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Who Rules America ?

A slightly skeptical view on the US political establishment and foreign policy

If Ronald Reagan was America's neo-Julius Caesar, his adopted son was the first George Bush (just as J.C. adopted Augustus). And look what THAT progeny wrought. I fully expect that over the next century, no fewer than seven Bushes will have run or become president (mimicking the Roman Caesarian line). Goodbye, American Republic.

From review of Imperial America: Reflections on the United States of Amnesia by Gore Vidal

Skepticism -> Political Skeptic

News Neoliberalism Recommended books Recommended Links Libertarian Philosophy Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few Fake News scare and US NeoMcCartyism
National Security State Key Myths of Neoliberalism Big Uncle is Watching You The Iron Law of Oligarchy Color revolutions Cold War II Two Party System as Polyarchy
Fifth Column of Neoliberal Globalization Predator state Corporatism Elite Theory Neo-conservatism Neocon foreign policy is a disaster for the USA Charlie Hebdo - more questions then answers
Anti-Russian hysteria in connection emailgate and DNC leak Demonization of Putin Who Shot down Malaysian flight MH17? MSM Sochi Bashing Rampage Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia Pathological Russophobia of the US elite Compradors vs. national bourgeoisie
Resurgence of neofascism as reaction on crisis of neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization Ukraine: From EuroMaydan to EuroAnschluss Civil war in Ukraine Fuck the EU Odessa Massacre of May 2, 2014 Russian Ukrainian Gas Wars Neoliberalism and Christianity
Anti Trump Hysteria Anti-globalization movement Neoliberal corruption DNC emails leak Brexit as the start of the reversal of neoliberal globalization Disaster capitalism IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement
Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime Media-Military-Industrial Complex New American Militarism Ethno-lingustic Nationalism American Exceptionalism The Deep State Obama: a yet another Neocon
Neoliberal war on reality In Foreign Events Coverage Guardian Presstitutes Slip Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment Corruption of Regulators Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult  Neo-Theocracy as a drive to simpler society American Imperialism, Transnational Capitalist Class and Globalization of Capitalism Bureaucracy as a Political Coalition
Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" Groupthink Crisis of legitimacy of neoliberal elite Deception as an art form Mayberry Machiavellians Immigration, wage depression and free movement of workers War and Peace Quotes
Famous quotes of John Kenneth Galbraith Talleyrand quotes Otto Von Bismarck Quotes Kurt Vonnegut Quotes Somerset Maugham Quotes George Carlin Propaganda Quotes
Overcomplexity of society Paleoconservatism Non-Interventionism   Skeptic Quotations Humor Etc

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace — business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

FDR. speech after the election (1936)

polyarchy: A system where the participation of masses of people is limited to voting among one or another representatives of the elite in periodic elections. Between elections the masses are now expected to keep quiet, to go back to life as usual while the elite make decisions and run the world until they can choose between one or another elite another four years later. So polyarchy is a system of elite rule, and a system of elite rule that is little bit more soft-core than the elite rule that we would see under a military dictatorship. But what we see is that under a polyarchy the basic socio-economic system does not change, it does not become democratized.

▬William I. Robinson, Behind the Veil, Minute 1:29:15

 

This site is very skeptical as for the viability of Neoliberalism as a social system and had distinct pro "New Deal" capitalism bias. You are warned.

And yes, my friends, like Molière's play Le Bourgeois gentilhomme character, who he was surprised and delighted to learn that he has been speaking prose all his life without knowing it., you are living under neoliberal regime without knowing it.  And this regime is not the same as democracy. See Two Party System as Polyarchy

What is really interesting is that the term "neoliberalism"  has the status of a semi-taboo in the USA, and seldom can be found in articles published by the USA MSM, due to some kind of "silence" pact ;-).

Due to the size an introduction was converted to a separate page Who Rules America


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[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] Measuring nepotism: is it more prevalent in the US than in other countries?

Mar 24, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

By age 30, about 22% of American sons will be working for the same employer at the same time as their fathers. But how does that compare with other countries?

Who's your daddy? Nepotism throughout the world. Data: World Economic forum.

Hi everyone, how are you? If your name is Ivanka (there really aren't that many of you), then maybe you had a great week. Maybe you got a new job with your dad with perks like access to classified information from the US government (chances are much higher if your last name is Trump).

Which brings me to the subject of this week's DIY fact check: nepotism. Let's find out how many Americans get a $110 denim shoe in thanks to their old man. And while we're at it, let's find out whether nepotism is more prevalent in the United States than other countries.

Step 1: Find out how many people get a job with the help of their father. I know, I know, I know – "what about the nepotistic mothers?" I hear you ask (or at least I hope you're asking). Well, being able to influence a company's employment decisions requires power and, for a long time, most women haven't had that kind of power in the workplace. So no historical data, buddy.

I Google "nepotism US data" and get nowhere. So I search for "nepotism statistics" instead (nothing), "nepotism study" (nada) and "nepotism prevalence" (zilch).

After a bunch more dead ends I spot that the Census Bureau is quoted in a number of places,so I add that to my search. I end up with this 2014 research paper. It turns out that I was struggling to find data because the Census Bureau doesn't use the word nepotism. Instead, it titled the paper Fathers, Children, and the Intergenerational Transmission of Employers. Interesting.

The study finds that "fathers and sons work together at the same employer more commonly than would be predicted by mere chance". That chance part is important, not least because when people get caught, they might claim it was coincidence rather than corruption.

According to its analysis of data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, the Census Bureau found that by the time they're 30, about 22% of sons will be working for the same employer at the same time as their fathers (and an extra 6% of sons work for an employer that their dads recently worked for but left).


That's a lot higher than I would have thought, but maybe I had lower expectations of getting help from my dad because I'm a woman. The same study found that only 13% of daughters work at the same place as their dads by the time they're 30 (and an extra 4% work for a former employer of their dads). Lucky Ivanka, eh?

Step 2: Find out if nepotism is more or less common elsewhere in the world. Yet again, I really struggle here – it's almost like governments don't have an interest in publishing data on national nepotism.

I end up finding a PDF floating on the internet. It's just one page, with no date, no sources, but it seems to be exactly what I need: a table of international data titled "impact of nepotism". Now I need to figure out where it came from. After getting nowhere for a while, I do something you should try sometime too: I ask for help.

Remember, the results you see on the internet are often different from what someone else will see because search engines take into account things like your location and web history. So I ask my colleague Jan Diehm to try to search for the title of the table, too – "1.29 impact of nepotism" (please don't send all your research requests to poor Jan – you could ask anyone to repeat your steps and see if they have more luck than you).

She finds something I didn't: the table is mentioned in this research paper, along with a note that it comes from the World Economic Forum's 2006-2007 indicators. That's all the information she needed to be able to track down the original PDF.

There are a couple of things we should keep in mind if we want to figure out how reliable these numbers are. For one thing, they're quite old (it doesn't look like the World Economic Forum still measures nepotism), so things might have changed a lot. When these figures were collected, George W Bush was president and Gmail was only two years old.

Another thing to keep in mind is that this survey doesn't measure nepotism itself, but rather the perception of nepotism among business executives that were surveyed in 110 countries. That's not ideal, but it's understandable given the difficulty of measuring illicit activity accurately.

That said, the list is interesting. It ranks countries on their levels of nepotism from seven (no influence) to one (enormous influence). The US has a score of 4.2, putting it in 63rd place out of 125 countries evaluated, behind Kazakhstan, Egypt and South Africa (to give just a few arbitrary examples) and waaay behind Germany and the UK (to give a few more). The Czech Republic, where Ivanka's mother was born, received the same score as the United States.

I suggest you peruse the list in full, especially if you're thinking about setting up an international business.
The graphic on this article was amended on 24 March 2017 after criticism from readers in the comment thread below. We regret any offense the original version caused.


Would you like to see something fact-checked? Send me your questions! mona.chalabi@theguardian.com / @MonaChalabi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You should know this, and I believe you do.

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

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

And then they give you the finger and elect Trump.

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

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

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

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

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

[Mar 24, 2017] 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).

Daniel Ellsberg on the cover of Time after leaking the Pentagon Papers

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.

Lawyer Roy Cohn (right) with Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

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] Paltering as a new way to not tell the truth

Notable quotes:
"... The palter was to skip the fact that it had broken down twice in the last year, instead saying, "This car drives very smoothly and is very responsive. Just last week it started up with no problems when the temperature was 5 degrees Fahrenheit." The outright lie would have been: "This car has never had problems." Researchers learned that car sellers perceived paltering as more ethical than lying, and thus used it more. ..."
"... Paltering allows people who consider themselves honest to deceive others while getting the same results that lying would. In a third experiment, participants in a pretend real estate negotiation performed just as well when they paltered as they did when they lied. Their successes didn't come without costs, however. When the deception was discovered, negotiation partners deemed palterers as untrustworthy as liars. ..."
"... One occasional advantage of paltering over lying is plausible deniability: You can blame any misunderstanding on the listener. ..."
"... So how can you avoid falling victim? "If you ask a specific question, that specific question should be answered, not a variant of it," Rogers says, even though insistence on clarification "often makes you look like a jerk." ..."
"... Paltering relies on our tendency to trust others and not cause a scene. ..."
Mar 19, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Fred C. Dobbs : March 18, 2017 at 08:39 PM , 2017 at 08:39 PM 'Paltering,' a new way to not tell the truth
http://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2017/03/17/paltering-new-way-not-tell-truth/TRB2ap22NK5Ya8KjF4x0GI/story.html?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe
Matthew Hutson - March 17, 2017

... ... ..

Although paltering occurs in all realms of life, researchers at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government focused on its use in negotiation. In one of eight studies to be published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, study participants pretended to sell a used car on eBay. They answered the buyer's question "Has this car ever had problems?" with a response selected from a list supplied by the researchers.

The palter was to skip the fact that it had broken down twice in the last year, instead saying, "This car drives very smoothly and is very responsive. Just last week it started up with no problems when the temperature was 5 degrees Fahrenheit." The outright lie would have been: "This car has never had problems." Researchers learned that car sellers perceived paltering as more ethical than lying, and thus used it more.

In another study, half of surveyed executives said they paltered in more than "a few" of their negotiations, versus a fifth who said they actively lied more than a few times. Consistent with this discrepancy, executives viewed the behavior as more honest than lying.

Paltering allows people who consider themselves honest to deceive others while getting the same results that lying would. In a third experiment, participants in a pretend real estate negotiation performed just as well when they paltered as they did when they lied. Their successes didn't come without costs, however. When the deception was discovered, negotiation partners deemed palterers as untrustworthy as liars.

Another study found that victims saw palterers as less ethical than palterers saw themselves. We have a "broken mental model" of paltering, the researchers have concluded, seeing this behavior as honest when others do not.

One occasional advantage of paltering over lying is plausible deniability: You can blame any misunderstanding on the listener. Without knowing the speaker's intentions, it's difficult to diagnose paltering with certainty says Todd Rogers, a behavioral scientist at the Kennedy School and the paper's lead author. Few examples are as clear as Bill Clinton's response when asked if he'd had a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky: "There is not a sexual relationship - that is accurate." (Note the slick use of present tense.)

So how can you avoid falling victim? "If you ask a specific question, that specific question should be answered, not a variant of it," Rogers says, even though insistence on clarification "often makes you look like a jerk."

Paltering relies on our tendency to trust others and not cause a scene. "It's pretty amazing how much you can get away with because of people's truth bias," says David Clementson, a researcher at Ohio State University's School of Communication, who was not involved in the study. "Paltering totally takes advantage of that, diabolically and deceptively."

Artful Paltering: The Risks and Rewards
of Using Truthful Statements to Mislead Others
Rogers, Todd; Zeckhauser, Richard; et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,
Vol 112(3), Mar 2017,
https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/psp-pspi0000081.pdf

There's a Word for Using
Truthful Facts to Deceive: Paltering
HBR - Francesca Gino - October 05, 2016
https://hbr.org/2016/10/theres-a-word-for-using-truthful-facts-to-deceive-paltering

[Mar 24, 2017] The Mechanical Turn in Economics and Its Consequences

Notable quotes:
"... Theory of Moral Sentiments ..."
"... Wealth of Nations ..."
"... Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire ..."
"... Why the Enlightenment is Still Important ..."
"... 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 24, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Posted on March 21, 2017 by Yves Smith 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] Facts or EconoFacts?

Notable quotes:
"... My main problem with the site, though, isn't aesthetic. It's the idea that the public will buy a "just the facts" approach. Many readers will suspect that what they're getting is not a simple recounting of incontrovertible facts, but a mix of received wisdom, theory, and carefully cloaked ideology. And they won't entirely be wrong about that. ..."
Mar 24, 2017 | noahpinionblog.blogspot.com

EconoFact is a non-partisan publication designed to bring key facts and incisive analysis to the national debate on economic and social policies. It is written by leading academic economists from across the country who belong to the EconoFact Network...

Our mission at EconoFact is to provide data, analysis and historical experience in a dispassionate manner...Our guiding ethos is a belief that well meaning people emphasizing different values can arrive at different policy conclusions. However, if in the debate we as a society can't agree on the relevant facts, then the nation itself loses a common base for constructive debate and policy will suffer.

EconoFact does not represent any partisan, personal or ideological point of view...Our network of economists might disagree with each other on policy recommendations, but all will similarly rely on widely agreed upon facts in their analysis.

My main problem with the site, though, isn't aesthetic. It's the idea that the public will buy a "just the facts" approach. Many readers will suspect that what they're getting is not a simple recounting of incontrovertible facts, but a mix of received wisdom, theory, and carefully cloaked ideology. And they won't entirely be wrong about that.

[Mar 24, 2017] Shibboleth of contemporary economics, free trade

Mar 24, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

robert ,

February 26, 2014 at 11:44 am

Regarding Kirill's post about that shibboleth of contemporary economics, free trade.

Pick up an introductory textbook of economics and your chances of finding an objective assessment of a system of this kind are very low indeed. Instead, what you'll find between the covers is a ringing endorsement of free trade, usually in the most propagandistic sort of language. Most likely it will rehash the arguments originally made by British economist David Ricardo, in the early 19th century, to prove that free trade inevitably encourages every nation to develop whatever industries are best suited to its circumstances, and so produces more prosperity for everybody. Those arguments will usually be spiced up with whatever more recent additions appeal to the theoretical tastes of the textbook's author or authors, and will plop the whole discussion into a historical narrative that insists that once upon a time, there were silly people who didn't like free trade, but now we all know better.

What inevitably gets omitted from the textbook is any discussion, based in actual historical examples, of the way that free trade works out in practice That would be awkward, because in the real world, throughout history, free trade pretty consistently hasn't done what Ricardo's rhetoric and today's economics textbooks claim it will do. Instead, it amplifies the advantages of wealthy nations and the disadvantages of poorer ones, concentrating capital and income in the hands of those who already have plenty of both while squeezing out potential rivals and forcing down wages across the board. This is why every nation in history that's ever developed a significant industrial sector to its economy has done so by rejecting the ideology of free trade, and building its industries behind a protective wall of tariffs, trade barriers, and capital controls, while those nations that have listened to the advice of the tame economists of the British and American empires have one and all remained mired in poverty and dependence as long as they did so.

There's a rich irony here, because not much more than a century ago, a healthy skepticism toward the claims of free trade ideology used to be standard in the United States. At that time, Britain filled the role in the world system that the United States fills today, complete with the global empire, the gargantuan military with annual budget to match, and the endless drumbeat of brushfire wars across what would one day be called the Third World, and British economists were accordingly the world's loudest proponents of free trade, while the United States filled the role of rising industrial power that China fills today, complete with sky-high trade barriers that protected its growing industries, not to mention a distinctly cavalier attitude toward intellectual property laws.

One result of that latter detail is that pirate editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica were produced and sold by a number of American firms all through the 19th century. Most of these editions differed from their British originals in an interesting way, though. The entry for "Free Trade" in the original editions repeated standard British free-trade economic theory, repeating Ricardo's arguments and dismissing criticisms of free trade out of hand; the American editors by and large took the trouble to replace these with entries critiquing free trade ideology in much the same terms I've used in this post. The replacement of pro- with anti-free trade arguments in these pirate editions, interestingly enough, attracted far more denunciation in the British press than the piracy itself got, which shows that the real issues were tolerably well understood at the time.

When it comes to free trade and its alternatives, that level of understanding is nowhere near so common these days, at least in Britain -I've long suspected that businessmen and officials in Beijing have a very precise understanding of what free trade actually means, though it would hardly be to their advantage just now to talk about that with any degree of candor. In the West even those who speak most enthusiastically about relocalization and the end of corporate globalism apparently haven't noticed how effectively tariffs, trade barriers, and capital controls foster domestic industries and rebuild national economies-or perhaps it's just that too many of them aren't willing to consider paying the kind of prices for their iPods and Xboxes that would follow the enactment of a reasonable tariff, much less the prices that would be required if we had the kind of trade barriers that built the American economy and could build it again, and bluecollar First World workers were paid First World wages to make them.

Free trade is simply one of the mechanisms of empire in the age of industrialism, one part of the wealth pump that concentrated the wealth of the globe in Britain during the years of its imperial dominion and does the same thing for the benefit of the United States today. Choose any other mechanism of empire, from the web of military treaties that lock allies and subject nations into a condition of dependence on the imperial center, through the immense benefits that accrue to whatever nation issues the currency in which international trade is carried out, to the way that the charitable organizations of the imperial center-missionary churches in Victoria's time, for example, or humanitarian NGOs in ours-further the agenda of empire with such weary predictability: in every case, you'll find a haze of doubletalk surrounding a straightforward exercise of imperial domination. It requires a keen eye to look past the rhetoric and pay attention to the direction the benefits flow.

Follow the flow of wealth and you understand empire. That's true in a general and a more specific sense, and both of these have their uses. In the general sense, paying attention to shifts in wealth between the imperial core and the nations subject to it is an essential antidote to the popular sort of nonsense-popular among tame intellectuals such as Thomas Friedman, at least, and their audiences in the imperial core-that imagines empire as a sort of social welfare program for conquered nations. Whether it's some old pukka sahib talking about how the British Empire brought railroads and good government to India, or his neoconservative equivalent talking about how the United States ought to export the blessings of democracy and the free market to the Middle East or the former Soviet Union it's codswallop, and the easiest way to see that it's codswallop is to notice that the price paid for whatever exports are under discussion normally amounts to the systematic impoverishment of the subject nation.

Reply

marknesop ,

February 26, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Free trade is only fair if all nations in the agreement start from the same point. If you choose not to invest in development, that's your own lookout, but don't complain if you end up under the de facto control of the one who did. But when a highly-developed nation espouses a free trade agreement with a nation that is just starting, it should be fairly easy to forecast who will come out ahead on the deal.

Did you uhhh write that yourself? Because it's pretty awesome.

Reply

astabada ,

February 27, 2014 at 12:46 am

I agree with Mark, your comment is great.

Especially when you mention that these matters were much more clear to the general public a century ago, than they are now.

This is what List wrote (National System):
It is a very common clever device that when anyone has attained the summit of greatness, he kicks away the ladder by which he has climbed up, in order to deprive others of the means of climbing up after him. In this lies the secret of the cosmopolitical doctrine of Adam Smith, and of the cosmopolitical tendencies of his great contemporary William Pitt, and of all his successors in the British Government administrations. Any nation which by means of protective duties and restrictions on navigation has raised her manufacturing power and her navigation to such a degree of development that no other nation can sustain free competition with her, can do nothing wiser than to throw away these ladders of her greatness, to preach to other nations the benefits of free trade, and to declare in penitent tones that she has hitherto wandered in the paths of error, and has now for the first time succeeded in discovering the truth.

[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.

Reply
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)

Reply
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?

Reply
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

Reply
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

Reply
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] We are in a sea of McJobs

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

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

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

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

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

Fully automated plant with the former operatives enjoying endless picnic frolic

Work as humans' prime want awaits a future social configuration

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

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

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

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

http://www.arthurselectric.com/

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

Notable quotes:
"... Anne Case and Angus Deaton garnered national headlines in 2015 when they reported that the death rate of midlife non-Hispanic white Americans had risen steadily since 1999 in contrast with the death rates of blacks, Hispanics and Europeans. Their new study extends the data by two years and shows that whatever is driving the mortality spike is not easing up. ..."
"... less-educated white Americans who struggle in the job market in early adulthood are likely to experience a "cumulative disadvantage" over time, with health and personal problems that often lead to drug overdoses, alcohol-related liver disease and suicide. ..."
Mar 24, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne -> George H. Blackford ... March 24, 2017 at 05:00 AM
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/new-research-identifies-a-sea-of-despair-among-white-working-class-americans/2017/03/22/c777ab6e-0da6-11e7-9b0d-d27c98455440_story.html

March 23, 2017

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

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

Anne Case and Angus Deaton garnered national headlines in 2015 when they reported that the death rate of midlife non-Hispanic white Americans had risen steadily since 1999 in contrast with the death rates of blacks, Hispanics and Europeans. Their new study extends the data by two years and shows that whatever is driving the mortality spike is not easing up.

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

[Graph]

Offering what they call a tentative but "plausible" explanation, they write that less-educated white Americans who struggle in the job market in early adulthood are likely to experience a "cumulative disadvantage" over time, with health and personal problems that often lead to drug overdoses, alcohol-related liver disease and suicide.

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

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

January 4, 2017

Employment-Population Ratios, * 2000-2017

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

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

Reagan destroyed the unions

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

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

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

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

January 15, 2017

United States Union Membership Rates, 1992-2016

Private wage and salary workers

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

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

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

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

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

2015 ( 6.7)
2016 ( 6.4)

[Mar 24, 2017] Economist's View Links for 03-24-17

Mar 24, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
RGC : , March 24, 2017 at 07:23 AM
Given: An economy at activity (GDP) level A

Problem: How to increase GDP to a higher level A'


Solution: Increase demand by adding new money to the economy by:

Method 1: Government increases net spending from level B to level B' by increasing the deficit.

Method 2: Private banks increase net spending from level B to level B' by making new loans.


Analysis:

Method 1 increases spending to a permanent higher level B' until the government generates a surplus by taxing more than it spends.

Method 2 increases spending to a higher level B' minus interest payments until the loans are paid down.


Method 1 introduces a higher level of activity until the government acts to reduce it.

Method 2 introduces a higher level of activity that starts to lessen as interest payments come due and lessens completely as principle comes due. Once principle is paid down, the only new money introduced is the amount of interest and that is held by the banks.

Example:

Method 1: The government pays private parties for some work. Those private parties spend some portion of that money and that portion then circulates through the private economy. The other portion goes to private savings.

Method 2: A private bank makes a loan. The borrower spends some of that money which then circulates through the economy. The borrower pays interest which accrues to the bank. The borrower then pays off the principle, which removes the money from the economy.

RGC -> RGC... , March 24, 2017 at 07:37 AM
MICHAEL HUDSON: The popular press acts as if governments should act like a family. And just as families have to balance the budgets, governments have to. But this is a false analogy, because if you personally spend more than you earn, you can't just write an I.O.U., which everybody else can spend as if it's real money. You have to pay the I.O.U. at some point, usually with interest, to the bank. But that's not the case with sovereign governments. When a government runs a budget deficit, it can do so in the way that Abraham Lincoln funded the Civil War: You print the money.

You print it into the economy by spending it.
Almost every year until the 1990s, the United States, like every other country in the world, increased its debt by running a budget deficit, by spending money into the economy for infrastructure, schooling, and roads. This is what enables economies to grow. That stopped during the Clinton administration in the 1990s. At the end of the administration he fell for neoliberal theory that you should balance the budget, and he actually ran a budget surplus. So the government stopped spending money into the economy.

The result was the economy had to depend on banks to create the money to expand. If the government doesn't create it, who will create the spending power? The answer was the banks.

Clinton did what he was told to do by the Secretary of the Treasury, Robert Rubin. In effect, his policy was: "Let the banks create all the money and charge interest instead of the government creating money by spending it like the greenbacks were spent."

The advantage of governments creating money is you they don't have to pay interest, because the spending is self-financing. Bank lobbyists cry about how large the government debt is, but this is debt that is not expected to be repaid. Adam Smith wrote that no government has ever paid its debt.

I think it's easiest for most Americans to understand this by looking at Europe. Under the Eurozone's rules, central banks are not allowed to create much money. As a result the economies of Europe are shrinking into austerity. Greece is the most notorious example. Here you have unemployment among youth up to 50% as the economy for the last five years is suffering from the worst depression since the 1930s. Yet the government is not able to spend the money needed to rebuild the economy. The banks won't let them do it. The aim of neoliberals is to prevent governments from spending money to revive growth by running deficits. Their argument is: "If a government can't run a deficit, then it can't spend money on roads, schools and other infrastructure. They'll have to privatize these assets – and banks can create their own credit to let investors buy these assets and run them as rent-extracting monopolies."

The bank strategy continues: "If we can privatize the economy, we can turn the whole public sector into a monopoly. We can treat what used to be the government sector as a financial monopoly. Instead of providing free or subsidized schooling, we can make people pay $50,000 to get a college education, or $50,000 just to get a grade school education if families choose to if you go to New York private schools. We can turn the roads into toll roads. We can charge people for water, and we can charge for what used to be given for free under the old style of Roosevelt capitalism and social democracy."

This idea that governments should not create money implies that they shouldn't act like governments. Instead, the de facto government should be Wall Street. Instead of governments allocating resources to help the economy grow, Wall Street should be the allocator of resources – and should starve the government to "save taxpayers" (or at least the wealthy). Tea Party promoters want to starve the government to a point where it can be "drowned in the bathtub."

But if you don't have a government that can fund itself, then who is going to govern, and on whose terms? The obvious answer is, the class with the money: Wall Street and the corporate sector. They clamor for a balanced budget, saying, "We don't want the government to fund public infrastructure. We want it to be privatized in a way that will generate profits for the new owners, along with interest for the bondholders and the banks that fund it; and also, management fees. Most of all, the privatized enterprises should generate capital gains for the stockholders as they jack up prices for hitherto public services."

The reason why the European countries, the United States and other countries ran budget deficits for so many years is because they want to keep this infrastructure in the public domain, not privatized. The things that government spends money on – roads, railroads, schools, water and other basic needs – are the kind of things that people absolutely must obtain. So they're the last things you want to privatize. If they're privatized instead of being publicly funded, they can be monopolized. Most public spending programs are for such natural monopolies.

The guiding idea of a well-run economy is to keep natural monopolies out of private hands. This was not done in Russia after 1991. Its disaster under the neoliberals is a classic example. It led to huge immigration rates, shortening life spans, rising disease rates and drug use. You can see how to demoralize a country if you can stop the government from spending money into the economy. That will cause austerity, lower living standards and really put the class war in business. So what Trump is suggesting is to put the class war in business, financially, with an exclamation point.


SHARMINI PERIES: You talked about the implications of cutting government spending and, in fact, your myth number 18 deals with this. You describe this myth as saying that cutbacks in public spending will bring the government budget into balance, restoring stability. And you just demonstrated through the Russian example that this is quite misleading and in fact has the opposite effect and destabilizes the population. So this policy Trump seems to endorse – the cutback in public spending – give us some examples of how this could affect society.


MICHAEL HUDSON: You used the word "stability" and this is often a slogan to prevent thought. George Orwell didn't use the term "junk economics," but he defined what doublethink is. The function is to prevent thought. "Stability" is akin to the "Great Moderation." Remember how economists running up to the 2008 crisis said, "This is a Great Moderation."

We now know that it was the most unstable decade in a century. It was a decade of financial fraud, it was a decade where economic inequality between wealth and the rest of the economy widened. So what made it moderate? Alan Greenspan went before the Senate Committee and gave a long talk on what was so "stable"? He said that what's stable is that workers haven't gone on strike. They are so deeply in debt, they owe so much money that they're one paycheck away from missing an electric utility payment. So they're afraid to strike. They're afraid even to protest against working conditions. They're afraid to ask that their wages be increased to reflect their productivity. What's stable is the wealthy people, Greenspan's constituency, the five percent or the one percent get all of the income and the people get nothing. That is stability according to Alan Greenspan.

Words like "stability" or similar euphemisms are used to make people think that somehow the economy is stable and normal. The reality is that it is being slowly squeezed. That's basically what happened in the Great Moderation. The government was cutting back spending on social programs, dismantling the New Deal array of consumer protection agencies, which Trump also wants to get rid of. The first thing he wanted to get rid of, he said, is Elizabeth Warren's Consumer Financial Protection Agency. The problem for Republicans serving their bank lobbyists is that it's trying to prevent fraud – and that limits consumer choice. Just like we let people go to MacDonald's and buy junk food and junk sodas to get obese, we have to let them have the free choice to put their pension funds in Wall Street companies that are going to cheat them.

These are the Wall Street firms that have paid tens of billions of dollars for the financial fraud they've committed. The Republicans want to dismantle all of the penalties against financial fraud, against cheating consumers. That would reduce the amount of money that sector can extract, and these people are what's driving the economy. But they're driving the economy largely by debt leveraging bordering on fraud. That's the kicker in all this.

By dismantling government spending on the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, the public news agencies, the National Endowment for the Arts, you're stripping the economy away and making the American economy like what Margaret Thatcher did in England. You make it less dynamic, a less lively place, and above all a poorer economy. That is the aim of these "reforms," which mean undoing what reforms used to mean for the last century.

These words and the vocabulary used in the press dovetail into each other to paint a picture of a fictitious economy. The aim is to make people think that they're living in a parallel universe, unable to use a vocabulary and economic concepts to explain just why life is so unfair and why they're being squeezed so badly.

Above all, the aim is to dissuade them from thinking about how it doesn't have to be this way. There is no natural law that says that they should be squeezed by debt, monopolies and fraud. But that kind of thinking requires an alternative program – and an alternative program requires recapturing the language to explain what it is that you're trying to create as an alternative.

http://michael-hudson.com/2017/03/why-deficits-hurt-banking-profits/

[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 24, 2017] Russophobia - Symptom Of US Implosion

Notable quotes:
"... However, the power of the Russophobia propaganda technique over the wider population seems to have greatly diminished from its Cold War heyday. This is partly due to more diverse global communications which challenge the previous Western monopoly for controlling narrative and perception. Contemporary Russophobia – demonizing Russian President Vladimir Putin or Russian military forces – does not have the same potency for scaring the Western public. Indeed, due to greater diversity in global news media sources, it is fair to say that "official" Western depictions of Russia as an enemy, for example allegedly about to invade Europe or allegedly interfering in electoral politics, are met with a healthy skepticism – if not ridicule by many Western citizens. ..."
"... What is increasingly apparent here is a gaping chasm between the political class and the wider public on the matter of Russophobia. This is true for Western countries generally, but especially in the US. The political class – the lawmakers in Washington and the mainstream news media – are frenzied by claims that Russia interfered in the US presidential elections and that Russia has some kind of sinister leverage on the presidency of Donald Trump. ..."
"... Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov this week dismissed the Congressional hearings into alleged Russian interference in US politics. He aptly said that US lawmakers and the corporate media have become "entangled" in their own fabrications. "They are trying to find evidence for conclusions that they have already made", said Peskov. ..."
"... There seems to be a collective delusional mindset. ..."
"... the ruling class have fabricated their own excuse for demise by blaming it all on Russia. ..."
"... The American ruling class cannot accept, or come to terms, with the fact of systemic failure in their own political system. The election of Trump is a symptom of this failure and the widespread disillusionment among voters towards the two-party train wreck of Republicans and Democrats. That is why the specter of Russian interference in the US political system had to be conjured up, by necessity, as a way of "explaining" the abject failure and the ensuing popular revolt. ..."
"... Russophobia was rehabilitated from the Cold War closet by the American political establishment to distract from the glaring internal collapse of American politics ..."
"... The toxic political atmosphere of Russophobia in Washington is unprecedented. The Trump administration is being crippled at every turn from conducting normal political business under a toxic cloud of suspicion that it is guilty of treason from colluding with Russia. ..."
"... When Trump's Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was reported to be skipping a NATO summit next month but was planning to visit Moscow later in the same month, the itinerary was interpreted as a sign of untoward Russian influence. ..."
"... What makes the spectacle of political infighting so unprecedented is that there is such little evidence to back up allegations of Trump-Russia collusion. It is preponderantly based on innuendo and anonymous leaks to the media, which are then recycled as "evidence". ..."
"... Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said earlier this week that he has seen no actual evidence among classified documents indicating any collusion between the Trump campaign team and the Russian government. ..."
"... Yet, FBI chief James Comey told Congress that his agency was pursuing a potentially criminal investigation into the Trump administration, while at the same time not confirming or denying the existence of any evidence. ..."
"... And, as already noted, this declaration of open-ended snooping by Comey on the White House was met with avid approval by political opponents of Trump, both on Capitol Hill and in the corporate media. ..."
"... Let's just assume for a moment that the whole Trump-Russia collusion story is indeed fake. That it is groundless, a figment of imagination. There are solid reasons to believe that is the case. But let's just assume here that it is fake for the sake of argument. ..."
"... This is an American implosion. An historic Made-in-America meltdown. And Russophobia is but a symptom of the internal decay at the heart of US politics. ..."
Mar 24, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
There was a time when Russophobia served as an effective form of population control – used by the American ruling class in particular to command the general US population into patriotic loyalty. Not any longer. Now, Russophobia is a sign of weakness, of desperate implosion among the US ruling class from their own rotten, internal decay.

This propaganda technique worked adequately well during the Cold War decades when the former Soviet Union could be easily demonized as "godless communism" and an "evil empire". Such stereotypes, no matter how false, could be sustained largely because of the monopoly control of Western media by governments and official regulators.

The Soviet Union passed away more than a quarter of a century ago, but Russophobia among the US political class is more virulent than ever.

This week it was evident from Congressional hearings in Washington into alleged Russian interference in US politics that large sections of American government and establishment media are fixated by Russophobia and a belief that Russia is a malign foreign adversary.

However, the power of the Russophobia propaganda technique over the wider population seems to have greatly diminished from its Cold War heyday. This is partly due to more diverse global communications which challenge the previous Western monopoly for controlling narrative and perception. Contemporary Russophobia – demonizing Russian President Vladimir Putin or Russian military forces – does not have the same potency for scaring the Western public. Indeed, due to greater diversity in global news media sources, it is fair to say that "official" Western depictions of Russia as an enemy, for example allegedly about to invade Europe or allegedly interfering in electoral politics, are met with a healthy skepticism – if not ridicule by many Western citizens.

What is increasingly apparent here is a gaping chasm between the political class and the wider public on the matter of Russophobia. This is true for Western countries generally, but especially in the US. The political class – the lawmakers in Washington and the mainstream news media – are frenzied by claims that Russia interfered in the US presidential elections and that Russia has some kind of sinister leverage on the presidency of Donald Trump.

But this frenzy of Russophobia is not reflected among the wider public of ordinary American citizens. Rabid accusations that Russia hacked the computers of Trump's Democrat rival Hillary Clinton to spread damaging information about her; that this alleged sabotage of American democracy was an "act of war"; that President Trump is guilty of "treason" by "colluding" with a "Russian influence campaign" – all of these sensational claims seem to be only a preoccupation of the privileged political class . Most ordinary Americans, concerned about making a living in a crumbling society, either don't buy the claims or view them as idle chatter.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov this week dismissed the Congressional hearings into alleged Russian interference in US politics. He aptly said that US lawmakers and the corporate media have become "entangled" in their own fabrications. "They are trying to find evidence for conclusions that they have already made", said Peskov.

Other suitable imagery is that the US political class are tilting at windmills, chasing their own tails, or running from their own shadows. There seems to be a collective delusional mindset.

Unable to accept the reality that the governing structure of the US has lost legitimacy in the eyes of the people, that the people rebelled by electing an outsider in the form of business mogul-turned-politician Donald Trump, that the collapse of American traditional politics is due to the atrophy of its bankrupt capitalist economy over several decades – the ruling class have fabricated their own excuse for demise by blaming it all on Russia.

The American ruling class cannot accept, or come to terms, with the fact of systemic failure in their own political system. The election of Trump is a symptom of this failure and the widespread disillusionment among voters towards the two-party train wreck of Republicans and Democrats. That is why the specter of Russian interference in the US political system had to be conjured up, by necessity, as a way of "explaining" the abject failure and the ensuing popular revolt.

Russophobia was rehabilitated from the Cold War closet by the American political establishment to distract from the glaring internal collapse of American politics.

The corrosive, self-destruction seems to know no bounds. James Comey, the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, told Congress this week that the White House is being probed for illicit contacts with Russia. This dramatic notice served by Comey was greeted with general approval by political opponents of the Trump administration, as well as by news media outlets.

The New York Times said the FBI was in effect holding a "criminal investigation at the doorstep of the White House".

Other news outlets are openly airing discussions on the probability of President Trump being impeached from office.

The toxic political atmosphere of Russophobia in Washington is unprecedented. The Trump administration is being crippled at every turn from conducting normal political business under a toxic cloud of suspicion that it is guilty of treason from colluding with Russia.

President Trump has run afoul with Republicans in Congress over his planned healthcare reforms because many Republicans are taking issue instead over the vaunted Russian probe.

When Trump's Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was reported to be skipping a NATO summit next month but was planning to visit Moscow later in the same month, the itinerary was interpreted as a sign of untoward Russian influence.

What makes the spectacle of political infighting so unprecedented is that there is such little evidence to back up allegations of Trump-Russia collusion. It is preponderantly based on innuendo and anonymous leaks to the media, which are then recycled as "evidence".

Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said earlier this week that he has seen no actual evidence among classified documents indicating any collusion between the Trump campaign team and the Russian government.

Even former senior intelligence officials, James Clapper and Michael Morell who are no friends of Trump, have lately admitted in media interviews that there is no such evidence.

Yet, FBI chief James Comey told Congress that his agency was pursuing a potentially criminal investigation into the Trump administration, while at the same time not confirming or denying the existence of any evidence.

And, as already noted, this declaration of open-ended snooping by Comey on the White House was met with avid approval by political opponents of Trump, both on Capitol Hill and in the corporate media.

Let's just assume for a moment that the whole Trump-Russia collusion story is indeed fake. That it is groundless, a figment of imagination. There are solid reasons to believe that is the case. But let's just assume here that it is fake for the sake of argument.

That then means that the Washington seat of government and the US presidency are tearing themselves apart in a futile civil war.

The real war here is a power struggle within the US in the context of ruling parties no longer having legitimacy to govern.

This is an American implosion. An historic Made-in-America meltdown. And Russophobia is but a symptom of the internal decay at the heart of US politics.

[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.

[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:

o Certified Professional Serial Disruptor (CPD)
o Certified Professional Innovative Thought Leader (CPCTL)
o Certified Professional Smart Creative (CPSC)

I love the smell of money-greased credentialism in the morning.

Synoia , March 22, 2017 at 10:12 pm

Certified Real Accounting Professional.
Certified Real Estate Experienced Professional

[Mar 23, 2017] Paradoxically, we appear to be seeing a coalescence and consolidation of insurers, we will end up being delightfully exceptional, again- effectively being single-payer, private sector, paying a monopoly an add-on cost of 35-40% to a parasitic industry whose executives and employees do not contribute to the CARE equation.

Notable quotes:
"... Why Steve Bannon Wants You to Believe in the Deep State" [Politico]. "Like the Death Star, the American Deep State does not, of course, exist. " ..."
Mar 23, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
djrichard , March 22, 2017 at 5:35 pm

Just a bit of a thought experiment, building on some thinking from a comment yesterday by jefemt

Paradoxically, we appear to be seeing a coalescence and consolidation of insurers, we will end up being delightfully exceptional, again- effectively being single-payer, private sector, paying a monopoly an add-on cost of 35-40% to a parasitic industry whose executives and employees do not contribute to the CARE equation.

Taking jefemt's thinking further, imagine the health insurance provider was not only monopolistic (owned the entire market), but was also a GSE (government sponsored enterprise). Now take it one more step and imagine it was an actual part of the government and not merely a GSE.

Conceivably, it wouldn't even have to live off appropriations from congress, assuming it was equally as extractive from the private sector as it is now (i.e. revenue model is the same). Talk about good living. Who knows, maybe they pocket their proceeds into some kind of surplus in Treasury dept.

But let's assume they had to give up on revenue models. [Afterall, it's easier to find partners in congress when you have an appropriations process that binds you to them.] Then they would be exposed. Somebody would get the bright idea that this agency doesn't need as much staffing since they are no longer revenue oriented. That indeed, they could have the same staffing profile as the agency responsible for medicare. Indeed they could be folded into medicare.

I was thinking of this too as a reponse to Why Steve Bannon Wants You to Believe in the Deep State" [Politico]. "Like the Death Star, the American Deep State does not, of course, exist. "

Indeed, I think of the insurance industry as being part of the deep state already. It seems that congress's preference is that this part of the deep state is outsourced. So that's it not a GSE, and not even a monopoly, but maintained as an oligopoly. And then, well hey whatever surplus it can hoover up is fair game. After all free-hand of the market and all that. [And heaven knows, we don't want to crowd that out.]

In contrast to other parts of the deep state that don't really have a revenue model. In which case, those parts need to be insourced by the Fed Gov.

human , March 22, 2017 at 7:46 pm

The CIA has a long history of drug trafficking. The FBI traffics in blackmail. The NSA in network surveillance. DIA, special ops. NRO, satelite throughput. 11 more in the US of A and countless more globally. They all have opaque resources outside of regular channels.

Ernesto Lyon , March 23, 2017 at 12:09 am

Great documentary about the 80's cocaine business in Miami called "Cocaine Cowboys." It's real life Scarface.

Guess who the Feds sent to get a handle on the cocaine smuggling?

See-eye-aye man George H.W. Bush. Coincidence?

[Mar 23, 2017] NSA To Provide Smoking Gun Proof Obama Spied On Trump Zero Hedge

Mar 23, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
NSA To Provide "Smoking Gun" Proof Obama Spied On Trump InjectTheVenom -> hedgeless_horseman , Mar 23, 2017 6:56 PM

Mr Nunes should probably stay away from Texas hunting lodges and high balconies...

just sayin' .

DRAIN THE SWAMP.

Chupacabra-322 -> InjectTheVenom , Mar 23, 2017 7:23 PM

Who ever makes "Obama For Prison 2017" T-Shrits is goi g to make a killing.

johngaltfla -> Manthong , Mar 23, 2017 7:46 PM

Expect some variation of this story below to come from the upcomine revelations. Trump and Nunes want to not only demonstrate that Obama was scum, but put a major wedge between the DNC and Jews and Israel:

BOMBSHELL: Trump Surveillance Data Captured Due to Obama Spying on Israel, not Russia

knukles -> Mano-A-Mano , Mar 23, 2017 7:57 PM

So many crimes, so few diversions

Rubicon727 -> wee-weed up , Mar 23, 2017 7:44 PM

Firstly, there would have to be sufficient information showing Obama initiated the spying. Unless Obama has political knives out after him, these facts won't come out until 2030.

Secondly, the media, and other powers-that-be would muddy the water. We'll never know *who* and *why* of the story.

Thirdly, if the NSA comes out with genuine evidence, then we may be able to assume there IS a conflict between the FBI, the CIA vs the NSA. That, in itself, would be very relevant news.

Growing conflicts in any large government are not conducive to a smooth-operating empire.

BarkingCat -> Rubicon727 , Mar 23, 2017 8:13 PM

More likely conflicts within each organization.

Or maybe you are right and the NSA are the good guys. Maybe Snowden did what he did because the NSA itself is not happy about what they are told to do. Snowden did not go rogue but is following orders from within NSA.

It could also be that the NSA dropped vault 7 onto WikiLeaks as well as the various Hillary leaks during the campaign.

Whoa Dammit -> InjectTheVenom , Mar 23, 2017 7:28 PM

McCain is alledgedly the White House leaker

http://redstatewatcher.com/article.asp?id=69677

And NYPD says Hillary knew that Wiener was sexing underage girl & did not report it to authorities. The NYPD was prevented from pursuing charges against her.

http://redstatewatcher.com/article.asp?id=69678

[Mar 23, 2017] Neoliberalism as a flavor of economism

Wikipedia

Economism is reduction of all social facts to economic dimensions. The term is often used to criticize economics as an ideology, in which supply and demand are the only important factors in decisions, and outstrip or permit ignoring all other factors.

It is believed to be a side effect of neoclassical economics and blind faith in an "invisible hand" or "laissez-faire" means of making decisions, extended far beyond controlled and regulated markets, and used to make political and military decisions.

Conventional ethics would play no role in decisions under pure economism, except insofar as supply would be withheld, demand curtailed, by moral choices of individuals. Thus, critics of economism insist on political and other cultural dimensions in society.

[Mar 23, 2017] Inequality is a real threat to any remnants of democracy in the USA

Mar 23, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne : March 22, 2017 at 10:27 AM , 2017 at 10:27 AM
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/books/review/crisis-of-the-middle-class-constitution-ganesh-sitaraman-.html

March 20, 2017

It's Not Just Unfair: Inequality Is a Threat to Our Governance
By ANGUS DEATON

THE CRISIS OF THE MIDDLE-CLASS CONSTITUTION
Why Economic Inequality Threatens Our Republic
By Ganesh Sitaraman

President Obama labeled income inequality "the defining challenge of our time." But why exactly? And why "our time" especially? In part because we now know just how much goes to the very top of the income distribution, and beyond that, we know that recent economic growth, which has been anemic in any case, has accrued mostly to those who were already well-heeled, leaving stagnation or worse for many Americans. But why is this a problem?

Why am I hurt if Mark Zuckerberg develops Facebook, and gets rich on the proceeds? Some care about the unfairness of income inequality itself, some care about the loss of upward mobility and declining opportunities for our kids and some care about how people get rich - hard work and innovation are O.K., but theft, legal or otherwise, is not. Yet there is one threat of inequality that is widely feared, and that has been debated for thousands of years, which is that inequality can undermine governance. In his fine book, both history and call to arms, Ganesh Sitaraman argues that the contemporary explosion of inequality will destroy the American Constitution, which is and was premised on the existence of a large and thriving middle class. He has done us all a great service, taking an issue of overwhelming public importance, delving into its history, helping understand how our forebears handled it and building a platform to think about it today.

As recognized since ancient times, the coexistence of very rich and very poor leads to two possibilities, neither a happy one. The rich can rule alone, disenfranchising or even enslaving the poor, or the poor can rise up and confiscate the wealth of the rich. The rich tend to see themselves as better than the poor, a proclivity that is enhanced and even socially sanctioned in modern meritocracies. The poor, with little prospect of economic improvement and no access to political power, "might turn to a demagogue who would overthrow the government - only to become a tyrant. Oligarchy or tyranny, economic inequality meant the end of the republic."

Some constitutions were written to contain inequalities. In Rome, the patricians ruled, but could be overruled by plebeian tribunes whose role was to protect the poor. There are constitutions with lords and commoners in separate chambers, each with well-defined powers. Sitaraman calls these "class warfare constitutions," and argues that the founding fathers of the United States found another way, a republic of equals. The middle classes, who according to David Hume were obsessed neither with pleasure-seeking, as were the rich, nor with meeting basic necessities, as were the poor, and were thus amenable to reason, could be a firm basis for a republic run in the public interest. There is some sketchy evidence that income and wealth inequality was indeed low in the 18th century, but the crucial point is that early America was an agrarian society of cultivators with an open frontier. No one needed to be poor when land was available in the West.

The founders worried a good deal about people getting too rich. Jefferson was proud of his achievement in abolishing the entail and primogeniture in Virginia, writing the laws that "laid the ax to the root of Pseudoaristocracy." He called for progressive taxation and, like the other founders, feared that the inheritance of wealth would lead to the establishment of an aristocracy. (Contrast this with those today who simultaneously advocate both equality of opportunity and the abolition of estate taxes.) Madison tried to calculate how long the frontier would last, and understood the threat to the Constitution that industrialization would bring; many of the founders thought of wage labor as little better than slavery and hoped that America could remain an agrarian society.

Of course, the fears about industrialization were realized, and by the late 19th century, in the Gilded Age, income inequality had reached levels comparable to those we see today. In perhaps the most original part of his book, Sitaraman, an associate professor of law at Vanderbilt Law School, highlights the achievements of the Progressive movement, one of whose aims was taming inequality, and which successfully modified the Constitution. There were four constitutional amendments in seven years - the direct election of senators, the franchise for women, the prohibition of alcohol and the income tax. To which I would add another reform, the establishment of the Federal Reserve, which provided a mechanism for handling financial crises without the need for the government to be bailed out by rich bankers, as well as the reduction in the tariff, which favored ordinary people by bringing down the cost of manufactures. Politics can respond to inequality, and the Constitution is not set in stone.

What of today, when inequality is back in full force? I am not persuaded that we can be saved by the return of a rational and public-spirited middle class, even if I knew exactly how to identify middle-class people, or to measure how well they are doing. Nor is it clear, postelection, whether the threat is an incipient oligarchy or an incipient populist autocracy; our new president tweets from one to the other. And European countries, without America's middle-class Constitution, face some of the same threats, though more from autocracy than from plutocracy, which their constitutions may have helped them resist. Yet it is clear that we in the United States face the looming threat of a takeover of government by those who would use it to enrich themselves together with a continuing disenfranchisement of large segments of the population....


Angus Deaton, a professor emeritus at Princeton, was awarded the Nobel in economic science in 2015.

libezkova -> anne... , March 22, 2017 at 04:58 PM
Thank you Anne.

As for ".. it is clear that we in the United States face the looming threat of a takeover of government by those who would use it to enrich themselves together with a continuing disenfranchisement of large segments of the population...."

that was accomplished in 1980 by Reagan. That's why we now can speak about "a colony nation" within the USA which encompasses the majority of population.

libezkova -> libezkova... , March 22, 2017 at 04:59 PM
Neoliberals vs the rest of population is like slave owners and the plantation workers.

[Mar 23, 2017] It seems like the intelligence agencies are spending more time monitoring politicians and public than Al queda.

Notable quotes:
"... Freedom Watch lawyer Larry Klayman has a whistle-blower who has stated on the record, publicly, he has 47 hard drives with over 600,000,00 pages of secret CIA documents that detail all the domestic spying operations, and likely much much more. ..."
"... The rabbit hole goes very deep here. Attorney Klayman has stated he has been trying to out this for 2 years, and was stonewalled by swamp creatures, so he threatened to go public this week. Several very interesting videos, and a public letter, are out there, detailing all this. Nunes very likely saw his own conversations transcripted from surveillance taken at Trump Tower (he was part of the transition team), and realized the jig was up. Melania has moved out of Trump Tower to stay elsewhere, I am sure after finding out that many people in Washington where watching them at home in their private residence, whichi is also why Pres Trump sent out those famous angry tweets 2 weeks ago. Democrats on the Committee (and many others) are liars, and very possibly traitors, which is probably why Nunes neglected to inform them. Nunes did follow proper procedures, notifying Ryan first etc, you can ignore the MSM bluster there ..observe Nunes body language in the 2 videos of his dual press briefings he gave today, he appears shocked, angry, disturbed etc. ..."
"... This all stems from Obama's Jan 16 signing of the order broadening "co-operation" between the NSA and everybody else in Washington, so that mid-level analysts at almost any agency could now look at raw NSA intercepts, that is where all the "leaks" and "unmasking" are coming from. ..."
"... AG Lynch, Obama, and countless others knew, or should have known, all about this, but I am sure they will play the usual "I was too stupid too know what was going on in my own organization" card. ..."
Mar 23, 2017 | href="Was%20Obama%20behind%20it? I doubt it and I don't think it would be provable. But it seems like the intelligence agencies are spending more time monitoring repubs than Al queda.">
  • fresno dan March 22, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    So I see where Nunes in a ZeroHedge posting says that there might have been "incidental surveillance" of "Trump" (?Trump associates? ?Trump tower? ?Trump campaign?)
    Now to the average NC reader, it kinda goes without saying. But I don't think Trump understands the scope of US government "surveillance" and I don't think the average citizen, certainly not the average Trump supporter, does either – the nuances and subtleties of it – the supposed "safeguards".

    I can understand the rationale for it .but this goes to show that when you give people an opportunity to use secret information for their own purposes .they will use secret information for their own purposes.

    And at some point, the fact of the matter that the law regarding the "incidental" leaking appears to have been broken, and that this leaking IMHO was purposefully broken for political purposes .is going to come to the fore. Like bringing up "fake news" – some of these people on the anti Trump side seem not just incapable of playing 11th dimensional chess, they seem incapable of winning tic tac toe .

    Was Obama behind it? I doubt it and I don't think it would be provable. But it seems like the intelligence agencies are spending more time monitoring repubs than Al queda. Now maybe repubs are worse than Al queda – I think its time we have a real debate instead of the pseudo debates and start asking how useful the CIA is REALLY. (and we can ask how useful repubs and dems are too)

    Reply
    1. craazyboy March 22, 2017 at 8:45 pm

      If Obama taped the information, stuffed the tape in one of Michelle's shoeboxes, then hid the shoebox in the Whitehouse basement, he could be in trouble. Ivanka is sure to search any shoeboxes she finds.

      Reply
    2. Irredeemable Deplorable March 23, 2017 at 2:57 am

      Oh the Trump supporters are all over this, don't worry. There are many more levels to what is going on than what is reported in the fakenews MSM.

      Adm Roger of NSA made his November visit to Trump Tower, after a SCIF was installed there, to .be interviewed for a job uh-huh yeah.

      Freedom Watch lawyer Larry Klayman has a whistle-blower who has stated on the record, publicly, he has 47 hard drives with over 600,000,00 pages of secret CIA documents that detail all the domestic spying operations, and likely much much more.

      The rabbit hole goes very deep here. Attorney Klayman has stated he has been trying to out this for 2 years, and was stonewalled by swamp creatures, so he threatened to go public this week. Several very interesting videos, and a public letter, are out there, detailing all this. Nunes very likely saw his own conversations transcripted from surveillance taken at Trump Tower (he was part of the transition team), and realized the jig was up. Melania has moved out of Trump Tower to stay elsewhere, I am sure after finding out that many people in Washington where watching them at home in their private residence, whichi is also why Pres Trump sent out those famous angry tweets 2 weeks ago. Democrats on the Committee (and many others) are liars, and very possibly traitors, which is probably why Nunes neglected to inform them. Nunes did follow proper procedures, notifying Ryan first etc, you can ignore the MSM bluster there ..observe Nunes body language in the 2 videos of his dual press briefings he gave today, he appears shocked, angry, disturbed etc.

      You all should be happy, because although Pres Trump has been vindicated here on all counts, the more important story for you is that the old line Democratic Party looks about to sink under the wieght of thier own lies and illegalities. This all stems from Obama's Jan 16 signing of the order broadening "co-operation" between the NSA and everybody else in Washington, so that mid-level analysts at almost any agency could now look at raw NSA intercepts, that is where all the "leaks" and "unmasking" are coming from.

      AG Lynch, Obama, and countless others knew, or should have known, all about this, but I am sure they will play the usual "I was too stupid too know what was going on in my own organization" card.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author March 23, 2017 at 5:12 am

        I'm not seeing any links here.

        Reply
    3. Lambert Strether Post author March 23, 2017 at 4:08 am

      > Was Obama behind it? I doubt it and I don't think it would be provable

      I think he knew about it. After fulminating about weedy technicalities, let me just say that Obama's EO12333 expansion made sure that whatever anti-Trump information got picked up by the intelligence community could be spread widely, and would be hard to trace back to an individual source .

      Reply
  • [Mar 23, 2017] March 22, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    Notable quotes:
    "... Revealing this is treason. ..."
    "... People will die. ..."
    Mar 23, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

    There's also this showing evidence that Trump Tower was specifically monitored during the Obama administration, although the probe was targeting Russian mafia and not Trump and was done well before he declared his candidacy.

    The FBI did wiretap Trump Tower to monitor Russian activity, but it had nothing to do with the 2016 Presidential election, it has been reported.

    Between 2011 and 2013 the Bureau had a warrant to spy on a high-level criminal Russian money-laundering ring, which operated in unit 63A of the iconic skyscraper - three floors below Mr Trump's penthouse.

    Not exactly a confirmation of Trump's rather wild claims, but something.

    Still waiting for any evidence to appear that Russians interfered with the elections or colluded with Trump.

    uncle tungsten , March 22, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    Ok, so they were just after the Russian mafia, phew I feel better already. So they got the felons and they are all arrested?

    What utter BS! Why is Semion Mogilevitch still at large in Hungary and no extradition process? What about Felix Sater and Steve Wynn and on and on. Why are they incapable of prosecuting mafia mobsters and instead chasing politicians?

    MyLessThanPrimeBeef , March 22, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    That said, it was what happening potentially to all citizens, not just Donald Trump. I dislike this intensely, but why should Trump get special dispensation over other citizens? Would like to know the reason for that.

    Like Watergate, it's really about the denial or the lying.

    "When did you know about the, er, collecting?"

    For how many days have we ridiculed Trump for his alternative universe imagination?

    Lambert Strether Post author , March 23, 2017 at 3:25 am

    > He can join the other 310 million of us who can be "incidentally collected".

    Didn't your mother tell you that 310 million wrongs don't make a right?

    Neither party establishment cares about that quaint concept, civil liberties. If Obama's flip flip on FISA reform in July 2008, giving the telcos retroactive immunity for Bush's warrantless surveillance, didn't convince you, then his 17-city paramilitary crackdown on Occupy should have.

    fritter , March 23, 2017 at 10:38 am

    Not to mention monitoring a politician opens up a whole new can of worms. I'm convinced Trump must pretty clean relatively because the IC hasn't gotten rid of him yet and you know they have all of his communications.
    I'm with Lambert on neither party caring. I knew all I needed to when Obama voted for FISA and the following years just reinforced how corrupt the Dems were. There is an import point here though. I don't think Trump would have thought that all of the surveillance would be applied to him personally. It was just about other people. It was probably a legitimate eye opener. Now Trump is at the head of the surveillance apparatus. Instead of asking wikileaks to release all of clintons emails, he should just do it himself. The Dems who were all for collecting on everyone can't (non-hypocritically) complain about Trump having all that now. I mean, we can never know how far the extremest have penetrated into our government unless we trace where all that Saudi money terrorist influence goes.

    Code Name D , March 22, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    Not just incedently, in concreshional hearings, Comie flat out says that Trump and his team were investigated for Rushan connections, and that none were found. The question now is was the investigations properly secured or not. Something completly in the air.

    But team dem is still playing the "wire tap" canad.

    Randy , March 22, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    The surveillance state bites the politicians that created it in the ass. I love that. They are not happy, I love that too.

    allan , March 22, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    This is now turning into high comedy low farce:

    Devin Nunes Commits "Felonious Leaking" [Emptywheel]

    and @mkraju:

    WYDEN, member of Senate Intel, says Nunes' statements "would appear to reveal classified information, which is a serious concern."

    MyLessThanPrimeBeef , March 22, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    It was already a farce when McCain went after Paul.

    Though it was, before that, a horror film, with the 'ways the intelligence community can get you.'

    polecat , March 22, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    they're going all Fellini on us now !

    wilroncanada , March 22, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    And here I thought they were only looking through a glass, darkly.

    fresno dan , March 22, 2017 at 7:29 pm

    MyLessThanPrimeBeef
    March 22, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    It is a satire, wrapped in a parody, hidden in slapstick, on top of a farce, buried in a bro-mance between a man with a tower and another man riding a horse without a shirt (and the man isn't wearing a shirt either .)

    Lambert Strether Post author , March 23, 2017 at 3:31 am

    And scripted by Cersei Lannister

    allan , March 22, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    Also, this kind of incidental collection has been known about for years.
    Here's a Barton Gellman, Julie Tate and Ashkan Soltani article (linked to by Emptywheel)
    from the WaPo in 2014 and based on the Snowden documents:

    In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are
    [WaPo]

    Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post.

    Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.

    And what was the reaction of many Congresspersons
    (including many Dems, and all of the GOP except maybe Rand Paul and Justin Amash)?
    Revealing this is treason. People will die.
    And Trump's CIA Director, Mike Pompeo, has called for Snowden's execution.

    fresno dan , March 22, 2017 at 7:19 pm

    allan
    March 22, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    Sorry allan – I got all excited at seeing a Nunes article in ZeroHedge and posted a comment – your article is better and it makes for more coherent comment threads to keep them together – I should have looked before I leaped (posted).

    Nunes: "I recently confirmed that, on numerous occasions, the Intelligence Community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition.
    Details about U.S. persons associated with the incoming administration-details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value-were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting.
    I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked.
    To be clear, none of this surveillance was related to Russia or any investigation of Russian activities or of the Trump team."

    ==============================================
    So the worm turns. The hypocrisy espoused by all sides is ..well, 11th dimensional.

    3.14e-9 , March 22, 2017 at 10:35 pm

    fresno dan, this was a major topic of discussion during the committee hearing with Comey and Rogers on Monday. I listened to the whole thing – all five hours and 18 minutes' worth – because I suspected that the corporate media would omit important details or spin it beyond recognition. And so they did.

    The bipartisan divide is being portrayed as Democrats wanting to get to the truth of Russian efforts to snuff out Democracy, and Republicans wanting to "plug leaks" (see Lambert's RCP except above), with some reports suggesting the Rs are advocating stifling free speech, prosecuting reporters for publishing classified information, and the like.

    Republican committee members were indeed focused on the leaks, and there was talk about how to prevent them, but their concern – at least as they expressed publicly on Monday – was specifically related to whether all those current and former officials, senior officials, etc., quoted anonymously in the NYT and WaPo (the infamous "nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies") violated FISA provisions protecting information about U.S. persons collected incidentally in surveillance of foreign actors.

    Sure, they're playing their own game, and it could be a ruse to divert attention from the Trump campaign's alleged Russian ties or simply to have ammo against the Ds. Even so, after listening to all their arguments, I believe they are on more solid ground than all the Dem hysteria about Russian aggression and Trump camp treason.

    I don't think I'll ever get Trey Gowdy's cringe-worthy performance during the Benghazi hearings out of my head, but he made some pretty good points on Monday, one of which was that investigating Russian interference and possible ties between Trump advisers and Russia is all well and good, but there may or may not have been any laws broken; whereas leaking classified information about U.S. citizens collected incidentally under FISA is clearly a felony with up to 10 years. Comey confirmed that by saying that ALL information collected under FISA is classified.

    And then he repeatedly refused to say whether he thought any classified information had been leaked or existed at all (I counted more than 100 "no comment" answers from Comey, who astonishingly managed to find 50 different ways to say it).

    My beef isn't so much the leak of classified information, but the gross dereliction of duty – if not outright abuse of First Amendment powers – by reporters who collaborate with intelligence agencies and then quote them anonymously, giving everyone cover to say or write whatever they want with zero accountability.

    In fact, there were some interesting comments in Monday's hearing about the possibility that some of what has been reported was fabricated. Then, you might expect Comey to say something like that. For all his talk about not tolerating leaks from his agency, blahblah, it was clear that he'll provide his own people with cover, if necessary. I think that's what Gowdy and a couple other Republicans were getting at.

    It goes without saying, but I'll add that the Dems were hardly even trying to disguise their real goal, which isn't protecting the American People® from the evil Russkies, but taking down Trump.

    fresno dan , March 22, 2017 at 11:56 pm

    3.14e-9
    March 22, 2017 at 10:35 pm

    Thanks for watching the whole thing – the nation owes you a debt of gratitude.

    "My beef isn't so much the leak of classified information, but the gross dereliction of duty – if not outright abuse of First Amendment powers – by reporters who collaborate with intelligence agencies and then quote them anonymously, giving everyone cover to say or write whatever they want with zero accountability."

    First, I a squillion percent agree with you. This is a big, bit deal because essentially the military/IC/neocons is trying to wrest control of the civilian government – the idea that the CIA is some noble institution that wants the best for all Americans is preposterous, yet accepted by the media, which proves how much propaganda we are fed. The sheep like following, the mandatory use of the adjective "murderous thug" before the name of "Putin" just shows that most of the media has been bought off or has lost all their critical thinking faculties.

    But I also don't want to be a hypocrite so I will explain that I don't have too much of a problem with leaks. WHAT I do have a problem with is the purposeful naivete or ignorance of the media that the CIA and/or facets of the Obama administration is trying to thwart rapprochement with Russia. Administrations BEFORE they are sworn in talk to foreign governments – the sheer HYSTERIA, the CRIME of talking to a Russian is beyond absurd. We are being indoctrinated to believe all Russia, all bad

    There is a ton of information about Podesta and the Clintons dealing with Russia for money. If Flynn and whatshisname are just grifting that is pedestrian stuff and everybody in Washington does it (I thing they call it "lobbying"). If there is REAL treason something should have come out by now.

    3.14e-9 , March 23, 2017 at 3:27 am

    Thanks, fd.

    I began covering congressional hearings while I was still in j-school and sat though many like this during my years as a reporter in D.C. Even though I haven't worked as a full-time journalist for many years, I still prefer original sources and am willing to take the time to dig for them or, in this case, to sit through a hearing as though I were covering it as a member of the press – especially when I don't even have to wash my hair or get dressed!

    I didn't mean to imply that I have a problem with leaks. I certainly encouraged enough of them in my time, and I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with publishing leaked material, even certain kinds of classified information. It depends.

    There's the kind of "classified" information that is restricted expressly to keep the public from knowing something they have a right to know, and there's information that's classified to protect individual privacy. The first kind should be leaked early and often. The second kind, close to never (and off the top of my head I can't think of an instance when it would be OK).

    Even though journalists aren't (and shouldn't be) held liable for publishing classified information given to them by a third party, they need to be scrupulous in their decisions to do so. Is it in the public interest? Who or what might be harmed? Would sitting on the information cause more harm than publicizing it? Does it violate someone's constitutional rights?

    These questions can get tricky with someone like Flynn, who's clearly a public figure and thus mostly fair game. However, if I had been reporting that story, I think I would have sat on it until I had more information, even at the risk of getting scooped – unless, of course, I was in cahoots with the leakers and out to get him and his boss.

    At that point, I am no longer an objective journalist committed to fair and accurate reporting, but a participant in a political cause. Although newspapers throughout history have taken sides, and pure "fact-based" journalism is a myth, there's a big difference between having an editorial slant and being an active participant in the story. Evidently, BezPo has decided that the latter is not only acceptable, but advantageous.

    Sorry, didn't mean to ramble on when I'm likely preaching to the converted. I feel very strongly about this issue, and it's disconcerting to me, as a lifelong Democrat, that I agreed more with the Republicans in that hearing. At the same time, the D's propaganda machine is pumping out so much toxic fog that it's shaking my faith in unfettered freedom of the press.

    Exactly what Putin wants, right?

    Lambert Strether Post author , March 23, 2017 at 3:46 am

    > I began covering congressional hearings while I was still in j-school and sat though many like this during my years as a reporter in D.C. Even though I haven't worked as a full-time journalist for many years, I still prefer original sources and am willing to take the time to dig for them

    Hmm. NC needs an in-house emptywheel

    Lambert Strether Post author , March 23, 2017 at 3:41 am

    You did this so we didn't have to. Thanks!

    * * *

    This:

    In fact, there were some interesting comments in Monday's hearing about the possibility that some of what has been reported was fabricated.

    I mean, it's not like we don't have several major players with the expertise and the institutional mandate to fake evidence. Waiting for a shoe to drop on this. Call me foily .

    * * *

    And this:

    My beef isn't so much the leak of classified information, but the gross dereliction of duty – if not outright abuse of First Amendment powers – by reporters who collaborate with intelligence agencies and then quote them anonymously, giving everyone cover to say or write whatever they want with zero accountability.

    For this, we have the First Amendment? Really?

    Lambert Strether Post author , March 23, 2017 at 3:38 am

    I agree that everybody is surveilled all the time, especially in the Beltway, where probably there are multiple simultaneous operations run against . well, everybody.

    It doesn't, er, bug me that 70-year-old Beltway neophyte Trump used sloppy language - "wiretap" - to describe this state of affairs. (I don't expect any kind of language from Trump but sloppy.) All are, therefore one is. It does bug me that the whole discussion gets dragged off into legal technicalities about what legal regimen is appropriate for which form of Fourth Amendment-destruction (emptywheel does this a lot). The rules are insanely complicated, and it's fun to figure them out, rather like taking the cover off the back of a Swiss watch and examining all the moving parts. But the assumption is that people follow the rules, and especially that high-level people (like, say, Comey, or Clapper, or Morrel, or Obama) follow the complicated rules. That assumes facts not in evidence.

    Lambert Strether Post author , March 23, 2017 at 3:28 am

    Incidental collection was always a likely scenario.

    We've also seen statements from people like GHCQ that clains they surveilled Trump at Obama's behest were "absurd," but those are non-denial denials. I can't recall a denial denial. Am I missing something?

    [Mar 23, 2017] Nunes Confirms There Was Incidental Surveillance Of Trump During Obama Administration, Seems To Be Inappropriate Zero Hed

    Mar 23, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
    Update : House Intel Chairman Nunes spoke to reporters when he left the briefing at The White House and had some more stunning things to say:
  • *NUNES: BRIEFED PRESIDENT ON CONCERNS OVER INCIDENTAL COLLECTION
  • *NUNES: `PRESIDENT NEEDS TO KNOW' THESE INTEL REPORTS EXIST
  • *NUNES: SOME OF WHAT I'VE SEEN SEEMS TO BE `INAPPROPRIATE'
  • *NUNES: TRUMP, OTHERS IN TRANSITION PUT INTO INTELLIGENCE REPORT
  • *NUNES: QUESTION IS IF TRUMP SHOULD BE IN THESE `NORMAL' REPORTS
  • And the punchline: there are "multiple FISA warrants outstanding against Trump" Nunes also told reporters:

    Wow - Nunes just said there are "multiple FISA warrants out there" involving Trump.

    - Tom Watson (@tomwatson) March 22, 2017

    * * *

    As we detailed earlier, it appears Trump may have been right, again.

    Two days after FBI director Comey shot down Trump's allegation that Trump was being wiretapped by president Obama before the election, it appears that president Trump may have been on to something because moments ago, the House Intelligence Chairman, Devin Nunes, told reporters that the U.S. intelligence community incidentally collected information on members of President Trump's transition team, possibly including Trump himself, and the information was "widely disseminated" in intelligence reports.

    As AP adds , Nunes said that President Donald Trump's communications may have been "monitored" during the transition period as part of an "incidental collection."

    Nunes told a news conference Wednesday that the communications appear to be picked up through "incidental collection" and do not appear to be related to the ongoing FBI investigation into Trump associates' contacts with Russia. He says he believes the intelligence collections were done legally , although in light of the dramatic change in the plotline it may be prudent to reserve judgment on how "incidental" it was.

    "I recently confirmed that on numerous occasions, the intelligence community collected information on U.S. individuals involved in the Trump transition," Nunes told reporters.

    "Details about U.S. persons involved in the incoming administration with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value were widely disseminated in intelligence community reports."

    The information was "legally brought to him by sources who thought we should know it," Nunes said, though he provided little detail on the source.

    BREAKING!!! Rep Devin Nunes (Intel Cmte Chmn): There was "Incidental collection" of @realDonaldTrump thru IC surveillance <- BOMBSHELL

    - Eric Bolling (@ericbolling) March 22, 2017

    Nunes also said that "additional names" of Trump transition officials had been unmasked in the intelligence reports. He indicated that Trump's communications may have been swept up.

    The House Intel Chair said he had viewed dozens of documents showing that the information had been incidentally collected. He said that he believes the information was legally collected. Nunes said that the intelligence has nothing to do with Russia and that the collection occurred after the presidential election.

    Nunes said he briefed House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on the revelation and will inform the White House later today. Nunes' statement comes after he and other congressional leaders pushed back on Trump's claims that former President Obama had his "wires tapped" in Trump Tower ahead of the election.

    Nunes said Wednesday that it was unclear whether the information incidentally collected originated in Trump Tower.

    The revelation comes in the wake of the committee's explosive hearing on Monday, at which FBI Director James Comey confirmed that the bureau has been investigating Russia's election hacking since July, which includes probing possible coordination between members of Trump's presidential campaign and Moscow.

    The meeting represented the panel's first open hearing on its investigation into Russia's election meddling and also featured testimony from NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers.

    Nunes says the communications of Trump associates were also picked up, but he did not name those associates. He says the monitoring mostly occurred in November, December and January. He added that he learned of the collection through "sources" but did not specify those source

    Politico adds that Nunes is going to the White House later Wednesday to brief the Trump administration on what he has learned, which he said came from "sources."

    Nunes says he is "bothered" by this. Won't say whether or not intel community spied on Trump et. al. But says he is "concerned."

    - David Corn (@DavidCornDC) March 22, 2017

    While there are no further details, we look forward to how the media narrative will change as a result of today's latest dramatic development.

    froze25 , Mar 22, 2017 1:38 PM

    Trump wouldn't of tweeted what he did unless he knew something. He doesn't make blind bets, he only moves on things he knows he can win. Not to mention he has shown that he can bait, watch the other side respond and deny and then present his case to show them as the liars they are.

    Looney -> LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD , Mar 22, 2017 1:40 PM

    James Comey said that there were no LEGAL wiretaps.

    Who would admit to ILLEGALLY wiretapping a campaign?

    I am not a crook I am not a crook ;-)

    Looney

    Chupacabra-322 -> ghengis86 , Mar 22, 2017 1:44 PM

    Bush and Obama both illegally tapped trumps 30+ offices, residences, cell ph since 2004.

    There's a New Snowden - 600M docs Leaked Including Trump Wire Taps on 30+ Phones https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFJ34OAmzP8

    Documents Show Obama Surveilled Entire Trump Family For 8 Years https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTT5FVyGMUU

    New NSA Whistblower Goes Public About Trump Surveillance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zq2SaRu9emY

    NSA DOCUMENTS PROVE SURVEILLANCE OF DONALD TRUMP AND ALEX JONES https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lntc9No2vzE

    Joe Davola -> froze25 , Mar 22, 2017 1:49 PM

    By "incidental monitoring" does he mean "gathering everything they can just like they do to everyone else"

    Chupacabra-322 -> Joe Davola , Mar 22, 2017 1:56 PM

    @ Joe,

    "Incidental" is code for "Vault 7." Someone should make T-Shirts.

    Gaius Frakkin' ... -> FrozenGoodz , Mar 22, 2017 2:17 PM

    "incidental surveillance"

    LOL...

    Something like Clapper's "not wittingly" I'm sure...

    While we're at it, let's debate the meaning of "is"...

    remain calm -> Gaius Frakkin' Baltar , Mar 22, 2017 2:29 PM

    "Incidental surveilance" WTF

    That is like being a little gay...

    greenskeeper carl -> remain calm , Mar 22, 2017 2:50 PM

    How all these people still let trump bait them like this is hilarious. How many times has he said something that seemed baseless and everyone was sure would sink him, and then he is vindicated? And they still fucking fall for it.

    And yes, incidental surveillance is a funny term. As in you swept all his up the same way they listen to all of us all the time? Maybe this will piss trump off enough to end this shit. I doubt it though.

    j0nx -> greenskeeper carl , Mar 22, 2017 4:21 PM

    Indeed. Everyone knows Obama and hildabeast were 'tapping his lines' illegally via fake 'legal' methods...

    wildbad -> Gaius Frakkin' Baltar , Mar 22, 2017 3:55 PM

    we've got to start fucking these liberals up.

    the NSA , the CIA, The FBI et al. are watching all of us all the time period.

    we have to beat these motherfuckers back until there is no one willing to fill those illegal and unconstitutional posts.

    the terrorists are in washington and we need to dissemble their illegally constructed fortress.

    Dear donald..attack them now. jail them. hang them.

    Sam.Spade -> FrozenGoodz , Mar 22, 2017 6:16 PM

    Here is what Trump may have known:

    The NSA 'wiretaps' EVERYONE. All of what you say on your phone, on-line, and in any other form of electronic communications is Hoovered up and dumped in their mass storage facilities in Utah and elsewhere. The system is set up to get it all AUTOMATICALLY. In fact, they would have had to go to great efforts to NOT record what Trump and his associates said electronically. Or searched for. Or visited on the web. Or even visited in person if he/she carried a cell phone with when going about.

    Because it is all recorded for ALL OF US! Standard, all the time, no warrant required.

    Of course, if there were FISA warrants issued, then the opposition did more than that, because no warrant is required for any of the above. So they must have also done some non-standard dirty. Like placing recording malware on the relevant cell phones to record conversations, take pictures, upload stored files, and even take video. Or sift through his financial records.

    OK, so why should you care? I don't mean about Trump, although you should care there as well, but about your privacy. You may not be getting the full Monte he did, by everything you do in the first paragraph now rests with the NSA.

    For an answer, consider this conversation between one of the uber-wealthy and a Federal Prosecutor:

    *****

    "With enough data, my lawyers can always find a crime. They'll prosecute. Bury anyone under legal motions, make his life miserable. Maybe even send him up for some felony."

    "Even if he didn't do anything?"

    "Of course he did something. We got 100,000 laws on the books, twice that in regs. Somewhere, sometime, by accident or intentionally, he broke one. We get a moving x-ray of his life, all we have to do is find it."

    *****

    It's called the power of selective prosecution. With enough data, what used to be just an annoyance becomes an unstoppable control technique. Someday, when the deep state wants you cooperation, they will drill down through their Utah stash for your name. Then they will call you in for a little chat.

    Not willing to spy on your best friend or wife? You may change you mind after their little chat.

    So how to avoid this trap? How do you avoid becoming a data serf?

    Learn to hide your data so it can't be hovered in the first place. I suggest you start with www.privacytools.io and work your way up from there.

    And do it now. Because protecting your privacy is like quitting smoking. It doesn't matter how long you have been engaged in unclean behavior, it's never too late to start living right.

    The quote above, by the way, was from Thieves Emporium by Max Hernandez. It's a primer on the ways TPTB control us in the new world of fiat money and ubiquitous surveillance and what we can do to prevent it. I strongly recommend you at least investigate getting a copy.

    The editors of The Daily Bell must agree as they ran it as a serial which you can still read for free at http://www.thedailybell.com/editorials/max-hernandez-introducing-thieves...

    Or you can buy a copy from Amazon (rated 4.6 in 118 reviews), Nook (same rating, not so many reviews), Smashwords (ditto), or iBooks.

    https://www.amazon.com/Thieves-Emporium-Max-Hernandez-ebook/dp/B00CWWWRK0

    Belrev -> Chupacabra-322 , Mar 22, 2017 2:22 PM

    Statement by Devin Nunes on discovery of Trump team surveillance by Obama

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

    CuttingEdge -> Chupacabra-322 , Mar 22, 2017 2:28 PM

    There is a simple method for Trump to "drain the swamp". Fucked if I know why he hasn't, given how much butt-hurt they are dishing out to him.

    An Executive Order giving immunity and witness protection (and even a fucking Presidential Medal of Freedom, if you ask me) to all whistleblowers who reveal unconstitutional malfeasance within both overt and covert .gov departments. Because these are the true patriots, and all that is stopping them shining a fucking huge spotlight on this bucket of scumfuck is persecution from the swamp dwellers who control all the levers of power.

    Maybe with a (secure) hotline/email direct to the White House, just to bypass Comey and all the other cunts installed by Obama. Or probably better, directly to a morally rock solid independent Special Prosecutor who is prepared to get down and seriously dirty with the insidious morally bereft creatures infesting DC. A Trey Gowdy-type of bloke. Because , as far as relying on the FBI et al is concerned, Trump was fucked before he started.

    Chupacabra-322 -> CuttingEdge , Mar 22, 2017 2:45 PM

    @ Cutting,

    A typewriter can get it done. Hear they're Hot sellers in Germany again.

    What people don't understand is, that the Russian PsyOp / False Narrative Script by the Deep State & Pure Evil War Criminal Treasonous Psychopath Hillary Clinton Globalist was the game plan all long.

    Win, stolen or lost. They were going & are going "all in" with the PsyOp, Scripted False Narrative of Russia hacking the Elections / Russia / Putin / Trump Propaganda gone full retard via the Deep States Opeatives in the Presstitute Media.

    Plausible Deniability is the name of the game. If the Deep State could of pulled off the False Narrative PsyOp of Russia influencing our Elections the Deep State could & will hack into Russia's National Elections next March. Call it pay back.

    The Deep State's destabilization campaign in Ukraine especially Crimea was part of the ZioNeoConFascist Agenda to destabilize Russia during their upcoming g elections.

    Putin countered by expelling all Geroge Sorros NGO's from Russia. However, rest assured those destabilization cells are in place to ready to be activated come Russia's next election cycle.

    The future meeting between the Two Super Powers will be Epic. The Diplomacy which will Prevail out of those meetings will be a fresh breath of air to the World.

    And, final Death Blows to the Pure Evil Criminal Deep State Elite Compartmentalized Hierarchy.

    vq1 -> Chupacabra-322 , Mar 22, 2017 3:45 PM

    I assume you brought up typewriter because it is "unhackable" and allows people to leak without potentially being linked?

    As we all know the wikileaks revelations show that almost no device is safe from CIA (typewriter obviously is safe).

    That does not mean however that anonymity is unachievable.

    Someone can feel free to point out any hole in my instructions:

    1) purchase an older laptop (no camera or microphone) with cash from a "local" computer store (not a Dell or Microsoft branded business).

    3) run OS from an external CD drive (NO USB). Recommend linux distro, like tails.

    2) https://privacytoolsio.github.io/privacytools.io/ for software recommendations (tor, VPN, protonmail/tutanota, keepass, etc)

    3) All accounts disassociated with you personally - fake names, no phone numbers, do not link to any personal accounts, make no comments, do not message your contacts.

    4) never use your own wifi.

    5) never use your own bank account or credit cards, use crypto currency to pay for VPN, etc.

    This setup, as I understand it, would keep you completely anon with the exception of cameras at the store you purchase laptop at or cameras at the cafe you are using wifi. You can now leak without it being linked to you.

    Not to say that this setup is immune from CIA. In fact the idea is that you know that the CIA is looking, its just important that they do not know WHO they are looking at (identity).

    forexskin -> vq1 , Mar 22, 2017 6:20 PM

    typewriter may be safe.

    my russian compatriot Vlad told me when he was a kid, every typewriter in USSR was cataloged with samples of its output. By microscopic analysis, they could tell which typewriter was responsible for any typed document.

    every computer printer made also has the same kind of ID backdoor - it will print a specific identifier (like a MAC address) somewhere on the page - except for the old dot matrix and early inkjet. Defeat that by running it thru a low res copier a few round trips.

    Jim in MN -> forexskin , Mar 22, 2017 7:22 PM

    East German Stasi, same deal. All typewriters registered and tracked. Such amazing depth of the deep state crap. Coming soon to a ruined Republic near you...unless......we stop it.

    Victory_Garden -> CuttingEdge , Mar 22, 2017 4:09 PM

    "An Executive Order giving immunity and witness protection (and even a fucking Presidential Medal of Freedom, if you ask me) to all whistleblowers who reveal unconstitutional malfeasance within both overt and covert .gov departments. Because these are the true patriots, and all that is stopping them shining a fucking huge spotlight on this bucket of scumfuck is persecution from the swamp dwellers who control all the levers of power.

    Maybe with a (secure) hotline/email direct to the White House, just to bypass Comey and all the other cunts installed by Obama. Or probably better, directly to a morally rock solid independent Special Prosecutor who is prepared to get down and seriously dirty with the insidious morally bereft creatures infesting DC. A Trey Gowdy-type of bloke. Because , as far as relying on the FBI et al is concerned, Trump was fucked before he started."

    [Mar 23, 2017] Embattled Trump Reneges on Health Vow

    Notable quotes:
    "... The Washington Post ..."
    "... The Washington Post ..."
    "... Moyers & Company ..."
    Mar 23, 2017 | consortiumnews.com
    Embattled Trump Reneges on Health Vow March 21, 2017

    President Trump promised health insurance for all, but – now dependent on the political protection of House Speaker Paul Ryan – he is supporting a plan that will push millions outside the system, writes Michael Winship.

    By Michael Winship

    Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Donald Trump still insists he's going to Make America Great Again! Mind you, it won't be a healthy or vigorous America - in fact, it will be coughing and wheezing to the grave, but boy, will it be great!

    If you ever needed further evidence that Trump doesn't give a single good goddamn about the people who elected him, just look at his treacherous turnabout on health care. This Republican "repeal and replace" bill stinks on so many levels I'm tempted to say it should be taken far out to sea and dumped into the deepest depths of the Mariana Trench but I have too much regard for marine life, even the kind with the big googly eyes and the really scary teeth.

    Remember that Trump was the carnival barker who declared during the campaign , "I am going to take care of everybody. I don't care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody's going to be taken care of much better than they're taken care of now." And right before his inauguration he told The Washington Post , "We're going to have insurance for everybody. There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can't pay for it, you don't get it. That's not going to happen with us."

    Then along comes the proposed Republican bill, which over a decade, according to the now-famous report from the Congressional Budget Office , would see 24 million fewer Americans with coverage, doubling the number of uninsured. Trump's own supporters would take it on the chin for what he tweeted is "our wonderful new health care bill."

    According to John McCormick at Bloomberg News : "Counties that backed him would get less than a third of the relief that would go to counties where Hillary Clinton won. The two individual tax cuts contained in the Republican plan to replace Obamacare apply only to high-earning workers and investors, roughly those with incomes of at least $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for married couples."

    And remember all that nonsense about Obamacare's "death panels," a falsehood so rotten to the core it was declared PolitiFact's 2009 Lie of the Year ? Well, this Republican bill actually would kill people. Those older would pay more than the young, it would strip Planned Parenthood of funding and Medicaid programs would be slashed. It would eliminate money for the Prevention and Public Health Fund , which provides epidemiology, immunization and health-screening programs. And there would be no mandate that employers with 50 employees or more provide coverage.

    Julia Belluz at Vox reports on:"[V]ery high-quality studies on the impacts of health insurance on mortality, which come to some pretty clear estimates. This research suggests that we would see more than 24,000 extra deaths per year in the US if 20 million people lost their coverage. Again, 20 million is less than the 24 million the CBO thinks will lose insurance by 2026. So the death toll from an Obamacare repeal and replacement could be even higher."

    Ignoring the Needy

    Notice that Trump has barely lifted a finger to assist those who need genuine reform that would bring quality care to all, the kind of help he promised as a candidate. Instead, he has directed his energies at helping Speaker Paul Ryan win over right-wing House members by promising to make the bill even crueler to those who need health care the most.

    Take a look at this statement issued by tea partier and Alabama Republican Rep. Robert Aderholt after meeting with Trump on Friday, a statement so mind-boggling it's worth quoting in full :

    "President Trump called me to the Oval Office this morning to discuss the American Healthcare Act, because of his understanding that I could not support the current language of the bill. I expressed to the president my concern around the treatment of older, poorer Americans in states like Alabama. I reminded him that he received overwhelming support from Alabama's voters.

    "The president listened to the fact that a 64-year-old person living near the poverty line was going to see their insurance premiums go up from $1,700 to $14,600 per year. The president looked me in the eye and said, 'These are my people and I will not let them down. We will fix this for them.'

    "I also asked the president point blank if this House bill was the one that he supported. He told me he supports it '1,000 percent.' After receiving the president's word that these concerns will be addressed, I changed my vote to yes."

    Can you believe it? Trump's behind the bill 1,000 percent, the President claims, but don't worry, we'll fix it. It's hard to decide which of the two men is behaving more hypocritically: Trump saying he won't let the people down or Aderholt claiming to believe the President actually will keep his word. Each is endorsing a cutthroat scheme that will bring nothing but grief to the people but hundreds of billions in tax breaks to the wealthy and vast profits to the insurance industry.

    According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities : "The top 400 highest-income taxpayers - whose annual incomes average more than $300 million apiece - each would receive an average annual tax cut of about $7 million , we estimate from Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data."

    Andy Slavitt, who was President Obama's acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told The Washington Post , "This is a massive tax cut for unpopular industries and wealthy individuals. It is about cutting care for lower-income people, seniors, people with disabilities and kids to pay for the tax cut."

    This is, in the words of Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, "a dumpster fire of a bill that was written on the back of a napkin behind closed doors because Republicans know this is a disaster." But thanks to ineptitude and an inchoate, ill-planned rush to pass the legislation, it looks as if the current Republican bill may be on its way to failure, if not in the House then in the Senate.

    Lucky us - for now. But if the GOP and Trump White House do manage to force on us anything short of what's really needed – single-payer, universal health care - we're doomed to live in a nation the motto of which may no longer be "In God We Trust" but instead, "Die young and leave a good-looking corpse."

    Michael Winship is the Emmy Award-winning senior writer of Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MichaelWinship . [This article first appeared at http://billmoyers.com/story/trump-gop-prescription-america-dont-get-sick/ ]

    [Mar 23, 2017] James Clapper resigns as US director of national intelligence

    Mar 23, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

    Nov 17, 2016

    ...Clapper in 2014 played a leading role in firing Flynn from the directorship of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Flynn, a retired US army lieutenant general, became one of the only national security officials of any note to back Trump, and is expected to take a leading role in Trump's administration, reportedly national security adviser.

    ... ... ...

    In March 2013, months before Snowden provided the Guardian and the Washington Post with voluminous NSA data documenting sweeping domestic and international communications dragnets, Clapper had a public colloquy with Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat on the intelligence committee.

    Wyden asked Clapper: "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions, of Americans?"

    Clapper replied, untruthfully: "No sir," rubbing his head. "Not wittingly."

    After Snowden revealed otherwise, Clapper offered a shifting series of explanations for his publicly uttered falsehood. He first said it was the " least untruthful " answer he could provide in an unclassified hearing. Later he said he misunderstood which particular communications collection program Wyden was asking about – despite Wyden's staff alerting Clapper's before the hearing as to the question – and apologized to the committee.

    Later still, his lawyer, Robert Litt, would deny that Clapper lied and said the director simply forgot . Litt would also say that Clapper finds open intelligence-committee hearings, a requirement of congressional oversight, as annoying as folding fitted sheets.

    Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, called on Clapper to resign for lying to Congress. It was not the first such call: GOP senator Lindsey Graham wanted Clapper's resignation in 2011 after Clapper forecast that the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi would " prevail " over his opposition.

    But Obama stuck by his appointee, who struck a highly combative tone over the Snowden disclosures, even implying that journalists publishing them were " accomplices " to Snowden, who has been charged under the Espionage Act. During the departure ceremony for NSA director Keith Alexander in 2014, Clapper mocked "Eddie Snowden" and his admirers.

    A just-published profile in Wired magazine will serve as Clapper's final explanation of the episode while in office.

    "The popular narrative is that I lied, but I just didn't think of it. Yes, I made a mistake, but I didn't lie. There's a big difference," Clapper told Wired .

    "I'm quite sure that will be the first line of my Washington Post obituary. But that's life in the big city."

    For years before their famous exchange, Wyden had written numerous letters to Clapper seeking additional disclosure of widespread surveillance, particularly those programs with a domestic reach. He pointed to their history in reacting to Clapper's resignation.

    "During Director Clapper's tenure, senior intelligence officials engaged in an deception spree regarding mass surveillance. Top officials, officials who reported to Director Clapper, repeatedly misled the American people and even lied to them," Wyden said.

    [Mar 23, 2017] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/books/review/crisis-of-the-middle-class-constitution-ganesh-sitaraman-.html

    Mar 23, 2017 | www.nytimes.com

    March 20, 2017

    It's Not Just Unfair: Inequality Is a Threat to Our Governance
    By ANGUS DEATON

    THE CRISIS OF THE MIDDLE-CLASS CONSTITUTION
    Why Economic Inequality Threatens Our Republic
    By Ganesh Sitaraman

    President Obama labeled income inequality "the defining challenge of our time." But why exactly? And why "our time" especially? In part because we now know just how much goes to the very top of the income distribution, and beyond that, we know that recent economic growth, which has been anemic in any case, has accrued mostly to those who were already well-heeled, leaving stagnation or worse for many Americans. But why is this a problem?

    Why am I hurt if Mark Zuckerberg develops Facebook, and gets rich on the proceeds? Some care about the unfairness of income inequality itself, some care about the loss of upward mobility and declining opportunities for our kids and some care about how people get rich - hard work and innovation are O.K., but theft, legal or otherwise, is not. Yet there is one threat of inequality that is widely feared, and that has been debated for thousands of years, which is that inequality can undermine governance. In his fine book, both history and call to arms, Ganesh Sitaraman argues that the contemporary explosion of inequality will destroy the American Constitution, which is and was premised on the existence of a large and thriving middle class. He has done us all a great service, taking an issue of overwhelming public importance, delving into its history, helping understand how our forebears handled it and building a platform to think about it today.

    As recognized since ancient times, the coexistence of very rich and very poor leads to two possibilities, neither a happy one. The rich can rule alone, disenfranchising or even enslaving the poor, or the poor can rise up and confiscate the wealth of the rich. The rich tend to see themselves as better than the poor, a proclivity that is enhanced and even socially sanctioned in modern meritocracies. The poor, with little prospect of economic improvement and no access to political power, "might turn to a demagogue who would overthrow the government - only to become a tyrant. Oligarchy or tyranny, economic inequality meant the end of the republic."

    Some constitutions were written to contain inequalities. In Rome, the patricians ruled, but could be overruled by plebeian tribunes whose role was to protect the poor. There are constitutions with lords and commoners in separate chambers, each with well-defined powers. Sitaraman calls these "class warfare constitutions," and argues that the founding fathers of the United States found another way, a republic of equals. The middle classes, who according to David Hume were obsessed neither with pleasure-seeking, as were the rich, nor with meeting basic necessities, as were the poor, and were thus amenable to reason, could be a firm basis for a republic run in the public interest. There is some sketchy evidence that income and wealth inequality was indeed low in the 18th century, but the crucial point is that early America was an agrarian society of cultivators with an open frontier. No one needed to be poor when land was available in the West.

    The founders worried a good deal about people getting too rich. Jefferson was proud of his achievement in abolishing the entail and primogeniture in Virginia, writing the laws that "laid the ax to the root of Pseudoaristocracy." He called for progressive taxation and, like the other founders, feared that the inheritance of wealth would lead to the establishment of an aristocracy. (Contrast this with those today who simultaneously advocate both equality of opportunity and the abolition of estate taxes.) Madison tried to calculate how long the frontier would last, and understood the threat to the Constitution that industrialization would bring; many of the founders thought of wage labor as little better than slavery and hoped that America could remain an agrarian society.

    Of course, the fears about industrialization were realized, and by the late 19th century, in the Gilded Age, income inequality had reached levels comparable to those we see today. In perhaps the most original part of his book, Sitaraman, an associate professor of law at Vanderbilt Law School, highlights the achievements of the Progressive movement, one of whose aims was taming inequality, and which successfully modified the Constitution. There were four constitutional amendments in seven years - the direct election of senators, the franchise for women, the prohibition of alcohol and the income tax. To which I would add another reform, the establishment of the Federal Reserve, which provided a mechanism for handling financial crises without the need for the government to be bailed out by rich bankers, as well as the reduction in the tariff, which favored ordinary people by bringing down the cost of manufactures. Politics can respond to inequality, and the Constitution is not set in stone.

    What of today, when inequality is back in full force? I am not persuaded that we can be saved by the return of a rational and public-spirited middle class, even if I knew exactly how to identify middle-class people, or to measure how well they are doing. Nor is it clear, postelection, whether the threat is an incipient oligarchy or an incipient populist autocracy; our new president tweets from one to the other. And European countries, without America's middle-class Constitution, face some of the same threats, though more from autocracy than from plutocracy, which their constitutions may have helped them resist. Yet it is clear that we in the United States face the looming threat of a takeover of government by those who would use it to enrich themselves together with a continuing disenfranchisement of large segments of the population....


    Angus Deaton, a professor emeritus at Princeton, was awarded the Nobel in economic science in 2015. Reply Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at 10:27 AM libezkova said in reply to anne... Thank you Anne.

    As for ".. it is clear that we in the United States face the looming threat of a takeover of government by those who would use it to enrich themselves together with a continuing disenfranchisement of large segments of the population...."

    that was accomplished in 1980 by Reagan. That's why we now can speak about "a colony nation" within the USA which encompasses the majority of population. Reply Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at 04:58 PM libezkova said in reply to libezkova... Neoliberals vs the rest of population is like slave owners and the plantation workers. Reply Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at 04:59 PM

    [Mar 23, 2017] Goodbye, American neoliberalism. A new era is here

    Notable quotes:
    "... I think its best to cast Obama, to use Trotsky' phrase, 'into the dustbin of history' where he belongs, along with the Clintons. He is a footnote and little else ..."
    "... Whereas working people & small business owners just want less tax, less people competing with them and a sense that the country they die in is not too different from the one they were born in. ..."
    "... Trump got in because of the votes of the stagnated middle income bracket. ..."
    "... The traditional elites in the USA have been broken. But neo-liberalism has not. The individuals,-both actors and interests- are in the process of re-alignment. The triumph of Trump shows just how thin is the veneer of the political liberalism that overlays neo-liberalism economy and society. ..."
    "... Unless the role of Wall Street, The City of London and the gradual privatisation of economies and societies in favour of global corporations is addressed, talk of an end of neo-liberalism is cynical humbug. ..."
    "... Meanwhile, an almost 'traditional' world of pre 1917 capitalist states is re-emerging with states and their proxies killing and destroying in order to control territory and economies. ..."
    Mar 23, 2017 | www.theguardian.com
    Cornel West

    The neoliberal era in the United States ended with a neofascist bang.

    ... ... ...

    White working- and middle-class fellow citizens – out of anger and anguish – rejected the economic neglect of neoliberal policies and the self-righteous arrogance of elites. Yet these same citizens also supported a candidate who appeared to blame their social misery on minorities, and who alienated Mexican immigrants, Muslims, black people, Jews, gay people, women and China in the process.

    This lethal fusion of economic insecurity and cultural scapegoating brought neoliberalism to its knees. In short, the abysmal failure of the Democratic party to speak to the arrested mobility and escalating poverty of working people unleashed a hate-filled populism and protectionism that threaten to tear apart the fragile fiber of what is left of US democracy. And since the most explosive fault lines in present-day America are first and foremost racial, then gender, homophobic, ethnic and religious, we gird ourselves for a frightening future.

    ... ... ...

    The age of Obama was the last gasp of neoliberalism. Despite some progressive words and symbolic gestures, Obama chose to ignore Wall Street crimes, reject bailouts for homeowners, oversee growing inequality and facilitate war crimes like US drones killing innocent civilians abroad.

    , toandfro , 17 Nov 2016 22:15
    The article is wishful thinking.

    It is clear that Trump and his kind are intent on reinforcing the barricades around the wealthy and powerful. With the 'popular' media collapsing into similar partisanship it is equally clear that the masses have no idea of the full extent to which they are being hoodwinked and fleeced.

    Neo-liberalism is a return to the exploitative capitalism of the Georgian and Victorian eras, where the self-perpetuating 'money makes money' maxim is the driving force. The only way to break the cycle is to install more civic-minded politicians able to recycle money back to the rest of society. Yet the sheer expense of standing for office eliminates most from the starting gates.

    Which means that a key change required (among many) is to put severe campaign spending limits in place.

    , Miki Bitsko , 17 Nov 2016 22:09
    "The neoliberal era in the United States ended with a neofascist bang. "
    Probably not. A defining component of Fascism (not the catch-all 'fascism' used by the generally historical and political illiterate) was Statism - that is, a believe in central government intervention in and control of the economy, commerce and society in general.

    Perhaps Parkinson would care to detail the Republican Congress' (and Trump's) plans for a change to 'big government' instead of relying on free-market capitalism to largely 'take care' of things in America?

    , LoneArranger , 17 Nov 2016 22:08
    Blimey, this 'new analysis' concerning the failure of neo-liberal capitalist globalisation is pouring out of the newspapers - and in nearly every country too. Cornel West managed to mention the 'nostalgic return to an imaginary past of greatness'.
    The thing is, there are still people who remember that prior to the frenzy of neo-liberalism, the privatisation of everything, the marketisation of everything not nailed down, and every man and his dog becoming a 'shareholder' and 'investor', there actually was some stability and rational economic normality.
    Is it any wonder then, that people hanker after that? It is actually possible to undo some of the excesses, or at least stop them going further. Part of that voice of elitism is the one telling everybody that the clock can't be turned back or that all change is inevitable and irreversible. Easily said when your salary and pension are fat and you're in your twilight years.

    In Trump there is merely a narrow political layer above the very same rapacious global financial system West claims has 'crumbled'. They all sit on the same economic ideas more-or-less.

    Unfortunately large swathes of the populations are voting in a blind rage or from fear. It reflects badly on the electorate showing a complete dearth of economic knowledge. What else can be expected from 40 years of dumbed-down culture?

    , bready , 17 Nov 2016 21:57
    Neoliberalism: 19th century Imperialism, profiting from cheap labour propelled manufacturing, staged marketing and elimination of borders and national resistance on confiscated lands.
    Neofascism: Fascism under "Neo" names.
    Let's not divert ourselves from cold hard facts.
    , Jamesj17 , 17 Nov 2016 21:41

    The age of Obama was the last gasp of neoliberalism. Despite some progressive words and symbolic gestures, Obama chose to ignore Wall Street crimes, reject bailouts for homeowners, oversee growing inequality and facilitate war crimes like US drones killing innocent civilians abroad

    And yet his cult lives on. A heroes welcome in Berlin and barely hours after Clinton failed democrats were petitioning for Michelle Obama to stand in the next elections. It's the cult of personality in American politics that is so toxic, it's more like the fairytale of professional wrestling than a search for truth, fairness and justice. No wonder the stay-at-homes cost Clinton the election. People are fed up with the bs.

    , Hippolytus , 17 Nov 2016 21:35
    Since Washington D.C. has for decades chosen not to conciliate between the right and left political ideologies, but instead to become polarized to either extreme, it has become virtually impossible to govern the U.S. as the American forefathers had imagined at the foundation of the Constitution. Polarization to either extreme is why the pendulum continues to swing from one to the other periodically, and the wisest decision that can be made in any given instant is obviated as a result. If the politicians refuse to conciliate, as is their right and solumn duty to behave, then the people will have to speak to them in the only way possible to get them to understand. The government we get is what we deserve.
    , Quetzalcoatl14 , 17 Nov 2016 21:03
    Love it. See, Cornell is wise enough to recognize that the Democrat Party and Republican Party had both participated in two great evils: a rapacious and murderous foreign policy, one, and neo-liberal pro-elite economic policies that harmed the working and middle class, regardless of color. He also notes that there also is racism or xenophobia, that Trump masterfully manipulated. However, the Democrats are not off the hook, because as he notes they didn't address the economic plight of most Americans.
    , mrsydney21 BrunoForestier , 17 Nov 2016 21:09
    Facist - "A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, a capitalist economy subject to stringent governmental controls, violent suppression of the opposition, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism"......Seems like a pretty accurate description of the Trump campaign to me.
    , BocRodgers , 17 Nov 2016 20:55

    The Bush and Clinton dynasties were destroyed by the media-saturated lure of the pseudo-populist billionaire with narcissist sensibilities and ugly, fascist proclivities.


    'Media-saturated lure', what a complete crock, the media were beside themselves at the result, CNN was delaying results because they didn't want to believe them, Trump rounded on the media towards the end and everyone thought he had blown it, but he hadn't, because the people had seen through the paid for, and conflicted media.
    , Lester Metta , 17 Nov 2016 20:53
    Sadly, I don't think neoliberalism is over, it is just dented. But time will tell. The DNC saying they have a big tent does not tell me that it is over.
    , taxmesomemore , 17 Nov 2016 20:47
    We are not waving goodbye to neoliberalism.

    ...we are in danger of further deepening crony capitalism.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/23/opinion/campaign-stops/donald-trump-crony-capitalist.html

    , mmmmmonkey , 17 Nov 2016 20:45
    You could not be more wrong that the neoliberal era has ended in the US.
    Trump will find himself beholden to the same forces that Obama faced and will quickly lose control as his administration tears itself apart with infighting.

    As soon as he is impeached the party elites, their corporate masters and the "liberal" media will produce a sensible centre candidate who will win comfortably by a combination of not being Trump and the thinly veiled anti-white-male rhetoric the establishment have employed throughout the Clinton / Obama years.

    Once the establishment have the White House back the Silicon Valley and Wall St grandees will sweep back into their places of influence and they will pursue an even more aggressive neoliberal agenda than before, all the while singling out minority special interest groups for special treatment to maintain the false veneer of inclusiveness so characteristic of the Obama years.

    Nothing has changed my child.

    , Gungajin , 17 Nov 2016 20:33
    It is the neoliberalistic focus on money as a means by its own right that has been priming human beings into becoming more and more isolated, greedy and egocentric. Thus the ground for a fascist takeover has been prepared and history is repeating itself. Apparently, we're unable to learn from earlier mistakes, because this development can only come as a surprise for those who only hear and see what they wish to hear and see.
    Countless rational people, experts and laymen alike, have been warning us for this to happen for just as long as neoliberalism has lasted. But once "gold" has been cried out, nothing can stop the rush. We're not any better than those little lemming critters, stampeding towards their untergang.
    We're guilty as charged and get what we have asked for. Like always, the weak and innocent will get the worst deal.
    , Laura Lovitt Pandapas , 17 Nov 2016 20:32
    Can we just put a stop to the notion that somehow Sanders would have slid in to victory. He'd never faced a national battle with the GOP. Ever. And Clinton pulled many a punch so as not to alienate his supporters. But the GOP would have been vicious. Here's a sampling, as reported by Newsweek. I am a little stunned by the naiveté of some progressives. Sanders ran to push Clinton to the left. That's why he ran as a Democrat, and that's why he supported her after he was mathematically out of the race. And that's why he worked so hard to get the Democratic platform to include almost 80% of his policy objectives. He did not intend for his supporters to blow up the entire fucking country and blow all those objectives because they didn't get 100% of what they wanted immediately. He is a savvy politician and was in it for the long game. His supporters blew the long game and potentially any hope for the planet, because now there won't be any action on climate and money will drown our political process further. Nicely done.

    http://www.newsweek.com/myths-cost-democrats-presidential-election-521044

    "So what would have happened when Sanders hit a real opponent, someone who did not care about alienating the young college voters in his base? I have seen the opposition book assembled by Republicans for Sanders, and it was brutal. The Republicans would have torn him apart. And while Sanders supporters might delude themselves into believing that they could have defended him against all of this, there is a name for politicians who play defense all the time: losers.

    "Here are a few tastes of what was in store for Sanders, straight out of the Republican playbook: He thinks rape is A-OK. In 1972, when he was 31, Sanders wrote a fictitious essay in which he described a woman enjoying being raped by three men. Yes, there is an explanation for it-a long, complicated one, just like the one that would make clear why the Clinton emails story was nonsense. And we all know how well that worked out.

    "Then there's the fact that Sanders was on unemployment until his mid-30s, and that he stole electricity from a neighbor after failing to pay his bills, and that he co-sponsored a bill to ship Vermont's nuclear waste to a poor Hispanic community in Texas, where it could be dumped. You can just see the words "environmental racist" on Republican billboards. And if you can't, I already did. They were in the Republican opposition research book as a proposal on how to frame the nuclear waste issue.

    "Also on the list: Sanders violated campaign finance laws, criticized Clinton for supporting the 1994 crime bill that he voted for, and he voted against the Amber Alert system. His pitch for universal health care would have been used against him too, since it was tried in his home state of Vermont and collapsed due to excessive costs. Worst of all, the Republicans also had video of Sanders at a 1985 rally thrown by the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua where half a million people chanted, "Here, there, everywhere/the Yankee will die,'' while President Daniel Ortega condemned "state terrorism" by America. Sanders said, on camera, supporting the Sandinistas was "patriotic."

    "The Republicans had at least four other damning Sanders videos (I don't know what they showed), and the opposition research folder was almost 2-feet thick. (The section calling him a communist with connections to Castro alone would have cost him Florida.) In other words, the belief that Sanders would have walked into the White House based on polls taken before anyone really attacked him is a delusion built on a scaffolding of political ignorance."

    , Awayneramsey , 17 Nov 2016 20:17
    Wow. A Harvard Graduate and it would seem you know little about the Neoliberal socio-economic policy model. President-elect Donald Trump has made it clear (or not, seeing how he often changes his mind and always allows for 'plausible deniability' e.g. no press allowed) that he will (1) continue to make US government smaller by privatization, in particular, private prisons; (2) deregulation, that is, The Pres.-elect says for each new regulation, two must be eliminated; (3) major tax reform that tends to redistribute wealth and inequality. No doubt you are TOO busy, but do a little superficial research before writing these disarming essays. This makes you look really bad!

    , uniqueuserid , 17 Nov 2016 20:16

    The age of Obama was the last gasp of neoliberalism.


    Counterpoint: Trump is the last gasp of neoliberalism.

    From inception, neoliberalism has not been too far removed from neofacism. It's a set of economic ideals that Obama proved could benefit minorities; but it's most comfortable alongside the protectionism and jingoism of neofacism: in order to survive, the "trickle down" economy has to have something to pull the wealth downwards; and that's harder to achieve when the lower classes are better off. Better (from the perspective of neoliberalism) to create a new underclass of undesirables, and what better way to use everyday markers such as skin colour and religion, and favour the white middle- and upper-middle classes? Not enough? Okay add women into the mix. This in itself creates more impetus for the male middles and lowers to grasp upward. Anything to distinguish themselves from the underclasses, whether legal, criminal, or newly criminalized.

    , Ziontrain , 17 Nov 2016 20:10
    Cornel is one of the few that dares to speak the truth, but I find this particular piece of though to be maybe be a bit incomplete.

    To me Trump is the neoliberal crowd sneaking in through the back door by playing a new card: throw out a blaze of hatred and scapegoating to satisfy the anger of the crowd, but carry on doing exactly what you have been doing.

    It's hard to see where the neoliberal age is over. Because Trump is not a populist, but rather a neoliberal in disguise. For example, prime on on his agenda it seems is more tax cuts, trickle down economics, the cult of individualism - and worst of all the privatisation of national infrastructure on a scale that will make post-soviet Russia seem mild!

    He might say he isnt for the so called "trade deals", but so what - domestically he is set to roll back environmental regulation, protections that workers enjoy, you name it. So what's the difference if he does it via an internatonal framework or just domestic policy? It's the same result!

    The only way Trump is going to be able to do this is the age old tactics of sowing divisiveness. Which he set out in his campaign.

    The real issue is how dangerous will be situation be once "white people" realise that they have been duped......AND this guy has already set the hounds of hell loose on the minorities in the country.

    This is all set to be a disaster of epic proportions. But lets not confuse this for the end of neoliberalism.


    What is to be done? First we must try to tell the truth and a condition of truth is to allow suffering to speak. For 40 years, neoliberals lived in a world of denial and indifference to the suffering of poor and working people and obsessed with the spectacle of success.

    On the above - all I can say is "amen", because many of us readers just went through an entire election coverage in which right here, we were treated to a barrage of neoliberal propaganda poorly disguised as gender politics. And the political alternatives were buried and ignored, to the point where it was blatant and embarassing.

    So please Cornel, why dont you say this one one more time to the editorial team? Please.

    , Gungajin Ziontrain , 17 Nov 2016 20:39
    I believe you're wrong about Trump. Neoliberals have a long-term agenda and don't act spontaneously and emotionally like Trump does. TYrump's no neoliberal, he's just a maniac and only cares about himself and his closest family. He will rip off the American people for what it's worth and leave a total mess of everything.
    , Ziontrain afurada , 17 Nov 2016 20:56
    No, Trump is them. I lived in NYC for years and there is no other way to describe him. He worships money, he has no other values. He believes in markets - rigged ones only. Hates regulations. Rips off the working class.

    Why do the existing neoliberal top dogs (Bush clan etc) hate him then? Just that he outflanked them by being willing to throw super explicit hatred and divisiveness around as bait for voters.

    But make no mistake he is going to do exactly what they do - which is what he has done all his life.

    Anyone who thinks a 70 yr old Riche Rich can suddenly become a "populist" should go to the movies for that fantasy, but shouldnt be allowed to vote.

    , afurada Ziontrain , 17 Nov 2016 22:13
    In a way, that is what I meant. It is just that, so far, he has not belonged to a 'club' and has gone on his own, money-grabbing way. He seems to reject 'the establishment'. But, from Jan 20th he will not only be apart of the 'establishment', he will be a leading player in it. Not difficult to see where that will end.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/donald-trump-youve-been-trumped-too-anthony-baxter-golf-aberdeenshire-documentary-mollie-michael-a7383311.html

    , Harvey Diggs , 17 Nov 2016 19:59
    Donald Trump is an elite who fed lie after lie to the so called 'working class' public and they ate it like starving dogs. Trump will destroy consumer protection groups, he will gut regulation on Wall St, he will manipulate government institutions so his private companies will benefit....and you allowed this to happen because you felt he wasn't a 'typical' politician. The working class voter will pay dearly over the next 4 years.
    , Kay Urlich , 17 Nov 2016 19:59
    It had to happen, read 'Is Humanity Suffering Testosterone Overload.' Neoliberalism is only one part of the problem.... denial of Basic Living Income? Sexism? Racism? they all come under the same umbrella of being manipulated by what can only be describes as 'Warlord' mentality that has been around for thousands of years... it's the mindset that must be changed
    , jelliott johan1974 , 17 Nov 2016 20:16
    "Fascism" is not very well defined tbh, but there are plenty of people that tick those boxes that aren't fascist. Maggie Thatcher was not technically fascist. And perhaps he was right to denounce the media because as wikileaks now tells us (and in fact Donna Brazile tells us openly) they were colluding pretty heavily with the democrats. If they hadn't been they wouldn't have published those ridiculously biased (democrats oversampled by 10%) polls and fooled themselves.
    , jockeylad , 17 Nov 2016 19:44
    Trump in the Whitehouse & the UK leaving the EU represent a big kick in the balls from all those that feel left behind/marginalised/had their legitimate concerns ignored by the - for want of a better word - establishment. All those who were doing well out of the status quo - actually, strike that, they were making out like fucking bandits - are now going to have to deal with a new set of variables, a situation that they hate.

    The Remain campaign labelled anyone concerned about where the EU was headed as racist without even trying to engage with them - for what it's worth I voted to remain & try to reform from the inside - & reaped the whirlwind for their arrogance. Hilary Clinton's message was loud & clear - more of the same old tired shit, things will carry on getting shittier for all you peasants but all of my friends in big business will be fine, but on the bright side I've got ovaries y'all. America rejected the bullshit & said here, deal with this idiot for four years, have some of our uncertainty - we have nothing to lose. The sad thing is that whilst the Donald is gone in four years time a Supreme Court - that's where the real power in the US lies - packed out with Nazis will last for a very long time - & they can make your beloved constitution say anything they damn well please.

    Sleep well in the (People are waking up to the fact that having nothing equals having nothing left to lose - may we all live in interesting times) fire.

    , gunnerbull123 , 17 Nov 2016 19:34
    Why the pussy footing around? For neo-liberalism read capitalism. When did Nixon go to China - 1973? In order to open a source of cheap labour for US and other western companies.
    From there on it was inevitable that the Chinese would seize the opportunity for themselves and turn it full circle. So don't blame the Chinese. It's a 40 year orgy of more for less, spawned by global corps. that have no loyalty other than to themselves.
    , leonotus , 17 Nov 2016 19:33
    The author's analysis is deeply flawed. The exit polls show that people who earn less than $50,000/year voted in a solid majority for Clinton. It was people who earn $50,000-$100,000/year that voted overwhelmingly for Trump. Hardly a cry of help and a rejection of neoliberalism from the "dispossessed" classes. The whole trope about Trump's campaign being the voice of the "poor, bigoted, uneducated white voter" was simply a propaganda narrative designed to scare and mobilize black and brown voters to support Clinton. According to Nate Silver at 538.com, the average trump supporter earn $72,000/ year vs. the median income of $54,000/year. 44% of Trump supporters have a college degree, vs. 29% for the population as a whole.

    I think a lot of people who voted for Trump were tired of the strategy of the Democrats to separate and polarize people based on a ruthless strategy of divisive identity politics. Even 30% of Hispanics voted for Trump -- I guess they didn't get the message that they should be afraid, and instead responded to Trump's core message -- economic empowerment for all Americans, based on ambition and merit. Maybe the leftist strategy of cultivating racial and class resentments is not so powerful as they had hoped.

    , zii000 , 17 Nov 2016 19:00
    I doubt if neoliberalism has reached the critical threshold yet. Businesses will continue to dominate behind the scenes through their indirect ownership of Congress so if neoliberal policies suit them (and they mostly do), then neoliberalism it is.
    I think 2020 will be the critical year after 4 years of Trump (if he survives the full term which is a huge If). Then we might see some sweeping changes as the US electorate wakes up to the reality of what they have done.
    , Lafcadio1944 , 17 Nov 2016 18:54
    I believe fully in what my brother says, yet there is more to this story.

    In this bleak moment, we must inspire each other driven by a democratic soulcraft of integrity, courage, empathy and a mature sense of history – even as it seems our democracy is slipping away.

    We must, having "a mature sense of history" along with courage rejoice in the positive results of the end of Neoliberalism. GONE are TPP and TTIP - this is a great cause for progressives to celebrate. Rapprochement with Russia and the possible reshaping of the geopolitical post war arrangements, the end of "The New American Century" project of aggression and empire and a possible new view to cooperation.

    These things are happening, there will be jobs programs and all sorts of positive initiatives.

    The courage we need now is to work with an insurgent movement with tens of millions of supporters to try and shape new policies, not "fight" the insurgency but fight to fully kill of Neoliberalism.

    The courage is in the cooperation with ugly people and swallowing your pride in favor of helping the people who have been so deeply betrayed. There is no left or right now there is only the insurgency or the Neoliberal establishment and corporate rule the end of democracy lies there, not in the insurgency - take your pick.

    , BabylonianSheDevil03 Laura Lovitt Pandapas , 17 Nov 2016 18:57
    Please read this -
    http://www.combatingglobalization.com/articles/Neoliberal_Labor_Strategy.html
    , chimesblues federalexpress , 17 Nov 2016 18:55
    "Fascism - a form of radical authoritarian nationalism ..."

    From my perspective Trump ticks the boxes.

    , BabylonianSheDevil03 , 17 Nov 2016 18:24
    Good piece.
    Neoliberalism is expiring, due to people who sleep walked into a neoliberal era, starting with Thatcher and Reagan, waking up and smelling the BS. There is no 'trickle down', only a 'trickle up' of money to a ruling elite already fattened by privilege, and governments all sing from the same neoliberal hymn sheet, with global corporations calling the tune.
    There has been no choice at the ballot box, no chance for ordinary people to vote for change, because governments no longer represent the people, they stopped doing that decades ago, now they represent the interests of the ruling elite/global corporations. Every few years political parties pretend to care about issues that affect all of us, then after being elected promptly turn their backs and do sod all for the people.
    Something had to give.
    Of course a few short years ago many would have put good money on a people's revolution being left-wing, nobody would have predicted that it would be far right wing. And of course this is now the difficulty, for though far right wing leaders have been quick to capitalise on people's fears and insecurities, promising an end to the neoliberal era, what we are in danger of doing is jumping out of the frying pan into the fire, with easy/lazy promises made by the likes of Trump/Farage/Le Pen, who simply say what many disillusioned people want to hear.
    But delivering on those promises is not going to happen, and when it doesn't they will simply blame the scapegoats they have already tied to the back of their band wagon, to be mercilessly dragged along, immigrants/Muslims/Mexicans/women/Jews and sadly a lot of angry people who want a scapegoat will resort to hate crimes.
    Sanders was offering a humane counter narrative, so is Corbyn, and if people don't want a repeat of what is happening in the US over here, then he is the only alternative, and scoff all you like but whilst doing so remember your options here, a counter narrative that offers a fairer, kinder politics, or one that offers the diametric opposite to this.
    For me it is a no-brainer.
    , Moo McMoo BabylonianSheDevil03 , 17 Nov 2016 19:24
    I agree with you here minus the Sanders bit. Sanders was a nice old grandpa but a policy wonk he didn't make. Sanders was very much out of his depth and was essentially a nicer Trump. He would not have won and would be as ineffective as Trump will be.

    , chaosmostly , 17 Nov 2016 18:24
    "Neo-fascism" amounts to lazy thinking. It does disservice to history and the people who suffered under real fascism.
    Where are Trump's blackshirts or SA?
    Where are the political assassinations and street beatings of leftists by party-organized paramilitary units?
    People are exercising their First Amendment rights, freely assembling and protesting without violent reprisals.
    "Neo-fascism" is hyperbolic blather.
    With overreaching rhetoric, West writes of how "we must;"--and how we must with "justice" and "truth telling."
    He even invokes the magic name of Dr. Martin Luther King; a serious guy who can be counted on to sanctify any argument in the cloak of transcendental solemnity.
    Here's his main assumption though:
    West says that a "lethal fusion of economic insecurity and cultural scapegoating brought neoliberalism to its knees."
    Is that true?
    Might it be that economic insecurity brought neoliberalism to its knees, despite cultural scapegoating?
    Could it be that a lot of the people who voted for Trump see through the rhetoric, lies, inflammatory speech and overheated moralizing that lately pass for news, commentary and political discourse?
    And, after careful consideration, they voted for economic policies that might improve their lives, rather than simply settling for more of the same.
    Trump's policies might improve their lives.
    Then again, they might not.
    Clinton's certainly would not.
    So is voting for Trump a knee-jerk reaction to fearful uncertainty--or a rational decision made by people who see through the seemingly all-pervasive rhetorical B.S.?
    Maybe people aren't as dumb as mass media believes they are.
    Something to consider.
    , AQuietNight , 17 Nov 2016 17:47
    "Trump's neofascist rhetoric and predictable authoritarian reign is just another ugly moment that calls forth the best of who we are and what we can do."

    This line goes down well with the Hollywood & Silicon Valley party circuit set.

    Trump has shown he's pretty flexible. He's showing it now as early word indicates he is tempering his policies. So, all you worried snowflakes and oppressed maybe fretting for nothing or at best, very little.

    , colinius , 17 Nov 2016 17:42
    NeoLiberalism was the brainchild of economists Friedrich Hayak and Milton Friedman.It was picked up by Reagan in the US (Reaganomics) and Thatcher in the UK,as well as others.
    Simply put it means deregulation of big banks and corperations to give them virtually unfettered power to do as they like.They did.It is the basis of the so-called theory of 'trickle- down'.
    Basically 'trickle-down' believes that if the rich get richer a proportion of that wealth trickles down to everyone else. It was just a theory. It was wrong,as we now well know. The rich just sat on the money and much of it just ended up in tax havens.
    As the corperations reached out for ever increasing profits they then started to 'globalise',a nice term for saying that you will lose your job and we will emigrate it abroad. This put pressure on the jobs market and depressed pay all over the West.
    The USA had the opportunity to hit back at this with it's recent election and the UK with Brexit. The people did so.
    However,the USA has now voted in an even more right-wing government and the UK has changed the face of it's government but not the substance and it has also taken a further lurch to the right.
    Hence,NeoFacism.
    The NeoLiberalists are still there,in power.
    So,we now have NeoLiberalism joined with NeoFacism.
    I'll leave to come to your own conclusions about the future.
    , Densher colinius , 17 Nov 2016 17:59
    Hayek write a pamphlet called 'Why I am not a Conservative' and would be appalled at the extent to which capitalism has been taken over by the state rather than by markets operating without state regulation, in domestic and international terms. Liberalism and its neophytes has a long way to go realise the dreams of its free market apostles. Reply Share
    , Mickglover colinius , 17 Nov 2016 18:07
    Trickle down seemed to work for a while post WW2, but with Thatcher all that was destroyed. Social policy needs State intervention and certain elements of society should be enshrined and not left to the cleverness of the ballot box tricks. Housing, education, health/welfare and public transport should all be kept out of the whims of new free market.
    ideas

    , skipissatan Densher , 17 Nov 2016 18:44
    Hayek didn't realise that the logical result of his economics was oligarchy and a client state. The Conservative party aren't conservatives either, but very much neoliberal.
    , zendancer , 17 Nov 2016 17:27
    Funny thing is during the last 8 years of Obama in office as President ,the Clintons via their "Foundation " has made themselves very ,very rich .Meanwhile ISIS is supported by Obama and the reputation of USA is dragged through the "mud", as the World wonders why a the leader of the Western World in backing a "bunch of thugs who kill civilians ,act like they own the World.The whole of the Middle East was about to break into a "Sunni v Shia bloodbath over Syria and Irag ,until Russia decided the "game was over " and stopped Isis in it's tracks .

    Neoliberalism is now shown up to be a "rich get richer and stuff everyone else : modus operandi,great for California (weapons and computer based systems ) and "Manhattan " where the Bankers and Federal Reserve broke all the rules as the National debt went up by 8 trillion US dollars under Obama (ex federal Reserve chief of 1990's joked a few years ago "When i ran the Fed . we never mentioned the "trillion " word when talking about the National Debt but ,now i can talk about 16 trillion dollar debt !What a laugh !"

    Let us hope that Neoliberalism is now "dead and buried " ,the Clinton's and their Middle East autocratic backers (who must know they are soon to be history -take you pick -Saudi Arabia has trouble fighting Yemen and now Yemen is in Saudi Arabia ,because the Saudi's cannot fight .Forget Sanders ,too old and "did he take a backhander to go away ?.Trump does not want to be President ,he has said many times "i am