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Neoclassical Pseudo Theories and Crooked and Bought Economists as Fifth Column of Financial Oligarchy

There is no economics, only political economy, stupid

News Casino Capitalism Recommended Links Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich Number racket Efficient Market Hypothesis Economism and abuse of economic theory in American politics
Supply Side or Trickle down economics Invisible Hand Hypothesys Twelve apostles of deregulation Monetarism fiasco Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy Samuelson's bastard Keynesianism Greenspan as the Chairman of Financial Politburo
Libertarian Philosophy Elite [Dominance] Theory And the Revolt of the Elite The Iron Law of Oligarchy Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few The Deep State
Free Market Fundamentalism Friedman --founder of Chicago school of deification of market Lawrence Summers Corruption of Regulators Glass-Steagall repeal Rational expectations scam Free Markets Newspeak
In Goldman Sachs we trust: classic example of regulatory capture by financial system hackers Mathiness GDP as a false measure of a country economic output Introduction to Lysenkoism Republican Economic Policy Think Tanks Enablers  Small government smoke screen
Hyman Minsky John Kenneth Galbraith  Bookshelf History of Casino Capitalism Casino Capitalism Dictionary :-) Humor Etc
Is it really necessary for every economist to be brain-dead apologist for the rich and powerful and predatory, in every damn breath?

Bruce Wilder in comments to Clash of Autonomy and Interdependence

Smith briskly takes a sledgehammer to any number of plaster saints cluttering up the edifice of modern economics:

"assumptions that are patently ridiculous: that individuals are rational and utility-maximizing (which has become such a slippery notion as to be meaningless), that buyers and sellers have perfect information, that there are no transaction costs, that capital flows freely"

And then...papers with cooked figures, economists oblivious to speculative factors driving oil prices, travesty versions of Keynes's ideas that airbrush out its most characteristic features in the name of mathematical tractability.

And then...any number of grand-sounding theoretical constructs: the Arrow-Debreu theorem, the Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium model, the Black-Scholes option model, Value at Risk, CAPM, the Gaussian copula, that only work under blatantly unrealistic assumptions that go by high falutin' names - equilibrium, ergodicity, and so on.

The outcome of this pseudo-scientific botching is an imposing corpus of pretentious quackery that somehow elevates unregulated "free markets" into the sole mechanism for distribution of the spoils of economic activity. We are supposed to believe that by some alchemical process, maximum indulgence of human greed results in maximum prosperity for all. That's unfair to alchemy: compared with the threadbare scientific underpinnings of this economic dogma, alchemy is a model of rigor.

How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism

How many others are being paid for punditry? Or has the culture of corruption spread so far that the question is, Who isn't?

PAUL KRUGMAN, NYT, December 19, 2005

"MIT and Wharton and University of Chicago created the financial engineering instruments which, like Samson and Delilah, blinded every CEO. They didn't realize the kind of leverage they were doing and they didn't understand when they were really creating a real profit or a fictitious one."

Paul Samuelson


Introduction

When you see this "neoclassical" gallery of expensive intellectual prostitutes (sorry, respectable priests of a dominant religion) that pretend to be professors of economics in various prominent universities, it is difficult not to say "It's political economy stupid". Those lackeys of ruling elite are just handing microphone bought by financial oligarchy.  Here is am Amazon.com review of  ECONned How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism eBook Yves Smith that  states this position well:

kievite:
Neoclassical economics as a universal door opener for financial oligarchy

There are many good reviews of the book published already and I don't want to repeat them. But I think there is one aspect of the book that was not well covered in the published reviews and which I think is tremendously important and makes the book a class of its own: the use of neoclassical economics as a universal door opener for financial oligarchy. I hope that the term "econned" will became a new word in English language.

Neoclassical economics has become the modern religion with its own priests, sacred texts and a scheme of salvation. It was a successful attempt to legitimize the unlimited rule of financial oligarchy by using quasi-mathematical, oversimplified and detached for reality models. The net result is a new brand of theology, which proved to be pretty powerful in influencing people and capturing governments("cognitive regulatory capture"). Like Marxism, neoclassical economics is a triumph of ideology over science. It was much more profitable though: those who were the most successful in driving this Trojan horse into the gates were remunerated on the level of Wall Street traders.

Economics is essentially a political science. And politics is about perception. Neo-classical economics is all about manipulating the perception in such a way as to untie hands of banking elite to plunder the country (and get some cramps from the table for themselves). Yves contributed to our understanding how "These F#@king Guys" as Jon Steward defined them, economics professors from Chicago, Harvard, Columbia, Princeton and some other places warmed by flow of money from banks for specific services provided managed to serve as a fifth column helping Wall Street to plunder the country. The rhetorical question that a special counsel to the U.S. Army, Joseph Welch, asked Senator McCarthy: "Have you no sense of decency?" applies.

The main effect of neoclassical economics is elevating unregulated ( "free" in neoclassic economics speak) markets into the key mechanism for distribution of the results of economic activity with banks as all-powerful middlemen and sedating any opposition with pseudo-mathematical mumbo-jumbo. Complexity was used as a powerful smoke screen to conceal greed and incompetence. As a result financial giants were able to loot almost all sectors of economics with impunity and without any remorse, not unlike the brutal conquerors in Middle Ages.

The key to the success of this nationwide looting is that people should be brainwashed/indoctrinated to believe that by some alchemical process, maximum level of greed results in maximum prosperity for all. Collapse of the USSR helped in this respect driving the message home: look how the alternative ended, when in reality the USSR was a neo-feudal society. But the exquisite irony here is that Bolsheviks-style ideological brainwashing was applied very successfully to the large part of the US population (especially student population) using neo-classical economics instead of Marxism (which by-and-large was also a pseudo-religious economic theory with slightly different priests and the plan of salvation ;-). The application of badly constructed mathematical models proved to be a powerful tool for distorting reality in a certain, desirable for financial elite direction. One of the many definitions of Ponzi Scheme is "transfer liabilities to unwilling others." The use of detached from reality mathematical models fits this definition pretty well.

The key idea here is that neoclassical economists are not and never have been scientists: much like Marxist economists they always were just high priests of a dangerous cult -- neoliberalism -- and they are more then eager to stretch the truth for the benefit of the sect (and indirectly to their own benefit). All-in-all this is not unlike Lysenkoism: state support was and still is here, it is just working more subtly via ostracism, without open repressions. Look at Shiller story on p.9.

I think that one of lasting insights provided by Econned is the demonstration how the US society was taken hostage by the ideological views of the neoclassical economic school that has dominated the field at least for 30 or may be even 50 years. And that this ideological coup d'état was initiated and financed by banking establishment who was a puppeteer behind the curtain. This is not unlike the capture of Russia by Bolsheviks supported by German intelligence services (and Bolshevics rule lasted slightly longer -- 65 years). Bolsheviks were just adherents of similar wrapped in the mantle of economic theory religious cult, abeit more dangerous and destructive for the people of Russia then neoclassical economics is for the people of the USA. Quoting Marx we can say "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce".

That also means that there is no easy way out of the current situation. Ideologies are sticky and can lead to the collapse of society rather then peaceful evolution.

So it's no surprise that there is a strong evidence that neo-classical economics is not a science, it's a political ideology of financial oligarchy masquerading as science. Or a religious cult, if you wish.

So it's no surprise that there is a strong evidence that neo-classical economics is not a science, it's a political ideology of financial oligarchy masquerading as science. Or a religious cult, if you wish.

The cult which served as a Trojan horse for bankers to grab power and wealth by robbing fellow Americans. In a way this is a classic story of a parasite killing the host. The powers that be in academia put their imprimatur on economic ‘theory,’ select and indoctrinate its high priests to teach it, and with a host of media players grinding out arguments pro and con this and that, provide legitimacy sufficient for cover of bankers objectives. Which control the disposition and annuity streams of pension fund assets and related financial services. In his new documentary Inside Job, filmmaker Charles Ferguson provides strong evidence of a systematic mass corruption of economic profession (Yahoo! Finance):

Ferguson points to 20 years of deregulation, rampant greed (a la Gordon Gekko) and cronyism. This cronyism is in large part due to a revolving door between not only Wall Street and Washington, but also the incestuous relationship between Wall Street, Washington and academia.

The conflicts of interest that arise when academics take on roles outside of education are largely unspoken, but a very big problem. “The academic economics discipline has been very heavily penetrated by the financial services industry,” Ferguson tells Aaron in the accompanying clip. “Many prominent academics now actually make the majority of their money from the financial services industry, not from teaching or research. [This fact] has definitely compromised the research work and the policy advice that we get from academia.”

... ... ...

Feguson is astonished by the lack of regulation demanding financial disclosure of all academics and is now pushing for it. “At a minimum, federal law should require public disclosure of all outside income that is in any way related to professors’ publishing and policy advocacy,” he writes. “It may be desirable to go even further, and to limit the total size of outside income that potentially generates conflicts of interest.”

The dismantling of economic schools that favor financial oligarchy interests over real research (and prosecuting academic criminals -- many prominent professors in Chicago, Harvard, Columbia and other prominent members of neo-classical economic church) require a new funding model. As neoliberalism itself, the neoclassical economy is very sticky. Chances for success of any reform in the current environment are slim to non existent.

Here is one apt quote from Zero Hedge discussion of Gonzalo Lira article On The Identity Of The False Religion Behind The Mask Of Economic Science zero hedge

"They analyze data for Christ sakes"

Just like Mishkin analyzed Iceland for $120k? a huge proportion in US [are] on Fed payroll, or beneficiaries of corporate thinktank cash; they are coverup lipstick and makeup; hacks for hire.

Like truth-trashing mortgage pushers, credit raters, CDO CDS market manipulators and bribe-fueled fraud enablers of all stripes -- they do it for the dough -- and because everybody else is doing it.

It's now a common understanding that "These F#@king Guys" as Jon Steward defined them, professors  of neoclassical economics from Chicago, Harvard and some other places are warmed by flow of money from financial services industries for specific services provided managed to serve as a fifth column helping financial oligarchy to destroy the country. This role of neo-classical economists as the fifth column of financial oligarchy is an interesting research topic. Just don't expect any grants for it ;-).

As Reinhold Niebuhr aptly noted in his classic Moral Man and Immoral Society
Since inequalities of privilege are greater than could possibly be defended rationally, the intelligence of privileged groups is usually applied to the task of inventing specious proofs for the theory that universal values spring from, and that general interests are served by, the special privileges which they hold.

I would like to stress it again: they are not and never have been scientists: they are just high priests of dangerous cult -- neoliberalism -- and they are more then eager to stretch the truth for the sect (and that means their own) benefits. Fifth column of financial oligarchy. All-in-all this is not unlike Lysenkoism: at some point state support became obvious as financial oligarchy gained significant share of government power (as Glass-Steagall repeal signified). It is just more subtle working via ostracism and flow of funding, without open repressions. See also Politicization of science and The Republican War on Science

Like Russia with Bolsheviks, the US society was taken hostage by the ideological views of the Chicago economic school that has dominated the field for approximately 50 years ( as minimum over 30 years). Actually the situation not unlike the situation with Lysenkoism is the USSR. It's pretty notable that the USA suffered 30 years of this farce, actually approximately the same amount of time the USSR scientific community suffered from Lysenkoism (1934-1965)

Rules of disclosure of sources of financing for economic research are non-existent


"Over the past 30 years, the economics profession—in economics departments, and in business, public policy, and law schools—has become so compromised by conflicts of interest that it now functions almost as a support group for financial services and other industries whose profits depend heavily on government policy.

The route to the 2008 financial crisis, and the economic problems that still plague us, runs straight through the economics discipline. And it's due not just to ideology; it's also about straightforward, old-fashioned money."

Peter Dormat noticed amazing similarity between medical researchers taking money from drug companies and economists. In case of medical researchers widespread corruption can at least be partially kept in check by rules of disclosure. Universities are being called out for their failure to disclose to public agencies the other, private grants researchers are pulling in. This is not perfect policing as the universities themselves get a cut of the proceeds, so that the conflict of interest exists but at least this is theirs too.

But there is no corresponding policy for economics. So for them there are not even rules to be broken. And this is not a bug, this is  feature.  In a sense corruption is officially institualized and expected in economics. Being a paid shill is the typical career of many professional economists. Some foundations require an acknowledgment in the published research they support, but that's all about “thank you”, not disclaimer about the level of influence of those who pay for the music exert on the selection of the tune. Any disclosure of other, privately-interested funding sources by economists is strictly voluntary, and in practice seldom occurs. Trade researchers can be funded by foreign governments or business associations and so on and so forth.

In this atmosphere pseudo-theories have currency and are attractive to economists who want to enrich themselves. That situation is rarely reflected in mainstream press. For example, there some superficial critiques of neo-classical economics as a new form of Lysenkoism (it enjoyed the support of the state) but MSM usually frame the meltdown of neo-classical economic theory something like "To all you corrupt jerks out there: shake off the old camouflage as it became too visible and find a new way misleading the masses...". At the same time it's a real shocker, what a bunch of toxic theories and ideologies starting from Reagan have done to the US economy.

That suggests that neo-economics such as Milton Friedman (and lower level patsies like Eugene Fama ) were just paid propagandists of a superficial, uninformed, and simplistic view of the world that was convenient to the ruling elite. While this is somewhat simplistic explanation, it's by-and-large true and that was one of the factors led the USA very close to the cliff... Most of their theories is not only just nonsense for any trained Ph.D level mathematician or computer scientist, they look like nonsense to any person with a college degree, who looks at them with a fresh, unprejudiced mind. There are several economic myths, popularized by well paid propagandists over the last thirty years, that are falling hard in the recent series of financial crises: the efficient market hypothesis, the inherent benefits of globalization from the natural equilibrium of national competitive advantages, and the infallibility of unfettered greed as a ideal method of managing and organizing human social behavior and maximizing national production.

I would suggest that and economic theory has a strong political-economic dimension. The cult of markets, ideological subservience and manipulation, etc. certainly are part of neo-classical economics that was influenced by underling political agenda this pseudo-theory promotes. As pdavidsonutk wrote: July 16, 2009 16:14

Keynes noted that "classical theorists resemble Euclidean geometers in a non Euclidean world who, discovering that in experience straight lines apparently parallel often meet, rebuke the lines for not keeping straight --as the only remedy for the unfortunate collisions. Yet in truth there is no remedy except to throw over the axiom of parallels to work out a non-Euclidean geometry. SOMETHING SIMILAR IS REQUIRED IN ECONOMICS TODAY. " [Emphasis added]

As I pointed out in my 2007 book JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES (Mentioned in this ECONOMIST article as a biography "of the master") Keynes threw over three classical axioms: (1) the neutral money axiom (2) the gross substitution axiom, and (3) the ergodic axiom.

The latter is most important for understanding why modern macroeconomics is dwelling in an Euclidean economics world rather than the non-Euclidean economics Keynes set forth.

The Ergodic axiom asserts that the future is merely the statistical shadow of the past so that if one develops a probability distribution using historical data, the same probability distribution will govern all future events till the end of time!! Thus in this Euclidean economics there is no uncertainty about the future only probabilistic risk that can reduce the future to actuarial certainty! In such a world rational people and firms know (with actuarial certainty) their intertemporal budget constrains and optimize -- so that there can never be an loan defaults, insolvencies, or bankruptcies.

Keynes argued that important economic decisions involved nonergodic processes, so that the future could NOT be forecasted on the basis of past statistical probability results -- and therefore certain human institutions had to be develop0ed as part of the law of contracts to permit people to make crucial decisions regarding a future that they "knew" they could not know and still sleep at night. When the future seems very uncertain, then rational people in a nonergodic world would decide not to make any decisions to commit their real resources -- but instead save via liquid assets so they could make decisions another day when the future seemed to them less uncertain.

All this is developed and the policy implications derived in my JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES (2007) book. Furthermore this nonergodic model is applied to the current financial and economic crisis and its solution in my 2009 book THE KEYNES SOLUTION: THE PATH TO GLOBAL PROSPERITY (Palgrave/Macmillan) where I tell the reader what Keynes would have written regarding today's domestic crisis in each nation and its international aspects.

Paul Davidson ghaliban wrote:

July 16, 2009 15:34

I think you could have written a shorter article to make your point about the dismal state of economics theory and practice, and saved space to think more imaginatively about ways to reform.

A bit like biology, economics must become econology - a study of real economic systems. It must give up its physics-envy. This on its own will lead its practitioners closer to the truth.

Like biological systems, economic systems are complex, and often exhibit emergent properties that cannot be predicted from the analysis of component parts. The best way to deal with this is (as in biology) to start with the basic organizational unit of analysis - the individual, and then study how the individual makes economic decisions in larger and larger groups (family/community), and how groups take economic decisions within larger and larger forms of economic organization. From this, econologists should determine whether there are any enduring patterns in how aggregate economic decisions are taken. If there are no easily discernable patterns, and aggregate decisions cannot be predicted from a knowledge of individual decision-making preferences, then the theory must rely (as it does in biology) on computer simulations with the economy replicated in as much detail as possible to limit the scope for modeling error. This path will illuminate the "physiology" of different economies.

A second area of development must look into "anatomy" - the connections between actors within the financial system, the connections between economic actors within the real economy, and the connections between the real and financial economies. What are the precise links demand and supply links between these groups, and how does money really flow through the economic system? A finer knowledge of economic anatomy will make it easier to produce better computer simulations of the economy, which will make it a bit easier to study economic physiology.

"Markets uber alles" or more correctly "Financial oligarchy uber alles"

In her interview What Exactly Is Neoliberalism  Wendy Brown advanced some Professor Wolin ideas to a new level and provide explanation why "neoclassical crooks" like Professor  Frederic Mishkin (of Financial Stability in Iceland fame) still rule the economics departments of the USA. They are instrumental in giving legitimacy to the neoliberal rule favoured by the financial oligarchy:

"... I treat neoliberalism as a governing rationality through which everything is "economized" and in a very specific way: human beings become market actors and nothing but, every field of activity is seen as a market, and every entity (whether public or private, whether person, business, or state) is governed as a firm. Importantly, this is not simply a matter of extending commodification and monetization everywhere-that's the old Marxist depiction of capital's transformation of everyday life. Neoliberalism construes even non-wealth generating spheres-such as learning, dating, or exercising-in market terms, submits them to market metrics, and governs them with market techniques and practices. Above all, it casts people as human capital who must constantly tend to their own present and future value. ..."

"... The most common criticisms of neoliberalism, regarded solely as economic policy rather than as the broader phenomenon of a governing rationality, are that it generates and legitimates extreme inequalities of wealth and life conditions; that it leads to increasingly precarious and disposable populations; that it produces an unprecedented intimacy between capital (especially finance capital) and states, and thus permits domination of political life by capital; that it generates crass and even unethical commercialization of things rightly protected from markets, for example, babies, human organs, or endangered species or wilderness; that it privatizes public goods and thus eliminates shared and egalitarian access to them; and that it subjects states, societies, and individuals to the volatility and havoc of unregulated financial markets. ..."

"... with the neoliberal revolution that homo politicus is finally vanquished as a fundamental feature of being human and of democracy. Democracy requires that citizens be modestly oriented toward self-rule, not simply value enhancement, and that we understand our freedom as resting in such self-rule, not simply in market conduct. When this dimension of being human is extinguished, it takes with it the necessary energies, practices, and culture of democracy, as well as its very intelligibility. ..."

"... For most Marxists, neoliberalism emerges in the 1970s in response to capitalism's falling rate of profit; the shift of global economic gravity to OPEC, Asia, and other sites outside the West; and the dilution of class power generated by unions, redistributive welfare states, large and lazy corporations, and the expectations generated by educated democracies. From this perspective, neoliberalism is simply capitalism on steroids: a state and IMF-backed consolidation of class power aimed at releasing capital from regulatory and national constraints, and defanging all forms of popular solidarities, especially labor. ..."

"... The grains of truth in this analysis don't get at the fundamental transformation of social, cultural, and individual life brought about by neoliberal reason. They don't get at the ways that public institutions and services have not merely been outsourced but thoroughly recast as private goods for individual investment or consumption. And they don't get at the wholesale remaking of workplaces, schools, social life, and individuals. For that story, one has to track the dissemination of neoliberal economization through neoliberalism as a governing form of reason, not just a power grab by capital. There are many vehicles of this dissemination -- law, culture, and above all, the novel political-administrative form we have come to call governance. It is through governance practices that business models and metrics come to irrigate every crevice of society, circulating from investment banks to schools, from corporations to universities, from public agencies to the individual. It is through the replacement of democratic terms of law, participation, and justice with idioms of benchmarks, objectives, and buy-ins that governance dismantles democratic life while appearing only to instill it with "best practices." ..."

"... Progressives generally disparage Citizens United for having flooded the American electoral process with corporate money on the basis of tortured First Amendment reasoning that treats corporations as persons. However, a careful reading of the majority decision also reveals precisely the thoroughgoing economization of the terms and practices of democracy we have been talking about. In the majority opinion, electoral campaigns are cast as "political marketplaces," just as ideas are cast as freely circulating in a market where the only potential interference arises from restrictions on producers and consumers of ideas-who may speak and who may listen or judge. Thus, Justice Kennedy's insistence on the fundamental neoliberal principle that these marketplaces should be unregulated paves the way for overturning a century of campaign finance law aimed at modestly restricting the power of money in politics. Moreover, in the decision, political speech itself is rendered as a kind of capital right, functioning largely to advance the position of its bearer, whether that bearer is human capital, corporate capital, or finance capital. This understanding of political speech replaces the idea of democratic political speech as a vital (if potentially monopolizable and corruptible) medium for public deliberation and persuasion. ..."

"... My point was that democracy is really reduced to a whisper in the Euro-Atlantic nations today. Even Alan Greenspan says that elections don't much matter much because, "thanks to globalization . . . the world is governed by market forces," not elected representatives. ..."

 


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I find an attempt to elevate academic finance and economics to sciences by using the word "scientism" to be bizarre. Finance models like CAPM, Black-Scholes and VAR all rest on assumptions that are demonstrably false, such as rational investors and continuous markets.

May 11, 2012 at 1-40 pm

[Feb 16, 2018] The Pathetic Inadequacy of the Trump Opposition The American Conservative by Paul Brian

Notable quotes:
"... Dancing With The Stars ..."
"... The Washington Post. ..."
"... Paul Brian is a freelance journalist. He has reported for BBC, Reuters, and Foreign Policy, and contributed to the Week, The Federalist, and others. He covered the fledgling U.S. alt-right at a 2014 conference in Hungary as well as the 2015 New Hampshire primary, and also made a documentary about his time living in the Republic of Georgia in 2012. You can follow him on Twitter @paulrbrian or visit his website www.paulrbrian.com . ..."
Feb 16, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The hawks and internationalists who set our house on fire don't now deserve the contract to rebuild it.

While it may have significant popular support, much of the anti-Trump "Resistance" suffers from a severe weakness of message. Part of the problem is with who the Resistance's leading messengers are: discredited neoconservative poltroons like former president George W. Bush, unwatchable alleged celebrities like Chelsea Handler, and establishment Republicans who routinely slash and burn the middle class like Senator Jeff Flake. Furthermore, what exactly is the Resistance's overriding message? Invariably their sermonizing revolves around vague bromides about "tolerance," diversity, unrestricted free trade, and multilateralism. They routinely push a supposed former status quo that was in fact anything but a status quo. The leaders of the Resistance have in their arsenal nothing but buzzwords and a desire to feel self-satisfied and turn back to imagined pre-Trump normality. A president like Donald Trump is only possible in a country with opposition voices of such subterranean caliber.

Remember when Trump steamrolled a crowded field of Republicans in one of the greatest electoral upsets in American history? Surely many of us also recall the troupes of smug celebrities and Bushes and Obamas who lined up to take potshots at Trump over his unacceptably cruel utterances that upset their noble moral sensibilities? How did that work out for them? They lost. The more that opposition to Trump in office takes the same form as opposition to him on the campaign trail, the more hypocritical and counterproductive it becomes. Further, the resistance to Trump's policies is coming just at the moment when principled opposition most needs to up its game and help turn back the hands of the Doomsday Clock. It's social conservatives who are also opposed to war and exploitation of the working class who have the best moral bona fides to effectively oppose Trump, which is why morally phrased attacks on Trump from the corporate and socially liberal wings of the left, as well as the free market and interventionist conservative establishment, have failed and will continue to fail. Any real alternative is going to have to come from regular folks with hearts and morals who aren't stained by decades of failure and hypocrisy.

A majority of Democrats now have favorable views of George W. Bush, and that's no coincidence. Like the supposedly reasonable anti-Trump voices on their side, Bush pops up like a dutiful marionette to condemn white supremacy and "nativism," and to reminisce about the good old days when he was in charge. Bush also lectures about how Russia is ruining everything by meddling in elections and destabilizing the world. But how convincing is it really to hear about multilateralism and respect for human rights from Bush, who launched an unnecessary war on Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians and left thousands of American servicemen and women dead and wounded? How convincing is it when former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, who famously remarked that an estimated half a million Iraqis dead from our 1990s sanctions was "worth it," haughtily claims that she's "offended" by Trump's travel ban ? "Offended" -- is that so, Madame Secretary? I have a feeling millions of Muslims in the Middle East may have also been "offended" when people like you helped inflame their region and turned it into an endless back-and-forth firestorm of conflict between U.S.-backed dictators and brutal jihadists, with everyone else caught in between.

Maybe instead of being offended that not everyone can come to America, people like Albright, Kerry, and Bush shouldn't have contributed to the conditions that wrecked those people's homes in the first place? Maybe the U.S. government should think more closely about providing military aid to 73 percent of the world's dictatorships? Sorry, do excuse the crazy talk. Clearly all the ruthless maneuvering by the U.S. and NATO is just being done out of a selfless desire to spread democratic values by raining down LGBT-friendly munitions on beleaguered populations worldwide. Another congressman just gave a speech about brave democratic principles so we can all relax.

Generally, U.S. leaders like to team up with dictators before turning on them when they become inconvenient or start to upset full-spectrum dominance. Nobody have should been surprised to see John Kerry fraternizing in a friendly manner with Syrian butcher Bashar al-Assad and then moralistically threatening him with war several years later, or Donald Rumsfeld grinning with Saddam Hussein as they cooperated militarily before Rumsfeld did an about-face on the naïve dictator based on false premises after 9/11. Here's former president Barack Obama shaking Moammar Gaddafi's hand in 2009 . I wonder what became of Mr. Gaddafi?

It's beyond parody to hear someone like Bush sternly opine that there's "pretty clear evidence" Russia meddled in the 2016 election. Even if that were deeply significant in the way some argue, Bush should be the last person anyone is hearing from about it. It's all good, though: remember when Bush laughed about how there hadn't been weapons of mass destruction in Iraq at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2004? It's all just a joke; don't you get it? (Maybe Saddam Hussein had already used all the chemical weapons the U.S. helped him get during the 1980s on Iran in the Iran-Iraq War, which killed over one million people by the time the coalition of the willing came knocking in 2003). That's the kind of thing people like Bush like to indirectly joke about in the company of self-satisfied press ghouls at celebratory dinners. However, when the mean man Mr. Trump pals around with Russian baddie Vladimir Putin, mistreats women, or spews out unkind rhetoric about "shitholes," it's far from a joke: it's time to get out your two-eared pink hat and hit the streets chanting in righteous outrage.

To be fair, Trump is worthy of opposition. An ignorant, reactive egotist who needs to have his unfounded suppositions and inaccuracies constantly validated by a sycophantic staff of people who'd be rejected even for a reality show version of the White House, he really is an unstable excuse for a leader and an inveterate misogynist and all the other things. Trump isn't exactly Bible Belt material despite his stamp of approval from Jerry Falwell Jr. and crew; in fact he hasn't even succeeded in getting rid of the Johnson Amendment and allowing churches to get more involved in politics, one of his few concrete promises to Christian conservatives. He's also a big red button of a disaster in almost every other area as commander-in-chief.

Trump's first military action as president reportedly killed numerous innocent women and children (some unnamed U.S. officials claim some of the women were militants) as well as a Navy SEAL. Helicopter gunships strafed a Yemeni village for over an hour in what Trump called a "highly successful" operation against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). A senior military official felt differently, saying that "almost everything went wrong." The raid even killed eight-year-old American girl Nawar al-Awlaki, daughter of previously killed extremist leader Anwar al-Awlaki, whose other innocent child, 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, was also droned while eating outdoors at a restaurant in 2010 (with several friends and his 17-year-old cousin). The Obama administration dismissed Abdulrahman's death at the time as no big deal .

The list goes on with the Trump administration, a hollow outfit of Goldman Sachs operatives and detached industry and financier billionaires helping out their hedge fund friends and throwing a small table scrap to the peasants every now and then. As deformed babies are born in Flint, Michigan , Ivanka grandstands about paid parental leave . Meanwhile, Trump and Co. work to expand the war in Afghanistan and Syria. It's a sad state of affairs.

So who are the right voices to oppose the mango man-child and his cadre of doddering dullards? Not degenerate celebrities, dirty politicians of the past, or special interest groups that try to fit everyone into a narrow electoral box so mainline Democrats can pass their own version of corporate welfare and run wars with more sensitive rhetoric and politically correct messaging. Instead, the effective dissidents of the future will be people of various beliefs, but especially the pro-family and faith-driven, who are just as opposed to what came before Trump as they are to him. The future of a meaningful political alternative to the underlying liberalism, materialism, and me-first individualism on the left and right will revolve around traditionalists and pro-family conservative individuals who define their own destinies instead of letting themselves be engineered into destinies manufactured by multinational corporations and boardroom gremlins with diversity outreach strategies. It's possible, for example, to be socially conservative, pro-worker, pro-environment, and anti-war. In fact, that is the norm in most countries that exist outside the false political paradigm pushed in America.

If enough suburbanite centrists who take a break from Dancing With The Stars are convinced that Trump is bad because George W. Bush and Madeleine Albright say so, it shows that these people have learned absolutely nothing from Trump or the process that led to him. These kind of resistors are the people nodding their heads emphatically as they read Eliot Cohen talk about why he and his friends can't stomach the evil stench of Trump or Robert Kagan whine about fascism in The Washington Post. Here's a warning to good people who may not have been following politics closely prior to Trump: don't get taken in by these charlatans. Don't listen to those who burned your town down as they pitch you the contract to rebuild it. You can oppose both the leaders of the "Resistance" and Trump. In fact, it is your moral duty to do so. This is the End of the End of History As We Know It, but there isn't going to be an REM song or Will Smith punching an alien in the face to help everyone through it.

Here's a thought for those finding themselves enthusiastic about the Resistance and horrified by Trump: maybe, just maybe , the water was already starting to boil before you cried out in pain and alarm.

Paul Brian is a freelance journalist. He has reported for BBC, Reuters, and Foreign Policy, and contributed to the Week, The Federalist, and others. He covered the fledgling U.S. alt-right at a 2014 conference in Hungary as well as the 2015 New Hampshire primary, and also made a documentary about his time living in the Republic of Georgia in 2012. You can follow him on Twitter @paulrbrian or visit his website www.paulrbrian.com .


Fran Macadam February 16, 2018 at 1:14 pm

Trump is definitely a castor oil antidote. But if not him, then them.
Frank , says: February 16, 2018 at 1:19 pm
Now this is TAC material!
Kent , says: February 16, 2018 at 1:48 pm
"The future of a meaningful political alternative to the underlying liberalism, materialism, and me-first individualism on the left and right will revolve around traditionalists and pro-family conservative individuals who define their own destinies instead of letting themselves be engineered into destinies manufactured by multinational corporations and boardroom gremlins with diversity outreach strategies."

They will have to lose their faith in "Free Market God" first. I don't believe that will happen.

Aaron Paolozzi , says: February 16, 2018 at 2:56 pm
I enjoyed the heat. The comments made are on point, and this is pretty much what my standard response to reactionary trump dissidents are. Trump is terrible, but so is what came before him, he is just easier to dislike.

Keep it coming.

One Guy , says: February 16, 2018 at 3:16 pm
Even with inadequate opposition, Trump has managed to be the most unpopular president after one year, ever. I'm guessing this speaks to his unique talent of messing things up.
RVA , says: February 16, 2018 at 4:11 pm
Wow! Paul! Babylon burning. Preach it, brother! Takes me back to my teenage years, Ramparts 1968, as another corrupt infrastructure caught fire and burned down. TAC is amazing, the only place to find this in true form.

Either we are history remembering fossils soon gone, or the next financial crash – now inevitable with passage of tax reform (redo of 2001- the rich got their money out, now full speed off the cliff), will bring down this whole mass of absolute corruption. What do you think will happen when Trump is faced with a true crisis? They're selling off the floorboards. What can remain standing?

And elsewhere in the world, who, in their right mind, would help us? Good riddance to truly dangerous pathology. The world would truly become safer with the USA decommissioned, and then restored, through honest travail, to humility, and humanity.

You are right. Be with small town, front porch, family and neighborhood goodness, and dodge the crashing embers.

The Flying Burrito Brothers: 'On the thirty-first floor a gold plated door
Won't keep out the Lord's burning rain '

God Bless.

Donald , says: February 16, 2018 at 5:50 pm
I agree with Frank. This was great.

The depressing thing to me is how hard it is to get people to see this. You have people who still think Trump is doing a great job and on the other side people who admire the warmongering Resistance and think Hillary's vast experience in foreign policy was one of her strengths, rather than one of the main reasons to be disgusted by her. Between the two categories I think you have the majority of American voters.

[Feb 15, 2018] Financial Markets Have Taken Over the Economy. To Prevent Another Crisis, They Must Be Brought to Heel. naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... By Servaas Storm, Professor, Department of Economics, Faculty TPM, Delft University of Technology and co-author, with C.W. M. Naastepad, of Macroeconomics Beyond the NAIRU (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press), which has just won the Myrdal Prize of the European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website ..."
"... Banks have long had undue influence in society. But with the rapid expansion of a financial sector that transforms all debts and assets into tradable commodities, we are faced with something far worse: financial markets with an only abstract, inflated, and destabilizing relationship with the real economy. To prevent another crisis, finance must be domesticated and turned into a useful servant of society. ..."
"... financial markets ..."
"... Homo œconomicus ..."
"... Finance and the Good Society ..."
"... High Net Worth Individuals ..."
"... cheap liquidity on demand ..."
"... asset-backed securities ..."
"... re-hypothecation ..."
Feb 15, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on February 14, 2018 by Yves Smith Yves here. Get a cup of coffee. This is an important, one-stop treatment of how financialization has harmed the real economy and increased inequality.

By Servaas Storm, Professor, Department of Economics, Faculty TPM, Delft University of Technology and co-author, with C.W. M. Naastepad, of Macroeconomics Beyond the NAIRU (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press), which has just won the Myrdal Prize of the European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

Banks have long had undue influence in society. But with the rapid expansion of a financial sector that transforms all debts and assets into tradable commodities, we are faced with something far worse: financial markets with an only abstract, inflated, and destabilizing relationship with the real economy. To prevent another crisis, finance must be domesticated and turned into a useful servant of society.

The Financialization of Everything

Ours is, without a doubt, the age of finance -- of the supremacy of financial actors, institutions, markets, and motives in the global capitalist economy. Working people in the advanced economies, for instance, increasingly have their (pension) savings invested in mutual funds and stock markets, while their mortgages and other debts are turned into securities and sold to global financial investors (Krippner 2011; Epstein 2018). At the same time, the 'under-banked' poor in the developing world have become entangled, or if one wishes, 'financially included', in the 'web' of global finance through their growing reliance on micro-loans, micro-insurance and M-Pesa-like 'correspondent banking' (Keucheyan 2018; Mader 2018). More generally, individual citizens everywhere are invited to "live by finance", in Martin's (2002, p. 17) evocative words, that is: to organize their daily lives around 'investor logic', active individual risk management, and involvement in global financial markets. Citizenship and rights are being re-conceptualized in terms of universal access to 'safe' and affordable financial products (Kear 2012) -- redefining Descartes' philosophical proof of existence as: 'I am indebted, therefore I am' (Graeber 2011). Financial markets are opening 'new enclosures' everywhere, deeply penetrating social space -- as in the case of so-called 'viaticals', the third-party purchase of the rights to future payoffs of life insurance contracts from the terminally ill (Quinn 2008); or of 'health care bonds' issued by insurance companies to fund health-care interventions; the payoff to private investors in these bonds depends on the cost-savings arising from the health-care intervention for the insurers. Or what to think of 'humanitarian impact bonds' used to profitably finance physical rehabilitation services in countries affected by violence and conflict (Lavinas 2018); this latter instrument was created in 2017 by the International Red Cross in cooperation with insurer Munich Re and Bank Lombard Odier.

Conglomerate corporate entities, which used to provide long-term employment and stable retirement benefits, were broken up under pressure of financial markets and replaced by disaggregated global commodity-chain structures (Wade 2018), operating according to the principles of 'shareholder value maximization' (Lazonick 2014) -- with the result that today real decision-making power is often to be found no longer in corporate boardrooms, but in global financial markets. As a result, accumulation -- real capital formation which increases overall economic output -- has slowed down in the U.S., the E.U. and India, as profit-owners, looking for the highest returns, reallocated their investments to more profitable financial markets (Jayadev, Mason and Schröder 2018).

An overabundance of (cash) finance is used primarily to fund a proliferation of short-term, high-risk (potentially high-return) investments in newly developed financial instruments, such as derivatives -- Warren Buffet's 'financial weapons of mass destruction' that blew up the global financial system in 2007-8. Financial actors (ranging from banks, bond investors, and pension funds to big insurers and speculative hedge funds) have taken much bigger roles on much larger geographic scales in markets of items essential to development such as food (Clapp and Isakson 2018), primary commodities, health care (insurance), education, and energy. These same actors hunt the globe for 'passive' unearthed assets which they can re-use as collateral for various purposes in the 'shadow banking system' -- the complex global chains of credit, liquidity and leverage with no systemic regulatory oversight that has become as large as the regulated 'normal' banking system (Pozsar and Singh 2011; Gabor 2018) and enjoys implicit state guarantees (Kane 2013, 2015).

Pressed by the international financial institutions and their own elites, states around the world have embraced finance-friendly policies which included reducing cross-border capital controls, promoting liquid domestic stock markets, reducing the taxation of wealth and capital gains, and rendering their central banks independent from political oversight (Bortz and Kaltenbrunner 2018; Wade 2018; Chandrasekhar and Ghosh 2018). What is most distinctive about the present era of finance, however, is the shift in financial intermediation from banks and other institutions to financial markets -- a shift from the 'visible hand' of (often-times relationship) regulated banking to the axiomatic 'invisible hand' of supposedly anonymous, self-regulating, financial markets. This displacement of financial institutions by financial markets has had a pervasive influence on the motivations, choices and decisions made by households, firms and states as well as fundamental quantitative impacts on growth, inequality and poverty -- far-reaching consequences which we are only beginning to understand.

Setting the Stage

Joseph Alois Schumpeter (1934, p. 74), the Austrian-American theorist of capitalist development and its eventual demise, called the banker "the ephor of the exchange economy" [2] -- someone who by creating credit ( ex nihilo ) to finance new investments and innovation, "makes possible the carrying out of new combinations, authorizes people, in the name of society as it were, to form them." This same banker has, in Schumpeter's vision, "either replaced private capitalists or become their agent; he has himself become the capitalist par excellence. He stands between those who wish to form new combinations and the possessors of productive means." This way, the banker becomes "essentially a phenomenon of development", as Schumpeter (1934, p. 74) argued -- fostering the process of accumulation and directing the pace and nature of economic growth and technological progress (Festré and Nasica 2009; Mazzucato and Wray 2015). Alexander Gerschenkron (1968) concurred, comparing the importance of investment banks in 19th-century Germany's industrialization drive to that of the steam engine in Britain's Industrial Revolution:

" the German investment banks -- a powerful invention, comparable in its economic effects to that of the steam engine -- were in their capital-supplying functions a substitute for the insufficiency of the previously created wealth willingly placed at the disposal of entrepreneurs. [ ] From their central vantage point of control, the banks participated actively in shaping the major [ ] decisions of individual enterprises. It was they who very often mapped out a firm's path of growth, conceived farsighted plans, decided on major technological and locational innovations, and arranged for mergers and capital increases."

Schumpeter and Gerschenkron celebrated the developmental role played by bank-based financial systems, in which banks form long-run (often personal) relationships with firms, have insider knowledge and (as they are large creditors) are in a position to exert strategic pressure on firms, impose market rationality on their decisions and prioritize the repayment of their debts. However, what Schumpeter left unmentioned is that the absolute power of the 'ephors' could terribly fail: When the wrong people were elected to the 'ephorate', their leadership and guidance did ruin the Spartan state. [3] Likewise, the -- personalized relationship-based -- banking system could ruin the development process: it could fatally weaken the corporate governance of firms, because bank managers would be more reluctant to bankrupt firms with which they have had long-term ties, and lead to cronyism and corruption, as it is relatively easy for bank insiders to exploit other creditors or taxpayers (Levine 2005). Schumpeter's relationship-banker may be fallible, weak (when it comes to disciplining firms), prone to mistakes and errors of judgment and not necessarily immune to corruptible influences -- in short: there are reasons to believe that a bank-based financial system is inferior to an alternative, market-based, financial system (Levine 2005; Demirgüc-Kunt, Feyen and Levine 2012).

This view of the superiority of a 'market-based' financial system rests on Friedrich von Hayek's grotesque epistemological claim that 'the market' is an omniscient way of knowing, one that radically exceeds the capacity of any individual mind or even the state. For Hayek, "the market constitutes the only legitimate form of knowledge, next to which all other modes of reflection are partial, in both senses of the word: they comprehend only a fragment of a whole and they plead on behalf of a special interest. Individually, our values are personal ones, or mere opinions; collectively, the market converts them into prices, or objective facts" (Metcalf 2017). After his 'sudden illumination' in 1936 that the market is the best possible and only legitimate form of social organisation, Hayek had to find an answer to the dilemma of how to reformulate the political and the social in a way compatible with the 'rationality' of the (unregulated) market economy. Hayek's answer was that the 'market' should be applied to all domains of life. Homo œconomicus -- the narrowly self-interested subject who, according to Foucault (2008, pp. 270-271), "is eminently governable ." as he/she "accepts reality and responds systematically to systematic modifications artificially introduced into the environment -- had to be universalized. This, in turn, could be achieved by the financialization of 'everything in everyday life', because financial logic and constraints would help to impose 'market discipline and rationality' on economic decision-makers. After all, borrowers compete with another for funds -- and it is commercial (profit-oriented) banks and financial institutions which do the screening and selection of who gets funded.

Hayek proved to be extremely successful in hiding his reactionary political agenda behind the pretense of scientific neutrality -- by elevating the verdict of the market to the status of a natural fact, while putting any value that cannot be expressed as a price "on an equally unsure footing, as nothing more than opinion, preference, folklore or superstition" (Metcalf 2017). Hayek's impact on economics was transformative, as can be seen from how Lawrence Summers sums up 'Hayek's legacy':

"What's the single most important thing to learn from an economics course today? What I tried to leave my students with is the view that the invisible hand is more powerful than the [un]hidden hand. Things will happen in well-organized efforts without direction, controls, plans. That's the consensus among economists. That's the Hayek legacy." (quoted in Yergin and Stanislaw (1998, pp. 150–51))

This Hayekian legacy underwrites, and quietly promotes, neoliberal narratives and discourses which advocate that authority -- even sovereignty -- be conceded to (in our case: financial) 'markets' which act as an 'impartial and transparent judge', collecting and processing information relevant to economic decision-making and coordinating these decisions, and as a 'guardian', impartially imposing 'market discipline and market rationality' on economic decision-makers -- thus bringing about not just 'socially efficient outcomes' but social stability as well. This way, financialization constitutes progress -- bringing "the advantages enjoyed by the clients of Wall Street to the customers of Wal-Mart", as Nobel-Prize winning financial economist Robert Shiller (2003, p. x) writes. "We need to extend finance beyond our major financial capitals to the rest of the world. We need to extend the domain of finance beyond that of physical capital to human capital, and to cover the risks that really matter in our lives. Fortunately, the principles of financial management can now be expanded to include society as a whole."

Attentive readers might argue that faith in the social efficiency of financial markets has waned -- after all, Hayek's grand epistemological claim was falsified, in a completely unambiguous manner, by the Great Financial Crisis of 2007-8 which brought the world economy to the brink of a systemic meltdown. Even staunch believers in the (social) efficiency of self-regulating financial markets, including most notably former Federal Reserve chair Alan Greenspan, had to admit a fundamental 'flaw in their ideology'.

And yet, I beg to disagree. The economic ideology that created the crash remains intact and unchallenged. There has been no reckoning and no lessons were learned, as the banks and their shareholders were rescued, at the cost of about everyone else in society, by massive public bail-outs, zero interest rates and unprecedented liquidity creation by central banks. Finance staged a major come-back -- profits, dividends, salaries and bonuses in the financial industry have rebounded to where they were before, while the re-regulation of finance became stuck in endless political negotiations. Stock markets, meanwhile, notched record highs (before the downward 'correction' of February 2018), derivative markets have been doing rather well and under-priced risk-taking in financial markets has gathered steam (again), this time especially so in the largest emerging economies of China, India and Brazil (BIS 2017; Gabor 2018). In the process, global finance has become more concentrated and even more integral to capitalist production and accumulation. The reason why even the Great Financial Crisis left the supremacy of financial interests and logic unchallenged, is simple: there is no acceptable alternative mode of social regulation to replace our financialized mode of co-ordination and decision-making.

Accordingly, instead of a long overdue rethinking of Hayek's legacy, the economics profession has gone, with renewed vigour, for an even broader push for 'financial inclusion' (Mader 2018; Chandrasekhar and Ghosh 2018). Backed by the international financial institutions, 'social business' promotors (such as the World Economic Forum) and FinTech corporations, it proposes to extend financial markets into new areas including social protection and poverty alleviation (Lavinas 2018; Chandrasekhar and Ghosh 2018) and climate change mitigation (Arsel and Büscher 2015; Keuchyan 2018). Most economists were already persuaded, by a voluminous empirical literature (reviewed by Levine (2005)), to believe, with ample qualification and due caution, that finance and financial markets do contribute to economic growth -- a proposition that Nobel Laureate financial economist Merton Miller (1998, p. 14) found "almost too obvious for serious discussion". But now greater financialization is argued to be integral to not just 'growth' but 'inclusive growth', as World-Bank economists Demirgüc-Kunt, Klapper and Singer (2017) conclude in a recent review article: "financial inclusion allows people to make many everyday financial transactions more efficiently and safely and expand their investment and financial risk management options by using the formal financial system. This is especially relevant for people living in the poorest 40 percent of households." The way to extend the good life to more people is not to shrink finance nor restrain financial innovation, writes Robert Shiller (2012) in a book titled Finance and the Good Society , but instead to release it. Shiller's book celebrates finance's 'genuine beauty' and exhorts idealistic (sic) young students to pursue careers in derivatives, insurance and related fields.

'Really-Existing' Finance Capitalism

Financialization underwrites neoliberal narratives and discourses which emphasize individual responsibility, risk-taking and active investment for the benefit of the individual him-/herself -- within the 'neutral' or even 'natural' constraints imposed by financial markets and financial norms of creditworthiness (Palma 2009; Kear 2012). This way, financialization morphs into a 'technique of power' to maintain a particular social order (Palma 2009; Saith 2011), in which the delicate task of balancing competing social claims and distributive outcomes is offloaded to the 'invisible hand' which operates through anonymous, 'blind' financial markets (Krippner 2005, 2011). This is perhaps illustrated clearest by Michael Hudson (2012, p. 223):

"Rising mortgage debt has made employees afraid to go on strike or even to complain about working conditions. Employees became more docile in a world where they are only one paycheck or so away from homelessness or, what threatens to become almost the same thing, missing a mortgage payment. This is the point at which they find themselves hooked on debt dependency."

Paul Krugman (2005) has called this a 'debt-peonage society' -- while J. Gabriel Palma (2009, p. 833) labelled it a 'rentiers' delight' in which financialization sustains the rent-seeking practices of oligopolistic capital -- as a system of discipline as well as exploitation, which is "difficult to reconcile with any acceptable definition of democracy" (Mann 2010, p. 18).

In this regime of social regulation, income and wealth became more concentrated in the hands of the rentier class (Saith 2011; Goda, Onaran and Stockhammer 2017) , and as a result, productive capital accumulation gave way before the increased speculative use of the 'economic surplus of society' in pursuit of 'financial-capital' gains through asset speculation (Davis and Kim 2015). This took the wind out of the sails of the 'real' economy, and firms responded by holding back investment, using their profits to pay out dividends to their shareholders and to buy back their own shares (Lazonick 2014). Because the rich own most financial assets, anything that causes the value of financial assets to rise rapidly made the rich richer (Taylor, Ömer and Rezai 2015).

In the U.S., arguably the most financialized economy in the world, the result of this was extreme income polarization, unseen after WWII (Piketty 2014; Palma 2011). The 'American Dream', writes Gabriel Palma (2009, p. 842), was "high jacked by a rather tiny minority -- for the rest, it has only been available on credit!" Because that is what happened: lower- and middle-income groups took on more debt to finance spending on health care, education or housing, spurred by the deregulation of financial markets and changes in the tax code which made it easier and more attractive for households with modest incomes to borrow in order to spend. This debt-financed spending stimulated an otherwise almost comatose U.S. economy by spurring consumption (Cynamon and Fazzari 2015). In the twenty years before the Great Financial Crash, debts and 'financial excess' -- in the form of the asset price bubbles in 'New Economy' stocks, real estate markets and commodity (futures) markets -- propped up aggregate demand and kept the U.S. and global economy growing. "We have," Paul Krugman (2013) concludes, "an economy whose normal condition is one of inadequate demand -- of at least mild depression -- and which only gets anywhere close to full employment when it is being buoyed by bubbles."

But it is not just the U.S. economy: the whole world has become addicted to debt. The borrowings of global households, governments and firms have risen from 246% of GDP in 2000 to 327%, or $ 217 trillion, today -- which is $70 trillion higher than 10 years ago. [4] It means that for every extra dollar of output, the world economy cranks out more than almost 10 extra dollars of debt. Forget about the synthetic opioid crisis, the world's more dangerous addiction is to debt. China, which has been the engine of the global economy during most of the post-2008 period, has been piling up debt to keep its growth process going -- the IMF (2017) expects China's non-financial sector debt to exceed 290% of its GDP in 2022, up from around 140% (of GDP) in 2008, warning that China's current credit trajectory is "dangerous with increasing risks of a disruptive adjustment." China's insatiable demand for debt fueled growth, but also led to a property bubble and a rapidly growing shadow banking system (Gabor 2018) -- raising concerns that the economy may face a hard landing and send shockwaves through the world's financial markets. The next global financial catastrophe may be just around the corner.

How Finance Is Reshaping the 'Rules of the Game'

To understand this debt explosion we must comprehend what is driving the financial hyper-activity -- and how this is changing the way our economies work. For a start, the growth of the financial industry, in terms of its size and power, its incomprehensible complexity and its penetration into the real economy, is inseparably connected to the structural increase in income and wealth inequalities (Foster and McChesney 2012; Storm and Naastepad 2015; Cynamon and Fazzari 2015; Goda, Onaran and Stockhammer 2017). Richer households have a higher propensity to save and are more likely to hold financial wealth in risky assets (such as mutual funds, shares and bonds) and hence, more money ends up in the management of institutional investors or 'asset managers' (Epstein 2018; Gabor 2018). As a result, a small core of the global population, the so-called High Net Worth Individuals (Lysandrou 2011; Goda 2017), controls an increasingly larger share of incomes and wealth (Palma 2011; Saith 2011; Piketty 2014; Taylor, Ömer and Rezai 2015). This trend was strengthened by the shift towards capital-based pension schemes (Krippner 2011) and the structural increase in the liquidity preference of big shareholder-dominated corporations, which came about under pressure from activist shareholders wanting to 'disgorge the cash' within these firms (Lazonick 2014; Epstein 2018; Jayadev et al. 2018). However, with few sufficiently profitable investment opportunities in the "real economy", cash wealth -- originating out of a higher profit share, dividends, shareholder payouts and capital gains on earlier financial investments -- began to accumulate in global centrally managed 'institutional cash pools', the volume of which grew from an insignificant $100 billion in 1990 to a systemic $6 trillion at the end of 2013 (Pozsar 2011, 2015). [5]

OTC derivative trading requires the availability of cheap liquidity on demand (Mehrling 2012) and this means that the 'asset management complex' cannot invest the cash pools into long-term assets, but has to keep the liquidity available -- ready to use when the possibility for a profitable deal arises. But doing so poses enormous risks, because the global cash pools are basically uninsured: they are far too big to fall under the coverage of normal deposit-insurance schemes offered by the traditional banking system (Pozsar 2011). Securing 'principal safety' for the cash pools under their management thus became the main headache of the asset managers -- which proved to be a far greater challenge than generating adequate rates of return for the cash-owners. The reason was that the traditional way of securing principal safety of one's cash was by putting it in very short-term government bonds which were credit-rated as being 'safe' ( e.g. U.S. T-Bills or German Bunds ). This way, the cash pool became 'collateralized' -- backed up by sovereign bonds. But as inequality increased and global institutional cash pools expanded, the demand for safe collateral began to permanently exceed the availability of 'safe' government bonds (Pozsar 2011; Lysandrou and Nesvetailova 2017).

The only way out was by putting the cash into newly developed privately guaranteed instruments: asset-backed securities . These instruments were secured by collateral (Lysandrou and Nesvetailova 2017) -- that is, the cash pools were lent, on a very short term basis (often over-night), to securitization trusts, banks and other asset owners in exchange for safe and secure collateral -- on the agreement that the borrower would repurchase the collateral some time later (often the next day). This is called a repurchase or 'repo' transaction (Gorton and Metrick 2009) or an 'asset-backed commercial paper' deal (Covitz, Lang and Suarez 2013). Normally, the cash loan would be over-collateralized, with the cash provider receiving collateral of a higher value than the value of the cash; the basic workings of the 'repo' market are further explained in Storm (2018). These (short-term) deals are generally done within the shadow banking system, the mostly 'self-regulated' sphere of the financial sector which arose in response to the growing demand for risk intermediation on behalf of -- and the prioritization of a 'safe parking place' for -- the global institutional cash pools (Pozsar 2011; Pozsar and Singh 2011). The repo lender and the securities borrower -- each lends cash and gets back securities -- can re-use those securities as collateral to get repo loans for themselves. And the next cash lender, which gets the same securities as collateral, can re-use them again as collateral to get a repo loan for itself. And so on. This creates a 'chain' in which one set of securities gets re-used several times as collateral for several loans. This so-called re-hypothecation (Pozsar and Singh 2011) means that these securities were increasingly used as 'money', a means of payment in inter-bank deals, within the shadow banking system.

It should be clear that 'securities', which are privately 'manufactured' and guaranteed money market instruments, form the feedstock of this complex and opaque 'profit-generating machine' of inter-bank wheeling and dealing -- both by providing 'insurance' to the global cash pools and by acting as an (privately guaranteed) means of payment in OTC trading. 'Securitization' is the most critical, yet under-appreciated, enabler of financialization (Davis and Kim 2015). What then is securitization? It is the process of taking 'passive' assets with cash flows, such as mortgages held by commercial banks, and commodifying them into tradable securities. Securities are 'manufactured' using a portfolio of hundreds or thousands of underlying assets, all yielding a particular return (in the form of cash flow) and carrying a particular risk of default to their buyers. Due to the law of large numbers, the payoff from the portfolio becomes predictable and suitable for being sliced up in different 'tranches', each having a different risk profile. Storm (2018) provides a simple but illustrative numerical example of how a security is manufactured using a two-asset example. As Davis and Kim (2015) argue, securitization represents a fundamental shift in how finance is done. In the old days of 'originate-and-hold' (before the 1980s), (regulated) commercial banks would originate mortgage loans and keep them on their balance sheets for the duration of the loan period. But now in our era of 'originate-and-distribute', (de-regulated) commercial banks originate mortgages, but then sell them off to securitization trusts which turn these mortgages into 'securities' and vend them to financial investors. Securitization thus turns a concrete long-term relationship between a bank ( i.e. Schumpeter's 'ephor') and the loan-taker into an abstract relationship between anonymous financial markets and the loan-taker (in line with Hayek's legacy). Commercial banks are now mere 'underwriters' of the mortgage (which is quickly sold and securitized), while households which took the mortgage, are now de facto 'issuers of securities' on (global) financial markets. This is the essence of the shift in financial intermediation from banks to financial markets (Lysandrou and Nesvetailova 2017). Kane (2013, 2015) explains how this system is enjoying the implicit back-up of central banks and states and how it is leading to predatory risk-taking by mega-banks.

This securitization fundamentally transformed the 'rules of the capitalist game', often in rather perverse directions. For one, as finance expanded, the demand for 'investment-grade' (AAA-rated) securities grew -- and the result was a hunt for additional collateral akin to earlier gold rushes, write Pozsar and Singh (2011, p. 5): "Obtaining collateral is similar to mining. It involves both exploration (looking for deposits of collateral) and extraction (the "unearthing" of passive securities so they can be re-used as collateral for various purposes in the shadow banking system)." Collateral is the new gold -- and this explains why banks (before the Great Financial Crisis) gave loans to non-creditworthy (sub-prime) customers (Epstein 2018) and why these same banks are now eager to include the poor in the financial system (Mader 2018) and to enclose ever new spaces for profit-making (Arsel and Büscher 2012; Sathyamala 2017; Keucheyan 2018). Mortgage loans (sub-prime or prime) or micro-credit deals derive their systemic importance from the access they provide to the underlying collateral -- either in the form of residential property or of high-return cash flows on micro-loans, made low-risk by peer pressure.

This systemic importance (to the financial system, that is) by far exceeds the value of these loans to the actual borrowers and it has led to and is still leading to an overdose of finance -- with ruinous consequences. Likewise, one cannot understand what is going in commodity and food markets unless one appreciates that trading in 'commodities' and 'food' is not so much related to (present and future) consumption needs, but is increasingly dictated by the market's alternative collateral, store-of-value, and safe-asset role in the global economy (Clapp and Isakson 2018). That is, the commodity option or futures contract derives its value more from its usefulness as 'collateralized securities' to back-up speculative shadow-banking transactions than from its capacity to meet food demand or smoothen output prices for farmers. We can add a fourth law to Zuboff's Laws (2013), namely that anything which can be collateralized, will be collateralized. This even includes 'social policies', because the present value of future streams of cash benefits for the poor can serve as collateral (see Lavinas 2018). And because the major OTC markets require price volatility and spreads, exchange rate volatility and uncertainty, which are 'bad' for the economic development of countries attempting to industrialize (Bortz and Kaltenbrunner 2018), constitute a sine qua non for the profitability of major OTC instruments including forex swaps and credit default swaps (to 'hedge' the risks of the forex swaps). [7] Perverse incentives, excessive risk-taking, fictitious financial instruments -- it appears finance capitalism has reached its nadir. "In the way that even an accumulation of debts can appear as an accumulation of capital," as Marx (1981, pp. 607-08) insightfully observed, "we see the distortion involved in the credit system reach its culmination."

A 'One-Foot' Conclusion

The shift in financial intermediation from banks to financial markets, and the introduction of financial market logic into areas and domains where it was previously absent, have not just led to negative developmental impacts, but also changed the 'rules of the game', conduct and outcomes -- to the detriment of 'inclusive' economic development and in ways that have helped to legitimize -- what Palma (2009) has appositely called -- a 'rentiers' delight', a financialized mode of social regulation which facilitated rent-seeking practices of a self-serving global financial elite and at the same time enabled a sickening rise in inequality. Establishment (financial) economics has helped to de-politicize and legitimize this financialized mode of social regulation by invoking Hayek's epistemological claim that (financial) markets are the only legitimate, reliably welfare-enhancing foundation for a stable social order and economic progress.

It is this complacency of establishment economics which led to the global financial crash of 2008 and ten dire years of economic stagnation, high and rising inequalities in income and wealth, historically unprecedented levels of indebtedness, and mounting uncertainty about jobs and incomes in most nations. The crisis conditions crystalized into a steadily increasing popular dissatisfaction of those supposedly 'left behind by (financial) globalization' with the political and economic status quo; a dissatisfaction which amplified into a 'groundswell of discontent' -- to use the words of the IMF's Managing Director Christine Lagarde (2016). Angry and anxious electorates were transformed by demagogues into election-winning forces, as the British 'Brexit' vote, Trump's (2016) and Erdogan's (2017) election victories in the U.S. and Turkey, and recent political changes (toward authoritarianism) in Brazil, Egypt, the Philippines and India all attest (see Becker, Fetzer and Novy (2017) for an analysis of the Brexit vote; and Ferguson, Jorgenson and Chen (2018) for an assessment of the Trump vote).

We have to confront the Panglossian logic and arguments of (financial) economists, used to legitimize the current financialized global order as the 'best of all possible worlds". We must lay to rest the Hayekian claim that unregulated market-based finance is socially efficient -- as the macro- and micro-economic impacts of the rise to dominance of financial markets on capital accumulation, growth and distribution have overwhelmingly been deleterious (Epstein 2018). Market-based finance is no longer funding the real economy (Epstein 2018; Jayadev, Mason and Schröder 2018), but rather engages in self-serving strategy of rent-seeking (Chandrasekhar and Ghosh 2018; Mader 2018), looting the 'fisc' (Chandrasekhar and Ghosh 2018; Mader 2018), exchange rate and global stock market speculation (Bortz and Kaltenbrunner 2018), OTC derivatives speculation (Keucheyan 2018; Clapp and Isakson 2018) and collateral mining (Gabor 2018; Lavinas 2018) -- asphyxiating economic development.

This does not mean, however, that Schumpeter and Gerschenkron were wrong in calling the banker the 'ephor' of capitalism and a 'phenomenon of development'. Finance can positively contribute to economic development, something which indeed is "almost too obvious for serious discussion" as Miller wrote, but only when the 'ephor' is 'governed' and 'directed' by state regulation to structure accumulation and distribution into socially useful directions (Epstein 2018; Jayadev, Mason and Schröder 2018). The East Asian miracle economies prove the point that finance can be socially efficient if bankers can be made to work within the 'developmental mindset', the institutional arrangements and political compulsions of a 'developmental state', as argued by Wade (2018) -- China's recent move to (securities) market-based finance may be the beginning of unravelling of its growth miracle (Gabor 2018; BIS 2017).

Rather than letting financial markets discipline the rest of the economy and the whole of society, finance itself has to be disciplined by a countervailing social authority which governs it to act in socially desirable directions. One famous account in the Talmud tells about Rabbi Hillel, a great sage, who when he was asked to explain the Torah in the time that he could stand on one foot, replied: "Do not do unto others that which is repugnant to you. Everything else is commentary." If there is a one-foot summary of the literature reviewed in this introduction, it is this: "Finance is a terrible 'ephor', but, if and when domesticated, can be turned into a useful servant. Everything else is commentary."

[Feb 11, 2018] Social psychologists have long talked about how emotional manipulation can work effectively to snooker a large percentage of the population, to get them, at least temporarily, to believe the exact opposite of the facts

Notable quotes:
"... These techniques are known in the intelligence community as "perception management," and have been refined since the 1980s "to keep the American people compliant and confused," as the late Robert Parry has reported . ..."
"... Population in the country was very poorly informed any how. And now, they, The Ruling Establishment which includes Media, have completely messed the people up -- making them compliant and confused. ..."
"... Does any body have idea how they are going to bring an end to this completely concocted bizarre drama? ..."
Feb 09, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

Originally from: 'This is Nuts' Liberals Launch 'Largest Mobilization in History' in Defense of Russiagate Probe – Consortiumnews By Coleen Rowley and Nat Parry

... ... ...

Social psychologists have long talked about how emotional manipulation can work effectively to snooker a large percentage of the population, to get them, at least temporarily, to believe the exact opposite of the facts.

These techniques are known in the intelligence community as "perception management," and have been refined since the 1980s "to keep the American people compliant and confused," as the late Robert Parry has reported .

We saw this in action last decade, when after months of disinformation, about 70% of Americans came to falsely believe that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 when the truth was the opposite – Saddam was actually an enemy of the Al Qaeda perpetrators.

... ... ...

Coleen Rowley, a retired FBI special agent and division legal counsel whose May 2002 memo to then-FBI Director Robert Mueller exposed some of the FBI's pre-9/11 failures, was named one of TIME magazine's "Persons of the Year" in 2002.

Nat Parry is co-author of Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush . weilunion , February 9, 2018 at 5:35 pm

"Social psychologists have long talked about how emotional manipulation can work effectively to snooker a large percentage of the population, to get them, at least temporarily, to believe the exact opposite of the facts. These techniques are known in the intelligence community as "perception management," and have been refined since the 1980s "to keep the American people compliant and confused," as the late Robert Parry has reported. We saw this in action last decade, when after months of disinformation, about 70% of Americans came to falsely believe that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 when the truth was the opposite -- Saddam was actually an enemy of the Al Qaeda perpetrators."

Cognitive dissonance, lack of critical thinking, reliance on authority, in this case a former head of a criminal organization called the FBI.

People have no class consciousness. They have no idea who their enemies ar or how to organize.

This is the sad case of liberalism melting like warm butter while the fascists congeal.

Joe Tedesky , February 9, 2018 at 7:27 pm

Nicely put.

Dave P. , February 10, 2018 at 2:51 am

"Social psychologists have long talked about how emotional manipulation can work effectively to snooker a large percentage of the population, to get them, at least temporarily, to believe the exact opposite of the facts. . ."

Yes. On any bar counter, just start some conversation with the person sitting to you. With all this bizarre drama -- Russia-Gate, Iran, memos, dossier . . . going on TV, and in Washington being enacted knowingly by the the Powers who rule -- both, so called Liberals and Conservatives -- one can see how this emotional manipulation has worked to snooker just about most of the population. I just had the experience today during lunch at a bar counter. In our conversation, the person sitting next to me was ready to nuke Iran, N. Korea, and go after Russia; and go after Hillary too.

Population in the country was very poorly informed any how. And now, they, The Ruling Establishment which includes Media, have completely messed the people up -- making them compliant and confused.

Does any body have idea how they are going to bring an end to this completely concocted bizarre drama?

[Feb 10, 2018] >The generals are not Borgists. They are something worse ...

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The post WW2 promotion process in the armed forces has produced a group at the top with a mentality that typically thinks rigorously but not imaginatively or creatively. ..."
"... These men got to their present ranks and positions by being conformist group thinkers who do not stray outside the "box" of their guidance from on high. They actually have scheduled conference calls among themselves to make sure everyone is "on board." ..."
"... If asked at the top, where military command and political interaction intersect, what policy should be they always ask for more money and to be allowed to pursue outcomes that they can understand as victory and self fulfilling with regard to their collective self image as warrior chieftains. ..."
"... In Trump's time his essential disinterest in foreign policy has led to a massive delegation of authority to Mattis and the leadership of the empire's forces. Their reaction to that is to look at their dimwitted guidance from on high (defeat IS, depose Assad and the SAG, triumph in Afghanistan) and to seek to impose their considerable available force to seek accomplishment as they see fit of this guidance in the absence of the kind of restrictions that Obama placed on them. ..."
"... Like the brass, I, too, am a graduate of all those service schools that attend success from the Basic Course to the Army War College. I will tell you again that the people at the top are not good at "the vision thing." They are not stupid at all but they are a collective of narrow thinkers ..."
"... Academia reinforces the groupthink. The mavericks are shunned or ostracized. The only ones I have seen with some degree of going against the grain are technology entrepreneurs. ..."
"... "They are not stupid at all but they are a collective of narrow thinkers." I have found this to be the case with 80 to 90% of most professions. A good memory and able to perform meticulously what they have been taught, but little thinking outside that narrow box. Often annoying, but very dangerous in this case. ..."
"... Since Afghanistan and the brass were mentioned in the editorial statement, here is an immodest question -- Where the brass have been while the opium production has been risen dramatically in Afghanistan under the US occupation? "Heroin Addiction in America Spearheaded by the US-led War on Afghanistan" by Paul Craig Roberts: https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2018/02/06/heroin-addiction-america-spearheaded-us-led-war-afghanistan/ ..."
"... A simple Q: What has been the role of the CENTCOM re the racket? Who has arranged the protection for the opium production and for drug dealers? Roberts suggests that the production of opium in Afghanistan "finances the black operations of the CIA and Western intelligence agencies." -- All while Awan brothers, Alperovitch and such tinker with the US national security? ..."
"... God help the poor people of Syria. ..."
"... thanks pat... it seems like the usa has had a steady group of leaders that have no interest in the world outside of the usa, or only in so far as they can exploit it for their own interest... maybe that sums up the foreign policy of the usa at this point... you say trump is disinterested.. so all the blather from trump about 'why are we even in syria?', or 'why can't we be friends with the russia?' is just smoke up everyone's ass... ..."
"... Predictably there is always someone who says that this group is not different from all others. Unfortunately the military function demands more than the level of mediocrity found in most groups ..."
"... A lot of technology entrepreneurs--especially those active today--are stuck in their own groupthink, inflated by their sense that they are born for greatness and can do no wrong. ..."
"... The kind of grand schemes that the top people at Google, Uber, and Facebook think up to remake the universe in their own idea of "good society" are frightening. That they are cleverer (but not necessarily wiser) than the academics, borgists, or generals, I think, makes them even more dangerous. ..."
"... They [the generals] seem to have deliberately completely ignored the issues and policy positions Trump ran on as President. It isn't a case of ignorance but of wilful disregard. ..."
"... So true and as others commented this is a sad feature of the human race and all human organizations. Herd mentality ties into social learning ..."
"... Our massive cultural heritages are learned by observing and taken in as a whole. This process works within organizations as well. ..."
"... I suspect a small percentage of the human race functions differently than the majority and retains creative thinking and openness along with more emphasis on cognitive thinking than social learning but generally they always face a battle when working to change the group "consensus", i.e. Fulton's folly, scepticism on whether man would ever fly, etc. ..."
"... This is an interesting discussion. The top in organisations (civil and military) are increasingly technocrats and thinking like systems managers. They are unable to innovate because they lack the ability to think out of the box. Usually there is a leader who depends on specialists. Others (including laymen) are often excluding from the decision-making-proces. John Ralston Saul's Voltaires Bastards describes this very well. ..."
"... Because of natural selection (conformist people tend to choose similar people who resemble their own values and ways-of-thinking) organizations have a tendency to become homogeneous (especially the higher management/ranks). ..."
"... In combination with the "dumbing" of people (also of people who have a so-called good education (as described in Richard Sale's Sterile Chit-Chat ) this is a disastrous mix. ..."
"... That's true not only of the US military but of US elites in general across all of the spectra. And because that reality is at odds with the group-think of those within the various elements that make up the spectra it doesn't a hearing. Anyone who tries to bring it up risks being ejected from the group. ..."
"... "The United States spent at least $12 billion in Syria-related military and civilian expenses in the four years from 2014 through 2017, according to the former U.S. ambassador to the country. This $12 billion is in addition to the billions more spent to pursue regime change in Syria in the previous three years, after war broke out in 2011." https://goo.gl/8pj5cD ..."
"... "They are not stupid at all but they are a collective of narrow thinkers." I've often pondered that concept. Notice how many of radical extremist leaders were doctors, engineers and such? Narrow and deep. ..."
"... Long ago when I was a professor, I advised my students that "the law is like a pencil sharpener, it sharpens the mind by narrowing it." I tried to encourage them to "think backwards". ..."
"... Col, I think it might help people to think of "the Borg" - as you have defined & applied it - in a broader context. It struck me particularly as you ID'd the launching of our modern military group-think / careerism behavior coming from the watershed of industrialized scale & processes that came out of WWII. ..."
"... We note parallel themes in all significant sectors of our civilization. The ever-expanding security state, the many men in Gray Flannel Suits that inhabit corporate culture, Finance & Banking & Big Health scaling ever larger - all processes aimed to slice the salami thinner & quicker, to the point where meat is moot ... and so it goes. ..."
"... I just finished reading Command & Control (about nuclear weapons policy, systems design & accidents). I am amazed we've made it this far. ..."
Feb 10, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

(Editorial Statement)

The Borgist foreign policy of the administration has little to do with the generals.

To comprehend the generals one must understand their collective mentality and the process that raised them on high as a collective of their own. The post WW2 promotion process in the armed forces has produced a group at the top with a mentality that typically thinks rigorously but not imaginatively or creatively.

These men got to their present ranks and positions by being conformist group thinkers who do not stray outside the "box" of their guidance from on high. They actually have scheduled conference calls among themselves to make sure everyone is "on board."

If asked at the top, where military command and political interaction intersect, what policy should be they always ask for more money and to be allowed to pursue outcomes that they can understand as victory and self fulfilling with regard to their collective self image as warrior chieftains.

In Obama's time they were asked what policy should be in Afghanistan and persuaded him to reinforce their dreams in Afghanistan no matter how unlikely it always was that a unified Western oriented nation could be made out of a collection of disparate mutually alien peoples.

In Trump's time his essential disinterest in foreign policy has led to a massive delegation of authority to Mattis and the leadership of the empire's forces. Their reaction to that is to look at their dimwitted guidance from on high (defeat IS, depose Assad and the SAG, triumph in Afghanistan) and to seek to impose their considerable available force to seek accomplishment as they see fit of this guidance in the absence of the kind of restrictions that Obama placed on them.

Like the brass, I, too, am a graduate of all those service schools that attend success from the Basic Course to the Army War College. I will tell you again that the people at the top are not good at "the vision thing." They are not stupid at all but they are a collective of narrow thinkers. pl


Jack , 09 February 2018 at 05:42 PM

Sir

IMO, this conformism pervades all institutions. I saw when I worked in banking and finance many moons ago how moving up the ranks in any large organization meant you didn't rock the boat and you conformed to the prevailing groupthink. Even nutty ideas became respectable because they were expedient.

Academia reinforces the groupthink. The mavericks are shunned or ostracized. The only ones I have seen with some degree of going against the grain are technology entrepreneurs.

Fredw , 09 February 2018 at 06:26 PM
You remind me of an old rumination by Thomas Ricks:

Take the example of General George Casey. According to David Cloud and Greg Jaffe's book Four Stars, General Casey, upon learning of his assignment to command U.S. forces in Iraq, received a book from the Army Chief of Staff. The book Counterinsurgency Lessons Learned from Malaya and Vietnam was the first book he ever read about guerilla warfare." This is a damning indictment of the degree of mental preparation for combat by a general. The Army's reward for such lack of preparation: two more four star assignments.

http://foreignpolicy.com/2012/02/07/cmon-man-meathead-generals-and-some-other-things-that-are-driving-me-crazy-about-life-in-this-mans-post-911-army/

Peter AU , 09 February 2018 at 06:37 PM
"They are not stupid at all but they are a collective of narrow thinkers." I have found this to be the case with 80 to 90% of most professions. A good memory and able to perform meticulously what they have been taught, but little thinking outside that narrow box. Often annoying, but very dangerous in this case.
Anna , 09 February 2018 at 06:48 PM
Since Afghanistan and the brass were mentioned in the editorial statement, here is an immodest question -- Where the brass have been while the opium production has been risen dramatically in Afghanistan under the US occupation? "Heroin Addiction in America Spearheaded by the US-led War on Afghanistan" by Paul Craig Roberts: https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2018/02/06/heroin-addiction-america-spearheaded-us-led-war-afghanistan/

" in 2000-2001 the Taliban government –with the support of the United Nations (UNODC) – implemented a successful ban on poppy cultivation. Opium production which is used to produce grade 4 heroin and its derivatives declined by more than 90 per cent in 2001. The production of opium in 2001 was of the order of a meager 185 tons. It is worth noting that the UNODC congratulated the Taliban Government for its successful opium eradication program. The Taliban government had contributed to literally destabilizing the multibillion dollar Worldwide trade in heroin.

In 2017, the production of opium in Afghanistan under US military occupation reached 9000 metric tons. The production of opium in Afghanistan registered a 49 fold increase since Washington's invasion. Afghanistan under US military occupation produces approximately 90% of the World's illegal supply of opium which is used to produce heroin. Who owns the airplanes and ships that transport heroin from Afghanistan to the US? Who gets the profits?"

---A simple Q: What has been the role of the CENTCOM re the racket? Who has arranged the protection for the opium production and for drug dealers? Roberts suggests that the production of opium in Afghanistan "finances the black operations of the CIA and Western intelligence agencies." -- All while Awan brothers, Alperovitch and such tinker with the US national security?

J , 09 February 2018 at 07:05 PM
Colonel,

There needs to be a 're-education' of the top, all of them need to be required to attend Green Beret think-school, in other words they need to be forced to think outside the box, and to to think on their feet. They need to understand fluid situations where things change at the drop of a hat, be able to dance the two-step and waltz at the same time. In other words they need to be able to walk and chew gum and not trip over their shoe-laces.

By no means are they stupid, but you hit the nail on the head when you said 'narrow thinkers'. Their collective hive mentality that has developed is not a good thing.

divadab , 09 February 2018 at 07:16 PM
God help the poor people of Syria.
james , 09 February 2018 at 07:30 PM
thanks pat... it seems like the usa has had a steady group of leaders that have no interest in the world outside of the usa, or only in so far as they can exploit it for their own interest... maybe that sums up the foreign policy of the usa at this point... you say trump is disinterested.. so all the blather from trump about 'why are we even in syria?', or 'why can't we be friends with the russia?' is just smoke up everyone's ass...

i like what you said here "conformist group thinkers who do not stray outside the "box" of their guidance from on high. They actually have scheduled conference calls among themselves to make sure everyone is "on board." - that strikes me as very true - conformist group thinkers... the world needs less of these types and more actual leaders who have a vision for something out of the box and not always on board... i thought for a while trump might fill this bill, but no such luck by the looks of it now..

David E. Solomon , 09 February 2018 at 07:50 PM
Colonel Lang,

Your description of these guys sounds like what we have heard about Soviet era planners. Am I correct in my understanding, or am I missing something?

Regards,

David

DianaLC , 09 February 2018 at 07:56 PM
As a young person in eighth grade, I learned about the "domino theory" in regard to attempts to slow the spread of communism. Then my generation was, in a sense, fractured around the raging battles for and against our involvement in Vietnam.

I won't express my own opinion on that. But I mention it because it seems to be a type of "vision thing."

So, now I ask, what would be your vision for the Syrian situation?

Bill Herschel , 09 February 2018 at 09:11 PM
This has been going on for a long time has it not? Westmoreland? MacArthur?

How did this happen?

turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 09:40 PM
Bill Herschel

Westmoreland certainly, Macarthur certainly not. This all started with the "industrialization" of the armed forces in WW2. we never recovered the sense of profession as opposed to occupation after the massive expansion and retention of so many placeholders. a whole new race of Walmart manager arose and persists. pl

turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 09:48 PM
DianaC

The idea of the Domino Theory came from academia, not the generals of that time. They resisted the idea of a war in east Asia until simply ordered into it by LBJ. After that their instinct for acting according to guidance kicked in and they became committed to the task. Syria? Do you think I should write you an essay on that? SST has a large archive and a search machine. pl

turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 09:55 PM
David E. Solomon

I am talking about flag officers at present, not those beneath them from the mass of whom they emerge. There are exceptions. Martin Dempsey may have been one such. The system creates such people at the top. pl

turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 10:08 PM
elaine,

Your usual animosity for non-left wing authority is showing. A commander like the CENTCOM theater commander (look it up) operates within guidance from Washington, broad guidance. Normally this is the president's guidance as developed in the NSC process. Some presidents like Obama and LBJ intervene selectively and directly in the execution of that guidance. Obama had a "kill list" of jihadis suggested by the IC and condemned by him to die in the GWOT. He approved individual missions against them. LBJ picked individual air targets in NVN. Commanders in the field do not like that . They think that freedom of action within their guidance should be accorded them. This CinC has not been interested thus far in the details and have given the whole military chain of command wide discretion to carry out their guidance. pl

turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 10:12 PM
J

Thank you, but it is real GBs that you like, not the Delta and SEAL door kickers. pl

turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 10:24 PM
Gaikomainaku

"I am not sure that I understand what makes a Borgist different from a military conformist." The Borg and the military leaders are not of the same tribe. they are two different collectives who in the main dislike and distrust each other. pl

turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 10:27 PM
Anna. Their guidance does not include a high priority for eradicating the opium trade. Their guidance has to do with defeating the jihadis and building up the central government. pl
turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 10:30 PM
Peter AU

Predictably there is always someone who says that this group is not different from all others. Unfortunately the military function demands more than the level of mediocrity found in most groups. pl

turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 10:44 PM
james

Trump would like to better relations with Russia but that is pretty much the limit of his attention to foreign affairs at any level more sophisticated than expecting deference. He is firmly focused on the economy and base solidifying issues like immigration. pl

Peter AU , 09 February 2018 at 11:01 PM
The medical profession comes to mind. GP's and specialists. Many of those working at the leading edge of research seem much wider thinking and are not locked into the small box of what they have been taught.
turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 11:16 PM
Peter AU

The GPs do not rule over a hierarchy of doctors. pl

J -> turcopolier ... , 09 February 2018 at 11:22 PM
Combat Applications Group and SEALS don't even begin to compare, they're not in the same league as 'real deal' GBs. The GBs are thinkers as well as doers, whereas Combat Applications Group and SEALs all they know is breach and clear, breach and clear.

There is more to life than breach and clear. Having worked with all in one manner or another, I'll take GBs any day hands down. It makes a difference when the brain is engaged instead of just the heel.

kao_hsien_chih -> Jack... , 09 February 2018 at 11:22 PM
A lot of technology entrepreneurs--especially those active today--are stuck in their own groupthink, inflated by their sense that they are born for greatness and can do no wrong.

The kind of grand schemes that the top people at Google, Uber, and Facebook think up to remake the universe in their own idea of "good society" are frightening. That they are cleverer (but not necessarily wiser) than the academics, borgists, or generals, I think, makes them even more dangerous.

FB Ali , 09 February 2018 at 11:23 PM
Col Lang,

They are indeed "narrow thinkers", but I think the problem runs deeper. They seem to be stuck in the rut of a past era. When the US was indeed the paramount military power on the globe, and the US military reigned supreme. They can't seem to accept the reality of the world as it is now.

Of course, these policies ensure that they continue to be well-funded, even if the US is bankrupting itself in the process.

turcopolier , 10 February 2018 at 01:03 AM
dogear

He is still the Saudi Mukhtar for the US and most of the generals are still narrow minded. pl

LondonBob , 10 February 2018 at 06:59 AM
They [the generals] seem to have deliberately completely ignored the issues and policy positions Trump ran on as President. It isn't a case of ignorance but of wilful disregard.
turcopolier , 10 February 2018 at 07:55 AM
LondonBob

I think that is true but, they were able to talk him into that, thus far. pl

DianaLC said in reply to turcopolier ... , 10 February 2018 at 09:23 AM
I've been reading this blog for some time. My question was facetious and written with the understanding of your statement about the generals not having a good grasp of "the vision thing" on their own.
Terry , 10 February 2018 at 09:25 AM
So true and as others commented this is a sad feature of the human race and all human organizations. Herd mentality ties into social learning. Chimps are on average more creative and have better short term memory than humans. We gave up some short term memory in order to be able to learn quickly by mimicking. If shown how to open a puzzle box but also shown unnecessary extra steps a chimp will ignore the empty steps and open the box with only the required steps. A human will copy what they saw exactly performing the extra steps as if they have some unknown value to the process. Our massive cultural heritages are learned by observing and taken in as a whole. This process works within organizations as well.

I suspect a small percentage of the human race functions differently than the majority and retains creative thinking and openness along with more emphasis on cognitive thinking than social learning but generally they always face a battle when working to change the group "consensus", i.e. Fulton's folly, scepticism on whether man would ever fly, etc.

One nice feature of the internet allows creative thinkers to connect and watch the idiocy of the world unfold around us.

"A natural desire to be part of the 'in crowd' could damage our ability to make the right decisions, a new study has shown."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141216212049.htm

TV , 10 February 2018 at 10:18 AM
The military by definition is a rigid hierarchical structure. It could not function as a collection of individuals. This society can only breed conforming narrow leaders as an "individual" would leave or be forced out.
Barbara Ann , 10 February 2018 at 10:22 AM
That part of our brain responsible for the desire to be part of the 'in crowd' may affect our decision-making process, but it is also the reason we keep chimps in zoos and not the other way around. Or, to put it another way; if chimps had invented Facebook, I might consider them more creative than us.
Babak Makkinejad -> Terry... , 10 February 2018 at 10:30 AM
Do you think chimps are, per the Christian Docrine, in a State of Fall or in a State of Grace?
Adrestia , 10 February 2018 at 10:32 AM
This is an interesting discussion. The top in organisations (civil and military) are increasingly technocrats and thinking like systems managers. They are unable to innovate because they lack the ability to think out of the box. Usually there is a leader who depends on specialists. Others (including laymen) are often excluding from the decision-making-proces. John Ralston Saul's Voltaires Bastards describes this very well.

Because of natural selection (conformist people tend to choose similar people who resemble their own values and ways-of-thinking) organizations have a tendency to become homogeneous (especially the higher management/ranks).

In combination with the "dumbing" of people (also of people who have a so-called good education (as described in Richard Sale's Sterile Chit-Chat ) this is a disastrous mix.

Homogeneity is the main culprit. A specialists tends to try to solve problems with the same knowledge-set that created these.

Not all (parts of) organizations and people suffer this fate. Innovations are usually done by laymen and not by specialists. The organizations are often heterogeneous and the people a-typical and/or eccentric.

(mainly the analytical parts of ) intelligence organizations and investment banks are like that if they are worth anything. Very heterogeneous with a lot of a-typical people. I think Green Berets are also like that. An open mind and genuine interest in others (cultures, way of thinking, religion etc) is essential to understand and to perform and also to prevent costly mistakes (in silver and/or blood).

It is possible to create firewalls against tunnel-vision. The Jester performed such a role. Also think of the Emperors New Clothes . The current trend of people with limited vision and creativity prevents this. Criticism is punished with a lack of promotion, job-loss or even jail (whistle-blowers)

IMO this is why up to a certain rank (colonel or middle management) a certain amount of creativity or alternative thinking is allowed, but conformity is essential to rise higher.

I was very interested in the Colonel's remark on the foreign background of the GB in Vietnam. If you would like to expand on this I would be much obliged? IMO GB are an example of a smart, learning, organization (in deed and not only in word as so many say of themselves, but who usually are at best mediocre)

Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg -> gaikokumaniakku... , 10 February 2018 at 11:58 AM
Isn't the "Borg" really The Atlantic Council?
ISL , 10 February 2018 at 12:58 PM
Dear Colonel,

Would you then say that a rising military officer who does have the vision thing faces career impediments? If so, would you say that the vision thing is lost (if it ever was there) at the highest ranks? In any case, the existence of even a few at the top, like Matthis or Shinseki is a blessing.

ex-PFC Chuck said in reply to FB Ali ... , 10 February 2018 at 01:08 PM
FB Ali:
"When the US was indeed the paramount military power on the globe, and the US military reigned supreme. They can't seem to accept the reality of the world as it is now."
That's true not only of the US military but of US elites in general across all of the spectra. And because that reality is at odds with the group-think of those within the various elements that make up the spectra it doesn't a hearing. Anyone who tries to bring it up risks being ejected from the group.
Adrestia , 10 February 2018 at 02:03 PM
I forget an important part. I really miss an edit-button. Comment-boxes are like looking at something through a straw. Its easy to miss the overview.

Innovations and significant new developments are usually made by laymen. IMO mainly because they have a fresh perspective without being bothered by the (mainstream) knowledge that dominates an area of expertise.

By excluding the laymen errors will continue to be repeated. This can be avoided by using development/decision-making frameworks, but these tend to become dogma (and thus become part of the problem)

Much better is allowing laymen and allowing a-typical people. Then listen to them carefully. Less rigid flexible and very valuable.

kooshy , 10 February 2018 at 02:19 PM
Apparently, according to the last US ambassador to Syria Mr. Ford, from 2014-17 US has spent 12 Billion on Regime change in Syria. IMO, combinedly Iran and Russia so far, have spent far less in Syria than 12 billion by US alone, not considering the rest of her so called coalition. This is a war of attrition, and US operations in wars, are usually far more expensive and longer than anybody else's.

"The United States spent at least $12 billion in Syria-related military and civilian expenses in the four years from 2014 through 2017, according to the former U.S. ambassador to the country. This $12 billion is in addition to the billions more spent to pursue regime change in Syria in the previous three years, after war broke out in 2011." https://goo.gl/8pj5cD

J , 10 February 2018 at 02:49 PM
Colonel, TTG, PT,

FYI regarding Syria

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/sen-tim-kaine-demands-release-secret-trump-war-powers-memo-n846176

Richardstevenhack -> turcopolier ... , 10 February 2018 at 02:56 PM
It may "demand" it - but does it get it? Soldiers are just as human as everyone else.

I'm reminded of the staff sergeant with the sagging beer belly who informed me, "Stand up straight and look like a soldier..." Or the First Sergeant who was so hung over one morning at inspection that he couldn't remember which direction he was going down the hall to the next room to be inspected. I'm sure you have your own stories of less than competence.

It's a question of intelligence and imagination. And frankly, I don't see the military in any country receiving the "best and brightest" of that country's population, by definition. The fact that someone is patriotic enough to enter the military over a civilian occupation doesn't make them more intelligent or imaginative than the people who decided on the civilian occupation.

Granted, if you fail at accounting, you don't usually die. Death tends to focus the mind, as they say. Nonetheless, we're not talking about the grunts at the level who actually die, still less the relatively limited number of Special Forces. We're talking about the officers and staff at the levels who don't usually die in war - except maybe at their defeat - i.e., most officers over the level of captain.

One can hardly look at this officer crowd in the Pentagon and CENTCOM and say that their personal death concentrates their mind. They are in virtually no danger of that. Only career death faces them - with a nice transition to the board of General Dynamics at ten times the salary.

All in all, I'd have to agree that the military isn't much better at being competent - at many levels above the obvious group of hyper-trained Special Forces - any more than any other profession.

dogear said in reply to Terry... , 10 February 2018 at 02:59 PM
That is well put.most important is the grading system that is designed to fix a person to a particular slot thereby limiting his ability to think "outside the box" and consider the many variables that exist in one particular instant.

Creative thinking allows you to see beyond the storm clouds ahead and realize that the connectedness of different realities both the visible and invisible. For instance the picture of the 2 pairs of korean skaters in the news tells an interesting story on many levels. Some will judge them on their grade of proffiency, while others will see a dance of strategy between 2 foes and a few will know the results in advance and plan accordingly

https://www.google.com.au/amp/www.nbcolympics.com/news/north-south-korean-figure-skating-teams-practice-side-side%3famp?espv=1

Mark Logan said in reply to Peter AU... , 10 February 2018 at 03:30 PM
Peter AU

"They are not stupid at all but they are a collective of narrow thinkers." I've often pondered that concept. Notice how many of radical extremist leaders were doctors, engineers and such? Narrow and deep. STEM is enormously useful to us but seems to be a risky when implanted in shallow earth.

turcopolier , 10 February 2018 at 05:03 PM
Mark Logan

These narrow "but deep" thinkers were unable to grasp the nature of the Iraq War for the first couple of years. They thought of it as a rear area security problem, a combat in cities problem, anything but a popular rebellion based on xenophobia and anti-colonialism The IED problem? They spent several billion dollars on trying to find a technology fix and never succeeded. I know because they kept asking me to explain the war to them and then could not understand the answers which were outside their narrow thought. pl

turcopolier , 10 February 2018 at 05:13 PM
ISL

War College selectees, the national board selected creme de la creme test out as 50% SJs (conformists lacking vision) in Myers-Briggs terms and about 15% NTs (intellectuals). To survive and move upward in a system dominated by SJs, the NTs must pretend to be what they are not. A few succeed. I do not think Mattis is an intellectual merely because he has read a lot. pl

outthere , 10 February 2018 at 05:19 PM
Long ago when I was a professor, I advised my students that "the law is like a pencil sharpener, it sharpens the mind by narrowing it." I tried to encourage them to "think backwards".

My favorite example was a Japanese fisherman who recovered valuable ancient Chinese pottery. Everyone knew where an ancient ship had sunk, but the water was too deep to dive down to the wreck. And everyone knew the cargo included these valuable vases. And the fisherman was the first to figure out how to recover them. He attached a line to an octopus, and lowered it in the area, waited awhile, and pulled it up. Low and behold, the octopus had hidden in an ancient Chinese vase. The fisherman was familiar with trapping octopuses, by lowering a ceramic pot (called "takosubo") into the ocean, waiting awhile, then raising the vase with octopus inside. His brilliance was to think backwards, and use an octopus to catch a vase.

turcopolier , 10 February 2018 at 05:24 PM
TV

By your calculation people like Joe Stilwell and George Patton should not have existed. pl

turcopolier , 10 February 2018 at 05:31 PM
Adrestia

the original GBS were recruited in the 50s to serve in the OSS role with foreign guerrillas behind Soviet lines in th event of war in Europe. Aaron Bank, the founder, recruited several hundred experienced foreign soldiers from the likely countries who wanted to become American. By the time we were in VN these men were a small fraction of GBs but important for their expertise and professionalism. pl

ked , 10 February 2018 at 05:56 PM
Col, I think it might help people to think of "the Borg" - as you have defined & applied it - in a broader context. It struck me particularly as you ID'd the launching of our modern military group-think / careerism behavior coming from the watershed of industrialized scale & processes that came out of WWII.

We note parallel themes in all significant sectors of our civilization. The ever-expanding security state, the many men in Gray Flannel Suits that inhabit corporate culture, Finance & Banking & Big Health scaling ever larger - all processes aimed to slice the salami thinner & quicker, to the point where meat is moot ... and so it goes.

I note many Borgs... Borgism if you will. An organizational behavior that has emerged out of human nature having difficulty adapting to rapidly accelerating complexity that is just too hard to apprehend in a few generations. If (as many commenters on STT seem to...) one wishes to view this in an ideological or spiritual framework only, they may overlook an important truth - that what we are experiencing is a Battle Among Borgs for control over their own space & domination over the other Borgs. How else would we expect any competitive, powerful interest group to act?

In gov & industry these days, we observe some pretty wild outliers... attached to some wild outcomes. Thus the boring behavior of our political industries bringing forth Trump, our promethean technology sector yielding a Musk (& yes, a Zuckerberg).

I find it hard to take very seriously analysts that define their perspective based primarily upon their superior ideals & opposition to others. Isn't every person, every tribe, team or enterprise a borglet-in-becoming? Everybody Wants to Rule the World ... & Everybody Must Get Stoned... messages about how we are grappling with complexity in our times. I just finished reading Command & Control (about nuclear weapons policy, systems design & accidents). I am amazed we've made it this far.

Unfortunately, I would not be amazed if reckless, feckless leaders changed the status quo. I was particularly alarmed hearing Trump in his projection mode; "I would love to be able to bring back our country into a great form of unity, without a major event where people pull together, that's hard to do.

But I would like to do it without that major event because usually that major event is not a good thing." It strikes me that he could be exceptionally willing to risk a Major Event if he felt a form of unity, or self-preservation, was in the offing. I pray (& I do not pray often or easily) that the Generals you have described have enough heart & guts to honor their oath at its most profound level in the event of an Event.

turcopolier , 10 February 2018 at 06:00 PM
babak

As a time traveler from another age, I can only say that for me it means devotion to a set of mores peculiar to a particular profession as opposed to an occupation. pl

Barbara Ann -> outthere... , 10 February 2018 at 06:00 PM
Great example outthere.

Another springs to mind: James Lovelock (of Gaia hypothesis fame) was once part of the NASA team building the first probe to go to Mars to look for signs of life. Lovelock didn't make any friends when he told NASA they were wasting their time, there was none. When asked how he could be so sure, he explained that the composition of the Martian atmosphere made it impossible. "But Martian life may be able to survive under different conditions" was the retort. Lovelock then went on to explain his view that the evolution of microbial life determined the atmospheric composition on Earth, so should be expected to do the same if life had evolved on Mars. Brilliant backwards thinking which ought to have earned him the Nobel prize IMHO (for Gaia). Lovelock, a classic cross-disciplinary scientist, can't be rewarded with such a box-categorized honor, as his idea doesn't fit well into any one.

Another example of cross-disciplinary brilliance was Bitcoin, which has as much to do with its creator's deep knowledge of Anthropology (why people invented & use money) as his expertise in both Economics and Computer Science.

This is they key to creative thinking in my view - familiarity with different fields yields deeper insights.

[Feb 10, 2018] More on neoliberal newspeak of US propaganda machine

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The "Newspeak" we experience is straight out of Orwell's 1984. From Wikipedia: Newspeak is the fictional language in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, written by George Orwell. It is a controlled language created by the totalitarian state Oceania as a tool to limit freedom of thought, and concepts that pose a threat to the regime such as freedom, self-expression, individuality, and peace. Any form of thought alternative to the party's construct is classified as "thoughtcrime". ..."
"... It is truly scary how Orwellian our current situation has become reminding me that there are always two two takeaways from any story or historical record. Those that view it as a cautionary tale and those who use it as an instruction manual. ..."
"... We are also controlled through Doublespeak another Orwellian concept. From Wikipedia: Doublespeak is a language that deliberately obscures, disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words. Some common examples are the branding of liberals by pundits in the media as Fascists in order to eliminate the historical understanding of exactly what that word refers to. Another example is the appearance of the term Alt Right which is used to confuse and obscure the true nature of these groups. A great example of the doublespeak the media exercises in service to the state is the instantaneous adoption of the term Alt Right and nary ever a mention of its former names such as White Supremacist, Neo Nazi, Racist, Hate Group etc. They just rename these movements and hide all the other terms from sight. Another example is scapegoating the same group of people but under a different term. Today the term is Liberal but in the past, the Nazi movement called them Jews, Communists, Intellectuals etc. Whatever the term, the target of these attacks are always the ones that threaten the Power Structure. ..."
"... Joseph Goebbels was in charge of the war propaganda for the Nazis during WWII. He said: "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State." ..."
Feb 10, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

CitizenOne , February 10, 2018 at 11:58 am

The reason we are in the pickle barrel is exactly the reasons stated in the article and by Annie. We are exposed to exactly what they want to show us and are blinded by other narratives which do not support the group think. It is as if the politicians, the intelligence community and the media are all involved in a conspiracy. Remember that word means a plan by two or more people. No tin foil hat required. But anyone suggesting conspiracy is instantly branded a nut hence the universal use of the term conspiracy nut as a derogatory term to label anyone with a different message that somehow captures the attention of a wider audience. It is not so much that all Holly Wood stars are liberal socialists. They are a diverse group. However they all have one thing in common which is they have the public's ear. They are also not on point with the approved messaging and so must be continuously branded as conspiracy nuts and socialist subversives. We all have seen the 24/7 bashing of these folks. Control is the reason.

The "Newspeak" we experience is straight out of Orwell's 1984. From Wikipedia: Newspeak is the fictional language in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, written by George Orwell. It is a controlled language created by the totalitarian state Oceania as a tool to limit freedom of thought, and concepts that pose a threat to the regime such as freedom, self-expression, individuality, and peace. Any form of thought alternative to the party's construct is classified as "thoughtcrime".

It is truly scary how Orwellian our current situation has become reminding me that there are always two two takeaways from any story or historical record. Those that view it as a cautionary tale and those who use it as an instruction manual.

I am appalled by how the media at first put Trump in the game in the first place for economic gain (see Les Moonvies article) and then created another fictional fantasy which serves the goal of permawar and control of the citizenry through fear, confusion and ignorance. We are all exposed to the Daily Two Minutes of Hate another Orwellian concept. From Wikipedia: The Two Minutes Hate, from George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, is a daily period in which Party members of the society of Oceania must watch a film depicting the Party's enemies (notably Emmanuel Goldstein and his followers) and express their hatred for them for exactly two minutes. The difference is we can find it 24/7 on our technological wonder machines.

Another Orwellian concept is The Ministry of Truth: The Ministry of Truth (in Newspeak, Minitrue) is the ministry of propaganda. As with the other ministries in the novel, the name Ministry of Truth is a misnomer because in reality it serves the opposite: it is responsible for any necessary falsification of historical events. From Wikipedia: As well as administering truth, the ministry spreads a new language amongst the populace called Newspeak, in which, for example, "truth" is understood to mean statements like 2 + 2 = 5 when the situation warrants. In keeping with the concept of doublethink, the ministry is thus aptly named in that it creates/manufactures "truth" in the Newspeak sense of the word. The book describes the doctoring of historical records to show a government-approved version of events.

We are also controlled through Doublespeak another Orwellian concept. From Wikipedia: Doublespeak is a language that deliberately obscures, disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words. Some common examples are the branding of liberals by pundits in the media as Fascists in order to eliminate the historical understanding of exactly what that word refers to. Another example is the appearance of the term Alt Right which is used to confuse and obscure the true nature of these groups. A great example of the doublespeak the media exercises in service to the state is the instantaneous adoption of the term Alt Right and nary ever a mention of its former names such as White Supremacist, Neo Nazi, Racist, Hate Group etc. They just rename these movements and hide all the other terms from sight. Another example is scapegoating the same group of people but under a different term. Today the term is Liberal but in the past, the Nazi movement called them Jews, Communists, Intellectuals etc. Whatever the term, the target of these attacks are always the ones that threaten the Power Structure.

Joseph Goebbels was in charge of the war propaganda for the Nazis during WWII. He said: "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."

If these things seem eerily similar to what is going on today then we probably have a power structure which is a grave threat for peace. Okay, we do have a power structure that is a grave threat to peace but oddly not democracy. Noam Chomsky wrote about propaganda stating, "it's the essence of democracy" This notion is contrary to the popular belief that indoctrination is inconsistent with democracy. The point is that in a totalitarian state, it doesn't much matter what people think because you can control what they do. But when the state loses the bludgeon, when you can't control people by force and when the voice of the people can be heard, you have to control what people think. And the standard way to do this is to resort to what in more honest days used to be called propaganda. Manufacture of consent. Creation of necessary illusions.

The folks who contribute here on this website are few indeed and what lies beyond the haven of the oasis is a vast barren dessert filled with scorpions, snakes and a whole bunch of lies.

Well said for Annie and the authors.

Democracy may be the ultimate tool of control of the masses.

More wisdom from Goebbels:

I like that last one a lot but unfortunately it will not come to pass until things get bad.

CitizenOne , February 10, 2018 at 11:59 am

Link to article: http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-trump-moonves-snap-htmlstory.html

Elaine Sandchaz , February 10, 2018 at 5:34 pm

Citizen One – You have beautifully & precicely nailed the means ( "how" ) the USA has gotten in such a mess : Newspeak, Daily Two Minutes of Hate, The Ministry of Truth, DoubleSpeak and the way and why of how Propaganda actually works. George Orwell was a seer.

AND now it would be helpful to understand "why" the USA has gotten in such a mess. The polarity of American politics tells a very long story but in short, polarity means there are only two ways and when the going gets tough, each way is in the extreme – the right way or the wrong way, it flips depending on each individual's political persuasion. When the going gets tough the extremes become the tail that wags the dog.

So my question is : WHY after the seemingly happy years under Obama did the going get so tough so fast?
My pet theory is that Trump threatened to "drain the swamp" which was understood – seemingly now quite rightly – that he was going to expose some very significant wrong doing in very high places. I believe that he was on "NYC/DC" friendly terms with the Clintons and both parties knew each other for the true devil they were. Thus the big red flag he waved in her face brought about what is turning in to a multi billion dollar ongoing attempt to discredit him in the eyes of the people, in the eyes of the World and in the eyes of the highest courts " America be damned".

And politically this is quite necessary because she is not only an icon of all that is American,"apple pie and motherhood"; she is to the under 45 age group the great white mother of democracy via Democrat rule. And the bad part of that iconography is that if she goes down so does the party. It was also critical for her to win because of all the swamp people who had chosen to compromise their life's work, thus had to continue in that compromise in the hope that they would come out clean since they believed that both Trump and the ordinary American were so naive, thus would be easily played for fools.

So all this crap to destroy Trump is about saving her hide to save the party. Things are so desperate now because there is nothing yet in place to replace her in the mind's eye of the Democratic half the voting public. All who might have been in 2nd place were kept diminished to raise her higher. It now is quite obvious that she has been told to shut up and lie low, to come out only when she is in safe company – as at the Golden Globes. So the big picture today as is being painted and hyped to intensify mass hysteria is that Mueller needs to be protected from Trump where really what is needed are the names and numbers to be called on for more $$$, more social media propaganda pages and to vote in November 2018.

Why only that? Because Trump is not going to fire Mueller; remember Mueller was a Bush man and so was Comey. They have a long history of going both ways. Survival is tricky business – especially in DC. The scapegoats are already cornered; possibly the new "lie" is already in draft form. Remember – "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."

It is going to be an interesting next few months!! But we can hope that, from this one of many previous American political exercises in democracy, the ordinary defenders of those democratic values (the voters) will learn some significant truths about governance, transparency and the rule of law. The guys at the top are not gods and are not above the law; they must not only do right but be seen to do right.

CitizenOne , February 10, 2018 at 7:57 pm

The only thing I can tell you is that the conspirators who concocted Russia Gate have figured out all the pieces to the puzzle of how to control events via the means I mentioned and many other means. We are as manipulated as a light switch. One way we are all fired up about some BS and flip the switch and we are all calm and mellow. Hopefully if you follow the threads here you will find out a lot of alternative information much of it thoroughly researched by highly respected and qualified individuals who are in a position to know the truth.

Mariam , February 10, 2018 at 7:11 pm

I agree with you wholeheartedly. They call themselves "liberals" in fact they are "new liberals."
Alas, these false ("new) liberals" are very well represented by the Obamas, the Clintons, the Trudeaus, the Macrons and so on.
If you truly believe in the "left" and call yourself "progressive" you couldn't stand for useless and pointless wars, period.

[Feb 09, 2018] Economists data and models are so unreliable that they should be viewed more of a religious studies than natural science

Feb 09, 2018 | economistsview.typepad.com

llisa2u2 , February 06, 2018 at 11:01 AM

I am posting this info. to this site, as part of personal approach as a US citizen to try to get some REAL FACTS out into the supposedly professional platforms of economists. This platforms are woefully lacking in good, factual information to communicate to anyone, even amongst themselves, and especially to Joe living on an street, or hopefully any house on any street in the US.

Now, what am I posting? The information that I am posting is an example of confusing information that is extremely invalid and should NOT be posted by so-called reliable sources, of professional, or "expertise" information. The reason I am posting an article that is confusing is because this article by Krugman is also confusing, and just as unreliable as the "confusing article" that was written by Alan Harkin at INVESTOPEDIA.


http://bit.ly/2Eof6eM

If you can't believe Investopedia's information, then who can you believe? I am posting the article as an article that the reader can NOT believe. The linked article is absolutely mis-stating IRS facts. This article is one of many that confuse the message about corporate taxation.

Personally, I think it is deliberate. The title of the article: http://bit.ly/2Eof6eM
basically leads the reader "to believe" the article is about how much US corporations such as APPLE, GOOGLE etc. "actually" bottomline- deliver to IRS. BUT, wait, when the reader "really reads" the reader then notes, that the "charts" ONLY reflect the "tax rate". Now, that's a whole different story. Tax rate is not bottomline taxes paid.

So, now if my "logic" and conclusion is "faulty", please enlighten me. The IRS data and this article don't jive in the real world of statistical data. Here is link to STATISTA that is THE data base that is used by top researchers worldwide.

This link shows the REAL data and percentage of corporate TAX PAID, AND FUTURE projections for US etc. etc. I have selected the most obvious and easy to read chart.
The following link presents reliable fact VS The article from INVESTOPEDIA as garbage.

http://bit.ly/2Eof7iQ

I am writing that the article in Investopedia by Aaron Hankin is BS. The content of the article also attempts to establish correlations to S/P action that has absolutely NO plausible fact to make any correlation about anything. I am also writing that most of the media reports about "corporate tax" is BS. I also am writing that this article by Krugman is a fluff, nonsense piece that is also BS. If Krugman were an economist that had any concern about the US economy, he would have, and would be posting this link everywhere on earth.

All that I definitely am trying to do is to get "reasonable data" out there to influence the public mindset to counter BS and try to present FACTS, just like a lot of other intelligent readers are trying to do.

llisa2u2 said in reply to llisa2u2... , February 06, 2018 at 11:08 AM
Please ignore the "typos", I did not hit preview first in this posted version on economists view.
llisa2u2 said in reply to llisa2u2... , February 06, 2018 at 11:15 AM
Basically, I am saying that the political posturing, and propaganda strategies of so many different monied groups is demanding that any "serf" needs to present any comment as if the "serf" is writing some sort of thesis. Really, all the "Talking Faces" are the ones who should be doing that as they present messages to the public"serfs". Otherwise, there should be public disclaimers as to who is paying the "Talking Faces" for delivering their "propaganda". The "sponsored message" dynamics is so convoluted, that any viewer sure can't presume anything. Basically, It just looks like a lot of "Talking Faces" are just making themselves into asses, based on their assumption, and presumptions.
mulp said in reply to llisa2u2... , February 06, 2018 at 01:26 PM
Why do you think anyone associated with investors is an economist rather than a snake oil salesman in the medicine show that is extremely boring?

What to understand economics? Pay attention to Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos.

They pay US workers to build productive assets like factories, transportation products, energy harvesting products, information you want products, all of which can be matched only by competitors paying hundreds of billions to millions of US workers just to catch up in a decade.

Or you can read Keynes.

[Feb 03, 2018] Whole Foods Becomes Amazon Hell Foods as Employees, Managers Quit, Cry on the Job....and These People Want to Run Your Healthca

Notable quotes:
"... Cooks at restaurants routinely work in similar heat with similar levels of exertion. I know, because I was a cook at multiple restaurants. ..."
"... The reason OSHA doesn't care is because working people in extreme heat is SOP for scores of industries that you may not even realize. ..."
"... In an earlier generation, that would be an excellent question. But since then, we've seen the distribution and adoption of the neoliberal memo that such things are always and everywhere bad. Nor would they be high on the current administration's to do list. ..."
"... Amazon doesn't employ the workers. It employs temp agencies who supply the workers. This is a standard procedure these days for high-turnover workplaces, because in the end no one is responsible for what happens to the workers. ..."
"... A service business that gives crappy service will not prosper. ..."
"... I spent 25 years in the grocery business with 20 of them in management. The expectations stated above were industry standards (except the minutiae of sales goals). Only in Whole Foods was this model ignored. When the industry wide profit margin of grocers is less the 3cents on the dollar you have to be a TIGHT operator to turn a profit or you are doomed. As a department manager my entire job depended on how I managed my P&L report on a quarterly basis .. if I was over on payroll hours I DAMN well better be cutting back on other areas such as shrink, supplies or payroll mix (high paid FT vs low paid PT) ..."
"... Thanks for bringing up the industry baseline! Bezos' intense exploitation of labor merits a spotlight, but what's happening off in the shadows in other corporations? I recall seeing Costco held up as a + example, but what about others? ..."
"... It seems to me that Amazon are a one trick company (albeit, a very good trick), and they are likely to get burned very badly if they extend their predatory model to high value brands.. ..."
"... "When the industry wide profit margin of grocers is less the 3cents on the dollar" This figure is complete nonsense. It means nothing. It's the "profit margin" after paying themselves rent, which is where the profits in grocery stores end up.. No one is in business for a 3% return. It does make good for PR though. ..."
"... Its not clear to me that OTS originated with Amazon. Amazon only completed the Whole Foods purchase around Labor Day in 2017. It usually takes more than a month or two to come up with an entire computer-based software system and roll it out company-wide. ..."
"... Corporate America is capable of coming up with bone-headed implementations of what could be good ideas without the need to get Amazon, Google, Facebook, or Apple to push them to it. Wells Fargo was able to come up with "Eight is Great" for new account generation even with the guidance of Warren Buffet instead of Jeff Bezos. ..."
"... At any rate, I won't be frequenting Whole Foods any longer as I find worker abuse nauseating. ..."
"... So much paperwork that there's no time to deliver the food, hence empty shelves. A situation instantly recognizable to anyone who ever lived in the USSR. ..."
"... You didn't hear it from me, but from a friend who was a cashier at a grocery store, a small way to fight back against self checkout is to be creative in naming your produce to get a 95% discount ..."
"... Wal-Mart can man-up with a new ad campaign – Our Employees Don't Cry, they get food stamps. ..."
"... "I'm amazed at how many people choose to simply ignore the fate of Amazon's employees in order to receive free shipping." ..."
"... (Suggesting that AMZ is a sh*t business.) ..."
"... fast forward 1-2 years ..."
"... fast forward 1-2 more years . ..."
"... Rinse. Repeat. Ad nauseum, ad infinitum . ..."
"... the first time in my life ..."
Feb 03, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on February 2, 2018 by Yves Smith As we've said, Jeff Bezos clearly hates people, except as appendages to bank accounts. All you need to do is observe how he treats his workers.

In a scoop, Business Insider reports on how Amazon is creating massive turnover and pointless misery at Whole Food by imposing a reign of terror impossible and misguided productivity targets.

Anyone who has paid the slightest attention to Amazon will see its abuse of out of Whole Foods workers as confirmation of an established pattern. And even more tellingly, despite Whole Foods supposedly being a retail business that Bezos would understand, the unrealistic Whole Foods metrics aren't making the shopping experience better.

As we'll discuss below, we'd already expressed doubts about how relevant Bezos' hyped Amazon model would be to Whole Foods. Proof is surfacing even faster than we expected.

But first to Bezos' general pattern of employee mistreatment.

It's bad enough that Bezos engages in the worst sort of class warfare and treats warehouse workers worse than the ASPCA would allow livery drivers to use horses. Not only do horses at least get fed an adequate ration, while Amazon warehouse workers regularly earn less than a local living wage, but even after pressure to end literal sweatshop conditions (no air conditioning so inside temperatures could hit 100 degrees; Amazon preferred to have ambulances at ready for the inevitable heatstroke victims rather than pay to cool air ), Amazon warehouse workers are, thanks to intensive monitoring, pressed to work at such a brutal pace that most can't handle it physically and quit by the six month mark. For instance, from a 2017 Gizmodo story, Reminder: Amazon Treats Its Employees Like Shit :

Amazon, like most tech companies, is skilled at getting stories about whatever bullshit it decides to feed the press. Amazon would very much prefer to have reporters writing some drivel about a discount code than reminding people that its tens of thousands of engineers and warehouse workers are fucking miserable. How do I know they're miserable? Because (as the testimony below demonstrates) they've told every writer who's bothered to ask for years.

Gawker, May 2014 – "I Do Not Know One Person Who Is Happy at Amazon"

.

The New York Times, August 2015- " Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace "

..

The Huffington Post, October 2015 – " The Life and Death of an Amazon Warehouse Temp "

For a good overview of the how Amazon goes about making its warehouse workers' lives hell, see Salon's Worse than Wal-Mart: Amazon's sick brutality and secret history of ruthlessly intimidating workers .

Mind you, Amazon's institutionalized sadism isn't limited to its sweatshops. Amazon is also cruel to its office workers. The New York Times story that Gizmodo selected, based on over 100 employee interviews, included:

Bo Olson lasted less than two years in a book marketing role and said that his enduring image was watching people weep in the office, a sight other workers described as well. "You walk out of a conference room and you'll see a grown man covering his face," he said. "Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk."

While that paragraph was the most widely quoted from that story, some reporters reacted strongly to other bits. For instance, from The Verge :

Perhaps worst of all is Amazon's apparent approach when its employees need help. The Times has uncovered several cases where workers who were sick, grieving, or otherwise encumbered by the realities of life were pushed out of the company. A woman who had a miscarriage was told to travel on a business trip the day after both her twins were stillborn. Another woman recovering from breast cancer was given poor performance rankings and was warned that she was in danger of losing her job.

The Business Insider story on Amazon, 'Seeing someone cry at work is becoming normal': Employees say Whole Foods is using 'scorecards' to punish them , is another window on how Bezos thinks whipping his workers is the best way to get results from them:


voteforno6 , February 2, 2018 at 6:21 am

I have yet to hear of anyone who has actually enjoyed working for Amazon. I know several people who have worked on building out their data centers, and it's the same type of experience – demanding, long hours, must be responsive to calls and emails 24×7. Even people who are otherwise highly skilled, highly competent workers are treated as disposable items. It's no surprise that they treat grocery workers the same.

Collapsar , February 2, 2018 at 7:45 am

According to this Business Insider article the OTS inventory management system was something brought in by whole foods management; not amazon. Employees are actually hoping amazon fixes the issues created by OTS.

Things are definitely bad when workers are hoping things will get better with Bezos in charge.

I can't remember where I read an article in which an amazon employee said people at the company joked that amazon is where overachievers go to feel bad about themselves.

David Carl Grimes , February 2, 2018 at 7:54 am

If working conditions are so bad at the warehouses (heatstrokes from lack of air conditioning), then why hasn't the Department of Labor gone after them? Surely the DoL or some local labor bureau most have gotten hundreds if not thousands of complaints?

Left in Wisconsin , February 2, 2018 at 10:37 am

Where are the unions? The Teamsters or UFCW should be all over this. Their complete absence from the story is telling. When the first three conclusions to be drawn from this story are:
1. That boss (and company culture) are awful
2. Why doesn't the government do something?
3. Maybe the workers can do a class action
then it's really not surprising that things are this bad.

Ransom Headweight , February 2, 2018 at 1:05 pm

Where are the unions? They've been systematic eradicated or are being led by "pro-business" stooges. About the only union worth a damn and bucking the system is the Nurses Union led by Rose Ann DeMoro. If you have the inclunation, take a look at labor during the first Gilded Age (late 1800s early 1900s) to see what it took to get the modest reforms of the New Deal enacted -- the very policies that are almost extinct now.

jrs , February 2, 2018 at 1:35 pm

Well even trying to unionize fast food failed badly is my impression. So often the laws make it hard but the workers also have to *WANT* to unionize.

Anon , February 2, 2018 at 1:53 pm

An article in The Atlantic provides an explanation for the absence of unions:

Efforts to get Amazon to change its labor practices have been unsuccessful thus far. Randy Korgan, the business representative and director of the Teamsters Local 63, which represents the Stater Brothers employees, told me that his office frequently gets calls from Amazon employees wanting to organize. But organizing is difficult because there's so much turnover at Amazon facilities and because people fear losing their jobs if they speak up. Burgett, the Indiana Amazon worker, repeatedly tried to organize his facility, he told me. The turnover was so high that it was difficult to get people to commit to a union campaign. The temps at Amazon are too focused on getting a full-time job to join a union, he said, and the full-time employees don't stick around long enough to join. He worked with both the local SEIU and then the Teamsters to start an organizing drive, but could never get any traction. He told me that whenever Amazon hears rumors of a union drive, the company calls a special "all hands" meeting to explain why a union wouldn't be good for the facility. (Lindsey said that Amazon has an open-door policy that encourages associates to bring concerns directly to the management team. "We firmly believe this direct connection is the most effective way to understand and respond to the needs of our workforce," she wrote, in an email.)

This is a common anti-union trick among low-wage jobs these days -- intentionally abuse your workers as much as possible to ensure the highest possible turnover (and even better, turnover in the form of voluntary quits, which do not qualify for unemployment benefits or impact the employer's UI tax). Workers who have zero investment in their jobs and who intend to quit at the earliest possible opportunity are less likely to go through the trouble and risk of supporting a union effort.

As a bonus, the high turnover results in many of the workers not ever becoming eligible for benefits. Most common tax-advantaged benefit plans, like health insurance and 401(k), are required to be offered to all employees with only a few limited exceptions. The permitted exceptions differ depending on the benefit type, but usually include criteria like length of service (often no more than 12 months or so) and in some cases, minimum work hours. The plan will lose its tax-advantaged status if it excludes more employees than the law permits, which can cost the employer back taxes and penalties. Firing employees for the purpose of interfering with their ERISA-regulated benefits is illegal , but treating them so poorly from day 1 that they are unlikely to last long enough to qualify for benefits is not.

From a policy perspective, we need to realize the instability created by high-turnover and fissured work environments and penalize it accordingly. A beneficial side effect of this is that it would likely incentivize employers to train and promote low-level workers upwards; low-level jobs like warehouse workers probably inherently have higher turnover than average, just because most workers don't want to do that for the rest of their lives (and some are successful in finding a way out), but when there's a path for the janitor to become CTO you can reduce that turnover.

flora , February 2, 2018 at 11:21 am

When you own the politicians' trade newspaper – WaPo – why would the politicians attack you?

Fraibert , February 2, 2018 at 9:09 am

Pretty sure, at least at the federal level, it would be OSHA jurisdiction issues. With that said, OSHA has received complaints, and done investigations: e.g., https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/region3/01122016 ; https://www.recode.net/2017/11/9/16629412/amazon-warehouse-worker-killed-deaths-osha-fines-penalties

I found these just by Googling "OSHA amazon". Keep in mind, the low amounts of the fines doesn't necessarily reflect the severity of the underlying issues–my understanding is that OSHA has relatively weak abilities to fine violators in the first place.

Pespi , February 2, 2018 at 4:02 pm

OSHA has been neutered. If you're lucky enough to get someone to come without also being fired, they'll fine the business an ant's eyelid and be gone.

maria gostrey , February 2, 2018 at 9:38 am

the salon article referenced above perhaps is indicative of regulators' attitude toward those we expect them to regulate:

june 2, june 10 & july 25 – the days OSHA received complaints about the 100+ weather in the Allentown warehouse.

nothing about any sort of OSHA response.

Adam , February 2, 2018 at 2:07 pm

Cooks at restaurants routinely work in similar heat with similar levels of exertion. I know, because I was a cook at multiple restaurants.

Now I am a machinist, and temps like this are routine during the summer in most shops I worked.

The reason OSHA doesn't care is because working people in extreme heat is SOP for scores of industries that you may not even realize.

Big River Bandido , February 2, 2018 at 10:00 am

The regulatory agencies were captured decades ago by the industries they purport to regulate.

EoH , February 2, 2018 at 11:27 am

Government regulation and enforcement? In an earlier generation, that would be an excellent question. But since then, we've seen the distribution and adoption of the neoliberal memo that such things are always and everywhere bad. Nor would they be high on the current administration's to do list.

Elizabeth Burton , February 2, 2018 at 2:54 pm

Amazon doesn't employ the workers. It employs temp agencies who supply the workers. This is a standard procedure these days for high-turnover workplaces, because in the end no one is responsible for what happens to the workers.

Mikerw , February 2, 2018 at 8:18 am

To quote: "the beatings will continue until morale improves"

A service business that gives crappy service will not prosper. There is a high touch rate between customers and employees in this industry. Also, this is an industry with many options and competition; unlike airlines for example. We shop at WF from time to time, partly due to the experience being more pleasant. We have no issue moving (and no love of Amazon).

visitor , February 2, 2018 at 8:34 am

A service business that gives crappy service will not prosper.

if and only if there are preferable alternatives. If that business is cheaper, a monopoly, or if all other businesses deliver crappy service too, then it may well prosper. Case in point: the telecommunications market in the USA.

Fraibert , February 2, 2018 at 9:24 am

This is an important reason why the notion that market competition will increase social welfare isn't inherently true. It's long been understood that in concentrated markets (oligopolies) the market actors might implicitly coordinate their prices without a price increase. For example, Companies A, B, and C sell widgets; Company A announces a price increase via press release; B and C follow with similar increases a week later.

But companies can also implicitly coordinate on the quality of goods. If Company A pursues crapification, that can cover B and C for doing the same.

It's akin the the Greesham's Dyamic that Professor Black has written about extensively on this blog and in other places in connection with finance creating a criminogenic environment. Under the right circumstances, cheap bad quality can drive out good quality, leaving only bad.

EoH , February 2, 2018 at 11:41 am

Indeed. A "market" focusing solely on profitability would consider human values an inefficiency. It would remove them, along with what produced them, from the system, using routine failure modes and effects analysis. (An interesting point for promoters of AI.)

California witnessed considerable consolidation in its grocery business ten years or so ago. Similar, if somewhat less draconian conditions, resulted. I don't believe the "market" will generate a different result this time.

In addition, there's the question of Jeff Bezos's purposes in buying WF. It would not be to learn from another industry; I don't imagine Bezos values that concept. It would more likely be to expand his own methodologies and priorities to another industry, one that gives him access to a human activity outside the already extensive reach of his current business.

WF may be an experiment, whose survival might not be dictated by immediate notional profitability. Besides, the utility and profitability of the data flow from this experiment might never be visible.

Wisdom Seeker , February 2, 2018 at 2:03 pm

This is an important reason why the notion that market competition will increase social welfare isn't inherently true. It's long been understood that in concentrated markets (oligopolies) the market actors might implicitly coordinate their prices without a price increase.

I agree, except that the situations you describe are not "market competition". Any marketplace with fewer than about 7 truly independent competitors is not a competitive market.

But as you say, when there are few participants there is a lot of implicit signaling and coordination, which work to benefit the few participants at the expense of the general welfare.

We have a lot of faux markets, and a lot of faux competition. This is not helped by the prevalence of multiple "brands" owned by the same small number of large conglomerates. You could shut down just 2 or 3 companies in each product line and the supermarket shelves would lose 90% of their items. That ain't a competitive marketplace, even though the proliferation of brands provides the illusion of freedom of choice.

We need a populist wave to take back our democracy.

jrs , February 2, 2018 at 2:10 pm

Yes it's not textbook competition, but while textbook competition with many small players may be good for the consumer, there is no evidence that it is good for the worker. In fact I suspect it's bad for the worker as super competitive industries will nearly kill their employees just to stay in business. I'd rather work for an oligopoly (but it all depends on which one) as the freedom from relentless competition enables better working conditions in theory (again does not always materialize).

Dave , February 2, 2018 at 8:22 am

I spent 25 years in the grocery business with 20 of them in management. The expectations stated above were industry standards (except the minutiae of sales goals). Only in Whole Foods was this model ignored. When the industry wide profit margin of grocers is less the 3cents on the dollar you have to be a TIGHT operator to turn a profit or you are doomed. As a department manager my entire job depended on how I managed my P&L report on a quarterly basis .. if I was over on payroll hours I DAMN well better be cutting back on other areas such as shrink, supplies or payroll mix (high paid FT vs low paid PT)

I guess the Whole Foods employees are learning this now.

hemeantwell , February 2, 2018 at 8:42 am

Thanks for bringing up the industry baseline! Bezos' intense exploitation of labor merits a spotlight, but what's happening off in the shadows in other corporations? I recall seeing Costco held up as a + example, but what about others?

pretzelattack , February 2, 2018 at 8:48 am

if the industry standards decimate the work force and make customers unhappy, maybe it's the standards that are at fault.

Fraibert , February 2, 2018 at 9:15 am

To me, it doesn't make sense to penny pinch if you're a quasi-monopolistic supplier due to a special brand position. Whole Foods was associated with high quality goods, and was clearly able to charge a substantial price premium. Changing its operations as described above appears to reduce the justification for the price premium and destroy the company's unique market position.

It is almost like McDonald's deciding that beef patties cost too much, and that it would only serve chicken going forward.

PlutoniumKun , February 2, 2018 at 9:36 am

It seems to me that in the grocery business (like many), you either make money by being more efficient and cheaper than your competitors, or by having a unique selling point that allows you charge a premium (high quality, great service, etc).

If you look at the car industry, when mass market brands have bought high value brands (for example, Ford buying Jaguar), the sensible companies have been very cautious about ensuring that the brand aura (and hence high profit margin per car) is not tarnished by crudely cutting costs. Mercedes made that mistake in the 1980's with excessive cost cutting and it took them more than a decade, and billions of DM in investment, to win back their brand value when it became apparent that their cars were often less reliable than cheap Asian compacts.

It seems to me that Amazon are a one trick company (albeit, a very good trick), and they are likely to get burned very badly if they extend their predatory model to high value brands..

EoH , February 2, 2018 at 11:45 am

In scale, WF is a hobby business for Bezos, little more than a personal tax deduction. If it does not go as Bezos intends, it is not likely to have an effect on his primary business.

bob , February 2, 2018 at 9:19 am

"When the industry wide profit margin of grocers is less the 3cents on the dollar" This figure is complete nonsense. It means nothing. It's the "profit margin" after paying themselves rent, which is where the profits in grocery stores end up.. No one is in business for a 3% return. It does make good for PR though.

Chuck W , February 2, 2018 at 11:12 am

A 3% margin isn't the same thing as a 3% return. Maybe think about it this way, 26 turns on a 3% margin (once every 2 weeks). Without compounding that's a 78% return on average inventory level, before fixed and variable costs, interest expense and equity returns. You're right nobody is in the business for a 3% return!

bob , February 2, 2018 at 11:44 am

"A 3% margin isn't the same thing as a 3% return." I know this. But the way that figure is trotted out, relentlessly, is to leave the masses, and employees, with the idea that they only 'make' 3%, which is nonsense. Whatever they "make" is carefully chosen in accounting fairytale land.

The point about rents still stands. Most grocery stores/chains are REITs with captive retailers. No one ever sees the REIT side of things. Rite Aid is well know for being the captive retailer in this practice. Rite Aid doesn't 'make' any money (118M 'income' over 25 billion in sales = .004 Less that half a percent).. They 'make' the landlord LOTS of money. Tax dodge or money laundering, which does it better fit the definition of?

Chuck W , February 2, 2018 at 12:31 pm

Agreed. I think they trot out the 3% meme so nobody pushes them too hard on their "providing a public good" nature.

And on rent and landlord's, I absolutely agree. Regrettably it seems most of us are making our commercial landlords a lot of money (before we ever get to equity returns). So many small business owner's would loose their minds if they thought about that thoroughly. And to answer your last question, "I'll take Tax Dodge for $500, Alex"

Mel , February 2, 2018 at 12:40 pm

The way I read it way back when was that that 3% markup is on fresh produce and what not. So the turnover is necessarily high. So their return on invested capital might get as high as 3%/day, if they're lucky.

Jean , February 2, 2018 at 9:46 pm

Chuck W, please explain the "26 turns comment", don't assume people understand business jargon.

cnchal , February 3, 2018 at 12:26 am

Assumes stock turns over every two weeks, so 26 times per year.

Dave , February 2, 2018 at 10:41 pm

bob, can you direct me to an article and/or site which backs your claims. I would be most interested to read it. Perhaps my information is incorrect, but multiple Google searches have articles in which independent grocery business analysts confirm my number.

rd , February 2, 2018 at 3:43 pm

Its not clear to me that OTS originated with Amazon. Amazon only completed the Whole Foods purchase around Labor Day in 2017. It usually takes more than a month or two to come up with an entire computer-based software system and roll it out company-wide.

My guess is that Whole Foods was able to conceive of this all by themselves and since it fits into the Amazon way of doing things, they didn't stop them.

Corporate America is capable of coming up with bone-headed implementations of what could be good ideas without the need to get Amazon, Google, Facebook, or Apple to push them to it. Wells Fargo was able to come up with "Eight is Great" for new account generation even with the guidance of Warren Buffet instead of Jeff Bezos.

Kurtismayfield , February 2, 2018 at 3:44 pm

Does this 3% margin count the rent that is extracted from manufacturers for prime real estate in the stores? ( End caps for example). Slotting fees are rent extraction. Customers pay for this with higher prices for the items.

Whiteylockmandoubled , February 2, 2018 at 4:57 pm

Oh please. I shop at two of the major branded grocery chains, and while the staff is generally good and competent, they exhibit none of the hyper-awareness expected under OTS.

If you run into an employee and ask them where certain items can be found, they'll usually know and usually direct you to an aisle that has the item. But they will generally not know the exact location in the aisle, shelf, blah blah.

And the stupidity of corporate management is beyond belief. Due to niche marketing, items can be found in 3, 4 or even 5 different places. (My favorite is canned beans – organic and other high-end brands in the specialty fancy food aisle, a bunch in the Mexican/international/Spanish aisle, run of the mill murican brands and the same Goya brands that are in the international aisle in the general canned vegetable aisle, sale displays at the end of any random aisle. And dont even get me started on gluten-freeness).

At stop and shop they replaced the end of the checkout counters with a carousel for bagging, meaning a) that checkers had to bag each item as they went, b) no more baggers c) customers couldn't help bag stuff, and, my favorite, d) making it nearly impossible to use reusable bags. Talking to workers about it is simultaneously hilarious and enraging. "They said it was supposed to make it easier for us, but *shrug*". Everyone understands that it's designed to fail, slow things to a crawl, and piss customers off so they'll use the self-check line.

So spare us the tight-ship, low margin Whole-Foods-and-Amazon-are-just-just-learning-how-intense-the-business-really-is-and-too-bad-for-those-whiney-workers old school macho bullshit. Yes, it's not the most profitable industry in the world. But amazon is a whole other level of abusive monitoring of workers everywhere it goes.

Tony Wikrent , February 2, 2018 at 8:29 am

Makes me wonder what's happening at Washington Post. Quick search results are that Post has been "revived." Note that Bezos stays out of editorial process, but is heavily involved in tech ops.

Huey Long , February 2, 2018 at 8:29 am

I happened to stop by the Whole Foods in Columbus Circle, NYC yesterday for some produce and something is definitely different there.

It was around 4 pm, the store was packed, and apparently management had people out there with brooms and dustpans sweeping up what appeared to be clean floors. Between the crowds, the sweeping employees, and the boxes of stock on the floor it was much harder to move in there.

After navigating the aisles, I grabbed a bottle of cold beer for my subway ride home, and then proceeded to the in-house ramen/draft beer spot. The employees there seemed absolutely miserable and kept wandering away to talk in hushed voices about what was clearly some sort of work problem in the store from what I could gather. To the employees' credit however, they treated me with courtesy and respect even though their body language and demeanor screamed misery.

Following my mediocre Ramen and yummy draft beers, I wandered back over to the beer aisle to exchange my now warm subway subs for a cold bottle. I was shocked to find that the entire cold reach-in beer shelves had been re-stocked while I was in the ramen bar. After several moments of digging through freshly stocked warm beer I found a cold one, paid, and departed Whole Foods.

Thanks for this article, as it ties together all the oddities I observed today. It is really sad what happened to Whole Foods, particularly that location. I used to work on the Time Warner Center maintenance staff and frequently interacted with employees in that particular store and they used to be a jolly bunch.

At any rate, I won't be frequenting Whole Foods any longer as I find worker abuse nauseating.

SufferinSuccotash , February 2, 2018 at 8:37 am

So much paperwork that there's no time to deliver the food, hence empty shelves. A situation instantly recognizable to anyone who ever lived in the USSR.

The Rev Kev , February 2, 2018 at 8:56 am

Funny that. It was only a coupla months ago that a big story making the rounds was that Walmart shelves ( http://theweek.com/articles/466144/why-walmarts-shelves-are-empty ) were constantly empty. I suppose you have to be a mega-corporation to make blunders like this but still get away with it for a few months running.

Wyoming , February 2, 2018 at 9:56 am

Interesting you mention Wallmart. I live in central AZ and our local Wallmarts (3 ea) for several years had empty shelves, few workers – and they did not know where anything was, the greeters were gone, literally 1-2 actual cashiers – they were trying to force you to the self-checkout. Recently the stores are almost like they used to be with more workers, greeters back, still not enough cashiers though, and better stocking.

Has anyone else noticed this. It does seem to coincide with the Amazon purchase of WF. Correlation is not causation and all that but it might be a reaction to some extent.

Carolinian , February 2, 2018 at 1:23 pm

I'm probably one of the few people around here that shops at Walmart and yes they have cleaned up their act although it depends on the store. I'd say the thing people don't get about Walmart is that they are responsive to public opinion and customer gripes even if they supposedly treat their employees like disposable parts, easily replaced (but then they have lots of company in that department). For example a few years ago they took the clutter out of the aisles and did away with the craft/sewing section–trying to be more like Target -- and then reversed all those changes because their customers hated it.

Seems to me Bezos is taking on a much bigger challenge trying to reinvent brick and mortar than he did by innovating mail order. Here's betting he's not up to it. Perhaps his top honchos–meditating in their new waterfall equipped Seattle biosphere–will prove me wrong.

Pespi , February 2, 2018 at 4:07 pm

You didn't hear it from me, but from a friend who was a cashier at a grocery store, a small way to fight back against self checkout is to be creative in naming your produce to get a 95% discount

diptherio , February 2, 2018 at 10:01 am

Just FYI, that article is 5 years old. I remember discussing it here on NC. Unfortunately, it didn't portend the end of Wally World.

The Rev Kev , February 2, 2018 at 7:52 pm

Yeah, that one was 5 year old but I chose it because it gave a bit more info in it. There are plenty more from last year. Just go to Google and punch in the search term Wal-Mart shelves empty and see what come back, especially Google images. This means that this problem is not a one-off but has been a running theme for at least a four year period. Amazing.

Eureka Springs , February 2, 2018 at 8:47 am

People who shop at Whole Foods want to look at employees with that NPR vegan faux-hippy gaze. Not a lot of difference from the evangelical gaze, imo. Some sort of self hypnosis involved? Now that gaze will be replaced with the look of a desperate near homeless employee all Wal-Mart shoppers have grown accustomed to ignoring, Wal-Mart can man-up with a new ad campaign – Our Employees Don't Cry, they get food stamps.

If I were a rich man I would give everyone of these people a T-shirt which says – I am not a robot.

Fraibert , February 2, 2018 at 9:18 am

I wonder if Wal-Mart will discover increasing in-store staff, as well as an upgraded store experience, will actually improve its competitive position versus online retailers. That's pretty much what Best Buy has to do.

SufferinSuccotash , February 2, 2018 at 10:06 am

Or maybe pay the help more. falls out of chair laughing

Marco , February 2, 2018 at 10:32 am

Is this just an Amazon/WF issue or something larger for grocer chains? I find myself shopping at a Meijers (big Midwest chain) superstore whilst visiting my mother and noticed the same kind of strangeness with not just employee morale (they are clearly miserable) but stocking issues. Items that were ALWAYS available are no longer there. I needed pasta shells the other day. They had none. How can a super grocer NOT have pasta shells. Larger than normal sections of shelves are bare. Pallets haphazardly placed. Meijors used to be a somewhat pleasant and orderly experience with happy workers now approaching a WalMart experience.

oh , February 2, 2018 at 1:43 pm

Vegan faux-hippy-Hillary Obamba-gaze?

Adar , February 2, 2018 at 3:34 pm

Re the NPR vegan faux-hippy gaze, The WF near me in suburban Philadelphia, has a very upscale clientele. Once, in the produce section, they had set up a booth where a Hispanic woman would mix guacamole using just the ingredients the customers wished, without any extraneous chatter on her part. Wow! Your guac would be mixed by an ACTUAL MEXICAN PERSON! Just gotta be good, eh? Conservatives might say she was happy to have such a nice job. I thought it was downright creepy, like those catalogues where people beam as they demonstrate expensive vacuum cleaners. Yuk.

lakecabs , February 2, 2018 at 9:16 am

Our Soviet style master planners hard at work. At least the Soviets had 5 year plans that they would abandon after 5 years. How many years of failure can we tolerate? What ever happened to profit?

McWoot , February 2, 2018 at 9:47 am

Not a fan of Bezos, Amazon, or their practices, but strict planogram scorecarding is not uncommon in grocery, auto parts and similar retail orgs. The only part of that section of the article that strikes me as out of the ordinary is the employee's reaction to it.

diptherio , February 2, 2018 at 10:04 am

Translation: "Employee abuse is the norm, so I don't see what everyone is complaining about. Back to work, peasants!"

McWoot , February 2, 2018 at 10:16 am

The framing of the article suggests this is Amazon-ian behavior. Just pointing out that I don't believe that's accurate because the practice is commonplace in the industry.

diptherio , February 2, 2018 at 1:54 pm

I've got more than a few friends who have worked in grocery stores recently, and while they had many complaints, having to know last week's best selling item or this week's sales goals weren't among them. Just sayin' .

Harry , February 2, 2018 at 10:00 am

DE shaw culture spread by its alumni

Chuck , February 2, 2018 at 10:05 am

Thank you for highlighting Amazon's continued abuse of its employees. I'm amazed at how many people choose to simply ignore the fate of Amazon's employees in order to receive free shipping. My favorite people are the type that by books on late stage capitalism and plutocracy through their Amazon prime accounts.

Bukko Boomeranger , February 2, 2018 at 6:12 pm

"I'm amazed at how many people choose to simply ignore the fate of Amazon's employees in order to receive free shipping."

Sad but true, Chuck. My daughter, who's a total Social Justice Warrior type (speaking as a progessive, I'm proud of her for that) and her long-time boyfriend are proud Amazon customers. They have Amazon technobuttons on the walls of the house they bought so that all they have to do to re-order toilet paper and kitty litter is touch the device. (Suggesting that AMZ is a sh*t business.) A day or two later, it's delivered, for free, because they are Primes! Daughter's BF, who luuuuuvs him some tech, revels in this because it's so futuristic. When I suggest going to the store to buy some -- it's quicker -- or simply thinking ahead and purchasing stuff before they run out, I get the eye-roll given to Olds who old-splain oldways. They're Jellbylically concerned about the plight of abused North Koreans and the like. When I mentioned why I was buying their Christmas book gifts via Barnes & Noble rather than Amazon due to its mistreatment of workers, their ears glazed over. I'll forward this post to her, but I doubt it will get read, since it wasn't on her Fakebook feed.

J-Mann , February 2, 2018 at 7:41 pm

heh

I like the cut of your jib: " to Olds who old-splain oldways."

Grampa Simpson classic – One trick is to tell 'em stories that don't go anywhere – like the time I caught the ferry over to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for my shoe, so, I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. "Give me five bees for a quarter," you'd say.

Now where were we? Oh yeah: the important thing was I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. They didn't have white onions because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones

Simple Life , February 2, 2018 at 10:35 am

Find a local co-op market. if you can't find one, start one!

Louis Fyne , February 2, 2018 at 12:13 pm

Local co-ops are a great idea but (sorry for the but) in much of the country wholesale food distribution has been decimated or wiped out over the years due to competition from Wal-Mart, Target, Whole Foods, the legacy grocers or Sysco (on the restaurant side).

Geographically, few areas in the US are fortunate enough to have an independent and thriving food/produce wholesale market which helps bring down price and bring up quality to be competitive with the vertically integrated big boys.

Arizona Slim , February 2, 2018 at 12:14 pm

Well, here's Slim from drought-stricken AZ. And I'm about to rain on that co-op parade. When I lived in Pittsburgh, I worked at a food co-op that was the lone survivor after its main competitor went under. And we got REAL busy. We also had a bit of a management problem. Ours was a drunk who often came to work hungover. All the better way to abuse the rest of us. After a staff revolt (yes, I took part in it), he left and took a job as manager of the regional co-op warehouse in Columbus, Ohio. Where he treated the warehouse gals as his harem and got one of them pregnant.

To our utter and total amazement back in Pittsburgh, he took responsibility for his son and tried to be the best father he could. I have no idea what happened with the drinking problem.

The manager who succeeded him was even worse. He even called himself a martinet, and he was. After less than a year of his BS, I bailed out of the co-op and got a sit-down job in an office. Yeah, there was another lousy boss there, and I've talked about her on other threads.

But there was further fun and merriment back at the co-op. I was still friendly with the people who worked there, and guess what? Another staff revolt! They ran Mr. Martinet outta there too! Go staff! Mr. Martinet went to a yuppie grocery store in North Carolina. From there, he went on to become one of the original senior executives in Whole Foods.

diptherio , February 2, 2018 at 3:32 pm

Bummer about the food co-op, Slim. Some of us "in the movement" are trying to work out how to provide accountability for guys like the drunk manager you mention, so that they don't end up doing like he did, and just sliding around from one co-op to another. Open to suggestions

Unfortunately, the co-op name doesn't necessarily imply that everything is groovy for the workers. Hence, REI workers in Seattle trying to unionize, and why UFCW has had such success in organizing every single food co-op in Minneapolis-St. Paul (and there are quite a few). The history of consumer co-ops seems pretty clear – workers in them need union representation just as much as workers in regular businesses.

Pespi , February 2, 2018 at 4:13 pm

Hahaha, an excellent story, well told. I have fond memories of the little local co-op from when I was a kid.

jrs , February 2, 2018 at 1:54 pm

it failed.

rd , February 2, 2018 at 3:46 pm

Or a Wegmans. https://www.wegmans.com/

https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/money/business/2010/05/14/alec-baldwins-mom-really-really-likes-wegmans/2195927/

EoH , February 2, 2018 at 4:00 pm

For those who need examples, there is an excellent co-op in Ocean Beach, San Diego. Its customer/members are devoutly loyal. By design, each is small and adapted to its local culture and food ecosystem. Michael Pollan is a good resource for ideas on this topic and on real food in general.

American businesses might prefer home runs, but singles and bunts are more common and sustainable. Besides, co-ops are harder to buy up or put out of business in the manner reputed to be practiced by, say, some retail coffee companies.

EoH , February 2, 2018 at 10:35 am

Jeff Bezos. John Galt. No difference.

Louis Fyne , February 2, 2018 at 12:58 pm

Except Jeff Bezos has sold the Ayn Rand way of life to the 'progressive' intelligensia who would happily rant over John Galt if you gave them your ear and a glass of Bordeaux.

HotFlash , February 2, 2018 at 1:05 pm

Didn't John Galt go away?

cnchal , February 2, 2018 at 4:18 pm

I don't know, did he?. I didn't finish the stupid book to find out.

Jeff N , February 2, 2018 at 10:38 am

Not just at Amazon, but I'm seeing an anecdotal trend of "get people to quit within a year or two of starting". Not just with ridiculous requests from above, but even with good ol' passive-aggressiveness. I can't remember if this article was tipped off to me by NC but here it is anyway:
https://www.ft.com/content/356ea48c-e6cf-11e6-967b-c88452263daf
(paywall, or websearch for "how employers manage out unwanted staff")

Croatoan , February 2, 2018 at 10:42 am

Don't you all get it? First they took away their freedom to form unions with others. Now they want to take away your freedom to form a union with you own bodies actions. This will crush the idea of sabotage and work slowdowns as an expression of labor power.

The Rev Kev , February 2, 2018 at 7:59 pm

Of course there is always this simple WW2 manual-https://www.cia.gov/news-information/featured-story-archive/2012-featured-story-archive/simple-sabotage.html

Jeff Z , February 2, 2018 at 10:57 am

OSHA is a part of the DOL. https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/safety-health

EoH , February 2, 2018 at 11:04 am

Waste is inherent to selling fresh food. Trimmings, dry, damaged meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, breads, prepared foods. That's especially true of anything organic and not engineered to be harder, more colorful, durable and less tasty than their natural analogs. Whole Paycheck's intended customers – really, most shoppers anywhere – do not want to buy adulterated, processed versions of eggs, beakless turkeys, caged hens, and drugged industrially raised cows and pigs.

Fresh food, especially organic, does not last as long as industrial bread, fruits and vegetables or highly sugared packaged foods. It is the antithesis of such foods. The reason chicken soup made the way it was c.1940 is tastier and nutritionally better than soup made from a caged, medicated, neurotic fowl today is not great Grandma's recipe: it's the chicken.

Local sourcing, environmentally safe, animal friendly methods of raising require a wider supplier net. What Michael Pollan would call real food costs more. It should. But real food and real people are ripe for the cruel "more efficient" methods of production, distribution and sale that seem part of Jeff Bezos's DNA. Besides, what he really wants is probably the data flow. WF is simply a way to get it.

rd , February 2, 2018 at 3:52 pm

https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/money/business/2017/03/03/wegmans-looks-cut-food-waste-with-new-state-regulations-coming/98049694/

Trey N , February 2, 2018 at 11:19 am

Typical uber-"capitalist" idiocy -- seen this happen in a lot of different industries over the years (esp techs):

CEO: "Our product sucks. We've grown too big, lost our innovative edge, we need to get back to our roots!"

Toady: "Uh, tried that already, boss. No can do. Too much bureaucracy now."

CEO: "Shit! Any ideas?"

Toady: "Actually, yes! We can buy out and take over one of the smaller competitors that's eating our lunch now, and steal their latest ideas and projects."

CEO: "Brilliant! Make it so!"

fast forward 1-2 years

CEO: "How's that takeover working out?"

Toady: "Well, it's taken a while, but we've fully integrated the company in with ours -- all of our corporate policies and procedures etc etc are in place there now."

CEO: "Excellent!"

fast forward 1-2 more years .

CEO: "Our product sucks! What happened to all those great ideas coming from that company we took over?"

Toady: "Well, most everyone working there when we bought it out are gone now. The founders and senior management cashed out the takeover premium and bailed immediately, and everybody else got frustrated with our corporate style and policies and eventually quit. Our people took over their projects, and promptly fucked them up beyond all belief. Instead of a cash cow, we got a dead cow on our hands now."

CEO: "Shit! Any ideas?"

Toady: "Yeah. We can either spin it off to the public again or just shut the whole fucking thing down and take a huge earnings write-off."

CEO: "Hmmm,..decisions, decisions . By the way, are there any other small competitors out there that we can buy out to rejuvenate our stale product line, toady?

Rinse. Repeat. Ad nauseum, ad infinitum .

Jeff N , February 2, 2018 at 4:41 pm

haha that's my place!

Sean , February 2, 2018 at 11:20 am

Amazon corporate sounds like a sweatshop. Their treatment of warehouse staff is nothing short of an abomination. But I can't help feeling that some of the employee comments at WholeFoods are less about bad management and work conditions and more about Millenials and a lack of ability handle criticism and work pressure. (The average age of a Whole Food employee at my store is easily 28yo.)

To call working on an inventory system "punitive". It's called business, and yes, it is difficult and takes a lot of effort. Punitive, though. To use an inventory system. Sorry. Not buying the whole story.

JBird , February 2, 2018 at 12:35 pm

If it's common for people to actually cry at work, and to have nightmares, with massive turnover, decreasing quality of service, product, and cleanliness blaming millennials is an inadequate response. Apparently Amazon wants to run Whole Foods with inadequate staff, fails to reward good good work, unfailingly punish not only poor work, but honest mistakes, and makes no allowance within the system for reality. If you did animal training this way, you would see the same results, I promise. The management "techniques" described will destroy any company, or at least reduce productivity massively.

Yves Smith Post author , February 2, 2018 at 3:11 pm

You are straw manning the post and the underlying article. The staff is grilled very frequently and graded, and much of what they are graded on isn't relevant to customer service. The shelves are supposed to be "leveled" all day, which is a ridiculous standard. The testing and insane shelf appearance standards are not normal to the industry and minor deviations are the basis for firing.

RMO , February 3, 2018 at 12:11 am

I have yet to met a single "Millennial" that fits that ridiculous stereotype – and I know a lot of people in that age bracket even though I was born in 1970. The very few who even seem to have tendencies in those directions seem more influenced by being from wealthy families than by their year of birth and I can think of at least as many Boomers and Gen X'ers that are like that too.

When I think of the high-school age or university age jobs the people I grew up with had and compare them to the jobs I've seen my "Millennial" friends doing the younger people have had it substantially worse over all.

Anarcissie , February 2, 2018 at 11:54 am

According to my browser, the word 'union' does not exist in this article.

Jonathan Holland Becnel , February 2, 2018 at 12:40 pm

#Famazon

Also theres an Ad for the 'United States Secret Service' that wants to recruit me. Lol Not with my Reenlistment Code (RE4)!!!!!

Arizona Slim , February 2, 2018 at 1:09 pm

A college friend of my mother went on to run the Secret Service detail for the White House. Very demanding position, but one that Mom's friend was quite proud of.

Eclair , February 2, 2018 at 12:41 pm

Lordy, Yves, please put a warning sign on that video! It's still breakfast time here in Seattle, and I clicked on it. No, it didn't offend my 'sensibilities.' But it encapsulated all the frustration and anger and helplessness I feel against our system. As well as being a powerful metaphor for 'late stage capitalism.'

Chauncey Gardiner , February 2, 2018 at 3:32 pm

Share your sentiments, Eclair. Having breakfast? The observations about employee abuse also pair well with a video of a 10 minute bike ride through the homeless encampments along the Santa Ana River near Angels Stadium and Disneyland in Anaheim:
https://mobile.twitter.com/Dalrymple/status/953739188050059265

Fear is part of their toolkit.

Pelham , February 2, 2018 at 1:16 pm

Whole Foods employees still outnumber these Amazon creatures checking up on them, I presume. If the WF workers and others at Amazon are so universally tormented and humiliated, shouldn't they be taking some kind of collective action?

Twice during WWII German officers tried to get rid of Hitler. I guess American workers don't measure up to even that standard.

Oregoncharles , February 2, 2018 at 1:59 pm

Those places are begging for union organizers – but are likely to fight back ruthlessly.

EoH , February 2, 2018 at 3:37 pm

I suspect Jeff Bezos would view unions at WF or Amazon the way Reagan viewed unionized Air Traffic Controllers. Or Wal-Mart, which has abandoned markets whose employment laws provide for unions or simply too many protections for employees.

Bezos is extracting resources from his employees with the same thought and in the same manner that early California hard rock miners used massive water hoses (monitors) to liquidate mountains in search for a few gold nuggets. (h/t Gray Brechin)

Petter , February 2, 2018 at 1:31 pm

Why don't they quit? If you allow yourself to be treated as and act as a slave, you become complicit in your own slavery.

Arizona Slim , February 2, 2018 at 1:53 pm

Which is why I Q-U-I-T the food co-op job mentioned above. Did the same in that office job, which was my second-to-last full-time job.

Have I ever had a good job? Yup. Working in a hot, dark, and greasy bike shop. Place closed in 2000 and I still miss the camaraderie with my fellow mechanics -- and the pride of accomplishment that came with fixing the customers' bikes.

Oregoncharles , February 2, 2018 at 1:58 pm

Because, like most Americans, they have no savings and no fallback if they lose their job.

Yves Smith Post author , February 2, 2018 at 3:13 pm

The article said many are quitting. Of course, the better employees will probably have the best options and be able to leave faster.

Craig H. , February 2, 2018 at 2:16 pm

From The Atlantic:

What Amazon Does to Poor Cities

Mostly about their warehouse in San Bernardino. The employees describe working there as The Hunger Games.

Punxsutawney , February 2, 2018 at 2:51 pm

Decades ago I worked in retail,

When arguing with my boss about crap we were required to do, he finally got frustrated and told me "Shit flows downhill", "DEAL WITH IT!". To which my response was "Yep, right onto the customer!"

It made him so angry I was lucky I wasn't fired on the spot, though in hindsight it would have been a blessing. Looks like nothing has changed 30 years later.

JBird , February 2, 2018 at 7:06 pm

I think it's gotten worse as the whole retail industry specifically and perhaps most industries gradually, have had the slowly MBA'd management reorganized, streamlined, outsourced and efficiencied it into a monetized Hades.

I was lucky to work in a couple of well run, or at competently run, businesses. So I know one can be profitable without brutalizing people. It's depressing to see what has happened.

Synoia , February 2, 2018 at 6:42 pm

I imaging the quickest route to being fired is:

Hi, my name is Jeff Bezos, and I'm a union organizer!

Well maybe not the Bezos part.

Jean , February 2, 2018 at 10:03 pm

Wonder what would happen if a customer started handing out union brochures to Whole Foods employees in one of their stores. What are they going to do? Kick you, a customer, out of the store?

Yves Smith Post author , February 2, 2018 at 10:29 pm

They probably would. It's private space. But it would make for good news stories. You would need to actually shop in fact handing them out to all the cashiers when you are checking out would be the best move, since you'd be out the store before management would catch on.

Dongo , February 2, 2018 at 8:51 pm

As the articles in the Business Insider series explicitly point out, this hated new system preceded the acquisition by Amazon.

Amazon is terrible. The way Whole Foods is now treating its workers is terrible. But Amazon simply did not develop or implement the policies at Whole Foods that this article is ascribing to it.

Jean , February 2, 2018 at 9:37 pm

OTS, What is that?

I know two Whole Foods employees who have quit in the last week.

The new name for the store is "Asswhole Foods".

The game is to sabotage as much as possible and give away and undercharge customers for as much as possible in the weeks before you quit.

A walkout strike on a busy Saturday would be a beautiful thing to see and would really get the public's attention.

Yves Smith Post author , February 2, 2018 at 10:39 pm

Good for your saboteurs! Amazon is trying to stop shrinkage but they'll lose more through deliberately missed scans. Oh, and a freezer door left open or temperature mysteriously reset would wreak even more havoc.

lentilsoup , February 2, 2018 at 10:40 pm

I was in a Whole Foods last night, where I shop a few times per month, here in central California. Lots of unfamiliar faces working there. Produce section definitely looking worse than usual -- empty shelves, low quality items. At checkout, the cashier was a young woman I'd never seen before, who looked tired and dispirited. I asked how she was doing that evening. Smirking wearily, she said, "Hangin' in there " (Which is about how I feel these days, too.) When it came time to pay, it was the first time in my life that the total at Whole Foods was less than I was expecting. Wow, I thought, I didn't think Amazon changed the prices that much? After I got home and looked at the receipt, I realized why -- she hadn't charged me for all the items! Bless her.

I don't believe Amazon and Whole Foods were ever a good match for each other, and with unhappy employees and other problems, I expect this particular branch of WF to be gone in a few years. And I really couldn't care less. There are other good places to shop.

[Feb 02, 2018] Trump s Financial Arsonists by Nomi Prins

Notable quotes:
"... Wall Street Week ..."
"... Dimon can afford to be brazen. JPMorgan Chase is now the second most profitable company in the country. Why should he be worried about what might happen in another crisis, given that the Trump administration is in charge? With pro-business and pro-bailout thinking reigning supreme, what could go wrong? ..."
"... Rules Don't Apply ..."
"... At the Federal Reserve, Trump's selection for chairman, Jerome Powell (another Mnuchin pick ), has repeatedly expressed his disinterest in bank regulations. To him, too-big-to-fail banks are a thing of the past. And to round out this heady crew, there's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) head Mick Mulvaney now also at the helm of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), whose very existence he's mocked. ..."
"... As for Joseph Otting, though the Senate confirmed him as the new head of the OCC in November, four key senators called him "highly unqualified for [the] job." He will run an agency whose history snakes back to the Civil War. Established by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 , it was meant to safeguard the solidity and viability of the banking system. Its leader remains charged with preventing bank-caused financial crashes, not enabling them. ..."
Feb 02, 2018 | www.unz.com

Amid a roaring stock market and a planet of upbeat CEOs , few are even thinking about the havoc that a multi-trillion-dollar financial system gone rogue could inflict upon global stability. But watch out. Even in the seemingly best of times, neglecting Wall Street is a dangerous idea. With a rag-tag Trumpian crew of ex-bankers and Goldman Sachs alumni as the only watchdogs in town, it's time to focus, because one thing is clear: Donald Trump's economic team is in the process of making the financial system combustible again.

Collectively, the biggest U.S. banks already have their get-out-out-of-jail-free cards and are now sitting on record profits after, not so long ago, triggering sweeping unemployment, wrecking countless lives, and elevating global instability. (Not a single major bank CEO was given jail time for such acts.) Still, let's not blame the dangers lurking at the heart of the financial system solely on the Trump doctrine of leaving banks alone. They should be shared by the Democrats who, under President Barack Obama, believed, and still believe, in the perfection of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 .

While Dodd-Frank created important financial safeguards like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, even stronger long-term banking reforms were left on the sidelines. Crucially, that law didn't force banks to separate the deposits of everyday Americans from Wall Street's complex derivatives transactions. In other words, it didn't resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 (axed in the Clinton era).

Wall Street is now thoroughly emboldened as the financial elite follows the mantra of Kelly Clarkston's hit song: "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Since the crisis of 2007-2008, the Big Six U.S. banks -- JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley -- have seen the share price of their stocks significantly outpace those of the S&P 500 index as a whole.

Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, the nation's largest bank (that's paid $13 billion in settlements for various fraudulent acts), recently even pooh-poohed the chances of the Democratic Party in 2020, suggesting that it was about time its leaders let banks do whatever they wanted. As he told Maria Bartiromo, host of Fox Business's Wall Street Week , "The thing about the Democrats is they will not have a chance, in my opinion. They don't have a strong centrist, pro-business, pro-free enterprise person."

This is a man who was basically gifted two banks, Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual , by the U.S government during the financial crisis. That present came as his own company got cheap loans from the Federal Reserve, while clamoring for billions in bailout money that he swore it didn't need .

Dimon can afford to be brazen. JPMorgan Chase is now the second most profitable company in the country. Why should he be worried about what might happen in another crisis, given that the Trump administration is in charge? With pro-business and pro-bailout thinking reigning supreme, what could go wrong?

Protect or Destroy?

There are, of course, supposed to be safeguards against freewheeling types like Dimon. In Washington, key regulatory bodies are tasked with keeping too-big-to-fail banks from wrecking the economy and committing financial crimes against the public. They include the Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Treasury Department, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (an independent bureau of the Treasury), and most recently, under the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (an independent agency funded by the Federal Reserve).

These entities are now run by men whose only desire is to give Wall Street more latitude. Former Goldman Sachs partner, now treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin caught the spirit of the moment with a selfie of his wife and him holding reams of newly printed money "like a couple of James Bond villains." (After all, he was a Hollywood producer and even appeared in the Warren Beatty flick Rules Don't Apply .) He's making his mark on us, however, not by producing economic security, but by cheerleading for financial deregulation.

Despite the fact that the Republican platform in election 2016 endorsed reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act, Mnuchin made it clear that he has no intention of letting that happen. In a signal to every too-big-not-to-fail financial outfit around, he also released AIG from its regulatory chains. That's the insurance company that was at the epicenter of the last financial crisis. By freeing AIG from being monitored by the Financial Services Oversight Board that he chairs, he's left it and others like it free to repeat the same mistakes.

Elsewhere, having successfully spun through the revolving door from banking to Washington, Joseph Otting, a former colleague of Mnuchin's, is now running the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). While he's no household name, he was the CEO of OneWest (formerly, the failed California-based bank IndyMac) . That's the bank Mnuchin and his billionaire posse picked up on the cheap in 2009 before carrying out a vast set of foreclosures on the homes of ordinary Americans (including active-duty servicemen and -women) and reselling it for hundreds of millions of dollars in personal profits .

At the Federal Reserve, Trump's selection for chairman, Jerome Powell (another Mnuchin pick ), has repeatedly expressed his disinterest in bank regulations. To him, too-big-to-fail banks are a thing of the past. And to round out this heady crew, there's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) head Mick Mulvaney now also at the helm of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), whose very existence he's mocked.

In time, we'll come to a reckoning with this era of Trumpian finance. Meanwhile, however, the agenda of these men (and they are all men) could lead to a financial crisis of the first order. So here's a little rundown on them: what drives them and how they are blindly taking the economy onto distinctly treacherous ground.

Joseph Otting , Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

The Office of the Comptroller is responsible for ensuring that banks operate in a secure and reasonable manner, provide equal access to their services, treat customers properly, and adhere to the laws of the land as well as federal regulations.

As for Joseph Otting, though the Senate confirmed him as the new head of the OCC in November, four key senators called him "highly unqualified for [the] job." He will run an agency whose history snakes back to the Civil War. Established by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 , it was meant to safeguard the solidity and viability of the banking system. Its leader remains charged with preventing bank-caused financial crashes, not enabling them.

Fast forward to the 1990s when Otting held a ranking position at Union Bank NA, overseeing its lending practices to medium-sized companies. From there he transitioned to U.S. Bancorp, where he was tasked with building its middle-market business (covering companies with $50 million to $1 billion in annual revenues) as part of that lender's expansion in California.

In 2010, Otting was hired as CEO of OneWest (now owned by CIT Group). During his time there with Mnuchin, OneWest foreclosed on about 36,000 people and was faced with sweeping allegations of abusive foreclosure practices for which it was fined $89 million . Otting received $10.5 million in an employment contract payout when terminated by CIT in 2015. As Senator Sherrod Brown tweeted all too accurately during his confirmation hearings in the Senate, "Joseph Otting is yet another bank exec who profited off the financial crisis who is being rewarded by the Trump Administration with a powerful job overseeing our nation's banking system."

Like Trump and Mnuchin, Otting has never held public office. He is, however, an enthusiastic proponent of loosening lending regulations . Not only is he against reinstating Glass-Steagall, but he also wants to weaken the "Volcker Rule," a part of the Dodd-Frank Act that was meant to place restrictions on various kinds of speculative transactions by banks that might not benefit their customers.

Jay Clayton, the Securities and Exchange Commission

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was established by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1934, in the wake of the crash of 1929 and in the midst of the Great Depression. Its intention was to protect investors by certifying that the securities business operated in a fair, transparent, and legal manner. Admittedly, its first head, Joseph Kennedy (President John F. Kennedy's father), wasn't exactly a beacon of virtue. He had helped raise contributions for Roosevelt's election campaign even while under suspicion for alleged bootlegging and other illicit activities.

Since May 2017, the SEC has been run by Jay Clayton, a top Wall Street lawyer . Following law school, he eventually made partner at the elite legal firm Sullivan & Cromwell. After the 2008 financial crisis, Clayton was deeply involved in dealing with the companies that tanked as that crisis began. He advised Barclays during its acquisition of Lehman Brothers' assets and then represented Bear Stearns when JPMorgan Chase acquired it.

In the three years before he became head of the SEC, Clayton represented eight of the 10 largest Wall Street banks, institutions that were then regularly being investigated and charged with securities violations by the very agency Clayton now heads. He and his wife happen to hold assets valued at between $12 million and $47 million in some of those very institutions.

Not surprisingly in this administration (or any other recent one), Clayton also has solid Goldman Sachs ties. On at least seven occasions between 2007 and 2014, he advised Goldman directly or represented its corporate clients in their initial public offerings. Recently, Goldman Sachs requested that the SEC release it from having to report its lobbying activities or payments because, it claimed, they didn't make up a large enough percentage of its assets to be worth the bother. (Don't be surprised when the agency agrees.)

Clayton's main accomplishment so far has been to significantly reduce oversight activities. SEC penalties, for instance, fell by 15.5% to $3.5 billion during the first year of the Trump administration. The SEC also issued enforcement actions against only 62 public companies in 2017, a 33% decline from the previous year. Perhaps you won't then be surprised to learn that its enforcement division has an estimated 100 unfilled investigative and supervisory positions, while it has also trimmed its wish list for new regulatory provisions. As for Dodd-Frank, Clayton insists he won't " attack " it, but thinks it should be "looked" at.

Mick Mulvaney, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Office of Management and Budget

As a congressman from South Carolina, ultra-conservative Republican Mick Mulvaney, dubbed " Mick the Knife ," once even labeled himself a " right-wing nut job ." Chosen by President Trump in November 2016 to run the Office of Management and Budget, he was confirmed by Congress last February .

As he said during his confirmation hearings, "Each day, families across our nation make disciplined choices about how to spend their hard-earned money, and the federal government should exercise the same discretion that hard-working Americans do every day." As soon as he was at the OMB, he took an axe to social programs that help everyday Americans. He was instrumental in creating the GOP tax plan that will add up to $1.5 trillion to the country's debt in order to provide major tax breaks to corporations and wealthy individuals. He was also a key figure in selling the plan to the media.

When Richard Cordray resigned as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in November, Trump promptly selected Mick the Knife for that role, undercutting the deputy director Cordray had appointed to the post. After much debate and a court order in his favor, Mulvaney grabbed a box of Dunkin' Donuts and headed over from his OMB office adjacent to the White House. So even though he's got a new job, Mulvaney is never far from Trump's reach.

The problem for the rest of us: Mulvaney loathes the CFPB, an agency he once called "a joke." While he can't unilaterally demolish it, he's already obstructed its ability to enforce its government mandates. Soon after Trump appointed him, he imposed a 30-day freeze on hiring and similarly froze all further rule-making and regulatory actions.

In his latest effort to undermine American consumers, he's working to defund the CFPB. He just sent the Federal Reserve a letter stating that, "for the second quarter of fiscal year 2018, the Bureau is requesting $0." That doesn't bode well for American consumers.

Jerome "Jay" Powell, Federal Reserve

Thanks to the Senate confirmation of his selection for chairman of the board, Donald Trump now owns the Fed, too. The former number two man under Janet Yellen, Jerome Powell will be running the Fed, come Monday morning, February 5th.

Established in 1913 during President Woodrow Wilson's administration, the Fed's official mission is to "promote a safe, sound, competitive, and accessible banking system." In reality, it's acted more like that system's main drug dealer in recent years. In the wake of the 2007-2008 financial crisis, in addition to buying trillions of dollars in bonds (a strategy called "quantitative easing," or QE), the Fed supplied four of the biggest Wall Street banks with an injection of $7.8 trillion in secret loans. The move was meant to stimulate the economy, but really, it coddled the banks.

Powell's monetary policy undoubtedly won't represent a startling change from that of previous head Janet Yellen, or her predecessor, Ben Bernanke. History shows that Powell has repeatedly voted for pumping financial markets with Federal Reserve funds and, despite displaying reservations about the practice of quantitative easing, he always voted in favor of it, too. What makes his nomination out of the ordinary, though, is that he's a trained lawyer, not an economist.

Powell is assuming the helm at a time when deregulation is central to the White House's economic and financial strategy. Keep in mind that he will also have a role in choosing and guiding future Fed appointments. (At present, the Fed has the smallest number of sitting governors in its history .) The first such appointee, private equity investor Randal Quarles, already approved as the Fed's vice chairman for supervision, is another major deregulator .

Powell will be able to steer banking system decisions in other ways. In recent Senate testimony, he confirmed his deregulatory predisposition. In that vein, the Fed has already announced that it seeks to loosen the capital requirements big banks need to put behind their riskier assets and activities. This will, it claims, allow them to more freely make loans to Main Street, in case a decade of cheap money wasn't enough of an incentive.

The Emperor Has No Rules

Nearly every regulatory institution in Trumpville tasked with monitoring the financial system is now run by someone who once profited from bending or breaking its rules. Historically, severe financial crises tend to erupt after periods of lax oversight and loose banking regulations. By filling America's key institutions with representatives of just such negligence, Trump has effectively hired a team of financial arsonists.

Naturally, Wall Street views Trump's chosen ones with glee. Amid the present financial euphoria of the stock market, big bank stock prices have soared. But one thing is certain: when the next crisis comes, it will leave the last meltdown in the shade because our financial system is, at its core, unreformed and without adult supervision. Banks not only remain too big to fail but are still growing , while this government pushes policies guaranteed to put us all at risk again.

There's a pattern to this: first, there's a crash; then comes a period of remorse and talk of reform; and eventually comes the great forgetting. As time passes, markets rise, greed becomes good, and Wall Street begins to champion more deregulation. The government attracts deregulatory enthusiasts and then, of course, there's another crash, millions suffer, and remorse returns.

Ominously, we're now in the deregulation stage following the bull run. We know what comes next, just not when. Count on one thing: it won't be pretty.

Nomi Prins is a TomDispatch regular . Her new book, Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World (Nation Books), will be published this May. Of her six other books, the most recent is All the Presidents' Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power . She is a former Wall Street executive. Special thanks go to researcher Craig Wilson for his superb work on this piece.

[Jan 30, 2018] Perfect worker on the cheap by Dan Crawford

Jan 29, 2018 | angrybearblog.com

Via Bloomberg Obsession for the Perfect Worker Fading in Tight U.S. Job Market points to an issue in hiring that has been discussed here at AB:

This is a problem because, at 4.1 percent last month, U.S. unemployment is at the lowest level since 2000 and companies from Dallas to Denver are struggling to find the right workers. In some cases this is constraining growth, the Federal Reserve reported last week.

Corporate America's search for an exact match is "the number-one problem with hiring in our country," said Daniel Morgan, a recruiter in Birmingham, Alabama, who owns an Express Employment Professionals franchise. "Most companies get caught up on precise experience to a specific job," he said, adding: "Companies fail to see a person for their abilities and transferable skills."

U.S. employers got used to abundant and cheap labor following the 2007-2009 recession. Unemployment peaked at 10 percent in October 2009, and didn't return to the lows of the previous business cycle until last year. Firms still remain reluctant to boost pay or train employees with less-than-perfect credentials, though recruiters say that may have to change amid a jobless rate that's set to dip further.


Bill H , January 29, 2018 9:53 am

The way the article is cut off with the wage gains chart makes it seem that the article is on the Dean Baker theme of "pay higher wages and they will come," in which he argues that there is no shortage because you can hire workers away from your competitor, thereby merely moving the deficit from one place to another without eliminating it and unintentionally suggesting that there is actually is a shortage after all.

Immediately after that chart, however, the article segues into a pretty intelligent discussion of employers learning to ascertain "how can your experience be used in my application," making it unclear why the wage chart is even there.

The "lack of trained workers" complaint has long annoyed me, with its implication that it is the public sector's responsibility to train workers for the private sector. Why? If a company needs welders, why should that company not train its own welders?

J.Goodwin , January 29, 2018 11:39 am

Last week we were reviewing a job description we were preparing for a role in Canada. It was basically a super senior description, they wanted everything, specific experience, higher education, what amounts to a black belt project management certification but also accounting and finance background.

At the bottom it says 5 years experience.

I almost fell off my chair. That's an indicator of the pay band they were trying to fill at (let's say 3, and the description was written like a 10-15 years 6).

I tried to explain it to the person who wrote it and I said hey if we put this out there, we will get no hits. There is no one with this experience who will take what you are offering. I'm afraid we're going to end up with another home country expat instead. They're often not up the same standard you could get with a local if you reasonably scoped the job and gave a fair offer.

I think companies have forgotten how to compete for employees, and the recruiters are completely out of touch. Or maybe they are aware of the conditions and HR just won't sign on to fair value.

Mona Williams , January 29, 2018 1:09 pm

Before I retired 12 years ago, on-the-job training was much more common. Borders Books (remember them?) trained me for a week with pay for just a temporary Christmas-season job. Employers have gotten spoiled, and I hope they will figure this out. Some of the training programs I hear about just make me sigh. Nobody can afford to be trained while not being paid.

axt113 , January 29, 2018 1:26 pm

My Wife works as a junior recruiter, the problem she says is with the employers, they want a particular set of traits, and if there is even a slight deviation they balk

She says that one recent employer she worked with wanted so many particulars for not enough pay that even well experienced and well educated candidates she could find were either unwilling to accept the offer, or were missing one or two traits that made them unacceptable to the company.

rps , January 29, 2018 3:58 pm

This is exciting news for many of us who've been waiting for the pendulum to swing in favor of potential employees after a decade of reading employers help wanted Santa wish list criteria for a minimum wage job of 40+ hours. I'd argue the unemployment rate is not 4.1%; rather, I know of many intelligent/educated/experienced versatile people who've been cut out of the job market and/or chose not to work for breadcrumbs.

HR's 6 second resume review rule of potential candidates was a massive failure by eliminating candidates whose skills, experience and critical thinking abilities could've cultivated innovation across many disciplines. Instead companies looked for drone replacement at slave wages. HR's narrow candidate searches often focused on resume typos or perceived grammatical errors (highly unlikely HR recruiters have an English Ph.D), thus trashing the resume. Perhaps, HR will be refitted with critical thinking people who see a candidate's potential beyond the forgotten comma or period.

[Jan 16, 2018] Interview with Jamie Galbraith by Dan Crawford

Some banks blew out the mortgage market, [and] they blew out technology investment two decades ago. What are they doing now? They are financing energy investments, and they are financing consumer debt. This is an almost brainless approach.
Jan 15, 2018 | angrybearblog.com
Via Marketwatch Jamie Galbraith states his thoughts on a how the current US economy functions. Here are a few snippets:

University of Texas economist Galbraith, the son of the famous Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith, believes mainstream economists and the Federal Reserve are too wedded to old ideas to see what is really going on in the economy. Specifically, Galbraith is worried that the consumer is the only game in town -- and that can't last.

Galbraith used his latest book "The End of Normal" to lay out his case that the 2007-08 financial crisis wasn't just a brief interruption in the life of an otherwise healthy economy but instead the latest crisis for an economy that lost its footing back in the 1980s.

At the American Economic Association meeting in Philadelphia, MarketWatch asked Galbraith to share his views on the economic landscape.

(On inflation and labor) There is no Phillips Curve, and there hasn't been for decades. The supply of labor is not a constraint. If you wish to pay people higher wages, you could lure people back out of retirement. Net immigration has basically stopped. If you needed more workers, it would start up again. So we don't have a real labor-force constraint. We are not going to get inflationary pressure from the labor markets. It has been 40 years. Economists are slow learners, and central bankers are a slow-learning subset. They should recognize that things did change in the 1980s.

(Losing ground in global trade) I think that is clearly the case in the wider world. The Chinese have engaged in an extraordinary exercise in engineering in recent years domestically, building 12,000 miles of high-speed rail. They now have vast engineering capacity, and they are applying it to their periphery -- a One Belt One Road network that will orient commerce across Eurasia and into Africa as well that is in the interest of furthering Chinese development. This is on a scale which dwarfs anything that is being conceived of in the United States. (Dan here This statement is before the sh**hole storm)

(On infrastucture)Trump came in with the idea that we should be investing heavily in infrastructure. He got no traction from the Republican Congress. Why is that? Because the immediate beneficiaries of an infrastructure program are people who live in cities, people who live in the expensive coastal areas of the country -- and these people don't vote Republican. So a political obstacle that prevented the one sensible or necessary element of Trump's political framework from getting any traction at all.

(Role of banks) You have to have a situation where banks, which are publicly chartered institutions, serve a public purpose with some common objectives. Some banks blew out the mortgage market, [and] they blew out technology investment two decades ago. What are they doing now? They are financing energy investments, and they are financing consumer debt. This is an almost brainless approach.

[Jan 14, 2018] Trump Stumped As Bannon-Backed Roy Moore Wins Alabama Republican Primary By Landslide

Bannon backed candidate later lost. So much for this Bannon "success".
This idea of Trump playing 6 dimensional chess is a joke. It's the same explanation that was pushed for Obama disastrous neocon foreign policy. Here is one very apt quote: "What Trump has done are disasters, and equates to treason. Selling billions of dollars of weapons the our enemies the terrorists/Saudis, killing innocent people in Syria, and Yemen, sending more troops to Afghanistan..." What 6-dimetional chess?
According to Occam razor principle the simplest explanation of Trump behaviour is probably the most correct. He does not control foright policy, outsourcing it to "generals" and be does not pursue domestic policy of creating jobs as he promised his electorate. In other words, both in foreign policy and domestic policy, he became a turncoat, betraying his electorate, much like Obama. kind of Republican Obama.
And as time goes by, Trump looks more and more like Hillary II or Republican Obama. So he might have problems with the candidates he supports in midterm elections. His isolationism, if it ever existed, is gone. Promise of jobs is gone. Detente with Russia is gone. What's left?
Note the level disappointment of what used to be Trump base in this site comment section...
Notable quotes:
"... In a serious rebuke for President Trump (and perhaps moreso for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell), ousted judge and alt-right favorite Roy Moore has won the Alabama Republican Primary by a landslide ..."
"... The Steve Bannon-backed candidate, who defied court orders to remove the Ten Commandments from his courtroom and refused to recognize gay marriage after the Supreme Court's June 2015 ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, is leading by 9.6 points with 92% of the votes counted... ..."
"... These attacks on Bannon were one of the most prominent news stories in the first week following Trump's election victory. It didn't take long, however, for a counter-attack to emerge - from the right-wing elements of the Jewish community. ..."
"... Bannon is a true fucking patriot trying to pull this once great country from the sinkhole. ..."
"... I think the reality is that this was a message to McConnell much more than Trump. That message is simple: I'm coming to kill your career. Bannon went out of his way to say he fully supports Trump (despite backing the opposite candidate). And, let's face it, if Bannon buries McConnell, he's doing everyone a service, Trump included. ..."
"... The echo chamber media "is so surprised" that in Germany and the US we are seeing a rising tide of pissed off people, well imagine fucking that? Leaving the echo chamber and not intellectually trying to understand the anger, but living the anger. ..."
"... Well, we can only hope that Trump gets the message. He was elected to be President of the USA, not Emperor of the World. Quote from that Monty Python film: "He's not the Messiah; he's a very naughty boy!" ..."
"... A cursory background reading on Roy Moore tells me that he is one of the worst types for public office. And he might just turn out to be like Trump -- act like an anti-swarm cowboy and promise a path to heaven, then show his real colors as an Establishment puppet once the braindead voters put him in office. ..."
"... When Trump won the Republican nomination, and then the Presidency it was because people were rebelling against the establishment rulers. There is considerable disgust with these big government rulers that are working for themselves and their corporate cronies, but not for the US population. ..."
"... Trump seems to have been compromised at this point, and his support of the establishment favourite, Luther Strange is evidence that he isn't really the outsider he claimed to be. Moore's victory in Alabama says the rebellion still has wheels, so there is some hope. ..."
"... In Missouri where I live, the anti-establishment Republican contender for the upcoming US Senatorial 2018 race is Austin Peterson. It will be interesting to see how he, and his counterparts in other states do in the primaries. Both of the current Missouri Senators are worthless. ..."
"... I remember well the last "3-Dimensional Chess master" Obama while he too was always out maneuvering his apponents, per the media reports... ..."
"... Every now and then Trump tends to make huge blunders, and sometimes betrayals without knowing what he is doing. "Champions"- (great leaders) do not do that. ..."
"... What Trump has done are disasters, and equates to treason. Selling billions of dollars of weapons the our enemies the terrorists/Saudis, killing innocent people in Syria, and Yemen, sending more troops to Afghanistan... ..."
"... It is epitome of self-delusion to see people twisting themselves into pretzels, trying to justify/rationalize Trump's continuing display of disloyalty to America ..."
"... YOU CAN'T BE A ZIONIST AND AN AMERICAN FIRSTER, IT IS ONE OR THE OTHER. ..."
Sep 27, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

Congratulations to Roy Moore on his Republican Primary win in Alabama. Luther Strange started way back & ran a good race. Roy, WIN in Dec!

In a serious rebuke for President Trump (and perhaps moreso for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell), ousted judge and alt-right favorite Roy Moore has won the Alabama Republican Primary by a landslide

The Steve Bannon-backed candidate, who defied court orders to remove the Ten Commandments from his courtroom and refused to recognize gay marriage after the Supreme Court's June 2015 ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, is leading by 9.6 points with 92% of the votes counted...

... ... ...

However, as Politco reported this evening, President Donald Trump began distancing himself from a Luther Strange loss before ballots were even cast, telling conservative activists Monday night the candidate he's backing in Alabama's GOP Senate primary was likely to lose ! and suggesting he'd done everything he could do given the circumstances.

Trump told conservative activists who visited the White House for dinner on Monday night that he'd underestimated the political power of Roy Moore, the firebrand populist and former judge who's supported by Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon, according to three people who were there.

And Trump gave a less-than full-throated endorsement during Friday's rally.

While he called Strange "a real fighter and a real good guy," he also mused on stage about whether he made a "mistake" by backing Strange and committed to campaign "like hell" for Moore if he won.

Trump was encouraged to pick Strange before the August primary by son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner as well as other aides, White House officials said. He was never going to endorse Alabama Republican Rep. Mo Brooks, who has at times opposed Trump's agenda, and knew little about Moore, officials said.

... ... ...

Déjà view -> Sanity Bear •Sep 26, 2017 11:19 PM

AIPAC HAS ALL BASES COVERED...MIGA !

On Sept. 11, the Alabama Daughters for Zion organization circulated a statement on Israel by Moore, which started by saying the U.S. and Israel "share not only a common Biblical heritage but also institutions of representative government and respect for religious freedom." He traced Israel's origin to God's promise to Abram and the 1948 creation of modern Israel as "a fulfillment of the Scriptures that foretold the regathering of the Jewish people to Israel."

Moore's statement includes five policy positions, including support for U.S. military assistance to Israel, protecting Israel from "Iranian aggression," opposing boycotts of Israel, supporting Israel at the United Nations, and supporting direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations without outside pressure. He added, "as long as Hamas and the Palestinian Authority wrongly refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist, such negotiations have scant chance of success."

While those views would give Moore common ground with much of the Jewish community regarding Israel, most of the state's Jewish community has been at odds with Moore over church-state issues, such as his displays of the Ten Commandments in courthouses, and his outspoken stance against homosexuality, both of which led to him being ousted as chief justice.

http://www.sjlmag.com/2017/09/alabama-senate-candidates-express.html?m=1

justa minute -> Déjà view •Sep 27, 2017 2:53 AM

moore misreads the Bible as most socalled christians do. they have been deceived, they have confused the Israel of God( those who have been given belief in Christ) with israel of the flesh. They cant hear Christs own words, woe is unto them. they are living in their own selfrighteousness, not good. they are going to have a big surprise for not following the Word of God instead following the tradition of men.

They were warned over and over in the Bible but they cant hear.

I Claudius -> VinceFostersGhost •Sep 27, 2017 6:27 AM

Forgive? Maybe. Forget? NEVER!! He tried to sell "US" out on this one. We now need to focus on bringing "Moore" candidates to the podium to run against the RINO's and take out McConnell and Ryan. It's time for Jared and Ivanka to go back to NYC so Jared can shore up his family's failing empire. However, if his business acumen is as accurate as his political then it's no wonder the family needed taxpayer funded visas to sell the property. Then on to ridding the White House of Gen Kelly and McMaster - two holdover generals from the Obama administration - after Obama forced out the real ones.

Clashfan -> Mycroft Holmes IV •Sep 26, 2017 11:33 PM

Rump has hoodwinked his supoprt base and turned on them almost immediately. Some refuse to acknowledge this.

"Ha! Your vote went to the Israel first swamp!"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Gdw_MVY1Vo

Déjà view -> Clashfan •Sep 27, 2017 1:00 AM

MIGA !

These attacks on Bannon were one of the most prominent news stories in the first week following Trump's election victory. It didn't take long, however, for a counter-attack to emerge - from the right-wing elements of the Jewish community. The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) came to Bannon's defense and accused the ADL of a "character assassination" against Bannon.

http://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-1.807776

The Wizard -> Oh regional Indian •Sep 26, 2017 10:12 PM

Trump should figure out the Deep State elites he has surrounded himself with, don't have control of the states Trump won. Trump thought he had to negotiate with these guys and his ego got the best of him. Bannon was trying to convince him he should have stayed the course and not give in.


Theosebes Goodfellow -> Oh regional Indian •Sep 26, 2017 10:35 PM

~"American politics gets moore strange by the day..."~

Technically speaking OhRI, with Moore's win politics became less Strange, or "Strange less", or "Sans Luther", depending on how one chose to phrase it [SMIRK]

Adullam -> Gaius Frakkin' Baltar •Sep 26, 2017 11:05 PM

Trump needs to fire Jared! Some news outlets are saying that it was his son in law who advised him to back Strange. He has to quit listening to those who want to destroy him or ... they will.

overbet -> Killtruck •Sep 26, 2017 9:41 PM

Bannon is a true fucking patriot trying to pull this once great country from the sinkhole.

Juggernaut x2 -> overbet •Sep 26, 2017 10:07 PM

Trump better pull his head out of his ass and quit being a wishy-washy populist on BS like Iran- the farther right he goes the greater his odds of reelection because he has pissed off a lot of the far-righters that put him in- getting rid of Kushner, Cohn and his daughter and negotiating w/Assad and distancing us from Israhell would be a huge help.

opport.knocks -> Juggernaut x2 •Sep 26, 2017 11:19 PM

Distancing us from Israel... LOLOLOLOL

https://youtu.be/tm5Je73bYOY

The whole Russiagate ploy was a diversion from (((them)))

NoDebt -> Killtruck •Sep 26, 2017 9:42 PM

I think the reality is that this was a message to McConnell much more than Trump. That message is simple: I'm coming to kill your career. Bannon went out of his way to say he fully supports Trump (despite backing the opposite candidate). And, let's face it, if Bannon buries McConnell, he's doing everyone a service, Trump included.

Oldwood -> NoDebt •Sep 26, 2017 10:08 PM

I think it was a setup.

Bannon would not oppose Trump that directly unless there was a wink and a nod involved.

Trump is still walking a tightrope, trying to appease his base AND keep as many establishment republicans at his side (even for only optics). By Trump supporting Strange while knowing he was an underdog AND completely apposed by Bannon/his base he was able to LOOK like he was supporting the establishment, while NOT really. Trump seldom backs losers which makes me think it was deliberate. Strange never made sense anyway.

But what do I know?

Urahara -> NoDebt •Sep 27, 2017 12:20 AM

Bannon is hardcore Isreal first. Why are you supporting the zionist? It's an obvious play.

general ambivalent -> Urahara •Sep 27, 2017 2:23 AM

People are desperate to rationalise their failure into a victory. They cannot give up on Hope so they have to use hyperbole in everything and pretend this is all leading to something great in 2020 or 2024.

None of these fools learned a damn thing and they are desperate to make the same mistake again. The swamp is full, so full that it has breached the banks and taken over all of society. Trump is a swamp monster, and you simply cannot reform the swamp when both sides are monsters. In other words, the inside is not an option, so it has to be done the hard way. But people would prefer to keep voting in the swamp.

Al Gophilia -> NoDebt •Sep 27, 2017 3:58 AM

Bannon as president would really have those swamp creatures squirming. There wouldn't be this Trump crap about surrounding himself with likeminded friends, such as Goldman Sachs turnstile workers and his good pals in the MIC.

Don't tell me he didn't choose them because if he didn't, then they were placed. That means he doesn't have the clout he pretends to have or control of the agenda that the people asked him to deliver. His backing of Stange is telling.

Lanka -> LindseyNarratesWordress •Sep 26, 2017 11:07 PM

McMaster and Kelly have Trump under house arrest.

Bobbyrib -> LindseyNarratesWordress •Sep 27, 2017 5:38 AM

He will not fire Kushner or Ivanka who have become part of the swamp. I'm so sick of these 'Trump is a genius and planned this all along.'

To me Trump is a Mr. Bean type character that has been very fortunate and just goes with the flow. He has nearly no diplomacy, or strategic skills.

NoWayJose •Sep 26, 2017 10:35 PM

Dear President Trump - if you like your job, listen to these voters. Borders, Walls, limited immigrants (including all those that Ryan and McConnell are sneaking through under your very nose), trade agreements to keep American jobs, and respect for our flag, our country, and the unborn!

nevertheless -> loveyajimbo •Sep 26, 2017 11:19 PM

I had hope for Trump, but as someone who reads ZH often, and does not suffer from amnesia (like much of America), I knew he was way too good to be true.

We all know his back tracking, his flip flops...and while the media and many paid bloggers like to spin it as "not his fault", it actually is.

His sending DACA to Congress was the last straw. Obama enacted DACA with a stroke of his pen, but Trump "needed to send it to Congress so they could "get it right". The only thing Congress does with immigration is try and get amnesty passed.

Of course while Trump sends DACA to Congress, he does not mind using the military without Congress, which he actually should do.

Why is it when it's something American's want, it has to go through the "correct channels", but when its something the Zionists want, he does it with the wave of his pen? We saw the same bull shit games with Obama...

Dilluminati •Sep 26, 2017 11:02 PM

Anybody surprised by this is pretending the civility at the workplace isn't masking anger at corporate America and Government. I'll go in and put in the 8 hours, I'm an adult that is part of the job. However I'm actually fed up with allot of the stupid shit and want the establishment to work, problem is that we are witnessing failed nations, failed schools, failed healthcare, even failed employment contracts, conditions, and wages.

The echo chamber media "is so surprised" that in Germany and the US we are seeing a rising tide of pissed off people, well imagine fucking that? Leaving the echo chamber and not intellectually trying to understand the anger, but living the anger.

You haven't seen anything yet in Catalonia/Spain etc, Brexit, or so..

This is what failure looks like: That moment the Romanovs and Louis XVI looked around the room seeking an understanding eye, there was none.

Pascal1967 •Sep 26, 2017 11:19 PM

Dear Trump:

Quit listening to your moron son-in-law, swamp creature, Goldman Sachs douchebag son-in-law Kushner. HE SUCKS!! If you truly had BALLS, you would FIRE his fucking ass. HE is The Swamp, He Is Nepotism! THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HATE HIM.

MAGA! LISTEN TO BANNON, DONALD.

DO NOT FUCK THIS UP!

ROY MOORE, 100%!!!!

You lost, Trump ... get your shit together before it is too late!

ElTerco •Sep 26, 2017 11:28 PM

Bannon was always the smarts behind the whole operation. Now we are just left with a complete idiot in office.

Also, unlike Trump, Bannon actually gives a shit about what happens to the American people rather than the American tax system. At the end of the day, all Trump really cares about is himself.

samsara •Sep 26, 2017 11:25 PM
I think most people get it backwards about Trump and the Deplorables.

I believed in pulling troops a from all the war zones and Trump said he felt the same

I believed in Legal immigration, sending people back if here illegal especially if involved in crime, Trump said he felt the same.

I believed in America first in negotiating treaties, Trump said he felt the same.

I didn't 'vote' for Trump per se, he was the proxy.

We didn't leave Him, He left us.

BarnacleBill •Sep 26, 2017 11:31 PM

Well, we can only hope that Trump gets the message. He was elected to be President of the USA, not Emperor of the World. Quote from that Monty Python film: "He's not the Messiah; he's a very naughty boy!" It's high time he turned back to the job he promised to do, and drain that swamp.

napper •Sep 26, 2017 11:47 PM

A cursory background reading on Roy Moore tells me that he is one of the worst types for public office. And he might just turn out to be like Trump -- act like an anti-swarm cowboy and promise a path to heaven, then show his real colors as an Establishment puppet once the braindead voters put him in office.

America is doomed from top (the swarm) to bottom (the brainless voters).

Sid Davis •Sep 27, 2017 1:40 AM

When Trump won the Republican nomination, and then the Presidency it was because people were rebelling against the establishment rulers. There is considerable disgust with these big government rulers that are working for themselves and their corporate cronies, but not for the US population.

Trump seems to have been compromised at this point, and his support of the establishment favourite, Luther Strange is evidence that he isn't really the outsider he claimed to be. Moore's victory in Alabama says the rebellion still has wheels, so there is some hope.

In Missouri where I live, the anti-establishment Republican contender for the upcoming US Senatorial 2018 race is Austin Peterson. It will be interesting to see how he, and his counterparts in other states do in the primaries. Both of the current Missouri Senators are worthless.

nevertheless -> pfwed •Sep 27, 2017 7:33 AM

I remember well the last "3-Dimensional Chess master" Obama while he too was always out maneuvering his apponents, per the media reports...

LoveTruth •Sep 27, 2017 2:56 AM

Every now and then Trump tends to make huge blunders, and sometimes betrayals without knowing what he is doing. "Champions"- (great leaders) do not do that.

nevertheless -> LoveTruth •Sep 27, 2017 7:16 AM

What Trump has done are disasters, and equates to treason. Selling billions of dollars of weapons the our enemies the terrorists/Saudis, killing innocent people in Syria, and Yemen, sending more troops to Afghanistan...

But most treasonous of all was his sending DACA to "get it right", really? Congress has only one goal with immigration, amnesty, and Chump knows dam well they will send him legislation that will clearly or covertly grant amnesty for millions and millions of illegals, dressed up as "security".

Obama enacted DACA with the stroke of a pen, and while TRUMP promised to end it, he did NOT. Why is it when it's something Americans want, it has to be "Constitutional", but when it comes form his banker pals, like starting a war, he can do that unilaterally.

archie bird -> nevertheless •Sep 27, 2017 7:45 AM

Bernie wants to cut aid to Israel https://townhall.com/tipsheet/mattvespa/2017/09/25/bernie-sanders-yeah-i...

nevertheless •Sep 27, 2017 8:04 AM

It is epitome of self-delusion to see people twisting themselves into pretzels, trying to justify/rationalize Trump's continuing display of disloyalty to America, and loyalty to Zionism.

Trump should always have been seen as a likely Zionis