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Neoliberalism

The ideology that dare not speak it's name is actually a New, More Dangerous, Form of Corporatism. This "religion of freedom" (redefinition of the meaning of the word "freedom" and sophisticated speculation on it is at the center of neoliberal religion)  is a coercive cult enforced by corrupt, deceitful elite with the explicit goal of milking the adherents

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Skepticism and Pseudoscience > Who Rules America > Neoliberal Brainwashing

News An introduction to Neoliberalism Recommended books Recommended Links Neoliberalism war on  labor Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich Globalization of Financial Flows
Brexit as the start of the reversal of neoliberal globalization Neoliberal rationality Neoliberal "New Class" as variant of Soviet Nomenklatura Neoliberalism and Christianity Key Myths of Neoliberalism Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult Anti-globalization movement
Zombie state of neoliberalism and coming collapse of neoliberalism Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism Over-consumption of Luxury Goods as Market Failure Definitions of neoliberalism Neoliberal Brainwashing Neoclassical Pseudo Theories US Presidential Elections of 2016 as a referendum on neoliberal globalization
Neocon stooge formerly known as Anti-Globalist and Trump betrayal of his voters Is national security state in the USA gone rogue ? The problem of control of intelligence services in democratic societies Casino Capitalism Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism War is Racket Inverted Totalitarism
Financial Crisis of 2008 as the Crisis of Neoliberalism and shift to neo-fascism Neoliberal corruption Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy Corruption of Regulators "Fight with Corruption" as a smoke screen for neoliberal penetration into host countries Deconstructing neoliberalism's definition of 'freedom' Resurgence of neofascism as reaction on crisis of neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization
Alternatives to Neo-liberalism Elite Theory Compradors Fifth column Color revolutions Key Myths of Neoliberalism Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners"
If Corporations Are People, They Are Psychopaths IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement Gangster Capitalism Neoliberalism as a Cause of Structural Unemployment in the USA Neoliberalism and inequality Blaming poor and neoliberalism laziness dogma Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime
Peak Cheap Energy and Oil Price Slump The Deep State Predator state Disaster capitalism Harvard Mafia Small government smoke screen Super Capitalism as Imperialism
The Great Transformation Monetarism fiasco Neoliberalism and Christianity Republican Economic Policy In Goldman Sachs we trust: classic example of regulatory capture by financial system hackers Ronald Reagan: modern prophet of profligacy Milton Friedman -- the hired gun for Deification of Market
Media-Military-Industrial Complex Neocons New American Militarism Media domination strategy Libertarian Philosophy Frederick Von Hayek Friedman --founder of Chicago school of deification of market
Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few YouTube on neoliberalism History of neoliberalism PseudoScience Related Humor Politically Incorrect Humor Humor Etc


Even though I agreed with him, I warned that whenever someone tried to raise the issue, he or she was accused of fomenting class warfare. “There’s class warfare, all right, "Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning."

- New York Times

Make no mistake, the neo-Liberal fuckers are just as bad as the Stalinists

May '68 and its Afterlives [Review]

Neoliberal ideology acted as a smokescreen that enabled the financially powerful to rewrite the rules and place themselves beyond the law.

disorderedworld , 10 Jun 2013 17:21

The terms Neoliberalism and Casino Capitalism are used interchangeably. They define the same phenomenon. The term "Casino Capitalism" stresses that neoliberalism glorifies stock market, promotes "financialization" and creates powerful incentives for financial speculation and excessive risk-taking on the part of the public (mass ownership of stocks via 401K plans), financial institutions (derivatives, currency speculations, "naked" commodity futures, intentional blowing of bubbles), and even Main Street entrepreneurs (dot-com crisis on 2000).  That's why neoliberalism is also called "market fundamentalism." 

 Like feudalism neoliberalism stipulate existence of two classes: "inner party" members of whom the law protects but does not apply, and  "deplorables" to whom the law applies, but does not protect...  "Inner party" members are above the law under neoliberalism.  The elite under neoliberalism is dominated by financial oligarchs. Several new groups are added to the elite such as intelligence agencies brass (with intelligence agencies becoming the real political force, the core of the Deep State) and Silicon Valley moguls (with top firms became interconnected with surveillance apparatus of the state and Wall Street). 

The key social goal of neoliberalism is redistribution of wealth up at the expense of the working class and lower middle class. It is political project designed to curb the power of labor (see Neoliberalism war on labor). So stagnation of wages is not an aberration, but a key feature of neoliberalism. Suppression of wages is done under the false flag of austerity. Important for neoliberals sectors such as MIC (especially intelligence community), law enforcement,  financial firm brass bonuses, and tax cuts for rich are not affected by austerity, only worker wages and social programs are.

Neoliberalism positions itself as a secular religion (which in its core is hostile to Christianity, much like Bolshevism) with the compliance enforced by the state. Somewhat similar to  God-Building  trend in Marxism. For example, the prominent member of Bolsheviks Party Lunacharsky "saw Marxism as having religious components, including its faith in the inevitable victory of socialism."; according to  Trotsky(1923) in some of the southern republics around 15% percent of party members were believers in Islam. Developing this insight Erich Voegelin’s on his controversial Political Religions (1938, see discussion at Stalinist Ritual and Belief System- Reflections on ‘Political Religion’) suggested that ideologies can function as secular religions.

For example, both national socialism and Bolshevism were deficient in terms of empirical evidence and had to be accepted on faith. The same is true for neoliberalism. The difference is that most of those movements generated a sense of devotion and mass mobilization with the emphasis of personal sacrifice,  reminiscent of religious zeal.  This is not the case for neoliberalism which adopted "inverted totalitarism" model

Like Stalinists which protected their narrow interpretation of Marxism from any challenges by power of the repressive apparatus of the state, neoliberals are people who believe that “the market does not and cannot take care of itself,” and indeed neoliberalism is a form of statism — one in which power of the state insulates the unregulated markets (and financial oligarchy which those markets enrich) from democratic attempts to regulate them, as well as from economic nationalism, which threatens neoliberal globalization..

Neoliberals are people who believe that “the market does not and cannot take care of itself,” and indeed neoliberalism is a form of statism — one in which power of the state insulates the unregulated markets (and financial oligarchy which those markets enrich) from democratic attempts to regulate them, as well as from economic nationalism which threatens neoliberal globalization.

Neoliberalism operates differently and does not require, or support mobilization of population. That's why it is viewed by some political scientists as a new mutation of corporatism called "inverted totalitarism" (the term introduced by Sheldon Wolin in his magnificent book and further  developed by Wendy Brown in her essay Neoliberalism and the end of liberal democracy and the book Undoing the Demos- Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution  (2017).  Internet as a distributed and democratic system supports mobilization of population. It also makes more difficult to control information flow and free flow of information and existence of critical to neoliberalism websites which summarize and presents in readable form the available information is a threat to neoliberalism. Which, being a secular religion, flourished on ignorance and brainwashing. That's why there is systematic propaganda campaign to associate critics of neoliberalism with Russians (which were chosen as a very convenient scapegoat due to Cold War past). That's why neo-McCarthyism witch hunt was launched after Trump elections with such fierce force.

At the center of this civic religion is the redefinition of the word  "freedom" as freedom from any kind of coercion (compare with  FDR four freedoms). That sophistry resonated very well within Americans and British people and became a "universal opener" using which neoliberal elite opens the door for any harmful for population actions/legislation, including but not limited to the restoration of the power of financial oligarchy. All in the name of freedom ;-). Dirty, but a very effective trick. Those guys are real masters of deception and elevated it into the art form.  In a way neoliberalism can be called the "religion of freedom," a coercive cult enforced by corrupt, deceitful elite with the explicit goal of milking the adherents. Neoliberal ideology is offering a closed, coherent belief system explaining the whole world via unverifiable and unsubstantiated by scientific testing system of dogmas, beliefs and rituals. Deification of markets is just slightly less fantastic then the idea of Paradise. Obviously, neoclassical economics is far removed from what is ordinarily regarded as valid scientific procedure. It is, essentially, a pseudo theory, a flavor of Lysenkoism, if you wish.

As core dogmas of neoliberalism are indefensible from scientific point of view if stated openly, neoliberalism has always been surrounded by an aura of  secrecy and "esoteric teaching" (for elite only) which reminds Scientology. Even the name is suppressed in neoliberal MSM (US neoliberal MSMs rarely, if at all, mention this term "neoliberalism"; In UK the only exception is probably Guardian). To protect deplorables from discovering the ugly truth, elaborate pseudo theoretical smoke screen including mathiness was created.  Exactly like in Marx famous quote "Religion is the opium of the people." This is actually the first instance when ideology conceived as a secular religion uses perverted mathematics (mathiness, Number racket) to justifies itself (I think Ancient Egypt priests might be the only analogy). As such this is a blatantly dishonest ideology. Like Bolshevism in the past, it also plays dirty tricks with the language in best 1994 style, creating neoliberal NewSpeak: compare for example how "economic freedom" is defined  by  neoliberals ("freedom of entrepreneurs and financial speculators from coercion and regulation") and how it was defined by FDR ("freedom [of working people and lower middle class] from want").  Indoctrination into "neoliberal newspeak" is done at the Universities using for brainwashing neoclassical economy  and "business courses." Much like Soviet students were brainwashed with Marxism-Leninism and Marxist political economy. In both cases you can't graduate without passing mark for those courses.  Again like Marxism neoliberalism is  hostile to Christianity; some postulates of neoliberalism are closer to Judaism (entrepreneurs and financiers as a higher caste of the society, the inner party), some to Satanism. 

Like Bolshevism neoliberalism is striving to rewrite history in the favorable light, or , even better, create conditions that people do not know the history at all.  Neoliberalism even more then Bolshevism in the past is profoundly hostile to history.  Which is actually a feature of all new cults.  But the method neoliberalism uses is suppressing of education and coverage in MSM -- which is methods that characterize it as "inverted totalitarism".  How many Us citizens know who Sheldon Wolin was? probably one in hundred or less.  But most know who this corrupt stooge of financial oligarchy, "Chicago boy"  Milton Friedman was because he is a saint of the church of neoliberalism. Or who was this plagiarist of Nietzschean philosophy, a Russia emigrant Ann Rand was? 

Like Bolsheviks neoliberals are statists par excellence, using state to enforce and support the neoliberal dogma. In other words, neoliberals believe that "the market does not and cannot take care of itself"  In this sense we can view neoliberalism is a form of state enforced regulation -- one that insulates the markets from challenges of democratic forces (with the ideological smoke screen of neoclassical economy, which is pure sophistry) as well as  from economic nationalism.  The recent Deep State attack on Trump is typical, classic neoliberal reaction on such a challenge from economic nationalism.

While hypocritically shouting "free market", "free market"...  neoliberals like Bolsheviks in the past conspire to achieve power via iether by deceiving electorate with "carrots" in regular election mechanism (which after they came to power is neutered ) or by stealth coup d'état (or regime change via color revolution in weaker countries, especially LA(Chile, Brasil, Argentina) and post Soviet republics (Baltic republics, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia) as well as infiltrating and subverting key institutions of the state via IMF and World Bank ("debt slavery") and, especially, intelligence agencies. CIA considered neoliberalism as a useful tool for thier "fight against communism" and  was onboard with neoliberalism starting with Pinochet coup in Chile in 1973 done using fifth column of USA educated (read indoctrinated) "Chicago boys" .

After coming to power neoliberals behave like Bolsheviks and openly and blatantly use government as an enforcer of their ideology. That includes bailing out financial oligarchy to prevent of meltdown of financial system during Minsky moments. Which are inevitable under neoliberalism as decimation of regulation (especially for financial sector) eliminated the negative feedback loop introduced by the New Deal, while financial institutions create a strong positive feedback loop in economics gradually sliding to more and more reckless behaviour as more time from the previous crisis elapses until the new financial crash hits them (and the socitry as  whole) in the head ("stability is destabilizing" as quipped Minsky). At this point neoliberal state bails then our at the expense of ordinary taxpayers and traditional manufactures ("socialism for the financial oligarchy") who bare the main blunt of the crisis. 

Systems with a strong positive feedback loop are known to be unstable. So bailing out private institutions using public money (like happened in the US and Europe in 2008-2010) is not an aberration. but a quintessential feature of neoliberalism.  And the crisis of 2008 which caused the regime of "secular stagnation" in Western societies will probably be repeated on a new level in  2020th (we can only guess about possible triggers; might the price of oil, or the size of derivatives market). Simplifying, we can call neoliberalism  "Banks uber alles" regime.

Neoliberalism redistributes wealth up, justifying it with another key neoliberal myth -- the so called "trickle down economics" voodoo: the idea is that if the State directly helps the rich by redistributing wealth up, enforcing "market discipline", opening markets were they never existed (healthcare, education),  as well as privatizing state assets, the poor will be better off as a by-product. Or as John Kenneth Galbraith  quipped: “Trickle-down theory - the less than elegant metaphor that if one feeds the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.” In other words, neoliberalism is welfare for the top 1% or 0.1% of entrepreneurs and parasitic financial oligarchy (which state protects), and, at the same time, the "free market" jungle for the rest ("socialism for rich"). 

It is both an ideological assault, but also an economic assault on the power of labor (and especially organized labor) a political project to squash labor wages. On intuitive level neoliberalism emerged as the result of thinking like “We gotta crush labor, how do we do it?” And they found that neoliberalism can be a legitimizing theory for such a squash.  Which again makes it similar to Bolshevism, which despite noble slogans kept working class wages at a very low level (which was noted by Orwell in his Animal Farm parable, and famous John Kenneth Galbraith quote "Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite")

And, again, like Bolshevism, this is a self-reassuring, self-gratifying and self-explanatory myth -- a pretty sophisticated and very deceptive ideological rosy glasses, which creates (and then enforces on lemmings) a distorted image of reality. Important part of "reproduction" mechanism if this ideology is that it is deliberately propagated by neoliberal MSM and in neoliberal universities And neoliberal MSM (which are the only game in town in many countries now) as neoliberalism eliminated other forms of press via monopolization mechanism. In the USA lion share of MSM is owned by just six corporations. Along with domination in MSM, neoliberalism creates sophisticated and effective system of indoctrination of population which rivals the same under Bolsheviks in the USSR.  

At the same time the cult of greed and denial of tenets of Christian morality like in case of Bolshevism tend to produce monsters. In the absence of a moral filter, as Martha Stout observed in her book The Sociopath Next Door (2006)  "Politicians are more likely than people in the general population to be sociopaths... That a small minority of human beings literally have no conscience was and is a bitter pill for our society to swallow -- but it does explain a great many things, shamelessly deceitful political behavior being one."  Recent information about child abuse among the neoliberal elite suggests that the proportion of sociopaths among neoliberal politicians is much higher that it was under the New Deal Capitalism.  Such neoliberal politicians as Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton (sexcapades , connection to Jeffrey Epstein's Lolita Express, "Clinton Cash" Scandal), Hillary Clinton ("We came, we saw, he  died"),  Dick "Vice" Cheney, Donald Trump might well be malignant narcissists.  Discovery of  pedophilia rings that involve politicians in several Western countries (such as Britain, Vatican, Norway ) is just another manifestation of the same trend: Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite. And this is not a bug, this is a feature of neoliberalism, connected with neoliberalism core value "personal gratification above everything else".  There is no cure for the infiltration of malignant narcissists and outright sociopaths into high echelons of government until moral character is valued by the society and  is once again assessed before key promotion decisions are made. Typical for narcissists megalomania, the idea that after the collapse of the USSR the USA can and should rule the globe was a decisive force in the USA foreign policy (which was at the core a neocon foreign policy)  since 1990th and precipitates the current decline of the USA as the world power due to overextension typical for all empires. 

Recent spy scandals demonstrated that neoliberal elite (like financial oligarchy in general) is afraid of losing power and no longer fully believe in the power brainwashing of population (at least after 2008). Neoliberal ideology started losing its grip on the population, much like Marxism in the USSR in1960th. They gradually are switching to Bolsheviks-style repressive mechanisms relying more and more on the power of intelligence agencies as an enforcement squad of neoliberal agenda. This development reveals another (and pretty alarming) commonality with Bolshevism -- historically Cheka (OGPU/NKVD/KGB) played prominent, if not decisive,  role in defending and ensuring the survival of Bolsheviks' regime. It was betrayal of KCB brass that doomed the USSR in late 1991 -- starting from Andropov they switched  sides and started to propagate the conversion of the country to neoliberalism. This negative trend is amplified by appointment, "not so bright", deeply conformist "ladder climbers" as the heads of intelligence agencies. For example, Brennan and Clapper represent the same category of people as a typical Soviet bureaucrat -- a ruthless (and most often corrupt and amoral) careerist with limited intellectual capacities, but devoted to the defense of the ruling oligarchy. Such people understand very well from which side his bread is buttered. 

Exaggerating threats to the USA sovereignty to cement the cracks in the neoliberal regime is also a page borrowed from the Stalinist period of the USSR. In the USSR people were accused being British spies. Now in the USA dissidents from neoliberal ideology (even such highly placed as Trump ;-) are, by  definition, Russian intelligence service collaborators, or assets. This very useful for defenders of the neoliberal regime paranoia now extends even to contacts with the Ambassador of Russia by any US official which bring us to the set of behaviors at the peak of the USSR Great Terror.  In a sense Mueller looks exactly like one of Stalin henchmen -- he tried to justify the view that is almost totally misguided, for the sake of defense of declining neoliberal ideology.  Performing functions that are not that different from functions performed by  the head of Gestapo or Stasi -- suppression of the political dissent to neoliberalism.

Like in the USSR for intelligence officials it is safer to flow with the neo-McCarthyism trend: the current atmosphere of paranoia makes it difficult for intelligence agencies to present the evidence that contradicts Russian spymania vision. The essence of which is identical to the vision of Stalinist Russia: that the USA is surrounded by two hostile powers (Russia and China)  hell-bent on creating political crisis in the country  and/or "regime change" and salivating to steal or dismantle the US global neoliberal empire. Which are engaged in stealing technological and military secrets.

Like Soviets, neoliberal policymakers are deeply troubled by the specter of the enemy at the gate, not realizing that the current social crisis in the USA is ultimately connected with the crisis of neoliberalism both as an ideology and the system of governance. Add to this faulty, ideologically distorted system of intelligence gathering and ruthless but  intellectually second-rate careerists at the agencies (just look at Strzok, Brennan and Clapper).  Like with the discovery of British spies in the USSR, the most obvious motive for Russiagate witch hunt is to cement cracks in neoliberal faced which appeared after 2008 by using for this purpose the external threat.

While many think about neoliberalism as "Ubercapitalism" or return to "Robber Barons" era on a new level, ideologically Neoliberalism is closer to Trotskyism ( and thus can be called Neo-Trotskyism ). It stresses the role of state as the enforcement power, the solidarity of neoliberal elite across the countries, with the dominant role of Anglo-Saxon elite. As well as the role of subversive methods and intelligence agencies in instituting the "regime change" (Trotskyite idea of permanent revolution mutated under neoliberalism into the idea of "permanent color revolution") .  In the famous slogan "Proletarians of all countries, Unite!" neoliberalism substituted the word "proletarians" with the word "elites" (as in "Transnational elites, Unite!" ). 

The slogan "All Power to [Workers] Councils" is replaced with "All power to  financial oligarchy councils", and such clubs  as Bilderberg Group, US Chamber of CommerceBusiness Roundtable  and similar organization  are playing the role of hidden centers of power of the neoliberal regime.

Like Trotskyism neoliberalism in the ideology of "permanent expansion", ideology of neo-colonialism. The idea of "Permanent Revolution" was substituted with the idea of permanent "Color revolutions." Methods used remain a variation and enhancement of methods used by Trotskyites for destabilizing the government, with a special emphasis on use of the students, acquiring the control of mass media, implanting NGO (especially in the area various polls and "control over the legitimacy of elections". ) The latter is pretty nasty trick as people tend to believe the rumors that elections were hijacked.  Stalin dictum: it does not matter how they vote, what matters is who is counting the votes is used here in a pretty innovative way. The neoliberal version sounds like:  It does not matter how that vote, if elections are close all that matter is who is performing exit polls and cries louder about "irregularities" in the elections in the MSM.

Add to this various financial injection to "dissidents" via network of NGO and you get the picture.  Caste of "professional revolutionaries"  now consists of  well-paid functionaries sitting in comfortable chairs in various, lavishly financed think tanks and NGO. In the USA they constitute the core of both parties which cares very little about the interest of rank-and-file members with "bait and switch" maneuver as the major tool for election success (Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump). Marx is probably rolling in his grave.

Despite being a flavor of Trotskyism, Neoliberalism is still a very interesting, unique social system which by-and-large defeated and replaced both New Deal capitalism and various flavors of socialism (as well as facilitated the dissolution of the USSR by buying out Soviet nomenklatura, including KGB brass). It is the only social system in which the name of the system is somehow prohibited by MSM to mention. In this system, like under Stalin's version of socialism, the state play the leading role in enforcing the social system upon the people, brainwashing them with wall-to-wall 24 x 7 USSR-style propaganda an, if necessary, by state violence (As Sheldon Wolin mentioned neoliberalism tries to use violence selectively, as overuse of state violence undermines the social system, see Inverted Totalitarism).

Neoliberalism is the only social system in which the name of the system is prohibited (or at least suppressed) in MSM.

Like Bolshevism and national socialism neoliberalism lifted intelligence services into full fledged political player (which means that later stage of neoliberal state  always evolves into the national security state). They also almost completely control the MSM , major commerce (Amazon), search (Google). and social sites (Facebook). For example, Google was created with the help of intelligence agencies at the initial state. Which means that the regime of total electronic surveillance, reminiscent of STASI is the "new normal" (see, Privacy is dead, get over it).  

As we can see in color revolution launched by them against Trump (Trump is the proponent of a newer version of neoliberalism, which can be called "national neoliberalism" or "neocolonization instead of globalization") intelligence agencies now position themselves as "king  makers" or Praetorian Guard that de-facto controls the election of the President of the USA. And  the color revolution against Trump is not the isolated case when the USA intelligence agencies have gone rogue.  It is just a step in natural evolution of neoliberalism and  along with  total surveillance is a "new normal".

Like Bolshevism and national socialism neoliberalism lifted intelligence services into full fledged political player,
no less important politically then judiciary, or legislative branch.

Instead of regulating predatory tendencies of capitalism like under New Deal, state under neoliberalism became just a corrupt policeman that serve interests of the large corporations and  financial institutions (especially the latter) and, in most cases, at the expense of the standard of living  of the common people. Standard of living of working class and lower middle class typically slides under neoliberalism (this fact is never accepted by neoliberals and hotly disputed).  

Standard of living of working class and lower middle class typically slides under neoliberalism. In the USA this is the case since 1980th (this face is not accepted by neoliberals and hotly disputed). But this is a direct result of redistribution of wealth up, which is sine qua non of neoliberalism. Like Feudalism before neoliberalism promotes the notion  of aristocracy masqueraded by the smoke screen on  "creative class", but in essence consisting mainly of financial oligarchy, with substantial role of inheritance.

In this sense any neoliberal country is to a certain extent is an "occupied country", and the neoliberal regime is the occupying regime, much like Bolsheviks (with their theocratic state) were in USSR space. Or like the return on the new level to the Robber Barons era, when the state helped to squash West Virginia miner upraising in 1912-21 by military force. 

Foreign policy under neoliberalism is marked by rampant militarism and constant wars for expanding of the global, USA-led neoliberal empire. Neocons dominate the USA foreign policy since early 70th (Chilean putsch and then Carter administration support of mujahedeen aganst Soviets).

The neoliberal state justifies its decisions, policies, and rules by deification of the markets and by perversion of the meaning of the term the "freedom". In this Hayek inspired sophistry the negative definition is used as in  "freedom from coercion" and interpreted mainly in  economic space ( as the freedom of unlimited enrichment of talented and/or ruthless entrepreneurs.)  Compare with "Four Freedoms" definition used Roosevelt administration during the New Deal: "freedom from want" and "freedom from fear" are not included in neoliberal definition. Those freedoms are simply denied under neoliberalism for everybody, but the top 10% of population. 

Neoliberalism might therefore be defined as the elevation of market-based principles to the level of state religion. Or more correctly the techniques of elevation of market principles to the level of state-endorsed norms and state-sponsored secular religion which displaces Christianity (aka neoliberal rationality).  This theological dimension of neoliberalism is very important (some researchers called neoliberalism "perverted Buddhism" in institualized suffering of lower classes ) and like in Marxism,  the economics (in the form of neoclassical economics) is used for indoctrination on university students into this ideology.  Neoliberals (in a form of adherents to neoclassical economics)  dominate economics departments of major universities and not by some chance -- this is result of deliberate policy (borrowed from Trotskyism) of acquiring and maintaining the political power ("Quite coup").

This secular religion in which "market" and "competition" are new deities ("market fundamentalism") is especially visible in university education, were alternative approaches were mercilessly crushed. It is not an exaggeration to say that the main goal of teaching of economics in universities is the indoctrination, and it has very little in common with teaching economic as a complex and contradictory science. Mathematics serves as powerful smoke screen for hiding the neoliberal ideological core (mathiness)

Like neofascism, neoliberalism radically transforms the "welfare state" which was created by the New Deal,  prioritizing big corporations over common people. The idea of welfare that was the core of New Deal Capitalism is not completely abolished. But under neoliberalism only corporations are desirable welfare recipients and the bigger they are, the more handouts they suck up.  But at the same time neoliberalism and neofascism are mortal enemies: neofascism is at its core a flavor of far right nationalism (cultural or ethnic), while neoliberalism is based on globalism. Only in imperial nations like the USA they can partially merge and intervene (Trump's national neoliberalism is one example). 

In labor relations neoliberal pursue a staunch anti-union stance. Labor is atomized, unions suppressed and individuals put on the market "naked" on conditions dictated by employees. Which means squeezing goo paying job in favor of terms and contractors, outsourcing and other anti--labor measure designed to preserve falling profitability in the market condition characterized by falling consumer demand (due to lower standard of living for the majority of population). And this is done at any cost. Even at the cost of human life. That situation gave rise to the term "naked capitalism".

The idea of welfare is not abolished. But under neoliberalism only corporations are desirable welfare recipients and the bigger they are, the more handouts they suck up.

Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. that gave a rise of various (often stupid) "performance metrics" and cult of "performance reviews". It redefines citizens as consumers, who exercise they political power mainly buying and selling, the process which supposedly rewards merit (producing market winners) and punishes inefficiency. It postulates a primitive (and wrong) dogma that “the market” always delivers benefits that are superior and could never be achieved by planning. Which is definitely untrue for military contractors. In a way the "market" under neoliberalism is a kind of "all powerful deity". Which makes neoliberalism a variation of a secular religion (compare with "God building" faction of Bolsheviks Party which included such prominent figures as Lynacharsky). As such neoliberalism, like Marxism before, is hostile to Christianity. And while Marxism absolutize the power of human compassion and redefines paradise as a social system that supposedly can be built on Earth (communism), neoliberalism denigrates the power of human compassion and enforces "greed is good" and "homo homini lupus est" morale. Which turns into law of jungle for lower and middle class. In this sense it is more like a branch of Satanism, with greed as a virtue ("Greed is good"), speculation as a noble activity (while according to Chris Hedges "Speculation in the 17th century was a crime. Speculators were hanged." ) and the slogan "Homo homini lupus est" as one of the key Commandments. See Neoliberalism and Christianity

Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations, and greed as a virtue

This social system can be viewed as dialectical denial of socialism and represents the other extreme in classic triad "Thesis, antithesis, synthesis". We do not know yet what the synthesis will be like, but neoliberalism as a social system after 2008 shows definite cracks. Much like the USSR after the WWII when people serving in Red Army discovered what the standard of living in Central and Eastern Europe for workers was far superior that existed in the USSR and start to understand that "state socialism" as practiced in the USSR can't deliver promised higher standard of living for ordinary citizens and that Soviet "nomenklatura" is not that different from the capitalist class in appropriation in Marx terms of "surplus value of labor".

The economic inefficiency of the USSR "state capitalism" model (one state -- one giant corporation) helped to undermine the validity and effectiveness of communist propaganda. And once the ideology is undermined, the elite can't restore the trust of population, which start viewing it with suspicion and contempt. The process of irreversible deterioration started and proceed rather slowly. After WWII Bolshevism survived for another 40 years or so, but eventually failed as the elite (aka Soviet nomenklatura) changed sides and joined neoliberal camp.

Like Bolshevism before it, neoliberalism proved to be unstable social system and the collapse of neoliberalism is not question of "if", but "when".  A utopian system which is unable to deliver promised benefits to the common people, and which destabilizes capitalism in comparison with New Deal capitalism, producing periodic financial crisis with increasing severity.   The first of such crisis was "savings and loans" crisis, followed by dot com bubble burst, and the financial crisis in 2008. The latter led to the Great Recession from which the USA never fully recovered.

In 2008 the large banks, which are the core of neoliberal economics, were saved from facing consequences of their "transgressions" only by massive state intervention. All powerful market was unable to save those sick puppies. The consequences of 2008 crisis did buried neoliberal ideology which from this point looks like cruel and primitive hypocrisy designed to restore the power of financial oligarchy to the level the latter enjoyed in 1930th. That did not mean that neoliberalism became completely toothless. It managed to stage comeback in several Latin American countries (the USA backyard). But in 2016 it led to the election of Trump who managed to defeat establishment candidate, neocon warmonger Hillary Clinton despite all the efforts of the neoliberal/neocon establishment to derail him. Trump pursues the version of neoliberalism which can be called "national neoliberalism" -- neoliberalism limited to the USA with implicit rejection of globalization (or at least large part of it). Which makes Trumpism somewhat similar to Stalinism. Unlike Trotsky, Stalin did not believe in the "World Revolution" mantra.

In the absence of alternatives neoliberalism managed somewhat recover after 2008 debacle, and even successfully counterattacked in some Latin American and European countries (Argentina, Brazil, Greece), but the Great Recession still left of huge and ugly scar on the neoliberal face. In any case glory days of triumphal march of neoliberalism all over globe are over. Crisis of neoliberalism also logically led to increase of share of "guard labor" in economics. On state level this resulted in hypertrophied growth of repressive apparatus including intelligence agencies. So when in 2016 neoliberalism in the USA experienced its first political crisis (when electorate rejected Hillary Clinton and elected Trump, creating the legitimacy crisis of the USA ruling neoliberal elite) the Deep State (the core of which consists of intelligence  agencies and "Wall Street" ) launched a "color revolution" to depose him. Fake changes of falling under Russian control concocted by intelligence agencies in order to depose Trump  which collectively are called "Russiagate" (which properly should be called Intelligence-gate) is the defining feature of this "color revolution".

With lower standard of living of the middle class is no longer possible to hide that "it 's not enough cookies for everybody" under neoliberal and the myth that rising tide lifts all boats"(Trickle-down economics )  is not applicable.

The economist John Kenneth Galbraith noted that "trickle-down economics" had been tried before in the United States in the 1890s under the name "horse and sparrow theory", writing:

Mr. David Stockman has said that supply-side economics was merely a cover for the trickle-down approach to economic policy—what an older and less elegant generation called the horse-and-sparrow theory: 'If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.'

Resentment of working class and lower middle class reached in 2016 unprecedented level, creating a real political crisis in the USA. Which was not unexpected.  As Pope Francis aptly noted:

... Such an [neoliberal] economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “disposable” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

Outsourcing and offshoring of manufacturing in the USA -- the citadel of neoliberalism led to epidemic of opiod abuse similar to epidemic of alcoholism among workers in the late USSR.  Among the more than 72,000 drug overdose deaths estimated in 2017, the sharpest increase occurred among deaths related to fentanyl and fentanyl analogs (synthetic opioids) with nearly 30,000 overdose deaths ( Overdose Death Rates National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (

Impoverishment of lower 20% of the society (those who have so called McJobs) reached the level when we can talk about a third world country within the USA.

All those factors created pre-conditions for a sharp rise of far right nationalism. In a way neoliberalism naturally generated far right nationalism splash much like Gilded Age and the market crash of Sept 4, 1929 capitalism created precondition for the rise of national socialism. Reading NDSAP 25 points program (adopted in 1920) we can instantly feel that many problem that existed then are now replayed on the new level. After approximately 40 years of global dominance neoliberalism facade shows cracks. Backlash against neoliberal globalization became strong enough to provide upsets, albeit temporary, which demonstrated itself in Brexit, and election of Trump. Who, despite his election-time claims to be a fighter against neoliberal globalization, for restoration of local jobs, and against the wars for expanding neoliberal empire, he essentially folded in two-or three months after the inauguration.

Like Soviet version of Communism before it, Neoliberalism failed to meet its promises of rising standard of living (and the key idea of justifying of raising of inequality and redistribution of wealth up under neoliberalism was "rising water lifts all boats" mantra, or as Kenneth Galbraith famously defined it “Trickle-down theory - the less than elegant metaphor that if one feeds the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.” ). We can stress again, that the current opiod epidemics in the USA is not that different from epidemics of alcoholism in the USSR under Brezhnev's "well developed socialism" and has the same social roots.

It is important to understand that under neoliberalism the key priority is the maintenance of global neoliberal empire for the benefits of multinationals (with the associated idea of Global Neoliberal Revolution which, as we mentioned before, makes is similar to Trotskyism). Opening new markets is vital for the interests of transnational corporations and that means that the USA government supports the war for the expansion of the USA-led global neoliberal empire at the expense of interests of regular US citizens. Outsourcing and atomization of the US workforce (squeezing unions) means that neoliberal government has an adversarial attitude towards its common citizenry. They are, by definition, the second class citizens (Undermensch, or as Hillary Clinton elegantly coined it "basket of deplorables" ) . While neoliberal themselves ("creative class") are new Ubermench and like old aristocracy are above the law. So the idea of the "nomenklatura" as a ruling class in the USSR is now replayed on a new level. The fact the Ann Rand was a Soviet émigré tells you something ;-)

Like all other social systems neoliberalism evolved with time ( much like Bolshevism evolved from Leninism to Stalinism, then to Brezhnev's socialism and at last to Gorbachov "perestroika" ). Recently in the USA it morphed into "national neoliberalism" (neoliberalism that stresses the colonial model and direct economic and military pressure of vassals, instead of treaties based globalization model used in "classic" neoliberlaism) which has uncanny similarities with "national socialism".  This flavor was not well accepted by the current US neoliberal elite and attempts to stage the color revolution against Trump followed (Russiagate).

In various countries it can morph into quite different "regimes", despite the common "market fundamentalism" core. The simplest and pretty precise way to define is to view it as "socialism for the rich, feudalism for the poor" or, more correctly "Trotskyism for the rich" ("Elites of all countries unite !" instead of “Proletarians of all countries, Unite! ...). It is "socialism for the upper strata of population and corporations, especially transnationals".  It favors professionals (programmers, lawyers, doctors, university professors, etc), upper level managers and capital owners, so this social system acts inn the interests of top 10% of population, with the special emphasis on interests of top 1% or even 01%.  For the rest of population it serves austerity as the only available dish.

In this sense neoliberals are as "internationalists" as communists were at their time, and may be even more (the term "globalism" is commonly used instead of "internationalism".) And like "Communist International", the "Neoliberal International" accepts the elite from any country, but only a very narrow strata of the elite and only on a certain conditions, with the leading role reserved for the USA elite and a part of G7 elite. Much like in Comintern the role of Moscow as a leader was something that can't be even discussed. Only taken for granted. Although spying capabilities of "Neoliberal International" via "five eyes" are tremendously more powerful then the rudimentary capabilities of Comintern. And the technology of staging "color revolutions" is more polished then Trotskyite approach to staging proletarian revolutions. As a proverb say "One is a bad student, if he can't exceed the level of his teacher". Or "The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires."(William Arthur Ward). Neoliberals proved to be a very good students of Trotskyite method of subversion of elected governments, as many of them were actually former Trotskyites.

Neoliberals also have more money and that matters. This fact alone allows them to create a powerful "fifth column" in countries other then G7 who are on the receiving end of neoliberal expropriation of wealth to the top countries of Neoliberal International. Like in Comintern, "all pigs are created equal, but some pigs are more equal then others."

The key idea of obtaining power by training the cadre of "professional revolutionaries" introduced by social-democratic parties and, especially, Bolsheviks are replaced with no less effective the network of neoliberal think tanks. In other words neoliberalism borrowed and perverted almost all major ideas of social-democratic parties. Including the existence of a paid "party core" typical for Bolsheviks, and instrumental to the success of their coup d'état in October 1917 against Provisional government by Kerensky. Under neoliberalism this idea transformed into the network of think tanks that Koch and other billionaires have sponsored.

Monte Perelin society (the initial neoliberal think tank) explicitly tried to adapt successful idea of western social democratic parties and Bolsheviks to neoliberal doctrine. One such "appropriations" is the level of secrecy and existence of "underground" part of the party along with "legal" parliamentary faction, a set of figureheads who are controlled by "invisible hand" (honorable politician is the one who after he was bought stays bought). Some important theoretical work in this direction was done USA renegade Trotskyites (aka neoconservatives, especially by James Burnham as well as staunch neoliberals like James Buchanan (The Guardian)

The papers Nancy MacLean discovered show that Buchanan saw stealth as crucial. He told his collaborators that “conspiratorial secrecy is at all times essential”. Instead of revealing their ultimate destination, they would proceed by incremental steps. For example, in seeking to destroy the social security system, they would claim to be saving it, arguing that it would fail without a series of radical “reforms”... Gradually they would build a [well-paid] “counter-intelligentsia”, allied to a “vast network of political power” that would become the new establishment.

The control of MSM is another idea borrowed from Bolsheviks. Like Bolshevism, neoliberalism created it's own Neoliberal newspeak and a set of myths ("greed is good", "invisible hand", "the efficient markets hypothesis", "rational expectations scam", Shareholder value scam, supply side voodoo aka "rising tide lifts all boats", etc). In "neoliberal newspeak" the term "freedom" is used as the excuse for ripping down public protections on behalf of the very rich. For example, "free market" means the market free from any coercion by the state (read "free from regulations") which makes it the corporate jungle where the most powerful corporation dictate the rules of the game and eat alive small fish with complete impunity. In no way neoliberal "free market" is fair. Actually neoliberals try to avoid to discuss the issue of farness of the market. This is anathema for them. As such neoliberalism has distinct Social Darwinism flavor and enforces scapegoating and victimization of poor and unemployed

In no way neoliberal "free market" is fair. Actually neoliberals try to avoid to discuss the issue of farness of the market. This is anathema for them. As such neoliberalism has distinct Social Darwinism flavor and enforces scapegoating and victimization of poor and unemployed

As neoliberalism inherited consumerism of the New Deal Capitalism, it adapted it for it own purposes. One distinct feature is trying to get into dent the majority of the population of the country as well as "lesser" countries (neo-colonialism)/

On the individual workers levels neoliberalism has sophisticated mechanisms of enforcing excessive debt on unsuspecting population with such mechanisms as credit card companies, mortgages, student debt, etc. And a worker with a large debt is, essentially, a debt-slave. Atomization (neoliberalism is openly and forcefully anti-union) and enslavement of the workforce is exactly what neoliberalism is about: recreation of the plantation economy on a new technological and social levels. Not that unions are without problems in their own right, but crushing the union is the goal of every neoliberal government starting with Thatcher and Reagan. The same model that is depicted in famous song Sixteen Tons. With replacement of the company store debt and private corporate currencies with credit card debt.

On "lesser" countries level IMF and World banks does the heavy lifting of converting countries into debt-slaves. Sometimes with the help of Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs.

Like Trotskyism, neoliberalism is a militaristic creed, the only different is that dream of global Communist empire led from Moscow was replaced by the dream of global neoliberal empire led by Washington. Neocons in this sense is just a specific flavor of neoliberals --" neoliberals with the gun" as in Al Capone maxim "You Can Get Much Further with a Kind Word and a Gun than with a Kind Word Alone" ;-). This "institualized gangsterism" of the US neocons represents probably the greatest threat to the survival of modern civilization.

Neoliberalism elevates of market-based principles and techniques of evaluation to the level of state-endorsed norms. The authority of the neoliberal state is heavily dependent on the authority of neoliberal economics (and economists). When this authority collapses the eventual collapse of neoliberalism is imminent. This is a classic "the castle built of sand story. "

Due to the size the introduction was moved to a separate page -- Neoliberalism: an Introduction


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[Mar 18, 2019] Doublethink and Newspeak Do We Have a Choice by Greg Guma

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... In Orwell's imagination, society was ruled in the future by Big Brother. It wasn't a computer, but rather the collective expression of the Party. But not like the Republicans; this Party was an autonomous bureaucracy and advanced surveillance state interested only in perpetuating itself as a hierarchy. In this dystopia, "the people" had become insignificant, without the power of "grasping that the world could be other than it is." ..."
"... Concepts like freedom were perverted by a ruthless Newspeakperpetuated by the Party through the media. A Goodthinker was someone who followed orders without thinking. Crimestop was the instinctual avoidance of any dangerous thought, and Doublethink was the constant distortion of reality to maintain the Party's image of infallibility. ..."
"... Writing in 1948, Orwell was projecting what could happen in just a few decades. By most measures, even 70 years later we're not quite there yet. But we do face the real danger that freedom and equality will be seriously distorted by a new form of Newspeak, a Trumpian version promoted by the administration and its allies through their media. We already have Trumpian Goodthinkers -- the sychophantic surrogates who follow his lead without thinking, along with Crimestop -- the instinctual avoidance of "disloyal" thought, and Doublethink -- the constant distortion of reality to maintain Trump's insatiable ego and image of infallibility. Orwellian ideas are simply resurfacing in a post-modern/reality TV form. ..."
"... As community life unravels and more institutions fall into disrepute, media have become among of the few remaining that can potentially facilitate some social cohesion. Yet instead they fuel conflict and crisis. It's not quite Crimestop, but does often appeal to some of the basest instincts and produce even more alienation and division. ..."
"... In 1980, Ralph Nader called the race for president at that time -- between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan -- a choice between mediocrity and menace. It was funny then, but now we can see what real menace looks like. Is Trump-ism what Orwell warned us about? Not quite, though there are similarities. Like Trump, you can't talk to Big Brother. And he rarely gives you the truth, only doublespeak. But Trump is no Big Brother. More like a Drunk Uncle with nukes. ..."
"... Security is tight and hard to avoid, on or offline. There are cameras everywhere, and every purchase and move most people make is tracked by the state. Still, there are four bombings in the first week of the Games. There is also another kind of human tragedy. Four runners collapse during preliminary rounds as a result of a toxic mix -- heat and pollution. ..."
"... Greg Guma is the Vermont-based author of Dons of Time, Uneasy Empire, Spirits of Desire, Big Lies, and The People's Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution. ..."
"... This article was originally published by Greg Guma: For Preservation & Change . ..."
Aug 21, 2017 | www.globalresearch.ca
Region: USA Theme: Media Disinformation , Police State & Civil Rights

More people are becoming alienated, cynical, resentful or resigned, while too much of mass and social media reinforces less-than-helpful narratives and tendencies. The frog's in the frying pan and the heat is rising.

On the big screens above us beautiful young people demonstrated their prowess. We were sitting in the communications center, waiting for print outs to tell us what they'd done before organizing the material for mass consumption. Outside, people were freezing in the snow as they waited for buses. Their only choice was to attend another event or attempt to get home.

The area was known as the Competition Zone, a corporate state created for the sole purpose of showcasing these gorgeous competitors. Freedom was a foreign idea here; no one was more free than the laminated identification card hanging around your neck allowed.

Visitors were more restricted than anyone. They saw only what they paid for, and had to wait in long lines for food, transport, or tickets to more events. They were often uncomfortable, yet they felt privileged to be admitted to the Zone. Citizens were categorized by their function within the Organizing Committee's bureaucracy. Those who merely served -- in jobs like cooking, driving and cleaning -- wore green and brown tags. They could travel between their homes and work, but were rarely permitted into events. Their contact with visitors was also limited. To visit them from outside the Zone, their friends and family had to be screened.

Most citizens knew little about how the Zone was actually run, about the "inner community" of diplomats, competitors and corporate officials they served. Yet each night they watched the exploits of this same elite on television.

The Zone, a closed and classified place where most bad news went unreported and a tiny elite called the shots through mass media and computers, was no futuristic fantasy. It was Lake Placid for several weeks in early 1980 -- a full four years before 1984.

In a once sleepy little community covered with artificial snow, the Olympics had brought a temporary society into being. Two thousand athletes and their entourage were its royalty, role models for the throngs of spectators, townspeople and journalists. This convergence resulted in an ad hoc police state, managed by public and private forces and a political elite that combined local business honchos with an international governing committee. They dominated a population all too willing to submit to arbitrary authority.

Even back then, Lake Placid's Olympic "village" felt like a preview of things to come. Not quite George Orwell's dark vision, but uncomfortably close.

In Orwell's imagination, society was ruled in the future by Big Brother. It wasn't a computer, but rather the collective expression of the Party. But not like the Republicans; this Party was an autonomous bureaucracy and advanced surveillance state interested only in perpetuating itself as a hierarchy. In this dystopia, "the people" had become insignificant, without the power of "grasping that the world could be other than it is."

Concepts like freedom were perverted by a ruthless Newspeakperpetuated by the Party through the media. A Goodthinker was someone who followed orders without thinking. Crimestop was the instinctual avoidance of any dangerous thought, and Doublethink was the constant distortion of reality to maintain the Party's image of infallibility.

Writing in 1948, Orwell was projecting what could happen in just a few decades. By most measures, even 70 years later we're not quite there yet. But we do face the real danger that freedom and equality will be seriously distorted by a new form of Newspeak, a Trumpian version promoted by the administration and its allies through their media. We already have Trumpian Goodthinkers -- the sychophantic surrogates who follow his lead without thinking, along with Crimestop -- the instinctual avoidance of "disloyal" thought, and Doublethink -- the constant distortion of reality to maintain Trump's insatiable ego and image of infallibility. Orwellian ideas are simply resurfacing in a post-modern/reality TV form.

Our fast food culture is also taking a long-term toll. More and more people are becoming alienated, cynical, resentful or resigned, while too much of mass and social media reinforces less-than-helpful narratives and tendencies. The frog's in the frying pan and the heat is rising.

Much of what penetrates and goes viral further fragments culture and thought, promoting a cynicism that reinforces both rage and inaction. Rather than true diversity, we have the mass illusion that a choice between polarized opinions, shaped and curated by editors and networks, is the essence of free speech and democracy. In reality, original ideas are so constrained and self-censored that what's left is usually as diverse as brands of peppermint toothpaste.

When the Bill of Rights was ratified, the notion that freedom of speech and the press should be protected meant that the personal right of self-expression should not be repressed by the government. James Madison, author of the First Amendment, warned that the greatest danger to liberty was that a majority would use its power to repress everyone else. Yet the evolution of mass media and the corporate domination of economic life have made these "choicest privileges" almost obsolete.

As community life unravels and more institutions fall into disrepute, media have become among of the few remaining that can potentially facilitate some social cohesion. Yet instead they fuel conflict and crisis. It's not quite Crimestop, but does often appeal to some of the basest instincts and produce even more alienation and division.

In general terms, what most mass media bring the public is a series of images and anecdotes that cumulatively define a way of life. Both news and entertainment contribute to the illusion that competing, consuming and accumulating are at the core of our aspirations. Each day we are repeatedly shown and told that culture and politics are corrupt, that war is imminent or escalating somewhere, that violence is random and pervasive, and yet also that the latest "experts" have the answers. Countless programs meanwhile celebrate youth, violence, frustrated sexuality, and the lives of celebrities.

Between the official program content are a series of intensely packaged sales pitches. These commercial messages wash over us, as if we are wandering in an endless virtual mall, searching in vain for fulfillment as society crumbles.

In 1980, Ralph Nader called the race for president at that time -- between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan -- a choice between mediocrity and menace. It was funny then, but now we can see what real menace looks like. Is Trump-ism what Orwell warned us about? Not quite, though there are similarities. Like Trump, you can't talk to Big Brother. And he rarely gives you the truth, only doublespeak. But Trump is no Big Brother. More like a Drunk Uncle with nukes.

So, is it too late for a rescue? Will menace win this time? Or can we still save the environment, reclaim self-government, restore communities and protect human rights? What does the future hold?

It could be summer in Los Angeles in 2024, the end of Donald Trump's second term. The freeways are slow-moving parking lots for the Olympics. Millions of people hike around in the heat, or use bikes and cycles to get to work. It's difficult with all the checkpoints, not to mention the extra-high security at the airports. Thousands of police, not to mention the military, are on the lookout for terrorists, smugglers, protesters, cultists, gangs, thieves, and anyone who doesn't have money to burn or a ticket to the Games.

Cash isn't much good, and gas has become so expensive that suburban highways are almost empty.

Security is tight and hard to avoid, on or offline. There are cameras everywhere, and every purchase and move most people make is tracked by the state. Still, there are four bombings in the first week of the Games. There is also another kind of human tragedy. Four runners collapse during preliminary rounds as a result of a toxic mix -- heat and pollution.

... ... ...

Greg Guma is the Vermont-based author of Dons of Time, Uneasy Empire, Spirits of Desire, Big Lies, and The People's Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution.

This article was originally published by Greg Guma: For Preservation & Change .

[Mar 18, 2019] The Why are the media playing lapdog and not watchdog – again – on war in Iraq?

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... General Electric, the world's largest military contractor, still controls the message over at the so-called "liberal" MSNBC. MSNBC's other owner is Comcast, the right wing media conglomerate that controls the radio waves in every major American Market. Over at CNN, Mossad Asset Wolf Blitzer, who rose from being an obscure little correspondent for an Israeli Newspaper to being CNN's Chief "Pentagon Correspondent" and then was elevated to supreme anchorman nearly as quickly, ensures that the pro-Israeli Message is always in the forefront, even as the Israeli's commit one murderous act after another upon helpless Palestinian Women and Children. ..."
"... Every single "terrorism expert", General or former Government Official that is brought out to discuss the next great war is connected to a military contractor that stands to benefit from that war. Not surprisingly, the military option is the only option discussed and we are assured that, if only we do this or bomb that, then it will all be over and we can bring our kids home to a big victory parade. I'm 63 and it has never happened in my lifetime--with the exception of the phony parade that Bush Senior put on after his murderous little "First Gulf War". ..."
"... The Generals in the Pentagon always want war. It is how they make rank. All of those young kids that just graduated from our various academies know that war experience is the only thing that will get them the advancement that they seek in the career that they have chosen. They are champing at the bit for more war. ..."
"... the same PR campaign that started with Bush and Cheney continues-the exact same campaign. Obviously, they have to come back at the apple with variations, but any notion that the "media will get it someday" is willfully ignorant of the obvious fact that there is an agenda, and that agenda just won't stop until it's achieved-or revolution supplants the influence of these dark forces. ..."
"... The US media are indeed working overtime to get this war happening ..."
"... In media universe there is no alternative to endless war and an endless stream of hyped reasons for new killing. ..."
"... The media machine is a wholly owned subsidiary of the United States of Corporations. ..."
"... Oh, the greatest propaganda arm the US government has right now, bar none, is the American media. It's disgraceful. we no longer have journalists speaking truth to power in my country, we have people practicing stenography, straight from the State Department to your favorite media outlet. ..."
"... But all that research from MIT, from the UN, and others, has been buried by the American media, and every single story on Syria and Assad that is written still refers to "Assad gassing his own people". It's true, it's despicable, and it's just one example of how our media lies and distorts and misrepresents the news every day. ..."
Oct 10, 2014 | The Guardian
BradBenson, 10 October 2014 6:14pm
The American Public has gotten exactly what it deserved. They have been dumbed-down in our poor-by-intention school systems. The moronic nonsense that passes for news in this country gets more sensational with each passing day. Over on Fox, they are making the claim that ISIS fighters are bringing Ebola over the Mexican Border, which prompted a reply by the Mexican Embassy that won't be reported on Fox.

We continue to hear and it was even reported in this very fine article by Ms. Benjamin that the American People now support this new war. Really? I'm sorry, but I haven't seen that support anywhere but on the news and I just don't believe it any more.

There is also the little problem of infiltration into key media slots by paid CIA Assets (Scarborough and brainless Mika are two of these double dippers). Others are intermarried. Right-wing Neocon War Criminal Dan Senor is married to "respected" newsperson Campbell Brown who is now involved in privatizing our school system. Victoria Nuland, the slimey State Department Official who was overheard appointing the members of the future Ukrainian Government prior to the Maidan Coup is married to another Neo-Con--Larry Kagan. Even sweet little Andrea Mitchell is actually Mrs. Alan Greenspan.

General Electric, the world's largest military contractor, still controls the message over at the so-called "liberal" MSNBC. MSNBC's other owner is Comcast, the right wing media conglomerate that controls the radio waves in every major American Market. Over at CNN, Mossad Asset Wolf Blitzer, who rose from being an obscure little correspondent for an Israeli Newspaper to being CNN's Chief "Pentagon Correspondent" and then was elevated to supreme anchorman nearly as quickly, ensures that the pro-Israeli Message is always in the forefront, even as the Israeli's commit one murderous act after another upon helpless Palestinian Women and Children.

Every single "terrorism expert", General or former Government Official that is brought out to discuss the next great war is connected to a military contractor that stands to benefit from that war. Not surprisingly, the military option is the only option discussed and we are assured that, if only we do this or bomb that, then it will all be over and we can bring our kids home to a big victory parade. I'm 63 and it has never happened in my lifetime--with the exception of the phony parade that Bush Senior put on after his murderous little "First Gulf War".

Yesterday there was a coordinated action by all of the networks, which was clearly designed to support the idea that the generals want Obama to act and he just won't. The not-so-subtle message was that the generals were right and that the President's "inaction" was somehow out of line-since, after all, the generals have recommended more war. It was as if these people don't remember that the President, sleazy War Criminal that he is, is still the Commander in Chief.

The Generals in the Pentagon always want war. It is how they make rank. All of those young kids that just graduated from our various academies know that war experience is the only thing that will get them the advancement that they seek in the career that they have chosen. They are champing at the bit for more war.

Finally, this Sunday every NFL Game will begin with some Patriotic "Honor America" Display, which will include a missing man flyover, flags and fireworks, plenty of uniforms, wounded Vets and soon-to-be-wounded Vets. A giant American Flag will, once again, cover the fields and hundreds of stupid young kids will rush down to their "Military Career Center" right after the game. These are the ones that I pity most.

BaronVonAmericano , 10 October 2014 6:26pm
Let's be frank: powerful interests want war and subsequent puppet regimes in the half dozen nations that the neo-cons have been eyeing (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan). These interests surely include industries like banking, arms and oil-all of whom make a killing on any war, and would stand to do well with friendly governments who could finance more arms purchases and will never nationalize the oil.

So, the same PR campaign that started with Bush and Cheney continues-the exact same campaign. Obviously, they have to come back at the apple with variations, but any notion that the "media will get it someday" is willfully ignorant of the obvious fact that there is an agenda, and that agenda just won't stop until it's achieved-or revolution supplants the influence of these dark forces.

IanB52, 10 October 2014 6:57pm

The US media are indeed working overtime to get this war happening. When I'm down at the gym they always have CNN on (I can only imagine what FOX is like) which is a pretty much dyed in the wool yellow jingoist station at this point. With all the segments they dedicate to ISIS, a new war, the "imminent" terrorist threat, they seem to favor talking heads who support a full ground war and I have never, not once, heard anyone even speak about the mere possibility of peace. Not ever.

In media universe there is no alternative to endless war and an endless stream of hyped reasons for new killing.

I'd imagine that these media companies have a lot stock in and a cozy relationship with the defense contractors.

Damiano Iocovozzi, 10 October 2014 7:04pm

The media machine is a wholly owned subsidiary of the United States of Corporations. The media doesn't report on anything but relies on repeating manufactured crises, creating manufactured consent & discussing manufactured solutions. Follow the oil, the pipelines & the money. Both R's & D's are left & right cheeks of the same buttock. Thanks to Citizens United & even Hobby Lobby, a compliant Supreme Court, also owned by United States of Corporations, it's a done deal.

ID5868758 , 10 October 2014 10:20pm
Oh, the greatest propaganda arm the US government has right now, bar none, is the American media. It's disgraceful. we no longer have journalists speaking truth to power in my country, we have people practicing stenography, straight from the State Department to your favorite media outlet.

Let me give you one clear example. A year ago Barack Obama came very close to bombing Syria to kingdom come, the justification used was "Assad gassed his own people", referring to a sarin gas attack near Damascus. Well, it turns out that Assad did not initiate that attack, discovered by research from many sources including the prestigious MIT, it was a false flag attack planned by Turkey and carried out by some of Obama's own "moderate rebels".

But all that research from MIT, from the UN, and others, has been buried by the American media, and every single story on Syria and Assad that is written still refers to "Assad gassing his own people". It's true, it's despicable, and it's just one example of how our media lies and distorts and misrepresents the news every day.

[Mar 17, 2019] OPEC Threatens To Kill US Shale

Mar 17, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will once again become a nemesis for U.S. shale if the U.S. Congress passes a bill dubbed NOPEC, or No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act, Bloomberg reported this week , citing sources present at a meeting between a senior OPEC official and U.S. bankers.

The oil minister of the UAE, Suhail al-Mazrouei, reportedly told lenders at the meeting that if the bill was made into law that made OPEC members liable to U.S. anti-cartel legislation, the group, which is to all intents and purposes indeed a cartel, would break up and every member would boost production to its maximum.

This would be a repeat of what happened in 2013 and 2014, and ultimately led to another oil price crash like the one that saw Brent crude and WTI sink below US$30 a barrel. As a result, a lot of U.S. shale-focused, debt-dependent producers would go under.

Bankers who provide the debt financing that shale producers need are the natural target for opponents of the NOPEC bill. Banks got burned during the 2014 crisis and are still recovering and regaining their trust in the industry. Purse strings are being loosened as WTI climbs closer to US$60 a barrel, but lenders are certainly aware that this is to a large extent the result of OPEC action: the cartel is cutting production again and the effect on prices is becoming increasingly visible.

Related: Pakistan Aims To Become A Natural Gas Hotspot

Indeed, if OPEC starts pumping again at maximum capacity, even without Iran and Venezuela, and with continued outages in Libya, it would pressure prices significantly, especially if Russia joins in. After all, its state oil companies have been itching to start pumping more.

The NOPEC legislation has little chance of becoming a law. It is not the first attempt by U.S. legislators to make OPEC liable for its cartel behavior, and none of the others made it to a law. However, Al-Mazrouei's not too subtle threat highlights the weakest point of U.S. shale: the industry's dependence on borrowed money.

The issue was analyzed in depth by energy expert Philip Verleger in an Oilprice story earlier this month and what the problem boils down to is too much debt. Shale, as Total's chief executive put it in a 2018 interview with Bloomberg, is very capital-intensive. The returns can be appealing if you're drilling and fracking in a sweet spot in the shale patch. They can also be improved by making everything more efficient but ultimately you'd need quite a lot of cash to continue drilling and fracking, despite all the praise about the decline in production costs across shale plays.

The fact that a lot of this cash could come only from banks has been highlighted before: the shale oil and gas industry faced a crisis of investor confidence after the 2014 crash because the only way it knew how to do business was to pump ever-increasing amounts of oil and gas. Shareholder returns were not top of the agenda. This had to change after the crash and most of the smaller players -- those that survived -- have yet to fully recover. Free cash remains a luxury.

Related: The EIA Cuts U.S. Oil Output Projections

The industry is aware of this vulnerability. The American Petroleum Institute has vocally opposed NOPEC, almost as vocally as OPEC itself, and BP's Bob Dudley said this week at CERAWeek in Houston that NOPEC "could have severe unintended consequences if it unleashed litigation around the world."

"Severe unintended consequences" is not a phrase bankers like to hear. Chances are they will join in the opposition to the legislation to keep shale's wheels turning. The industry, meanwhile, might want to consider ways to reduce its reliance on borrowed money, perhaps by capping production at some point before it becomes forced to do it.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

[Mar 17, 2019] Operation Crossfire Hurricane FBI Sent Strzok On Secret Mission To London Before Election

May 16, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

The New York Times is out with a puff piece ahead of the highly anticipated DOJ Inspector General report expected any day now detailing the FBI's (mis)conduct during the 2016 US election. The Times piece is brought to you by yet more leaks from the FBI, with their account of the operation against the Trump campaign prior to former Director Comey's firing and the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel.

Key takeaways:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/iFXVHu0vdI8

Fearful of leaks, they kept details from political appointees across the street at the Justice Department. Peter Strzok, a senior F.B.I. agent, explained in a text that Justice Department officials would find it too "tasty" to resist sharing. "I'm not worried about our side," he wrote. - NYT

It was an assignment so secretive that Peter Strzok giddily texted his side piece about it on an unsecured line. It's also weird for NYT to characterize the meeting as "not yet reported" seeing as how Strzok's texts about it have been out for months. https://t.co/lbvTZksLJr pic.twitter.com/QSA7TedpTM

-- Sean Davis (@seanmdav) May 16, 2018

The F.B.I. bureaucracy did agents no favors. In July, a retired British spy named Christopher Steele approached a friend in the F.B.I. overseas and provided reports linking Trump campaign officials to Russia. But the documents meandered around the F.B.I. organizational chart, former officials said. Only in mid-September, congressional investigators say, did the records reach the Crossfire Hurricane team .

"I cannot believe we are seriously looking at these allegations and the pervasive connections," Mr. Strzok wrote soon after returning from London.

" A year and a half later, no public evidence has surfaced connecting Mr. Trump's advisers to the hacking or linking Mr. Trump himself to the Russian government's disruptive efforts. "

"It's like the deep state all got together to try to orchestrate a palace coup," Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, said in January on Fox Business Network.

[Mar 17, 2019] Market Concentration Is Threatening the US Economy by Joseph E. Stiglitz

Notable quotes:
"... Making matters worse, America's low tax-to-GDP ratio – just 27.1% even before the Trump tax cut – means a dearth of money for investment in the infrastructure, education, health care, and basic research needed to ensure future growth. These are the supply-side measures that actually do "trickle down" to everyone. ..."
"... The policies for combating economically damaging power imbalances are straightforward. Over the past half-century, Chicago School economists , acting on the assumption that markets are generally competitive, narrowed the focus of competition policy solely to economic efficiency, rather than broader concerns about power and inequality. The irony is that this assumption became dominant in policymaking circles just when economists were beginning to reveal its flaws. The development of game theory and new models of imperfect and asymmetric information laid bare the profound limitations of the competition model. ..."
"... The law needs to catch up. Anti-competitive practices should be illegal, period. And beyond that, there are a host of other changes needed to modernize US antitrust legislation. Americans' need the same resolve in fighting for competition that their corporations have shown in fighting against it. ..."
Mar 17, 2019 | www.project-syndicate.org

Rising inequality and slow growth are widely recognized as key factors behind the spread of public discontent in advanced economies, particularly in the United States. But these problems are themselves symptoms of an underlying malady that the US political system may be unable to address.

The world's advanced economies are suffering from a number of deep-seated problems. In the United States, in particular, inequality is at its highest since 1928 , and GDP growth remains woefully tepid compared to the decades after World War II.

After promising annual growth of "4, 5, and even 6%," US President Donald Trump and his congressional Republican enablers have delivered only unprecedented deficits. According to the Congressional Budget Office's latest projections , the federal budget deficit will reach $900 billion this year, and will surpass the $1 trillion mark every year after 2021. And yet, the sugar high induced by the latest deficit increase is already fading, with the International Monetary Fund forecasting US growth of 2.5% in 2019 and 1.8% in 2020, down from 2.9% in 2018.

Many factors are contributing to the US economy's low-growth/high-inequality problem. Trump and the Republicans' poorly designed tax "reform" has exacerbated existing deficiencies in the tax code, funneling even more income to the highest earners. At the same time, globalization continues to be poorly managed, and financial markets continue to be geared toward extracting profits (rent-seeking, in economists' parlance), rather than providing useful services.

But an even deeper and more fundamental problem is the growing concentration of market power , which allows dominant firms to exploit their customers and squeeze their employees, whose own bargaining power and legal protections are being weakened . CEOs and senior executives are increasingly extracting higher pay for themselves at the expense of workers and investment.

For example, US corporate executives made sure that the vast majority of the benefits from the tax cut went into dividends and stock buybacks, which exceeded a record-breaking $1.1 trillion in 2018 . Buybacks raised share prices and boosted the earnings-per-share ratio, on which many executives' compensation is based. Meanwhile, at 13.7% of GDP , annual investment remained weak, while many corporate pensions went underfunded.

Evidence of rising market power can be found almost anywhere one looks. Large markups are contributing to high corporate profits . In sector after sector, from little things like cat food to big things like telecoms, cable providers, airlines, and technology platforms, a few firms now dominate 75-90% of the market, if not more; and the problem is even more pronounced at the level of local markets.

As corporate behemoths' market power has increased, so, too, has their ability to influence America's money-driven politics. And as the system has become more rigged in business's favor, it has become much harder for ordinary citizens to seek redress for mistreatment or abuse. A perfect example of this is the spread of arbitration clauses in labor contracts and user agreements, which allow corporations to settle disputes with employees and customers through a sympathetic mediator, rather than in court.

Multiple forces are driving the increase in market power. One is the growth of sectors with large network effects, where a single firm – like Google or Facebook – can easily dominate. Another is the prevailing attitude among business leaders, who have come to assume that market power is the only way to ensure durable profits. As the venture capitalist Peter Thiel famously put it , "competition is for losers."

Some US business leaders have shown real ingenuity in creating market barriers to prevent any kind of meaningful competition, aided by lax enforcement of existing competition laws and the failure to update those laws for the twenty-first-century economy. As a result, the share of new firms in the US is declining.

None of this bodes well for the US economy. Rising inequality implies falling aggregate demand, because those at the top of the wealth distribution tend to consume a smaller share of their income than those of more modest means.

Moreover, on the supply side, market power weakens incentives to invest and innovate. Firms know that if they produce more, they will have to lower their prices. This is why investment remains weak, despite corporate America's record profits and trillions of dollars of cash reserves. And besides, why bother producing anything of value when you can use your political power to extract more rents through market exploitation? Political investments in getting lower taxes yield far higher returns than real investments in plant and equipment. 1

Making matters worse, America's low tax-to-GDP ratio – just 27.1% even before the Trump tax cut – means a dearth of money for investment in the infrastructure, education, health care, and basic research needed to ensure future growth. These are the supply-side measures that actually do "trickle down" to everyone.

The policies for combating economically damaging power imbalances are straightforward. Over the past half-century, Chicago School economists , acting on the assumption that markets are generally competitive, narrowed the focus of competition policy solely to economic efficiency, rather than broader concerns about power and inequality. The irony is that this assumption became dominant in policymaking circles just when economists were beginning to reveal its flaws. The development of game theory and new models of imperfect and asymmetric information laid bare the profound limitations of the competition model.

The law needs to catch up. Anti-competitive practices should be illegal, period. And beyond that, there are a host of other changes needed to modernize US antitrust legislation. Americans' need the same resolve in fighting for competition that their corporations have shown in fighting against it.

The challenge, as always, is political. But with US corporations having amassed so much power, there is reason to doubt that the American political system is up to the task of reform. Add to that the globalization of corporate power and the orgy of deregulation and crony capitalism under Trump, and it is clear that Europe will have to take the lead.

[Mar 17, 2019] Bezos Admits His Fortune Is Due to Public Infrastructure....Even as He Fought Paying a Homeless Tax in Seattle, Shakes Down Cities for Subsidies

Mar 01, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Bezos : I've witnessed this incredible thing happen on the internet over the last two decades. I started Amazon in my garage 24 years ago -- drove packages to the post office myself. Today we have 600,000-plus people, millions and millions of customers, a very large company.

How did that happen in such a short period of time? It happened because we didn't have to do any of the heavy lifting. All of the heavy-lifting infrastructure was already in place for it. There was already a telecommunication network, which became the backbone of the internet. There was already a payment system -- it was called the credit card. There was already a transportation network called the US Postal Service, and Royal Mail, and Deutsche Post, all over the world, that could deliver our packages. We didn't have to build any of that heavy infrastructure.

An even more stark example is Facebook. Here's a guy who literally, in his dorm room, started a company -- Mark Zuckerberg started a company in his dorm room, which is now worth half a trillion dollars -- less than two decades ago.

NY Geezer , March 1, 2019 at 9:04 am

Jeff Bezos strikes me as an incredibly pompous hustler who is so much into himself that he has begun to believe that he is GOD. Before trying to hustle others into traveling to Mars, or any other space destination, he should show us that it is feasible by PERSONALLY going first, surviving 18 months of space travel (9 months each way to Mars) including a landing on and take off from Mars.

flora , March 1, 2019 at 7:27 am

Jeff reveals how he made his fortune using public infrastructure (read govt spending) and tax breaks. Now he's aiming for Pentagon riches.

In addition to Amazon's much-panned withdrawal from a "second headquarters" deal in New York City -- which had the New York Post comparing Bezos to ex-Yankees pitcher Sonny Gray for his inability to "take the kind of pressure New York can dish out" -- the Pez-headed tech giant's dreams of Pentagon riches are suddenly being thwarted.

The blow involves a surprise delay in the award of the so-called JEDI contract, a $10 billion (or more) prize for Pentagon cloud management that once seemed gift-wrapped for Amazon.

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/trump-bezos-war-799928/

Ape , March 1, 2019 at 7:48 am

Hmm, the internet already existed. In fact the WWW existed. He must know that -- so he's lying to minimize the amount of infrastructure he inherited. By 1994, everything was already there.

William Hunter Duncan , March 1, 2019 at 9:10 am

I am growing so very tired of the Cult of Bezos. That line about his garage is like an incantation to put his acolytes and sycophants into zombie mode. That argument that there can be no space Zuckerbergs sounds like subliminal messaging 'divert more public resources to ME! Only I can lead you to the stars!' He has zero intention of building his own space infrastructure. He wants us to build it for Him, our demigod, Bezos!

[Mar 17, 2019] As Hemingway replied to Scott Fitzgerald assertion The rich are different than you and me : yes, they have more money.

Highly recommended!
Human society is way to complex for alpha males to succeed unconditionally... Quite a different set of traits is often needed.
Notable quotes:
"... Superficially, Hemingway was correct. But on a deeper level, he missed the reality of the heightened sense of entitlement that the very rich possess, as well as the deference that so many people automatically show to them. ..."
"... Hemingway is saying: take away all that money and the behavior would change as well. It's the money (or the power in your example) that makes the difference. ..."
"... I feel Fitzgerald got the basic idea right ..."
"... Apparently Fitzgerald was referring specifically to the attitudes of those who are born rich, attitudes that Fitzgerald thought remained unaltered by events, including the loss of economic status. ..."
"... "They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different." ..."
"... "He thought they were a special glamorous race and when he found they weren't it wrecked him as much as any other thing that wrecked him." ..."
Dec 31, 2015 | nakedcapitalism.com

Carolinian December 29, 2015

As Hemingway replied to that alum: "yes, they have more money."

Vatch December 29, 2015 at 11:25 am

Superficially, Hemingway was correct. But on a deeper level, he missed the reality of the heightened sense of entitlement that the very rich possess, as well as the deference that so many people automatically show to them. The rich shouldn't be different in this way, but they are. In some other societies, such entitlement and deference would accrue to senior party members, senior clergymen, or hereditary nobility (who might not have much money at all).

MyLessThanPrimeBeef December 29, 2015 at 11:45 am

"Go with the winner." That is how it works for the alpha male (a chimp, an ape, or a gorilla) for most followers anyway. Some will challenge. If victorious, followers will line up (more go-with-the-winner). If defeated, an outcast.

Carolinian December 29, 2015 at 12:04 pm

Without a doubt Hemingway had a rather catty attitude toward his literary rival, but in this instance I think the debunking is merited. It's quite possible that rich people act the way we would act if we were rich, and that Fitzgerald's tiresome obsession with rich people didn't cut very deep. Hemingway is saying: take away all that money and the behavior would change as well. It's the money (or the power in your example) that makes the difference.

Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 1:58 pm

In my opinion, the fact that if they had less money would change the way they think, does not change the fact that, while they have more money, they think differently, and different rules apply to them.

Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 2:00 pm

Addendum: The fact that an Alpha Chimp would act differently if someone else was the Alpha Chimp does not change the fact that an Alpha Chimp has fundamentally different behavior than the rest of the group.

Carolinian December 29, 2015 at 2:17 pm

Sounds like you are saying the behavior of the rich is different -- not what F. Scott Fitzgerald said.

Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 2:29 pm

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:F._Scott_Fitzgerald

"Hemingway is responsible for a famous misquotation of Fitzgerald's. According to Hemingway, a conversation between him and Fitzgerald went:

Fitzgerald: The rich are different than you and me.
Hemingway: Yes, they have more money.

This never actually happened; it is a retelling of an actual encounter between Hemingway and Mary Colum, which went as follows:

Hemingway: I am getting to know the rich.

Colum: I think you'll find the only difference between the rich and other people is that the rich have more money."

Just want to point out that that quote of Hemingways wasn't about Fitzgerald and wasn't even by Hemingway. Anyway I was more attacking the "rich have more money" thing than I was trying to defend Fitzgerald, but I feel Fitzgerald got the basic idea right

craazyman December 29, 2015 at 3:35 pm

I read somewhere, maybe a biography of one of them when I read books like that, that Hemingway actually said it and only said that F. Scott said it.

There are no heroes among famous men. I said that!

giantsquid December 29, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Here's an interesting take on this reputed exchange between Fitzgerald and Hemingway:

"The rich are different" The real story behind the famed "exchange" between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.

http://www.quotecounterquote.com/2009/11/rich-are-different-famous-quote.html

Apparently Fitzgerald was referring specifically to the attitudes of those who are born rich, attitudes that Fitzgerald thought remained unaltered by events, including the loss of economic status.

"They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different."

Hemingway suggested that Fitzgerald had once been especially enamored of the rich, seeing them as a "special glamorous race" but ultimately became disillusioned.

"He thought they were a special glamorous race and when he found they weren't it wrecked him as much as any other thing that wrecked him."

[Mar 17, 2019] Yes, Minister was a neoliberal attack on government as such. It set the entrepreneurial political hero/leader against the corrupt civil service

Notable quotes:
"... Yes, Minister was a neoliberal attack on government as such. It set the "entrepreneurial" political hero/leader against the corrupt "civil service". ..."
"... Following this line of reasoning, it seems to me that the US military establishment has been in decline ever since the Pentagon was built and the temporary Navy Dept. buildings erected on the National Mall were razed ..."
"... Being that the Pentagon opened in 1943 and the buildings on the Mall were razed in 1970, which roughly coincides with our costly imperial adventures in Korea and Vietnam, I think Parkinson's Law #6 is dead on here. ..."
Apr 27, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Chris , April 27, 2017 at 3:48 pm

Years ago, while working in an Australian state public service department, we considered 'Yes Minister' to be a documentary, and used it amongst ourselves as training material.

Lambert Strether Post author , April 27, 2017 at 4:26 pm

My favorite episode is "Jobs for the Boys." My favorite line: "Great courage of course. But whatever possessed you?"

https://books.google.co.id/books?id=VBkkymt32CgC

(Messing about with the VPN to get the full page )

RUKidding , April 27, 2017 at 5:11 pm

Indeed. I have used it as such, myself! Not snark.

A most excellent book and series. Should be required viewing.

witters , April 27, 2017 at 8:19 pm

Yes, Minister was a neoliberal attack on government as such. It set the "entrepreneurial" political hero/leader against the corrupt "civil service". It made the latter the "deep state", thereby tainting forever the welfare state as an evil hidden conspiracy that (mysteriously) pandered to the meritocratically worthless. If that is what you mean by "Deep State" then you can have it.

Huey Long , April 27, 2017 at 3:21 pm

It is now known that a perfection of planned layout is achieved only by institutions on the point of collapse . [P]erfection of planning is a symptom of decay. During a period of exciting discovery or progress there is no time to plan the perfect headquarters. The time for that comes later, when all the important work has been done. Perfection, we know, is finality; and finality is death.

Following this line of reasoning, it seems to me that the US military establishment has been in decline ever since the Pentagon was built and the temporary Navy Dept. buildings erected on the National Mall were razed.

Being that the Pentagon opened in 1943 and the buildings on the Mall were razed in 1970, which roughly coincides with our costly imperial adventures in Korea and Vietnam, I think Parkinson's Law #6 is dead on here.

[Mar 16, 2019] Martin Wolf Why Economists Failed as "Experts" -- and How to Make Them Matter Again

That's what neoliberal bottomfeeders like Summers, Krugman and Dejong should read and memorize
Notable quotes:
"... Neoclassical economics became important in large measure to show that markets delivered efficient outcomes, and efficiency was seen as tantamount to socially desirable. That's before considering that highly efficiency almost always comes at the expense of safety and robustness, and that efficient solutions may not be equitable. ..."
"... So, maybe the proper distinction to be made is between "trustworthy" experts and "untrustworthy" ones. The question then become what makes experts trustworthy -- not, I should stress, intrinsically trustworthy, but rather perceived by the public to be so. ..."
"... The third point is that trust in expertise seems to be quite generally declining. This is partly perhaps because education is more widespread, which makes possession of an education appear in itself less authoritative. It is also partly because of the rapid dissemination of information. It is partly because of the easy formation of groups of the disaffected and dissemination of conspiracy theories. The internet and the new social media it has spawned have turned out to be powerful engines for the spreading of disinformation aimed at manipulation of the unwary. ..."
Mar 14, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. Even though Martin Wolf's post makes many important observations, I feel the need to take issue with his conclusion. Economists have been and continue to be enormously successful as experts. PhDs in economics make roughly twice as much as those in other social sciences. Economists are the only social scientists to have a seat at the policy table. And they continue to do so, despite their colossal failure in the global financial crisis, with no serious change in the discipline and no loss of reputation of any prominent economists.

Neoclassical economics became important in large measure to show that markets delivered efficient outcomes, and efficiency was seen as tantamount to socially desirable. That's before considering that highly efficiency almost always comes at the expense of safety and robustness, and that efficient solutions may not be equitable.

The importance of economists as policy advisers grew in the post World War II era, after the USSR managed the impressive feat of industrializing in the 20th century. US officials were concerned that a command and control economy could beat a messy, consumer oriented capitalist one, and turned to economists to give guidance on how to achieve high growth rates so as to produce enough guns and butter.

As for the specific impetus for Wolf's article, it appears to be due to voters ignoring the dire warnings made by the Remain campaign during the Brexit referendum campaign that Brexit would have large economic costs. But based on reports after the vote came in, that repudiation came not just because the public might well have good reason not to believe economists as a result of the crisis, but how the Remain campaign carried itself in the debates. That side apparently made arrogant-seeming, data heavy arguments, while the Leavers made stirring appeals about sovereignty .a UK version of MAGA.

By Martin Wolf, Associate Editor and Chief Economics Commentator, Financial Times. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

"I think people in this country have had enough of experts."
-Michael Gove

Michael Gove, winner of the Brexit referendum (though loser in the game of politics, having failed to become leader of his party, and so, maybe, no true expert either) hit the nail on the head. The people of this country have, it seems, had enough of those who consider themselves experts, in some domains. The implications of this rejection of experts seem enormous. That should be of particular significance for economists, because economists were, after all, the "experts" against whom Mr. Gove was inveighing.

Yet it is not really true that the people of this country have had enough of experts. When they fall ill, they still go to licensed doctors. When they fly, they trust qualified pilots. When they want a bridge, they call upon qualified engineers. Even today, in the supposed "post-fact" world, such people are almost universally recognized as experts.

So, maybe the proper distinction to be made is between "trustworthy" experts and "untrustworthy" ones. The question then become what makes experts trustworthy -- not, I should stress, intrinsically trustworthy, but rather perceived by the public to be so.

One might make three, admittedly speculative, points about this distinction between experts deemed by the public to be deserving of trust and those who are not.

The first is that some forms of expertise appear simply to be more solidly based than others in a body of theory and/or evidence, with recognizable successes to their credit. By and large, doctors are associated with cures, pilots with keeping airplanes in the sky and engineers with bridges that stay up. Such successes -- and there are many other comparable fields of expertise -- self-evidently make people with the relevant expertise appear trustworthy.

The second is that some forms of expertise are more politically contentious than others. Nearly everybody, for example, agrees that curing people, flying airplanes and building bridges are good things. Social and political arrangements -- and economics is inescapably about social and political arrangements -- are always and everywhere contentious. They affect not only how people think the human world works, but also how it ought to work. These forms of expertise are about values.

The third point is that trust in expertise seems to be quite generally declining. This is partly perhaps because education is more widespread, which makes possession of an education appear in itself less authoritative. It is also partly because of the rapid dissemination of information. It is partly because of the easy formation of groups of the disaffected and dissemination of conspiracy theories. The internet and the new social media it has spawned have turned out to be powerful engines for the spreading of disinformation aimed at manipulation of the unwary.

It might be encouraging for economists that they are not the only experts who are mistrusted. Consider the anti-vaccination movement, hostility to evolutionary theory, or rejection of climate science. All these are the products of doubts fueled by a combination of core beliefs and suspicion of particular forms of expertise. The anti-vaccination movement is driven by parents' concerns about their children. The hostility to evolution is driven by religion. The rejection of climate science is clearly driven by ideology. Every climate denier I know is a free marketeer. Is this an accident? No. The desire to believe in the free market creates an emotional justification for denying climate science. In principle, after all, belief in free markets and in the physics of the climate system have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

So economists are in good company with other forms of politically or socially contentious expertise. But they have a special difficulty. Not only are they engaged in an essentially controversial, because political, arena, and so also an inherently ideological one, but they suffer to a high degree from the first point I made above: their "science", if science it is, just does not look to the public to be solidly based. It does not work as well as the public wants and economists have claimed. Economists claim a certain scientific status. But much of it looks to the outsider more like "scientism" -- the use of an incomprehensible intellectual apparatus to obscure ignorance rather than reveal truth.

This does not mean that economists don't know useful things. It is quite clear that they do. Markets are extraordinary institutions, for example. Economists' elucidation of markets or of the principle of comparative advantage is a great intellectual achievement. Yet suspicion of economics and economists is both long-standing and understandable.

The problem became far more serious after the financial crisis. The popular perception is that the experts -- macroeconomists and financial economists -- did not appreciate the dangers before the event and did not understand the longer-run consequences after it. Moreover, the popular perception seems to be in large part correct. This has damaged the acceptance of the expertise of economists to a huge extent.

So how, in this suspicious contemporary environment, might economists persuade the public they are experts who deserve to be listened to?

I decided to ask my colleagues this question. One answered that:

1. Good economists have a clear (if incomplete) understanding of how the world works. This is a pre-requisite to making it a better place.

2. Economists have a sense of scale. They understand the difference between big and small and how to make that distinction. This is vital for policy.

3. Economics is all about counterfactuals. It understands the relevant comparators even if they are difficult to work out.

4. Economists are experts on incentives and motivations and empirically try to measure them rather than relying on wishful thinking.

5. Generally, good economists are expert in understanding the limits of their knowledge and forecasting abilities.

Another colleague added:

The general public usually associate economists with:
-A small set of macroeconomic forecasts (growth, inflation mainly), and
-A belief that markets always produce perfect outcomes

And they attribute failure to them if either:
-point forecasts (inevitably) prove wrong, or
-markets produce some bad outcomes

Whereas the expertise of economists is really in the building blocks that enable you to construct sensible forecasts and to understand how people are likely to behave and respond to a given set of circumstances/policies. This structure for understanding the world allows economists to take on board new developments, understand whether they reflect a rejection of their existing theories or merely a (possibly tail) outcome that was consistent with their "model," and push forward their understanding of the world from there. Rather than throwing away all existing wisdom when circumstances change somewhat.

I agree with these propositions. Properly understood, economics remains very useful. One realizes this as soon as one is engaged with someone who knows nothing at all about the subject. But I still have four qualifications to make.

First, a large part of what economists actually do, namely forecasting, is not very soundly based. It would be a good idea if economists stated that loudly, strongly, and repeatedly. Indeed, there should be ceaseless public campaigning by the professional bodies, emphasizing what economists don't know. Of course, that would not -- as economists might predict -- be in their interests.

Second, in important areas of supposed economic expertise, the analytical basis is really weak. This is true of the operation of the monetary and financial systems. It is also true of the determinants of economic growth.

Third, economists are not disinterested outsiders. They are part of the political process. It is crucial to remember that certain propositions favor the interests of powerful people and groups. Economists can find themselves easily captured by such groups. "Invisible hand" theorems are particularly open to such abuse.

Finally, the division between economic aspects of society and the rest is, in my view, analytically unsound. The relationship between, say, economics and sociology or anthropology is not like that between physics and chemistry. The latter rests upon the former. But economics and anthropology lie side by side. I increasingly feel that the educated economist, certainly those engaged in policy, must also understand political science, sociology, anthropology, and sociology. Otherwise, they will fail to understand what is actually happening.

If I am right, the challenge is not just to purify economics of exaggerated claims, though that is indeed needed. It is rather to recognize the limited scope of economic knowledge. This does not mean there is no such thing as economic expertise: there is. But its scope and generality are more limited than many suppose.

Michael Gove was wrong, in my view, about expertise applied in the Brexit debate. But he was not altogether wrong about the expertise of economists. If we were more humble and more honest, we might be better recognized as experts able to contribute to public debate.

With this in mind, what should be the goal of an education in economics at the university level? A part of the answer will come from developments within the field. In time, the incorporation of new ideas and techniques may make the academic discipline better at addressing the intellectual and policy challenges the world now confronts.

Another part of the answer, however, must come from asking what an undergraduate education ought to achieve. The answer should not be to produce apprentices in a highly technical and narrow discipline taught as a branch of applied mathematics. For the great majority of those who learn economics, what matters is appreciation of both a few core ideas and of the complexity of the economic reality.

At bottom, economics is a field of inquiry and a way of thinking. Among its valuable core concepts are: opportunity cost, marginal cost, rent, sunk costs, externalities, and effective demand. Economics also allows people to make at least some sense of debates on growth, taxation, monetary policy, economic development, inequality, and so forth.

It is unnecessary to possess a vast technical apparatus to understand these ideas. Indeed the technical apparatus can get in the way of such an understanding. Much of the understanding can also be acquired in a decent, but not inordinately technical, undergraduate education. That is what I was fortunate enough to acquire in my own years studying philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford in the late 1960s. Today, I believe, someone with my background in the humanities would never become an economist. I am absolutely sure I would not have done so. It might be arrogant to make this claim. But I think that would have been a pity -- and not just for me.

In addition, it would be helpful to expose students to some of the heterodox alternatives to orthodox economics. This can only be selective. But exposure to the ideas of Hyman Minsky, for example, would be very helpful to anybody seeking to understand the macroeconomic implications of liberalized finance.

The teaching of economics to undergraduates must focus on core ideas, essential questions, and actual realities. Such a curriculum might not be the best way to produce candidates for PhD programs. So be it. The study of economics at university must not be seen through so narrow a lens. Its purpose is to produce people with a broad economic enlightenment. That is what the public debate needs. It is what education has to provide.


greg , March 14, 2019 at 1:14 am

I am afraid a worse problem with economists is that they don't seem interested in anyone's opinions except their own.

They even hold ecology in disdain, not having any interest in learning what is, in fact, the foundational system of their own 'science.' The booms and busts of capitalism show familiar patterns to ecologists. Why, ecologists even have equations for them!

But I guess ecology is just too simple for the attentions of economists : Stupid animals. They don't even use money! What kind of economy can that be?

So economists look for models everywhere except where to find them. The hubris of humanity, not needing to give due attention to the economies of 'animal' societies.

Sanxi , March 14, 2019 at 7:04 am

To Yves. Well, I nearly lack the heart to respond, but I feel I must. Taking yesterday's NC's lessons of looking at a human facing and having eye contact to remain human online, I now do both – a human sits next to me. I read aloud to her.

Ok, you are a strong advocate of becoming a certified economist. Because 1.they make a lot of money and 2. only they sit at the policy table.

Further claims made in your preamble: in no particular order of importance: something about efficient outcomes that may not be equitable; command & control and guns and butter; and sadly an analysis of Brexit voters in either camp.

(One exception to all that I say is those using MMT, certified, with a degree or not. Again something I first learned about on NC.)

Yesterday, somewhere in the NC collective was the notion that the above mentioned economists tell tho' we may be so out of balance with the world that our extinction as a species is a legitimate issue to discuss, that in the end there ain't any money to not only not fix the problem but not even deal with it. And these guys/gals you laud? I and others have argued this gang provided the intellectual nonsense that put us where we are now.

What is your point that Econ grads make the most amount of money compared to what? Philosophy majors? True or not I still say it's a waste of a life. Not the knowing, but the being of one. I don't see what value there is for civilization in general but specifically that just because they make a lot of money, it's good?

All social science grads you say v Econ grads make more money. I doubt that. Seems every school district requires a PhD in Education, and a PhD in Business is very lucrative (not saying useful, just pays well).

The policy table. I'm truly baffled as to what you refer. If they are the only ones at said table then it follows they are the only ones at it. In my long life I'm trying to think were we ever let an economist have the final say, or even a moderate say in any political, governmental, or military policy. Some input yes, but deterministic, no. If they were sitting at their own table, when asked they came to table with those that had the votes, give their opinion and then left. Sociological impact statements had far bigger influence on policy. And policy is no more then the data we can agree on to make decisions.

Sure, many governments, NGOs, multinationals all have jobs for economists but in someway this is self serving, not a necessity. Kuhn's book on "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions", does a good job of explain how authority gets established, vested, and in the end becomes useless. That it exists is not an argument that it is necessary or good. That there needs to be some way to define and explain things economic I no have issue with, that outside of MMT that is has been, using system theory I don't see it.

As to efficient outcomes that may not be equitable that speaks for itself. It doesn't. No 'may not' about it, said with respect.

As to command & control and guns and butter, seems like a long time ago. A long time ago, using science to help in making decisions was new and it took awhile to get it right, or at least to get it working.

(Small note, I have dual US & UK citizenships)

An analysis of Brexit voters in either camp. I can tell you why I voted the way I did but I need to make an appeal to Stephen Pinker's, "The Blank Slate". Either I have the free will to make a decision and accept responsibility for it or I don't. I believe I do and did. I voted to leave and yes their are economic impacts, as well as social, political, historical, psychological, and philosophical. As did in electing Trump. As did the 1776 revolution, as in the US Civil War, almost anything. Money is not everything nor the only thing. And the future isn't what it used to be. The Long Emergency is here.

skippy , March 14, 2019 at 7:15 am

Hayek liked banding around watery terms like freedom and liberty its when he stopped being an economist [political theory in times past] and jointed the ranks of ideologues .

Pay check included oops and health care .

Yves Smith Post author , March 14, 2019 at 1:17 pm

Boy are you shooting the messenger. I'm not saying the way the economics discipline has become influential is a good thing, but that is the way it is. How economics operates as a discipline is great for economists, so why should they change? So what if their prescription fail way too often? For instance, there haven't been any bad consequences to anyone who didn't see the crisis coming and (even worse) advocated bank deregulation, starting with Larry Summers (but he had plenty of company).

And you are simply wrong about the influence economists have. In the US, CBO budget scoring is fundamental to how Congress views various proposed programs, even though we have described how the CBOs methods are crap and the CBO operates as an a big enforcer of deficit hysteria (as in they play a politicized role). The Fed and other central banks, the most powerful single government economic actors, are all run by monetary economists. The IMF, another very powerful institution, has deeply embraced and implements neoliberal policies, namely, balanced budgets and squeezing labor (labor "reforms"). In the US, economists in op eds and even in Congressional testimony (see Bernanke for instance) argue for balanced budgets and argue the supposed necessity of cutting Social Security and Medicare and NEVER mention cutting military spending. They are acting not just as enforcers of overall spending, but by advocating what to cut, are influencing priorities.

Avery T , March 14, 2019 at 9:53 am

Back in my former life as an economist-in-training, I ran into ecological economics as a branch of natural resource economics. It was completely backwards – the extent ecological theory was brought in didn't extend beyond simple predator-prey-plant models, and the goal was to find the macroeconomic general equilibrium of biomass in the ecosystem.

That was probably just the most striking example of the institutional close-mindedness I saw back among the economists.

deplorado , March 14, 2019 at 3:08 am

Mr Wolf says, among the important concepts are "externalities" Like everything that supports economic activity. Economics reduces the real world to "externalities" and simple equations about things measured in crude tokens – money. How good can it be then.

Also, "Such a curriculum might not be the best way to produce candidates for PhD programs" – is that a goal in itself? Like, the world needs a certain amount of economics PhDs produced? What for?

Prof. Michael Hudson, Prof. Richard Wolff and others have long ago explained what's wrong with mainstream economics, but that can't be said in FT.

This reminds me of the party press during the Perestroika in the 80ies talking about reform in a similar soft and obfuscatory of the truth way, full of wishful recommendations, striking a demurely optimistic tone supposed to convey integrity. It was bullshit and when the real things started happening, everybody forgot about it, because it had no depth and no bearing on real life.

diptherio , March 14, 2019 at 10:40 am

It seems obvious to most people that not all values are commensurable with each other. For instance, things like literary and artistic quality, friendships, and human lives cannot defensibly be measured in dollar terms. However, this is just what economics attempts to do. Hence, environmental economics simply aims to put a dollar value on environmental quality (or degredation). Hence, the entirety of my Labor Economics course was focused on how you place a monetary value on a human life, when the human happens to die because of their job.

So, I tend to agree with you. The whole discipline is of questionable value, so long as economists refuse to accept some very basic truths and incorporate much more than money into their analyses.

JEHR , March 14, 2019 at 12:31 pm

That comment strikes me as strange because one of the weaknesses of classical economic models was the fact that how money works was not part of their inquiry.

The Rev Kev , March 14, 2019 at 4:00 am

In trying to judge the abilities of an expert, the best that most people can do is to see the results on what they practice. If a doctor has a reputation of getting his patients drug-addicted, then you would not go to them. If an engineer built a building but the roof constantly leaked, you would think twice about giving them another contract. But let us think about how well economists are judged. You might say that a lot of people in the UK discounted their advice during Brexit but it has been noted that a lot of the Leave campaign was based in depressed areas. Why were so many areas depressed? Because the people knew that the government was using the advice of economists as to which areas to prioritize for resources. And usually that meant London and its outer areas – which voted Remain.
People are fully aware of what happens too when WTO economists go into a country – social services are cut, public transport is cut way back, the cost of living for the poor skyrocket while the rich seem to be protected. And take a look at the economic state of the United States. Wages have flatlined since the 70s, infrastructure is falling into disrepair, whole swathes of the country are abandoned to their own devices, de-industrialisation is a fact, etc, etc etc but the point is that the people that were giving all the advice to have this done were economists like Ken Rogoff and his wonky austerity study. It may have been the politicians that pulled the trigger but it was economists that were loading the gun.
if you want a breed of economists more grounded in reality, then I would suggest having them work in a fulfillment center for a week to show the the consequences of what happens when you get priorities wrong. Certainly they need to study the work of economists like Hyman Minsky and Susan Strange who had gone out of fashion before the crash but the long and short of it is to see what works and what does not work. I do not mean to be insulting here but as far as I can see, modern economic theory has really been a theory for the top 20% and not for the rest of the population. And now we are seeing the result up close and personal and until this changes, people will not feel the need to take the advice of economist, even when they should. Martin Wolf is fortunate in having also a humanities background but how true is that nowadays?

Jos Oskam , March 14, 2019 at 4:04 am

The sentence " So, maybe the proper distinction to be made is between "trustworthy" experts and "untrustworthy" ones " is important. Unfortunately, in the article I miss a key aspect in making that distinction.

I seem to notice that the "trustworthy" areas of expertise in general tend to be removed from political ideas or preferences. Left or right, liberal or conservative, democrat or republican, it does not affect the way in which trustworthy experts go about their business. It does not influence the way in which a doctor cures patients, a pilot flies a plane or an engineer constructs a bridge. However, as soon as we start discussing things like the economy, talk is full of "liberal" or "left" economists as opposed to "conservative" or "right" economics. I have never heard of one bridge being more at risk of collapse because it was designed by a liberal engineer versus a conservative one, or the other way round. When discussing the strength of a bridge political leanings simply do not come into play, it is not a factor like the strength of the steel used. But for all economic debate, these leanings often seem to be the essence of the discussion.

Given the general public's intensifying distrust of politicians and all things political, it does not surprise me that disciplines tainted by political colouring (like economics) are considered "untrustworthy" compared to disciplines where political colouring is not a factor (like the aforementioned doctors, pilots and engineers).

Since economics *is* in fact very interwoven with politics, I think the general public will always treat economists the same way they treat politicians, that is with a healthy dose of distrust. And who can blame them?

Ptb , March 14, 2019 at 9:07 am

Yes, ability vs integrity.
And you can take 10 of the most honest and well meaning people, dedicated to the public good and advancement of learning, employ them in a structure set up to profit first and ask questions second, and the whole is going to be not the same as the sum of the parts.

bruce wilder , March 14, 2019 at 10:45 am

I'd say an unhealthy dose of distrust is more likely and more common.

People tend to treat conventional econospeak as so much blah, blah, blah and then turn around and credit or discredit what has been said on the basis of the tone with which it was said.

Economists working for the kleptocracy get a lot of mileage out of sounding serious, while talking complete rubbish. And, sadly, many economists working the left, get away with lame one-liners and a rudderless iconoclasm.

SJ , March 14, 2019 at 4:32 am

I had an e-mail exchange with Mr. Wolf many years ago – before the 2008 crash – where he basically told me that we live in the best of all possible worlds and that nothing needs to change – he has changed his tune since then, I suppose to try to avoid looking like a complete idiot and also to try to deflect criticism on to others. Maybe he has öearned something in the meantime, but maybe he is just faking for the sake of appearences.

deplorado , March 14, 2019 at 11:02 am

I think he is faking it. It's the party line. It is the beginning of the neoliberal Perestroika (see also Brad DeLong).

I quite like to look at it this way – it is very clarifying (as I lived in the Perestroika) and I recommend it. Don't for a moment trust the Perestroika – it is half-measures at best and purposeful deception at worst.

johnf , March 14, 2019 at 5:24 am

" The answer should not be to produce apprentices in a highly technical and narrow discipline taught as a branch of applied mathematics ." With apologies to Mr. Richter, economics is taught more like a branch of mathematical sophistry, and that is slighting the original sophists.

I was an undergraduate studying applied mathematics at the time and place, present day neoclassical economics was being developed, published and starting to be taught. I can think of just one economics-and-finance classmate who continued to study mathematics beyond first year calculus – which everyone had to take.

Our introductory numerical analysis professor was scathing about his colleagues at the other side of the Quads. He made it quite plain that we could not skip the rigor and "try to prove something like an economist". Pretty much all the econ students dropped his course when they discovered that. The specific problem they could not address, can be simply stated. If you know a number but don't know its error, you don't know the number. The difficulty the great mass of economists have with just that, excludes economics as a branch of applied mathematics.

bruce wilder , March 14, 2019 at 10:50 am

interesting insight

pretty much the sum total of neoclassical economics is trying to work out the counterfactual of how the economy would work if everyone had more-or-less complete information to work with.

introduce genuine uncertainty, and pretty much the whole apparatus turns topsy-turvy and all the "laws" of economics disappear or become highly contingent on circumstances unlikely to obtain.

Thuto , March 14, 2019 at 5:40 am

"Fixing" economics must start with a wholesale divestment from the idea of this profession being a "science", said divestment openly promoted by economists themselves. All manner of hardwired, warped thinking, to say nothing of obstinacy in changing one's views when confronted with contradictory evidence, results from people believing that they're scientists practising a real science. When such thinking seeps into the subconscious, the obstinacy is locked into place and even events of the scale of the GFC aren't enough to shake loose the erroneous biases held by the mainstream profession.

How else would an entire profession place so much faith in the predictive powers of its models if not having such faith resting on a (supposed) firm foundation of science? An engineer designing a beam for a bridge has justifiable faith in continuum mechanics (a real science) as a sound foundation for their work, economics is devoid of such sound foundations and its time the profession loudly and publicly declared this in an unprecedented act of intellectual honesty.

Additionally, we see weak to non-existent culpability enforcement when policy recommendations put on the table by economists wreck lives (as they have over decades), this in stark contrast with e.g. an engineer designing a bridge that collapses and kills hundreds. In other words, economists have outsized influence in matters of policy out of proportion with the amount of actual skin they have in the game. On the other side, this "economics is a science" narrative disarms a public already deficient in the marginal capacity for independent, critical thinking to question anything economists say, said public including politicians who, as aptly put by the Rev Kev, pull the trigger of a policy gun loaded by economists.

cnchal , March 14, 2019 at 8:50 am

>. . . economics is devoid of such sound foundations and its time the profession loudly and publicly declared this in an unprecedented act of intellectual honesty.

Not one economist, with their ass planted firmly on their throne at the policy table, will admit to that. The operating principle is venality.

Now that they have lost the respect of the peasants, I don't want them to matter again. What I would like to see is mass firings of eclownomists, so they can experience life as lived by the peasants, just once. It may even free up resources to pay people to actually do good things instead of perpetuating one failure after another, and being grossly rewarded for those failures.

dearieme , March 14, 2019 at 6:35 am

I think he gets the wrong end of the stick here: "Consider the anti-vaccination movement, hostility to evolutionary theory, or rejection of climate science."

No doubt there are occasions when vaccinations can do serious harm: a niece of mine was excused a standard vaccination because of a contra-indication in her family medical history.The anti-vaxers, though, seem to have elevated some small kernel of truth into a stupid all-encompassing doctrine without giving the matter enough critical thought.

The anti-evolutionists seem to have failed to devote any critical thought to the matter at all.

But the sceptics about "climate science" have deployed critical thinking to identify this new religion as being composed largely of incompetence, dishonesty, and hysteria. It's the likes of old Wolfie who are lacking in critical thought on this issue. Maybe he's one of those people who is uneducated in science, and so too easily swayed by chaps shouting excitedly about models, measurements, and so forth.

It's very odd. Goebbels Warming is now old enough that you can check the historical record of its predictions of dreadful tipping points, of the disappearance of snow from Britain, of the flooding of this and that Pacific island group, and so on. All false. So why should anyone rational believe a word of it? After all, almost from the beginning its proponents believed that the science was settled – it was inarguable. In which case why have their predictions proved so lousy?

Consult a poet: humankind cannot bear very much reality.
Consult an economist: incentives matter.

mle detroit , March 14, 2019 at 8:01 am

Dearie me, Dearieme, your comment appears to lack sources, citations, examples. Please provide.

Steve Ruis , March 14, 2019 at 8:38 am

So, Yves, you are saying ("Economists are the only social scientists to have a seat at the policy table," etc.) that economists are like weathermen. They still have a time slot on the evening news and are respected, even though their accuracy is abysmal. They make a lot of money doing this.

Basically, this is because we expect very little of economists and because they have stopped using ordinary language professionally, they have the status equivalent to someone actually helpful.

I think economics has become an asocial science with too many economists willing to provide some sort of academic cover for whatever the plutocrats want to do.

Arthur Dent , March 14, 2019 at 11:24 am

I think the analogy to meteorologists is interesting. As an engineer, I have some perspective on this.

In engineering design, frequent failure of what we design is generally undesirable. So we have our analytical tools based on both scientific theory and empirical data, and then apply a factor of safety (sometimes called factor of ignorance, but more accurately is a recognition that there is a probabilistic distribution of outcomes and the factors of safety shift the design towards success instead of high probability of failure).

Airline pilots operate similar to engineers in that they aren't flying close to the edge of the airplane's flight characteristics. Instead they stay in a zone quite a ways away from what the airplane could potentially do. This is one of the reasons that airplane travel is very safe, especially compared to car travel.

Meteorologists are trying to make predictions of the most likely scenario which means they are trying to hit the center of the distribution of the potential outcomes. As a results, they frequently are shown to have "missed" in that some other lower probability event occurred instead. Over the past couple of decades, we have gotten used to seeing weather forecasts with probabilities or ranges of outcomes.

I think the public presentation of economics has two separate problems, but both undermine economics credibility.

First, economics is a field that is trying to predict the most likely event and the range of potential outcomes, similar to the weather forecasts, but does not present the predictions this way. So people don't cut economists slack because their public presentations don't recognize the range of potential outcomes and the frank recognition of the inaccuracy of their predictions that we are used to with the weather people, especially once they get past 24 hrs of predictions.

Second, many of the economists that make public predictions are funded by interest groups. When we see a lawyer on TV, we know that he is being paid by a client to be an advocate and that is his job as a lawyer. So we may disregard what he has to say but we understand the context he is speaking in. However, the economists don't say who they are being paid by and so they are presumed to be independent experts when they are sometimes not. I believe this is a fundamental ethical issue within the economics profession.

So when the economics predictions (e.g. effects of tax cuts) fail to be accurate, it needs to be parsed out if it was simply a lower probability event or if the predictions were intentionally biased to begin with. None of this is well-addressed by the economics profession, which greatly undermines credibility.

JEHR , March 14, 2019 at 12:40 pm

+1

jfleni , March 14, 2019 at 8:55 am

I was just getting used to the idea that economists are like clocks: right twice a
day -- at Noon and sundown!

Ptb , March 14, 2019 at 9:14 am

Economists also use the term 'efficiency' to denote pareto optimality, which causes much confusion.

Especially when communicating with both analytical people of a hard-sciencey or engineering background (efficiency = a context specific figure, some-measure-of-output/some-measure-of-input, strict limits in how far you can generalize), and business people (efficient = low cost)

bruce wilder , March 14, 2019 at 11:00 am

economists also routinely distinguish the allocative efficiency they focus upon almost exclusively from the kinds of technical or managerial efficiency that most of the rest of the world focuses upon, but they rarely admit that their focus is so narrow and does not generalize to encompass common sense notions of cost and efficiency -- it is almost as if they want to avoid the critical examination engineering enables while providing double-talk as cover for business people trying to privatize the profits while socializing the costs.

Matthew G. Saroff , March 14, 2019 at 9:50 am

Let me start by saying that I object to the term "Dismal Science" for economics.

This is not because of the "dismal" part, it's because of the "science" part.

That being said, the devaluing of expertise is due in large part to something not mentioned by Mr. Wolf: corruption, particularly for the field of macroeconomics.

We have seen this repeatedly in the past few decades, where nominally independent researchers have been found to slant their research to accommodate the results desired by their patrons. (The sad state of pharma and medical research come to mind as well)

In fact, ACCORDING TO THEIR OWN "RATIONAL ACTOR" THEORIES , academics in general, and economists in particular,will behave in ways that will most strongly benefit themselves, and not in ways that serve the truth or reality. (Studies have shown that economists are the most selfish academics )

I believe that if you discuss the devaluation of knowledge and expertise without discussing the pervasive corruption in western society, you are ignoring the proverbial elephant in the room.

john Wright , March 14, 2019 at 3:04 pm

I object to the "Dismal" part.

Economic Science is very optimistic that what they characterize as "economic growth" in using up the world's resources in its pursuit, is a "good thing".

Economists are selling a limitless planet on which humans will always "pull the rabbit out of the hat", to solve any resource issue, including climate change and overpopulation.

That being said, I view the economic profession, as largely practiced by its well-paid members, as a mechanism to justify what the political and business elite want to do.

The elite are simply getting what they pay to hear.

Steven Greenberg , March 14, 2019 at 10:02 am

I worked on simulation software for integrated circuits. My friend studied economics with all the famous people. When I described to him what I did if there seemed to be a discrepancy between what my simulator said and how the integrated circuit behaved in real life or the intuition that an electrical engineer had about how it would behave in real life he was amazed. I was amazed that he was amazed. How could you possibly believe a simulator that necessarily has bugs in it, if you don't track down discrepancies to understand which is right, your intuition or the simulator?

Sometimes, I had to be very inventive to find another way to make a complex calculation in a way that would test out if the simulator was right. If economics students are taught the math, but not how to check their work, and the necessity of checking their work, then they shouldn't be in positions to make policy recommendations.

bruce wilder , March 14, 2019 at 11:09 am

Yes!

Many economists avoid operational modeling of the processes of the actual, institutional economy. And, that which does take place in narrowly conceived research by specialists is never allowed to feed back on the methods or theories embodied in the core doctrines.

WobblyTelomeres , March 14, 2019 at 3:32 pm

Other than setting Friedman's Chicago Boys upon Chile, isn't it very difficult to model/test anything macro in the real world?

bruce wilder , March 14, 2019 at 5:35 pm

One way mainstream macroeconomics defeats its own feeble efforts at empiricism is to set the problems in a frame of time-series regression analysis of highly aggregated data: national GDP and its high-level components year-by-year or quarter-by-quarter.

The behavior of tens or hundreds of millions of people reduced to statistics for largely formless accounting conventions relating to a single somewhat amorphous entity (a country) over time. History, however it happens, only ever happens one way, so there's always zero degrees of freedom in the aggregate time-series.

There is so little information left in the data, even the most clever econometricians would need a thousand years of data to "test" the most basic hypotheses. It is absurd to approach the task in the way they do.

Is it necessarily as difficult a task as they make it, to learn something useful about the way the economy works?

The problems of statistical aggregation and time-series are not rooted in the object of study -- the actual political economy -- so much as they are created by the conceptual apparatus.

In short form, economists have an analytic theory -- in form and epistemic status, something akin to Euclid's geometry. A geometry is not itself a map of the world and no one doing geometry confuses geometry with cartography or land surveying, but most economists do not understand that their theory is not itself a model of the actual political economy. Someone like Paul Krugman actually thinks he has "a map" of the political economy in, say, IS/LM . No student of geometry expects to find a dimensionless point in the bathroom or an isoceles triangle growing in the garden. Yet, economists regularly purport to casually observe perfectly competitive markets in equilibrium or the natural interest rate.

I think economists could do as well as, say, meteorologists or geologists in developing an empirically grounded understanding of the observable political economy, if they focused their attention on concrete and measurable mechanisms of the institutional economy and stopped talking meaninglessly about formless "markets" that have no existence.

Reality Bites , March 14, 2019 at 10:12 am

This article reminds me of why I stopped reading The Economist after the GFC. The Economist was quite explicit in advocating for a weak regulatory environment. I remember articles talking about how great it was for the Office of Thrift Supervision to regulate banks alongside others like the Fed because regulatory competition was good. After the GFC they were writing articles about how they opposed this all along.
It's not just that so many economists are wrong. It's that many times their models and predictions are wrong and they claim that it is either not what they argued for or 'externalities' intervened. Of course they never mentioned such externalities before. Many just outright conjure up unicorns. There were no shortage of economists claiming that the housing bubble was not a problem and the economy will grow to the point where things just naturally level off. Of course there was no accountability for those peddling these falsehoods.

Candy , March 14, 2019 at 11:01 am

I love the way people shrink down what Michael Gove said.

Here is his full exchange with his interviewer:

Gove: I think the people in this country have had enough of experts, with organizations from acronyms, saying --

Interviewer: They've had enough of experts? The people have had enough of experts? What do you mean by that?

Gove: People from organizations with acronyms saying that they know what is best and getting it consistently wrong.

Inteviewer: The people of this country have had enough of experts?

Gove: Because these people are the same ones who got consistently wrong what was happening.

shinola , March 14, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Perhaps it's changed since I started out as an econ. major in the mid '70's, but what disillusioned me was the total disregard for actual human behavior. Real people do NOT always behave rationally or honestly. Emotions/psychology do figure greatly in real people making "economic" decisions – just ask anyone who makes their living based on selling something.

Every economic model should be prefaced with "In an ideal world " (or perhaps more honestly "In an economist's construct of an ideal world )

Arizona Slim , March 14, 2019 at 12:18 pm

I share your disillusionment, shinola. I was a late 1970s econ major. By the time I graduated, I was done with economics.

hunkerdown , March 14, 2019 at 4:42 pm

Real people don't, but they should, say those who hire economists. If the algorithm doesn't work, change the inputs.

Wukchumni , March 14, 2019 at 12:09 pm

How many brand name economists up and quit in disgust 11 years ago when the powers that be decided to go against everything they stood for, and bailed out those that deserved to go down in financial flames?

not a one

bruce wilder , March 14, 2019 at 12:47 pm

A parenthetical lifted from Randy Wray's post responding to DeLong on MMT:

an exasperated Wynne Godley came into my office a couple of decades ago and announced that every [mainstream model] he had looked at was incoherent

That's the base problem, imho: economists are very successful as "experts" in a sociological sense, slotting into the role with firm claims on salary, status and ritual respect, as Yves Smith observed, but economics as a civic doctrine and a common frame of reference for political discourse is incoherent and economics as a scholarly discipline or "social science" fails methodological or epistemic standards.

There is a history of imperviousness to absolutely devastating critiques that isn't explained. Is that persistent "wrongness" related to professional success or only a by-product of an unfortunate pedagogy? Who puts the dogmatism into a dogma . . . and keeps it there?

(disclosure: i was a professional economist myself many years ago -- neither ambitious nor particularly successful, but I did attend ruling class schools for what that was worth)

deplorado , March 14, 2019 at 2:51 pm

Prof. Richard Werner has a fantastic talk (at the Russian Academy of Sciences) about, among other things, "the unresolved puzzles of modern economics" – to me the most striking there was how he dispenses with concept of "equilibrium".
He talks about the "puzzles" ~30 min in.

It is enough to see that and know that mainstream economists are little more than the high priests of the peculiar modern religion guiding our society.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Um9wR46Ir4

Adam1 , March 14, 2019 at 3:21 pm

"The teaching of economics to undergraduates must focus on core ideas, essential questions, and actual realities."

Sadly Mr. Wolf suffers from the same delusions that so many mainstream economist suffer. They think they have actually considered "actual realities".

Yet the foundations of mainstream economics ignores these ACTUAL REALITIES
– Assumes Loanable Funds yet the Bank of England & the Bundesbank both publicly published research say endogenous money is correct. Loans create Deposits. They are clueless as to how finance works. I recall the infamous intro to econ question "If I double you income and double prices for beer, how much beer can you now purchase?" The standard econ answer is the same amount of beer. But in the real world the correct answer is you don't know. The professor never told you how large the fixed debt payments of the person were which most definitely impacts the amount of disposable income you have to buy beer. But then again most economists would likely fail any advanced accounting class. Long gone are the days when undergraduate economics students in economics had to take 2 or 3 semesters of accounting. Even my alma mater which is definitely heterodox in faculty and has MMT / UMKC taught faculty only require 1 these days. You need a strong foundation in accounting to be stock flow consistent in your modeling of a highly monetary modern economy.
– Assumes upward sloping supply curve is the market norm. At least 3 economic studies have attempted to measure this on large cross industry scales and every time concludes that over 1/2 of all businesses face downward sloping cost curves (natural monopoly stuff, and we wonder why industry concentration is the norm) and another 1/3 face flat cost curves. An upward sloping supply curve, for those not taking advanced or graduate level economics IS the assumed upward sloping marginal cost curve of the industry or nation if you're crazy enough to apply it at the macro level.

There are dozens more piss pore assumptions that underpin mainstream economics. In this day and age far more EMPIRICAL, real word data can be used to confirm what really makes an economy work, but sadly what we teach in college is garbage where the ACTUAL REALITIES are ignored.

Steven , March 14, 2019 at 5:07 pm

Soddy (paraphrasing John Ruskin) yet again:

a logical definition of wealth is absolutely needed for the basis of economics if it is to be a science."

Frederick Soddy, WEALTH, VIRTUAL WEALTH AND DEBT,
2nd edition, p. 102
Economists and financiers seem to be incapable of understanding we live on a finite planet. Nor do they seem to be able to get beyond equating money with wealth. It is much easier to just put a price on something like a Beethoven symphony (or call it 'priceless') than to attempt a definition of wealth. But for most of us the ingredients of a definition are much simpler. Topping the list has to be energy. You can't create it but you can dissipate it, i.e. render it useless, by for example manufacturing useless junk that falls apart quickly enough for people who run or own the business to make a lot of money.

Or if your customers can no longer afford the junk because you have automated or off-shored their jobs, you can sell guns and bombs to your wholly owned government – to use in blowing up people who stand in the way of your accumulating more of the money created by your bankers, financiers and politicians. Then there is the basic intelligence required to run the machinery and discern better – i.e. more energy and resource efficient – ways of doing things. With real wealth creation comes power. The Chinese may have figured this out. The West's 1%, its economists, bankers and politicians don't appear to have a clue.

RBHoughton , March 14, 2019 at 11:19 pm

Did Kenneth Rogoff apologise for his hit on Iceland and his subsequent dismay defense in Ferguson's "Inside Job"? At least one of the Chicago boys (Jonathan Sachs) has resiled from the opinions of Friedman and rejoined the human race but only after a raft of countries were ground down by the mill of the moneymen. Chile and Poland seem to have survived at horrible social cost but what of the others?

The plaint is partly true. When governments were advised by economists, they replaced the wishes of the electorate. The economist brought along their army of lawyers who instantly appeared as mercenary terrorists to browbeat and coerce officials with various threats to do as the moneymen asked and cease attending to the people. This is still the state of play in UK and USA and those core paper-issuers drag the 'also rans' along with carrots and sticks.

I believe the fault lies in lazy officials who seldom run trials on new ideas in limited areas but drop the entire country into one speculative foray after another. Its a shame that its not mentioned. There is no good reason why the whole country has to be volunteered for these new scheme. Why has the UK Treasury shut down every competing form of banking to the high street banks – the trust banks, coop bank, post office bank, municipal banks, mutuals – all thrown away as infringers of the BoE's monopoly. The country needs an Oliver Cromwell or Napoleon to lead it not the present bunch of ragamuffins and hooligans.

That brings me to the second problem the disastrous state of the representation. It is mainly due to the control factions have brought to bear on the selection of candidates for office. That has to stop and the way to do it to have primary assemblies of every 200-300 people who select one of their number to represent them. He's a school friend or neighbor and a known quantity. Several primary assemblies select a chap to represent them and so on up this new structure of democracy to the top.

The business community have sought to keep everyone's nose to the grindstone with statistics justifying under payment by understating inflation. That has to stop. The economics trade belongs with astrology and weather forecasting until it acknowledges the fundamentals that drive prices.

Yves Smith Post author , March 14, 2019 at 11:30 pm

It wasn't Ken Rogoff but Frederic Mishkin. He was on the Fed Board of Governors and had been vice chairman.

RBHoughton , March 15, 2019 at 4:00 am

Apologies to Mr Rogoff and grateful thanks to Yves for the correction. I'll take a pill now

Cal2 , March 15, 2019 at 12:29 am

It seems to me from my citizen's non-professional perspective that the only real economists are experts in resource extraction, manufacturing and end use of same.

IOW, a forester, mining, petroleum, construction engineer and even a naval admiral, sitting around a table, all beholden to and obeying the supreme chairmanship of an ecologist, would be a better and less destructive thing for the world than a bunch of money only maximum value extraction Wall Streeters controlling the engineers mentioned above.

Can there even be an economy without resource extraction? It seems like most new economic schemes are attempting this with humans bodies, credit ratings and bank accounts being the last available commodity.

Sound of the Suburbs , March 15, 2019 at 7:07 am

The economists got Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage, but they missed this:

"The interest of the landlords is always opposed to the interest of every other class in the community" Ricardo 1815 / Classical Economist

What does our man on free trade mean?
He was an expert on the small state, unregulated capitalism he observed in the world around him. He was part of the new capitalist class and the old landowning class were a huge problem with their rents that had to be paid both directly and through wages.

Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)

Employees get less disposable income after the landlords rent has gone.
Employers have to cover the landlord's rents in wages reducing profit.

Ricardo is just talking about housing costs, employees all rented in those days.

Employees get their money from wages and so the employer pays through wages.

Look at the US cost of living:
The cost of living = housing costs + healthcare costs + student loan costs + food + other costs of living

Employees get their money from wages, so it is the employer that pays through wages, reducing profit and driving off shoring from the US.

Maximising profit requires minimising labour costs; i.e. wages.

China, Asia and Mexico look good, the US is awful.

(This is Michael Hudson's argument in a slightly different from)

There are some fundamental problems with today's economics, like this and the fact it doesn't look at money, debt or banks.

Also, it hasn't worked out financial markets are not like other markets.

The supply of stocks stays fairly fixed and central banks can create a "wealth effect" by just adding liquidity. More money is now chasing a fairly fixed number of financial assets and the price (e.g. stock market) goes up.

[Mar 16, 2019] The European banking system is about to implode with Italian banks in the worst state but French banks probably own the counterparty risks

Mar 16, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Kevin Peters , Mar 15, 2019 12:34:55 PM | link

The European banking system is about to implode with Italian banks in the worst state but which banks then owe the counter party risks, step forward the French banks. Macron is as it will be recalled a Rothschild banker.

The likes of the British banks aren't much better of course but the EU needs the UK and more importantly it's money to rescue thewe EU banks. Trouble is this is impossible task, but the EU is not about to allow the fifth largest economy to simply walk away.

[Mar 16, 2019] Kept Secret For 17 Years Intel Memo Warned Bush's Iraq Invasion To Create Perfect Storm

Mar 15, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

A newly declassified US intelligence memo has been unearthed this week and featured in a bombshell Wall Street Journal report. It proves that the year prior to the Bush administration's 2003 invasion of Iraq the White House was expressly warned in great detail of all that could and would go wrong in the regime change war's aftermath, including the Sunni-Shia sectarian chaos and proxy war with Iran that would define Iraq and the whole region for years following. And crucially, it reveals that seven months before the US invasion of Iraq, American intelligence officials understood that Osama bin Laden was likely "alive and well and hiding in northwest Pakistan" -- important given that a key Bush admin claim to sell the war was that Saddam Hussein and bin Laden were "in league" against the United States.

The July 2002 memo was authored by William Burns, then serving as assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, and though clearly dismissed by the Bush neocons making the case for war, proved prescient on many levels. "Following are some very quick and informal thoughts on how events before, during and after an effort to overthrow the regime in Baghdad could unravel if we're not careful, intersecting to create a 'perfect storm' for American interests," Burns wrote in the memo, classified 'Secret' and sent to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Saddam Hussein waves to supporters in Baghdad, Wednesday, October 18, 1995. AP file photo

The classified memo's existence was first brought to the public's attention through Knight Ridder's reporting in July 2003, which sought to reveal at the time there were pockets of dissenting voices in the State Department and intelligence community pushing back against the absurd White House claim that the whole operation would be a "cakewalk" and US troops would be greeted as "liberators". And there's Vice President Dick Cheney's infamous declaration that the military effort would take "weeks rather than months."

Now, sixteen years after the start of the war the "perfect storm" intel briefing has been made public in fully redacted form and it affirms, as the WSJ reports , "Diplomats accurately forecast many setbacks: sectarian violence, attacks on U.S. troops, Iranian intervention and long road to structural change ." Out of this came the rise of ISIS and the continued unleashing of regime change and sectarian chaos on neighboring Syria.

The ten page memo outlines a litany of catastrophic doom and gloom scenarios resulting from the invasion which would destabilize not only Iraq, but unleash sectarian hell on the entire region .

Here are but a handful of the memo's many warnings which later proved right on target, as summarized by the military reporting website Task & Purpose :

"I don't mean to be pessimistic, because I really do believe that if we do it right this could be a tremendous boon to the future of the region, and to U.S. national security interests," the memo stated. "But we should have no illusion that it will be quick or easy."

And further contradicting Cheney's "weeks rather than months" claim, the memo accurately predicted that U.S. troops would have to stay for, "Five years – maybe four if we're lucky, ten if we're not."

Read the full newly declassified and unredacted intelligence memo here .

Some further interesting highlights from the July 2002 'Secret' report are below.

* * *

Osama bin Laden hiding in Pakistan (the Bush admin claimed Saddam and bin Laden were in cahoots)

"Osama bin Laden turns out to be alive and well and hiding in NW Pakistan. We press Paks, internal stresses grow in Pakistan."

Iran and Syria targeted next

"Following US warnings that it would take the war on terrorism to all groups with global capabilities, Iran and Syria hold summit meeting, decide US has targeted them."

Iran and Syria "strengthen positions in face of perceived US threat against them following action in Iraq."

Sectarian score settling and Shia uprising

"This means night becomes the time for revenge, all over Iraq. A horrible wave of bloodletting and private vengeance begins... US forces are helpless to stop the countrywide phenomenon. Police, intelligence, senior military, and Baath Party officials effectively go into hiding..."

"Shia religious and political leaders, unhappy with composition of provisional government and determined to secure greater share of power in post-Saddam Iraq... This leads to more violent confrontations, and deaths, and the riots become a political tool to demonstrate power and increase leverage against Sunnis and Kurds..."

Long US quagmire to put down sectarian powder keg

"Faced with inchoate and escalating disorder in the provinces, the US faces an agonizing decision: step up to a more direct security role, or devolve power to local leaders."

"The Shia in the south, quietly aided by Iran, stage major revolt, taking over local government offices and killing interim officials."

Weapons from Saddam's army will disappear (to be later used against US occupation)

"Law and Order, collecting weapons. We won't get them, most will go to ground."

"All for one, one for all, free for all - deals, short-term scrambles. It will be every clan for itself."

[Mar 16, 2019] Pity The Nation War Spending Is Bankrupting America

Notable quotes:
"... As investigative journalist Uri Friedman puts it, for more than 15 years now, the United States has been fighting terrorism with a credit card , "essentially bankrolling the wars with debt, in the form of purchases of U.S. Treasury bonds by U.S.-based entities like pension funds and state and local governments, and by countries like China and Japan." ..."
"... For decades, the DoD's leaders and accountants have been perpetrating a gigantic, unconstitutional accounting fraud, deliberately cooking the books to mislead the Congress and drive the DoD's budgets ever higher, regardless of military necessity ..."
"... That price gouging has become an accepted form of corruption within the American military empire is a sad statement on how little control "we the people" have over our runaway government. ..."
Mar 16, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Pity The Nation: War Spending Is Bankrupting America

by Tyler Durden Fri, 03/15/2019 - 23:50 9 SHARES Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

"Pity the nation whose people are sheep

And whose shepherds mislead them

Pity the nation whose leaders are liars

Whose sages are silenced

And whose bigots haunt the airwaves

Pity the nation that raises not its voice

Except to praise conquerors

And acclaim the bully as hero

And aims to rule the world

By force and by torture

Pity the nation oh pity the people

who allow their rights to erode

and their freedoms to be washed away "

-- Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet

War spending is bankrupting America.

Our nation is being preyed upon by a military industrial complex that is propped up by war profiteers, corrupt politicians and foreign governments.

America has so much to offer -- creativity, ingenuity, vast natural resources, a rich heritage, a beautifully diverse populace, a freedom foundation unrivaled anywhere in the world, and opportunities galore -- and yet our birthright is being sold out from under us so that power-hungry politicians, greedy military contractors, and bloodthirsty war hawks can make a hefty profit at our expense.

Don't be fooled into thinking that your hard-earned tax dollars are being used for national security and urgent military needs.

It's all a ruse.

You know what happens to tax dollars that are left over at the end of the government's fiscal year? Government agencies -- including the Department of Defense -- go on a "use it or lose it" spending spree so they can justify asking for money in the next fiscal year.

We're not talking chump change, either.

We're talking $97 billion worth of wasteful spending .

According to an investigative report by Open the Government, among the items purchased during the last month of the fiscal year when government agencies go all out to get rid of these "use it or lose it" funds: Wexford Leather club chair ($9,241), china tableware ($53,004), alcohol ($308,994), golf carts ($673,471), musical equipment including pianos, tubas, and trombones ($1.7 million), lobster tail and crab ($4.6 million) , iPhones and iPads ($7.7 million), and workout and recreation equipment ($9.8 million).

So much for draining the swamp .

Anyone who suggests that the military needs more money is either criminally clueless or equally corrupt, because the military isn't suffering from lack of funding -- it's suffering from lack of proper oversight.

Where President Trump fits into that scenario, you decide. Trump may turn out to be, as policy analyst Stan Collender warned, " the biggest deficit- and debt-increasing president of all time ."

Rest assured, however, that if Trump gets his way -- to the tune of a $4.7 trillion budget that digs the nation deeper in debt to foreign creditors, adds $750 billion for the military budget , and doubles the debt growth that Trump once promised to erase -- the war profiteers (and foreign banks who "own" our debt) will be raking in a fortune while America goes belly up.

This is basic math, and the numbers just don't add up.

As it now stands, the U.S. government is operating in the negative on every front: it's spending far more than what it makes (and takes from the American taxpayers) and it is borrowing heavily ( from foreign governments and Social Security ) to keep the government operating and keep funding its endless wars abroad .

Certainly, nothing about the way the government budgets its funds puts America's needs first.

The nation's educational system is pathetic (young people are learning nothing about their freedoms or their government). The infrastructure is antiquated and growing more outdated by the day. The health system is overpriced and inaccessible to those who need it most. The supposedly robust economy is belied by the daily reports of businesses shuttering storefronts and declaring bankruptcy. And our so-called representative government is a sham.

If this is a formula for making America great again, it's not working.

The White House wants taxpayers to accept that the only way to reduce the nation's ballooning deficit is by cutting "entitlement" programs such as Social Security and Medicare, yet the glaring economic truth is that at the end of the day, it's the military industrial complex -- and not the sick, the elderly or the poor -- that is pushing America towards bankruptcy.

We have become a debtor nation , and the government is sinking us deeper into debt with every passing day that it allows the military industrial complex to call the shots.

Simply put, the government cannot afford to maintain its over-extended military empire.

" Money is the new 800-pound gorilla ," remarked a senior administration official involved in Afghanistan. "It shifts the debate from 'Is the strategy working?' to 'Can we afford this?' And when you view it that way, the scope of the mission that we have now is far, far less defensible." Or as one commentator noted, " Foreclosing the future of our country should not be confused with defending it ."

To be clear, the U.S government's defense spending is about one thing and one thing only: establishing and maintaining a global military empire.

Although the U.S. constitutes only 5% of the world's population, America boasts almost 50% of the world's total military expenditure , spending more on the military than the next 19 biggest spending nations combined.

In fact, the Pentagon spends more on war than all 50 states combined spend on health, education, welfare, and safety.

The American military-industrial complex has erected an empire unsurpassed in history in its breadth and scope, one dedicated to conducting perpetual warfare throughout the earth.

Since 2001, the U.S. government has spent more than $4.7 trillion waging its endless wars .

Having been co-opted by greedy defense contractors, corrupt politicians and incompetent government officials, America's expanding military empire is bleeding the country dry at a rate of more than $32 million per hour .

In fact, the U.S. government has spent more money every five seconds in Iraq than the average American earns in a year.

Then there's the cost of maintaining and staffing the 1000-plus U.S. military bases spread around the world and policing the globe with 1.3 million U.S. troops stationed in 177 countries (over 70% of the countries worldwide).

Future wars and military exercises waged around the globe are expected to push the total bill upwards of $12 trillion by 2053 .

The U.S. government is spending money it doesn't have on a military empire it can't afford.

As investigative journalist Uri Friedman puts it, for more than 15 years now, the United States has been fighting terrorism with a credit card , "essentially bankrolling the wars with debt, in the form of purchases of U.S. Treasury bonds by U.S.-based entities like pension funds and state and local governments, and by countries like China and Japan."

War is not cheap, but it becomes outrageously costly when you factor in government incompetence, fraud, and greedy contractors .

As The Nation reports :

For decades, the DoD's leaders and accountants have been perpetrating a gigantic, unconstitutional accounting fraud, deliberately cooking the books to mislead the Congress and drive the DoD's budgets ever higher, regardless of military necessity. DoD has literally been making up numbers in its annual financial reports to Congress -- representing trillions of dollars' worth of seemingly nonexistent transactions -- knowing that Congress would rely on those misleading reports when deciding how much money to give the DoD the following year.

For example, a leading accounting firm concluded that one of the Pentagon's largest agencies " can't account for hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of spending ."

Unfortunately, the outlook isn't much better for the spending that can be tracked.

A government audit found that defense contractor Boeing has been massively overcharging taxpayers for mundane parts, resulting in tens of millions of dollars in overspending. As the report noted, the American taxpayer paid :

$71 for a metal pin that should cost just 4 cents; $644.75 for a small gear smaller than a dime that sells for $12.51: more than a 5,100 percent increase in price. $1,678.61 for another tiny part, also smaller than a dime, that could have been bought within DoD for $7.71: a 21,000 percent increase. $71.01 for a straight, thin metal pin that DoD had on hand, unused by the tens of thousands, for 4 cents: an increase of over 177,000 percent.

That price gouging has become an accepted form of corruption within the American military empire is a sad statement on how little control "we the people" have over our runaway government.

Mind you, this isn't just corrupt behavior. It's deadly, downright immoral behavior.

The U.S. government is not making the world any safer. It's making the world more dangerous. It is estimated that the U.S. military drops a bomb somewhere in the world every 12 minutes . Since 9/11, the United States government has directly contributed to the deaths of around 500,000. Every one of those deaths was paid for with taxpayer funds.

The U.S. government is not making America any safer. It's exposing American citizens to alarming levels of blowback, a CIA term referring to the unintended consequences of the U.S. government's international activities. Chalmers Johnson, a former CIA consultant, repeatedly warned that America's use of its military to gain power over the global economy would result in devastating blowback .

Those who call the shots in the government -- those who push the military industrial complex's agenda -- those who make a killing by embroiling the U.S. in foreign wars -- have not heeded Johnson's warning.

The U.S. government is not making American citizens any safer . The repercussions of America's military empire have been deadly, not only for those innocent men, women and children killed by drone strikes abroad but also those here in the United States.

The 9/11 attacks were blowback . The Boston Marathon Bombing was blowback . The attempted Times Square bomber was blowback. The Fort Hood shooter, a major in the U.S. Army, was blowback .

The transformation of America into a battlefield is blowback.

All of this carnage is being carried out with the full support of the American people, or at least with the proxy that is our taxpayer dollars.

The government is destabilizing the economy, destroying the national infrastructure through neglect and a lack of resources, and turning taxpayer dollars into blood money with its endless wars, drone strikes and mounting death tolls.

As Martin Luther King Jr. recognized, under a military empire, war and its profiteering will always take precedence over the people's basic human needs.

Similarly, President Dwight Eisenhower warned us not to let the profit-driven war machine endanger our liberties or democratic processes.

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. [ ] Is there no other way the world may live?"

We failed to heed Eisenhower's warning.

The illicit merger of the armaments industry and the government that Eisenhower warned against has come to represent perhaps the greatest threat to the nation today.

It's not sustainable, of course.

Eventually, inevitably, military empires fall and fail by spreading themselves too thin and spending themselves to death.

It happened in Rome. It's happening again.

The America empire is already breaking down.

We're already witnessing a breakdown of society on virtually every front, and the government is ready.

For years now, the government has worked with the military to prepare for widespread civil unrest brought about by "economic collapse, loss of functioning political and legal order , purposeful domestic resistance or insurgency, pervasive public health emergencies, and catastrophic natural and human disasters."

For years now, the government has been warning against the dangers of domestic terrorism , erecting surveillance systems to monitor its own citizens, creating classification systems to label any viewpoints that challenge the status quo as extremist, and training law enforcement agencies to equate anyone possessing anti-government views as a domestic terrorist.

We're approaching critical mass.

As long as "we the people" continue to allow the government to wage its costly, meaningless, endless wars abroad, the American homeland will continue to suffer: our roads will crumble, our bridges will fail, our schools will fall into disrepair, our drinking water will become undrinkable, our communities will destabilize, our economy will tank, crime will rise, and our freedoms will suffer.

So who will save us?

As I make clear in my book, Battlefield America: The War on the American People , we'd better start saving ourselves: one by one, neighbor to neighbor, through grassroots endeavors, by pushing back against the police state where it most counts -- in our communities first and foremost, and by holding fast to what binds us together and not allowing politics and other manufactured nonrealities to tear us apart.

Start today. Start now. Do your part.

Literally and figuratively, the buck starts and stops with "we the people."


I am Groot , 2 minutes ago link

We have socialism in all of the wrong places !

When we should be paying our seniors a generous amount of social security and pensions to people who earned them, we are paying illegals and their kids to come to America and act like parasites. Our children will be debt slaves because of Congress.

We are also paying trillions to the MIC and three letter agencies with absolutely no oversight. We pay hundreds of thousands of totally useless government employees including the military and over a 1000 bases on foreign soil.

Eisenhower warned against letting the MIC take control of the country.

Tiger Rocks Dale , 5 minutes ago link

It's fine. Tyler dudrden is my hero.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IK1Vt3NvmUs

rtb61 , 5 minutes ago link

What is weird, you spend that money on infrastructure, which would substantially improve the economy through gained efficiencies and you can afford to waste it but if you waste it, you can not spend it on infrastructure to be able to afford to burn it, blow it up, fire it or just plain dump it.

Well, it is pretty clear, from the screams of the insiders, the reform is coming and they know it. The louder the rants of screams of the establishment, the closer they are to losing.

Look at what they do, they kill people for profit, if they could silence us by killing us, they would, they can not, they have already lost, now it is just a matter of political grind and legal process, to root them out and then investigate and prosecute them, en mass.

They had total control for decades and most knew nothing, now control is broken and most people know.

Tiger Rocks Dale , 14 minutes ago link

The only reason I'm reckless is because I've been there and done that.

Tiger Rocks Dale , 12 minutes ago link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IK1Vt3NvmUs

marysimmons , 11 minutes ago link

Ditch the ABM and INF treaties. Extend NATO to Russia's borders. Regime change in Ukraine. Demonize Putin/Russia. Then claim umpteen billions more needed for national defense. Wonderful.

Davidduke2000 , 15 minutes ago link

this article would not have seen the light of day on facebook or youtube, but thanks to Tyler of zerohedge with his total respect for free speech, people can learn why their country is bankrupt.

PaulHolland , 16 minutes ago link

Its funny. Less than 40 years after the cold war and the Russian successor state is putting on the same trick to the USSA that doomed the USSR. Russia is lean and mean now and its forcing the US to spend just truly insane amounts on weapons.

desertboy , 5 minutes ago link

That's just dumb.

The forces destroying the US are the same that destroyed (and created) the USSR.

But, you keep watching your puppet show.

DEDA CVETKO , 19 minutes ago link

War spending has always - ALWAYS! - since at least the late 19th Century - been an instrument of wealth redistribution: from the poor to the rich.

The only question I have is: where did all that wealth go? It would be fun to collect the dots and find out who now owns AT LEAST $3 TRILLION stolen from the Pentagon since 2001.

PaulHolland , 14 minutes ago link

I don't get this stolen bit. Nothing is stolen from US tax payers. Its US debt holders that get screwed. The US is one big worldwide theft of finished goods , resources and capaital

DEDA CVETKO , 8 minutes ago link

indeed, but we are talking road robbery within a heist within a burglary here.

Here's why:

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/11/02/pentagon-cant-account-for-21-trillion-thats-not-typo.html

Davidduke2000 , 10 minutes ago link

nothing is lost or stolen, the defense department is totally careless with the people's money.

$20 billions of weapons were left in Iraq after the us left but the funny part they were left in far warehouses that only ISIS got hold of them.

If I was a conspiracy theorist , I would say they left these weapons on purpose for isis to wage war and invade Syria which they did, but all this stuff was in vain as all these weapons got destroyed by the Russians and the american people lost $20 billion.

DEDA CVETKO , 7 minutes ago link

Nothing is stolen, but $21 trillion is missing????

Nice try, dude, nice try.

desertboy , 3 minutes ago link

It didn't go anywhere - just redistributed around the globe.

ebworthen , 20 minutes ago link

"All hail Caesar!"

Welcome to the New Rome, ruled by the Military Industrial Complex (M.I.C.) and the Bansksters (Wall Street, FED, Treasury, Corporations, Insurers) and their bought corrupt CONgress members.

"Save for retirement!" to pay the bonuses of the rats above.

"Support the Troops!" to die for the corrupt rats above.

[Mar 16, 2019] The Party of Davos have ruled for 40-50 years. We've got unprecedented wealth inequality. We've got endless wars with no benefit for the Deplorables.

Mar 16, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Jack , 11 hours ago

Harper,

The media and the establishment are focused on Trump and his personality. They don't want to delve into the zeitgeist that allowed him to defeat two political dynasties. That's what they should be focused on.

It's a similar zeitgeist that caused Brexit. That elected Salvini and 5 Star in Italy. That's behind Gilets Jaunes who are now in their 18th week of protests in France. China going more totalitarian by the day under Chairman Xi.

The Party of Davos have ruled for 40-50 years. We've got unprecedented wealth inequality. We've got endless wars with no benefit for the Deplorables. All they have are opioids. More dying of that than automobile accidents. Health care, tuition, rents all rising. A double standard in tthe application of the law. Hypocrisy oozing from every pore of the ruling elites. Bribing their way to elite colleges while espousing meritocracy.

Is this what Howe & Strauss mean by the Fourth Turning?

mourjou -> David Schuler , 2 hours ago
In Europe it was right-wing governments who were largely responsible for introducing elements of a welfare state as a means of protecting capitalism and preventing the spread of socialism. Most real socialists opposed the welfare state efforts as they regarded them as a smoke screen.
If the 1% in the United States wish to enjoy the fruits of capitalism long term, they should do the same otherwise it'll be 1848 all over again. So yes, ""history repeats itself--the first as tragedy and then as farce", it's just that Marx was referring to larger events over a longer time frame than consecutive presidential elections.
Pat Lang Mod -> mourjou , 2 hours ago
I remember that this was particularly true of Bismark. We already have a mixed economy in th US. Social Security, hospital emergency rooms, a graduated progressive income tax systems, local arrangements for giving low income people a break on property taxes both for real estate taxes and taxes on cars, etc. I suppose you are aware that people with higher incomes pay the great bulk of income taxes in the US? Are you familiar with the EITC https://en.wikipedia.org/wi... what kind of change do you want to make, a guaranteed government provided income? Forgiveness of college load debt? What?

[Mar 16, 2019] May and Merkel Fiddle While Their Unions Burn

Mar 16, 2019 | www.strategic-culture.org

A couple of points he makes in passing surprised me:

1) "It's why they are using the non-issue of the Irish border ..." Is it really a non-issue, and why? Surely it is a big issue, and intrinsically explosive? Maybe I am missing something there.

2) "The Labour party is squealing out of both sides of its mouth trying to get themselves out of the corner they've painted themselves into. Because they can read the polls. And what was a solid Labour lead in the winter has become a solid Tory lead in the Spring." Is it really so that that huge Labour lead has been turned into - of all things - a Tory lead? Horror of horrors. If true, the present day Brits are unfathomable. And what about the first part of that citation - what about turning it around and expressing it in terms of the reality, which is that the Labour Party consists of two wholly different, wholly contradictory, and wholly ireconcilable parts, namely the socialist majority standing behind Corbyn and the lying fascist corporatist right-wing 5th columnists whose sole objective is to sabotage the previous group in every manner possible. Would perhaps a better statement be that the difference between these two groups is being made more explicit than ever (which, I would have thought, would only increase Corbyn's support not decrease it)? Or is that just my wishful thinking and the UK masses are being successfully hoodwinked by the propaganda of the 2nd group as spouted by the MSM?

Comments on those two issues anyone, from those closer to the action? (Comments from Bevin would be especially gratefully read!)

Posted by: BM | Mar 16, 2019 9:58:53 AM | 172 ... ... ...

The other most ridiculous thing, probably moreso when you think about this Monty Pythonesque British escapade into hillarity is the fact such grand sweeping measures are allowed on a simple majority vote of the populace, thus ensuring approximately half the population will detest the result no matter what.

Say what you will about the US of A-holes, and I admit nearly all of what you say is true (except of course for the oft repeated mis-trope that Trump = US in all his venal stupidity. No, he only represents roughly 35%...and true that is egregious enough...) at least in the US such grand sweeping measures able to be put to a vote to the nation as a whole (iow, amending the Constitution) either require super majority of state legislatures or a super majourity of Congress criminals to pass.

The fact an entire nation of blooming idiots in England are where they are today is insanely larfably and udderly absurd. Also, infotaining.

And to think Theresa May is the headliner fronting this comedy act for the ages.

All this inspired of course by the equally ridiculous US president and his chief strategist the completely nutz Bannon.

... ... ...

Posted by: donkeytale | Mar 16, 2019 10:49:56 AM | 173 @ bevin | Mar 15, 2019 3:45:05 PM; Jen | Mar 15, 2019 3:49:59 PM; mourning dove | Mar 15, 2019 3:59:32 PM
Posted by: ex-SA | Mar 16, 2019 9:18:03 AM | 171

A few half-baked thoughts on this: it seems to me both sides of this argument have some merits. On the one side I am inclined to agree with ex-SA that the working classes in the colonising countries have had by and large a pretty cushy life since after the 2nd World War when compared to the disenfranchised of the colonised countries, both before and after (ostensible but not really real) decolonisation.

The brutality of neoliberalism and austerity on working people in the rich nations (but arguably even more so on those in poor nations!) does not in my view very seriously detract from that argument.

One thing that does arguably somewhat detract from the above argument is that when viewed in non-materialistic terms, those living in the so-called rich countries often have markedly meaningless and miserable lives compared to many poor people living in materially poor countries (extreme destitution obviously aside) - in other words they are miserably unhappy.

Many people in Germany, for example, earn relatively high wages, most of which they spend on very high housing costs (and energy costs etc) - often alone, and spend the rest of their income on highly processed food from supermarkets that costs a multiple of what the simple basic local foodstuffs that were eaten in former times would cost (and still could if you know how to live more meaningfully); and meanwhile their life is spiritually frozen and devoid of worthwhile meaning.

In contrast, often people living materially poor lives in undeveloped and in materialist terms extremely poor countries, but living much closer to nature and with much warmer intra- and inter-familial relations in extended families, and have a philosophy of life that is less exclusively materialist and much more conducive to spiritual well-being. I would argue however that this aspect is largely tangental to the issue of winners and losers of colonialism.

I agree with Bevin @ 131's point about the destitution of the British working classes prior to the first world war, but what about post-1960's? I don't really see that the lifestyles of the worst victims of austerity today are comparable to the lifestyles of the poor in the 18th or 19th century? I think the lives of even the poorest of the poor (excluding probably the homeless) in the West are massively subsidised by the spoils of the (ongoing) rape of the colonised countries.

The entire expectations of people in the West - including the poor - are based on assumptions of entitlement to things which are critically dependent on the rape and theft of the resources of the colonised countries. Look at the extraordinarily privileged living standards of ordinary working people in Belgium today, as an extreme example!

It is always interesting to reflect that in former times the West was always viewed as the poor part of the world, and the East as wealthy - and historically it is true that throughout most of recorded history the East was extremely wealthy compared to the pauper West - the current-day material wealth of the West relative to the East should be viewed as an extraordinary anomaly! The first Westerners to visit the East marvelled at its phenomenal wealth and envied it. That indeed was the primary cause of the Crusades - the paupers of the West envied the riches of the East and drummed up pseudo-religious excuses to rape and pillage whatever they could grab. It is not without reason that most of the economically poorest countries in reacent times are precisely those countries with the most abundant valuable natural resources.

Posted by: BM | Mar 16, 2019 11:08:29 AM | 175

[Mar 15, 2019] Trump Administration, Canada And EU Hit Russia With Fresh Sanctions

Hate of Russia national runs deep with the infected bowels of the State Department. Sounds like Neo-cons saber rattling and wanting to start WWIII over a bunch of Ukrainian Neo-Nazis installed thanks to Victoria Nuland.
So much for detente with Russia. Trump proved to be just a marionette of MIC...
Sentiments about Trump at Zerohedge noticeably deteriorates since 2016
Mar 15, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
The US State Department announced on Friday that it would be joining the European Union and Canada to impose new sanctions against Russia in response to the Kremlin's "continued aggression in Ukraine."

Sanctions will apply to six "individuals who orchestrated the unjustified November 25 attack on three Ukrainian naval vessels near the Kerch Strait."

Also sanctioned by the United States are eight companies, including six Russian defense firms, "including shipbuilding companies; two individuals involved in the NOvember sham "elections" in Russia-controlled eastern Ukraine; and two Russian energy and construction companies operating in Crimea."

Read the State Department announcement below:

Washington – Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated six Russian individuals and eight entities in response to Russia's continued and ongoing aggression in Ukraine. Today's action targets individuals and entities playing a role in Russia's unjustified attacks on Ukrainian naval vessels in the Kerch Strait, the purported annexation of Crimea, and backing of illegitimate separatist government elections in eastern Ukraine. These actions complement sanctions also taken today by the European Union and Canada, and underscore the strength and commitment of the transatlantic partnership to counter Russia's continued destabilizing behavior and malign activities.

"The United States and our transatlantic partners will not allow Russia's continued aggression against Ukraine to go unchecked. This joint initiative with our partners in the European Union and Canada reinforces our shared commitment to impose targeted and meaningful sanctions in response to the Kremlin's attempts to disregard international norms and undermine Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. "The international community is strongly aligned against Russia's naval attacks in the Kerch Straight, purported annexation of Crimea, and support for the illegitimate separatist-conducted elections in eastern Ukraine."

OVERVIEW

Five years after its invasion of Ukraine and its attempted annexation of Crimea, Russia continues to undermine Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity while failing to implement its obligations under the Minsk agreements. On November 25, 2018, Russian authorities opened fire on and rammed three Ukrainian ships off the coast of Crimea, seizing the ships and capturing 24 Ukrainian crew members, who remain illegally detained in Russia. Russia also continues its occupation of Crimea, and the Kremlin has also backed illegitimate elections held by Ukrainian separatists in the so-called Donetsk People's Republic on November 11, 2018.

As a result of today's designations, all property and interests in property of the designated individuals and entities are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from transacting with them. Moreover, any entities owned 50 percent or more by these designated persons are also blocked by operation of law.

Designations Related to Russia's Attack in the Kerch Strait

OFAC today sanctioned four Russian officials who were involved in the Kerch Strait attack. OFAC designated Gennadiy Medvedev, the Deputy Director of the Border Guard Service of Russia's Federal Security Service; Sergey Stankevich, the Head of the Border Directorate of Russia's Federal Security Service; and Andrey Shein, the Deputy Head of the Border Directorate and Head of the Coast Guard Unit of Russia's Federal Security Service. Medvedev and Stankevich directly controlled and organized the attack against the Ukrainian ships and their crew, while Shein participated in the operation against the seized Ukrainian ships and crew.

OFAC also designated Ruslan Romashkin, the Head of the Service Command Point of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation for the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol.

Medvedev, Stankevich, Shein, and Romashkin are being designated pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13661 for being officials of the Government of the Russian Federation.

DESIGNATIONS RELATED TO RUSSIA'S PURPORTED ANNEXATION OF CRIMEA

Today's action also targets six Russian defense firms with operations in Crimea, several of which misappropriated Ukrainian state assets to provide services to the Russian military. Four of these entities are being designated pursuant to E.O. 13662 for operating in the defense and related materiel sector of the Russian Federation economy, and two entities are being designated pursuant to E.O. 13685 for operating in the Crimea region of Ukraine.

Yaroslavsky Shipbuilding Plant is a Russian state-owned shipbuilding plant that has built vessels for Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Russian Ministry of Defense. Yaroslavsky Shipbuilding Plant is also the project developer for a naval vessel that was completed at the Federal SUE Shipyard "Morye" in Crimea. Yaroslavsky Shipbuilding Plant is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13662 for operating in the defense or related materiel sector of the Russian Federation economy.

Zelenodolsk Shipyard Plant, named after A.M. Gorky, is one of the largest ship manufacturers in Russia and has produced missile frigates and corvettes for the Russian Navy. The Zelenodolsk Shipyard Plant has collaborated with Crimea-based enterprise Skloplastic, which was unlawfully nationalized by the Russian government following its illegal invasion of Crimea in 2014. The Zelenodolsk Shipyard Plant is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13662 for operating in the defense and related materiel sector of the Russian Federation economy.

AO Kontsern Okeanpribor (Okeanpribor) is a producer of hydroacoustic equipment and has supplied components to the Russian Navy. Okeanpribor has also collaborated on a naval project at the Federal SUE Shipyard "Morye" in Crimea. Federal SUE Shipyard "Morye" was designated by OFAC on September 1, 2016. Okeanpribor is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13662 for operating in the defense and related materiel sector of the Russian Federation economy.

PAO Zvezda (Zvezda) is a supplier of diesel engines to the Russian Navy. Zvezda has also supplied components for Russian naval vessels that were being built at the Federal SUE Shipyard "Morye" in Crimea. Zvezda is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13662 for operating in the defense and related materiel sector of the Russian Federation economy.

AO Zavod Fiolent (Fiolent) is a Crimea-based electronics manufacturer that has supplied parts for use in Russian military equipment. Fiolent was unlawfully seized by the Russian Federation following its annexation of Crimea in 2014. Fiolent is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13685 for operating in the Crimea region of Ukraine.

GUP RK KTB Sudokompozit (Sudokompozit) is a Crimea-based producer of defense components that are supplied for Russian military use. Sudokompozit was unlawfully seized by the Russian Federation following its annexation of Crimea in 2014. Sudokompozit is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13685 for operating in the Crimea region of Ukraine.

OFAC also designated the following two entities pursuant to E.O. 13685, due to their activities in Crimea.

LLC SK Consol-Stroi LTD is being designated for operating in the Crimea region of Ukraine. LLC SK Consol-Stroi LTD, a limited liability company registered in the city of Simferopol, Crimea, is one of Crimea's largest construction companies. LLC SK Consol-Stroi LTD is engaged in the construction of residential and commercial real estate in cities throughout the Crimea region including, among others, Feodosia, Kerch, Yalta, Simferopol, Sevastopol, and Yepatoria.

LLC Novye Proekty is being designated for operating in the Crimea region of Ukraine. In 2016, Russian authorities awarded the private company Novye Proekty an oil and gas exploration license for the Crimean Black Sea shelf. The Crimean shelf is believed to be rich in hydrocarbons and authorities in Ukraine have reported that Ukraine lost about 80 percent of its oil and gas deposits in the Black Sea due to Russia's purported annexation of Crimea. Novye Proekty's license permits geological studies, prospecting, and the extraction of raw hydrocarbon materials from the Black Sea's Glubokaya block. Prior to Russia's purported annexation of Crimea the Glubokaya block was estimated to hold reserves of 8.3 million tons of crude and 1.4 billion cubic meters of natural gas.

DESIGNATIONS RELATED TO ILLEGITIMATE SEPARATIST GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS IN UKRAINE

Today's action also targets two Ukrainian separatists who were involved in the organization of the November 2018 illegitimate elections in the so-called Donetsk People's Republic. These illegitimate elections clearly contradict Russia's commitments under the Minsk agreements, and were strongly opposed by the United States and EU.

Aleksey Alekseevich Naydenko is the Deputy Chair of the Central Election Commission of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic. Naydenko is being designated for being responsible for or complicit in, or having engaged in, directly or indirectly, actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Vladimir Yurievich Vysotsky is the Secretary of Central Election Commission of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic. Vysotsky is being designated for being responsible for or complicit in, or having engaged in, directly or indirectly, actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine.

View identifying information on the individuals designated today.


Insufferably Insouciant , 10 minutes ago link

Bizazze choice of wording in the official text:

" DESIGNATIONS RELATED TO RUSSIA'S PURPORTED ANNEXATION OF CRIMEA"

purported

/pərˈpôrdəd/

adjective

  1. appearing or stated to be true, though not necessarily so; alleged.

There is nothing "purported" about it, it was true and as legitimate as it could possibly be.

Then under "DESIGNATIONS RELATED TO ILLEGITIMATE SEPARATIST GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS IN UKRAINE" they claim that Russia violated its committments under Minsk 2, which the US never officially recognized. Minsk 2 intended increased sovereignty for the Oblasts under a new Ukraine Federal constitutional arrangement. That constitutional amendment has never been initiated by Kiev, with the blessing of Uncle Sam. It is the Ukraine puppet government who is in violation of Minsk 2.

If the US wrote this, assume the opposite to be true.

smacker , 47 minutes ago link

[Article]: " Sanctions will apply to six "individuals who orchestrated the unjustified November 25 attack on three Ukrainian naval vessels near the Kerch Strait." "

Translation: "The propaganda lunacy will continue". "We will keep telling the same old same old lies until people believe them".

My understanding of that incident is that the Ukrainian boats had some unexplained special forces people on board and they refused to pull over when ordered to. From Russia's view, there was a real risk of these people planning to plant explosives to blow up the Kerch bridge.

OpTwoMistic , 42 minutes ago link

Can you imagine Russia building missile batteries in Mexico or Cuba? That is what US has done in Ukraine.

nope-1004 , 33 minutes ago link

Now it appears that no matter which government is in power they go along with the aggressive agenda of the US.

Been like that since the '50's, just that you believed that the economy and world was good.

Voting matters ZERO. The lie you are made to believe is that there is a choice when voting, when in fact the ruling party is the financial engineers and bankers behind all governments.

Voting is a waste of time. The heart of the beast is the USD reserve and the Rothschild empire. Once we abolish that pig, all western governments implode under their own weight of cheap talk and empty "policy".

dirty dogs , 50 minutes ago link

Don't forget the paint company that Russia used on their assault boats to scratch those Ukie ships.

No Justice No Peace!

666D Chess , 1 hour ago link

The evidence that the orange swine is a Rothschild Trojan Horse is overwhelming at this point. Only a scumbag or an absolute imbecile would fail to see it. Fvck you orange roach.

2handband , 1 hour ago link

You might recall that I said as much right from the beginning of the campaign...

666D Chess , 1 hour ago link

I didn't read your comments at that time but I tip my hat to you. I realised that everything he said during the campaign was bullsh!t after he started appointing Goldman Sachs bankers to his cabinet...

marcel tjoeng , 1 hour ago link

The USA government is quite the set of loathsome filth,

[Mar 15, 2019] Patriots Turning To #YangGang In Response To Trump, Conservatism Inc. Failure by James Kirkpatrick

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Yang promises a universal entitlement, not dependent on income, that he calls a "freedom dividend." To be funded through a value added tax , Yang claims that it would reduce the strain on "health care, incarceration, homeless services, and the like" and actually save billions of dollars. Yang also notes that "current welfare and social program beneficiaries would be given a choice between their current benefits or $1,000 cash unconditionally." ..."
"... Yang is justifying the need for such a program because of automation . Again, VDARE.com has been exploring how automation may necessitate such a program for many years . Yang also discussed this problem on Tucker Carlson's show , which alone shows he is more open to real discussion than many progressive activists. ..."
"... Indeed, journalists, hall monitors that they are, have recognized that President Trump's online supporters are flocking to Yang, bringing him a powerful weapon in the meme wars. ..."
"... it is ominous for Trump that many of the more creative and dedicated people who formed his vanguard are giving up on him. ..."
Mar 15, 2019 | www.unz.com

The dark horse candidate of the 2020 Democratic primary is entrepreneur Andrew Yang , who just qualified for the first round of debates by attracting over 65,000 unique donors. [ Andrew Yang qualifies for first DNC debate with 65,000 unique donors , by Orion Rummler, Axios, March 12, 2019]

Yang is a businessman who has worked in several fields, but was best known for founding Venture for America , which helps college graduates become entrepreneurs. However, he is now gaining recognition for his signature campaign promise -- $1,000 a month for every American.

Yang promises a universal entitlement, not dependent on income, that he calls a "freedom dividend." To be funded through a value added tax , Yang claims that it would reduce the strain on "health care, incarceration, homeless services, and the like" and actually save billions of dollars. Yang also notes that "current welfare and social program beneficiaries would be given a choice between their current benefits or $1,000 cash unconditionally."

As Yang himself notes, this is not a new idea, nor one particularly tied to the Left. Indeed, it's been proposed by several prominent libertarians because it would replace the far more inefficient welfare system. Charles Murray called for this policy in 2016. [ A guaranteed income for every American , AEI, June 3, 2016] Milton Friedman suggested a similar policy in a 1968 interview with William F. Buckley, though Friedman called it a "negative income tax."

He rejected arguments that it would cause indolence. F.A. Hayek also supported such a policy; he essentially took it for granted . [ Friedrich Hayek supported a guaranteed minimum income , by James Kwak, Medium, July 20, 2015]

It's also been proposed by many nationalists, including, well, me. At the January 2013 VDARE.com Webinar, I called for a "straight-up minimum income for citizens only" among other policies that would build a new nationalist majority and deconstruct Leftist power. I've retained that belief ever since and argued for it here for years.

However, I've also made the argument that it only works if it is for citizens only and is combined with a restrictive immigration policy. As I previously argued in a piece attacking Jacobin's disingenuous complaints about the "reserve army of the unemployed," you simply can't support high wages, workers' rights, and a universal basic income while still demanding mass immigration.

Yang is justifying the need for such a program because of automation . Again, VDARE.com has been exploring how automation may necessitate such a program for many years . Yang also discussed this problem on Tucker Carlson's show , which alone shows he is more open to real discussion than many progressive activists.

Yang is also directly addressing the crises that the Trump Administration has seemly forgotten. Unlike Donald Trump himself, with his endless boasting about "low black and Hispanic unemployment," Yang has directly spoken about the demographic collapse of white people because of "low birth rates and white men dying from substance abuse and suicide ."

Though even the viciously anti-white Dylan Matthews called the tweet "innocuous," there is little doubt if President Trump said it would be called racist. [ Andrew Yang, the 2020 long-shot candidate running on a universal basic income, explained , Vox, March 11, 2019]

Significantly, President Trump himself has never once specifically recognized the plight of white Americans.

...He wants to make Puerto Rico a state . He supports a path to citizenship for illegal aliens, albeit with an 18-year waiting period and combined with pledges to secure the border and deport illegals who don't enroll in the citizenship program. He wants to create a massive bureaucratic system to track gun owners, restrict gun ownership , and require various "training" programs for licenses. He wants to subsidize local journalists with taxpayer dollars...

... ... ...

Indeed, journalists, hall monitors that they are, have recognized that President Trump's online supporters are flocking to Yang, bringing him a powerful weapon in the meme wars. (Sample meme at right.) And because many of these online activists are "far right" by Main Stream Media standards, or at least Politically Incorrect, there is much hand-waving and wrist-flapping about the need for Yang to decry "white nationalists." So of course, the candidate has dutifully done so, claiming "racism and white nationalism [are] a threat to the core ideals of what it means to be an American". [ Presidential candidate Andrew Yang has a meme problem , by Russell Brandom, The Verge, March 9, 2019]

But what does it mean to be an American? As more and more of American history is described as racist, and even national symbols and the national anthem are targets for protest, "America" certainly doesn't seem like a real country with a real identity. Increasingly, "America" resembles a continent-sized shopping mall, with nothing holding together the warring tribes that occupy it except money.

President Trump, of course, was elected because many people thought he could reverse this process, especially by limiting mass immigration and taking strong action in the culture wars, for example by promoting official English. Yet in recent weeks, he has repeatedly endorsed more legal immigration. Rather than fighting, the president is content to brag about the economy and whine about unfair press coverage and investigations. He already seems like a lame duck.

The worst part of all of this is that President Trump was elected as a response not just to the Left, but to the failed Conservative Establishment. During the 2016 campaign, President Trump specifically pledged to protect entitlements , decried foreign wars, and argued for a massive infrastructure plan. However, once in office, his main legislative accomplishment is a tax cut any other Republican president would have pushed. Similarly, his latest budget contains the kinds of entitlement cuts that are guaranteed to provoke Democrat attack ads. [ Trump said he wouldn't cut Medicaid, Social Security, and Medicare . His 2020 budget cuts all 3 , by Tara Golshan, Vox, March 12, 2019] And the president has already backed down on withdrawing all troops from Syria, never mind Afghanistan.

Conservatism Inc., having learned nothing from candidate Donald Trump's scorched-earth path to the Republican nomination, now embraces Trump as a man but ignores his campaign message. Instead, the conservative movement is still promoting the same tired slogans about "free markets" even as they have appear to have lost an entire generation to socialism. The most iconic moment was Charlie Kirk, head of the free market activist group Turning Point USA, desperately trying to tell his followers not to cheer for Tucker Carlson because Carlson had suggested a nation should be treated like a family, not simply a marketplace .

President Trump himself is now trying to talk like a fiscal conservative [ Exclusive -- Donald Trump: 'Seductive' Socialism Would Send Country 'Down The Tubes' In a Decade Or Less , by Alexander Marlow, Matt Boyle, Amanda House, and Charlie Spierling, Breitbart, March 11, 2019]. Such a pose is self-discrediting given how the deficit swelled under united Republican control and untold amounts of money are seemingly still available for foreign aid to Israel, regime change in Iran and Venezuela, and feminist programs abroad to make favorite daughter Ivanka Trump feel important. [ Trump budget plans to give $100 million to program for women that Ivanka launched , by Nathalie Baptiste, Mother Jones, March 9, 2019]

Thus, especially because of his cowardice on immigration, many of President Trump's most fervent online supporters have turned on him in recent weeks. And the embrace of Yang seems to come out of a great place of despair, a sense that the country really is beyond saving.

Yang has Leftist policies on many issues, but many disillusioned Trump supporters feel like those policies are coming anyway. If America is just an economy, and if everyone in the world is a simply an American-in-waiting, white Americans might as well get something out of this System before the bones are picked clean.

National Review ' s Theodore Kupfer just claimed the main importance of Yang's candidacy is that it will prove meme-makers ability to affect the vote count "has been overstated" [ Rise of the pink hats , March 12, 2019].

Time will tell, but it is ominous for Trump that many of the more creative and dedicated people who formed his vanguard are giving up on him.

[Mar 15, 2019] DOJ And Clinton Lawyers Struck Secret Deal To Block FBI Access To Clinton Foundation Emails Strzok

Mar 15, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

by Tyler Durden Fri, 03/15/2019 - 09:05 5.0K SHARES

The Justice Department and Hillary Clinton's legal team "negotiated" an agreement that blocked the FBI from accessing emails on Clinton's homebrew server related to the Clinton Foundation, according to a transcript of recently released testimony from last summer by former FBI special agent Peter Strzok.

Under questioning from Judiciary Committee General Counsel Zachary Somers, Strzok acknowledged that Clinton's private personal email servers contained a mixture of emails related to the Clinton Foundation, her work as secretary of state and other matters.

"Were you given access to [Clinton Foundation-related] emails as part of the investigation?" Somers asked

" We were not. We did not have access ," Strzok responded. " My recollection is that the access to those emails were based on consent that was negotiated between the Department of Justice attorneys and counsel for Clinton ." - Fox News

Strzok added that " a significant filter team " was employed at the FBI to "work through the various terms of the various consent agreements."

"According to the attorneys, we lacked probable cause to get a search warrant for those servers and projected that either it would take a very long time and/or it would be impossible to get to the point where we could obtain probable cause to get a warrant," said Strzok.

The foundation has long been accused of "pay-to-play" transactions, fueled by a report in the IBTimes that the Clinton-led State Department authorized $151 billion in Pentagon-brokered deals to 16 countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation - a 145% increase in completed sales to those nations over the same time frame during the Bush administration.

Adding to speculation of malfeasance is the fact that donor contributions to the Clinton Foundation dried up by approximately 90% over a three-year period between 2014 and 2017 , according to financial statements.

What's more, Bill Clinton reportedly received a $1 million check from Qatar - one of the countries which gained State Department clearance to buy US weapons while Clinton was Secretary of State, even as the department signaled them out for a range of alleged ills," according to IBTimes. The Clinton Foundation confirmed it accepted the money.

Then there was the surely unrelated $145 million donated to the Foundation from parties linked to the Uranium One deal prior to its approval through a rubber-stamp committee .

"The committee almost never met, and when it deliberated it was usually at a fairly low bureaucratic level," Richard Perle said. Perle, who has worked for the Reagan, Clinton and both Bush administrations added, " I think it's a bit of a joke. " – CBS

Later in his testimony last summer, Strzok said that agents were able to access "the entire universe" of information on the servers by using search terms to probe their contents - saying "we had it voluntarily."

"What's bizarre about this, is in any other situation, there's no possible way they would allow the potential perpetrator to self-select what the FBI gets to see," said former Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz - former chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee until 2017 and current contributor to Fox News . " The FBI should be the one to sort through those emails -- not the Clinton attorneys. "

Chaffetz suggested that the goal of the DOJ was to "make sure they hear no evil, see no evil -- they had no interest in pursuing the truth."

"The Clinton Foundation isn't supposed to be communicating with the State Department anyway," said Chaffetz. "The foundation -- with her name on it -- is not supposed to be communicating with the senior officials at the State Department."

Republican-led concerns that the DOJ, under the Obama administration, was too cozy with the Clinton team during the 2016 presidential campaign have grown louder in recent days. Earlier this week, Fox News exclusively reviewed an internal chart prepared by federal investigators working on the so-called "Midyear Exam" probe into Clinton's emails. The chart contained the words "NOTE: DOJ not willing to charge this" next to a key statute on the mishandling of classified information.

The notation appeared to contradict former FBI Director James Comey's repeated claims that his team made its decision that Clinton should not face criminal charges independently.

But Strzok, in his closed-door interview, denied that the DOJ exercised undue influence over the FBI, and insisted that lawyers at the DOJ were involved in an advisory capacity working with agents. - Fox News

Strzok was fired from the FBI after months of intense scrutiny over anti-Trump text messages he exchanged with his mistress - FBI lawyer Lisa Page. Both Strzok and Page were involved at the highest levels of both the Clinton email investigation and the counterintelligence investigation on President Trump and his 2016 campaign.


Real Estate Guru , 30 minutes ago link

It gets worse and worse for these schmucks...

Investigators Ask Loretta Lynch: Why Didn't DOJ/FBI Give Trump A Defensive Briefing If They Suspected Members of His Campaign Had Ties to Russia?
Posted at 7:30 pm on March 14, 2019 by Elizabeth Vaughn

Although the transcripts from former Attorney General Loretta Lynch's Testimony last year have not been released yet, investigative reporter Sara Carter obtained a copy and said that lawmakers had one question on their minds. If the DOJ and the FBI were so worried that Trump's campaign had been penetrated by Russians, why didn't anyone give him a defensive briefing which is customary? Lynch's inability to answer this question spoke volumes.

Defensive briefings are "often given to presidential candidates, elected officials and even U.S. businesses that have either been unwittingly approached by foreign actors attempting to gain trust and befriend those in position of influence." A senior former intelligence official told Carter that, "if the FBI or intelligence agencies suspect foreign adversaries may be trying to penetrate a presidential campaign, as those FBI and DOJ sources suggested in testimony to lawmakers, it would then be required to warn those affected." In 2008, for example, the FBI gave John McCain a defensive briefing due to their concern over the Russian connections of a member of his campaign. Why wasn't Trump offered the same courtesy?

Carter's source added:

It is an essential task of the FBI and the intelligence community to give a defensive briefing to a presidential candidate when a foreign adversary is attempting to penetrate or make contact with someone in the campaign. If the FBI and DOJ were so concerned about Carter Page and (George) Papadopoulos why didn't they brief Trump when he became a candidate? The fact that they didn't is very revealing. If they gave a defensive briefing to the Clinton campaign then I think we have the answer.
(It is unknown if the Clinton campaign received a briefing.)

Carter said that a comparison of the testimonies of DOJ official Bruce Ohr, former FBI top lawyer James Baker and Lynch show that all three spoke of their concern that Russians might be penetrating Trump's campaign, yet no one offered a defensive briefing.

In her testimony, Lynch admitted that top officials, including James Comey, all talked about offering a defensive briefing, but no one ever followed through.

But, then again, why brief a candidate when you're trying to frame him instead?

T-4 Days, Patriots!

8iron , 29 minutes ago link

look NOTHING happens in DC if not for political gain, including actual law enforcement---exhibit A being the email server.

Does indicting Hillary help Trump independent voters? Not so sure. Seems like the OJ trial---who DOESN"T think she's guilty and like AOC, every time she opens her trap, it helps Trump.

Perp walking the traitors (McCabe, Strzok, Page and the rest the Hilter Youth)--huge benefits IMO. Remember, all the Dems have steadfastly defended this cabal. Make them defend the traitors.

Stuck on Zero , 38 minutes ago link

DOJ ... D epartment of O bstruction of J ustice.

GuyBaker76 , 38 minutes ago link

This was All an Obama/Jarrett manipulated effort to continue the Obama "legacy".

They can't stand the Clintons, but knew that was the only way that his corruption of government would Never surface.

[Mar 15, 2019] Something about Canada

Mar 15, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

oddjob , 47 minutes ago link

No matter what Party is in power, Ottawa always proves to be a source of disappointment for the average Canadian.

[Mar 15, 2019] If Germany tries to close NATO conmmand center very likely, a color revolution will break out in Germany

Mar 15, 2019 | nationalinterest.org

Allalin 2 days ago ,

Can anyone confirm what will happen when Germany will shut down those US Command Center (NATO) because Germany is able to finance their own. (US Personal has to go) Nato support Act is an US Law and not an authorized NATO Law

Nick Klaus Allalin 2 days ago ,

Very likely, a color revolution will break out in Germany

[Mar 15, 2019] DOJ ... Department of Obstruction of Justice.

Mar 15, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

The Justice Department and Hillary Clinton's legal team "negotiated" an agreement that blocked the FBI from accessing emails on Clinton's homebrew server related to the Clinton Foundation, according to a transcript of recently released testimony from last summer by former FBI special agent Peter Strzok.

[Mar 14, 2019] Regulatory Capture: The Banks and the System That They Have Corrupted

Mar 14, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com


"But the impotence one feels today -- an impotence we should never consider permanent -- does not excuse one from remaining true to oneself, nor does it excuse capitulation to the enemy, what ever mask he may wear. Not the one facing us across the frontier or the battle lines, which is not so much our enemy as our brothers' enemy, but the one that calls itself our protector and makes us its slaves. The worst betrayal will always be to subordinate ourselves to this Apparatus, and to trample underfoot, in its service, all human values in ourselves and in others."

Simone Weil

"And in some ways, it creates this false illusion that there are people out there looking out for the interest of taxpayers, the checks and balances that are built into the system are operational, when in fact they're not. And what you're going to see and what we are seeing is it'll be a breakdown of those governmental institutions. And you'll see governments that continue to have policies that feed the interests of -- and I don't want to get clichéd, but the one percent or the .1 percent -- to the detriment of everyone else...

If TARP saved our financial system from driving off a cliff back in 2008, absent meaningful reform, we are still driving on the same winding mountain road, but this time in a faster car... I think it's inevitable. I mean, I don't think how you can look at all the incentives that were in place going up to 2008 and see that in many ways they've only gotten worse and come to any other conclusion."

Neil Barofsky

"Written by Carmen Segarra, the petite lawyer turned bank examiner turned whistleblower turned one-woman swat team, the 340-page tome takes the reader along on her gut-wrenching workdays for an entire seven months inside one of the most powerful and corrupted watchdogs of the powerful and corrupted players on Wall Street – the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The days were literally gut-wrenching. Segarra reports that after months of being alternately gas-lighted and bullied at the New York Fed to whip her into the ranks of the corrupted, she had to go to a gastroenterologist and learned her stomach lining was gone.

She soldiered through her painful stomach ailments and secretly tape-recorded 46 hours of conversations between New York Fed officials and Goldman Sachs. After being fired for refusing to soften her examination opinion on Goldman Sachs, Segarra released the tapes to ProPublica and the radio program This American Life and the story went viral from there...

In a nutshell, the whoring works like this. There are huge financial incentives to go along, get along, and keep your mouth shut about fraud. The financial incentives encompass both the salary, pension and benefits at the New York Fed as well as the high-paying job waiting for you at a Wall Street bank or Wall Street law firm if you show you are a team player .

If the Democratic leadership of the House Financial Services Committee is smart, it will reopen the Senate's aborted inquiry into the New York Fed's labyrinthine conflicts of interest in supervising Wall Street and make removing that supervisory role a core component of the Democrat's 2020 platform. Senator Bernie Sanders' platform can certainly be expected to continue the accurate battle cry that 'the business model of Wall Street is fraud.'"

Pam Martens, Wall Street on Parade

[Mar 14, 2019] Blain Global Reset Looms As Inequality Bonfire Burns Out Of Control

Mar 14, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Blain: Global Reset Looms As "Inequality Bonfire Burns Out Of Control"

by Tyler Durden Thu, 03/14/2019 - 09:05 30 SHARES Via Shard Capital's Bill Blain,

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.. "

In the headlines this morning: https://www.morningporridge.com/stuff-im-watching

So much stuff going on.. it's shaping up to be a very interesting weekend.

But, let me start with a diversion...

There is a story of the Great Scottish King – Robert the Bruce. Having been defeated by the English multiple times, his family captured and executed, (or in the case of his daughter, left suspended in an open cage thru the winter), his army was scattered, the clans turned against him, on his own and without any support - he was on the verge of giving up. As he contemplated a bleak future, he watched a spider struggle to construct a web in the dank cave he was hiding in. The beastie failed again and again.. Finally, Bruce reached his decision. If the Spider succeeded, he would carry on.

He went on to become Scotland's Greatest King.

Try, Try, Try again ? Perhaps Scotland will pull an unlikely win at Twickenham on Saturday? She-who-is-now-Mrs-Blain did warn me not to " bore everyone about Brexit ", but needs must.

Even though a No-Deal Brexit is ruled out in the short-run, where do we go from here?

Or, perhaps, Theresa May is set to surprise us all. She really doesn't know when to give up. The scuttlebutt round Westminster is she's going to take her Brexit agreement back to the House for a third time – and is currently scaring the Rees-Moog loonies with the threat of a long extension leading to NO-Brexit and second referendum, and the Remoaners with the threat of a short-extension leading to No-Deal Brexit. At least 70 Labour MPs want to avoid a second referendum and could, perhaps, vote with her.

Of course, my above simplistic analysis ignores the EU.

"It is a very grand plan, but what about the Germans?" asked a famous Polish General in WW2...

How the EU reacts to the likely request for an extension is going to be fascinating..

Meanwhile, there is a bit of a political stramash brewing in the US after a number of fund managers and "actresses" (heaven forbid) were arrested for fraudulently bribing universities to give their kids places. Some of my more "right of centre" US correspondents are full of righteous indignation that such obvious Democrats - on the basis the whole of Hollywood are goddam-lefty-commies - are dishonestly getting their kids opportunities they don't merit. Bribery, criminal corruption, hidden influence, the haves and have nots. Oops I think one of their heads just indignantly exploded.

But this is important stuff. Firstly, isn't it obvious that any society with an ounce of common sense would make education the core of its development strategy? It's the single most important factor likely to improve an economy and raise the prospects of its population. Yet, here in the UK, the government has seen fit to chain students to years of debt and penury for pretty average university courses? Its madness. In the States, its gone a step further – another way for the rich to raise themselves higher.

The fact the monied and the wealthy across US society think its somehow acceptable to pay-to-play for the top educational places and they advantages these confer for life, sums up a moral corruption and is yet another symptom of the entitlement and pernicious income inequality now at the core of the "Land of the Free". As a chum told me yesterday.. "its last stage empire" stuff. Its neither a Democrat or Republican thing – although it doesn't help when the President is such a clearly negative role model. If its ok for the boss to lie and cheat.. then what I do wrong?

(You could argue nepotism is the ultimate and absolute corruption – the rich ensuring the rich get the best of everything and deny deserving poorer folk places they've earned. But, where does guilt begin? What's so different from those of us who paid over expensive school fees to give our kids the best chance in life? I could just about afford it. Single Parent in Brixton could not. My kids got a better start. Whether the Brixton kid now runs past them is entirely their responsibility now )

Its stories like this that are stoking the inequality bonfire. If it burns out of control then markets will have nothing to say as the global reset is pressed!

[Mar 14, 2019] CIA Is Conspiring With ISIS, Turning Syrian Refugee Camps Into ISIS Hotbeds

Mar 14, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

The CIA is conspiring with ISIS commanders in northeastern Syria supplying them with fake documents and then transferring them to Iraq, according to reports in Turkish pro-government media.

About 2,000 ISIS members were questioned in the areas of Kesra, Buseira, al-Omar and Suwayr in Deir Ezzor province and at least 140 of them then received fake documents. Some of the questioned terrorists were then moved to the camps of al-Hol, Hasakah and Rukban, which are controlled by US-backed forces. The CIA also reportedly created a special facility near Abu Khashab with the same purpose.

Israeli, French and British special services are reportedly involved.

An interesting observation is that the media of the country, which in the previous years of war, used to conspire with ISIS allowing its foreign recruits to enter Syria and buying smuggled oil from the terrorists, has now become one of the most active exposers of the alleged US ties with ISIS elements.

Another issue often raised in Turkish media is the poor humanitarian situation in the refugee camps controlled by US-backed forces. These reports come in the course of other revelations. According to the International Rescue Committee, about 100 people, mostly children, died in combat zones or in the al-Hol camp controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces just recently.

In its turn, the Russian Defense Ministry released a series of satellite images revealing the horrifying conditions in the al-Rukban camp. The imagery released on March 12 shows at least 670 graves, many of them fresh, close to the camp's living area. The tents and light constructions used to settle refugees are also located in a close proximity to large waste deposits.

A joint statement by the Russian and Syrian Joint Coordination Committees for Repatriation of Syrian Refugees said that refugees in al-Rukban are suffering from a lack of water, food, medication and warm clothing, which is especially important during winter. According to the statement, members of the US-backed armed group Maghawir al-Thawra disrupt water deliveries to the camp, using this as a bargaining chip for blackmailing and profiteering purposes.

Tensions are once again growing between Syria and Israel. Earlier in March, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad submitted an official letter to the head of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) Kristin Lund that Damascus "will not hesitate to confront Israel" if it continues refusing to withdraw from the Golan Heights.

Israeli media and officials responded with a new round of allegations that Hezbollah is entrenching in southern Syria therefore justifying a further militarization of the Golan Heights.

[Mar 14, 2019] Lynch Testimony Reveals Bias And Intent For Failing To Give Trump Defensive Briefing

What defensive briefings? That was an attempt to set-up Trump. a clear attempt of entrapment that involved MI6 and CIA.
Notable quotes:
"... Ohr's testimony coupled with testimony provided by former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, which has not been released but reviewed by this reporter, along with former FBI General Counsel James Baker's testimony reveals a startling fact: everyone appeared to say they were concerned the Russian's were penetrating the Trump campaign but no one at the DOJ or FBI authorized a defensive briefing. ..."
"... In her testimony, Lynch she admits that senior officials at the FBI and DOJ did not provide a briefing to then candidate-Trump. Those discussions, according to Lynch, also included former FBI Director James Comey. It appears they all discussed that the defensive briefing was an option but never followed through. None of those persons who testified about those discussions has a clear answer to why none was given. ..."
"... When asked if Lynch was involved in discussing defensive briefings with the Trump campaign about Carter and Papadopolous, she only replies "not to the level of giving direction." ..."
"... Lisa Page's testimony may answer some questions as to why the Trump campaign was not given a defensive briefing. She states that Trump was not a target at the time but that it was members of his campaign that the bureau was concerned about. ..."
"... This makes no sense at all. If the FBI was concerned about allegations that Carter Page and Papadopolous were allegedly being influenced by the Russians they would've given Trump, who was a presidential candidate at the time, a defensive briefing. ..."
Mar 14, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Via SaraCarter.com,

President Donald Trump's campaign was never given a defensive briefing by the FBI, despite mounting concerns that Russians were allegedly trying to penetrate the campaign during the 2016 presidential election.

In testimony provided by former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, along with others, it is the key finding that won't bode well for the FBI and DOJ. It also raises significant questions regarding the treatment of Hillary Clinton's campaign and whether she ever received 'defensive briefings' in detail from the bureau. Lynch's testimony is still not public but has been reviewed by SaraACarter.com.

The defensive briefing, after all, is a procedure that is often given to presidential candidates, elected officials and even U.S. businesses that have either been unwittingly approached by foreign actors attempting to gain trust and befriend those in position of influence.

The briefing allows the government to protect the candidates, specifically if there is substantial information or knowledge to suggest that someone has targeted an unwitting American for information. If the FBI or intelligence agencies suspect foreign adversaries may be trying to penetrate a presidential campaign, as those FBI and DOJ sources suggested in testimony to lawmakers, it would then be required to warn those affected , a senior former intelligence official told SaraACarter.com.

Why? Because foreign adversaries like China and Russia for example, and even allies, will attempt to glean information – or favor – from unwitting persons with access to senior level officials. The access can assist those nation's own national interest or provide access for intelligence collection.

In the case of Trump, the FBI gave only a general counterintelligence briefing but did not provide information to the campaign that the FBI believed there were specific counterintelligence threats. For example, the FBI's concern over campaign advisors George Papadopolous, Carter Page and then concerns over former national security advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.

"It is an essential task of the FBI and the intelligence community to give a defensive briefing to a presidential candidate when a foreign adversary is attempting to penetrate or make contact with someone in the campaign," said a former senior intelligence official.

"If the FBI and DOJ were so concerned about Carter Page and (George) Papadopolous why didn't they brief Trump when he became a candidate? The fact that they didn't is very revealing. If they gave defensive briefing to the Clinton campaign then I think we have the answer."

Bruce Ohr's 268-page testimony, released last week by Georgia Rep. Doug Collins reveals the machinations of the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign and the players involved. Ohr's testimony coupled with testimony provided by former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, which has not been released but reviewed by this reporter, along with former FBI General Counsel James Baker's testimony reveals a startling fact: everyone appeared to say they were concerned the Russian's were penetrating the Trump campaign but no one at the DOJ or FBI authorized a defensive briefing.

Lynch and Failure to Give Defensive Briefing

Let's start with Lynch's testimony, which has not yet been made public.

In her testimony, Lynch she admits that senior officials at the FBI and DOJ did not provide a briefing to then candidate-Trump. Those discussions, according to Lynch, also included former FBI Director James Comey. It appears they all discussed that the defensive briefing was an option but never followed through. None of those persons who testified about those discussions has a clear answer to why none was given.

"Were you aware that George Papadopoulos was under investigation by the FBI," an investigator asked Lynch during last years closed door hearing.

"I was aware that his activities were of concern," Lynch replied.

"Were you aware that he was associated with the Trump campaign," the investigator followed up.

Lynch then says, "you know, I knew that but, again, I don't have specifics and certainly at that – thinking back to that time, I don't know if I knew his role at that time in the campaign."

The investigator then presses Lynch, asking "did you know he had some sort of role?"

"As far as my recollection is, yes," Lynch answers.

The investigator goes one step further:

"So there are these investigations launched into two individuals, in your mind, somehow associated with the Trump campaign Did you consider any other options other than an investigation?"

Lynch explains, "it's when information is provided to someone usually as a result of the intelligence community learning information that may impact them, in the context in which I'm aware of it, in their official role, or in their official business."

The investigator then asks was "defensive briefings given to candidates for the presidency?"

"Certain types of defense briefings are, is my understanding," Lynch states. "It's not something that I was personally involved in. They received – they do receive security briefings. I'm only aware of that from discussions with members of the intelligence community."

The revelation:

"Did you ever discuss whether the Trump campaign should be defensively briefed on either Carter Page or George Papadopoulos," asks the investigator, who reiterates if they were under scrutiny whey didn't the FBI and DOJ make Trump aware.

"I was certainly aware that it was an option, but I don't know what, if anything, ever happened to that option," Lynch answers. "Without getting into specific discussions, it certainly is an option that one would consider, but I don't know if those actions were ever taken."

When asked if Lynch was involved in discussing defensive briefings with the Trump campaign about Carter and Papadopolous, she only replies "not to the level of giving direction."

"Again, I'm just being careful because of the nature of the information," she stresses. "Certainly, it's always an option, but at a very early stage, you would have it as an option, and you would evaluate it as time goes on, and I don't have any information about further resolution of that issue."

Lisa Page

Lisa Page's testimony may answer some questions as to why the Trump campaign was not given a defensive briefing. She states that Trump was not a target at the time but that it was members of his campaign that the bureau was concerned about.

This makes no sense at all. If the FBI was concerned about allegations that Carter Page and Papadopolous were allegedly being influenced by the Russians they would've given Trump, who was a presidential candidate at the time, a defensive briefing.

The FBI had worked with Carter Page in the past on a separate case connected to Russia so why wouldn't the FBI provide a fair warning to Trump when Carter Page joined as a volunteer for the campaign.

In Page's transcript she indicated to Rep. John Ratcliff, R-Texas, under questioning that the bureau had no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia prior to launch of the FBI and special counsel investigation.

"So I think this represents that even as far as May of 2017, we still couldn't answer the question," said Page, who said that up until May 2017 the bureau still didn't have any evidence of collusion or conspiracy.

Gowdy Questions Page

Under questioning by then-Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-SC, regarding her text messages to Strzok, Page states that the bureau was concerned about someone in the campaign was working with Russians to get damaging information on Clinton. But she admitted that they still didn't have evidence up until May 2017?

"We had a number of discussions up through and including the Director regularly in which we were trying to find an answer to the question, right, which is, is there someone associated with the campaign, who is working with the Russians in order to obtain damaging information about Hillary Clinton," Page told Gowdy, regarding the texts.

She also says later in her testimony to Gowdy "as I sort of explained, if he is not going to be President, then we don't need to burn longstanding sources and risk sort of the loss of future investigative outlets, not in this case, but in other Russia–related matters "

Page states that the FBI didn't believe Trump was colluding with Russia but maybe someone was within in the campaign. In her mind Trump wasn't going to win so why "burn longstanding sources."

The one question I would've asked those testifying, is the one question the lawmakers never asked: 'Did the DOJ and FBI provide defensive briefings to Hillary Clinton's campaign at any point in time and on any matter involving any foreigners attempting to access her campaign?'

If anything, this is a significant question that DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz should consider as he continues his investigation into possible malfeasance in the FBI's handling of Trump campaign and Russia investigation.

[Mar 14, 2019] Top Mueller Prosecutor Weissmann Steps Down In Latest Sign Probe Ending

Mar 14, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Andrew Weissmann, perhaps the ' angriest ' Democrat on special counsel Robert Mueller's probe, is leaving the investigation and will return to the private sector, according to NPR , citing two sources.

Considered the "architect" of the case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort - who was sentenced to a combined 7.5 years in prison for financial crimes related to his private business dealings, Weissmann will now study and teach at New York University. He will also embark on several public service projects, such as how to prevent wrongful convictions by improving forensic science standards.

As NPR notes, " The departure is the strongest sign yet that Mueller and his team have all but concluded their work. "

Weissmann - who wasn't able to link Manafort to collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, has come under fire from conservatives for his extreme liberalism. He attended Hillary Clinton's election night party in 2016, and was one of several officials told by then-DOJ #4 Bruce Ohr prior to the DOJ obtaining a FISA surveillance warrant that the 'Steele Dossier' was opposition research connected to Clinton and might be biased . Weissmann was the head of the DOJ's fraud section at the time.

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon also issued a warning about Weissmann and other senior members of the special counsel team when they were named in 2017.

Other departures signaling the end of Mueller's probe

While Weissmann's departure is the largest indication to date that the Mueller probe is near its end, several other investigators have already left the special counsel's office - including the senior-most FBI agent working the case; David Archey. Archey will head up the FBI's Richmond, VA office.

Another prosecutor, Brandon Van Grack, is now leading a DOJ effort to enforce compliance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) - a law requiring that people disclose if they are representing foreign powers in the United States. Created in 1938, the law remained virtually unenforced until the DOJ was able to nab Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates, who failed to register as foreign agents while representing the government of Ukraine. Notably, lobbyist Tony Podesta - who worked alongside Manafort, had the uncanny foresight to retroactively file as a foreign agent months before Manafort was charged.


aelfheld , 1 minute ago link

"Throughout his career, Andrew has had unparalleled success in building case after case against the most sophisticated criminals in the world," said former colleague Leslie Caldwell. "He took on New York's most feared organized crime families, unraveled the incredibly ornate frauds at Enron, and has tracked international criminals, exposing their carefully concealed financial dealings in many dark corners of the world."

And has, because of his aggressively unethical & corrupt methods has ended up having most of those cases thrown out of court.

Weissmann should have been disbarred decades ago.

Bastiat , 11 minutes ago link

So who speaks his praises? Kathy Ruemmler, Obama fixer.

Moe Hamhead , 27 minutes ago link

Well that didn't take so long for Mueller. The last time he took a wrong turn he spent five years and many millions of dollars chasing the wrong man. ... in the anthrax case. No conviction there!

This was only three years, and who knows how many tens of millions!

Ban KKiller , 29 minutes ago link

Will Andrew investigate Mueller and Clinton uranium one? Nope, but you knew that.

VonSteever , 30 minutes ago link

Weissman should never have been hired in the first place because of his obvious bias and conflicts of interest. The fact that he was, just makes the partisan "witch hunt" label more accurate.

Moving and Grooving , 20 minutes ago link

He's described as a fearless and effective money-laundering prosecutor. Wasn't money laundering supposed to be the charge that would sink Trump? What happened? Couldn't find any proof? Couldn't coerce some low-level flunky to rat Trump out? Ooh, so sad. I'm taking my ball and going to lick my wounds privately for a little while, but I'll be back!

overmedicatedundersexed , 43 minutes ago link

" including the senior-most FBI agent working the case; David Archey. Archey will head up the FBI's Richmond, VA office."

soon the richmond office will be called the:" FBI HQ in exile .

Catullus , 44 minutes ago link

Weissman's prosecutions of several Enron executives were thrown out by a several judge for gross prosecutorial overreach. Including having several people plea out in crimes that didn't exist. This person should never be near government ever again.

https://m.chron.com/business/enron/article/Supreme-Court-overturns-Arthur-Andersen-s-Enron-1940557.php

Defendants in other Enron cases want this government defeat to spill over and help their cases too. Jeff Skilling 's lawyer, Dan Petrocelli , said all the remaining Enron cases boil down to improper criminalization of business judgements just like the Arthur Andersen case.

"This is a denunciation of the Enron Task Force by the highest court in the land,'' said Petrocelli. "The message is loud and clear -- you can't criminalize innocent conduct.''

DeepThoughts , 53 minutes ago link

Remember, Rep. Devin Nunes sent a letter to new AG William Barr that he has until March 15 "to report out on 'conflicted' Mueller hacks Weissmann and Ahmad". And voila', Weissman departs on March 14. I'm not getting my hopes up about Barr, because one data point doesn't make a trend, but I'm thinking about going long Barr and short Mueller.

DeepThoughts , 50 minutes ago link

Link to an article for those not familiar with topic:
https://thenationalsentinel.com/2019/03/04/nunes-ag-barr-has-until-march-15-to-report-out-on-conflicted-mueller-hacks-weissmann-and-ahmad/

Obamaroid Ointment , 55 minutes ago link

Special Agent Oberführer Müeller's FBI colluded with Whitey Bulger and his Irish Winter Hill Gang vs the Italian Patriarca Mafia family when he was stationed in Boston. Some of the Fibbies under his command even went to prison for being hit men on the side. To keep Whitey from singing in the slammer is why Müeller had him whacked.

[Mar 14, 2019] Neoliberalism: the deep story that lies beneath Donald Trump triumph by George Monbiot

Nov 14, 2016 | www.theguardian.com
The book was The Constitution of Liberty by Frederick Hayek . Its publication, in 1960, marked the transition from an honest, if extreme, philosophy to an outright racket. The philosophy was called neoliberalism . It saw competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. The market would discover a natural hierarchy of winners and losers, creating a more efficient system than could ever be devised through planning or by design. Anything that impeded this process, such as significant tax, regulation, trade union activity or state provision, was counter-productive. Unrestricted entrepreneurs would create the wealth that would trickle down to everyone.

This, at any rate, is how it was originally conceived. But by the time Hayek came to write The Constitution of Liberty, the network of lobbyists and thinkers he had founded was being lavishly funded by multimillionaires who saw the doctrine as a means of defending themselves against democracy. Not every aspect of the neoliberal programme advanced their interests. Hayek, it seems, set out to close the gap.

He begins the book by advancing the narrowest possible conception of liberty: an absence of coercion. He rejects such notions as political freedom, universal rights, human equality and the distribution of wealth, all of which, by restricting the behaviour of the wealthy and powerful, intrude on the absolute freedom from coercion he demands.

Democracy, by contrast, "is not an ultimate or absolute value". In fact, liberty depends on preventing the majority from exercising choice over the direction that politics and society might take.

He justifies this position by creating a heroic narrative of extreme wealth. He conflates the economic elite, spending their money in new ways, with philosophical and scientific pioneers. Just as the political philosopher should be free to think the unthinkable, so the very rich should be free to do the undoable, without constraint by public interest or public opinion.

The ultra rich are "scouts", "experimenting with new styles of living", who blaze the trails that the rest of society will follow. The progress of society depends on the liberty of these "independents" to gain as much money as they want and spend it how they wish. All that is good and useful, therefore, arises from inequality. There should be no connection between merit and reward, no distinction made between earned and unearned income, and no limit to the rents they can charge.

Inherited wealth is more socially useful than earned wealth: "the idle rich", who don't have to work for their money, can devote themselves to influencing "fields of thought and opinion, of tastes and beliefs". Even when they seem to be spending money on nothing but "aimless display", they are in fact acting as society's vanguard.

role="main" itemtype="http://schema.org/NewsArticle" itemscope="" data-test-id="article-root"> Thatcherism and Reaganism were not ideologies in their own right: they were just two faces of neoliberalism. Their massive tax cuts for the rich, crushing of trade unions, reduction in public housing, deregulation, privatisation, outsourcing and competition in public services were all proposed by Hayek and his disciples. But the real triumph of this network was not its capture of the right, but its colonisation of parties that once stood for everything Hayek detested.

Bill Clinton and Tony Blair did not possess a narrative of their own. Rather than develop a new political story, they thought it was sufficient to triangulate . In other words, they extracted a few elements of what their parties had once believed, mixed them with elements of what their opponents believed, and developed from this unlikely combination a "third way".

It was inevitable that the blazing, insurrectionary confidence of neoliberalism would exert a stronger gravitational pull than the dying star of social democracy. Hayek's triumph could be witnessed everywhere from Blair's expansion of the private finance initiative to Clinton's repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act , which had regulated the financial sector. For all his grace and touch, Barack Obama, who didn't possess a narrative either (except "hope"), was slowly reeled in by those who owned the means of persuasion.

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As I warned in April, the result is first disempowerment then disenfranchisement. If the dominant ideology stops governments from changing social outcomes, they can no longer respond to the needs of the electorate. Politics becomes irrelevant to people's lives; debate is reduced to the jabber of a remote elite. The disenfranchised turn instead to a virulent anti-politics in which facts and arguments are replaced by slogans, symbols and sensation. The man who sank Hillary Clinton's bid for the presidency was not Donald Trump. It was her husband.

The paradoxical result is that the backlash against neoliberalism's crushing of political choice has elevated just the kind of man that Hayek worshipped. Trump, who has no coherent politics, is not a classic neoliberal. But he is the perfect representation of Hayek's "independent"; the beneficiary of inherited wealth, unconstrained by common morality, whose gross predilections strike a new path that others may follow. The neoliberal thinktankers are now swarming round this hollow man, this empty vessel waiting to be filled by those who know what they want. The likely result is the demolition of our remaining decencies, -> beginning with the agreement to limit global warming .

Those who tell the stories run the world. Politics has failed through a lack of competing narratives. The key task now is to tell a new story of what it is to be a human in the 21st century. It must be as appealing to some who have voted for Trump and Ukip as it is to the supporters of Clinton, Bernie Sanders or Jeremy Corbyn.

A few of us have been working on this, and can discern what may be the beginning of a story. It's too early to say much yet, but at its core is the recognition that – as modern psychology and neuroscience make abundantly clear – human beings, by comparison with any other animals, are both remarkably social and remarkably unselfish . The atomisation and self-interested behaviour neoliberalism promotes run counter to much of what comprises human nature.

Hayek told us who we are, and he was wrong. Our first step is to reclaim our humanity.

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Hayek softened his opposition to monopolies and hardened his opposition to trade unions. He lambasted progressive taxation and attempts by the state to raise the general welfare of citizens. He insisted that there is "an overwhelming case against a free health service for all" and dismissed the conservation of natural resources. It should come as no surprise to those who follow such matters that he was awarded the Nobel prize for economics .

By the time Thatcher slammed his book on the table, a lively network of thinktanks, lobbyists and academics promoting Hayek's doctrines had been established on both sides of the Atlantic, abundantly financed by some of the world's richest people and businesses , including DuPont, General Electric, the Coors brewing company, Charles Koch, Richard Mellon Scaife, Lawrence Fertig, the William Volker Fund and the Earhart Foundation. Using psychology and linguistics to brilliant effect, the thinkers these people sponsored found the words and arguments required to turn Hayek's anthem to the elite into a plausible political programme.

[Mar 13, 2019] Protests sparked when Richard Grenell, the US ambassador to Germany, warned German companies involved in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with Russia that they could be hit with American economic sanctions

Notable quotes:
"... Everything I understand about German behavior in regards to 3rd parties is totally in lockstep with the US - never mind that Germany has been occupied by the US since WW2 - so why not a scheme to build more Russian dependency on the West? ..."
"... The people who destroyed the USSR are still in power; their whole existence depends on whoring out Russia to the West because that is all they have ever done. They can't not stop because to stop would be an act of self-annihilation. Russian elites, at least a large faction of them, desperately want back into the clubhouse, if they cant get in they will find something else to do until the moment the clubhouse door is opened to them again, and then they will fall all over themselves to get in. ..."
Mar 13, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Only a few weeks ago, German politicians and media were up in arms protesting to the Trump administration for interfering in Berlin's internal affairs. There were even outraged complaints that Washington was seeking "regime change" against Chancellor Angela Merkel's government.

Those protests were sparked when Richard Grenell, the US ambassador to Germany, warned German companies involved in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with Russia that they could be hit with American economic sanctions if they go ahead with the Baltic seabed project.

Earlier, Grenell provoked fury among Berlin's political establishment when he openly gave his backing to opposition party Alternative for Germany. That led to consternation and denunciations of Washington's perceived backing for regime change in Berlin. They were public calls for Grenell to be expelled over his apparent breach of diplomatic protocols.

Now, however, Germany is shamelessly kowtowing to an even more outrageous American regime-change plot against Venezuela.

... ... ...

Perhaps this policy of appeasement is also motivated by Berlin's concern to spare the Nord Stream 2 project from American sanctions. When NS2 is completed later this year, it is reckoned to double the capacity of natural gas consumption by Germany from Russia. That will be crucial for Germany's economic growth.

Another factor is possible blackmail of Berlin by Washington. Recall the earth-shattering revelations made by American whistleblower Edward Snowden a few years back when he disclosed that US intelligence agencies were tapping the personal phone communications of Chancellor Merkel and other senior Berlin politicians. Recall, too, how the German state remarkably acquiesced over what should have been seen as a devastating infringement by Washington.

The weird lack of action by Berlin over that huge violation of its sovereignty by the Americans makes one wonder if the US spies uncovered a treasure trove of blackmail material on German politicians.

Berlin's pathetic kowtowing to Washington's interference in Venezuela begs an ulterior explanation. No self-respecting government could be so hypocritical and duplicitous.

Whatever Berlin may calculate to gain from its unscrupulous bending over for Washington, one thing seems clear, as Russian envoy Nebenzia warned: "One day you are next" for American hegemonic shafting.


Cast Iron Skillet , 6 hours ago link

Well, Merkel is doing a good job of protecting Germany's interests by opposing the U.S. regarding North Stream 2.

The German stand on Venezuela is disappointing, but they might be figuring no skin off their back, since Venezuela is not in Europe, so might as well appease cheeto head.

ComradePuff , 7 hours ago link

I am personally suspicious of Nord Stream 2 and think Russia is making a HUGE mistake. Everything I understand about German behavior in regards to 3rd parties is totally in lockstep with the US - never mind that Germany has been occupied by the US since WW2 - so why not a scheme to build more Russian dependency on the West? The Russians are fools to have built this pipeline - they should be moving away from Europe, not foolishly trying to sew themselves onto it as an appendage. This will come back to bite them on the ***, mark my words.

And this, in a nutshell, is why Russia is always taking one step forward and two back. The people who destroyed the USSR are still in power; their whole existence depends on whoring out Russia to the West because that is all they have ever done. They can't not stop because to stop would be an act of self-annihilation. Russian elites, at least a large faction of them, desperately want back into the clubhouse, if they cant get in they will find something else to do until the moment the clubhouse door is opened to them again, and then they will fall all over themselves to get in.

[Mar 13, 2019] Germany's Über Hypocrisy Over Venezuela by Finian Cunningham

Notable quotes:
"... When Guaido returned to Venezuela on March 4 he was greeted at the airport by several foreign diplomats. Among the receiving dignitaries was Germany's envoy Daniel Kriener. ..."
"... What's more, the explicit backing of Juan Guaido by Germany's envoy was carried out on the "express order" of Foreign Minister Heiko Maas , according to Deutsche Welle. ..."
"... Russia's envoy to the UN Vasily Nebenzia, at a Security Council session last month, excoriated the US for its gross violation of international law with regard to Venezuela. Moscow's diplomat also directed a sharp rebuke at other nations "complicit" in Washington's aggression, saying that one day "you will be next" for similar American subversion in their own affairs. ..."
"... German politicians, diplomats and media were apoplectic in their anger at perceived interference by the US ambassador in Berlin's internal affairs. Yet the German political establishment has no qualms whatsoever about ganging up – only weeks later – with Washington to subvert the politics and constitution of Venezuela. ..."
Mar 13, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Germany has taken the lead among European Union member states to back Washington's regime-change agenda for Venezuela. Berlin's hypocrisy and double-think is quite astounding.

Only a few weeks ago, German politicians and media were up in arms protesting to the Trump administration for interfering in Berlin's internal affairs. There were even outraged complaints that Washington was seeking "regime change" against Chancellor Angela Merkel's government.

Those protests were sparked when Richard Grenell, the US ambassador to Germany, warned German companies involved in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with Russia that they could be hit with American economic sanctions if they go ahead with the Baltic seabed project.

Earlier, Grenell provoked fury among Berlin's political establishment when he openly gave his backing to opposition party Alternative for Germany. That led to consternation and denunciations of Washington's perceived backing for regime change in Berlin. They were public calls for Grenell to be expelled over his apparent breach of diplomatic protocols.

Now, however, Germany is shamelessly kowtowing to an even more outrageous American regime-change plot against Venezuela.

Last week, the government of President Nicolas Maduro ordered the expulsion of German ambassador Daniel Kriener after he greeted the US-backed opposition figure Juan Guaido on a high-profile occasion. Guaido had just returned from a tour of Latin American countries during which he had openly called for the overthrow of the Maduro government. Arguably a legal case could be made for the arrest of Guaido by the Venezuelan authorities on charges of sedition.

When Guaido returned to Venezuela on March 4 he was greeted at the airport by several foreign diplomats. Among the receiving dignitaries was Germany's envoy Daniel Kriener.

The opposition figure had declared himself "interim president" of Venezuela on January 23 and was immediately recognized by Washington and several European Union states. The EU has so far not issued an official endorsement of Guaido over incumbent President Maduro. Italy's objection blocked the EU from adopting a unanimous position.

Nevertheless, as the strongest economy in the 28-member bloc, Germany can be seen as de facto leader of the EU. Its position on Venezuela therefore gives virtual EU gravitas to the geopolitical maneuvering led by Washington towards the South American country.

What's more, the explicit backing of Juan Guaido by Germany's envoy was carried out on the "express order" of Foreign Minister Heiko Maas , according to Deutsche Welle.

"It was my express wish and request that Ambassador Kriener turn out with representatives of other European nations and Latin American ones to meet acting President Guaido at the airport," said Maas.

"We had information that he was supposed to be arrested there. I believe that the presence of various ambassadors helped prevent such an arrest."

It's staggering to comprehend the double-think involved here.

Guaido was hardly known among the vast majority of Venezuelans until he catapulted on to the global stage by declaring himself "interim president". That move was clearly executed in a concerted plan with the Trump White House. European governments and Western media have complacently adopted the White House line that Guaido is the legitimate leader while socialist President Maduro is a "usurper".

That is in spite of the fact that Maduro was re-elected last year in free and fair elections by a huge majority of votes. Guaido's rightwing, pro-business party boycotted the elections. Yet he is anointed by Washington, Berlin and some 50 other states as the legitimate leader.

Russia, China, Turkey, Cuba and most other members of the United Nations have refused to adopt Washington's decree of recognizing Guaido. Those nations (comprising 75 per cent of the UN assembly) continue to recognize President Maduro as the sovereign authority. Indeed, Russia has been highly critical of Washington's blatant interference for regime change in oil-rich Venezuela. Moscow has warned it will not tolerate US military intervention.

Russia's envoy to the UN Vasily Nebenzia, at a Security Council session last month, excoriated the US for its gross violation of international law with regard to Venezuela. Moscow's diplomat also directed a sharp rebuke at other nations "complicit" in Washington's aggression, saying that one day "you will be next" for similar American subversion in their own affairs.

Germany's hypocrisy and double-think is, to paraphrase that country's national anthem, "über alles" (above all else).

German politicians, diplomats and media were apoplectic in their anger at perceived interference by the US ambassador in Berlin's internal affairs. Yet the German political establishment has no qualms whatsoever about ganging up – only weeks later – with Washington to subvert the politics and constitution of Venezuela.

How can Germany be so utterly über servile to Washington and the latter's brazen criminal aggression towards Venezuela?

It seems obvious that Berlin is trying to ingratiate itself with the Trump administration. But what for?

Trump has been pillorying Germany with allegations of "unfair trade" practices. In particular, Washington is recently stepping up its threats to slap punitive tariffs on German auto exports. Given that this is a key sector in the German export-driven economy, it may be gleaned that Berlin is keen to appease Trump. By backing his aggression towards Venezuela?

Perhaps this policy of appeasement is also motivated by Berlin's concern to spare the Nord Stream 2 project from American sanctions. When NS2 is completed later this year, it is reckoned to double the capacity of natural gas consumption by Germany from Russia. That will be crucial for Germany's economic growth.

Another factor is possible blackmail of Berlin by Washington. Recall the earth-shattering revelations made by American whistleblower Edward Snowden a few years back when he disclosed that US intelligence agencies were tapping the personal phone communications of Chancellor Merkel and other senior Berlin politicians. Recall, too, how the German state remarkably acquiesced over what should have been seen as a devastating infringement by Washington.

The weird lack of action by Berlin over that huge violation of its sovereignty by the Americans makes one wonder if the US spies uncovered a treasure trove of blackmail material on German politicians.

Berlin's pathetic kowtowing to Washington's interference in Venezuela begs an ulterior explanation. No self-respecting government could be so hypocritical and duplicitous.

Whatever Berlin may calculate to gain from its unscrupulous bending over for Washington, one thing seems clear, as Russian envoy Nebenzia warned: "One day you are next" for American hegemonic shafting.


cracowMenger , 2 hours ago link

Germany already forgot, how they blew up Yugoslavia.

It was because of German diplomacy plotting and meddling, that Croatia and Slovenia announced their abandonment of federation of Balkan states - which Yugoslavia de facto was.

Another reason for this, was to destroy a forming Hexagonale - an alliance of central and southern european states.

As long as Germany has its imperial resentements, there will be no peace in Europe.

mafuke , 2 hours ago link

The author does not know much about "Germany"!!!

Germany has been defeated, humiliated and made a colony 74 years ago.

Of cause it is not a sovereign country. But anyway it´s government is of cause disgusting.

RioGrandeImports , 2 hours ago link

They want in on the Venezuelan petroleum game if/when regime change happens, obviously. Aruba (controlled by the Dutch) is about 20miles off the coast of Venezuela and and there is a small but significant population of German Venezuelans in Venezuela.

CITGO was was trying to restart the large refinery located in Aruba not long back, haven't heard anything about it lately.

Mike Rotsch , 3 hours ago link

Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation

The Strategic Culture Foundation. A culture of strategy? That sounded interesting. So I dug.

". . . Benefiting from the expanding power of the Internet, we work to spread reliable information, critical thought and progressive ideas ." That explains why I'm seeing socialists defending socialists. What a surprise. Not very critical if you ask me, but definitely "progressive" to the core.

And as for the author, nearly every one of his articles attack the US and its allies. You'd think that if he's writing for the Strategic Culture Foundation, he'd be into critical thought . Meaning, we'd see some minuses and pluses in his work. The fact that we don't, makes him a propagandist, not a journalist. Then again, is there such a thing as a journalist anymore these days ?

I'd like to think so. Yet, when you evaluate someone's work and see little more than the fermenting of hatred and discontent, there has to be a motive. For him, it could be personal, given the amount of passion and conspiracy theory that he puts into his hatred. For his employers, though, the motive seems to be strategic .

Anyway, it's disappointing to find it here at ZH, but I guess the bills must get paid somehow.

Moribundus , 5 hours ago link

Mogherini said on Tuesday in UN:

"Military intervention in Venezuela is totally unacceptable."

She opposed the US and the self-appointed Guaido.

It follows that she had to act not only with the consent of Berlin and Paris, but in their mandate. This suggests that the EU has reassessed the situation and changed its position on President Maduro.

Berlin has come to know that the EU has created an international contact group, including Germany and France. The group is conducting talks with the Venezuelan government and with the opposition, aiming to achieve a peaceful solution to the critical situation in Venezuela, and as the group spokesman said, everything will be done to make the solution democratic.

The unnamed French source claims that Beijing and Moscow are behind the change of Berlin and Paris.

Recriminator , 5 hours ago link

"Hypocrisy" or "getting it right for a change" - that is the question ! Merkel, the putative Conservative, has sold her own people down the river many times in the last few years. She has demonstrated the George W Bush style, over the people in her own Party. And the results are obvious.

Now, after ruining her country both culturally and financially, she makes ONE correct decision. Hardly HYPOCRISY; more like contrition for her ineptitude.

HankPaulson , 6 hours ago link

Look, this is simple - to understand it you only need to know two facts:

1. Politicians are amoral, lying scum.

2. Germany lacks and so is desperate for fossil fuel.

Cast Iron Skillet , 6 hours ago link

Well, Merkel is doing a good job of protecting Germany's interests by opposing the U.S. regarding North Stream 2. The German stand on Venezuela is disappointing, but they might be figuring no skin off their back, since Venezuela is not in Europe, so might as well appease cheeto head.

napper , 6 hours ago link

Three Major Morons in Western Europe: Macron, Merkel, May.

researchfix , 6 hours ago link

Maduro will outlive all these 3 jokers.

DomMagdeburg2002 , 6 hours ago link

Shocking, right? Lol. I could have written this article myself. Just had this conversation with a friend here regarding German hypocriscy. Germany is a true vassal nation run by puppets. Highlights the total lack of coordination at the highest levels of German government. They just can't concieve that anyone is onto their game but it is blatanly obvious to anyone who can chew gum and walk simultaneously. The link to the demographic crisis (and by exstension the coming pension crisis) to the importation of "refugees" is a bit harder for many to see but still plainly obvious if one tries just a little. Truly sad state of affairs in all of Europe only masked over by the ECB. At least for now.

Element , 7 hours ago link

After almost 1 week it seems Venezuela is still around 85% to 90% blacked-out


'We call it survival': Venezuelans improvise solutions as blackout continues

With the crisis in its sixth day, neighbors are sharing generators, contraband supplies and skills for survival

Joe Parkin Daniels and Patricia Torres in Caracas

Tue 12 Mar 2019 18.30 AEDT

Last modified on Wed 13 Mar 2019 03.06 AEDT

People use their mobile phones at the Distribuidor Altamira -main exit of Francisco Fajardo highway- where they can get telephone service during a partial power outage in Caracas on March 9, 2019.

At a street corner in eastern Caracas, Rosa Elena stepped from her car and started picking handfuls of leaves from a modest tree growing at the roadside. "This is neem," she said. "It's high in sugar and great in a tea." Her interest was more than academic: Rosa Elena is diabetic, and when the lights went out in Venezuela last Thursday, she began to worry that the blackout would ruin her insulin supply, which must be kept refrigerated. Since then she has been making rounds of the city, stockpiling neem leaves, which some people believe can be used to control diabetes.

As a crippling blackout drags into a sixth day, Venezuelans are being forced to improvise solutions for a crisis that is affecting every aspect of daily life. Although there is intermittent power in the capital, some neighbourhoods have been in the dark since last week, and schools and businesses will remain closed on Tuesday.

Food has rotted in refrigerators, hospitals have struggled to keep equipment operating, and people gather on street corners to pick up patchy telephone signals.

At Residencias Karina, an apartment complex in the south-eastern municipality of Baruta – the power was still off on Monday evening, and residents had come together to share expertise and survival tactics. One elderly resident has lent his generator to the operation, with cables running up the side of the red-brick building into a flat where neighbours charge their phones. To stop the device overheating or getting rained out, they have fashioned a cover out of cardboard and tarpaulin.

In ordinary times, petrol is practically free in Venezuela, due to government subsidies. But power cuts have put many pumps out of action, and fuel is hard to come by. It is illegal to fill jerry cans at petrol stations, so people are often forced to resort to the black market to obtain fuel for generators. "The government calls it contraband – we call it survival," said Carolina, one resident who preferred not to give her surname for fear of reprisals.

Members of the Bolivarian National Police escort a tanker as they help organize the distribution of drinking water to residents of San Agustin neighbourhood in Caracas on March 11, 2019, while a massive power outage continues affecting parts of the country.

Another neighbour, Pedro Martínez, was once a farmer in the country's vast western plains, and has brought his own unique skillset to the team. "I'm a campesino," he said. "I don't know about phones and I can live without them. But I do know how to salt meat." Martínez has been turning the residents' supplies of beef into jerky, so food supplies can last longer. "The chicken and the fish people had is already rotten," he said.

Late on Sunday night, the housing complex was rocked by a string of explosions after an electrical substation caught fire in circumstances which remain unexplained. "It sounded like a plane taking off," said Carolina, as the stench of burnt