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Neoliberalism as a New, More Dangerous, Form of Corporatism

Neoliberalism = Casino Capitalism = "Transnational elites, Unite!"
(It is a neoTrotskyism with the word "proletarians" substituted by the word "elites"
 in famous "Proletarians of all countries, Unite!" slogan
and "Color revolutions" instead of Communist  "Permanent revolution"  )

Version 6.1

Skepticism and Pseudoscience  > Who Rules America > Neoliberal Brainwashing

News An introduction to Neoliberalism Recommended books Recommended Links Neoliberalism war on organized 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
Media-Military-Industrial Complex Neocons New American Militarism 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
Libertarian Philosophy Media domination strategy Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few YouTube on neoliberalism History of neoliberalism 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]

GB: once a great cultured nation, now a poorly-educated gangster mafia state, ruled by oligarchs and inhabited by soccer hooligans

The Kremlin Stooge

Neoliberalism is a very interesting social system which by-and-large defeated and replaced both New Deal capitalism and socialism (and facilitated the dissolution of the USSR). It is the only social system in which the name of the system is somehow is prohibited by MSM to mention.  It is also unstable social system which led to impoverishment of lower 80% of the society and the rise of far right nationalism. After approximately 40 years of global dominance is shows cracks. Backlash against neoliberal globalization became really strong and demonstrated itself in Brexis, election of Trump is defeat of Italian referendum.

It can be defined 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! ...). Due to the size the introduction was moved to a separate page --  Neoliberalism: an Introduction


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(Research materials to the paper Neoliberalism: an Introduction)

Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2017 Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2016 Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2015 Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2014 Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2013 Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2011 Neoliberalism Bulletin 2009 Neoliberalism Bulletin 2008

[Apr 21, 2017] Tesla burned over one and a half billion in in 2016.

Apr 21, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Sally , April 21, 2017 at 5:02 pm

In almost all sectors now retail, computing, pharmaceuticals, banks, there is a top heavy model where a small group of companies dominate almost every sector. There are various reasons for this, but it is not helped by well meaning politicians interfering in the market through regulation and tax policy, and wage subsidy for certain firms. Walmart gets govt money to subsides the wages it pays its staff. While this is well meaning to improve the lot of the low paid workers it has a knock on effect.

Why should tax payers subsidy Walmart? The money should be coming out of the Walton families fortune. And if they won't pay their workers more money perhaps that may make it easier for mum and pop stores to compete. After all they don't get the same help paying their staff. Walmart may find it more difficult to retain and keep staff. Endless regulations also don't help small business compete. It's well known inside the belt way and in the EU that the big boys like regulations, and often lobby behind the scenes to help make it hard for their smaller competitors.

And then we come to the biggest interference of all. The federal reserve, and the ECB and the ability to crate endless amounts of free money for the elites. How do you think these companies are able to stay afloat for years as investors throw endless amounts of money at these companies even though they are not making much profit? Amazon has returned very poor amounts back to share holders, and its owner's greatest skill has been to keep convincing his shareholders to keep piling more and more freshly printed fiat into keeping the company going. All this endless free money also encourages endless merges and acquisitions which reduces competition for the customer. No so easy to take over your competitors if you have to actually have the money to buy them out.

A great example of this crazy market is the car company Tesla. The Company burned over $1.5 billion in in 2016. This was provided by cheap credit and equity markets which ponied over a net $2.7 billion to the Company in 2016. In addition Telsa was given huge tax advantages for the first 200,000 vehicles. In effect Telsa's sales are being subsided by the U.S. Tax payer. The company also operates a buyback scheme where it guarantees the resale value on its sales up to 2016. That could be a liability of some $2-3 billion in the future. Comically Wall Street values Telsa at $5 billion more than Ford. Yet Ford sold 2.5million cars last year compared to Telsa's 79 thousand. Now obviously investors are betting on new technology eventually coming good, and replacing the oil fired engine. But without all the smoke and mirrors of funny money this could not continue for very long.

[Apr 21, 2017] The Amazon.com Effect: Retailers Say They're Not Selling, but Consumers Report They Are Buying

Notable quotes:
"... By New Deal Democrat. Originally published at Angry Bear ..."
"... Is Amazon doing something illegal or immoral ..."
Apr 21, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Posted on April 21, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. An interesting theory. Readers?

By New Deal Democrat. Originally published at Angry Bear

This was originally one post but I think it works better divided into two parts.

One of the issues I keep reading about recently is the (alleged) divergence between "soft" and "hard" data. For example, consumer sentiment as measured by the University of Michigan (and the Conference Board, and Gallup) has been making new highs since the Presidential election last November (according to Gallup, mainly fueled by a massive gain in optimism among Republicans). while "hard data," chiefly industrial production but also including consumer spending, has failed to follow suit.

One problem with this thesis has been that manufacturing as measured by the industrial production index, turned up for five months in a row. It turned down in March, and one good measure of how intellectually honest the commentator is, is whether they have been using a consistent measure for industrial production:

Production as a whole only fell in January and February because of utility production (warm winter in the eastern half of the US). In March, production only rose because utility production rebounded sharply (March was actually colder than February in much of the East).

So a Doomer who was all over the decline in industrial production for the last two months should be touting its advance in March. If the Doomer backs out utilities this month, take a look to see if they did the same thing last month - almost certainly not.
Another problem with the soft/nard data dichotomy is that online retail appears to have reached a tipping point where it is causing big damage to brick-and-mortar retailers, who are laying off thousands of employees and even shutting down completely.

I am concerned that the official real retail sales numbers might not be adequately picking up online retail:

But here is Amazon.com's sales numbers for 2016 vs. 2015:

And here is the number that really jumps out - Gallup's consumer spending, here measured for the last two years:

Pay attention to that $100 line. Except for Christmas seaon 2015, that line wasn't breached at all in the 14 day average until December 2016. And spending has remained above that $100 line all during February, March, and April so far. Most often for the last 10 weeks, this measure has been up over 10% YoY. Now, before you criticize Gallup's measure, it earned its bones in 2011 at the time of the Debt Ceiling Debacle, when it was the only measure that accurately reported that consumers hadn't stopped spending.

So if retailers are reporting poor sales, but consumers are telling people that they are spending 10% this year vs. last year, then we have to wonder if the official measures aren't catching the full extent of the big secular increase in online sales.

0 0 0 0 0 This entry was posted in Dubious statistics , Economic fundamentals , Guest Post on April 21, 2017 by Yves Smith .
Trade now with TradeStation – Highest rated for frequent traders
Subscribe to Post Comments 79 comments Fiery Hunt , April 21, 2017 at 1:24 am

So, online aren't the only "retail" sales that might account for a missing 10% spending Yoy

There's the grey/black market of used/reuse goods not picked up by standard production surveys but seen in spending reports by consumers.

And there's always full black market where sales are for cash and never put on the books. As a small business owner, I can't count the requests for "no receipt" cash discounts.

I have no doubt c-suites has figured out how to hide today's sales in tomorrow's books if it suits their story
Same as inflating expenses for their taxes

different clue , April 21, 2017 at 1:47 am

Unfortunately most people don't read Naked Capitalism or anything else that offers a cautionary view of the long-term "black-hole" effect that an unrestrained Amazon will have on every Brick and Mortar store within its "reach".

Will that small minority of people who DO read such material and who DO think about it be enough to save some Brick and Mortar stores from extinction if they make Amazon their "store of very last resort" and Walmart their "store of very second-to-last resort"? Perhaps that small minority of people may have to start discovering which B&M stores are still somewhat surviving after some more years of Amazon's black-hole suction, and patronize the most nearly survivable ones so as to maximise their survival chances. A sort of retail-triage, if you will, performed by politically motivated and committed customers to focus their B&M customer dollars on those B&M stores which have the greatest chance of being saved.

Doctor Duck , April 21, 2017 at 8:24 am

I do deplore the hollowing out of local downtowns, but that was happening long before Amazon. First it was shopping malls, then Walmart, now Amazon. It really sounds like a classic capitalist progression. Is there a defect in capitalism we can fix to bring back mom & pop? Should that be our goal?

Why should individual consumers be so "woke" as to shun Amazon in favor of brick retailers if Amazon offers superior price, convenience, selection and service? Isn't it the role of the traditional retailer to counter in at least one of those areas? Is Amazon doing something illegal or immoral? If not then the perceived problem is systemic, and asking consumers to give up advantages to save Sears or even Maude's Dress Shop is irrational and doomed to fail in the long run.

Moneta , April 21, 2017 at 8:44 am

One of the problems is overpriced real estate.

Another one is that it is much easier to raise money for new builds and new infra than for renovations and maintenance.

financial matters , April 21, 2017 at 8:49 am

It seems like something that would help would be a job guarantee at a living wage. This would help the gig economy overall by giving job seekers a choice and forcing employers to ante up to their workforce instead of corporate salaries and shareholders.

Corbin Dallas , April 21, 2017 at 9:48 am

Are you seriously asking if Amazon does anything illegal or immoral? You must not read NC at all:

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/10/matt-stoller-need-break-amazon.html

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/03/will-amazon-destroy-us-jobs-china.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/brutal-conditions-in-amazons-warehouses-2013-8

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/dec/11/amazon-accused-of-intolerable-conditions-at-scottish-warehouse

TLDR amazon is absolutely horrible and the only way its more convenient and better for you, the customer, is that it externalizes every single risk and danger onto its employees and the public. I wonder if you were just trolling.

Vatch , April 21, 2017 at 11:46 am

Thanks. I saw that comment, and I was going to reply, but first I scrolled down, and saw that you provided more information than I would have. Well Done! Amazon.com is a genuinely evil organization - most of the employees are victims, of course, but the people at the top are sociopaths.

John k , April 21, 2017 at 1:01 pm

Amazon Sales are growing rapidly because so many people, including me, find the experience of clicking on line, particularly with product reviews, much better than searching through stores. I hate shopping and malls.

My cousin travels the country in his Rv as a nomad and loves it. During holiday season he works at amazon, makes enough to supplement retirement.

Taking advantage of the ongoing recession to squeeze workers is what most employers are doing these days, amazon no different. The problem is not what workers do but how little they're paid, this on account of both parties working diligently to suppress wages for half a century.

We need more gov spending, especially infra, better gov stats, better trade deals, uni health care, less foreign wars, etc, all things both parties will never, ever provide because the elite are so well paid to not provide them. And they know if they ever reverse course they will no longer be among the elite.

Vatch , April 21, 2017 at 2:17 pm

No, at Amazon, the problem is worse than low wages, which is a problem at a wide variety of companies. People at Amazon are treated like throwaway trash by the company; the conditions in Amazon warehouses are abysmal. Read the third and fourth links that Corbin Dallas provided, and you'll see what I am referring to. A web search will reveal more articles about this. Use this for your search (with no quote marks):

amazon warehouse working conditions

It doesn't matter how convenient Amazon may be, shopping there, unless done as an absolute last resort, is morally wrong.

Moneta , April 21, 2017 at 3:30 pm

It's not like it is easy to compare the ethics of companies when I buy a product. On top of becoming an expert in asset management and health care, I now have to analyze all companies when I buy my tube of toothpaste?

jrs , April 21, 2017 at 3:56 pm

and then Amazon is just a retailer, not even the manufacturer, whose ethics you then need to evaluate. How is the product itself actually made? Some people don't like the retailer Whole Foods for instance for various reasons, but a lot of the products it carries ARE made by fairly ethical companies (maybe less so if it goes for the cheap, we'll see).

If you shop at Amazon and get a product that is more ethically sourced than that which is at the Big Box is it more or less ethical than buying something at the Big Box staffed with employees, but made with slave labor?

The root problem with service jobs is of course is capitalism plus lack of worker bargaining power.

sunny129 , April 21, 2017 at 4:01 pm

The abuse of Workers was/is going on, before Amazon came into existence. It started with globalization, global labor arbitrage and will get after robotics!

Now it is happening right at the door step in 'home town', and all the complaints, NOW!

We are under 'Our State-Corporate Plantation Economy'

http://www.oftwominds.com/blogapr17/corp-plantation4-17.html

jrs , April 21, 2017 at 5:18 pm

it started long before globalization, why there was a labor movement in the first place.

Vatch , April 21, 2017 at 4:54 pm

Of course we can't take the time to evaluate the ethics of every company from whom we might purchase products or services. But if we know for certain that a company is severely abusive, and there are reasonable alternatives, then we have an obligation to choose one of the alternatives. We know that Amazon.com is an abusive and harmful company, so that should settle it.

Rhondda , April 21, 2017 at 5:26 pm

Well, I'm just gonna say it: my sister works for Amazon as a picker/packer. She sincerely likes it better than anywhere else she has worked since she turned 50 and suddenly lost her 20-year "knowledge worker" job. They work your butt off but she says they listen, they are fair and they pay quite a bit better than anything else she was offered. She also got health insurance from day one.

tegnost , April 21, 2017 at 10:55 am

Is Amazon doing something illegal or immoral
was not most of amazons profit for many years due to not paying sales tax that brick and mortar cannot avoid?

grayslady , April 21, 2017 at 1:44 pm

Not just Amazon. I recently had to order some repair parts for my pressure cooker. I could either order the parts from the manufacturer (probably licensed to do business in all states–ergo sales tax), or I could order the parts from an authorized distributor in Nebraska, a company that is only licensed in Nebraska. I chose the Nebraska company due to no sales tax. The transportation costs would have been the same in either case.

Susan the other , April 21, 2017 at 11:12 am

There was the opposite trend too. Before all those rows of retail stores on Main Street there was the Sears catalog. In most towns the catalog preceded the store. So we are just going back to basics maybe.

Paul Greenwood , April 21, 2017 at 11:34 am

Downtown shopping was supplanted by out-of-town malls. Homogenisation of retail squeezed out diversity and owner-managed outlets. Use of scanners to restrict stock to fast-moving items reduced choice and casual shopping. Once you have to buy what's available you start to focus on availability and it is always better online.

Cost of Search is key. Also, with so much being produced by the same contractor for retail outlets quality has gone downhill. You know they use cheap components in expensive presentation and that clothes are cut cheaply and sewn poorly and wash badly and are bought by container load on the basis that 70% will be junked and the 30% must be over-priced to yield margin

jrs , April 21, 2017 at 12:09 pm

"Once you have to buy what's available you start to focus on availability and it is always better online."

+1

but it's somewhat offset by inability to see things in person (really more important for clothes but useful for other things as well)

different clue , April 21, 2017 at 3:15 pm

You raise some interesting questions.

The simplest one to answer is that , yes, Amazon is doing many immoral things. I don't know about illegal.

And yes, part of this is capitalist retrogression and de-evolution in action. The problem was solved decades ago with the passage and ferocious enforcement of anti-trust laws. Then the trust-builders 2.0 bought and paid for government personnel who would stand down anti-trust enforcement and set capitalism free to resume its downward de-evolution.

So purging and burning the pro-trust/ pro-monopoly bad-actor facilitators out of government and the restoration of ferocious anti-trust enforcement would solve some of these problems.

Meanwhile, avoiding the Sucking Black Amazon Hole is not a matter of "wokeness". it is a matter of people understanding that if they exterminate enough jobs where they live, that eventually their own jobs will be among the exterminated. And Amazon is a mass jobicide machine. Those people who want to help Amazon put hundreds of thousands of people out of work certainly deserve to lose their own jobs, lose their own money, starve to death, and die. And maybe that is what will happen. Darwin 101. It is not a matter of "wokeness". It is a matter of "non-stupidness". Stupid people buy from Amazon.

sunny129 , April 21, 2017 at 4:08 pm

Same thing can be said about buying products from any where made in abroad! Why point at Amazon only?

Whether morally right or wrong, the American Labor wages NOT competitive enough foreihn companies, went DOWN once the globalization began!

As I have been saying ' The capital is MOBILE and can go anywhere in the World where as the Labo is NOT!' How can you rectify this and by what measures?

Bob B. , April 21, 2017 at 5:03 pm

I only used to shop Amazon when I needed something I could not buy locally. Price was a small issue. But recently, my favorite haunts (HomeDepot, Lowes, Walmart, etc) are no longer selling things I used to routinely buy there. So I am slowly turning to Amazon for more and more things for only one reason, they have it in stock. I recently tried to buy a couple of replacement sunglasses that were originally purchased at BJ's. I wanted the same item because it fit nicely over my prescription lenses. They told me they no longer carried them. When local stores cut back on inventory to save money, and buyers go elsewhere, they have only themselves to blame.

Moneta , April 21, 2017 at 8:56 am

Even if I read NC, if the exact same commoditized product is sold at different places, I will usually buy where it is cheapest. Why would I pay more when chances are the top managers or some middlemen get more loot without adding any social value.

I will pay more when the product or service is better or it obviously helps the local economy.

oh , April 21, 2017 at 9:22 am

With most products being made in China, I don't see why one would buy but the cheapest. Big on line retailers make out like bandits and locals are being hung out to dry. I try to buy local as much as possible. On line purchases only help the shipping companies and more shipping worsens the warming of the planet.

jrs , April 21, 2017 at 12:10 pm

only Amazon is NOT the cheapest anymore, that was a short term plan to get a monopoly and now they have that. So costs and shipping are going up, up, up. But what online retail in general (including but not restricted to Amazon) has that B&M doesn't is wider selection.

jrs , April 21, 2017 at 12:04 pm

does it require me to buy cheap Chinese junk?

PlutoniumKun , April 21, 2017 at 3:48 am

Just a thought, but could the stronger dollar be leading to people buying more online from outside the US? I know UK online retailers have been reporting booming sales as foreign customers seek to take advantage of the weakening pound sterling.

Paul Greenwood , April 21, 2017 at 11:36 am

Once I bought something Made in China from a US supplier – stupid really – I paid import duties. Had I bought direct from Hong Kong it would have been duty free

Anon , April 21, 2017 at 4:49 pm

but, it would take 3 weeks to get to you.

skippy , April 21, 2017 at 5:04 am

How many match sticks did the girl sell in the market too day . oops orders of magnitude and the books resemble spaghettification

disheveled . what are we measuring again – ????

Carla , April 21, 2017 at 6:47 am

From the post: "This was originally one post but I think it works better divided into two parts."

So, are we going to get the 2nd part?

rjs , April 21, 2017 at 10:31 am

here: http://angrybearblog.com/2017/04/real-wages-and-spending-i-dont-think-consumers-will-roll-over-that-easily-part-2.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=real-wages-and-spending-i-dont-think-consumers-will-roll-over-that-easily-part-2

scott , April 21, 2017 at 7:00 am

I always wondered if local swap groups have had an impact – facebook makes it easy to build up a community oriented group and the costs of used, but decent quality stuff is often lower than new crap.

Moneta , April 21, 2017 at 7:03 am

In my neck of the woods, Ottawa, I have to say that with the emergence of big box mall strips, older malls lose tenants and become increasingly unattractive. New stores = fast fashion for teens.

The specialty stores seem to be spread out across the 60km city looking for cheap rents typically located in decaying sites . that's what happens when there is a bubble in real estate vs. the real economy.

As for the big box mall strips, the experience is incredibly unpleasant:
-Stores too big with lack of choice (go figure!)
-Dismal landscaping with skimpy shrubs = depressing display of overwhelming amount of cement and asphalt.
-Lack of sidewalks = need to hop in car to get from one store to the other.
-Huge parking with lack of exits = congestion and driver impatience.
-Restaurant terraces with a view of cars, cement, asphalt and traffic noise.

If the whole shopping experience has become commoditized, why not just order on line?

Chauncey Gardiner , April 21, 2017 at 10:52 am

Agree with your observations about shopping in malls and big box retailers, Moneta, and that it is generally an experience to be temporarily tolerated as infrequently as possible. In addition to your suggestions regarding typically sterile retail environments, would only add that casual seating and coffee spaces might help; i.e., places to meet and converse. Given economic trends, perhaps we should also be thinking about converting these retail spaces to alternative uses: schools, apartments, professional offices, light manufacturing, etc.; or simply converting them back to green spaces.

What is so appealing about the pedestrian access, small shops retail environments in other countries?

Moneta , April 21, 2017 at 11:21 am

Since physical health depends on moving throughout the entire day, not just for half an hour after supper, my goal is to incorporate movement in my daily life so I don't have to join a gym.

Mental health depends on beauty and quality
interactions. So I try to avoid soulless areas with too much cement and asphalt that lead to empty human contact.

If I must get in a car to get my crap as cheap as possible and look at decrepit infra or too much cement and asphalt, and suffer road rage, this means that dollars gained to get crap as cheap as possible ends up taxing my physical and mental health plus robs me of my time.

I bike a lot and most malls are not cyclist friendly. But I'm stuck in a car centric society where too many are married to their car, thinking it gives them freedom when in reality it is the root source of their misery.

Fiery Hunt , April 21, 2017 at 2:13 pm

Sorry but

I love my truck. 257,000 miles and still going strong!

Susan the other , April 21, 2017 at 11:24 am

I had a neighbor about 10 years ago who developed strip malls in Arizona and Nevada. After the financial crisis modified a little we asked him how business was, anything new? And he replied that they weren't doing malls these days because there weren't enough roofs. Meaning suburbia had stopped building houses. Which, according to some statistics is still the case; most new construction is multi-family construction. Probably fewer cars and less money.

Enquiring Mind , April 21, 2017 at 12:57 pm

Some lenders I know have cut back on retail CRE lending due to the Amazon and online shopping effects. That will mean more store vacancies, tenant and borrower delinquencies and foreclosures with some eventual re-purposing of former retail sites to other uses. That is often a euphemism for 'who can we get to fog up a mirror and occupy our building' along the lines of store-front churches, karate studios and similar low-investment uses. No need to re-fit the space when they just need open floors to do their thing. That ripples through the construction and other support functions, in a reverse multiplier effect on the local economy. Expect more boarded-up storefronts and vacant malls for a while.

fajensen , April 21, 2017 at 7:45 am

Hmm. Who are these " .. consumers are telling people .. " persons? How many are they? How are they acquired? Are polls even relevant today?

I am not telling anyone anything, I don't know anyone who does – the pollsters, robo-dialers and scammers are only allowed to cold-call people on fixed-line phones here which is partly why the telephone socket is left empty. There is nothing in there that anyone wants or needs. Mobile or IP telephony is where most people are reached today.

The people who get these calls on their mobiles only do so because they (or the person holding the number before) signed up for some scam competition where they "allow to receive partner offers " and how representative is that?

I would not rule out that some polling agencies are cutting corners on the methodologies to still remain in business. Another source of error is that most of the front-line staff are student in call centres where working conditions are "zero fucks given, none taken", they have to complete a certain number of calls to be paid. So, they will do exactly that – get paid – regardless of the intermediate steps that was assumed.

ocop , April 21, 2017 at 8:07 am

If this is the case then in theory the effect could be captured by weighing Amazon differently​ in the sample used to come up with the (apparently not so) "hard data"? I'm not familiar with the measures.

Unskew the polls, so to speak har har har

chris , April 21, 2017 at 8:40 am

One as comment is that amazon is not just a retailer. They derive a large amount of revenue and profits from Web services, which are declining now as competition increases and margins are squeezed.

Paul Greenwood , April 21, 2017 at 11:40 am

Amazon has no real competition and that is ridiculous. How did catalogue companies get sidelined ? How did Amazon become a category-killer ? Were other retail businesses asleep ?

You hear about Rakuten but it goes nowhere. There are so few businesses that can make Websites as fluid as Amazon or operate their own payments system. I prefer Amazon Marketplace to EBay and I know many Sellers do too.

Harris , April 21, 2017 at 12:53 pm

Its amazing how terrible some of the other sites are to navigate.

I've thought that if Jack Ma could hire some decent web designers, he could beat Amazon on price by shipping direct from China.

John k , April 21, 2017 at 1:12 pm

I bought a pair of binoculars, made in china, from amazon for 158. Also was offered same product, on same site, at about 100 direct from china. Wondered if amazon makes the same no matter which I pick? Selected the more expensive option, not really sure why.
Anyway, maybe jack is too late, direct shopping from china already on offer.

BruceNY , April 21, 2017 at 8:42 am

Gallup appears to measure all consumer spending except "household bills" (utilities?) and car and home purchases. If that is the case, I assume my daily rail commuter pass increase is included in "consumer spending", as is: increases in healthcare premiums, recent upswing in gasoline prices, uber fares, airline travel/hotels, mobile phone data plans, guitar lessons for the kids, etc etc. It may even include groceris, where the trend is toward more expensive organic.

Given that real wages are flat, new house construction is flat (and thus related furniture/appliance spending is probably flat), and Millenials supposedly prefer to own less stuff and spend more on "experience", it stands to reason that retail is in such decline. Amazon and other online retailers will inevitably capture that market because of convenience/speed/selection (time has monetary value).

Jim Haygood , April 21, 2017 at 9:52 am

I am concerned that the official real retail sales numbers might not be adequately picking up online retail.

EVEN IF online retail sales are being short counted, the BEA's Retail and Food Services Sales series has advanced a healthy 5.2% in the trailing 12 months. These are nominal values. Chart:

http://tinyurl.com/kk53tqo

FRED, the economic data service at the St Louis Fed, adjusts the series for inflation using CPI, to produce a derived series titled Real Retail and Food Services Sales (RRSFS). It advanced 2.7% over the past 12 months.

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/RRSFS

Usually recessions occur when RRSFS falls near or below zero in the trailing 12 months. That's happened only once since the 2008-9 recession ended - in Jan 2014. But RRSFS bounced back in Feb 2014, and remains nowhere near recession levels, whether it's properly picking up online sales or not.

John k , April 21, 2017 at 1:18 pm

But, as mosler reports, total bank loan growth has fallen hard over past three years, looks to be not enough to counter world wide dollar savings given low, albeit growing, fiscal deficit.

debitor serf , April 21, 2017 at 9:38 am

Amazon is my retailer of last resort these days specifically because I dislike Billionaire Bezos and I don't want to give him any money. 99% of the time I will research a product on Amazon and then head over to the brand's website and purchase directly from them. It's nearly always the same price and they usually provide free shipping too. This way Bezos personally doesn't get his few pennies from every online purchase I make.

Vatch , April 21, 2017 at 12:23 pm

Good for you! I've done something similar. I have a family member with two small children, and she posts want lists for them on Amazon. When it's time to buy birthday or Christmas presents, I look at the lists on Amazon, and then I buy the gifts at a brick & mortar store. The B&M is rarely a mom & pop store, but at least it has local employees.

oho , April 21, 2017 at 9:45 am

in addition to above..

(a) Are Goodwill and resale shops sales included in retailer data? Goodwills literally are everywhere in my area (12+ locations)-whereas 10/20 years ago, I never recall seeing a retail Goodwill store.

(b) People are lying (or mis-remembering) to Gallup? Dove-tails nicely w/that article about melancholia from yesterday.

Jim Haygood , April 21, 2017 at 9:58 am

Goodwill charges sales tax, yes? States are quite efficient at monitoring sales tax revenues, since they need the money.

Amazon has started charging sales tax on most orders that it ships itself. An exception is private sellers out-of-state, who usually don't charge sales tax to Amazon buyers.

Possibly Amazon and some other online retailers casting a wider sales tax net has boosted retail sales data recently, as it becomes more comprehensive in scope.

jrs , April 21, 2017 at 12:20 pm

Yes Goodwill charges sales tax at least in California, I do think some states are more lax about sales tax at thrifts though, but they collect around here.

Anon , April 21, 2017 at 5:02 pm

Stop the Lies!

Goodwill does NOT charge sales tax in California!!

Nor does my local non-profit, Alpha Thrift Store. I have a thrift store affliction that causes me to visit them irregularly (about once every 10 days or so). There is no county in California, that I know of, that requires non-profit thrift store to charge sales tax.

grayslady , April 21, 2017 at 10:14 am

In addition to Goodwill, what about eBay? If I should need something, I often look first on eBay for a lightly used item or older stock that is still brand new.

HotFlash , April 21, 2017 at 10:38 am

And Craigslist, kijiji and even Freecycle.

SoCal Rhino , April 21, 2017 at 10:56 am

I'm old enough to remember department stores on Main Street and the destruction brought by new highways and malls (the latter required the former). Now there is nostalgia for malls. Makes me pause to consider what is coming that will prompt nostalgia for Amazon and Walmart. What slouching beast will be setting up shop?

Walmart aside (Mrs. Rhino viscerally hates them), I agree it makes sense to shop by cost for products manufactured in China, but always happy to seek out locally crafted products.

Paul Greenwood , April 21, 2017 at 11:42 am

Malls were always soulless compared to department stores with a culture from restaurant to hardware. Much more interesting than a mall.

Enquiring Mind , April 21, 2017 at 1:05 pm

Malls also spawned the caricatured Mall Rat. Kids look for inviting spaces to hang out (free to roam around, maybe some cheap food, semblance of security) and malls filled that purpose as Main Streets declined. As malls decline, there is a void in the lives of kids looking for some human contact when they tire of staring at little screens. Atomization of life continues apace, with the prospects of virtual reality and multi-user domains not filling very well that type of void.

Art Eclectic , April 21, 2017 at 11:58 am

If brick and mortar retail is suffering it's because it's Crap and Amazon offers a functional alternative.

I went shopping yesterday. Stopped at Bed Bath and Beyond to look at a salt and pepper shaker set I had seen online and wanted an in-person look to assess quality. Product not on the
Shelf at the store.

Went to Home Depot with a list of
3 items. Walked out the door with 1 item.

Brick and mortar retail is dying because it's an inefficient business model in a digital world. In order to maximize efficiency the stores only carry the most popular items that they know they can sell. Carrying a comprehensive inventory across a large number of stores is inefficient for them. The model only worked when customers had no alternative warehouse to shop at. Brick and mortar simply cannot compete with the inventory depth of online.

jrs , April 21, 2017 at 12:27 pm

+1000

And that's exactly why people shop online: stores like Bed Bath and Beyond, that's the whole story right there. All cheap Chinese crap all the time (occasionally I get something there, once in a while it's not even Chinese, even made in the U.S.A.! But that is the exception).

Jim Haygood , April 21, 2017 at 12:45 pm

Brick and mortar simply cannot compete with the inventory depth of online.

Exactly. Some online lighting retailers carry over 6,000 different fixtures. No way this many could be stocked locally, even in a large city.

Meanwhile, go into a brick-and-mortar supermarket or drugstore or hardware store, and observe the crapification produced by useless product differentiation. Everything from coffee to vitamins to NSAIDs to thread locking compound now comes in a dozen different flavors, colors, package sizes and grades, forcing the consumer to spend 5 or 10 minutes in front of a retail display sorting out which one to choose.

Often vital specifications are not printed on the external package, whereas they are easily accessible online, along with user reviews and explanations.

Such wasted time in a store is better spent in one's own living room, than in a commercial venue with noxious muzak playing, as they try to scan your face, your irises, your chip card and your phone for psychographic data.

pricklyone , April 21, 2017 at 2:07 pm

Per your last paragraph, Jim. Sure, do it online where they already know your "data" cause you gave it to them,freely.
I pay cash, for as long as it lasts.

pricklyone , April 21, 2017 at 1:43 pm

Art Eclectic, stopping at a retail store to "assess quality", and then shopping price online is one of the major reasons you are not finding what you want at the store. Indeed, brick and mortar cannot stay in business if they are an unpaid showroom for online retailers! So, when they go out of business, and all shopping is online, where will you go to "assess quality"? You will pay to ship one item to you, and try it, and pay again to return it if unsuitable? I would submit that to be the Inefficient business model, not the retailer.
Not to single you out, of course, we all do it. But the alternative isn't really an alternative, it will involve buying everything sight unseen. Just sayin' (as the kids say).

Moneta , April 21, 2017 at 3:42 pm

They carry so little inventory that everything becomes special order at a premium price then I prefer spending those extra dollars in the specialized
store or shopping online.

justanotherprogressive , April 21, 2017 at 11:59 am

I too mourn the loss of Main Street and all those small businesses where the clerks knew who you were and were friendly and were most likely your neighbors. But loss of the malls? Shopping in overprices stores with untrained or snotty clerks? No I don't mourn the loss of them. I figure it's just karma .

jrs , April 21, 2017 at 12:32 pm

Shopping in malls only make sense if you want the whole day shopping experience, well maybe if you are a particularly materialistic 14 year old girl.

But if your not who wants to spend all day going to dozens of stores? Is this anyone's idea of a fun way to spend one's minimal leisure time? What would be nice is to go to a store, find what you need and hopefully it's not junk that will fall apart quickly, buy it and get out.

Harris , April 21, 2017 at 12:59 pm

I still know people who spend the entire week shopping. They have a routine of certain stores they visit on certain days.

They are very much a dying breed.

pricklyone , April 21, 2017 at 1:26 pm

Is there some separate pool of labor used for mall stores? Those "snotty,untrained" clerks are drawn from the ranks of your neighbors, as before, just without any pretense of job security or fair wage.
Overpriced? You bet! Malls are hugely expensive use of real estate, basically climate controlling an entire shopping district, in brand new buildings, purpose-built, on property which becomes more pricey as more retail moves into the area. A self licking cone of a sort. When a company prefers to hire 4 clerks at 10 hrs. per week, rather than 1 clerk at fulltime, how are they to become well trained?
I have family who have bought into the Amazon " sticky button" paradigm, who are paying triple the price I pay for things like laundry detergent, trash bags,paper towels, and such. Not to mention the insanity of all those trucks delivering one or two items at a time. Cheaper? Not from where I sit.
There will never be a scenario in which shipping one or two items at time, all over the world, is cheaper than consolidation of shipments to central locations (retail stores). Somewhere, someone is subsidizing your convenience.

neo-realist , April 21, 2017 at 1:31 pm

As a person of color, I don't miss being watched like a criminal suspect when browsing goods ( and I tend to do it rather deliberately), or being nagged multiple times for help as if they wanted you to desperately buy something rather than steal it.

However, the unobtrusive girl watching wasn't bad.

Jay , April 21, 2017 at 11:59 am

I think online sales are increasing and brick-and-mortar sales are decreasing for a number of reasons. Retailers have adopted many managing mantras, including Just-in-Time inventories tied to global supply chains, resulting in smaller inventories or inventory disruptions. Much of the inventory they do sell has built-in obsolescence (aka "crappification") as compared to older equipment. And retailers have a major handicap in that all real estate was essentially propped up by the Federal Reserve, in order to keep the banks running, which essentially acts as higher overhead to rent or buy retail space, which is reflected in consumer prices. Many retailers also appear to have a less-diverse inventory because they have identified and dropped certain low-selling items.

The advent of the internet has also created a major shift not only in consumer behavior that hurts brick-and-mortar retailers, but in how we gather useful information, which also affects consumer behavior, as I'll describe below.

So how do these trends manifest as a consumer experience? You go to a retailer to buy something, but they don't have it because they just sold the last item because of low inventory. Online retailer to the rescue! Or the model they have is poorly made, and the customer balks at the novelty of inexpensive crap that breaks after one use. Online retailer to the rescue! Or the retailer has overestimated the importance of convenience and has priced their goods (un)accordingly: Witness Radio Shack's $20 RCA stereo hookup wires to connect, say, a CD player to a stereo receiver–probably 99 cents on Amazon or even less from a Hong Kong supplier on eBay. Or the price of the item is substantially higher than what is online because we all have to pay the hidden tax to big banks that the government orchestrated due to inflated real estate prices. Online retailer to the rescue!

Another phenomenon is useful information on the internet. Whereas if your washing machine clunked out in 1990, you could pay a repair person as much to fix it as it would cost to buy a new washing machine. Now you can go on YouTube and find out how to fix it, buy the parts at a local appliance repair part center (alternatively, Online Retailer to the Rescue!) and have it running for $20-$40. There are all sorts of examples of this; a lot of people find or buy good-quality used equipment secondhand, from a thrift shop, or eBay, replace a bearing or a belt, and enjoy a longer-lasting and better-made kitchen mixer/drill press/desk fan/stereo or whatever. I'm not sure this is tracked accurately in any meaningful way; it's not illicit "black market" or even really "gray market," but there's no way to account for this trade other than in parts I suppose. The phenomenon is also related to the "hacker/maker" community. This has not applied yet as much to technology, but given the current processor speeds, I see no reason why it shouldn't.

At any rate most of these instances completely bypass brick-and-mortar retailers.

tongorad , April 21, 2017 at 12:02 pm

How much does a vibrant small business/mom-and-pop environment depend on robust public transportation? At least from an end user/psychological perspective?

I can cross clogged roads that lead to dismal parking lots and grim strip mall/big box stores, or simply shop from my home and avoid the misery that is retail shopping in a sprawling suburban setting.
It doesn't make sense at all from a solidarity perspective, but retail shopping is a major tax on my time and well being.
I would love to live in a walkable city.

JimTan , April 21, 2017 at 12:26 pm

Retailers losing revenue because they are losing market share, and Amazon ( with Zara & H&M ) increasing revenues because they are gaining market share are opposite sides of the same equation which does not tell you the change in consumer spending. Netting the revenue gains of Amazon, Inditex/Zara, H&M ( and other market share gainers ), against the revenue losses of all the other retailers will give a clearer picture if revenue share is being transferred in a growing or declining retail market.

ChrisAtRU , April 21, 2017 at 1:00 pm

This video from L2Inc's Professor Scott Galloway has been making the rounds. Just short of 25 minutes, but well worth the view IMO.

cnchal , April 21, 2017 at 5:44 pm

A trillion dollar company, because it's the new paradigm. No profits is better than profits.

Agree. He says interesting things about brand destruction and wrecking the relationship between manufacturers and conventional retail. Expecting this continuous erosion of profit to be destructive doesn't make the future very nice, where taken to some kind of endpoint the only guy with any money is Bezos.

I think it will blow before we get to Amazon = a trillion.

sharonsj , April 21, 2017 at 2:00 pm

I go by personal experience. I don't order much on line unless I can't find it locally. And by locally I mean within 40 miles, since I live in a rural area. When I have to order on-line supplies for my business, I am often outraged by the high cost of shipping and handling, which deeply cuts into my profits. So I try to find companies that will ship by regular post office. Also, I have only two friends who do weekly on-line shopping, but they have heavy workloads and higher incomes than I do (and one actually orders her weekly groceries this way, which I refuse to do).

Re all the statistics: I don't think there's any way to factor in the respondents' location, income, and needs, and those variables do matter.

Sally , April 21, 2017 at 5:02 pm

In almost all sectors now retail, computing, pharmaceuticals, banks, there is a top heavy model where a small group of companies dominate almost every sector. There are various reasons for this, but it is not helped by well meaning politicians interfering in the market through regulation and tax policy, and wage subsidy for certain firms. Walmart gets govt money to subsides the wages it pays its staff. While this is well meaning to improve the lot of the low paid workers it has a knock on effect.

Why should tax payers subsidy Walmart? The money should be coming out of the Walton families fortune. And if they won't pay their workers more money perhaps that may make it easier for mum and pop stores to compete. After all they don't get the same help paying their staff. Walmart may find it more difficult to retain and keep staff. Endless regulations also don't help small business compete. It's well known inside the belt way and in the EU that the big boys like regulations, and often lobby behind the scenes to help make it hard for their smaller competitors.

And then we come to the biggest interference of all. The federal reserve, and the ECB and the ability to crate endless amounts of free money for the elites. How do you think these companies are able to stay afloat for years as investors throw endless amounts of money at these companies even though they are not making much profit? Amazon has returned very poor amounts back to share holders, and its owner's greatest skill has been to keep convincing his shareholders to keep piling more and more freshly printed fiat into keeping the company going. All this endless free money also encourages endless merges and acquisitions which reduces competition for the customer. No so easy to take over your competitors if you have to actually have the money to buy them out.

A great example of this crazy market is the car company Tesla. The Company burned over $1.5 billion in in 2016. This was provided by cheap credit and equity markets which ponied over a net $2.7 billion to the Company in 2016. In addition Telsa was given huge tax advantages for the first 200,000 vehicles. In effect Telsa's sales are being subsided by the U.S. Tax payer. The company also operates a buyback scheme where it guarantees the resale value on its sales up to 2016. That could be a liability of some $2-3 billion in the future. Comically Wall Street values Telsa at $5 billion more than Ford. Yet Ford sold 2.5million cars last year compared to Telsa's 79 thousand. Now obviously investors are betting on new technology eventually coming good, and replacing the oil fired engine. But without all the smoke and mirrors of funny money this could not continue for very long.

likbez , April 21, 2017 at 5:58 pm
What people do not realize is the Amazon is a surveillance company too. In some way they are even more dangerous than Google: if you are a "Prime" customer you have huge dossier on you.

If you buy "almost everything" on Amazon you provide pretty complete picture of your preferences and your activities in time. Those records are never erased, even formally, like is possible in Google. That's pretty disgusting to be under microscope.

Of cause, you can try to get Amazon "off-track" by browsing items that in no way represent you shopping "preferences" (for a man that might be cookware, woman clothing and jewelry ;-) . Results are pretty interesting if you try.

So using variety of Internet stores is just a common sense. Wal Mart is an obvious alternative (pick-up in stores is pretty convenient). Buy.com is another.

If you buy electronics amazon prices are never good. You usually can find a better deals either directly (from Dell) or specialized stores (Fry, etc)

[Apr 21, 2017] Elizabeth Warren on Big Banks and Their (Cozy Bedmate) Regulators - The New York Times

Apr 21, 2017 | www.nytimes.com

Wells Fargo 's board and management are scheduled to meet shareholders at the company's annual meeting Tuesday in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. With the phony account-opening scandal still making headlines , and the company's stock underperforming its peers, it's a good bet the bank's brass will have some explaining to do.

How could such pernicious practices at the bank be allowed for so long? Why didn't the board do more to stop the scheme or the incentive programs that encouraged it? And where, oh where, were the regulators?

Wells Fargo's management has conceded making multiple mistakes over many years; it also says it has learned from them. In a meeting this week with reporters at The New York Times, Timothy J. Sloan, Wells Fargo's chief executive, said the bank had made substantive changes to its structure and culture to ensure that dubious practices won't take hold again.

But there's a deeper explanation for why Wells Fargo's corrosive sales practices came about and continued for years. And it has everything to do with the bank-friendly regulatory regime in Washington and the immense sway that institutions like Wells Fargo have there. This poisonous combination contributes to a sense among giant banking institutions that they answer to no one.

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The capture of our regulatory and political system by big and powerful corporations is real. And it is a central and disturbing theme in the new book by Senator Elizabeth Warren , Democrat of Massachusetts.

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"This Fight Is Our Fight" contains juicy but depressing anecdotes about how our most trusted institutions have let us down. It also shows why, years after the financial crisis, big banks are still large, in charge and, basically, unaccountable for their actions.

"In too many of these organizations, there are rewards for cheating and punishments for calling out the cheaters," Ms. Warren said in an interview Wednesday. "As long as that's the case, the biggest financial institutions will continue to put their customers and the economy at risk."

Ms. Warren's no-nonsense views are bracing. But they are also informed by a thorough understanding of how dysfunctional Washington now is. This failure has cost Main Street dearly, she said, but has benefited the powerful.

Wells Fargo got a lot of criticism from Ms. Warren, both in her book and in my interview - and on live television during the Senate Banking Committee hearing on the account-opening mess in September. She was among the harshest cross-examiners encountered by John G. Stumpf, who was Wells Fargo's chief executive at the time. "You should resign," she told him , "and you should be criminally investigated." (Mr. Stumpf retired the next month.)

This week, Ms. Warren called for the ouster of the company's directors and a criminal inquiry into the bank.

"Yes, the board should be removed, but that's not enough," she told me. "There still needs to be a criminal investigation. The expertise is in the regulatory agencies, but the power to prosecute lies mostly with the Justice Department, and if they don't have either the energy or the talent - or the backbone - to go after the big banks, then there will never be any real accountability."

Banks are not the only targets in Ms. Warren's book. Others include Wal-Mart, for its treatment of employees; for-profit education companies, for the way they pile debt on unsuspecting students; the Chamber of Commerce, for battling Main Street; and prestigious think tanks, for their undisclosed conflicts of interest.

My favorite moments in the book involve the phenomenon of regulatory capture: the pernicious condition in which institutions that are supposed to police the nation's financial behemoths actually come to view them as clients or pals.

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One telling moment took place in 2005, when Ms. Warren, then a Harvard law professor, was invited to address the staff at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a top regulator charged with monitoring the activities of big banks.

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She was thrilled by the invitation, she recalled in the book. After years of tracking various problems consumers experienced with their banks - predatory lending, sky-high interest rates and dubious fees - Ms. Warren felt that, finally, she'd be able to persuade the regulators to crack down.

Her host for the meeting was Julie L. Williams, then the acting comptroller of the currency. In a conference room filled with economists and bank supervisors, Ms. Warren presented her findings: Banks were tricking and cheating their consumers.

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After the meeting ended and Ms. Williams was escorting her guest to the elevator, she told Ms. Warren that she had made a "compelling case," Ms. Warren writes. When she pushed Ms. Williams to have her agency do something about the dubious practices, the regulator balked.

"No, we just can't do that," Ms. Williams said, according to the book. "The banks wouldn't like it."

Ms. Warren was not invited back.

Ms. Williams left the agency in 2012 and is a managing director at Promontory , a regulatory-compliance consulting firm specializing in the financial services industry. When I asked about her conversation with Ms. Warren, she said she had a different recollection.

"I told her I agreed with her concerns," Ms. Williams wrote in an email, "but when I said, 'We just can't do that,' I explained that was because the Comptroller's office did not have jurisdiction to adopt rules to ban the practice. I told her this was the Federal Reserve Board's purview."

Interestingly, though, Ms. Warren's take on regulatory capture at the agency was substantiated in a damning report on its supervision of Wells Fargo, published by a unit of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on Wednesday.

The report cited a raft of agency oversight breakdowns regarding Wells Fargo. Among them was its failure to follow up on a slew of consumer and employee complaints beginning in early 2010. There was no evidence, the report said, that agency examiners "required the bank to provide an analysis of the risks and controls, or investigated these issues further to identify the root cause and the appropriate supervisory actions needed."

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Neither did the agency document the bank's resolution of whistle-blower complaints, the report said, or conduct in-depth reviews and tests of the bank's controls in this area "at least from 2011 through 2014." ( The agency recently removed its top Wells Fargo examiner, Bradley Linskens, from his job running a staff of 60 overseeing the bank.)

"Regulatory failure has been built into the system," Ms. Warren said in our interview. "The regulators routinely hear from the banks. They hear from those who have billions of dollars at stake. But they don't hear from the millions of people across this country who will be deeply affected by the decisions they make."

This is why the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau plays such a crucial role, she said. The agency allows consumers to sound off about their financial experiences, and their complaints provide a heat map for regulators to identify and pursue wrongdoing.

But this setup has also made the bureau a target for evisceration by bank-centric politicians.

"There was a time when everything that went through Washington got measured by whether it created more opportunities for the middle class," Ms. Warren said. "Now, the people with money and power have figured out how to invest millions of dollars in Washington and get rules that yield billions of dollars for themselves."

"Government," she added, "increasingly works for those at the top."

[Apr 21, 2017] The Reason Behind The Sales-Surge For Nuclear-Proof Bunkers Zero Hedge

Notable quotes:
"... On April 17 th , Scott Humor, the Research Director at the geostrategic site "The Saker," headlined "Trump has lost control over the Pentagon" , and he listed (and linked-to) the following signs that Trump is following through with his promise to allow the Pentagon to control U.S. international relations: ..."
"... March 14 th , the US National Nuclear Security Administration field tested the modernized B61-12 gravity nuclear bomb in Nevada . ..."
"... April 7, Liberty Passion, loaded with US military vehicles, moored at Aqaba Main Port, Jordan ..."
"... On April 7 th the Pentagon US bombed Syria's main command center in fight against terrorists ..."
"... April 10, United States Deploying Forces At Syrian-Jordanian Border ..."
"... April 11, The US Air Force might start forcing pilots to stay in the service against their will, according to the chief of the military unit's Air Mobility Command. ..."
"... April 12, President Donald Trump has signed the US approval for Montenegro to join NATO ..."
"... April 13, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg announced the alliance's increased deployment in Eastern Europe ..."
"... On April 13 th , the Pentagon bombed Afghanistan. The US military has bombed Afghanistan with its GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB) ..."
"... April 13, the US-led coalition bombed the IS munitions and chemical weapons depot in Deir ez-Zo r killing hundreds of people ..."
"... April 14, The Arleigh Burke-class, guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) has been deployed to the South China Sea ..."
"... April 14, the US sent F-35 jets to Europe ..."
"... April 14, Washington failed to attend the latest international conference hosted by Moscow, where 11 nations discussed ways of bringing peace to Afghanistan . The US branded it a "unilateral Russian attempt to assert influence in the region". ..."
"... April14, the US has positioned two destroyers armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles close enough to the North Korean nuclear test site to act preemptively ..."
"... On April 16 th , the US army makes largest deployment of troops to Somalia since the 90s. ..."
"... or there will be WW III. ..."
Apr 15, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
> Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

On April 15th, Zero Hedge bannered "Doomsday Bunker Sales Soar After Trump's Military Strikes", but this growth in the market for nuclear-proof bunkers is hardly new; it started during the Obama Administration, in Obama's second term, specifically after the Russia-friendly government of Ukraine, next-door to Russia, got taken over in 2014 by a rabidly anti-Russian government that's backed by the U.S. government.

This boom in nuclear-bunker sales is only increasing now, as the new U.S. President, Donald Trump, tries to out-do his predecessor in demonstrating his hostility toward the other nuclear superpower, Russia, and displaying his determination to overthrow the leader of any nation (such as Syria and Iran) that is at all friendly toward Russia. For earlier examples of feature-articles on this booming market for homes that allegedly would enable buyers to survive the first blast effects, and the most immediate nuclear contaminations, of a Third World War, see here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here.

This surging demand for nuclear bunkers started right after the U.S. government arranged a coup in Ukraine that replaced the existing Moscow-friendly democratically elected President by installing a rabidly anti-Russian Prime Minister and national-security appointees from Ukraine's two nazi Parties, the Right Sector Party, and the former Social Nationalist Party of Ukraine (which the CIA renamed "Svoboda" meaning "Freedom" so as to enable it to be acceptable to the American public). Then, the intensifying U.S. effort to replace the secular pro-Russian Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad by a sectarian jihadist government that would be dependent upon the Saudi-Qatari-UAE-Turkish-U.S. alliance, has only intensified further the demand for these types of "second homes".

Whereas all of the purchasers of these bunkers are being kept secret, the U.S. federal government provides, free-of-charge, to top officials, nuclear bunkers, so as to allow the then-dictatorship (continuation of America's current dictatorship) to function, in order, supposedly, to serve their country, which they'd already have destroyed (along with destroying the rest of the world) by their determination to conquer Russia. No one knows what the reality would actually be in such a post-WW-III world, except that there would be no functioning electrical grid, nights would be totally dark for anyone whose sole reliance is on the grid, and all rivers and other water-sources would be intensely radioactive from the fallout, so that groundwater soon would also be unusable - and, of course, the air itself would also be toxic; so, lifespans would be enormously shortened, and excruciating, not to say extremely depressing.

No one has published a computer-model of a U.S.-Russia nuclear war, because doing that would be unacceptable to the "military-industrial complex" including the U.S. government, but in 2014 a "limited, regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan" was computer-modeled and projected to produce global ozone-depletion and "the coldest average surface temperatures in the last 1000 years", which "could trigger a global nuclear famine". But such a war would be only 50 bombs instead of the 10,000+ that would be used in a WW III scenario; and, so, everyone who is paying money in order to survive WW III is simply wasting money.

But, somehow, there are people who either want a Russia-U.S. war, or else whose preparations for it are directed at surviving in such a world, instead of at ending the current grip on political power in the United States, on the part of the people who are working to bring about this type of (end to the) world. At least the owners of the major U.S. armaments-firms, such as Raytheon Corporation, would have an explosive financial boost during the build-up toward that war, but buying bunkers in order to survive it, would seem to be a dubious follow-up to such an investment-plan. On the other hand, it might appeal to some thrill-seekers who don't even feel the need for a good computer-simulation of a post-WW-III world; maybe they've got money to burn and a craving to experience 'the ultimate thrill', and don't want unpleasant knowledge to spoil the thrill.

After President Trump threw out his National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and replaced him with the rabidly anti-Russian H.R. McMaster, and then lobbed 59 cruise missiles against the Syrian government (which is protected by the Russian government), the cacophony of press that had been calling for President Trump to be impeached and replaced by his rabidly anti-Russian Vice President Mike Pence, considerably quieted down; and, so, the Obama-Trump market for nuclear bunkers seems now to be established on very sound foundations, for the foreseeable immediate future. And, if anyone in the U.S. federal government has been planning to prepare the U.S. for a post-WW-III world, that has not been publicly announced, and no newsmedia have even been inquiring about it - so, nothing can yet be said about it.

The general message, thus far, is that, after World War III, everyone will be on his or her own, but that the dictators will (supposedly) be in a far better position than will anyone outside that ruling group. However, if the survivors end up merely envying the dead, it will be no laughing matter, regardless of how silly those nuclear bunkers are. It would be nothing funny at all.

On April 17th, Scott Humor, the Research Director at the geostrategic site "The Saker," headlined "Trump has lost control over the Pentagon", and he listed (and linked-to) the following signs that Trump is following through with his promise to allow the Pentagon to control U.S. international relations:

March 14th, the US National Nuclear Security Administration field tested the modernized B61-12 gravity nuclear bomb in Nevada.

April 7, Liberty Passion, loaded with US military vehicles, moored at Aqaba Main Port, Jordan

On April 7th the Pentagon US bombed Syria's main command center in fight against terrorists

April 10, United States Deploying Forces At Syrian-Jordanian Border

April 11, The US Air Force might start forcing pilots to stay in the service against their will, according to the chief of the military unit's Air Mobility Command.

April 12, President Donald Trump has signed the US approval for Montenegro to join NATO

April 13, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg announced the alliance's increased deployment in Eastern Europe

On April 13th, the Pentagon bombed Afghanistan. The US military has bombed Afghanistan with its GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB)

April 13, the US-led coalition bombed the IS munitions and chemical weapons depot in Deir ez-Zor killing hundreds of people

April 14, The Arleigh Burke-class, guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) has been deployed to the South China Sea

April 14, the US sent F-35 jets to Europe

April 14, Washington failed to attend the latest international conference hosted by Moscow, where 11 nations discussed ways of bringing peace to Afghanistan. The US branded it a "unilateral Russian attempt to assert influence in the region".

April14, the US has positioned two destroyers armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles close enough to the North Korean nuclear test site to act preemptively

On April 16th, the US army makes largest deployment of troops to Somalia since the 90s.

Mr. Humor drew attention to an article that had been published in "The Daily Beast" a year ago, on 8 April 2016, "CALL OF DUTY: The Secret Movement to Draft General James Mattis for President. Gen. James Mattis doesn't necessarily want to be president-but that's not stopping a group of billionaire donors from hatching a plan to get him there". Though none of the alleged "billionaires" were named there, one prominent voice backing Mattis for the Presidency, in that article, was Bill Kristol, the Rupert Murdoch agent who co-founded the Project for a New American Century, which was the first influential group pushing the "regime-change in Iraq" idea during the late 1990s, and which also advocated for the foreign policies that George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump, have since been pursuing, each in his own way. It seems that whomever those "billionaires" were, they've now gotten their wish, with a figurehead Donald Trump as President, and James Mattis actually running foreign policy. Humor also noted that Mattis wants to boost the budget of the Pentagon by far more than the 9% that Trump has proposed. Perhaps Trump knew that even to get a 9% Pentagon increase passed this year would be almost impossible to achieve. First, the unleashed Pentagon needs to place the military into an 'emergency' situation, so as to persuade the public to clamor for a major invasion. That 'emergency' might be the immediate goal, toward which the March-April timeline of events that Humor documented is aiming.

As regards the military comparisons of the personnel and equipment on both sides of a U.S.-Russia war, the key consideration would actually be not the 7,000 nuclear warheads that Russia has versus the 6,800 nuclear warheads that the U.S. has, but the chief motivation on each of the respective sides: conquest on the part of the U.S. aristocracy, defense on the part of the Russian aristocracy. (Obviously, the U.S. having continued its NATO military alliance after the Soviet Union's Warsaw Pact military alliance ended in 1991, indicates America's aggressive intent against Russia. That became a hyper-aggressive intent when NATO absorbed Russia's former Warsaw Pact allies. NATO even brought in some parts of the former USSR itself, when in 2004, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, entered NATO, and in 2014 U.S. President Obama tried to get Ukraine into NATO, and these five countries hadn't even been Warsaw Pacters, but had instead been parts of the USSR itself. It was as if Russia had grabbed not only America's allies, but some states in the U.S. itself. This constituted extreme aggression, and shows the U.S. aristocracy's obsessive intent for global empire - to include Russia.)

Any limited war between the two powers would become a nuclear war once the side that's losing this limited war becomes faced with the choice of either surrendering that limited territory (now likely Syria) or else going nuclear. On Russia's side, allowing such military conquest of an ally would be unacceptable; the war would then expand with the U.S. and its allies invading Russian territory for Russia's continuing refusal to accept the U.S.-Saudi and other allies' grabbing of Syria (on 'humanitarian grounds', of course - as if, for example, the Sauds aren't far more brutal than Assad). After the traditional-forces' invasion of Russia, Russia's yielding its sovereignty over its own land has never been part of Russia's culture: If Russia were to be invaded by allies of the U.S., then launching all of Russia's nuclear weapons against the U.S. and America's invasion-allies, would be a reasonably expected result. Here's how it would develop: On America's side, which (very unlike Russia) has no record of any foreign invasion against its own mainland (other than the Sauds' own 9/11 'false flag' attacks), the likely response in the event of Russia's crushing its invaders would be for the U.S. President to seek to negotiate a face-saving end to that limited war, just as the American President Richard Nixon did regarding America's invasion and occupation of Vietnam.

However, a reasonable question can be raised as to whether, in such a situation, Russia would accept anything less than America's total surrender, much as Franklin Delano Roosevelt in WW II was determined to accept nothing less than Germany's total surrender, at the end of that war. If Trump wants to play Hitler, then Putin (acting in accord with Russian tradition) would probably play both FDR and Stalin, even if it meant the end of the world. For Russia to be conquered, especially by such intense evil as those invaders would be representing, would probably be viewed by Russians as being even worse than ending everything, and this would probably be Putin's view as well. If America did not simply capitulate, Putin would probably nuclear-blitz-attack the U.S. and its allies, rather than give Trump (or Pence) the opportunity to blitz-attack Russia and to sacrifice all of the U.S. side's invading troops in Russia so as to 'win' the overall war and finally conquer Russia. It would be like WW II, except with nuclear weapons - and thus an entirely different type of historical outcome after the war.

Consequently, either the U.S. will cease its designs on Russia, or there will be WW III. Russia's sovereignty will never be yielded, especially not to the thuggish gang who have come to rule the U.S. (both as "Republicans" and as "Democrats"). The bipartisan neoconservative dream of America's aristocrats (world-conquest) will never be achieved. Russia will never accept it. If America's rulers continue to press it, the result will be even worse than when the Nazis tried. It's just an ugly pipe-dream, but any attempt to make it real would be even uglier. And nobody who buys a 'nuclear-proof bunker' will get what he or she thinks is being bought - safety in such a world as that. It won't exist.

Shemp 4 Victory -> Crash Overide , Apr 20, 2017 10:56 PM

Fred Reed knocks one out of the park:

First Transgender President: Trump Becomes Hillary http://www.unz.com/freed/first-transgender-president-trump-becomes-hillary/

Luc X. Ifer -> Shemp 4 Victory , Apr 20, 2017 11:24 PM

False. We have a simulation, and it is far worse than people can even imagine.

[...

  • Even humans living in shelters equipped with many years worth of food, water, energy, and medical supplies would probably not survive in the hostile post-war environment.

    ...]

    http://www.nucleardarkness.org/warconsequences/hundredfiftytonessmoke/

  • Luc X. Ifer -> Luc X. Ifer , Apr 20, 2017 11:41 PM

    Another reason why USSA is in hurry to have the war with Russia ASAP is that they know that very soon - if not even now in the present, USSA ICBM defense is outdated and 100% ineficient against the newest Russian ICBMs, if by any bad chance Russia launches the 1st strike Disney Land USSA is Bye Felicia without even a chance to retaliate.

    https://www.rt.com/news/340588-hypersonic-warhead-sarmat-tested/

    winged -> Luc X. Ifer , Apr 20, 2017 11:41 PM

    If that time truly comes, make sure you know who's really responsible.

    http://biblicisminstitute.wordpress.com/2015/03/17/the-truth-about-the-c...

    [Apr 21, 2017] President Trump dropped the biggest bomb

    Apr 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

    Fred C. Dobbs , April 20, 2017 at 04:30 AM

    Mother of All Bombs https://nyti.ms/2pFwhOS
    NYT - ALI M. LATIFIAPRIL 20, 2017

    A journey to the Afghan village where
    President Trump dropped the biggest bomb.

    ACHIN, AFGHANISTAN - I spent the evening of April 13 with a cousin and two aunts in the upscale Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in Kabul, Afghanistan. My aunts mostly talked about their relaxed, liberal early youth in the 1960s among the Kabul elite. As we waited in the driveway for our car, my cousin told me about an explosion in Nangarhar, the eastern province of Afghanistan, where our family comes from. We scrolled through our phones. As we drove out, it became clear it wasn't the beginning of the Taliban's so-called Spring Offensive.

    Around 8 p.m. Afghan time, the United States had dropped a 21,600-pound, $16 million bomb on Asadkhel, a tiny village nestled between two forested hills, to attack a decades-old tunnel system that was being used by fighters claiming allegiance to the Iraq- and Syria-based Islamic State.

    Afghanistan has been at war for almost four decades now. Our people lived through the Soviet occupation and the war the mujahedeen fought against the Soviets with the support of the United States; freedom from the Soviet occupation was stained by a brutal civil war between mujahedeen factions (warlords had ruled large parts of the country and exacted a terrible human cost).

    The Taliban rule followed. We watched them being bombed into submission and escape after Sept. 11, celebrated a few years of relative calm, and saw the Taliban return to strength and wage a long, bloody insurgency that continues to this day. We watched the world tire of our forever war and forget us.

    Throughout the years of war, we had come to make lists of many firsts in Afghanistan - horrors, military victories, defeats, weapons used, atrocities committed, improbable lives saved. The explosion of the "mother of all bombs" on April 13 was a striking addition to the list of "firsts."

    (So...)

    I set out for Nangarhar. Leaving Kabul can be a dangerous affair. If you travel south of the city, every mile on the road is living with the prospect of an encounter with the Taliban, the possibility of a tire rolling over a lethal roadside bomb.

    I was, fortunately, driving east to Jalalabad, one of the largest Afghan cities. I drove for three hours through tunnels carved into the mountainside, past streams flowing beside forested mountains, and arrived in Jalalabad in the afternoon. The bombing site was two hours away. The city did not betray any anxiety. Rickshaws whizzed from roundabout to roundabout; kebab stands on sidewalks did brisk business; men and women filled the bazaars, shopping before the Friday prayer.

    Some Afghan officials from Jalalabad took a group of journalists to Achin district, about 40 miles south. We drove through Bati Kot and Shinwar, two districts in between, where the Islamic State had established a significant presence in 2014. Thousands of residents had fled and sought refuge in Jalalabad and Kabul, among other places. Most of them were yet to return, but people carried on with their lives in village bazaars.

    We passed an unfinished luxury-housing complex named for Amanullah Khan, the beloved former king of Afghanistan. We passed the site of a proposed university. As we approached Achin, white and purple poppy plants popped up in the green grass fields.

    A few miles before Asadkhel, the bombed village, the road turned into a mountainous stretch of rock, dirt and gravel. A market of about 200 stores lay abandoned; the stores had been destroyed in weekslong military operations against the Islamic State fighters. Crumbling foundations, caved-in roofs and some tattered pieces of cloth were all that remained.

    Not far from the ruined market, I met two boys: 11-year-old Safiullah and 13-year-old Wajed. They described the explosion as "very loud" but insisted that it did not scare them. Safiullah held on to his unruly goat that he was walking home. "I am used to it," he said. "I have heard so many bombings."

    Wajed, who had come to bring water to the police, agreed. They said they were glad that the Islamic State fighters were gone. Safiullah had interacted a little with Islamic State fighters as he took his goat for grazing. They told him, "Don't grow poppy and don't shave your beard."

    We finally reached a hilltop overlooking a green valley besides Asadkhel. A small cluster of mud houses stood along the hill. Every now and then a child would pass by. We saw no adults.

    Two hills obstructed view of the bombed area. American helicopters flew overhead. Three hours passed but we weren't allowed to proceed further. Officials spoke cheerfully of resounding success and precision of the operation.

    Yet every time we sought permission to visit the bombed area, they found excuses to keep us away: "The operation is ongoing!" "There are still Daesh" - Islamic State - "fighters on the loose!" "There are land mines!" and finally, "The area is being cleared!" "No civilians were hurt!"

    We weren't allowed anywhere near the bombed village. We were simply told that about 94 Islamic State fighters had been killed.

    In the end, "Madar-e Bamb-Ha" became the star of a grotesque reality television show. We know how much it weighs, what it costs, its impact, its model number and its code name. We know nothing about the people it killed except they are supposed to be nameless, faceless, cave-dwelling Islamic State fighters. It was a loud blast, followed by a loud silence. It is yet another bomb to fall on Afghan soil, and the future of my homeland remains as uncertain as ever.

    Related: The 'Mother of All Bombs' blast site is still
    off-limits, but here's who it may have killed http://read.bi/2pCdkiN via @Business Insider

    ... In a move reminiscent of Vietnam-era body-count assessments, Afghan officials have released estimates of the number of ISIS fighters killed in the MOAB strike, upping the total from 36 to 96 over the last six days. ...

    ilsm -> Fred C. Dobbs... , April 20, 2017 at 03:18 PM
    body count worked so well in Vietnam and for the Russians in Kabul.........

    Imagine if the winds were not compensated for.....

    Let no one in, like Idbil, then the story is safe.

    [Apr 21, 2017] West does not want to investigate incident in Idlib, Russian diplomat says

    Apr 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    RGC , April 20, 2017 at 05:36 AM
    West does not want to investigate incident in Idlib, Russian diplomat says

    Russian Politics & Diplomacy April 20, 8:28 UTC+3


    "We guess that Americans probably have something to hide, since they persistently want to take the Shayrat airport out of the investigation," the diplomat said


    THE HAGUE, April 20. /TASS/ Western countries do not want to properly investigate the incident with the possible use of chemical weapons in the Syrian province of Idlib, Alexander Shulgin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) told TASS.

    On Wednesday, the meeting of the OPCW Executive Council took place. During that meeting Russia and Iran submitted a revised draft proposal for the investigation of the incident in the Syrian province of Idlib.

    However, the United States opposed the visit of the Syrian Chemical Weapons Detection Mission to the Shayrat airfield, since it "has nothing to do with the situation," the diplomat said.


    The US delegation "spoke out against the involvement of any national experts in the work of the mission, they accused Russia of trying to "mix tracks and lead the investigation to a dead end."

    "But the connection between the incident in Idlib and the airfield of Shayrat was established by the Americans themselves, who stated that the Syrian planes had flown from this airfield," the Permanent Representative stressed. "Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to determine if sarin or other chemical munitions were stored there or not," he stressed.

    "Our view is that the Western countries are acting extremely inconsistently," the Russian diplomat said.

    "We guess that Americans probably have something to hide, since they persistently want to take the Shayrat airport out of the investigation. Maybe they knew from the start there was no chemical weapons there, and all this was used only as an excuse?" he added.


    On April 7, US President Donald Trump ordered a strike on Syria's Shayrat military air base located in the Homs Governorate. The attack, involving 59 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAM), came as a response to the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Idlib Governorate on April 4. The US authorities believe that the airstrike on Idlib was launched from the Shayrat air base.

    http://tass.com/politics/942237

    pgl -> RGC... , April 20, 2017 at 05:51 AM
    TASS is the Russian News Agency. Somehow I do not find them all that credible.
    RGC -> pgl... , April 20, 2017 at 06:01 AM
    When the New York Times and Washington Post offer you fake news or no news, you might want to see what other sources say.

    It might be wise to check one against the other and then decide which is the more credible.

    pgl -> RGC... , April 20, 2017 at 06:08 AM
    Does other news sources include Faux News and Billo? Oh wait - Billo just got canned.

    BTW - we know sarin gas was used on the citizens of Syria. I guess you want to blame the French or something.

    RGC -> pgl... , April 20, 2017 at 06:24 AM
    People other than Russians have questioned the story.

    Like a prof at MIT:

    The Nerve Agent Attack that Did Not Occur:

    Analysis of the Times and Locations of Critical Events in the Alleged Nerve Agent Attack at 7 AM on April 4, 2017 in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria

    By Theodore A. Postol, professor emeritus of science, technology, and national security policy at MIT.

    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2017/04/67102.html

    pgl -> RGC... , April 20, 2017 at 06:32 AM
    Read more carefully:

    "The conclusion of this summary of data is obvious – the nerve agent attack described in the WHR did not occur as claimed. There may well have been mass casualties from some kind of poisoning event, but that event was not the one described by the WHR."

    He is not saying attack did not occur. He is only saying the way the White House reported it was not entirely accurate. Yuuuge difference. Like Sean Spicer gets the details right every time - not.

    RGC -> pgl... , April 20, 2017 at 06:42 AM
    "This means that the allegedly "high confidence" White House intelligence assessment issued on April 11 that led to the conclusion that the Syrian government was responsible for the attack is not correct.

    For such a report to be so egregiously in error, it could not possibly have followed the most simple and proven intelligence methodologies to determine the veracity of its findings.

    Since the United States justified attacking a Syrian airfield on April 7, four days before the flawed National Security Council intelligence report was released to the Congress and the public, the conclusion that follows is that the United States took military actions without the intelligence to support its decision."

    RGC -> pgl... , April 20, 2017 at 06:27 AM
    NYT Mocks Skepticism on Syria-Sarin Claims
    April 18, 2017

    Exclusive: The New York Times and other major media have ruled out any further skepticism toward the U.S. government's claim that Syrian President Assad dropped a sarin bomb on a town in Idlib province, reports Robert Parry.
    ................
    Today, however, particularly on foreign policy issues, the major U.S. news outlets, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, apparently believe there is only one side to a story, the one espoused by the U.S. government or more generically the Establishment.
    .....................
    https://consortiumnews.com/2017/04/18/nyt-mocks-skepticism-on-syria-sarin-claims/

    pgl -> RGC... , April 20, 2017 at 06:35 AM
    Facts on the ground in Assad's brutal regime are confusing? Stop the presses. I blame Assad. And no - I still do not trust the Russians.
    RGC -> pgl... , April 20, 2017 at 06:44 AM
    And I would never trust your judgement.
    pgl -> RGC... , April 20, 2017 at 06:48 AM
    Likewise! BTW it is judgment (only 1 e).
    RGC -> pgl... , April 20, 2017 at 07:02 AM
    This source says G_d is on my side:

    "judgement is the form sanctioned in the Revised Version of the Bible, & the OED prefers the older & more reasonable spelling. Judgement is therefore here recommended –Fowler p. 310."

    http://www.dailywritingtips.com/judgement-or-judgment/

    RGC -> RGC... , April 20, 2017 at 02:29 PM
    And of course, that means the devil is on your side.

    Just as I suspected.

    JohnH -> pgl... , April 20, 2017 at 07:02 AM
    What facts on the ground? There has been no investigation...only assertions made by the usual suspects.

    A nice summary of the story:
    https://youtu.be/rkj9UCHO0Tc

    As in economics, pgl is a staunch supporter of the dominant narrative and the conventional wisdom...one of those who believed that Saddam had WMDs.

    pgl -> JohnH... , April 20, 2017 at 07:29 AM
    The dominant narrative in Moscow is TASS. I guess you work for them now. BTW - I was doubting the Saddam WMD tale back in 2002. So take your usual lies somewhere else troll.
    JohnH -> pgl... , April 20, 2017 at 08:08 AM
    The dominant narrative among NY elites is the NY Times, whose reporting they swallow hook, line and sinker.

    Yet you won't see any mention Theodore Postol's critique of Trump's allegations about the Syrian chemical attack. When it comes to foreign affairs, the NY Times salutes and follows the party line...as do virtually all American news outlets.
    http://fair.org/home/out-of-46-major-editorials-on-trumps-syria-strikes-only-one-opposed/

    pgl is happy to join into the groupthink no questions asked...

    pgl -> JohnH... , April 20, 2017 at 07:35 AM
    Did you check your source here? The James Corbett Report? Featured here at American Loons:

    http://americanloons.blogspot.com/2013/06/584-james-corbett.html

    Even The Onion would not go here.

    JohnH -> pgl... , April 20, 2017 at 08:10 AM
    Question is, what facts in the Corbett Report were wrong? Seems to me that they pretty much nailed the contradictions and hypocrisy of the trumped up charges against Syria.
    pgl -> JohnH... , April 20, 2017 at 08:36 AM
    See below. The news today sort of debunks your apologist attitude toward Assad the Butcher.
    JohnH -> pgl... , April 20, 2017 at 12:26 PM
    Well, now we have the room and may have the weapon. But who done it? Colonel Mustard, Professor Plum, or Miss Scarlet?

    It is well known that the Syrian rebels also use chemical weapons.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10039672/UN-accuses-Syrian-rebels-of-chemical-weapons-use.html

    But that doesn't dissuade pgl from believing everything that Trump the compulsive liar says! Until Trump bombed Syria, libruls like pgl didn't believe a word Trump said. Now they'll believe anything!!!

    After a lifetime of watching the US start pointless and futile wars under false pretenses (Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, etc.), pgl has no hesitation about gulping down the kool aid as fast as he can! In fact, libruls like pgl seem absolutely delighted when money that could be used for socially useful purposes like education and healthcare get diverted to fight phantom enemies abroad.

    anne -> pgl... , April 20, 2017 at 06:33 AM
    http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2017/04/krugman-elizabeth-warren-lays-out-the-reasons-democrats-should-keep-fighting.html#comment-6a00d83451b33869e201bb09927277970d

    April 19, 2017

    "Bernie Sanders was of course a civil rights activist in the 1960s..."

    A couple of marches does not make on Martin Luther King or John Lewis. I spent more time in the trenches than Sanders did back then...

    http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2017/04/links-for-04-20-17.html#comment-6a00d83451b33869e201b8d279eb0e970c

    April 20, 2017

    I guess you want to blame the French or something....

    ilsm -> pgl... , April 20, 2017 at 03:24 PM
    Like VOA which had a long agitprop piece today.

    Do you think the Sarin was stored near the planes that could get to Idlib? Or maybe those cruise missiles damaged a Sarin site?

    Why not find the igloo that help the Sarin?

    Or do you want to believe the staged vids and pix?

    OPCW said to was Sarin...... or such!

    And French are selling the US' tale like they sold killing Qaddafi and that unneeded involvement in Europe 100 years ago.

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

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

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

    Income ranking regardless of source is a muddle

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

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

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

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

    [Apr 21, 2017] Since Obama appointed Derugulating Larry , Tax-evading Timmy and Too-big-to-jail Eric , maybe those appointments were not that good

    Apr 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    reason , April 20, 2017 at 02:31 AM
    It seems Paul Krugman isn't the economist who doesn't necessarily agree with Sanders all the time.

    http://conversableeconomist.blogspot.de/2017/04/personnel-is-policy-presidential.html

    Still, all this really shows is how incredibly dysfunctional the ancient US system is. Time for a constitutional renewal process.

    Fred C. Dobbs -> reason ... , April 20, 2017 at 03:54 AM
    (Shocking stuff, no?)

    'For example, late in the Obama administration the board that is supposed to oversee the US Postal Service had zero members out of the nine possible appointments. The reported reason is that Senator Bernie Sanders put a hold on all possible appointees, as a show of solidarity with postal workers. If it isn't obvious to you how Sanders preventing President Obama from appointing new board members would influence the US Postal Service in the directions that Sanders would prefer, given that President Trump could presumably appoint all nine members of the board, you are not alone.'

    Timothy Taylor
    conversableeconomist@gmail.com

    RGC -> Fred C. Dobbs... , April 20, 2017 at 07:25 AM
    Since Obama appointed "Derugulatin' Larry", "Tax-evadin' Timmy" and "Too-big-to-jail Eric", maybe those appointments weren't very good.

    [Apr 20, 2017] Against False Arrogance of Economic Knowledge

    Notable quotes:
    "... By Amit Bhaduri, Professor Emeritus, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Visting Professor, Council for Social Development. Originally published at the New Economic Perspectives website ..."
    "... why do we accept the artificial devolution of political economy into economics and politics? ..."
    "... gets interest from ..."
    "... Economics should be transferred to the divinity school. Then it will be untouchable! ..."
    Apr 19, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    Yves here. I'm using the original headline from INET even though "false arrogance" seems like rhetorical overkill. After all, arrogance and hubris are closely related phenomena (my online thesaurus list "arrogance" as the first synonym for "hubris"). But in Greek tragedies, the victims of hubris were all legitimately accomplished, yet let their successes go to their heads. Thus the use of "false arrogance" presumably means that economists' high opinion of themselves is not warranted.

    By Amit Bhaduri, Professor Emeritus, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Visting Professor, Council for Social Development. Originally published at the New Economic Perspectives website

    The problem of any branch of knowledge is to systematize a set of particular observations in a more coherent form, called hypothesis or 'theory.' Two problems must be resolved by those attempting to develop theory: (1) finding agreement on what has been observed; (2) finding agreement on how to systematize those observations.

    In economics, there would be more agreement on the second point than on the first. Many would agree that using the short-hand rules of mathematics is a convenient way of systematizing and communicating knowledge - provided we have agreement on the first problem, namely what observations are being systematized. Social sciences face this problem in the absence of controlled experiments in a changing, non-repetitive world. This problem may be more acute for economics than for other branches of social science, because economists like to believe that they are dealing with quantitative facts, and can use standard statistical methods. However, what are quantitative facts in a changing world? If one is dealing with questions of general interest that arise in macroeconomics, one has to first agree on 'robust' so-called 'stylized' facts based on observation: for example, we can agree that business cycles occur; that total output grows as a long term trend; that unemployment and financial crisis are recurring problems, and so on.

    In the view of the economic world now dominant in major universities in the United States - with its ripple effect around the world - is these are transient states, aberrations from a perfectly functioning equilibrium system. The function of theory, in this view, is to systematize the perfectly functioning world as a deterministic system with the aid of mathematics. One cannot but be reminded of the great French mathematician Laplace, who claimed with chilling arrogance, two centuries after Newton, that one could completely predict the future and the past on the basis of scientific laws of motion - if only one knew completely the present state of all particles. When emperor Napoleon asked how God fitted into this view, Laplace is said to have replied that he did not need that particular hypothesis. Replace 'God' by 'uncertainty', and you are pretty close to knowing what mainstream macro-economists in well-known universities are doing with their own variety of temporal and inter-temporal optimization techniques, and their assumption of a representative all knowing, all-seeing rational agent.

    Some find this extreme and out-dated scientific determinism difficult to stomach, but are afraid to move too far away, mostly for career reasons. They change assumptions at the margin, but leave the main structure mostly unchallenged. The tragedy of the vast, growing industry of 'scientific' knowledge in economics is that students and young researchers are not exposed to alternative views of how problems may be posed and tackled.

    This exclusion of alternative views is not merely a question of vested interest and the ideological view that we live in the best of all possible worlds where optimum equilibria rule, except during transient moments. It stems, also, from a misplaced notion of the aesthetics of good theory: Good theory is assumed to be a closed axiomatic system. Its axioms can, at best, be challenged empirically - e.g. testing the axiom of individual rationality by setting up experimental devices - but such challenges hardly add up to any workable alternative way of doing macro-economics.

    There is however an alternative way, or, rather, there are alternative ways. We must learn to accept that when undeniable facts stare us in the face and shake up our political universe - e.g. growing unemployment is a problem, and money and finance have roles beyond medium of payment in an uncertain world shaken by financial crises - they are not transient problems; they are a part of the system we are meant to study. It is no good saying my axiomatic system does not have room for them. Instead, the alternative way is to take each problem and devise the best ways in which we are able to handle them analytically. Physicist Feynman (economist Dow (1995) made a similar distinction) had made a distinction between the Greek way of doing mathematics axiomatically, and the Babylonian way, which used separate known results (theorems) without necessarily knowing the link among them. We must accept this Babylonian approach to deal with macro-economic problems, without pretending that it must follow from some grand axiom.

    Awareness of history must enter economic theory by showing that concepts such as cost, profit, wage, rent, and even commercial rationality have anthropological dimensions specific to social systems. The humility to accept that economic propositions cannot be universal would save us from self-defeating arrogance.

    8 0 0 1 0 This entry was posted in Guest Post , Ridiculously obvious scams , Science and the scientific method , The dismal science on April 19, 2017 by Yves Smith .
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    Subscribe to Post Comments 63 comments fresno dan , April 19, 2017 at 10:03 am

    I can't tell you how much I agree with the article.
    For example, what CRITERIA are used that something is a "good" job. Before you even start to debate the "facts" at least set up the criteria by which you will evaluate them. It seems evident to me (pension, "good" – what is "good" health care) but apparently, one of the "pre-eminent" economists, at least according to another economist, thinks part time jobs are just as good as retail .

    http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/paul-krugman-gets-retail-wrong-they-are-not-very-good-jobs?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+beat_the_press+%28Beat+the+Press%29

    Cujo359 , April 19, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    It works for me as an executive summary, but almost every paragraph would probably require a similarly-sized essay to explain it. I agree with its judgment that too many economists view the world as being governed by some sort of universal economic law (or "laws"), when in reality those laws work in very limited circumstances. Whether it's possible there could be such laws some day, I don't have an opinion one way or another, and nothing in this article sheds much light on that issue.

    Benedict@Large , April 19, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    It's my experience that the overwhelming number of economists don't know squat about employment/ unemployment, including why and employer hires and why people look for and accept jobs. I assume this is because all of these things are rare event in the personal lives of economists, who spend little time looking for or between jobs. An economist is either employed, or he/she is not an economist, and so once they gain experience with the above, they are no longer in a position where they can speak about it among others still in the field.

    jrs , April 19, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    pension + black lung = good job? I mean if we're saying coal mining is a "good job" now noone who can do better wants it though, that's what a "good job" it is. Compensation matters but so do working conditions, and by the way externalities matter, and "coal mining" as a good job certainly doesn't account for that and the whole community being a cancer cluster etc.

    Moneta , April 20, 2017 at 8:20 am

    The thing is that there are an awful lot of bad jobs that need to be done and will never go away.

    Dead Dog , April 19, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    As an economist, now semi retired (author, handyman, carer ), I can speak of my own experiences.

    I think one aspect of my degree course was a lack of normative studies and not enough, 'well that is the mainstream theory, now this is what we observe in practice' (and why eg control fraud, captured political interests)

    We were also mispoken to about how private banks create money, taxes fund government spending and so on.

    My choice to study economics was regretted years later, yet it gave me a lift up career-wise.

    It now seems sad that the profession has become mis-trusted and denigrated. We don't all think alike.

    Moneta , April 20, 2017 at 8:36 am

    When I studied economics, I realized how absurd a lot of it was so I answered according to what the prof wanted to see.

    However, I'm under the impression that my education in a Cdn university was way less dogmatic than in the US.

    Externalities were discussed, as was the dubious quality of GDP growth. I had a book on the history of the Cdn financial system. It explained very well how we went from gold standard to current system.. and how the leading countries used devaluations (France, UK, US) to their advantage.

    The problem with objective economists is that they realize that there exists something called the law of unintended consequences. Once you realize there are too many variables to control, you become a leaf in the wind. And no one likes ambivalent people. They want leaders who KNOW the answers. So leaders who appear to have answers are chosen.

    Eric Anderson , April 20, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Well said. I always appreciated having my undergraduate economic theory class delivered by an active duty Marine Corp Major. A hardened realist with a talent for illuminating theory.

    sgt_doom , April 19, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    No offense to Dean Baker, but what doesn't Krugman NOT get wrong? His public disagreement with Real Economist, Steve Keen, would have been hilarious had it not been so pathetic in demonstrating either what a sheer idiot he is, or professional liar, whatever the case may be. (Krugman was claiming that banks do not create credit as Krugman has no understanding of that rather simple fractional reserve banking system. I once wrote to Krugman to correct him on his supply-and-demand theory as to the cause of that incredible spiking upwards of oil/energy costs around 2008, even though the Baltic Exchange Index ad pretty much collapsed, with an incredible number of oil tankers floating off the coasts of Singapore and Malaysia, in an inactive state – – attempting to explain to him about Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, et al., speculating up the prices on ICE via commodity futures speculation or wash sales, and he didn't get that either!)

    But this reminds me of a local (Seattle) witless talk show (KIRO radio station: the John and Curley Show) where the two snarky hosts, as ignorant as can be, go on and on about their love of globalization, scoffing at those who don't understand that offshoring manufacturing (they ignored all the other categories) jobs to China and elsewhere was most clever, and "freed up America to manufacture high-end goods" - evidently ignorant of the fact as to where most chip fabs are located, and that 70% to 100% of many auto parts and aircraft parts are manufactured overseas, shipped back to America only for assembling purposes.

    That ultra-boondoggle, the F-35, is manufactured across 9 foreign countries plus America - wonder why it's such a cluster screw-up, huh?

    JustAnObserver , April 19, 2017 at 10:16 am

    In Greek tragedy wasn't hubris always followed by nemesis as the Gods took their revenge on the upstart humans ?

    witters , April 19, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    A further aside: I don't see all Greek tragedies as turning on hubris. Where is the hubris, say, of Oedipus? He is the King, there is a plague, the people call on him for help, he helps. And the plague is vanquished (mind you, he and his family – the ones still living – are in a mess. But that – Sophocles seems to be saying – is Life).

    RBHoughton , April 19, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    The important thing according to the Greek scholar Michael Scott is to recognize that Greek theater and Greek democracy are joined at the hip. The former educated the electorate in the difficult choices they would have to make as managers of their own political existence. We have political theater today but no-one considers it instruction in one's civic duty.

    JTMcPhee , April 19, 2017 at 10:18 am

    "We" here can say it to each other, over and over, in different and ever-better-documented ways, that almost all economics and the "findings" it generates, and almost all economists and their credentials, are BS, MS, Ph.D (bullish!t, more sh!t, piled higher and deeper). But how to reach a larger, and large enough, set of people who actually have votes that count and can "call bullsh!t" and demand and get an end to the "policies" that are built on and gather "legitimacy" from the "findings" of all those faux 'economists?" Who after all do have those (feedback-loop-granted) "credentials," and so many sous-chefs to keep pumping out the mega-gallons of Bernays sauce to make the sh!t sandwiches seem au courant, de rigeur, and somehow palatable?

    washunate , April 19, 2017 at 10:35 am

    Agreed, I think that's the issue. Debating whether or not economics is a science plays right into the prevailing power structure. Rather, the question is why do we accept the artificial devolution of political economy into economics and politics? There are lots of quantitative (and qualitative) "facts" in the world about economics; it can be a scientific discipline like any other. The important civic debate is the political part: what values should guide our interpretation and implementation of those economic understandings?

    nycTerrierist , April 19, 2017 at 11:28 am

    x1000!

    Left in Wisconsin , April 19, 2017 at 7:11 pm

    why do we accept the artificial devolution of political economy into economics and politics?

    This is the right question if we change "why to we accept" to "how is it that we now have" – that is, if we ask an empirical, historical question and not a metaphysical or psychological question. In an academic sense, I would say the answer has to do with a long battle within economics that was decisively won in the 50s or 60s by one "school" to the extent that they could ostracize and ignore alternative "schools" without much effective criticism, and an implicit "bargain" with sociology and political science to craft an academic division of labor. And then, inertia and serious pushback against any and all challengers.

    In the non-academic world, the answer has to do with a certain confluence of interest between neoclassical economics and existing social and economic power.

    a different chris , April 19, 2017 at 8:15 pm

    (never mind, I seem to have missed half of your good post)

    Ulysses , April 19, 2017 at 11:16 am

    "But how to reach a larger, and large enough, set of people who actually have votes that count and can "call bullsh!t" and demand and get an end to the "policies" that are built on and gather "legitimacy" from the "findings" of all those faux 'economists?"

    I think one method, to move in that direction, is to make a very small number of very specific demands. Single payer healthcare, and a living wage. We demand them!! Why don't we have them??!!

    When the "economists" tie themselves up into illogical pretzels, trying to "explain" why we can't have these nice things, they destroy their credibility– to the point where their dogma is revealed as false and inhuman. Then, we can shake off their dead hand and begin to build a new society on more rational and humane principles.

    dontknowitall , April 19, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    I understand and share your frustration with a brand of economics being used as a cudgel to tell us we cannot have nice things even as each individual US state's GDP is the equivalent to that of (at least) a medium EU nation which individually can afford far better health insurance schemes than we do. It should be the economists' job to smooth the way, to find ways so that we can have nice things not just leave it at can't.

    I disagree with washunate that to engage with economists who are failing is a waste of time that plays into the hands of the prevailing power structure. Neoliberal economists should be hearing from us that they are not scientists no matter how much math they dress their pet theories with. The greatest glory of a science is the predictive powers of its foundational theories and in that regard neoliberal economics fails spectacularly. It is not by any definition a science and they should hear it as often as possible. Of course they know this in their bones but their theories give their funders significant political cover as they seek more undeserved goods for themselves. It is our job to remind everyone who will hear that neoliberal theories are fiction not science.

    steelhead23 , April 19, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Why don't we have universal health care? Sadly, I think the answer is quite simple – the elasticity of demand for health is infinite as the alternative is death. Hence, Genentech can and does charge $20,000 for a round of rituxan, which is very effective on non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Is it worth it? Of course it is – lymphoma is deadly.

    My point is that while the social benefit of universal health care is high, so is the opportunity cost to the healthcare industry. And since the industry is free to bribe politicians (sans a quid pro quo of course) we are unlikely to ever get it. As discussed above, economics divorced from politics is useless.

    a different chris , April 19, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    wow pretty awesome that Europe/Great Britain and Japan don't have politicians . just teasing you, how though did those countries manage to get around your problem is the question//

    AbateMagicThinking but Not money , April 20, 2017 at 12:22 am

    The British learned from the washout of the first world war that the usual politicians could not be trusted to produce a country fit for heroes as was promised, so they voted for socialism.

    As for the Japanese, my memory is that the US set their health system up! Dang!

    AbateMagicThinking but Not money , April 20, 2017 at 12:49 am

    The British polititician who lost out big time in that election that brought the Labour Party's version of socialism into power, was Winston Churchill – after the end of World War Two.
    It goes to show that you might need one kind of leader in existential-wartime, and another for peacetime. However, nowadays how do you know whether the there is an existential struggle or not?

    Katharine , April 19, 2017 at 10:38 am

    Yes, hubris was the tragic flaw. Treating it as a mere synonym for arrogance is a fine example of why to avoid thesaurusi. A good dictionary with synonymies is more reliable.

    Katharine , April 19, 2017 at 11:34 am

    That was supposed to be a reply to JustAnObserver. Don't know what happened.

    sgt_doom , April 19, 2017 at 6:57 pm

    Speaking of hubris, there's a recently published book by a "professor of national security" (good luck with that one!!!), Tom Nichols, titled: The Death of Expertise , and it's a real hoot!

    Not because the author got anything right, he got almost everything completely wrong, and simply for that reason!

    At one point in this garbage book by Nichols, he is repeating an exchange between a political appointee whom he believes to be an "expert" and a grad student concerning Reagan's spaced-based missile defense {SDI or Star Wars - in this case I believe it was the space-based platform} of which much of it turned out to be a hoax meant to mislead the Soviets – – and historically we know the grad student was correct, and Jastrow, if I recall his name correctly, was most incorrect – – but you would never know it from this author! ! !

    (If you observe any American space-based missile platforms, please be sure to let me know!)

    flora , April 19, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    Hubris: "My theory, divorced from reality, supersedes reality."

    CD , April 19, 2017 at 11:09 am

    Besides acknowledging that economic theory is bound to time and society, it would also be good to give some fresh thought to familiar economic concepts we take as Bible-given.

    Let's re-examine the ideas of interest [can we do without it], growth [can we have a no-growth economy], and differential pay [need we pay a much higher salary for "higher" work],

    I would go on to look at profit [should there be profit in all economic activities, such as health care, education, and others], oligopolies [is it good to have very large corporations], and competition [should we promote competition is all aspects of life].

    Some of these have been questioned in these pages, such as the question of oligopoly. I encourage raising more and continued questioning, as we've done here.

    JTMcPhee , April 19, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    It tends to draw fire when I mention it, but "Sharia or Islamic banking and finance" is supposed to be done without any interest. And the system (now under assault by Western interest-holders, by physical violence and subversion of many types, and co-optation via corruption) kind of relies on actual trust and risk-sharing. Here's some details for anyone "interested:" http://www.islamic-banking.com/islamic_banking_principle.aspx

    So there is a model to look toward, though there will be all kinds of nationalist and kleptocratic resistance, http://www.wnd.com/2015/07/major-u-s-city-poised-to-implement-islamic-law/ . Though of course because Muslims have money, our banksters are adapting and even bringing semi-pseudo-Sharia banking and finance inside Western borders, https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/10/11/shariah-compliant-islamic-financing-usa-europe/16828599/ .

    Once again, "we" need to look at what "we" means - hardly a collective with any mass or teeth, mostly just an aspirational conversation tic.

    Larry Motuz , April 19, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    Thank you for your first reference, JTMcPhee, from the Institute of Islamic Banking. It makes a great deal of sense that lenders bear risk along with borrowers when we are talking about financing entrepreneurship. In this view, the lender has an interest in rather than gets interest from . [I very much suspect that the former meaning became detached from the latter very early on in human history, which is why the latter was condemned as 'usury', a result itself of an imbalance of power leading to coercive lending.]

    I wonder, however, about 'consumer lending' where there is clearly no entrepreneurial risk.

    Do you have a useful reference about how this 'consumer lending' occurs without 'interest' in the Islamic world?

    JTMcPhee , April 19, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    Try this: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8401421.stm
    It's not easy being halal Not when all that "green" is floating around

    fresno dan , April 19, 2017 at 11:14 am

    https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2017/apr/06/kate-raworth-doughnut-economics-new-economics

    In 1955, the economist Simon Kuznets thought he had found such a law of motion, one that determined the path of income inequality in a growing economy. The scant data that he could gather together seemed to suggest that, as a nation's GDP grows, inequality first rises, then levels off, and ultimately starts to fall. Despite Kuznets' explicit warnings that his work was 5% empirical, 95% speculation and "some of it possibly tainted by wishful thinking", his findings were soon touted as an economic law of motion, immortalized as "the Kuznets Curve"– resembling an upside-down U on the page – and has been taught to every economics student for the past half century.

    As for the curve's message? When it comes to inequality, it has to get worse before it can get better, and more growth will make it better. And so the Kuznets Curve became a perfect justification for trickle-down economics and for enduring austerity today in the pursuit of making everyone better off some day.

    Forty years later, in the 1990s, economists Gene Grossman and Alan Krueger thought they too had found an economic law of motion, this time about pollution. And it appeared to follow the very same trajectory as Kuznets' curve on inequality: first rising then falling as the economy grows. Despite the familiar caveats that the data were incomplete, and available for local air and water pollutants only, their findings were quickly labeled the "Environmental Kuznets Curve". And the message? When it comes to pollution, it has to get worse before it can get better and – guess what – more growth will make it better. Like a well-trained child, growth will apparently clean up after itself.

    Except it doesn't.
    ===================================================================
    More fuel to the fire

    MyLessThanPrimeBeef , April 19, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    They both seem typical of the human search for knowledge, with or without resorting to the Scientific Method.

    Typical in that

    1. we fail to recognize our knowledge is always partial and limited
    1A. Sometimes with the added arrogance of saying we know it's partial and limited
    (Some can't afford that added arrogance, because they have been exposed already, like, say, fortune tellers)

    And yet
    2. we use that knowledge as if it's complete and applicable everywhere.

    Michael Hudson , April 19, 2017 at 11:21 am

    The Greek concept of hubris was not merely arrogance, but involved an INJURY to others. (I discuss this in J is for Junk Economics.) The main examples were creditors and land monopolizers - and kings. Nemesis not only fight hubris, but specifically supported the weak and poor who were the main injured parties. The iconography is quite similar to Sumerian Nanshe of Lagash.
    So the concept of hubris is linked to affluenza: irresponsibility of wealth, injuring society at large.

    HopeLB , April 19, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    My Lord! The best economist on the planet is commenting! Our Economist God! (As someone here aptly characterized you a few weeks ago when Yves ran your discussion of Jubilees.)
    I'll come right out with it, I'm a Michael Hudson super fan/groupie and after Yves published one of your articles, which of course, I had already read being a big fan/internet tube tracker, I suggested we concerned citizens, get a Michael Hudson fan club going and somehow convince you to take your stellar, economics distilling/demystifying self on the road along with other exemplary economists and some musicians and comedians. Like that stadium event you did in Europe or that Irish Econ Conference, but this would be for the education of the vast citizenry, hence the addition of a bit of music/comedy to entice. A touring TED/Coachella or South by Southwest but for the Economic Edification of the 99%. (You wouldn't neccessarily have to deliver all of your addresses in person. Some could be taped.)
    You would be bigger than Bernie if the millenials became familiar with your work, but more importantly, you and other like minded economists, could arm people with the deeper understanding that is essential to overturning the prevailing paradigm.

    Thank You For Your Works!
    Hope

    ps I looked into getting Economic Rock Star as a website but it is taken.

    clinical wasteman , April 19, 2017 at 11:53 pm

    Yes, 'injury' as in injustice ! Of course that may entail physical damage, but the recent tendency to reduce 'injury' to that narrow sense alone misses most of the point.
    Thanks for the connection to 'hubris', concerning which I was Classically clueless until a few minutes ago. If hubris corresponds to injury in the proper sense, perhaps 'arrogance' should be paired with 'insult', i.e. the gratuitous gloating (= self-aggrandizement of the unjust) and gleeful blaming of the injured that at least in living memory seems almost always to be packaged with the injustice?

    fresno dan , April 19, 2017 at 11:23 am

    https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-04-18/california-tries-to-refill-its-biggest-reservoir

    None of these practices is new, although their use has expanded over the years. What does seem to be new, as Bettina Boxall of the Los Angeles Times reported this week, is that some California farmers are now experimenting with flooding fields that have grapevines and almond trees growing on them. And in general, people in California are paying a lot more attention to groundwater than they used to.

    In 2014, the California Legislature approved a package of groundwater-management laws - long after most other Western states had done so - that are now slowwwwwly beginning to take effect. Local groundwater-management agencies are being formed that will have to come up with plans to reach groundwater sustainability within 20 years.

    ========================================================
    You can look at this optimistically or pessimistically. With the population growing year, after year, after year, it doesn't take high intelligence that water demand will exceed water supply. And yet CA government choose to deal with this freight train coming down the tracks in ..2014.

    Arizona Slim , April 19, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    And, once again, the elephant in the room is not addressed. Population growth.

    Too many people in this world already. We need to question the pro-natalist bias in our culture.

    Spring Texan , April 19, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    Yes. See this NY Times article from this week. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/16/business/fewer-children-in-greece-may-add-to-its-financial-crisis.html

    Wisdom Seeker , April 19, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    > With the population growing year, after year, after year, it doesn't take high intelligence that water demand will exceed water supply.

    Supply is not fixed. A lot of the current "supply" (rainfall) isn't being retained, stored, or used intelligently. So there's still quite a bit of room for population growth, particularly in the northern, wetter parts of the state. Even without artificial restrictions on usage.

    On the other had, I agree with the point that humanity should not have as its primary goal the maximization of population on a single finite sphere. And thus economics should not have as its primary goal the maximization of "growth".

    flora , April 19, 2017 at 11:30 am

    "The problem of any branch of knowledge is to systematize a set of particular observations in a more coherent form, called hypothesis or 'theory.' Two problems must be resolved by those attempting to develop theory: (1) finding agreement on what has been observed; (2) finding agreement on how to systematize those observations."

    How will modern economists agree to agree on anything real now that post-modernist thought and critique has entered the economics field?

    "But Foucault had belatedly spotted that post-modernism and "neo-liberal" free-market economics, which had developed entirely independently of each other over the previous half-century, pointed in much the same direction. "
    http://www.economist.com/node/8401159

    Thanks for this post.

    flora , April 19, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    adding: The economists who use a post-modernist approach( all is uncertain and events are transient and therefore immaterial to the core theory) to defend a scientific determinist* core theory are engaging in double-think. I'm not an economist so maybe there's a there there I cannot see.

    *
    "Popper insisted that the term "scientific" can only be applied to statements that are falsifiable. Popper's book The Open Universe: An Argument For Indeterminism defines scientific determinism as the claim that any event can be rationally predicted, with any desired degree of precision, if we are given a sufficiently precise description of past events, together with all the laws of nature, a notion that Popper asserted was both falsifiable and adequately falsified by modern scientific knowledge.

    "In his book, A Brief History of Time, Hawking claims that predictability is required for 'scientific determinism' (start of chapter 4). He defines 'scientific determinism"" as meaning: 'something that will happen in the future can be predicted.' "

    http://psychology.wikia.com/wiki/Scientific_determinism

    fresno dan , April 19, 2017 at 11:37 am

    https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-04-18/why-social-networks-are-becoming-too-viral

    By measures that register actual human engagement – rather than fake accounts and bot activity - Facebook does not seem to be growing at all. In 2016, its users generated about 25 percent less original content than in 2015. The time users spend on Facebook dropped from 24 hours in mid-2015 to 18.9 hours in February, Comscore reported.

    ========================================
    One can only hope.
    I am only on Facebook because a friend and co-worker signed me up (without my knowledge or consent, but I think most people looked upon it like getting a greeting card) back in the day when the Facebook fad was at its peak. And I was interested in it as a social and economic phenomenon.

    My own anecdotal experience is that the most ardent users (multi daily postings) have declined by 95%. The occasional 2 or 3 times weekly posters are down to once monthly, and so on.
    And the response to postings seems to have had even greater declines. Even good friends who I used to TRY and keep up with postings, I scarcely ever bother now – and when I do open one, people who used to get near 100 "looks" have 2 or 3 – maybe once in a while for something real (somebody died, instead this is a picture of a meal I eated) , maybe 5.

    Woolworths used to be a juggernaut – so was Sears. Who remembers "My Space" ???

    Arizona Slim , April 19, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    The Presidential election of 2016 did it for me.

    I saw too many people turning into Trump Fraidy Cats before the election ("Vote for Hillary because Trump! He's so awful!") or Vote Shamers ("You're voting third party? Shame on you!").

    After the election, Facebook seemed like a psych ward. Too many sobbing, crying, and raving loons for my taste.

    Cutting back on Facebook is part of my larger goal of spending less time on social media and more time in social reality.

    Cujo359 , April 19, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    I had a similar experience on Twitter, which is why I stopped going there. Too depressing.

    Kalen , April 19, 2017 at 11:49 am

    Bravo, another critical issue absent from MSM or even worse purposefully being confused.

    It would help a lot if people take time to understand the money in itself that permeates every aspect of life since it is a central feature of any financial system under any economic system ancient or contemporary.

    Here is an simple essay that explains without financial jargon what money is in itself as a social construct and whom in reality it serves:

    https://contrarianopinion.wordpress.com/2015/04/14/plutus-and-the-myth-of-money/

    Disturbed Voter , April 19, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    Economics isn't economical, it is political-economics. Politics first, economics second. Politics is the art, not the science, of sharing out the wealth, power and fame in a society in an organized way. If your politics is corrupt, then your economics will be corrupt also.

    Blame Pythagoras. From Pythagoras and Croesus, we got the idea that value was a number, and that everything had a value, and that a market (aka city state) is where the hidden hand determined the relationship between prices, goods and services. The actual "cost" per capita, of running a subsistence agrarian society hasn't changed since the days of Babylon. We simply have more technical bookkeeping (and accounting). A shekel was the weight of 180 grains of dried barley seed. The Babylonians didn't have a primitive society they had monarchy, theocracy, militarism and receipts. A thing might be valued in so many shekels of silver, but the receipt accomplished what a coin would have, because it was honored. Clay money instead of paper money. You got your receipt for your socialist food dole, went to the temple granary to pick it up (this was long before Rome), visited the temple prostitutes (way better than Roman games), then went home. And as has been pointed out, this was a clay fiat and honesty was just as vanishing then as now. And yes, it was a debt system, not a credit system. The US and the world has moved from a credit system to a debt system in the last 100 years. The Great Whore, Babylon is still awaiting her destiny.

    "Daniel reads the words MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN and interprets them for the king: MENE, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; TEKEL, you have been weighed and found wanting; and PERES, the kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians."

    Paul Greenwood , April 19, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    Having once held a 1776 edition of Wealth of Nations in my hand I recall Smith was a Moral Philosopher and that Economics was a branch of Moral Philosophy choosing between Goods and Bads and seeing Utility Functions as Demand Curves.

    Then I recall Keynes, the Mathematician, writing beautiful prose in The General Theory. Somewhere the Reduced Form Equation boys started to play with Stochastic Variables to make the R2 fit Deterministic equations replaced Moral choices and an obsession with Beta proceeded to ignore Alpha.

    Economics is something of an academic joke. Steve Keen has introduced some life into a dead subject with his Hyman MInsky analysis since so much of Economic Theory as propounded is simply a Java Box running inside the main system

    Hope Larkin-Begley , April 19, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    Steve Keen is great like Michael Hudson. Did you read this hilarious post;

    http://eprints.kingston.ac.uk/36353/

    flora , April 19, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    +1. Moral philosophy. Yes.

    Cujo359 , April 19, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    We must learn to accept that when undeniable facts stare us in the face and shake up our political universe - e.g. growing unemployment is a problem , and money and finance have roles beyond medium of payment in an uncertain world shaken by financial crises - they are not transient problems; they are a part of the system we are meant to study.

    I think studying some of these things might be better left to psychologists. I emphasized the phrase about unemployment as a case in point – it could be argued that we have the unemployment we have right now thanks to telling ourselves, collectively, that we can't employ people. Anyone who chooses to look around and observe can find things we could be paying people to do, like fixing our streets and bridges, educating our young, exploring space and advancing science, providing medical care to the significant portion of our population who don't have access, but we are told that this would be bad for some reason, and many of us seem to believe this.

    I don't know if that confirms the author's ideas or not, but as several of us have observed now in these comments, our economic problems have less to do with the dismal science (or lack of it) and more to do with what people are inclined to believe is true, regardless of the facts.

    PKMKII , April 19, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    Economics needs to think of itself as a branch of sociology, and not money physics.

    Justicia , April 19, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    Actually, economics is more like a branch of medieval scholasticism. It's about forcing reality to fit dogma by imposing methodological and epistemological gag rules on its practitioners so that they're blinded to substance by form - and the non-expert public is bamboozled into mute acquiescence. Econned, as Yves would say.

    Andrew Baker , April 20, 2017 at 7:46 am

    + 1

    Spring Texan , April 19, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Yes, I'm baffled that we hear all this about oh jobs are going away becuz robots and maybe UBI and on and on when there are SO MANY UNFILLED JOBS staring us in the face where filling them would be of enormous benefit to all. Are they looking around at ALL?

    Thanks, Cujo349

    Cujo359 , April 19, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    As you can see, I'm baffled, too. UBI might be a good idea, and various forms of technology have certainly eliminated jobs over the years, but when so much work remains to be done, I don't see how you can argue that we've reached an age where most of us are truly unemployable.

    FTM, what is employment? Put most simply, it is one person or entity who has money paying someone to perform some task(s), possibly to a minimum acceptable quality. There are many forms of work we do that no one wants to pay us to do. My work at an amateur theatre falls into that category, as does the work of the people in the food bank/soup kitchen next door. Maybe our concept of what constitutes useful work needs to change, too.

    Cujo359 , April 19, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    Let me revise that to say "most of us who are now unemployed are truly unemployable".

    JEHR , April 19, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    The place to start paying decent wages is for all kinds of housework, daycare and elder care. All are undervalued and underpaid while that latter two are essential for a healthy community. None of these should be consigned to robots as only human contact can do the job well.

    washunate , April 19, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    But the irony of basic income is that's one of the things it does. A huge portion of "housework, daycare, and elder care" is better done informally , outside of the GDP-measured formal economy of employers and jobs and wages and benefits, especially given how crappy the formal jobs tend to be in those sectors. Income supports that lack formal work requirements by definition create more time for people to do things in the informal economy.

    Left in Wisconsin , April 19, 2017 at 7:18 pm

    But wouldn't it be better to pay parents and caregivers for caring? First of all, it's work and deserves to be remunerated like work. Second, keeping care work in the informal economy only "works" if people have other income with which to satisfy their needs and wants. There is no possibility that any basic income grant will provide a single parent with the funds to allow them to work taking care of their children, which is the socially optimal situation in almost all cases.

    craazyman , April 19, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    pretty funny. that's been standard econ cirricuulum at the University of Magonia for, oh, let's see, 1, 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9. Nine! Nine years!

    Pretty funny. Is this still April 1st? I guess not. Oh well, a day late, a dollar short (no pun intended) is better than a year late and a grand short, or a century late and a million short. There's a pattern there! it goes back to the Testament of Amram, Manuscript B. The Dead Sea Scrolls. That's what we teach in econo 101 during the "money" unit. Money, at the Universtiy of Magonia, is an idea that mediates the boundary wtihin a society between cooperation and conflict.. That's not a theory, it's a reality. Everybody has heard this before in the peanut gallery so I won't reapeat myself.

    They should send a delegation from Harvard to the Universtiy of Magonia for a seminar in money and economics. hahahaha. That's pretty funny even to think about. Believe me. They'd learn a few things but they might get ontological shock and end up like MIT mathematical economist Ed Bucks who spent two months in the New Hampshire woods looking at deer through binoculars in search of a theory of economics that could survive a collision with nature AND be deterministic and mathematically rigorous. He pretty much had a nervous breakdown and ended up back at MIT sucking up grant money like a baby at his mamas tits. Many are called, but few are chosen. LOL

    wilroncanada , April 19, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    Magonia? Isn't that the university that was threatening to move to San Seriffe, because they got a big donation from President Pica?

    Expat , April 19, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    Economics should be transferred to the divinity school. Then it will be untouchable!

    [Apr 20, 2017] Mexicos Economy Is Being Plundered Dry naked capitalism

    Notable quotes:
    "... By Don Quijones, Spain & Mexico, editor at Wolf Street. Originally published at Wolf Street ..."
    "... By Don Quijones . ..."
    "... When it comes to debt, everything is relative, especially if you don't have a reserve-currency-denominated printing press. Read Is Mexico Facing "Liquidity Problems?" ..."
    "... Greenspan's Fraud ..."
    "... It would also stop phony war on drugs in Mexico ..."
    "... To make matters worse, much of Mexico's new debt is in foreign-denominated currencies. Between 2015 and 2016 alone, the total amount of euro and dollar-denominated debt it issued rose by 46%. ..."
    "... [u]nlike debt issued in pesos, Mexico's central bank cannot just print dollars and euros to bail out bond holders or inflate away the debt. ..."
    "... Therefore shouldn't the question be the absolute external debt in dollars instead of the relative amount in pesos? ..."
    "... To make matters worse, much of Mexico's new debt is in foreign-denominated currencies. ..."
    Apr 20, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    Mexico's Economy Is Being Plundered Dry Posted on April 20, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. Most Americans know on some level that Mexico has become an economic and political disaster, save for those at the very top of the food chain. This post gives vignettes that bring home how much of a failed state it has become. And needless to say, the US had no small role in that outcome.

    By Don Quijones, Spain & Mexico, editor at Wolf Street. Originally published at Wolf Street

    The government of Mexico has a new problem on its hands: what to do with the burgeoning ranks of state governors, current or former, that are facing prosecution for fraud or corruption. It's a particularly sensitive problem given that most of the suspects belong to the governing political party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled Mexico uninterruptedly from 1929 to 2000. It returned to power in December 2012 with the election of Enrique Peña Nieto. And it clearly hasn't changed its ways.

    Some of the accused governors were so compromised they went on the run. In the last few weeks, two of them, Tomás Yarrington, former state governor of Tamaulipas, and Javier Duarte, former governor of Veracruz, were tracked down. Yarrington, accused of laundering proceeds from drug trafficking as well as helping Mexico's Gulf Cartel export "large quantities" of cocaine to the United States, was ensnared by Italian Police in the Tuscan city of Florence. He faces possible extradition to the United States.

    Yarrington's successor as governor of Tamaulipas, Eugenio Hernández, a fellow PRI member who is also accused of close ties with narcotraficantes and money laundering, has not been seen in public since last June .

    As for Duarte, he was caught this week by police in Guatemala. Like Yarrington, he wasn't exactly laying low. Among the accusations he faces is that of buying fake chemotherapy drugs , which were then unknowingly administered by state-run hospitals to children suffering from cancer. He and his cohorts purportedly pocketed the difference. He is also alleged to have set up 34 shell companies with the intention of diverting 35 billion pesos (roughly $2 billion) of public funds into his and his friends' deep pockets.

    In just about any jurisdiction on earth, $2 billion is a substantial amount of money, even by today's inflated standards. But in Mexico, where neither the super rich (accounting for a very large chunk of the country's wealth) nor the super poor (accounting for roughly half of the population) pay direct taxes of any kind, it's a veritable fortune.

    And when the country's public debt is already growing at an unprecedented pace, rampant corruption becomes a serious problem.

    In the year 2000, Mexico had a perfectly manageable debt load of roughly 20% of GDP. Today, it is almost two and a half times that size. Last year alone the Mexican state issued a grand total of $20.31 billion in new debt, the largest amount since 1995, the year immediately after the Tequila Crisis when the country received an international bailout to rescue its entire banking system from collapse and to make whole the Wall Street investment banks that had gone all in on Mexican assets.

    To make matters worse, much of Mexico's new debt is in foreign-denominated currencies. Between 2015 and 2016 alone, the total amount of euro and dollar-denominated debt it issued rose by 46%. Unlike debt issued in pesos, Mexico's central bank cannot just print dollars and euros to bail out bond holders or inflate away the debt. This debt must be serviced the hard way.

    In recent years, Mexico's public debt has mushroomed in order to make up for lackluster growth, a weakening peso, much lower global oil prices, and the dwindling contribution to government coffers of the country's erstwhile sugar daddy, Pemex. The state-owned oil giant has itself been systematically plundered dry by its burgeoning ranks of senior managers and administrators, the untouchable, unsackable leaders of the oil workers' union, all closely aligned to PRI, and legions of Pemex contractors.

    Between 2008 and 2016 Pemex's contribution to the government's tax revenues shrank from 40% to 13%. During roughly the same period (2009-2016) its debt grew 187% , to nearly $100 billion. Its pension liabilities amount to $1.2 billion. The losses and debt keep growing in tandem, while its production and reserves are shrinking. The company was already bailed out once last year.

    The more Pemex's financial health declines, the larger the shortfall in public finances and the faster Mexico's public debt will grow.

    The really twisted part? The more the debt grows, the more opportunities the country's corrupt politicians will get to feather their nests. It's not like there's much deterrent. In recent years only 17 of 42 serving or former governors suspected of corruption have been investigated, according to a study by María Amparo Casar, executive president of the advocacy group Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity. Before the latest rash of detentions, only three of them ended up in prison.

    "The decades of impunity have generated a level of shamelessness we've never seen before in Mexico," Max Kaiser, anti-corruption director for the Mexican Institute of Competitiveness (IMCO), told the New York Times . The excesses are more public than ever and have brought Mexicans to the verge of bankruptcy.

    Mexico's debt continues to grow at a much faster pace than its economy, whose growth is forecast to slow this year to 1.5%, compared to last year's 2.4%. In February Mexico's top auditor, the Federal Audit Office (ASF), warned that Mexico's debt situation was just a step away from becoming unsustainable. A number of states are already facing bankruptcy , including Duarte's Veracruz.

    Last August, Standard & Poor's lowered the outlook for Mexico's sovereign bonds from stable to negative and saw "an at least one-in-three possibility of a downgrade over the next 24 months." Mexico's foreign currency sovereign credit rating, which is what matters with bonds denominated in a foreign currency, at BBB+, is just three notches above junk. A downgrade would raise the cost of borrowing, pushing Mexico's finances even closer to the brink. In the meantime, the plunder must go on. By Don Quijones .

    When it comes to debt, everything is relative, especially if you don't have a reserve-currency-denominated printing press. Read Is Mexico Facing "Liquidity Problems?"

    0 0 9 0 0 This entry was posted in Banana republic , Free markets and their discontents , Globalization , Guest Post , Income disparity , Politics , The destruction of the middle class on April 20, 2017 by Yves Smith .
    Trade now with TradeStation – Highest rated for frequent traders
    Subscribe to Post Comments 37 comments Loblolly , April 20, 2017 at 10:15 am

    And needless to say, the US had no small role in that outcome.

    Can you elaborate on this? What responsibility do average US citizens bear for Mexico's crisis? Given the massive wealth transfer upwards in the last decade do we not have the same corruption issues in the US, regardless of it being under cover of law?

    JTMcPhee , April 20, 2017 at 10:42 am

    Maybe the stuff in this article has something to do with explaining the role "our" government and corruptorations have had and continue to have in catalyzing an dexporting and importing immiseration in Mexico and here "at home" too? "The Political Economy of Mexico's Drug War," http://isreview.org/issue/90/political-economy-mexicos-drug-war

    jpj , April 20, 2017 at 10:44 am

    I don't know if this is what was meant by that comment or not but, at the very least, it is the US' appetite for drugs that has allowed the cartels to flourish into practically nation states unto themselves.

    Arizona Slim , April 20, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    Exactly.

    And, guess what, legalizing drugs that are currently illegal, will put quite the crimp in the cartels' business model.

    If legalization is too big a leap, the US could try decriminalization. I believe that this was done in Portugal.

    palamedes , April 20, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    The problem with either is that a) The Mexican drug cartels are moving toward producing more lethal, cheaper drugs in massive quantities as the profits from selling marijuana dry up, and b) there needs to be, in the USA, a much more rigorous process regulating (as opposed to banning) controlled substances and of assisting addicts towards recovery. We've made periodic moves in this direction, but none have had staying power and that needs to change.

    Massinissa , April 20, 2017 at 11:40 am

    Us having no small role in crisis =/= US citizens having role in crisis.

    If you havn't noticed yet, the government in the US doesn't answer to the citizenry at all.

    Harry , April 20, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    Quite so !

    Adam Eran , April 20, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    @Loblolly: The U.S.'s role south of its borders has been predation and looting for centuries now. I've read that between 1798 and 1994 the U.S. was responsible for 41 changes of government south of its borders.

    When the Haitians, one of the two poorest nations in the hemisphere, had the temerity to elect Jean Bertrand Aristide, the candidate of the poor, the Clintons sent troops, and Bush 43 kidnapped him and took him to Central Africa.

    The Reagan administration famously sold arms to Iran right after it had kidnapped U.S. embassy staff to fund a proxy war against the other poorest nation in the hemisphere, Nicaragua. Reagan asked the Mexican president to endorse his line that Nicaragua was a threat to the U.S. The Mexican president replied he would be happy to do that if there was any way he could say such a thing without being laughed out of office.

    More recently, then secretary of state Hillary Clinton blessed the Honduran coup, installing a military junta to replace the democratically-elected government–a government which had the temerity to try to raise Honduras' minimum wage from 60¢ an hour. (The nerve of those people!). Meanwhile, 30,000 unaccompanied minors made their way to Gringolandia to avoid Honduran chaos. (I heard from WaPo's Ruben Navarette, deploring the treatment of these kids, but he uttered not a peep about what made them choose exile over their homes.)

    For Mexico's current corruption and sad-and-sorry economy, we can at least take credit for NAFTA. Actually their president, Carlos Salinas Gotari, drank enough of the neoliberal koolaid with his Harvard education to propose "free trade" to Bush 41 whose administration authored the actual legislation. Clinton signed the treaty with environmental and labor provisions that just aren't enforced.

    To demonstrate what a great idea was NAFTA, almost immediately the U.S. had to come up with a $20 billion loan to deal with the capital flight it permitted–and not incidentally to bail out U.S. banks that bet wrong on Mexico, and to rehearse the U.S. bank bailouts for any later financial scandal.

    One might guess that shipping a bunch of subsidized Iowa corn south of the border would put some subsistence corn farmers in Mexico out of business and it did. Sure, corn is only arguably the most important food crop in the world, and those little farmers were keeping the diversity of the corn genome alive, but hey! They weren't making any money for Monsanto!

    In the wake of NAFTA, Mexican real incomes declined 34% (says Ravi Batra in his Greenspan's Fraud )–really saying something in a country where half the population gets by on less than $4 a day. One has to return to the halcyon days of the Great Depression to find a decline like that in the U.S. economy.

    Of course that U.S. decline provoked no great migration oh wait! The Okies! The only more recent comparable economic decline (besides the Greeks) that I can think of is when Cuba lost its oil and subsidies from the Soviets in the early '90s. In the U.S., Michael Pollan reports we get one calorie of food by burning 10 calories of petroleum. Without that Russian oil, I've read that the average Cuban lost 20 lbs.

    So the constant attacks, political, economic and military, from the U.S. have had an effect. All those "illegal aliens" (no, not Martians with unpaid traffic tickets actually: "undocumented workers") came north for a reason. Ask one if he'd rather be back home, and you'll seldom hear them say "no."

    We read daily in nakedcapitalism how we're sowing the wind, but we're surely going to reap the whirlwind for the way the U.S. has treated its southern neighbors.

    lyman alpha blob , April 20, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    It's widely known that NAFTA allowed US agriculture companies that are heavily subsidized by the government to dump their cheap corn in Mexico putting farmers there off their land and out of business. And yet people still wonder why so many are immigrating to the US.

    Also, I'd keep an eye on that governor who is facing extradition to the US for facilitating the export of "large quantities" of cocaine. Speculation to be sure, but something tells me you don't do that without the knowledge and possible assistance of Uncle Sugar.

    I'd say ask Gary Webb, but he's dead of course after exposing a similar scandal back in the 90s.

    Ping , April 20, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    NAFTA is directly responsible for increased cartel power. Besides corn dumping disrupting Mexico's rural economy and legitimate income, it generated the "maquiladora's" or Mexican factories along the US border for assembling tariff free imported materials for export.

    The large population increase the factories attracted had no increase in public infrastructure like schools, housing etc and youth gangs proliferated. The cartels then began using the gangs as enforcers for smuggling routes and distribution into the US and many associated criminal tasks. A cascade of events ..

    Jim Haygood , April 20, 2017 at 10:43 am

    Between 2008 and 2016 Pemex's contribution to the government's tax revenues shrank from 40% to 13%.

    A radio journalist friend in Guadalajara has been expecting and writing about this scenario for at least a dozen years. Mexico is a petro-state, but production is declining in its big oilfields and isn't being replaced. He visited South America to check out alternate bolt holes, on the theory that when the oil runs out, it's gonna turn ugly in Mexico.

    So far his worries proved to be early. We don't have enough data points, but it's worth noting that Mexico's 1982 debt crisis occurred after a spike in US interest rates, a US recession and an oil patch meltdown in 1981.

    Similarly, the US Fed started hiking interest rates in early 1994, while the price of oil had been sliding toward $15/bbl ever since the late 1990 spike to $40/bbl in anticipation of the Gulf war. Here's a long term chart of crude oil:

    http://www.mrci.com/pdf/cl.pdf

    Now J-Yel and her sidekick Stanley Mellon Fischer are once again "normalizing" interest rates, in a process they imagine to be smooth sailing. One should doubt this proposition. Among other things, recent extreme peso devaluation makes Mexico's dollar-denominated debt more onerous to service.

    By next year, the question on everyone's lips in Vichy DC may be " Who lost Mexico? "

    carl , April 20, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    IIRC, Cantarell, the supergiant Mexican offshore field, peaked quite awhile ago. Maybe some new discoveries have made up for some of the decline, but I hadn't heard much about that.

    Kalen , April 20, 2017 at 10:53 am

    If US establishment would go after murderous Mexican oligarchy's Wall Street interests and support democratic movements in Mexico based of egalitarian principles, return of land to the people and establish social justice, we would have to build a wall to keep Mexicans in the US not the other way around.

    It would also stop phony war on drugs in Mexico, a war that is nothing but a modern form, a sad reincarnation of popular insurrection against Mexican aristocracy happens to be at this time funded by drug trade, as a proud Mexican tradition of noble outlaws, a country founded on "Bandits" myth as national heroes bringers of independence from Spain.

    If the US removed big Imperial foot of the throats of billions of peoples all over the world, and that includes Mexico nobody would want to go to America enjoying living in their own countries as everybody wants.

    World immigration is an artifact of exploitative globalism and wars. Nothing natural or normal or desired is in emigration of people. Tourism yes but emigration is a sociopolitical tools of global oligarchy combined with chaos and violence.

    If US let, as it were before in history (revolution of 1910-1930-ties, before PRI was corrupted to the bone) for political left to takeover the Mexican government then fate of Mexican people would have changed significantly for better.

    djrichard , April 20, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    It would also stop phony war on drugs in Mexico

    This is an extension of the phone war on drugs in the US. See A Narco History: How the United States and Mexico Jointly Created the "Mexican Drug War" .

    My belief is that the US war on drugs is just another example of what I'm calling CJ Hopkin's law of propaganda ,

    The primary aim of official propaganda is to generate an "official narrative" that can be mindlessly repeated by the ruling classes and those who support and identify with them. This official narrative does not have to make sense, or to stand up to any sort of serious scrutiny. Its factualness is not the point. The point is to draw a Maginot line, a defensive ideological boundary, between "the truth" as defined by the ruling classes and any other "truth" that contradicts their narrative.

    Or to use your language, it's to keep in place the foot of US authority on its own people. The damage to Mexico in the war on drugs is collateral damage – a necessary cost of keeping people in the US disciplined. Nothing personal just bidness.

    Ranger Rick , April 20, 2017 at 11:18 am

    This article focuses on the oil, but where does Carlos Slim figure into this? I find it endlessly fascinating that one of the world's richest people hails from one of its poorest countries.

    Don Quijones , April 20, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Here's an article on that very subject from a few years ago:

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/09/slimlandia-the-land-of-mexican-oligarchs.html

    RabidGandhi , April 20, 2017 at 11:36 am

    Point taken, but it should be noted that in terms of per capita GDP (PPP), Mexico is 68th out of 186 in the world, meaning it is not really one of the world's poorest countries. That said, there is rampant poverty in Mexico that makes Slim's hoarding all the more despicable.

    Seamus Padraig , April 20, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    Per capita GDP is just an average. Median income is what you should be considering here. There are a handful of Carlos Slims down there that bust the curve for everyone else. Oh, by the way, did I mention that Señor Slim now owns the New York Times?

    RabidGandhi , April 20, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    Agreed, median income is a much more telling stat. Mexican median annual household income is $11,680 vs. $9,733 worldwide.

    RabidGandhi , April 20, 2017 at 11:31 am

    Far be it from me to defend the Peña Nieto administration, but I'm not sure from where Quijones gets this:

    To make matters worse, much of Mexico's new debt is in foreign-denominated currencies. Between 2015 and 2016 alone, the total amount of euro and dollar-denominated debt it issued rose by 46%.

    The figures I have from the Bank of México show the country ended 2015 with a gross external debt of USD $417bn, while it ended 2016 at USD $412 bn: ie not a 46% increase but rather the first decrease in Mexico's external debt since 2009.

    What I do see is that the total external debt (in dollars) decreased but the peso lost 18% to the USD in 2016. Since GDP only grew 7% last year, Mexico's external debt as a percentage of GDP (denominated in pesos) would have grown by around 40%. But this goes against Quijones' correct point that " [u]nlike debt issued in pesos, Mexico's central bank cannot just print dollars and euros to bail out bond holders or inflate away the debt. ". Therefore shouldn't the question be the absolute external debt in dollars instead of the relative amount in pesos?

    Mel , April 20, 2017 at 11:58 am

    I would guess that we want to answer the question "How much Mexican production would have to be diverted to pay off that debt?" So we either work out the value of Mexican GDP in dollars, or convert the value of the debt to pesos.

    djrichard , April 20, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    Therefore shouldn't the question be the absolute external debt in dollars instead of the relative amount in pesos?

    Simpler to keep the currency conversions out, and just track changes on a per currency basis.

    A perennial question I always ask when it comes to trade imbalances by the US is that we send our dollars to foreign countries for goods, and it only a subset of the US dollars come back to the US for goods what's happening to the rest of our US dollars? In the case of Mexico, an answer in theory could be that at least some of those US dollars are being used to pay US debt. But that would mean the Fed Gov of Mexico would have to implement a tax that is denominated in US dollars. Which would then fall on their exporters, as they're the ones hoovering up the US dollars. And they don't want that.

    So instead they tax the losers. And they only have pesos. So the conversion rate is an issue.

    What's interesting in all this is that while Mexico's Fed Gov is taking on debt in US dollars, their central bank owns US treasuries (that's how they manipulate their currency). But it begs the question, is there a way that Mexico's central bank and Mexico's Fed Gov could come to a deal to use the US treasuries that the central bank is holding to cancel out the US debt obligation by Mexico's Fed Gov? I'm guessing no – it's the principle of the matter, lol.

    To make matters worse, much of Mexico's new debt is in foreign-denominated currencies.

    Why do countries do this to themselves? Seems to be the very definition of insanity.

    RabidGandhi , April 20, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    "Why do countries do this to themselves?" They don't. They have an elite that does this to the country because it benefits them as a class, with most people in the country excluded from the decision-making process.

    Susan the other , April 20, 2017 at 11:54 am

    I don't get what good it can possibly do to build a wall to keep those bad hombres out when the bad hombres are all the politicians in Mexico. This is not a cautionary tale, it's too late for that. We need entirely new thinking here. Look how complex Brexit is – which lets us know how detailed the union tried to be in order to protect its interests. Which is looking pretty futile. Victor Orban was the only leader in the EU to put up a wall to keep refugees/immigrants out and instead of sanctioning Hungary, Mutti has confessed her immigration policy was a mistake. Why on earth didn't she say the ME war was a mistake? It's practically genocide. Three years ago when Syrians started leaving in a panic they knew it was going to be annihilation. How did they know they were sitting on such unlucky ground? If free trade treaties had a way of maintaining decent wages and living standards as the prerequisite to that trade we could begin to set things right. And that is what we should be doing instead of going to war to kickstart the free market economy. Trump is acting like that wall is actually infrastructure. And I wonder if people are amused by the double meaning of "the war on poverty." Everything is such a mess we can't keep pretending that the basics we follow are right. It seems like one long and insane emergency. I'm so burned out with political failure.

    Seamus Padraig , April 20, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    If free trade maintained "decent wages and living standards," the neo-liberal establishment would be against them.

    pretzelattack , April 20, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    heard that.

    curlydan , April 20, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    "[Pemex's] pension liabilities amount to $1.2 billion" this figure seemed a bit low in today's world of inflated pension return expectations–wondering about the source here. I saw the following study said Pemex's liabilities were closer to $90 billion although it is Wharton.

    "Pemex's $90 billion in unfunded pension liabilities has been a major headache"
    http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/pemexs-pension-problem-oil-giant-slippery-ground/

    Don Quijones , April 20, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Curly Dan,

    That is a terrible typo on my part and I hang my head in shame - it should read 1.8 trillion pesos (roughly $90 billion at today's exchange rate), though there's some controversy around the number since some of the liabilities were supposed to have been transferred to the government's books last year. I don't how how the $1.2 billion crept in but I apologize with complete sincerity to all readers (and Yves) for the cock up.

    DQ

    Don Quijones , April 20, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    Hi Rabid Gandhi,

    That data point you mention was taken from an article (second paragraph down) published in EL Financiero, the third most read newspaper in Mexico and an affiliate of Bloomberg. Will look into the disparity.

    As for Mexico's GDP, it grew by 2.3% last year, not 7%. The country hasn't experienced such buoyant growth for decades - and certainly not since joining NAFTA.

    Thanks.

    RabidGandhi , April 20, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    Thanks DQ: sorry I wasn't clear about the 7% figure; the Bank of Mexico data I cited refer to nominal GDP growth in pesos. Since the peso devalued 18% to the dollar in 2016, real GDP in dollars shrank from USD 1.3 trillion to 1.15 trillion. Might this account for why EF calculated a 46% increase in external debt– because they are stating how many dollars Mexico borrowed but calculated in pesos? If so, this figure is misleading and detracts from your argument: those obligations are in foreign currencies, so their value in pesos is beside the point.

    As I see it, the external debt is not (yet) a major issue in Mexico; more of a concern are the bonds issued by the states and semi-public companies that cannot print their own currencies and will leave the public on the hook. (Not to mention PRI whacking the public with spending cuts and utility/gas hikes, which are another story )

    Don Quijones , April 20, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    Thanks for clarifying, RG. And you're probably right: external debt is not the biggest issue here. More important are the out of control public spending at the regional level, the systemic corruption at both the state and federal level, which Peña Nieto's government has done nothing to address, and Pemex's worsening woes, and the risk they pose to Mexico's fiscal health.

    If the peso once again begins to fall in value, the exposure of Mexico's corporate sector to foreign denominated debt is likely to be a much more immediate threat than the government's.

    River , April 20, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    Mexico has always been like this. Even prior to American meddling. Transferring all their mineral wealth i.e. silver to China for cheap, yet profitable, ceramics, and turning the Yucatan from growing food into the plants that were used to weave bags for storage containers in the 18th C., peonage and companies stores, on and on it goes.

    What's happening now is just a continuation of the plundering that's been happening since the 16th C.

    Seamus Padraig , April 20, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    Quite correct. It all began with the Spaniards centuries ago.

    Jeff N , April 20, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    this sounds like the standard bezzle:
    run up debts
    buy things
    pocket the things
    burn down the store
    collect insurance $ on everything that was "inside" the store (even though it had actually been looted long ago)

    Sutter Cane , April 20, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    As for Duarte, he was caught this week by police in Guatemala. Like Yarrington, he wasn't exactly laying low. Among the accusations he faces is that of buying fake chemotherapy drugs, which were then unknowingly administered by state-run hospitals to children suffering from cancer. He and his cohorts purportedly pocketed the difference.

    Shades of Harry Lime, no? The drug war has done to Mexico what it took WWII to do to Vienna.

    pretzelattack , April 20, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    seems like the world is being plundered dry, at various rates of impoverishment.

    Phemfrog , April 20, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    Anecdote here, but an uncle on my husband's side who lives in Mexico City had mentioned big problems with his pension. (he works in media, and the family refers to it as a government pension). he said that pensions are being looted and they are paying out pennies on the dollar. so he withdrew what he could in lump sum and bought a small apartment near a beach somewhere. the only way to keep any of the value. they say what used to be hundreds of dollars a month to retire on is now less than $50 per month, and that no one can live off that little.

    [Apr 20, 2017] Oliver Stone Rages Against The Deep States Wonderful Job Of Throwing America Into Chaos

    Notable quotes:
    "... I confess I really had hopes for some conscience from Trump about America's wars, but I was wrong -- fooled again! -- as I had been by the early Reagan, and less so by Bush 43. Reagan found his mantra with the "evil empire" rhetoric against Russia, which almost kicked off a nuclear war in 1983 -- and Bush found his 'us against the world' crusade at 9/11, in which of course we're still mired. ..."
    "... It seems that Trump really has no 'there' there, far less a conscience, as he's taken off the handcuffs on our war machine and turned it over to his glorified Generals ..."
    "... well, he got my generation started/up to speed with JFK truth, and took a beating for it. in the eyes of the entertainment media, he was a patriotic steven spielberg before jfk, he was conspiracy theorist with a good director of photography and editing team after. ..."
    "... his general analysis for 9/11 and who benefited from it, (<<cui bono, project for new american century>>) was pointing in the right direction. he might have done more harm than good if he started speaking about thermite or whatever, or would have been dismissed as a nut out of hand. ..."
    "... Stone is right enough is enough. Anyone who doesn't believe that countries use psychological warfare and propaganda to sway the opinions of people both in and outside of their country should be considered naive. ..."
    "... Americans have every reason to be concerned and worried considering revelations of just how big the government intelligent agencies have grown since 9-11 and how unlimited their spying and surveillance operations have become. The article below explores this growth and questions whether we have lost control. ..."
    "... We were all deceived by a great, maybe brilliant, actor. ..."
    Apr 20, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
    In March of last year, Academy Award-winning director Oliver Stone warned the world :

    "we're going to war - either hybrid in nature...or a hot war (which will destroy our country). Our citizens should know this, but they don't because our media is dumbed down in its 'Pravda'-like support for our 'respectable', highly aggressive government."

    And strongly rejected the establishment's "the Russians are coming" narrative shortly after the election and correctly forecast that it wouldn't be long before the deep state pushed Trump into an anti-Kremlin position...

    "As much as we may disagree with Donald Trump (and I do) he's right now target number one of the MSM propaganda -- until, that is, he changes to the anti-Kremlin track over, God knows, some kind of petty dispute cooked up by CIA, and in his hot-headed way starts fighting with the Russians ...

    I never thought I'd find myself at this point in time praying for the level-headedness of a Donald Trump . "

    Stone was correct and in a Facebook post tonight expresses his disappointment at Trump and disgust for The Deep State (and America's wilful ignorance).

    "So It Goes"

    I confess I really had hopes for some conscience from Trump about America's wars, but I was wrong -- fooled again! -- as I had been by the early Reagan, and less so by Bush 43. Reagan found his mantra with the "evil empire" rhetoric against Russia, which almost kicked off a nuclear war in 1983 -- and Bush found his 'us against the world' crusade at 9/11, in which of course we're still mired.

    It seems that Trump really has no 'there' there, far less a conscience, as he's taken off the handcuffs on our war machine and turned it over to his glorified Generals -- and he's being praised for it by our 'liberal' media who continue to play at war so recklessly. What a tortured bind we're in. There are intelligent people in Washington/New York, but they've lost their minds as they've been stampeded into a Syrian-Russian groupthink, a consensus without asking -- 'Who benefits from this latest gas attack?' Certainly neither Assad nor Putin. The only benefits go to the terrorists who initiated the action to stave off their military defeat.

    It was a desperate gamble, but it worked because the Western media immediately got behind it with crude propagandizing about murdered babies , etc. No real investigation or time for a UN chemical unit to establish what happened, much less find a motive. Why would Assad do something so stupid when he's clearly winning the civil war?

    No, I believe America has decided somewhere, in the crises of the Trump administration, that we will get into this war at any cost, under any circumstances -- to, once again, change the secular regime in Syria, which has been, from the Bush era on, one of the top goals -- next to Iran -- of the neoconservatives. At the very least, we will cut out a chunk of northeastern Syria and call it a State.

    Abetted by the Clintonites, they've done a wonderful job throwing America into chaos with probes into Russia's alleged hacking of our election and Trump being their proxy candidate (now clearly disproved by his bombing attack) -- and sadly, worst of all in some ways, admitting no memory of the same false flag incident in 2013, for which again Assad was blamed (see Seymour Hersh's fascinating deconstruction of this US propaganda, 'London Review of Books' December 19, 2013, "Whose sarin?"). No memory, no history, no rules -- or rather 'American rules.'

    No, this isn't an accident or a one-off affair. This is the State deliberately misinforming the public through its corporate media and leads us to believe, as Mike Whitney points out in his brilliant analyses, "Will Washington Risk WW3" and "Syria: Where the Rubber Meets the Road," that something far more sinister waits in the background .

    Mike Whitney, Robert Parry, and former intelligence officer Phil Giraldi all comment below. It's well worth 30 minutes of your time to read. Lastly, below is a link to Bruce Cumings's "Nation" analysis of North Korea, as he again reminds us of the purposes of studying history.

    Can we wake up before it's too late? I for one feel like the John Wayne veteran (of war) character in "Fort Apache," riding with the arrogant Custer-like General (Henry Fonda) to his doom. My country, my country, my heart aches for thee.

    FIAT CON -> knukles •Apr 19, 2017 8:22 PM

    Everything is finite on this planet except the US$, I can't see how believing this will cause any trouble. /s

    gregga777 -> SallySnyd •Apr 19, 2017 7:44 PM

    "One has to wonder how many fronts Congress thinks that the American military complex can fight and win wars?"

    The truth is that America, as a deliberate policy, does not win wars. Dragging out wars (e.g., Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, etc.) produces far greater revenues and profits for the War Profiteers and Merchants of Death that control United States foreign policy. They all deserve bullets to the back of the neck for their evil takeover of the United States and their willingness to sacrifice the lives of millions of people to their evil, illegal and Unconstitutional Wars of Aggression.

    VIS MAIOR -> gregga777 •Apr 19, 2017 7:53 PM

    135 000 http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/vietnam-american-holocaust/

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_War_casualties ... 1000 years ban for usa on OL games and other + forever ban on all !

    they kill own 135 000 + thousand more after in usa from depresions, alchdrugs.. + 4 milions !!!! asians what fuckretard nations cancer is usa ..

    please delete usa from this planet ..PLEASE

    Tothguy1948 -> Savyindallas •Apr 19, 2017 11:43 PM

    well, he got my generation started/up to speed with JFK truth, and took a beating for it. in the eyes of the entertainment media, he was a patriotic steven spielberg before jfk, he was conspiracy theorist with a good director of photography and editing team after.

    yeah, i've come to see him as a bit of fatuous idiot in some interviews, he sure has got his own achille's heel and hasn't offered every last truth on the subject, but who has done more to popularize critical thinking and research on it than him? i'm forever grateful for that

    his general analysis for 9/11 and who benefited from it, (<<cui bono, project for new american century>>) was pointing in the right direction. he might have done more harm than good if he started speaking about thermite or whatever, or would have been dismissed as a nut out of hand.

    Let it Go •Apr 19, 2017 8:12 PM

    Stone is right enough is enough. Anyone who doesn't believe that countries use psychological warfare and propaganda to sway the opinions of people both in and outside of their country should be considered naive. To many people America is more than a little hypocritical when they criticize other countries for trying to gain influence considering our history of meddling in the affairs of other countries.

    Americans have every reason to be concerned and worried considering revelations of just how big the government intelligent agencies have grown since 9-11 and how unlimited their spying and surveillance operations have become. The article below explores this growth and questions whether we have lost control.

    http://brucewilds.blogspot.com/2017/04/psychological-warfare-and-propaganda.html

    peterk •Apr 19, 2017 8:50 PM

    trump is perhaps the best president for the deep state...... a president who doesn't really care about anything too much.

    he has been a carefree billionaire playboy all his life, never gets to involved in any fight, as he isnt all that bright, so he just

    moves along when things get tough.

    he betrayed the USA

    Anonymous IX •Apr 19, 2017 9:46 PM

    A very simple question.

    Why has Trump completely reneged on his promise to stay out of foreign wars and regime change? Not only Syria but Yemen. Why has Trump placed the U.S. in a needless confrontation with Russia? Before the election, he spoke about establishing strong economic relations with other countries in favor of the U.S.

    Part of making "American Great Again" involves staying out of foreign wars which do not concern us and using our monies to re-educate and protect the diminishing American worker.

    Mr. Stone is right.

    Akhenaten II -> Anonymous IX •Apr 20, 2017 12:44 AM

    Trump works for Israel and the jewish mob. Always has.

    We were all deceived by a great, maybe brilliant, actor. The only saving grace is that this play is nearing its last act before they knock the entire theatre down, to be abandoned like the Coliseum.

    [Apr 19, 2017] Trump folded. The purple revolution against him succeeded. He was unable withstand the pressure of anti-Russian attacks and Trump as a Russian agent smear. Few

    Notable quotes:
    "... One thing worth reiterating: Trump has largely shown himself to be no different than standard Republicans on budget issues, and his core supporters still love him. It's as though they actually care little about economic issues ..."
    Apr 19, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    Sanjait, April 19, 2017 at 08:32 AM
    Bernstein on garbage duty.

    One thing worth reiterating: Trump has largely shown himself to be no different than standard Republicans on budget issues, and his core supporters still love him. It's as though they actually care little about economic issues and just want a guy who acts terribly towards minorities and foreigners.

    jonny bakho -> Sanjait... , April 19, 2017 at 08:57 AM
    The southern rednecks who control the GOP believe in the Plantation Economy. The Plantation owner exploits the slave and white trash labor and then hires the privileged white guys with the money he extorts. White guys get ahead by brown nosing the wealthy plantation owner.

    The alternative economy that is thriving is entrepreneurial and many people find it easy to suck up to a rich white guy than to go on their own. It is a failing economic model but the only one some people know.

    libezkova -> Sanjait... , April 19, 2017 at 10:14 AM
    "his core supporters still love him"

    I am not so sure. Trump folded. The "purple" revolution against him succeeded. He was unable withstand the pressure of anti-Russian attacks and "Trump as a Russian agent" smear. Few people love turncoats.

    Now he is within just sex change operation difference from Hillary Clinton on foreign policy issues. In other words he betrayed anti-war right -- an important part of his base. He also lost paleoconservatives, another less important, but still a sizable part of his former base.

    Out of his domestic promise the only part that still stands is the Trump Wall -- "building the wall on the border with Mexico" project :-)

    Also, on domestic issues he proved to be so incompetent, that I am not sure that any of his supporters are exited about him. His dealing with Obamacare issues were not only disastrously incompetent and also did not correspond to his election promises. And that was noted.

    He promised to "drain the swamp" but instead he became a part of the swamp himself.

    Politically he is Obama II -- a Republican version of Obama: another king of "bait and switch".

    "Agent Orange" now wants to use jingoism to artificially propel hid approval ratings, but his attack on Syrian airbase is not just a war crime. It is much worse. It was a blunder.

    In other words large part of his supporters see that "the king is naked."

    libezkova -> pgl... , April 19, 2017 at 10:24 AM
    Actually analogy with Obama is deeper than the "king of bait and switch" characterization.

    Like Obama before him, he played the role of a "tabula rasa" -- an empty board on which the frustrated Americans could project their desire for the change ("change we can believe in"), but who, in reality, was just another sell-out.

    [Apr 19, 2017] Former acting CIA Director Michael Morell: Russian meddling in US election is the political equivalent of 9/11

    Really agitated Hillary supporter...
    Notable quotes:
    "... "A foreign government messing around in our elections is, I think, an existential threat to our way of life," Morell said. "To me, and this is to me not an overstatement, this is the political equivalent of 9/11." ..."
    Dec 12, 2016 | www.businessinsider.com

    Evidence that Russia attempted to sway the outcome of the presidential election with a hacking campaign targeting Democrats "is the political equivalent of 9/11," the former acting director of the CIA, Michael Morell, said in an interview published Monday.

    Morell, an intelligence analyst who served as acting director of the CIA twice between 2011 and 2013, told The Cipher Brief that revelations disclosed in a new CIA report about how Russia meddled in the election to help get Donald Trump elected "is an attack on our very democracy."

    "A foreign government messing around in our elections is, I think, an existential threat to our way of life," Morell said. "To me, and this is to me not an overstatement, this is the political equivalent of 9/11."

    [Apr 19, 2017] Ex-CIA Directors kill Russians in Syria comment reveals neocon influence

    Looks like the former CIA Director Michael Morell is kind of "inside CIA" chickenhawk. Never was in field operations
    Notable quotes:
    "... Morell has proposed the US change tactics in Syria by targeting President Bashar Assad's allies, adding that killing Russians should be done covertly. ..."
    "... Morell was suggesting to kill Russian and Iranian people – I'm assuming soldiers, even though he wasn't that specific – as payback for their actions in Syria and Iran's actions in Iraq. Apparently Iran was providing supplies and armaments to the people we were fighting there during our occupation. Is this of strategy or tactics the norm or the oddity for the CIA in planning? ..."
    "... What Mike Morell is proposing is quite simply illegal. You just can't wantonly kill people because you don't like their politics. One of the important things that Mike Morell has forgotten or has chosen to ignore is that [Syrian President Bashar] Assad, whether we like him or not, is the internationally recognized leader of a sovereign country. And the Russian military has been invited into that country by its sovereign leader. So it's not up to us to decide we don't like that, and so we are going to start killing people because of it. ..."
    "... What a fraud. A transparent fraud. John knows him better than I do because John dealt with him. ..."
    "... Mike Morell was a golden boy for many years. He was a very young manager and rose quickly through the ranks, and had the most important jobs in the CIA, at least on the analytic side Once he got into the senior intelligence service, he took on a broader role, but that role never involved operations. This is a problem inside the agency. ..."
    "... You have somebody who has never served overseas except in the very final years of his career in a very cushy position. But certainly never operationally. He's never recruited a foreign national to spy for the United States; he's never been involved in difficult or dangerous operations, yet he's advocating putting American lives on the line to kill foreign nationals against whom we have no declaration of war. ..."
    "... Say he gets the chance to implement this great strategy of his which is apparently murdering a bunch of people and blowing up a bunch of stuff around Assad. How does that bring peace to Syria? ..."
    "... The definition of a neocon is somebody who has great difficulty distinguishing between the strategic interests of Israel, on the one hand, and the strategic interests of the United States on the other. Israel wants bedlam in Syria, and they've got it. ..."
    Aug 13, 2016 | www.rt.com
    Op-Edge 'Ex-CIA Director's 'kill Russians in Syria' comment reveals neocon influence' Published time: 13 Aug, 2016 12:53 Edited time: 14:38

    I want to scare Assad Mike Morell (Aug 8, 2016) Charlie Rose

    Former CIA Director Michael Morell sparked uproar when he said in an interview on Charlie Rose that Russians and Iranians should be killed in Syria. Was the provocative statement an effort to promote himself as the new CIA Director under Hillary Clinton?

    Morell has proposed the US change tactics in Syria by targeting President Bashar Assad's allies, adding that killing Russians should be done covertly.

    "We need to make the Iranians pay a price in Syria, we need to make the Russians pay a price," Morell told a stunned Charlie Rose, who asked if that means killing Iranians and Russians. Morell answered "Yes," saying the killings should be done "convertly" but done in such way that "Moscow would get the message."

    Two former CIA officials turned whistleblowers, Ray McGovern and John Kiriakou, appeared on RT's "Watching the Hawks" program to give their analysis on the disturbing comments, as well as other tantalizing bits of information.

    'Kill Russians and Iranians, threaten Assad,' says ex-CIA chief backing #Clintonhttps://t.co/qd21Klts2Npic.twitter.com/Otcuwniwxw

    - RT America (@RT_America) August 9, 2016

    RT (Tyrel Ventura): Morell was suggesting to kill Russian and Iranian people – I'm assuming soldiers, even though he wasn't that specific – as payback for their actions in Syria and Iran's actions in Iraq. Apparently Iran was providing supplies and armaments to the people we were fighting there during our occupation. Is this of strategy or tactics the norm or the oddity for the CIA in planning?

    John Kiriakou: This is the exception. It's not the norm. Even under George W. Bush when the CIA wanted to initiate or institute a policy or program that would result in the killing of foreign nationals, my God, we went to the UN Security Council and asked for a vote. What Mike Morell is proposing is quite simply illegal. You just can't wantonly kill people because you don't like their politics. One of the important things that Mike Morell has forgotten or has chosen to ignore is that [Syrian President Bashar] Assad, whether we like him or not, is the internationally recognized leader of a sovereign country. And the Russian military has been invited into that country by its sovereign leader. So it's not up to us to decide we don't like that, and so we are going to start killing people because of it.

    Ray McGovern: What a fraud. A transparent fraud. John knows him better than I do because John dealt with him.

    JK: I worked closely with Mike Morell for several years in CIA headquarters. Mike Morell was a golden boy for many years. He was a very young manager and rose quickly through the ranks, and had the most important jobs in the CIA, at least on the analytic side Once he got into the senior intelligence service, he took on a broader role, but that role never involved operations. This is a problem inside the agency. It's emblematic of what has happened with what I like to think is a neoconservative takeover of CIA policy. You have somebody who has never served overseas except in the very final years of his career in a very cushy position. But certainly never operationally. He's never recruited a foreign national to spy for the United States; he's never been involved in difficult or dangerous operations, yet he's advocating putting American lives on the line to kill foreign nationals against whom we have no declaration of war.

    #WatchingTheHawks SoundCloud Episode 44.2 is here of our best segments! @TabethaWatching@TyrelWatchinghttps://t.co/dxYcjCww42

    - RT America (@RT_America) August 13, 2016

    RT (Tabetha Wallace): Say he gets the chance to implement this great strategy of his which is apparently murdering a bunch of people and blowing up a bunch of stuff around Assad. How does that bring peace to Syria?

    JK: It doesn't, it can't and it won't. This whole idea that he espoused on the Charlie Rose show will not come to pass. If Mike Morell were serious about this, if this were something that Hillary Clinton would seriously consider, it would be kept so secret and so private that even inside the CIA 99 percent of employees wouldn't know anything about it. So for him to just go on TV and dramatically say this is what he would do it's just grandstanding.

    This is such an obviously transparent bid by Michael Morell to be the CIA Director under a Hillary Clinton administration... This is a political ploy by him that is not thought through at all - Gareth Porter, investigative journalist, to RT in a separate interview.

    RT (Tyrel Ventura): Why do you think Morell is getting on TV and grandstanding like that? What is his motivation for doing this?

    RM: He's not the only one. There are others who are candidates to be head of the CIA or other high positions. The whole thing is so vacuous. Charlie Rose has had this guy on 11 times in the last two years. They never question the unspoken premises. I mean, Hello? Why does Bashar al-Assad have to go? Is he a threat to the United States? No. Then why does he have to go? It's very simple. The neocons want him to go. Why do the neocons want him to go? The definition of a neocon is somebody who has great difficulty distinguishing between the strategic interests of Israel, on the one hand, and the strategic interests of the United States on the other. Israel wants bedlam in Syria, and they've got it.

    The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

    [Apr 19, 2017] A Lawless Plan to Target Syrias Allies

    Notable quotes:
    "... (Emphasis added) ..."
    "... And I think I came across as saying U.S. Special Forces should go in there and start killing Iranians and Russians. I did not say that. ..."
    "... And here I did argue, Charlie, that the U.S. military itself should take some action, and what I would see as valuable is limited, very, very, very limited U.S. airstrikes against those assets that are extremely important to Assad personally. ..."
    "... (Emphasis added) ..."
    "... "Now these issues that I'm talking about here, right, are talked about in the sit room. They're talked about in national security circles all the time, right. These are debates that people have, and I certainly understand that there are people on the other side of the argument from me, right. But I wasn't talking about the U.S. starting a major war with Iran and Russia, and I think that was the way people interpreted it." ..."
    "... Morell is advocating here violates international law, the rules that – in other circumstances, i.e. when another government is involved – the U.S. government condemns as "aggression" or as an "invasion" or as "terrorism." ..."
    Aug 20, 2016 | consortiumnews.com

    Exclusive: Official Washington's disdain for international law – when it's doing the lawbreaking – was underscored by ex-CIA acting director Morell voicing plans for murdering Iranians and maybe Russians in Syria, ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern says.

    On Aug. 17, TV interviewer Charlie Rose gave former acting CIA Director Michael Morell a "mulligan" for an earlier wayward drive on Aug. 8 that sliced deep into the rough and even stirred up some nonviolent animals by advocating the murder of Russians and Iranians. But, alas, Morell duffed the second drive, too.

    Morell did so despite Rose's efforts to tee up the questions as favorably as possible, trying to help Morell explain what he meant about "killing" Russians and Iranians in Syria and bombing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad into submission.

    Former CIA deputy director Michael Morell.

    In the earlier interview, Morell said he wanted to "make the Iranians pay a price in Syria. make the Russians pay a price in Syria."

    Rose: "We make them pay the price by killing Russians?"

    Morell: "Yeah."

    Rose: "And killing Iranians?"

    Morell: "Yes You don't tell the world about it. But you make sure they know it in Moscow and Tehran."

    In the follow-up interview , some of Rose's fretful comments made it clear that there are still some American non-neocons around who were withholding applause for Morell's belligerent suggestion.

    Rose apparently has some viewers who oppose all terrorism, including the state-sponsored variety that would involve a few assassinations to send a message, and the notion that U.S. bombing Syria to "scare" Assad is somehow okay (as long as the perpetrator is the sole "indispensable" nation in the world).

    Rose helped Morell 'splain that he really did not want to have U.S. Special Forces kill Russians and Iranians. No, he would be satisfied if the U.S.-sponsored "moderate opposition" in Syria did that particular killing. But Morell would not back away from his advocacy of the U.S. Air Force bombing Syrian government targets. That would be "an okay thing" in Morell's lexicon.

    The FBI defines terrorism as "the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives." That would seem to cover Morell's plan.

    But Morell seems oblivious to international law and to the vast human suffering already inflicted in Syria over the past five years by government forces, rebels, terrorists and outside nations trying to advance one geopolitical goal or another.

    What is needed is a serious commitment to peace talks without unacceptable preconditions, such as outside demands for "regime change." Instead, the focus should be on creating conditions for Syrians to make that choice themselves through elections or power-sharing negotiations.

    Morell prefers to think that a few more U.S.-directed murders and some more aerial-inflicted mayhem should do the trick. Perhaps he thinks that's the sort of tough-guy/gal talk that will impress a prospective President Hillary Clinton.

    A Slight Imprecision?

    Charlie Rose begins the "mulligan" segment with the suggestion that Morell might have slightly misspoken: "Tell me what you wanted to say so we understand it Tell me what you meant to say perhaps you did not speak as precisely as you should have or I didn't ask the right questions."

    TV interviewer Charlie Rose.

    Morell responded, "No, no, Charlie, you always ask the right questions," and then he presented his killing plan as a route to peace, albeit one in which the United States dictates "regime change" in Syria: "So there's not a military solution to this, there is only a political solution. And that political solution is, in my view, a transition of power from Assad to a, a, a transitional government that represents all of the Syrian people.

    "That is only going to happen if Assad wants it to happen, if Russia wants it to happen, if Iran wants it to happen. So we need to increase our leverage over those three people and countries, in order to get them more interested in having a conversation about a transition to a new government.

    "And sometimes you use military force for military ends. Sometimes you use military force to give you political leverage. So what I tried to say was, Look, we need to find some ways to put some pressure on Assad, or put some pressure on Russia, and put some pressure on Iran. Now, with regard to Russia and Iran, what I said was, what I wanted to say was: Look, the moderate opposition, which the United States is supporting (everybody knows that, right?), the moderate opposition is already fighting the Syrian government, and they're already fighting Russians and Iranians.

    "So the Syrian military, supported by Russia and the Iranians, is fighting the moderate opposition. And the moderate opposition is already killing Iranians and Syrians. What, what I said is that's an okay thing, right, because it puts pressure on Iran and Russia to try to see some value in ending this thing politically. And what I said is that we should encourage the moderate opposition to continue to do that and perhaps get a lot more aggressive." (Emphasis added)

    Rose: "You weren't suggesting that the United States should do that, but the moderate forces on the ground."

    Morell: "And I think I came across as saying U.S. Special Forces should go in there and start killing Iranians and Russians. I did not say that.

    "So that's Russia and Iran. Now, Assad. How do you put some pressure on Assad, right? And here I did argue, Charlie, that the U.S. military itself should take some action, and what I would see as valuable is limited, very, very, very limited U.S. airstrikes against those assets that are extremely important to Assad personally. So, in the middle of the night you destroy one of his offices; you don't kill anybody, right, zero collateral. You do this with the same rules of engagement we use against terrorists . (Emphasis added)

    "You take out his presidential aircraft, his presidential helicopters, in the middle of the night, right, just to send him a message and get his attention that, that maybe your days are numbered here, just to put some pressure on him to think about maybe, maybe the need to think about a way out of this.

    "Now these issues that I'm talking about here, right, are talked about in the sit room. They're talked about in national security circles all the time, right. These are debates that people have, and I certainly understand that there are people on the other side of the argument from me, right. But I wasn't talking about the U.S. starting a major war with Iran and Russia, and I think that was the way people interpreted it."

    Acts of Illegal War

    Not to put too fine a point on this, but everything that Morell is advocating here violates international law, the rules that – in other circumstances, i.e. when another government is involved – the U.S. government condemns as "aggression" or as an "invasion" or as "terrorism."

    Video of the Russian SU-24 exploding in flames inside Syrian territory after it was shot down by Turkish air-to-air missiles on Nov. 24, 2015.

    Remember, after the U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine in February 2014, when Russia intervened to allow Crimea to hold a referendum on splitting away from the new regime in Kiev and rejoining Russia, the U.S. government insisted that there was no excuse for President Vladimir Putin not respecting the sovereignty of the coup regime even if it had illegally ousted an elected president.

    However, regarding Syria, the United States and its various "allies," including Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel, have intervened directly and indirectly in supporting various armed groups, including Al Qaeda's Nusra Front, seeking the violent overthrow of Syria's government.

    Without any legal authorization from the United Nations, President Barack Obama has ordered the arming and training of anti-government rebels (including some who have fought under Nusra's command structure ), has carried out airstrikes inside Syria (aimed at Islamic State militants), and has deployed U.S. Special Forces inside Syria with Kurdish rebels.

    Now, a former senior U.S. intelligence official is publicly urging bombing of Syrian government targets and the killing of Iranians and Russians who are legally inside Syria at the invitation of the internationally recognized government. In other words, not only does the U.S. government operate with breathtaking hypocrisy in the Syrian crisis, but it functions completely outside international law.

    And, Morell says that in attacking Syrian government targets - supposedly without causing any deaths - the United States would employ "the same rules of engagement we use against terrorists," except those rules of engagement explicitly seek to kill targeted individuals. So, what kind of dangerously muddled thinking do we have here?

    One can only imagine the reaction if some Russian version of Morell went on Moscow TV and urged the murder of U.S. military trainers operating inside Ukraine – to send a message to Washington. And then, the Russian Morell would advocate Russia bombing Ukrainian government targets in Kiev with the supposed goal of forcing the U.S.-backed government to accept a "regime change" acceptable to Moscow.

    A Fawning Audition

    Rather than calls for him to be locked up or at least decisively repudiated, the American Morell was allowed to continue his fawning audition for a possible job in a Hillary Clinton administration by extolling her trustworthiness and "humanity."

    Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressing the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. on March 21, 2016. (Photo credit: AIPAC)

    Morell offered a heartwarming story about how compassionate Clinton was as Secretary of State when he lost out to John Brennan to be the fulltime CIA Director. After he was un-picked for the job, Morell said he was in the White House Situation Room and Clinton, "sat down next to me, put her hand on my shoulder, and she simply said, 'Are you okay?' There is humanity there, and I think the public needs to know."

    And, Clinton was a straight-shooter, too, Morell explained: "You know, it's interesting, Charlie, I worked with her for four years. Leon Panetta, David Petraeus worked with her for four years. We trusted her word; we trusted her judgment. You know, [CIA] Director Panetta, [CIA] Director Petraeus, I provided her with some of the most sensitive information that the CIA collects and she never gave us one reason to doubt how she was handling that. You know, she spoke to us forthrightly. I trust her word and I trust her judgment."

    Can Morell be unaware that Clinton repeatedly put highly sensitive intelligence on her very vulnerable private email server along with other data that later investigations determined should have been marked SECRET, TOP SECRET, CODEWORD, and/or SPECIAL ACCESS PROGRAMS?

    FBI Director James Comey, in announcing that he would not recommend prosecuting Clinton for compromising these secrets, called her behavior "extremely careless."

    For his part, Charlie Rose offered a lament about how hard it is for Clinton to convey her "humanity" and how deserving she is of trust. He riffed on the Biblical passage about those who can be trusted in small matters (like sitting down next to Morell, putting her hand on his shoulder, and asking him if he is okay) can be trusted on big matters, too.

    My Travails With Charlie

    Twelve years ago, I was interviewed by Charlie Rose, with the other interviewee (who participated remotely) James Woolsey, former head of the CIA (1993-95), arch-neocon, and self-described "anchor the Presbyterian wing of JINSA " (the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs).

    The occasion was the New York premier of Robert Greenwald's full-length film version of his documentary, "Uncovered: the Whole Truth About the Iraq War," in which I had a small part and which described the many falsehoods that had been used by President George W. Bush and his neocon advisers, to justify invading Iraq. Woolsey did not like the film, and Greenwald asked me to take the Rose invitation that had originally been extended to him.

    True to form, Charlie Rose knew on which side his bread was buttered, and it wasn't mine. He was his usual solicitous self when dealing with an "important" personage, such as Woolsey. I was going to count the minutes apportioned to me and compare them with those given to Woolsey, but I decided to spare myself the trouble.

    The last time I checked the Aug. 20, 2004 video is available for purchase but I refuse to pay for it. Fortunately, a friend taped and uploaded the audio onto YouTube. It might be worth a listen on a slow summer day 12 years after my travails with Charlie.

    Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was a CIA analyst from 1963 to 1990 and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

    [Apr 19, 2017] Preventive war is like committing suicide for fear of death

    Apr 17, 2017 | www.unz.com

    TG , April 17, 2017 at 3:10 pm GMT \n

    300 Words An interesting article. A few random thoughts.
    1. "Preventive war is like committing suicide for fear of death" – Otto von Bismarck.
    2. In general I agree and wish that the United States military would be more defensive and waste fewer resources attacking irrelevant nations on the other side of the world. But. It is nevertheless true that "defensive" Russia has been invaded and devastated multiple times, and the United States has not. Perhaps creating chaos on the other side of the world is long-term not quite so ineffective as sitting around waiting for an attack?
    3. The American elites are simply corrupt and insane/don't care about the long-term. At every level – companies taking out massive loans to buy back their stock to boost CEO bonuses, loading up college students with massive unplayable debt so that university administrators can get paid like CEOs, drug prices going through the roof, etc.etc. Military costs will never be as efficient as civilian, war is expensive, but the US has gotten to the point where there is no financial accountability, it's all about the right people grabbing as much money as possible.

      To make more money you just add another zero at the end of the price tag. At some point the costs will become so inflated and divorced from reality that we will be unable to afford anything And the right people will take their loot and move to New Zealand and wring their hands at how the lazy Americans were not worthy of their brilliant leadership

    [Apr 19, 2017] What would Jesus disrupt? Clearly the banks. He would be all about debt forgiveness.

    Notable quotes:
    "... Cynicism does derive from Socrates; from that part of the Socratic approach that questions community norms so aggressively that they have to kill you to shut you up. As for Socrates, so for Jesus. ..."
    "... What would Jesus disrupt? Clearly the banks. He would be all about debt forgiveness. http://www.michael-hudson.com/2017/01/the-land-belongs-to-god/ ..."
    "... I believe Lambert's point was exactly that: that the money-changers should be thrown out of the temple; that Blankfein is not doing "God's work"; that the whole article was a depiction of the deliberate debauchery of the Christian message by conflating it with material enterprise. That article in the links was a spiritual horror show. ..."
    "... Has someone written a good book on the history of usury? When did it become acceptable in the Christian dominated US? Islam bans it. Shakespeare talked about it. Our founders lamented their usurious debts. Think I read somewhere that the Zionists pledged, after WW2, to get out of banking altogether? ..."
    Apr 19, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    PhilM, April 17, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    "What have I to do with thee, woman?"

    Christ was apparently a true cynic. See the wikipedia article on Cynicism before judging that; it's not original with me. Cynicism was open in its denunciation of all human convention. Nevertheless, it was non-violent, so "bringing a sword" means not the waging of organized war, but rather is a metaphor of conflict between those who support conventional morality and those who support the Cynical way of life; if indeed those were Jesus's words (if there were any words of Jesus, for that matter), as they are mostly incompatible with the rest of his speech.

    Cynicism does derive from Socrates; from that part of the Socratic approach that questions community norms so aggressively that they have to kill you to shut you up. As for Socrates, so for Jesus.

    It's amazing the doors that open onto the understanding of Christianity once its Cynical features are recognized, and the neo-Platonist frosting that was applied by Paul, and the forces of order later on, is demoted. The cake is actually quite inspirational; the frosting, pretty revolting. But the natural selection of ideas, that process which favors the survival of ideas that enhance power and authority, has decisively suppressed the Cynical core.

    UserFriendly , April 17, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    What would Jesus disrupt? Clearly the banks. He would be all about debt forgiveness. http://www.michael-hudson.com/2017/01/the-land-belongs-to-god/

    AbateMagicThinking but Not money , April 17, 2017 at 9:51 am

    Re: What would Jesus disrupt? (just the question, not the linked article)

    Wasn't there something about money changers in the temple? My view is that Forex is the great threat to whatever commonwealth anyone lives in – if not now, sooner or later. Always cheaper elsewhere.

    So I reckon Jesus would disrupt the system of foreign currency exchange. I imagine that something more turbulent than disrupting the equilibrium of Forex trader's desks would be involved. Now, that would be a miracle!

    PhilM , April 17, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    Jesus rendered unto Caesar those things which are Caesar's. He was getting the money-changers out of the temple, not getting rid of them altogether. The spiritual path is not material, or military, it is in the mind and the soul. People cannot pursue a material, political, or social agenda of any kind, even one of redistribution, and still be truly "Christian," as Christ would have had it. They must give all they have and find their way in poverty. They must abandon judgment of the actions of their fellows. Just as Diogenes lived in a barrel, but did not much care about the decor of the Athens' St Regis lobby one way or another.

    Ultimately the message was that to be poor and angry is to be a slave twice over; to be poor and happy is to be free of the chains of both wealth and resentment. Hence also the point that the poor are always with you; that has come up often here, and the real message is missed: that the most important thing is not necessarily to help the poor, but to be among them: to eliminate concern for material things from life entirely. The same goes for pain; turning the other cheek is not metaphorical; it is a statement that suffering imposed by others has only the meaning one gives it, and to deny that meaning is to deny them power over your mind.

    I'm not saying that all of that is right, or even arguable; I'm just saying that I think the philosophical basis of it should be considered more profoundly, and given more respect, than it often is, when it is used for political polemic.

    I believe Lambert's point was exactly that: that the money-changers should be thrown out of the temple; that Blankfein is not doing "God's work"; that the whole article was a depiction of the deliberate debauchery of the Christian message by conflating it with material enterprise. That article in the links was a spiritual horror show.

    HopeLB , April 17, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    Has someone written a good book on the history of usury? When did it become acceptable in the Christian dominated US? Islam bans it. Shakespeare talked about it. Our founders lamented their usurious debts. Think I read somewhere that the Zionists pledged, after WW2, to get out of banking altogether?

    [Apr 19, 2017] How Liberals Fell In Love With The West Wing

    Notable quotes:
    "... House of Cards ..."
    "... The Thick of It ..."
    "... The Thick of It ..."
    "... The Thick of It ..."
    "... The Thick of It ..."
    Apr 19, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    voteforno6 , April 17, 2017 at 7:58 am

    Re: How Liberals Fell In Love With The West Wing

    I'm not surprised at all that the professional Democrats out there view American politics as an extended episode of The West Wing . It should come as no surprise, considering the impact that 24 had on the views that many have about torture.

    As far as politics-based TV shows go, The West Wing isn't bad, and is probably a little less ridiculous than the American version of House of Cards . Neither one of them is good as the Danish TV show Borgen , though.

    NotTimothyGeithner , April 17, 2017 at 8:59 am

    The West Wing isn't bad?

    -Rob Lowe had the relationship with the hooker who was nympho and made lots of money while she went to prestigious law school so it was okay. The hero Is really helping her. And Lowe's liberalism meant she didn't take his money.
    -the mindless support for free trade; "trade stops wars"
    -the Supreme Court nominee situation; hey let's get one guy who thinks guys should marry called Rodriguez and one guy who makes. Hitler look emphatic and call it a day because centrism is great!
    -Sheen did Welfare reform
    -Lawrence O'Donnell. He didn't become insufferable on MSNBC. His episodes were the worst.
    -the moderate Republican fetish
    -"smart wars"
    -an insane portrayal of deficit hawks as reasonable

    The show was garbage. The joke is "who is the office Jonah?" On "The West Wing", they were all Jonah. The Hillary Clinton campaign and Obama Administration were the West Wing put into action.

    Pat , April 17, 2017 at 10:36 am

    Admission, I loved the West Wing. I also enjoyed 24. In particular, West Wing is a joy for self admitted acting addict. And yes it played to my sensibilities, but even I began to realize that the episodes that meant the most to me, the ones that really resonated and stayed with me were the ones where the underlying issue was not solved or changed by working in the White House who most of the time just put on a bandage on it for themselves (and the viewers). So Veterans still didn't get their benefits and the care of a "grateful nation" but a funeral, drunk drivers still kill, etc. And on return to it a decade later, things like how crazy the voters are, and only a really smart staffer can realize that they are not seeing the real problem for the trees began to grate unbearably.

    Oh, and NTG, don't forget the Rob Lowe character was the speech writer for many of the Bartlett early speeches, which when you think about it is the prototype for the Obama administration talk pretty about things and dazzle them before failing to change anything prototype. He also later ran for Congress, loses and becomes a highly paid lawyer (because?) only to give it up to become the Deputy Chief of Staff of the first Latino President. (And maybe I am the only one who can see so much wrong with that.)

    diptherio , April 17, 2017 at 11:32 am

    I also enjoyed 24.

    That's the show where an American Patriot saves the day through torture, right? No accounting for taste, I suppose .

    craazyboy , April 17, 2017 at 11:42 am

    Sure, but Kiefer William Frederick Dempsey George Rufus Sutherland took it nearly as often as he dished it out. And it was him against a world full of bad guys.

    Good series, you just need to remind yourself it's only the TeeBee.

    FYI – This is really his full name!

    Kiefer William Frederick Dempsey George Rufus Sutherland

    Pat , April 17, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    I'm a fan of whodunnits and 24 was at its base a whodunnit/stop them before they can do more, and a well crafted one at that. The thing is that the one season I watched it, there was far less torture in it than probably one fifth of a season of Criminal Minds. Now CM does supposedly make the case the torturer is a criminal, but when it comes to torture porn (like the movies SAW) CM is near the top on television. And torture is one of those things that many people do find entertaining though they vocally condemn it. And most have not thought out the larger political and social implications of it. We are savage creatures with a veneer. Where 24 and Zero Dark Thirty are detrimental is they make people think torture actually works in real life rather than in fantasy.

    jrs , April 17, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    or life in this society is so boring and unrewarding that people need ever more violence (fictional OR real) to entertain themselves. Granted people have always liked stories with violence, but it probably does play in.

    witters , April 17, 2017 at 7:09 pm

    And if you are an atheist getting off on the righteous violence, then go the whole hog, and embrace Hell Fire & Eternal Damnation. (Or stop saying people who do are dumb, when they are just you, a step further.)

    Musicismath , April 17, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    Yeah, I nodded along to that article, but was surprised that it didn't connect the dots between liberals' love of war, sorry, "humanitarian intervention" and the appalling post-9/11 "West Wing" episodes. As we say around these parts, those storylines were "wonderfully clarifying."

    Carolinian , April 17, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    With you. Phooey on Aaron Sorkin and all his works.

    montanamaven , April 17, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    "The Newsroom" was like "The West Wing" a fantasy version of the real deal. But embedded in both fantasies was the same embrace of the exceptionalism of the USA, USA, USA. American politics should only be dished out to us in comedic form like the first two years of VEEP. If you want to get a funny view of our class system and urban versus rural dynamics, and just want a good laugh, watch "Schitts Creek" starring Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy.

    Pat , April 17, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    Anyone who has given money to a Sorkin production has largely gotten that (although less for his television industry set pieces), it is a feature of his work along with the soaring emotional speech by the lead. Don't forget that Sorkin's first big work had the following speech (delivered in typical style by Jack Nicholson in the movie):

    You can't handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives You don't want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.
    We use words like honor, code, loyalty we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use 'em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I'd rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you're entitled to!

    NotTimothyGeithner , April 17, 2017 at 9:20 am

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2001/03/the-feel-good-presidency/302138/

    Annotherone , April 17, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    From the West Wing article:
    "The West Wing "took something that was for the most part considered dry and nerdy-especially to people in high school and college-and sexed it up", former David Axelrod advisor Eric Lesser told Vanity Fair in a longform 2012 feature about the "Sorkinization of politics".

    I didn't watch West Wing on TV as I wasn't in the USA during its original airing times, but we bought DVDs of the series and watched it in 2012, by which time I'd become plenty cynical about US politics in general! Looking back, rather than (or as well as) depicting politics' "Sorkinization" I'd say that West Wing = the Hallmark-ization of US politics.

    Plenue , April 17, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    One thing from the article that really stands out to me is where he talks about how the administration in The West Wing doesn't actually seem to stand for (or accomplish) much of anything, and viewers could project their views onto it. Compare this to The Thick of It/In the Loop, where the party of the characters is never specified, only there it's part of the joke. They're just 'The Party' and the other side is 'The Opposition'. Intentionally or not, this has the effect of portraying British politics as filled with parties that aren't actually terribly different internally, and just obsessed with optics and media relations. Both Armando Iannucci and Aaron Sorkin have created shows that portray politics as vapid, empty, and stupid, only Sorkin thinks this is something positive and praiseworthy, that this is how 'serious' politics should be.

    Also, bah, Borgen. I dropped that show after the "we must stay the course in Afghanistan, because reasons" episode.

    Marina Bart , April 17, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    The Thick of It also makes it clear that the intelligent but vicious consultants lead the dim-witted elected officials and party bureaucrats (all of whom went to Oxbridge) around by the nose.

    Literally no one in the world of The Thick of It is both competent and admirable. One episode does suggest that Malcolm Tucker, the famously nasty PR and messaging expert, honestly believes that his party is better for workers and regular people. But there's no way to map his beliefs onto policy. So there's no way to test whether he's a Blairite or an old fashioned Labor dude. (I think it's pretty clear his unnamed party is Labor and the other unnamed Party is the Tories - there's even a season whether that party is in a coalition with another, weaker party that's clearly the Liberals.)

    Of the many, many moments I love from the The Thick of It , I can't decide whether my favorite is the cleaning lady screaming at the idiot aristocrat MP, with Malcolm and his hench (IIRC) stepping in to apologize to her for the idiot aristocrat, or Malcolm's long speech describing Star Wars: https://www.reddit.com/r/television/comments/5r0klm/malcolm_tucker_describes_star_wars_the_thick_of_it/

    (Warning: Malcolm Tucker's vocabulary is not fit for a family blog - another way The Thick of It is superior to West Wing .)

    [Apr 19, 2017] A guaranteed income that helps people pay for expensive insurance for still-unaffordable healthcare, or social services that don't exist, or rent-extracting tolls and fees isn't utopian.

    Apr 19, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    Ulysses , April 17, 2017 at 9:30 am

    Allysa B. provides an interesting overview of the UBI issue in the piece linked above. She is even-handed and thorough, without blatant cherry-picking to promote any specific agenda.

    Yet the conclusion of her piece is profoundly dissatisfying.

    "Basic income isn't the only way to make that demand, and it isn't even a necessary part of it-but its utopian elements can help drive a more visionary agenda for labor.
    None of the UBI proposals we hear today-in Canada, the United Kingdom, or in France-is likely to be quite the basic income imagined by luxury communists (there aren't enough of them to win an election yet), but they're a start.

    Utopia is possible. If we want it, though, we'll need to make it a part of the demands and visions of the left movements we build over the next few years. Because we can't just invent the future-we're going to have to fight for it."

    If her real interest is in building powerful movements, more than the technical pros and cons of UBI or a Jobs Guarantee, why not share some strategic thoughts on how to build such movements? She is rightly unenthused at the prospects of accomplishing anything through politics as usual in the U.S., or other parts of the developed world. So how will these new movements seize power?!?!

    In other words– does she have any useful ideas on how to translate the energy of well-meaning doctoral students like herself, in places like New Haven, Ithaca, or Princeton, into positive changes in the working lives of people in places like Akron or Camden?

    Without including real strategies for the seizure of political and economic power by workers, these earnest discussions may only do what Alyssa B., herself, decries: "Instead of fighting off the dystopian future, settle into the interregnum of the present, with all its morbid symptoms."

    marym , April 17, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    So how will these new movements seize power?!?!

    adding: and what goals will they advance besides leisure?

    A guaranteed income that helps people pay for expensive insurance for still-unaffordable healthcare, or clothes and appliances that fall apart, or social services that don't exist, or rent-extracting tolls and fees, or the bill for their poisoned water isn't utopian.

    jrs , April 17, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    on the other hand what goal did the movement for an 8 hour day and a 40 hour week advance besides leisure?

    marym , April 17, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    It was a labor movement, not an 8-hr day movement. People expected to be productive and have enough of a share in the fruits of their labor to meet their needs, and enjoy their leisure.

    Neither automation nor an income guarantee will enable people to meet their needs, and enjoy their leisure in the examples in my comment and many other areas of our diminished economic life. That's not an argument against an income guarantee. It's a question about what problem it's supposed to solve.

    HBE , April 17, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    UBI in combination with corporate dominance is an absolutely terrible idea.

    After corps have exploited labor to the point they have no consumers (already happening), UBI just becomes a gov subsidy to oligarchs keeping them in power and the people out, when they (oligarchs and corps) would otherwise crumble under their own extractive overreach.

    UBI can be good, UBI combined with corporate dominance is most certainly not.

    Why do you think all the squillionaires are calling for UBI. It's certainly not because they give a damn about the workers they've violently exploited for decades.

    [Apr 19, 2017] Paul Krugman Gets Retail Wrong: They are Not Very Good Jobs

    Apr 19, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    anne , April 17, 2017 at 05:55 AM
    http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/paul-krugman-gets-retail-wrong-they-are-not-very-good-jobs

    April 17, 2017

    Paul Krugman Gets Retail Wrong: They are Not Very Good Jobs

    Paul Krugman used his column * this morning to ask why we don't pay as much attention to the loss of jobs in retail as we do to jobs lost in mining and manufacturing. His answer is that in large part the former jobs tend to be more white and male than the latter. While this is true, although African Americans have historically been over-represented in manufacturing, there is another simpler explanation: retail jobs tend to not be very good jobs.

    The basic story is that jobs in mining and manufacturing tend to offer higher pay and are far more likely to come with health care and pension benefits than retail jobs. A worker who loses a job in these sectors is unlikely to find a comparable job elsewhere. In retail, the odds are that a person who loses a job will be able to find one with similar pay and benefits.

    A quick look at average weekly wages ** can make this point. In mining the average weekly wage is $1,450, in manufacturing it is $1,070, by comparison in retail it is just $555. It is worth mentioning that much of this difference is in hours worked, not the hourly pay. There is nothing wrong with working shorter workweeks (in fact, I think it is a very good idea), but for those who need a 40 hour plus workweek to make ends meet, a 30-hour a week job will not fit the bill.

    This difference in job quality is apparent in the difference in separation rates by industry. (This is the percentage of workers who lose or leave their job every month.) It was 2.4 percent for the most recent month in manufacturing. By comparison, it was 4.7 percent in retail, almost twice as high. (It was 5.2 percent in mining and logging. My guess is that this is driven by logging, but I will leave that one for folks who know the industry better.)

    Anyhow, it shouldn't be a mystery that we tend to be more concerned about the loss of good jobs than the loss of jobs that are not very good. If we want to ask a deeper question, as to why retail jobs are not very good, then the demographics almost certainly play a big role.

    Since only a small segment of the workforce is going to be employed in manufacturing regardless of what we do on trade (even the Baker dream policy will add at most 2 million jobs), we should be focused on making retail and other service sector jobs good jobs. The full agenda for making this transformation is a long one (higher minimum wages and unions would be a big part of the picture, along with universal health care insurance and a national pension system), but there is one immediate item on the agenda.

    All right minded people should be yelling about the Federal Reserve Board's interest rate hikes. The point of these hikes is to slow the economy and reduce the rate of job creation. The Fed's concern is that the labor market is getting too tight. In a tighter labor market workers, especially those at the bottom of the pecking order, are able to get larger wage increases. The Fed is ostensibly worried that this can lead to higher inflation, which can get us to a wage price spiral like we saw in the 70s.

    As I and others have argued, *** there is little basis for thinking that we are anywhere close to a 1970s type inflation, with inflation consistently running below the Fed's 2.0 percent target, (which many of us think is too low anyhow). I'd love to see Krugman pushing the cause of full employment here. We should call out racism and sexism where we see it, but this is a case where there is a concrete policy that can do something to address it. Come on Paul, we need your voice.

    * https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/17/opinion/why-dont-all-jobs-matter.html

    ** https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t19.htm

    *** http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/overall-and-core-cpi-fall-in-march

    -- Dean Baker

    Fred C. Dobbs -> anne... , April 17, 2017 at 06:17 AM
    PK: Consider what has happened to department stores. Even as Mr. Trump was boasting about saving a few hundred jobs in manufacturing here and there, Macy's announced plans to close 68 stores and lay off 10,000 workers. Sears, another iconic institution, has expressed "substantial doubt" about its ability to stay in business.

    Overall, department stores employ a third fewer people now than they did in 2001. That's half a million traditional jobs gone - about eighteen times as many jobs as were lost in coal mining over the same period.

    And retailing isn't the only service industry that has been hit hard by changing technology. Another prime example is newspaper publishing, where employment has declined by 270,000, almost two-thirds of the work force, since 2000. ...

    (To those that had them, they were probably
    pretty decent jobs, albeit much less 'gritty'
    than mining or manufacturing.)

    BenIsNotYoda -> anne... , April 17, 2017 at 06:42 AM
    Dean is correct. Krugman just wants to play the racism card or tell people those who wish their communities were gutted that they are stupid.
    JohnH -> BenIsNotYoda... , April 17, 2017 at 06:48 AM
    Elite experts are totally flummoxed...how can they pontificate solutions when they are clueless?

    Roger Cohen had a very long piece about France and it discontents in the Times Sunday Review yesterday. He could not make heads or tails of the problem. Not worth the read.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/14/opinion/sunday/france-in-the-end-of-days.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Froger-cohen&action=click&contentCollection=opinion&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=collection&_r=0

    And experts wonder why nobody listens to them any more? Priceless!!!

    BenIsNotYoda -> JohnH... , April 17, 2017 at 07:34 AM
    clueless experts/academics. well said.
    paine -> anne... , April 17, 2017 at 08:27 AM
    Exactly dean
    Tom aka Rusty -> anne... , April 17, 2017 at 07:39 AM
    Krugman is an arrogant elitist who thinks people who disagree with him tend to be ignorant yahoos.

    Sort of a Larry Summers with a little better manners.

    anne -> Tom aka Rusty... , April 17, 2017 at 08:18 AM
    Krugman is an arrogant elitist who thinks people who disagree with him tend to be ignorant yahoos.

    [ This is a harsh but fair criticism, and even the apology of Paul Krugman was conditional and showed no thought to the other workers insulted. ]

    cm -> Tom aka Rusty... , April 17, 2017 at 08:11 AM
    There is a lot of elitism to go around. People will be much more reluctant to express publicly the same as in private (or pseudonymously on the internet?). But looking down on other people and their work is pretty widespread (and in either case there is a lot of assumption about the nature of the work and the personal attributes of the people doing it - usually of a derogatory type in both cases).

    I find it plausible that Krugman was referring those widespread stereotypes about job categories that (traditionally?) have not required a college degree, or have been relatively at the low end of the esteem scale in a given industry (e.g. in "tech" and manufacturing, QA/testing related work).

    It must be possible to comment on such stereotypes, but there is of course always the risk of being thought to hold them oneself, or indeed being complicit in perpetuating them.

    As a thought experiment, I suggest reviewing what you yourself think about occupations not held by yourself, good friends, and family members and acquaintainces you like/respect (these qualifications are deliberate). For example, you seem to think not very highly of maids.

    Of course, being an RN requires significantly more training than being a maid, and not just once when you start in your career. But at some level of abstraction, anybody who does work where their autonomy is quite limited (i.e. they are not setting objectives at any level of the organization) is "just a worker". That's the very stereotype we are discussing, isn't it?

    anne -> cm... , April 17, 2017 at 08:26 AM
    Nicely explained.
    paine -> anne... , April 17, 2017 at 08:40 AM
    Yes
    anne -> Tom aka Rusty... , April 17, 2017 at 08:24 AM
    Krugman thinks nurses are the equivalent of maids...

    [ The problem is that Paul Krugman dismissed the work of nurses and maids and gardeners as "menial." I find no evidence that Krugman understands that even after conditionally apologizing to nurses. ]

    paine -> anne... , April 17, 2017 at 08:42 AM
    Even if there are millions of mcjobs
    out there
    none are filled by mcpeople

    [Apr 19, 2017] And yet the "isolationist" candidate win the election, and only took 70 days to go full neoconservative

    Notable quotes:
    "... Just stop! If nothing else, save yourself the time coming up w 10 or 17 other rules The real question is why does Am. public condone these endless interventions abroad and subsequent destruction? For those wanting to know more, a really good interview: Birth of American Empire with Stephen Kinzer – https://www.rt.com/shows/on-contact/381285-american-imperialism-overseas-expansion/ ..."
    "... Americans flat out don't care and aren't circumspective in the Establishment or amongst the people. (see post 1918-Europe .easier to blame everything on Hitler and UK/France than ask about the contributory effects of Woodrow Wilson's 1917 intervention) ..."
    "... as long as there are cheap sugar, cheap beef and cheap carbs, Americans don't care what happens around the world. ..."
    "... And you are saying the general public in other countries do ..."
    "... And yet the "isolationist" candidate win the election, and only took 70 days to go full neoconservative. The American people are damned by the MIC even when they vote isolationist. ..."
    Apr 19, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

    Olga , April 17, 2017 at 10:22 am

    17 Rules for Foreign Interventions The American Conservative

    Ok, so how about just one rule: stop (bleep, bleep) intervening!

    Just stop! If nothing else, save yourself the time coming up w 10 or 17 other rules The real question is why does Am. public condone these endless interventions abroad and subsequent destruction? For those wanting to know more, a really good interview: Birth of American Empire with Stephen Kinzer – https://www.rt.com/shows/on-contact/381285-american-imperialism-overseas-expansion/

    oho , April 17, 2017 at 10:58 am

    >>The real question is why does Am. public condone these endless interventions abroad and subsequent destruction?

    Americans flat out don't care and aren't circumspective in the Establishment or amongst the people. (see post 1918-Europe .easier to blame everything on Hitler and UK/France than ask about the contributory effects of Woodrow Wilson's 1917 intervention)

    as long as there are cheap sugar, cheap beef and cheap carbs, Americans don't care what happens around the world.

    Jagger , April 17, 2017 at 11:41 am

    Americans flat out don't care and aren't circumspective in the Establishment or amongst the people.

    Funny, I care but for some reason I haven't been able to figure out how to stop all those foreign interventions. Maybe if I just cared more, I could stop it. I will try that. Or maybe I simply lack the immense power required to confront and defeat a State intent on foreign interventions.

    Sort of like berating individual Joe slave for not ending slavery.

    Carolinian , April 17, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    And you are saying the general public in other countries do care (assuming they aren't the ones being attacked)? The Brits and the French in recent years have seemed just as enthusiastic about intervening as we are. To me this is a lot more shocking than the complacency of my fellow Americans–people who live behind two oceans and are perhaps understandably uninterested in foreign affairs. This has always been true as was seen in the runups to WW1 and WW2.

    Kurtismayfield , April 17, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    And yet the "isolationist" candidate win the election, and only took 70 days to go full neoconservative. The American people are damned by the MIC even when they vote isolationist.

    [Apr 19, 2017] I'm not saying Trump is a closeted atheist, but he's no evangelical.

    Notable quotes:
    "... Where evangelicals emphasize asking God for forgiveness, Trump says, "I am not sure I have. I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don't bring God into that picture. I don't." ..."
    "... This Sunday [Easter], tens of millions of American Christians will celebrate Easter, and thousands of children and their families will descend on the White House to take part in the annual Easter Egg Roll. ..."
    Apr 19, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    fresno dan , April 17, 2017 at 7:28 am

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/04/donald-trump-religion-215033

    This Sunday [Easter], tens of millions of American Christians will celebrate Easter, and thousands of children and their families will descend on the White House to take part in the annual Easter Egg Roll. As the festivities spill over the grounds of 1600 Penn., I wonder if anyone will stop to note the obvious irony: That President Donald J. Trump is very likely the least religious president to occupy the White House since Thomas Jefferson.

    I'm not saying Trump is a closeted atheist, but he's no evangelical. As a self-proclaimed Protestant, or Presbyterian, or something he describes as "a wonderful religion," Trump nominally attends the nondenominational Marble Collegiate Church in New York City.
    ..
    Where evangelicals emphasize asking God for forgiveness, Trump says, "I am not sure I have. I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don't bring God into that picture. I don't." Compare these remarks to the more earnest faith of President George W. Bush, who claimed divine consultation before invading Iraq, or the incessant God-talk of candidates like Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin and Ben Carson .

    Since then, it's hard to see what benefit America's strong leaning toward theocracy has had. Comparing 17 first-world prosperous democracies on a number of societal health measures, social scientist Gregory S. Paul found that the most religious country of them all-the United States-had by far the worse measures on a number of criteria, including the highest rates of homicides, suicides, incarceration, STDs, teen pregnancies, abortions, divorce, alcohol consumption, corruption, poverty and income inequality. Correlation is not causation, of course. But if religion is suppose to be such a powerful force for societal health, then why is America-the most religious nation in the Western world-also the unhealthiest on all of these important social measures?***
    ===================================================
    I almost posted this yesterday, but I thought that would be churlish.
    I read Trump's "religious" remarks and find them extremely off putting. Than I read the religious remarks of other repubs, and I find them EVEN MORE off putting .

    ***Teen pregnancy – so much for the solemn pledges of abstinence made by teenagers .*** ***
    *** *** What is it with the US? How can anybody in hypersexualized America really believe American teens are gonna keep it in their pants?

    Linda , April 17, 2017 at 7:46 am

    This Sunday [Easter], tens of millions of American Christians will celebrate Easter, and thousands of children and their families will descend on the White House to take part in the annual Easter Egg Roll.

    The Egg Roll is today, not Sunday.

    It will be live streamed at Whitehouse.gov as well as other pages.

    Linda , April 17, 2017 at 7:59 am

    Good morning, dan. Didn't mean to seem to have only noticed the Egg Roll in your comment. It was the first sentence and the mistake caught my eye.

    Seems to me Donald has been doing a lot more God talk since taking office, than he did at the rallies.

    fresno dan , April 17, 2017 at 8:41 am

    Linda
    April 17, 2017 at 7:59 am

    "Seems to me Donald has been doing a lot more God talk since taking office, "
    I agree 1,000% – which just validates my view that Trump is all bullsh*ter. Elmer Gantry comes to mind.
    And another point – it strikes me that those saying Trump is a liar misses the point – Trump is more like a parrot in that Trump will say (parrot) whatever he believes is necessary to get the cracker (though I didn't intend "cracker" to mean racists, but merely a reward, I note one can interpret that as one wishes .).

    RWood , April 17, 2017 at 9:44 am

    Playing to the sanctity of slaughter:

    PAUL JAY: Under the protection of God, America, we'll use the Mother of All Bombs and fight without restraint. That's the message Donald wanted to send, and perhaps that's the message this bomb was meant to deliver in Afghanistan.
    https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/deadly-propaganda-events/

    NotTimothyGeithner , April 17, 2017 at 10:55 am

    From my experience with Catholic school and church, I've long since determined "god talk" isn't as relevant as "us v. them" talk. Hillary's "deplorable" statement was just an affirmation of a view many "Christians" believe is held about them.

    Pointing out hypocrisy misses the point because it's never been about religious doctrine as much as trying to belong to something and have purpose. Trump can miss every question about angels dancing on heads of pins, and it won't matter. Trump in his own way embraced the evangelicals. In effect, Hillary said she wanted the non evangelical republicans who are so smart and moderate.

    In "The Merchant of Venice" (Act 1, Scene 3), Antonio says, "even the devil can cite scripture for his own use." This is all they need because it's not about scripture and never has been.

    grayslady , April 17, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    Why were enslaved Africans in the American South so religious?

    Actually, they weren't all that religious. The slave owners allowed them time off on Sunday for religious services. The slaves were savvy enough to make sure that "services" were an all-day affair. Even meals and socialization were woven into the Sunday religious celebrations. That practice is the genesis of many AME and AME-Z all day (or most of the day) Sunday services today. (I learned that bit of information in my Black Religion college course many years ago.)

    witters , April 17, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    You and Marx: "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people"

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

    Notable quotes:
    "... Consumerism fills the social void. But far from curing the disease of isolation, it intensifies social comparison to the point at which, having consumed all else, we start to prey upon ourselves. Social media brings us together and drives us apart, allowing us precisely to quantify our social standing, and to see that other people have more friends and followers than we do. ..."
    "... A recent survey in England suggests that one in four women between 16 and 24 have harmed themselves, and one in eight now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety, depression, phobias or obsessive compulsive disorder affect 26% of women in this age group. This is what a public health crisis looks like. ..."
    "... Opioids relieve both physical agony and the distress of separation. Perhaps this explains the link between social isolation and drug addiction. ..."
    "... Children who experience emotional neglect, according to some findings, suffer worse mental health consequences than children suffering both emotional neglect and physical abuse: hideous as it is, violence involves attention and contact. Self-harm is often used as an attempt to alleviate distress: another indication that physical pain is not as bad as emotional pain. As the prison system knows only too well, one of the most effective forms of torture is solitary confinement. ..."
    "... It's unsurprising that social isolation is strongly associated with depression, suicide, anxiety, insomnia, fear and the perception of threat. It's more surprising to discover the range of physical illnesses it causes or exacerbates. Dementia, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, lowered resistance to viruses, even accidents are more common among chronically lonely people. Loneliness has a comparable impact on physical health to smoking 15 cigarettes a day: it appears to raise the risk of early death by 26%. This is partly because it enhances production of the stress hormone cortisol, which suppresses the immune system. ..."
    "... Neoliberalism expressly encourages 'atomisation'- it is all about reducing human interaction to markets. And so this is just one of the reasons that neoliberalism is such a bunk philosophy. ..."
    "... You can make a reasonable case that 'Neoliberalism' expects that every interaction, including between individuals, can be reduced to a financial one. ..."
    Oct 12, 2016 | www.theguardian.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    , RachelL , 12 Oct 2016 03:57

    Well its a bit of a stretch blaming neoliberalism for creating loneliness.

    Yet it seems to be the fashion today to imagine that the world we live in is new...only created just years ago. And all the suffering that we see now never existed before.

    plagues of anxiety, stress, depression, social phobia, eating disorders, self-harm and loneliness never happened in the past, because everything was bright and shiny and world was good.

    Regrettably history teaches us that suffering and deprivation have dogged mankind for centuries, if not tens of thousands of years. That's what we do; survive, persist...endure.

    Blaming 'neoliberalism' is a bit of cop-out.

    It's the human condition man, just deal with it.

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

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

    As Monbiot has noted, we are indeed lonelier.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    , notherspace TremblingFactHunt , 12 Oct 2016 05:46
    We as individuals are offered the 'choice' of consumption as an alternative to the devastating ennui engendered by powerlessness. It's no choice at all of course, because consumption merely enriches the 1% and exacerbates our powerlessness. That was the whole point of my post.
    The 'choice' to consume is never collectively exercised as you suggest. Sadly. If it was, 'we' might be able to organise ourselves into doing something about it.
    , Burstcouch , 12 Oct 2016 04:09
    According to Robert Putnam, as societies become more ethnically diverse they lose social capital, contributing to the type of isolation and loneliness which George describes. Doesn't sound as evil as neoliberalism I suppose. Share Facebook Twitter
    , ParisHiltonCommune Burstcouch , 12 Oct 2016 07:59
    Disagree. Im British but have had more foreign friends than British. The UK middle class tend to be boring insular social status obsessed drones.other nationalities have this too, but far less so Share Facebook Twitter
    , Dave Powell Burstcouch , 12 Oct 2016 10:54
    Multiculturalism is destroying social cohesion. Share Facebook Twitter
    , ParisHiltonCommune Dave Powell , 12 Oct 2016 14:47
    Well, yes, but multiculturalism is a direct result of Neoliberalism. The market rules and people are secondary. Everything must be done for business owners, and that everything means access to cheap labour.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    , totaram ID8701745 , 12 Oct 2016 05:00
    No. It has been the concentrated propaganda of the "free" press. Rupert Murdoch in particular, but many other well-funded organisations working in the background over 50 years. They are winning.
    , greenwichite , 12 Oct 2016 04:20
    We're fixated on a magical, abstract concept called "the economy".

    Everything must be done to help "the economy", even if this means adults working through their weekends, neglecting their children, neglecting their elderly parents, eating at their desks, getting diabetes, breaking down from stress, and giving up on a family life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The people who fosted this this system onto us, are now either very old or dead.
    We're living in the shadow of their revolutionary transformation of our more equitable post-war society. Hayek, Friedman, Keith Joseph, Thatcher, Greenspan and tangentially but very influentially Ayn Rand.
    Although a remainer (I love the wit of the term 'Remoaner') , Brexit can be better understood in the context of the death-knell of neoliberalism.
    I never understood how the collapse of world finance, resulted in a right wing resurgence in the UK and the US. The Tea Party in the US made the absurd claim that the failure of global finance was not due to markets being fallible, but because free markets had not been enforced citing Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac as their evidence and of Bill Clinton insisting on more poor and black people being given mortgages.

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

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

    I think there are a number of aspects to this:

    1. The internet. The being in constant contact, our lives mapped and our thoughts analysed - we can comment on anything (whether informed or total drivel) and we've been fed the lie that our opinion is is right and that it matters) Ive removed fscebook and twitter from my phone, i have never been happier

    2. Rolling 24 hour news. That is obsessed with the now, and consistently squeezes very complex issues into bite sized simple dichotomies. Obsessed with results and critical in turn of everyone who fails to feed the machine

    3. The increasing slicing of work into tighter and slimmer specialisms, with no holistic view of the whole, this forces a box ticking culture. "Ive stamped my stamp, my work is done" this leads to a lack of ownership of the whole. PIP assessments are an almost perfect example of this - a box ticking exercise, designed by someone who'll never have to go through it, with no flexibility to put the answers into a holistic context.

    4. Our education system is designed to pass exams and not prepare for the future or the world of work - the only important aspect being the compilation of next years league tables and the schools standings. This culture is neither healthy no helpful, as students are schooled on exam technique in order to squeeze out the marks - without putting the knowledge into a meaningful and understandable narrative.

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

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

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

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

    We stand together or we fall apart.

    Hackneyed and unoriginal but still true for all that.

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

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

    because of the lies that are being sold.

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

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

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

    , DGIxjhLBTdhTVh7T , 12 Oct 2016 04:42
    George Monbiot has struck a nerve.
    They are there every day in my small town local park: people, young and old, gender and ethnically diverse, siting on benches for a couple of hours at a time.
    They have at least one thing in common.
    They each sit alone, isolated in their own thoughts..
    But many share another bond: they usually respond to dogs, unconditional in their behaviour patterns towards humankind.
    Trite as it may seem, this temporary thread of canine affection breaks the taboo of strangers
    passing by on the other side.
    Conversations, sometimes stilted, sometimes deeper and more meaningful, ensue as dog walkers become a brief daily healing force in a fractured world of loneliness.
    It's not much credit in the bank of sociability.
    But it helps.

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

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

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

    , Sandra Hannen Gomez , 12 Oct 2016 04:46
    Good article. You´re absoluately right. And the deeper casue is this: separation from God. If we don´t fight our way back to God, individually and collectively, things are going to get a lot worse. With God, loneliness doesn´t exist. I encourage anyone and everyone to start talking to Him today and invite Him into your heart and watch what starts to happen. Share Facebook Twitter
    , wakeup99 Sandra Hannen Gomez , 12 Oct 2016 04:52
    Religion divides not brings people together. Only when you embrace all humanity and ignore all gods will you find true happiness. The world and the people in it are far more inspiring when you contemplate the lack of any gods. The fact people do amazing things without needing the promise of heaven or the threat of hell - that is truly moving.
    , TeaThoughts Sandra Hannen Gomez , 12 Oct 2016 05:23
    I see what you're saying but I read 'love' instead of God. God is too religious which separates and divides ("I'm this religion and my god is better than yours" etc etc). I believe that George is right in many ways in that money is very powerful on it's impact on our behaviour (stress, lack etc) and therefore our lives. We are becoming fearful of each other and I believe the insecurity we feel plays a part in this. We have become so disconnected from ourselves and focused on battling to stay afloat. Having experienced periods of severe stress due to lack of money I couldn't even begin to think about how I felt, how happy I was, what I really wnated to do with my life. I just had to pay my landlord, pay the bills and try and put some food on my table so everything else was totally neglected. When I moved house to move in with family and wasn't expected to pay rent, though I offered, all that dissatisfaction and undealt with stuff came spilling out and I realised I'd had no time for any real safe care above the very basics and that was not a good place to be. I put myself into therapy for a while and started to look after myself and things started to change. I hope to never go back to that kind of position but things are precarious financially and the field I work in isn't well paid but it makes me very happy which I realise now is more important.
    , geoffhoppy , 12 Oct 2016 04:47
    Neo-liberalism has a lot to answer for in bringing misery to our lives and accelerating the demise of the planet bit I find it not guilty on this one.

    The current trends as to how people perceive themselves (what you've got rather than who you are) and the increasing isolation in our cities started way before the neo-liberals.

    It is getting worse though and on balance social media is making us more connected but less social. Share

    , RandomName2016 , 12 Oct 2016 04:48
    The way that the left keeps banging on about neoliberalism is half of what makes them such a tough sell electorally. Just about nobody knows what neoliberalism is, and literally nobody self identifies as a neoliberal. So all this moaning and wailing about neoliberalism comes across as a self absorbed, abstract and irrelevant. I expect there is the germ of an idea in there, but until the left can find away to present that idea without the baffling layer of jargon and over-analysis, they're going to remain at a disadvantage to the easy populism of the right.
    , Astrogenie , 12 Oct 2016 04:49
    Interesting article. We have heard so much about the size of our economy but less about our quality of life. The UK quality of life is way below the size of our economy i.e. economy size 6th largest in the world but quality of life 15th. If we were the 10th largest economy but were 10th for quality of life we would be better off than we are now in real terms. We need a radical change of political thinking to focus on quality of life rather than obsession with the size of our economy. High levels of immigration of people who don't really integrate into their local communities has fractured our country along with the widening gap between rich and poor. Governments only see people in terms of their "economic value" - hence mothers being driven out to work, children driven into daycare and the elderly driven into care homes. Britain is becoming a soulless place - even our great British comedy is on the decline.
    , wakeup99 Astrogenie , 12 Oct 2016 04:56
    Quality of life is far more important than GDP I agree but it is also far more important than inequality.
    , MikkaWanders , 12 Oct 2016 04:49
    Interesting. 'It is the isolated and marginalised animals that are most likely to be picked off by predators....' so perhaps the species is developing its own predators to fill a vacated niche.

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

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

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

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

    Those societies for example where you "belong" to your family. Where teenage girls can be married off to elderly uncles to cement that belonging.

    Or those societies where the belonging comes through religious centres. Where the ostracism for "deviant" behaviour like being gay or for women not submitting to their husbands can be brutal. And I'm not just talking about muslims here.

    Or those societies that are big on patriotism. Yep they are usually good for mental health as the young men are given lessons in how to kill as many other men as possible efficiently.

    And then I have to think how our years of "neo-liberal" governments have taken ideas of social liberalisation and enshrined them in law. It may be coincidence but thirty years after Thatcher and Reagan we are far more tolerant of homosexuality and willing to give it space to live, conversely we are far less tolerant of racism and are willing to prosecute racist violence. Feminists may still moan about equality but the position of women in society has never been better, rape inside marriage has (finally) been outlawed, sexual violence generally is no longer condoned except by a few, work opportunities have been widened and the woman's role is no longer just home and family. At least that is the case in "neo-liberal" societies, it isn't necessarily the case in other societies.

    So unless you think loneliness is some weird Stockholm Syndrome thing where your sense of belonging comes from your acceptance of a stifling role in a structured soiety, then I think blaming the heightened respect for the individual that liberal societies have for loneliness is way off the mark.

    What strikes me about the cases you cite above, George, is not an over-respect for the individual but another example of individuals being shoe-horned into a structure. It strikes me it is not individualism but competition that is causing the unhappiness. Competition to achieve an impossible ideal.

    I fear George, that you are not approaching this with a properly open mind dedicated to investigation. I think you have your conclusion and you are going to bend the evidence to fit. That is wrong and I for one will not support that. In recent weeks and months we have had the "woe, woe and thrice woe" writings. Now we need to take a hard look at our findings. We need to take out the biases resulting from greater awareness of mental health and better and fuller diagnosis of mental health issues. We need to balance the bias resulting from the fact we really only have hard data for modern Western societies. And above all we need to scotch any bias resulting from the political worldview of the researchers.

    Then the results may have some value.

    , birney arkley , 12 Oct 2016 05:10
    It sounded to me that he was telling us of farm labouring and factory fodder stock that if we'd 'known our place' and kept to it ,all would be well because in his ideal society there WILL be or end up having a hierarchy, its inevitable. Share Facebook Twitter
    , EndaFlannel , 12 Oct 2016 05:04
    Wasn't all this started by someone who said, "There is no such thing as Society"? The ultimate irony is that the ideology that championed the individual and did so much to dismantle the industrial and social fabric of the Country has resulted in a system which is almost totalitarian in its disregard for its ideological consequences. Share Facebook Twitter
    , wakeup99 EndaFlannel , 12 Oct 2016 05:08
    Thatcher said it in the sense that society is not abstract it is just other people so when you say society needs to change then people need to change as society is not some independent concept it is an aggregation of all us. The left mis quote this all the time and either they don't get it or they are doing on purpose. Share Facebook Twitter
    , HorseCart EndaFlannel , 12 Oct 2016 05:09
    No, Neoliberalism has been around since 1938.... Thatcher was only responsible for "letting it go" in Britain in 1980, but actually it was already racing ahead around the world.

    Furthermore, it could easily be argued that the Beatles helped create loneliness - what do you think all those girls were screaming for? And also it could be argued that the Beatles were bringing in neoliberalism in the 1960s, via America thanks to Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis etc.. Share

    , billybagel wakeup99 , 12 Oct 2016 05:26
    They're doing it on purpose. ""If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." -- Joseph Boebbels
    , Luke O'Brien , 12 Oct 2016 05:08
    Great article, although surely you could've extended the blame to capitalism has a whole?


    In what, then, consists the alienation of labor? First, in the fact that labor is external to the worker, i.e., that it does not belong to his nature, that therefore he does not realize himself in his work, that he denies himself in it, that he does not feel at ease in it, but rather unhappy, that he does not develop any free physical or mental energy, but rather mortifies his flesh and ruins his spirit. The worker, therefore, is only himself when he does not work, and in his work he feels outside himself. He feels at home when he is not working, and when he is working he does not feel at home. His labor, therefore, is not voluntary, but forced--forced labor. It is not the gratification of a need, but only a means to gratify needs outside itself. Its alien nature shows itself clearly by the fact that work is shunned like the plague as soon as no physical or other kind of coercion exists.

    Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844

    , JulesBywaterLees , 12 Oct 2016 05:08
    We have created a society with both flaws and highlights- and we have unwittingly allowed the economic system to extend into our lives in negative ways.

    On of the things being modern brings is movement- we move away from communities, breaking friendships and losing support networks, and the support networks are the ones that allow us to cope with issues, problems and anxiety.

    Isolation among the youth is disturbing, it is also un natural, perhaps it is social media, or fear of parents, or the fall in extra school activities or parents simply not having a network of friends because they have had to move for work or housing.

    There is some upsides, I talk and get support from different international communities through the social media that can also be so harmful- I chat on xbox games, exchange information on green building forums, arts forums, share on youtube as well as be part of online communities that hold events in the real world.

    , LordMorganofGlossop , 12 Oct 2016 05:11
    Increasingly we seem to need to document our lives on social media to somehow prove we 'exist'. We seem far more narcissistic these days, which tends to create a particular type of unhappiness, or at least desire that can never be fulfilled. Maybe that's the secret of modern consumer-based capitalism. To be happy today, it probably helps to be shallow, or avoid things like Twitter and Facebook!

    Eric Fromm made similar arguments to Monbiot about the psychological impact of modern capitalism (Fear of Freedom and The Sane Society) - although the Freudian element is a tad outdated. However, for all the faults of modern society, I'd rather be unhappy now than in say, Victorian England. Similarly, life in the West is preferable to the obvious alternatives.

    Interestingly, the ultra conservative Adam Smith Institute yesterday decided to declare themselves 'neoliberal' as some sort of badge of honour:
    http://www.adamsmith.org/blog/coming-out-as-neoliberals

    , eamonmcc , 12 Oct 2016 05:15
    Thanks George for commenting in such a public way on the unsayable: consume, consume, consume seems to be the order of the day in our modern world and the points you have highlighted should be part of public policy everywhere.

    I'm old enough to remember when we had more time for each other; when mothers could be full-time housewives; when evenings existed (evenings now seem to be spent working or getting home from work). We are undoubtedly more materialistic, which leads to more time spent working, although our modern problems are probably not due to increasing materialism alone.

    Regarding divorce and separation, I notice people in my wider circle who are very open to affairs. They seem to lack the self-discipline to concentrate on problems in their marriage and to give their full-time partner a high level of devotion. Terrible problems come up in marriages but if you are completely and unconditionally committed to your partner and your marriage then you can get through the majority of them.

    , CEMKM , 12 Oct 2016 05:47
    Aggressive self interest is turning in on itself. Unfortunately the powerful who have realised their 'Will to Power' are corrupted by their own inflated sense of self and thus blinded. Does this all predict a global violent revolution?
    , SteB1 NeverMindTheBollocks , 12 Oct 2016 06:32

    A diatribe against a vague boogieman that is at best an ill-defined catch-all of things this CIFer does not like.


    An expected response from someone who persistently justifies neoliberalism through opaque and baseless attacks on those who reveal how it works. Neoliberalism is most definitely real and it has a very definite history.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism
    http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=376

    However, what is most interesting is how nearly all modern politicians who peddle neoliberal doctrine or policy, refuse to use the name, or even to openly state what ideology they are in fact following.

    I suppose it is just a complete coincidence that the policy so many governments are now following so closely follow known neoliberal doctrine. But of course the clever and unpleasant strategy of those like yourself is to cry conspiracy theory if this ideology, which dare not speak its name is mentioned.

    Your style is tiresome. You make no specific supported criticisms again, and again. You just make false assertions and engage in unpleasant ad homs and attempted character assassination. You do not address the evidence for what George Monbiot states at all.

    , heian555 , 12 Oct 2016 05:56
    An excellent article. One wonders exactly what one needs to say in order to penetrate the reptilian skulls of those who run the system.

    As an addition to Mr Monbiot's points, I would like to point out that it is not only competitive self-interest and extreme individualism that drives loneliness. Any system that has strict hierarchies and mechanisms of social inclusion also drives it, because such systems inhibit strongly spontaneous social interaction, in which people simply strike up conversation. Thailand has such a system. Despite her promoting herself as the land of smiles, I have found the people here to be deeply segregated and unfriendly. I have lived here for 17 years. The last time I had a satisfactory face-to-face conversation, one that went beyond saying hello to cashiers at checkout counters or conducting official business, was in 1999. I have survived by convincing myself that I have dialogues with my books; as I delve more deeply into the texts, the authors say something different to me, to which I can then respond in my mind.

    , SteB1 , 12 Oct 2016 05:56

    Epidemics of mental illness are crushing the minds and bodies of millions. It's time to ask where we are heading and why


    I want to quote the sub headline, because "It's time to ask where we are heading and why", is the important bit. George's excellent and scathing evidence based criticism of the consequences of neoliberalism is on the nail. However, we need to ask how we got to this stage. Despite it's name neoliberalism doesn't really seem to contain any new ideas, and in some way it's more about Thatcher's beloved return to Victorian values. Most of what George Monbiot highlights encapsulatec Victorian thinking, the sort of workhouse mentality.

    Whilst it's very important to understand how neoliberalism, the ideology that dare not speak it's name, derailed the general progress in the developed world. It's also necessary to understand that the roots this problem go much further back. Not merely to the start of the industrial revolution, but way beyond that. It actually began with the first civilizations when our societies were taken over by powerful rulers, and they essentially started to farm the people they ruled like cattle. On the one hand they declared themselves protector of their people, whilst ruthlessly exploiting them for their own political gain. I use the livestock farming analogy, because that explains what is going on.

    To domesticate livestock, and to make them pliable and easy to work with the farmer must make himself appear to these herd animals as if they are their protector, the person who cares for them, nourishes and feeds them. They become reliant on their apparent benefactor. Except of course this is a deceitful relationship, because the farmer is just fattening them up to be eaten.

    For the powerful to exploit the rest of people in society for their own benefit they had to learn how to conceal what they were really doing, and to wrap it in justifications to bamboozle the people they were exploiting for their own benefit. They did this by altering our language and inserting ideas in our culture which justified their rule, and the positions of the rest of us.

    Before state religions, generally what was revered was the Earth, the natural world. It was on a personal level, and not controlled by the powerful. So the powerful needed to remove that personal meaningfulness from people's lives, and said the only thing which was really meaningful, was the religion, which of course they controlled and were usually the head of. Over generations people were indoctrinated in a completely new way of thinking, and a language manipulated so all people could see was the supposed divine right of kings to rule. Through this language people were detached from what was personally meaningful to them, and could only find meaningfulness by pleasing their rulers, and being indoctrinated in their religion.

    If you control the language people use, you can control how perceive the world, and can express themselves.

    By stripping language of meaningful terms which people can express themselves, and filling it full of dubious concepts such as god, the right of kings completely altered how people saw the world, how they thought. This is why over the ages, and in different forms the powerful have always attempted to have full control of our language through at first religion and their proclamations, and then eventually by them controlling our education system and the media.

    The idea of language being used to control how people see the world, and how they think is of course not my idea. George Orwell's Newspeak idea explored in "1984" is very much about this.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newspeak

    This control of language is well known throughout history. Often conquerors would abolish languages of those they conquered. In the so called New World the colonists eventually tried to control how indigenous people thought by forcibly sending their children to boarding school, to be stripped of their culture, their native language, and to be inculcated in the language and ideas of their colonists. In Britain various attempts were made to banish the Welsh language, the native language of the Britons, before the Anglo-Saxons and the Normans took over.

    However, what Orwell did not deal with properly is the origin of language style. To Orwell, and to critics of neoliberalism, the problems can be traced back to the rise of what they criticised. To a sort of mythical golden age. Except all the roots of what is being criticised can be found in the period before the invention of these doctrines. So you have to go right back to the beginning, to understand how it all began.

    Neoliberalism would never have been possible without this long control of our language and ideas by the powerful. It prevents us thinking outside the box, about what the problem really is, and how it all began.

    , clarissa3 SteB1 , 12 Oct 2016 06:48
    All very well but you are talking about ruthlessness of western elites, mostly British, not all.

    It was not like that everywhere. Take Poland for example, and around there..

    New research is emerging - and I'd recommend reading of prof Frost from St Andrew's Uni - that lower classes were actually treated with respect by elites there, mainly land owners and aristocracy who more looked after them and employed and cases of such ruthlessness as you describe were unknown of.

    So that 'truth' about attitudes to lower classes is not universal!

    , SteB1 Borisundercoat , 12 Oct 2016 06:20

    What is "neoliberalism" exactly?

    It's spouted by many on here as the root of all evil.

    I'd be interested to see how many different definitions I get in response...


    The reason I call neoliberalism the ideology which dare not speak it's name is that in public you will rarely hear it mentioned by it's proponents. However, it was a very important part of Thatcherism, Blairism, and so on. What is most definite is that these politicians and others are most definitely following some doctrine. Their ideas about what we must do and how we must do it are arbitrary, but they make it sound as if it's the only way to do things.

    If you want to learn more about neoliberalism, read a summary such as the Wikipedia page on it.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism
    http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=376

    However, as I hint, the main problem in dealing with neoliberalism is that none of the proponents of this doctrine admit to what ideology they are actually following. Yet very clearly around the world leaders in many countries are clearly singing from the same hymn sheet because the policy they implement is so similar. Something has definitely changed. All the attempts to roll back welfare, benefits, and public services is most definitely new, or they wouldn't be having to reverse policy of the past if nothing had change. But as all these politicians implementing this policy all seem to refuse to explain what doctrine they are following, it makes it difficult to pin down what is happening. Yet we can most definitely say that there is a clear doctrine at work, because why else would so many political leaders around the world be trying to implement such similar policy.

    , Winstons1 TerryMcBurney , 12 Oct 2016 06:24

    Neo-liberalism doesn't really exist except in the minds of the far left and perhaps a few academics.

    Neoliberalism is a policy model of social studies and economics that transfers control of economic factors to the private sector from the public sector. ... Neoliberal policies aim for a laissez-faire approach to economic development.

    I believe the term 'Neo liberalism' was coined by those well known 'Lefties'The Chicago School .
    If you don't believe that any of the above has been happening ,it does beg the question as to where you have been for the past decade.

    , UnderSurveillance , 12 Oct 2016 06:12
    The ironies of modern civilization - we have never been more 'connected' to other people on global level and less 'connected' on personal level.

    We have never had access to such a wide range of information and opinions, but also for a long time been so divided into conflicting groups, reading and accessing in fact only that which reinforces what we already think.

    , John Pelan , 12 Oct 2016 06:18
    Sir Harry Burns, ex-Chief Medical Officer in Scotland talks very powerfully about the impact of loneliness and isolation on physical and mental health - here is a video of a recent talk by him - http://www.befs.org.uk/calendar/48/164-BEFS-Annual-Lecture
    , MightyDrunken , 12 Oct 2016 06:22
    These issues have been a long time coming, just think of the appeals of the 60's to chill out and love everyone. Globalisation and neo-liberalism has simply made society even more broken.
    The way these problems have been ignored and made worse over the last few decades make me think that the solution will only happen after a massive catastrophe and society has to be rebuilt. Unless we make the same mistakes again.
    A shame really, you would think intelligence would be useful but it seems not.
    , ParisHiltonCommune MightyDrunken , 12 Oct 2016 07:19
    Contemporary Neo-liberalism is a reaction against that ideal of the 60s
    , DevilMayCareIDont , 12 Oct 2016 06:25
    I would argue that it creates a bubble of existence for those who pursue a path of "success" that instead turns to isolation . The amount of people that I have met who have moved to London because to them it represents the main location for everything . I get to see so many walking cliches of people trying to fit in or stand out but also fitting in just the same .

    The real disconnect that software is providing us with is truly staggering . I have spoken to people from all over the World who seem to feel more at home being alone and playing a game with strangers . The ones who are most happy are those who seem to be living all aloe and the ones who try and play while a girlfriend or family are present always seemed to be the ones most agitated by them .

    We are humans relying on simplistic algorithms that reduce us ,apps like Tinder which turns us into a misogynist at the click of a button .

    Facebook which highlights our connections with the other people and assumes that everyone you know or have met is of the same relevance .

    We also have Twitter which is the equivalent of screaming at a television when you are drunk or angry .

    We have Instagram where people revel in their own isolation and send updates of it . All those products that are instantly updated and yet we are ageing and always feeling like we are grouped together by simple algorithms .

    , JimGoddard , 12 Oct 2016 06:28
    Television has been the main destroyer of social bonds since the 1950s and yet it is only mentioned once and in relation to the number of competitions on it, which completely misses the point. That's when I stopped taking this article seriously. Share Facebook Twitter
    , GeoffP , 12 Oct 2016 06:29
    Another shining example of the slow poison of capitalism. Maybe it's time at last to turn off the tap? Share Facebook Twitter
    , jwestoby , 12 Oct 2016 06:30
    I actually blame Marx for neoliberalism. He framed society purely in terms economic, and persuaded that ideology is valuable in as much as it is actionable.

    For a dialectician he was incredibly short sighted and superficial, not realising he was creating a narrative inimical to personal expression and simple thoughtfulness (although he was warned). To be fair, he can't have appreciated how profoundly he would change the way we concieve societies.

    Neoliberalism is simply the dark side of Marxism and subsumes the personal just as comprehensively as communism.

    We're picked apart by quantification and live as particulars, suffering the ubiquitous consequences of connectivity alone . . .

    Unless, of course, you get out there and meet great people!

    , ParisHiltonCommune jwestoby , 12 Oct 2016 07:16
    Marxism arose as a reaction against the harsh capitalism of its day. Of course it is connected. It is ironic how Soviet our lives have become.
    , zeeeel , 12 Oct 2016 06:30
    Neo-liberalism allows psychopaths to flourish, and it has been argued by Robert Hare that they are disproportionately represented in the highest echelons of society. So people who lack empathy and emotional attachment are probably weilding a significant amount of influence over the way our economy and society is organised. Is it any wonder that they advocate an economic model which is most conducive to their success? Things like job security, rigged markets, unions, and higher taxes on the rich simply get in their way.
    , Drewv , 12 Oct 2016 06:30
    That fine illustration by Andrzej Krauze up there is exactly what I see whenever I walk into an upscale mall or any Temple of Consumerism.

    You can hear the Temple calling out: "Feel bad, atomized individuals? Have a hole inside? Feel lonely? That's all right: buy some shit you don't need and I guarantee you'll feel better."

    And then it says: "So you bought it and you felt better for five minutes, and now you feel bad again? Well, that's not rocket science...you should buy MORE shit you don't need! I mean, it's not rocket science, you should have figured this out on your own."

    And then it says: "Still feel bad and you have run out of money? Well, that's okay, just get it on credit, or take out a loan, or mortgage your house. I mean, it's not rocket science. Really, you should have figured this out on your own already...I thought you were a modern, go-get-'em, independent, initiative-seizing citizen of the world?"

    And then it says: "Took out too many loans, can't pay the bills and the repossession has begun? Honestly, that's not my problem. You're just a bad little consumer, and a bad little liberal, and everything is your own fault. You go sit in a dark corner now where you don't bother the other shoppers. Honestly, you're just being a burden on other consumers now. I'm not saying you should kill yourself, but I can't say that we would mind either."

    And that's how the worms turn at the Temples of Consumerism and Neoliberalism.

    , havetheyhearts , 12 Oct 2016 06:31
    I kept my sanity by not becoming a spineless obedient middle class pleaser of a sociopathic greedy tribe pretending neoliberalism is the future.

    The result is a great clarity about the game, and an intact empathy for all beings.

    The middle class treated each conscious "outsider" like a lowlife,
    and now they play the helpless victims of circumstances.

    I know why I renounced to my privileges.
    They sleepwalk into their self created disorder.
    And yes, I am very angry at those who wasted decades with their social stupidity,
    those who crawled back after a start of change into their petit bourgeois niche.

    I knew that each therapist has to take a stand and that the most choose petty careers.
    Do not expect much sanity from them for your disorientated kids.
    Get insightful yourself and share your leftover love to them.
    Try honesty and having guts...that might help both of you.

    , Likewhatever , 12 Oct 2016 06:32
    Alternatively, neo-liberalism has enabled us to afford to live alone (entire families were forced to live together for economic reasons), and technology enables us to work remotely, with no need for interaction with other people.

    This may make some people feel lonely, but for many others its utopia.

    , Peter1Barnet , 12 Oct 2016 06:32
    Some of the things that characterise Globalisation and Neoliberalism are open borders and free movement. How can that contribute to isolation? That is more likely to be fostered by Protectionism.
    And there aren't fewer jobs. Employment is at record highs here and in many other countries. There are different jobs, not fewer, and to be sure there are some demographics that have lost out. But overall there are not fewer jobs. That falls for the old "lump of labour" fallacy.
    , WhigInterpretation , 12 Oct 2016 06:43
    The corrosive state of mass television indoctrination sums it up: Apprentice, Big Brother, Dragon's Den. By degrees, the standard keeps lowering. It is no longer unusual for a licence funded TV programme to consist of a group of the mentally deranged competing to be the biggest asshole in the room.

    Anomie is a by-product of cultural decline as much as economics.

    , Pinkie123 Stephen Bell , 12 Oct 2016 07:18

    What is certain, is that is most ways, life is far better now in the UK than 20, 30 or 40 years ago, by a long way!


    That's debatable. Data suggests that inequality has widened massively over the last 30 years ( https://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/infographic-income-inequality-uk ) - as has social mobility ( https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/may/22/social-mobility-data-charts ). Homelessness has risen substantially since 1979.

    Our whole culture is more stressful. Jobs are more precarious; employment rights more stacked in favor of the employer; workforces are deunionised; leisure time is on the decrease; rents are unaffordable; a house is no longer a realistic expectation for millions of young people. Overall, citizens are more socially immobile and working harder for poorer real wages than they were in the late 70's.

    As for mental health, evidence suggest that mental health problems have been on the increase over recent decades, especially among young people. The proportion of 15/16 year olds reporting that they frequently feel anxious or depressed has doubled in the last 30 years, from 1 in 30 to 2 in 30 for boys and 1 in 10 to 2 in ten for girls ( http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/news/increased-levels-anxiety-and-depression-teenage-experience-changes-over-time

    Unfortunately, sexual abuse has always been a feature of human societies. However there is no evidence to suggest it was any worse in the past. Then sexual abuse largely took place in institutional settings were at least it could be potentially addressed. Now much of it has migrated to the great neoliberal experiment of the internet, where child exploitation is at endemic levels and completely beyond the control of law enforcement agencies. There are now more women and children being sexually trafficked than there were slaves at the height of the slave trade. Moreover, we should not forget that Jimmy Saville was abusing prolifically right into the noughties.

    My parents were both born in 1948. They say it was great. They bought a South London house for next to nothing and never had to worry about getting a job. When they did get a job it was one with rights, a promise of a generous pension, a humane workplace environment, lunch breaks and an ethos of public service. My mum says that the way women are talked about now is worse.

    Sounds fine to me. That's not to say everything was great: racism was acceptable (though surely the vile views pumped out onto social media are as bad or worse than anything that existed then), homosexuality was illegal and capital punishment enforced until the 1960's. However, the fact that these things were reformed showed society was moving in the right direction. Now we are going backwards, back to 1930's levels or inequality and a reactionary, small-minded political culture fueled by loneliness, rage and misery.

    , Pinkie123 Stephen Bell , 12 Oct 2016 07:28
    And there is little evidence to suggest that anyone has expanded their mind with the internet. A lot of people use it to look at porn, post racist tirades on Facebook, send rape threats, distributes sexual images of partners with their permission, take endless photographs of themselves and whip up support for demagogues. In my view it would much better if people went to a library than lurked in corporate echo chambers pumping out the like of 'why dont theese imagrantz go back home and all those lezbo fems can fuckk off too ha ha megalolz ;). Seriously mind expanding stuff. Share
    , Pinkie123 Pinkie123 , 12 Oct 2016 07:38
    Oops ' without their permission... Share Facebook Twitter
    , maldonglass , 12 Oct 2016 06:49
    As a director and CEO of an organisation employing several hundred people I became aware that 40% of the staff lived alone and that the workplace was important to them not only for work but also for interacting with their colleagues socially . This was encouraged and the organisation achieved an excellent record in retaining staff at a time when recruitment was difficult. Performance levels were also extremely high . I particulalry remember with gratitude the solidarity of staff when one of our colleagues - a haemophiliac - contracted aids through an infected blood transfusion and died bravely but painfully - the staff all supported him in every way possible through his ordeal and it was a pivilege for me to work with such kind and caring people .
    , oommph maldonglass , 12 Oct 2016 07:00
    Indeed. Those communities are often undervalued. However, the problem is, as George says, lots of people are excluded from them.

    They are also highly self-selecting (e.g. you need certain trains of inclusivity, social adeptness, empathy, communication, education etc to get the job that allows you to join that community).

    Certainly I make it a priority in my life. I do create communities. I do make an effort to stand by people who live like me. I can be a leader there.

    Sometimes I wish more people would be. It is a sustained, long-term effort. Share

    , forkintheroad , 12 Oct 2016 06:50
    'a war of everyone against themselves' - post-Hobbesian. Genius, George.
    , sparclear , 12 Oct 2016 06:51
    Using a word like 'loneliness' is risky insofar as nuances get lost. It can have thousand meanings, as there are of a word like 'love'.
    isolation
    grief
    loneliness
    feeling abandoned
    solitude
    purposelessness
    neglect
    depression
    &c.

    To add to this discussion, we might consider the strongest need and conflict each of us experiences as a teenager, the need to be part of a tribe vs the the conflict inherent in recognising one's uniqueness. In a child's life from about 7 or 8 until adolescence, friends matter the most. Then the young person realises his or her difference from everyone else and has to grasp what this means.

    Those of us who enjoyed a reasonably healthy upbringing will get through the peer group / individuation stage with happiness possible either way - alone or in friendship. Our parents and teachers will have fostered a pride in our own talents and our choice of where to socialise will be flexible and non-destructive.

    Those of us who at some stage missed that kind of warmth and acceptance in childhood can easily stagnate. Possibly this is the most awkward of personal developmental leaps. The person neither knows nor feels comfortable with themselves, all that faces them is an abyss.
    Where creative purpose and strength of spirit are lacking, other humans can instinctively sense it and some recoil from it, hardly knowing what it's about. Vulnerabilities attendant on this state include relationships holding out some kind of ersatz rescue, including those offered by superficial therapists, religions, and drugs, legal and illegal.

    Experience taught that apart from the work we might do with someone deeply compassionate helping us where our parents failed, the natural world is a reliable healer. A kind of self-acceptance and individuation is possible away from human bustle. One effect of the seasons and of being outdoors amongst other life forms is to challenge us physically, into present time, where our senses start to work acutely and our observational skills get honed, becoming more vibrant than they could at any educational establishment.

    This is one reason we have to look after the Earth, whether it's in a city context or a rural one. Our mental, emotional and physical health is known to be directly affected by it.

    , Buster123 , 12 Oct 2016 06:55
    A thoughtful article. But the rich and powerful will ignore it; their doing very well out of neo liberalism thank you. Meanwhile many of those whose lives are affected by it don't want to know - they're happy with their bigger TV screen. Which of course is what the neoliberals want, 'keep the people happy and in the dark'.
    An old Roman tactic - when things weren't going too well for citizens and they were grumbling the leaders just extended the 'games'. Evidently it did the trick. Share
    , worried Buster123 , 12 Oct 2016 07:32
    The rich and powerful can be just as lonely as you and me. However, some of them will be lonely after having royally forked the rest of us over...and that is another thing
    , Hallucinogen , 12 Oct 2016 06:59

    We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war. Our Great Depression is our lives.


    - Fight Club
    People need a tribe to feel purpose. We need conflict, it's essential for our species... psychological health improved in New York after 9/11.
    , ParisHiltonCommune , 12 Oct 2016 07:01
    Totally agree with the last sentences. Human civilisation is a team effort. Individual humans cant survive, our language evolved to aid cooperation.

    Neo-liberalism is really only an Anglo-American project. Yet we are so indoctrinated in it, It seems natural to us, but not to hardly any other cultures.

    As for those "secondary factors. Look to advertising and the loss of real jobs forcing more of us to sell services dependent on fake needs. Share

    , deirdremcardle , 12 Oct 2016 07:01
    Help save the Notting Hill Carnival
    http://www.getwestlondon.co.uk/news/west-london-news/teen-disembowelled-years-notting-hill-11982129

    It's importance for social cohesion -yes inspite of the problems , can not be overestimated .Don't let the rich drive it out , people who don't understand ,or care what it's for .The poorer boroughs cannot afford it .K&C have easily 1/2billion in Capital Reserves ,so yes they must continue . Here I can assure you ,one often sees the old and lonely get a hug .If drug gangs are hitting each other or their rich boy customers with violence - that is a different matter . And yes of course if we don't do something to help boys from ethnic minorities ,with education and housing -of course it only becomes more expensive in the long run.

    Boris Johnson has idiotically mouthed off about trying to mobilise people to stand outside the Russian Embassy , as if one can mobilise youth by telling them to tidy their bedroom .Because that's all it amounts to - because you have to FEEL protest and dissent . Well here at Carnival - there it is ,protest and dissent . Now listen to it . And of course it will be far easier than getting any response from sticking your tongue out at the Putin monster !
    He has his bombs , just as Kensington and Chelsea have their money.
    (and anyway it's only another Boris diversion ,like building some fucking stupid bridge ,instead of doing anything useful)

    , Lafcadio1944 , 12 Oct 2016 07:03
    "Society" or at least organized society is the enemy of corporate power. The idea of Neoliberal capitalism is to replace civil society with corporate law and rule. The same was true of the less extreme forms of capitalism. Society is the enemy of capital because it put restrictions on it and threatens its power.

    When society organizes itself and makes laws to protect society from the harmful effects of capitalism, for example demands on testing drugs to be sure they are safe, this is a big expense to Pfizer, there are many examples - just now in the news banning sugary drinks. If so much as a small group of parents forming a day care co-op decide to ban coca cola from their group that is a loss of profit.

    That is really what is going on, loneliness is a big part of human life, everyone feels it sometimes, under Neoliberal capitalism it is simply more exaggerated due to the out and out assault on society itself.

    , Joan Cant , 12 Oct 2016 07:10
    Well the prevailing Global Capitalist world view is still a combination 1. homocentric Cartesian Dualism i.e. seeing humans as most important and sod all other living beings, and seeing humans as separate from all other living beings and other humans and 2. Darwinian "survival of the fittest" seeing everything as a competition and people as "winners and losers, weak or strong with winners and the strong being most important". From these 2 combined views all kinds of "games" arise. The main one being the game of "victim, rescuer, persecutor" (Transactional Analysis). The Guardian engages in this most of the time and although I welcome the truth in this article to some degree, surprisingly, as George is environmentally friendly, it kinda still is talking as if humans are most important and as if those in control (the winners) need to change their world view to save the victims. I think the world view needs to zoom out to a perspective that recognises that everything is interdependent and that the apparent winners and the strong are as much victims of their limited world view as those who are manifesting the effects of it more obviously.
    , Zombiesfan , 12 Oct 2016 07:14
    Here in America, we have reached the point at which police routinely dispatch the mentally ill, while complaining that "we don't have the time for this" (N. Carolina). When a policeman refuses to kill a troubled citizen, he or she can and will be fired from his job (West Virginia). This has become not merely commonplace, but actually a part of the social function of the work of the police -- to remove from society the burden of caring for the mentally ill by killing them. In the state where I live, a state trooper shot dead a mentally ill man who was not only unarmed, but sitting on the toilet in his own home. The resulting "investigation" exculpated the trooper, of course; in fact, young people are constantly told to look up to the police.
    , ianita1978 Zombiesfan , 12 Oct 2016 08:25
    Sounds like the inevitable logical outcome of a society where the predator sociopathic and their scared prey are all that is allowed.
    This dynamic dualistic tautology, the slavish terrorised to sleep and bullying narcissistic individual, will always join together to protect their sick worldview by pathologising anything that will threaten their hegemony of power abuse: compassion, sensitivity, moral conscience, altruism and the immediate effects of the ruthless social effacement or punishment of the same ie human suffering. Share
    , Ruby4 , 12 Oct 2016 07:14
    The impact of increasing alienation on individual mental health has been known about and discussed for a long time.

    When looking at a way forward, the following article is interesting:

    "Alienation, in all areas, has reached unprecedented heights; the social machinery for deluding consciousnesses in the interest of the ruling class has been perfected as never before. The media are loaded with upscale advertising identifying sophistication with speciousness. Television, in constant use, obliterates the concept under the image and permanently feeds a baseless credulity for events and history. Against the will of many students, school doesn't develop the highly cultivated critical capacities that a real sovereignty of the people would require. And so on. The ordinary citizen thus lives in an incredibly deceiving reality. Perhaps this explains the tremendous and persistent gap between the burgeoning of motives to struggle, and the paucity of actual combatants. The contrary would be a miracle. Thus the considerable importance of what I call the struggle for representation: at every moment, in every area, to expose the deception and bring to light, in the simplicity of form which only real theoretical penetration makes possible, the processes in which the false-appearances, real and imagined, originate, and this way, to form the vigilant consciousness, placing our image of reality back on its feet and reopening paths to action."

    https://www.marxists.org/archive/seve/lucien_seve.htm

    , ianita1978 Ruby4 , 12 Oct 2016 08:18
    For the global epidemic of abusive, effacing homogenisation of human intellectual exchange and violent hyper-sexualisation of all culture, I blame the US Freudian PR guru Edward Bernays and his puritan forebears - alot. Share Facebook Twitter
    , bonhee Ruby4 , 12 Oct 2016 09:03
    Thanks for proving that Anomie is a far more sensible theory than Dialectical Materialistic claptrap that was used back in the 80s to terrorize the millions of serfs living under the Jack boot of Leninist Iron curtain.
    , RossJames , 12 Oct 2016 07:15
    There's no question - neoliberalism has been wrenching society apart. It's not as if the prime movers of this ideology were unaware of the likely outcome viz. "there is no such thing as society" (Thatcher). Actually in retrospect the whole zeitgeist from the late 70s emphasised the atomised individual separated from the whole. Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene" (1976) may have been influential in creating that climate.

    Anyway, the wheel has turned thank goodness. We are becoming wiser and understanding that "ecology" doesn't just refer to our relationship with the natural world but also, closer to home, our relationship with each other.

    , Jayarava Attwood RossJames , 12 Oct 2016 07:37
    The Communist manifesto makes the same complaint in 1848. The wheel has not turned, it is still grinding down workers after 150 years. We are none the wiser. Share Facebook Twitter
    , Ben Wood RossJames , 12 Oct 2016 07:49
    "The wheel is turning and you can't slow down,
    You can't let go and you can't hold on,
    You can't go back and you can't stand still,
    If the thunder don't get you then the lightning will."
    R Hunter Share Facebook Twitter
    , ianita1978 Ben Wood , 12 Oct 2016 08:13
    Yep.
    And far too many good people have chosen to be the grateful dead in order to escape the brutal torture of bullying Predators.
    , magicspoon3 , 12 Oct 2016 07:30
    What is loneliness? I love my own company and I love walking in nature and listening to relaxation music off you tube and reading books from the library. That is all free. When I fancied a change of scene, I volunteered at my local art gallery.

    Mental health issues are not all down to loneliness. Indeed, other people can be a massive stress factor, whether it is a narcissistic parent, a bullying spouse or sibling, or an unreasonable boss at work.

    I'm on the internet far too much and often feel the need to detox from it and get back to a more natural life, away from technology. The 24/7 news culture and selfie obsessed society is a lot to blame for social disconnect.

    The current economic climate is also to blame, if housing and job security are a problem for individuals as money worries are a huge factor of stress. The idea of not having any goal for the future can trigger depressive thoughts.

    I have to say, I've been happier since I don't have such unrealistic expectations of what 'success is'. I rarely get that foreign holiday or new wardrobe of clothes and my mobile phone is archaic. The pressure that society puts on us to have all these things- and get in debt for them is not good. The obsession with economic growth at all costs is also stupid, as the numbers don't necessarily mean better wealth, health or happiness.

    , dr8765 , 12 Oct 2016 07:34
    Very fine article, as usual from George, until right at the end he says:

    This does not require a policy response.

    But it does. It requires abandonment of neoliberalism as the means used to run the world. People talk about the dangers of man made computers usurping their makers but mankind has, it seems, already allowed itself to become enslaved. This has not been achieved by physical dependence upon machines but by intellectual enslavement to an ideology.

    , John Smythe , 12 Oct 2016 07:35
    A very good "Opinion" by George Monbiot one of the best I have seen on this Guardian blog page.
    I would add that the basic concepts of the Neoliberal New world order are fundamentally Evil, from the control of world population through supporting of strife starvation and war to financial inducements of persons in positions of power. Let us not forget the training of our younger members of our society who have been induced to a slavish love of technology. Many other areas of human life are also under attack from the Neoliberal, even the very air we breathe, and the earth we stand upon.
    , Jayarava Attwood , 12 Oct 2016 07:36
    The Amish have understood for 300 years that technology could have a negative effect on society and decided to limit its effects. I greatly admire their approach. Neal Stephenson's recent novel Seveneves coined the term Amistics for the practice of assessing and limiting the impact of tech. We need a Minister for Amistics in the government. Wired magazine did two features on the Amish use of telephones which are quite insightful.

    The Amish Get Wired. The Amish ? 6.1.1993
    look Who's talking . 1.1.1999

    If we go back to 1848, we also find Marx and Engels, in the Communist Manifesto, complaining about the way that the first free-market capitalism (the original liberalism) was destroying communities and families by forcing workers to move to where the factories were being built, and by forcing women and children into (very) low paid work. 150 years later, after many generations of this, combined with the destruction of work in the North, the result is widespread mental illness. But a few people are really rich now, so that's all right, eh?

    Social media is ersatz community. It's like eating grass: filling, but not nourishing.

    ICYMI I had some thoughts a couple of days ago on how to deal with the mental health epidemic .

    , maplegirl , 12 Oct 2016 07:38
    Young people are greatly harmed by not being able to see a clear path forward in the world. For most people, our basic needs are a secure job, somewhere secure and affordable to live, and a decent social environment in terms of public services and facilities. Unfortunately, all these things are sliding further out of reach for young people in the UK, and they know this. Many already live with insecure housing where their family could have to move at a month or two's notice.

    Our whole economic system needs to be built around providing these basic securities for people. Neoliberalism = insecure jobs, insecure housing and poor public services, because these are the end result of its extreme free market ideology.

    , dynamicfrog , 12 Oct 2016 07:44
    I agree with this 100%. Social isolation makes us unhappy. We have a false sense of what makes us unhappy - that success or wealth will enlighten or liberate us. What makes us happy is social connection. Good friendships, good relationships, being part of community that you contribute to. Go to some of the poorest countries in the world and you may meet happy people there, tell them about life in rich countries, and say that some people there are unhappy. They won't believe you. We do need to change our worldview, because misery is a real problem in many countries.
    , SavannahLaMar , 12 Oct 2016 07:47
    It is tempting to see the world before Thatcherism, which is what most English writers mean when they talk about neo-liberalism, as an idyll, but it simply wasn't.

    The great difficulty with capitalism is that while it is in many ways an amoral doctrine, it goes hand in hand with personal freedom. Socialism is moral in its concern for the poorest, but then it places limits on personal freedom and choice. That's the price people pay for the emphasis on community, rather than the individual.

    Close communities can be a bar on personal freedom and have little tolerance for people who deviate from the norm. In doing that, they can entrench loneliness.

    This happened, and to some extent is still happening, in the working class communities which we typically describe as 'being destroyed by Thatcher'. It's happening in close-knit Muslim communities now.

    I'm not attempting to vindicate Thatcherism, I'm just saying there's a pay-off with any model of society. George Monbiot's concerns are actually part of a long tradition - Oliver Goldsmith's Deserted Village (1770) chimes with his thinking, as does DH Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover.

    , proteusblu SavannahLaMar , 12 Oct 2016 08:04
    The kind of personal freedom that you say goes hand in hand with capitalism is an illusion for the majority of people. It holds up the prospect of that kind of freedom, but only a minority get access to it. For most, it is necessary to submit yourself to a form of being yoked, in terms of the daily grind which places limits on what you can then do, as the latter depends hugely on money. The idea that most people are "free" to buy the house they want, private education, etc., not to mention whether they can afford the many other things they are told will make them happy, is a very bad joke. Hunter-gatherers have more real freedom than we do. Share
    , Stephen Bell SavannahLaMar , 12 Oct 2016 09:07
    Well said. One person's loneliness is another's peace and quiet.
    , stumpedup_32 Firstact , 12 Oct 2016 08:12
    According to Wiki: 'Neoliberalism refers primarily to the 20th century resurgence of 19th century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism. These include extensive economic liberalization policies such as privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade, and reductions in government spending in order to enhance the role of the private sector in the economy.'
    , queequeg7 , 12 Oct 2016 07:54
    We grow into fear - the stress of exams and their certain meanings; the lower wages, longer hours, and fewer rights at work; the certainty of debt with ever greater mortgages; the terror of benefit cuts combined with rent increases.

    If we're forever afraid, we'll cling to whatever life raft presents.

    It's a demeaning way to live, but it serves the Market better than having a free, reasonably paid, secure workforce, broadly educated and properly housed, with rights.

    , CrazyGuy , 12 Oct 2016 07:54
    Insightful analysis...

    George quite rightly pinpoints the isolating effects of modern society and technology and the impact on the quality of our relationships.

    The obvious question is how can we offset these trends and does the government care enough to do anything about them?

    It strikes me that one of the major problems is that [young] people have been left to their own devices in terms of their consumption of messages from Social and Mass online Media - analogous to leaving your kids in front of a video in lieu of a parental care or a babysitter. In traditional society - the messages provided by Society were filtered by family contact and real peer interaction - and a clear picture of the limited value of the media was propogated by teachers and clerics. Now young and older people alike are left to make their own judgments and we cannot be surprised when they extract negative messages around body image, wealth and social expectations and social and sexual norms from these channels. It's inevitable that this will create a boundary free landscape where insecurity, self-loathing and ultimately mental illness will prosper.

    I'm not a traditionalist in any way but there has to be a role for teachers and parents in mediating these messages and presenting the context for analysing what is being said in a healthy way. I think this kind of Personal Esteem and Life Skills education should be part of the core curriculum in all schools. Our continued focus on basic academic skills just does not prepare young people for the real world of judgementalism, superficiality and cliques and if anything dealing with these issues are core life skills.

    We can't reverse the fact that media and modern society is changing but we can prepare people for the impact which it can have on their lives.

    , school10 CrazyGuy , 12 Oct 2016 08:04
    A politician's answer.
    X is a problem. Someone else, in your comment it will be teachers that have to sort it out. Problems in society are not solved by having a one hour a week class on "self esteem". In fact self-esteem and self-worth comes from the things you do. Taking kids away from their academic/cultural studies reduces this.
    This is a problem in society. What can society as a whole do to solve it and what are YOU prepared to contribute. Share
    , David Ireland CrazyGuy , 12 Oct 2016 09:28
    Rather difficult to do when their parents are Thatchers children and buy into the whole celebrity, you are what you own lifestyle too....and teachers are far too busy filling out all the paperwork that shows they've met their targets to find time to teach a person centred course on self-esteem to a class of 30 teenagers. Share Facebook Twitter
    , Ian Harris , 12 Oct 2016 07:54
    I think we should just continue to be selfish and self-serving, sneering and despising anyone less fortunate than ourselves, look up to and try to emulate the shallow, vacuous lifestyle of the non-entity celebrity, consume the Earth's natural resources whilst poisoning the planet and the people, destroy any non-contributing indigenous peoples and finally set off all our nuclear arsenals in a smug-faced global firework display to demonstrate our high level of intelligence and humanity. Surely, that's what we all want? Who cares? So let's just carry on with business as usual!
    , BetaRayBill , 12 Oct 2016 08:01
    Neoliberalism is the bastard child of globalization which in effect is Americanization. The basic premise is the individual is totally reliant on the corporate world state aided by a process of fear inducing mechanisms, pharmacology is one of the tools.
    No community no creativity no free thinking. Poded sealed and cling filmed a quasi existence.
    , Bluecloud , 12 Oct 2016 08:01 Contributor
    Having grown up during the Thatcher years, I entirely agree that neoliberalism has divided society by promoting individual self-optimisation at the expensive of everyone else.

    What's the solution? Well if neoliberalism is the root cause, we need a systematic change, which is a problem considering there is no alternative right now. We can however, get active in rebuilding communities and I am encouraged by George Monbiot's work here.

    My approach is to get out and join organisations working toward system change. 350.org is a good example. Get involved.

    , SemenC , 12 Oct 2016 08:09
    we live in a narcissistic and ego driven world that dehumanises everyone. we have an individual and collective crisis of the soul. it is our false perception of ourselves that creates a disconnection from who we really are that causes loneliness. Share Facebook Twitter
    , rolloverlove SemenC , 12 Oct 2016 11:33
    I agree. This article explains why it is a perfectly normal reaction to the world we are currently living in. It goes as far as to suggest that if you do not feel depressed at the state of our world there's something wrong with you ;-)
    http://upliftconnect.com/mutiny-of-the-soul/ Share Facebook Twitter
    , HaveYouFedTheFish , 12 Oct 2016 08:10
    Surely there is a more straightforward possible explanation for increasing incidence of "unhapiness"?

    Quite simply, a century of gradually increasing general living standards in the West have lifted the masses up Maslows higiene hierarchy of needs, to where the masses now have largely only the unfulfilled self esteem needs that used to be the preserve of a small, middle class minority (rather than the unfulfilled survival, security and social needs of previous generations)

    If so - this is good. This is progress. We just need to get them up another rung to self fulfillment (the current concern of the flourishing upper middle classes).

    , avid Ireland HaveYouFedTheFish , 12 Oct 2016 08:59
    Maslow's hierarchy of needs was not about material goods. One could be poor and still fulfill all his criteria and be fully realised. You have missed the point entirely. Share Facebook Twitter
    , HaveYouFedTheFish David Ireland , 12 Oct 2016 09:25
    Error.... Who mentioned material goods? I think you have not so much "missed the point" as "made your own one up" .

    And while agreed that you could, in theory, be poor and meet all of your needs (in fact the very point of the analysis is that money, of itself, isn't what people "need") the reality of the structure of a western capitalist society means that a certain level of affluence is almost certainly a prerequisite for meeting most of those needs simply because food and shelter at the bottom end and, say, education and training at the top end of self fulfillment all have to be purchased. Share

    , HaveYouFedTheFish David Ireland , 12 Oct 2016 09:40
    Also note that just because a majority of people are now so far up the heirachy does in no way negate an argument that corporations haven't also noticed this and target advertising appropriately to exploit it (and maybe we need to talk about that)

    It just means that it's lazy thinking to presume we are in some way "sliding backwards" socially, rather than needing to just keep pushing through this adversity through to the summit.

    I have to admit it does really stick in my craw a bit hearing millenials moan about how they may never get to *own* a really *nice* house while their grandparents are still alive who didn't even get the right to finish school and had to share a bed with their siblings.

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

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