not so much. Not so much as a Target. We have long lines, empty shelves, and the kids, black and white, always seem aware that they're not safe. Comfortable people in cities worry about reproductive health care. We worry about getting a four-dollar antibiotic for pneumonia at Wal-Mart without having to spend several hundred bucks for the prescription (real life experience with insurance). Our mean income is about a quarter of Northern California's. Housing is cheaper but it's not cheap and it's a lot worse housing. Food and utilities are a lot more expensive. Everything including food and medicine is taxed. We're dying here, slowly perhaps but we're dying none the less.

Even so, my Democrat and Republican friends and family from the coasts couldn't care less about my neighbors. They couldn't care less about fifteen years of war or the kids we send to fight it or the kids our kids kill. I understand. It's only natural to look to one's own interests and what happens in Natchez or Mosul doesn't hit home. However, they're all angry – angry at Flyover people for being sick and poor and tired of being cannon fodder. And so I have to listen to why we don't deserve jobs or health care because we're stupid. We should move or die because markets. I had to justify FDR, religion, the very idea of peace, and social solidarity. I have to defend unions and explain why my state voted for Trump – sometimes to the same person. I have to advocate for veterans, the majority of cops that don't murder kids, and BLM while I'm trying to eat my potatoes. It's exhausting. It's depressing.

Statistics show that urban areas are 'bluer'. They have better health care, better functioning government, and better opportunities. However, not all urban dwellers are comfortable. Chicago has world class hospitals, universities, and pizza. It also has an astronomical murder rate and a police force that got caught torturing its citizens. It has a deep blue machine that excels in privatization. Blue cities are rough with their mostly black and brown poor citizens but poor whites suffer too. I know. I spent decades doing social work in city hell-scapes. I know what it's like to step over bodies and have people bleed all over me. Crime isn't out of control when statistics say so. Crime is out of control when you or people you love get hurt. Likewise, cops shooting unarmed black people is a problem; cops shooting unarmed white people is a problem; people deciding to start an idiosyncratic revolution by shooting cops is a problem; criminals killing kids is also a problem. Statistics and social theory don't really matter at a child's funeral. Life is statistically better in blue enclaves but there is a difference between Compton and Hollywood, Brookline and Dorchester, Harlem and Manhattan. That's a brute fact that uncomfortable people face every day.

Flyover people and the uncomfortable urban poor fight the never-ending wars. We provide commodities like food and coal and oil and metals. We provide cheap labor. Comfortable people have decided that most of us aren't really needed. Immigration, free trade, and automation have made us redundant but we're not going away. At least we're not going away fast. Flyover people and the uncomfortable urban poor have no real place in establishment Democratic or Republican thinking. We are the establishment's problem and the establishment is our problem.

Where do we go from here? Bernie had some good answers to some burning questions. Trump has some very questionable answers to the same problems. I don't know if the Anarchists on Inauguration Day had any answers but they recognized the problem. The comfortable people who posed with pussy hats leave me questioning whether this country can or even should be saved. The comfortable protesters certainly have the legal right to their comfortable lives and they have the legal right to advocate for war with Russia and they have the legal right to hate the President and wear silly hats. They have a legal right to despise the Deplorables and to petition to have sleeping homeless people removed from their places of business. They have the legal right to demand respect for their sexual choices. They have these legal rights because the government guarantees them and if they tear down the civic peace of government, who will protect these rights? I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I see the postmodern farce of Madonna in an orange prison jumper. Is she supposed to be King Christian wearing the Star of David during Nazi occupation? Are Ashley Judd And Julia Roberts supposed to be our Red Emma and our pistol packing Connie Markowitz? Is Lena Durham supposed to be our Marianne or our Greece Expiring on the Ruins of Missolonghi? What I really want to know is will those people drinking Starbucks die with us on the barricades because the differences between guerrilla theater and guerrilla war are getting really blurry.

I don't want to get too snarky but I am getting pretty cranky. Revolutions, as Lenin insisted, are not tea parties. In revolutions resisters get shot for showing courage; in films about revolutions actors get applause for making a courageous performance. The Democratic Resistance may be as silly looking as Teapartiers dressed in revolutionary drag but it is much more dangerous. In 2008, Obama was really popular and he had the support of his own party. Obama failed to ram through his agenda because he refused to rally the people who put him into office. By the time the Republicans hamstrung his administration, he had already lost his momentum. Obama was defeated in the Massachusetts senatorial campaign and by his failure to support Wisconsin's unions. McConnel's obstructionism and Trump's birtherism were obnoxious but they didn't destroy Obama's agenda. Failure to push for card check, Medicare for all, voter registration, prosecuting Wall Street fraud and war crimes, new trade deals, authorizing the extra-judicial murder of US citizens, and overthrowing the government in Guatemala, Ukraine, and Libya were the real disasters.

In 2016, Trump is much less popular than Obama in 2008. His most progressive polices (which he shared with Sanders) like reversing trade agreements, renegotiating drug prices, building infrastructure, and stopping a war with Russia depend on Democratic support. His own party hates him. Impeaching or (God forbid) assassinating Trump would throw the entire government into the hands of Pence and Ryan. That would re-gear the war on Russia, reinstate the trade deals and guarantee the end of the New Deal and the Civil Rights era. Does anyone on the so-called Left really think that's a good idea? There'd be a real fight then; the kind where lots of people die in loud and messy ways. Who is going to do the fighting and dying then? I don't think it's going to be the people in pussy hats but I'm sure I'll be going to plenty of funerals if I live that long.

[Jan 26, 2017] Neoliberals hate unions and destroyed upward mobility, rasing inequality to the highers level in the US history

Notable quotes:
"... Late last year (December 2016), an interesting academic research paper was released by the National Bureau of Economic Research – The Fading American Dream: Trends in Absolute Income Mobility Since 1940 – which provides stark evidence of the way in which this neo-liberal era is panning out and suppressing the opportunities for the least advantaged. ..."
"... Recently released research is now showing that around 50 per cent of American children born in 1980 have incomes higher than their parents compared to 90 per cent born in 1940. The so-called 'American Dream' is looking like a nightmare. ..."
"... The message from Pen was that the damage was done by the time the child reached their teenage years. While the later stages of Capitalism has found new ways to reinforce the elites which support the continuation of its exploitation and surplus labour appropriation (for example, deregulation, suppression of trade unions, real wage suppression, fiscal austerity), it remains that class differentials, which have always restricted upward mobility. ..."
Jan 26, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
RGC : Reply Thursday, January 26, 2017 at 04:45 AM Upward mobility declines sharply as the rich make off with the growth

Posted on Thursday, January 26, 2017 by bill mitchell

Late last year (December 2016), an interesting academic research paper was released by the National Bureau of Economic Research – The Fading American Dream: Trends in Absolute Income Mobility Since 1940 – which provides stark evidence of the way in which this neo-liberal era is panning out and suppressing the opportunities for the least advantaged.

One of the constantly repeating claims made by conservatives is that if governments run deficits they are really undermining the future for their children and their children. The claim is that while the current generation is living it up (deficits are tantamount in this narrative to living a profligate existence), the next generations will have to pay for it via higher taxes and reduced services. It is a bizarre argument given that each generation chooses its own tax burden and we cannot transfer real resources through time. There is truth in the argument that if the current generation imposes terminal damage to our natural environment then we are diminishing the prospects for the future. But that is not the point that the neo-liberals make. Indeed, there is a strong positive relationship between conservative views of fiscal policy (deficits) and the propensity to engage in climate change denial.

Recently released research is now showing that around 50 per cent of American children born in 1980 have incomes higher than their parents compared to 90 per cent born in 1940. The so-called 'American Dream' is looking like a nightmare. Other research has shown that the bottom 50 per cent of the US income distribution have not enjoyed any of the growth since 1980 and that the top-end-of-town has increased its share of income from 12 per cent in 1980s to 20 per cent in 2014.

These shifts are the result of deliberate policy changes and inaction by governments, increasingly co-opted by the rich to serve their interests at the expense of the broader societal well-being. Revolutions have occurred for less.

It was considered the norm of human progress that each generation would leave the next generation better off. As parents we would ensure our children were (collectively) better off.

In his 2012 study of cultural history, The American Dream, Lawrence Samuel reprised the term introduced in 1931 by James Truslow Adams (in his The Epic of America). The two books should be read together to understand the evolution of the thinking about an American identity.

Samuel reflected on the fact that "that the term 'American Dream' was created in the darkest days of the Great Depression was all the more interesting given that many feared it no longer existed".

Times were so bad for many during that period.

Samuel published his book during the GFC, the worst downturn since the Great Depression. He considers there were six eras since the Great Depression marked by different characteristics and circumstance.

But binding the social progress that defines the 'American Dream' was, in the words of the NBER authors the "ideal that children have a higher standard of living than their parents".

We think of our own progress relative to that of our parents.

In recent history, the parents of the baby boomers had endured the Great Depression with it mass unemployment and rising poverty rates, then the Second World War and its aftermath.

Reflecting on that experience, this generation worked through government to ensure there was full employment, broad rights of citizenship with respect to income support, improved public services and reduced income inequality through income redistribution.

Wages growth was strong and proportional with productivity growth and mass education and public health improvements made obvious positive contributions to the growing well-being.

The 1950s and 1960s were not nirvana, but they were a damn site better than the two decades before that and the many before those.

Full employment combined with mass education, in particular, were considered an essential part of the quest for upward mobility

Previous research has shown that US children (a result that transfers across most nations) are pretty much doomed from the start as a result of who their parents are and the resources the parents have at their disposal.

I have written about this before. Please see – Parents are advance secret agents for the class society.

The title of that blog came from the work of Dutch economist Jan Pen, who wrote in his 1971 book – Income Distribution – that public policy had to target disadvantaged children in low-income neighbourhoods at an early age if governments wanted to change the patterns of social and income mobility.

The message from Pen was that the damage was done by the time the child reached their teenage years. While the later stages of Capitalism has found new ways to reinforce the elites which support the continuation of its exploitation and surplus labour appropriation (for example, deregulation, suppression of trade unions, real wage suppression, fiscal austerity), it remains that class differentials, which have always restricted upward mobility.

This also means that as fiscal austerity has further pushed people towards to the bottom of the income distribution that increasing numbers of children will inherit the disadvantage of their parents and this inheritance becomes a vicious circle of poverty and alienation.

In America, research has clearly shown that it is socioeconomic status rather than race which "largely explains gaps that appear to be due to race" (see cited blog for sources).

It is very obvious now that the bias towards fiscal austerity, which has been the hallmark of the neo-liberal era has increased inequality and suppressed dynamic forces in labour markets that promote upward mobility.

By failing to quickly end the most recent downturn (GFC) governments have allowed dynamic forces to multiply which reinforce disadvantage and suppress upward mobility.
While unemployment has been high (and remains high in most nations), the great American economist Arthur Okun considered it to be the 'Tip of the Iceberg'.

The point is that the costs of recession and the resulting persistent unemployment extend well beyond the loss of jobs. Productivity is lower, participation rates are lower, the quality of work suffers and real wages typically fall.

The facts associated with the current downturn are consistent with this general model.

Within this context, Okun outlined his upgrading hypothesis (in the 1960s and 1970s) and the related high-pressure economy model, which provided a coherent rationale for Keynesian demand-stimulus policy positions.

Two references of relevance are Okun, A.M. (1973) 'Upward Mobility in a High-Pressure Economy', Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, 1: 207-252 and Okun, A.M. (1983) Economics for Policymaking, Cambridge, MIT Press.

Arthur Okun (1983: 171) believed that:

unemployment was merely the tip of the iceberg that forms in a cold economy. The difference between unemployment rates of 5 percent and 4 percent extends far beyond the creation of jobs for 1 percent of the labor force. The submerged part of the iceberg includes (a) additional jobs for people who do not actively seek work in a slack labor market but nonetheless take jobs when they become available; (b) a longer workweek reflecting less part-time and more overtime employment; and (c) extra productivity – more output per man-hour – from fuller and more efficient use of labor and capital.

The positive side of this thinking is that disadvantaged groups in the economy were considered to achieve upward mobility as a result of higher economic activity. The saying that was attached to this line of reasoning was "all boats (large or small) rise on the high tide".

Okun's (1973) results are summarised as follows:

The most cyclically sensitive industries have large employment gaps, and were dominated by prime-age males, offered high-paying jobs, offered other remuneration characteristics (fringes) which encouraged long-term attachments between employers and employees, and displayed above-average output per person hour.

In demographic terms, when the employment gap is closed in aggregate, prime-age males exit low-paying industries and take jobs in other higher paying sectors and their jobs are taken mainly by young people.

In the advantaged industries, adult males gain large numbers of jobs but less than would occur if the demographic composition of industry employment remained unchanged following the gap closure. As a consequence, other demographic groups enter these 'good' jobs.

The demographic composition of industry employment is cyclically sensitive. The shift effects are in total estimated (in 1970) to be of the same magnitude as the scale effects (the proportional increases in employment across demographic groups assuming constant shares).

This indicates that a large number of labour market changes (the shifts) are generally of the ladder climbing type within demographic groups from low-pay to higher-pay industries.

So prior to the neo-liberal onslaught and during the period that governments were cogniscant of their responsibilities to maintain full employment (and actively used fiscal and monetary policy to attack high unemployment relatively quickly), a recovery reversed the damage caused by the recession.

The evidence supported the proposition that when the economy is maintained at high levels of employment, workers in low paying sectors (or occupations) also receive income boosts because employers seeking to meet their strong labour demand offer employment and training opportunities to the most disadvantaged in the population. If the economy falters, these groups are the most severely hit in terms of lost income opportunities.

The full employment era (roughly 1945 to the late 1970s) to some extent, therefore, eroded the worst effects of the class differences that we discussed earlier.

Which is one reason why the conservatives had to take control of the state, which had been acting as a mediator in the class struggle – to encourage upward mobility.
The onslaught against full employment and the Welfare State (the hallmark of the social democratic era) began in the early 1970s as well-funded right-wing (so-called 'free market') think tanks started to publish a barrage of propaganda, infiltrated academic institutions, took over the mainstream media, and, even compromised judicial processes (for example, the appointment of Lewis Powell to the US Supreme Court).

The upshot has been that once full employment was abandoned and governments adopted a chronic bias towards fiscal austerity (the belief that fiscal deficits are intrinsically bad), the upgrading benefits that used to accompany growth have been hijacked by the rich and the vast majority of the population now miss out.

In part, this is due to the increased casualisation of the labour market, the suppression of real wages growth, the attack on trade unions, and the shift away from high productivity job creation towards the FIRE sector, which is a largely unproductive sector.

The neo-liberal attack on the role of government in ensuring policy advances the well-being of all has changed the way the distributional system operates – with workers now finding it harder to gain access to real income growth despite contributing more per hour (productivity growth stronger).
Under these circumstances, the old class screening and channelling that the schooling system has provided for the Capitalist system is intensified and inequality accelerates.

We are now starting to see the empirical results of this as cohort studies permit generational comparisons. Shedding light on what has been happening between generations is the task of the NBER paper cited in the Introduction.

The paper by a host of US academics (Raj Chetty, David Grusky, Maximilian Hell, Nathaniel Hendren. Robert Manduca and Jimmy Narang) asks two questions:
First, what fraction of children earn more than their parents today? Second, how have rates of absolute mobility changed over time?

Absolute income mobility is defined as the:

the fraction of children earning or consuming more than their parents.

They seek to answer these questions using "historical data from the Census and CPS cross-sections with panel data for recent birth cohorts from de-identified tax records" that allows them to uniquely bind parent and children incomes.

I will leave it to your interest to explore the techniques they employed. They are very innovative.

Basically they:

  1. "measure income in pre-tax dollars at the household level when parents and children are approximately thirty years old, adjusting for inflation "
  2. "estimate the fraction of children who earn more than their parents in each birth cohort "

The headline findings are:

  1. "we find that rates of absolute upward income mobility in the United States have fallen sharply since 1940".
  2. "the fraction of children earning more than their parents fell from 92% in the 1940 birth cohort to 50% in the 1984 birth cohort."
  3. "Rates of absolute mobility fell the most for children with parents in the middle class."
  4. The finding of a decline in absolute majority is robust across different dimensions (pre-tax, post-transfer; age of child when measured; regions, gender, impacts of immigration, etc).
  5. "Absolute mobility fell in all 50 states between the 1940 and 1980 cohorts, although the rate of decline varied, with the largest declines concentrated in states in the industrial Midwest states such as Michigan and Illinois."

These are Trump's 'rust belts' that he appealed to during the Presidential election.

The following graph is one of many they produce (each offering a different dimension, for example, wage income, family income etc) and "plots the fraction of children earning more than their parents ('absolute mobility') by average by child birth cohort."

So you interpret it as saying that 90 per cent of children born in 1940 will on average have incomes higher than their parents, whereas, only 50 per cent of children born in 1980 will on average have incomes higher than their parents, and so on.

The authors ask: "Why have rates of upward income mobility fallen so sharply over the past half century?"

They offer the following possible reasons:

There have been two important macroeconomic trends that have affected the incomes of children born in the 1980s relative to those born in the 1940s: lower Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rates and greater inequality in the distribution of growth

They reject the first, saying that "the slowdown in aggregate economic growth in recent decades, although important, does not explain most of the observed decline in absolute mobility."

Their counterfactual analysis shows that:

increasing GDP growth without changing the current distribution of growth would have modest effects on rates of absolute mobility.

The problem is that:

a large fraction of GDP goes to a small number of high income earners today, higher GDP growth does not substantially increase the number of children who earn more than their parents.

The key takeaway of their research is this:

The key point is that reviving the "American Dream" of high rates of absolute mobility would require more broadly shared economic growth rather than just higher GDP growth rates.

This research is consistent with studies in other nations. For example, see the analysis in my blog – Policy changes needed to arrest decline in fortunes for low-pay British workers.

The point is that the neo-liberal era with widening income inequality, entrenched labour underutilisation, suppressed wages growth and continued attacks on income support systems is producing an unsustainable society.

Eventually, there will be a counterattack as the middle class prospects continue to be eroded. While it might not come from the current generation, the children who are no coming into adulthood have been dealt a very poor hand by their parents.

If the NBER research is correct, then 50 per cent of Americans born in 1980 (now in their mid-1930) are enjoying absolute mobility (relative to their parents), which brings into question the concept of the 'American Dream', a cultural device to maintain social stability and endeavour.

It should not be forgotten that the parents themselves are under attack from this dysfunctional system and the prospects of growing intergenerational wealth through inheritance is becoming a faded reality for many families.

Another perspective is offered in this paper also released in December 2016 by French economists Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman – : Distributional National Accounts: Methods and Estimates for the United States.

The paper examines the "growth rates for each quantile of the income distribution consistent with macroeconomic growth" in the US since 1913.

I will look at it more closely another day but its major findings are that:

  1. "a sharp divergence in the growth experienced by the bottom 50% versus the rest of the economy."
  2. "The average pre-tax income of the bottom 50% of adults has stagnated since 1980 at about $16,000 per adult (in constant 2014 dollars, using the national income deflator), while average national income per adult has grown by 60% to $64,500 in 2014."
  3. "As a result, the bottom 50% income share has collapsed from about 20% in 1980 to 12% in 2014."
  4. "In the meantime, the average pre-tax income of top 1% adults rose from $420,000 to about $1.3 million, and their income share increased from about 12% in the early 1980s to 20% in 2014."
  5. "The two groups have essentially switched their income shares, with 8 points of national income transferred from the bottom 50% to the top 1%. The top 1% income share is now almost twice as large as the bottom 50% share, a group that is by definition 50 times more numerous. In 1980, top 1% adults earned on average 27 times more than bottom 50% adults before tax while today they earn 81 times more."
  6. "government redistribution has offset only a small fraction of the increase in pre-tax inequality."
  7. "the upsurge of top incomes has mostly been a capital-driven phenomenon since the late 1990s. There is a widespread view that rising income inequality mostly owes to booming wages at the top end, i.e., a rise of the "working rich." Our results confirm that this view is correct from the 1970s to the 1990s. But in contrast to earlier decades, the increase in income concentration over the last fifteen years owes to a boom in the income from equity and bonds at the top. The working rich are either turning into or being replaced by rentiers. Top earners became younger in the 1980s and 1990s but have been growing older since then."

So beware the middle-class. Your children are already losing out but neo-liberal is eating into the parental well-being as well as the financial capitalists prosper.

Conclusion

This situation is obviously unsustainable.

It is time for the Left to stand up and lead the way out of this mess.

Growth and redistribution is needed. Governments have to take on the top-end-of-town. They can start by introducing employment guarantees that provide decent pay (with social wage additions) to anyone, thus eliminating the income insecurity.

Then some serious regulation is required to rein in the financial sector (I would basically eliminate much of it).

The Left are scared to say anything because, in part, their leadership is compromised by relationships with the financial capitalists (for example, the revelations about Hillary Clinton in the leaked E-mails), and, also, because they have a massive inferiority complex when discussing macroeconomics.

They think if they argue that fiscal deficits are usually desirable and should be continuous they will look irresponsible. Well that is because they have allowed the public to be indoctrinated into these erroneous views.

The Left has to launch a massive educational onslaught to redress this knowledge gap as they set about reversing the ravages of neo-liberalism.

My blog is just a little pixel in the phalanx!

That is enough for today!

http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=35255#more-35255

New Deal democrat -> RGC... , January 26, 2017 at 05:19 AM
Nice article, thanks for posting this.

A brief comment. First, Okun was one smart cookie.

Shorter and nerdier Okun:

1. Wage growth increases as the U6 underemployment rate falls under 10%.

2. As the economy heats up, U6 falls faster than U3, meaning an increasing share of marginal workers get jobs. These marginal workers are disproportionately minority groups.

3. Therefore, full employment tends to increase equality.

4. Unions were good vehicles to keep the labor share high enough that full or nearly full employment happened far more often.

reason -> New Deal democrat... , January 26, 2017 at 06:48 AM
"Unions were good vehicles to keep the labor share high enough that full or nearly full employment happened far more often."

If this is true, isn't a bit of a paradox, since unions are a monopoly and in theory monopolies increase price by restricting supply? It could be true however, that the POLITICAL power of unions meant that full employment was regarded as a higher priority than inflation. (Note unions very much prioritize the interests of workers, even to some extent to the detriment of other poorer sections of the community. Could it have been that this caused a backlash in a western world that has been steadily getting older?)

General note, I'm perhaps an oddity on the left in that I'm not convinced that more union power is necessarily the way forward, no matter how effective it was in the past. I don't see the requirements of the future world as being the same as the requirements of the past.

New Deal democrat -> reason ... , January 26, 2017 at 06:55 AM
I agree that more union power might not be the primary way forward, but in the absence of other effective proposals, it certainly should be one lever.

And yes, it is a paradox. On a micro scale, unions may act to the detriment of other potential workers, but on the macro scale, the effects on full employment may well outweigh that drawback.

DrDick -> reason ... , January 26, 2017 at 07:13 AM
Union power has been the key to worker power and increasing worker share for everyone, even nonunion workers, for a century. I see no reason why that should not be true now. Indeed, we need to expand union protections to a lot of workers who have not traditionally been covered (IT workers, low level professionals, etc.).
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> reason ... , January 26, 2017 at 07:14 AM
Unions gave us higher wages for labor. Higher wages for labor gave us more spending. More spending gave us more jobs and lower unemployment. More jobs and lower unemployment AND unions gave us higher wages for labor. It is that old virtuous cycle thing until capital and management start pulling at a thread.
Peter K. -> reason ... , January 26, 2017 at 07:43 AM
"General note, I'm perhaps an oddity on the left in that I'm not convinced that more union power is necessarily the way forward, no matter how effective it was in the past. I don't see the requirements of the future world as being the same as the requirements of the past."

I completely disagree and the acceptance of liberals of the destruction of the union movement is a primary reason why things have gone so badly.

Does Krugman ever talk about unions? No.

Does DeLong? No.

What did Obama do for unions?

Denis Drew is right. Maybe it's true that unions are never coming back but then if so we're in big trouble. It will take some sort of calamity to set things right.

Look at Senate Republicans blocking Supreme Court nominations.

If the democratic socialist ever got significant power you could expect a revolt by finance and big business and the one percent.

I've always imagined it would take a general strike to overcome such a capital strike.

My god, look at Canada. They still have unions. Same with Germany.

This fatalism regarding unions is one reason why things are so bad. Unions helped get out the vote among many other things.

One just needs to study labor history. Of course the neoliberals may be right that unions are of the past, but I suspect they're engaged in motivated reasoning.

You can unionize all jobs that can't be offshored.

Peter K. -> Peter K.... , January 26, 2017 at 07:44 AM
I suspect the anti-union sentiment as expressed by reason - and many other well-meaning types - is the result of decades of pro-business anti-union propaganda.

[Jan 21, 2017] Assessing Obama labor policy track record

Jan 21, 2017 | www.jacobinmag.com
Obama might have done more to bend the tone of Washington than change actual policy, but his tenure is a lesson in what a president can and can't do for working people.

When he took office at the zenith of the financial crisis, Obama's initial moves to stop the hemorrhaging of jobs, including the federal stimulus package and Wall Street bailout, could have been opportunities to reshape the relationship between the state and private sector and to tackle income inequality in the long term. But thanks to bipartisan resistance in Congress, the big banks were never held to account; the stimulus, though a significant social investment, petered out; and no other mass jobs initiatives ever emerged after the "recovery" had sufficiently resuscitated the financial system.

But aspirations toward a New Deal–type stimulus faded fast. The Occupy Wall Street movement's cry for economic justice picked up the momentum and changed the way people view the social dimensions of inequality and the role of protest in civic life. Congress then proved useless in failing to push through even modest investments in infrastructure, restoring funding for basic welfare programs, or making health-care reform truly equitable for working-class people instead of an insurance industry racket.

The squelching of the Employee Free Choice Act , which would have eased the unionization process, further constrained efforts to build workplace democracy. Obama never lifted a finger for the act in the early days of his presidency, when it was still politically possible.

Two parallel failures of Obama's approach toward globalization hurt labor materially and politically. First, the collapse of immigration reform efforts, which only further entrenched a permanent underclass of undocumented workers . Additionally, the perpetuation of the warped neoliberal trade policy that has devastated working-class households who previously enjoyed a modicum of upward mobility.

Trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership revealed Obama's myopic approach to addressing deep destabilization across the workforce - the evaporation of core, decent-paying industries that had supported communities for generations, and the expansion of poverty-wage, unstable, and precarious service jobs.

The administration's reluctance to confront these disruptions provoked a massive backlash against "free trade" and globalization as abandoned workers saw their Democratic representatives allow corporations to drive down wages, undermine labor standards inside and outside US borders, and essentially write the rules of the global economy themselves.

One area where Obama did make meaningful changes was also, sadly, the easiest to roll back.

Through his executive power, he expanded labor protections for tens of thousands of federal contractors, including wage hikes, paid sick leave, and fair-pay rules. The Labor Department extended minimum-wage protections to home-care workers under new administrative guidelines. But those might be rapidly unraveled by conservative lawmakers and Trump, both hell-bent on dismantling Obama's regulatory actions.

Similarly, the Labor Department's overhaul of the eligibility threshold for low-income salaried workers was set to boost the wages of millions nationwide, but are now disintegrating with court challenges and an incoming pro-business administration.

Rulings at the National Labor Relations Board boosted collective-bargaining rights for contractors and graduate student workers , and helped advance organizing efforts for fast-food franchise workers. But these measures could crumble when the new NLRB under Trump veers rightward.

But many major changes in labor policy realized under Obama happened on the state and local level, like the proliferation of paid sick leave laws in states and cities in the past few years. And Occupy's legacy continued in the streets with campaigns like the Fight for 15 , which brought precarious service workers into the national spotlight, and the Chicago Teachers Union , which thwarted the corporate school-reform coalition that Democrats championed.

None of these achievements should be credited to the Obama White House, but they're surrounded by the civic momentum generated with his election, and now may outlast his administration through movements that have learned to radically depart from the liberal centrist elite - an establishment that ultimately crumpled in the election.

That Obama will be succeeded by such an outrageously regressive, racist regime reflects the structural inequalities that no president could begin to dismantle, since they are tied to a neoliberal global economic structure . But in many ways Obama failed culturally to grapple with those injustices, retreating instead into the safer sphere of promoting symbolic equality without material equity. Fighting those inequalities requires not technocratic tinkering in Washington but enlisting local communities through organizing in workplaces, classrooms, and communities.

[Jan 21, 2017] Theres class warfare, all right, but its my class, the rich class, thats making war, and were winning

Notable quotes:
"... In the face of the enormous political chasm between the 99 percent and the 1 percent, a strategy of elite-led, bipartisan deal-cutting premised on calls for "shared sacrifice" leaves this grossly inequitable economic and political fabric intact. As such, the 99 percent are caught in the vise of small-bore policies from their supposed friends and allies while their opponents encircle them with scorched-earth politics. ..."
"... The Obama administration and much of the leadership of the Democratic Party took extreme care not to upset these basic interests. As a consequence, they squandered an exceptional political opportunity. The financial crisis and the Great Recession were one of those moments when members of the business sector were "stripped naked as leaders and strategists," in the words of Simon Johnson, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund. The Great Depression was another. ..."
"... As he put the House of Morgan and other bankers on trial, Ferdinand Pecora, chief counsel of the Senate Banking Committee, helped popularize during the age of Al Capone a term not heard today: the "bankster." These hearings compelled Roosevelt to support stricter financial regulation than he might have otherwise. ..."
"... One cannot talk about crime in the streets today without talking about crime in the suites. ..."
"... The political intransigence lavishly on display in the Republican Party - which repeatedly brought Congress to a caustic standstill - obscured how a major segment of the Democratic Party was loath to mount any major challenge to the entrenched financial and political interests that have captured American politics today. ..."
"... For all the bluster about political polarization, the debate over what to do about the economy, the social safety net, and financial regulation - like the elite discussions over what to do about mass incarceration - oscillated within a very narrow range defined by neoliberalism for much of Obama's tenure. Indeed, the president repeatedly bragged that the federal budget for discretionary spending on domestic programs had shrunk under his watch to the smallest share of the economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president. ..."
Jan 21, 2017 | www.jacobinmag.com

Vast and growing economic inequalities rooted in vast and growing political inequalities are the preeminent problem facing the United States today. They are the touchstone of many of the major issues that vex the country - from mass incarceration to mass underemployment to climate change to the economic recovery of Wall Street but not Main Street and Martin Luther King Street.

In the face of the enormous political chasm between the 99 percent and the 1 percent, a strategy of elite-led, bipartisan deal-cutting premised on calls for "shared sacrifice" leaves this grossly inequitable economic and political fabric intact. As such, the 99 percent are caught in the vise of small-bore policies from their supposed friends and allies while their opponents encircle them with scorched-earth politics.

The Obama administration and much of the leadership of the Democratic Party took extreme care not to upset these basic interests. As a consequence, they squandered an exceptional political opportunity. The financial crisis and the Great Recession were one of those moments when members of the business sector were "stripped naked as leaders and strategists," in the words of Simon Johnson, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund. The Great Depression was another.

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt came into office, the Hoover administration was thoroughly discredited, as was the business sector. FDR recognized that the country was ready for a clean break with the past, and symbolically and substantively cultivated that sentiment. The break did not come from FDR alone. Massive numbers of Americans mobilized in unions, women's organizations, veterans' groups, senior citizen associations, and civil right groups to ensure that the country switched course.

During the Depression, President Roosevelt was forced to broaden the public understanding of crime to include corporate crime. The Senate's riveting Pecora hearings during the waning days of the Hoover administration and the start of the Roosevelt presidency turned a scorching public spotlight on the malfeasance of the corporate sector and its complicity in sparking the Depression.

As he put the House of Morgan and other bankers on trial, Ferdinand Pecora, chief counsel of the Senate Banking Committee, helped popularize during the age of Al Capone a term not heard today: the "bankster." These hearings compelled Roosevelt to support stricter financial regulation than he might have otherwise.

One cannot talk about crime in the streets today without talking about crime in the suites. Over the past four decades, the public obsession with getting tougher on street crime coincided with the retreat of the state in regulating corporate malfeasance - everything from hedge funds to credit default swaps to workplace safety. Keeping the focus on street crime was a convenient strategy to shift public attention and resources from crime in the suites to crime in the streets.

As billionaire financier Warren Buffet quipped in 2006, "There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning." President Obama's persistent calls during his first term for a politics that rose above politics and championed "shared sacrifice" denied this reality and demobilized the public. It thwarted the consolidation of a compelling alternative political vision on which new coalitions and movements could be forged to challenge fundamental inequalities, including mass imprisonment and the growing tentacles of the carceral state.

The political intransigence lavishly on display in the Republican Party - which repeatedly brought Congress to a caustic standstill - obscured how a major segment of the Democratic Party was loath to mount any major challenge to the entrenched financial and political interests that have captured American politics today.

For all the bluster about political polarization, the debate over what to do about the economy, the social safety net, and financial regulation - like the elite discussions over what to do about mass incarceration - oscillated within a very narrow range defined by neoliberalism for much of Obama's tenure. Indeed, the president repeatedly bragged that the federal budget for discretionary spending on domestic programs had shrunk under his watch to the smallest share of the economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president.

[Jan 14, 2017] Weak Labor Market: President Obama Hides Behind Automation

Notable quotes:
"... The unionization rate has plummeted over the last four decades, but this is the result of policy decisions, not automation. Canada, a country with a very similar economy and culture, had no remotely comparable decline in unionization over this period. ..."
"... The unemployment rate and overall strength of the labor market is also an important factor determining workers' ability to secure their share of the benefits of productivity growth in wages and other benefits. When the Fed raises interest rates to deliberately keep workers from getting jobs, this is not the result of automation. ..."
"... It is also not automation alone that allows some people to disproportionately get the gains from growth. The average pay of doctors in the United States is over $250,000 a year because they are powerful enough to keep out qualified foreign doctors. They require that even established foreign doctors complete a U.S. residency program before they are allowed to practice medicine in the United States. If we had a genuine free market in physicians' services every MRI would probably be read by a much lower paid radiologist in India rather than someone here pocketing over $400,000 a year. ..."
Jan 14, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne : January 13, 2017 at 11:11 AM , 2017 at 11:11 AM
http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/weak-labor-market-president-obama-hides-behind-automation

January 13, 2017

Weak Labor Market: President Obama Hides Behind Automation

It really is shameful how so many people, who certainly should know better, argue that automation is the factor depressing the wages of large segments of the workforce and that education (i.e. blame the ignorant workers) is the solution. President Obama takes center stage in this picture since he said almost exactly this in his farewell address earlier in the week. This misconception is repeated in a Claire Cain Miller's New York Times column * today. Just about every part of the story is wrong.

Starting with the basic story of automation replacing workers, we have a simple way of measuring this process, it's called "productivity growth." And contrary to what the automation folks tell you, productivity growth has actually been very slow lately.

[Graph]

The figure above shows average annual rates of productivity growth for five year periods, going back to 1952. As can be seen, the pace of automation (productivity growth) has actually been quite slow in recent years. It is also projected by the Congressional Budget Office and most other forecasters to remain slow for the foreseeable future, so the prospect of mass displacement of jobs by automation runs completely counter to what we have been seeing in the labor market.

Perhaps more importantly the idea that productivity growth is bad news for workers is 180 degrees at odds with the historical experience. In the period from 1947 to 1973, productivity growth averaged almost 3.0 percent, yet the unemployment rate was generally low and workers saw rapid wage gains. The reason was that workers had substantial bargaining power, in part because of strong unions, and were able to secure the gains from productivity growth for themselves in higher living standards, including more time off in the form of paid vacation days and paid sick days. (Shorter work hours sustain the number of jobs in the face rising productivity.)

The unionization rate has plummeted over the last four decades, but this is the result of policy decisions, not automation. Canada, a country with a very similar economy and culture, had no remotely comparable decline in unionization over this period.

The unemployment rate and overall strength of the labor market is also an important factor determining workers' ability to secure their share of the benefits of productivity growth in wages and other benefits. When the Fed raises interest rates to deliberately keep workers from getting jobs, this is not the result of automation.

It is also not automation alone that allows some people to disproportionately get the gains from growth. The average pay of doctors in the United States is over $250,000 a year because they are powerful enough to keep out qualified foreign doctors. They require that even established foreign doctors complete a U.S. residency program before they are allowed to practice medicine in the United States. If we had a genuine free market in physicians' services every MRI would probably be read by a much lower paid radiologist in India rather than someone here pocketing over $400,000 a year.

Similarly, automation did not make our patents and copyrights longer and stronger. These protectionist measures result in us paying over $430 billion a year for drugs that would likely cost one tenth of this amount in a free market. And automation did not force us to institutionalize rules that created an incredibly bloated financial sector with Wall Street traders and hedge fund partners pocketing tens of millions or even hundreds of millions a year. Nor did automation give us a corporate governance structure that allows even the most incompetent CEOs to rip off their companies and pay themselves tens of millions a year.

Yes, these and other topics are covered in my (free) book "Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer." ** It is understandable that the people who benefit from this rigging would like to blame impersonal forces like automation, but it just ain't true and the people repeating this falsehood should be ashamed of themselves.

* https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/12/upshot/in-obamas-farewell-a-warning-on-automations-perils.html

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

-- Dean Baker

anne -> anne... , January 13, 2017 at 10:46 AM
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=cmzG

January 4, 2016

Nonfarm Business Labor Productivity, * 1948-2016

* Output per hour of all persons

(Indexed to 1948)

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

January 4, 2016

Nonfarm Business Labor Productivity, * 1948-2016

* Output per hour of all persons

(Percent change)

Fred C. Dobbs : , -1
(Dang robots.)

A Darker Theme in Obama's Farewell: Automation Can
Divide Us https://nyti.ms/2ioACof via @UpshotNYT
NYT - Claire Cain Miller - January 12, 2017

Underneath the nostalgia and hope in President Obama's farewell address Tuesday night was a darker theme: the struggle to help the people on the losing end of technological change.

"The next wave of economic dislocations won't come from overseas," Mr. Obama said. "It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes a lot of good, middle-class jobs obsolete."

Donald J. Trump has tended to blamed trade, offshoring and immigration. Mr. Obama acknowledged those things have caused economic stress. But without mentioning Mr. Trump, he said they divert attention from the bigger culprit.

Economists agree that automation has played a far greater role in job loss, over the long run, than globalization. But few people want to stop technological progress. Indeed, the government wants to spur more of it. The question is how to help those that it hurts.

The inequality caused by automation is a main driver of cynicism and political polarization, Mr. Obama said. He connected it to the racial and geographic divides that have cleaved the country post-election.

It's not just racial minorities and others like immigrants, the rural poor and transgender people who are struggling in society, he said, but also "the middle-aged white guy who, from the outside, may seem like he's got advantages, but has seen his world upended by economic and cultural and technological change."

Technological change will soon be a problem for a much bigger group of people, if it isn't already. Fifty-one percent of all the activities Americans do at work involve predictable physical work, data collection and data processing. These are all tasks that are highly susceptible to being automated, according to a report McKinsey published in July using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and O*Net to analyze the tasks that constitute 800 jobs.

Twenty-eight percent of work activities involve tasks that are less susceptible to automation but are still at risk, like unpredictable physical work or interacting with people. Just 21 percent are considered safe for now, because they require applying expertise to make decisions, do something creative or manage people.

The service sector, including health care and education jobs, is considered safest. Still, a large part of the service sector is food service, which McKinsey found to be the most threatened industry, even more than manufacturing. Seventy-three percent of food service tasks could be automated, it found.

In December, the White House released a report on automation, artificial intelligence and the economy, warning that the consequences could be dire: "The country risks leaving millions of Americans behind and losing its position as the global economic leader."

No one knows how many people will be threatened, or how soon, the report said. It cited various researchers' estimates that from 9 percent to 47 percent of jobs could be affected.

In the best case, it said, workers will have higher wages and more leisure time. In the worst, there will be "significantly more workers in need of assistance and retraining as their skills no longer match the demands of the job market."

Technology delivers its benefits and harms in an unequal way. That explains why even though the economy is humming, it doesn't feel like it for a large group of workers.

Education is the main solution the White House advocated. When the United States moved from an agrarian economy to an industrialized economy, it rapidly expanded high school education: By 1951, the average American had 6.2 more years of education than someone born 75 years earlier. The extra education enabled people to do new kinds of jobs, and explains 14 percent of the annual increases in labor productivity during that period, according to economists.

Now the country faces a similar problem. Machines can do many low-skilled tasks, and American children, especially those from low-income and minority families, lag behind their peers in other countries educationally.

The White House proposed enrolling more 4-year-olds in preschool and making two years of community college free for students, as well as teaching more skills like computer science and critical thinking. For people who have already lost their jobs, it suggested expanding apprenticeships and retraining programs, on which the country spends half what it did 30 years ago.

Displaced workers also need extra government assistance, the report concluded. It suggested ideas like additional unemployment benefits for people who are in retraining programs or live in states hardest hit by job loss. It also suggested wage insurance for people who lose their jobs and have to take a new one that pays less. Someone who made $18.50 an hour working in manufacturing, for example, would take an $8 pay cut if he became a home health aide, one of the jobs that is growing most quickly.

President Obama, in his speech Tuesday, named some other policy ideas for dealing with the problem: stronger unions, an updated social safety net and a tax overhaul so that the people benefiting most from technology share some of their earnings.

The Trump administration probably won't agree with many of those solutions. But the economic consequences of automation will be one of the biggest problems it faces.

[Jan 07, 2017] Wall Street Dems duped the average worker, throw a bone in a form of like the Heritage Foundations ACA, and explained to deplorable rubes why it is nesseary for them to be unemployed in the name of free trade and globalization.

Notable quotes:
"... What the Wall Street Dems have done is feel the average worker's pain, hand out some questionably progressive programs like the Heritage Foundation's ACA, and explain why it was all necessary in the name of free trade and globalization. ..."
"... And the rubes like it. What a bunch of dopes. ..."
Jan 07, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Jesse :


It may not be overwhelming in its effect, but he did DO something, and had an effect, made an example. Gee, what a terrible thing to do.

What the Wall Street Dems have done is feel the average worker's pain, hand out some questionably progressive programs like the Heritage Foundation's ACA, and explain why it was all necessary in the name of free trade and globalization.

And the rubes like it. What a bunch of dopes.

Uh huh.

Reply Friday, January 06, 2017 at 12:59 PM ilsm -> Jesse... , January 06, 2017 at 01:40 PM
Trump is neither neolib nor neocon enough for the non-deplorables.
pgl -> ilsm... , January 06, 2017 at 05:09 PM
That's right - Trump is Putin's poodle aka Comrade Donald.
Libezkova -> pgl... , -1
Why you don't just buy m16, some ammunition and go to Syria to prove your point and take revenge for Hillary fiasco.

Chickenhawks like you should better be careful what they wish for. With the election of Hillary we would be on the brink of not "cold", but "hot" war, starting in Syria. But chickenhawks like you prefer other people to die to their imperial complex of inferiority.

In other words, all you funny "Putin Poodle", "Putin is a kleptocrat", etc noises is just a testament of the inferiority complex of a typical neoliberal chickenhawk. Much like was the case with Hillary.

War conflict is not a chess game.

[Jan 05, 2017] Immigration class struggle

Notable quotes:
"... Anecdotally, in my manufacturing business, we are under no pressure to give any pay rises and have not been so since 2008. We can get as many [overseas] skilled workers as we need within a few days via agencies, though sadly and inevitably, we've seen the total collapse of apprenticeships, the local college has closed its vocational courses and the industry training boards have all closed too. Since we no longer train anyone, its axiomatic that we now rely on immigrants to fill factory floor positions. ..."
"... That's exactly the plan with Conservatives and New Labour: an underclass and working class composed of foreign indentured workers, like in Dubai. The ravenous middle classes of southern England are very pleased with that and cheer on the plantation economy, in which they think will be gentry. ..."
"... If employers know they can get away with making much bigger profits hiring illegal immigrants and not really checking their papers, they will, and the immigrants will rush in. ..."
"... The current mass migrations have been as fast and large and those of that era, with 15-25% of the working age population of countries like Poland (large) or Lithuania (small) moving to the UK (and Germany). ..."
Jan 05, 2017 | stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com
Immigration & class struggle

James Bloodworth makes an important point here which I fear that some of his interlocutors don't fully appreciate. He writes:

There does exist a discernible bien pensant willingness to pretend that immigration has no impact whatsoever on worker-employer relations it is precisely the unwillingness on the part of liberals to acknowledge the challenges for the working class that migration brings that is rendering the political climate gradually more inhospitable to those who want to find solutions that do not involve sealing off Britain's borders.

The error of which James accuses liberals here is in fact an old one. Liberals of both left and right have for decades been blind to the importance of class struggle. Marx spoke of the "hidden abode of production" precisely because liberals did not want to leave "the realm of freedom, equality, property and Bentham" to see what the labour process was really like. Both Keynes and the neoclassicals effaced classical economists' concern with the distribution of incomes between wages and profits. Classical liberals have long underplayed the importance and ubiquity of workplace coercion . And one of New Labour's biggest failings was its managerialism and acquiescence in the growing wealth and power of the 1%.

From this perspective, liberals who are reluctant to acknowledge immigration's impact upon worker-employer relations are making the same mistake they always have.

Which poses the question. Given that James is right to say that spreadsheets and pious lectures haven't assuaged workers' concerns about the impact of immigration upon the balance of class power, how might we better address the problem?

First, we should note that immigration and globalization (pdf ) are – at most – only one of many factors which are hurting lower-paid workers. Other forces include: austerity; power -biased technical change; the decline of trades unions; the productivity slowdown; financialization (pdf) ; and a meaner welfare state.

The answer to this set of problems is to increase workers' bargaining power – which requires, among other things, policies such as stronger aggregate demand and greater redistribution.

Should immigration controls be part of this package? Perhaps not. Even if we grant that immigration is a problem for the low-paid, it doesn't follow that closing borders will be a great help. The idea that remedies must resemble causes is a fallacy , of the sort that quack doctors in medieval times committed.

In fact, such controls would bring with them other problems:

- They'd require us to leave the single market which might well depress exports and hence incomes.

- In practice, tough immigration controls would bear upon soft targets such as students and innocent people which wouldn't help workers.

- If we impose immigration controls, so will other European countries on British people. This will worsen our job prospects.

- Border controls carry a deadweight cost. Who's going to pay the taxes to pay for border guards?

Quite simply, immigration controls cost money. Given that most people aren't willing to pay to reduce immigration, it should therefore be possible to persuade some of them of the case for relatively open borders.

James is, I fear, right to say that the immigration debate has not been handled well by the left. But it need not be so.

January 04, 2017 | Permalink

Blissex | January 04, 2017 at 07:00 PM
"Who's going to pay the taxes to pay for border guards?"

That's a red herring: economic immigrants are not like spies that come to the UK with pockets full of cash and their only problem is to slip past the border.

the vast majority of economic immigrants want to find jobs that pay better than in their source country.

Perhaps our blogger has forgotten that all it takes to stop economic immigration is to make sure that employers don't hire them in the target country, legally or in the black economy, that is to enforce existing laws, which is very very easy and cheap if there is political will.

Even so the best way to stop economic immigration is to invest in the source countries creating local jobs there (immigration from Germany or France happens but it is obviously not economic), but obviously property and business owners in the target countries don't benefit from that, so immigration is the issue.

Blissex | January 04, 2017 at 07:04 PM
""One big agency plainly informed us on the very first day of a job that there were '70 eastern Europeans waiting' for the work that we were doing."

So what? Did they actually produce these seventy Eastern Europeans at any point?"

http://flipchartfairytales.wordpress.com/2016/08/17/are-we-prepared-for-post-polish-britain/#comment-26614


"Anecdotally, in my manufacturing business, we are under no pressure to give any pay rises and have not been so since 2008. We can get as many [overseas] skilled workers as we need within a few days via agencies, though sadly and inevitably, we've seen the total collapse of apprenticeships, the local college has closed its vocational courses and the industry training boards have all closed too. Since we no longer train anyone, its axiomatic that we now rely on immigrants to fill factory floor positions."

http://stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/stumbling_and_mumbling/2014/05/the-left-immigration.html?cid=6a00d83451cbef69e201a511c45593970c

"I once had a temp job as receptionist at a factory in Glasgow, a city not famous for its endemic labour shortages. The people on the production line were, to a man and woman, Polish. This was neither coincidence nor a result of open competition against lazy, too-expensive locals: staffing had been outsourced to an agency, guaranteeing the firm so many man hours a week without the risk of building up long-term employment rights to any given worker.

A Glaswegian guy came in with his cv one day, and was explicitly turned away because he didn't speak Polish and wouldn't be able to follow instructions on the floor.

The agency rep (also Polish) supplied labour to several other businesses and was not slow to discipline her people for minor infractions of timekeeping or whatever. She was under pressure from both ends - it wasn't just that lost half hours added up to impact her quota, a free hand with summary dismissal also helped make room for the newstarts who arrived every week from Poland and for whom she had to find work."

And so many other random episodes...

Perhaps reading "This London" by Benjamin Judah would help to understand how the low-income labour market really works in some important areas of the country.

Blissex | January 04, 2017 at 07:17 PM
"Perhaps our blogger has forgotten that all it takes to stop economic immigration is to make sure that employers don't hire them in the target country, legally or in the black economy,"

As demonstrated by the Calais camps for third world illegal immigrants: why do they risk their life to cross the Channel to come to the UK? After all France is a rich, safe country like the UK, with similar or better low-end wages.

The answer is simple: they know it is much easier to get jobs and hide in the UK than in France because New Labour and Conservative governments don't enforce immigration laws against employers, except for a few show-cases, because their affluent southern middle and upper-middle class voting bases love cheap servants and cheap hired help.

Igor Belanov | January 04, 2017 at 07:25 PM
In next week's issue Bloodworth flies to China to repatriate all the jobs that emigrated over there.
Blissex | January 04, 2017 at 07:35 PM

"New Labour and Conservative governments don't enforce immigration laws against employers, except for a few show-cases,"

More precisely: against *low-wage* employers. Anyhow high-wage employers are pretty maniacal as to checking entitlement to work.

Blissex | January 04, 2017 at 07:49 PM

Anyhow the "money quote" form JamesB's piece is the final one of course:

"but if the people who toil in British factories have no say over the political direction of the country they live and work in, it will invariably create a distorted politics in which the only voters are middle class voters. Universal suffrage will, in practice, no longer exist."

That's exactly the plan with Conservatives and New Labour: an underclass and working class composed of foreign indentured workers, like in Dubai. The ravenous middle classes of southern England are very pleased with that and cheer on the plantation economy, in which they think will be gentry.

Blissex | January 04, 2017 at 07:54 PM

"That's exactly the plan with Conservatives and New Labour"

New Labour Work and Pensions secretary J Hutto said some years ago:

http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/main-topics/local-stories/crackdown-on-benefits-scroungers-1-2412296

"He said that benefit claimants needed to compete for jobs with migrant workers, many from Eastern Europe. He went on: "We cannot reasonably ask hard-working families to pay for the unwillingness of some to take responsibility to engage in the labour market.""

Another one said that without the many immigrants working for low-wage jobs in the NHS its labour costs would rise, requiring NHS budget increases funded by politically unacceptable higher taxes on the middle classes.

Bob | January 04, 2017 at 08:06 PM
"Who's going to pay the taxes to pay for border guards?"

Nobody. Look, you just make illegal immigrants have no right to anything. A job, open bank account, etc...

Bob | January 04, 2017 at 08:10 PM
Also if we want to implement a JG or higher basic income that applies to anyone invited in the country then we need immigration controls ("meaner welfare state.")
NNF | January 04, 2017 at 09:06 PM
Close the borders, stir things up, send in the Christians to bring about character strength, then open up the borders in 20 years.
Keith | January 05, 2017 at 12:28 AM
Unfortunately there is little sign of any main party offering more constructive alternatives to fortress Britain. Blissex may be right about the explanation. Certain classes have things to loose and not a lot to gain. But then people like Hutton cannot be surprised if the voters abandon his party when his party abandons them. Or Miliband either...etc
TheophileEscargot | January 05, 2017 at 06:42 AM

I love your blog which I've been reading for years.

While your posts usually are skeptical of conventional wisdom, I think one thing you're absolutely conventional on is that competition with immigrants has only a trivial impact on compensation.

There's a standard argument made by well-informed liberals, which goes something like this: "Here is a study of the effect of immigration on wages during the natural experiment when the UK was open to new EU members and France etc were not. Wages only dropped slightly for unskilled workers. Therefore everything is fine."

But one thing even economists know is that wages are STICKY. Workers really, really, really do not like to see their wages fall. The fact that in a growing economy wages fell at all doesn't seem to me to indicate "nothing to see here", they indicate something huge to see here. Given wage stickiness, the effect of competition with immigrants is likely to be long-term wage stagnation, not immediate and obvious wage falls. That's exactly what we've seen, and is much harder to detect statistically.

Moreover there are other factors than just overall wages.

1. Precarity. Immigrants are often willing to accept short-term contracts, zero-hours and more precarious conditions than native-born workers. According to the FT, immigrants have utterly revolutionized our economy this way. Liberals seem to have their own version of Schrodinger's Immigrant: one who utterly transforms our economy by taking previously unacceptable conditions, but doesn't worsen things for native-born workers by doing so.

2. Housing. Immigrants are often single, or support families overseas where the cost of living is cheaper. They therefore only need small or even shared rooms, when a native worker who wants to support a family needs much more space. Immigrants may therefore contribute to the housing crisis, in that employers no longer need to pay wages sufficient for workers to house a family.

3. Wage rise mechanisms. Employers really, really, really do not like to see wages rise. When they're forced to, it's often in response to a shortage of skills in a particular area. With mass immigration of highly mobile workers, there are fewer shortages which could break the mechanism by which wages usually rise.

Overall, I think the conventional wisdom may be greatly underestimating how much competition with the new waves of EU immigrants has harmed native-born workers.

From Arse To Elbow | January 05, 2017 at 11:40 AM
@Blissex,

Re "the best way to stop economic immigration is to invest in the source countries creating local jobs there". The evidence (not anecdata) suggests the opposite. Investing in a developing economy improves the skills of local workers, making them more marketable abroad, and simultaneously raises incomes, giving skilled workers the wherewithal to mirate to developed economies with higher wages.

Re "why do they risk their life to cross the Channel to come to the UK? After all France is a rich, safe country like the UK, with similar or better low-end wages". Because France has a national ID card scheme and without an ID ('sans papiers') it is very difficult to get a job in the formal economy (perversely, this explains why the French black economy is larger than that of the UK).

On top of this, the UK has weakly enforced laws. The 'right to work' checks by corporates are often outsourced to recruitment agencies who have a conflict of interest, while SMEs often lack the interest and/or skills to properly check. The UK has a reputation as being a relatively easy place to find work (or start a business). Ironically, this "truth" has been amplified over the years by media tales of the state being a "soft touch" and incompetent at securing our borders.

Blissex | January 05, 2017 at 12:19 PM
"people like Hutton cannot be surprised if the voters abandon his party when his party abandons them."

People like Hutton are more delighted than surprised by that, because it has happened by them giving up the vote, because "There Is No Alternative". For the neoliberals in any party it is very nice when the lower income servant classes either just stop voting or vote automatically for anybody with a red rosette, even when that anybody is Tristram Hunt or Stephen Twigg, or cannot vote because they are immigrants.

The mandelsonians are rather more terrified of losing the votes of the ravenous rentier middle classes of the south than those of the lower classes:

www.progressonline.org.uk/2011/04/19/purple-and-orange-united-colours-of-coalition/
"Labour is winning votes from disillusioned Lib Dems and its own former supporters who are returning to the fold, but it still has a mountain to climb in the South East, among the aspirational "conservatory-building classes" who were key to its previous election victories."

www.theweek.co.uk/election-2015/62452/blair-to-the-rescue-but-does-miliband-need-toxic-tony
""We all know what Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson really think of Ed Miliband," said Watt. "They think he's abandoned the essential truth which is that Labour needs to champion the conservatory-building classes"

Blissex | January 05, 2017 at 12:35 PM
"The evidence (not anecdata) suggests the opposite. Investing in a developing economy improves the skills of local workers, making them more marketable abroad, and simultaneously raises incomes, giving skilled workers the wherewithal to mirate to developed economies with higher wages."

There is something in that, but it is not a big deal. Many people would rather take a lower salary in their country than migrate, as long as the difference is not huge like 5-10 times as between Romania and UK; consider the small number of slovenian, portoguese or even greek immigrants to the UK, where the difference is 2-3 times and living standards are tolerable. Sure there have been quite a few, but not on the same scale as from the poorest.

Consider also Taiwan or South Korea: massive development, not much outmigration. Sure there has been a bit of migration to the USA of highly educated people, but nowhere like mass. The same for Russia or East Germany post-soviet collapse. Most of them remained.

The trick for rich countries would be to invest in poor countries in production for local consumption with some exports, so rising local living standards motivate people to remain. But that runs directly counter to the goals of business and property owners in the rich countries, who either want:

* masses of immigrants to push down wages and push up rents and reduce the voting power of the low-income classes in the rich countries;

* production in the poor countries for export to the rich countries to reduce employment in the rich countries, especially in unionized industries (in the past of course).

Blissex | January 05, 2017 at 12:44 PM
"where the difference is 2-3 times and living standards are tolerable"

That's a bit imprecise, and in that imprecision there is an interesting point: the difference has to be looked at both at exchange-rate and at PPP, where in poor countries the PPP wage difference with rich countries is usually much smaller.

Mass migration seems to me to happen when there is opportunity and a large (more than 2-3 times) difference in PPP wages. There is migration also when just the difference in exchange-rate wages is large, as those migrants arbitrage the difference (they earn and save in the target country and then go back and consume in the source country), but usually not mass migration.

Blissex | January 05, 2017 at 01:15 PM
"France has a national ID card scheme and without an ID ('sans papiers') it is very difficult to get a job in the formal economy"

Spain and Italy have identity cards too and illegal immigrants go there in large numbers...

Focusing on ID cards or border controls means making the same mistake: focusing on stopping the immigrants instead of the reason why they immigrate, that is employers (the "watering hole") giving them jobs.

If employers know they can get away with making much bigger profits hiring illegal immigrants and not really checking their papers, they will, and the immigrants will rush in.

PS there have been a couple of show-cases in the UK where some employers were thrown under the bus for accepting obviously fake papers, but on the whole the UK cash-in-hand or "we are not forgery experts" side of the economy has ballooned with the happy acquiescence of the political authorities.

Blissex | January 05, 2017 at 02:02 PM
"the happy acquiescence of the political authorities"

Consider as a small part of this all the rentier middle class people who get effort-free tax-free income from renting bunk beds in their sheds or council houses to immigrants cash-in-hand: that breaks several laws, but enforcement is rather sparse, but for the usual show-cases where a few are thrown under the bus for the sake of appearances. Enforcement would be very easy and cheap, given the all-pervasive nature of surveillance in the UK, and the availability of neighbours to snitch, but it would be quite unpopular with the "aspirational "conservatory-building classes"".

And enforcement of "petty" tax-"avoidance" would be quite difficult to square with a "soft-touch" on large scale episodes as in:

www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/labour-fears-corbyn-will-be-seen-as-unambitious-3tww86v5n
"Labour MPs have raised concerns that Jeremy Corbyn's rhetoric on tax avoidance could appear anti-aspiration. A senior shadow cabinet source said the party leader was in danger of overreaching himself in his criticism of David Cameron for investing in Blairmore, the fund set up in an offshore tax haven in the Bahamas by his father Ian."

We live in an era in which "Labour" MPs reckon that taxing rentiers looks anti-aspiration; that is a measure of the times.

From Arse To Elbow | January 05, 2017 at 04:14 PM
@Blissex,

Re migration flows, you have consider three things: numbers relative to home population; that congregation can make immigrant groups invisible to much of a country; and that dispersion across multiple destination countries can do likewise.

For example: Slovenia is very small (and Slovenes are routinely mistaken for other nationalities); a 1/4 of the Portuguese in the UK live around Vauxhall and Stockwell; and about 4% of the Greek population have emigrated since 2008 but to a lot of different countries (many with existing congregations), e.g. the US, UK, Germany and Australia.

Taiwan is a special case because of its relationship with the mainland, but Korea has seen plenty of emigration historically, notably to America and Japan. The UK Korean community is another example of "congregational invisibility", with many to be found in New Malden (betwee Wimbledon and Kingston).

After 1989, lots of East Germans "emigrated" to what was the old West Germany. To say that they have remained in (a unified) Germany rather misses the point. As for the Russians, many of them have emigrated but they've preferred to go to Germany (often backfilling "Ossis") and former Soviet republics. Relatively few have made it as far as Kensington.

The point is that we are living in an era of unprecedented mass movement (into cities as much as between countries). This is a global phenomenon caused by rising living standards, falling transport costs and the tendency of technology (which includes learning English) to make skills more transferrable. This process isn't a deliberate conspiracy by capitalists, so much as the working of capital itself, so it cannot be arrested by policy or bought off by Western investment.

Blissex | January 05, 2017 at 04:30 PM
"we are living in an era of unprecedented mass movement (into cities as much as between countries)"

That relies on a rather narrow view of "era": there have been mass migrations in less recent decades, from Turkey to Germany, from southern Italy to northern Italy and Switzerland and Germany, from Spain to France and Germany.

The current mass migrations have been as fast and large and those of that era, with 15-25% of the working age population of countries like Poland (large) or Lithuania (small) moving to the UK (and Germany).

But the earlier mass migrations happened while demand was booming, so they were about genuinely extending the labor supply, while the current mass migrations seems aimed at replacing "lazy, uppity, exploitative" native workers instead.

Part of the issue is that those "lazy, uppity, exploitative" native workers want it both ways: no "EU contributions" for investment creating jobs in poor EU countries to keep their workers there, and no immigration to the UK either. This maximalism only plays into the hands of the New Labour and Conservative neoliberals.

[Jan 02, 2017] Neoliberals hate government policies, unless they increase thier ability to make profits

Free market is a neoliberal myth, the cornerstone of neoliberal secular region.
Notable quotes:
"... Well, duh. "Policy" and "Capitalism" don't go together and never have. When you enact policy, you destroy the ability to make profit and you get the 1970's. ..."
economistsview.typepad.com
Gibbon1 -> anne... , December 31, 2016 at 10:21 PM
Two of my criticisms about Krugman/Friedman, etc is that is 'free markets' are supposed to substitute for policy in the government sphere. Except very telling except when we're talking about funding the security state.

The other is that the real power of markets is that in a real free market (not a Potemkin one) decisions are made often at the point where needs, information, incentives, and economic power come together. But the large scale decisions the governments have to make, markets fail. Policy though doesn't.

But Neoliberals hate policy.

AngloSaxon -> Gibbon1...
Well, duh. "Policy" and "Capitalism" don't go together and never have. When you enact policy, you destroy the ability to make profit and you get the 1970's.
likbez -> Gibbon1... January 01, 2017 at 10:15 PM
Free market is a neoliberal myth, the cornerstone of neoliberalism as a secular religion. Somewhat similar to "Immaculate Conception" in Catholicism.

In reality market almost by definition is controlled by government, who enforces the rules and punish for the transgressions.

Also note interesting Orwellian "corruption of the language" trick neoliberals use: neoliberals talk about "free market, not "fair market".

After 2008 few are buying this fairy tale about how markets can operate and can solve society problems independently of political power, and state's instruments of violence (the police and the military). This myths is essentially dead.

But like Adventists did not disappear when the second coming of Christ did not occurred in predicted timeframe, neoliberals did not did not disappeared after 2008 either. And neither did neoliberalism, it just entered into zombie, more bloodthirsty stage. the fact that even the term "neoliberalism" is prohibited in the US MSM also helped. It is kind of stealth ideology, unlike say, Marxists, neoliberals do not like to identify themselves as such. The behave more like members of some secret society, free market masons.

Friedmanism is a flavor of economic Lysenkoism. Note that Lysenko like Friedman was not a complete charlatan. Some of his ideas were pretty sound and withstood the test of time. But that does not make his less evil.

And for those who try to embellish this person, I would remind his role in 1973 Chilean coup d'état ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1973_Chilean_coup_d%27%C3%A9tat ) and bringing Pinochet to power. His "Chicago boys" played a vital role in the events. This man did has blood on his hands.

http://www.bidstrup.com/economics.htm

=== quote ===
Of course, bringing a reign of terror to Chile was not why the CIA had sponsored him. The reason he was there was to reverse the gains of the Allende social democracy and return control of the country's economic and political assets to the oligarchy. Pinochet was convinced, through supporters among the academics in the elite Chilean universities, to try a new series of economic policies, called "neoliberal" by their founders, the economists of the University of Chicago, led by an economist by the name of Milton Friedman, who three years later would go on to win a Nobel Prize in Economics for what he was about to unleash upon Chile.

Friedman and his colleagues were referred to by the Chileans as "the Chicago Boys." The term originally meant the economists from the University of Chicago, but as time went on, as their policies began to disliquidate the middle class and poor, it took on a perjorative meaning. That was because as the reforms were implemented, and began to take hold, the results were not what Friedman and company had been predicting. But what were the reforms?

The reforms were what has come to be called "neoliberalism." To understand what "neoliberal" economics is, one must first understand what "liberal" economics are, and so we'll digress briefly from our look at Chile for a quick...
=== end of quote ===

[Dec 27, 2016] Facing Layoff, An IT Employee Makes A Bold Counteroffer

Carnival Corp. told about 200 IT employees that the company was transferring their work to Capgemini, a large IT outsourcing firm
Notable quotes:
"... Senior IT engineer Matthew Culver told CBS that the requested "knowledge transfer activities" just meant training their own replacements , and "he isn't buying any of it," writes Slashdot reader dcblogs . ..."
"... Foreign workers are willing to do a job at a lower salary in most if not all cases b/c the cost of living in their respective countries is a fraction of ours. ..."
Dec 26, 2016 | it.slashdot.org
(computerworld.com) 134

Posted by EditorDavid on Sunday December 25, 2016 @05:05PM from the Bob-Cratchit-vs-Scrooge dept.

ComputerWorld reports:

In early December, Carnival Corp. told about 200 IT employees that the company was transferring their work to Capgemini, a large IT outsourcing firm. The employees had a choice: Either agree to take a job with the contractor or leave without severance. The employees had until the week before Christmas to make a decision about their future with the cruise line.

By agreeing to a job with Paris-based Capgemini, employees are guaranteed employment for six months, said Roger Frizzell, a Carnival spokesman.

"Our expectation is that many will continue to work on our account or placed into other open positions within Capgemini" that go well beyond the six-month period, he said in an email.

Senior IT engineer Matthew Culver told CBS that the requested "knowledge transfer activities" just meant training their own replacements , and "he isn't buying any of it," writes Slashdot reader dcblogs . "After receiving his offer letter from Capgemini, he sent a counteroffer.

It asked for $500,000...and apology letters to all the affected families," signed by the company's CEO. In addition, the letter also demanded a $100,000 donation to any charity that provides services to unemployed American workers. "I appreciate your time and attention to this matter, and I sincerely hope that you can fulfill these terms."

And he's also working directly with a lawyer for an advocacy group that aims to "stop the abuse of H-1B and other foreign worker programs ."

Re:Dear Matthew ( Score: 5 , Insightful) by Anonymous Coward writes: on Sunday December 25, 2016 @06:00PM ( #53553189 )

Foreign workers are willing to do a job at a lower salary in most if not all cases b/c the cost of living in their respective countries is a fraction of ours.

I would be willing to do my job at a fraction of what I am paid currently should that (that being how expensive it is to live here) change. It is equally infuriating to me when American companies use loopholes in our ridiculously complicated tax code to shelter revenues in foreign tax shelters to avoid paying taxes while at the same time benefiting from our infrastructure, emergency services, military, etc..

Its assholes like you that always spout off about free market this or that, about some companies fiduciary responsibilities to it's shareholders blah blah blah... as justification for shitty behavior.

Re:Dear Matthew ( Score: 2 ) by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) writes: on Sunday December 25, 2016 @06:13PM ( #53553247 )
It is equally infuriating to me when American companies use loopholes in our ridiculously complicated tax code to shelter revenues in foreign tax shelters to avoid paying taxes

So who are you infuriated at? The companies that take advantage of those loopholes, or the politicians that put them there? Fury doesn't help unless it is properly directed. Does your fury influence who you vote for?

... while at the same time benefiting from our infrastructure, emergency services, military, etc.

No. Taxes are only sheltered on income generated overseas, using overseas infrastructure, emergency services, etc. I am baffled why Americans believe they have a "right" to tax the sale of a product made in China and sold in France.

Re:Dear Matthew ( Score: 2 ) by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) writes: on Sunday December 25, 2016 @06:33PM ( #53553303 )
I am baffled why Americans believe they have a "right" to tax the sale of a product made in China and sold in France.

In a seriously silly Monty Python sketch about taxes, someone mildly suggested:

"I think we should tax foreigners, living abroad."

Kinda sorta the same idea . . .

Re:Dear Matthew ( Score: 3 ) by fibonacci8 ( 260615 ) writes: on Sunday December 25, 2016 @08:43PM ( #53553777 )

I suppose it's related to the idea that intellectual property "rights" granted by a country of origin should still have the same benefits and drawbacks when transferred to another country. Or at the very least should be treated as an export at such time a base of operations moves out of country.

Re:Dear Matthew ( Score: 5 , Insightful) by Rob Y. ( 110975 ) writes: on Sunday December 25, 2016 @06:37PM ( #53553317 )

Except that calling, say iOS sales 'generated overseas' when the software was written in the US, using US infrastructure, etc . And the company is making the bogus claim that their Irish subsidiary owns the rights to that software. It's a scam - not a loophole.

Re:Dear Matthew ( Score: 5 , Insightful) by geoskd ( 321194 ) writes: on Sunday December 25, 2016 @07:35PM ( #53553547 )
It's a scam - not a loophole.

They are the same thing. The only way to ensure that there are no tax dodges out there is to simplify the tax code, and eliminate the words: "except", "but", "excluding", "omitting", "minus", "exempt", "without", and any other words to those same effects.

Americans are too stupid to ever vote for a poltiician that states they will raise taxes. This means that either politicians lie, or they actively undermine the tax base. Both of those situations are bad for the majority of americans, but they vote for the same scumbags over and over, and will soundly reject any politician who openly advocates tax increases. The result is a race to the bottom. Welcome to reaping what you sow, brought to you by Democracy(tm).

Re: ( Score: 2 ) by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) writes:

Except that calling, say iOS sales 'generated overseas' when the software was written in the US, using US infrastructure, etc .

That makes no sense. Plenty of non-American companies develop software in America. Yet only if they are incorporated in America do they pay income tax on their overseas earnings, and it is irrelevant where their engineering and development was done.

It has nothing whatsoever to do with "using infrastructure". It is just an extraterritorial money grab that is almost certainly counterproductive since it incentivizes American companies to invest and create jobs overseas.

Re: Dear Matthew ( Score: 2 , Insightful) by Anonymous Coward writes:

Yes, taxes are based on profits. So Google, for instance, makes a bunch of money in the US. Their Irish branch then charges about that much for "consulting" leaving the American part with little to no profits to tax.

Re: ( Score: 2 ) by SwashbucklingCowboy ( 727629 ) writes:

Oh get real. Companies make it appear that nearly all income is generated overseas in order to get around that. It's mostly a scam.

Re:Dear Matthew ( Score: 4 , Insightful) by msauve ( 701917 ) writes: on Sunday December 25, 2016 @07:45PM ( #53553601 )

"I am baffled why Americans believe they have a "right" to tax the sale of a product made in China and sold in France."

Because the manufacturing and sales are controlled by a US based company, as is the profit benefit which results. If a US entity, which receives the benefits of US law, makes a profit by any means, why should it not be taxed by the US?

[Dec 27, 2016] Class Struggle In The USA

Notable quotes:
"... Rich individuals (who are willing to be interviewed) also express concern about inequality but generally oppose using higher taxes on the rich to fight it. Scheiber is very willing to bluntly state his guess (and everyone's) that candidates are eager to please the rich, because they spend much of their time begging the rich for contributions. ..."
"... Of course another way to reduce inequality is to raise wages. Buried way down around paragraph 9 I found this gem: "Forty percent of the wealthy, versus 78 percent of the public, said the government should make the minimum wage "high enough so that no family with a full-time worker falls below the official poverty line." ..."
"... The current foundational rules embedded in tax law, intellectual property law, corporate construction law, and other elements of our legal and regulatory system result in distributions that favor those with capital or in a position to seek rents. This isn't a situation that calls for a Robin Hood who takes from the rich and gives to the poor. It is more a question of how elites have rigged the system to work primarily for them. ..."
"... the problem is incomes and demand, and the first and best answer for creating demand for workers and higher wages to compete for those workers is full employment. ..."
"... if you are proposing raising taxes on the rich SO THAT you can cut taxes on the non rich you are simply proposing theft. ..."
"... what we are looking at here is simple old fashioned greed just as stupid and ugly among the "non rich" as it is among the rich. ..."
"... you play into the hands of the Petersons who want to "cut taxes" and leave the poor elderly to die on the streets, and the poor non-elderly to spend their lives in anxiety and fear-driven greed trying to provide against desperate poverty in old age absent any reliable security for their savings.) ..."
"... made by the ayn rand faithful. it is wearisome. ..."
"... The only cure for organized greed is organized labor. ..."
"... A typical voice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues" ..."
Mar 29, 2015 | Angry Bear

Noam Scheiber has a hard hitting article on the front page of www.nytimes.com "2016 Candidates and Wealthy Are Aligned on Inequality"

The content should be familiar to AngryBear readers. A majority of Americans are alarmed by high and increasing inequality and support government action to reduce inequality. However, none of the important 2016 candidates has expressed any willingness to raise taxes on the rich. The Republicans want to cut them and Clinton (and a spokesperson) dodge the question.

Rich individuals (who are willing to be interviewed) also express concern about inequality but generally oppose using higher taxes on the rich to fight it. Scheiber is very willing to bluntly state his guess (and everyone's) that candidates are eager to please the rich, because they spend much of their time begging the rich for contributions.

No suprise to anyone who has been paying attention except for the fact that it is on the front page of www.nytimes.com and the article is printed in the business section not the opinion section. Do click the link - it is brief, to the point, solid, alarming and a must read.

I clicked one of the links and found weaker evidence than I expected for Scheiber's view (which of course I share

"By contrast, more than half of Americans and three-quarters of Democrats believe the "government should redistribute wealth by heavy taxes on the rich," according to a Gallup poll of about 1,000 adults in April 2013."

It is a small majority 52% favor and 47% oppose. This 52 % is noticeably smaller than the solid majorities who have been telling Gallup that high income individuals pay less than their fair share of taxes (click and search for Gallup on the page).

I guess this isn't really surprising - the word "heavy" is heavy maaaan and "redistribute" evokes the dreaded welfare (and conservatives have devoted gigantic effort to giving it pejorative connotations). The 52% majority is remarkable given the phrasing of the question. But it isn't enough to win elections, since it is 52% of adults which corresponds to well under 52% of actual voters.

My reading is that it is important for egalitarians to stress the tax cuts for the non rich and that higher taxes on the rich are, unfortunately, necessary if we are to have lower taxes on the non rich without huge budget deficits. This is exactly Obama's approach.

Comments (87)

Jerry Critter

March 29, 2015 10:40 pm

Get rid of tax breaks that only the wealthy can take advantage of and perhaps everyone will pay their fair share. The same goes for corporations.

amateur socialist

March 30, 2015 11:42 am

Of course another way to reduce inequality is to raise wages. Buried way down around paragraph 9 I found this gem: "Forty percent of the wealthy, versus 78 percent of the public, said the government should make the minimum wage "high enough so that no family with a full-time worker falls below the official poverty line."

I'm fine with raising people's taxes by increasing their wages. A story I heard on NPR recently indicated that a single person needs to make about $17-19 an hour to cover most basic necessities nowadays (the story went on to say that most people in that situation are working 2 or more jobs to get enough income, a "solution" that creates more problems with health/stress etc.). A full time worker supporting kids needs more than $20.

You double the minimum wage and strengthen people's rights to organize union representation. Tax revenues go up (including SS contributions btw) and we add significant growth to the economy with the increased purchasing power of workers. People can go back to working 40-50 hours a week and cut back on moonlighting which creates new job opportunities for the younger folks decimated by this so called recovery.

Win Win Win Win. And the poor overburdened millionaires don't have to have their poor tax fee fees hurt.

Mark Jamison, March 30, 2015 8:09 pm

How about if we get rid of the "re" and call it what it is "distribution". The current foundational rules embedded in tax law, intellectual property law, corporate construction law, and other elements of our legal and regulatory system result in distributions that favor those with capital or in a position to seek rents.

This isn't a situation that calls for a Robin Hood who takes from the rich and gives to the poor. It is more a question of how elites have rigged the system to work primarily for them. Democrats cede the rhetoric to the Right when they allow the discussion to be about redistribution. Even talk of inequality without reference to the basic legal constructs that are rigged to create slanted outcomes tend to accepted premises that are in and of themselves false.

The issue shouldn't be rejiggering things after the the initial distribution but creating a system with basic rules that level the opportunity playing field.

coberly, March 30, 2015 11:03 pm

Thank You Mark Jamison!

An elegant, informed writer who says it better than I can.

But here is how I would say it:

Addressing "inequality" by "tax the rich" is the wrong answer and a political loser.

Address inequality by re-criminalizing the criminal practices of the criminal rich. Address inequality by creating well paying jobs with government jobs if necessary (and there is necessary work to be done by the government), with government protection for unions, with government policies that make it less profitable to off shore

etc. the direction to take is to make the economy more fair . actually more "free" though you'll never get the free enterprise fundamentalists to admit that's what it is. You WILL get the honest rich on your side. They don't like being robbed any more than you do.

But you will not, in America, get even poor people to vote to "take from the rich to give to the poor." It has something to do with the "story" Americans have been telling themselves since 1776. A story heard round the world.

That said, there is nothing wrong with raising taxes on the rich to pay for the government THEY need as well as you. But don't raise taxes to give the money to the poor. They won't do it, and even the poor don't want it except as a last resort, which we hope we are not at yet.

urban legend, March 31, 2015 2:07 am

Coberly, you are dead-on. Right now, taxation is the least issue. Listen to Jared Bernstein and Dean Baker: the problem is incomes and demand, and the first and best answer for creating demand for workers and higher wages to compete for those workers is full employment. Minimum wage will help at the margins to push incomes up, and it's the easiest initial legislative sell, but the public will support policies - mainly big-big infrastructure modernization in a country that has neglected its infrastructure for a generation - that signal a firm commitment to full employment.

It's laying right there for the Democrats to pick it up. Will they? Having policies that are traditional Democratic policies will not do the job. For believability - for convincing voters they actually have a handle on what has been wrong and how to fix it - they need to have a story for why we have seem unable to generate enough jobs for over a decade. The neglect of infrastructure - the unfilled millions of jobs that should have gone to keeping it up to date and up to major-country standards - should be a big part of that story. Trade and manufacturing, to be sure, is the other big element that will connect with voters. Many Democrats (including you know who) are severely compromised on trade, but they need to find a way to come own on the right side with the voters.

coberly, March 31, 2015 10:52 am

Robert

i wish you'd give some thought to the other comments on this post.

if you are proposing raising taxes on the rich SO THAT you can cut taxes on the non rich you are simply proposing theft. if you were proposing raising taxes on the rich to provide reasonable welfare to those who need it you would be asking the rich to contribute to the strength of their own country and ultimately their own wealth.

i hope you can see the difference.

it is especially irritating to me because many of the "non rich" who want their taxes cut make more than twice as much as i do. what we are looking at here is simple old fashioned greed just as stupid and ugly among the "non rich" as it is among the rich.

"the poor" in this country do not pay a significant amount of taxes (Social Security and Medicare are not "taxes," merely an efficient way for us to pay for our own direct needs . as long as you call them taxes you play into the hands of the Petersons who want to "cut taxes" and leave the poor elderly to die on the streets, and the poor non-elderly to spend their lives in anxiety and fear-driven greed trying to provide against desperate poverty in old age absent any reliable security for their savings.)

Kai-HK, April 4, 2015 12:23 am

coberly,

Thanks for your well-reasoned response.

You state, 'i personally am not much interested in the "poor capitalist will flee the country if you tax him too much." in fact i'd say good riddance, and by the way watch out for that tarriff when you try to sell your stuff here.'

(a) What happens after thy leave? Sure you can get one-time 'exit tax' but you lose all the intellectual capital (think of Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, or Steve Jobs leaving and taking their intellectual property and human capital with them). These guys are great jobs creators it will not only be the 'bad capitalists' that leave but also many of the 'job creating' good ones.

(b) I am less worried about existing job creating capitalists in America; what about the future ones? The ones that either flee overseas and make their wealth there or are already overseas and then have a plethora of places they can invest but why bother investing in the US if all they are going to do is call me a predator and then seize my assets and or penalise me for investing there? Right? It is the future investment that gets impacted not current wealth per se.

You also make a great point, 'the poor are in the worst position with respect to shifting their tax burden on to others. the rich do it as a matter of course. it would be simpler just to tax the rich there are fewer of them, and they know what is at stake, and they can afford accountants. the rest of us would pay our "taxes" in the form of higher prices for what we buy.'

Investment capital will go where it is best treated and to attract investment capital a market must provide a competitive return (profit margin or return on investment). Those companies and investment that stay will do so because they are able to maintain that margin .and they will do so by either reducing wages or increasing prices. Where they can do neither, their will exit the market.

That is why, according to research, a bulk of the corporate taxation falls on workers and consumers as a pass-on effect. The optimum corporate tax is 0. This will be the case as taxation increases on the owners of businesses and capital .workers, the middle class, and the poor pay it. The margins stay competitive for the owners of capital since capital is highly mobile and fungible.Workers and the poor less so.

But thanks again for the tone and content of your response. I often get attacked personally for my views instead of people focusing on the issue. I appreciate the respite.

K

coberly, April 4, 2015 12:34 pm

kai

yes, but you missed the point.

i am sick of the whining about taxes. it takes so much money to run the country (including the kind of pernicious poverty that will turn the US into sub-saharan africa. and then who will buy their products.

i can't do much about the poor whining about taxes. they are just people with limited understanding, except for their own pressing needs. the rich know what the taxes are needed for, they are just stupid about paying them. of course they would pass the taxes through to their customers. the customers would still buy what they need/want at the new price. leaving everyone pretty much where they are today financially. but the rich would be forced to be grownup about "paying" the taxes, and maybe the politics of "don't tax me tax the other guy" would go away.

as for the sainted bill gates. there are plenty of other people in this country as smart as he is and would be happy to sell us computer operating systems and pay the taxes on their billion dollars a year profits.

nothing breaks my heart more than a whining millionaire.

Kai-HK

April 4, 2015 11:32 pm

Sure I got YOUR point, it just didn't address MY points as put forth in MY original post. And it still doesn't.

More importantly, you have failed to defend YOUR point against even a rudimentary challenge.

K

coberly, April 5, 2015 12:45 pm

kai,

rudimentary is right.

i have read your "points" about sixteen hundred times in the last year alone. made by the ayn rand faithful. it is wearisome.

and i have learned there is no point in trying to talk to true believers.

William Ryan, May 13, 2015 4:43 pm

Thanks again Coberly for your and K's very thoughtful insight. You guys really made me think hard today and I do see your points about perverted capitalism being a big problem in US. I still do like the progressive tax structure and balanced trade agenda better.

I realize as you say that we cannot compare US to Hong Kong just on size and scale alone. Without all the obfuscation going Lean by building cultures that makes people want to take ownership and sharing learning and growing together is a big part of the solution Ford once said "you cannot learn in school what the world is going to do next".

Also never argue with an idiot. They will bring you down to their level then beat you with experience. The only cure for organized greed is organized labor. It's because no matter what they do nothing get done about it. With all this manure around there must be a pony somewhere! "

Last one.

coberly , May 16, 2015 9:57 pm

kai

as a matter of fact i disagree with the current "equality" fad at least insofar as it implies taking from the rich and giving to the poor directly.

i don't believe people are "equal" in terms of their economic potential. i do beleive they are equal in terms of being due the respect of human beings.

i also believe your simple view of "equality" is a closet way of guarantee that the rich can prey upon the poor without interruption.

humans made their first big step in evolution when they learned to cooperate with each other against the big predators.

Jerry Critter, May 17, 2015 12:10 am

it is mildly progressive up to about $75,000 per year where the rate hits 30%. But from there up to $1.542 million the rate only increases to 33.3%.

I call that very flat!

Jerry Critter, May 17, 2015 11:20 am

"i assume there are people in this country who are truly poor. as far as i know they don't pay taxes."

Read my reference and you will see that the "poor" indeed pay taxes, just not much income tax because they don't have much income. You are fixated on income when we should be considering all forms of taxation.

Jerry Critter, May 17, 2015 9:25 pm

Oh Kai, cut the crap. Paying taxes Is nothing like slavery. My oh my, how did we ever survive with a top tax rate of around 90%, nearly 3 times the current rate? Some people would even say that the economy then was pretty great and the middle class was doing terrific. So stop the deflection and redirection. I think you just like to see how many words you can write. Sorry, but history is not on your side.

[Dec 27, 2016] On Krugman And The Working Class - Tim Duys Fed Watch

Notable quotes:
"... Excellent critique. Establishment Democrats are tone-deaf right now; the state of denial they live in is stunning. I'd like to think they can learn after the shock of defeat is over, but identity politics for non-white, non-male, non-heterosexual is what the Democratic party is about today and has been the last decade or so. ..."
"... That's the effect of incessant Dem propaganda pitting races and sexes against each other. ..."
"... And Democrats' labeling of every Republican president/candidate as a Nazi - including Trump - is desensitizing the public to the real danger created by discriminatory policies that punish [white] children and young adults, particularly boys. ..."
"... So, to make up for the alleged screw job that women and minorities have supposedly received, the plan will be screwing white/hetro/males for the forseeable future. My former employer is doing this very plan, as we speak. Passed over 100 plus males, who have been turning wrenches on airplanes for years, and installed a female shop manager who doesn't know jack-$##t about fixing airplanes. No experience, no certificate......but she has a management degree. But I guess you don't know how to do the job to manage it. ..."
"... Bernie Sanders was that standard bearer, but Krugman and the Neoliberal establishment Democrats (ie. Super Delegates) decided that they wanted to coronate Clinton. ..."
"... Evolution of political parties happens organically, through evolution (punctuated equilibrium - like species and technology - parties have periods of stability with some sudden jumps in differentiation). ..."
"... If Nancy Pelosi is re-elected (highly likely), it will be the best thing to happen to Republicans since Lincoln. They will lose even more seats. ..."
"... The Coastal Pelosi/Schumer wing is still in power, and it will take decimation at the ballot box to change the party. The same way the "Tea Party" revolution decimated the Republicans and led to Trump. Natural selection at work. ..."
"... The central fact of the election is that Hillary has always been extraordinarily unlikable, and it turned out that she was Nixonianly corrupt ..."
"... I'm from Dallas. Three of my closest friends growing up (and to this day), as well as my brother in law, are hispanic. They, and their families, all vote Republican, even for Trump. Generally speaking, the longer hispanics are in the US, the more likely they tend to vote Republican. ..."
"... The Democratic Establishment and their acolytes are caught in a credibility trap. ..."
"... I also think many Trump voters know they are voting against their own economic interest. The New York Times interviewed a number who acknowledge that they rely on insurance subsidies from Obamacare and that Trump has vowed to repeal it. I know one such person myself. She doesn't know what she will do if Obamacare is repealed but is quite happy with her vote. ..."
"... Krugman won his Nobel for arcane economic theory. So it isn't terribly surprising that he spectacularly fails whenever he applies his brain to anything remotely dealing with mainstream thought. He is the poster boy for condescending, smarter by half, elite liberals. In other words, he is an over educated, political hack who has yet to learn to keep his overtly bias opinions to himself. ..."
"... Funny how there's all this concern for the people whose jobs and security and money have vanished, leaving them at the mercy of faceless banks and turning to drugs and crime. Sad. Well, let's bash some more on those lazy, shiftless urban poors who lack moral strength and good, Protestant work ethic, shall we? ..."
"... Clinton slammed half the Trump supporters as deplorables, not half the public. She was correct; about half of them are various sorts of supremacists. The other half (she said this, too) made common cause with the deplorables for economic reasons even though it was a devil's bargain. ..."
"... I have never commented here but I will now because of the number of absurd statements. I happen to work with black and Hispanic youth and have also worked with undocumented immigrants. To pretend that trump and the Republican Party has their interest in mind is completely absurd. As for the white working class, please tell me what programs either trump or the republican have put forward to benefit them? I have lost a lot of respect for Duy ..."
"... The keys of the election were race, immigration and trade. Trump won on these points. What dems can do is to de-emphasize multiculturalism, racial equality, political correctness etc. Instead, emphasize economic equality and security, for all working class. ..."
"... Krugman more or less blames media, FBI, Russia entirely for Hillary's loss, which I think is wrong. As Tim said, Dems have long ceased to be the party of the working class, at least in public opinion, for legitimate reasons. ..."
"... All Mr. Krugman and the Democratic establishment need to do is to listen, with open ears and mind, to what Thomas Frank has been saying, and they will know where they went wrong and most likely what to do about it, if they can release themselves from their fatal embrace with Big Money covered up by identity politics. ..."
"... Pretty sad commentary by neoliberal left screaming at neoliberal right and vice versa. ..."
"... The neoliberals with their multi-culti/love them all front men have had it good for a while, now there's a reaction. Deal with it. ..."
Dec 27, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com
Jason Nordsell : , November 27, 2016 at 08:02 AM
Excellent critique. Establishment Democrats are tone-deaf right now; the state of denial they live in is stunning. I'd like to think they can learn after the shock of defeat is over, but identity politics for non-white, non-male, non-heterosexual is what the Democratic party is about today and has been the last decade or so.

The only way Dems can make any headway by the midterms is if Trump really screws up, which is a tall order even for him. He will pick the low-hanging fruit (e.g., tax reform, Obamacare reform, etc), the economy will continue to recover (which will be attributed to Trump), and Dems will lose even more seats in Congress. And why? Because they refuse to recognize that whites from the middle-class and below are just as disadvantaged as minorities from the same social class.

If white privilege exists at all (its about as silly as the "Jews control the banks and media" conspiracy theories), it exists for the upper classes. Poor whites need help too. And young men in/out of college today are being displaced by women - not because the women have superior academic qualification, but because they are women. I've seen it multiple times firsthand in some of the country's largest companies and universities (as a lawyer, when an investigation or litigation takes place, I get to see everyone's emails, all the way to CEO/board). There is a concerted effort to hire only women and minorities, especially for executive/managerial positions. That's not equality.

That's the effect of incessant Dem propaganda pitting races and sexes against each other. This election exposed the media's role, but its not over. Fortunately, Krugman et al. are showing the Dems are too dumb to figure out why they lost. Hopefully they keep up their stupidity so identity politics can fade into history and we can get back to pursuing equality.

bob -> Jason Nordsell... , November 28, 2016 at 03:02 PM
"There is a concerted effort to hire only women and minorities, especially for executive/managerial positions."

Goooooolllllllllllllly, gee. Now why would that be? I hope you're not saying there shouldn't be such an effort. This is a good thing. It exactly and precisely IS equality. It may be a bit harsh, but if certain folks continually find ways to crap of women and minorities, then public policies would seem warranted.

Are you seriously telling us that pursuing public policies to curb racial and sexual discrimination are a waste of time?

How, exactly, does your vision of "pursuit of equality" ameliorate the historical fact of discrimination?

Jason Nordsell -> bob... , November 29, 2016 at 10:17 AM
You don't make up for past discrimination with discrimination. You make up for it by equal application of the law. Today's young white men are not the cause of discrimination of the 20th century, or of slavery. If you discriminate against them because of the harm caused by other people, you're sowing the seeds of a REAL white nationalist movement. And Democrats' labeling of every Republican president/candidate as a Nazi - including Trump - is desensitizing the public to the real danger created by discriminatory policies that punish [white] children and young adults, particularly boys.

Displacement of white men by lesser-qualified women and minorities is NOT equality.

Paid Minion -> bob... , December 26, 2016 at 01:29 PM
So, to make up for the alleged screw job that women and minorities have supposedly received, the plan will be screwing white/hetro/males for the forseeable future. My former employer is doing this very plan, as we speak. Passed over 100 plus males, who have been turning wrenches on airplanes for years, and installed a female shop manager who doesn't know jack-$##t about fixing airplanes. No experience, no certificate......but she has a management degree. But I guess you don't know how to do the job to manage it.

God forbid somebody have to "pay some dues" before setting them loose as suit trash.

This will not end well.

Richard -> Jason Nordsell... , November 30, 2016 at 03:45 PM
You had me nodding until the last part.

Back when cultural conservatives ruled the roost (not that long ago), they didn't pursue equality either. Rather, they favored (hetero Christian) white men. So hoping for Dem stupidity isn't going to lead to equality. Most likely it would go back to favoring hetero Christian white men.

Todd : , November 27, 2016 at 08:46 AM
"...should they find a new standard bearer that can win the Sunbelt states and bridge the divide with the white working class? I tend to think the latter strategy has the higher likelihood of success."

Easy to say. What would that standard bearer or that strategy look like?

Bill -> Todd... , November 27, 2016 at 08:59 AM
Bernie Sanders was that standard bearer, but Krugman and the Neoliberal establishment Democrats (ie. Super Delegates) decided that they wanted to coronate Clinton. Big mistake that we are now paying for...
Bob Salsa -> Bill... , November 28, 2016 at 12:56 PM
Basic political math - Sanders would have been eaten alive with his tax proposals by the GOP anti-tax propaganda machine on Trump steroids.

His call to raise the payroll tax to send more White working class hard-earn money to Washington would have made election night completely different - Trump would have still won, it just wouldn't have been a surprise but rather a known certainty weeks ahead.

dwb : , November 27, 2016 at 10:47 AM
Evolution of political parties happens organically, through evolution (punctuated equilibrium - like species and technology - parties have periods of stability with some sudden jumps in differentiation).

Old politicians are defeated, new ones take over. The old guard, having been successful in the past in their own niche rarely change.

If Nancy Pelosi is re-elected (highly likely), it will be the best thing to happen to Republicans since Lincoln. They will lose even more seats.

The Coastal Pelosi/Schumer wing is still in power, and it will take decimation at the ballot box to change the party. The same way the "Tea Party" revolution decimated the Republicans and led to Trump. Natural selection at work.

In 1991, Republicans thought they would always win, Democrats thought the country was relegated to Republican Presidents forever. Then along came a new genotype- Clinton. In 2012, Democrats thought that they would always win, and Republicans were thought to be locked out of the electoral college. Then along came a new genotype, Trump.

A new genotype of Democrat will have to emerge, but it will start with someone who can win in flyover country and Texas. Hint: They will have to drop their hubris, disdain and lecturing, some of their anti-growth energy policies, hate for the 2nd amendment, and become more fiscally conservative. They have to realize that *no one* will vote for an increase in the labor supply (aka immigration) when wages are stagnant and growth is anemic. And they also have to appreciate people would rather be free to choose than have decisions made for them. Freedom means nothing unless you are free to make mistakes.

But it won't happen until coastal elites like Krugman and Pelosi have retired.


swampwiz -> dwb... , November 28, 2016 at 12:59 AM
My vote for the Democratic Tiktaalik is the extraordinarily Honorable John Bel Edwards, governor of Louisiana. The central fact of the election is that Hillary has always been extraordinarily unlikable, and it turned out that she was Nixonianly corrupt (i.e., deleted E-mails on her illegal private server) as well - and she still only lost by 1% in the tipping point state (i.e., according to the current count, which could very well change).
bob -> dwb... , November 28, 2016 at 03:09 PM
You know what will win Texas? Demographic change. Economic growth. And it is looking pretty inevitable on both counts.

I'm also pretty damned tired of being dismissed as "elitist", "smug" and condescending. I grew up in a red state. I know their hate. I know their condescension (they're going to heaven, libruls are not).

It cuts both ways. The Dems are going into a fetal crouch about this defeat. Did the GOP do that after 2008? Nope. They dug in deeper.

Could be a lesson there for us.

Smugly your,

dwb -> bob... , November 28, 2016 at 06:27 PM
Ahh yes, all Texas needs is demographic change, because all [Hispanics, Blacks, insert minority here] will always and forever vote Democrat. Even though the Democrats take their votes for granted and Chicago/Baltimore etc. are crappy places to live with no school choice, high taxes, fleeing jobs, and crime. Even though Trump outperformed Romney among minorities.

Clinton was supposed to be swept up in the winds of demographics and the Democrats were supposed to win the White House until 2083.

Funny things happen when you take votes for granted. Many urban areas are being crushed by structural deficits and need some Detroit type relief. I predict that some time in the next 30 years, poles reverse, and urban areas are run by Republicans.

If you are tired of being dismissed as "elitist", "smug" and condescending, don't be those things. Don't assume people will vote for your party because they have always voted that way, or they are a certain color. Respect the voters and work to earn it.

Jason Nordsell -> bob... , November 29, 2016 at 10:27 AM
The notion that hispanic=democrat that liberals like bob have is hopelessly ignorrant.

I'm from Dallas. Three of my closest friends growing up (and to this day), as well as my brother in law, are hispanic. They, and their families, all vote Republican, even for Trump. Generally speaking, the longer hispanics are in the US, the more likely they tend to vote Republican.

The Democratic Party's plan to wait out the Republicans and let demographics take over is ignorant, racist and shortsighted, cooked up by coastal liberals that haven't got a clue, and will ultimately fail.

In addition to losing hispanics, Democrats will also start losing the African American vote they've been taking for granted the last several decades. Good riddance to the Democratic party, they are simply unwilling to listen to what the people want.

RJ -> bob... , December 06, 2016 at 11:20 PM
You might be tired of it, but clearly you are elitist, smug, and condescending.

Own it. Fly your freak flag proudly,

Tom : , November 27, 2016 at 11:42 AM
This is a really shoddy piece that repeats the medias pulling of Clintons quote out of context. She also said "that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they're just desperate for change. It doesn't really even matter where it comes from. They don't buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won't wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they're in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well."

Now maybe it is okay to make gnore this part of the quote because you think calling racism "deplorable" is patently offensive. But when the ignored context makes the same points that Duy says she should have been making, that is shoddy.

dwb -> Tom... , November 27, 2016 at 12:07 PM
There are zero electoral college votes in the State of Denial. Hopefully you understand a)the difference between calling people deplorable and calling *behavior* deplorable; b) Godwin's Law: when you resort to comparing people to Hitler you've lost the argument. Trump supporters were not racist, homophobic, xenophobic, or any other phobic. As a moderate, educated, female Trump supporter counseled: He was an a-hole, but I liked his policies.

Even my uber liberal friends cannot tell me what Clinton's economic plan was. Only that they are anti-Trump.

Trump flanked Clinton on the most popular policies (the left used to be the anti-trade party of union Democrats): Lower regulation, lower taxes, pro-2nd amendment, trade deals more weighted in favor of US workers, and lower foreign labor supply. Turn's out, those policies are sufficiently popular that people will vote for them, even when packaged into an a-hole. Trump's anti-trade platform was preached for decades by rust belt unions.

The coastal Democrats have become hostages to pro-big-government municipal unions crushing cities under structural deficits, high taxes, poorly run schools, and overbearing regulations. The best thing that can happen for the Democrats is for the Republicans to push for reforms of public pensions, school choice, and break municipal unions. Many areas see the disaster in Chicago and Baltimore, run by Democrats for decades, and say no thank you. Freed of the need to cater to urban municipal unions, Democrats may be able to appeal to people elsewhere.

Nick : , November 27, 2016 at 01:16 PM
Where can you move to for a job when wages are so low compared to rents?
The young generations are not happy with house prices or rents as well.
Giant_galveston -> Tim C.... , December 05, 2016 at 08:43 PM
Tim, I believe you've missed the point: by straightforward measures, Democratic voters in USA are substantially under-represented. The problem is likely to get much worse, as the party whose policies abet minority rule now controls all three branches of the federal government and a substantial majority of state governments.
Tim C. : , November 27, 2016 at 02:50 PM
This is an outstanding takedown on what has been a never-ending series of garbage from Krugman.

I used to hang on every post he'd made for years after the 2008 crisis hit. But once the Clinton coronation arose this year, the arrogant, condescending screed hit 11 - and has not slowed down since. Threads of circular and illogical arguments have woven together pathetic - and often non-liberal - editorials that have driven me away permanently.

Since he's chosen to ride it all on political commentary, Krugman's credibility is right there with luminaries such as Nial Ferguson and Greg Mankiw.

Seems that everyone who chooses to hitch their wagon to the Clintons ends up covered in bilge..... funny thing about that persistent coincidence...

dazed and confused : , November 27, 2016 at 02:58 PM
"And it is an especially difficult pill given that the decline was forced upon the white working class.... The tsunami of globalization washed over them....in many ways it was inevitable, just as was the march of technology that had been eating away at manufacturing jobs for decades. But the damage was intensified by trade deals.... Then came the housing crash and the ensuing humiliation of the foreclosure crisis."

All the more amazing then that Trump pulled out such a squeaker of an election beating Clinton by less than 2% in swing states and losing the popular vote overall. In the shine of Duy's lights above, I would have imagined a true landslide for Trump... Just amazing.

Jesse : , November 27, 2016 at 04:29 PM

The Democratic Establishment and their acolytes are caught in a credibility trap.

dimknight : , November 27, 2016 at 11:48 PM
"I don't know that the white working class voted against their economic interest".

I think you're pushing too hard here. Democrats have been for, and Republicans against many policies that benefit the white working class: expansionary monetary policy, Obamacare, housing refinance, higher minimum wage, tighter worker safety regulation, stricter tax collection, and a host of others.

I also think many Trump voters know they are voting against their own economic interest. The New York Times interviewed a number who acknowledge that they rely on insurance subsidies from Obamacare and that Trump has vowed to repeal it. I know one such person myself. She doesn't know what she will do if Obamacare is repealed but is quite happy with her vote.

Doug Rife : , November 28, 2016 at 07:17 AM
There is zero evidence for this theory. It ignores the fact that Trump lied his way to the White House with the help of a media unwilling to confront and expose his mendacity. And there was the media's obsession with Clinton's Emails and the WikiLeaks daily release of stolen DNC documents. And finally the Comey letter which came in the middle of early voting keeping the nation in suspense for 11 days and which was probably a violation of the hatch act. Comey was advised against his unjustified action by higher up DOJ officials but did it anyway. All of these factors loomed much larger than the deplorables comment. Besides, the strong dollar fostered by the FOMC's obsession with "normalization" helped Trump win because the strong dollar hurts exporters like farmers who make up much of the rural vote as well as hurting US manufacturing located in the midwest states. The FOMC was objectively pro Trump.
Nate F : , November 28, 2016 at 07:57 AM
I was surrounded by Trump voters this past election. Trust me, an awful lot of them are deplorable. My father is extremely anti semetic and once warned me not to go to Minneapolis because of there being "too many Muslims." One of our neighbors thinks all Muslims are terrorists and want to do horrible things to all Christians.

I know, its not a scientific study. But I've had enough one on one conversations with Trump supporters (not just GOP voters, Trump supporters) to say that yes, as a group they have some pretty horrible views.

Giant_galveston -> Nate F... , December 05, 2016 at 08:38 PM
Yep. I've got plenty of stories myself. From the fact that there are snooty liberals it does NOT follow that the resentment fueling Trump's support is justified.
Denis Drew : , November 28, 2016 at 08:41 AM
One should note that the "The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic - you name it ... " voted for Obama last time around.

When the blue collar voter (for lack of a better class) figures out that the Republicans (Trump) are not going to help them anymore than the Dems did -- it will be time for them to understand they can only rely on themselves, namely: through rebuilding labor union density, which can be done AT THE STATE BY PROGRESSIVE STATE LEVEL.

To keep it simple states may add to federal protections like the minimum wage or safety regs -- just not subtract. At present the NLRB has zero (no) enforcement power to prevent union busting (see Trump in Vegas) -- so illegal labor market muscling, firing of organizers and union joiners go completely undeterred and unrecoursed.

Recourse, once we get Congress back might include mandating certification elections on finding of union busting. Nothing too alien: Wisconsin, for instance, mandates RE-certification of all public employee unions annually.

Progressive states first step should be making union busting a felony -- taking the power playing in our most important and politically impacting market as seriously as taking a movie in the movies (get you a couple of winters). For a more expansive look (including a look at the First Amendment and the fed cannot preempt something with nothing, click here):
http://ontodayspage.blogspot.com/2016/11/first-100-days-progressive-states-agenda.html

Labor unions -- returned to high density -- can act as the economic cop on every corner -- our everywhere advocates squelching such a variety of unhealthy practices as financialization, big pharam gouging, for profit college fraud (Trump U. -- that's where we came into this movie). 6% private union density is like 20/10 bp; it starves every other healthy process (listening blue collar?).

Don't panic if today's Repub Congress passes national right-to-work legislation. Germany, which has the platinum standard labor institutions, does not have one majority union (mostly freeloaders!), but is almost universally union or covered by union contracts (centralized bargaining -- look it up) and that's what counts.

Gary Anderson : , November 28, 2016 at 09:47 AM
Trump took both sides of every issue. He wants high and low interest rates. He wants a depression first, (Bannonomics) and inflation first, (Trumponomics), he wants people to make more and make less. He is nasty and so he projected that his opponent was nasty.

Now he has to act instead of just talk out of both sides of his mouth. That should not be as easy to do.

C Jones : , November 28, 2016 at 10:31 AM
Hi Tim, nice post, and I particularly liked your last paragraph. The relevant question today if you have accepted where we are is effectively: 'What would you prefer - a Trump victory now? Or a Trump type election victory in a decade or so? (with todays corresponding social/economic/political trends continuing).
I'm a Brit so I was just an observer to the US election but the same point is relevant here in the UK - Would I rather leave the EU now with a (half sensible) Tory government? Or would I rather leave later on with many more years of upheaval and a (probably by then quite nutty) UKIP government?
I know which one I prefer - recognise the protest vote sooner, rather than later.
Bob Salsa : , November 28, 2016 at 12:48 PM
Sure they're angry, and their plight makes that anger valid.

However, not so much their belief as to who and what caused their plight, and more importantly, who can and how their plight would be successfully reversed.

Most people have had enough personal experiences to know that it is when we are most angry that we do the stupidest of things.

Lars : , November 28, 2016 at 05:58 PM
Krugman won his Nobel for arcane economic theory. So it isn't terribly surprising that he spectacularly fails whenever he applies his brain to anything remotely dealing with mainstream thought. He is the poster boy for condescending, smarter by half, elite liberals. In other words, he is an over educated, political hack who has yet to learn to keep his overtly bias opinions to himself.
Douglas P Anthony : , November 29, 2016 at 08:16 AM
Tim's narrative felt like a cold shower. I was apprehensive that I found it too agreeable on one level but were the building blocks stable and accurate?

Somewhat like finding a meal that is satisfying, but wondering later about the ingredients.

But, like Tim's posts on the Fed, they prompt that I move forward to ponder the presentation and offer it to others for their comment. At this time, five-stars on a 1-5 system for bringing a fresh approach to the discussion. Thanks, Professor Duy. This to me is Piketty-level pushing us onto new ground.

JohnR : , November 29, 2016 at 12:07 PM
Funny how there's all this concern for the people whose jobs and security and money have vanished, leaving them at the mercy of faceless banks and turning to drugs and crime. Sad. Well, let's bash some more on those lazy, shiftless urban poors who lack moral strength and good, Protestant work ethic, shall we?
Raven Onthill : , November 29, 2016 at 04:12 PM
Clinton slammed half the Trump supporters as deplorables, not half the public. She was correct; about half of them are various sorts of supremacists. The other half (she said this, too) made common cause with the deplorables for economic reasons even though it was a devil's bargain.

Now, there's a problem with maternalism here; it's embarrassing to find out that the leader of your political opponents knows you better than you know yourself, like your mother catching you out in a lie. It was impolitic for Clinton to have said this But above all remember that when push came to shove, the other basket made common cause with the Nazis, the Klan, and so on and voted for a rapey fascist.

Rick McGahey : , November 30, 2016 at 02:44 PM
"Economic development" isn't (and can't) be the same thing as bringing back lost manufacturing (or mining) jobs. We have had 30 years of shifting power between labor and capital. Restoring labor market institutions (both unions and government regulation) and raising the floor through higher minimum wages, single payer health care, fair wages for women and more support for child and elder care, trade policies that care about working families, better safe retirement plans and strengthened Social Security, etc. is key here, along with running a real full employment economy, with a significant green component. See Bob Polllin's excellent program in https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/back-full-employment

That program runs up against racism, sexism, division, and fear of government and taxation, and those are powerful forces. But we don't need all Trump supporters. We do need a real, positive economic program that can attract those who care about the economics more than the cultural stuff.

Sandra Williams : , December 01, 2016 at 12:20 AM
How about people of color drop the democrats and their hand wringing about white people when they do nothing about voter suppression!! White fragility is nauseating and I'm planning to arm myself and tell all the people of color I know to do the same. I expect nothing from the democrats going forward.
Robert Hurley : , December 01, 2016 at 11:04 AM
I have never commented here but I will now because of the number of absurd statements. I happen to work with black and Hispanic youth and have also worked with undocumented immigrants. To pretend that trump and the Republican Party has their interest in mind is completely absurd. As for the white working class, please tell me what programs either trump or the republican have put forward to benefit them? I have lost a lot of respect for Duy
Giant_galveston -> Robert Hurley... , December 05, 2016 at 08:32 PM
Couldn't agree more.
RJ -> Robert Hurley... , December 06, 2016 at 11:26 PM
No one should advocate illegal immigration. If you care about being a nation of laws.
olga.shaumyan@gmail.com : , December 01, 2016 at 06:13 PM
I think much of appeal of DJT was in his political incorrectness. PC marginalises. Very. Of white working class specifically. it tells one, one cannot rely on one's ideas any more. In no uncertain terms. My brother, who voted for Trump, lost his job to PC without offending on purpose, but the woman in question felt free to accuse him of violating her, with no regard to his fate. He was never close enough to do that. Is that not some kind of McCarthyism?
Eclectic Observer : , December 05, 2016 at 10:55 AM
Just to be correct. Clinton was saying that half (and that was a terrible error-should have said "some") were people that were unreachable, but that they had to communicate effectively with the other part of his support. People who echo the media dumb-ing down of complex statements are part of the problem.

Still, I believe that if enough younger people and african-americans had come out in the numbers they did for Obama in some of those states, Clinton would have won. Certainly, the media managed to paint her in more negative light than she objectively deserved-- even if she deserved some negatives.

I am in no way a fan of HRC. Still, the nature of the choice was blurred to an egregious degree.

Procopius : , December 05, 2016 at 08:40 PM
"The tough reality of economic development is that it will always be easier to move people to jobs than the jobs to people."

This is indisputable, but I have never seen any discussion of the point that moving is not cost-free. Back in the '90s I had a discussion with a very smart person, a systems analyst, who insisted that poor people moved to wherever the welfare benefits were highest.

I tried to point out that moving from one town to another costs more than a bus ticket. You have to pay to have your possessions transported. You have to have enough cash to pay at least two months' rent and maybe an additional security deposit.

You have to have enough cash to pay for food for at least one month or however long it takes for your first paycheck or welfare check to come in. There may be other costs like relocating your kids to a new school system and maybe changing your health insurance provider.

There probably are other costs I'm not aware of, and the emotional cost of leaving your family and your roots. The fact that some people succeed in moving is a great achievement. I'm amazed it works at all in Europe where you also have the different languages to cope with.

Kim Kaufman : , December 07, 2016 at 10:03 PM
I'm not sure the Hillary non-voters - which also include poor black neighborhoods - were voting against their economic interests. Under Obama, they didn't do well. Many of them were foreclosed on while Obama was giving the money to the banks. Jobs haven't improved, unless you want to work at an Amazon warehouse or for Uber and still be broke. Obama tried to cut social security. He made permanent Bush's tax cuts for the rich. Wars and more wars. Health premiums went up - right before the election. The most Obama could say in campaigning for Hillary was "if you care about my legacy, vote for Hillary." He's the only one that cares about his legacy. I don't know that it's about resentment but about just having some hope for economic improvement - which Trump offered (no matter how shallow and deceptive) and Hillary offered nothing but "Trump's an idiot and I'm not."

I believe Bernie would have beat Trump's ass if 1) the DNC hadn't put their fingers on the scale for Hillary and 2) same with the media for Hillary and Trump. The Dems need more than some better campaign slogans. They really need a plan for serious economic equality. And the unions need to get their shit together and stop thinking that supporting corrupt corporate Dems is working. Or perhaps the rank and file need to get their shit together and get rid of union bosses.

IHiddenDragon : , December 10, 2016 at 09:01 AM
The keys of the election were race, immigration and trade. Trump won on these points. What dems can do is to de-emphasize multiculturalism, racial equality, political correctness etc. Instead, emphasize economic equality and security, for all working class.

Lincoln billed the civil war as a war to preserve the union, to gain wide support, instead of war to free slaves. Of course, the slaves were freed when the union won the war. Dems can benefit from a similar strategy

IHiddenDragon : , December 10, 2016 at 09:05 AM
Krugman more or less blames media, FBI, Russia entirely for Hillary's loss, which I think is wrong. As Tim said, Dems have long ceased to be the party of the working class, at least in public opinion, for legitimate reasons.

Besides, a lot voters are tired of stale faces and stale ideas. They yearn something new, especially the voters in deep economic trouble.

Maybe it's time to try some old fashioned mercantilism, protectionism? America first is an appealing idea, in this age of mindless globalization.

Jesse : , December 26, 2016 at 11:08 AM
All Mr. Krugman and the Democratic establishment need to do is to listen, with open ears and mind, to what Thomas Frank has been saying, and they will know where they went wrong and most likely what to do about it, if they can release themselves from their fatal embrace with Big Money covered up by identity politics.

But they cannot bring themselves to admit their error, and to give up their very personally profitable current arrangement. And so they are caught up in a credibility trap which is painfully obvious to the objective observer.

c1ue : , December 26, 2016 at 12:11 PM
Pretty sad commentary by neoliberal left screaming at neoliberal right and vice versa.

It seems quite clear that the vast majority of commenters live as much in the ivory tower/bubble as is claimed for their ideological opponent.

It is also quite interesting that most of these same commenters don't seem to get that the voting public gets what the majority of it wants - not what every single group within the overall population wants.

The neoliberals with their multi-culti/love them all front men have had it good for a while, now there's a reaction. Deal with it.