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[Mar 31, 2017] Venezuela no longer pretends to be a Democracy, The USA pretends, but does it change anything?

Mar 31, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
im1dc , March 30, 2017 at 05:25 PM
Update re Venezuela

Venezuela no longer pretends to be a Democracy, it is a Dictatorship officially today

http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2017/03/30/venezuelan-supreme-court-seizes-power-from-legislature.html

"3. ONE-MAN RULE"

2 hours ago

Venezuela Supreme Court Seizes Power from Legislature"

"President Nicolás Maduro further consolidated his one-man rule over Venezuela on Thursday as the loyalist Supreme Court effectively dissolved the legislature, seizing power to write laws itself, The New York Times reported. According to the high court's ruling, lawmakers were "in a situation of contempt" in opposition to the leftist ruling party, and that the justices would need to take over in order to "ensure that parliamentary powers were exercised directly by this Chamber, or by the body that the Chamber chooses." According to the Times, one opposition legislator declared that the court "kidnapped the Constitution, they have kidnapped our rights, they have kidnapped our liberty." Another lamented: "It's demonstrating before the world the authoritarianism here. The people chose us through a popular vote."

From NYTimes

libezkova -> im1dc... , March 30, 2017 at 07:53 PM
"Venezuela no longer pretends to be a Democracy," The USA pretends, but does it change anything?

Neoliberalism and democracy are incompatible, because neoliberalism enforces one-dollar-one-vote policy.

Politicians became commoditized ;-)

They sell themselves to the highest campaign contributors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Mar 28, 2017] Bill Black: Why Did Preet Bharara Refuse to Drain the Wall Street Swamp?

Notable quotes:
"... New York Times' ..."
"... Further, the Northern District of New York has jurisdiction over Albany, so the swampiest part of New York State politics did not lie in Bharara's jurisdiction. ..."
"... Obama was a rapacious doer for the .001%. ..."
"... That smirky dubya-esque smile on his face while on Sir Richard Branson's private island off of the coast of Madagascar says it all. "Fuck all of y'all, I got out and away with screwing the rest of the nation, not once, but twice!" ..."
"... Draining Wall Street is more challenging than cleaning out the Augean stables. ..."
"... Not for nothing, but Preet came out of Schumer's office who has parlayed being Wall Street's senator into dejure leadership of the Senate Dems and defacto control of the Democratic party. ..."
Mar 28, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One, an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and c–founder of Bank Whistleblowers United. Jointly published with New Economic Perspectives

The New York Times' editorial board published an editorial on March 12, 2017, praising Preet Bharara as the "Prosecutor Who Knew How to Drain a Swamp." I agree with the title. At all times when he was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (which includes Wall Street) Bharara knew how to drain the swamp. Further, he had the authority, the jurisdiction, the resources, and the testimony from whistleblowers like Richard Bowen (a co-founder of Bank Whistleblowers United (BWU)) to drain the Wall Street swamp. Bowen personally contacted Bharara beginning in 2005.

You were quoted in The Nation magazine as saying that if a whistleblower comes forward with evidence of wrongdoing, then you would be the first to prosecute [elite bankers].

I am writing this email to inform you that there is a body of evidence concerning wrongdoing, which the Department of Justice has refused to act on in order to determine whether criminal charges should be pursued.

Bowen explained that he was a whistleblower about Citigroup's senior managers and that he was (again) coming forward to aid Bharara to prosecute. Bowen tried repeatedly to interest Bharara in draining the Citigroup swamp. Bharara refused to respond to Bowen's blowing of the whistle on the massive frauds led by Citigroup's senior officers.

Bharara knew how to drain the Wall Street swamp and was positioned to do so because he had federal prosecutorial jurisdiction over Wall Street crimes. Whistleblowers like Bowen, who lacked any meaningful power, sacrificed their careers and repeatedly demonstrated courage to ensure that Bharara would have the testimony and documents essential to prosecute successfully some of Wall Street's most elite felons. Bharara never mustered the courage to prosecute those elites. Indeed, Bharara never mustered the courtesy to respond to Bowen's offers to aid his office.

The editorial lauds Bharara for his actions against public corruption in New York.

New Yorkers, who have had a front-row seat to his work over the last seven years, know him for his efforts to drain one of the swampiest states in the country of its rampant public corruption.

We are all for rooting out public corruption. The editorial ignores three key facts. First, New York politics are less corrupt than many other states, but Wall Street's leaders created the "swampiest" region in American business. Further, the Northern District of New York has jurisdiction over Albany, so the swampiest part of New York State politics did not lie in Bharara's jurisdiction. Second, Wall Street CEOs created, and infest, the swampiest of regions over which Bharara had jurisdiction. They led the epidemics of "control fraud" that hyper-inflated the housing bubble, drove the financial crisis, and caused the Great Recession. Third, Bharara did not prosecute any of them even when whistleblowers brought him the cases on platinum platters. Indeed, Bharara did not prosecute even low-level bank officers who were minor leaders in implementing those fraud epidemics.

I will summarize briefly Bowen's story as it intersects Bharara. Bowen held a senior position with Citigroup supervising a staff of several hundred professionals that conducted risk assessments on roughly $100 billion in annual mortgage purchases – a majority of which Citigroup resold to Fannie and Freddie or mortgage securitizers. Citigroup was exposed to enormous losses on these mortgages because the sellers had strong incentives to provide false "reps and warranties" to Citigroup and sell them fraudulently originated loans that were particularly likely to default and suffer larger losses upon default. Citigroup could only sell these fraudulently originated mortgages to others through making essentially the same fraudulent reps and warranties that it received from the original sellers. Bowen's staff found originally that 60% of the loans it was buying had false reps and warranties. He warned his superiors about the problem, but they responded by weakening Citigroup's already inadequate underwriting by buying pervasively fraudulent "liar's" loans. Bowen put Citigroup's senior management, including Robert Rubin, on written notice of the growing crisis and called for immediate intervention to stem the crisis. Citigroup's senior management responded by removing Bowen's staff and responsibilities. The incidence of fraud grew to 80 percent.

Bowen was blowing the whistle internally at Citigroup and acting exactly as he was supposed to do – as Citigroup articulated what an officer should do in such circumstances. He was not looking for money or a lawsuit. He was the opposite of a disgruntled employee. He had never gone public.

Citigroup's top leaders forced Bowen out – for doing exactly the right think according to Citigroup's own policies. Bowen did eventually blow the whistle to the public about the Citigroup's top leadership and the banks hundreds of billions of dollars in sales of mortgages through false reps and warranties. Those sales, because of the losses they caused to Fannie and Freddie, were substantial contributors to Fannie and Freddie's failures and the public bailout of both firms. Bowen met with the SEC staff and Assistant U.S. Attorneys (AUSAs) in several districts to provide them with the critical facts and documents. Bowen also testified before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC), which made multiple criminal referrals against Citigroup, including a referral based on Bowen's testimony. Bowen was the perfect witness for a criminal prosecution of Citigroup's senior managers and for an SEC enforcement action against Citigroup for securities fraud.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys (AUSAs) in Denver, the Eastern District of New York (where Loretta Lynch was then the U.S. Attorney), and Bharara's office told Bowen that the Department of Justice (DOJ) had never sent the criminal referrals that FCIC made about Citigroup to them. Bowen met with the AUSAs to assist them in what he had expected to be a series of prosecutions in 2016. Phil Angelides, FCIC's Chairman, made public in 2016 the fact that the FCIC had made a criminal referral about Citigroup based on Bowen's testimony before the inquiry. Bowen was by 2016 one of the best-known and most respected whistleblowers in America. FCIC's chair found his testimony about Citigroup's leaders highly credible, leading him to make the criminal referral, but DOJ's leadership not only refused to prosecute, but also buried the criminal referrals to discourage any U.S. Attorney from prosecuting Citigroup's fraudulent leaders.

AUSA Jonathon Schmidt (San Francisco) called Bowen on July 10, 2010. Bowen gave him everything. Schmidt was excited and said that they were going to pursue the claims that Bowen had laid out, particularly Citigroup's fraudulent reps and warranties. Bowen challenged Schmidt, telling him that I believed that once he talked to DC DOJ that Bowen would never hear from him again. Schmidt promised he would be back to Bowen within a week. Bowen never heard from him again.

Alayne Fleischmann, also one of the most famous whistleblowers to emerge from the crisis, provided vital information and documents to DOJ prosecutors about frauds led by JPMorgan's senior managers. Fleischmann continued to seek to aid a DOJ prosecution after the Attorney General transferred responsibility for the case to Bharara's office. No prosecution has occurred.

Bharara is like every other federal prosecutor and the SEC's top leaders. Bowen met with the SEC staff and five Assistant U.S. Attorneys (AUSAs) in four different districts (including Bharara's) to provide them with the critical facts and documents. Each failed to prosecute the elite Wall Street officials who drove the three epidemics of fraud that drove the financial crisis. What is different is that because his office had jurisdiction over the elite frauds and the staff to conduct sophisticated investigations and prosecutions he could have drained the Wall Street swamp. Bharara simply had to take advantage of the courage and competence of whistleblowers like Bowen and Fleischman who brought him cases against the top managers of two of the world's largest banks on a platinum platter. Bharara also could have taken advantage of the expertise and experience of regulators and prosecutors who worked together to produce over 1,000 felony convictions in "major" cases against financial executives and their co-conspirators in the savings and loan debacle. Bharara (and Lynch and their counterparts) failed to take either approach.

Bharara knew how to drain the Wall Street swamp. He had the facts, the staff, and the jurisdiction to drain the Wall Street swamp. Bharara refused to do so.

0 0 0 6 0 This entry was posted in Banana republic , Banking industry , Credit markets , Guest Post , Politics , Regulations and regulators on March 28, 2017 by Yves Smith .
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Subscribe to Post Comments 31 comments skippy , March 28, 2017 at 5:48 am

Sorry Bill . but the Flexians are lined up deeper than the ramparts to the south Korea

disheveled . per MMT to much money and people is a bad mix . sigh

TK421 , March 28, 2017 at 1:20 pm

Huh?

skippy , March 28, 2017 at 2:34 pm

Money as a vote, where those with the most votes, maximize their utility over the control of the aforementioned.

disheveled ultimate self licking ice cream cone .

ambrit , March 28, 2017 at 6:24 am

Sorry to say it but the situation as it stands now makes mob actions against the financial elites a rational choice.
I know that such ideas are an essential part of the Libertarian Dream State, but, what else is left to do then either submit or fight?
As is the case in our politics now, reform is no longer an option.

Larry , March 28, 2017 at 7:17 am

Of course the NYT defines the liberal version of draining the swamp. Government actors are already considered bad eggs. But the upper echelons of elite Wall St firms sit on the boards of America's cultural and educational institutions and are culturally liberal, so whatever they may have done was done with no ill intent nor malice. Black exposes this as completely bogus in a short editorial but the leading pundits will be pounding on Russia, Hillbillies, and Russia some more.

steelhead23 , March 28, 2017 at 11:33 am

Dang, NC needs those up arrows so I could show my approval. The philanthropy fig-leaf of America's elite hides a plentitude of warts. Too many people are duped by these 'pillars of community.'

allan , March 28, 2017 at 8:01 am

Prof. Black loses some credibility when he writes,

First, New York politics are less corrupt than many other states

Evidence? Links to studies? Anything?

Given the national trends of the last few decades (many of them originating from Wall Street or Wall Street-owned politicians in D.C.), the NYS economy would have been fighting some very strong headwinds in any case. But the cesspool in Albany helped convince a lot of businesses and individuals to make their futures elsewhere.

Parents in NYS know that their children's adult lives will (if they're lucky) be spent somewhere else.

Yes, Preen is a fraud, but Albany was and remains a very corrupt place and the state suffers because of it.

Arizona Slim , March 28, 2017 at 8:57 am

And this has been going on for a long time. My mom and dad were born and raised New Yorkers​ who got out as soon as they could.

DorothyT , March 28, 2017 at 10:30 am

Recall Bill Black's work during the S & L crisis across the country. I'm one who was involved with the economic class of Americans who were likely to have their savings in CDs in the fraudulent institutions in the swamp that Black was instrumental in draining. And, pertinent to this piece about Citi, I recently met a group of former Citi mid-level execs who were laid off during the mortgage mess: they rec'd golden parachutes, stock options, and never had to work again.

Bill Black has my respect and gratitude.

Julie , March 28, 2017 at 11:07 am

I couldn't paste the link successfully but this is from the Center for Public Integrity: New York GRADE:D-(61)RANK:31ST

So 19 states are worse than New York. More than a few in other words, and only 3 states scored higher than a D+. At any rate, the swamp in Albany was not under Bhahara's jurisdiction anyway, as Black points out.

Seems unfair to attack his credibility over this.

allan , March 28, 2017 at 11:38 am

I have great respect for the work that Prof. Black did in the past and the work he continues to do.

But public corruption can be incredibly damaging to government functions
in the short and medium run, and corrosive to trust in government in the long run.
To suggest that NYS doesn't have a serious problem is not helpful.
I would much rather have the USA for SDNY devoting limited resources to going after that,
even if it might be publicity-seeking bigfooting of the USA in Albany,
rather than crusading against insider trading.

Even though I agree that Bharara, Breuer and Holder (and the czar they all worked for)
were a disaster for the rule of law in this country.

Left in Wisconsin , March 28, 2017 at 11:34 am

Further, the Northern District of New York has jurisdiction over Albany, so the swampiest part of New York State politics did not lie in Bharara's jurisdiction.

Not good enough?

Stephen Gardner , March 28, 2017 at 3:46 pm

Bill Black has all the credibility he needs. This is a classic propaganda technique to focus on unimportant minor points to impeach an otherwise very import essay. People here know better than to listen to that.

KYrocky , March 28, 2017 at 8:25 am

The Obama Administration prevented any investigations, let alone prosecutions, of Wall Street and large scale mortgage fraud. Obama's 50 State Solution was sold as consolidation of multiple state efforts, which were making good progress, into a single, streamlined and comprehensive federal effort that would take the burden off the states. It was a lie.

Preet Bharara was fired by Trump and has gotten a lot of sympathetic press over his firing. And he has certainly done many good things. But when it came to the biggest financial crimes in the history of the world he followed his orders, failed to do his job, and kept his mouth shut as the criminals reaped hundreds of billions of dollars and millions of American families suffered. And he is still keeping his mouth shut. But other than that .

robnume , March 28, 2017 at 5:40 pm

+1,000,000! Obama was a rapacious doer for the .001%.

That smirky dubya-esque smile on his face while on Sir Richard Branson's private island off of the coast of Madagascar says it all. "Fuck all of y'all, I got out and away with screwing the rest of the nation, not once, but twice!"

There's not one politician who doesn't deserve pitchforks and lamposts. Tar and feather these folk!

Good essay by a man I highly respect, but I, too, noted long ago that New York State politics are real down and dirty. It's the home of Wall Street, so how could it be otherwise?

johnnygl , March 28, 2017 at 9:51 am

It's been a long time since the crisis and it's clear that the elites would like to pretend there was very little of interest here.

Incidents like this are helpful to remember just how much criminality took place and just how bad the obama administration was on corporate crime.

linda amick , March 28, 2017 at 9:51 am

It is all theater. We read Wikileaks exposures. There are crimes or at least valid reasons for investigations.
We get teasers that investigations will happen.
They never do.
The political and corporate leadership class is immune from prosecution except for passing fine monies back and forth.
These people are completely corrupt and have greatly participated in corrupting our society and its cultures.

Robert NYC , March 28, 2017 at 9:56 am

I have always found the Richard Bowen story particularly fascinating and infuriating. His memo to Rob Rubin is unbelievable. Frontline also did a piece on the failure to prosecute the banks. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission took testimony from Bowen but then locked it up under seal for five years. Do we have any rational explanation for this other than that the system is that corrupt. I am a cynic but this still shocks me to the point where I can't fathom that it is really this bad.

jhallc , March 28, 2017 at 10:42 am

"Bharara knew how to drain the Wall Street swamp. He had the facts, the staff, and the jurisdiction to drain the Wall Street swamp. Bharara refused to do so."

If my memory serves me, perhaps, like Neil Barofsky (SIGTARP), he had lunch with Larry Summers where it was explained to him that if he wanted to have a $$$career after leaving government it would be wise to let things slide ( i.e. see Lanny Breuer).

RUKidding , March 28, 2017 at 10:58 am

Bahara did what he was told by Obama. That's the end of it.

Anyone who wants to deify Obama – and I know far too many people who do – are completely ignoring Obama's and Bahara's criminal neglect to hold the banks and Wall St truly accountable.

Recall Jamie "Presidential Cufflinks" Dimon basically thumbing his snooty nose at the hoi poloi. What? Me, worry? Sucks to be you, great to be me.

These crooks will never do a perp walk, and Bahara made sure that they didn't. All the whining about Bahara being "fired" by Trump is ignoring these inconvenient truths.

UserFriendly , March 28, 2017 at 11:21 am

I'm no Obama apologist, but if Bahara indited someone on Wall Street just how was Obama going to explain firing him? If either had an ounce of integrity the right people would be in jail.

Ian , March 28, 2017 at 5:31 pm

Some manufactured scandal or leak regarding improper or compromising behaviour, well before the ball trully got rolling on prosecuting our criminal elite forcing Obama to step in and either move him down, sideways or outright let go to ensure the integrity of the office.

sd , March 28, 2017 at 11:08 am

Citigroup (previously Citibank, etc) has always been corrupt. They were caught money laundering for drug cartels in the 1980s and terrorism back in the 1990s and should have been shut down forever both times. They weren't.

The only conclusion I can come to is that Citigroup is a heavily exposed to CIA activity. It sounds like a loony conspiracy theory until you look at the history of Riggs Bank, BCCI, etc and realize that historically its in the realm of possibility. So yes, its entirely possible.

Susan the other , March 28, 2017 at 12:58 pm

It doesn't sound at all loony to me, sd. I think the current mess goes all the way back to the 50s. In defiance of financial prudence, in 1954, the rich guys went to DC, like some super mercenary army (pun intended) and threw what was called "The Bankruptcy Ball" which everyone who was anyone attended, all decked out in tuxedos and gowns. Catherine Graham's autobiography. And I think it marks a point in time when our government became blood brothers with the banks. A relationship that saw us through the Cold War – which had already bankrupted us – and the Vietnam War which was an awful and senseless debacle; and on through till the USSR finally said "enough" – at which point our government and the banks were one. One big mess. We should have had the integrity at that point, 1990, to fix things. But we couldn't because our capitalist economy, upon which most of the world had become addicted, would have failed without the crazy growth that the banksters provided so, god. Talk about a mess. But that's just my opinion.

Susan the other , March 28, 2017 at 1:34 pm

So, clearly we did learn one thing: we can supply the money to accomplish our goal, whatever it is. The important thing is to have a good goal.

JohnnyGL , March 28, 2017 at 4:55 pm

Well, there's also the fact that it's partially owned by Saudi Arabia. :)

robnume , March 28, 2017 at 5:44 pm

Ah, yes, the ol' "Bank of Crooks and Criminals, Intl." I remember them and good old Clark Clifford. Boy, that guy died just in time, huh? Good times! / sarc

Sluggeaux , March 28, 2017 at 12:23 pm

Well said, Professor Black. The Southern District of New York was the biggest crime scene in the U.S. during Bharara's tenure as United States Attorney, and he was the man in charge of the Holder doctrine, printing "Get Out of Jail Free" cards for the donor class. Of course, Bharara is ambitious enough not to take a multi-million dollar desk at Covington like Holder and Breuer did. Bad optics. He's going to academia, as a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at NYU School of Law. How noble!

NOT. Naked Capitalism readers recognize NYU as what Pam Martens called "a tyrannical slush fund for privileged interests" where Obot Flexian grifters roost in luxury:

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/05/the-art-of-the-gouge-nyu-as-a-model-for-predatory-higher-education.html

blert , March 28, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Draining Wall Street is more challenging than cleaning out the Augean stables.

Your first steps take you down the rabbit hole.

White collar paper crime is brutally difficult to prosecute. It corn fuses the juries.

(* per my Uncle in his career he prosecuted 10,000 cases ultimately as District Attorney with 700+ attorneys in his office.)

Yes, it's very slow going. It just is.

Dr Duh , March 28, 2017 at 2:40 pm

Not for nothing, but Preet came out of Schumer's office who has parlayed being Wall Street's senator into dejure leadership of the Senate Dems and defacto control of the Democratic party.

Picking off egregious individuals like Madoff, who can be described as "bad apples" while ignoring systemic fraud is the playbook.

[Mar 28, 2017] Foundation - Fall Of The American Galactic Empire Zero Hedge

Mar 28, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
Mar 27, 2017 10:40 PM Authored by Jim Quinn via The Burning Platform blog,

"The fall of Empire, gentlemen, is a massive thing, however, and not easily fought. It is dictated by a rising bureaucracy, a receding initiative, a freezing of caste, a damming of curiosity-a hundred other factors. It has been going on, as I have said, for centuries, and it is too majestic and massive a movement to stop." – Isaac Asimov, Foundation

"Any fool can tell a crisis when it arrives. The real service to the state is to detect it in embryo." – Isaac Asimov, Foundation

I read Isaac Asimov's renowned award winning science fiction trilogy four decades ago as a teenager. I read them because I liked science fiction novels, not because I was trying to understand the correlation to the fall of the Roman Empire. The books that came to be called the Foundation Trilogy (Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation) were not written as novels; they're the collected Foundation stories Asimov wrote between 1941 and 1950. He wrote these stories during the final stages of our last Fourth Turning Crisis and the beginning stages of the next High. This was the same time frame in which Tolkien wrote the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Orwell wrote 1984 . This was not a coincidence.

The tone of foreboding, danger, dread, and impending doom, along with unending warfare, propels all of these novels because they were all written during the bloodiest and most perilous portion of the last Fourth Turning . As the linear thinking establishment continues to be blindsided by the continued deterioration of the economic, political, social, and cultural conditions in the world, we have entered the most treacherous phase of our present Fourth Turning .

That ominous mood engulfing the world is not a new dynamic, but a cyclical event arriving every 80 or so years. Eight decades ago the world was on the verge of a world war which would kill 65 million people. Eight decades prior to 1937 the country was on the verge of a Civil War which would kill almost 5% of the male population. Eight decades prior to 1857 the American Revolution had just begun and would last six more bloody years. None of this is a coincidence. The generational configuration repeats itself every eighty years, driving the mood change which leads to revolutionary change and the destruction of the existing social order.

Isaac Asimov certainly didn't foresee his Foundation stories representing the decline of an American Empire that didn't yet exist. The work that inspired Asimov was Edward Gibbon's multi-volume series, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire , published between 1776 and 1789. Gibbon saw Rome's fall not as a consequence of specific, dramatic events, but as the result of the gradual decline of civic virtue, monetary debasement and rise of Christianity, which made the Romans less vested in worldly affairs.

Gibbon's tome reflects the same generational theory espoused by Strauss and Howe in The Fourth Turning . Gibbon's conclusion was human nature never changes, and mankind's penchant for division, amplified by environmental and cultural differences, is what governs the cyclical nature of history. Gibbon constructs a narrative spanning centuries as events unfold and emperors' successes and failures occur within the context of a relentless decline of empire. The specific events and behaviors of individual emperors were inconsequential within the larger framework and pattern of historical decline. History plods relentlessly onward, driven by the law of large numbers.

Asimov described his inspiration for the novels:

"I wanted to consider essentially the science of psychohistory, something I made up myself. It was, in a sense, the struggle between free will and determinism. On the other hand, I wanted to do a story on the analogy of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, but on the much larger scale of the galaxy. To do that, I took over the aura of the Roman Empire and wrote it very large. The social system, then, is very much like the Roman imperial system, but that was just my skeleton.

It seemed to me that if we did have a galactic empire, there would be so many human beings-quintillions of them-that perhaps you might be able to predict very accurately how societies would behave, even though you couldn't predict how individuals composing those societies would behave. So, against the background of the Roman Empire written large, I invented the science of psychohistory. Throughout the entire trilogy, then, there are the opposing forces of individual desire and that dead hand of social inevitability."

Is History Pre-Determined?

"Don't you see? It's Galaxy-wide. It's a worship of the past. It's a deterioration – a stagnation!" – Isaac Asimov, Foundation

"It has been my philosophy of life that difficulties vanish when faced boldly." – Isaac Asimov, Foundation

The Foundation trilogy opens on Trantor, the capital of the 12,000-year-old Galactic Empire. Though the empire appears stable and powerful, it is slowly decaying in ways that parallel the decline of the Western Roman Empire. Hari Seldon, a mathematician and psychologist, has developed psychohistory, a new field of science that equates all possibilities in large societies to mathematics, allowing for the prediction of future events.

Psychohistory is a blend of crowd psychology and high-level math. An able psychohistorian can predict the long-term aggregate behavior of billions of people many years in the future. However, it only works with large groups. Psychohistory is almost useless for predicting the behavior of an individual. Also, it's no good if the group being analyzed is aware it's being analyzed - because if it's aware, the group changes its behavior.

Using psychohistory, Seldon has discovered the declining nature of the Empire, angering the aristocratic rulers of the Empire. The rulers consider Seldon's views and statements treasonous, and he is arrested. Seldon is tried by the state and defends his beliefs, explaining his theory the Empire will collapse in 300 years and enter a 30,000-year dark age.

He informs the rulers an alternative to this future is attainable, and explains to them generating an anthology of all human knowledge, the Encyclopedia Galactica, would not avert the inevitable fall of the Empire but would reduce the Dark Age to "only" 1,000 years.

The fearful state apparatchiks offer him exile to a remote world, Terminus, with other academic intellectuals who could help him create the Encyclopedia. He accepts their offer, and sets in motion his plan to set up two Foundations, one at either end of the galaxy, to preserve the accumulated knowledge of humanity and thereby shorten the Dark Age, once the Empire collapses. Seldon created the Foundation, knowing it would eventually be seen as a threat to rulers of the Empire, provoking an eventual attack. That is why he created a Second Foundation, unknown to the ruling class.

Asimov's psychohistory concept, based on the predictability of human actions in large numbers, has similarities to Strauss & Howe's generational theory. His theory didn't pretend to predict the actions of individuals, but formulated definite laws developed by mathematical analysis to predict the mass action of human groups. His novel explores the centuries old debate of whether human history proceeds in a predictable fashion, with individuals incapable of changing its course, or whether individuals can alter its progression.

The cyclical nature of history, driven by generational cohorts numbering tens of millions, has been documented over centuries by Strauss & Howe in their 1997 opus The Fourth Turning . Human beings in large numbers react in a herd-like predictable manner. I know that is disappointing to all the linear thinking individualists who erroneously believe one person can change the world and course of history.

The cyclical crisis's that occur every eighty years matches up with how every Foundation story centers on what is called a Seldon crisis, the conjunction of seemingly insoluble external and internal difficulties. The crises were all predicted by Seldon, who appears near the end of each story as a hologram to confirm the Foundation has traversed the latest one correctly.

The "Seldon Crises" take on two forms. Either events unfold in such a way there is only one clear path to take, or the forces of history conspire to determine the outcome. But, the common feature is free will doesn't matter. The heroes and adversaries believe their choices will make a difference when, in fact, the future is already written. This is a controversial viewpoint which angers many people because they feel it robs them of their individuality.

Most people don't want to be lumped together in an amalgamation of other humans because they believe admitting so would strip them of their sense of free will. Their delicate sensibilities are bruised by the unequivocal fact their individual actions are virtually meaningless to the direction of history. But, the madness of crowds can dramatically impact antiquity.

"In reading The History of Nations, we find that, like individuals, they have their whims and their peculiarities, their seasons of excitement and recklessness, when they care not what they do. We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first." – Charles Mackay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

Many people argue the dynamic advancements in technology and science have changed the world in such a way to alter human nature in a positive way, thereby resulting in humans acting in a more rational manner. This alteration would result in a level of human progress not experienced previously. The falsity of this technological theory is borne out by the continuation of war, government corruption, greed, belief in economic fallacies, civic decay, cultural degradation, and global disorder sweeping across the world. Humanity is incapable of change. The same weaknesses and self- destructive traits which have plagued them throughout history are as prevalent today as they ever were.

Asimov's solution to the failure of humanity to change was to create an academic oriented benevolent ruling class who could save the human race from destroying itself. He seems to have been well before his time with regards to creating Shadow Governments and Deep State functionaries. It appears he agreed with his contemporary Edward Bernays. The masses could not be trusted to make good decisions, so they needed more intellectually advanced men to guide their actions.

"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized.

Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind." – Edward Bernays – Propaganda

In Part Two of this article I will compare and contrast Donald Trump's rise to power to the rise of The Mule in Asimov's masterpiece. Unusually gifted individuals come along once in a lifetime to disrupt the plans of the existing social order.

Beam Me Up Scotty -> BaBaBouy , Mar 27, 2017 10:56 PM

" He seems to have been well before his time with regards to creating Shadow Governments and Deep State functionaries. It appears he agreed with his contemporary Edward Bernays. The masses could not be trusted to make good decisions, so they needed more intellectually advanced men to guide their actions."

The masses aren't the ones begging to start all of these wars. They are the ones TRYING to make a few good decisions. The Shadow Government and Deep State however, are hell bent on getting us all killed. Who exactly is the problem here??

LetThemEatRand , Mar 27, 2017 10:50 PM

Asimov was a good writer and created some great fiction. That's as far as it goes.

Huxle LetThemEatRand •Mar 27, 2017 10:50 PM y is the one who predicted the current state of affairs. Orwell gets honorable mention. You could also throw in some biblical passages for the mark of the beast, though the best part was clearly written about Nero.

biker Mar 27, 2017 11:06 PM
Of course its better to watch them eat themselves
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/03/rewriting-the-rules...

[Mar 28, 2017] Trumpism is faux populism that appeals to white identity but actually serves plutocrats. That fundamental contradiction is now out in the open

Mar 28, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
DeDude , March 27, 2017 at 08:35 AM
This is an excellent discussion of populism and where Trump support comes from.

http://www.vox.com/conversations/2017/3/27/15037232/trump-populist-appeal-culture-economy

Peter K. -> DeDude... , March 27, 2017 at 08:39 AM
"Why Trump's populist appeal is about culture, not the economy"

Nope. Vox and the center-left are really pushing this propaganda for obvious reasons.

It's funny that even Sanjait and PGL disagree. Even funnier still that they refuse to talk about it!

Don't want to give the hippies ammunition when your job is to punch the hippies. Here's the blog post from Krugman on the same subject which they didn't want to talk about:

"This ties in with an important recent piece by Zack Beauchamp on the striking degree to which left-wing economics fails, in practice, to counter right-wing populism; basically, Sandersism has failed everywhere it has been tried. Why?

The answer, presumably, is that what we call populism is really in large degree white identity politics, which can't be addressed by promising universal benefits. Among other things, these "populist" voters now live in a media bubble, getting their news from sources that play to their identity-politics desires, which means that even if you offer them a better deal, they won't hear about it or believe it if told. For sure many if not most of those who gained health coverage thanks to Obamacare have no idea that's what happened.

That said, taking the benefits away would probably get their attention, and maybe even open their eyes to the extent to which they are suffering to provide tax cuts to the rich.

In Europe, right-wing parties probably don't face the same dilemma; they're preaching herrenvolk social democracy, a welfare state but only for people who look like you. In America, however, Trumpism is faux populism that appeals to white identity but actually serves plutocrats. That fundamental contradiction is now out in the open."

Populism and the Politics of Health by Krugman

https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2017/03/14/populism-and-the-politics-of-health/

[Mar 27, 2017] Michael Hudson: Trump is Obama's Legacy. Will this Break up the Democratic Party?

Notable quotes:
"... By Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His latest book is KILLING THE HOST: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy ..."
"... Naked Capitalism ..."
"... The New York Times ..."
"... U.S. presidential elections no longer are much about policy. Like Obama before him, Trump campaigned as a rasa tabla ..."
"... There is a covert economic program, to be sure, and it is bipartisan. It is to make elections about just which celebrities will introduce neoliberal economic policies with the most convincing patter talk. That is the essence of rasa tabla ..."
Mar 27, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Posted on March 26, 2017 by Yves Smith By Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His latest book is KILLING THE HOST: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy

Nobody yet can tell whether Donald Trump is an agent of change with a specific policy in mind, or merely a catalyst heralding an as yet undetermined turning point. His first month in the White House saw him melting into the Republican mélange of corporate lobbyists. Having promised to create jobs, his "America First" policy looks more like "Wall Street First." His cabinet of billionaires promoting corporate tax cuts, deregulation and dismantling Dodd-Frank bank reform repeats the Junk Economics promise that giving more tax breaks to the richest One Percent may lead them to use their windfall to invest in creating more jobs. What they usually do, of course, is simply buy more property and assets already in place.

One of the first reactions to Trump's election victory was for stocks of the most crooked financial institutions to soar, hoping for a deregulatory scythe taken to the public sector. Navient, the Department of Education's knee-breaker on student loan collections accused by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) of massive fraud and overcharging, rose from $13 to $18 now that it seemed likely that the incoming Republicans would disable the CFPB and shine a green light for financial fraud.

Foreclosure king Stephen Mnuchin of IndyMac/OneWest (and formerly of Goldman Sachs for 17 years; later a George Soros partner) is now Treasury Secretary – and Trump is pledged to abolish the CFPB, on the specious logic that letting fraudsters manage pension savings and other investments will give consumers and savers "broader choice," e.g., for the financial equivalent of junk food. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos hopes to privatize public education into for-profit (and de-unionized) charter schools, breaking the teachers' unions. This may position Trump to become the Transformational President that neoliberals have been waiting for.

But not the neocons. His election rhetoric promised to reverse traditional U.S. interventionist policy abroad. Making an anti-war left run around the Democrats, he promised to stop backing ISIS/Al Nusra (President Obama's "moderate" terrorists supplied with the arms and money that Hillary looted from Libya), and to reverse the Obama-Clinton administration's New Cold War with Russia. But the neocon coterie at the CIA and State Department are undercutting his proposed rapprochement with Russia by forcing out General Flynn for starters. It seems doubtful that Trump will clean them out.

Trump has called NATO obsolete, but insists that its members up their spending to the stipulated 2% of GDP - producing a windfall worth tens of billions of dollars for U.S. arms exporters. That is to be the price Europe must pay if it wants to endorse Germany's and the Baltics' confrontation with Russia.

Trump is sufficiently intuitive to proclaim the euro a disaster, and he recommends that Greece leave it. He supports the rising nationalist parties in Britain, France, Italy, Greece and the Netherlands, all of which urge withdrawal from the eurozone – and reconciliation with Russia instead of sanctions. In place of the ill-fated TPP and TTIP, Trump advocates country-by-country trade deals favoring the United States. Toward this end, his designated ambassador to the European Union, Ted Malloch, urges the EU's breakup. The EU is refusing to accept him as ambassador.

Will Trump's Victory Break Up the Democratic Party?

At the time this volume is going to press, there is no way of knowing how successful these international reversals will be. What is more clear is what Trump's political impact will have at home. His victory – or more accurately, Hillary's resounding loss and the way she lost – has encouraged enormous pressure for a realignment of both parties. Regardless of what President Trump may achieve vis-à-vis Europe, his actions as celebrity chaos agent may break up U.S. politics across the political spectrum.

The Democratic Party has lost its ability to pose as the party of labor and the middle class. Firmly controlled by Wall Street and California billionaires, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) strategy of identity politics encourages any identity except that of wage earners. The candidates backed by the Donor Class have been Blue Dogs pledged to promote Wall Street and neocons urging a New Cold War with Russia.

They preferred to lose with Hillary than to win behind Bernie Sanders. So Trump's electoral victory is their legacy as well as Obama's. Instead of Trump's victory dispelling that strategy, the Democrats are doubling down. It is as if identity politics is all they have.

Trying to ride on Barack Obama's coattails didn't work. Promising "hope and change," he won by posing as a transformational president, leading the Democrats to control of the White House, Senate and Congress in 2008. Swept into office by a national reaction against the George Bush's Oil War in Iraq and the junk-mortgage crisis that left the economy debt-ridden, they had free rein to pass whatever new laws they chose – even a Public Option in health care if they had wanted, or make Wall Street banks absorb the losses from their bad and often fraudulent loans.

But it turned out that Obama's role was to prevent the changes that voters hoped to see, and indeed that the economy needed to recover: financial reform, debt writedowns to bring junk mortgages in line with fair market prices, and throwing crooked bankers in jail. Obama rescued the banks, not the economy, and turned over the Justice Department and regulatory agencies to his Wall Street campaign contributors. He did not even pull back from war in the Near East, but extended it to Libya and Syria, blundering into the Ukrainian coup as well.

Having dashed the hopes of his followers, Obama then praised his chosen successor Hillary Clinton as his "Third Term." Enjoying this kiss of death, Hillary promised to keep up Obama's policies.

The straw that pushed voters over the edge was when she asked voters, "Aren't you better off today than you were eight years ago?" Who were they going to believe: their eyes, or Hillary? National income statistics showed that only the top 5 percent of the population were better off. All the growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) during Obama's tenure went to them – the Donor Class that had gained control of the Democratic Party leadership. Real incomes have fallen for the remaining 95 percent, whose household budgets have been further eroded by soaring charges for health insurance. (The Democratic leadership in Congress fought tooth and nail to block Dennis Kucinich from introducing his Single Payer proposal.)

No wonder most of the geographic United States voted for change – except for where the top 5 percent, is concentrated: in New York (Wall Street) and California (Silicon Valley and the military-industrial complex). Making fun of the Obama Administration's slogan of "hope and change," Trump characterized Hillary's policy of continuing the economy's shrinkage for the 95% as "no hope and no change."

Identity Politics as Anti-Labor Politics

A new term was introduced to the English language: Identity Politics. Its aim is for voters to think of themselves as separatist minorities – women, LGBTQ, Blacks and Hispanics. The Democrats thought they could beat Trump by organizing Women for Wall Street (and a New Cold War), LGBTQ for Wall Street (and a New Cold War), and Blacks and Hispanics for Wall Street (and a New Cold War). Each identity cohort was headed by a billionaire or hedge fund donor.

The identity that is conspicuously excluded is the working class. Identity politics strips away thinking of one's interest in terms of having to work for a living. It excludes voter protests against having their monthly paycheck stripped to pay more for health insurance, housing and mortgage charges or education, or better working conditions or consumer protection – not to speak of protecting debtors.

Identity politics used to be about three major categories: workers and unionization, anti-war protests and civil rights marches against racist Jim Crow laws. These were the three objectives of the many nationwide demonstrations. That ended when these movements got co-opted into the Democratic Party. Their reappearance in Bernie Sanders' campaign in fact threatens to tear the Democratic coalition apart. As soon as the primaries were over (duly stacked against Sanders), his followers were made to feel unwelcome. Hillary sought Republican support by denouncing Sanders as being as radical as Putin's Republican leadership.

In contrast to Sanders' attempt to convince diverse groups that they had a common denominator in needing jobs with decent pay – and, to achieve that, in opposing Wall Street's replacing the government as central planner – the Democrats depict every identity constituency as being victimized by every other, setting themselves at each other's heels. Clinton strategist John Podesta, for instance, encouraged Blacks to accuse Sanders supporters of distracting attention from racism. Pushing a common economic interest between whites, Blacks, Hispanics and LGBTQ always has been the neoliberals' nightmare. No wonder they tried so hard to stop Bernie Sanders, and are maneuvering to keep his supporters from gaining influence in their party.

When Trump was inaugurated on Friday, January 20, there was no pro-jobs or anti-war demonstration. That presumably would have attracted pro-Trump supporters in an ecumenical show of force. Instead, the Women's March on Saturday led even the pro-Democrat New York Times to write a front-page article reporting that white women were complaining that they did not feel welcome in the demonstration. The message to anti-war advocates, students and Bernie supporters was that their economic cause was a distraction.

The march was typically Democratic in that its ideology did not threaten the Donor Class. As Yves Smith wrote on Naked Capitalism : "the track record of non-issue-oriented marches, no matter how large scale, is poor, and the status of this march as officially sanctioned (blanket media coverage when other marches of hundreds of thousands of people have been minimized, police not tricked out in their usual riot gear) also indicates that the officialdom does not see it as a threat to the status quo." [1]

Hillary's loss was not blamed on her neoliberal support for TPP or her pro-war neocon stance, but on the revelations of the e-mails by her operative Podesta discussing his dirty tricks against Bernie Sanders (claimed to be given to Wikileaks by Russian hackers, not a domestic DNC leaker as Wikileaks claimed) and the FBI investigation of her e-mail abuses at the State Department. Backing her supporters' attempt to brazen it out, the Democratic Party has doubled down on its identity politics, despite the fact that an estimated 52 percent of white women voted for Trump. After all, women do work for wages. And that also is what Blacks and Hispanics want – in addition to banking that serves their needs, not those of Wall Street, and health care that serves their needs, not those of the health-insurance and pharmaceuticals monopolies.

Bernie did not choose to run on a third-party ticket. Evidently he feared being accused of throwing the election to Trump. The question is now whether he can remake the Democratic Party as a democratic socialist party, or create a new party if the Donor Class retains its neoliberal control. It seems that he will not make a break until he concludes that a Socialist Party can leave the Democrats as far back in the dust as the Republicans left the Whigs after 1854. He may have underestimated his chance in 2016.

Trump's Effect on U.S. Political Party Realignment

During Trump's rise to the 2016 Republican nomination it seemed that he was more likely to break up the Republican Party. Its leading candidates and gurus warned that his populist victory in the primaries would tear the party apart. The polls in May and June showed him defeating Hillary Clinton easily (but losing to Bernie Sanders). But Republican leaders worried that he would not support what they believed in: namely, whatever corporate lobbyists put in their hands to enact and privatize.

The May/June polls showed Trump and Clinton were the country's two most unpopular presidential candidates. But whereas the Democrats maneuvered Bernie out of the way, the Republican Clown Car was unable to do the same to Trump. In the end they chose to win behind him, expecting to control him. As for the DNC, its Wall Street donors preferred to lose with Hillary than to win with Bernie. They wanted to keep control of their party and continue the bargain they had made with the Republicans: The latter would move further and further to the right, leaving room for Democratic neoliberals and neocons to follow them closely, yet still pose as the "lesser evil." That "centrism" is the essence of the Clintons' "triangulation" strategy. It actually has been going on for a half-century. "As Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere quipped in the 1960s, when he was accused by the US of running a one-party state, 'The United States is also a one-party state but, with typical American extravagance, they have two of them'." [2]

By 2017, voters had caught on to this two-step game. But Hillary's team paid pollsters over $1 billion to tell her ("Mirror, mirror on the wall ") that she was the most popular of all. It was hubris to imagine that she could convince the 95 Percent of the people who were worse off under Obama to love her as much as her East-West Coast donors did. It was politically unrealistic – and a reflection of her cynicism – to imagine that raising enough money to buy television ads would convince working-class Republicans to vote for her, succumbing to a Stockholm Syndrome by thinking of themselves as part of the 5 Percent who had benefited from Obama's pro-Wall Street policies.

Hillary's election strategy was to make a right-wing run around Trump. While characterizing the working class as white racist "deplorables," allegedly intolerant of LBGTQ or assertive women, she resurrected the ghost of Joe McCarthy and accused Trump of being "Putin's poodle" for proposing peace with Russia. Among the most liberal Democrats, Paul Krugman still leads a biweekly charge at The New York Times that President Trump is following Moscow's orders. Saturday Night Live, Bill Maher and MSNBC produce weekly skits that Trump and General Flynn are Russian puppets. A large proportion of Democrats have bought into the fairy tale that Trump didn't really win the election, but that Russian hackers manipulated the voting machines. No wonder George Orwell's 1984 soared to the top of America's best-seller lists in February 2017 as Donald Trump was taking his oath of office.

This propaganda paid off on February 13, when neocon public relations succeeded in forcing the resignation of General Flynn, whom Trump had appointed to clean out the neocons at the NSA and CIA. His foreign policy initiative based on rapprochement with Russia and hopes to create a common front against ISIS/Al Nusra seemed to be collapsing.

Tabula Rasa Celebrity Politics

U.S. presidential elections no longer are much about policy. Like Obama before him, Trump campaigned as a rasa tabla , a vehicle for everyone to project their hopes and fancies. What has all but disappeared is the past century's idea of politics as a struggle between labor and capital, democracy vs. oligarchy.

Who would have expected even half a century ago that American politics would become so post-modern that the idea of class conflict has all but disappeared. Classical economic discourse has been drowned out by their junk economics.

There is a covert economic program, to be sure, and it is bipartisan. It is to make elections about just which celebrities will introduce neoliberal economic policies with the most convincing patter talk. That is the essence of rasa tabla politics.

Can the Democrats Lose Again in 2020?

Trump's November victory showed that voters found him to be the Lesser Evil, but all that voters really could express was "throw out the bums" and get a new set of lobbyists for the FIRE sector and corporate monopolists. Both candidates represented Goldman Sachs and Wall Street. No wonder voter turnout has continued to plunge.

Although the Democrats' Lesser Evil argument lost to the Republicans in 2016, the neoliberals in control of the DNC found the absence of a progressive economic program to less threatening to their interests than the critique of Wall Street and neocon interventionism coming from the Sanders camp. So the Democrat will continue to pose as the Lesser Evil party not really in terms of policy, but simply ad hominum . They will merely repeat Hillary's campaign stance: They are not Trump. Their parades and street demonstrations since his inauguration have not come out for any economic policy.

On Friday, February 10, the party's Democratic Policy group held a retreat for its members in Baltimore. Third Way "centrists" (Republicans running as Democrats) dominated, with Hillary operatives in charge. The conclusion was that no party policy was needed at all. "President Trump is a better recruitment tool for us than a central campaign issue,' said Washington Rep. Denny Heck, who is leading recruitment for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC)." [3]

But what does their party leadership have to offer women, Blacks and Hispanics in the way of employment, more affordable health care, housing or education and better pay? Where are the New Deal pro-labor, pro-regulatory roots of bygone days? The party leadership is unwilling to admit that Trump's message about protecting jobs and opposing the TPP played a role in his election. Hillary was suspected of supporting it as "the gold standard" of trade deals, and Obama had made the Trans-Pacific Partnership the centerpiece of his presidency – the free-trade TPP and TTIP that would have taken economic regulatory policy out of the hands of government and given it to corporations.

Instead of accepting even Sanders' centrist-left stance, the Democrats' strategy was to tar Trump as pro-Russian, insist that his aides had committed impeachable offenses, and mount one parade after another. "Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio told reporters she was wary of focusing solely on an "economic message" aimed at voters whom Trump won over in 2016, because, in her view, Trump did not win on an economic message. "What Donald Trump did was address them at a very different level - an emotional level, a racial level, a fear level," she said. "If all we talk about is the economic message, we're not going to win." [4] This stance led Sanders supporters to walk out of a meeting organized by the "centrist" Third Way think tank on Wednesday, February 8.

By now this is an old story. Fifty years ago, socialists such as Michael Harrington asked why union members and progressives still imagined that they had to work through the Democratic Party. It has taken the rest of the country half a century to see that Democrats are not the party of the working class, unions, middle class, farmers or debtors. They are the party of Wall Street privatizers, bank deregulators, neocons and the military-industrial complex. Obama showed his hand – and that of his party – in his passionate attempt to ram through the corporatist TPP treaty that would have enabled corporations to sue governments for any costs imposed by public consumer protection, environmental protection or other protection of the population against financialized corporate monopolies.

Against this backdrop, Trump's promises and indeed his worldview seem quixotic. The picture of America's future he has painted seems unattainable within the foreseeable future. It is too late to bring manufacturing back to the United States, because corporations already have shifted their supply nodes abroad, and too much U.S. infrastructure has been dismantled.

There can't be a high-speed railroad, because it would take more than four years to get the right-of-way and create a route without crossing gates or sharp curves. In any case, the role of railroads and other transportation has been to increase real estate prices along the routes. But in this case, real estate would be torn down – and having a high-speed rail does not increase land values.

The stock market has soared to new heights, anticipating lower taxes on corporate profits and a deregulation of consumer, labor and environmental protection. Trump may end up as America's Boris Yeltsin, protecting U.S. oligarchs (not that Hillary would have been different, merely cloaked in a more colorful identity rainbow). The U.S. economy is in for Shock Therapy. Voters should look to Greece to get a taste of the future in this scenario.

Without a coherent response to neoliberalism, Trump's billionaire cabinet may do to the United States what neoliberals in the Clinton administration did to Russia after 1991: tear out all the checks and balances, and turn public wealth over to insiders and oligarchs. So Trump's his best chance to be transformative is simply to be America's Yeltsin for his party's oligarchic backers, putting the class war back in business.

What a Truly Transformative President Would Do/Would Have Done

No administration can create a sound U.S. recovery without dealing with the problem that caused the 2008 crisis in the first place: over-indebtedness. The only one way to restore growth, raise living standards and make the economy competitive again is a debt writedown. But that is not yet on the political horizon. Obama's doublecross of his voters in 2009 prevented the needed policy from occurring. Having missed this chance in the last financial crisis, a progressive policy must await yet another crisis. But so far, no political party is preparing a program to juxtapose to Republican-Democratic austerity and scale-back of Social Security, Medicare and social spending programs in general.

Also no longer on the horizon is a more progressive income tax, or a public option for health care – or for banking, or consumer protection against financial fraud, or for a $15-an-hour minimum wage, or for a revived protection of labor's right to unionize, or environmental regulations.

It seems that only a new party can achieve these aims. At the time these essays are going to press, Sanders has committed himself to working within the Democratic Party. But that stance is based on his assumption that somehow he can recruit enough activists to take over the party from Its Donor Class.

I suspect he will fail. In any case, it is easier to begin afresh than to try to re-design a party (or any institution) dominated by resistance to change, and whose idea of economic growth is a pastiche of tax cuts and deregulation. Both U.S. parties are committed to this neoliberal program – and seek to blame foreign enemies for the fact that its effect is to continue squeezing living standards and bloating the financial sector.

If this slow but inexorable crash does lead to a political crisis, it looks like the Republicans may succeed in convening a new Constitutional Convention (many states already have approved this) to lock the United States into a corporatist neoliberal world. Its slogan will be that of Margaret Thatcher: TINA – There Is No Alternative.

And who is to disagree? As Trotsky said, fascism is the result of the failure of the left to provide an alternative.

[Mar 26, 2017] The operatives of what Gore Vidal called the Property Party, (which has two right wings,) co-opted each successive movement. Lower middle class and working class people had the Koch brothers funded Tea Party pushed on them. The DNC sponsored identity groups quickly sucked all oxigen from the protest movement they represented

Notable quotes:
"... As Mr. Hudson explained in the piece, the operatives of what Gore Vidal called the Property Party, (which has two right wings,) co-opted each successive movement. Lower middle class and working class people had the Koch brothers funded Tea Party pushed on them. The DNC sponsored "identity groups" quickly sucked all originality out of the various specious "identities" so represented. On the war front, the Pentagon imposed "embedment" upon journalists. In each case, the viewpoints of the "average" person so involved were restricted to vistas guaranteed to promote the "sponsored" agenda. Thus, the present assault upon "alternative" media makes sense from a status quo perspective. It is all about control of the dialogue. ..."
"... Perez only got 235 votes; Sanders' candidate Ellison got 200. The Democratic Party establishment did not "ignore" Sanders by running Perez. They were semi-desperately trying to block him (and his cohort) from advancing on a low rung on the ladder to power. ..."
"... Wikileaks made it plain what the Democrats do to mavericks who win races without a party bit in their mouths. The corruption is institutional, it is their operatives' identity. ..."
"... The "masses of people who have dropped out of the workforce" are old, overweight, have multiple physical deficits and are hooked on at least 2 types of prescription dope. They will not be manning your nostalgia-draped barricades. Not ever. ..."
"... I agree with Hudson's critique of FIRE and the problem of debt in our society. But it is not easy to explain to the general public - which would not recognize the acronym. ..."
"... "Also, while I agree Dems are dominated by Blue Dogs who want to use Wall Street money to run Repub lite candidates in purple states, and that their appeal to identity politics is manipulative and a way to deflect from economic issues," ..."
"... " it does not logically follow that voters do not often think of themselves and their goals in terms of racism or religion or guns. Their are cultural "us v them" identities that have a powerful effect on politics." ..."
"... "We can beat them if we find common sense solutions to our problems and articulate those ideas to our neighbors. We need energy and hard work, but it is not clear that a third party is needed." ..."
"... I also agree that there is no solution, certainly not an evolutionary solution via EITHER of the two parties. ..."
"... The big changes in the USA occurred during the Great Depression as financial reform was introduced, the idea of government infrastructure could provide employment and what I believe is little mentioned, an increased awareness on the part of many that their success was not achieved solely by their own efforts. ..."
"... Many of the USA's post war corporate executives should have remembered that their families struggled during the thirties, and this may have made them more connected with their employees and communities. ..."
"... People are not sheep. We've been psyop'd senseless. "Public relations" began around the turn of the 20th century. It was ramped up by orders of magnitude after WWII. ..."
"... Gore Vidal quotes JFK as saying to him, we've entered an era in which "it is the *appearance of things that matters" ..."
"... Psychology and other social sciences have been weaponized and turned against us. With a facile understanding of the human mind (as if it were nothing but a mere mechanism), immense effort has gone into controlling the inputs in order to control the outputs (behavior). ..."
"... Newly declassified documents from the Reagan presidential library help explain how the U.S. government developed its sophisticated psychological operations capabilities that – over the past three decades – have created an alternative reality both for people in targeted countries and for American citizens, a structure that expanded U.S. influence abroad and quieted dissent at home. ..."
"... Today, "public opinion" is a Frankenstein's monster. Most of my fellow Americans believe in a world that never existed and doesn't exist right now. We can't even agree on what happened to JFK, or MLK, or what happened on 9/11/01. ..."
"... Contra UF, it's not that people are incapable of rational thought; rather, the information we have is hopelessly corrupted. People are acting rationally, but the numerators and denominators have been faked. On purpose. Or did the Russians really do it? ..."
"... It's far more simpler. Charter schools are about following the money. Public schools have seemingly huge revenue streams. Why can't GE get a cut is the thought process? For profit Healthcare was forbidden until 1973 (thanks to Teddy), why not public schools? ..."
"... The HMO Act of 1973 (thanks Teddy and Tricky Dick; bipartisanship at its finest) made it easier to start and run HMOs which faced regulatory hurdles mostly due to financing. Non profits had an easier time of it hence Hospitals named "St X" or "X General." Since the hospital were non profits and employers made deals with the hospitals, health insurance was effectively non-profit. There were gaps, mostly in rural areas. Other changes from the HMO Act of 1973 encouraged profit seeking from denial of coverage to pushing unnecessary procedures or prescriptions. ..."
"... The US Left has been controlled opposition since 1950. There was never a chance it could provide a reasonable and effective alternative. FBI/CIA moles make sure they never will. The Democrats have never been true Left FDR didn't really betray his class, he saved them from their own stupidity. ..."
"... "As Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere quipped in the 1960s, when he was accused by the US of running a one-party state, 'The United States is also a one-party state but, with typical American extravagance, they have two of them'." ..."
"... The identity politics of today lack in solidarity, too. What with Hillary Clinton running the most ageist campaign in memory, Obama breaking the record on deportations, Bill Clinton blowing racist dogwhistles as hard he can and also helping to shepherd a police state that puts Thailand to shame, and the whole of the Democratic Party stoking Russophobia and neoconservative. ..."
"... The diagnosis is mostly correct. But omits the role class bigotry and affluenza with attendant celebrity culture and pursuit of prestige plays. Thus the prognosis and protocol go astray. ..."
"... The wealthy and the politicians don't care about you/us. They care about maintaining any fiction that allows them to keep acquiring. Trump is not the problem; Mercer"s values are The Problem. Trump is the PERFECT reality TV/celebrity fantasy creature to keep the twisted Mercer chariot's wheels turning. ..."
"... Bernie was NOT The Answer. Putting on a mask of concern does not take away the sorrows of empire. As long as the blatant US militarism and imperialism continues we cannot unite the working class. Everything it needs to flourish continues - mass incarceration, join the military or stay in the ghetto, graft and corruption of military/industrial/media complex, no respect for other cultures being swarmed, consumerism. ..."
"... The jobs plan: more prison guards, border agents, munitions makers, soldiers, cops, various bodyguards for the rich and the other useful mandarins to the affluenza-stricken is set in stone. ..."
"... Michael Hudson makes great points but I am still wrestling with his (and others) push back against so-called identity politics as it pertains to this perception of it splintering or at least limiting the Democratic party. The Dems are most certainly a party committed to the ideals of neoliberalism and corporatism. They did not lose this election based on "Russian hacking/emails" and other trite nonsense. ..."
"... The Obama part of maintaining the looting of society status quo. ..."
"... The point about Trump being the US Yeltsin is one very much worth considering, if only because Russia, after much degradation and also suffering, has managed to begin to overcome those shameful and depressing times. May we do so also. ..."
"... Excellent piece. Americans have forgotten that the things they took for granted (40 hour week, humane working conditions, employer provided benefits etc.) were gained by the blood, sweat and tears of their forebears. ..."
"... The Clintons, the Obamas, the Blairs, possibly the Macrons, the Ruttes, even the Merkels of this world are wolves in sheep's clothing. They have come to represent, for increasing numbers, little better than managed decline in apparently safe hands, conducted in plain sight, in the ever narrower interests of the few. ..."
"... Regarding the subject line of the article. I'd say that the Democratic Party has been the "paid loyal opposition" for quite a while. . . meaning they are paid to loose. Given the party's ties to Wall Street and Big Pharma it's pretty clear they mostly work for the same folks that own "mainstream" Republicans so their apparent fecklessness and inability to mount ANY sort of effective opposition, even when they are in the majority, shouldn't be any surprise. ..."
Mar 26, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
ambrit, March 26, 2017 at 5:29 am

As long as the people of America had a reasonable expectation of gaining a better life, or, the next best thing, that their children would gain that better life, the Social Contract remained strong. Aspiration was both a spur to striving within the existing system, and a palliative for most discontents encountered. Where the status quo did not offer any real hope, the Civil Rights for minorities being an example, more "robust" methods were necessary, and were employed. What else is civil disobedience but counter violence against the State? Naturally, the State ramps up it's 'violence' in an attempt to quash the disaffected masses.

In this struggle, optics and expectations are crucial. As Gil Scott-Heron famously invoked; "The revolution will not be televised." Paradoxically, by ensuring the wide dissemination of images of the nascent "Revolution," activists ensured that whatever came out of the Days of Rage would not be a true revolution. The newsreels of colored people bravely enduring police oppression in the American South guaranteed that that particular issue would not be dumped down Orwell's "Memory Hole." Television footage of young American men fighting and dying in Vietnam spurred the families of those who could even potentially be drafted to go overseas to die for their country to take to the streets and vote against the war and the warmongers. Gay rights is generally considered to have begun to take form and substance after the "Stonewall Riots" in New York in 1969. See: https://www.socialistalternative.org/stonewall-riots-1969/ By "going postal," the New York gays declared loud and proud that the old way of doing business was no longer acceptable to them.

As Mr. Hudson explained in the piece, the operatives of what Gore Vidal called the Property Party, (which has two right wings,) co-opted each successive movement. Lower middle class and working class people had the Koch brothers funded Tea Party pushed on them. The DNC sponsored "identity groups" quickly sucked all originality out of the various specious "identities" so represented. On the war front, the Pentagon imposed "embedment" upon journalists. In each case, the viewpoints of the "average" person so involved were restricted to vistas guaranteed to promote the "sponsored" agenda. Thus, the present assault upon "alternative" media makes sense from a status quo perspective. It is all about control of the dialogue.

The main strength of the old style identity politics is it's ability to focus the energies of participants toward a particular goal. To that end, the concept of the "United Front" is useful. You watch my back, I'll show up at your demonstration is the operative concept. Thus, the development and widespread dissemination of images of a uniting "struggle" are needed. All of this is actually self evident. What is needed are "leaders" ready to stand up and shout it out over the rooftops.

When Paul Revere made his famous ride, he was actually stopped by British troops before he could reach either Concord or Lexington, Massachusetts. A companion, a Dr. Prescott made the actual warnings to the American rebels. Revere and Prescott were members of an extensive Patriot organization. A Doctor and an Artisan, two usually distinct social classes at the time were collaborating towards a common goal. A "United Front" made the American Revolution. See: http://www.biography.com/news/paul-reveres-ride-facts Today's struggle can proceed no differently.

Jagger , March 26, 2017 at 9:45 am

A Doctor and an Artisan, two usually distinct social classes at the time were collaborating towards a common goal

"We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately." A bit of wisdom from the mind of Ben Franklin in the early days of the revolution.

ambrit , March 26, 2017 at 11:26 am

Wonderful! Dr. Franklin would be considered a "radical" even by today's standards. "The more things change .."

steelhead23 , March 26, 2017 at 11:38 am

Let us remember, when a college student asked Rep. Nancy Pelosi whether the party might move toward a more socialistic economic system, she answered, " We're capitalists. That's just the way it is. ", and went on to support a return to noblesse oblige, completely failing to grasp the contradiction between modern neoliberal theology (maximizing shareholder return/profits) and such niceties as paying a living wage. We the left have a problem we need to attack head-on – our semantics have been demonized. Socialism is widely disparaged as subordinating individual will to the state – as tyranny – and the MSM often portrays economic downturns in social democracies (Venezuela, Argentina) as caused by foolish socialist policies, not broadscale economic issues (oil glut), or financial stupidity of prior governments (Argentina). I applaud Senator Sanders for continuing to use the moniker "social democrat" as he has done much to legitimize the word. We need more. Ich bin ein social democrat.

ambrit , March 26, 2017 at 1:44 pm

Oh yes, and I remember wondering when I first read about that "interaction," just what did Pelosi really mean by Capitalist? As someone else here remarked, she might have been confusing capitalist with corporatist in her mind.

polecat , March 26, 2017 at 6:14 pm

'Crony' capitalists is what she really meant ..

Ah the Crony California Quotient Always looking out for them and theirs' --

Gman , March 26, 2017 at 5:51 pm

Doctrinaire [adj]

seeking to impose a doctrine in all circumstances without regard to practical considerations:

1. 'Nancy Pelosi asked whether the party might move toward a more socialistic economic system, she answered, "We're capitalists. That's just the way it is."

pissed younger baby boomer , March 26, 2017 at 7:23 pm

That's why I am changing my party status to one of the socialist parties in Oregon .

DJG , March 26, 2017 at 12:35 pm

ambrit: Excellent comment. What I would add, though, is that all three of the movements that you cite had equality as a main goal: Black people wanted equality in civil rights and civil liberties. The antiwar movement drew strength from the draft, which affected people of all classes (men most directly) and led to various unequal uses of deferments that are causes of political problems to this very day. Gay folk also wanted civil rights and civil liberties (although marriage equality may not be the proper culmination–identity politics gone divergent).

A while back, I read Norberto Bobbio's influential little book, Right and Left. He states that the main motivators of leftist politics are liberty, equality, and fraternité (let's call it solidarity). And he points out that leftists usually place equality first. So to animate a new movement, we have to get back to issues of political and economic equality. The metaphor of The One Percent is a hint. That hint has to be expanded.

ambrit , March 26, 2017 at 1:35 pm

Good point. The American Revolt had it's "Committees of Correspondence." They operated outside of the MSM of the day. The Civil Rights movement early on had the black churches as sanctuaries and disseminators of the message. The anti-war movement had both the Underground press and, unwittingly, later, the MSM of the day proclaiming the problem. In general, each information spreading system used was not a part of the "Official Version" apparatus.

The point about equality is important. The unmentioned basis of Capitalism is competition. Competition implies inequality as the outcome. This is not true aspiration, but aspiration's evil twin, ambition. So, the Left's real uphill slog is going to be to frame the debate about social policy in an anti-competitive form.

Bashing the .01% is always good fun, but, as many have remarked, and the recent failed Democrat Party campaigns have demonstrated, a positive goal is needed to really motivate and engage those of us "on the ground." As earlier remarked, a "Single Payer" healthcare campaign, framed as an "equality" measure would do the trick. There are doubtless many other issues that would lend themselves to a similar treatment. Meld these issues into a "Progressive United Front" campaign and we will begin to see some movement.

In essence, as the earlier socialist and communist thinkers proclaimed, the ownership of the means of production are a good place to start. Given the unequal distribution of such ownership however, the next best thing would be the control of the distribution of the fruits of production; especially germaine with the rise of automation.

It's time to make "We the People" great.

DJG , March 26, 2017 at 3:06 pm

ambrit: Agreed, again. And time for some poetry, too:

Langston Hughes

https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/let-america-be-america-again

Note "equality" front and center in his prophetic vision.

ambrit , March 26, 2017 at 3:19 pm

I also see the dream ahead of him, beckoning, beguiling, beatifying despite the false realities around him.
Something to believe in will generally trump something to be fearful of, in the hearts of men.

marym , March 26, 2017 at 2:07 pm

Great comment and resulting discussion.

IMO there's not a practical electoral solution, in the sense of electing a bunch of candidates at multiple levels of government to unwind or replace all the laws, regulations/lack of regulations, court decisions, and algorithms that misgovern our lives and misappropriate our wealth.

Building on your comment ambrit@5:29 and Ulysses@8:38:

A – No more than 3 universal issues (Medicare for All; publicly funded tuition for post-secondary education, training, and apprenticeships; end the wars, for example). Medicare for All is part of the discussion now and should have a prominent place.

B – Activism continues, as it must and will, in other areas: issues of survival (police violence, incarceration, homelessness and hunger; minimum wage ); support for activism across issues (Food not Bombs, ACLU and NLG, Light Brigades, local jail and bail support ); and forward-looking activism (local sustainable food and energy solutions, workplace and community coops ).

C – Electoral politics that functions as the political arm of the movement for "A" and locally appropriate subsets of "B" issues. In practical term, this may need to be an insurgency in the Dem ranks, or more organized Greens, plus coordination with other "third" parties that have a presence and ballot access in some places.

Then we work on ambrit's:

"You watch my back, I'll show up at your demonstration"

Adding: "We recruit candidates who understand your issues and have policy proposals to address them, you show up to vote".

DJG , March 26, 2017 at 3:10 pm

marym: Excellent comment.

I can't find much on the Light Brigades. Who are they?

And my issues at the universal level would be health care for all (with minimal fees and premiums), free education for all, an end to the endless wars, and, if I may have a fourth, expansion of Social Security with some big raises to recipients to give people a base income that they can retire on (or safely go into disability retirement). The money is there for all of these, but the political will consists of the likes of Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi.

Yes: You watch my back, and I'll watch your back. But "back" is defined broadly–we are all in this together.

Ancient 1 , March 26, 2017 at 10:25 pm

Good Comment. What bothers me is there is a lot of conversation about all our issues and proposed solutions, but I see no actions taking place. There are no leaders on the national level, other than Senator Sanders. We need a Socialist Huey Long with a big horn and perhaps a little action like, Act Up" to get things moving. There is going to be a revolt sooner or later. It will get to a point where ordinary people, especially our young, who will not take it anymore.

PH , March 26, 2017 at 5:58 am

Love Hudson, but no one is right about everything.

He accepts as an article of faith that it would be easier to start a new party than win primaries in Dem party. Not clear at all.

Also, while I agree Dems are dominated by Blue Dogs who want to use Wall Street money to run Repub lite candidates in purple states, and that their appeal to identity politics is manipulative and a way to deflect from economic issues, it does not logically follow that voters do not often think of themselves and their goals in terms of racism or religion or guns. Their are cultural "us v them" identities that have a powerful effect on politics.

I agree with Hudson's critique of FIRE and the problem of debt in our society. But it is not easy to explain to the general public - which would not recognize the acronym. And what exactly is the Hudson platform to address debt or FIRE now? I understand the argument (as I understand it) that 2009 was an opportunity to use bankruptcy of Wall Street to break up economic olarchy and write down debt for homeowners. I agree. I am angry and frustrated by the lost opportunity. I also understand the sly reference to having to wait for the next crisis to get another chance. Why do we have to wait? This is Hudson's concession that there is no general understanding of the debt problem or support for Willy-Nilly support for dismantling Wall Street or existing debt relationships.

I am convinced by Hudson that rising housing prices are a scam for loading debt on people and raising the burden of a rentier class. But most people who own houses are excited when you tell them housing prices are going up. What exactly should be our political message.

Some districts have strong evangelical communities and find abortion to be the top issue year in andvyear out. Some evangelicals stuck with Trump in the hope of a Supreme Court that will outlaw abortion. How to Dems or a new Hudson party win in those districts?

Politics is a fluid business. Forget coalition building (extremely tough), even finding a message for one voter (who may be of 2 or 3. Or 4 minds about the world, and change views daily, is tough.

In my view, a Progressive majority must be put together piece by piece, place by place, from the ground up. Bernie articulated a place to start. The Schumer crowd own the Dems now, but it is a fragile hold. We can beat them if we find common sense solutions to our problems and articulate those ideas to our neighbors. We need energy and hard work, but it is not clear that a third party is needed.

Carolinian , March 26, 2017 at 9:44 am

Why do we have to wait?

Because we have a political system–from the Fed to the Congress to the media–that is designed to keep current arrangements in place. Public complacency has allowed this to happen and now only another systemic breakdown is likely to force change on an entrenched elite and confused electorate. One might hope that the Democratic party would be the necessary force for reform but it's surely clear by now that its leadership intends to go down with the ship. Time for the rest of us to pile into the lifeboats (a third party). And even if one believes there is hope for the Dems, it's unlikely they will change without some serious threat to their power and that would be a viable third party. For much of the country's history there were lots of third parties and splinter movements which is what one would expect from such a diverse population. The duopoly is a very artificial arrangement.

Sanders should never have taken this third party threat off the table and it is why the Dem leadership doesn't take him seriously. It's also a reason for some of the rest of us to question his seriousness. "Don't want to be the Nader" isn't the sort of call to arms that has one putting up the Che posters.

Carolinian , March 26, 2017 at 11:40 am

Did Bernie have a big impact? The mainstream media mostly ignore him and the Dems go out of their way to ignore him by running Perez. And didn't the Bernie endorsed primary challengers in the last cycle do poorly?

You will only get the elites' attention by threatening their power, not their message. Obviously establishing a viable third party is extremely difficult which is why I agree with Hudson that it will take the next crisis to change things. Incrementalism has been shown not to work.

FluffytheObeseCat , March 26, 2017 at 12:33 pm

Perez only got 235 votes; Sanders' candidate Ellison got 200. The Democratic Party establishment did not "ignore" Sanders by running Perez. They were semi-desperately trying to block him (and his cohort) from advancing on a low rung on the ladder to power.

Primary challenges across the nation, in every city council and state assembly race. Again and again. Then on to the governorships and federal offices. This is the swiftest, least expensive and least damaging way to power for Sanders partisan. We could take over the party in under ten years if this tactic were widely deployed.

barefoot charley , March 26, 2017 at 1:32 pm

Wikileaks made it plain what the Democrats do to mavericks who win races without a party bit in their mouths. The corruption is institutional, it is their operatives' identity. A successful third party will be very difficult to achieve, but is perhaps possible. A useful Democratic party is not possible until every careerist is unemployed–ie until their employers run out of money. That can't come about, as long as there are empowered Democrats and Republicans.

Jeff W , March 26, 2017 at 4:16 pm

FluffytheObeseCat

Primary challenges across the nation, in every city council and state assembly race. Again and again. Then on to the governorships and federal offices. This is the swiftest, least expensive and least damaging way to power for Sanders partisan. We could take over the party in under ten years if this tactic were widely deployed.

I agree with this statement.

And it's happening: various groups (Our Revolution, Brand New Congress, Justice Democrats, and probably others) are planning primary challengers in just that way. And it's already happened at the local and district level in California. It's a different political environment than even just a few years ago and it will be even still more different when some (or, let's hope, many) of these candidates start winning.

Norb , March 26, 2017 at 9:48 am

The real problem is corporatism. The power to make decisions on public policy has been transferred from democratic government to corporations, run by oligarchs. Both political parties in the US are committed to this political arrangement. The thin veneer of democracy is used to check public dissatisfaction. In short order, even this facade will be deemed unnecessary and discarded. This consolidation of power was enabled by masking class consciousness. Worker aspirations mirror their corporate masters. Life consists of maximizing personal wealth in the form of money and possessions. Mass media provides the conduit to achieve this conditioning.

Trying to rebuild the Democratic party form within is a waste of energy and time that most citizens don't have. If anything, the existing political establishment has perfected the techniques and tools needed to make dissent impotent. This is largely accomplished by perpetuating the myth that change can occur by working within the existing system, and then undermining effective policy that would focus on worker interests. The chumps get scraps.

In the end, oligarchy is the cost that must be paid for our modern life of convenience and endless entertainment. Moving forward must be about rejection. Rejection of the current social and cultural order. A new party, a true workers party, is needed to restore equilibrium to the existing power imbalance. The mass of people who have dropped out of the workforce and electoral system are waiting for leadership to offer a better vision for the future. This vision is not forthcoming because the human imagination must turn outside the existing failed norms and seek new horizons removed from capitalist ideology. Political power follows or grows naturally from a social order, not the other way around. Imposed social orders are always unstable and need violence to maintain. A way of life determines the political possibilities. This is why those wanting change must always work outside the existing system, both mentally and physically.

Just as crony capitalist ideology turned the notion of individual freedom on its head to justify the greatest inequality known to human societies, the remedy centers on the rejection of exploitive violence. It is based on preservation, regeneration, and a spiritual awareness that one must give back to the world and not only take from it. To my mind, coalitions built on these principles stretch across all social groups. Spending time, money, and energy building these networks and infrastructure will be productive and longer lasting. Strikes, boycotts, and dropping out of the existing system sends a much more powerful message to the oligarchs. They will respond with violence, but then their true nature is open for all to see, making it easier for others to reject their ideology.

Capitalism was born of Feudalism. Individual rights superseding the rights of Kings. Nothing lasts forever. A post- capitalist world must be first envisioned and then articulated. Capitalism maintained the inequality and hierarchical use of violence of the previous system. This relationship forms most of the underlying root causes of intractable problems faced today. Egalitarianism provides a way and an alternative. Socialist ideas can be suppressed but never eradicated. Human social evolution points in this direction. Slavery will never return. The human spirt will not allow it.

two beers , March 26, 2017 at 1:26 pm

Your note has a 1930s sound to me. Spain, maybe.

What a cavalier and condescending dismissal. With an arrogant wave of the hand, history goes *poof*. And though you "agree" (how generous of you!) )with some of the symptoms Hudson identifies, you categorically deny what he identifies as the root systemic cause of those ills. Instead, a little modest, cautious, sensible, "piece by piece", "place by place" reform around the edges, and everything will work out just fine in its own time, because abortion.

You are an exemplary and model Democrat, and Exhibit A why left politics will never emerge from within the Democrat Party.

jrs , March 26, 2017 at 2:28 pm

although it may be an uphill climb now, striking and unionizing still sounds infinitely less pie in the sky and far more brass tacks and addressing some of the actual problems, than creating a 3rd party in the U.S.. If that is one's solution they have no right to criticize anyone on their proposals not being practical. At least striking has some history of actually working.

Norb , March 26, 2017 at 3:37 pm

It is the participation in our own destruction that I am trying to express and get my head around. Engagement by all means, but somehow the rules need to be changed.

The amount of time, energy, and resources needed to engage in effective politics today is prohibitive to most citizens. What Hudson is saying is that the two party system in America is broken and the only way forward is to start anew. I would tend to agree. In my lifetime, the Democratic party has been reforming for close to 40 years now. That is a long time to be ineffectual concerning worker's interests. The long dissent of the American workforce is reaching critical mass and some radical thinking and action is needed.

The left needs to develop some productive alternatives, which again Hudson points out. An egalitarian alternative needs to be articulated. Candidates running for office as socialists, espousing actual socialist ideals. Win or loose, speaking in public about socialist ideals can only help. Government sponsorship of small business and cooperatives over monopolistic corporations. Actually running and building sustainable communities. As was stated in comments, Sanders raised upwards of 240 million dollars during the last campaign. What is there to show for all that effort and resource depletion?

An actual show of distain for the elite ruling class for their crass barbarism and masked cruelty is a start. Followed by actually building something of lasting value.

FluffytheObeseCat , March 26, 2017 at 12:39 pm

The "masses of people who have dropped out of the workforce" are old, overweight, have multiple physical deficits and are hooked on at least 2 types of prescription dope. They will not be manning your nostalgia-draped barricades. Not ever.

jrs , March 26, 2017 at 2:34 pm

alrighty, everyone who can't get a job is overweight and a drug addict and unhealthy etc.. Get real. Old sometimes has something to do with it, just because companies do age discriminate in hiring.

tegnost , March 26, 2017 at 10:04 am

I agree with Hudson's critique of FIRE and the problem of debt in our society. But it is not easy to explain to the general public - which would not recognize the acronym.

People are not a miniscule fraction as stupid as you think they are, and I will posit that this is one of, if not the main problem with democrat loyalists such as yourself.

first you say this

"Also, while I agree Dems are dominated by Blue Dogs who want to use Wall Street money to run Repub lite candidates in purple states, and that their appeal to identity politics is manipulative and a way to deflect from economic issues,"

shorter, I realize democrats don't represent you, and that's too bad but you have no other option and PH doesn't want you to have another option.
followed by

" it does not logically follow that voters do not often think of themselves and their goals in terms of racism or religion or guns. Their are cultural "us v them" identities that have a powerful effect on politics."

Is this unmoored jab at rural identity not a double negative that can be rephrased "it logically follows that voters think of themselves in terms of racism or religion or guns"? and isn't that just another way of saying people are stupid and you are not because you can hide your class and race bias behind a double negative, and people being stupider than you will never know it because clever, but clever ain't working anymore, and isn't likely to start working any time soon.

You close with a call for incrementalism yeah that's worked really great for all of us in the hoi polloi, and you don't fail to mention abortion, the only democrat platform, and schumer et al's "fragile grip" is in reality an "iron law of institutions" grip and they and you are not going to let go.

"We can beat them if we find common sense solutions to our problems and articulate those ideas to our neighbors. We need energy and hard work, but it is not clear that a third party is needed."

so who is this "we" kemo sabe? I am in the veal pen. Come into the veal pen with me. We will be in the veal pen thanks but no thanks. I've had plenty of common sense discussions with my neighbors, and it's depressing as we all know none of those sensible policies will be enacted by the useless to the common citizen and enabler to the criminals on wall street democrat party, rotten to it's core.

Paul Greenwood , March 26, 2017 at 6:20 am

Федеральное агентство по управлению государственным имуществом (Росимущество) was what created Oligarchs under Yeltsin. It was headed by Chubais who helped make Khordorovsky and the rest of the Oligarchs incredibly rich. He then headed the 1996 Re-Election Campaign for Unpopular Yeltsin and bought victory and sold off State assets for nugatory worth.

Khordorovsky was to deliver Yukos to Exxon and let US interests control Russia's natural resources. Berezhovsky needed a "roof" – he had Chechens protecting his outside interests but once Yeltsin's liver gave out the KGB Siloviki would put The Family on trial so he found Putin as a Lieut-Col. with a background in St Petersburg where Chubais had been active for Sobchak also. Putin was the "roof" to keep the KGB from executing the looters for treason.

Like a new Tsar with Boyars, Putin had to find which were his "Oligarchs" and Berezhovsky turned his assets over to Abramovich who is Putin's man. Chubais now sits on CFR and JP Morgan Board for his good works.

jackiebass , March 26, 2017 at 6:56 am

Trump won on the slogan Make America Great. I live in upstate NY which is strong republican. These people thought the slogan meant great for them. That coupled with a bitter hate of Clinton made it easy for Trump to get their vote. A sad thing is that these voters are very uninformed and depend on what they know from corporate media especially FOX news. None of them know what Neoliberal means and that the root of their problems lie with neoliberal policies.

When I tell them that Obama and Cuomo aren't really democrats but moderate republicans they think I'm out of my mind. I tend to look at thing objectively based on verifiable facts.Most of these voters look at issues in an emotional way. They will say Obamacare is bad and need to be repealed. When you ask them how it's bad the best they can come up with is it forces you to buy insurance and you can't keep your own doctor. I guess what I'm saying is that the average voter is too lazy to get informed and relies on the political propaganda fed to them.

At 75 years old I don't see that the immediate future will change much. The only hope I see is in the young of our country. Unless someone or a movement can educate them about the evils that are destroying their future, democracy is dead. Because of how the economy is structured the economic future for most of the population is grim. They will not be able to afford to retire and will live in poverty. Perhaps this will wake them up. Unfortunately it will be too late for them.

UserFriendly , March 26, 2017 at 8:03 am

People are all sheep. No one thinks, they just vote based on emotions. I have never seen that more blatantly laid bare then in this one article.

HOW HIGH-END STUDENT COMPLEXES CREATED THE MOST GOP PRECINCT IN LEON COUNTY

Which ties in nicely with the slate star codex piece from yesterday.
GUIDED BY THE BEAUTY OF OUR WEAPONS

At best we can work at the margin on the handful of people that are capable of rational thought. Which is why nothing ever changes, appeals to emotion are always more potent than appeals to reason. There is no solution.

John Wright , March 26, 2017 at 9:45 am

I also agree that there is no solution, certainly not an evolutionary solution via EITHER of the two parties.

The big changes in the USA occurred during the Great Depression as financial reform was introduced, the idea of government infrastructure could provide employment and what I believe is little mentioned, an increased awareness on the part of many that their success was not achieved solely by their own efforts.

Many of the USA's post war corporate executives should have remembered that their families struggled during the thirties, and this may have made them more connected with their employees and communities.

Now we have a government of the internally connected top 10%, with the bottom 90% detached and watching from outside.

And CEO's and the executive class have loyalty only to their company's stock price.

The recent rehabilitation of serial screw-up George W. Bush and attempted elevation of serial screw-up Hillary Clinton is direct evidence that the political class does not care how much harm they do to the "deplorable" voters they appeal to every 2/4/6 years.

With the money sloshing around DC and the media control of content, how does one replace the leadership of both parties with more progressive people in any reasonable time frame?

Per Mark Blyth, Global Trumpism is the current response, but what will this morph into after Global Trumpism hangover manifests?.

sundayafternoon , March 26, 2017 at 10:57 am

I think although it may seem that only a small percent of the population is capable of rational thought I think this is actually not the case and its more productive (and optomistic) to think of this issue in terms of a behaviour rather than a fixed capability, like how some ancient Greek philosophers thought about moral behaviour or how some modern phychologists think about psychopathy. Almost everyone is capable of rational thought (or moral or psychopathitic behaviour) but its how often or more precisly in what situations an individual decides to engage in or deploy rational thought.

jrs , March 26, 2017 at 2:40 pm

Capable of rational thought really doesn't do much good for all the things one has no exposure to. Ok in this case they may have little real understanding of say leftists ideas. And I really think they don't. That may not be the case for the political junkies here for political ideas, but we all have our areas of things (not politics) we may have a similar stupidity about.

Katharine , March 26, 2017 at 11:23 am

Sorry, but I think that's way too disrespectful of other people and not realistic. All, save those with extreme mental disabilities, are capable of some degree of rational thought. That doesn't mean they can be quickly or easily convinced, but they will be more amenable to persuasion if you approach them as equals and open your mind to their reality in order to find the right terms with which to present your ideas. Bernie has shown himself to be very good at that, as are all good teachers. Those who insist on framing everything in their own terms without adapting their communication to another's experience will always get blank stares.

knowbuddhau , March 26, 2017 at 1:49 pm

Well said, Katharine.

Dehumanizing ("people are sheep") and dismissing our neighbors as incapable of rational (good?) thinking will get us nowhere. Like I've said, the propaganda is working when we're dividing and conquering ourselves. That horrid little word often seen in this context, "sheeple," is just another word for "deplorables."

People are not sheep. We've been psyop'd senseless. "Public relations" began around the turn of the 20th century. It was ramped up by orders of magnitude after WWII.

Gore Vidal quotes JFK as saying to him, we've entered an era in which "it is the *appearance of things that matters" (emphasis original in the TRNN video, The National Security State with Gore Vidal ). Psychology and other social sciences have been weaponized and turned against us. With a facile understanding of the human mind (as if it were nothing but a mere mechanism), immense effort has gone into controlling the inputs in order to control the outputs (behavior).

From How US Flooded the World with Psyops

Newly declassified documents from the Reagan presidential library help explain how the U.S. government developed its sophisticated psychological operations capabilities that – over the past three decades – have created an alternative reality both for people in targeted countries and for American citizens, a structure that expanded U.S. influence abroad and quieted dissent at home.

Today, "public opinion" is a Frankenstein's monster. Most of my fellow Americans believe in a world that never existed and doesn't exist right now. We can't even agree on what happened to JFK, or MLK, or what happened on 9/11/01.

Contra UF, it's not that people are incapable of rational thought; rather, the information we have is hopelessly corrupted. People are acting rationally, but the numerators and denominators have been faked. On purpose. Or did the Russians really do it?

Once again, TPTB thought they had found a magic method of machining people into permanent compliance. But they neglected the fact that relying on psyops drives people crazy. You just can't keep rejecting real reality and substituting a manufactured Narrative (looking at you, NYT) forever.

ISTM we're acting without sufficient contact with reality. The effort to control the population, the better to exploit us, has driven many of us mad. Neglecting the century or so of effort that's gone into manufacturing consent leads to blaming the victims.

Propagandists and PSYOPeratives have put out the people's eyes, and you berate them for their blindness?

sundayafternoon , March 26, 2017 at 7:23 pm

While I would absolutely agree with everything you've just said and believe the facts you've cited are the main reason for the bleak outlook for our species, how the myriad of lies fed to the population is received is a more complex process than just plain deception. People are incredibly complex and operate on a number of levels simultaneously. For instance the notion that universal health care or a strong union would be personally beneficial, or that the banking system is corrupt and that all the wars since 1945 have been unnecessary must be known to anyone with functioning eyes and ears on a relatively conscious level, but the majority have chosen to effectively overlook this reality I believe for reasons that ultimately feed in to human predispositions for conformity. It's ironic that our evolutionary highly successful nature of collectivism is now working against us as a species and leading to a destructive subservience that is almost sadomasochistic. If the population were to be unequivocally presented with reality I doubt many would tolerate the state we have now but conversely this would mean that the elite in our society had sanctioned truthfulness, so we would not really be going against the wishes of the powerful. Basically the fact that the powerful in our society have presented us with lies means lies are what they want us to believe, so dutifully most will oblige, however obviously at odds with reality those lies are.

Why such an overwhelming percent of the population do not vote in their own economic interest is because political affiliations seem to be a complex expression of self-identity, something which includes attitudes, social prejudices and 'beliefs' that are dependent on complex emotional interactions between internal and external events, and can include for instance a desire for status within your tribe, family loyalty, even sadistic impulses. I;m probably wrong about most of this but part of me cant help feeling some of the victims share a little of the blame

knowbuddhau , March 26, 2017 at 9:23 pm

>> For instance the notion that universal health care or a strong union would be personally beneficial, or that the banking system is corrupt and that all the wars since 1945 have been unnecessary must be known to anyone with functioning eyes and ears on a relatively conscious level, but the majority have chosen to effectively overlook this reality I believe for reasons that ultimately feed in to human predispositions for conformity.

You're projecting your knowledge and views, and then blaming people who don't see things your way. A majority supports single payer, yes, but the rest is wishful thinking.

If you read Zinn's A People's History of the US, you'll see that even WWII was a manufactured war. I'm willing to bet a majority still thinks we were attacked out of the blue on Pearl Harbor Day, despite FDR's plan to provoke Japan. Or that incinerating Nagasaki and Hiroshima ended the war and saved tens of thousands of US lives. There was an almost perfectly complete news blackout on the aftermath specifically so that opposition to the bombings couldn't form. There are endless examples like this.

We're not told what we need to know to govern ourselves. What we are told amounts to propaganda, sometimes explicitly so.

Yes, a lot of people have drunk the koolaid, some with gusto. Who's pouring it? You can blame the victims all you like. I blame the people who've deliberately set out to deceive us.

What our deluded brothers and sisters need is our compassion. It's hard to have compassion for someone trying to run you over for exercising your rights (been there, done that), but no one ever said it would be easy.

Kokuanani , March 26, 2017 at 7:55 am

The only hope I see is in the young of our country.

I think Trump, the Repubs and most of the Dems see that too. That's why they've promoted DeVos, Arnie Duncan, and all the other advocates of "charter schools," strangled public education, and attacked teachers.

UserFriendly , March 26, 2017 at 8:05 am

and decided college was a great opportunity to make debt slaves ...

Deadl E Cheese , March 26, 2017 at 8:56 am

The problem with this approach is that all this does is kill off liberal cosmopolitanism, not Marxism. Marxism doesn't need a widespread secondarily-educated population to spread. And it definitely does not need liberal cosmopolitanism as a stepping stone; quite the opposite, really. Just in the US, when the wobblies and Black Panthers started turning red, how many of their rank and file went to college or even finished high school?

Considering that the elites are using liberal cosmopolitanism to strangle Marxism (class-only Marxists want to throw women and nonwhites under the bus to get their single-payer and you, the woke liberal identitarian, must support capitalism to protect the marginalized), this strategy is not only pointless but it's also self-defeating.

NotTimothyGeithner , March 26, 2017 at 9:35 am

It's far more simpler. Charter schools are about following the money. Public schools have seemingly huge revenue streams. Why can't GE get a cut is the thought process? For profit Healthcare was forbidden until 1973 (thanks to Teddy), why not public schools?

NotTimothyGeithner , March 26, 2017 at 11:45 am

The HMO Act of 1973 (thanks Teddy and Tricky Dick; bipartisanship at its finest) made it easier to start and run HMOs which faced regulatory hurdles mostly due to financing. Non profits had an easier time of it hence Hospitals named "St X" or "X General." Since the hospital were non profits and employers made deals with the hospitals, health insurance was effectively non-profit. There were gaps, mostly in rural areas. Other changes from the HMO Act of 1973 encouraged profit seeking from denial of coverage to pushing unnecessary procedures or prescriptions.

There is a noticeable correlation between this act and the explosion of Healthcare costs. The Miller Center had a series on Nixon expressing doubts to the Kaiser about HMOs. The arguments played out just like charter schools today.

philnc , March 26, 2017 at 4:14 pm

I recall hearing the tape of a conversation among Nixon and his aides regarding HMOs. The audio, like most of the Johnson & Nixon tapes, was poor, but what did come through was Nixon's support for Kaiser's business model, summed up by Erlichman as, "the less care they give them, the more money they make."

https://millercenter.org/the-presidency/educational-resources/all-the-incentives-are-toward-less-medical-care

Huey Long , March 26, 2017 at 11:49 am

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_Maintenance_Organization_Act_of_1973

Disturbed Voter , March 26, 2017 at 8:39 am

The US Left has been controlled opposition since 1950. There was never a chance it could provide a reasonable and effective alternative. FBI/CIA moles make sure they never will. The Democrats have never been true Left FDR didn't really betray his class, he saved them from their own stupidity.

Randall Stephens , March 26, 2017 at 9:42 am

"As Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere quipped in the 1960s, when he was accused by the US of running a one-party state, 'The United States is also a one-party state but, with typical American extravagance, they have two of them'."

OK, that made me laugh out loud.

Arizona Slim , March 26, 2017 at 10:07 am

I seem to recall that the identity politics of yore were lacking in solidarity. The antiwar protestors, some of whom were hippies, were beaten up by working class union members. Remember the hard hat riots? And the African American leadership of the Civil Rights era? Well, they were from the black churches​, and they thought that the hippies were uncouth.

Deadl E Cheese , March 26, 2017 at 10:13 am

The identity politics of today lack in solidarity, too. What with Hillary Clinton running the most ageist campaign in memory, Obama breaking the record on deportations, Bill Clinton blowing racist dogwhistles as hard he can and also helping to shepherd a police state that puts Thailand to shame, and the whole of the Democratic Party stoking Russophobia and neoconservative.

A cynic might say that liberal identity politics (as opposed to post-Frankfurt/Focault Marxist identity politics) was intentionally designed to do these things both in the 60-70s and now.

And I am that cynic.

Kukulkan , March 26, 2017 at 10:30 am

I don't see how antiwar protestors qualify as identity politics, since the group is defined by a policy concern, not by some quasi-biological tag. Same with working class union members; policy and economic interests, not tags.

I'd say the same about the African American leadership of the Civil Rights era, even though they did generally share the tag of being "black". They focused on a policy goal and welcomed those who didn't share the tag to participate in the struggle.

Identity politics are not the same thing as left-wing or progressive or liberal (or whatever you want to call it) politics. In very real sense, Identity politics are a form of anti-politics since they don't address interests, policy or allow any form of accommodation or reconciliation of different points of view.

Identity politics is about tags. Non-identity politics is about interests and policies.

Kukulkan , March 26, 2017 at 4:25 pm

But the focus is on the policy issues. The campaign for gay marriage was about getting gay marriage, not about being gay. And anyone who supported gay marriage was a part of that campaign - gay, straight, black, white, male, female; all the tags. It may have started with those who were gay, but it wasn't exclusive to the tag.

By contrast, Hillary's campaign was just about the tags. Not doing anything for those with the tags, or changing any policies, no matter how they affected various tags, or even addressing any issues that are important to one or more of the tags, just acknowledging the tags and verbally supporting pride in them. That's why even a bunch of people possessing the tags didn't support her: there was nothing there for them, or, indeed, anyone else outside the financial and imperial elite.

NotTimothyGeithner , March 26, 2017 at 12:12 pm

Abernathy and King were from black churches. The rest of the leadership came from the street or universities. King's lament about the "white moderate" was code for the "black church." Ministers were glorified house slaves and liked the big houses. Jim Crow worked for black ministers. If better of blacks moved to white neighborhoods and more importantly white churches, who would put money in the collection plate?

With the exception of Jackson when he showed up (he was young), those young black men who were always around King were Communists and atheists. They didn't broadcast it for obvious reasons, but a guy like Malcolm X was skeptical of King for real reasons.

Jackson was important because he forced the black churches to get with the program. If there was a minister successor to King, the congregants might ask questions about their own ministers.

The black church hated hippies, but the real civil rights leadership didn't.

SumiDreamer , March 26, 2017 at 10:10 am

The diagnosis is mostly correct. But omits the role class bigotry and affluenza with attendant celebrity culture and pursuit of prestige plays. Thus the prognosis and protocol go astray.

The wealthy and the politicians don't care about you/us. They care about maintaining any fiction that allows them to keep acquiring. Trump is not the problem; Mercer"s values are The Problem. Trump is the PERFECT reality TV/celebrity fantasy creature to keep the twisted Mercer chariot's wheels turning.

Bernie was NOT The Answer. Putting on a mask of concern does not take away the sorrows of empire. As long as the blatant US militarism and imperialism continues we cannot unite the working class. Everything it needs to flourish continues - mass incarceration, join the military or stay in the ghetto, graft and corruption of military/industrial/media complex, no respect for other cultures being swarmed, consumerism.

Bernie picked up Occupy"s talking points (good plagarist!) but left the hurdle of recognizing plutocracy the same as Occupy did. Plutocracy is democratic as well it just usnt!

What is there to show for 200 million in donations to overcome the Third Way? A new minuet with the crushing DemocRATic "party".

The war has come home. First step is to admit it. Consistency in VALUES is the left"s primary directive. There needs to be funerals for both parties not more illusion.

The tax break "fight" will be hilarious. Another example of how our rulers cannot solve a single problem .

The jobs plan: more prison guards, border agents, munitions makers, soldiers, cops, various bodyguards for the rich and the other useful mandarins to the affluenza-stricken is set in stone.

You cannot heal a chronic disease without seeing the entirety of its degenerative properties. We're fighting a nasty virus.

Mac na Michomhairle , March 26, 2017 at 12:34 pm

Bernie did not plagiarize Occupy. He had been saying the same things in Vermont for 25 years, but saying them in ways that lots of very various people connected with.

20 years ago, Bernie lawn signs used to be run over by irate people who knew he was a no-good dirty Socialist. But because he has consistently framed issues in terms of ordinary people's lives and because he has always been absolutely honest and forthright, most of those people who flattened the signs now like and respect him and vote for him. They also pay attention to issues that only no-good dirty Socialists do in most other states.

Denis Drew , March 26, 2017 at 10:20 am

"a revived protection of labor's right to unionize"

Do this and everything else will follow - don't do this and nothing will ever follow.

"It seems that only a new party can achieve these aims."

Don't depend on right or left parties. Depend on yourselves: rebuild American union density (6% unions in private economy analogous to 20/10 BP - starves every other healthy process). Both parties will come begging to your door.

Here's how to "do this":

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

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

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

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

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

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

PhilipL , March 26, 2017 at 11:14 am

Michael Hudson makes great points but I am still wrestling with his (and others) push back against so-called identity politics as it pertains to this perception of it splintering or at least limiting the Democratic party. The Dems are most certainly a party committed to the ideals of neoliberalism and corporatism. They did not lose this election based on "Russian hacking/emails" and other trite nonsense.

Nor did they lose it by appealing to so-called identity politics or tribalism. If the Left is going to move forward effectively it can't pretend we are merely having class and by extension economic arguments. Race is the thru line and has consistently been since the countries inception. Many things cited i.e. the New Deal, pro-Union policy, etc are standard bearers on the Left but have also been rife with racist treatment of potential Black and Latino allies. Why would that be ignored if we are only having conversations of class? Class does not explain redlining which has economic and social implications.

Access to universal healthcare is great and should be a goal but what does one do when the practice of medicine is still effected by race based/racial administration –> https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/aug/10/black-patients-bias-prescriptions-pain-management-medicine-opioids

Acces to higher education and supposedly higher paying job with more opportunities is also great but that access is still shielded by exclusion that again is race based –> https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/05/african-americans-with-college-degrees-are-twice-as-likely-to-be-unemployed-as-other-graduates/430971/

These are complex issues, but they are not as class focused (solely) as many on the Left would like to believe. Our failure to speak honestly and openly about it and critique capitalism and its most malevolent (and seductive form neoliberalism) as being tied to the practice and idea of white supremacy is why we ultimately will find it more and more challenging to wage a successful countermovement against it.

Scylla , March 26, 2017 at 5:19 pm

Wow. Ok, so since racial bias was written into past economic policy that was intended to address class issues, addressing class based inequality should just be abandoned?

How about just demanding policy that addresses class based inequality simply be written without the racial bias? Why is this so difficult to get into the minds of liberals? This is not that hard.

Jason Boxman , March 26, 2017 at 11:21 am

The refusal to recognize is a nice idea. I've often thought of late that Democrats, or at least the Left, should refuse to recognize Trump's horrible cabinet appointments, even if the delegitimizing effect is minimal. Just referring to these people at citizen or whatever rather than secretary would be some small repudiation, at least.

Mel , March 26, 2017 at 12:22 pm

There's a very long and comprehensive musing on politics and public dialog at slatestarcodex. My takeaway: if your dialog is weaponized, if you consider your mission to be "How do I force these people to admit that I'm right?" then you'll keep seeing the same results we see now.

Tim , March 26, 2017 at 12:48 pm

Been saying #TrumpIsObamaLegacy since early morning in November. Yves was WAAAAY ahead of the curve back in late 08 calling that out. The Obama part of maintaining the looting of society status quo.

juliania , March 26, 2017 at 1:14 pm

The point about Trump being the US Yeltsin is one very much worth considering, if only because Russia, after much degradation and also suffering, has managed to begin to overcome those shameful and depressing times. May we do so also.

Blue Pilgrim , March 26, 2017 at 1:26 pm

Actually, his latest book is J is For Junk Economics
http://michael-hudson.com/2017/02/j-is-for-junk-economics-a-guide-to-reality-in-an-age-of-deception/

John k , March 26, 2017 at 1:51 pm

Great summary, forwarding to friends.
As commented above, progressive candidates that Bernie backed did not do well. Neolib always willing to boost funding for any candidate of any party if primary challenged by a progressive. Takeover of state party machinery e.g. Ca did have some success, but pretty slow.

Third party seems both the only way and imo more doable than many think unlike in the past, electorate is now desperate for real change. Third party impossible until probable. IMO we are now at just such a point.

But neolib will fight tooth and nail to keep a progressive party off the ballot....

Vatch , March 26, 2017 at 6:35 pm

progressive candidates that Bernie backed did not do well.

I'm not so sure about that. Here's the list of candidates backed by Our Revolution (not precisely the same as Sanders, but close). I didn't bother to do an exact count, but it appears that the winners exceed the losers by about 6 to 5.

https://ourrevolution.com/election-2016/

The Republicans control a majority of the state legislatures, governorships, and both houses of Congress. Compared to the establishment Democratic Party as a whole, the Sanders people in Our Revolution are doing pretty well. A new party isn't required; we just need some new people in charge of the Democratic Party. Heck, a lot of the same people could remain in charge, so long as they change their attitudes and stop obeying Wall Street and the billionaires.

Temporarily Sane , March 26, 2017 at 3:59 pm

Excellent piece. Americans have forgotten that the things they took for granted (40 hour week, humane working conditions, employer provided benefits etc.) were gained by the blood, sweat and tears of their forebears.

Today, as the attack on what's left of employee protections and benefits is ramped up, people are alienated from one another and encouraged to channel their despair and anger into blaming scapegoats or invest their energy stoking paranoid delusions about the illuminati and Russian agents. If that gets boring there's always alcohol and heroin to take the edge off.

The left has a momentous job – it has to convince people to give a shit and think of their fate as intertwined with others in a similar position. After decades of neoliberal economics empathy and giving a shit are associated with weakness and losers in many people's minds. Nobody wants to give a shit about anyone outside their preferred identity group or groups but everyone wants, demands , others give a shit about them.

It's almost comical how self-defeating and illogical people can be.

Gman , March 26, 2017 at 6:52 pm

Almost.

My belief is that Trump (and his kin) is likely the 'apotheosis' of neoliberalism or, as is far less likely, he (or they) might pleasantly surprise us.

Like Brexit in the UK, I for one, hopefully not mistakenly, mark this anti establishment ascendency as the beginning of the end of neoliberal economics rather than a further ringing endorsement ie I fully accept things may have to get worse before they get better.

People mostly vote to maintain a status quo they believe serves or may serve their interests in the future or, increasingly in the case of ever plausible (to the trusting and naïve) neoliberalism, out of misplaced hope, desperation, exasperation or understandable fear of the unknown.

The Clintons, the Obamas, the Blairs, possibly the Macrons, the Ruttes, even the Merkels of this world are wolves in sheep's clothing. They have come to represent, for increasing numbers, little better than managed decline in apparently safe hands, conducted in plain sight, in the ever narrower interests of the few.

Unfortunately events are conspiring to demand the once virtuous, now vicious, circle be broken by fair means or foul.

habenicht , March 26, 2017 at 8:57 pm

It seems that only a new party can achieve these aims. At the time these essays are going to press, Sanders has committed himself to working within the Democratic Party. But that stance is based on his assumption that somehow he can recruit enough activists to take over the party from Its Donor Class.

I suspect he will fail. In any case, it is easier to begin afresh than to try to re-design a party (or any institution) dominated by resistance to change, and whose idea of economic growth is a pastiche of tax cuts and deregulation. Both U.S. parties are committed to this neoliberal program – and seek to blame foreign enemies for the fact that its effect is to continue squeezing living standards and bloating the financial sector.

I couldn't have said it better myself. Its encouraging to know that minds like Hudson's are thinking in these terms.

Kirk , March 26, 2017 at 9:31 pm

Regarding the subject line of the article. I'd say that the Democratic Party has been the "paid loyal opposition" for quite a while. . . meaning they are paid to loose. Given the party's ties to Wall Street and Big Pharma it's pretty clear they mostly work for the same folks that own "mainstream" Republicans so their apparent fecklessness and inability to mount ANY sort of effective opposition, even when they are in the majority, shouldn't be any surprise.

The question might more appropriately be can EITHER party survive Trump? Frankly, one can only HOPE that the current version of the Democratic Party DOES go the way of the Whig Party. I can only hope that the Republicans stay as gridlocked as they currently are by the stupid faction of their party.

[Mar 26, 2017] They are an American Taliban: I have never read such a vitriolic comments section. Lots of Americans a seething mad.

Notable quotes:
"... The GOP and this administration are overwhelmingly self-avowed Christians yet they try to deny the poor to benefit the rich. This is not Christian but evil pure and simple. ..."
"... They are an American Taliban, just going about their subversion in a less overtly violent way. ..."
"... Much like Russian people viewed the country under Bolshevism, outside of brief WWII period. That's probably why we have Anti-Russian witch hunt now. To stem this trend. But it is the US neoliberal elite, not Russians, who drive the country to this state of affairs. By spending God knows how many trillions of dollar of wars of neoliberal empire expansion and by drastic redistribution of wealth up. And now the majority of citizens is facing substandard medical care, sliding standard of living and uncertain job prospects. ..."
"... US elections have been influenced by anyone with huge money or oil since the Cold War made an excuse for the US' trade empire enforced by half the world's war spending. ..."
"... The fake 'incidental' surveillance of other political opponents is a gross violation of human rights and the US' Bill of Rights. ..."
"... The disloyal opposition and its propagandists are running Stalin like show trails in their media... ..."
Mar 26, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
reason , March 25, 2017 at 03:01 PM
I just read this:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/03/25/why-republicans-were-in-such-a-hurry-on-health-care/?utm_term=.590e103e2761

I have never read such a vitriolic comments section. Lots of Americans a seething mad.

reason -> reason... , March 25, 2017 at 03:03 PM
By mad - I mean angry. And at the Republican party more than Trump.
libezkova -> reason... , March 25, 2017 at 05:10 PM
I like the following comment:

Farang Chiang Mai, 7:39 PM EDT

The GOP and this administration are overwhelmingly self-avowed Christians yet they try to deny the poor to benefit the rich. This is not Christian but evil pure and simple.

I would love to see this lying, cheating, selfish, crazy devil (yeah, I know I sound a bit OTT but the description is fact based) of a president and his enablers challenged on their Christian values.

They are an American Taliban, just going about their subversion in a less overtly violent way.

libezkova -> libezkova... , March 25, 2017 at 05:31 PM
An interesting question arise:

Are the people who consider our current rulers to be "American Taliban" inclined to become "leakers" of government activities against the citizens, because they definitely stop to consider the country as their own and view it as occupied by dangerous and violent religious cult?

Much like Russian people viewed the country under Bolshevism, outside of brief WWII period. That's probably why we have Anti-Russian witch hunt now. To stem this trend. But it is the US neoliberal elite, not Russians, who drive the country to this state of affairs. By spending God knows how many trillions of dollar of wars of neoliberal empire expansion and by drastic redistribution of wealth up. And now the majority of citizens is facing substandard medical care, sliding standard of living and uncertain job prospects.

ilsm -> libezkova... March 26, 2017 at 05:42 AM

I see the angst over Sessions talking to a Russia diplomat twice as a red herring.

US elections have been influenced by anyone with huge money or oil since the Cold War made an excuse for the US' trade empire enforced by half the world's war spending.

The fake 'incidental' surveillance of other political opponents is a gross violation of human rights and the US' Bill of Rights.

The disloyal opposition and its propagandists are running Stalin like show trails in their media.....

[Mar 26, 2017] The story of working class and lower middle class turning to the far right for help after financial oligarchy provoke a nationwide crisis and destroy their way of life and standards of living is not new

Mar 26, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
libezkova , March 26, 2017 at 04:03 PM
Trump victory was almost 30 years in the making, and I think all presidents starting from Carter contributed to it.

Even if Hillary became president this time, that would be just one term postponement on the inevitable outcome of neoliberal domination for the last 30 years.

I think anybody with dictatorial inclinations and promise to "drain the swamp" in Washington, DC now has serious changes on victory in the US Presidential elections. So after Trump I, we might see Trump II.

So it people find that Trump betrays his election promised they will turn to democratic Party. They will turn father right, to some Trump II.

Due to economic instability and loss of jobs, people are ready to trade (fake) two party "democracy" (which ensures the rule of financial oligarchy by forcing to select between two equally unpalatable candidates) that we have for economic security, even if the latter means the slide to the dictatorship.

That's very sad, but I think this is a valid observation. What we experience is a new variation of the theme first played in 1930th, after the crash of 1928.

The story of working class and lower middle class turning to the far right for help after financial oligarchy provoke a nationwide crisis and destroy their "way of life" and standards of living is not new. In 1930th the US ruling class proved to be ready to accept the New Deal as the alternative. In Germany it was not.

Please read

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

to understand that.

Now the neoliberal oligarchy wants to go off the cliff with all of us, as long as they can cling to their power.

[Mar 26, 2017] Dear Americans: the Democratic Party is purely neoliberal, NOT Left!

Mar 26, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org
Posted by: nmb | Mar 12, 2017 4:36:54 PM | 4

Dear Americans: the Democratic Party is purely neoliberal, NOT Left!

From Tsipras to Corbyn and Sanders: This is not the Left we want

blues | Mar 12, 2017 4:38:33 PM | 5
The Dems and The Repubs are BOTH austerity mongers. They both want to starve the 99% and wage trillion dollar wars. The spoiler effect induced two party system is what sustains the Deep State.

Of the now literally hundreds of "fancy" voting methods all over the Internet, strategic hedge simple score voting is the only one that specifically enables the common voters to win elections against the two-party empowered Deep State. (All of the many others treat elite interest involved elections as if they were casual "hobby club" elections.)

Too bad we don't have simple score voting. Then we could give between 1 and 10 votes to many candidates. But no votes at all for Hillary the war monger. We might place 8 votes for Bernie (since he is less bad than Hillary (or more accurately, was previously though to be)), 10 write-in votes for Jesse Ventura, and 10 write-in votes for Dennis Kucinich.

Strategic hedge simple score voting can be described in one simple sentence: Strategically bid no vote at all for undesired candidates (ignore them as though they did not exist), or strategically cast from one to ten votes (or five to ten votes, for easier counting) for any number of candidates you prefer (up to some reasonable limit of, say, twelve candidates, so people don't hog voting booths), and then simply add all the votes up.

We must also abolish Deep State subvertible election machines ("computer voting"), and get back to had counted paper ballots, with results announced at each polling station just prior to being sent up to larger tabulation centers.

VietnamVet | Mar 12, 2017 5:45:45 PM | 10
b. Excellent post. The same phenomenon is occurring throughout the Atlantic Alliance. This indicates that all share something in common. It is the neo-liberal economic philosophy of the Oligarchy who have purchased western politicians, media, think tanks and education and are superseding democracy with corporate supranational rule. Inequality and chaos are hardwired into the current system.

nonsense factory | Mar 12, 2017 5:46:22 PM | 11
It's interesting that the Salon piece (essentially the Sanders viewpoint) was written in response to a Vanity Fair piece (the Clintonite viewpoint) that ends with the claim that non-Party members share
. . . the belief that the real enemy, the true Evil Empire, isn't Putin's Russia but the Deep State, the C.I.A./F.B.I./N.S.A. alphabet-soup national-security matrix. But if the Deep State can rid us of the blighted presidency of Donald Trump, all I can say is "Go, State, go."

So that's your Clinton Democrat / McCain Republican viewpoint - aka "neoliberal-neoconservative fascism." Rather tellingly, the Salon piece does not include the world "neoliberal" but just rehashes the stale PR-speak of "liberals vs. conservatives" that dominates mass corporate media in the United States. In reality, policy in Washington is made by politicians and bureaucrats who adhere to neoliberal and neoconservative ideologies and who are really servants of consolidated wealth - the American oligarch class - and their conflicts merely reflect disagreements among the oligarchs; for example do Warren Buffett and George Soros and the Koch Brothers see eye-to-eye on all issues? No, they don't, so their sock puppets like Bush and Clinton have their differences. However, the neocons and neolibs are so close to one another as to be indistinguishable to the average American citizen:

The main similarity between the two is that they have both become known as "technofacists", meaning melders of corporate, state and military power into a few political elites that allow comprehensive control. The left and the right have marched full circle and met one another.

As blues@5 notes above, fixing the electoral system (paper ballots, ranked-choice voting, voting districts that are coherent regional sectors, not octopus-like, maybe drawn along watershed boundaries, etc.) is a key step in breaking their grip on power.

Another critical issue is using anti-trust to break up the media conglomerates and destroy the centralized propaganda system that controls U.S. corporate mass media, in which a handful of Wall Street-owned corporate monsters dictate what kind of news stories are fed to the American public via television, radio and print journalism.

These reforms seem highly unlikely, however, in the current political environment.

What we probably have to look forward to is more likely continued economic downturn and rising poverty. The deep state and establishment politicians are not likely to give Trump anything, and will probably try to push an economic collapse just to make Trump look bad - not that Trump's policies have much to offer; infrastructure looks dead in the water and at best will look like Iraqi Reconstruction 2.0 under GW Bush and Cheney. We'd need an FDR-scale New Deal to turn that around and neither neocons nor neolibs will ever go for that. Instead we'll likely get infighting and factionalism, maybe a war between Trump and the Federal Reserve, etc.

Honestly given the rot in the federal government it seems the only hope is for states to take matters into their own hands as much as possible and set their own policies on rebuilding infrastructure and creating jobs but the federal government and their oligarchic corporate overlords are pressing down on that as well. One hell of a nasty situation for the American people is what it is, and maybe massive Soviet-scale collapse, and a fundamental change in government (as happened with Putin in Russia post-Boris Yeltsin) followed by rebuilding from the ground up is the only way out of this mess.

karlof1 | Mar 12, 2017 6:23:18 PM | 12
Outraged @8--

For too long, I've pointed out that the detailed list of grievances stated in the Declaration of Independence were currently alive and being carried out by the executive of the US federal government; and that if the Patriots of 1776 were correct to revolt from British tyranny, then the US citizenry was just as right and proper to revolt against Outlaw US Empire tyranny. I expounded that position through the comments at CommonDreams.org until I was banned because they went against that website's support for Obama then the Killer Queen HRC.

At the end of the previous thread, I wrote that society has only one tool to control human behavior--culture--and I've long argued that human culture in the great majority of its societies is dysfunctional and has been for quite some time--in what's now the USA, from the founding of Jamestown onward. My view is the culture has reached a level of dystopia well beyond the ability of anyone to return it to a functional state and find myself agreeing with Reg Morrison-- The Spirit in the Gene --that humanity is what's known as a plague species, a conclusion shared by some very powerful minds, https://regmorrison.edublogs.org/1999/07/20/plague-species-the-spirit-in-the-gene/

I don't particularly enjoy reaching such a conclusion given its meaning for my progeny and the remainder of humanity. But unless we--humanity as a whole--can regain control over ourselves through the imposition of a new, stronger--perhaps seen as more ridged--culture capable of suborning vice and desire to a satisfactory fitness for all, then we will reap the results of having grossly overshot our ecological support systems and like other species die-off as Morrison describes. How to accomplish such a radical change in a very short time period given the levels of resistance to such change is really the question of the moment. We know where the root of the problem lies. But uprooting that weed that threatens the garden of humanity presents the greatest challenge to humanity it will ever have to face.

jo6pac | Mar 12, 2017 6:28:13 PM | 14
The demodogs will not change any time soon if ever. They the party leaders are only interest taking all the money the can from supporters small and large giving to friends foundations and consultants.

I vote Green.

karlof1 | Mar 12, 2017 6:40:02 PM | 15
As an example of our dysfunctional culture, I offer this article as exhibit 1, which explores a microcosm of what's essentially systemic dysfunction amid unbelievable corruption, https://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/epa-chief-denies-basic-climate-science

CluelessJoe | Mar 12, 2017 6:44:13 PM | 16
It's funny that pseudo-Leftists like Dems, PS, Labour, SD and others don't realize that what Kennedy once said still stands:
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
Which is why it's no wonder many of those on the shitty end of the current neo-liberal take-over are flocking to the few really leftist groups and to the numerous and vast ultra-right parties/movements.
Which is also why trying to keep them out of power at all costs - as happens in Europe, most notably in France - or trying to impeach/oust/coup/kill the elected right-wing populist - as happens in the US right now - is a suicidal move. If that sizable fraction of the population never gets anything, never any part of power, not even a bone to gnaw, sooner or later, they'll just get fed up, and when they'll have barely anything of value to lose, they will go nuts. This, of course, would be even worse in the US than in EU, considering that it's the part of society with the guns, the training to use them, and more or less the will to use them if forced to.
But then, as another US president once said, the tree of liberty must be refreshed in blood from time to time - his one famous quote who's conspicuously absent from the Jefferson Memorial. And when I look closely, I can't see any Western country where this "refreshment" isn't long overdue.

Mike Maloney | Mar 12, 2017 7:06:11 PM | 17
You're right, b. Dems will continue to bleed out. A good place to see this will be the special election to replace in Georgia's 6th CD Rep. Tom Price, who took the job to be Trump's Health and Human Services Secretary. Daily Kos and ActBlue are shaking the can raising money for a young Dem staffer named Jon Ossoff. Here's the Daily Kos pitch for Ossof:
But while Price might love him some Trump, his district doesn't feel the same way. In fact, the 6th saw a remarkable shift on election night. Four years ago, voters in this conservative but well-educated area supported Mitt Romney by a wide 61-37 margin. In 2016, however, hostility toward Trump gave the president just a 48-47 win-a stunning 23-point collapse. That dramatic change in attitudes means this seat might just be in play.
The "Women's Strike" on International Women's Day was a dud. The Dems are labeling what they're doing a "Resistance," as if they are fighting a guerrilla war against Vichy. But what they're "fighting" for is really a restoration of Vichy (Trump is more a caudillo) with young corporate-friendly Dems like Ossoff.

Jackrabbit | Mar 12, 2017 7:11:04 PM | 18
jo6pac @14

Unfortunately, the Greens seem to be hobbled. They can't get past the Democratic FEAR machine. And Jill Stein's recounts reeked of collusion with Democrats.

That's why I switched from Greens to Pirate Party. Direct democracy has appeal to anyone that doesn't want rule by a permanent monied class of neolib cronys.

Laguerre | Mar 12, 2017 7:13:57 PM | 19
Actually I don't agree that the Left has lost. There's simply a lack of ideas.

The extreme nationalist right goes in the US because geographically isolated. In Europe it is time limited. In UK Brexit has won for the moment, but it is falling apart, because it can't deliver economic success. (more to see). In continental Europe, the extreme right are not gaining in the polls (Wilders, Le Pen), rather stagnating.

Macron, in france, could have the right attitude, oriented to the young. But it could turn bad.

fairleft | Mar 12, 2017 7:37:19 PM | 20
The managed resistance serves corporate interests, just as the ruling party does. Whichever party is in power. Billions of dollars in 1% money and nearly all the media are behind keeping the 'resistance' and the party in power the only two 'acceptable' vehicles for expressing yourself politically.

But it's worse ... The universities are almost entirely populated by identity politics and/or neoliberal 'left' professors, which of course generates brain-fried future leaders and cadres of the two mainstream parties. Such university environments also mean that alternative, real left research and ideas are severely underfunded and legitimized.

But it's worse ... Even the left opposition to the two party system can't bring itself to (or is too scared to) oppose open borders for economic immigrants. Minimizing immigration had always been standard pro-worker position prior to the rise of identity politics in the 1970s.

Pnyx | Mar 12, 2017 7:52:31 PM | 21
"Real wages sink but they continue to import cheep labor (real policy) under the disguise of helping "refugees" (marketing policy) which are simply economic migrants."
Sorry B, but this is outright bullshit. No country in EU-Europe needs to import cheep labor from not-EU-countries. There are more then enough EU-Europeans in search of better wages. The EU was extended exactly in order to achieve this 'abundance' (o.k. not the only reason). The people you denounce as "simply economic migrants" are not an imported good - they enter the EU against all odds. And many, many are refguees coming from countries ruined by western military interventions.

paul | Mar 12, 2017 7:57:57 PM | 22
I don't know why this blog has to be homophobic, but the basic point is valid - class struggle is the meat and potatoes of the Left

Fedya Trezvin | Mar 12, 2017 7:59:47 PM | 23
Well, if Zero Hedge is anything to go by, in a few years automation will abolish the working class anyway. Then Bill Gates' depopulation scheme will mop up the remnants.

james | Mar 12, 2017 8:00:33 PM | 24
quote from the book ishmael by daniel quinn..

"The ship was sinking---and sinking fast. The captain told the passengers and crew, "We've got to get the lifeboats in the water right away."
But the crew said, "First we have to end capitalist oppression of the working class. Then we'll take care of the lifeboats."

Then the women said, "First we want equal pay for equal work. The lifeboats can wait."

The racial minorities said, "First we need to end racial discrimination. Then seating in the lifeboats will be allotted fairly."

The captain said, "These are all important issues, but they won't matter a damn if we don't survive. We've got to lower the lifeboats right away!"

But the religionists said, "First we need to bring prayer back into the classroom. This is more important than lifeboats."

Then the pro-life contingent said, "First we must outlaw abortion. Fetuses have just as much right to be in those lifeboats as anyone else."

The right-to-choose contingent said, "First acknowledge our right to abortion, then we'll help with the lifeboats."

The socialists said, "First we must redistribute the wealth. Once that's done everyone will work equally hard at lowering the lifeboats."

The animal-rights activists said, "First we must end the use of animals in medical experiments. We can't let this be subordinated to lowering the lifeboats."

Finally the ship sank, and because none of the lifeboats had been lowered, everyone drowned.

The last thought of more than one of them was, "I never dreamed that solving humanity's problems would take so long---or that the ship would sink so SUDDENLY."
― Daniel Quinn

EnglishOutsider | Mar 12, 2017 8:12:44 PM | 25

b - exactly so. Thank you.

On the question of the far right, only if substantial sections of the political spectrum are shut out is there scope for the extremists to come in and fill the gap. That is the danger to a minor degree in England and to a greater degree in Continental Europe, as we are told it was the danger in the Weimar republic. Some precedent, that.

I am not sure about the "populist" movements in Continental Europe but the Brexit vote in England and the Trump movement in America do not, in spite of the almost universal assertion to the contrary, represent a swing to the right, let alone the far right. They represent a return to the centre, a centre that has long been shut out in Western politics generally and that is now tentatively re-asserting itself. It is only if that return to the centre fails that we need fear the Neo-Nazis and the like coming in to fill the gap.

Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 12, 2017 8:25:36 PM | 26
Great post, b. Short and sweet and right on the money.

There's certainly a looming trend. Western Australia's 8 year-old (Turnbull affiliated) Liberal Govt was annihilated at the weekend.
On Saturday night the interim result was:
Labor 39, Liberal 11, Nats 4, unresolved 5.
(39 seats in a 59-seat parliament)
Malcolm Turnbull is pretending to be 'philosophical' about it...

jfl | Mar 12, 2017 8:39:46 PM | 27
the 'left' is a gang of 'middle-class' would-be jacobins, directing 'the masses' while eating cake. there is no left, there is no right, there is a top - the few - and a bottom - the many. as b points out the desperately vocal few are left and/or right, they are on their own side of the top, definitely not on the side of us many on the bottom. their policies create more and more of us every day. they are our fathers and mothers in that sense. we will dance on their graves.

b, please don't say 'pseudo democrats' it sounds too jacobin, like the trots at wsws.org and their constant 'pseudo left'. 'fake' will do for pseudo. and it's two fewer key strokes - three in the same row. stick with the bottom against the top.

write what you want of course ... that's just a rant roiling my gut gaining vent.

Kalen | Mar 12, 2017 8:45:09 PM | 28
B in case you do not know (I doubt that) "true left" has been murdered long time ago also in Europe where betrayal of working class interests by the so-called mainstream workers parties/socialists, so-called communists and trade unions in the West was fought on the streets in 1968 Paris and all over the Europe and surprisingly it spilled out to eastern Europe in a form of Prague revolt, Warsaw riots and mass strikes that swept across the eastern block in anger of betrayal of workers interests by the ruling socialist workers parties who turned into a calcified cliques and turned against socialist workers movements and ideals of egalitarianism and equality and started selling out to the Western oligarchs.

It was at that time that under the guise of fake political detente first time massive policies of outsourcing jobs from the western Europe to the Eastern Europe commenced (starting with Hungary and Poland and later in Romania where the Ceausescu's mafia turn away openly from Russian sphere of influence in ideological, economic and political realm) in a ploy to provoke strikes in the West and subsequently shutting down the factories (in fact transferring the production to the eastern block in Europe and/or south America ruled under dictatorships) if demanded by the oligarchs concessions of lowering wages and decrease of benefits was not agreed upon by the Trade Unions.

In other words if Trade Unions did not completely capitulate they close striking factories. Similar tactics have been use in the US under environmental or productivity requirements pretension in 1960-tois and 1970-ties and later openly outsourcing for profits down south Mason-Dickson line parallel and later to Mexico and Asia.

This unified betrayal of working class simultaneously by the West and the East prompted proud vanguard of working class (leftists students of European Universities and some of the trade unions) to respond to the exigent circumstances, to respond to mortal threat to workers movements all over the Europe in 1960-ties and 1970-ties.

These were unsung heroes of last true revolutionary leftist organizations such as ETA, BR, RAF, AD, FLQ (in Canada) who took upon themselves a heroic, revolutionary responsibility for defending vital interests of working people, betrayed by mainstream leftists political parties, via a measured, targeted and restrained self-defense campaign that aimed at threatening and destruction of vital economic and financial interest of European oligarchy including direct assaults on their personal safety and welfare, as a way to, through a personal pain, humanize for them their abhorrent inhumane ways and to make them suffer as working class comrades suffered under their inhuman policies and acts including of violence, intimidation and murder.

This was the last stand of the true left against evil of spawning global neoliberalism that in following decades swept the world with no opposition to speak of left to fight it may be except for neo-Maoist guerrillas in South America and Indian subcontinent. Even anti-imperial Palestinian FATAH has been tamed while Islamic/religious movements have been supported to control leftist tendencies within populations, a consequences of such a cold decision of globalists we live with today.

This was the last stand of the true left in the Eastern and Western Europe against betrayal of the Soviet Union elites, betrayal of the programs and ideals of the international working class struggle they proliferated all over the world.

It was utter betrayal by the descendants of soviet revolutionaries who later transformed the hope for just, socialist egalitarian project into a shallow propaganda façade of a mafia state conspiring with the West to rob their own working people of the national treasure soviet/Eastern Block working class worked hard to produce and preserve for future generations.

The betrayal culminated with a western orchestrated political collapse of Soviet Union while the country was still on sound economic footing despite of cold war military baggage, western embargoes and massive theft of the corrupted party apparatchiks and cronies of Soviet ruling elite in last decade before 1991, in way resembling massive US national treasure theft by US banking mafia especially after 2008.

It is true that true left in US (decades before) and in Europe had to be murdered since it was the last bastion of defenders of working class interests against neoliberal globalist visions of a dystopia under umbrella of US imperial neoconservative rule.

Now voters throughout the world have only two "no choice" choices between full throttle globalist neoliberalism or globalist neoliberalism with national flavor of corrupted Identity Politics of race or nationality, a politics of division to prevent reinsurgency of the true leftist ideology of simple self-defense or working class under assault that naturally brews underneath the political reality of mass extermination and neoliberal slavery.

The call to International Working Class: Proletariat or more appropriately today "Precariat of the World Unite" has not been more appropriate and needed since at least 1848 after collapse of another globalization freed trade sham under umbrella of British empire.

We must unite, and not succumb to a mass manipulation and stay united in solidarity among all ordinary working people who see through provocation and manipulation of identity politics of phony left or phony right and see that they do not have any interest in this fight set up in a way that ordinary people can only lose while cruel inhumane neoliberalism will always win.

lizard | Mar 12, 2017 8:49:04 PM | 29
I contributed to a progressive blog for years until I was finally kicked off for suggesting Bernie was herding progressives into Hillary's tent. I often criticized Obama's foreign policy and the local partisan blogs--when they weren't ignoring the perspective I represented--ridiculed me for being a "conspiracy theorist" when I pushed back against the anti-Russian consensus.

I spent many years working with chronic homeless people in Montana in the "progressive" utopia known as Missoula and when the Democrats that run this town aren't actively making housing more unaffordable with their bonds for parks and endless schemes to gentrify this town into being Boulder, Colorado, they are making symbolic stands against guns and enabling Uber.

now I work with aging individuals and I am learning a lot about the cruel complexity of Medicare and Medicaid. it's already really bad and, sadly, it will only get worse--just in time for the American Boomer generation's silver tsunami to hit entitlement programs.

dh | Mar 12, 2017 8:53:59 PM | 30
I noticed a lot of British Proletariat have moved to the Costa del Sol leaving plenty of job openings for the Polish and Roumanian Proletariat. Not sure if this is a typical European trend.

Andrew Homzy | Mar 12, 2017 10:01:12 PM | 31
It reminds me of the attitudes espoused by Ishmael:

"The ship was sinking---and sinking fast. The captain told the passengers and crew, "We've got to get the lifeboats in the water right away."
But the crew said, "First we have to end capitalist oppression of the working class. Then we'll take care of the lifeboats."

Then the women said, "First we want equal pay for equal work. The lifeboats can wait."

The racial minorities said, "First we need to end racial discrimination. Then seating in the lifeboats will be allotted fairly."

The captain said, "These are all important issues, but they won't matter a damn if we don't survive. We've got to lower the lifeboats right away!"

But the religionists said, "First we need to bring prayer back into the classroom. This is more important than lifeboats."

Then the pro-life contingent said, "First we must outlaw abortion. Fetuses have just as much right to be in those lifeboats as anyone else."

The right-to-choose contingent said, "First acknowledge our right to abortion, then we'll help with the lifeboats."

The socialists said, "First we must redistribute the wealth. Once that's done everyone will work equally hard at lowering the lifeboats."

The animal-rights activists said, "First we must end the use of animals in medical experiments. We can't let this be subordinated to lowering the lifeboats."

Finally the ship sank, and because none of the lifeboats had been lowered, everyone drowned.

The last thought of more than one of them was, "I never dreamed that solving humanity's problems would take so long---or that the ship would sink so SUDDENLY."
― Daniel Quinn

Liam | Mar 12, 2017 10:29:22 PM | 32
Here's am investgative post that is quite revealing about Snopes and definitely worth a look.

Examining the Bizarre Facebook Page of the Snopes 'Fact-Checker' of the White Helmets Terrorist Ruse in Syria

https://clarityofsignal.com/2017/03/04/examining-the-bizarre-facebook-page-of-the-snopes-fact-checker-of-the-white-helmets-terrorist-ruse-in-syria/

Debsisdead | Mar 12, 2017 10:36:35 PM | 33
Life isn't gonna get better for those who are not born into a solidly upper middle class family until nation states are downsized. amerika needs to be carved up into 40 or 50 - units maybe even more particularly for the large population seaboard 'states'. The one good thing about the brexit the englander tory government is gonna deliver is that it is likely to cause scots and maybe even ulster-people to leave the union.

I've lived in quite a few nation states over the years and have found that a small population state is far more responsive to the needs of its citizens than large ones - even when a mob of carpet-bagging greedheads has jerry-mandered their way into political power in a small state and an allegedly humanist political entity is running the large state this holds true.

As far as I can discern there are two reasons for this or maybe 2 facets of one reason. Firstly even the rightist greedheads cannot shit on any group be it divided by race gender or sexual preference long term in a small population state. The reason is that in smaller population units people tend to know others better and obvious injustices always reach the ears and consciences of rightist voters - even supporters of racist or sexist asshole governments and it results in a backlash. Humanist pols in large entities fall back on 'pragmatic' excuses about 'perception' at the drop of a hat - no different in action than their 'enemy'.
The second reason is the other end of the first. Because of that degrees of separation thing, when you live in a small population political unit, you find you will always know someone who knows any political aspirant. Those with a rep for being greedy, malicious or deceitful cannot hide behind press spokespeople and bullshit for long - they cop the flick quickly.

I have long believed that this is the real motive for the corporatists to support politicians' incessant centralising & empire building.
Claims about large population groups somehow being more efficient are quickly shown to be false when put to the test of reality. In nature biological systems, even those within large entities are localised and full of seemingly inefficient redundancies because one thing evolution has taught is that a system that has inbuilt alternative modes of survivability will keep the entity alive much longer than some 'simple & straightforward' system whose failure means the death or massive disability of the entity. Corporations themselves tend to be labyrinthine full of small similarly named but legally discrete modules because that is what works best, yet corporations keep underwriting politicians who strive to make their 'entity' bigger, more centralised and 'simpler' - why?

Well because political failure is a capitalist's best ally and of course when a political entity is really large as amerika is, it is possible to deceive all the people all the time. The average citizen is a stranger to any/all of the members of the political elite and as such are entirely dependent upon third party information vectors - the so-called mainstream media who push out whatever deceit their masters instruct them to.

I make the point in this thread because too many people appear to believe that it would be possible to reform the amerikan political system despite the fact that helluva lot have already tried and failed long before they got anywhere near the centre of power.

It just isn't possible because of the simple principle that anyone who is capable of convincing large numbers of people who he/she has never had any personal contact with, to support their 'character', ideas and political objectives is by virtue of their success, unworthy of anyone's vote.

No person can convince that many strangers without resorting to some form of gamesmanship and that makes them a bad choice. There is no way around that reality yet most citizens adopt the usual cognitive dissonace every election cycle and pay no heed to what should be blindingly self-evident.

Nur Adlina | Mar 12, 2017 11:31:27 PM | 34
Finally!...this is where all mericans eyes and ears has to be, i.e if they still have them...non is so blind as those who refuse to see.Clean your own backyards before commenting on or trying to clean others.

NemesisCalling | Mar 12, 2017 11:34:46 PM | 35
b's premise is that disenfranchised voters will go the polls for far right interests under the promise of nationalistic interests and the policy that springs from this. However, I do not believe that they will rue the day for this choice from being squeezed out. The Nazi party ascension was a huge success for bread and butter interests of the common kraut. Autobahn, infrastructure, industry: this nationalism scared the allies enough to go to war with Germany for asserting it's independence and own interests. Are we Weimar Germany? No, no, no. Our military is already to the hilt and yet is being halted in its advance by Russia, Iran, etc. You can't keep squeezing the same lemon and expect more lemonade. The only option for Trump is to invest in America again, period. Anything less or a further downward trajectory will only incite the deplorables more and Trump would be gone after four years, and maybe sooner to the clicking of boots marching on the White House. Something truly unpredictable and unexpected might transpire at that juncture.

blues | Mar 13, 2017 12:25:36 AM | 36
@ nonsense factory | Mar 12, 2017 5:46:22 PM | 11

You said:
/~~~~~~~~~~
As blues@5 notes above, fixing the electoral system (paper ballots, ranked-choice voting, voting districts that are coherent regional sectors, not octopus-like, maybe drawn along watershed boundaries, etc.) is a key step in breaking their grip on power.
\~~~~~~~~~~

Actually, what the "election methods cognoscenti" call "ranked-choice voting" always fails spectacularly. It is quite different than what they call "score voting", which can actually work, if kept simple enough.

blues | Mar 13, 2017 12:31:00 AM | 37
@ Debsisdead | Mar 12, 2017 10:36:35 PM | 33

Actually, there is a way around that. If a candidate has a previous "track record" from lower levels of power, then that can usually be relied upon.

Erelis | Mar 13, 2017 12:41:14 AM | 38
Like other people never heard of Preet Bharara. Appears he was called the "Sheriff of Wall Street". Looked up his record and yes, he did not put any banksters in jail. Lots of fines which were tax deductible I believe. Strange Sheriff who has no jail. I would bet he joins a Wall Street legal firm and gets paid six-to-seven figures to defend the banksters.
This is where Wall Street feared Sanders--Bernie appeared to insist the Sheriff's he appointed actually have jails.

guy | Mar 13, 2017 12:57:55 AM | 39
A safe bet: next wednesday ultra right-wing Geert Wilders will win the dutch elections, after the diplomatic row with sultan-wanna-be Erdogan. And then Marine Le Pen...

Perimetr | Mar 13, 2017 1:21:57 AM | 40
In the US, the Democrats and Republicans are two wings on the same bird.
Left wing, Right Wing
The US is a democratic theme park, where the levers and handles are not attached to anything,
whose only purpose is to deceive the masses into thinking that
they make a "difference"

Debsisdead | Mar 13, 2017 1:38:06 AM | 41
blues | Mar 13, 2017 12:31:00 AM |
Yep they can be relied upon to be corporate slaves for sure I cannot think of a single example over the past 50 years of any amerikan pol who succeeded at a national level, who wasn't a forked toungued corporate shill.
There are plenty of examples of pols whose history at a low level 'seemed OK' - where their occasional examples of perfidy could be dismissed as just having to toe the party line; "Once he's his own man/woman he will really strut his/her stuff for the people" a certain Oblamblamblam comes to mind as the most egregious recent example - when they get in power everyone gets to see what whores they always were. Whores concealing their inner asshole to get into real power. That type of duplicity is much more difficult to pull off in smaller populations - it gets found out and the pol really struggles to get past the bad reputation chiefly because a lot of voters can put a face to the 'victim' which makes the evil palpable.

What I find really odd is the way that even self described lefties who acknowledge the massive evil committed by amerika still seek to evade and/or justify the evil.
It goes to show how brainwashed all amerikans are. I guess they think everyone feels that way - when people who haven't been subjected to that level of conditioning about their homeland actually don't hold that blind 'right or wrong determination. I like where I live now and everything else being equal probably would go in to bat for my friends or family if this country somehow got into a tussle. But I would back off and advocate for the other side in a heartbeat if I felt the nation I lived in was doing wrong.
I was living in Australia when Gulf War 1 kicked off and up until that point I doubt there was a more dedicatedly loyal Australian but the cynical decision to suppoft GH Bush made by the Australian Labor Party just wouldn't wash and without wanting to be accused of the current heinous crime de jour ie virtue signalling, I like many others took a stance against my adopted nation that cost me professionally & personally. This was no great achievement by me, it was easy because I hadn't been indoctrinated into any sort of exceptionalism.
Yet I see the effects of the cradle to the grave conditioning amerikans are subjected to in the posts on virtually any subject made by amerikans.
That of itself makes the destruction of amerika essential, a prerequisite that must be met if there is to be any real change in the amerikan political structure.

psychohistorian | Mar 13, 2017 2:10:27 AM | 42
@ Debsisdead who wrote about ".....how brainwashed amerikans are." and
"
What I find really odd is the way that even self described lefties who acknowledge the massive evil committed by amerika still seek to evade and/or justify the evil.
"
I live in the belly of the beast you want to destroy. What exactly is it that I should do to effect your goal? I continue to struggle with knowing that. I also disagree that it is amerika that must be destroyed but the tools of those that control our world.......private finance.

I also want to state to commenter karlof1 that her call for focus on "culture" is exactly what I think I am attacking by wanting to end private finance. And I had the pleasure of studying under an anthropologist for a year and very much appreciate that perspective on our current social maladies. I think that anthropological characterizations of our species are harder to misrepresent than history....hence my reference to tenets of social organization, etc.

We need some adults in the world to stand up to the bastardization of language and communication.

Any form of social organization not based on any type of compulsion is inherently socialistic. If we can agree to socialize the provision of water, electricity, etc. why can't we do the same for finance?

Probably for the same reason we continue to prattle on about right/left mythologies and ignore the top/bottom reality.

Effective brainwashing.

OSJ | Mar 13, 2017 2:46:24 AM | 43
b, excellent analysis. Amerika is rotten to its core. There are no cures..... just sit and watch on the sideline for these tugs NeoCon, NeoLiberal, progressive etc.. Kill themselves and blames it on Putin.

I hold two valid passports, neither better than the other. Hot frying pans, hot boiling oil?

ben | Mar 13, 2017 2:50:50 AM | 44
b said.."When LGBT claptrap, gluten free food, political correctness and other such niceties beat out programs to serve the basic needs of the common people nothing "left" is left. The priority on the left must always be the well-being of the working people. All the other nice-to-have issues follow from and after that."

You nailed b, with that one paragraph!!

ben | Mar 13, 2017 3:01:25 AM | 45
P.S.- When the microphones are owned by the wealthy, they're the only voices heard by the masses.

Peter AU | Mar 13, 2017 3:17:27 AM | 46
41

Private finance... most countries have a reserve bank. Yours has the fed.
Your country has made private money an ideology and tries to export this ideology around the globe. The opposite extreme to collective communism.
Most countries have foreign policy and foreign ministers. When I looked up the websites of Your presidential candidates, none had a foreign policy. In place, all had war policy. Sanders had his titled war and peace.

Most countries have foreign ministers. Your country has a secretary of state. I guess when you are a country that feels it has the god given right to rule the world, no country is foreign, all are vassal states.

Your country needs to collapse, or be destroyed, to knock this ideology out of the inhabitants, and then rebuilt as a normal country.

What the US is now, is just a natural progression of its foundations.

estouxim | Mar 13, 2017 3:58:36 AM | 47
Thank you b, for stating the essential question.

I think there's no left left for the simple reason that it's role in the system, at least since the end of ww2, became void after 91. No competing system, no need for niceties, back to the 30's, plenty of unfinished business, 80 years of taxes to get back. New Deal and European Social Model are obsolete. The armies of workers offshored, what is left is a kind of lumpen, busy fingering their smartphones. A highly educated lumpen, probably the highest educated generation ever, but lumpen nonetheless, Indoctrinated by all media to individualism, their atomization seems assured. I wonder if anyone under 30 reads MoA. Might be wrong but looks like most of us are over 60 considering the muppet like kind of grumpyness that erupts so often.

There are drops in the ocean, in places were solidarity still has strong roots. Marinaleda (sorry, the english wiki sucks, a machine translation from the spanish wiki is certainly more informative) 0% unemployment, equal pay to all residents, housing provided through self-building, the city council provides plot, technical supervision, building materials, charges 15 euros monthly rent. Collective economy based on farming, husbandry and industrial transformation of it's products. I repeat, equal pay to all residents 1,128 euros for 35 hours a week. Just a drop in the ocean, but a worthy one.

Elsewhere true social-democracy can be found in Latin America. Nicaragua, Venezuela, Equador, Bolivia, Uruguay pop up as examples that neoliberalism, racism and neocolonialism can be defeated, on their terms, even if there are setbacks like Brazil and Argentina. There one can find rivers of solidarity. Telesur english keeps you up to date, with better coverage on Syria than CNN.

estouxim | Mar 13, 2017 4:47:48 AM | 48
Sorry, missed the monthly after 1,128 euros:

equal pay to all residents 1,128 euros monthly for 35 hours a week.

better correct it before you all start flocking to Andalucia

Anonymous | Mar 13, 2017 5:30:31 AM | 49
Very good post b,
leftists parties is a joke today there is no other way to put it, its a real shame and a real tragedy.

Also on this topic:
PROBLEMS WITH SWEDISH MEDIA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t20xx5Khov0&feature=youtu.be&t=275

Anonymous | Mar 13, 2017 6:06:42 AM | 50
Although b you actually forgot the 2 new things the leftist parties have embraced:

*Anti-russian racism and
*Warmongering

Greg Bacon | Mar 13, 2017 6:37:39 AM | 51
All those USAG's and IG's and NO one wants or has investigated where all those Pentagon missing trillions went to?
Ditto for the MSM, who use all that print space pushing to let men dressed as women use the little girl's bathroom. The USA project has failed, it's Kaput, time to turn out the lights.

Yonatan | Mar 13, 2017 7:07:07 AM | 52
The 'Left' has been bought by the oligarchs, just like the media, the NGOs, the 'human rights' organizations, etc. Tony Blair was perhaps the most blatant example, especially with his 'third way', undefined by him to this day. I guess it tried to merge bits from the right such as Nationalism and bits from the left such as Socialism, but who knows!


FecklessLeft | Mar 13, 2017 7:29:46 AM | 53
I highly recommend Chris Hedge's book "The Death of the Liberal Class." One of my favourite reads ever.

More concise lectures are available on YouTube for those who won't pick up a book.

mischi | Mar 13, 2017 8:14:16 AM | 54
I am German but not living in Germany. I am disgusted with my compatriots. They seem to have bought the line that in order to atone for their parents or grandparents' crimes they have to open the doors to the dregs of the Earth and let themselves get plundered and their daughters raped without a protest. Meanwhile, the German police continue to prosecute Germans for any transgression, including speaking out about it.

jfb | Mar 13, 2017 9:03:12 AM | 55
So the left is good at pointing to its own flaws & decay but your simplistic view of a "static" right that doesn't evolve and alway represent the "evil" is laughable. Both the left and right have merged on most issue, it's a system of croony capitalism with a big government and where "financial capitalism" has destroyed industrial capitalism and innovations. Who would invest to hire employees or innovate if it's more lucrative to sell private bonds to a central bank or "buy back" the shares of the cies (to boost their price with a loan in order to get a "productivity" bonus?
A long, long time ago both left/right were pretending to offer a solution and improve the living standards, one faction with individual liberties, low taxes and a sound money policy (gold & silver) while the left was fighting against inequalities and proposing wealth redistribution with a big government & taxes. Both the left & right started to be coopted in the 1960's

TG | Mar 13, 2017 10:08:39 AM | 56
"Real wages sink but they continue to import cheep [sic: that should be "cheap"] labor (real policy) under the disguise of helping "refugees" (marketing policy) which are simply economic migrants. (Even parts of the German "Die Linke" party are infected with such nonsense.)"

Kudos. It's rare to see someone intelligent admit that an open borders immigration policy is all about cheap labor, period. Bernie Sanders started to say that, but after a couple of days of being screamed at for his 'racism' he of course folded.

I note that by refusing to acknowledge that importing massive numbers of workers we are pushing wages down, we are also responsible for the misery in places like Yemen and Somalia etc. How can we expect people in these places to stop having more children than they can afford, when our Nobel-prizewinning whores keep screaming that more people are always better? I mean, if we propagandize that eating arsenic is wonderful (or at lest not an issue), and people somewhere else keep eating arsenic, we are to blame.

Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 13, 2017 10:08:55 AM | 57
The characteristics which define Right-wingers are...
1. They are are obliged to believe their own bullshit in order to sell it to the masses.
2. Bribery is an indispensable component of Modern Democracy.
3. Whenever one of their inane schemes backfires, it's ALWAYS somebody else's fault, NEVER their own.

Malcolm & the Liberals will spend the next 6 months looking for scapegoats (with their fingers in their ears - another R-W trait).

WorldBLee | Mar 13, 2017 10:15:36 AM | 58
Democrats become neoliberal Republicans, letting actual Republicans get elected. Rinse and repeat while blaming Russia for failure. That is the center-right mantra of the elite Democrats and their NGO supporters (who are well paid to represent the party line without deviation, if they deviate they get cut off). Yet my Democrat friends howl that I'm a Trump supporter because I wouldn't vote for Hillary.

The unfortunate truth is that outside of protest votes there is no political force in America for dissenters to turn to outside of what they can do on their own. The two-headed hydra of the Demopublicans appears to be fighting against itself now but in reality they still agree on most issues, to the detriment of all working people.

nonsense factory | Mar 13, 2017 10:36:25 AM | 59
@35 Your version of "score voting" is clearly the best approach to "ranked choice voting" as currently used. Also, using paper ballots that are counted by optical scanning machines? That's just as subject to hacking as electronic voting machines are, since nobody is going to back and hand-count those paper ballots.

But really, under current finance rules, the oligarchs tightly control the electoral process via their control of corporate media and their ability to run puppet candidates against any honest politicians who defy their agenda. Ultimately this is why politicians gravitate towards the BS issues describe by b, i.e.

"When LGBT claptrap, gluten free food, political correctness and other such niceties beat out programs to serve the basic needs of the common people nothing "left" is left. The priority on the left must always be the well-being of the working people. All the other nice-to-have issues follow from and after that."

But addressing the well-being of the working people - wages, homes, affordable healthcare for their parents and education for their children - that impacts multinational corporate profits. This is why politicians steer clear of such issues - they don't want to incur the anger of the oligarchs, who can spend millions to get them removed from office. Journalists do the exact same thing, wanting to keep their jobs in corporate media outfits controlled by Wall Street oligarchs. This is highly similar to how the oligarchs ran Russia during the Boris Yeltsin era.

There are clearly many similarites between the Russian billionaires of that era and their various American counterparts today, from the Silicon Valley billionaires to the oil & gas billionaires to the finance billionaires; they could never have made all that money without the active cooperation of politicians and bureaucrats who serve their interests in Washington as well as in many state governments. This vast extraction of wealth from the middle class, coupled with a desire to control the whole world and move money freely across borders without restrictions, and to use the military to invade and crush any countries who don't go with the program, that's what the neocon-neolib agenda is all about.

Perimeter | Mar 13, 2017 10:38:02 AM | 60
When people like b start to make tremendous confusion between the Neoliberal Democratic party and the Left, I fear things will go from bad to worse ...
Confusing Neolib and Left after all these years, b? There's no light at the end of the tunnel, huh?
We've heard stupid people say that Hitler was Socialist ... after all the NSDAP had the "S", hadn't it? But they are stupid people, right?
Now this?

estouxim | Mar 13, 2017 11:22:07 AM | 61
Perimeter @ 59

What should we then call left in Yankeeland?

fast freddy | Mar 13, 2017 11:24:05 AM | 62
Well-meaning populist politicians throughout history are either bought off or assassinated.

Populist rhetoric is tolerated (and necessary for R vs. D political theater to function).

The rhetoric is one thing. BUT if anyone actually DOES anything of value for the common people, he will be maligned, castigated, shunned and soon become enmeshed in a manufactured scandal.

Corruption has totally overwhelmed the system.

dh | Mar 13, 2017 11:48:17 AM | 63
@60 Unorthodox gringos.

fast freddy | Mar 13, 2017 11:49:16 AM | 64
When the fake left embraced war (with all the money for crony war profiteers - no money for the commons) it abandoned its ideology.

The brilliantly-played Charles Manson Psyop killed the anti-war (peace) movement in one stroke.

They couldn't make Castro's beard fall off, but they got the hippies to shave and cut their hair and become Republicans.

fast freddy | Mar 13, 2017 11:54:46 AM | 65
Democrats more likely to accept gifts from lobbyists; while Republicans prefer cash in brown paper bags under the desk.

blues | Mar 13, 2017 12:02:18 PM | 66
@ nonsense factory | Mar 13, 2017 10:36:25 AM | 58

What the "election methods cognoscenti" call "ranked-choice voting" is quite distinct from "score voting" With the score voting method I described you could give from (1) to (10) votes to up to (12) candidates. So you could give, for example, (10) votes to Candidates (A), (B), and (C), and (8) votes to (D), (E), and (F). But with ranked choice voting, you cannot do that, since you must "rank" the candidates in an "ordinal" fashion. This could look like: (A) > (B) > (C) >(D) > (E) > (F). And this forced "ranking" leads to astonishingly complex dilemmas. So, score voting is definitely not a version of ranked voting.

I did insist on "hand counted paper ballots" because ballot scanning machines are absurdly complex, and can easily be hacked. Remember that the Deep State will always completely control anything that becomes sufficiently complex. The fine print on insurance policies is an example.

While I'm here, I might as well point out that the "holy founding fathers" of the U.S. despised the concept of democracy (except perhaps for a few, maybe Franklin). You can read all about this (it's a somewhat long read, but well worth the time) at:
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/Enough-with-the-Holy-Founders-Undemocratic-Constitution-20150531-0025.html

Yes, it's all true!

ALberto | Mar 13, 2017 12:07:53 PM | 67
b,

"gluten free food"

Take a look at the Italian Cooking Show ladies. They aren't fat. Their immune system see gluten as an invader causing physical inflammation.

Personally if I eat gluten my lower gut blows up like an inflated bicycle tire. Gluten intolerance is not a trend. Check out online videos titled 'wheat belly.'

The wheat we eat today has been genetically modified mainly to increase crop yields.

Gluten intolerance is not a fad.

Tim | Mar 13, 2017 12:10:39 PM | 68
Yep. There's a reason the Democratic Socialists of America has seen a huge explosion in growth over the past year. The Democratic Party has no soul, and the DSA, by far the most major democratic socialist group in the country, is benefiting from Bernie Sanders constantly calling himself a "democratic socialist." If Democrats don't take their cue from this and other leftist groups, they're going to lose elections for decades to come. We need policies that work for the people, not neoliberal giveaways to corporations or conservative policies outright hostile to people who aren't rich.

LXV | Mar 13, 2017 12:15:29 PM | 69
What do you call a Social-Democracy without social-democrats?

Although many have called the "crisis of social-democracy" in previous years (especially after the "crash" of 2007-8), so far it is James Corbett that has given us the most extensive non-scholar research on How The Left Stopped Worrying and Learned to Embrace War


Bonus reading: AD Lavelle's academic case-study on the transformation of Swedish and German social-democracy into neo-liberalism .

RudyM | Mar 13, 2017 12:24:23 PM | 70
all I can say is "Go, State, go."

This is disturbingly close to what a co-worker said to me, before knowing my views about the matter, when US-backed forces were overthrowing Gaddafi in Libya: "Go, rebels, go!" He said he "normally" wasn't pro-war. A lot of ditzy liberals out there.

NemesisCalling | Mar 13, 2017 12:29:32 PM | 71
b states that the disenfranchised will rue the day they threw in their card for the far-right. I am not sure that this reality will pan out here in the states, though I am unsure what will ultimately transpire. My reasonING for this goes back to the nazification of Germany and the great benefits to that nationalist movement in general. Autobahn, infrastructure, industry: their new deal was very beneficial for the common kraut in addressing their concerns, though this nationalism scared the shit out of the global finance cabal and hence war. I am not entirely versed as to the legitimacy of their claim to Poland or the moral implications of that seizure, though the ethnic cleanses in the Russian steppes were evil.

My point is that nationalism could be one of the only forces that could bring down the global finance elite. This propelled me to vote for Trump and to hold out hope for a while. My thought is that we already have military spending covered and I don't see how the trickle down of more military spending would impress the deplorables too much. If Trump wants a 2.0, he will have to invest in another new deal. And what choice does he have? Continually being blocked my Russia and Iran? I am not convinced yet of his total idiocy, but if he continues along a neoconservative route, there will be little doubt. I guess tyrannies are stupid after all. Are Americans that stupid, too? We'll see.

Curtis | Mar 13, 2017 12:44:36 PM | 72
Clueless Joe 16
I've started to like that JFK quote more and more these days, too. At the time he did not mean it for the US but it truly applies here.

Noirette | Mar 13, 2017 12:55:23 PM | 73
1945 - 2000 +. In Europe the 'Left' was overcome in principally 2 ways.

1) Was the 'red scare of communism', i.e. against the USSR - old memes now home again. Even though there were some quite strong Communist parties, particularly in France. (Today, the ex-leader of the dead communist party, R. Hue, has come out supporting Macron.) The 'liberals' (economic liberalism) of course used any tool and propaganda to hand.

2) The expansion of W economies, 1950-1980 (about), that so to speak 'lifted all boats', and afforded for ex. cars, fridges, TVs, and at the start, just the basics like a small flat and some electricity, and water plus a flush toilet (or better services for small houses) plus universal free education (to age 14-15) and some basic health / social care. Transport flowered (fossil fuel use and railways) As opposed to living in a hut in a filthy slum though rurals were always better off. The economy basically boomed and jobs, even if ugly and badly paid, were available. This was all a tremendous advance and it was credited to a 'liberal' economic model. NOT-communist. (Though it had nothing to do with any political arrangement per se. See Hobsbawm on the USSR.)

Later, Third-wayers (Bill Clinton, Tony Blair..) tried to 'snow' ppl who would become 'poorer' with fakey Socialist-Dem party platforms, actually favoring the 'rich' (Corps, Finance, MIC, Big Gov..), in an attempt to keep ppl quiet. This 'third way' has now failed, ppl turn where they can, for now it is voting for the 'alt-right' (Trump, Wilders, Le Pen..) along a sort of nationalist line, which seems to contain germs of proto-fascim (as some would say), but which is actually principally directed against the PTB.

juliania | Mar 13, 2017 1:00:44 PM | 74
I haven't yet read comments, but actually I don't agree with the title of this piece, though the point about no left is certainly valid. I really can't see folk just swinging far right because there is nowhere else to go, since at least in this country, the US, we were burned so badly by the right - the right took us into Iraq and we have not escaped the horrors there even now. No way we're going back to that group of crazies just because another group of crazies, and now apparently Trump as well, are marching to the same bloody tune. We are being smothered by all of them.

I'm no prognosticator - I can't see the future. All I can do is say this ongoing spilling of blood is not what I voted for, and thank heavens I did not vote for Trump. I don't blame those who did, thinking he might break the mold. In doing that, they were not 'voting far right.' They were voting for what Trump said he would do, act peacefully towards each country, take care of citizens' grievances. He hasn't, and now we know. What happens next is anyone's guess but it won't be more of the same, not in this country. Experience does matter, and when we sort ourselves out and finish licking our wounds, us deplorables will build on what has come before. And perhaps in other countries citizens facing such non-choices and aware of what has happened here will trim their sails accordingly.

Almand | Mar 13, 2017 1:11:30 PM | 75
The great tragedy of the collapse of the left is that there will be nobody around to protect the minorities who live in the nations of the West. As a nonwhite American, I see the polarization of politics around racial lines is a catastrophe waiting to happen. The Democrats want to play the good cop, using fear of to control their minority vote bank while doing sweet F A for their communities that they profess to love so much. The Trumpian right has now dropped all pretense and is openly embracing white supremacy, race baiting for votes and stirring up all kinds of anti-foreigner sentiment on top of the folksy old fashioned racism done by "good" GOPers. As disgusting as the smug, patronizing prejudice of liberals is, the wild vitriolic hatred found in parts of the white community is backed up with state force. Even when faced with this reality, the Democratic party views discussions of economic issues as pandering to the "deplorables"! Never mind the rampant poverty and unemployment in black and latin ghettoes, talking about jobs is racism! They will continue this political death spiral and we will pay the price. There have been two shootings I know of where Indians (mistaken for Muslims by rednecks hopped up on hate) and I'm sure we'll see plenty more. God help Europe when their right wingers crack down on the Muslims. You think the young are being radicalized now? You ain't seen nothing yet.

RudyM | Mar 13, 2017 1:22:29 PM | 76
That of itself makes the destruction of amerika essential

You left out two k's.

Noirette | Mar 13, 2017 2:05:24 PM | 77
Juliana at 73 wrote about Trump voters.

I don't blame those who did, thinking he might break the mold. In doing that, they were not 'voting far right.' They were voting for what Trump said he would do, act peacefully towards each country, take care of citizens' grievances.

Yes, right on. And that extends to all the 'nationalist' voters. What they - perhaps confusedly for some - are trying to effect is a timid step in the present horrific political landscape, towards having a say, >> having the space, and scope, of decision-making circumsribed, and made not only smaller, but more rigidly, clearly defined - in this case down to nation size where the ppl may hopefully garner some more power.

The labels 'right' and 'left' of course are nonsense, but we all use them as 'tags' for e.g. Dems vs. Reps, and that's ok, as long as everyone undertands the short-hand. Being 'nationalist', 'anti-globalist', 'localist', 'community oriented' (footnotes skipped) is not left or right, it doesn't project to any point on the left-right polarity. Nor does it relate to an authoritarian, controlling axis. vs. a libertarian one. But of course these challengers are painted as Hitler 'nationalist' stooges and putative vicious invaders, war mongers, conquerers, as is for ex. Putin.

ruralito | Mar 13, 2017 2:29:32 PM | 78
Lefties fight imperialism, and by fight I don't mean metaphors.

Perimeter | Mar 13, 2017 3:07:30 PM | 79
@60

And why should we call something "Left" in Yankeeland?
Why, if there is nothing not even close of this there?

Perimetr | Mar 13, 2017 3:11:23 PM | 80
Just for the record, someone seems to be attempting to use/mimic my Permetr name with post number 78.
Not appreciated, Mr. Troll.

Perimetr | Mar 13, 2017 3:29:58 PM | 81
And if anyone is interested, I chose the name "Perimetr" because that is the way my friend Colonel Yarynich spelled it . . .

Also known as the "Deadhand" system, Perimetr is a semi-automated system through which a retaliatory nuclear strike can be ordered by a decapitated Russian National Command Authority. Perimetr came into being in the 1980s and appears to still be functional. You can read a detailed analysis of it in the book by Colonel Valery Yarynich, "C3: Nuclear Command, Control, Cooperation" (if you can get your hands on a copy). https://www.amazon.com/C3-Nuclear-Command-Control-Cooperation/dp/1932019081

Perimetr uses emergency communication rockets to issue launch orders to any (surviving) Russian nuclear forces; such orders would automatically trigger a launch of these forces without further human intervention. The crew that mans the Perimetr launch control center requires several things to happen before they launch: (1) an initial preliminary authorization from the National Command Authority following the detection of an incoming attack, (2) a complete loss of communication on all channels (various radio frequencies, land lines, etc) with the National Command Authority, and (3) a simultaneously set of positive signals from seismic, optical, and radiological nuclear detonation detectors indicating that a nuclear attack has occurred.

At that point, the crew is ordered to launch the ECRs. This "Deadhand" launches the missiles even after those who gave the preliminary launch order have been incinerated in a nuclear strike. Valery thought that Perimetr added a measure of safety having the system, in that it would make it less likely that the NCA would launch a "retaliatory" strike (Launch on Warning, LOW) before nuclear detonations confirmed the strike was real (if the warning was false, then the "retaliatory strike" would actually be a first strike . . . hence Perimetr offers some certainty of retaliation for choosing to "ride out" a perceived attack). I took less comfort that did Valery, as I found it disconcerting that there was a non-human mechanism or means to order a Russian nuclear attack.

see "Launch-Ready Nuclear Weapons: A threat to all nations and peoples" http://www.psr.org/nuclear-weapons/launch-ready-nuclear-weapons.pdf and http://thebulletin.org/2004/may/lets-go-no-low

Paul Cockshott | Mar 13, 2017 6:29:31 PM | 82
@21
The aim of importing cheap labour is to allow continued expansion of capital without depressing the rate of profit. Unless the labour force constantly expands, any accumulation of capital tends to drive down the rate of profit in two ways: 1) it raises the ratio of capital stock to national income, so if the wage share remains the same, the rate of profit falls; 2) Accumulation of capital faster than the growth of the labour force creates a sellers market for labour and allows real wages to rise. For these two reasons big business favours rapid immigration.

Perimeter | Mar 13, 2017 10:14:10 PM | 83
@80

Are you illiterate?
"Perimeter" is graphically different of "Perimetr". In addition and mainly, interested people can differentiate one from the other ideologically. So do not worry, kid.

Fernando Arauxo | Mar 13, 2017 11:03:07 PM | 84
The thing is black people in USA are fed up. White people (including some jews) are fed up. Black people have been marginalized and are no longer the primary darlings of the Bleeding Heart Party. You must add as well that many of them like Carson are quite conservative and wealthy, so they go Republican. One cannot discount the very high sense of patriotism that many Afro-Americans feel for the USA. They can smell the BS.
"White's", can be racially disparaged, mocked, used and abused and it O.K.
You can call a certain segment of the population; "White Trash", white bitch, fucking cracker, honky, racist, etc, etc and they just have to take it.
You can openly say that it's no longer their country, that they will no longer be the majority, if you are an immigrant and have a short time in USA, you are toasted and cheered while saying it. So soft genocide against "whites" is ok.
This is wrong and it's true what B say's, there is nothing LEFT. I gave Obama 8 and I'm still waiting for my change.

Willy2 | Mar 14, 2017 3:55:52 AM | 85
- Someone in a townhall meeting asked a Democratic representitive: "What do the Democrats stand for". And the representitive replied with platitudes. and the whole thing was captured on video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9KyR86CZ1E

john | Mar 14, 2017 8:01:55 AM | 86
the left in America is small and estranged, like an illegitimate child. the blacks fucked up long ago when they aligned with the Democratic Party, which, as we know, is just a gaggle of pro-war liberals. their reckoning is on its way...like a bad asteroid.

jfl | Mar 14, 2017 9:07:47 AM | 87
@67 ALberto

i'd check out the relationship between the exponential growth in the use of glyphosate, decimated microbial populations in the human gut as a result of its use, and the sudden eruption of gluten intolerance. that'd get any biochemist / epidemiologist fired in short order, or demonized on publication. i'm sure that's why we haven't seen it.

estouxim | Mar 14, 2017 10:23:35 AM | 88
jfl @ 87

Right, plus the other wonder trans, bacilus thuringiensis.

Outraged | Mar 14, 2017 10:33:11 AM | 89
@ Posted by: Willy2 | Mar 14, 2017 3:55:52 AM | 85

Thank you for the link. Succint & concise. Tragicomedy(sic) ... :(

What was highlighted with cutting clarity is what the average Joe & Betty six-pack, and not just Stateside, throughout the 'West' are primarily up in arms about, IMV. And the Owned & Controlled, Corporate 'Mainstream' Mega-Media will not touch it nor even acknowledge 'it' ... hopefully the scales will fall from enough peoples eyes to awaken from the somnolance induced by all-encompassing ' digital valium ' ...

If locales can ever reach a critical mass re numbers ... maybe the Tumbrels will yet again roll to swing humanities 'pendulum' back the other way. If they don't ...

BRF | Mar 14, 2017 10:34:28 AM | 90
There never has been a political party of the Left in America that held any political power or even a balance of power at important state or federal levels. Leaders of the emerging Left in America have been either jailed or assassinated. Any other leaders of the people, not necessarily of the left, have also met a similar fate. The American establishment has always been a repressive clique of any populous movements. Other western nations, being further from the central authority, developed at minimum Leftist political opposition that at least held a balance of power enough to effect national policies that were of benefit to the working classes as defined. In America Leftist appeal of grievances was applied through the existing two party system, mainly the Democrats with their unionized labour wing. This has all fallen by the wayside. Enough said....

Perimetr | Mar 14, 2017 12:03:31 PM | 91
RE: Perimeter | Mar 13, 2017 10:14:10 PM | 83 "Perimeter" is graphically different of "Perimetr". In addition and mainly, interested people can differentiate one from the other ideologically. So do not worry, kid.

Well let's see, would Circe be upset if someone started posting under "Circes"? Would Outraged mind if someone started posting here as "Outrages"? How about "Alberto" instead of "ALberto"??

Sorry, there are lots of other names available, so what is the point in posting under one that is essentially identical to mine, except to confuse those who might not be paying much attention?

Outraged | Mar 14, 2017 12:59:06 PM | 92
@ Posted by: Perimetr | Mar 14, 2017 12:03:31 PM | 91

Concur with your sentiments, a perfectly reasonable request. Such IDs create needless potential ambiguity/confusion/mis-attribution.

So do not worry, kid.
Hm, does not augur well re civility ... nor intent ...

ruralito | Mar 14, 2017 1:02:04 PM | 93
@84, the racial-ethnic divides among populations pale in comparison to the divisions between classes. The Reptilian Order must rake up the former through media exploits lest the proles wise up to the latter.

estouxim | Mar 14, 2017 2:37:48 PM | 94
Outraged @ 89
Thanks for the compliment on the other thread.
I also value what you write.
In certain conditions it is possible to attain meaningfull goals without setting the tumbrells in motion. I linked to Marinaleda in a comment above. They din't decapitate the Duque del Infantado, they cut a substantial part of his estate. It was possible for 3 reasons, a charismatic leader, a strong sense of solidarity and a strong cultural identity. It's a tiny scale but if one looks at current examples in a multinational scale Chávez, Evo, Correa, Kirchner, Lula, were/are all outstanding leaders in nations that have strong cultural identities and a solidarity forged by resistance.


BRF @ 90
Exactly, jailed or assassinated. And when this was no longer feasible, when human rights became a tool in the cold war, the discourse was deflected to identitary policies and sex drugs and r&r

Outraged | Mar 14, 2017 3:56:55 PM | 95
@ Posted by: estouxim | Mar 14, 2017 2:37:48 PM | 94

My views tend towards pacifism these last many years and am totally opposed to capital punishment for common criminal acts ... the death of even one innocent due to failures of the system, injustice, or mere errors, is one life too many, IMV.

Have personally seen the dire consequences of psychopaths & sociopaths, in Military, Intelligence, Government & Corporate environments, in positions of leadership/authority. They select alike as near peers and congregate fellow-travellers, arch-opportunists & sellswords as underlings, enablers/facilitators.

Yet, long reflection on ... bitter ... experiences, have brought me to a perceived unpalatable truth, that there likely must be, long overdue, a cull of the 'Impune', via the tender mercies of such as madame guillotine, to reset the balance, for their number and reach in primarily western first world countries has become a vast cancer upon humanity.

If one can be reviled by the community and dealt with at Law for a simple common murder, why can one who abuses the authority of the State, or delegated thereof, order policies or acts that result in dozens, 100's or thousands or more deaths of innocents, yet be impune, wholly and forever, unassailable, unaccountable ?

When exactly was it that Presidents & Prime Ministers once again quietly assumed the pseudo-Regnum like Majesty & Dictatorial Imperium of Caesars, Emperors, Kings/Monarchs of history past ?

Had thought the last 'Sun King' was in France ~160 years ago ...

Technology has opened a Pandora's Box of expanding destructive forces & potentialities at the behest of these psychopaths that, as Karlof1 somewhat similarly fears, will have a singular end result, if left unchecked.

Do not believe a little pruning of wealth/capital will any longer suffice ... Iceland alone, started tentatively upon the right path, after the GFC.

Outraged | Mar 14, 2017 3:56:55 PM | 96
@ Posted by: estouxim | Mar 14, 2017 2:37:48 PM | 94

My views tend towards pacifism these last many years and am totally opposed to capital punishment for common criminal acts ... the death of even one innocent due to failures of the system, injustice, or mere errors, is one life too many, IMV.

Have personally seen the dire consequences of psychopaths & sociopaths, in Military, Intelligence, Government & Corporate environments, in positions of leadership/authority. They select alike as near peers and congregate fellow-travellers, arch-opportunists & sellswords as underlings, enablers/facilitators.

Yet, long reflection on ... bitter ... experiences, have brought me to a perceived unpalatable truth, that there likely must be, long overdue, a cull of the 'Impune', via the tender mercies of such as madame guillotine, to reset the balance, for their number and reach in primarily western first world countries has become a vast cancer upon humanity.

If one can be reviled by the community and dealt with at Law for a simple common murder, why can one who abuses the authority of the State, or delegated thereof, order policies or acts that result in dozens, 100's or thousands or more deaths of innocents, yet be impune, wholly and forever, unassailable, unaccountable ?

When exactly was it that Presidents & Prime Ministers once again quietly assumed the pseudo-Regnum like Majesty & Dictatorial Imperium of Caesars, Emperors, Kings/Monarchs of history past ?

Had thought the last 'Sun King' was in France ~160 years ago ...

Technology has opened a Pandora's Box of expanding destructive forces & potentialities at the behest of these psychopaths that, as Karlof1 somewhat similarly fears, will have a singular end result, if left unchecked.

Do not believe a little pruning of wealth/capital will any longer suffice ... Iceland alone, started tentatively upon the right path, after the GFC.

karlof1 | Mar 14, 2017 5:16:09 PM | 97
Outraged @95--

"When exactly was it that Presidents & Prime Ministers once again quietly assumed the pseudo-Regnum like Majesty & Dictatorial Imperium of Caesars, Emperors, Kings/Monarchs of history past?"

I don't believe the Divine Right of Monarchs was ever completely expunged as it continued to operate in the shadows until it retuned to the surface at WW2's end with Truman.

Don't know how much you agree with my assessment above @12, but one of the smartest people I've ever known--the late Lynn Margulis, Carl Sagan's first wife, the superior microbiologist who proved symbiosis within species and agent of evolution to be fact--wrote the forward to the paperback edition of Morrison's work I cited, agreeing with him.

It's easy to observe and analyze the situation then prescribe the remedy. But said remedy must be applied by millions of currently very disparate individuals having almost no solidarity or in agreement about said remedy, or even knowing a remedy exists. I'd do more, but my responsibilities limit me to my current activities--writing and exhorting those able to act.

The great irony of our dilemma is humans have overcome Nature in almost every sphere, yet that triumph is precisely what threatens humanity and the biota--a triumph driven by Nature itself. So, to overcome our overcoming of Nature, we must again triumph at overcoming our Human Nature by limiting the impact of Nature on our actions through the use of a very ancient technology--culture, by making certain actions by humans taboo and their violation punishable by death as the Polynesians practiced.

Yes, radical, controversial, requiring a great deal of prior knowledge to comprehend the logic driving the remedy. Yet, as Spock would say, there it is: Long life and prosperity lies down remedy's path; massive destruction, pain and eventual oblivion if the status quo continues.

Outraged | Mar 14, 2017 6:20:04 PM | 98
@ Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 14, 2017 5:16:09 PM | 96

... it returned to the surface at WW2's end with Truman.

... we must again triumph at overcoming our Human Nature by limiting the impact of Nature on our actions through the use of a very ancient technology--culture, by making certain actions by humans (Leaders/Leadership) taboo and their violation punishable by death as the Polynesians practiced.

... massive destruction, pain and eventual oblivion if the status quo continues.

Concur.

Yet, would take that slightly further re amending formal application of Law & Sentencing & Punishment.

A number of Navies apply Mandatory MAXIMUM punishments for any offense, where found guilty, committed outside the parent nations 12 Mile limit, for good reason re discipline under a Captain's authority ... the ship becomes the nation and the crew the 'people' thereof and the ultimate survival of all dependent upon such.

The greater the status, rank, education, authority, experience, length of service of the ' Taboo Breaker, ' ( Leaders/Leadership ), the less any mitigating circumstances can be considered, and the proportionally higher the punishment, towards the maximum. Such should be able to plead no excuse, ignorance or misunderstanding, or lack of comprehension whatsoever, compared to a 'Constable/Trooper/Sailor/Airman'.

The pyramid of actual accountability & consequent punishment, must be inverted , by society.

If one looks carefully throughout humanities recorded history, across cultures, down thru millennia, sooner or later the stone ( society ) could be squeezed no further, and there was inevitably blowback and a, culling.

Yet, since the inter-continent telegraph and the widespread ubiquitous distribution of the mass 'Press', concurrent with the machinations of the Bankers & War Profiteers behind the scenes since the late 1800's, IMV, the ability to manipulate, divide & rule, society has become an artform, ever accelerating in scope, scale & effectiveness, preventing the necessary 'cull' in the 'International Community' of the 'west'.

IMV, the old grey men may have misunderstood/underestimated the accident of the 'net, hence desperation of such as ProPornOT etc, which provides alternate independent voices re communication & re perceived reality ... it may be enough, a small window of opportunity given the obvious accident of 'Trumps' ascension, to possibly enable a reckoning, there are a few discordant shrill cries and desperate pleas arising amongst the 'narrative' from the Globalists/Atlanticists (US/EU/UK/AUS/CAN), to believe & trust TPTB ... but only if there is a true, not faux, accounting .

Otherwise, yes, almost inevitably, your last. Faint hope ...

Outraged | Mar 14, 2017 6:20:04 PM | 99
@ Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 14, 2017 5:16:09 PM | 96

... it returned to the surface at WW2's end with Truman.

... we must again triumph at overcoming our Human Nature by limiting the impact of Nature on our actions through the use of a very ancient technology--culture, by making certain actions by humans (Leaders/Leadership) taboo and their violation punishable by death as the Polynesians practiced.

... massive destruction, pain and eventual oblivion if the status quo continues.

Concur.

Yet, would take that slightly further re amending formal application of Law & Sentencing & Punishment.

A number of Navies apply Mandatory MAXIMUM punishments for any offense, where found guilty, committed outside the parent nations 12 Mile limit, for good reason re discipline under a Captain's authority ... the ship becomes the nation and the crew the 'people' thereof and the ultimate survival of all dependent upon such.

The greater the status, rank, education, authority, experience, length of service of the ' Taboo Breaker, ' ( Leaders/Leadership ), the less any mitigating circumstances can be considered, and the proportionally higher the punishment, towards the maximum. Such should be able to plead no excuse, ignorance or misunderstanding, or lack of comprehension whatsoever, compared to a 'Constable/Trooper/Sailor/Airman'.

The pyramid of actual accountability & consequent punishment, must be inverted , by society.

If one looks carefully throughout humanities recorded history, across cultures, down thru millennia, sooner or later the stone ( society ) could be squeezed no further, and there was inevitably blowback and a, culling.

Yet, since the inter-continent telegraph and the widespread ubiquitous distribution of the mass 'Press', concurrent with the machinations of the Bankers & War Profiteers behind the scenes since the late 1800's, IMV, the ability to manipulate, divide & rule, society has become an artform, ever accelerating in scope, scale & effectiveness, preventing the necessary 'cull' in the 'International Community' of the 'west'.

IMV, the old grey men may have misunderstood/underestimated the accident of the 'net, hence desperation of such as ProPornOT etc, which provides alternate independent voices re communication & re perceived reality ... it may be enough, a small window of opportunity given the obvious accident of 'Trumps' ascension, to possibly enable a reckoning, there are a few discordant shrill cries and desperate pleas arising amongst the 'narrative' from the Globalists/Atlanticists (US/EU/UK/AUS/CAN), to believe & trust TPTB ... but only if there is a true, not faux, accounting .

Otherwise, yes, almost inevitably, your last. Faint hope ...

karlof1 | Mar 14, 2017 8:10:59 PM | 100
Outraged @97--

"... it may be enough, a small window of opportunity given the obvious accident of 'Trumps' ascension, to possibly enable a reckoning..."

Like using The Force to guide a missile into the exhaust shaft of the Death Star. But that was just one victory amidst many losses prior to the decapitation of the sole Evil Leader. I believe our task just as daunting with our enemy best depicted as The Hydra. In both myths, Good triumphed. In both tales, the multitude of innocents had no idea what was taking place or why. I don't think we can prevail unless the multitudes know what's happening and why. All too often they seem to differ little from my Alzheimer's afflicted mom. But her fate is determined; it's just a matter of time. Our fate's in the balance, with time being of the essence.

!--file:///f:/Public_html/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Two_party_system_as_poliarchy/crisis_of_legitimacy.shtml--> !--file:///f:/Public_html/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Neocons/hillary_clinton.shtml--> !--file:///f:/Public_html/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Two_party_system_as_poliarchy/US_presidential_elections/Candidates/donald_trump.shtml--> !--file:///f:/Public_html/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/index.shtml--> !--file:///f:/Public_html/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Two_party_system_as_poliarchy/index.shtml--> !--file:///f:/Public_html/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Neocolonialism/War_is_racket/media_military_industrial_complex.shtml--> !--file:///F:/Public_html/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/index.shtml-->

[Mar 26, 2017] When Nothing Left Is Left The People Will Vote Far Right

Mar 26, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

Some of the people around the U.S. Democrats finally start to get the message of the 2016 election. An editor at Salon writes a slightly satirical critic of the Democratic Party under the headline: How the DudeBros ruined everything: A totally clear-headed guide to political reality . The core sentence:

When "the left" endlessly debates which core issues or constituencies must be sacrificed for political gain, as if economic justice for the poor and the working class could be separated from social justice for women and people of color and the LGBT community and immigrants and people with disabilities, it is no longer functioning as the left.

When LGBT claptrap, gluten free food, political correctness and other such niceties beat out programs to serve the basic needs of the common people nothing "left" is left. The priority on the left must always be the well-being of the working people. All the other nice-to-have issues follow from and after that.

Many nominally social-democratic parties in Europe are on the same downward trajectory as the Democrats in the U.S. for the very same reason. Their real policies are center right. Their marketing policies hiding the real ones are to care for this or that minority interest or problem the majority of the people has no reason to care about. Real wages sink but they continue to import cheep labor (real policy) under the disguise of helping "refugees" (marketing policy) which are simply economic migrants. (Even parts of the German "Die Linke" party are infected with such nonsense.)

The people with real economic problems, those who have reason to fear the future, have no one in the traditional political spectrum that even pretends to care about them. Those are the voters now streaming to the far right. (They will again get screwed. The far right has an economic agenda that is totally hostile to them. But it at least promises to do something about their fears.) Where else should they go?

The U.S. Democrats are currently applauding the former United States attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara. The position is a political appointed one. Whoever is appointed serves "at the pleasure of the President". It is completely normal that people in such positions get replaced when the presidency changes from one party to the other. The justice department asked Bharara to "voluntary resign". He rejected that, he was fired.

Oh what a brave man! Applause!

The dude served as United States attorney during the mortgage scams and financial crash. Wall Street was part of his beat. How many of the involved banksters did he prosecute? Well, exactly zero. What a hero! How many votes did the Democrats lose because they did not go after the criminals ruling Wall Street?

Bharara is one reason the Democrats lost the election. Oh yes, he is part of a minority and that makes him a favorite with the pseudo left Democrats. But he did nothing while millions got robbed. How can one expect to get votes when one compliments such persons?

But the top reader comments to the New York Times report on the issue are full of voices who laud Bharara for his meaning- and useless "resistance" to Trump.

Those are the "voices of the people" the political functionaries of the Democratic Party want to read and hear. Likely the only ones. But those are the voices of people (if real at all and not marketing sock-puppets) who are themselves a tiny, well pampered minority. Not the people one needs to win elections.

Unless they change their political program (not just its marketing) and unless they go back to consistently argue for the people in the lower third of the economic scale the Democrats in the U.S. and the Social-Democrats in Europe will continue to lose voters. The far right will, for lack of political alternative, be the party that picks up their votes.

[Mar 26, 2017] Our constitutional dollar democracy with its gerrymandering, limitless congressional revolving doors, SCOTUS unanswerable to the electorate, and first past the post voting provides loads of punch lines, not the least of which is the de facto two party system itself. Two competitors is merely duopoly

Mar 26, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> ilsm... , March 25, 2017 at 07:09 AM
There is more than one joke. Our constitutional dollar democracy with its gerrymandering, limitless congressional revolving doors, SCOTUS unanswerable to the electorate, and first past the post voting provides loads of punch lines, not the least of which is the de facto two party system itself. Two competitors is merely duopoly. It takes a minimum of three viable choices to have any returns from competition that are significant to the consumers' preferences. Two competitors merely play off each other in predictable and increasingly ossified patterns.
New Deal democrat -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , March 25, 2017 at 07:17 AM
One very big quibble: >>SCOTUS unanswerable to the electorate<<

As bad as the SCOTUS can be, it would be unimaginably worse if it were subject to elections.

The big problem is that the Founders did not imagine life expectancies into the 80s. Throughout the 19th Century, the median time on the bench was about 14 years, and about 1/3 of all Justices served less than 10 years -- they got sick or died. Now the median time on the bench is 25 years, which is totally unacceptable.

If SCOTUS terms were set at 18 years, with a new Justice appointed every 2 years, independence would be preserved without the imposition of the "dead hands." Emeritus Justices could continue to serve on the appellate courts, and provisions would have to be made for deaths or retirements during the 18 year terms, but you get the idea.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> New Deal democrat... , March 25, 2017 at 07:36 AM
I did not mean elections. One of my favorite planks of the 1912 Bull Moose Party was the right for popular petition and referendum to overturn an unpopular SCOTUS decision. Roe V. Wade could not be overturned by referendum (which some fear but votes are measured by heat count rather than audible volume). Citizen United would be overturned by referendum. I trust democracy more than most, but still I don't get silly about it.

OTOH, SCOTUS term limits are also a good idea.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , March 25, 2017 at 07:38 AM
"...heat count..."

[No, HEAD count. If votes were measured by heat count then Bernie Sanders would be POTUS now.]

[Mar 26, 2017] Staggering cost of Finance Sector under neoliberalism

Notable quotes:
"... Originally published at the Tax Justice Network ..."
"... US finance sector is a net drag on their economy ..."
"... It is a cleverly worked out system for wealth transfer. Complex laws, political backing and protection even if you break the law. At least in the old days when you got robbed you had the signal of having a pistol pointed at you. The modern version, with all the insider media psyops, leaves those who are preyed upon feeling that they are the ones to blame. ..."
"... The business model is straight out of the Cosa Nostra playbook – except there is media, political and legal backing. ..."
"... As an Italian friend of mine (who rarely goes north of 14th Street) once remarked, "The difference between the Mafia and bankers is that the Mafia always leaves a few crumbs on the table." ..."
"... Did I hear that right – the private finance sector will have cost us (in the US) 23Tr$ by 2020. And from 1990 to 2005 big finance cost us (already) 14Tr in fees, pay, fraud, misallocation and lost productivity. Yet we continue to deregulate even though all governments know how destructive deregulated finance is. ..."
"... yes, the EU does seem to be hungry to grab up all that finance for itself I keep thinking about Schaeuble coming to NYC c2012 and holding an impromptu news conference wherein he said it was fine with him if some banks went down because "we are overbanked." But we do have to admit that "overbanked" is an understatement since there are no productive investments and it's just self-defeating. I mean, how long can this go on? ..."
"... I don't know, how much money do you have left? ..."
"... It pays to remember that prior to 2008, hot (sovereign state backed) money flowed unimpeded like water across all EU borders, regardless of regulation, in search of quick handsome and easy returns, and much of it from subsequently bailed out by the ECB backdoor major lenders in France and Germany lending recklessly to poorer EZ members. ..."
"... The lasting results of this and its hasty, damaging retreat and the inequitable socialisation of the debt across the EZ are, of course, still being felt today. ..."
"... One of the major causes of the financial crisis was lax global regulation period. So let's not kid ourselves that by removing the UK from the European Union equation it is suddenly going to render it a bastion of sound prudential banking practice, particularly given various members recent comments that they intend to do anything in their power to tempt a post Brexit UK's financial services at the earliest opportunity. ..."
"... I do subscribe to the belief that the UK financial services sector has been and still is toxic to its economy and long-term future, and without a doubt this informed the Brexit vote, albeit in some cases on a subconscious level. ..."
Mar 26, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Posted on March 25, 2017 by Yves Smith Originally published at the Tax Justice Network

In our March 2017 Taxcast: the high price we're paying for our finance sectors – we look at staggering statistics showing how the US finance sector is a net drag on their economy .

Also, as the British government initiates Brexit divorce negotiations to leave the EU, we discuss something they ought to know, but obviously don't – they're actually in a very weak position. Could it mean the beginning of the end of the finance curse gripping the UK economy?

Featuring: John Christensen and Alex Cobham of the Tax Justice Network, and Professor of Economics Gerald Epstein of the University of Masachusetts Amhurst , author of Overcharged: The High Cost of High Finance . Produced and presented by Naomi Fowler for the Tax Justice Network.

Professor Gerald Epstein:

If you look at particular finance centres, say London and New York, the problem is that the net cost of this system is quite significant, it imposes a cost not only on people who use finance but for the whole economy. So, what we need to think about is what are the more productive activities that ought to be substituted for these excessive aspects of finance?

John Christensen, Tax Justice Network on Britain's weak position in Brexit negotiations:

We might be seeing the start of the end of Britain's grip by the Finance Curse

https://www.youtube.com/embed/E7oOiJl1n1I

Download the mp3 to listen offline anytime on your computer, mobile/cell phone or handheld device by right clicking here and selecting 'save link as'.

Want more Taxcasts? The full playlist is here .

Want to subscribe? Subscribe via email by contacting the Taxcast producer on naomi [at] taxjustice.net OR subscribe to the Taxcast RSS feed here OR subscribe to our youtube channel, Tax Justice TV OR find us on iTunes

skippy , March 25, 2017 at 3:01 am

Drag = Rentier = bottle neck economics which in the end becomes a death spiral due to lack of demand and jobs quality .

Si , March 25, 2017 at 3:45 am

It is a cleverly worked out system for wealth transfer. Complex laws, political backing and protection even if you break the law. At least in the old days when you got robbed you had the signal of having a pistol pointed at you. The modern version, with all the insider media psyops, leaves those who are preyed upon feeling that they are the ones to blame.

The business model is straight out of the Cosa Nostra playbook – except there is media, political and legal backing.

Genius.

Hayek's Heelbiter , March 25, 2017 at 6:14 am

As an Italian friend of mine (who rarely goes north of 14th Street) once remarked, "The difference between the Mafia and bankers is that the Mafia always leaves a few crumbs on the table."

Watt4Bob , March 25, 2017 at 11:00 am

"Wouldn't you rather give me my money, that you have in your pocket, rather than force me to take the pistol out of my pocket, and point it at you, and rob you, and become a criminal?"

As you can clearly see, the logic is flawless, we are all much better off acquiescing to the reasonable demands of the FIRE sector, the only alternative being an admission that we're in the clutches of a deeply organized criminal element.

susan the other , March 25, 2017 at 11:44 am

thanks for this Taxcast, very to the point.

Did I hear that right – the private finance sector will have cost us (in the US) 23Tr$ by 2020. And from 1990 to 2005 big finance cost us (already) 14Tr in fees, pay, fraud, misallocation and lost productivity. Yet we continue to deregulate even though all governments know how destructive deregulated finance is.

And we know that the US is the biggest and most secret tax haven of them all

The first part of Taxcast speculated that Brexit will actually free the UK from the stranglehold of big finance and the country will be able to move on to more productive economic activity. So let us hope the US comes to its senses – just as the EU has finally isolated the rot of UK finance, maybe the rest of the world will isolate us.

Regulation seems to be hand-in-glove with national sovereignty. Whereas globalized finance might have escaped national regulation bec. there was always a safe haven for banksters, now with a backlash of indignant people all over the world there will be re-regulation at national levels. Since there is no global authority that can do that yet. Anyway, now that economies are trashed, there is way too much hot money to find good investments. It has already become absurd.

Colonel Smithers , March 25, 2017 at 11:51 am

Thank you, Susan.

I would not be so hasty thinking that the EU(27) has finally isolated the rot of UK finance. Much of that finance was not UK, but using the UK. The EU(27) is no less corrupt than the UK and as susceptible to big finance's charms.

I worked as a lobbyist in Brussels (and Basel and DC) for years.

susan the other , March 25, 2017 at 12:31 pm

yes, the EU does seem to be hungry to grab up all that finance for itself I keep thinking about Schaeuble coming to NYC c2012 and holding an impromptu news conference wherein he said it was fine with him if some banks went down because "we are overbanked." But we do have to admit that "overbanked" is an understatement since there are no productive investments and it's just self-defeating. I mean, how long can this go on?

Watt4Bob , March 25, 2017 at 3:21 pm

I mean, how long can this go on?

I don't know, how much money do you have left?

Gman , March 25, 2017 at 6:25 pm

Great piece. Thank you.

I'm not sure I get the 'rules on financial services are different than other goods and services' line being peddled here though. Maybe in theory, but it's pretty much a moot point.

It pays to remember that prior to 2008, hot (sovereign state backed) money flowed unimpeded like water across all EU borders, regardless of regulation, in search of quick handsome and easy returns, and much of it from subsequently bailed out by the ECB backdoor major lenders in France and Germany lending recklessly to poorer EZ members.

The lasting results of this and its hasty, damaging retreat and the inequitable socialisation of the debt across the EZ are, of course, still being felt today.

One of the major causes of the financial crisis was lax global regulation period. So let's not kid ourselves that by removing the UK from the European Union equation it is suddenly going to render it a bastion of sound prudential banking practice, particularly given various members recent comments that they intend to do anything in their power to tempt a post Brexit UK's financial services at the earliest opportunity.

I do subscribe to the belief that the UK financial services sector has been and still is toxic to its economy and long-term future, and without a doubt this informed the Brexit vote, albeit in some cases on a subconscious level.

[Mar 25, 2017] Our constitutional dollar democracy with its gerrymandering, limitless congressional revolving doors, SCOTUS unanswerable to the electorate, and first past the post voting provides loads of punch lines, not the least of which is the de facto two party system itself. Two competitors is merely duopoly

Mar 25, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> ilsm... , March 25, 2017 at 07:09 AM
There is more than one joke. Our constitutional dollar democracy with its gerrymandering, limitless congressional revolving doors, SCOTUS unanswerable to the electorate, and first past the post voting provides loads of punch lines, not the least of which is the de facto two party system itself. Two competitors is merely duopoly. It takes a minimum of three viable choices to have any returns from competition that are significant to the consumers' preferences. Two competitors merely play off each other in predictable and increasingly ossified patterns.
New Deal democrat -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , March 25, 2017 at 07:17 AM
One very big quibble: >>SCOTUS unanswerable to the electorate<<

As bad as the SCOTUS can be, it would be unimaginably worse if it were subject to elections.

The big problem is that the Founders did not imagine life expectancies into the 80s. Throughout the 19th Century, the median time on the bench was about 14 years, and about 1/3 of all Justices served less than 10 years -- they got sick or died. Now the median time on the bench is 25 years, which is totally unacceptable.

If SCOTUS terms were set at 18 years, with a new Justice appointed every 2 years, independence would be preserved without the imposition of the "dead hands." Emeritus Justices could continue to serve on the appellate courts, and provisions would have to be made for deaths or retirements during the 18 year terms, but you get the idea.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> New Deal democrat... , March 25, 2017 at 07:36 AM
I did not mean elections. One of my favorite planks of the 1912 Bull Moose Party was the right for popular petition and referendum to overturn an unpopular SCOTUS decision. Roe V. Wade could not be overturned by referendum (which some fear but votes are measured by heat count rather than audible volume). Citizen United would be overturned by referendum. I trust democracy more than most, but still I don't get silly about it.

OTOH, SCOTUS term limits are also a good idea.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , March 25, 2017 at 07:38 AM
"...heat count..."

[No, HEAD count. If votes were measured by heat count then Bernie Sanders would be POTUS now.]

Paine -> New Deal democrat... , March 25, 2017 at 07:58 AM
New deal (D)emocrat

Is not a democrat

Or at least it would seem
NdD is no small d democrat

The court system we inherited is like many institutions
Ormed in our ante bellum era
an artifact of slave power

Paine -> Paine... , March 25, 2017 at 08:01 AM
Post bellum
The emerging big corporate power
found this arrangement congenial to its interests

The one challenge time ?


The new deal


The very era our sincere progressive liberal
NdD likes to impersonate at lawn parties

Paine -> Paine... , March 25, 2017 at 08:02 AM
The FED as drafted and redrafted
Is the supreme wanna be
mulp -> New Deal democrat... , March 25, 2017 at 08:18 AM
Yeah, Republicans should have appointed more of the judges.
New Deal democrat -> mulp... , March 25, 2017 at 09:56 AM
Democrats have held power for 10 of the last 18 years which would mean 5 of the current Justices would have been appointed by DSL.

[Insert snide remark about math abilities here.]

New Deal democrat -> New Deal democrat... , March 25, 2017 at 09:59 AM
Further, since 1968 (that's almost a half century ago, Dems have appointed exactly 5 Justices in total.

Under my system they would have appointed 10.

ilsm -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , March 25, 2017 at 09:06 AM
cnn resembles deep red tea party fox news.....

and the run of the mill dems should fit their tri-corn hats

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> ilsm... , March 25, 2017 at 09:37 AM
I will take your word for it. We don't watch either CNN nor Fox News at my house. Mostly we watch local (same news and weather crew here appears on each the WWBT/WRLH local NBC/Fox affiliates) news with some sampling of MSNBC and Sunday morning ABC and CBS shows along with the daily half hour of NBC network following the evening local. Cable news is sort of an oxymoron given the prevailing editorial slants. The now retired local TV news anchor Gene Cox laid the groundwork for the best news team in central VA by setting a high bar at his station. Gene laid it all out southern fried with satirical humor and honesty unusual in TV news.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , March 25, 2017 at 09:38 AM
Maybe more sarcasm than satire, but the point is the same - wit and honesty.
JohnH -> Chris G ... , March 25, 2017 at 07:52 AM
Apparently we have two jokes alternating to lead America: the Republican jokes vs. the Democratic jokes.

Democrats are a joke for rallying their elite around a candidate who had huge negatives and for trying to block more popular candidates from running.

Democrats are a joke for having to rig the primaries in favor of a candidate who had already lost in 2008.

Democrats are a joke for refusing to sack a sclerotic, corrupt, and inept congressional leadership that had lost three straight elections.

Democrats are a joke for refusing to seize the issue that had propelled two Democrats into office--it's the economy, stupid!

Democrats are a joke for pigheadedly refusing to do a post mortem of their failure and insisting on blaming Putin instead!

But Democrats are right to expect that, when two jokes vie for power, their turn as joke in power will eventually come.

mulp -> JohnH... , March 25, 2017 at 08:29 AM
Ok, so, who do you want a post mortum to produce as the Democratic Trump?

Who would be the Democratic Freedom caucus obstructing all change unless all private property is confiscated?

You are merely saying Democrats must be more like Republicans. More extreme.

Democrats are centrists and moderates and thus unable to promise silver bullet solutions, free lunches, ...

Democrats just can't lie like Republicans have increasingly done since Reagan promised free lunches and failed to deliver, causing increasing anger among those Reagan betrayed.

JohnH -> mulp... , March 25, 2017 at 09:01 AM
Maybe a post mortem would simply reveal that Democrats should have had a coherent economic message and pursued a strategy of standing up for working America for the past 8 years. For example, having Pelosi demand votes on increasing the minimum wage as often as Ryan demanded votes on killing Obamacare...

Any honest post mortem would have revealed that standing with billionaires and the Wall Street banking cartel--and not prosecuting a single Wall Street banker--is not a winning strategy...

jonny bakho -> JohnH... , March 25, 2017 at 10:53 AM
Do you understand how Congress Works?
Pelosi has not had power to demand any votes since 2010.
As soon as the Dems came to power in 2007, they raised the MinWage and Bush signed.
There were several yearly increases.
You are repeating GOP nonsense
JohnH -> jonny bakho... , March 25, 2017 at 11:26 AM
Do you understand how Congress works? Pelosi could have proposed legislation in 2009-2010 to increase the minimum wage and index it to inflation. With a filibuster proof majority in the Senate it could have passed.

The Senate could have repeatedly proposed increasing the minimum wage any time until 2015...and Democrats could have attempted to attach minimum wage legislation as a budget rider any time they wanted. They didn't.

Chris G -> JohnH... , March 25, 2017 at 12:33 PM
That Pelosi did not resign immediately following the 2016 election or, not having offered her resignation, that Congressional Democrats did not demand it is an indication that the party still has deep-rooted problems. (Pelosi may not be the cause of those problems but given how badly they've fared since 2010 she's clearly not the solution. She has no business remaining as minority leader.) I'm fine with Perez as DNC chair but Ellison should be minority leader.

Lee A. Arnold : , March 25, 2017 at 04:48 AM
"Medicare for all" may be the best battle cry. 65-70% of the U.S. people want a single-payer. Bernie Sanders has effectively destroyed the old Democratic Party and sits in a commanding position as spokesman, he gets 6 TV cameras with an hour's notice and he is probably the most popular politician in the U.S. The Democrats don't have to push it for now, they can wait for news to develop. This is all on the Republicans. Let the managerial disaster of Trump and the utter immorality of the "Freedom Caucus" sink in a little more, this story has "legs" as they say in show biz.
jonny bakho -> Lee A. Arnold ... , March 25, 2017 at 05:04 AM
David Frum, the excommunicated conservative wrote in 2010:
""The real leaders are on TV and radio"

Bernie Sanders is the Dems TV leader.
Simple ideas repeated endlessly, easy to memorize slogans
Knows how to manipulate emotions
In the Twitter Age, this is how all successful politicians must message

Chris G -> jonny bakho... , March 25, 2017 at 06:29 AM
It doesn't hurt that his ideas are good ones;-)

Simple slogans repeated often isn't a new approach to politics. It goes back well over a century. "Keep it simple and take credit." Liberals haven't been very good at that in recent decades. (In contrast, FDR was.) Most people aren't wonks nor do they desire to become one. Messaging which presumes that they are or do is not a recipe for success.

Chris G -> Chris G ... , March 25, 2017 at 06:31 AM
Jack Meserve, Keep It Simple and Take Credit - http://democracyjournal.org/arguments/keep-it-simple-and-take-credit/
jonny bakho -> Lee A. Arnold ... , March 25, 2017 at 05:09 AM
Sanders has not "destroyed" the old Democratic Party.
He is a better TV messenger and ambassador to the public
He plays the Paternalistic Grandfather who does not trigger culture shock among white voters on TV
Lee A. Arnold -> jonny bakho... , March 25, 2017 at 05:59 AM
More like the cranky uncle, whom you had better listen to. Bernie Sanders is currently the most popular politician in the United States, by a long shot:

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/the-administration/325647-stunning-polls-show-sanders-soaring-while-trumpcare

Peter K. -> jonny bakho... , March 25, 2017 at 08:24 AM
you minimize how well he did in the primary as do all of you dishonest center-left types
Peter K. -> Peter K.... , March 25, 2017 at 08:31 AM
Sanders won New Hampshire, Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Vermont, Kansas, Nebraska, Maine, Michigan, Idaho, Utah, Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Rhode Island, Indiana, West Virginia, Oregon, Montana, North Dakota.

*and he was close in many states like losing Massachusetts 606k to 589k. And the entire second half of the primary the DNC was repeating how Hillary had won mathematically over and over even though people hadn't voted.

DeDude -> jonny bakho... , March 25, 2017 at 08:38 AM
"Sanders has not "destroyed" the old Democratic Party"

No he is not stupid. What he has done is moving the Overton window - something that was long overdue. There is definitely an opening to make ObamaCare the first step towards MediCare for all (as it always was intended by by all but the bluedogs). But as good as Sanders is at message and getting the crowds going, he is going to need help with the politicking to actually get it done.

ilsm -> Lee A. Arnold ... , March 25, 2017 at 05:35 AM
too hard....

two party system

both obey FIRE

why no indeps

go for 'serious'

dems

Russians

cannot mess

this up

New Deal democrat -> Lee A. Arnold ... , March 25, 2017 at 07:35 AM
One issue going forward is whether the Dems should offer their own plan. I think they should.

As a few others have pointed out, Trump is not wedded to the GOP establishment. If he thinks he can "WIN bigly!" by allying with Dems, he will do so. I happen to think that he is mainly against "Obamacare" because Obama humiliated him at the White House Correspondents' Dinner once upon a time, and he is nothing if not vengeful. He wants to obliterate Obama's legacy.

So Dems need to make a big stink any time Trump administrativley undercuts Obamacare provisions to try to make it fail. But also they should give him the chance to do something he can call Trumpcare that actually works.

Obamacare does have some major problems (the individual mandate is hated, and the penalty isn't big enough. More young people need to buy in. Some of the Exchanges and health care provider networks are too narrow.

In addition to the "public option" and age 55+ Medicare buy-in, one thing that might work is abollishing the mandate and penalty and replaciing them with automatic enrollment. Call it "You're employed, you're covered!"

Just like SS, Medicare, unemployment and disability deductions to paychecks, establish a Health Care automatic deductible. If your employer offers healthcare, the deductible is reduced by the amount of the premium, all the way to zero if applicable.
If your employer doesn't offer healthcare, if you are under age 40, you are automatically enrolled in the least expensive Bronze plan in your state. If you are 40 or older, you are automatically enrolled in the least expensive Silver plan in your state.

The deductible would also include a small contribution towards Medicaid. Then, if you are unemployed, you are automatically enrolled in Medicaid, but can continue with the silver or bronze plan as above if you choose.

Dems could turmpet such a plan to "Reform and Improve" Obamacare, and campaign on pushing for it if they get a Congressional majority. Call it Trumpcare and President Caligula might sign on.

Peter K. -> New Deal democrat... , March 25, 2017 at 08:22 AM
Yes, good succinct comment by Arnold.
DeDude -> New Deal democrat... , March 25, 2017 at 08:52 AM
I agree that there might be an opening for that after the midterms. If Trump pushes on the weak spots of ObamaCare rather than fixing them, he will have backed himself into a corner that only the democrats can help him get out of. Right now democrats just need to do a lot of nice talk about being willing to sit down with the President and negotiate a common sense bipartisan solution.
mulp -> DeDude... , March 25, 2017 at 09:46 AM
No. Republicans must be driven by fear to sit down with Democrats to get their help. Republicans must own whatever they get Democrats to support so Republicans can't turn around and attack the result like they attacked the Republican defined Obamacare.

Medicaid is Republican defined - Medicare for the poor gave too much to the inferior poor and disabled. The old were superior because they are the fit who survived, thus they are rewarded with Medicare.

The Obamacare public option is Medicaid. Government health care for losers. Anyone can qualify by choosing to be losers. Obamacare does have the public option progressives demanded, but it's not the public option for winners.

Paine -> Lee A. Arnold ... , March 25, 2017 at 08:04 AM
Excellent commentary Lee A A
Peter K. -> Lee A. Arnold ... , March 25, 2017 at 08:22 AM
Yes, good succinct comment by Arnold.
mulp -> Lee A. Arnold ... , March 25, 2017 at 09:37 AM
Name the Senators, representatives, and governors Bernie Bros have delivered?

Where are the Bernie Bros Newts, Cruz, Marcos, ...?

I'm in my 70th year. Conservatives attacked liberals in the 60s, my youth, as promising free lunches to gain power. But what they really hated was liberals convinced voters to tax all voters to pay for the things most voters wanted everyone to have, BASED ON SOUND ECONOMICS TO MAXIMIZE EFFICIENCY AND WELFARE.

Friedman led the effort to distort theory to eliminate the broad meaning of general welfare in economics. He did it by eliminating the hard connection between labor cost and gdp. He argued that labor costs and consumption can be cut to increase profits, and that contrary to theory, higher profits is more efficient.

Laffer applied operations theory to taxes, as if government was taxing to maximize profits.

Thus supply side theory of profit maximization.

The result delivered was the imperative to cut taxes. To cut labor costs.

Thus they argued that every economic measure improves if taxes and wages are cut.

Reaganomics would deliver more stuff at lower cost, higher profut, and that makes everyone better off, especially those in poverty.

Friedman saw consumption as a bad thing. He wanted higher gdp, less consumption.

In other words, he rewrote Adam Smith attack on mercantile economics into a justification of returning to mercantile economic policy.

So, who do Bernie Bros offer as the Milton Friedman and Laffer to create an intellectual foundation to refute Adam Smith, FDR, Keynes, Galbraith, are return to hunter gatherer economics? Who is the economist who can convince us that Marxist economic theory will work, as long as it's not captured by right wing capitalists like Fidel Castro, Chavez, Stalin, Lenin, the founders of Israel, ....

Bernie certainly must be influenced by the same economic theory that created Israel. It grew from the same Marxist roots in Germany that powered Stalin and Lenin. Bernie is a pre-WWII Zionist as best I can tell.

Why wouldn't Bernie deliver Israel governance to the US? How would he prevent the greedy from joining the Movement?

And Israel has the social welfare state system Bernie wants. Hundreds of thousands of men do not work so they can study supported by welfare. Universal health care. Women are very equal in status.

I grew up heating the Zionist Dream, theory, much like Bernie did, but from conservative Indiana. Seemed very idealist virtue becoming reality in the 50s and 60s.

I have often used Israel as the example of a good universal health care system, of education, of welfare.

Never heard Bernie say, "I want the US to be like Israel." Why not? Why Sweden?

jonny bakho : , March 25, 2017 at 04:54 AM
Frank is wrong. What the GOP establishment dislikes most about Obamacare is the taxes on the wealthy. Medicare for all would have to be paid for by taxes on the wealthy or substantial payroll tax increases on the working class.
This does not meet GOP or Trump objectives for tax cuts on the wealthy.
The TV and radio talk uses Obamacare bashing to sell ads. They can easily change the subject to some other click bait.
Medicare for all? NaGonnaHappN
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> jonny bakho... , March 25, 2017 at 05:14 AM
Frank was not suggesting that the GOP establishment would support Medicare for all. Frank was suggesting that Trump would essentially change parties to become a Democrat. As dubious as that notion is, more importantly it is premature. If Democrats win back both chambers of Congress, then it would at least be mechanically possible if still extraordinarily dubious. Mostly though Frank was just reaching for something worth saying. Now is a tuff time for commentary on the political economy.
jonny bakho -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , March 25, 2017 at 05:47 AM
Trump is not going to raise the taxes required to fund Medicare For All.
Frank is delusional
Lee A. Arnold -> jonny bakho... , March 25, 2017 at 06:10 AM
Jonny Bakho: "Medicare for all would have to be paid for by taxes"

Theoretically you don't have to raises taxes if you get private insurers out of the game. They are a big expense, and give no value-added.

Doesn't mean that is politically possible, with Trump and a GOP Congress. But Trump and a Democratic Congress? I couldn't predict. Keep in mind that this man is almost an ideological vacuum, no managerial skills, has no constant concerns for anything except keeping himself in the spotlights, to be loved. And he just learned that the Freedom Caucus is implacably nuts.

New Deal democrat -> Lee A. Arnold ... , March 25, 2017 at 07:21 AM
"the Freedom Caucus is impacably nuts."

Thank the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster for that!!!!

Everytime the centrist dems - or mainly GOPers - try to sell out social insurance programs, the Freedom Caucus stands in their way. As a progressive, I am deeply and profoundly grateful!

/ snark

New Deal democrat -> New Deal democrat... , March 25, 2017 at 07:22 AM
"every time" and "main line"

G*d I hate autocorrect.

ilsm -> New Deal democrat... , March 25, 2017 at 09:10 AM
socialists should all be glad

trump is running the wreckage

more 'social progress' for big FIRE

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Lee A. Arnold ... , March 25, 2017 at 07:30 AM
"They are a big expense, and give no value-added."

[Someone has to do claims processing. The resistance against growing the federal payroll is an unnecessary hurdle for Medicare for all (MFA) to jump. Better administer it more like Medicaid. Let insurance companies handle the operations for a fee. Federal claim payments are handled on a pass thru. Then let the operational administration default to the MFA supplemental plan carrier if the insured has one, else the lowest cost carrier in the insured's state. For MFA clients then there could be a single claims process for providers even for patients with both MFA and MFA supplemental policies. That lowers the hurdle for MFA to leap over the insurance company lobby as well.]

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , March 25, 2017 at 07:31 AM
Hell, that would even lower the provider and patient hurdles.
Lee A. Arnold -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , March 25, 2017 at 10:08 AM
Claims processing by humans is going to become a thing of the past.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Lee A. Arnold ... , March 25, 2017 at 11:29 AM
Most of health insurance claims processing has been automated for a long time. Still it takes a lot of worker-hours to reconcile the errors.

Imagine how many worker hours it will take to reconcile liabilities for the first multi-car multi-fatality pile up of robot cars on the LA freeway. It will not matter that in total there have been less collisions and less fatalities when the big one hits. Computers are incapable of intuitive judgement which leads to blunders of potentially a colossal scale occurring that could have easily been foreseen by a human. To err is human but it takes a computer to really screw things up beyond all recognition. It is just a matter of time and time is always on Murphy's (that which can go wrong will go wrong) side. I know that myths about computers that never make mistakes and never need to be programmed again abound and I am sure that they will still be with us 20,000 years from now, when we are not even in any memory banks. I spent my entire career about to be replaced by software, but I was finally laid off because of administrative concerns with regards to legacy managed employees in context of the re-compete of the NG/VITA outsourcing contract (which is far less catchy). Computers have the potential to speed transit and reduce fatalities, but that potential will not be permanently realized as long as people are intent upon removing all human control and intervention. Computers can be capable copilots under almost all circumstances, but their owners cannot weather the fallout from their inability to conceive a response on their own when confronted with conditions that they were not programmed for. Such dramatic consequences will eventually raise a great furor, horror, deep sorrow, and extensive liability concerns. Even if you could sue a computer it is unlikely that they could demonstrate the means to pay. Incarceration of a computer for criminal negligence seems a bit ludicrous as well. The owner of the offending property better have their insurance premiums all paid up, but what then? Who will insure the next owner? Advocates of computer driven cars are planning on no fault insurance being mandated in each and every state. Good luck with that.

My wife works for Anthem although not in claims processing. She used to work in membership which is also automated. Software developers for health insurance mostly use Agile methods. One facet of that is that they only expect automation to handle roughly 90% (ideally more) of the workload because they have learned that there will never be a no defects computer system and they are saving expensive labor time in development by allowing lower paid workers to pick up a lot of the more complicated cases manually. That reduces time spent in the iterative process of testing and correcting defects. I am sure that you remember the problems with the ACA's automated insurance membership market. Stuff happens all the time in IT.

It is not that I had to work in IT for 47 years to understand the limitations. Merely my childhood education on the mathematical system of logic that underlies their circuitry and programming would have been sufficient, but a bit of empirical confirmation never hurts. Understanding reality is unfortunately a pre-requisite, but once that is accomplished then there are great opportunities to achieve improved results. Computers are not the problem, but can often be an essential part of the solution rather than a faceless soulless panacea. Does not compute can happen anywhere, but worse though when it happens at 75 MPH.

mulp -> Lee A. Arnold ... , March 25, 2017 at 09:57 AM
So, your answer is higher unemployment?

"They are a big expense, and give no value-added."

You clearly buy in too free lunch economics!

Cut costs (of paying workers) to give everyone more stuff and create more higher paying jobs!!!

By the way, Medicare employs as many people as insurers to administer the benefits and provider payments. After all, it's all outsourced to insurers who already do that work for employers.

Do not assume that the 10% of insured individuals and small groups with high sales and marketing cost represent the costs of the 80% with very low sales and marketing costs, handled by insurer backroom operations.

Your argument is like saying that nationalizing Apple would cut food costs by 50% because Apple sales, marketing, profits are 50% of Apple revenue and thus 50% of everything is sales, marketing, profit.

Lee A. Arnold -> mulp... , March 25, 2017 at 11:27 AM
Every serious study that looks at current costs in the multipayer healthcare insurance concludes that moving to single-payer will save 15-20% of total spending. Here is yet another one:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4283267/
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Lee A. Arnold ... , March 25, 2017 at 11:40 AM
There is nothing about that paper that would not hold true or even truer of a two tiered system of Medicare for all with administrative processing collocated with the supplemental insurer whenever there is one. Just do a work flow model and note how many steps are cut out at each the provider and insurer if primary and secondary coverage administrative processing for membership, claims, and policy holder services are collocated.
Chris G -> jonny bakho... , March 25, 2017 at 06:46 AM
Ah, but Trump is both delusional and vengeful. He might wake up one morning and decide that Republicans are enemies to be destroyed. He has no interest in let alone understanding of policy. He could take a position just out of spite. And if he thought it would make people who weren't his enemies love him then who knows. (Odds of him being struck by lightning are probably comparable - low but not zero.)
RGC -> jonny bakho... , March 25, 2017 at 06:50 AM
Government Funds 60% of U.S. Healthcare Costs - Far Higher than Previously Believed

"We Pay for National Health Insurance but Don't Get It"

"Universal coverage is affordable - without a big tax increase," continued Dr. Himmelstein. "Because taxes already fund 60% of health care costs, a shift about the size of the recent tax cut ($130 billion a year) from private funding to public funding would allow us to cover all the uninsured and improve benefits for everyone else. Insurers/HMOs and drug companies buy-off our politicians with huge campaign contributions and hordes of lobbyists."


http://www.pnhp.org/news/2002/july/government_funds_60.php

Chris G -> RGC... , March 25, 2017 at 07:20 AM
Reference is from 2002. Current numbers?
RGC -> Chris G ... , March 25, 2017 at 08:04 AM
Beyond the Affordable Care Act: A Physicians' Proposal for Single-Payer Health Care Reform

During a transition period, all public funds currently spent on health care – including Medicare, Medicaid, and state and local health care programs – would be redirected to the unified NHP budget. Such public spending – together with tax subsidies for employer-paid insurance and government expenditures for public workers' health benefits – already accounts for 60% of total U.S. health expenditures.28 Additional funds would be raised through taxes, though importantly these would be fully offset by a decrease in out-of-pocket spending and premiums.

http://www.pnhp.org/nhi

RGC -> RGC... , March 25, 2017 at 07:36 AM
Many employers now pay for employees' health insurance and that employee compensation is tax-exempt.

If employers health insurance comp were replaced by medicare for all, employers could replace it with wages.

Employees could get health insurance from medicare instead of from private plans. Thus instead of private health insurance paid by employers (and partially by the government via tax exemptions), medicare could pay it from the taxes the government didn't use to collect.

RGC -> RGC... , March 25, 2017 at 10:13 AM
Which would you rather do - pay taxes for Medicare or pay a larger amount than the taxes to private insurers?
ilsm -> RGC... , March 25, 2017 at 09:12 AM
when a "kid" of 50 needs

quad bi-pass they must

thank medicare those

cardio ICU's would be

gone without the

75 years olds' "demand"

as if FIRE would finance

$2M units

that don't

have positive ROI

RGC -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , March 25, 2017 at 07:08 AM
Is Donald Trump still 'for single-payer' health care?


"Perry said Trump is "for single-payer health care."


Fifteen years ago, Trump was decidedly for a universal healthcare system that resembled Canada's system, in which the government pays for care for all citizens.

Recently, he's said he admires Scotland's single-payer system and disses the Affordable Care Act as incompetently implemented.

However, a Trump spokesman denied that the candidate supported "socialized medicine" and suggested Trump prefers a "free-market" solution. Other than that, though, the Trump campaign has been silent about what his specific health care policies are; perhaps Trump will be pressed on this point during the Aug. 6 debate.

Given the current evidence, Perry's attack is partially accurate, but leaves out details. We rate the statement Half True.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/aug/02/rick-perry/donald-trump-still-single-payer-health-care/

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> RGC... , March 25, 2017 at 07:40 AM
Trump will need to leave the Republican Party to get that done and first he will need the Republican Party majority to leave Congress.
RGC -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , March 25, 2017 at 07:51 AM
You mean like in 2018?
ilsm -> RGC... , March 25, 2017 at 09:15 AM
Trump single payer

need the dems off

wall st as well

what Trump said

US not ready

bi partisan thugs

must plunder more

to make US

ready

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> RGC... , March 25, 2017 at 09:40 AM
Well, 2018 would be about time for it, but the Democratic Party has proven an unreliable source before.
DeDude -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , March 25, 2017 at 09:05 AM
Trump is actually apolitical - the only reason he right now is Trumpeting hard right wing and neocon ideas is that he is being feed them, and he got snookered into thinking they would work for him. When he realize that crap is pulling his reputation and popularity down the drain, he will be ready for someone to offer him a lifeline.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> DeDude... , March 25, 2017 at 09:42 AM
Well, that would certainly be my hope. There is evidence that he has been all over the map politically which confirms what you say.
ilsm -> jonny bakho... , March 25, 2017 at 05:36 AM
gop and dem

establish

the same

Peter K. -> ilsm... , March 25, 2017 at 08:20 AM
New Deal democrat -> Lee A. Arnold...

"the Freedom Caucus is impacably nuts."

Thank the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster for that!!!!

Everytime the centrist dems - or mainly GOPers - try to sell out social insurance programs, the Freedom Caucus stands in their way. As a progressive, I am deeply and profoundly grateful!

/ snark

Reply Saturday, March 25, 2017 at 07:21 AM

My thoughts exactly. EMichael and PGL said it was the Wall Street Democrats we had to worry about? What?

Tax reform will also crash and burn now. PGL has been all worried whining for months without telling his readers that there is a large business and conservative opposition to Paul Ryan's reform.

ilsm -> Peter K.... , March 25, 2017 at 09:17 AM
the DLC/Clinton cabal

implacably corrupt!

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> ilsm... , March 25, 2017 at 09:45 AM
The nature of dollar duopoly is implacably corrupt. Until we change that system then we will have to make do with what we got. It has largely been that way since the ink dried on the US Constitution.
Gerald : , March 25, 2017 at 05:30 AM
"The president...may consider changing course and working across party lines to develop support for universal access to Medicare." Would that this were possible; Trump doesn't care nearly enough about the millions who would benefit to make the slightest move in this direction.
ilsm -> Gerald ... , March 25, 2017 at 05:38 AM
aside from

early tax returns

trump has

early view

of EU style

health system

look it up

Fred C. Dobbs -> ilsm... , March 25, 2017 at 07:26 AM
So, most here will agree,
let it be Bernie, going forward?

I could accept & work with that.

ilsm -> Fred C. Dobbs... , March 25, 2017 at 09:18 AM
yup!
DeDude -> Gerald ... , March 25, 2017 at 09:10 AM
The thing he cares about is his approval ratings and popularity. He will soon enough recognize that supporting issues that has support from 2/3 or more of the population is the way to improve his popularity. If the democrats play it right they can get a lot of their own priorities through with his help. Remember how Bush II got a $ trillion MediCare prescription drug benefit through a conservative congress (and it is funded through the regular progressive tax system). That was a democratic policy that could not have been passed by a democratic President.
marcus nunes : , March 25, 2017 at 06:09 AM
"The EU will celebrate on March 25th the 60th anniversary of its founding (Treaty of Rome, 1957), while its future is in doubt. What went wrong?"
https://thefaintofheart.wordpress.com/2012/05/27/meade-swann-and-how-two-simple-lines-perfectly-illustrate-the-eurozone-conundrum/
point : , March 25, 2017 at 06:43 AM
https://growthecon.com/blog/Profit-Accounting/

"If your house is worth 500,000, a 3% return would mean charging 15,000 in rent per year, or 1,250 per month. Now, if you look out at the market and find out that you could actually rent your house out for 2,000 per month, you are making 750 in economic profit. The price you can charge for your house, 2,000, is higher than the marginal cost to you, 1,250. Profits!"

The idea that the difference in market value and PV rents represents economic profits does not sit well with me, but I can't exactly explain why. It seems more like speculative profit. And the idea that the difference should systematically persist, as seems to be the case in the discussion, also does not sit well. The discussion implies, after all, that rents, representing non-production, are becoming increasingly large in aggregate. I know that we subsidize the pyramid accumulation of rent streams, for no good reason in my opinion, but if this is true it seems to say there is another kind of hollowing out underway where rents displace real return on investment. All this in the context where renters, in general, cannot fund the sum of housing, education, medical care and retirement

DeDude -> point... , March 25, 2017 at 09:18 AM
That calculation doesn't take into account the depreciation of the property or the taxes and maintenance. A lot of people who buy houses to rent them out use the rule of 100. If you want to make good money on a rental property you have to be able to get a rent of no less than 1% of your purchase price. So a $100K property should rent out for $1000 per month.
point -> DeDude... , March 25, 2017 at 10:30 AM
So the guy's 3% may be in error.
DeDude -> point... , March 25, 2017 at 11:07 AM
Yes big time. He is considering the house an investment asset with no cost (like a bond or stock). However, houses have all kinds of cost and they also lose value for every year they get older. An investment return of 3% is only "reasonable" for basically risk free investments (government or government guaranteed bonds) that have absolutely no cost associated with owning them.
Fred C. Dobbs : , March 25, 2017 at 07:35 AM
In a Call to The Times, Trump Blames Democrats for the
Failure of the Health Bill https://nyti.ms/2nNPHD9
NYT - MAGGIE HABERMAN - MARCH 24, 2017

WASHINGTON - Just moments after the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act was declared dead, President Trump sought to paint the defeat of his first legislative effort as an early-term blip.

The House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, was preparing to tell the public that the health care bill was being withdrawn - a byproduct, Mr. Trump said, of Democratic partisanship. The president predicted that Democrats would return to him to make a deal in roughly a year.

"Look, we got no Democratic votes. We got none, zero," Mr. Trump said in a telephone interview he initiated with The New York Times.

"The good news is they now own health care. They now own Obamacare."

Mr. Trump insisted that the Affordable Care Act would collapse in the next year, which would then force Democrats to come to the bargaining table for a new bill.

"The best thing that can happen is that we let the Democrats, that we let Obamacare continue, they'll have increases from 50 to 100 percent," he said. "And when it explodes, they'll come to me to make a deal. And I'm open to that."

Although enrollment in the Affordable Care Act declined slightly in the past year, there is no sign that it is collapsing. Its expansion of Medicaid continues to grow.

In a later phone interview with The Times, the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, ridiculed Mr. Trump's remarks about Democrats being at fault.

"Whenever the president gets in trouble, he points fingers of blame," Mr. Schumer said. "It's about time he stopped doing that and started to lead. The Republicans were totally committed to repeal from the get-go, never talked to us once. But now that they realize that repeal can't work, if they back off repeal, of course we'll work with them to make it even better."

Mr. Trump said that "when they come to make a deal," he would be open and receptive. He singled out the Tuesday Group moderates for praise, calling them "terrific," an implicit jab at the House Freedom Caucus, which his aides had expressed frustration with during negotiations. ...

Fred C. Dobbs -> Fred C. Dobbs... , March 25, 2017 at 07:41 AM
Failure of health care bill is a huge setback for Trump
http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2017/03/24/trump-massive-loss-endangers-his-young-presidency/Czat7MDmwHa7us43qJeEbM/story.html?event=event25
via @BostonGlobe - Annie Linskey - March 25, 2017

WASHINGTON - Donald Trump famously said that if he became president he would win so much, Americans would get tired of winning. But so far he's mostly losing, bigly.

Even with a wide Republican majority in the House, the president failed to deliver on the centerpiece of his legislative agenda - repealing the Affordable Care Act - raising loud questions about the effectiveness of his young presidency and whether Republicans are capable of making the transition from an opposition party to one that governs.

"It's a catastrophic legislative failure," said Rick Tyler, a Republican strategist who didn't support Trump during the election. "It's the equivalent of having a cardiac arrest. You can recover from it, but it will take a lot of rehab."

He added: "Political experience is a hard teacher. You get the test first and learn the lesson next."

Even former House speaker Newt Gingrich, a close Trump ally, delivered a harsh verdict Friday. "Why would you schedule a vote on a bill that is at 17 percent approval?" he asked on his Twitter feed, referring to a Quinnipiac University poll.

The tweet went viral, and in an interview Gingrich added: "When I saw the numbers - that is everything I have opposed in my entire career. That's how the Republicans lost the majority."

Still, the defeat of Trump's first request of Congress represents a further deterioration of his already shaky credibility in Washington and among the American people.

He has cast himself as a master salesman and the "closer" who can win over allies in the most difficult of circumstances through some combination of his winning personality and take-no-prisoners approach to negotiations.

But that picture of Trump is becoming about as questionable as his unsubstantiated claims that he had huge crowd sizes at his inauguration, his unproven accusations that bus loads of Massachusetts voters cast illegal ballots in New Hampshire, and his much rejected insistence that then-President Obama put a wiretap on his phone.

The pattern, in the eyes of his harshest critics, is that there's little evidence to back up his boasts.

He could not close this deal. Republican members of the House of Representatives, who have voted to repeal the Obama health law more than 50 times in the past seven years, refused Trump's entreaties to support the Republican replacement for the law.

The setback comes as other storm clouds are gathering over the Trump presidency. There's the FBI investigation into whether his campaign staff coordinated e-mail leaks designed to influence the election, along with the Russians.

FBI director James Comey was spotted going in and out of the West Wing on Friday, which was a reminder of the investigation, even if the White House claimed Comey was there for a routine meeting. ...

Tom aka Rusty -> Fred C. Dobbs... , March 25, 2017 at 07:47 AM
This was bound to happen.
Fred C. Dobbs -> Tom aka Rusty ... , March 25, 2017 at 08:08 AM
Hillary Clinton ✔ ‎@HillaryClinton

Today was a victory for all Americans.

5:21 PM - 24 Mar 2017

(statement at https://twitter.com/HillaryClinton/status/845385004389666816 )

Fred C. Dobbs -> Tom aka Rusty ... , March 25, 2017 at 08:19 AM
Elizabeth Warren ✔ ‎@SenWarren

But I'm not doing a touchdown dance today. Not
when the GOP is still hell-bent on rigging the
system for the rich & powerful.

5:56 PM - 24 Mar 2017

https://twitter.com/SenWarren/status/845393852219478022

ilsm -> Fred C. Dobbs... , March 25, 2017 at 09:24 AM
Comey going in

to talk jail

not gop targets

story is not only

uncovering DLC corruption

it is leaking

surveillance of Russian

diplomats' conversation with

US citizens that have no

intelligence to leak

'colluding' to put the truth

out is only crime

to DLC Leninists

Obama Leninism

crushing the

Bill of Rights

is the story

Fred C. Dobbs -> Fred C. Dobbs... , March 25, 2017 at 08:02 AM
On health-care, as on so much else,
President Trump passes the buck, reports
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/03/the-buck-doesnt-stop-here-anymore/520839/
The Atlantic - David A. Graham - March 24, 2017

Speaking in the Oval Office Friday afternoon, President Trump surveyed the wreckage of the Obamacare repeal effort and issued a crisp, definitive verdict: I didn't do it.

The president said he didn't blame Speaker Paul Ryan, though he had plenty of implied criticism for the speaker. "I like Speaker Ryan. He worked very hard," Trump said, but he added: "I'm not going to speak badly about anybody within the Republican Party. Certainly there's a big history. I really think Paul worked hard." He added ruefully that the GOP could have taken up tax-reform first, instead of Obamacare-the reverse of Ryan's desired sequence. "Now we're going to go for tax reform, which I've always liked," he said.

As for the House Freedom Caucus, the bloc of conservatives from which many of the apparent "no" votes on the Republican plan were to come, Trump said, "I'm not betrayed. They're friends of mine. I'm disappointed because we could've had it. So I'm disappointed. I'm a little surprised, I could tell you."

The greatest blame for the bill's failure fell on Democrats, Trump said.

"This really would've worked out better if we could've had Democrat support. Remember we had no Democrat support," Trump said. Later, he added, "But when you get no votes from the other side, meaning the Democrats, it's really a difficult situation."

He said Democrats should come up with their own bill. "I think the losers are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, because they own Obamacare," he said, referring to the House and Senate Democratic leaders. "They 100 percent own it."

Trump was very clear about who was not to blame: himself. "I worked as a team player," the president of the United States said, demoting himself to bit-player status. He wanted to do tax reform first, after all, and it was still early. "I've been in office, what, 64 days? I've never said repeal and replace Obamacare within 64 days. I have a long time. I want to have a great health-care bill and plan and we will."

Strictly speaking, it is true that Trump didn't promise to repeal Obamacare on day 64 of his administration. What he told voters, over and over during the campaign, was that he'd do it immediately. On some occasions he or top allies even promised to do it on day 1. Now he and his allies are planning to drop the bill for the foreseeable future.

It is surely not wrong that there is lots of blame to go around. Congressional Republicans had years to devise a plan, and couldn't come up with one that would win a majority in the House, despite a 44-seat advantage. The House bill was an unpopular one, disliked by conservatives and moderates in that chamber; almost certainly dead on arrival in the Senate; and deeply unpopular with voters. Even before the vote was canceled, unnamed White House officials were telling reporters that the plan was to pin the blame on Ryan. ...

The Republicans fold and
withdraw their health-care bill https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/03/trump-republicans-failure-obamacare/520788/
The Atlantic - Russell Berman - March 24, 2017

... Defeat on the floor dealt Trump a major blow early in his presidency, but its implications were far more serious for the Republican Party as a whole. Handed unified control of the federal government for only the third time since World War II, the modern GOP was unable to overcome its internecine fights to enact a key part of its policy agenda. The president now wants to move on to a comprehensive overhaul of the tax code, but insiders on Capitol Hill have long believed that project will be an even heavier lift than health care.

As the prospect of a loss became more real on Friday, the frustrations of GOP lawmakers loyal to the leadership began to boil over. "I've been in this job eight years, and I'm wracking my brain to think of one thing our party has done that's been something positive, that's been something other than stopping something else from happening," Representative Tom Rooney of Florida said in an interview. "We need to start having victories as a party. And if we can't, then it's hard to justify why we should be back here."

Nothing has exemplified the party's governing challenge quite like health care. For years, Republican leaders resisted pressure from Democrats and rank-and-file lawmakers to coalesce around a detailed legislative alternative to Obamacare. That failure didn't prevent them from attaining power, but it forced them to start nearly from scratch after Trump's surprising victory in November. At Ryan's urging, the party had compiled a plan as part of the speaker's "A Better Way" campaign agenda. Translating that into legislation, however, proved a much stiffer challenge; committee leaders needed to navigate a razor's edge to satisfy conservatives demanding a full repeal of Obamacare and satisfy moderates who preferred to keep in place its more popular consumer protections and Medicaid expansion. They were further limited by the procedural rules of the Senate, which circumscribed how far Republicans could go while still avoiding a Democratic filibuster. ...

Fred C. Dobbs -> Fred C. Dobbs... , March 25, 2017 at 08:27 AM
It would appear that the 'Freedom Caucus', of
about 30 GOPsters in the House, was barely
enough to stop the AHCA because it 'wasn't
conservative enough', but the moderate
Tuesday Group of about 50 surely was,
because it was too 'conservative'.
ilsm -> Fred C. Dobbs... , March 25, 2017 at 09:28 AM
even with super majority

Obama got a severely flawed

pro FIRE ACA

not Affordable

only replace is

medicare for all

mulp -> ilsm... , March 25, 2017 at 10:16 AM
But you need better free lunch economics to beat the free lunch economics of conservatives, Republicans, Tea Party, Freedom caucus, and Trump.

You need free lunch economics that work and deliver something for nothing. The failure Friday was free lunch economics hitting reality. Getting government and insurance companies out of the lives of Trump and Republican voters did not make these voters richer, healthier, and freer.

Bernie has his own free lunch economics which will likewise turn out to be ashes in the mouths of voters who might get him into the White House, he wants to cut spending based on "not paying workers will not make those workers worse off". Exactly the same theory Reagan to Trump use. Gutting costly regulations that require paying workers to comply will not result in workers being worse off. Or property owners.

Bernie campaigned on eliminating fossil fuels in a way that his voters will be able to keep burning fossil fuels to drive to his rallies and to heat their homes.

anne : , March 25, 2017 at 07:54 AM
http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/new-health-care-plan-open-source-drugs-immigrant-doctors-and-a-public-option

March 25, 2017

New Health Care Plan: Open Source Drugs, Immigrant Doctors, and a Public Option

Now that the Republican health care plan has been sent to the dust bin of history, it's worth thinking about how Obamacare can be improved. While the Affordable Care Act was a huge step forward in extending insurance coverage, many of the complaints against the program are justified. The co-pays and deductibles can mean the plans are of little use to middle income people with relatively low bills.

This is a great time to put forward ideas for reducing these costs and making other changes in the health care system. Obviously this congress and president are not interested in reforms that help low and middle income families, but the rest of us can start pushing these ideas now, with the expectation that the politicians will eventually come around.

There are two obvious directions to go to get costs down for low and middle income families. One is to increase taxes on the wealthy. The other is to reduce the cost of health care. The latter is likely the more promising option, especially since we have such a vast amount of waste in our system. The three obvious routes are lower prices for prescription drugs and medical equipment, reducing the pay of doctors, and savings on administrative costs from having Medicare offer an insurance plan in the exchanges.

Taking these in turn, the largest single source of savings would be reducing what we pay for prescription drugs. We will spend over $440 billion this year for drugs that would likely sell for less than $80 billion in a free market without patent monopolies and other forms of protection. If we paid as much as people in other wealthy countries for our drugs, we would save close to $200 billion a year. We spend another $50 billion a year on medical equipment which would likely cost around $15 billion in a free market.

If the government negotiated prices for drugs and medical equipment its savings could easily exceed $100 billion a year (see "Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer" * ). It could use some of these savings to finance open-source research for new drugs and medical equipment.

We already fund a huge amount of research, so this is not some radical departure from current practice. The government spends more than $32 billion on research conducted by the National Institutes of Health. It also picks up 50 percent of the industry's research costs on orphan drugs through the Orphan Drug Tax Credit. Orphan drugs are a rapidly growing share of all drug approvals, as the industry increasingly takes advantage of this tax credit.

The big change would not be that the government was funding research, but rather the research results and patents would be in the public domain, rather than be used by Pfizer and other drug companies to get patent monopolies. As a result, the next great breakthrough drug will sell as a generic for a few hundred dollars rather than hundreds of thousands of dollars. And MRI scans would cost little more than X-rays.

The second big potential source of savings would come from reducing the protectionist barriers which largely exclude foreign-trained physicians. Under current law, a foreign doctor is prohibited from practicing in the United States unless they complete a U.S. residency program. This keeps hundreds of thousands of well-qualified from physicians from practicing in the United States. As a result, our doctors earn on average more than $250,000 a year, roughly twice the average pay in other wealthy countries. (There are similar protectionist restrictions which inflate the pay of dentists.)

If we removed this barrier and allowed qualified foreign doctors to practice in the United States, we would likely get their pay down to levels comparable to that of doctors in countries like Canada and Germany. This could save us close to $100 billion a year on our health care bill, at least half of which would be savings to the government.

There is a concern that we would attract more doctors from developing countries. We could easily offset this brain drain by paying these countries enough so that they can train two or three doctors for every one that comes to the United States, thereby ensuring they gain from this arrangement as well. It is worth noting that these countries receive zero compensation now for the doctors they pay to train, but who then practice in the United States.

The third big source of saving would be having Medicare offer an insurance plan in the exchanges. This would ensure both that everyone had at least one good option regardless of where they lived and also that the private insurers in the system would face real competition. In 2010, the Congressional Budget Office projected that a public option would save the government $23 billion a year by 2020 and $29 billion by 2023.

The total savings to the government from these three changes easily exceed $150 billion a year, in addition to large savings that individuals outside the exchanges would see in their health care expenses. This is far more than enough to make the deductibles zero for each of the roughly 10 million people now in the exchanges. That would make Obamacare considerably more attractive.

Of course if the plans in the exchanges became more generous more people would opt to take advantage of them and we would see people leaving employer-provided plans. That is a problem that we can deal with at the time it happens. (We would need to have a portion of workers' current payments for employer provided plans go to the government to cover the cost of additional enrollees in the exchanges.) But the way forward in improving Obamacare is to use the market to make our health care system more efficient and reduce the ridiculous rents that now go to the wealthy as a result of waste in the system.

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

-- Dean Baker

anne -> anne... , March 25, 2017 at 07:56 AM
http://deanbaker.net/images/stories/documents/Rigged.pdf

October, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

geoff -> anne... , March 25, 2017 at 08:43 AM
Medicare for all is a great idea but still well out of political reach for a while. On the other hand, cheaper drugs is a goal even trumpers could support with the right sales pitch.

the pushers are unusually profitable:

https://www.statista.com/statistics/272720/top-global-biotech-and-pharmaceutical-companies-based-on-net-income/

and they make for a pretty scummy pond in the swamp:

https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/indusclient.php?id=h04

hey, it could happen here:

https://www.law360.com/articles/903111/canada-prevails-in-383m-eli-lilly-case

Peter K. -> geoff ... , March 25, 2017 at 08:59 AM
Trump met with the heads of the drug companies and decided the solutions was more deregulation.
ilsm -> anne... , March 25, 2017 at 09:29 AM
the operating side is more

needy than the whittling

the finance side

DeDude -> anne... , March 25, 2017 at 10:23 AM
I generally love most of what Dean Baker does. But his weaknesses are on display in this piece. Just enough insights to sound convincing, but not enough to be the real McCoy. Yes we pay our medical doctors a lot more than France. However, ours first come out of undergraduate training having paid over $200K for that, then add another $300K for medical school. So that is a cool $500K in debt that their French counterparts don't have to deal with. Next (and before they can se any patients are internships (3 years) where they are not paid enough to begin paying down the student debt, followed by another 2-5 years of specialty training again with a compensation that cover living but not paying down the debt. Finally after becoming specialists (and those who don't are not paid $250K per year), they can begin paying down that student debt which in the meantime has grown substantially (with its private market interest rates).

If you were to put all those foreigners with their free education in direct competition with the domestic crop there would be no US born doctors. But that would be the least of the problems. American medical schools are for the most part outstanding and even the least of those graduating are quite good. That cannot be said for many of the other places in the world where we get most of our foreign trained doctors. There is a very good reason we demand that foreigners go through a US residency program before they can practice medicine. Regardless of what their (real or fake) papers say about their education, they have to perform up to US standards to pass the US residency programs and be licensed – and that is a good thing.

anne : , March 25, 2017 at 08:10 AM
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/24/upshot/health-insurance-medicare-obamacare-american-health-care-act.html?ref=business

March 24, 2017

What Comes Next for Obamacare? The Case for Medicare for All
By ROBERT H. FRANK

Republicans are in a bind. They've been promising to repeal Obamacare for seven years, and having won control of the White House and Congress, they had to try to deliver. But while their bitter denunciations of the Affordable Care Act may have depressed its approval numbers, they didn't make replacing it any easier.

On the contrary, the repeal-and-replace bill designed by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan drew withering criticism from the left and the right. Liberals condemned its use of reductions in health coverage for the poor to pay for large tax cuts for the wealthy, while conservatives bemoaned its retention of many subsidies adopted under Obamacare.

In the end, the repeal effort's biggest hurdle may have been loss aversion, one of the most robust findings in behavioral science. As numerous studies have shown, the pain of losing something you already have is much greater than the pleasure of having gained it in the first place. And the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that Mr. Ryan's American Health Care Act (A.H.C.A.) would have caused more than 14 million people to lose coverage in the first year alone, with total losses rising to 24 million over the next decade. Many Republicans in Congress were nervous about the political firestorm already provoked by the mere prospect of such losses.

Loss aversion actually threatened the repeal effort on two fronts: voters' fear of losing their coverage, and lawmakers' fear of losing their seats. Like the first fear, the second appeared well grounded. Republican voters wouldn't have been the only ones losing coverage, of course, but early studies suggested that losses would have been concentrated among people who voted for President Trump. The Congressional Budget Office estimated, for example, that the A.H.C.A. would have caused premiums to rise more than sevenfold in 2026 for 64-year-olds making $26,500.

Now that Republicans have withdrawn Mr. Ryan's bill from consideration, attention shifts to what comes next. In an earlier column, I suggested that Mr. Trump has the political leverage, which President Obama did not, to jettison the traditional Republican approach in favor of a form of the single-payer health care that most other countries use. According to Physicians for a National Health Program, an advocacy group, "Single-payer national health insurance, also known as 'Medicare for all,' is a system in which a single public or quasi-public agency organizes health care financing, but the delivery of care remains largely in private hands." Christopher Ruddy, a friend and adviser of the president, recently urged him to consider this option.

Many Republicans who want to diminish government's role in health care view the single-payer approach with disdain. But Mr. Trump often seems to take pleasure in being unpredictable, and since he will offend people no matter which way he turns, he may want to consider why liberals and conservatives in many other countries have embraced the single-payer approach.

Part of the appeal of Medicare for all is that single-payer systems reduce financial incentives that generate waste and abuse. Mr. Ryan insisted that by relegating health care to private insurers, competition would lead to lower prices and higher quality. Economic theory tells us that this is a reasonable expectation when certain conditions are met. A crucial one is that buyers must be able to compare the quality of offerings of different sellers. In practice, however, people have little knowledge of the treatment options for the various maladies they might suffer, and policy language describing insurance coverage is notoriously complex and technical. Consumers simply cannot make informed quality comparisons in this industry.

In contrast, they can easily compare the prices charged by competing insurance companies. This asymmetry induces companies to compete by highlighting the lower prices they're able to offer if they cut costs by degrading the quality of their offerings. For example, it's common for insurance companies to deny payment for procedures that their policies seem to cover. If policy holders complain loudly enough, they may eventually get reimbursed, but the money companies save by not paying others confers a decisive competitive advantage over rivals that don't employ this tactic. Such haggling is uncommon under single-payer systems like Medicare (though it is sometimes employed by private insurers that supplement Medicare).

Consider, too, the mutually offsetting expenditures on competitive advertising and other promotional efforts of private insurers, which can exceed 15 percent of total revenue. Single-payer plans like Medicare spend nothing on competitive advertising (although here, also, we see such expenditures by supplemental insurers).

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, administrative costs in Medicare are only about 2 percent of total operating expenditures, less than one-sixth of the rate estimated for the private insurance industry. This difference does not mean that private insurers are evil. It's a simple consequence of a difference in the relevant economic incentives.

American health care outlays per capita in 2015 were more than twice the average of those in the 35 advanced countries that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Yet despite that spending difference, the system in the United States delivers significantly less favorable outcomes on measures like longevity and the incidence of chronic illness....

anne -> anne... , March 25, 2017 at 08:15 AM
http://www.oecd.org/health/health-systems/oecd-health-statistics-2014-frequently-requested-data.htm

November, 2016

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Health Data

Total health care spending per person, 2015 *

United States ( 9451)
OCED average ( 3814)

France ( 4407)

Total health care spending as a share of GDP, 2015

United States ( 16.9)
OCED average ( 9.0)

France ( 11.0)

Pharmaceutical expenditure per person, 2014 *

United States ( 1112)
OECD average ( 538)

France ( 656)

Practising physicians per 1,000 population, 2014

United States ( 2.6)
OECD average ( 3.3)

France ( 3.3)

Practising nurses per 1,000 population, 2014

United States ( 11.2)
OECD average ( 8.9)

France ( 9.6)

Physician consultations per person, 2014

United States ( 4.0)
OECD average ( 6.8)

France ( 6.3)

Medical graduates per 100,000 population, 2014

United States ( 7.3)
OECD average ( 11.4)

France ( 10.0)

* Data are expressed in US dollars adjusted for purchasing power parities (PPPs), which provide a means of comparing spending between countries on a common base. PPPs are the rates of currency conversion that equalise the cost of a given "basket" of goods and services in different countries.

Peter K. -> anne... , -1
As Bernie Sanders says play offense, not just defense. Then the voters will respect you.

It would be funny if Trump goes for round two health care reform and wins bigly with Democrats' help.

Partisans like PGL and Krugman would be in shock.

!--file:///f:/Public_html/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Two_party_system_as_poliarchy/index.shtml--> !--file:///f:/Public_html/Skeptics/Financial_skeptic/casino_capitalism.shtml--> !--file:///f:/Public_html/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Neoliberalism/index.shtml--> !--file:///f:/Public_html/Skeptics/Financial_skeptic/index.shtml-->

[Mar 25, 2017] What Russia Wants - and Expects

Notable quotes:
"... Does Russia Have a Future? ..."
Mar 25, 2017 | consortiumnews.com
March 22, 2017

Washington's political infighting has blocked President Trump's plans for a new détente with Russia but also has left the global playing field open for Russian – and Chinese – advances in expanding their influence, explains Gilbert Doctorow.

By Gilbert Doctorow

As Democrats and the mainstream U.S. media focus intensely on still unproven charges of Russian election meddling to explain Hillary Clinton's surprising defeat, the furor has forced an embattled President Trump to retreat from his plans to cooperate with Russia on fighting terrorism and other global challenges.

Russian President Vladimir Putin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on May 10, 2015, at the Kremlin. (Photo from Russian government)

Amid the anti-Russian hysteria, Trump's Cabinet members and United Nations ambassador have gone out of their way to reiterate the tough policy positions of the Obama administration with respect to Russia, underlining that nothing has changed. For its part, Congress has plunged into McCarthyistic hearings aimed at Trump supporters who may have met with Russians before the 2016 elections.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin has duly noted these developments in Washington. In Moscow, the breakthrough in relations that some had hoped for is now dismissed as improbable. On the other hand, while the United States is tearing itself apart in partisan fighting, Russia is getting a much-needed breather from the constant ratcheting up of pressure from the West that it experienced over the past three years.

We hear from Russian elites more and more how they plan to proceed on the international stage in the new circumstances. The byword is self-reliance and pursuit of the regional and global policies that have been forming over the past couple of years as the confrontation with the United States escalated.

These policies have nothing to do with some attack on the Baltic States or Poland, the nightmare scenarios pushed by neoconservatives and liberal interventionists in the U.S. and the European Union. The Russian plans also have nothing to do with subversion of elections in France or Germany, the other part of the fevered imaginations of the West.

Instead, the Russians are concentrating on their domestic defense capabilities and their budding political alliances with China and a host of Asian countries that together can oppose the power of the West. It is important to understand that the Russian vision is a future multi-polar world, not a return to the bipolar Cold War system of two superpowers, which Russian elites see as unattainable given the diffusion of power across the globe and Russia's own more limited resources.

In other words, the Russians are envisioning a future world order whose contours harken back to the Nineteenth Century. In terms of details, the Russians are now inseparably wed to China for reasons of mutual economic and security interest on the global stage. The same is becoming true of their relationship with Iran at the regional level of the Greater Middle East.

The Russian elites also take pride in the emerging military, economic and geopolitical relationships with countries as far removed as Libya, Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan and Thailand. News about breakthroughs with each of these countries is heralded on daily television programming.

Mideast Interests

Russian elites note that the United States has misunderstood Moscow's position in Syria from the start of the war there. Russia's priority was never to keep the Assad regime in power, but rather to maintain a foothold in the Middle East. Put narrowly, Russia was determined to maintain its naval base at Tarsus, which is important to support Russia's presence in the Eastern Mediterranean. More broadly, Moscow's goal was to restore Russian influence in the strategic region where Russia once was a significant player before the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

In May 2016, Russian marchers honoring family members who fought in World War II. (Photo from RT)

Russia's loss of Eastern Europe is also not forgotten, though American hegemony there is acknowledged as a reality of the present. But nothing lasts forever, and the Russians expect to be back as a major force in the region, not by military conquest, but by virtue of economic and strategic logic, which favors them in the long term. Though many East European elites have been bought off by the United States and the European Union, many common citizens have been major losers from the American led post-Cold War order, suffering from de-industrialization and large-scale emigration to more developed E.U. countries, reaching as much as 25 percent of the general population in some places. These Eastern European countries have little to offer Western Europe except for tourist destinations, whereas their shared potential for trade with Russia is immense.

This past weekend, Russian television news carried images of demonstrations in Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and Moldova that you did not see on Euronews. The object of this popular wrath was billionaire financial speculator George Soros and his "Open Society" affiliates. Russian news commentary explained that these demonstrations - operating under the banner of "Go Home Soros" - became possible now because the Trump administration has dropped U.S. support for him.

It would be naïve not to see some official Russian assistance to these coordinated demonstrations across a large swath of Eastern Europe, but the Russians were simply giving the United States a taste of its own medicine, since U.S.-sponsored "non-governmental organizations" have been busy subverting legitimate Euro-skeptic governments in these countries in cooperation with Soros's NGOs.

Not Your Grandfather's Cold War

But there are key differences between what is happening now and in the Cold War days. The original Cold War was characterized not only by military and geopolitical rivalry of the world's two superpowers, the U.S. and the Soviet Union. It also was an ideological rivalry between – on one side – free market capitalism and parliamentary democracy and – on the other – planned economies and monolithic top-down Communist Party rule.

President Richard Nixon with his then-National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger in 1972.

Starting with President Richard Nixon, a policy of détente was put in place, which embodied the principle of co-existence of these competing principles of organizing human society for the sake of world peace. There are those who maintain we have no New Cold War today because the ideological dimension is lacking, although there are obvious differences over principles between the socially liberal U.S./E.U. and the more socially conservative Russia. But those differences hardly constitute a full-blown ideological conflict.

The real area of contention is in how each side today conceptualizes global governance. On this level, it makes sense to speak of an ideological divide because there is a vast body of thought to underpin the competing views which include: globalization versus sovereign-state; values-based foreign policy versus interests-based foreign policy; a global order established by the all-out victory of liberal democracy over all other forms of national governance versus a balance of forces and respect for local differences; idealism versus realism. The West generally has favored the first of these options while Russia and China lead a bloc of nations generally favoring the second options.

On the campaign trail and in his Inaugural speech, Donald Trump spoke in Realist terms suggesting that the U.S. would abandon its Idealist ideology of the preceding 25 years, which involved coercive "regime change" strategies to impose Western political values and economic systems around the world. Instead, Trump suggested that he would do business with Russia and with the world at large without imposing U.S. solutions, essentially accepting the principles that the Russians have been promoting ever since they began their public pushback to the United States in 2007.

However, given Trump's retreat on foreign policy in recent weeks – while under fierce attack from Washington power centers asserting possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia – we may be left with something akin to the re-set that Obama introduced at the start of his rule in 2009 which never went as far as détente/co-existence. It was limited to cooperation in isolated areas where U.S. and Russian interests were deemed to coincide.

The only difference we might see from the embattled Trump administration is less of a penchant for "regime change" operations and a resumption of some bilateral contacts with Russia that were cut off when Obama decided to penalize Russia for its intervention in Crimea and the Donbass in 2014.

Assuming that Washington's neocon Republicans and hawkish Democrats don't push Trump into a desperate political corner, he might at least engage Moscow with a more polite and diplomatic tone. That might be better than some of the alternatives, but it is surely not an onset of a new collaborative Golden Age.

The scaling back in expectations of how far the Trump administration will go in improving relations with Russia makes sense because of another reality that has become clear now that his team of advisers and implementers is filling out, namely that there is no one in his "kitchen cabinet" or in his administration who can guide the neophyte president as he tries to negotiate a new global order and to do a "big deal" with Vladimir Putin, such as Trump may have hoped to strike.

Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner lacks the experience and depth to be a world-class strategic thinker. Trump's Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has corporate skills from his years at Exxon-Mobil but also lacks a strategic vision. Many other key jobs have gone to military generals who may be competent administrators but have limited political or diplomatic experience. There was talk of guidance coming from Henry Kissinger, but he has not been seen or heard from recently, and it is doubtful that at his advanced age and frailty he could provide consistent counsel.

As Trump struggles to survive the cumulative attacks on his fledgling administration, he is also distracted from the reality of a rapidly changing world. If and when he does get to concentrate on the geopolitical situation, he may well have to play catch up with Russia and China as they make deals with other regional players and fill the vacuum left by the ongoing American political disorder.

Assuming Trump can bring on board talented advisers with strategic depth, it would still take enormous vision and diplomatic skills to strike a "big deal" that could begin to end the violent chaos that has swept across much of the world since 2001. If and when that becomes possible, such a deal might look like a "Yalta-2" with a triangular shape involving the U.S., Russia and China.

Gilbert Doctorow is a Brussels-based political analyst. His latest book, Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 2015. Andrew Nichols , March 22, 2017 at 7:26 pm

Stuff your silly divide and rule. How about live and let live? I presume this is what you do in your private life. I dont feel any threat at all from Russia, Iran or China despite the Chicken Little crap from our media and bought and paid for pollies on a daily basis. So let's all chill out and tell our pollies to shut ..f..k up!

Kiza , March 22, 2017 at 8:36 pm

Your words reminded me of what I learned about Hitler. In Europe, all my teachers of history in primary and secondary school emphasised that if Hitler was smart enough to attack one country at a time, he would have won the WW2. For example, when he attacked Poland and Britain declared war on Germany, he should have tried to finish off Britain instead of trying to win it over whilst attacking Soviet Union.

Perhaps the US/Israeli leadership suffers from the same type of hubris, believing that it can globalize the World by conquering both Russia and China. Of course, the US/Israeli MIC believes that the bigger the enemy the higher the profit.

Joe Tedesky , March 23, 2017 at 1:35 am

KIza my hunch is the American Israeli MIC is blinded by money, and what they consider success. Here could have been the moment for America to truly be the that shinning city upon the hill, but instead we took the advice of the Project for a New American 21st Century, a project so evil it surpasses the stupidity of Dr Strangelove and here we are. If the money could see a profit in humanitarian needs, wow wouldn't that be lovely.

My grandmother always told me the bigger they are, the harder they fall, and America better watch out now it's gonna get it's ass kicked good if it doesn't wise up. I love my country, and that remark I just made isn't a reflection on our uniformed military, but these genius in DC fighting each other, and laying down some really made stuff on Russia, isn't good, and it ain't going to amount to much more than pain in the end. The whole idea of this 21st century America is nothing but a plan to inflict pain.

This fricking media we have isn't going to stop until Trump gets impeached, or we really do something stupid to Russia. The sense of all of this in my eyes always leads back to that Project for the new American Century piece of crap. America had it all to win over the love of the world, why with just the rhetoric and spirit it was enough to try and strive for, but now ah not so much. It's not too late, but I don't at this moment in time see what good is on the horizon in the meantime I'm going to just try and appreciate whatever it is there is to appreciate take care Joe

Kiza , March 23, 2017 at 3:35 am

I agree Joe, as a project of its Dual Citizens PNAC is the root of most evil in US. It is not a true American project. It is a project for global domination of Israel using US, its people and its resources, as means to an end. Who needs to discuss the veracity of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, when PNAC is available in plain sight. I am just surprised how few US people understand this. Thanks for your great comment as usual.

Bob Van Noy , March 22, 2017 at 10:55 am

"Russians are concentrating on their domestic defense capabilities and their budding political alliances with China and a host of Asian countries that together can oppose the power of the West. It is important to understand that the Russian vision is a future multi-polar world, not a return to the bipolar Cold War system of two superpowers, which Russian elites see as unattainable given the diffusion of power across the globe and Russia's own more limited resources." Gilbert Doctorow

Again. "The real area of contention is in how each side today conceptualizes global governance. On this level, it makes sense to speak of an ideological divide because there is a vast body of thought to underpin the competing views which include: globalization versus sovereign-state; values-based foreign policy versus interests-based foreign policy; a global order established by the all-out victory of liberal democracy over all other forms of national governance versus a balance of forces and respect for local differences; idealism versus realism." Gilbert Doctorow

To me the choice, were we ever given a choice as voters, would clearly be: 1) A future multi-polar world and, 2) a balance of forces and respect for local differences. The choice doesn't seem so very controversial? However, the default position of the Neocons and the liberal interventionists has always been to double down rather than negotiate, so I expect more saber rattling aggression

BannanaBoat , March 22, 2017 at 5:26 pm

Jimmy Carter stated USA is no longer a democracy, true. Idealism is the opposite of true USA motives, pure machivellian greed.

backwardsevolution , March 22, 2017 at 3:34 pm

Brad Owen – that's the way I see it too. I don't think that Trump needs Bannon or his son-in-law to be strategic. Strategic thinking (one-upping your opponent, outsmarting him, taking what's not yours, outright lying, propaganda, coups, trying to control the whole world) has been the policy for too long. I think Trump has a particular vision, and he's, as you say, playing rope-a-dope with the "strategic" thinkers.

I see Trump as wanting to create free (but FAIR) trade. I see him wanting to stay out of other countries' business, concentrating on the home base, which has been sorely neglected for the last 20 – 30 years.

I think people totally underestimate Trump.

This is really a war between those who favor globalism/internationalism thinking (open borders, absence of a nation state or culture, multinational corporations controlling the world, one-world order) and those who favor nation states, culture, borders, fair and open trade with other countries.

Trump is not a professional politician. He is not a great orator, slick or polished. But I believe he loves his country more than the other bought-and-paid-for politicians who govern according to who is paying them the most money on any given day.

I think that the way Trump looks at business is if his competitor gets a property on one block, he gets one on the next. Everybody is happy. He doesn't set out to ensure that his competitor is crushed. He doesn't lie about him, try to get others to sanction him, try to bar him from doing business.

Arseniy Urazov , March 22, 2017 at 9:45 pm

Hi Brad, nice comment, I think you will like this article in case you missed it https://consortiumnews.com/2017/03/14/trumps-quiet-outreach-to-russia/
And just to add to your comment, Russia and USA are working very close in Syria. Not directly of course, but Syrian army and the Kurds (who are heavily supported by USA from air) are making great progress in the Norther part of Syria. In fact they even cooperated to block further advances of the Turks (NATO member btw). So I think that the RU-USA relationship is better than the media is trying to show us

Brad Owen , March 23, 2017 at 5:21 am

I agree,Arseniy. We are two of the three Nations (China being the third Nation) PRIMARILY responsible for securing the peace and guiding development for the entire World we three. This was Roosevelt's vision,ejected by the Anglophile intelligence community the moment he died; recovered fortunately, by our mutual ally China, in the BRI policy. Russia and USA will be the Gateway managers of the World LandBridge (tunnel, spanning Bering Straits with mag-lev rail lines, pipelines, power lines, communication lines) that ties the whole World together. This was thought of in Lincoln's time a way to bypass the powerful British and other European maritime Empires. Russia had the foresight to sell us Alaska towards this end. Russia ALWAYS supported our stand AGAINST European Empires (especially the British Empire), even in the Soviet days. Together with our friend China, AND the rest of the World's Nations we'll continue to progress and grow and move out, into the Solar System to industrialize the moon and Mars and other moons and planets, after we put away these childish, pointless, sinful, wars. Read Executive Intelligence Review website, where these ideas are championed. Remember Krafft Erikhe (spelling?) whose vision of Man the Solar Species inspired our early space program. Our next, centuries-long Era will be our inhabiting of our Solar System, after war has been abolished as obsolete and counter-productive.

Joe Tedesky , March 22, 2017 at 12:23 pm

It is a sad day when detente and cooperation is replaced with demonization and belligerence to boot. When will our American leadership finally come to grips that this world isn't flat? Is liberating a nation for the sake of our installing an American fast food chain worth the price of so many innocent lives who get displaced, or worst yet killed by American bombs the price people must pay to join the NWO? Does anyone believe that by doing these things we are making any real and sincere new friends can you say blowback?

All this fuss over Putin and Russian interference is putting President Trump in a difficult box. Why even Putin critic Masha Gessen is worried ..

https://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2017/03/21/noted-putin-critic-warns-of-confrontation-between-trump-and-russia-not-collaboration/

Joe Tedesky , March 22, 2017 at 3:11 pm

Politics is said to make strange bedfellows, and if we include journalist well then Masha Gessen for at least on this Russia-Gate story is making charges similar to those of us who see this witch hunt for what it really is. Now don't blast me for posting a link to Gessen's article but since others are quoting her I thought you may wish to read her own words.

http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2017/03/06/trump-russia-conspiracy-trap/

After reading what Gessen has to say, then read what Paul Street has to say about her saying it.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/03/22/russiagate-and-the-democratic-party-are-for-chumps/

If America can pull through these tough and difficult times all in one piece, and regain some sense of sanity and fairness of values, this moment in time will be shelved along side the McCarthy era of the lowest of times in America.

Kiza , March 22, 2017 at 9:00 pm

I would not be as generous to Masha Gessen as you are Joe. Ms Gessen is very anti-Russian and anti-Putin, but she recognises the damage the current DNC policy against her two pet-hates does. After all the US high-tempereture emotional madness blows out, Russia will end up standing even taller because the US Democrats were crying wolf. I have been highlighting this same point for a while now – the Democrats are really working to benefit Russia, they are the really traitorous fifth column they accuse Trump of. This is why Ms Gessen is distancing herself from the mindless bunch.

Joe Tedesky , March 22, 2017 at 11:46 pm

KIza please don't read my posting Gessen's article as an endorsement. I only posted it due to the fact that sites like libertblitzkreig and Leftist Paul Street on counterpunch talked about Gessen's concerns. You know how I've mentioned in many of my comments how I think Vladimir Putin is the only adult in the room when it comes to our world's future. I'm all for distributed power, and I am no fan, and never was of the NWO.

You are on too something though, when you mention to how Masha is no doubt distancing herself away from the awaiting disaster the Democrate's are leading us into. This whole fiasco is troubling when you think of how Hillary's conniving has brought us all to this place. It would be great if Hillary were brought to justice, but then again so much for wishful thinking.

I'll leave you with this, keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

[Mar 25, 2017] Maddow has proven herself an indisputable part of "the establishment media going whole-hog on these vague suspicions". That is, she is carrying tubs of water for her Deep State masters.

Notable quotes:
"... Any moderately intelligent person who explores the news and history outside the MSM can easily find the OVERWHELMING evidence of the Deep State's crimes, including JFK, 9/11, and Israel. And it's not merely an organizational survival instinct in the CIA. The massive, long-standing MSM coverups point to tight control and coordination from a powerful center. As Deep Throat taught us, "Follow the money". ..."
Mar 25, 2017 | consortiumnews.com
Jessejean

March 23, 2017 at 1:04 pm Good history–wonder why Rachel The Mouth Maddow never did it in her time wasting opening segments where she repeats herself over and over to numb our minds and spend her time when she could be saying something insightful. Maybe that's why. PS. Why does she never invite Robert Parry on to comment? Oh. I see. Reply Brian Setzler , March 23, 2017 at 6:43 pm

Because she's paid $7 million per year to talk about some things, and not others.

Google "Jill Stein and Russia" and the results will illuminate the Democratic Party Echo Chamber

JWalters , March 23, 2017 at 8:03 pm

Maddow has proven herself an indisputable part of "the establishment media going whole-hog on these vague suspicions". That is, she is carrying tubs of water for her Deep State masters.

Any moderately intelligent person who explores the news and history outside the MSM can easily find the OVERWHELMING evidence of the Deep State's crimes, including JFK, 9/11, and Israel. And it's not merely an organizational survival instinct in the CIA. The massive, long-standing MSM coverups point to tight control and coordination from a powerful center. As Deep Throat taught us, "Follow the money".

[Mar 25, 2017] Hillary and her faction were puppets of deep state. Their liberal interventionist hawk was the same idea as neocons, in many cases it was the same people.

Notable quotes:
"... I suspect that Bill and Hillary Clinton were recruited in the sixties under COINTELPRO (Hillary) and the CIA to do spywork for them. Having been a college student in the late sixties, if you went to a peace rally there was an undercover FBI agent to your left, a CIA asset to your right, a military intelligence officer sitting behind you and a cop from the local red squad in front of you. ..."
"... I understand that Bill's friends in England just presumed he was CIA. ..."
"... Hillary's morphing from Goldwater Girl to neoliberal Democrat occurred while she was hovering around Black Panther legal problems. She observed the Panther trials in New Haven and then spent a summer interning for the law firm in Berkeley that at the time was representing the Black Panthers on the West Coast. The Panthers were the FBI's number one target back then. ..."
"... having "moderate" Dems connected to the Deep State is always helpful. It appears that the role of the Clintons in our unwritten history was to move the Democratic Party to the corporate right. ..."
"... Hillary, when serving on the legal staff for the Democratic Watergate Committee, certainly sat in a place where she could report Democratic progress and how various intelligence leaks were viewed by the other Democrats. ..."
"... The current "Russia hack/Trump traitor" false flag (I describe it more fully below) was originally to give a self-righteous President Clinton the moral high ground to march into Ukraine, the one thing that Trump wouldn't give the Deep State. ..."
Mar 25, 2017 | consortiumnews.com

Mark Thomason , March 23, 2017 at 1:08 pm

This should be no real surprise. Hillary and her faction were neo-Republicans. Their liberal interventionist hawk was the same idea as neocons, in many cases it was the same people.

They kept control of the party. It is not Democratic in the sense of opposing war or McCarthyism or corporate abuses or Wall Street or trade agreements. It is bought and paid for by the people who were the Republicans all along.

This is the end state of triangulating courtesy of Bill Clinton. We have two Republican parties, one even crazier than the other.

Bob In Portland , March 23, 2017 at 4:00 pm

I suspect that Bill and Hillary Clinton were recruited in the sixties under COINTELPRO (Hillary) and the CIA to do spywork for them. Having been a college student in the late sixties, if you went to a peace rally there was an undercover FBI agent to your left, a CIA asset to your right, a military intelligence officer sitting behind you and a cop from the local red squad in front of you.

I understand that Bill's friends in England just presumed he was CIA.

Hillary's morphing from Goldwater Girl to neoliberal Democrat occurred while she was hovering around Black Panther legal problems. She observed the Panther trials in New Haven and then spent a summer interning for the law firm in Berkeley that at the time was representing the Black Panthers on the West Coast. The Panthers were the FBI's number one target back then.

After JFK's removal, the Deep State wanted better control of both parties. Nixon wasn't supposed to be the problem he was for them, so Watergate. But having "moderate" Dems connected to the Deep State is always helpful. It appears that the role of the Clintons in our unwritten history was to move the Democratic Party to the corporate right.

Perhaps Bill earned his bones with Asa Hutchinson in the 80s by ignoring Mena. Hillary, when serving on the legal staff for the Democratic Watergate Committee, certainly sat in a place where she could report Democratic progress and how various intelligence leaks were viewed by the other Democrats.

The current "Russia hack/Trump traitor" false flag (I describe it more fully below) was originally to give a self-righteous President Clinton the moral high ground to march into Ukraine, the one thing that Trump wouldn't give the Deep State.

JWalters , March 23, 2017 at 9:14 pm

Interesting speculations. For new readers just getting acquainted with the Deep State, consider the scholarly work by professor Peter Dale Scott. Here are three interviews about his books.

In the Conversations With History series from UC Berkeley.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBGgxU27kJA

Deep Politics on the 50th anniversary of JFK's murder.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0CFpMej3mA

The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil, and the Attack on U.S. Democracy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QH9yOzhkio

[Mar 25, 2017] Every time the ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff of California opens his mouth to propagate unsubstantiated allegations against Russia and Russian influence on the last US elections, he makes a reminder, inadvertently, of the First Husband (the philanderer) taking $500.000 from Russians.

Notable quotes:
"... Another official US moron has blamed Russia, this time for "supplying Taliban" in Afghanistan. US Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti announced that "it was conceivable that Russia was providing supplies to the Afghan Taliban". ..."
"... It appears that absolutely any personal or group failure by any US official gets automatically converted into "Russia did it". Little kids are more creative when they say "the dog ate my homework". ..."
"... He showed the two political parties as 'two wings of the same bird of prey" ..."
"... 69 percent of the [US] people have been taken in with the Russia bashing ..."
"... I would trace the transition of the Democrats to a war party, not to the fear of being labeled disloyal after Iraq War 1, but to their being taken over by the zionists. The top ten "donors" to Clinton (Kleinberg) were Jewish, every single one of them! Over $100 million. Obama got over $100 million from a single Jewish "donor." They want those Mideast wars because they are religious fanatics and thieves. Those are the facts of the Democrats. They are owned by zionist traitors. They are Ziocrats. ..."
"... The simplistic notion that the Democrats have been "taken over by the zionists" is a dangerous illusion that needs debunking. While there is no doubt that Natanyahu's Israel supports a policy in sync with that of neo-con objectives, it is beyond a stretch to attribute that policy to that Israel's exaggerated influence in the US. ..."
"... Rather, Israel, as well as Israel's Saudi allies, are both instruments of British Empire policy, sometimes called "globalism," which was adopted and embraced by what can be called the Obama faction of the Democratic Party and its backers in the Republican right. ..."
"... US policy, especially in the post-Soviet era has been determined by a failing attempt to maintain a "unipolar" world that no longer exists and should never have been. The freak-out over Trump's exposure of British Intelligence's GCHQ, heralding a possible rupture in Britain's "special relationship" is an indication of the fear gripping the Anglo-American financial oligarchy that their control over the US is slip-sliding away and that the US will pursue its political and economic self-interest by establishing new relationships to true world powers Russia, China, India and Japan. ..."
"... The simplistic notion that the Democrats have been "taken over by the zionists" is a dangerous illusion that needs debunking. ..."
"... Can you share with readers why you used the term "dangerous illusion" and why it needs debunking? According to William Binney, Obama's use of GCHQ was nothing more than standard operating procedure, an everyday mode of business, to avoid breaking American laws – nothing new, so therefore presenting no threat of rupturing U.S.-British "special relationship". ..."
"... The top ten "donors" to Clinton (Kleinberg) were Jewish, every single one of them! Over $100 million. Obama got over $100 million from a single Jewish "donor." ..."
"... I can tell you that the atmosphere is such on campus that a social science faculty member needs to be very careful not to be taken for having "sympathies" for either Russia or China. I repeatedly hear comments that are chilling, and just nod and get away. ..."
"... When did the Democratic Party turn into the post-war war party? At the Democratic convention in 1944 when the establishment did a coup against FDR's right hand man, ..."
Mar 25, 2017 | consortiumnews.com

Anna , March 23, 2017 at 4:24 pm

Every time the ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff of California opens his mouth to propagate unsubstantiated allegations against Russia and Russian influence on the last US elections, he makes a reminder, inadvertently, of the First Husband (the philanderer) taking $500.000 from Russians. The money was a bribe intended to make a right impression on Mrs. Clinton. Keep going Mr. Schiff. There were also tens of millions of $US dollars delivered to Clintons Foundation by the major sponsors of terrorism. These tens of millions of dollars from Saudis, Qatari, and Moroccans constitute bribing of a State Department official. As a result of these bribes, the US government has violated the US Constitution by supplying the US-made weaponry to the Middle Eastern warmongering despots/sponsors of terrorism. That is indeed a treason. Let Mr. Schiff talk. He has been making a nice rope for his own hanging.

Skip Scott , March 24, 2017 at 8:02 am

Great post Anna.

Kiza , March 24, 2017 at 8:06 am

Another official US moron has blamed Russia, this time for "supplying Taliban" in Afghanistan. US Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti announced that "it was conceivable that Russia was providing supplies to the Afghan Taliban".

It appears that absolutely any personal or group failure by any US official gets automatically converted into "Russia did it". Little kids are more creative when they say "the dog ate my homework".

But what this sick and unintelligent bull does to Russia? It appears that the US coup in Ukraine and its support for Al Qaeda and ISIS in Syria have solidified Putin's popularity rating at around an unimaginable 85%. All this in the middle of a fairly serious economic crisis in Russia. There is and there has been no major country in the World where the leader has had such approval rating, for so long and despite the economy in a bad shape. Read all about it: http://johnhelmer.net/the-us-war-has-been-good-for-president-vladimir-putin-and-the-russian-economy-looks-stable-through-the-presidential-election-so-if-you-are-a-us-warfighter-what-is-the-regime-change-opportunity-no/#more-17368

Therefore, all these US Demopublicans, generals and other assorted officials are obviously all on Putin's payroll, because they keep working to increase his popularity.

Bill Bodden , March 23, 2017 at 1:32 pm

Democrats. Republicans. Same old, same old.

In 1904 Upton Sinclair wrote in The Jungle :

"The original edition of the novel concluded with its proletarian protagonist attending a mass rally addressed by the American Socialist Party's mesmerizing presidential candidate – Sinclair's fictional representation of Eugene Debs. The candidate, Sinclair wrote:

"was a man of electric presence, tall and gaunt, with a face worn think by struggle and suffering. The fury of outraged manhood gleamed in him – and the tears of suffering. When he spoke he paced the stage restlessly; he was lithe and eager, like a panther. He leaned over, reaching out for his audience; he pointed into their souls with an insistent finger. His voice was husky from much speaking, but the hall was still as death, and everyone heard him. He spoke the language of workingmen – he pointed them the way. He showed the two political parties as 'two wings of the same bird of prey" [emphasis added]. The people were allowed to choose between their candidates, and both of them were controlled, and all their nominations were dictated by, the same [money] power."

In a number of essays Walter Karp made similar points backed up by lots of evidence.

Accidental , March 23, 2017 at 8:04 pm

That book should be required reading in this country. I suspect most people have never even heard of it despite the fact that it was undoubtedly one of the most influential books of the early 20th century.

D5-5 , March 23, 2017 at 1:34 pm

The time is extraordinary in the reckless and naked way the PTB (i.e. the two major parties) are exposing themselves as to NOT serving the people. I was disappointed today to read on RT that 69 percent of the [US] people have been taken in with the Russia bashing (showing I've been wrong lately on my estimates), but I'm hopeful that will not last. More important, Robert's article shows us the dedication of the parties to their deeper playbook, which is obviously controlled by financial interests, not the people's interests. The nakedness of this exposure today is unusual in my experience of watching Washington.

Recommended: a look at what could be a companion piece to Robert's article from Mike Whitney in today's counterpunch, titled "Will Washington risk WWIII to block an emerging EU-Russia super-state":

From that article:

"For the last 70 years the imperial strategy has worked without a hitch, but now Russia's resurgence and China's explosive growth are threatening to break free from Washington's stranglehold. The Asian allies have begun to crisscross Central Europe and Asis with pipelines and high-speed rail that will gather together the far-flung statelets scattered across the steppe, draw them into a Eurasian Economic Union, and link them to an expansive and thriving superstate, the epicenter of global commerce and industry."

BannanaBoat , March 23, 2017 at 2:01 pm

Neither the proud Russians nor Chinese will diminish their nation and culture. BRICS is the level of unity they will accept.

Sam F , March 23, 2017 at 1:36 pm

I would trace the transition of the Democrats to a war party, not to the fear of being labeled disloyal after Iraq War 1, but to their being taken over by the zionists. The top ten "donors" to Clinton (Kleinberg) were Jewish, every single one of them! Over $100 million. Obama got over $100 million from a single Jewish "donor." They want those Mideast wars because they are religious fanatics and thieves. Those are the facts of the Democrats. They are owned by zionist traitors. They are Ziocrats.

J. D. , March 23, 2017 at 2:02 pm

The simplistic notion that the Democrats have been "taken over by the zionists" is a dangerous illusion that needs debunking. While there is no doubt that Natanyahu's Israel supports a policy in sync with that of neo-con objectives, it is beyond a stretch to attribute that policy to that Israel's exaggerated influence in the US.

Rather, Israel, as well as Israel's Saudi allies, are both instruments of British Empire policy, sometimes called "globalism," which was adopted and embraced by what can be called the Obama faction of the Democratic Party and its backers in the Republican right.

US policy, especially in the post-Soviet era has been determined by a failing attempt to maintain a "unipolar" world that no longer exists and should never have been. The freak-out over Trump's exposure of British Intelligence's GCHQ, heralding a possible rupture in Britain's "special relationship" is an indication of the fear gripping the Anglo-American financial oligarchy that their control over the US is slip-sliding away and that the US will pursue its political and economic self-interest by establishing new relationships to true world powers Russia, China, India and Japan.

Brad Owen , March 23, 2017 at 3:15 pm

Well said. It's also time to get rid of the phony "Special Relationship" (between 1%er oligarchs of The City and The Street), to replace it with the actual Special Relationship, so as to ease UK's transition into the New multi-polar Era dawning: this is tribal, in that dear old "Mother Country" need not worry that Her "Four Children" (Australia, Canada, N.Z., USA) will leave Her out in the cold. THAT is the TRUE special relationship; the far-flung, English-speaking Tribe will see to the General Welfare of ALL of its' members, but without degrading the well-being of the rest of the World. War is obsolete, not conducive to anyone's well-being, Geopolitics & divide & conquer is over, finished.

Brad Owen , March 23, 2017 at 4:03 pm

Zionism is a product of Cecil Rhodes' RoundTable Group, which, in concert with the Synarchist Movement for Empire, concerned how to manage African and Middle East colonies and assets belonging mainly to British and French Empires (which also explains WHY the Brits dawdled in North Africa during WWII, much to the chagrin of Stalin and Gen Marshall, who wanted to open up the Western Front ASAP).

They found the perfect opportunity to implement the strategy post-WWII, and suckered USA, via The City's Wall Street Tories, into guaranteeing the existence of Israel. End of story.

Check out the tons of articles on the subject at the EIR website. Tarpley covers it well also. Argue your case with them, F Sam. Good luck. You'll need lots of it.

rosemerry , March 23, 2017 at 4:49 pm

All the talk of "Russian interference" takes over the media, but the ever-present Israeli connection is just accepted as normal. Saudi Arabia, too, is allowed plenty of influence while Iran is demonized.

Sam F , March 23, 2017 at 6:12 pm

Yes, Brad, I agree that Cecil Rhodes and others were involved with the zionists fairly early, although perhaps the greatest British interest was in the Suez canal. Also agree that the US was fooled into taking over the Suez protection and pressuring the UN to create Israel. No doubt there was Wall St interest, although I gather that zionists made direct "donations" to Truman's campaign for the UN pressure.

No doubt there were British zionists involved. But I think that JD's theory that Brits control US policy in the Mideast is a diversion from the obvious zionist control, whether he knows it or not. I will look again at your EIR website. Did not mean to offend.

Brad Owen , March 24, 2017 at 4:27 am

Sam, we just disagree on the location of the REAL enemy. The zionistas are indeed real, and a threat, a real enemy to the USA, but I maintain they are just a weapon wielded by our traditional enemy who has always fought to undermine us here in America; the British Empire (an entity distinct from the Anglo-Celtic people living on the British Isles who are our tribal mates and suffering under the same yoke of Empire as are we).

Sam F , March 23, 2017 at 3:26 pm

Completely wrong: it is an obvious fact that the Democrats have been taken over by the zionists. Obama got over $100 million from a single Jewish "donor." Hillary's major campaign sponsors are all Jewish.
http://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/033116/top-10-corporate-contributors-clinton-campaign.asp
The top 10 contributors to HRCs Superpac were as follows:
1. Dustin Moskovitz and Cari Tuna: $35 million
2. Donald Sussman, Paloma Partners: $21,100,000
3. Jay Robert Pritzker (Mary), Pritzker Group and Foundation: $12,600,000
4. Haim Saban and Cheryl Saban, Saban Capital Group: $10,000,000
5. George Soros (Schwartz): $9,525,000 (changed name from Schwartz)
6. S. Daniel Abraham, SDA Enterprises: $9,000,000
7. Fred Eychaner (Eichner), Newsweb Corporation: $8,005,400
8. James Simons (Shimon), Euclidean Capital: $7,000,000
9. Henry Laufer and Marsha Laufer, Renaissance Technologies: $5,500,000
10. Laure Woods (Wald), Laurel Foundation: $5 million

Your suggestion that this is "British empire" policy is way beyond the ridiculous, it is zionist propaganda. The entire UK economy is a small fraction of that of the US, and there is little financial connection.

I challenge you to deny these facts, or to substantiate the absurd theory of British control. US mass media.

Sam F , March 23, 2017 at 3:44 pm

To continue, the US mass media are also controlled by Jews, presumably zionists. About 40-60 percent of US newspapers are controlled by persons of identifiable Jewish surnames, while less than half of Jewish people can be so identified. Most of the rest are indirectly controlled by Jews.

No further explanation is needed of the mass media craze for Hillary Clinton (Kleinberg). The DNC emails show that she talks to no one but Jews about Mideast policy.

No further proof is needed of the origins of Democrat policy in the Mideast. It may play to the interests of the MIC and oil companies sometimes, but not in Syria/Libya/Egypt. And we got no special deals on Iraqi oil anyway, and had no reason to expect them.

Your move.

JWalters , March 23, 2017 at 8:33 pm

In support of your points, here is an excellent article at a Jewish-run, anti-Zionist website that points out the huge known influence of Israel on American politics that is being ignored amidst all the speculation about possible Russian influence, "Let's talk about Russian influence"
http://mondoweiss.net/2016/08/about-russian-influence/

Mondoweiss is a site of news and analysis with high journalistic standards. Like Consortium News it has also been attacked by the Deep State for its honesty.

Sam F , March 23, 2017 at 9:45 pm

Thank you; it is very appropriate to note that many Jewish people are strong critics of zionism and Israeli policies. There is some hope that they will assist in liberating Jews as well as Palestinians from the racism of the zionists, as many whites assisted in greatly reducing racism among whites in the US against African-Americans.

Bill Bodden , March 23, 2017 at 4:02 pm

The simplistic notion that the Democrats have been "taken over by the zionists" is a dangerous illusion that needs debunking.

There were references in an earlier post quoting two former Israeli prime ministers saying, in effect, they could take care of U.S. politicians to ensure they would do Israel's bidding. I recall Yitzhak Shamir was one of them. The spectacle of Netanyahu showing contempt for Obama in the way he addressed Congress and the standing ovations Netanyahu got from the senators and Congresspersons who sold their souls to the Israel lobby kind of supports the proposition that "the Democrats have been "taken over by the zionists"" Same thing goes for the Republicans.

Anna , March 23, 2017 at 6:08 pm

Have you heard about PNAC? Have you heard about the Lobby?
http://www.oldamericancentury.org/pnac.htm
http://www.unz.com/pgiraldi/neocons-as-a-figment-of-imagination/#comment-1810991

Sam F , March 23, 2017 at 9:55 pm

Thanks for the links. PNAC founders Kristol and Kagan helped harness forces for zionist goals. PNAC signers W. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz were principal promoters of Iraq War II, as Wolfowitz installed Israeli spy operatives Perl, Feith, and Wurmser at CIA/DIA/NSA offices to select known-bad "intelligence" to incite the war.

Jerry Alatalo , March 23, 2017 at 6:50 pm

J. D.,

"The simplistic notion that the Democrats have been "taken over by the zionists" is a dangerous illusion that needs debunking."

Can you share with readers why you used the term "dangerous illusion" and why it needs debunking? According to William Binney, Obama's use of GCHQ was nothing more than standard operating procedure, an everyday mode of business, to avoid breaking American laws – nothing new, so therefore presenting no threat of rupturing U.S.-British "special relationship".

Can you share the names of major influential figures composing what you describe as the "Anglo-American financial oligarchy" for the benefit of others who pass this way?

It's hard to explain away Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and so many other U.S. politicians fighting each other to get to the head of the pack in supporting Israel. Bernie Sanders only mentioned that Palestinians suffer human and civil rights deficiencies and the world shook, despite it being only a very minor, tiny critique of Israel. Can we imagine what would have happened – the titanic reaction – had Mr. Sanders blurted out during one of the debates with Ms, Clinton the same conclusion that Professor Virginia Tilley and Professor Richard Falk's report arrived at very recently – that the State of Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid?

Years ago while Mr. Sanders appeared weekly with Thom Hartmann on "Brunch With Bernie" we redialed the call-in program until finally getting through and asking two questions. The first was a request for a response from Senator Sanders on the trillion-dollar / year global tax haven-evasion industry facilitated by the world's most powerful accounting, legal and banking firms. The second requested response on the suggestion that it was time to "nationalize the privately-owned Federal Reserve". Mr. Sanders responded to the 1st, then suddenly the show went to music and a break – then after the break until show's end nothing about the Federal Reserve.

My guess is that Mr. Sanders and Mr. Hartmann were aware of a "panic button to break" to be triggered when the live call-in topics became, let's say, "unmanageable". That is just a guess,but another guess is that Mr. Sanders was the recipient of, how shall we put it, very "risky" news during his campaign for president when running against Ms. Clinton. So, long story short, Sanders capitulated because he's fully aware of what happened to JFK, MLK and RFK, Clinton became spoiled goods and unacceptable as America's new CEO, and Donald Trump was selected. Trump's long-time friends include "Lucky" Larry Silverstein, who just happened to avoid being in his Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, breaking his religiously kept routine of breakfast every morning in a restaurant located in the top floors of one of the towers – because his wife fortunately convinced him to keep an appointment with his dermatologist.

Donald Trump, "Lucky Larry" and Benjamin Netanyahu are long-time friends.

***

Men and women wishing to read, copy, save and disseminate the report on Israel apartheid by Professor Tilley and Professor Falk can find it online at the co-author's internet platform, available at:

https://richardfalk.wordpress.com

Bill Bodden , March 23, 2017 at 3:52 pm

The top ten "donors" to Clinton (Kleinberg) were Jewish, every single one of them! Over $100 million. Obama got over $100 million from a single Jewish "donor."

In exchange Israel got a $38 BILLION package of US aid. What a deal!! Presumably, the Israel lobby will show its appreciation to Obama with donations to his presidential library probably making that library the most expensive ever.

Sam F , March 23, 2017 at 6:27 pm

Yes, there can be little doubt that the zionist campaign money comes at least indirectly from US aid to Israel, and that the aid is intended substantially for that purpose. Investigation of such cashflows might turn up evidence, although there is a quid pro quo economy on both sides that could easily obscure the feedback.

You may well be right in suggesting that the vast aid flows simply make campaign donations a great investment for those who would otherwise have invested in Israel. But the Dems and Reps know that this aid to Israel is for campaign bribes, pure and simple.

JWalters , March 23, 2017 at 8:42 pm

In addition to the carrot bribes, there are also the blackmail sticks. This possibility is consistent with the following segment of a 1998 interview with Kay Griggs, former wife of the U.S. Army's director of assassination training.

Kay Griggs: "Even when he [General Al Gray] was General he ran an intelligence operation which was a contract organization trying to hook politicians, and get them. What is the word? In other words "

Interviewer: "In compromising situations?"

Kay Griggs: "Yes, yes. He had and still has an organization which brings in whores, prostitutes, whatever you want to say, who will compromise politicians so they can be used."

The above is in Part 2 of the whole interview, starting at 48:00 in the video at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-SEA9W6pmA

In Part 1 of the interview she explains the motives behind this.

Kay Griggs: "I'm talking about the Brooklyn-New Jersey mob. My husband, Al Gray, Sheehan, they're all Brooklyn. Cap Weinberger. Heinz Kissinger – there's the Boston mob, which was shipping weapons back and forth to Northern Ireland. And I don't want to get too deeply involved in that, but it goes – Israel – some of the Zionists who came over from Germany, according to my husband, were – he works with those people – they do a lot of money laundering in the banks, cash transactions for the drugs they're bringing over, through Latin America, the Southern Mafia, the Dixie Mafia, which now my husband's involved with in Miami. The military are all involved once they retire. They're – you know, they go into this drug and secondary weapon sales."

The above starts soon after 18:00 in the video at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQNitCNycKQ
(Part 1 of interview)

Further on the following exchange occurs.

Interviewer: "And directly under whose instructions to sell these weapons, do you know that?"

Kay Griggs: "Yeah."

Interviewer: "Okay, who would that be?"

Kay Griggs: "Well, uh, [pause] it's the Israeli-Zionist group in New York."

The above starts at 1:06:45 in the same video at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQNitCNycKQ

Shortly afterward in the same segment is this exchange.

Kay Griggs: "It's kind of like Monica and Bill. I think they put Monica in there to have something on Bill. That's my own feeling. Sarah McClendon feels the same way. Because "

Interviewer: "And Linda Tripp was there to guide the situation."

Kay Griggs: "Absolutely, of course. Linda Tripp was Delta Force. Linda Tripp was trained by Carl Steiner, who's in the diary [her husband's] with my husband. And he [Steiner] tried to trip up Schwarzkopf. I mean, he was trying to take, to take the whole Iraqi thing over because they had been baiting, you know using the Israeli rogues in Turkey. They were having little zig-zag wars. It's all to sell weapons. It's all about weapons sales, it's all about drugs, it's all about funny money."

A blackmail factor, combined with financial carrots, and especially if backed up with a death threat, could easily explain why a reasonably intelligent and educated person would act uninformed and irrational. The surface inconsistency becomes easy to understand. A strategic system of blackmail of the sort Kay Griggs described could easily explain a phalanx of politicians lying in lockstep to American voters, and voting against America's best interests.

backwardsevolution , March 24, 2017 at 12:19 am

JWalters – fascinating! Thanks for posting. Makes sense, doesn't it?

Sam f , March 24, 2017 at 12:33 pm

That is fascinating. There must be material on the linkages of secret agencies, ex-military staff, political gangsters, and money-laundering banksters to the drugs and weapons trade. They would be useful tools for false-flag incidents and to supply terror groups.

Those with connections should contact independent news reporters, who could perhaps train journalism students to investigate further. There may be material in the Wikileaks Vault-7 dump of CIA docs.

Pablo Diablo , March 23, 2017 at 1:39 pm

A military buildup=an empire in decline.

chuck b , March 23, 2017 at 2:25 pm

before they let their hegemony over humanity collapse, they blow up the planet.

what's remarkable, for me as an outsider at least, how many insane people are running the show and that's not exclusive to the psychotic right. seeing the mad general at hillary's DNC coronation and the "U!S!A!" chants from the crowd, i'm under the impression that the majority of Americans, that has not yet been marginalized and impoverished, is as deranged as ecstatic Germans cheering on Goebbels and his total war.

Accidental , March 23, 2017 at 8:29 pm

Actually what's happening now in the US is more like France in 1848

Pauline Saxon , March 23, 2017 at 1:50 pm

I have supported you from the beginning. I would like to understand why you seem to be protecting Trump

D5-5 , March 23, 2017 at 2:15 pm

I don't believe Robert Parry or this site are protecting Trump. Questioning the demonizing and slandering of Trump, and efforts to remove him, also do not constitute "protecting."

Trump was elected legitimately to be the president for better or worse. An assessment means looking at both sides of whatever it is. Trump is obviously not doing well and getting negative evaluations, but some of his views (for one example) that promise toward détente or acceptance of a multi-polar world are worth considering.

Is he genuinely moving in this direction, or faking for some hidden reason? The jury is still considering. So investigating an attack on Trump that is primarily bogus and motivated as a smoke screen to demonize Russia, and prepare the nation for war, is not protecting Trump, but trying to get at the underbrush of what's really going on behind the headlines.

Perhaps you could give us some idea of what you see as protecting Trump?

For myself I'm very critical of Trump. At this time he seems bent on building up ground troops in Syria, but with ISIS already being subdued without this action, we should question why. What's going on. Is he seeking a Ronald Reagan/George W. type of glory moment as One Tough Supreme Commander? Is he now falling in to the neocon overview of controlling the middle east? It's more foolishness in my view, that will not settle the problems and what W uncorked with his phony Iraq war. But this kind of considering doesn't take the heat off the DEM Party for its unconscionable manipulations with Trump and Russia bashing at this time.

Hayden Head , March 23, 2017 at 7:38 pm

Well said! You are spot on in your defense of Parry, who has consistently shown himself to be committed to the truth, regardless of whom he is defending or the consequences of his position. Many of us are waiting to see if Trump might, just might, lead us away from endless war to something approaching a rational foreign policy. Is such hope foolishness? Well, hope usually is.

Bill Bodden , March 23, 2017 at 8:08 pm

Unfortunately, this site is afflicted with the utterances of sloppy readers who are triggered to hit their keyboard when some sentence gets their attention and causes them to ignore other contradictory commentary.

Jake G , March 23, 2017 at 2:27 pm

What are you talking about? There are as many Trump-critic articles from him.

JWalters , March 23, 2017 at 8:49 pm

It seems to me Parry is not so much protecting Trump as trying to protect America from another needless war manufactured by the Deep State, e.g. "War Profiteers and the Roots of the War on Terror"
http://warprofiteerstory.blogspot.com

Gina , March 23, 2017 at 1:52 pm

Excellent article. I am pretty horrified at the direction of the Dems which has become Rethuglican-lite.

LJ , March 23, 2017 at 2:06 pm

The Democrats abandoned their core constituency , LABOR, when Clinton got the 1992 nomination promising to sign NAFTA a short time after having been pictured attending a Bilderberg Beer fest, Since then by jumping further under the sheets with High Finance and Tech Billionaires they have continuously bled votes everywhere except the West Coast. Recent Polling you may have noticed has the Democrats declining in favorability even more since the election. Strange Days have found us haven't they?. .when all else fails we can whip the horses eyes and make them sleep and cry .. I say for starters we separate the words Military and Intelligence forever with a Constitutional Amendment .. How then will Senators McCain and Feinstein react? What will they do for God's sake? The rest of the Two Party infrastructure will quickly implode. Sorry. Thank God and the ACA,, the Amazon Drone has just delivered my prescription meds.. Peace in our time.

chuck b , March 23, 2017 at 2:13 pm

i think it's safe to say that the democrats have been equally adept at waging war since the nutcase LBJ didn't know if they were shooting at whales in the bay of tomkin and started the American holocaust. obama let his darling Hillary run amok which resulted in a rise of refugees and idp by 50% to over 60 million, in just his first term. you actually live in a country run by Nazis for a very long time. from Kissinger to McCain, they are people in power who have collaborated with Nazis (phoenix, condor) and continue to do so in Ukraine or with Islamic extremists in syria. the prospect of McCain anywhere near the state dept must be avoided by an means necessary.

Tristan , March 23, 2017 at 2:22 pm

"[B]ut what good that would do for the American people and the world is hard to fathom." That's it Mr. Parry. That is the key that we need to understand. It is not, not, a priority of either political half of the Republican/Democratic dynamic, to do good for the American people. We are being subjected to the policies which previously were our export, the evisceration of nation(s) to benefit private capital.

I had previously wondered, back in the 90's when Russia was being subjected to neo liberal economic intervention, why these vultures hadn't descended upon the United States, being the feted calf that it were. But I was blind, they were already descending, it only has take some time and a couple of "opportunities", such as 9/11, the Katrina hurricane, to implement those same measures here.

We need to understand that our current political structure is indifferent to the well being of the majority of the "citizens" ie; what are now more commonly called consumers. If the prisons stay full and the indebtedness mounts that is part of the program. Stop thinking that our present system is offering anything that would be recognized by a rational and moral human being as something even close to "a government of the People, by the People, for the People; [or] Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

ltr , March 23, 2017 at 2:22 pm

I can tell you that the atmosphere is such on campus that a social science faculty member needs to be very careful not to be taken for having "sympathies" for either Russia or China. I repeatedly hear comments that are chilling, and just nod and get away.

Tristan , March 23, 2017 at 2:38 pm

It is nearly impossible to engage with someone in a political context and advocate for a least a fair mind, some neutrality in examining the domestic political situation and relations with Russia. I have to mute myself unless I am willing to engage in a long and tiring argument/discussion in which my point is lost and I have to defend simple ideas of statesmanship and diplomacy.

Sheryl , March 23, 2017 at 5:22 pm

I can relate. The frustrating part is that they think I'm a nut wearing a tinfoil hat.

Realist , March 23, 2017 at 5:55 pm

Would you go so far as to say that most such discussions now take place on terrain far removed from the real world? And, if you insist on sticking to facts rather than fantasy, are you immediately branded an enemy of the state, an intellectual exile without friends or influence, and probably someone marked for extinction, at least on the professional level, if this country must repeat the greatest mistakes of the 1930's and 40's, as it seems headed? So glad I am retired, and I worked in the natural sciences, not the more volatile and political social sciences. Now their only leverage against me is my state pension and health benefits, which many do want to make into a political football.

Tristan , March 23, 2017 at 7:31 pm

The distinction between the real and the ideological has been blurred in accordance with the principles of public opinion management, ie; propaganda. The prevailing mania, contextualized via the dynamic of globalized free market capitalism masquerading as the promotion of freedom and democracy, is where one finds that the seeds of "treason" are sown wider and wider against heretics.

Kiza , March 24, 2017 at 8:35 am

Just reading what all of you guys have written about the prevailing atmosphere in the so called intellectual community, which is much more serious than the atmosphere in the nutty MSM, makes me think of the Decline of the Roman Empire. Many people here are leftists, therefore they will disagree with me, but I see absolutely solid parallels between Russia-hate and AGW. Both have become religion for the vast majority of the Western intellectual class, devoid of the principal tool of the intellectuals – rationality. If you are a doubter, you will be ostracized .

Enquiring Mind , March 23, 2017 at 2:24 pm

They have no decency, sir.
At least McCarthy was right on the commie threat, even though his methods and execution were unsound.

Miranda Keefe , March 23, 2017 at 3:59 pm

"At least McCarthy was right on the commie threat."

The US was the aggressor in the Cold War. The Soviet Union, after the war, wanted to continue to co-exist under the spheres of influence agreed on by the US at Yalta.

When did the Democratic Party turn into the post-war war party? At the Democratic convention in 1944 when the establishment did a coup against FDR's right hand man, his VP, his chosen future VP and successor, the great Henry Wallace.

Gregory Herr , March 23, 2017 at 7:52 pm

Wallace instead of Truman? One of the big "what might have been" turns of history.

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/14297-henry-wallace-americas-forgotten-visionary

[Mar 24, 2017] Democrats Trade Places on War and McCarthyism – Consortiumnews

Notable quotes:
"... At such a point, that might put the Democrats and Republicans in sync as two equally warmongering parties, but what good that would do for the American people and the world is hard to fathom. ..."
"... America's Stolen Narrative, ..."
Mar 24, 2017 | consortiumnews.com

Exclusive: The anti-Russia hysteria gripping the Democratic Party marks a "trading places" moment as the Democrats embrace the New Cold War and the New McCarthyism, flipping the script on Republicans, writes Robert Parry.

Caught up in the frenzy to delegitimize Donald Trump by blaming his victory on Russian meddling, national Democrats are finishing the transformation of their party from one that was relatively supportive of peace to one pushing for war, including a confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia.

This "trading places" moment was obvious in watching the belligerent tone of Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee on Monday as they impugned the patriotism of any Trump adviser who may have communicated with anyone connected to Russia.

Ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, acknowledged that there was no hard evidence of any Trump-Russia cabal, but he pressed ahead with what he called "circumstantial evidence of collusion," a kind of guilt-by-association conspiracy theory that made him look like a mild-mannered version of Joe McCarthy.

Schiff cited by name a number of Trump's aides and associates who – as The New York Times reported – were "believed to have some kind of contact or communications with Russians." These Americans, whose patriotism was being questioned, included foreign policy adviser Carter Page, Trump's second campaign manager Paul Manafort, political adviser Roger Stone and Trump's first national security adviser retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.

In a 15-minute opening statement, Schiff summed up his circumstantial case by asking: "Is it possible that all of these events and reports are completely unrelated and nothing more than an entirely unhappy coincidence? Yes, it is possible. But it is also possible, maybe more than possible, that they are not coincidental, not disconnected and not unrelated."

As an investigative journalist who has covered (and uncovered) national security scandals for several decades, I would never accuse people of something as serious as betraying their country based on nothing more than coincidences that, who knows, might not be coincidental.

Before we published anything on such topics, the news organizations that I worked for required multiple layers of information from a variety of sources including insiders who could describe what had happened and why. Such stories included Nicaraguan Contra cocaine smuggling, Oliver North's secret Contra supply operation, and the Reagan campaign's undermining of President Carter's Iran-hostage negotiations in 1980.

For breaking those stories, we still took enormous heat from Republicans, some Democrats who wanted to show how bipartisan they were, and many establishment-protecting journalists, but the stories contained strong evidence that misconduct occurred – and we were highly circumspect in how the allegations were framed.

Going Whole-Hog

By contrast, national Democrats, some super-hawk Republicans and the establishment media are going whole-hog on these vague suspicions of contacts between some Russians and some Americans who have provided some help or advice to Trump.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry listens to Russian President Vladimir Putin in a meeting room at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, at the outset of a bilateral meeting on July 14, 2016. [State Department Photo] Given the paucity of evidence – both regarding the claims that Russia hacked Democratic emails and slipped them to WikiLeaks, and the allegations that somehow Trump's advisers colluded in that process – it would appear that what is happening is a political maneuver to damage Trump politically and possibly remove him from office.

But those machinations require the Democratic Party's continued demonization of Russia and implicitly put the Democrats on the side of escalating New Cold War tensions, such as military support for the fiercely anti-Russian regime in Ukraine which seized power in a 2014 U.S.-backed putsch overthrowing elected President Viktor Yanukovych.

One of the attack lines that Democrats have used against Trump is that his people toned down language in the Republican platform about shipping arms to the Ukrainian military, which includes battalions of neo-Nazi fighters and has killed thousands of ethnic Russian Ukrainians in the east in what is officially called an Anti-Terrorism Operation (or ATO).

The Democratic Party leaders have fully bought into the slanted Western narrative justifying the violent overthrow of Yanukovych. They also have ignored the human rights of Ukraine's ethnic Russian minorities, which voted overwhelmingly in Crimea and the Donbass to secede from post-coup Ukraine. The more complex reality is simply summed up as a "Russian invasion."

Key Democrats also have pressed for escalation of the U.S. military attacks inside Syria to force "regime change" on Bashar al-Assad's secular government even if that risks another military confrontation with Russia and a victory by Al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists.

In short, the national Democratic Party is turning itself into the more extreme war party. It's not that the Republicans have become all that dovish; it's just that the Democrats have become all that hawkish. The significance of this change can hardly be overstated.

Questioning War

Since late in the Vietnam War, the Democrats have acted as the more restrained of the two major parties on issues of war, with the Republicans associated with tough-guy rhetoric and higher military spending. By contrast, Democrats generally were more hesitant to rush into foreign wars and confrontations (although they were far from pacifists).

Especially after the revelations of the Pentagon Papers in the 1971 revealing the government deceptions used to pull the American people into the Vietnam War, Democrats questioned shady rationalizations for other wars.

Some Democratic skepticism continued into the 1980s as President Ronald Reagan was modernizing U.S. propaganda techniques to whitewash the gross human rights crimes of right-wing regimes in Central America and to blacken the reputations of Nicaragua's Sandinistas and other leftists.

The Democratic resolve against war propaganda began to crack by the mid-to-late 1980s – around Reagan's Grenada invasion and George H.W. Bush's attack on Panama. By then, the Republicans had enjoyed nearly two decades of bashing the Democrats as "weak on defense" – from George McGovern to Jimmy Carter to Walter Mondale to Michael Dukakis.

But the Democratic Party's resistance to dubious war rationalizations collapsed in 1991 over George H.W. Bush's Persian Gulf War, in which the President rebuffed less violent solutions (even ones favored by the U.S. military) to assure a dramatic ground-war victory after which Bush declared, "By God, we've kicked the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all."

Fearful of being labeled disloyal to "the troops" and "weak," national Democrats scrambled to show their readiness to kill. In 1992, Gov. Bill Clinton left the campaign trail to return to Arkansas to oversee the execution of the mentally impaired Ricky Ray Rector.

During his presidency, Clinton deployed so-called "smart power" aggressively, including maintaining harsh sanctions on Iraq even as they led to the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. He also intervened in the Yugoslavian civil war by bombing civilian targets in Belgrade including the lethal destruction of the Serb TV station for the supposed offense of broadcasting "propaganda."

After the 9/11 attacks in 2001, many leading congressional Democrats – including presidential hopefuls John Kerry, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton – voted to authorize President George W. Bush to invade Iraq. Though they offered various excuses (especially after the Iraq War went badly), the obvious real reason was their fear of being labeled "soft" in Republican attack ads.

The American public's revulsion over the Iraq War and the resulting casualties contributed to Barack Obama's election. But he, too, moved to protect his political flanks by staffing his young administration with hawks, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. (and later CIA Director) David Petraeus. Despite receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Obama also became comfortable with continuing Bush's wars and starting some of his own, such as the bombing war against Libya and the violent subversion of Syria.

By nominating Hillary Clinton in 2016, the Democratic Party completed its transformation into the Party of War. Clinton not only ran as an unapologetic hawk in the Democratic primaries against Sen. Bernie Sanders – urging, for instance, a direct U.S. military invasion of Syria to create "no fly zones" – but positioned herself as a harsh critic of Trump's hopes to reduce hostilities with Russia, deeming the Republican nominee Vladimir Putin's "puppet."

Ironically, Trump's shocking victory served to solidify the Democratic Party's interest in pushing for a military confrontation with Russia over Ukraine. After all, baiting Trump over his alleged "softness" toward Russia has become the centerpiece of Democratic hopes for somehow ousting Trump or at least crippling his presidency. Any efforts by Trump to ease those tensions will be cited as prima facie evidence that he is Putin's "Manchurian candidate."

Being Joe McCarthy

National Democrats and their media supporters don't even seem troubled by the parallels between their smears of Americans for alleged contacts with Russians and Sen. Joe McCarthy's guilt-by-association hearings of the early Cold War. Every link to Russia – no matter how tenuous or disconnected from Trump's election – is trumpeted by Democrats and across the mainstream news media.

But it's not even clear that this promotion of the New Cold War and the New McCarthyism will redound to the Democrats' political advantage. Clinton apparently thought that her embrace of a neoconservative foreign policy would bring in many "moderate" Republicans opposed to Trump's criticism of the Bush-Obama wars, but exit polls showed Republicans largely rallying to their party's nominee.

Meanwhile, there were many anti-war Democrats who have become deeply uncomfortable with the party's new hawkish persona. In the 2016 election, some peace Democrats voted for third parties or didn't vote at all for president, although it's difficult to assess how instrumental those defections were in costing Clinton the key states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

More broadly, the Democratic obsession with Russia and the hopes for somehow exploiting those investigations in order to oust Trump have distracted the party from a necessary autopsy into why the Democrats have lost so much ground over the past decade.

While many Democratic leaders and activists are sliding into full-scale conspiracy-mode over the Russia-Trump story, they are not looking at the party's many mistakes and failings, such as:

Yet, rather than come up with new strategies to address the future, Democratic leaders would rather pretend that Putin is at fault for the Trump presidency and hope that the U.S. intelligence community – with its fearsome surveillance powers – can come up with enough evidence to justify Trump's impeachment.

Then, of course, the Democrats would be stuck with President Mike Pence, a more traditional Religious Right Republican whose first step on foreign policy would be to turn it over to neocon Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, a move that would likely mean a new wave of "regime change" wars.

At such a point, that might put the Democrats and Republicans in sync as two equally warmongering parties, but what good that would do for the American people and the world is hard to fathom.

[For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com's " Yes, Hillary Clinton Is a Neocon " and " Democrats Are Now the Aggressive War Party .]

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America's Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com ).

[Mar 24, 2017] Surveillance State Goes After Trump

Notable quotes:
"... Democrats are so eager to take down President Trump that they are joining forces with the Surveillance State to trample the privacy rights of people close to Trump, ex-FBI agent Coleen Rowley tells Dennis J Bernstein. ..."
"... 'Red Scare' fear of Communism" famously associated with legendary FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover who collaborated with Sen. Joe McCarthy's hunt for disloyal Americans in the late 1940s and early 1950s. ..."
Mar 24, 2017 | consortiumnews.com

Democrats are so eager to take down President Trump that they are joining forces with the Surveillance State to trample the privacy rights of people close to Trump, ex-FBI agent Coleen Rowley tells Dennis J Bernstein.

Since Donald Trump's election, former Special FBI Agent Coleen Rowley has been alarmed over how Democratic hawks, neocons and other associates in the "deep state" have obsessed over "resurrecting the ghost of Joseph McCarthy" and have built political support for a permanent war policy around hatred of Russia.

Rowley, whose 2002 memo to the FBI Director exposed some of the FBI's pre-9/11failures, compared the current anti-Russia hysteria to "the

'Red Scare' fear of Communism" famously associated with legendary FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover who collaborated with Sen. Joe McCarthy's hunt for disloyal Americans in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

In an interview, Rowley told me that while Trump was wrong about his claim that President Obama ordered a surveillance "tapp" of Trump Tower, the broader point may have been correct as explained by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-California, who described how U.S. intelligence apparently picked up conversations by Trump associates while monitoring other targets.

Dennis Bernstein: A former high-level FBI whistleblower says Trump is vindicated on his claims of being surveilled by the previous administration. Joining us to take a close look at what's been going on, what's been unfolding in Washington, D.C. is Coleen Rowley. She's a former FBI special agent and division council. She wrote a May 2002 memo to the FBI director that exposed some of the FBI's pre-9/11 failures, major failures. She was Time magazine's person of the year in 2002. Help us explain what chairman Nunes reported in terms of the collecting process and Trumps innocence or guilt?

... ... ...

CR: Well, I don't think there has and it's not just myself, it's really most of our veteran intelligence professionals, retired CIA, retired NSA, we've all been conferring for a while on this. And we have asked, we actually put out a memo asking for evidence. Because it's just been assertions and innuendoes, and demonization

We see a lot of demonization of the Russian T.V. channel. But we have not seen any actual evidence of Russians and there's a lot of reasons to think that this would be illogical. Even if, and I would grant that Comey mentioned this in his testimony, that Putin and other top Russians hated Hillary Clinton. Well, even if you assume that, that they didn't like Hillary Clinton, as much as Donald Trump. They considered Donald Trump their lesser evil, or whatever. Even if you think that, why would they take the risk? Because, at the time Hillary Clinton surprised everyone by everyone thought she was going to win. So it would have been completely illogical for them to have done these things, to take that kind of a risk, when it was presumed that she was going to be the next president. There's just so many things here that don't add up, and don't make sense.

FBI Director James Comey

And yet, and yet, because our mainstream media is owned by what? half a dozen big conglomerates, all connected to the military industrial complex, they continue with the scenario of that old movie the Russians are coming! the Russians are coming! And unfortunately the Democrat Party has become the war party, very clearly. They're the ones that don't see the dangers in ginning up this very dangerous narrative of going after Russia, as meddling, or whatever. And they should ask for, we all should ask for the full evidence of this. If this is case, then we deserve to know the truth about it. And, so far, we haven't seen anything. Look at that report. There's nothing in it.

DB: And, this is the same media who for the last ever since Trump claimed that he was wiretapped using the wrong terminology, these

journalists they couldn't stop saying "if he did lie, this is a felony. He did lie. He did accuse the former president of the United States " So, you're saying, based on your long experience and information this was just a confusion of a term of art, and the idea of the possibility of Trump Towers being under investigation, this was all incredibly not strange, not crazy, and totally normal in the context of an investigation.

CR: Yes, and I again, there could be grounds for legitimate investigation of the periphery of the Trump campaign, certain staffers. And you know what, corruption in Washington, D.C. is quite rampant. And I think many, many of the politicians if they actually put them under the microscope they could find just as you look at foreign leaders, Netanyahu was indicted for corruption, whatever. It's not uncommon to have conflicts of interests, and under the table deals. That's very possible.

So, that's not what our news is saying. Our mainstream news is saying that, what you said at the beginning, the Russians own Trump, and basically that this has undermined our democracy and our electoral process. That part of it we have seen no evidence of. And, Trump is partially vindicated, because obviously whether he was personally targeted, his campaign at least seems to have been monitored, at least in part.

DB: Were you amazed that, for instance, the FBI director raised the issue of the Clinton investigation, but not the Trump investigation?

CR: Well, I've been trying to figure that out. Because back, during when he went public, he was put into the spot because Loretta Lynch should have been the one to be public on these things. But she was tainted because of having met with Bill Clinton on the tarmac. And so my explanation was that that Comey shouldered the burden from Loretta Lynch. He was doing her a favor in a way because he thought it would look like this is more independent and more professional coming from the FBI. Because at the time Loretta Lynch was under a cloud. And I think that is the explanation for why he was so public at the time.

And, of course, things have developed the summer, if any investigation started during the summer, again, it was not known. It was probably legitimate if they got some information in about some act of corruption, or whatever, it was certainly legitimate. But since this summer what has happened is this whole narrative has just gone on steroids, because of the leaks about the Russians, etc. And the fact that they put out this report, the FBI, the NSA, and the director of National Intelligence. And I think that that's the problem right now is the public just is so confused because there has been so much wrong information out there in the media. And no one knows what to believe.

Actually, to Comey's credit he did say this a couple of times that these media accounts are not accurate. And, I think that, again, we there's been a lot of "sources" anonymous sources which I do not think are whistleblowers. But these anonymous sources seem to have come from political operatives, and even higher level people. I'm guessing some of this came from the Obama administration appointees, not Obama, of course, personally.

And, who knows if he knew anything about this, but some of those prior appointees, I think, when all is said and done will be seen as the ones, if they can ever uncover this. It's hard with anonymous sources. But I think they were probably the ones leading this. And maybe over time we can get back to some sanity here without so much of this planted information, and wrongful leaks. And I, again, I'm all for whistle blowing. But, I don't agree with leaks like Scooter Libby's where they were actually using the media to plant false info.

[Mar 24, 2017] The Mechanical Turn in Economics and Its Consequences

Notable quotes:
"... In the same way, neoliberals are no different. They aren't bad people – they just see their policies as right and just because those policies are working well for them and the people in their class, and I don't think they really understand why it doesn't work for others – maybe, like Adam Smith, they think that is the "natural state" .. ..."
"... Read the first sentence of the Theory of Moral Sentiments – it makes an assumption which is the foundation of all of Adam Smith. He asserted that all men are moral. Morality in economics is the invisible hand creating order like gravity in astronomy. Unfortunately, Adam Smith's assumption is false or at least not true enough to form a sound foundation for useful economic theory. ..."
"... But "morality" means different things to different people. Smith only saw the morality of his own class. For example, I am sure a wealthy man would consider it very moral to accumulate as much money as he could so that he would be seen by his peers as a good and worthy man who cares for his future generations and the well being of his class – he doesn't see this accumulation as amoral – whilst a poor man may think that kind of accumulation is amoral because he thinks that money could be better used provide for those without the basic needs to survive ..."
"... "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices." ..."
"... Another I remember from Smith was something like, "The law exists to protect those who have much from those who have little." Sounds about right. ..."
"... One of Steve Keen's favourite analogies is astronomy. Neoclassical economics is like Ptolemy's epicycles; assume the Earth is at the centre, and that the planets orbit in circles and simply by adding little circles-epicycles-you can accurately describe the observed motion of the planets. The right epicycles in the right places can describe any motion. But they can't explain anything, they add nothing to understanding, they subtract from it, because they are false but give the illusion of knowledge. Drop the assumptions and you can begin to get somewhere. ..."
"... Steve Keen seems to have latched onto this in the last year or so, pointing out that all production is driven by energy. And the energy comes ultimately from the sun. Either it is turned into production via feeding workers, or by fueling machinery (by burning hydrocarbons extracted from plant and animal remains). ..."
"... I have a question about a similar thing. Simon Kuznetz is credited as someone who has invented modern concept of GDP and he revolutionized the field of economics with statistical method (econometrics). However, Kuznets , in the same report in which he presented modern concept of GDP to US congress, wrote following(from wikipedia): ..."
"... "The valuable capacity of the human mind to simplify a complex situation in a compact characterization becomes dangerous when not controlled in terms of definitely stated criteria. With quantitative measurements especially, the definiteness of the result suggests, often misleadingly, a precision and simplicity in the outlines of the object measured. Measurements of national income are subject to this type of illusion and resulting abuse, especially since they deal with matters that are the center of conflict of opposing social groups where the effectiveness of an argument is often contingent upon oversimplification. ..."
"... All these qualifications upon estimates of national income as an index of productivity are just as important when income measurements are interpreted from the point of view of economic welfare. But in the latter case additional difficulties will be suggested to anyone who wants to penetrate below the surface of total figures and market values. Economic welfare cannot be adequately measured unless the personal distribution of income is known. And no income measurement undertakes to estimate the reverse side of income, that is, the intensity and unpleasantness of effort going into the earning of income. The welfare of a nation can, therefore, scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income as defined above. Distinctions must be kept in mind between quantity and quality of growth, between costs and returns, and between the short and long run. Goals for more growth should specify more growth of what and for what." ..."
"... "So , my question is why economists keep treating GDP as some scared metric when its creator himself deems it not reliable? Why all qualifications about GDP by Kuznetz is ignored by most of the economists nowadays?"@Vedant ..."
"... That is your explanation right there. Large abstract numbers such as GDP obscure social issues such as "the personal distribution of income." and the effort that goes into creating that income. Large abstract numbers obscure the moral dimension that must be a part of all economic discussion and are obscured by statistics and sciencism. As the genius of Mark Twain put it, "There are lies, damned lies and statistics." Beware the credentialed classes! ..."
"... Interesting. There is a great book by John Dupré called 'Human Nature and the Limits of Science (2001)", which tackles this subject in a general way: the facts that taking a mechanistic model as a paradigm for diverse areas of science is problematic and leads to myopia. ..."
"... He describes it as a form of 'scientific imperialism', stretching the use of concepts from one area of science to other areas and leading to bad results (because there are, you know, relevant differences). As a prime example, he mentions economics. (When reading EConned;s chapter of the science ( 'science') of economics, I was struck by the similar argument.) ..."
"... Soddy was a scientist. He should have written as a scientist with definitions, logic and rigour, but he wrote like a philosopher, full of waffle and unsubstantiated assertions like other economists. It is unscientific to apply universal laws discovered in physics and chemistry to economics without proving by observations that those laws also apply to economics. ..."
"... I get irritated by radical free-marketeers who when presented with a social problem tend to dogmatically assert that "The free market wills it," as if that ended all discussion. It is as if the free market was their God who must always be obeyed. Unlike Abraham, we do not need to obey if we feel that the answer is unjust. ..."
"... Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire ..."
"... The moralistic explanations for the disintegration of the (Western) Roman Empire were long ago discarded by all serious analysis of late antiquity. More practical explanations, especially the loss of the North African bread basket to the Vandals, are presented in the scholarly work these days. ..."
"... That book of Gibbon's is an incredible achievement. If it is not read by historians today, it is their loss. Its moral explanations, out of fashion today, are actually quite compelling. They become more so when read with de Tocqueville's views of the moral foundations of American township democracy and their transmission into the behavior, and assumptions, of New Englanders, whose views formed the basis of the federal republican constitution. ..."
"... The loss of the breadbasket was problematical, too. And it may be that no civilization, however young and virile, could withstand the migrations forever, as they withstood or absorbed them, with a few exceptions, for eight hundred years. But the progressive losses to the migratory tribes may have been a symptom of the real, "moral," cause of the decline. ..."
"... From 536-539AD the entire planet suffered a staggering holocaust. Krakatoa blew up - ejecting so much dust that it triggered a 'nuclear winter' that lasted through those years. ..."
"... It was this period that ended agriculture in North Africa. ( Algeria-Tunisia ) The drought blew all of the top soil into the Med. It was an irreversible tragedy. ..."
"... Economics is not science, simply because economics does not take facts seriously enough to modify flawed theories. ..."
"... In college I couldn't help but notice the similarities between modern economic theory and the control theory taught in engineering. Not such a great fit though, society is not a mechanical governor. ..."
"... " ..."
Mar 21, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. This post takes what I see as an inconsistent, indeed, inaccurate stance on Adam Smith, since it depicts him as advocating laissez faire and also not being concerned about "emotions, sentiment, human relations and community." Smith was fiercely opposed to monopolies as well as businessmen colluding to lower the wages paid to workers. He also saw The Theory of Moral Sentiments as his most important work and wanted it inscribed on his gravestone.

Nor is it true that Smith advocated government not intervening in business. From Mark Thoma , quoting Gavin Kennedy :

Jacob Viner addressed the laissez-faire attribution to Adam Smith in 1928 ..Here is a list extracted from Wealth Of Nations:

"Viner concluded, unsurprisingly, that 'Adam Smith was not a doctrinaire advocate of laissez-faire'.

By Douglass Carmichael, perviously a Professor at University of California at Santa Cruz and a Washington DC based consultant, which clients including Hewlett-Packard, World Bank, Bell laboratories, The White House and the State Department. For the last ten years he has focused on the broad social science issues relevant to rethinking humanity's relationship to nature. Cross posted from the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

With Adam Smith, and hints before in Ricardo and others, economics took the path of treating the economy as a natural object that should not be interfered with by the state. This fit the Newtonian ethos of the age: science was great, science was mathematics; science was true, right and good.

But along the way the discussion in, for example, Montaigne and Machiavelli - about the powers of imagination, myth, emotions, sentiment, human relations and community - was abandoned by the economists. (Adam Smith had written his Theory of Moral Sentiments 20 years earlier and sort of left it behind, though the Wealth of Nations is still concerned with human well-being.) Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire was published in 1776, the same year as Smith's Wealth , but hardly read today by most economists.

In philosophy and the arts (romanticism among others) there was great engagement in these issues economics was trying to avoid. But that philosophy and art criticism have not been widely read for many years.

The effect of ignoring the human side of lives was to undermine the social perspective of the "political," by merging it with the individually focused "interest." So, instead of exploring the inner structure of interest (or later utility or preference), or community feeling and the impact of culture, these were assumed to be irrelevant to the mechanics of the market. Politics, having to do with interest groups and power arrangements, is more vague and harder to model than economic activity.

Those who wanted economics to be a science were motivated by the perception that "being scientific" was appreciated by the society of the time, and was the path to rock-solid truth. But the move towards economics as a science also happened to align with a view of the landed and the wealthy that the economy was working for them, so don't touch it. We get the equation, embracing science = conservative. This is still with us because of the implication that the market is made by god or nature rather than being socially constructed. Since economics is the attempt at a description of the economy, it was more or less locked in to the naturalist approach, which ignores things like class and ownership and treated capital as part of economic flow rather than as a possession that was useable for social and political power.

Even now, economics still continues as if it were part of the age of Descartes and avoids most social, historical and philosophical thought about the nature of man and society. Names like Shaftesbury and Puffendorf, very much read in their time, are far less known now than Hobbes, Descartes, Ricardo, Mill and Keynes. Karl Polanyi is much less well known than Hayek. We do not learn of the social history such as the complex interplay in Viennese society among those who were classmates and colleagues such as Hayek, Gombrich, Popper and Drucker. The impact of Viennese culture is not known to many economists.

The result is an economics that supports an economy that is out of control because the feedback loops through society and its impact of the quality of life - and resentment - are not recognized in a dehumanized economics, and so can't have a feedback correcting effect.

The solution, however, is not to look for simplicity, but to embrace a kind of complexity that honors nature, humans, politics, and the way they are dealt with in philosophy, arts, investigative reporting, anthropology and history. Because the way forward cannot be a simple projection of the past. We are in more danger than that.

Anthony Pagden, in Why the Enlightenment is Still Important , writes that before the enlightenment, late feudalism and the Renaissance, "The scholastics had made their version of the natural law the basis for a universal moral and political code that demanded that all human beings be regarded in the same way, no matter what their culture or their beliefs. It also demanded that human beings respect each other because they share a common urge to 'come together,' and it required them to offer to each other, even to total strangers, help in times of need, to recognize 'that amity among men is part of the natural law.' Finally, while Hobbes and Grotius had accepted the existence of only one natural right - the right to self-preservation - the scholastics had allowed for a wide range of them." -

Pagen also writes, "The Enlightenment, and in particular that portion with which I am concerned, was in part, as we shall now see, an attempt to recover something of this vision of a unified and essentially benign humanity, of a potentially cosmopolitan world, without also being obliged to accept the theologians' claim that this could only make sense as part of the larger plan of a well-meaning, if deeply inscrutable, deity."

But as Pagen shows, that effort was overcome by market, technical and financial interests.

The reason this is so important is that the simple and ethical view in Smith (and many other classical economists if we were to read them) that it was wrong to let the poor starve because of manipulated grain prices, was replaced by a more mechanical view of society that denied human intelligence except as calculators of self interest. This is a return to the Hobbesian world leading to a destructive society: climate, inequality, corruption. Today, the poor are hemmed in by so many regulations and procedures (real estate, education, police) that people are now starved. Not having no food, but having bad food, which along with all the new forms of privation add up to a seriously starved life, is not perceived by a blinded society to be suffering. Economics in its current form - most economics papers and college courses - do not touch the third rail of class, or such pain.

HeadShaker , March 21, 2017 at 11:13 am

Interesting. I've been reading (thanks to an intro from NC) Mark Blyth's "Austerity" and, thus far, seems to imply, if not outright state, that Adam Smith was quite suspicious of government intervention in the economy. The "can't live with it, can't live without it, don't want to pay for it" perspective. The bullet points you've listed above seem to refute that notion.

justanotherprogressive , March 21, 2017 at 11:39 am

Adam Smith tried to make a moral science out of what his class wanted to hear. If he had actually gone into those factories of his time, he might have had a different opinion of what labour was and how there was no "natural state" for wages, but only what was imposed on people who couldn't fight back. If he had gotten out of his ivory tower for a while, he might have had a different opinion of what those owners of stock were doing. He also might have had different views on trade if he could have seen what was happening to the labourers in the textile industries in France. And I could go on. But instead he created a fantasy that has been the basis for all economic thinking since.

In the same way, neoliberals are no different. They aren't bad people – they just see their policies as right and just because those policies are working well for them and the people in their class, and I don't think they really understand why it doesn't work for others – maybe, like Adam Smith, they think that is the "natural state" ..

Sorry, but there needs to be a Copernican Revolution in Economics just as there was in science. We have to realize that maybe Adam Smith was wrong – and I know that will be hard – just as it was hard for people to realize that the Earth wasn't the center of the universe.

Since I am retired, maybe I will go back to school, hold my nose and cover my lying eyes long enough to finish that Economics degree, so that I can get good access to all the other windows in Economics. I can't really believe I am the only person thinking this way – there must be some bright people out there who have come to similar conclusions and I would dearly love to know who they are.

Lyonwiss , March 21, 2017 at 2:49 pm

Read the first sentence of the Theory of Moral Sentiments – it makes an assumption which is the foundation of all of Adam Smith. He asserted that all men are moral. Morality in economics is the invisible hand creating order like gravity in astronomy. Unfortunately, Adam Smith's assumption is false or at least not true enough to form a sound foundation for useful economic theory.

justanotherprogressive , March 21, 2017 at 3:18 pm

But "morality" means different things to different people. Smith only saw the morality of his own class. For example, I am sure a wealthy man would consider it very moral to accumulate as much money as he could so that he would be seen by his peers as a good and worthy man who cares for his future generations and the well being of his class – he doesn't see this accumulation as amoral – whilst a poor man may think that kind of accumulation is amoral because he thinks that money could be better used provide for those without the basic needs to survive

Lyonwiss , March 22, 2017 at 2:29 am

You have not read the first sentence of the book, where he stated what he meant – to me, it is his general statement of universal morality.

lyman alpha blob , March 21, 2017 at 3:03 pm

I've read a fair amount of Wealth of Nations although far from all of it and my take was that Smith was describing the economic system of his time as it was , not necessarily as it should or must be. Smith gets a bad rap from the left due to many people over the last 200+ years hearing what they wanted to hear from him to justify their own actions rather than what he actually said.

I'm cherry picking a bit here since I don't have the time to go through several hundred pages, but I think Smith might actually agree with you about the plight of labor and he was well aware of what the ownership class was up to –

"People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices."

Adam Smith – Wealth of Nations

diptherio , March 21, 2017 at 7:00 pm

Yup, wish I would have had that one handy in my intro to micro course

Another I remember from Smith was something like, "The law exists to protect those who have much from those who have little." Sounds about right.

Grebo , March 21, 2017 at 4:58 pm

there needs to be a Copernican Revolution in Economics

One of Steve Keen's favourite analogies is astronomy. Neoclassical economics is like Ptolemy's epicycles; assume the Earth is at the centre, and that the planets orbit in circles and simply by adding little circles-epicycles-you can accurately describe the observed motion of the planets. The right epicycles in the right places can describe any motion. But they can't explain anything, they add nothing to understanding, they subtract from it, because they are false but give the illusion of knowledge. Drop the assumptions and you can begin to get somewhere.

digi_owl , March 22, 2017 at 1:36 pm

And that is exactly what Marx did, but then got himself sidetracked by trying to find (or create) support for his labor theory of value.

Actually most of what he writes in Capital basically refutes said theory, instead hinting at energy being the core source of value (how much food/fuel is needed to produce one unit, basically).

Steve Keen seems to have latched onto this in the last year or so, pointing out that all production is driven by energy. And the energy comes ultimately from the sun. Either it is turned into production via feeding workers, or by fueling machinery (by burning hydrocarbons extracted from plant and animal remains).

mejimenez , March 21, 2017 at 1:41 pm

Since words have somewhat flexible boundaries, it's hard to tell from what perspective this response is looking at the history of science. Characterizing cybernetics as mechanistic would require an unusually broad definition of "mechanistic". Even a superficial reading of Norbert Wiener, Warren McCulloch, W. Ross Ashby, or any of the other early contributors to the discipline will make one aware that they were explicitly trying to address the limitations of simplistic mechanistic thinking.

In the related discipline, General Systems Theory, von Bertalanffy expressly argued that we should take our cues from the organic living world to understand complex systems. With the introduction of Second Order Cybernetics by Heinz von Foerster, Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson and others, the role of a sentient observer in describing the system in which he/she is embedded becomes the focus of attention. Bateson was an original participant with many of the people mentioned above in the Macy conferences where cybernetics was first introduced. The bulk of his work was a direct attack on the mechanistic view of the natural world.

Of course, many writers treat cybernetics, General Systems Theory, and their related disciplines as pseudoscientific. But those are typically people who are firmly committed to mechanistic explanations.

Vedant , March 21, 2017 at 1:02 pm

Yves,

I have a question about a similar thing. Simon Kuznetz is credited as someone who has invented modern concept of GDP and he revolutionized the field of economics with statistical method (econometrics). However, Kuznets , in the same report in which he presented modern concept of GDP to US congress, wrote following(from wikipedia):-

"The valuable capacity of the human mind to simplify a complex situation in a compact characterization becomes dangerous when not controlled in terms of definitely stated criteria. With quantitative measurements especially, the definiteness of the result suggests, often misleadingly, a precision and simplicity in the outlines of the object measured. Measurements of national income are subject to this type of illusion and resulting abuse, especially since they deal with matters that are the center of conflict of opposing social groups where the effectiveness of an argument is often contingent upon oversimplification.

All these qualifications upon estimates of national income as an index of productivity are just as important when income measurements are interpreted from the point of view of economic welfare. But in the latter case additional difficulties will be suggested to anyone who wants to penetrate below the surface of total figures and market values. Economic welfare cannot be adequately measured unless the personal distribution of income is known. And no income measurement undertakes to estimate the reverse side of income, that is, the intensity and unpleasantness of effort going into the earning of income. The welfare of a nation can, therefore, scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income as defined above.
Distinctions must be kept in mind between quantity and quality of growth, between costs and returns, and between the short and long run. Goals for more growth should specify more growth of what and for what."

So , my question is why economists keep treating GDP as some scared metric when its creator himself deems it not reliable? Why all qualifications about GDP by Kuznetz is ignored by most of the economists nowadays?

Allegorio , March 21, 2017 at 2:48 pm

"So , my question is why economists keep treating GDP as some scared metric when its creator himself deems it not reliable? Why all qualifications about GDP by Kuznetz is ignored by most of the economists nowadays?"@Vedant

" Economic welfare cannot be adequately measured unless the personal distribution of income is known. And no income measurement undertakes to estimate the reverse side of income, that is, the intensity and unpleasantness of effort going into the earning of income."

That is your explanation right there. Large abstract numbers such as GDP obscure social issues such as "the personal distribution of income." and the effort that goes into creating that income. Large abstract numbers obscure the moral dimension that must be a part of all economic discussion and are obscured by statistics and sciencism. As the genius of Mark Twain put it, "There are lies, damned lies and statistics." Beware the credentialed classes!

Mucho , March 21, 2017 at 1:20 pm

Interesting. There is a great book by John Dupré called 'Human Nature and the Limits of Science (2001)", which tackles this subject in a general way: the facts that taking a mechanistic model as a paradigm for diverse areas of science is problematic and leads to myopia.

He describes it as a form of 'scientific imperialism', stretching the use of concepts from one area of science to other areas and leading to bad results (because there are, you know, relevant differences). As a prime example, he mentions economics. (When reading EConned;s chapter of the science ( 'science') of economics, I was struck by the similar argument.)

Lyonwiss , March 21, 2017 at 2:31 pm

Science does not imply only mechanistic models, which may be appropriate for physics, but not economics. Science is a method of obtaining sound knowledge by iterative interaction between facts and theory.

http://www.asepp.com/what-is-science/

UserFriendly , March 22, 2017 at 1:37 am

Just because equilibrium is shitty mechanistic model to try and stamp onto economics doesn't mean that all scientific modeling of economics futile. Soddy just about derived MMT from the conservation of energy in 1921.

http://habitat.aq.upm.es/boletin/n37/afsod.en.html?iframe=true&width=100%&height=100%

And refined it in a book in 1923.

http://dspace.gipe.ac.in/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10973/21274/GIPE-009596.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y

UserFriendly , March 22, 2017 at 2:00 am

excellent job with the prepositions there. sigh. WAKE UP!

Lyonwiss , March 23, 2017 at 2:50 am

Soddy was a scientist. He should have written as a scientist with definitions, logic and rigour, but he wrote like a philosopher, full of waffle and unsubstantiated assertions like other economists. It is unscientific to apply universal laws discovered in physics and chemistry to economics without proving by observations that those laws also apply to economics.

Soddy needed to have developed a scientific methodology for economics first, before stating his opinions which are scientifically unproven like most economic propositions.

http://www.asepp.com/methodology/

Jim A. , March 21, 2017 at 1:36 pm

I get irritated by radical free-marketeers who when presented with a social problem tend to dogmatically assert that "The free market wills it," as if that ended all discussion. It is as if the free market was their God who must always be obeyed. Unlike Abraham, we do not need to obey if we feel that the answer is unjust.

PKMKII , March 21, 2017 at 1:57 pm

Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire was published in 1776, the same year as Smith's Wealth, but hardly read today by most economists.

Other than as a reflection of the sentiments of the time Gibbon was writing in, historians don't spend much time reading it either. The moralistic explanations for the disintegration of the (Western) Roman Empire were long ago discarded by all serious analysis of late antiquity. More practical explanations, especially the loss of the North African bread basket to the Vandals, are presented in the scholarly work these days.

PhilM , March 21, 2017 at 5:07 pm

That book of Gibbon's is an incredible achievement. If it is not read by historians today, it is their loss. Its moral explanations, out of fashion today, are actually quite compelling. They become more so when read with de Tocqueville's views of the moral foundations of American township democracy and their transmission into the behavior, and assumptions, of New Englanders, whose views formed the basis of the federal republican constitution.

The loss of the breadbasket was problematical, too. And it may be that no civilization, however young and virile, could withstand the migrations forever, as they withstood or absorbed them, with a few exceptions, for eight hundred years. But the progressive losses to the migratory tribes may have been a symptom of the real, "moral," cause of the decline.

After all, the Romans did not always have that breadbasket; indeed, they had to conquer it to get it, along with the rest of the mighty and ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean and beyond, using the strengths derived from the mores of their martial republic. The story of the Punic Wars is a morality play in history, as much as anything else. But the main problem was the dilution of the Roman republican mores into a provincial stew.

And after that nice detached remark, about which historians can surely natter on in the abstract, I'll toss in this completely anti-historicist piece of nonsense: I think it's actually much the same problem the Americans are having today, as the mores of the founders have dissolved into the idea that the nation is about national government, centralized administration, world leadership, global domination through military might, and imperialist capitalism. That is not a national ethic that leads to lasting nobility of purpose and moral strength-as George Washington and Ike Eisenhower both pointed out.

blert , March 21, 2017 at 6:48 pm

Dendrochronology ( tree ring dating & organic history ) has established a wholly new rationale for the termination of the Roman Empire the re-boot of the Chinese and Japanese cultures and the death of a slew of Meso-American cultures.

From 536-539AD the entire planet suffered a staggering holocaust. Krakatoa blew up - ejecting so much dust that it triggered a 'nuclear winter' that lasted through those years.

The Orientals actually heard the blasts recognized that they emminated from the Indonesian islands. ( Well, at least to the south. ) The erruption and the weather was duly recorded by Court scribes.

Roman accounts assert that 90% of the population of Constantinople died or fled. ( mostly died ) The Emperor and his wife were at the dockside ready to flee - when she talked him back off the boat. Her reasoning was sound: it's Hell everywhere. He won't have any authority once he leaves his imperial guard.

It was this period that ended agriculture in North Africa. ( Algeria-Tunisia ) The drought blew all of the top soil into the Med. It was an irreversible tragedy.

This super drought triggered the events in Beowulf - and the exodus of the Petrans from Petra. They marched off to Mecca and Medina both locations long known to have mountain springs with deep water. The entire Arabian population congregated there.

This was the founding population amongst which Mohammed was raised many years later.

The true reason that Islam swept through Araby and North Africa was that both lands were still largely de-populated. The die-off was so staggering that one can't wrap ones mind around it.

Period art is so bleak that modern historians discounted it until the tree ring record established that this trauma happened on a global scale.

Lyonwiss , March 21, 2017 at 2:21 pm

Economics is not science, simply because economics does not take facts seriously enough to modify flawed theories.

http://www.asepp.com/facts-and-economic-science/

justanotherprogressive , March 21, 2017 at 3:00 pm

Or throw them out! I remember the very first thing I was taught in Economics 101 about supply and demand and how they would balance at an equilibrium price. It didn't take much thinking to realize that there is no equilibrium price and that an equilibrium price was exactly the last thing suppliers or demanders wanted, and that the price of a good depended on who had the most power to set the price. Yet, we had to accept the "supply and demand theory" as coming directly from God. It's as if we were taught in Chemistry that the only acceptable theory of bonding possible was the hydrogen-oxygen bond and even though we could see with our own eyes that hydrogen also bonds to carbon, we should throw that out because it is an aberration from "acceptable theory" ..

PhilM , March 21, 2017 at 4:44 pm

Yes, coming from God; Platonic, like a Form. Economics is written in Forms, like "homo economicus" and "the efficient market." But we live in the Cave, where the markets that humans actually make are sad imitations of the Forms in the textbooks.

There's a lot good in the post, I think; noting the important philosophical underpinnings and challenges to Economics, and particularly in making it a moral, and therefore political and "social" science. But it's great to see where people's use of "incantatory names from the past" is called out by the curator. It's a pet peeve.

digi_owl , March 22, 2017 at 1:45 pm

Economics is the last "science" to hold onto the notion of equilibrium. The rest has moved on to complex systems/chaos theory, first demonstrated in meteorology. Trying to apply complex systems to economics have been the goal of Steve Keen's work for several decades now.

Rosario , March 21, 2017 at 2:38 pm

In college I couldn't help but notice the similarities between modern economic theory and the control theory taught in engineering. Not such a great fit though, society is not a mechanical governor.

craazyboy , March 22, 2017 at 7:20 am

Ha. That's the same thing that got economists so excited. Things is, an engineering student attempting to model a simple system with two moving parts cares a great deal about whether the moving parts are connected by a spring, or ball screw, or shock absorber, or lever, or even invisible stuff like a temperature gradient when coming up with the system math model. Economists seem to think wtf is the difference?

Next, if the math gets a bit unwieldy as the number of moving parts increase, which it does in a hurry, they decide to simplify the math. Next, assume they have perfect sensors for everything and system lag can assumed to be zero for talking purposes, and in research papers too. Next, hysteresis effects due to bent parts, leaky valves and stretched springs are assumed not to exist. Congress has the "Highway Bill" thingy to address that.

Next, the guy with the control knob will do the "right thing". Or better yet, a "market" is doing the control knob. There could be "intermediaries", but these are modeled as zero loss pieces of golden wire and gold plated connectors.

Finally, money comes from batteries and there is no such thing in the real world like "shorts", "open circuits", or "semiconductors" with their quantum tunneling properties.

Other than that, it's all good!

knowbuddhau , March 21, 2017 at 5:23 pm

Thanks for this, and especially the heads up about the author's take on Smith. This is exactly what I'm on about. Not only are there more ways of knowing than the infamous mechanical, it itself should've died long ago.

I learned that from this Chomsky lecture I found last year: Noam Chomsky: The machine, the ghost and the limits of understanding; Newton´s contribution to the study of mind" . (Quotes are from Science, Mind, and Limits of Understanding , an essay that seems to me to be the basis of the lecture.) Pretty sure I mentioned it in comments somewhere.

The author stresses economics is stuck in the age of Descartes. The history of Newton's refutation of Descartes's mechanical philosophy is very interesting. Yes, refutation. Descartes's mechanical philosophy is as dead as a dodo. So why does it still plague us? Obviously, because thinking of and acting on nature as if it were all just one great big machine works at getting you paid, much better than that wishy-washy humanism crap. /f (facetious).

I used to go on and on against reducing everything to mechanisms, and I largely blamed Newton. I was wrong.

I've spent an hour trying to boil this down. Ain't happenin. Apologies for the length.

The background is the so-called "mechanical philosophy" – mechanical science in modern terminology. This doctrine, originating with Galileo and his contemporaries, held that the world is a machine, operating by mechanical principles, much like the remarkable devices that were being constructed by skilled artisans of the day and that stimulated the scientific imagination much as computers do today; devices with gears, levers, and other mechanical components, interacting through direct contact with no mysterious forces relating them. The doctrine held that the entire world is similar: it could in principle be constructed by a skilled artisan, and was in fact created by a super-skilled artisan. The doctrine was intended to replace the resort to "occult properties" on the part of the neoscholastics: their appeal to mysterious sympathies and antipathies, to forms flitting through the air as the means of perception, the idea that rocks fall and steam rises because they are moving to their natural place, and similar notions that were mocked by the new science.

The mechanical philosophy provided the very criterion for intelligibility in the sciences. Galileo insisted that theories are intelligible, in his words, only if we can "duplicate [their posits] by means of appropriate artificial devices." The same conception, which became the reigning orthodoxy, was maintained and developed by the other leading figures of the scientific revolution: Descartes, Leibniz, Huygens, Newton, and others.

Today Descartes is remembered mainly for his philosophical reflections, but he was primarily a working scientist and presumably thought of himself that way, as his contemporaries did. His great achievement, he believed, was to have firmly established the mechanical philosophy, to have shown that the world is indeed a machine, that the phenomena of nature could be accounted for in mechanical terms in the sense of the science of the day. But he discovered phenomena that appeared to escape the reach of mechanical science. Primary among them, for Descartes, was the creative aspect of language use, a capacity unique to humans that cannot be duplicated by machines and does not exist among animals, which in fact were a variety of machines, in his conception.

As a serious and honest scientist, Descartes therefore invoked a new principle to accommodate these non-mechanical phenomena, a kind of creative principle. In the substance philosophy of the day, this was a new substance, res cogitans, which stood alongside of res extensa. This dichotomy constitutes the mind-body theory in its scientific version. Then followed further tasks: to explain how the two substances interact and to devise experimental tests to determine whether some other creature has a mind like ours. These tasks were undertaken by Descartes and his followers, notably Géraud de Cordemoy; and in the domain of language, by the logician-grammarians of Port Royal and the tradition of rational and philosophical grammar that succeeded them, not strictly Cartesian but influenced by Cartesian ideas.

All of this is normal science, and like much normal science, it was soon shown to be incorrect. Newton demonstrated that one of the two substances does not exist: res extensa. The properties of matter, Newton showed, escape the bounds of the mechanical philosophy. To account for them it is necessary to resort to interaction without contact. Not surprisingly, Newton was condemned by the great physicists of the day for invoking the despised occult properties of the neo-scholastics. Newton largely agreed. He regarded action at a distance, in his words, as "so great an Absurdity, that I believe no Man who has in philosophical matters a competent Faculty of thinking, can ever fall into it." Newton however argued that these ideas, though absurd, were not "occult" in the traditional despised sense. Nevertheless, by invoking this absurdity, we concede that we do not understand the phenomena of the material world. To quote one standard scholarly source, "By `understand' Newton still meant what his critics meant: `understand in mechanical terms of contact action'."

It is commonly believed that Newton showed that the world is a machine, following mechanical principles, and that we can therefore dismiss "the ghost in the machine," the mind, with appropriate ridicule. The facts are the opposite: Newton exorcised the machine, leaving the ghost intact. The mind-body problem in its scientific form did indeed vanish as unformulable, because one of its terms, body, does not exist in any intelligible form. Newton knew this very well, and so did his great contemporaries.

And later:

Similar conclusions are commonplace in the history of science. In the mid-twentieth century, Alexander Koyré observed that Newton demonstrated that "a purely materialistic pattern of nature is utterly impossible (and a purely materialistic or mechanistic physics, such as that of Lucretius or of Descartes, is utterly impossible, too)"; his mathematical physics required the "admission into the body of science of incomprehensible and inexplicable `facts' imposed up on us by empiricism," by what is observed and our conclusions from these observations.

So the wrong guy was declared the winner of Descartes vs. Newton, and we've been living with the resultant Frankenstein's monster of an economy running rampant all this time. And the mad "scientists" who keep it alive, who think themselves so "realistic" and "pragmatic" in fact are atavists ignorant of the last few centuries of science. But they do get paid, whereas I (relatively) don't.

Vatch , March 21, 2017 at 5:40 pm

Alexander Koyré observed that Newton demonstrated that "a purely materialistic pattern of nature is utterly impossible (and a purely materialistic or mechanistic physics, such as that of Lucretius or of Descartes, is utterly impossible, too)"

I think that Newton considered phenomena like gravity, magnetism, and optics to be non-material, perhaps even spiritual, and separate from matter. Modern physicists would disagree, and would consider gravity and electro-magnetism to be purely material phenomena. Newton didn't prove that the world is non-mechanical; he showed that objects do not need to touch for them to have influence on each other.

It is still quite possible that there are non-material phenomena, but those would be separate from gravity and electro-magnetism, which Newton considered non-material.

diptherio , March 21, 2017 at 7:10 pm

It is still quite possible that there are non-material phenomena

Like love, courage, hope, fear, greed and compassion?

Vatch , March 21, 2017 at 7:37 pm

Sure! The existence of souls is another possibility (even for Buddhists, although I suppose they would have to be pudgalavadins to believe in this).

Plenue , March 22, 2017 at 1:54 pm

Are all products of the brain. I don't see how the results of the interaction of electrical impulses and chemicals are non-material. Magic is not an explanation for anything.

M Quinlan , March 21, 2017 at 7:50 pm

So Newton formulated his theories because of his belief in Alchemy and not, as I had thought, despite it. Discussions like this are what make this site so great.

blert , March 21, 2017 at 7:08 pm

All modern economic thought ( 1900+ ) has been corrupted by the arrogance of Taylor's Time & Motion Studies. The essence of which is that bean counters can revolutionize economic output by statistics and basic accounting.

AKA Taylorism.

Big Government is Taylorism as practiced.

At bottom, it arrogantly assumes that if you can count it, you can optimise it.

The fact is that 'things' are too complicated.

Taylor's principles only work in a micro environment. His work started in machine shops, and at that level of simplicity, still applies.

Its abstractions and assumptions break down elsewhere.

MOST economic models in use today are the grandsons of Taylorism.

They are also the analytic engines that have driven the global economy to the edge of the cliff.

RBHoughton , March 21, 2017 at 7:24 pm

For my penny's worth the sentence "Today, the poor are hemmed in by so many regulations and procedures (real estate, education, police) that people are now starved" reveals the main problem.

Too many of the most lucrative parts of every national economy have been closed off by politicians and reserved for their friends.

Peter L. , March 23, 2017 at 9:55 pm

The introductory remarks on Adam Smith reminded me of a funny exchange between David Barsamian and Noam Chomsky. Barsamian complements Chomsky on his research on Adam Smith :

DAVID BARSAMIAN: One of the heroes of the current right-wing revival is Adam Smith. You've done some pretty impressive research on Smith that has excavated a lot of information that's not coming out. You've often quoted him describing the "vile maxim of the masters of mankind: all for ourselves and nothing for other people."

NOAM CHOMSKY: I didn't do any research at all on Smith. I just read him. There's no research. Just read it. He's pre-capitalist, a figure of the Enlightenment. What we would call capitalism he despised.

People read snippets of Adam Smith, the few phrases they teach in school. Everybody reads the first paragraph of The Wealth of Nations where he talks about how wonderful the division of labor is. But not many people get to the point hundreds of pages later, where he says that division of labor will destroy human beings and turn people into creatures as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human being to be.

And therefore in any civilized society the government is going to have to take some measures to prevent division of labor from proceeding to its limits.

And here is a link to Adam Smith's poignant denunciation of division of labour:

http://www.econlib.org/library/Smith/smWN20.html#V.1.178

This mention of division of labor is, as Chomsky points out, left out of the index of the University of Chicago scholarly edition! Of George Stigler's introduction Chomsky claims, "It's likely he never opened The Wealth of Nations. Just about everything he said about the book was completely false."

I recommend reading the entire paragraph at the link above. Smith writes:

"The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become. But in every improved and civilized society this is the state into which the labouring poor, that is, the great body of the people, must necessarily fall, unless government takes some pains to prevent it. "

[Mar 24, 2017] "Economics Upside Down" or Why "Free Markets" Don't Exist

Mar 24, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

"Economics Upside Down" or Why "Free Markets" Don't Exist

This is an instructive interview with Ha-Joon Chang, author of the new book "23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism." He debunks some widely accepted beliefs, such at the existence of "free markets" or the necessity of "free trade" for the development of capitalism.

Enjoy!


Topics: China, Corporate governance, Credit markets, Free markets and their discontents, Globalization, The dismal science

Email This Post Posted by Yves Smith at 12:09 am

11 Comments " Links to this post


11 Comments:
Charles Frith says:
June 15, 2011 at 2:25 am
Bravo.

Reply
Septeus7 says:
June 15, 2011 at 5:57 am
Ha-Joon Chang is one of the best real world economists out there and I find it sad that Asians now have to teach Americans about traditional American system development and industrial policies but we should take any help we can get at this point.

When will we stop with these idiotic so-called "free market" economics and start understanding that if we run away from our responsibility to look out for our own economic interest politically then we will have our lunch taken by those "free market" types pouring billions into political influence because they obviously don't believe a word of their own faux-economic ideology?

Reply
Another Gordon says:
June 15, 2011 at 6:22 am
An excellent book, nicely structured and easy to read.

However, he does leave out a couple of things, for example that competition does not always lead to lower prices and/or better outcomes as the neoliberal fantasy has it.

Competition only works when it costs less than its benefits. Yet it is often horribly expensive and the benefits often modest at best.

Reply
Iolaus says:
June 15, 2011 at 11:02 am
Ha-Joon says "You can't have slaves." But we do have slavery, right here.

Reply
Anonymous Jones says:
June 15, 2011 at 12:42 pm
What is truly amazing is that something this obvious (that all markets are regulated by some means, and that whether you prefer those means versus others is almost entirely based on outcomes rather than procedures) is such a fringe idea.

I was watching the Bobby Fischer documentary on HBO, and it struck me how easy it must be slip into madness living in this completely insane world. There are so many obvious fallacies you must accept to "fit into" normal society (the existence not just of a god, but the particular consensus "God" of your community; the belief that your community (oh, let's say America) always has good intentions and could never (gasp) be using its might to enrich the people running the place; the weird idea that "honor" for samurai or other military types is selflessly serving the elite who are exploiting the rest of society). To be thought sane, one's insanity must match others' insanity.

To investigate the world, to examine the BS that you have been told over and over, has the potential to completely untether the psyche. Look at all the rampant conspiracy theorists on this site. Are they really different (in kind, not in specifics) from the "Protocols" crazies or the bilderberg lunatics or the "end of the world" preachers? Another thing that is so amazing is that you read history and watch documentaries and you realize these crazies are doing almost *exactly* the same thing as someone else in another generation 50 years ago, 100 years ago, 150 years ago, 1000 years ago. Fischer himself was once in the thrall of an "end of the world" preacher who was doing almost exactly what Harold Camping just did and then Fischer moved onto this insane "Protocols" fixation.

I guess people are just incapable of reflecting on themselves enough to see this. Or I guess it would make them as crazy as Fischer if they ever did.

Reply
Just Tired says:
June 15, 2011 at 3:13 pm
Read Eric Fromm's, The Sane Society. In the 1950's, Fromm recognized that a whole society could be mentally ill and those who were thought to be out of the mainstream were really the sane ones. He also raised the question to the mental health profession as to who were the proper ones to treat given that reality. It is almost as if the mental health takes a kind of democratic approach to the definition of mental illness, i.e. the majority of the population was defined as sane by definition. Fromm argued that the approach should be more objective.

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Foppe says:
June 15, 2011 at 5:25 pm
subjectivity and objectivity are meaningless notions once you start 'diagnosing' entire societies as mentally ill or diseased. What is perceived as either is done so through consensus formation; this cannot meaningfully happen if you exclude the majority of the population from weighing in on the basis of an argument that they are mentally ill. (I do not find Fromm's vocabulary very helpful in this case)

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LifelongLib says:
June 15, 2011 at 5:00 pm
Conspiracy theories are often twisted versions of things that are really happening. Mark of the Beast, without which you can't buy or sell? Try getting a plane ticket or renting a hotel room without a major credit card. World ruled by alien reptiles? Some kid joins the army to get money for college, and ends up getting blown apart 10,000 miles from home. Sure sounds like something alien reptiles would set up. Actual human beings wouldn't do those things to each other, right?

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Fed Up :-) says:
June 16, 2011 at 5:05 am
How have individuals been affected by the tech­nological advances of recent years?

Here is the answer to this question given by a philosopher-psychiatrist, Dr. Erich Fromm:

Our contemporary Western society, in spite of its material, intellectual and political progress, is in­creasingly less conducive to mental health, and tends to undermine the inner security, happiness, reason and the capacity for love in the individual; it tends to turn him into an automaton who pays for his human failure with increasing mental sickness, and with despair hidden under a frantic drive for work and so-called pleasure.

Our "increasing mental sickness" may find expres­sion in neurotic symptoms. These symptoms are con­spicuous and extremely distressing. But "let us beware," says Dr. Fromm, "of defining mental hygiene as the prevention of symptoms. Symptoms as such are not our enemy, but our friend; where there are symp­toms there is conflict, and conflict always indicates that the forces of life which strive for integration and happiness are still fighting." The really hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal. "Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been si­lenced so early in their lives, that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does." They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their per­fect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted, still cherish "the illusion of indi­viduality," but in fact they have been to a great extent deindividualized. Their conformity is developing into something like uniformity. But "uniformity and free­dom are incompatible. Uniformity and mental health are incompatible too. . . . Man is not made to be an automaton, and if he becomes one, the basis for mental health is destroyed."

http://www.huxley.net/bnw-revisited/index.html#overorg

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Andrew P says:
June 15, 2011 at 9:07 pm
My main problem with Chang's book is that even though he destroys all these market conceits, he doesn't properly incorporate Marxian, and other structural critiques of capitalism. He just accepts that capitalism and market systems are the best distributive means available, which is absurd. He ignores the fundamentally irrational nature of capitalism, how it's at conflict with itself and that as marx noted, "it sows the seeds of its own destruction."

For a great structural critique of modern capital everyone here at NC should read up on John Bellamy Foster's Monopoly and finance capital. He builds on Sweezy and Baran's earlier work on Monopoly capital, showing how production in the "real" economy is less and less profitable, necessitating the explosion in financial speculation and debt in order to keep resuscitating the moribund monopoly production sector. It has aspects of Keen's Credit Accelerator argument but goes a bit further.

This article is the first in a series. You can find the rest at the site.

http://monthlyreview.org/2006/12/01/monopoly-finance-capital

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MichaelPgh says:
June 16, 2011 at 4:02 am
Great post! See also Freud, "Civilization and its Discontents". The stories we tell ourselves about how the world works versus our discoveries of how the world actually works are a continuous source of "cognitive dissonance" (in modern psychology), "alienation" (in Marxism), or "madness" (in Foucault). Trying to reconcile the story with our own experience is perilous business indeed.

[Mar 24, 2017] C.I.A. Developed Tools to Spy on Mac Computers, WikiLeaks Disclosure Shows

The documents posted by WikiLeaks suggest that the C.I.A. had obtained information on 14 security flaws in Apple's iOS operating system for phones and tablets. The leaked documents also identified at least two dozen flaws in Android, the most popular operating system for smartphones, which was developed by Alphabet's Google division.
Notable quotes:
"... The spy software described in the latest documents was designed to be injected into a Mac's firmware, a type of software preloaded in the computer's chips. It would then act as a "listening post," broadcasting the user's activities to the C.I.A. whenever the machine was connected to the internet. ..."
"... A similar tool called NightSkies was developed in 2009 to spy on iPhones, the documents said, with the agency figuring out how to install it undetected before a new phone was turned on for the first time. (Apple said that flaw affected only the iPhone 3G and was fixed in all later models.) ..."
"... By rewriting the firmware of a computer or a phone, tools that operate at the chip level can hide their existence and avoid being wiped out by routine software updates. ..."
Mar 24, 2017 | www.nytimes.com

The C.I.A. developed tools to spy on Mac computers by injecting software into the chips that control the computers' fundamental operations, according to the latest cache of classified government documents published on Thursday by WikiLeaks .

Apple said in a statement Thursday evening that its preliminary assessment of the leaked information indicated that the Mac vulnerabilities described in the disclosure were previously fixed in all Macs launched after 2013.

However, the documents also indicated that the Central Intelligence Agency was developing a new version of one tool last year to work with current software.

The leaked documents were the second batch recently released by WikiLeaks, which said it obtained a hoard of information on the agency's cyberweapons programs from a former government worker or contractor. The first group of documents , published March 7, suggested that the C.I.A. had found ways to hack Apple iPhones and Android smartphones, Microsoft Windows computers, Cisco routers and Samsung smart televisions.

Since the initial release of the C.I.A. documents, which the agency has not confirmed are authentic, major technology companies have been scrambling to assess whether the security holes exploited by the C.I.A. still exist and to patch them if they do.

All of the surveillance tools that have been disclosed were designed to be installed on individual phones or computers. But the effects could be much wider. Cisco Systems, for example, warned customers this week that many of its popular routers, the backbone of computer networks, could be hacked using the C.I.A.'s techniques.

... ... ...

The spy software described in the latest documents was designed to be injected into a Mac's firmware, a type of software preloaded in the computer's chips. It would then act as a "listening post," broadcasting the user's activities to the C.I.A. whenever the machine was connected to the internet.

A similar tool called NightSkies was developed in 2009 to spy on iPhones, the documents said, with the agency figuring out how to install it undetected before a new phone was turned on for the first time. (Apple said that flaw affected only the iPhone 3G and was fixed in all later models.)

Although most of the tools targeted outdated versions of the Apple devices' software, the C.I.A.'s general approach raises new security concerns for the industry, said Eric Ahlm, who studies cybersecurity at Gartner, a research firm. By rewriting the firmware of a computer or a phone, tools that operate at the chip level can hide their existence and avoid being wiped out by routine software updates.

Under an agreement struck during the Obama administration, intelligence agencies were supposed to share their knowledge of most security vulnerabilities with tech companies so they could be fixed. The C.I.A. documents suggest that some key vulnerabilities were kept secret for the government's use.

The C.I.A. declined to comment Thursday, pointing reporters to its earlier statement about the leaks, in which it defended its use of "innovative, cutting-edge" techniques to protect the country from foreign threats and criticized WikiLeaks for sharing information that could help the country's enemies.

[Mar 23, 2017] F@ck Work?

Notable quotes:
"... By Scott Ferguson, an assistant professor of Film & Media Studies in the Department of Humanities & Cultural Studies at the University of South Florida. His current research and pedagogy focus on Modern Monetary Theory and critiques of neoliberalism; aesthetic theory; the history of digital animation and visual effects; and essayistic writing across media platforms. Originally published at Arcade ..."
"... requirement ..."
"... You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone ..."
"... F-k Stupid Jobs with Bad Pay ..."
"... F-k Work ..."
Mar 23, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Posted on January 5, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. The reason I prefer a jobs guarantee (with an income guarantee at a lower income level) is that the time an income guarantee was implemented on an open-ended, long term basis, it produced an unskilled underclass (see our post on the Speenhamland system for more detail).

Moreover, the idea that people are brimming with all sorts of creative things they'd do if they had an income to allow themselves to do it is bunk. For instance, MacArthur Foundation grant recipients, arguably some of the very most creative people in society, almost without exception do not do anything productive while they have their grant funding. And let us not kid ourselves: most people are not creative and need structure and pressure to get anything done.

Finally, humans are social animals. Work provides a community. If you are extraverted and need to be around people during the day, it's hard to create enough opportunities for interaction on your own.

By Scott Ferguson, an assistant professor of Film & Media Studies in the Department of Humanities & Cultural Studies at the University of South Florida. His current research and pedagogy focus on Modern Monetary Theory and critiques of neoliberalism; aesthetic theory; the history of digital animation and visual effects; and essayistic writing across media platforms. Originally published at Arcade

In the wake of Donald Trump's alarming election to the White House, historian James Livingston published an essay in Aeon Magazine with the somewhat provocative title, " Fuck Work ." The piece encapsulates the argument spelled out in Livingston's latest book, No More Work: Why Full Employment is a Bad Idea (The University of North Carolina Press, 2016).

In both his book and the Aeon essay, Livingston sets out to address several overlapping crises: an alienating and now exhausted "work ethic" that crystallized during the Protestant Reformation; forty years of rampant underemployment, declining wages, and widening inequality; a corresponding surge in financial speculation and drop in productive investment and aggregate demand; and a post-2008 climate of cultural resentment and political polarization, which has fueled populist uprisings from Left to Right.

What the present catastrophe shows, according to Livingston's diagnosis, is the ultimate failure of the marketplace to provision and distribute social labor. What's worse, the future of work looks dismal. Citing the works of Silicon Valley cyber-utopians and orthodox economists at Oxford and M.I.T., Livingston insists that algorithms and robotization will reduce the workforce by half within twenty years and that this is unstoppable, like some perverse natural process. "The measurable trends of the past half-century, and the plausible projections for the next half-century, are just too empirically grounded to dismiss as dismal science or ideological hokum," he concludes. "They look like the data on climate change-you can deny them if you like, but you'll sound like a moron when you do."

Livingston's response to this "empirical," "measurable," and apparently undeniable doomsday scenario is to embrace the collapse of working life without regret. "Fuck work" is Livingston's slogan for moving beyond the demise of work, transforming a negative condition into a positive sublation of collective life.

In concrete terms, this means implementing progressive taxation to capture corporate earnings, and then redistributing this money through a " Universal Basic Income ," what in his book is described as a "minimum annual income for every citizen." Such a massive redistribution of funds would sever the historical relationship between work and wages, in Livingston's view, freeing un- and underemployed persons to pursue various personal and communal ends. Such a transformation is imminently affordable, since there are plenty of corporate funds to seize and redirect to those in need. The deeper problem, as Livingston sees it, is a moral one. We must rebuff the punishing asceticism of the Protestant work ethic and, instead, reorganize the soul on more free and capacious bases.

Lest we get the wrong idea, Livingston maintains that social labor will not simply disappear in a world organized by a tax-funded Universal Basic Income. Rather, he envisions an increasingly automated future, where leisure is our primary preoccupation, social labor becomes entirely voluntary, and ongoing consumption props up aggregate demand. Eschewing utopian plans or prescriptions, he wonders,

What would society and civilisation be like if we didn't have to 'earn' a living-if leisure was not our choice but our lot? Would we hang out at the local Starbucks, laptops open? Or volunteer to teach children in less-developed places, such as Mississippi? Or smoke weed and watch reality TV all day?

Enraged over the explosion of underpaid and precarious service work? Disaffected by soulless administration and info management positions? Indignant about the history of unfree labor that underwrites the history of the so-called "free market"? Want more free time? Not enough work to go around? Well, then, fuck work, declares Livingston. Say goodbye to the old liberal-democratic goal of full employment and bid good riddance to misery, servitude, and precarity.

"Fuck work" has struck a chord with a diverse crowd of readers. Since its release, the essay has garnered more than 350,000 clicks on the Aeon website. The Spanish publication Contexto y Acción has released a translation of the piece. And weeks later, Livingston's rallying cry continues to resonate through social media networks. "Fuck Work" has been enthusiastically retweeted by everyone from Marxists and small "l" liberals to anarchists and tech gurus.

The trouble is that Livingston's "Fuck Work" falls prey to an impoverished and, in a sense, classically Liberal social ontology, which reifies the neoliberal order it aims to transform. Disavowing modern humanity's reliance on broadscale political governance and robust public infrastructures, this Liberal ontology predicates social life on immediate and seemingly "free" associations, while its critical preoccupation with tyranny and coercion eschews the charge of political interdependence and caretaking. Like so many Universal Basic Income supporters on the contemporary Left, Livingston doubles down on this contracted relationality. Far from a means to transcend neoliberal governance, Livingston's triumphant negation of work only compounds neoliberalism's two-faced retreat from collective governance and concomitant depoliticization of social production and distribution.

In a previous contribution to Arcade, I critiqued the Liberal conception of money upon which Marxists such as Livingston unquestionably rely. According to this conception, money is a private, finite and alienable quantum of value, which must be wrested from private coffers before it can be made to serve the public purpose. By contrast, Modern Monetary Theory contends that money is a boundless and fundamentally inalienable public utility. That utility is grounded in political governance. And government can always afford to support meaningful social production, regardless of its ability to capture taxes from the rich. The result: employment is always and everywhere a political decision, not merely a function of private enterprise, boom and bust cycles, and automation. There is therefore nothing inevitable about underemployment and the misery it induces. In no sense are we destined for a "jobless future."

Thus upon encountering Aeon Magazine's tagline for Livingston's piece-"What if jobs are not the solution, but the problem?"-I immediately began wondering otherwise.

What if we rebuffed the white patriarchal jargon of full employment, which keeps millions of poor, women, and minorities underemployed and imprisoned? What if, in lieu of this liberal-democratic ruse, we made an all-inclusive and well-funded federal Job Guarantee the basis for a renewed leftist imaginary?

What if we stopped believing that capitalists and automation are responsible for determining how and when we labor together? What if we quit imagining that so-called "leisure" spontaneously organizes itself like the laissez-faire markets we elsewhere decry?

What if we created a public works system, which set a just and truly livable wage floor for the entire economy? What if we made it impossible for reprehensible employers like Walmart to exploit the underprivileged, while multiplying everyone's bargaining powers? What if we used such a system to decrease the average work day, to demand that everyone has healthcare, and to increase the quality of social participation across public and private sectors? What if economic life was no longer grounded solely in the profit motive?

What if we cared for all of our children, sick, and growing elderly population? What if we halved teacher-student ratios across all grade levels? What if we built affordable homes for everyone? What if there was a community garden on every block? What if we made our cities energy efficient? What if we expanded public libraries? What if we socialized and remunerated historically unpaid care work? What if public art centers became standard features of neighborhoods? What if we paid young people to document the lives of retirees?

What if we guaranteed that Black lives really matter ? What if, in addition to dismantling the prison industrial complex, we created a rich and welcoming world where everyone, citizen or not, has the right to participation and care?

What if private industry's rejection of workers freed the public to organize social labor on capacious, diverse, and openly contested premises?

What if public works affirmed inclusion, collaboration, and difference? What if we acknowledged that the passions of working life are irreducible to a largely mythical Protestant work ethic? What if questioning the meaning and value of work become part of working life itself?

What if we predicated social critique on terms that are not defined by the neoliberal ideology that we wish to circumvent?

What if we radically affirmed our dependence on the public institutions that support us? What if we forced government to take responsibility for the system it already conditions?

What if we admitted that there are no limits to how we can care for one another and that, as a political community, we can always afford it?

Livingston's argument cannot abide such questions. Hence the Left's reply to "fuck work" should be clear: fuck that.

1 0 24 0 0 This entry was posted in Credit markets , Economic fundamentals , Free markets and their discontents , Guest Post , Income disparity , Politics , Social policy , Social values , The destruction of the middle class on January 5, 2017 by Yves Smith .
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Subscribe to Post Comments 131 comments BecauseTradition , January 5, 2017 at 4:58 am

Again the seemingly endless conflation of work, good, with being a wage slave, not so good. Progressives would do well to focus on justice and that does not include making victims work for restitution. One would think Progressives would wish to f@uck wage slavery, not perpetuate it.

Finally, humans are social animals. Work provides a community. If you are extraverted and need to be around people during the day, it's hard to create enough opportunities for interaction on your own. Yves Smith

I solve that problem with volunteer labor at a local laundry. I do it ONLY when my favorite worker is there because I like her, she has a family to support, she is overworked, she is in constant pain from fibromyalgia, has carpal tunnel syndrome and because of the interesting people I get to see there.

How can I afford to do meaningful work for free? Because I'm retired and have a guaranteed income from Social Security and a small pension.

And let's be honest. A guaranteed job as opposed to a guaranteed income is meant to boost wages by withholding labor from the private sector. But who needs wages with an adequate guaranteed income?

cocomaan , January 5, 2017 at 8:58 am

I'll also piggyback onto this, even though I am not keen on basic income until I see a little more work put into it.

Many people aren't actually contributing anything in any given work environment in our current system. To expect differently if we have a guaranteed jobs program seems naive.

In the administrative structures I've worked under (both private and non profit, often interacting with government), many workers have obstructionist compliance responsibilities. Decisions are put off through nonsense data gathering and reporting, signatures in triplicate, etc. It's why I've become a huge proponent of the Garbage Can theory of administration: most of the work being done is actually to connect or disconnect problems from decision making. When it comes down to it, there are only a few actual decision makers within an organization, with everyone else there to CYA. That goes for any bureaucracy, private or public.

David Graeber has detailed the "bullshit jobs" phenomenon pretty well, and dismantles bureaucracy in his book, and says all this better than I. But the federal job guarantee seems like a path to a bureaucratic hell. Of course, an income guarantee for the disabled, mental, physical, otherwise, is absolutely critical.

Left in Wisconsin , January 5, 2017 at 11:46 am

There is no magic bullet, whether JG or UBI. But I think the author and Yves are absolutely correct in asserting that there is no workable UBI under the current political economy. It would by definition not meet the needs its proponents claim it could because private (and non-profit!) employers would scream about how it was raising labor costs and otherwise destroying the "real" "productive" economy. A UBI after the revolution? Perhaps. Before? Extremely problematic.

On the other hand, a JG that emphasized care work (including paying people to parent) and energy efficiency would meet screaming needs in our society and provide many people with important new skills, many of which would be transferable to the private economy. But even here, the potential pitfalls and problems are numerous, and there would no doubt be stumbles and scandals.

Jesper , January 5, 2017 at 1:35 pm

Two things:
1. Goverments can hire people without a JG, the argument that the JG is necessary for the goverment to find employees is therefore not a very convincing argument.
2. Increasing and enforcing reduced hours an employer can demand of a worker will strengthen the bargaining position of all workers. But the people advocating the JG appears to see the reduced hours of work as a bad thing? People get to meet people at work but the more pleasant interaction (to me) comes outside of work with the same people.

How many paid days off should a person in JG get? As many as Germans get? Or the Japanese? Or?
When can a person in JG retire? At 60? 65? 70? When does work in JG stop being a blessing and instead living at leisure is the bliss? Are we all to be assumed to live for work?

And finally: If income guarantee is too liberal, isn't job-guarantee too much of one of its opposites – totalitarian?

Lambert Strether , January 5, 2017 at 2:28 pm

Why on earth is a Jobs Guarantee totalitarian?

Jesper , January 5, 2017 at 3:12 pm

most people are not creative and need structure and pressure to get anything done.

How does JG put pressure and structure onto people?

lyman alpha blob , January 5, 2017 at 3:46 pm

I think a combination of both would be best. As has been said many times here, a lot of current jobs are complete BS anyway and I don't really want to be guaranteed a job just so I can take the dirt out of Boss Keen's ditch and then put it back in.

Then there's automation which has already taken away a lot of jobs and will continue to do so. That's not a bad thing as long as people are still getting an income.

As there likely isn't enough productive work to go around, ideally there would be a UBI and instead of a job guarantee, have a minimal job requirement . That exact amount of work required could be tinkered with, but maybe it's a couple days a week, a few months a year, or something similar. You'd have to report to work in order to be able to collect your UBI when your work was no longer required.

When you're not doing required work, you can relax and live off your UBI or engage in some sort of non-essential free enterprise.

Yves Smith Post author , January 5, 2017 at 3:53 pm

I don't know what sort of fantasy land you live in. Being an adult means doing stuff that is not fun so that you and your family can survive. This is the nature of the human condition, from the hunter-gatherer phases of existence onward. You see to believe that you have the right to be paid for doing stuff you enjoy. And the sort of jobs you deem to be "bullshit jobs" would seem like paradise to coal miners or people who had to go backbreaking manual work or factory workers in sweatshops in the 19th century. Go read Dickens or Karl Marx to get some perspective.

Kurt Sperry , January 5, 2017 at 4:07 pm

Was this meant to be a reply to cocomaan's post? It seems like it's replying to something else.

If I understand "Bullshit jobs" aren't bullshit because they are unpleasant to do, but because they are to some significant degree unproductive or even counterproductive. Administrative bloat in acedemia is pretty much the gold standard here from my perspective. They are great jobs to have and to do, just useless, unnecessary, and often counterproductive ones. High rise office buildings are, I have always suspected, staffed with a lot of these well paid administrative types of bullshit jobs.

rd , January 5, 2017 at 4:12 pm

The Civilian Conservation Corps is, to my mind, the single most important civilian jobs program of the past century because it provided millions of people meaningful work at a time when they could not get it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilian_Conservation_Corps

The military also provides a similar function to many people with no other way out of a poor situation. It is likely that one of the reasons that there was such a huge economic post WW II economic boom is because many people (men and women) learned discipline and skills in the military and industrial work places during WW II.

Problems with deadlines are the key drivers for productivity. If there are no problems defined with no deadline, then most people will simply drift. Occasionally a Faraday, Edison, or Einstein will show up who will simply endlessly grind through theoretical and experimental failures on ill-defined problems to come up with something brilliant. Even Maxwell needed Faraday's publications of his experiments showing electro-magnetic fields to get him to come up with his great equations.

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 12:33 pm

The assumption that work (for profit) is good is very entrenched in culture. The argument that people aren't motivated to work (Americans are lazy) is disputed by the sheer amount of 'volunteerism' (unpaid labor).

Corporations are not going to give up on marketing jobs as they get the vast benefit of labors efforts.No one system works it will take employee ownership to counteract the negatives of private ownership and a ubi along with a job guarantee and expenditures on leisure to shift from a consumer based economy.

I always thought that people were supposed to argue for more than they want and then settle. Here the argument is always on the right side of the political spectrum capitalism and private ownership. Privatize schools and then use a transfer of wealth through taxes and a captured labor force to work in them?

swendr , January 5, 2017 at 5:27 am

Job guarantee all the way, as long as our bosses aren't dicks. We've already kicked people off of public assistance and into shitty underpaid jobs. If having a job is so important, there should always be a good one available. And anyone that can't or won't work can live off a limited basic income. Makes for a smooth and just transition too when our dirty, dull, and dangerous industries are shut down or automated out of existence.

philnc , January 5, 2017 at 10:42 am

Which brings us, along the way, to the need for meaningful educational opportunities for those who the system has heretofore failed.

Concrete case in point. My cousin is a young, single mom in central North Carolina who works hard but is just barely scraping by. Recently my wife and I decided to help her out by giving her the money she'd need to get broadband service so that she and her teenage daughter could take advantage of free, high quality online resources like EdX.org ( https://edx.org , check it out if you haven't yet). But actually getting her hooked up has been a challenge because the Internet provider Duopoly dropped their most affordable plans sometime last year (around $15/mo) so that the cost will now be a minimum of $40/mo before modem rental, taxes and whatever other fees the carriers can dream up (for the techs out there, even DSL costs $35/mo in that service area). This in a state where there's a law prohibiting local governments from providing Internet services to its citizens in competition with the Duopoly, and where a private initiative like Google Fiber has stumbled so badly that it actually has had a negative impact on price competition.

Of course you might say this is a first world problem, heck at least we have (semi) affordable electricity nowadays. But this happens to be a first world country, where big business pushes paperless constantly to cut its own costs and a semester in college is basically the price of a recent model preowned sedan, _every semester_.

So, a guaranteed job for everyone PLUS the resources to learns what's needed to obtain a job that's more than another dead-end.

P.S. Anyone who has ever tried to use free Internet services at their local library knows that's not a viable option both because of restrictive timeouts and bandwidth caps.

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 1:01 pm

Bosses will be more likely to be dicks when their employees are a captured labor pool. If you don't comply with commands you'll be out of your 'job guarantee'.

jgordon , January 5, 2017 at 5:37 am

I support Yves' idea for a basic income as a default position for disabled people. Although I'll advocate for something a bit different if possible for the ambulatory: instead of a monetary income, let's provide free basic rations and solar panels, along with a small plot of land in a rural area, free gardening and household supplies, (including free seeds that are appropriate for the given area). And free classes in ecology, cooking, composting, soil management, blacksmithing, carpentry, appropriate technolies and any other good stuff I happen to think of.

As for what the guest poster wrote–well he seems like a good guy but this social justice warrior thing is a dying fad that'll provoke a very unpleasant counter reaction if it keeps up for much longer. I'm positive that Trump garnered thousands of votes in those vital Midwestern swing states thanks to the highly visible sjw activities on campuses, and theis backlash is only going to increase as this goes on.

Moneta , January 5, 2017 at 8:01 am

I have a son with a disability. Without a job, he would watch movies all day.

With a job he becomes a productive part of society. He loves it and he is dedicated. It also gives him the opportunity to bond with people which is hard when you don't have full autonomy because of some aspects of your disability.

From my personal experience, a large percentage of people with a disabilities would prefer a job to income guarantee.

And many would be quite happy with what most consider shit jobs.

Arizona Slim , January 5, 2017 at 9:56 am

Amen, Moneta!

My mom shops at a store that hires intellectually disabled people to do things like shopping cart roundups and bagging customers' groceries. These aren't the kinds of jobs that most of us would flock to, but that's our perspective.

Uahsenaa , January 5, 2017 at 10:25 am

I have to second this. Having worked briefly with developmentally challenged students, they have a much easier go of things when they feel empowered, when they feel like they have some control over their lives, despite the challenges they face. Rendering them even more helpless simply increases frustration and exacerbates existing problems.

Which I think should be brought into the larger argument. It surprises me that any Marxist worth her salt would glomp onto this, when, it seems, the purpose is to further alienate people from the means of production and control over the political economy. When Silicon Valley types and Charles Murray are arguing for it, you have to wonder what the underlying reasons might be. Murray never met a poor or uneducated person he didn't want to drive into the ground, so I find it rather curious that he would suddenly be all for a form of social welfare.

And as to the boss point above, there's nothing stopping anyone from making the jobs program have a cooperative structure. As the article says, these are all political choices, not naturally occurring phenomena.

Romancing The Loan , January 5, 2017 at 12:00 pm

When Silicon Valley types and Charles Murray are arguing for it, you have to wonder what the underlying reasons might be.

My tankie friends on Twitter think that basic income is a trojan horse that's going to be used to try and trick the American public into ending Social Security and Medicare. They're usually right, sadly.

Stephanie , January 5, 2017 at 1:47 pm

It seems to me as if basic income would also be a great excuse to chip away even further at the idea if public education and single-payer health care as social goods. If your parents aren't able to shell out for them, well, you don't need to be healthy or literate to recieve UBI.

lyman alpha blob , January 5, 2017 at 3:49 pm

If there were both a UBI and a job requirement rather than a job guarantee, that might solve the problem you mentioned.

If everyone were required to work a certain amount in essential services like housing, food production, health care, etc before they could collect a UBI, that would require a trained and healthy workforce.

Lambert Strether , January 5, 2017 at 2:52 pm

Yep. The level will be set by the requirements for rental extraction, and nothing else. There will be no surplus over that amount.

RC , January 5, 2017 at 12:58 pm

As a disabed person myself I would argue it's not jobs that disabled people are necessarily after, it's being able to actively participate in society in a contributing, meaningful and productive way, to be included in something with a purpose, a purpose you believe in. If income is not an issue, most people would still engage in projects. Your son would watch movies all day only because there is no better role to play, we are at a transition stage where disabled people, still considered invalids, are being discovered to be not so invalid.

I take issue with the notion that disabled people would be happy to do any deadend work. We deserve more and better than that, everyone does.

I'm a deaf person with a talent which fintech wants and needs, which so happens to be ensuring our tech is accessible, inclusve, making it so much better; so disabled people can truly participate in society, to do all the same things tech supposedly does to liberate while making it truly liberating for all.

But we are also socially responsible for finding meaningful and significant work for the talents disabled people actually have, as opposed to getting them to do something stupid because it's something to do and they're disabled and so should be satisfied with whatever they get. We're not vegetables, nobody is. So that goes for non-disabled folks too.

Which brings us to the heart of this UBI/JG discussion, either you're coming to this from a perspective of people should have jobs, any job, cuz they're basically vegetables or some kind of autonomous machination which goes through motions and capitalism doesn't work without those machinations so there's some kind of moral imperative to labour or wage slavery, and the measure or class of a person is whether they are jobbed machinations/slaves, or UBI/JG is secondary to the question of are people as a whole happy and doing what they'd rather be doing, are they truly participating in society, as part of the human project.

That's the reality most corporations are facing at the moment. The meaning and nature of "work" itself is undergoing change, becoming "play", as capitalism shoots itself in the foot and in the drive for profit either necessitates socialism and classlessness, or mass social upheaval and less profits.

RC

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 1:41 pm

Thank you. It gets tiresome that the default is people are lazy. People are describing what seems to be human nature . the desire to connect with others and to contribute.

Laughingsong , January 5, 2017 at 1:49 pm

After reading some of these arguments, and thinking about what I have experienced and seen, I think there are merits to both approaches (UBI and JG). From experience I can't entirely agree with Yves that people would remain unskilled and not pursue activities that engage with others and improve their lives and skills. Perhaps this is because I have always been fascinated by and have known many Hippy communities. I live in Eugene Oregon now, but grew up in San Francisco. The running joke I was told was that all the hippies left SF and came to Eugene because there were no jobs :-). I did see hippy groups in SF that did pretty much nothing but play all day. They didn't last. However, here in Eugene I see many lasting legacies of what they built after they "dropped out"; many if not most of my favorite businesses were created by these people: the alternative groceries like Sundance (supposedly Whole Foods was purported to model themselves after this store-bah!) and Kiva and Growers Market, the Saturday and Farmers Markets, Tsunami books. The Oregon Country Fair, the coops. Not all were directly started by "hippies" per se but the early hippy groups did much to create a culture and an environment that encourages this.

I also know a lot of people here that work "precariously" and there are times when work is hard to come by. But these people do not seem to sit around, they find other things to do, like learn about gardening, or get skills volunteering for Bring recycling (they do things like find creative re-use or "decom" houses slated for demolition and take out useful items), or Habitat for Humanity, or Center for Appropriate Transport (bicycle and human powered), or local tree planting and park cleanup. They often find work this way, and make connections, and get new skills. They don't have to But they want to stay active and involved.

This is why I think UBI is not such a bad thing.. I know many people who would benefit and still do many things like I've described I also am aware that there are more general tasks that society needs doing and that is where the JG might come in. But maybe Eugene is too much of an exception?

Of course, all this is besides what these policies may be used for by the PTB. That's an entirely different discussion; here I am arguing the merits, not the agendas.

Moneta , January 5, 2017 at 2:52 pm

I was careful to use the word many and not all people with disabilities.

My son has an intellectual disability. He needs to be instructed and the routine will not come on its own unless it is well practiced. But as long as someone is directing, he does great work.

It is obvious by your post that the menial job he would enjoy does not correspond to what you could offer the world!

I spent hours holding him in the NICU, worrying about his future until one day, instead of feeling sorry for the both of us, I looked around and noticed a regular guy, apathetic looking, spending his entire day cleaning and disinfecting the room then the thought came to me that someone with special needs could do the same job and actually be happy.

Around that time, I read an article about the problems they were now encountering with the integration of people with special needs in France. It would seem that when the job became boring, many would just stop showing up to work Why bother when the state and society has always been there for support that's what happens when individuals never get to feel true independence.

Any action that produces a good or a service is a form of work. Hugging is a service. So are smiling and cleaning a toilet.

For some reason we have huge trouble putting monetary value on many of the most essential services.

We are also having a very hard time filling the jobs with individuals who have the right skill set and temperament.

I don't know how we solve these issues.

rd , January 5, 2017 at 4:20 pm

Amidst the miserable news of 2016, this uplifting story of a woman with Down's syndrome retiring after working 32 years restored my faith in the potential of humanity. http://boston.cbslocal.com/2016/08/29/down-syndrome-mcdonalds-retirement-freia-david/

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 1:38 pm

Oy .. make the disabled do hard labor of agriculture? Blind? Deaf around heavy machinery? Wheelchairs on plowed land?

You are proposing this as it seems enriching, gets them out of your community, and is economically sound. This lifestyle choice should apply to everyone. Let any who want do this and you will have removed people from the labor pool (made up unemployment number magically goes down) less resource consumption.

Marco , January 5, 2017 at 5:39 am

Thanks Yves for pounding this issue. As a former lazy BIG'er I am naturally wired to stare at my navel all day. I think at the heart of it we have an existential problem with toil. Tcherneva's succinct take-down of BIG vs JG also set me on the straight and narrow. Plus she spanks Yglesias which is always enjoyable.

Marco , January 5, 2017 at 8:51 am

My biggest quibble with JG is that "work" often involves needless consumption. Most people (in America) require a car and 1-2 dangerous hours a day getting to and from "work". Personally this is a very good reason NOT to work.

Leigh , January 5, 2017 at 8:59 am

1-2 dangerous hours a day getting to and from "work".

The reason I get to work 2 hours before I'm required to is because I find driving to work is the most stressful part of my day. I commute while the roads are quiet. The deterioration in driving etiquette is maddening. It is dog eat dog out there. The fact that we are all flying around at 70 MPH in 4,000 pounds of steel and glass is lost on most drivers.

dontknowitall , January 5, 2017 at 12:58 pm

I think there should be an indicator on the dashboard showing the probability of surviving a frontal impact at your current road speed, people might slow down as they saw the number approach zero

George Phillies , January 5, 2017 at 6:12 am

"If you are extraverted and need to be around people during the day, it's hard to create enough opportunities for interaction on your own."
People have all sorts of mental quirks, but to what extent do we rig society to handle them? As a justification for work, this one sounds expensive.

I Have Strange Dreams , January 5, 2017 at 7:01 am

We are social creatures. That's not a quirk, just a fact. The average work environment already has people with various "quirks". Some are chatty, some not. Not a big deal, no need for a radical redesign.

As for costs – unemployment imposes devastating costs in sickness, addiction, crime, etc. JG is a no-brainer. It's been tried with great success in Argentina. It works. There's a slogan for ya: Work Works .

roadrider , January 5, 2017 at 8:05 am

We are social creatures.

Well, OK, but we all vary in the level of our sociability. Some need people around them all the time others value their solitude and still others are in between.

That's not a quirk, just a fact.

One that you're overstating.

The average work environment already has people with various "quirks". Some are chatty, some not. Not a big deal,

Actually, it is a big deal since noise and lack of privacy are two of the biggest problems in today's workplaces, particularly those with "open work space" designs. I speak from personal experience here.

no need for a radical redesign.

Ummm, yeah, there actually is.

Massinissa , January 5, 2017 at 1:41 pm

Whether or not JG is the answer or not, there is most definitely a need for a radical redesign of the capitalist workplace

jgordon , January 5, 2017 at 8:15 am

I'd rather be out in the woods spending my time growing fruit trees. I hate people–and reading above about all the inspirational work the government would be giving me and the people I'd have to be around while while doing it left me wondering about whether or not going postal would be a good idea.

Secondly, the wishlist I saw above for everything the government is supposed to be doing to help people was pretty scary. Ehile the intentions might be good, power like this given to government never, ever turns out well for the people. As an example, let's say Scott waved his magic wand and suddenly Trump had all the power and authority he needed to accomplish everything on Scott's list today. Alright, now try to imagine just how awful the next four years would be. Not good!

Uahsenaa , January 5, 2017 at 10:32 am

I sympathize with the desire to just be alone and do your own thing–I'm like that as well–but I think you're missing an important aspect of the argument, one which Tcherneva makes more forcefully, which is that there is a knock on benefit of people being more engaged in public life: they are harder to politically disenfranchise. I wouldn't be surprise if one of the reasons why elites are so gung ho about UBI is that it would serve to further alienate people and fragment communities, thus preventing them from organizing anything like meaningful resistance to state power.

Also, Ferguson kind of already addressed this:

What if private industry's rejection of workers freed the public to organize social labor on capacious, diverse, and openly contested premises?

Tivvy , January 5, 2017 at 11:26 am

The problem with a JG and that line of argument, is that JG does not propose to engage people more in public life than an Unconditional Income, as an Unconditional Income is by definition, far more inclusive of all kinds of work that people may do for others.

You may even do things that nobody in a society approves of, with an Unconditional Income, like trying to prove that the world is round, not flat.

JG got nothing on enabling people to be active citizens. It's a policy to look backwards, or it's so inclusive that it's basically an unconditional income to everyone. You gotta be willed to take a long shot sometimes (increasingly often, looking at the world as it is today and might increasingly be tomorrow), to properly empower people so they can be active citizens.

jsn , January 5, 2017 at 4:03 pm

As best I can tell UI doesn't engage people at all: by what mechanism does UI engage people "more in public life?"

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 1:46 pm

How about we have more public housing I would like to see boarding houses come back but another option could be monastery type living? There could even be separate ones for men, women and families that way you could select a monastery that is focused on agriculture and you could have space away from women.

Laughingsong , January 5, 2017 at 2:00 pm

I sometimes have incredibly vivid dreams. One of them I hade a couple of years ago was somewhat apocolyptic; something had happened (unknown) and I was in a dilapidated city of middlin' size. The blocks of cheek-by-jowl houses and storefronts were all boarded up. But I entered one and found that 1) they had been connected by knocking down walls between them, and 2) the Interior Of the block was completely open. All the buildings faced inward (no boarded windows) and that had been transformed into a Commons with gardens, vegetables, corrals, parklands, small outbuildings. Maybe something like that .

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 3:45 pm

It would never happen but eminent domain should apply to abandoned buildings. If it's been unused for x amount of years, it's raffled off for public use . housing, education etc. Heck, it could apply to manufacturing. If a corp wants to leave, don't let the door hitcha, but that building is going to the employees as a coop as competition is as good for the goose as it is for the gander.

I would imagine more people will be having dreams like yours if things keep declining and people try to imagine what's next.

jjmacjohnson , January 5, 2017 at 6:54 am

Actually I know a few artist who won the Guggenheim Award and I beg to differ. Art is not something that given bunch of money produces great work. It comes with time and time spent contemplating and thinking. Most of the artists who won had to work to pay the bills before. Many were teachers and many still are. There are so few fine artists who just make art. The 1980s really pulled the wool over non-artists eyes.

Case in point since getting the grant, not right after of course, Cara Walker made one the best pieces of her career. A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby, an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant.

Plus she continues to teach.

timround2 , January 5, 2017 at 7:09 am

She won the MacArthur Foundation Award.

Yves Smith Post author , January 5, 2017 at 3:58 pm

Sorry, it was MacArthur Foundation grant winners who typically do not do much during the grant period. Fixing the post.

Disturbed Voter , January 5, 2017 at 6:55 am

Job guarantee maybe, but not corvee. We can have jobs for everyone, if we build pyramids. Forced labor is totalitarian. But entitlement and free lunches are destructive of society. Neo-liberalism involves entitlement and free lunch for some people, and for some countries (I see what you are doing to everyone else USA, GB, Germany, Japan). Entitlement isn't just for individuals. I love my work, as long as it is "sort of" a free choice. Economic necessity works for most of us, and while wage and debt slavery aren't fun, they are both better than chattel slavery.

I Have Strange Dreams , January 5, 2017 at 7:05 am

In a country like the USA, the only limit on socially useful, meaningful work for everyone is the will and creativity to do it. Off the top of my head I can think of more programs that could be implemented than people to fill them.

Moneta , January 5, 2017 at 8:26 am

I agree. But the problem seems to reside in the link between the services and the hard goods.

One is unlimited while the other is limited so the human tendency is to use money from the unlimited side and consume/stock up/hoard the hard goods creating a scarcity.

I don't see how we can solve that problem with property rights as they are protected now.

In my mind, land and resources would have to be a common good why should someone get the waterfront property or more arable land or pools of oil just because of a birthright or some other non sharing policy.

Going even further, why should some groups/countries benefit from resources while not sharing with others?

Lots of sharing problems to deal with nationally and globally before we get it right

For the last few decades, our system has been based on debt to income and debt to GDP. Those nations and individuals who loaded up on it did ok . so we did not think of the fair distribution of resources.

But now that debt levels are hitting what we consider ceilings we will be changing the rules of the game you know what happens when someone decides to invent their own rules in a board game midway through the game!

All this to say that even if we guarantee jobs the physical world of resources will constrain us.

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 3:56 pm

There needs to be a shift from work and consumption to leisure. Leisure is infinite . walking trails, biking trails, parks, movies/music in the parks (our community puts up a big screen and a 150 or so show up with lawn chairs, snacks and blankets), art shows, community theatre, festivals, music, picnic areas, chess/checkers concrete tables .

I want to start a game library: sort of a pub/restaurant with games. Have a bite, beer and a game of scrabble. I like the idea of pub nites with quiz events. If there were public buildings, gathering spaces would not have to make a 'profit', public health would be the benefit.

schultz , January 5, 2017 at 7:13 am

"What if public works affirmed inclusion, collaboration, and difference? What if we acknowledged that the passions of working life are irreducible to a largely mythical Protestant work ethic? What if questioning the meaning and value of work become part of working life itself?

"What if we predicated social critique on terms that are not defined by the neoliberal ideology that we wish to circumvent?

"What if we radically affirmed our dependence on the public institutions that support us? What if we forced government to take responsibility for the system it already conditions?

"What if we admitted that there are no limits to how we can care for one another and that, as a political community, we can always afford it?"

First, thanks for this article – this is a good and interesting debate to have.

It makes me suspicious that the author's sort of trump-card, climactic 'takedown' of UBI is a series of questions rather than answers. Things which even the author can't figure out the answer to, apparently, so how can they expect UBI to have the answers.

Think about the answers (i.e. in terms of, policy changes to people's material lives) to the questions posed above. What would any of those policies look like? Who knows?

My point is, it's easy to make things (including UBI) look dumb by comparing them to impossibly high vague standards like "no limits to how we can care for one another."

If the author had a better more concrete, specific reason why UBI is bad, they would have used that, yeah?

Tivvy , January 5, 2017 at 11:47 am

In my view, Unconditional Incomes answer these questions without being wasteful of human life, and with being unconditionally pro-labor, as opposed to being conditionally pro labor as a JG would be. JG only empowers labor that is recognized immediately, by some body of people who do not represent the valuations of all who are part of society.

Unconditional Incomes recognize labor that only later might generate appreciable results, and it recognizes broad valuation of the fine grained process where it is societally worthwhile, as individuals perceive it. If understood as enablement and pay for all labor related time, unconditionally.

Pay beyond that would be representation of how much respect you command, how much you desire to obtain monopoly incomes, and how much you might hate a job. But not the labor value. That's what unconditional incomes can provide. To the guy writing open source for a greater benefit to many, to the hardworking construction worker whose job involves a lot of undesirable factors (for which he may demand additional comensation), to the superstar/superbrand owner who seeks to maximize customer awareness and monetization with a blend of natural and artificial marketing and monopolization strategies, and to the guy who strategically maximizes market incomes to do even greater things for society than what he could be doing with just writing open source.

On that note, thanks Amazon for pushing the envelope. At least for the time being. We can financially burden all of these market/rent incomes to provide unconditional (labor) incomes, to ensure that there's not too much emphasis on just cashing in on your good (brand) name and market position. Coca Cola is a prime example for what such a cashing in would look like. Customers are beasts of convenience, unless there's breakthroughs that radically improve on some process of delivery or production, that somehow isn't taken notice of by the big brand, before another active citizen takes the opportunity to compete by help of it.

tl;dr: No to turning society into a glorified Arnish settlement, yes to Amazon as it is today, though with a higher tax burden, yes to unconditional incomes, yes to political activism, independent research, parenting work, work for being a decent person among equal people that may look however like you chose.

jsn , January 5, 2017 at 12:17 pm

Its way back up there at the top:
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/01/the-failure-of-a-past-basic-income-guarantee-the-speenhamland-system.html

BIG was tried before with disastrous results. When a BIG program can be proven to address its deep and complex past failure, it may be worth a try. I agree with Yves on when and where an IG is appropriate until someone somewhere test drives a better one.

Tivvy , January 5, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Don't worry, most UBI experiments and proposals nowadays aren't 'Income Guarantees' but rather Unconditional payments to all, or Tapered negative income tax proposals (britain's RSA has a UBI equivalent NIT proposal like that at least), on top of which people could earn more. Only experienceing regular taxation or a modest clawback rate of the benefit.

UBI is commonly understood to not be a top-up to the same point for everyone as the speenhamland system was, which of course destroys motivation to expose oneself to a strenuous environment, when you can't actually get compensated for your troubles. Any sensible person would tell you that the speenhamland system was an insane offer to the people, it asked of people to work for free, basically.

As for UBI experiments, they're generally rather encouraging. Particularly this coincidental observation might give prove to be useful, if you're concerned about the timely restricted nature of pilot projects/experiments. http://www.demos.org/blog/1/19/14/cherokee-tribes-basic-income-success-story

jsn , January 5, 2017 at 5:37 pm

By what mechanism does UI prevent employers from bidding down wages? As Yves post form last year says, "Taxes would therefore need to be increased to offset those effects. The best tax outcome you could expect would be a progressive tax on income. Thus the end result in a best-case scenario would be tantamount to a means-tested BIG, graduated so as to avoid any sudden cutoff for someone who wanted to work. Thus the result (whether achieved directly or indirectly) is likely to resemble Milton Friedman's negative income tax, with the zero tax rate set at a living wage level." Meaning the UI just pushes free money into an otherwise unchanged system incentivized from the top down to soak that money back up and out.

So pushing more money into the system just inflates the system while sustaining the ongoing upward redistribution.

Thus: "The trouble is that Livingston's "Fuck Work" falls prey to an impoverished and, in a sense, classically Liberal social ontology, which reifies the neoliberal order it aims to transform. Disavowing modern humanity's reliance on broadscale political governance and robust public infrastructures, this Liberal ontology predicates social life on immediate and seemingly "free" associations, while its critical preoccupation with tyranny and coercion eschews the charge of political interdependence and caretaking. Like so many Universal Basic Income supporters on the contemporary Left, Livingston doubles down on this contracted relationality. Far from a means to transcend neoliberal governance, Livingston's triumphant negation of work only compounds neoliberalism's two-faced retreat from collective governance and concomitant depoliticization of social production and distribution."

craazyamn , January 5, 2017 at 7:33 am

It sounds like it's is going to be a lot of work - to abolish work.

Who's gonna do all the work involved? LOL.

If you think of sub-cultures where nobody works - like ancient Roman nobles, Europes aristocrats, gang-bangers, southern antebellum planters– mostly they got into fights about nonsense and then killed each other. That is something to consider.

craazyboy , January 5, 2017 at 9:05 am

The crap jobs will be the easiest to get rid of, but then we won't have any necessary goods and services. The Romans knew this, which is why they had a pretty good run before collapsing.

OTOH, with so much more humanity getting their creative juices going, we could end up with lots and lots of art. There would be so much art, it would probably be given away for free!

Then there is the start your own biz path. I've been keeping an eye on our local self serve dog wash. The sign outside changed to "Self Service Pet Wash". Has me wondering what's that all about. Expanding the biz into cats, hamsters, parrots and turtles maybe? Good to see success in the entrepreneurial class, but then I wonder if that's really for everyone and there may need to be some larger organizational structure geared towards producing some more complex thing or service. Dunno, but that could be food for thought as a next step for analysis in this whole job creation subject.

craazyman , January 5, 2017 at 12:06 pm

If anybody actually expects to get paid for their "art", that's when all hell will break loose.

A self-service dog wash is interesting, but if you let a dog wash itself it may not do a good job. Dogs hate to get washed. I'm not sure if this is gonna work.

craazyboy , January 5, 2017 at 6:06 pm

Good point. But there is risk in business. Any businessman knows that.

cocomaan , January 5, 2017 at 9:06 am

Kwame Anthony Appiah talks about the end to duels in his book on Honor. It's interesting stuff.

One takeaway I remember is that the lower classes actually began to clamor for an end to the idea that murder was okay if you were in the upper classes, since dueling was a matter of challenging, preserving, and reifying an upper class. The other way to look at it is that the lower classes wanted in on the action.

It also ended when everyone was embarrassed and fed up that their leaders were slaying each other by night.

craazyman , January 5, 2017 at 7:36 am

Great philosophical thougths are cauught. In the Moderbator!

Even the moderbator is already working to thwart illumination and enlightenment. That should be a lesson of some sort. I'm not sure what though. That wouldd mean mental work. I'll do it but it's still kind of early. I'll do it later.

From Cold Mountain , January 5, 2017 at 7:38 am

Yup. There is a big difference between work in a Capitalist ecosystem and work in an Anarchistic ecosystem. In the first you have to ask for a Universal Basic Income and equality, etc. In the second there is no need to ask for it.

So maybe "F@ck Work" is really "F@ck Capitalism" or "F@ck Authoritarianism", but they just don't quite get it yet.

Carolinian , January 5, 2017 at 8:33 am

Agreed that what the author is really saying is f@ck capitalism. Pretending it's all about the current fad for neoliberalism ignores the reality that neoliberalism is simply old fashioned laissez-faire capitalism with better excuses. The problem with left utopianism is that human nature works against it. So the author's "what ifs" don't carry a lot of intellectual punch. What if we all loved each other? Well, we don't.

Personally I'd rather just have the BIG and the freedom. The Right may be just as paranoid as the Left when they claim all forms of government social engineering are totalitarian but there is a grain of truth there. Neither side seems to have a very firm grasp of the human problems that need to be solved in order for society to work.

JTFaraday , January 5, 2017 at 4:18 pm

"neoliberalism is simply old fashioned laissez-faire capitalism with better excuses"

I think it has worse excuses, actually. No excuses. There is no excuse for the centrally managed wealth extraction in the name of "markets" that we have been seeing since Bill Clinton made nice with Goldman Sachs in the 1990s.

Pelham , January 5, 2017 at 7:52 am

While MMT correctly conceives of money as a limitless resource, what it doesn't take into account is the fact that continuing to allow vast accumulations of the stuff at the top of the economy inevitably translates into political power.

And I suspect that those with such power, principally the financial industry, will work assiduously to reinforce conventional notions of money as finite, which in turn enhances their power and their ability to profit from widespread misery.

Higgs Boson , January 5, 2017 at 9:15 am

That is the taproot of The Big Lie – keeping the masses convinced of money scarcity, which goes hand-in-hand with scare mongering on the national "debt". The delegitimizing of the national currency as worthless IOUs, mere "scraps of paper".

The .01%, who have accumulated political power through this con, will not just give it up.

It reminds me of the (probably apocryphal) anecdote about Queen Victoria hearing about Darwin's Origin of Species and asking, "Is it true?"

"I'm afraid so, your majesty."

"Well then, let's hope the commoners don't find out!"

UserFriendly , January 5, 2017 at 7:58 am

Great piece!!! Does anyone know of any proposals or white papers for a State or City wide Job Guarantee? Laboratory for democracy or something. I know the lack of a currency printer throws a wrench into the MMT aspects and clearly there would be migration affects greater than on a national scale, but I think that a state or local program would almost necessarily have to come before a national one, or at least would make the debate about a national one less arduous. This is something I am pushing with my state house rep (Raymond Dehn, who recently threw his hat in the ring for Minneapolis's Mayoral contest)

DanB , January 5, 2017 at 8:01 am

"What if we admitted that there are no limits to how we can care for one another and that, as a political community, we can always afford it?" MMT acknowledges that the availability of natural resources is a limit to money creation and, overall, economic growth. I wish this essay had addressed this issue, as I believe we are in the post-peak oil world and still not facing how this fact -peak oil when properly understood is an empirical fact to me- is dismembering modern political economies. Simultaneously, this destruction is proceeding in accord with neoliberal domination.

Moneta , January 5, 2017 at 8:41 am

And most of the time, when I see MMT, it seems to be associated with projects and investments that are incredibly energy and resource intensive.

Many MMT supporters seem to work on the assumption that the US will always have the right to consume an inordinate share of global energy and resources.

Alejandro , January 5, 2017 at 12:36 pm

It seems that many attempting to pigeonhole MMT, seem to not recognize the role of fiscal policy to regulate and modulate. Full employment need not correlate to consuming " an inordinate share of global energy and resources." IMHO, how the term "growth" is often used with and within "economics" seems misleading and disingenuous.

Moneta , January 5, 2017 at 3:13 pm

And Trump has all the answers on how to modulate fiscal policy under MMT?

MMT will not help the people unless the right leaders are modulating.

Alejandro , January 5, 2017 at 4:39 pm

Its not about messianism it's more about recognizing that the constraints on the user are not constraints on the issuer of a currency.

fresno dan , January 5, 2017 at 8:04 am

It seems to me we have done that no work experiment for .OH, 70 years. Its called social security.
Maybe every single person on social security doesn't have as many friends as they should – the book "Bowling Alone" as well as many other publications about the isolation of modern society address what is a problem. But many people with jobs are isolated, as well as not getting social interaction on and off the job. I think if you asked the average social security recipient, the first thing they would want is mo' money, mo' money, MO' MONEY.

People on social security can work, volunteer, follow a hobby or take up one. In CA old folks used to be able to "audit" college classes, where you could attend for free but get no credit. Alas, no longer the case (as well as when I was young and went to college, it was dirt cheap – how did it get so frigging expensive?).
And to the extent old people are isolated, more money would do a lot to allow old people to take cruises and other activities that cost money and give people the opportunity to mingle. I imagine young people would do the same, especially if the stress of wondering where there income would come from was removed.

There were people at work who said they would never retire because they wouldn't be able to fill their time. I find that just sad. Somebody has to give these people something to do because in there whole lives they have never developed any interests?
I was very lucky to have a career that was interesting. It was also frustrating, difficult, and stressful, and besides the friends from work, there were also the assh*les. It was fine for 26, but it was time to move on. And though I thought about getting another job, I have found that not working is ..WONDERFUL.

B1whois , January 5, 2017 at 9:55 am

I also do not work, and I enjoy it. I need to find things to fill my days (other than NC), but this is complicated by not having competence in the local language. I could speed up my citizenship process by getting a job here in Uruguay, but I don't want to go back to a stressful life feeling like I don't have enough time to do interesting things. So learning Spanish is my job now.

Katharine , January 5, 2017 at 10:28 am

as many friends as they should

How about, as many friends as they want? There surely is no obligation to have some number defined by other people.

rusti , January 5, 2017 at 11:18 am

I think if you asked the average social security recipient, the first thing they would want is mo' money, mo' money, MO' MONEY .

And to the extent old people are isolated, more money would do a lot to allow old people to take cruises and other activities that cost money and give people the opportunity to mingle

I suppose it's a much larger ambition in many ways, but I've always thought that a more worthwhile aim than a basic income guarantee would be de-financialization. Private health care and car-based communities put people in the very precarious position of having to worry about their cash buffer for lots of basic survival needs. I live in a country with government-funded health care, and even though my income is a fraction of what I made when I lived in the US it would be easy for me to quit my job and live on savings for an extended period of time, since the only real expenses I have are food and housing, and the other necessities like clothes or bicycle repairs can be done on the cheap when one has lots of free time.

Public transit connecting libraries, parks, community colleges, and other public forums where people can socialize are much preferable to cruise ships!

Lee , January 5, 2017 at 12:52 pm

I too have for years now enjoyed and sometimes struggled with not having to work for money. While my ability to engage in many activities is currently limited by health issues, I have previously gone back to university and earned a degree, learned fine woodworking, volunteered as a charity fundraiser and done field work for the wolf reintroduction program in Yellowstone. I have also spent a lot of time reading, gardening, fixing up my old house, watching movies, political activity, fishing, motorcycling, the list could go on. However, to be honest, I do suspect that the years I did spend working and the earnings therefrom did lay a foundation upon which I could build an edifice more of my own choosing.

Gaylord , January 5, 2017 at 8:07 am

Make work more interesting and rewarding by directing it toward esthetic goals. Promote the arts and education at all ages. Put art, design, music, theater, & crafts back into the curriculum, identify people with special skills & talent, support them and provide venues for learning, exhibits & performances with low- or no- cost access to the public. Elevate culture to the epitome of human achievement in all walks of life and expand involvement. Discourage commercial television watching, especially for children.

jabawocky , January 5, 2017 at 8:12 am

I do wonder if there's a kind of circular argument to this piece, or at least there is a continuum between this job guarentee solution and the basic income. In one sense, it is said that people cannot be left to themselves to create because they just won't. So the solution is some kind of municipal creativity, an entitity which does the creating and then forces people to work on its projects in return for income. The more top down 'new deal'-like this is, then it looks like a JG system. If it can be bottom up, it more closely resembles a basic income.

diptherio , January 5, 2017 at 10:26 am

That's why my personal proposal for a JG incorporates aspects of Participatory Budgeting to determine what jobs are getting done by JG workers:

Basic Income vs. Job Guarantee

Clark Landwehr , January 5, 2017 at 8:21 am

There is little difference, in the real world, between sitting on a park bench all day and sitting in a cubicle filling out spreadsheets, because most jobs are already busy-work. So most people are already doing corvee labor in a totalitarian civilization: digging holes and filling them up again. In a typical office building, the only people who are doing real, productive work are the janitors and maintenance engineers.

Eureka Springs , January 5, 2017 at 8:31 am

I think it would take a long time, as in many generations, to begin to know who we are, what we would do and be without a Protestant work-ethic. It's almost impossible for most to imagine life in some other form just as it's impossible for most to imagine a democratic process, even within just one party. Idle time scares the beejesus out of so many people I know. I've watched people 'retire' and move to these beautiful Ozark mountains for decades and do nothing but destroy them, over and over again, out of boredom and idle guilt. I can't remember the last time I cut down a live tree for firewood.. since there are always mountains of forrest being laid to waste.

But we must face the fact most work is useless, crap, BS, and or outright destructive. MIC and Insurance come to mind immediately. To enforce human work for the sake of it is to perhaps destroy the big blue marble host at – at best an highly accelerated rate. If we keep making ourselves act like drones our world will continue to look like it's what we are doing / who we are. Just drive down any street America built post 1960 looking for something esthetically pleasing, somewhat unique, that isn't either mass produced or designed to fall apart in a few decades or less.

Or maybe with a jobs guarantee we should just outlaw bulldozers, chainsaws, 18 wheelers, private jets, dwellings/offices with more than four units, and large farm equipment.

If we are going to force labor then give every man and woman a shovel or a hoe with their HS diploma – not a gun, not an office for predatory FIRE purposes. That way we wont destroy ourselves so quickly.

Joni sang.. You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone . What about the people who never knew what was there to begin with? Will some of us live long enough to morn the passing of parking lots?

JohnL , January 5, 2017 at 10:03 am

Thank you. When a "job" means profit for someone else and more destruction, consumption, and waste, we fewer "jobs", not more.

Tivvy , January 5, 2017 at 9:21 am

"A job at a decent wage, set by public policy, will eliminate at least 2/3 of poverty. we can then work on eliminating the rest thru compassion."

Doesn't strike me as morally agreeable to reduce the right to nature and ideas that anyone may reason to have, to a matter of compassion.

"This is the high road that can increase productive capacity"

Giving people an unconditional income and letting people earn money on top, could also increase productive capacity, and having a JG scheme in place might as well reduce productive capacity where it pretends to people that they're doing something important, when they're not. Overpaying work can be a disservice to the people and society alike. Let individuals themselves tell others how much they think something is worth, in respect and in monetary terms. We just need to equip people with money (that maintains relevance in relation to the aggregate of all money), for that.

The high road that can increase productivity is a commitment to enabling people as individuals, unconditionally, to make economic expressions, rooted in their rights to nature.

Octopii , January 5, 2017 at 9:34 am

WALL-E

financial matters , January 5, 2017 at 9:36 am

""Modern Monetary Theory contends that money is a boundless and fundamentally inalienable public utility. That utility is grounded in political governance. And government can always afford to support meaningful social production, regardless of its ability to capture taxes from the rich. The result: employment is always and everywhere a political decision, not merely a function of private enterprise, boom and bust cycles, and automation. There is therefore nothing inevitable about underemployment and the misery it induces. In no sense are we destined for a "jobless future."""

Wouldn't it be interesting if it took someone like Trump to get the fact that money is a public utility into the public mindset.

This is a strong and powerful tool. Seems like it could be up his alley.

Praedor , January 5, 2017 at 12:21 pm

But Trump WONT do that. He's very much a super 1% elitist who thinks of people as winners and losers. He thinks the government is like a business that has to balance its books and "live within its means" (means = tax receipts + fees).

Trump is NOT an MMTer. He's closer to gold standard idiots in the GOP (whether they actually want the gold standard to return or not means nothing the idea that the federal budget needs to be balanced is 100% outgrowth of the gold standard dinosaur days so they are ALL goldbugs at core).

financial matters , January 5, 2017 at 3:53 pm

Probably true, but he now has his hands on the biggest business around.

He has a lot of money available which could make him a popular and useful leader.

Michael , January 5, 2017 at 9:53 am

Great Article and food for thought.

I agree with many of the skeptical views above. In the endeavor to provide equitable incomes an underlying problem is who decides what industries or groups get funded from the taxes collected? Is there private capital? How do you keep certain people from manipulating the system to assure they can collect more wealth than someone else?

All of these might be questions may be resolved with strict laws, but I can recall in my childhood such laws and such cultures that assured a more equitable system, but these too were corrupted by people who wanted to "keep their wealth", because "they earned it", or inherited it ("Death to the Death Tax!").

This utopia sounds good on paper, but it appears to me that the execution is most times corrupted by the connected and powerful.

In any case the most difficult task in this process will be getting enough power to take any sizable wealth away from the "shareholders" , ie owners, to redistribute in a society controlled via media and laws by our lords and masters.

David , January 5, 2017 at 10:04 am

I think we need to remember just how modern is the concept of "work" is that's being debated here. In nearly the whole world a century ago (and still in parts of it today) people didn't have "jobs", they raised crops, tended cattle, caught fish, practised manual crafts, played a role in the community and family etc. and were in general productively occupied most of the time. Even with the factory system, and the beginning of paid employment, many of the workforce were skilled craftsmen with years of training and a high social status. The modern idea of a "job" as an unnecessary task carried out to gain money you don't need to buy things you don't want would have seemed incomprehensible. Indeed, there are parts of Africa today where a "job" is what you get to earn enough money to live on for a while and that's it.
The real problem then is a sense of purpose in life. There's some evidence that work can and does provide this, provided that work is minimally useful and satisfying. Certainly, the psychological damage from long-term unemployment as well as the psychological dangers of working alone are extensively documented. But the opposite is also true – work can make you ill, and the line between guaranteeing work and forcing people to work is a treacherously easy one to cross.
It would be better to move towards thinking about what kind of society and economy we want. After all, much of the contemporary economy serves no useful purpose whatever, and could be dispensed with and the assets invested elsewhere. Without getting into the magic wand thinking in the article, it must be possible to identify a host of things that people can usefully "do", whether or not these are "jobs" in the traditional sense.

Katharine , January 5, 2017 at 10:57 am

You're onto something here. Reading the post and comments, I couldn't identify what was bothering me, because when I think of work now (having been out of the paid workforce a while) I think in terms of things that make life more livable, either in very practical ways or through learning, enlarging my view of the world, and I don't in the least want to see the elimination of that kind of work. It's the other kind of work, that expects you to feign devotion to the manufacture or marketing of widgets, that probably needs to be largely eliminated (I won't say wholly, as there may be some for whom widgets are mentally rewarding). The author seems too certain of what needs to change and how. I think you're right that we need to give it more thought.

akaPaul LaFargue , January 5, 2017 at 12:18 pm

The author of this review misses much of what James Livingston is all about. JL spends some time discussing how to imagine a meaningful life and he refers to Freud (!) that we need work and love. If work is no longer available then how do we imagine love as the basis for social solidarity? OR, is solidarity another way to express love? The author's concerns for wonky policy BS takes us down the wrong path into the scrubland of intellectual vapidity.

And btw Fred Block has devastated the Speenhamland analogy long ago. I think not many folks have gotten beyond Andre Gorz on these topics.

Massinissa , January 5, 2017 at 1:56 pm

Yeah, I'm sort of skeptical of BIG myself, but I really don't think Speenhamland is a good comparison at all. Speenhamland had too many particularities that separate it from most modern BIG proposals IMHO.

Lambert Strether , January 5, 2017 at 2:22 pm

It would be helpful if you'd list some of those particularities.

River , January 5, 2017 at 2:15 pm

I think we need to remember just how modern is the concept of "work" is that's being debated here. In nearly the whole world a century ago (and still in parts of it today) people didn't have "jobs", they raised crops, tended cattle, caught fish, practised manual crafts, played a role in the community and family etc. and were in general productively occupied most of the time

Too true. If you want to see what someone's ancestor most likely did, look at their last name. Tanner, Cooper, Fuller, etc.

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 2:35 pm

People used to have a right to land with which they could harvest building supplies, roofing supplies, food to feed themselves, fuel to heat and cook, raise livestock for food and fiber. The people have been stripped of the rights and ability to provide for their basic needs by force. They now have to have a job, the majority of their labor benefits someone else, to gain money in a system where nearly every transaction isn't just monetized but exploitative.

There is still the pull towards liberalism . to develop a hierarchy of needs, and a hierarchy of the usefullness/productiveness/profitability of tasks. There needs to be a ubi along with the jg. When the focus is on developing hierarchies, the end result will be a rigid bureaucratic structure and the use of force to ensure compliance.

Tivvy , January 5, 2017 at 10:04 am

"What if we predicated social critique on terms that are not defined by the neoliberal ideology that we wish to circumvent?"

To do this, I propose that we give everyone, unconditionally, an income, as expression of their potential (and natural desire) to contribute to society, and all the prerequisite time that goes into that, and for the very contributions themselves. An unconditional labor value derived income, for all. An income that both enables all kinds of work, and pays that labor value in the same stroke.

From there, additional earned income becomes a matter of how much respect you command, how well you utilize monopolies, and how much you hate your job and require compensation for how much you hate it. But the labor value would be accounted for, unconditionally.

In a world where there's superstars (and superbrands) who command respect and natural monopolies to make a lot of money, and people writing open source for the greater benefit of everyone else predominantly, it makes sense to make a statement such as that, about labor value, and to pay it to everyone. Mothers and fathers in active care of their children too, could agree, I'd imagine.

But making a list of things that you think might be cool for society, and try to have tangible compensations for only those, seems problematic, if not to say, counterproductive. Rather recognize ALL the time that people spend, to be decent people among fellow people, to educate themselves formally and informally, be it in the process of being an entrepreneur in a broader sense, at times. A sense of justice that can only be achieved by the state deciding for its people what is purposeful, will fall flat on its face when it comes to practicality, unless we have artifical super intelligence. Because you will have to literally know better than the people, what they will appreciate to what extent. And you don't know that. Neither do I.

There's great things in community/entertainment space happening today, that nobody was thinking of 5 years ago. Because people still have some power to recognize things as individuals, that others do, as purposeful (as much as aggregate demand is increasingly in a sorry state, as the result of a 3+ decade long trend that seems to still keep going. Just fixing that issue would already help a lot.). I say we should build on that, and further empower people in that direction. Which to me means to give money to all the people of the society, so they can more directly at times, express what benefits society, that is themselves. And for macro economic/long term considerations we can always have direct democracy.

Schwarmageddon , January 5, 2017 at 11:31 am

The sorts of psychopaths that tend to be in control of modern human societies clearly prefer money as a tool of social control to money as any sort of public utility that would facilitate individual productivity and/or affirm human dignity, whether in the context of neoliberal derangement or not. That's the view from the long-frozen Rust Belt and certainly nothing new in history.

It also appears that any human capacity for moral innovation is easily constrained by our basic feces-hurling primate OS, particularly if said primates consider money to be something finite and concrete.

On the real balance sheet, though, the sweet old Earth likely can't afford a JG for a population of 7 billion, at least not under any current or previously existing model of labor exploitation. As all NCpeeps know, we're resource-constrained, not dollar-constrained.

So we arrive back at the same old power relationships, the coercion, desperation and ecocide to which we have been accustomed, in the absence of any disruptive® (!) moral innovation. Can anyone suggest that modern humans have demonstrated a capacity for moral innovation outside of prison camps? Actual, non-hopey-changey varieties of moral innovation? If so, is that capacity retarded only by misperceptions regarding the nature of money? Retarded perhaps by an exceptional propaganda system? One might only answer that for themselves, and likely only until the SWAT team arrives. It seems unlikely that some rational and compassionate bureaucracies will be established to compensate in their stead: Congress is wholly unable to formulate policy in the public interest for very good reasons, none of them admirable. It seems the social economic entities they protect require human desperation just as much as they require currency liquidity or juvenile male soldiers.

In the absence of representation, rule of law or some meager rational public policy, a reproductive strike may be a better individual approach than FW, as not having children avoids the voluntary provisioning of debt slaves into a corrupt and violent system of social control. There is also the many ecologically salubrious effects of less humans and a potential opportunity to avoid being forced to constantly sell one's labor at a sharp discount. Couples I know, both having made catastrophic errors in career choice (education, research, seriously OMG!), are able to persist with some degree of dignity only and precisely because they have avoided begetting, in the very biblical sense, more debt slaves.

Shom , January 5, 2017 at 11:48 am

The author's contention that JG is better than BIG is persuasive; however I am not convinced that JG is best implemented by the govt. We have had systems like these, e.g. USSR, and it is very clear that central planning for large masses never works.

Why not implement that JG as saying that the govt guarantees X $/hr for up to T hrs per week for every one, no matter where they are hired. Advantages:
– small business owners are afforded breathing space to get their dreams off the ground,
– Walmart workers will walk off if Walmart doesn't up its game significantly beyond $(X x 4T) per month,
– Non profits will be able to afford to pay volunteers more reliably,
– People who want to be alone / not work can setup their own "self preservation" business and earn the minimum $X/hr for T hrs.

This form of decentralized planning may help implement JGs in a more sustainable manner than centralized planning. It also puts a floor on minimum income. Also, when combined with barriers on moving jobs outside the US, it helps provide a sharper threshold on how good automation needs to be in order to replace labor.

X and T can be the $15 and 40 hrs that is being implemented in big coastal cities, progressive states. Or it could be set to just above poverty level earnings, depending on how comfortable we are in letting go of our Pilgrim/Protestant shackles.

Praedor , January 5, 2017 at 12:16 pm

Past time to kill off the Protestant Ethic. The future has always supposed to be made up of robots doing scut work while people get to chill out and NOT do shit work.

The job race is why people STILL don't take enough vacation or full vacation. It is why they feel COMPELLED to not take days off because if they do, their boss will hold it against them come promotion time.

Not all jobs are worth doing and forcing people to take them doesn't do anyone any good, and makes people into commodities, THE biggest problem with neoliberalism. People are NOT commodities and work should NOT be a measure of one's value. CEOs outrageously overvalue themselves for doing little or nothing while engineers and workers they mistreat do EVERYTHING. That is neoliberalism and capitalism in a nutshell.

Guaranteed Basic Income ends that. Set a max income so there will be no more over-compensated CEOs AND provide a decent income for EVERYONE, gratis, so they are not forced to take a job polishing the shoes of the useless eater CEOs.

Praedor , January 5, 2017 at 12:08 pm

I prefer the Universal Basic Income guarantee to the Work guarantee. The Work guarantee guarantees MAKEWORK . "Here, have a broom and do some sweeping with it. Somewhere."

Or, "Here's a desk and a pile of papers with staples in them. Remove the staples."

"You! Toss this box of trash in the street and you, walk behind him and pick it up and put it in THIS box!"

Fuck work. In particular, fuck MAKEWORK. A job, ANY job, just to say you have a job is CRAP.

Better: Income guarantee. Period. Gratis. If a company wants you to do a job for them then they will have to provide incentive enough to get you to take the job. You don't HAVE to take a shit job because you have a guaranteed income so employers better offer a sweat deal like good pay and benefits (and LESS pay and benefits for CEOs, etc the lazy do-nothing self-entitled class).

Lambert Strether , January 5, 2017 at 2:50 pm

I hear the make-work talking point over and over again. It's nonsense. It didn't happen where the job guarantee was implemented , and it doesn't have to happen if the work is under democratic control.

Adam Eran , January 5, 2017 at 12:21 pm

The basis of job guarantees would universally empower or improve the public realm–shared goods.

The "anti-collectivist" propaganda that dominates most mainstream media now forbids anything but public squalor and private opulence.

We work to construct a pyramid of Democratic skulls , January 5, 2017 at 12:35 pm

The basic income and the job guarantee are natural complements. In terms of the acquis that any sovereign state must comply with (the UDHR,) you have the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of [your]self and of [your] family, and the right to free choice of employment. Two different rights. That means work should be an option.

The idea is, you're not on the treadmill, it's the state that's on the treadmill, working continually to fulfill your economic and social rights. It's the state that bears duties, you have rights. So if you want to do something and you need structure, knock yourself out, work for the state or some customer or boss. If you want to spend all the time you can with your kid before the mass extinction starves her, that's fine too.

When you ask people, Do you exist for the state, or does the state exist for you? People are quick to say, I don't exist for the state, that's totalitarianism! But people seem to accept that they exist for the economy. They accept that their life depends on acceptable service to the labor market. Just like I don't exist for the state, I don't exist for the economy. The economy exists for me. That is the revolutionary import of the ICESCR (and that's why the US strangled Venezuela when Chavez committed the state to it.)

Human rights is a complete, consistent and coherent alternative to neoliberal market worship. The idea sounds so strange because the neoliberal episcopate uses an old trick to get people to hold still for exploitation. In the old days, the parasitic class invented god's will to reify an accidental accretion of predatory institutions and customs. Everybody nodded and said, I see, it's not some greedy assholes, it's god's will. After a while everybody said, Wait a minute. The parasitic class had to think fast, so they invented the economy to reify an accidental accretion of predatory institutions and customs. So now you submit to that. Suckers!

Sandwichman , January 5, 2017 at 1:22 pm

I would prefer not to.

anon y'mouse , January 5, 2017 at 2:17 pm

i love you.

please marry me!

wait, i think i know what the answer will be

Lambert Strether , January 5, 2017 at 2:37 pm

Thank you, Mr. Bartleby.

jerry , January 5, 2017 at 1:30 pm

"All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone."

I am in favor of the job or income guarantee program. We really should not and do not need to work nearly as much as is common in U.S. (nevermind the even more repressive slave labor in Asia). The claim that "algorithms and robotization will reduce the workforce by half within twenty years and that this is unstoppable" seems like a pretty likely scenario at this point. Why have we been working for millenia to build this advanced civilization, if not to relax and enjoy it and be DONE slaving away?!

I recently sold everything I had and travelled around the US for 6 months, and it was delightful. I was next to broke, but if I had an income guarantee I could have had way more freedom to stop here and there, get involved in who knows what, and enjoy myself with very low stress.

I agree most people will not do anything productive unless forced, but that is what we need to finally work on: ourselves and our crippling egos. The world is plenty advanced technologically, we have made incredible inventions and that will continue to happen, but people need to start working on themselves inwardly as well or the outward world will be destroyed.

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 1:58 pm

What does being productive mean? Besides making a profit for an oligarch. Everything is work. Cook for yourself, not work. Cook for someone else, work. Garden for yourself, not work. Garden for someone else, work. Travel for yourself, not work. Travel for someone else, work. etc.

Has anyone run the numbers for a 4 day work week, or 3? How about if full time work were lowered to 30, 25 hours per week?

Automation was supposed to free up labors time. Workers have participated in designing automation, installing automation, testing automation and training others for automation. It's time labor takes the share of their labor and if oligarchs get the permanent financial benefit of labors efforts to automate, so does labor.

Lambert Strether , January 5, 2017 at 2:34 pm

> I agree most people will not do anything productive unless forced

That sounds like the persistent notion that the pyramids were built with slave labor. Michael Hudson has debunked this :

We found [the pyramids] were not built by slaves. They were built by well-paid skilled labour. The problem in these early periods was how to get labour to work at hard tasks, if not willingly? For 10,000 years there was a labour shortage. If people didn't want to work hard, they could just move somewhere else. The labour that built temples and big ceremonial sites had to be at least quasi-voluntary even in the Bronze Age c. 2000 BC. Otherwise, people wouldn't have gone there.

We found that one reason why people were willing to do building work with hard manual labour was the beer parties. There were huge expenditures on beer. If you're going to have a lot of people come voluntarily to do something like city building or constructing their own kind of national identity of a palace and walls, you've got to have plenty of beer. You also need plenty of meat, with many animals being sacrificed. Archaeologists have found their bones and reconstructed the diets with fair accuracy.

What they found is that the people doing the manual labour on the pyramids, the Mesopotamian temples and city walls and other sites were given a good high protein diet. There were plenty of festivals. The way of integrating these people was by public feasts.

Now, you can argue that labor is no longer scarce, so the logic doesn't apply. But you can't generalize that people won't work unless forced; it's not true.

Sandwichman , January 5, 2017 at 3:27 pm

Perhaps the best solution would be a Universal Beer Income?

jerry , January 5, 2017 at 5:51 pm

I see what you mean, but they built the pyramids because they needed money to survive, the beer and festivals is an added bonus. Whether you call it slave labor or working for a decent wage, the premise is the same – your survival depends on doing the work so you do it.

The distinction I think relates to what waldenpond says above. People want to feel a sense of ownership, meaning and community around what they are doing, and then they do it of their own volition, so it is not seen as work. This is something quite rare in todays labor market, but it doesn't have to be that way.

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 5:56 pm

Looks like people chose to work not just for pay but for pay and the addition of leisure activities (cooking, eating, partying) and a sense of community.

ekstase , January 5, 2017 at 6:06 pm

I agree with this. I think of the people I knew who had to work at two or more jobs, full time or more, to be "allowed" to be a painter, musician, writer, or performer, etc. It is sapping us culturally, not to let the creative people have time to do what they were born to do. And I think at least a little of this lives in all of us. There are things that we are born to do. How much does our society let us be who we are?

anon y'mouse , January 5, 2017 at 2:24 pm

similar arguments made regarding all of the lands in North and South America.

"they aren't using it for anything productive. best we take it from them."

who are you to say what is productive in another person's life? if we had a meaningful culture and education in this debased society, each of us would be able to make the decision about what exactly we find most productive and worthy of our efforts, and what isn't. since we have no public lands to hunt and gather and fish and farm and live upon, we are forced into this economic system. i find it odd as heck that two people who are effectively "unemployed" find it better for everyone else to be chained to a money-for-work scheme. will you both be signing up for some labor-conscription hours? will it be compulsory for all, without ability to opt-out except for complete physical/emotional disability with no gaming by the rich? (my apologies if you all do not agree, and i have misrepresented your positions)

more rationales to make people love their chains, please. because we know how this would work out: rather as it does now when you sign up for unemployment/food assistance-you MUST take the first job for the first abuser that comes along and makes an offer for you.

JTFaraday , January 5, 2017 at 2:35 pm

I think we should separate the wage/salary component of work from social welfare provisioning. Namely, universal health care and universal old age pensions. The more you think about it in the context of today's various pressures, the more sense it makes.

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 5:58 pm

Social welfare provisioning isn't just the means of exchange, it's the ability to acquire the necessities of survival of shelter, food, heat etc. If the focus is just within the capitalist system of private ownership and rent seeking is not ended, the welfare is merely passed through and ends with the oligarchs.

cojo , January 5, 2017 at 2:39 pm

I have several questions, concerns with UBI. One is if everyone is given a base salary who is to decide what that amount should be. Will it be indexed to inflation, what will it do to inflation, specifically, inflation for housing, food, healthcare.

Will a UBI be an excuse to gut all social contracts/guarantees. Who will make those decisions. What will happen to social services (public schools, hospitals), and social needs (clean water, air, sanitation/trash, police/fire protection).

Primitive human cultures traditionally "worked" to fulfill their needs only 3-4 hours a day. The rest was leisure, taking care of children/elderly, and rest. I agree, that a large percentage of time at work is wasted time due to hour artificial 9:5 business schedule. If we all perform work from home, what will the hours be like? Will we have more time to meet our neighbors and become more involved in the community or will we be shut in our houses all day not seeing anyone. Will the family unit be stronger, since people will not have to travel across the country for job opportunities and stay near each other.

Who will be provided with basic education, will that be free or for a fee, or will the idle relatives and neighbors collaborate to provide it.

Will some neighborhoods/regions be more organized and successful than others? Will all the "lazy people" filter into future slums riddled with crime and disease? Who will provide for them if there is no longer any social services.

inhibi , January 5, 2017 at 3:01 pm

I'm sure someone has already posted this, but my idea was to have a huge Federally funded Environmental Cleanup Dept. that essentially hires mass amounts of people to literally clean streets, parks, waterways, sort through trash, etc. It's needed, its relatively low skill labor, but at least it could provide an alternative to Welfare, which is a huge huge scam that's imprisons people in the lowest class (cant own a car or land).

Obviously this doesn't solve the entire issue, but it's become pretty clear that just having a huge Welfare state will not work longterm, as Yves mentions, the detriments are huge and real: unskilled lower class, unmoivitated lower class (more free time = more criminal activity), etc.

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 4:04 pm

Again with the Americans are lazy myth. I would argue criminal activity is more related to being blocked by state violence from accessing a thoroughly monetized society (poverty) and a purposely bled social structure than from boredom.

If a person has access to a share of the resources of a society (shelter/food and enrichment) they will not likely commit crime. For those that want a rush, we can add some climbing walls etc. ha!

For those that are critical of the'welfare state'.. it isn't natural nor accidental, it's purposeful. Stop putting in so many resources (legal, political, financial) to create one.

David , January 5, 2017 at 3:26 pm

What do you actually want to work for ?
In early societies, you worked so that you and your family and community didn't die, and could produce the goods needed to make society function. But that's changed, and today we work to earn the money to pay other people to carry out these same functions. We even work to earn the money to pay the costs of working to earn the money to pay others. We buy a house (which in the past would have been constructed by the society) and have to pay to travel to work to earn the money to pay for the house, and then the insurance on the house, and the business clothes, and then buy a car and insurance on the car because the time we spend working and traveling means we have to shop at the supermarket instead of local shops, and then we pay a garage to maintain the car, and we pay someone to look after our garden because between trips to the supermarket we don't have time ourselves, and then we pay someone to look after our children because we work so hard earning money to pay for childcare that we have no time actually left for caring for our children. And the idea is that everybody should be guaranteed the right to do this?

JTFaraday , January 5, 2017 at 5:08 pm

You think too much. ;)

J Gamer , January 5, 2017 at 3:29 pm

In the drive towards totalitarianism, universal basic income is the carrot that enables the abolition of cash. India is the trial run. Although after seeing what's transpired in India, it's probably safe to say the ruling elite have wisely concluded that it might be better to offer the carrot before rolling out the stick.

Gil , January 5, 2017 at 3:45 pm

Read Edmund Phelps' Rewarding Work for good ideas about how to generate full time jobs with adequate wages.

Sandwichman , January 5, 2017 at 4:07 pm

As I wrote at EconoSpeak back in December, "everyone is wrong."

There seems to be this false dilemma between the impending "end" of work and the unlimited potential of creative job creation. BOTH of these utopias are apocalyptically blind to history.

In 2017 what counts as "work" - a job, wage labor - is inseparably bound up with the consumption of fossil fuel. A "job" consumes "x" barrels of oil per annum. Lumps of labor are directly quantifiable in lumps of coal.

The ecological implications of this are clearly that the dilemma does not resolve itself into a choice between different schemes for redistributing some proverbial surplus. That "surplus" represents costs that have been shifted for decades and even centuries onto the capacity of the ambient environment to absorb wastes and to have resources extracted from it.

Can such an extractive economy continue indefinitely? Not according to the laws of thermodynamics.

Sandwichman , January 5, 2017 at 5:22 pm

From April 2015, UBI Caritas :

A UBI might reduce the dire incentive to "work or starve" at the same time as it increases opportunities and incentives to pursue the bright elusive butterfly of "meaningful work." That would be good if it was the only consideration. But it is not. There is also an inconvenient truth about the relationship between productivity and fossil fuel consumption. In the industrial economy, larger amounts of better work mean more greenhouse gas emissions. Productivity is a double-edged sword.

We have long since passed the point where capital "diminishes labour time in the necessary form so as to increase it in the superfluous form; hence posits the superfluous in growing measure as a condition – question of life or death – for the necessary."

Currently, world-wide carbon emissions per year are roughly double what can be re-absorbed by oceans and plants. This is not to say that the re-absorption by oceans is harmless –it leads to acidification. But clearly more than half of the emissions are superfluous to sustainability. Lo and behold, carbon emission increase in virtual lockstep with hours of work. In the U.S., the correlation between the two has been about 95% over the last quarter century.

Don't even think of using the "correlation doesn't prove causation" gambit. We are talking about a "water is wet" relationship. Fossil fuel is burned to do work. Period. Not just correlation - identity.

So the bottom line is we either need to cut hours of work at least in half or the remaining hours need to be less productive not more.

Reducing the hours of work also implies the potential for redistributing hours of work to create more jobs from less total work time. This of course flies in the face of " laws of political economy " that were discredited more than a century ago but nonetheless get repeated as gospel ad nauseum by so-called "economists."

UBI Caritas et amor

bulfinch , January 5, 2017 at 4:16 pm

I like where this guy is trying to go, but I think I'd put forth more of a F-k Stupid Jobs with Bad Pay ethos, rather than F-k Work . Too oversimple too broad. Work, on some level, is really all there is. The idea of a collective life devoted to perpetual and unbridled hedonism just sounds like death by holiday to me; just as awful as working yourself into the grave.

As to Yves' notion - probably this is true. Pressure is a fine agent for production and problem solving; but I suspect that stagnant period might just be a byproduct of the initial hangover. Guilt is an engine that hums in many of us - I think most people feel guilty if they spend an entire day doing nothing, let alone a lifetime tossed away.

rd , January 5, 2017 at 4:24 pm

It is going to be interesting to see what happens as the financial sector "high value" employees continue to be replaced by passive investing and computer programs. I suspect this process will result in a rethinking of many of these people about the value of work and job security.

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 6:15 pm

I have been stating this also. So many tasks are open to automation in law, healthcare (remote offices), writing (algorithms), teaching (one math teacher per language!), policing. I can even imagine automated fire trucks that can pinpoint hot spots, hook up to hydrants, open a structure and target.

Dick Burkhart , January 5, 2017 at 5:58 pm

What we need is not a guaranteed minimum income, but universal ownership of key productive assets, like Alaska does with its Permanent Fund. These assets could include partial citizenship ownership of our largest corporations. All paid work would be on top of this.

As Peter Barnes says, "With Dividends and Liberty for All". Thus everyone would have a base income, enough to prevent extreme poverty, but still with plenty of incentives for jobs. Note: You'd also need to make it illegal for these "dividends" to become security for loan sharks.

Craa+zyChris , January 5, 2017 at 6:01 pm

I spent a lot of time over the holidays thinking about the future of human work and came to this conclusion: As we move forward, robots and other automation will take over a lot of human work, but in 3 areas I think humans will always have an edge. I'll summarize these 3 essentially human endeavors as: "sex, drugs and rock-and-roll", but each of those is a proxy for a wider range of human interactions.

"Sex work" (compare to "Fuck Work" from this essay) means what it says, but is also a proxy for human interactions such as massage, phys-therapy, etc. Robots will encroach on this turf somewhat (serving as tools), but for psychological reasons, humans will always prefer to be worked over by other humans.

Drugs is a proxy for human appreciation of chemical substances. Machines will of course be used to detect such substances, but no one will appreciate them like us. The machines will need us to tell them whether the beer is as good as the last batch, and we must make sure to get paid for that.

Finally, rock-and-roll is a proxy for human artistic expression as well as artistic appreciation. Robots will never experience sick beats the way we do, and while they may produce some, again for psychological reasons, I think humans will tend to value art created by other humans above that produced by machines.

The good news is that the supply and demand balance for these activities will scale in a stable way as the population grows (or shrinks). So I think the key is to make sure these types of activities are considered "work", and renumerated accordingly in our bright J.G. future.

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[Mar 23, 2017] I love the smell of money-greased credentialism in the morning.

Mar 23, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
ewmayer , March 22, 2017 at 7:29 pm

Received a "new academic programs" missive from my alma mater in today's mail, containing the following:

How to Make Innovation Happen in Your Organization

The Certified Professional Innovator (CPI) program is intended to develop the competency of high potential leaders in the theory and practice of innovation. It is rooted on the principle that innovation can only be learned by doing and through many short bursts of experimentation.

The certification is comprised of a 12-week curriculum with specific syllabus and assignments for each week, including videos, workbook assignments, and reports. During the program, participants, functioning as a cohort, communicate and collaborate with each other and faculty through a series of webinars and discussions. The program culminates in project pitches.

"It is rooted on [sic] the principle that innovation can only be learned by doing and through many short bursts of experimentation" - OK, fine there, but it is also rooted in the notion that such creativity can be taught in a formal academic setting, here monetized and condensed into a 12-week program. As for me, I'm gonna hold out for the following surely-in-development mini-courses: