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The more things change in the USA casino capitalism the more they stay the same

Cruise to Frugality Island for stock holding  401K Lemmings

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“When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product
of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done.”

John Maynard Keynes

"Life is a school of probabilities."

Walter Bagehot

Note: Some thoughts  on 2019  added on Jan 3, 2019.

Neoliberal economics (aka casino capitalism) function from one crash to another. Risk is pervasively underpriced under neoliberal system, resulting in bubbles small and large which hit the economy periodically. The problem are not strictly economical or political. They are ideological. Like a country which adopted a certain religion follows a certain path, The USA behaviour after adoption of neoliberalism somewhat correlate with the behaviour of alcoholic who decided to booze himself to death. The difference is that debt is used instead of booze.

Hypertrophied role of financial sector under neoliberalism introduces strong positive feedback look into the economic system making the whole system unstable. Any attempts to put some sand into the wheels in the form of increasing transaction costs or jailing some overzealous bankers or hedge fund managers are blocked by political power of financial oligarchy, which is the actual ruling class under neoliberalism for ordinary investor (who are dragged into stock market by his/her 401K) this in for a very bumpy ride. I managed to observe just two two financial crashed under liberalism (in 2000 and 2008) out of probably four (Savings and loan crisis was probably the first neoliberal crisis). The next crash is given, taking into account that hypertrophied role of financial sector did not changes neither after dot-com crisis of 200-2002 not after 2008 crisis (it is unclear when and if it ended; in any case it was long getting the name of "Great Recession").

Timing of the next crisis is anybody's guess but it might well be closer then we assume. As Mark Twain aptly observed: "A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes" ;-):

This morning that meant a stream of thoughts triggered by Paul Krugman’s most recent op-ed, particularly this:

Most of all, the vast riches being earned — or maybe that should be “earned” — in our bloated financial industry undermined our sense of reality and degraded our judgment.

Think of the way almost everyone important missed the warning signs of an impending crisis. How was that possible? How, for example, could Alan Greenspan have declared, just a few years ago, that “the financial system as a whole has become more resilient” — thanks to derivatives, no less? The answer, I believe, is that there’s an innate tendency on the part of even the elite to idolize men who are making a lot of money, and assume that they know what they’re doing.

As most 401K investors are brainwashing into being "over bullish", this page is strongly bearish in "perma-bear" fashion in order to serve as an antidote to "Barrons" style cheerleading. Funny, but this page is accessed mostly during periods of economic uncertainty. At least this was the case during the last two financial crisis(2000 and 2008). No so much during good times: the number of visits drops to below 1K a month.

Some thoughts  on 2019

It was clear that 2017 stock market run was detached from fundamentals. Mostly speculative run. And the current stock market decline could well happen three months aerler or three month later but it was in the cards. It is difficult to estimate the power of inertia in such speculative runs. Also layoffs and decline of the standard liming of workers and lower middle class still can continue to improve the balance sheet until "Yellow Vests" moment stops them.

Jobs created now are mostly "inferior" low paid or temp/contractor jobs and the numbers just mask the cruel reality of the USA job market.

Which in reality is dismal, especially for young and old workers. several more or less paid specialties disappeared in 2018 due to automation (cash office worker is one). automatic cashier is supermarkets are also now more visible.  So spontaneous cases of vandalism, killings of coworkers and other form of "action of desperation" (as well as the rate of death from opioids -- which is yet another form of the same) would not be too surprising in such an atmosphere. Even with the power of the current national security state. Trump is playing with fire trying to cut on food stamps and implementing some other action in this program of "national neoliberalism" which is in internal policy is almost undistinguishable from neofascism.  He risk facing "Macron situation" sooner or later.

In any case at some point Minsky moment should arrive for the stock market. I am not sure that the current decline is that start of such an event. It might be postponed further down the line for a year or two.  But it will eventually come.  We can only guess what form it might take, but with the current Apple troubles and valuations of tech sector I think it might take the form of something similar to dot-com bubble deflation No.2

I do not see Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft and other tech high flyers completely immune to the stock crash of 50% magnitude or more. For example, Google is overly dependent on advertising revenue which can grow only by strangulating small sites owners which use it as the advertizing platform (which it successfully implements fro several years now). But at some point owners might revolt and start dropping it for Microsoft or other platform.  Facebook might face a backlash, if people understand that selling data about them in the part of the business model, not an aberration.

One of the most unexplainable things that happened in 2018 was dramatic fall of oil prices in the Q4. This was quite surprising (and destructive) after the period of little or no capital investment in the new fields for three years or so.  Shale oil production increases in the USA are only possible if junk bonds can be produced along with it. Junks bonds that will never be paid. With the current debt load and prices below $50 most of the USA shale oil companies are zombies. Most if not all of thenm are losing money.  Only return of ~$70 oil prices can save them, if anything at all. WSJ touched this topic recently.

So this surprising fall of oil prices (from around $70 to around $43 WTI) looks connected to the speculations in the "paper oil" market.

Financialization allows for oil price to be completely detached from fundamentals for a year or even two (Saudis need over $80 I think to balance the budget, I think; this represents "fair price" as they are one of the three largest producers).

But you will never know this unless there are shortages at gas stations. The difference is covered by inflated statistics from IEA and similar agencies as well as "paper oil" -- future contracts which are settled in dollars.

This is the reality of "casino capitalism" ( aka neoliberalism ) with its rampant and destructive financialization.


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[Nov 09, 2019] Jesse's quotes for Nov 01-Nov 09

Nov 09, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

"A business man who was also a biologist and a sociologist would know, approximately, the right thing to do for humanity. But, outside the realm of business, these men are stupid. They know only business. They do not know mankind nor society, and yet they set themselves up as arbiters of the fates of the hungry millions and all the other millions thrown in. History, some day, will have an excruciating laugh at their expense." ~Jack London, The Iron Heel

"I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said -- 'Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'

Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ozymandias

"It seemed that out of every tear of a martyr new confessors were born, and that every groan on the arena found an echo in thousands of breasts. Caesar was swimming in blood, Rome and the whole pagan world was mad. But those who had had enough of transgression and madness, those who were trampled upon, those whose lives were misery and oppression, all the weighed down, all the sad, all the unfortunate, came to hear the wonderful tidings of God, who out of love for men had given Himself to be crucified and redeem their sins."

Henryk Sienkiewicz, Quo Vadis

"I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency [the NSA] and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return."

Senator Frank Church, 1975

"The enormous gap between what US leaders do in the world and what Americans think their leaders are doing is one of the great propaganda accomplishments."

Michael Parenti

"People with advantages are loathe to believe that they just happen to be people with advantages. They come readily to define themselves as inherently worthy of what they possess; they come to believe themselves 'naturally' elite; and, in fact, to imagine their possessions and their privileges as natural extensions of their own elite selves."

C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite

"Instead of flooding the entire economy with liquidity, and thereby increasing the danger of inflation, the Fed could support the stock market directly by buying market averages in the futures market, thereby stabilizing the market as a whole."

Robert Heller, Federal Reserve Board , 1989

Now, we don't have the legal right to sell gold but I'm just frankly curious about what people's views are on situations of this nature because something unusual is involved in policy here. We're not just going through the standard policy where the money supply is expanding, the economy is expanding, and the Fed tightens. This is a wholly different thing."

Alan Greenspan, Federal Reserve Minutes from May 18, 1993

"We looked into the abyss if the gold price rose further. A further rise would have taken down one or several trading houses, which might have taken down all the rest in their wake. Therefore at any price, at any cost, the central banks had to quell the gold price, manage it. It was very difficult to get the gold price under control but we have now succeeded. The US Fed was very active in getting the gold price down. So was the U.K."

Eddie George, Governor Bank of England, in a conversation with the CEO of Lonmin , September 1999

"Through pride we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface of the average conscience a still, small voice says to us, something is out of tune ."

Carl Jung

"His money came from human misery and death and despair, as always it does. Yet, there is none to reproach him, neither God nor man, and all fawn upon him and he will be a senator and crowds will laud him and he will have the ear of the President and all will honor his riches and consider him worthier than other men because of it.

Mankind adores its betrayers, and murders its saviors."

Taylor Caldwell, Captains and Kings

[Nov 09, 2019] Paying CEOs fat bonuses for stock performance doesn't work -- Cornell study

Notable quotes:
"... There is no strong evidence of a positive impact of TSR plans on firm performance ..."
"... "Despite the fact that just under 50% of S&P 500 firms have this pay metric as part of their executive compensation plans and that this pay metric is designed to align the interest of shareholders and executives," Enayati told Yahoo Finance, "we find that there's no relationship between the pay metric and top-line business outcomes like 1-, 3-, or 5-year total shareholder return, return on equity, earnings per share growth, or revenue growth." ..."
Oct 03, 2015 | finance.yahoo.com

The analysis, done in conjunction with consultants Pearl Meyer & Partners, examined a decade's worth of data from every company in the S&P 500 (^GSPC). It compared companies that offer their top brass a total shareholder return (TSR) plan to those that don't and found the increasingly popular pay plans haven't significantly boosted any of a number of key metrics.

Total shareholder return is how well an investment in a company has done over a given period. It's a combination of the stock's price change and dividends paid. With TSR plans, managers are rewarded with shares, options, or even cash to give them a stake in how well the stock does.

For a growing number of corporate heads, big bonuses based on stock performance is a large part of their pay.

In 2004, just 17% of S&P 500 companies gave CEOs and top executives some form of a TSR plan. A decade later, nearly half of the companies in the index offered it.

As for those S&P 500 CEOs that have TSR plans, it represents on average some 29% of their total direct compensation, though that percentage is a decline from 38% a decade ago. That's because as more companies adopt TSR plans, they are doing so with less weight than companies who took on these kinds of bonuses earlier.

The average CEO of an S&P 500 company made $13.8 million – or 204 times their average employee – in 2014, according to job website Glassdoor.com.

Get the Latest Market Data and News with the Yahoo Finance App

Nonetheless, giving CEOs more for total shareholder return doesn't make a difference, according to the Cornell study.

"There is no strong evidence of a positive impact of TSR plans on firm performance," wrote Hassan Enayati, Kevin Hallock, and Linda Barrington of Cornell University's Institute for Compensation Studies.

"Despite the fact that just under 50% of S&P 500 firms have this pay metric as part of their executive compensation plans and that this pay metric is designed to align the interest of shareholders and executives," Enayati told Yahoo Finance, "we find that there's no relationship between the pay metric and top-line business outcomes like 1-, 3-, or 5-year total shareholder return, return on equity, earnings per share growth, or revenue growth."

Interestingly, the researchers discovered that while the number of companies paying top executives for shareholder return incentives is increasing, the size of those bonuses relative to total compensation is on the decline.

According to Enayati, part of that has to do with companies decreasing the weight of total shareholder return compensation plans. "But then also the new adopters are coming in at lower weights, perhaps just to test the water," he explained.

But Enayati doesn't rule out other performance bonuses. "While there's no evidence that this tool hits the mark, that isn't to say that other metrics shouldn't be pursued as a solid way to align those incentives," he said.

[Nov 09, 2019] EU cuts economic growth forecast for 2019, 2020

Nov 09, 2019 | www.xinhuanet.com
The European Commission said on Thursday that euro area gross domestic product (GDP) is forecast to expand by 1.1 percent in 2019 and by 1.2 percent in 2020 and 2021.

Compared with the projections the European Union's executive arm published in July, the growth forecast has been downgraded by 0.1 percentage points for 2019 and 0.2 percentage points for 2020.

The European economy is in its seventh consecutive year of expansion, but the bloc now "looks to be heading towards a protracted period of more subdued growth and muted inflation," the commission said in a statement.

"The external environment has become much less supportive and uncertainty is running high. This is particularly affecting the manufacturing sector, which is also experiencing structural shifts," it said.

The commission said trade tensions between the United States and China and high levels of policy uncertainty, especially with respect to trade, have dampened investment, manufacturing and international trade.

"With global GDP growth set to remain weak, growth in Europe will depend on the strength of more domestically-oriented sectors," it said.

Vice President of the European Commission for the Euro and Social Dialogue Valdis Dombrovskis said the bloc would face "troubled waters ahead," including "a period of high uncertainty related to trade conflicts, rising geopolitical tensions, persistent weakness in the manufacturing sector and Brexit."

Top euro zone officials earlier said Germany and the Netherlands, which run budget surpluses, should invest more to help boost economic growth in their own economies and throughout the euro zone.

Dombrovskis said he "urged" all member states with high levels of public debt to pursue prudent fiscal policies and "member states that have fiscal space should use it now."

"All policy levers will need to be used to strengthen Europe's resilience and support growth," European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs Pierre Moscovici said.

[Nov 08, 2019] Bank Report Reveals Where Ruling Class Lives by Gary Engler

Nov 08, 2019 | dissidentvoice.org
While clearly not intended as a tool for the subversion of capitalism, the 2019 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report provides a fascinating glimpse at the inequality that the neoliberal era has produced, who has benefitted and those who have been left behind.

According to the tenth edition of the report, recently released, "The bottom half of wealth holders collectively accounted for less than 1% of total global wealth in mid-2019, while the richest 10% own 82% of global wealth and the top 1% alone own 45%." (Note that this a study about wealth and not income. It measure assets [housing, stocks, bonds etc.] minus debts.)

Further evidence of the incredible inequality generated by neoliberal capitalism:

The importance of knowing where rich people are and might be popping up next is what has produced this annual "most comprehensive and up-to date survey of household wealth".

In ancient Greece people would consult the oracles in order to choose the fruitful path, but today the most common source of such divination is the wisdom of the dollar and its associated deities. Rather than seek advice from experts at interpreting the various Hellenic gods, we consult those who specialize in illuminating where "the money" has been and is going. The ancient oracles could be found at shrines to the various gods; the modern version of these advice givers reside in universities, think tanks, mutual fund companies, brokerages, banks and the ever-present business media. The offerings of those seeking the guidance of today's financial gods support a multi-billion dollar information and advice industry.

This seems "rational" behavior only because we live in an economic system that distributes power on a one-dollar-one-vote basis. To divine where the dollars are is to learn where best to seek the power that comes from them. In other words, the rich get richer and those who want to catch the crumbs as they fall off the banquet table need to be present at the court of King Capital.

Like the royal courts of feudal Europe that moved around its realm from castle to castle, money, in the form of capital, travels around its planetary realm from country to country, city to city, economic sector to economic sector, searching for the highest profit. This movement of capital creates real estate and other booms in favored locations then financial crises when the wealthy decide it is time to move on.

According to supporters, capitalism is supposed to be all about competition. The system is supposed to reward merit. Winners and losers are legitimate because everyone has an equal chance to succeed. But this is clearly not true in the actual world as described by the Credit Suisse report.

How can the 2.9 billion adults who own less than $10,000 in net assets compete fairly against 47 million millionaires, let alone the 168,030 who own $50 million or more?

The system is rigged. In a neoliberal capitalist competition to buy the most profitable companies, processes, patents, ideas, and anything else that can be made "property" the winners will always be those with the most money.

This report illustrates the pyramid of capitalist wealth and the peculiar property of money that guarantees most of it floats to the top.

The only way for billions of people, most countries and entire continents to escape the inevitable "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer" is by using the power of collectivity (call it government, socialism or mutual aid) to counter the power of one-dollar-one-vote capitalism.

Gary Engler is a veteran Canadian journalist and author of American Spin , first novel in the FAKE NEWS Mysteries series, exploring journalism, propaganda, politics and murder in the Trump era. Read other articles by Gary .

[Nov 07, 2019] Rigged Again Dems, Russia, The Delegitimization Of America s Democratic Process by Elizabeth Vos

Highly recommended!
Images removed.
Notable quotes:
"... The Clinton camp was hardly absent from social media during the 2016 race. The barely-legal activities of Clintonite David Brock were previously reported by this author to have included $2 million in funding for the creation of an online " troll army " under the name Shareblue. The LA Times described the project as meant to "to appear to be coming organically from people and their social media networks in a groundswell of activism, when in fact it is highly paid and highly tactical." In other words, the effort attempted to create a false sense of consensus in support for the Clinton campaign. ..."
"... In terms of interference in the actual election process, the New York City Board of Elections was shown to have purged over one hundred thousand Democratic voters in Brooklyn from the rolls before the 2016 primary, a move that the Department of Justice found broke federal law . Despite this, no prosecution for the breach was ever attempted. ..."
"... In 2017, the Observer reported that the DNC's defense counsel argued against claims that the party defrauded Sanders' supporters by favoring Clinton, reasoning that Sanders' supporters knew the process was rigged. Again: instead of arguing that the primary was neutral and unbiased in accordance with its charter, the DNC's lawyers argued that it was the party's right to select candidates. ..."
"... The DNC defense counsel's argument throughout the course of the DNC fraud lawsuit doubled down repeatedly in defense of the party's right to favor one candidate over another, at one point actually claiming that such favoritism was protected by the First Amendment . ..."
"... The DNC's shameless defense of its own rigging disemboweled the most fundamental organs of the U.S. body politic. This no indication that the DNC will not resort to the same tactics in the 2020 primary race, ..."
"... f Debbie Wasserman Schultz's role as disgraced chairwoman of the DNC and her forced 2016 resignation wasn't enough, serious interference was also alleged in the wake of two contests between Wasserman Schultz and professor Tim Canova in Florida's 23rd congressional district. Canova and Wasserman Schultz first faced off in a 2016 Democratic primary race, followed by a 2018 general congressional election in which Canova ran as an independent. ..."
"... Debacles followed both contests, including improper vote counts, illegal ballot destruction , improper transportation of ballots, and generally shameless displays of cronyism. After the controversial results of the initial primary race against Wasserman Schultz, Canova sought to have ballots checked for irregularities, as the Sun-Sentinel reported at the time: ..."
"... Ultimately, Canova was granted a summary judgment against Snipes, finding that she had committed what amounted to multiple felonies. Nonetheless, Snipes was not prosecuted and remained elections supervisor through to the 2018 midterms. ..."
"... Hillary Clinton's recent comments to the effect that Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is being "groomed" by Russia, and that the former Green Party Presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein is a "Russian asset", were soon echoed by DNC-friendly pundits. These sentiments externalize what Gabbard called the "rot" in the Democratic party outward onto domestic critics and a nation across the planet. ..."
"... Newsweek provided a particularly glaring example of this phenomenon in a recent op-ed penned by columnist Naveed Jamali, a former FBI double agent whose book capitalizes on Russiagate. In an op-ed titled: " Hillary Clinton Is Right. Tulsi Gabbard Is A Perfect Russian Asset – And Would Be A Perfect Republican Agent," ..."
Nov 07, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Elizabeth Vos via ConsortiumNews.com,

Establishment Democrats and those who amplify them continue to project blame for the public's doubt in the U.S. election process onto outside influence, despite the clear history of the party's subversion of election integrity. The total inability of the Democratic Party establishment's willingness to address even one of these critical failures does not give reason to hope that the nomination process in 2020 will be any less pre-ordained.

The Democratic Party's bias against Sen. Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential nomination, followed by the DNC defense counsel doubling down on its right to rig the race during the fraud lawsuit brought against the DNC , as well as the irregularities in the races between former DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Tim Canova, indicate a fatal breakdown of the U.S. democratic process spearheaded by the Democratic Party establishment. Influences transcending the DNC add to concerns regarding the integrity of the democratic process that have nothing to do with Russia, but which will also likely impact outcomes in 2020.

The content of the DNC and Podesta emails published by WikiLeaks demonstrated that the DNC acted in favor of Hillary Clinton in the lead up to the 2016 Democratic primary. The emails also revealed corporate media reporters acting as surrogates of the DNC and its pro-Clinton agenda, going so far as to promote Donald Trump during the GOP primary process as a preferred " pied-piper candidate ." One cannot assume that similar evidence will be presented to the public in 2020, making it more important than ever to take stock of the unique lessons handed down to us by the 2016 race.

Social Media Meddling

Election meddling via social media did take place in 2016, though in a different guise and for a different cause from that which are best remembered. Twitter would eventually admit to actively suppressing hashtags referencing the DNC and Podesta emails in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. Additional reports indicated that tech giant Google also showed measurable "pro-Hillary Clinton bias" in search results during 2016, resulting in the alleged swaying of between 2 and 10 millions voters in favor of Clinton.

On the Republican side, a recent episode of CNLive! featured discussion of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which undecided voters were micro-targeted with tailored advertising narrowed with the combined use of big data and artificial intelligence known collectively as "dark strategy." CNLive! Executive Producer Cathy Vogan noted that SCL, Cambridge Analytica's parent company, provides data, analytics and strategy to governments and military organizations "worldwide," specializing in behavior modification. Though Cambridge Analytica shut down in 2018, related companies remain.

The Clinton camp was hardly absent from social media during the 2016 race. The barely-legal activities of Clintonite David Brock were previously reported by this author to have included $2 million in funding for the creation of an online " troll army " under the name Shareblue. The LA Times described the project as meant to "to appear to be coming organically from people and their social media networks in a groundswell of activism, when in fact it is highly paid and highly tactical." In other words, the effort attempted to create a false sense of consensus in support for the Clinton campaign.

In terms of interference in the actual election process, the New York City Board of Elections was shown to have purged over one hundred thousand Democratic voters in Brooklyn from the rolls before the 2016 primary, a move that the Department of Justice found broke federal law . Despite this, no prosecution for the breach was ever attempted.

Though the purge was not explicitly found to have benefitted Clinton, the admission falls in line with allegations across the country that the Democratic primary was interfered with to the benefit of the former secretary of state. These claims were further bolstered by reports indicating that voting results from the 2016 Democratic primary showed evidence of fraud.

DNC Fraud Lawsuit

The proceedings of the DNC fraud lawsuit provide the most damning evidence of the failure of the U.S. election process, especially within the Democratic Party. DNC defense lawyers argued in open court for the party's right to appoint candidates at its own discretion, while simultaneously denying any "fiduciary duty" to represent the voters who donated to the Democratic Party under the impression that the DNC would act impartially towards the candidates involved.

In 2017, the Observer reported that the DNC's defense counsel argued against claims that the party defrauded Sanders' supporters by favoring Clinton, reasoning that Sanders' supporters knew the process was rigged. Again: instead of arguing that the primary was neutral and unbiased in accordance with its charter, the DNC's lawyers argued that it was the party's right to select candidates.

The Observer noted the sentiments of Jared Beck, the attorney representing the plaintiffs of the lawsuit:

"People paid money in reliance on the understanding that the primary elections for the Democratic nominee -- nominating process in 2016 were fair and impartial, and that's not just a bedrock assumption that we would assume just by virtue of the fact that we live in a democracy, and we assume that our elections are run in a fair and impartial manner. But that's what the Democratic National Committee's own charter says. It says it in black and white."

The DNC defense counsel's argument throughout the course of the DNC fraud lawsuit doubled down repeatedly in defense of the party's right to favor one candidate over another, at one point actually claiming that such favoritism was protected by the First Amendment . The DNC's lawyers wrote:

"To recognize any of the causes of action that Plaintiffs allege would run directly contrary to long-standing Supreme Court precedent recognizing the central and critical First Amendment rights enjoyed by political parties, especially when it comes to selecting the party's nominee for public office ." [Emphasis added]

The DNC's shameless defense of its own rigging disemboweled the most fundamental organs of the U.S. body politic. This no indication that the DNC will not resort to the same tactics in the 2020 primary race,

Tim Canova's Allegations

If Debbie Wasserman Schultz's role as disgraced chairwoman of the DNC and her forced 2016 resignation wasn't enough, serious interference was also alleged in the wake of two contests between Wasserman Schultz and professor Tim Canova in Florida's 23rd congressional district. Canova and Wasserman Schultz first faced off in a 2016 Democratic primary race, followed by a 2018 general congressional election in which Canova ran as an independent.

Debacles followed both contests, including improper vote counts, illegal ballot destruction , improper transportation of ballots, and generally shameless displays of cronyism. After the controversial results of the initial primary race against Wasserman Schultz, Canova sought to have ballots checked for irregularities, as the Sun-Sentinel reported at the time:

"[Canova] sought to look at the paper ballots in March 2017 and took Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes to court three months later when her office hadn't fulfilled his request. Snipes approved the destruction of the ballots in September, signing a certification that said no court cases involving the ballots were pending."

Ultimately, Canova was granted a summary judgment against Snipes, finding that she had committed what amounted to multiple felonies. Nonetheless, Snipes was not prosecuted and remained elections supervisor through to the 2018 midterms.

Republicans appear no more motivated to protect voting integrity than the Democrats, with The Nation reporting that the GOP-controlled Senate blocked a bill this week that would have "mandated paper-ballot backups in case of election machine malfunctions."

Study of Corporate Power

A 2014 study published by Princeton University found that corporate power had usurped the voting rights of the public: "Economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence."

In reviewing this sordid history, we see that the Democratic Party establishment has done everything in its power to disrespect voters and outright overrule them in the democratic primary process, defending their right to do so in the DNC fraud lawsuit. We've noted that interests transcending the DNC also represent escalating threats to election integrity as demonstrated in 2016.

Despite this, establishment Democrats and those who echo their views in the legacy press continue to deflect from their own wrongdoing and real threats to the election process by suggesting that mere discussion of it represents a campaign by Russia to attempt to malign the perception of the legitimacy of the U.S. democratic process.

Hillary Clinton's recent comments to the effect that Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is being "groomed" by Russia, and that the former Green Party Presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein is a "Russian asset", were soon echoed by DNC-friendly pundits. These sentiments externalize what Gabbard called the "rot" in the Democratic party outward onto domestic critics and a nation across the planet.

Newsweek provided a particularly glaring example of this phenomenon in a recent op-ed penned by columnist Naveed Jamali, a former FBI double agent whose book capitalizes on Russiagate. In an op-ed titled: " Hillary Clinton Is Right. Tulsi Gabbard Is A Perfect Russian Asset – And Would Be A Perfect Republican Agent," Jamali argued :

"Moscow will use its skillful propaganda machine to prop up Gabbard and use her as a tool to delegitimize the democratic process. " [Emphasis added]

Jamali surmises that Russia intends to "attack" our democracy by undermining the domestic perception of its legitimacy. This thesis is repeated later in the piece when Jamali opines : "They want to see a retreat of American influence. What better way to accomplish that than to attack our democracy by casting doubt on the legitimacy of our elections." [Emphasis added]

The only thing worth protecting, according to Jamali and those who amplify his work (including former Clinton aide and establishment Democrat Neera Tanden), is the perception of the democratic process, not the actual functioning vitality of it. Such deflective tactics ensure that Russia will continue to be used as a convenient international pretext for silencing domestic dissent as we move into 2020.

Given all this, how can one expect the outcome of a 2020 Democratic Primary -- or even the general election – to be any fairer or transparent than 2016?

* * *

Elizabeth Vos is a freelance reporter, co-host of CN Live! and regular contributor to Consortium News. If you value this original article, please consider making a donation to Consortium News so we can bring you more stories like this one.

[Nov 07, 2019] Rigged Again Dems, Russia, The Delegitimization Of America s Democratic Process by Elizabeth Vos

Images removed.
Notable quotes:
"... In 2017, the Observer reported that the DNC's defense counsel argued against claims that the party defrauded Sanders' supporters by favoring Clinton, reasoning that Sanders' supporters knew the process was rigged. Again: instead of arguing that the primary was neutral and unbiased in accordance with its charter, the DNC's lawyers argued that it was the party's right to select candidates. ..."
Nov 07, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Elizabeth Vos via ConsortiumNews.com,

Establishment Democrats and those who amplify them continue to project blame for the public's doubt in the U.S. election process onto outside influence, despite the clear history of the party's subversion of election integrity. The total inability of the Democratic Party establishment's willingness to address even one of these critical failures does not give reason to hope that the nomination process in 2020 will be any less pre-ordained.

The Democratic Party's bias against Sen. Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential nomination, followed by the DNC defense counsel doubling down on its right to rig the race during the fraud lawsuit brought against the DNC , as well as the irregularities in the races between former DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Tim Canova, indicate a fatal breakdown of the U.S. democratic process spearheaded by the Democratic Party establishment. Influences transcending the DNC add to concerns regarding the integrity of the democratic process that have nothing to do with Russia, but which will also likely impact outcomes in 2020.

The content of the DNC and Podesta emails published by WikiLeaks demonstrated that the DNC acted in favor of Hillary Clinton in the lead up to the 2016 Democratic primary. The emails also revealed corporate media reporters acting as surrogates of the DNC and its pro-Clinton agenda, going so far as to promote Donald Trump during the GOP primary process as a preferred " pied-piper candidate ." One cannot assume that similar evidence will be presented to the public in 2020, making it more important than ever to take stock of the unique lessons handed down to us by the 2016 race.

Social Media Meddling

Election meddling via social media did take place in 2016, though in a different guise and for a different cause from that which are best remembered. Twitter would eventually admit to actively suppressing hashtags referencing the DNC and Podesta emails in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. Additional reports indicated that tech giant Google also showed measurable "pro-Hillary Clinton bias" in search results during 2016, resulting in the alleged swaying of between 2 and 10 millions voters in favor of Clinton.

On the Republican side, a recent episode of CNLive! featured discussion of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which undecided voters were micro-targeted with tailored advertising narrowed with the combined use of big data and artificial intelligence known collectively as "dark strategy." CNLive! Executive Producer Cathy Vogan noted that SCL, Cambridge Analytica's parent company, provides data, analytics and strategy to governments and military organizations "worldwide," specializing in behavior modification. Though Cambridge Analytica shut down in 2018, related companies remain.

The Clinton camp was hardly absent from social media during the 2016 race. The barely-legal activities of Clintonite David Brock were previously reported by this author to have included $2 million in funding for the creation of an online " troll army " under the name Shareblue. The LA Times described the project as meant to "to appear to be coming organically from people and their social media networks in a groundswell of activism, when in fact it is highly paid and highly tactical." In other words, the effort attempted to create a false sense of consensus in support for the Clinton campaign.

In terms of interference in the actual election process, the New York City Board of Elections was shown to have purged over one hundred thousand Democratic voters in Brooklyn from the rolls before the 2016 primary, a move that the Department of Justice found broke federal law . Despite this, no prosecution for the breach was ever attempted.

Though the purge was not explicitly found to have benefitted Clinton, the admission falls in line with allegations across the country that the Democratic primary was interfered with to the benefit of the former secretary of state. These claims were further bolstered by reports indicating that voting results from the 2016 Democratic primary showed evidence of fraud.

DNC Fraud Lawsuit

The proceedings of the DNC fraud lawsuit provide the most damning evidence of the failure of the U.S. election process, especially within the Democratic Party. DNC defense lawyers argued in open court for the party's right to appoint candidates at its own discretion, while simultaneously denying any "fiduciary duty" to represent the voters who donated to the Democratic Party under the impression that the DNC would act impartially towards the candidates involved.

In 2017, the Observer reported that the DNC's defense counsel argued against claims that the party defrauded Sanders' supporters by favoring Clinton, reasoning that Sanders' supporters knew the process was rigged. Again: instead of arguing that the primary was neutral and unbiased in accordance with its charter, the DNC's lawyers argued that it was the party's right to select candidates.

The Observer noted the sentiments of Jared Beck, the attorney representing the plaintiffs of the lawsuit:

"People paid money in reliance on the understanding that the primary elections for the Democratic nominee -- nominating process in 2016 were fair and impartial, and that's not just a bedrock assumption that we would assume just by virtue of the fact that we live in a democracy, and we assume that our elections are run in a fair and impartial manner. But that's what the Democratic National Committee's own charter says. It says it in black and white."

The DNC defense counsel's argument throughout the course of the DNC fraud lawsuit doubled down repeatedly in defense of the party's right to favor one candidate over another, at one point actually claiming that such favoritism was protected by the First Amendment . The DNC's lawyers wrote:

"To recognize any of the causes of action that Plaintiffs allege would run directly contrary to long-standing Supreme Court precedent recognizing the central and critical First Amendment rights enjoyed by political parties, especially when it comes to selecting the party's nominee for public office ." [Emphasis added]

The DNC's shameless defense of its own rigging disemboweled the most fundamental organs of the U.S. body politic. This no indication that the DNC will not resort to the same tactics in the 2020 primary race,

Tim Canova's Allegations

If Debbie Wasserman Schultz's role as disgraced chairwoman of the DNC and her forced 2016 resignation wasn't enough, serious interference was also alleged in the wake of two contests between Wasserman Schultz and professor Tim Canova in Florida's 23rd congressional district. Canova and Wasserman Schultz first faced off in a 2016 Democratic primary race, followed by a 2018 general congressional election in which Canova ran as an independent.

Tim Canova with supporters, April 2016. (CanovaForCongress, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Debacles followed both contests, including improper vote counts, illegal ballot destruction , improper transportation of ballots, and generally shameless displays of cronyism. After the controversial results of the initial primary race against Wasserman Schultz, Canova sought to have ballots checked for irregularities, as the Sun-Sentinel reported at the time:

"[Canova] sought to look at the paper ballots in March 2017 and took Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes to court three months later when her office hadn't fulfilled his request. Snipes approved the destruction of the ballots in September, signing a certification that said no court cases involving the ballots were pending."

Ultimately, Canova was granted a summary judgment against Snipes, finding that she had committed what amounted to multiple felonies. Nonetheless, Snipes was not prosecuted and remained elections supervisor through to the 2018 midterms.

Republicans appear no more motivated to protect voting integrity than the Democrats, with The Nation reporting that the GOP-controlled Senate blocked a bill this week that would have "mandated paper-ballot backups in case of election machine malfunctions."

Study of Corporate Power

A 2014 study published by Princeton University found that corporate power had usurped the voting rights of the public: "Economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence."

In reviewing this sordid history, we see that the Democratic Party establishment has done everything in its power to disrespect voters and outright overrule them in the democratic primary process, defending their right to do so in the DNC fraud lawsuit. We've noted that interests transcending the DNC also represent escalating threats to election integrity as demonstrated in 2016.

Despite this, establishment Democrats and those who echo their views in the legacy press continue to deflect from their own wrongdoing and real threats to the election process by suggesting that mere discussion of it represents a campaign by Russia to attempt to malign the perception of the legitimacy of the U.S. democratic process.

Hillary Clinton's recent comments to the effect that Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is being "groomed" by Russia, and that the former Green Party Presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein is a "Russian asset", were soon echoed by DNC-friendly pundits. These sentiments externalize what Gabbard called the "rot" in the Democratic party outward onto domestic critics and a nation across the planet.

Newsweek provided a particularly glaring example of this phenomenon in a recent op-ed penned by columnist Naveed Jamali, a former FBI double agent whose book capitalizes on Russiagate. In an op-ed titled: " Hillary Clinton Is Right. Tulsi Gabbard Is A Perfect Russian Asset – And Would Be A Perfect Republican Agent," Jamali argued :

"Moscow will use its skillful propaganda machine to prop up Gabbard and use her as a tool to delegitimize the democratic process. " [Emphasis added]

Jamali surmises that Russia intends to "attack" our democracy by undermining the domestic perception of its legitimacy. This thesis is repeated later in the piece when Jamali opines : "They want to see a retreat of American influence. What better way to accomplish that than to attack our democracy by casting doubt on the legitimacy of our elections." [Emphasis added]

The only thing worth protecting, according to Jamali and those who amplify his work (including former Clinton aide and establishment Democrat Neera Tanden), is the perception of the democratic process, not the actual functioning vitality of it. Such deflective tactics ensure that Russia will continue to be used as a convenient international pretext for silencing domestic dissent as we move into 2020.

Given all this, how can one expect the outcome of a 2020 Democratic Primary -- or even the general election – to be any fairer or transparent than 2016?

* * *

Elizabeth Vos is a freelance reporter, co-host of CN Live! and regular contributor to Consortium News. If you value this original article, please consider making a donation to Consortium News so we can bring you more stories like this one.

[Nov 07, 2019] DNC Lawyers Argue Primary Rigging Is Protected by the First Amendment

Notable quotes:
"... They also failed to note the voice-modulated phone calls received by the law offices of the Becks which contained a caller-ID corresponding to the law offices of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a defendant in the case. In light of this context, the Becks hardly appear to be peddlers of conspiracy theory. ..."
Nov 07, 2019 | archive.is

The defense counsel also took issue with Jared Beck for what they termed as: " Repeatedly promoted patently false and deeply offensive conspiracy theories about the deaths of a former DNC staffer and Plaintiffs' process server in an attempt to bolster attention for this lawsuit." This author was shocked to find that despite the characterization of the Becks as peddlers of conspiracy theory, the defense counsel failed to mention the motion for protection filed by the Becks earlier in the litigation process.

They also failed to note the voice-modulated phone calls received by the law offices of the Becks which contained a caller-ID corresponding to the law offices of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a defendant in the case. In light of this context, the Becks hardly appear to be peddlers of conspiracy theory.

The DNC defense lawyers then argued:

" There is no legitimate basis for this litigation, which is, at its most basic, an improper attempt to forge the federal courts into a political weapon to be used by individuals who are unhappy with how a political party selected its candidate in a presidential campaign ."

The brief continued:

" To recognize any of the causes of action that Plaintiffs allege based on their animating theory would run directly contrary to long-standing Supreme Court precedent recognizing the central and critical First Amendment rights enjoyed by political parties, especially when it comes to selecting the party's nominee for public office."

It appears that the defendants in the DNC Fraud Lawsuit are attempting to argue that cheating a candidate in the primary process is protected under the first amendment. If all that weren't enough, DNC representatives argued that the Democratic National Committee had no established fiduciary duty "to the Plaintiffs or the classes of donors and registered voters they seek to represent." It seems here that the DNC is arguing for its right to appoint candidates at its own discretion while simultaneously denying any "fiduciary duty" to represent the voters who donated to the Democratic Party under the belief that the DNC would act impartially towards the candidates involved.

Adding to the latest news regarding the DNC Fraud Lawsuit was the recent finding by the UK Supreme Court, which stated that Wikileaks Cables were admissible as evidence in legal proceedings.

If Wikileaks' publication of DNC emails are found to be similarly admissible in a United States court of law, then the contents of the leaked emails could be used to argue that, contrary to the defendant's latest brief, the DNC did in favor the campaign of Hillary Clinton over Senator Sanders and that they acted to sabotage Sanders' campaign.

The outcome of the appeal of the DNC Fraud Lawsuit remains to be seen.

Elizabeth Vos is the Co-Founder and Editor in Chief at Disobedient Media .

[Nov 06, 2019] Planned Collapse of Neoliberalism

Nov 06, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Globalism sounds like such a nice thing for many, it even has a nice ring to it! At least to the naïve, whom actually believe that if the world could just get together and work out its problems under one big umbrella, all would be great. I think most people would agree that true free trade, coupled with safeguards to protect American jobs would be fine. The corrupted globalism that this world has become nearly immersed in is a mechanism that, in reality, is intent on creating a one world corporate owned planet operated under a top-down, locked-down, political and economic management system backed up by coercion. Whew! That is a mouthful I agree! It will be run by a partnership of the top .001% of wealthiest elites and administered by the United Nations. International rules and laws for every single decision will nearly all come under the auspices the United Nations. This plan has been laid out in various United Nations publications and official policy.

President Trump has vowed to, and succeeded in some ways, to buck these one world globalists, not to say he hasn't treated them to overly generous tax breaks since he has been in charge! Not withstanding the prior, these one world globalists include even some of the most prominent lawmakers in Washington D.C. far too often. The entrenched snake sales people over at the White House lawmaking division are far too often part of the plan to decimate America whether they believe it or not. We can only hope that a large part of them are do not realize what the end-game is of this globalist cabal. Perhaps this is of course why we so often shake our heads in disbelief when they utter ideas and beliefs that sound so foreign to ears, anti-American and even scary!

So far, Pres. Trump seems to have accomplished about as much as any one president ever could accomplish when walking into a room of entrenched den of thieves! Washington is not going to be a part of solving the problems of globalism, for they and the globalists are in bed together. Part of the problem remains that the establishment agenda is overrun by statists who walk in lock-step with their leaders and party platforms even if corrupted. It is just too profitable for them to ignore. Yet, the truth is that statism has no sense of proportion. These sometimes well-meaning politicians, once they are put into power, knowingly or unknowingly become slaves to their corporate owners. This is corporatocracy, and it is unsustainable. The one world corporate pirates, comprising a collection of the largest 100 or so family dynasties, do in fact control approximately 90 percent of the wealth of the world, hidden inside a dark web of very complex multi-structured organizations and corporate nameplates. Such makes it very difficult, but not impossible to truly figure out who the real owners are behind the maze. This is perhaps the reason why I contend that President Trump, an outsider with a new direction for America, may be our last chance. Most of these types hate Trump because he is hitting them where it hurts on most fronts and is slowing down the globalist agenda!

Corporate socialism IS globalism. It is a growing and controlled oligarchy. As such, it affords both the supranational capitalists, world's governments and non-elected quasi governmental agencies to profit together as a baseball team would. Yes, working together with one unified grand vision for the profit and powers of both. Globalism is the name. We already see how nearly everything around us is becoming part of the so-called global order. These, creating quid-pro-quo systems of control over the entire world economies, whom create wars for profit, create inflation to inadvertently benefit themselves and enact so-called "free-trade partnerships" that portend to help creates jobs here at home, only succeed occasionally of creating low wage service jobs in large part in the parts of the world that the globalists venture with their self-serving con-game. Limiting competition, being on the inside, having power over others, this is what the global government and one world monopolistic corporations are all about. The free trade agreements offer all of its members to petition, (and usually get) allowances to get around many of the safeguards and traditional legal rules that used to be sacrosanct in world trade. Especially as to food processing. The move toward monopolization is perhaps the biggest motivator these have for supporting globalist (un)free trade agreements.

What the true elite globalists (who reside in both political parties in Washington and world power centers in particular) want is unbridled control over nearly everything in order to unite us into a global world of subservient slaves unto them. So, what's the answer?

It is easy to witness that the far leftists often do not divulge they are socialists at all. In recent years, this is changing, now that millions of young voters have been convinced by their colleges and mass media outlets that socialism IS the answer. In the past, no candidate would utter the word socialism for fear of many lost votes. Today, a surprisingly large percentage of politicians in government are onboard. We can easily spot them if we compare their voting records. Then compare them to the promises made when running for election! So, before you get too comfortable with politicians who come off as infectiously kind and compassionate while often using the words 'fairness', "world community", "social equality", "open borders", "free trade", "globalism", "social justice" and other such pleasantly attractive bleeding heart politicians using such catch-phrases, be careful. Although Democrats will more often than not fall into this category of unsung globalists, many on both sides of the isle fit the bill as well. Some more than others knowingly use these kind sounding platforms in order to garner votes from the gullible young in particular. History shows over and over again how gullible citizens can be duped into voting for someone they thought was a caring politician, then come to discover they voted for a hidden socialist or communist in fact. Although we can all agree on the responsibilities of our government as spelled out in the Constitution, our founding fathers warned the new country that we must beware of politicians who promise more than that great document promises.

Government / corporate partnerships, whether formal or consensual, create insanely profitable fortunes for their owners while too often screwing over not only Americans but the worlds taxpaying citizens and their industrialized countries as well. Who do you think the prime contractors are who build and supply trillions of dollars of military weapons to the huge, high testosterone American military machine? These war factories are largely owned by billion-dollar super elites whose huge goliath corporations very often operate under a duplicity of names that largely hides the true identities of the owners behind them. These true owners often use layers of sub-corporations operating under various, differing names and locations providing legal and illegal tax havens around the world. Apple pays zero US taxes for example using such a scheme. This is just one case amongst thousands. Often the tax havens are claimed are justified by the existence of a foreign post office box. Seldom are these caught or fined by our U.S. authorities. When they do occasionally get caught, the fines are typically just a miniscule part of the total savings they have accumulated over the past years.

With a little research we can find many of the same board members appearing again and again on the rosters of the quietly interconnected mega corporations. This creates the long-time problem of immoral collusions that often allow shifting of profits to other tax havens, allowing American profits to go untaxed and shifting the responsibility fully onto the American worker. Does it not make sense that a corporation that makes ridiculous record profits such as Apple and others do, that they should pay their share? This globalist mindset of the elites creates record profits at the expense of American workers and their spending powers.

Within our public "screwling system" as I call it, students are increasingly taught that "globalism" is a new religion of sorts, a "cure-all" for world discourse perhaps! Those with enough power to create massive changes in culture are behind the politically correct culture, the green movement and most other leftist power grabs. These are often the very same supra-national corporations and political kingpins who wish to undermine the America we remember, its legal system while creating a monopolistic economic and totalitarian one world state. It is wise to remember the confirmed beliefs and admissions o f the godfathers of the one world order. Of course I am speaking of the Rockefellers, J.P. Morgan and dozens more of the wealthiest families of the world whom have for centuries verifiably acted upon and talked of such plans. Their heirs, as well as the new titans such as Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos (Amazon fame), Elon Musk (Tesla) and other such billionaire or trillionaire types are nearly all on board vocally with a one world order system of governance. I will cover this much more further on.

For over 100 years, much of American education has been stealthily entrenched in anti-Western "cultural Marxism" propaganda and other damaging indoctrinations (as I document later). Public schools have long promoted the globalism lie, teaching such as the yellow brick road towards acceptance of a one world order that delivers utopia. It is hard indeed to find a young person today in America who still believes strongly in traditional values and ideas of self-responsibility, detest government interference in their lives, loves the Constitution, what it stands for and protects. They have been indoctrinated by our schools to the point that common sense no longer matters, for honest discourse in discussions are heavily discouraged in many a classroom. I prove further along that most of the liberal ideology being increasingly touted by the left is borne out of a long dreamt of socialist utopia carried out by a partnership between the corporate globalists, the U.N. and those elites who desire power over the world. And I can guarantee to you that these are getting impatient. These, their cohorts/devotees are those whom desire to make the choices as to everything you buy, eat, drive, live, your job destiny, how much or how little you make, etc. etc. Most of this agenda is not so hidden, contained already within the prime vehicle to bring about the one world order with the United Nations Agenda 21 policies taking place around the world.

Considering that at least 50% of the world's wealth is verifiably controlled by the top 1% consisting of only 67 of the world's wealthiest individuals (and shrinking), this is pretty good evidence that we are essentially being controlled by a very small corporate global elite club designed and run for the few. These stats are verified later. The pace of their destruction is staggering.

Today, the top 200 corporations are bigger than the combined economies of 182 countries and have twice the economic influence than 80 per cent of all humanity as I prove!

Globalism has come very far in rendering world with greatly reduced amounts of anything amounting to a capitalistic system that comes with practical safeguards against abuses that place too much harm to the hard working stiffs. Increasingly, we witness wage inequalities worse than in the Great Depression. Truly, the top 10 percent earners have left everyone else in the dust increasingly over the last 50 years. The top 1 percenters incomes during this time has gone to the moon at the expense of the masses.

Globalism is the vehicle to achieve the elite globalist goals of a one world order, separate, nationalistic and independent nations with their own borders must be eliminated, which shouldn't be too much of a problem to accomplish in much of the world, especially in the current socialist run countries in and around the European continent and America who largely embrace socialism. What is ironic is that socialist Briton's have turn their backs on Brexit, meant to centralize nearly all power to the elite globalists. Little did they realize that you can't have both, at least in the long run.

The League of Nations was the precursor of the United Nations. From their beginnings, the primary long-term reason for both of them had always been to be the primary central agency of the world, an assemblage of the top global power brokers created to steer and carry out the new world order which has been dreamt of for millennium. Its creation has not been, as it touts, "to create a harmonious and peaceful world". No, the U.N.'s overarching goal has been to create a one world government using the ploy of globalism. There are ample records dating back before its very creation, direct from the U.N.'s own publications and top officers and founders to support this statement which I document quite fully in order to prove that point. This UN has with much ambition endorsed and sanctioned one world inspired leaders, corporations, groups, agencies, NGO's and billionaires from countries all around the globe in a long term unified vision of this new world order in order to further the one world agenda. The help that the UN has supplied in the creation of most planned wars, coups and disruptions across the world is well known by those who have done their homework on that subject. It is this cabal and others that are the enemies of true freedoms, borders, sovereignty across the globe yet are completely onboard with creating a one world government. Americanism or any other type of governance besides their one world order. These are the a major part of the world's Deep State apparatus who are in fact often hidden forces behind the worlds corporate powered global power structure.

The global multinational corporatist leaders have pushed their un-free trade treaties, long creating a horrid record of killing millions of good paying jobs across America and nearly everywhere they venture. These stealing of good jobs have swelled the bank accounts and powers of these globalist multinational corporations while boosting their wealth into the top 1% largely at the expense of the masses who now work for far less. lowered wages.

The globalists new world order plan requires a complete breakdown of the required systems that have historically allowed nation to prosper on its own merits. Sold by both parties is the false belief that big government can fix everything. This long-running sales job actually promotes self-interest above all, using deceptive techniques as I cover. Such a sales job requires a break away from traditions that bind us with our neighbors and family. It requires a growth in narcissism, self above God so much so that we can now even witiness the horrid reality of pedophilia becoming more mainstream! Since President Trump's reign, thousands of pedophilia people and groups have been arrested as never before! Thousand of killer gang members have been arrested as never before, especially those inside of the MS-13 ruthless group. This is just one of many actions by this President that leads to my belief that our new President is holding up his end of the agreement. Like him or not, he at least is holding up his promises.

History is replete with all the immense damages that the globalist movement has brought upon the world. These have sold the lie that globalism is the answer to the inequalities between the haves and the have nots. While the opposite is the real truth! The truth is now evident when one looks at the condition of the world they have pushed upon all of us over the last many years.

The elite new world order operatives have infiltrated all the major nations governmental agencies, top positions of power. Led by the lure of power, connectedness, money, these are often not aware that they are actually perpetuating a plan that is deadly for much of the world if the globalist elites they serve should get their way. Unfortunately for these self serving minions only are concerned with self promotion often. Yet the fact remains that political expediency and promotions come with compliance. The heads of nearly every major country are working together with this huge one world apparatus machine that is enclosed within the UN, World Bank, IMF, European Union, Trilateral Commission, Council on Foreign Relations, the Royal Family, the corporation called America, and hundreds of other governmental and non-governmental centers of power. Many of these hide behind nice sounding, humanitarian nameplates. Nearly all the crises we see play out are ones they actually create, (of which American hegemony around the world is a large player). For these, the ends always justify the means.

Continual non-stop conflicts around the world, of which America is often at the forefront of are exponentially increasing. I will explain why and how America's endless war policies has been implemented over the last many years, but I cannot divulge my take on who and what is behind much of the openly visible powers working behind much of the news we hear.

Explained will be real, actual reasons why America has spent over 15 years in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya with nothing to show besides disasters and deaths, while earning a bad reputation around the world as a bully. Be assured that the elites and banking system have made trillions of dollars from these three examples. And lives mean little. Psychopaths don't care about anything beyond their own desires and powers, and many of these are psychopaths indeed. They use false justifications as a passport to sell many of their warring's and destructions. This is globalism.

I predict that the CIA, (a globalist arm of the U.S. Government and deep state), armed with an unlimited budget and trillions of dollars derived from their years of secret under the radar dirty operations, are likely to be an agency to be reviewed, revamped or remodeled within the not so distant future. The truths behind this clandestine, above the law and corrupted agency may finally be surfacing as well. Ever since the Trump Russian collusion witch hunt also with an unlimited budget as well both of these conducted, likely during Pres. Trump's time as president, we should expect to witness a firestorm of controversy and change more momentous than anything in American history, hopefully.

President Donald Trump has his work cut out, but his years in office have shown he is no typical deep state establishment fixture of either political party! What we are now witnessing is perhaps the most important and fateful elections in America's entire history. The results will either allow the Republican Party to prove itself to be the party of the people, or become impotent, simply becoming water boys for the Democrat Party, thereafter having little real power for decades perhaps. The results of the coming elections leading into 2020, (general and mid-terms), will in fact be the determining factor for whether America and the world reject conservativism or falls into the clutches of a highly touted, yet untruthful liberalism that doesn't even resemble the old party of the people that dems used to own in the far past. So, we must ask ourselves, how did this all come to such a historic moment as we are living in?

[Nov 06, 2019] America Will Keep Losing Its Middle Class as Long as "The Free Market" Dominates the Economic Debate

Notable quotes:
"... By Marshall Auerback, a market analyst and commentator. produced by Economy for All , a project of the Independent Media Institute ..."
"... Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy ..."
"... When the government subsidize R&D here, what reason would there be for the resultant products that come from that R&D, be made here? In Canada the SRED (Scientific Research and Experimental Development) tax credits are used by companies to develop products that are then manufactured in China. No Canadian production worker will ever see an hour of labor from those subsidies. That result is baked into the R&D cake. ..."
"... As you point out, "many of the large International Corporations moved their software development and R&D offshore too". What stops them from co-mingling the subsidies and scamming the system for their benefit, since everything done to favor big business resolves to a scam on the peasants. ..."
Nov 06, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on November 5, 2019 by Yves Smith By Marshall Auerback, a market analyst and commentator. produced by Economy for All , a project of the Independent Media Institute

National industrial policy was once something you might read about in today's equivalent of a friend's Facebook post, as hard as that might sound to believe. It was in newspapers; it was on the radio. Taxi drivers had opinions about it. That all changed in the last 35 years, when the rise and fall of the stock market and a shallow conversation about unemployment rates took over. Industrial policy became an inside-baseball conversation, and to the extent that it was discussed, it was through the prism of whether it imperiled the golden gospel and great economic distraction of our time, "the free market."

The decades of free-market propaganda we've been exposed to are basically an exercise in distracting the public from the meaningful choices that are now made behind closed doors. The two big political parties that outwardly represent symbolic issues like gun rights and school prayer spend the bulk of their time and political energy on complex industrial and regulatory questions.

But much like Nero fiddling while Rome burned, they'd better start considering the question of a national industrial policy before there's no industry left to manage. Manufacturing is now at its smallest share of the U.S. economy in 72 years, reports Bloomberg . Multinational supply chains undermine the negotiating power of workers, thereby exacerbating inequality.

Are there ways to bring back manufacturing, or should we just capitulate to a mindset that argues that these jobs are gone for good, that software retention is good enough, even as we shift what's left of our manufacturing sector overseas to sweatshop economies? That seems short-sighted. After all, it's pretty easy to steal IP; it's not so easy to steal an auto manufacturing facility. The real question is: In the absence of some sort of national industrial strategy, how do Western societies retain a viable middle class?

Decades of American middle-class exposure to favor China and other Asian countries' industrial capacity have foisted it right back from elite circles into our politics and the ballot box, in spectacular fashion, through the unlikely Donald Trump, who, in his typically blunderbuss fashion, has called attention to some serious deficiencies in our current globalized system, and the competitive threat posed by China to which we have remained oblivious for all too long.

Not that Trump's 19th-century protectionism represents the right policy response, but his concerns about Beijing make sense when you compare how much China invests in its own industrial base relative to the U.S.: Robert D. Atkinson and Caleb Foote of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation write that a recent Harvard Business School " study estimated that the Chinese governments (national, provincial, and local) paid for a whopping 22.2 percent of business R&D in 2015, with 95 percent of Chinese firms in 6 industries receiving government cash -- petrochemicals, electronics, metals and materials, machinery and equipment, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, and information technology."

In addition to the direct government grants on R&D, Atkinson and Foote estimate that "the Chinese R&D tax credit is between 3 and 4.6 times more generous than the U.S. credit. To match China's R&D tax credit generosity, the U.S. rate for the Alternative Simplified Credit would have to be increased from 14 percent to between 35 and 40 percent." Atkinson and Foote also note that " 97 percent of American federal government funding went to just three sectors: transportation equipment, which includes such as fighter jets, missiles, and the like ($14 billion); professional, scientific, and technical services ($5 billion); and computer and electronic products ($4 billion)."

Taken in aggregate, Atkinson and Foote calculate that "nearly 25 percent of all R&D expenditures in China come in the form of government subsidies to firms." That's the sort of thing that must enter the calculations of antitrust advocates when they call for breaking up big tech, without considering the ramifications to research and development, especially relative to their Chinese counterparts. (Statistically, as Anne Marie Knott and Carl Vieregger find in a 2016 paper "Reconciling the Firm Size and Innovation Puzzle," there are ample studies illustrating that R&D spending and R&D productivity increase with scale.)

Why does this matter? Robert Kuttner, writing at the Huffington Post at the inception of Barack Obama's presidency, made a compelling argument that many of America's great industrial enterprises did not simply spring up spontaneously via the magic of the "free market":

American commercial leadership in aerospace is no naturally occurring phenomenon. It reflects trillions of dollars of subsidy from the Pentagon and from NASA. Likewise, U.S. dominance in pharmaceuticals is the result of government subsidy of basic research, favorable patent treatment, and the fact that the American consumer of prescription drugs is made to overpay, giving the industry exorbitant profits to plow back into research. Throwing $700 billion at America's wounded banks is also an industrial policy.

So if we can have implicit industrial policies for these industries, why not explicit policies to rebuild our auto industry, our steel industry, our machine tool industry, and the industries of the next century, such as green energy and high-speed rail? And why not devise some clear standards for which industries deserve help, and why, and what they owe America in return?"

In fact, Kuttner describes a problem that well preceded Barack Obama. America's belief in national industrial planning has been undermined to the extent that the U.S. began to adhere to a doctrine of shareholder capitalism in the 1980s and beyond, a philosophy that minimized the role of the state, and gave primacy to short-term profitability, as well as production growth through efficiency (i.e., downsizing) and mergers. Corporate prioritization of maximizing shareholders' value and the ways American corporations have minimized long-term R&D expenditures and capital investment, all of which have resulted in the "unproductive disgorging of corporate cash profits -- through massive dividend payouts and unprecedented spending on stock repurchases -- over productive investment in innovation," write Professors Servaas Storm and C.W.M. Naastepad .

Although European companies have not gone quite as far down that route, their "stakeholder capitalism" culture has been somewhat subverted to the same short-term goals as their American counterparts, as evidenced via Volkswagen's emissions scandal and the erosion of workers' rights via the Hartz labor "reforms" (which actually undermined the unions' stakeholder status in the companies, thereby freeing up management to adopt many of the less attractive American shareholder capitalism practices). The European Union too is now belatedly recognizing the competitive threat posed by China . There's no doubt that the European political classes are also becoming mindful that there are votes to be won here as well, as Trump correctly calculated in 2016.

In the U.S., industrial policy is increasingly finding advocates on both the left (Elizabeth Warren's policy director, Ganesh Sitaraman ) and the right ( Professor Michael Lind ), via the convenient marriage of national security considerations and with international investment and trade. If trade policy is ultimately subordinated to national security concerns, it is conceivable that industrial policy could be "bi-partisanized," thereby giving primacy to homegrown strategic industries necessary to sustain viable national defense and security.

But this approach is not without risks: it is unclear whether the "national security-fication" of the industrial policy renaissance will actually enhance or hinder creativity and risk-taking, or merely cause these firms to decline altogether as viable civilian competitors vis a vis Beijing. The current travails of Boeing provide a salutary illustration of the risks of going too far down the Pentagon rat hole.

And there are a number of recent studies illustrating that the case for "dual-use" (i.e., civilian and military) manufacturing does not substantially enhance civilian industrialization and, indeed, may retard overall economic growth. On the other hand, as the venture capitalist William Janeway highlights in his seminal work, Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy , there are advantages at times to being "[d]ecoupled from any direct concern with economic return [It allowed] the Defense Department [to] fund numerous alternative research agendas, underwriting the 'wasteful' search for solutions that inevitably accompanies any effort to push back the frontiers of knowledge." So there's a balance to be struck here. But, as Janeway notes , "the strategic state interventions that have shaped the market economy over generations have depended on grander themes -- national development, national security, social justice, liberation from disease -- that transcend the calculus of welfare economics and the logic of market failure."

Furthermore, to the extent that national security considerations retard offshoring and global labor arbitrage, it can enhance the prospects for a viable form of " national developmentalism ," given that both mean tighter labor markets and higher wages, which in turn will likely push firms toward upgrading R&D spending in order to upgrade on the high end of the technology curve ( as Seymour Melman argued years ago ), as well as enhancing productivity gains. As author Ted Fertik observes :

Higher productivity makes possible more generous welfare states, and helps national industries compete to supply the world with high-tech products. If technological leadership and a prosperous, patriotic citizenry are the surest guarantees of military preponderance, such an economic policy represents the best military strategy in an era of great power competition.

Both the left and the right are beginning to recognize that it makes no sense to make war on wage-earners while claiming to protect the same wage earners from Chinese competition. But governments need to do more than act as a neutral umpire, whose role never extends beyond fixing market failures. As Janeway has illustrated , governments have historically promoted the basic research that fueled innovation and nurtured the talent and skills that "became the foundation of the Innovation Economy"; "the central research laboratories of the great corporations were first supplemented and then supplanted by direct state funding of research." But in spite of providing the foundational research for a number of leading commercial products (e.g., Apple's iPhone), the government has proved reticent in considering alternative forms of ownership structure (e.g., a " government golden share ," which gives veto rights on key strategic issues, such as relocation, offshoring, special voting rights, etc.), or retaining intellectual property rights and corresponding royalty streams to reflect the magnitude of their own R&D efforts, as Professor Mariana Mazzucato has proposed in the past . At the very least, we need to consider these alternative ownership structures that focus entrepreneurial development on value creation, as opposed to capitulating to the depredations of rentier capitalism on the spurious grounds that this is a neutral byproduct of the market's efficient allocation of resources.

Within the U.S., national industrial policy also suits green advocates, such as Senator Bernie Sanders, whose Green New Deal plan , while failing to address domestic/local content, or manufacturing in the broadest possible sense, at least begins to move the needle with regard to the federal government building and owning a national renewable grid.

Likewise in Europe, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier recently published a " National Industrial Strategy 2030 ," which, according to Dalia Marin of Bruegel think tank in Brussels , "aims to protect German firms against state-subsidized Chinese competitors. The strategy identifies key industrial sectors that will receive special government support, calls for establishing production of electric-car batteries in Europe, and advocates mergers to achieve economies of scale." It is striking that EU policymakers, such as Lars Feld of the German Council of Economic Experts , still apparently think it is a protectionist step too far to consider coordinating with the car companies (where there is already a high degree of trans-European policy coordination and international consolidation), and other sectors, to help them all at the same time -- as Beijing is now doing . Of course, it would help to embed this in a manufacturing-based Green New Deal, but it represents a healthy corrective to offshoring advocates who continue to advocate that their car industry should migrate to China, on the short-term grounds of cost consideration alone .

Essentially, the goal should be to protect the industries that policymakers think will be strategically important from outsiders, and to further integrate with allies and partners to achieve efficiencies and production scale. (Parenthetically, it seems particularly perverse right at this juncture for the UK to break away from all this continental European integration, and to try to go it alone via Brexit.) The aim should not be to protect private rent-seeking and increasing private monopolization under the guise of industrial policy, which, as Dalia Marin notes , is why EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager blocked the proposed merger between France's Alstom and Germany's Siemens. The two companies "rarely compete with CRRC in third countries, because the Chinese company mainly focuses on its home market." Hence, the grounds for creating " heavyweight champions " was really a cover for developing an oligopoly instead.

Much of the focus of negotiation in the seemingly endless trade negotiations between the U.S. and China has been on American efforts to dismantle the wave of subsidies and industrial support that Beijing furnishes to its domestic industries. This seems both unrealistic as well as being the exact opposite of what the U.S. should be doing if it hopes to level, or at least carve up, the playing field.

Likewise, the problem in both the EU and the U.S. is not the size of these companies generated by national developmentalism, but a size-neutral form of national regulation that precludes these companies from stifling competition. The goal of a truly successful and workable industrial policy should be to create an environment that supports and sustains value creation and that socializes the benefits of the R&D for society as a whole, rather than simply licensing it or selling it on to private companies so that it just becomes a vehicle that sustains rent extraction for private profits alone.

We are slowly but surely starting to move away from market fundamentalism, but we still have yet to make the full conceptual leap toward a sustainable industrial policy that creates an economy for all. At least this is now becoming a fit discussion as far as policy making goes, as many of the neoliberal shibboleths of the past 40 years are gradually being reconsidered and abandoned. That is a start.


Ignacio , November 5, 2019 at 6:13 am

Another way –and more precise in my opinion because it identifies the core problem– to frame the issue, would be this:

Why Trade Wars Are Inevitable

Repressed consumption in a few countries with sustained huge current account surpluses naturally drives manufacturing outside the US (and other deficit countries). Interestingly, Pettis says that those imbalances manifest today, not as a conflict between surplus/deficit countries, but between economic sectors: bankers and owners in surplus/deficit countries vs. the rest. According to Pettis this can be addressed internally in the US by tackling income inequality: Tax transfers, reduced health care & educational costs, raising minimum wages and giving negotiating power to unions. BUT BEFORE DOING THAT, THE US SHOULD IMPOSE CONTROLS ON FOREIGN CAPITAL INFLOWS (by taxing those) INSTEAD ON TARIFFS ON FOREIGN PRODUCTS. From the article:

It would have the additional benefit of forcing the cost of adjustment onto banks and financial speculators, unlike tariffs, which force the cost onto businesses and consumers.

If the US ever does this, other deficit countries, say the UK, France or Spain for instance, should do exactly the same, and even more abruptly if these don't want to be awash with foreign capital inflows and see inequality spiking even further.

Marshall Auerback , November 5, 2019 at 8:29 am

Not a bad way to frame the issue at all.

Winston , November 5, 2019 at 2:19 pm

It is financialization which is causing this. Please read Michael Hudson. As he has pointed out it is financialization that is key. There is a reason his book was titled "Killing the Host". Boeing's decline is also because of financialization.
https://evonomics.com/hedge-fund-activists-prey-companies/
How Hedge Fund Activists Prey on Companies

Private equity and hedge are responsible for US manufacturing decline since the 1980s, along with desire not to innovate-example why Deming's advice ignored by US automakers and absorbed by the Japanese-who then clobbered the US automakers.

Hudson also knows that rising expenses for homeowners reduced their consumption capacity. A main cause is rise in housing costs, education, and health.

Before manufacturing went to cheaper foreign shores, it went to the no union South. Has that made its workers better off? If so how come South didn't develop like Singapore? For a clue please read Ed Week article about what Singapore did and South failed to do.
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/top_performers/2016/01/the_low-wage_strategy_continues_in_the_south_is_it_the_future_for_your_state.html
The Low-Wage Strategy in the South: Is It the Future for Your State?

Melman's main message is that focus on national security destroyed civilian sector. Today most of US Govt R&D spending still in defense sector, while R&D disappearing in private sector because of financialization.

Industrial strategy is useless for US unless housing costs come down, unless robots are used. Hudson has already pointed out US cannot compete with Germany because of housing cost differences. As Carl Benedikt Frey who focusses on tech has pointed out Midwest revolt was because most automation was there.
"Frey argues that automation, or what he calls the third industrial revolution, is not only putting jobs at risk, but is the principal source of growing inequality within the American economy."
https://nationalinterest.org/feature/technology-trap-more-automation-driving-inequality-89211

" there are more robots in Michigan alone than in the entire American west. Where manufacturing jobs have disappeared is also where US dissatisfaction is the greatest"
https://voxeu.org/article/automation-and-its-enemies
Automation and its enemies
Carl Benedikt Frey, Ebrahim Rahbari 04 November 2019

https://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/news/2017/09/06/rise-of-the-robots-buffalo-retail-workers-should.html

Winston , November 5, 2019 at 4:19 pm

Major industrialized countries are also heavy users of automation. Forget idea that industrial policy will lead to jobs at scale used to.:

https://www.therobotreport.com/10-automated-countries-in-the-world/
10 Most Automated Countries in the World

https://ifr.org/ifr-press-releases/news/robots-japan-delivers-52-percent-of-global-supply
Robots: Japan delivers 52 percent of global supply
Japan is the world´s predominant industrial robot manufacturer

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/08/04/business/tech/japans-farming-industry-poised-automation-revolution/
Japan's farming industry poised for automation revolution

John Merryman. , November 5, 2019 at 9:18 am

I don't know that it's so much"free markets," as the financialization of the economy, where money has mutated free a medium of exchange and necessary tool, to the end goal of creating as much notational wealth, as the purpose of markets.
Money largely functions as a contract, where the asset is ultimately backed by a debt. So in order to create the asset, similar amounts of debt have to be generated.
For one thing, it creates a centripedial effect, as positive feedback draws the asset to the center of the community, while negative feedback pushes the debt to the edges. Since finance functions the value circulation mechanism of society, this is like the heart telling the hands and feet they don't need so much blood and should work harder for what they do get. The Ancients used debt nubiles to reset this process, but we lack the long term perspective.
The other consequence is the government has been manipulated into being debtor of last resort. Where would those trillions go otherwise and could Wall Street function without the government soaking up so much excess money. The real elephant in the room is the degree public debt backs private wealth.

John Merryman. , November 5, 2019 at 10:49 am

Further note; Since this borrowed money cannot be used to compete with the private sector for what is a finite amount of profitable investments, it is used to blow up whatever other countries incur the wrath of our despots.
As Deep Throat explained, if you want to know what's going on, follow the money.

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , November 5, 2019 at 3:29 pm

Whenever I see the term "free markets" bandied about I know it's a framing that fits an ideology but in no way fits the actual facts.

Just like we now have two criminal justice systems, we now have two market systems: crony capitalism, and actual capitalism.

Crony capitalism is for Exxon Mobil; Verizon; Amazon; Raytheon; JP Morgan. Actual capitalism is reserved for the plebes, who get "creative destruction". Mom slipped and fell; the hospital bill arrived and there wasn't enough cash; so they took the house.

It's the obverse of the "socialism" argument. We have socialism across the length and breadth of the economy: more Federal dollars are spent subsidizing fossil fuels than are spent educating children. But heaven forbid Bernie should utter the "S" word, because he's talking about the kind of socialism for you and me.

John Merryman , November 5, 2019 at 5:43 pm

The problem is avoiding that us versus them polarity and show why what is going on is BS. That the markets NEED government debt to function and then waste that collective value. Not that government is some old nanny, trying to quell the 'animal spirits" of the market.
Maintaining infrastructure just isn't as glamorous as guns and bombs. Probably doesn't threaten to kill you, if you don't give it the money, either.
It should be obvious to most that simply pouring more vodka into the punch bowl does not create a healthy economy, just a bunch of vultures picking at the carcass.
Finance does function as the circulation mechanism of the body of the community, just as government, as its executive and regulatory function, is the central nervous system. We had private government before, called monarchy. Now finance is having its 'let them eat cake' moment.
As a medium, money is a public utility, like that other medium of roads. You can have the most expensive car out there, but you still don't own the road.
It's not that society should be either private, or public, but an intelligent mix of both.

rtah100 , November 5, 2019 at 7:20 pm

I want me some o' them debt nubiles! They sound like fun gals / guys/ humans. No wonder you're merry, man!

I'd also like a policy of debt jubilees and I imagine you would too. :-)

The Rev Kev , November 5, 2019 at 9:24 am

Just winging it a bit here but perhaps it might be an idea to map out money flows to help decide how to strengthen America's industrial health. As an example, it might be time to end some subsidies. I understand that there are deliberate tax breaks for corporations that move their manufacturing overseas. Cut them now for a start. Yeah, I know. Closing the barn door too late.
To free up cash for R&D, turn back the clock to 1982 and make stock buybacks once more illegal. Give tax credits to companies that pay for a younger generation of machinist's education. Have the Federal government match dollar-for-dollar money spent on R&D. If the government really wants to free up resources, bring out a law that says that it is illegal for the government to give any subsidies for any corporation with a net worth of $1 billion or more.
But we all know that none of this will ever happen as there are far too many rice bowls involved for this to be done – until it is too late. Oh well.

Leftcoastindie , November 5, 2019 at 11:04 am

"I understand that there are deliberate tax breaks for corporations that move their manufacturing overseas. Cut them now for a start. Yeah, I know. Closing the barn door too late."

Better late than never!

Personally, I think that is the only way to get a handle on this situation – Change the tax laws.

rd , November 5, 2019 at 9:52 am

Some thoughts:

1. Designate industries as targets to retain/recreate significant manufacturing capability in the US – semiconductors, flat screens, solar panels, and pharmaceuticals come to mind. Give them preferential protection with quotas, tariffs etc. instead of just shotgun tariffs. These industries should be forward looking instead of recreating mid 20th century.

2. Integrate this into NAFTA and maybe add Central American countries to it. If we need to use cheap labor, then do it in countries that otherwise provide illegal immigrants to us to build up their economies. Far better than sending the jobs to China, a major global competitor.

3. Fund big science such as NASA etc. A lot of discoveries come out that can then be commercialized with manufacturing inside the US and NAFTA.

Arizona Slim , November 5, 2019 at 9:29 pm

Seconded. Good thoughts, rd.

David J. , November 5, 2019 at 10:03 am

It's very refreshing to read articles of this kind. Thank you.

I'm recently retired and my career consisted of a healthy portion of managerial and executive responsibilities as well as a long denouement of flat out proletarian, worker-drone, pseudo-Taylorized work. (Think Amazon but not at Amazon.) I've experienced, in some detail, what I consider to be both sides of the post WWII dynamic as it relates to technology and who controls the shop floor. Now that I have some time on my hands I've decided to see if I can better understand what appears to be a central contradiction of modern industrial practice and especially what I believe to be misguided efforts by non-industrial corporations to employ industrial-work-process techniques in day-to-day practice.

I'm re-reading David F. Noble's 1984 book, Forces of Production: A Social History of Industrial Automation , as well as Christopher Lasch's The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy , as a beginning foray into this topic.

It does seem to me that we can do a lot better. A well developed industrial policy should include both a strategy for improving our productive capacity while simultaneously more fairly distributing the fruits of productivity more broadly throughout the population.

This article and the comments are very helpful in pointing the way.

Sam , November 5, 2019 at 10:42 am

For those who have used up their free access to Foreign Policy there's a non-paywalled version of the Pettis article on the Carnegie endowment website.

steven , November 5, 2019 at 12:11 pm

There is so much to like in this post I am going to concentrate on the few points with which I had problems:
1. Any time I hear an economist bemoaning policies which "may retard overall economic growth." I am tempted to just tune out. 'nega-growth', a variant of Amory Lovins' 'Nega-Watts' maybe. But surely not more military Keynesianism, speeded up planned obsolescence and just plain junk!
2. Then there is "the convenient marriage of national security considerations and with international investment and trade." If national security considerations involve insuring circuit boards for more exceptional (SIC) fighting machines like the F35 or for that matter more hydrogen bombs that might actually work, count me out. OTOH if they include, for example, insuring the country has the capability to produce its own medicines and generally any of the goods and services required for national survival, sign me up.

(national security) Then there is 'climate change', brought to us by Exxon Mobile and the century-long pursuit of The Prize in the Middle Eastern deserts.

lyman alpha blob , November 5, 2019 at 1:30 pm

The title hits the nail right on the head.

An anecdote regarding this free market for everything all the time mentality –

My small city's council recently debated whether to pay several tens of thousands of dollars for a "branding" campaign with a PR/marketing company who in the past has dealt with Conde Nast, so read high end clientele. My better half, who is a councilor, argued that spending all that $$$ to attract more tourists wasn't the best use of the city's funds and that we weren't a "brand" to begin with, but a city. We've already had big problems will illegal Airbnb's removing significant amounts of housing from the market and housing costs have skyrocketed in recent years while wages, of course, have not. The city had until relatively recently been a blue collar suburb but that has changed rapidly. My wife tried to make the case that the result of this "branding" was likely to push housing costs even higher and push more long time residents right of of town. The council is pretty liberal, whatever that means these days, and I don't believe there is a pro-business Republican among them. She was still on the losing end of a 6-1 vote in favor of the "branding".

Very good article, however I don't think trying to bring manufacturing back by framing it in terms of 'national security' is a good idea. Although the idea itself is correct, explicitly promoting it this way would just hand more power over to the national security industry and that has not served us well at all in the last two decades.

Susan the Other , November 5, 2019 at 2:53 pm

This was a great summary of rational thinking. Thank you MA. I've been almost depressed this last year or so by the relentless undermining of national sovereignty. Trying to replace it with everything from global supply chains to the ECB to Brexit-free-trade (even without Europe) to private property rights to you name it. Sovereignty is a very basic thing – we agree to it like we agree to our currency. And by that agreement we certainly imply an "Industrial Policy to create an economy for all." How this wisdom got systematically gaslighted is a whole nuther story. I'm glad China didn't get hooked.

Ford Prefect , November 5, 2019 at 3:06 pm

Make America Great Again.

Apparently, Americans don't need flag-making jobs as they will not Make America Great. Trump campaign making banners in China – moving fast to beat tariffs deadline. Although there is the possibility that these are for domestic consumption in China to help rally Chinese hackers to the cause of supporting the Trump campaign, including voting for Trump. That would prove there is No Collusion with Russia.

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-2020-campaign-banners-are-being-proudly-produced-in-china-2018-07-25?mod=MW_story_top_stories

Jeremy Grimm , November 5, 2019 at 7:35 pm

This post started off suggesting it's time to toss the "the free market" and I would add that it's time to toss "free trade/globalization" too, but it shifted to discussions of R&D spending, cautions to anti-trust advocates, and considerations of industrial policy and national security.

If R&D spending and productivity increase with scale, and many sectors of the US economy are dominated by a handful of large International Corporations does that mean that US R&D spending and productivity are close to full-scale -- as are the Corporations? How does scaled-up R&D spending reconcile with "massive dividend payouts and unprecedented spending on stock repurchases" and the Corporate prioritization of "short-term profitability"? Should I read the claims about how R&D spending and productivity increase with 'scale' to mean the scale of the R&D spending -- not the scale of the firm? If so what sort of calculations should be made by "antitrust advocates when they call for breaking up big tech" if I separate the scale of a firm from the scale of the R&D spending? Does it matter where the R&D is done? Haven't many of the large International Corporations moved their software development and R&D offshore too? ["Software retention"? -- What "software retention"?]

"Likewise, the problem in both the EU and the U.S. is not the size of these companies generated by national developmentalism, but a size-neutral form of national regulation that precludes these companies from stifling competition." What sort of industrial policy will compel International Cartels to play nice with domestic small and medium-sized businesses? Will that industrial policy be tied with some kind of changes to the 'free market' for politicians, prosecutors, courts, and regulators?

If we sell it here, but we don't make it here any more then what kind of industrial policy will rebuild the factories, the base of industrial capital, skills, and technical know-how? It will take more than trade disputes or currency rate of exchange tricks, or R&D spending, or targeted spending on a few DoD programs to rebuild US Industry. Shouldn't an industrial policy address the little problem of the long distance splaying of industries across seas and nations, the narrowing and consolidation of supply chains for the parts used the products still 'made in the usa'? If the US started protecting its 'infant industry' I think that might impact the way a lot of countries will run their economies. This would affect a basis for our international hegemony. And if we don't protect our industry, which will have to be re-built and raised from the razed factory buildings scattered around this country, how would it ever reach the size and complexity needed to prosper again?

cnchal , November 5, 2019 at 10:05 pm

Lots of great questions, with no real answers.

When the government subsidize R&D here, what reason would there be for the resultant products that come from that R&D, be made here? In Canada the SRED (Scientific Research and Experimental Development) tax credits are used by companies to develop products that are then manufactured in China. No Canadian production worker will ever see an hour of labor from those subsidies. That result is baked into the R&D cake.

As you point out, "many of the large International Corporations moved their software development and R&D offshore too". What stops them from co-mingling the subsidies and scamming the system for their benefit, since everything done to favor big business resolves to a scam on the peasants.

[Nov 06, 2019] Schlichter Trump Is Derailing The Elite's Gravy Train

Nov 06, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Kurt Schlichter, op-ed via Townhall.com,

Like the garbage French elite of long ago, our American garbage elite of today has learned nothing and forgotten nothing .

For four years, it has been focused entirely on deep-sixing Donald Trump for his unforgivable crime of demanding that our ruling caste be held accountable for its legacy of failure. Instead of focusing on not being terrible at their job of running America's institutions, our elitists have decided that the real problem is us Normals being angry about how they are terrible at their job of running America's institutions .

So, let's imagine that they finally vanquish Trump, though every time they come up against him they end up dragging themselves home like Ned Beatty after a particularly tough canoe trip.

What happens then?

What happens then is that it's back to business as usual, and for decades, business as usual for our garbage elite has not merely been running our institutions badly but pillaging and looting our country for power, prestige and cash.

The difference is that in the future they will be much more careful to ensure that no one who is not in on the scam will ever again come anywhere near the levers of power. You can already see it – the demands that we defer to the bureaucrats they own, the attacks on the idea of free expression, and the campaign to disarm us. Their objective is no more Trumps, just an endless line of progressive would-be Maduros with the march toward despair occasionally put on pause for a term by some Fredocon Republican who hates us Normals just as much as the Dems, but won't admit it until after he's out of office.

Our garbage elite talks a good game about its service and moral superiority, but if our betters were actually better than us, we would not be having this national conversation about how awful they are.

The fact is that what they want to do is go back to the way it was before Trump , back to 2015, aka the year 1 BT – Before Trump. Back then, progressive Democrats got their bizarre social pathologies normalized. Moderate Democrats got money, power and an open season on the local talent. Corporate types represented largely by squishy Republicans got globalism and the ability to ship our jobs out and import Third World serfs in. And the fake conservatives of Conservative, Inc., got to cash in without the necessity of actually conserving anything.

The only people that the old system didn't work for were the American people.

It's important to remember and to always remind yourself, that everything our elite says about its motives and morals is a lie and a scam. Take the whole #MeToo thing. This was supposed to be some sort of revolutionary rebellion against the sexual exploitation of the powerless by the powerful. It's not, and never was. Rather, it's simply an internal power struggle among and within the elites to reallocate power among snooty people who don't give a damn about you or me.

The fall of Harvey Weinstein or Matt Lauer or any of the other bigwigs means nothing to the conservative single mom being exploited by the Democrat donors who own Walmart. It was actually striving female members of the elite – actresses, models, media figures, executives – leveraging the monstrosity of the creeps at the top to increase their own power within the elite. Do you see any of these #MeToo heroines, now that they have taken their scalps, helping their non-elite sisters out in Gun-Jesusland? Yeah, right. They are lining up with the rest of their elite pals to shaft us.

What you do see is excuses. They excuse Bill Clinton and his enabler Felonia Milhous von Pantsuit. They excuse Gropey Joe. They are in the process of excusing Katie Hill, whose naked hairbrush photo has ensured that none of us will ever sit on a hotel room chair again. Why no outrage? Why no concern? Because taking out Stumbles McMyturn or Hoover's Dad or Congresswoman Every Man's Lesbian Fantasy Destroyer does not help the faction of the elite that benefited from #MeToo. That would help us , but not the elite. Throuple Gal was exposed by Townhall's peppery sister site Redstate, not the mainstream media, and the mainstream media is horrified – not by her furniture defilement but that word of it got through the gate they yearn to keep.

The simple fact is that they desperately want Trump out so they can return to the good old days of winks, nods, and payoffs.

Look at the Biden Family Crime Syndicate and the antics of the junior capo of the Cosa Nose Candy. In what universe is it A-OK that the crack-fueled Johnny Appleseed of paternity suits that is Joe's snortunate son was cashing in on $50K a month in sweet, sweet Ukrainian gas gold just weeks after Ensign Biden got booted because he tooted? And then there's riding on Air Force Two to the NBA's favorite dictatorship for some commie ducats. Now there are even some Romanian shenanigans too – is there a single country on earth that Totally-Not-Senile Joe didn't shake down for the benefit of his daughter-in-law's second hubby?

But our garbage elite's garbage media seems amazingly uninterested in all this – it's fascinated by the timing of a situation room snap after Trump unleashed the Army's Delta Force on al-Baghdadi and by dog medal memes, but the Veep's boy's bag-mannery is not merely of no interest but is something they close their fussy phalanx ranks around to protect. Keep in mind, the premise underlying the whole star chamber impeachment festival of onanism is that Donald Trump, America's chief law enforcement officer, was somehow wrong and bad and double-plus ungood because he allegedly asked the Ukrainians, "Hey, what's the dealio with the Columbia Kid's pay-offs?"

In a non-bizarro political universe, the proper reaction to the Prezzy demanding, "You best fork over the evidence on these manifestly corrupt antics involving the Vice-President of the United States or we're cutting you off from the American taxpayers' feeding trough," would be, "Hell to the yeah, four more years! Four more years!'

But it's not , because the elite likes its sexual abuse and its foreign cash and its total lack of accountability to us, the Normals, the people who are supposed to be the ones that our elite is working for. The elite has not learned its lesson. It has not admitted that it sucks and resolved to stop sucking.

Instead, it has doubled down. And if it gets power again, it will act to solve what it sees as the most urgent problem facing America – the fact that we the people have the ability to reject the elite's utter incompetence and surpassing greed and elect someone with a mandate to burn down the whole rotten edifice.

If the elitists get power again, they are never letting go of it, not without a fight. And now, doesn't the elite's obsessive fixation on shutting down conservative dissent, eliminating competing institutions (like religious entities), and disarming law-abiding Americans make a lot more sense?

* * *

Our garbage elite is outraged over the success of my action-packed yet hilarious novels of America torn apart by liberal malice, People's Republic , Indian Country and Wildfire . In a few weeks, Number IV, Collapse, will drop. They call these books "appalling." They don't want you to read them. That's better than any blurb!


Whodathunkit , 1 hour ago link

Today's ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one Administration to another, or from one party to another – but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.

THAT is what TRUMP said. And it ******* freaks THEM out.

Whodathunkit , 1 hour ago link

Today's ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one Administration to another, or from one party to another – but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.

THAT is what TRUMP said. And it ******* freaks THEM out.

Whodathunkit , 1 hour ago link

Today's ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one Administration to another, or from one party to another – but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.

THAT is what TRUMP said. And it ******* freaks THEM out.

Whodathunkit , 1 hour ago link

Today's ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one Administration to another, or from one party to another – but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.

THAT is what TRUMP said. And it ******* freaks THEM out.

Whodathunkit , 1 hour ago link

Today's ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one Administration to another, or from one party to another – but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.

THAT is what TRUMP said. And it ******* freaks THEM out.

Whodathunkit , 1 hour ago link

Today's ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one Administration to another, or from one party to another – but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.

THAT is what TRUMP said. And it ******* freaks THEM out.

The Palmetto Cynic , 1 hour ago link

1.1 trillion to the deficit in 2019, record tax receipts, little to show for wage and standard of living increases, so no....**** no.

ZIRPdiggler , 2 hours ago link

He never said the elite are the "super rich". Sorry about your trump derangement syndrome, comrade. Many wealthy in this country are good people. This author is referencing the "ruling elite" Washington-Hollywood-Media complex that comprises the child trafficking lefties in this country: they ARE the fascist elite who run the censorship platforms in silicon valley, the hypocrite millionaire socialists like Warren, or the deep state mouth pieces like Adam Schitt....

12Doberman , 2 hours ago link

Trump is the elite? Trump represents the elite? If that's so why are the elite trying to take him out? I don't think you understand who the elite are that the author is referring to. He's talking about the political elite...the DC power brokers...the political "establishment."

kudocast , 2 hours ago link

"For four years, it has been focused entirely on deep-sixing Donald Trump for his unforgivable crime of demanding that our ruling caste be held accountable for its legacy of failure."

Donald Trump is our savior? Look at all the elite lackeys he put in his Cabinet, the exact type of people Kurt Schlichter claims Trump is removing. Trump passed $1.5 trillion tax cut bill benefiting the rich, expanded military spending $700 billion.

Chief Economic Advisor - Daniel Cohn - Goldman Sachs

Secretary of State - Rex Tillerson - Exxon Mobil

Secretary of Treasury - Steve Mnuchin - Goldman Sachs

Commerce Secretary - Wilbur Ross - Rothschilds and more

Transportation Secretary - Elaine Chao - wife of Mitch McConnell, from Chinese family shipping magnate

Secretary of Labor - Andy Puzder - CEO CKE Restaurants

Education Secretary - Betsy DeVos - husband CEO of Amway

Senior Advisor - Jared Kushner - Trump son in law

motley331 , 2 hours ago link

NAILED IT !!!!

devnickle , 2 hours ago link

He is no savior, but he sure the **** has exposed the enemy.

[Nov 05, 2019] The Empire, Trump and Intra-Ruling Class Conflict Dissident Voice

Notable quotes:
"... On the other hand, as Targ explains, are the Trumpian, "America First" nationalist capitalists. This faction of the ruling class, while also supporting global dominance and a permanent war economy (military-related spending will consume 48 percent of the 2020 federal budget) favors trade restrictions, economic nationalism, building walls and anti-immigrant policies. Although Trump is inconsistent, bumbling and sometimes contradictory, he's departed from the neocon's agenda by making overtures to North Korea and Russia, voicing doubts about NATO as an expensive relic from the past that is being dangerously misused outside of Europe, not being afraid to speak bluntly to EU allies, frequently mentioning ending our "endless, ridiculous and costly wars," asserting that the U.S. is badly overextended and saying "The job of our military is not to police the world." ..."
"... This is a high stakes intra-ruling class struggle and neither side cares a fig about what's best for the American people or those beyond our borders. At this point it's impossible to know how it will play out but grasping the underlying dynamics explains much about current U.S. domestic and foreign policy. This understanding may, in turn, point toward how opponents of America's oligarchic elites can most expeditiously use their time and energy. ..."
"... Foremost is the fact that Trump's intra-elite enemies despise him not for being a neo-fascistic demagogue, a despicable human being devoid of a conscience, or for the brouhaha over Ukraine. Their animus is rooted in the conviction that Trump has been a foot dragging imperialist, an equivocal caretaker of empire, unreliable pull-the-trigger Commander-in-chief (e.g.Iran) and transparent truth-teller about the real motives behind U.S. foreign policy. These are his unforgivable sins and if he's impeached or denied the Oval Office by some other means, they will be real reasons. ..."
"... One of Trump's most traitorous acts is that he's been consistent, at least rhetorically, in being opposed to U.S. troops being killed in "endless wars." One need not agree with his reasons to find merit in this worthy objective. His motives probably include Nativism, racism, foreign investment stability, the wars causing more refugees to come here, his massive ego, appeals to his voting base, or simply because he believes both he and the "real America" would be better off. For him, the latter two are synonymous. ..."
"... For this treachery, those arrayed against Trump include at least, the Pentagon-CIA-armaments lobby, MSM editors like those at CNN, The New York Times ..."
"... The Washington Post ..."
"... The New York Times ..."
Nov 05, 2019 | dissidentvoice.org

Over the past few months President Trump has unilaterally by Tweet and telephone begun to dismantle the U.S. military's involvement in the Middle East. The irony is amazing, because in a general overarching narrative sense, this is what the marginalized antiwar movement has been trying to do for decades. 1

Prof. Harry Targ, in his important piece "United States foreign policy: yesterday, today, and tomorrow," (MR online, October 23, 2919), reminds us of the factional dispute among U.S. foreign policy elites over how to maintain the U.S. empire. On the one hand are the neoliberal global capitalists who favor military intervention, covert operations, regime change, strengthening NATO, thrusting China into the enemy vacuum and re-igniting the Cold War with Russia. All of this is concealed behind lofty rhetoric about humanitarianism, protecting human rights, promoting democracy, fighting terrorism and American exceptionalism. Their mantra is Madeleine Albright's description of the United States as the world's "one indispensable nation."

On the other hand, as Targ explains, are the Trumpian, "America First" nationalist capitalists. This faction of the ruling class, while also supporting global dominance and a permanent war economy (military-related spending will consume 48 percent of the 2020 federal budget) favors trade restrictions, economic nationalism, building walls and anti-immigrant policies. Although Trump is inconsistent, bumbling and sometimes contradictory, he's departed from the neocon's agenda by making overtures to North Korea and Russia, voicing doubts about NATO as an expensive relic from the past that is being dangerously misused outside of Europe, not being afraid to speak bluntly to EU allies, frequently mentioning ending our "endless, ridiculous and costly wars," asserting that the U.S. is badly overextended and saying "The job of our military is not to police the world."

I would add that Trump is also an "American exceptionalist" but ascribes a very different provincial meaning to the term, something closer to a crabbed provincialism, an insular "Shining City on a Hill," surrounded by a moat.

This is a high stakes intra-ruling class struggle and neither side cares a fig about what's best for the American people or those beyond our borders. At this point it's impossible to know how it will play out but grasping the underlying dynamics explains much about current U.S. domestic and foreign policy. This understanding may, in turn, point toward how opponents of America's oligarchic elites can most expeditiously use their time and energy.

Foremost is the fact that Trump's intra-elite enemies despise him not for being a neo-fascistic demagogue, a despicable human being devoid of a conscience, or for the brouhaha over Ukraine. Their animus is rooted in the conviction that Trump has been a foot dragging imperialist, an equivocal caretaker of empire, unreliable pull-the-trigger Commander-in-chief (e.g.Iran) and transparent truth-teller about the real motives behind U.S. foreign policy. These are his unforgivable sins and if he's impeached or denied the Oval Office by some other means, they will be real reasons.

One of Trump's most traitorous acts is that he's been consistent, at least rhetorically, in being opposed to U.S. troops being killed in "endless wars." One need not agree with his reasons to find merit in this worthy objective. His motives probably include Nativism, racism, foreign investment stability, the wars causing more refugees to come here, his massive ego, appeals to his voting base, or simply because he believes both he and the "real America" would be better off. For him, the latter two are synonymous.

For this treachery, those arrayed against Trump include at least, the Pentagon-CIA-armaments lobby, MSM editors like those at CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post , NSA, Zionist neocons, the DNC, establishment Democrats, some hawkish Republican senators, many lifestyle liberals still harboring a sentimental faith in American goodness and even EU and NATO elites who've benefited from being faithful lackeys to Washington's global imperialism.

In a recent interview, Major Danny Sjursen, retired army officer and West Point instructor with tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, notes that "The last bipartisan issue in American politics today is warfare, forever warfare." In terms of the military, that means " even the hint of getting out of the establishment interventionist status quo is terrifying to these generals, terrifying to these former intelligence officers from the Obama administration who seem to live on MSNBC now." Sjursen adds that many of these generals (like Mattis) have already found lucrative work with the military industrial complex. 2

In response to Trump's announcement about removing some U.S. troops from the region, we find an op-ed in The New York Times by Admiral William McRaven where he states that Trump "should be out of office sooner than later. It's time for a new person in the Oval Office, Republican, Democrat or Independent. The fate of the nation depends on it." The unmistakeable whiff of support for a soft coup is chilling. If Trump can't be contained, he must be deposed one way or another.

And this is all entirely consistent with the fact that the national security state was totally caught off guard by Trump's victory in 2016. For them, Trump was a loose cannon, erratic and ultra-confrontational, someone they couldn't control. Their favored candidate was the ever reliable, Wall Street-friendly, war-mongering Hillary Clinton or even Jeb Bush. Today, barring a totally chastised Trump, the favorites include a fading Biden, Pence, a reprise of Clinton or someone in her mold but without the baggage.

For Trump's establishment enemies, another closely related failing is his habit of blurting out inconvenient truths. I'm not the first person to say that Trump is the most honest president in my lifetime. Yes, he lies most of the time but as left analyst Paul Street puts it, "Trump is too clumsily and childishly brazen in laying bare the moral nothingness and selfishness of the real material-historical bourgeois society that lives beneath the veils of 'Western civilization' and 'American democracy.'" 3

All his predecessors took pains or were coached to conceal their imperialist actions behind declarations of humanitarian interventionism but Trump has pulled the curtains back to reveal the ugly truths about U.S. foreign policy. As such, the carefully calibrated propaganda fed to the public in endless reiterations over a lifetime is jeopardized whenever Trump utters a transparent truth. This is intolerable.

Here are a few examples culled from speeches, interviews and press reports:

As noted earlier, the endgame is not in sight. Trump seems without a clear strategy for moving forward and from all reports he can't depend on his current coterie of White House advisors to produce one. Further, he may lack the necessary political in-fight skills or tenacity to see it through. When some of his Republican "allies" savaged his announcement to withdraw troops from Syria, he backtracked and made some, at least cosmetic concessions. However, the fact that Trump's position remains popular with his voter base and especially with veterans of these wars will give pause to Republicans. If some finally join the Democrats in voting for impeachment over Ukraine-gate they may minimize re-election risks by hiding their real motives behind pious claims -- as will most Democrats -- about "protecting the constitution and the rule of law".

Now, lest I be misunderstood, nothing I've written here should be construed as support for Donald Trump or that I believe he's antiwar. Trump is aberration only in that his brand of Western imperialism means that the victims remain foreigners while U.S. soldiers remain out of harm's way. He knows that boots on the ground can quickly descend into bodies in the ground and unlike his opponents, coffins returning to Dover Air Base are not worth risking his personal ambitions. This is clearly something to build upon. We don't know if Trump views drones, cyber warfare and proxies as substitutes but his intra-elite opponents remain extremely dubious. In any event, that's another dimension to expose and challenge.

Finally, we know the ruling class in a capitalist democracy -- an oxymoron -- expends enormous time and resources to obtain a faux "consent of the governed" through misinformation conveyed via massive, lifelong ideological indoctrination. For them, citizen's policing themselves is more efficient than coercion and precludes raising questions that might delegitimize the system. Obviously force and fear are hardly unknown -- witness the mass incarceration and police murder of black citizens -- but one only has to look around to see how successful this method of control has been.

Nevertheless, as social historian Margaret Jacoby wisely reminds us, "No institution is safe if people simply stop believing the assumptions that justify its existence." 4 Put another way, the system simply can't accommodate certain "dangerous ideas."

Today, we see promising political fissures developing, especially within the rising generation, and it's our responsibility to help deepen and widen these openings through whatever means at our disposal.

[Nov 04, 2019] 'Another Gift' to Big Business as Trump Treasury Moves to Eliminate Rules Against Corporate Tax Avoidance by Jake Johnson

Notable quotes:
"... I noticed that the Treasury General Account cash balance hit $435 billion at the end of October, up over $300 billion from the balance in that account at the end of August. That action basically pulled over $300 billion in cash liquidity from the financial system, all while short term money market rates spiked as high as 10 percent ..."
"... I suspect something along the lines of the stock market drop in the fourth quarter of last year when they basically pulled the same stunt ahead of their partial government shutdown. ..."
"... The D party reminds me of the 'union' I belonged to while building refrigerated truck bodies in the south. On Sundays, the head of the 'union' sat in the same pew as the owner of the factory. When real union folks started agitating from within, they were fired. ..."
Nov 02, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Yves here. Hahaha! While you were distracted by the impeachment drama, the Trump Administration soldiered on with launching more corporate gimmies, this one in the form of another tax break.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer at Common Dreams. Originally published at Common Dreams

President Donald Trump's Treasury Department on Thursday took the first step toward eliminating remaining regulations designed to prevent corporations from avoiding U.S. taxes by storing profits overseas, a move critics decried as yet another harmful giveaway to big business.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs executive, said in a statement that the 2017 GOP tax law -- which disproportionately benefited the rich -- rendered Obama-era rules against offshore tax avoidance "obsolete" by significantly reducing the corporate tax rate.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, disagreed with Mnuchin's assessment, warning in a statement that the Treasury Department's plan "only provides an opening for corporations to again dodge their taxes."

"The corporations that got a massive taxpayer handout are getting another gift from Donald Trump," said Wyden. "The Obama administration had essentially shut down inversion -- transactions whose only purpose is to help big multinational corporations move overseas to avoid paying taxes."

According to Bloomberg, the Treasury Department's proposal, detailed in a policy guidance (pdf) released Thursday, "could make it easier for firms to use accounting tactics to minimize their U.S. earnings and inflate their foreign profits, which are frequently taxed at rates lower than the current 21 percent domestic corporate levy."

"The existing regulations were aimed at stopping American companies from moving their headquarters to a lower-tax country, a process known as a corporate inversion," noted Bloomberg .

Contrary to Mnuchin's claim that the GOP's 2017 tax law eliminated incentives for corporations to shift profits overseas, advocacy groups and Democratic lawmakers have argued the law made it easier for businesses to avoid U.S. taxes.

"The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) will allow companies to avoid taxes on $235 billion in profits each year going forward," a coalition of more than 50 progressive organizations led by Americans for Tax Fairness wrote in a letter (pdf) to Congress last May.

"Moreover, the law created new incentives for multinational corporations to move their real operations offshore," the groups said. "The law guarantees that U.S. multinational corporations will pay at most one-half the domestic tax rate on their offshore earnings, with many companies paying little or nothing in taxes on these earnings."

Dan , November 2, 2019 at 8:00 am

You would think this could be used to weaken Trump's base in flyover country, if not for the
Democrats in support of it also ..

inode_buddha , November 2, 2019 at 8:57 am

The majority of Trump's base believes, as an article of faith, that we need to eliminate corporate taxes so the poor starving business owners can support more employees.

Completely denying reality, of course, and offering no solutions to it. It's the "temporarily embarassed millionaire's club".

flora , November 2, 2019 at 12:06 pm

Pretty much. Both parties are in the pocket of the monopolies that have grown up since deregulation became the thing, imo. Once upon a time the FDR/New Deal Dems opposed monopoly power. The New Dems seem to love monopoly power.

shinola , November 2, 2019 at 9:05 am

Donald Trump, again, reduces taxes for Donald Trump! That it reduces taxes for anyone else is purely coincidental.

Summer , November 2, 2019 at 11:11 am

And at the same time, he's not doing any of this all by himself.
I think it's more along the lines of he knows an idea that will benefit himself when he hears it.

TG , November 2, 2019 at 10:02 am

One sees why the Democrats are pushing so hard for the "Russiagate" thing, and making a circus of impeachment – because on matters of substance they are as bad as the Republicans.

The Democrats have no problem blocking any serious attempt at enforcing the laws against illegal immigration (something favored by the super-rich, who love cheap labor more than anything else – Bernie Sanders 2015). The Democrats have no problem blocking Trump's (admittedly somewhat pathetic) attempts to pull us out of these pointless winless foreign wars. But as regards Trump's massive corporate tax cut – they basically just let it pass with only a few pro-forma grumbles. Because you gotta have your priorities. Especially when these priorities have been paid for.

DHG , November 2, 2019 at 10:45 am

I dont get distracted, I see it all. These people will all be destroyed by the Almighty in his great day along with adherents to and all nation/states. This is the love of money and me me me attitude forecast in the last days.

inode_buddha , November 2, 2019 at 11:50 am

you and me both, I have been seeing it for a long time. I would like to remind people that there is a world of difference between a guy on the bottom wanting more, and a guy on the top wanting more.

Corporate Welfare at all Cost , November 2, 2019 at 10:47 am

Given the left-wing surge through Sanders I am convinced that the corporate paid-for Democrats see the writing on the wall. Their paid mission is now to discredit the Democratic party as much as possible to make sure that 1) in short-term Trump wins and continue the corporate and 1%-er welfare-programs and 2) that no left-winger, similar to Sanders can ever rule through the Democratic party since it has become a joke and it will cost a lot of time and money to build a new party that will be trusted

sharonsj , November 2, 2019 at 10:52 am

I'll make you a bet that the corporate media does not cover this story.

coboarts , November 2, 2019 at 12:12 pm

No, no, no It's certainly a move in 11 dimensional chess. First we lure these corporations back onto American soil. Then, once they're comfy, we nationalize them all and seize all their overseas holdings. Surely, that's the plan.

Chauncey Gardiner , November 2, 2019 at 12:50 pm

The good news is that all it will take to reverse these executive orders that benefit the few are new executive orders by a different president.

On the related topic of the Mnuchin Treasury acting in the shadows while the spotlight is trained elsewhere, I noticed that the Treasury General Account cash balance hit $435 billion at the end of October, up over $300 billion from the balance in that account at the end of August. That action basically pulled over $300 billion in cash liquidity from the financial system, all while short term money market rates spiked as high as 10 percent and this president was railing against Fed policy makers for tight monetary conditions and high interest rates. I hate to think what would have happened to their precious stock market if the Powell Fed had not implemented new policies to offset the current administration's borrowing for the purpose of hoarding cash. I suspect something along the lines of the stock market drop in the fourth quarter of last year when they basically pulled the same stunt ahead of their partial government shutdown.

Why is the US Treasury hoarding cash? There is no apparent reason to do so in the name of lowering interest payments as the Fed remits its interest income to the Treasury at the end of each fiscal year. I expect we will find out soon enough.

doug , November 2, 2019 at 2:52 pm

The D party reminds me of the 'union' I belonged to while building refrigerated truck bodies in the south. On Sundays, the head of the 'union' sat in the same pew as the owner of the factory. When real union folks started agitating from within, they were fired.

[Nov 03, 2019] How to Tax Our Way Back to Justice: It is absurd that the working class is now paying higher tax rates than the richest people in America

Nov 03, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , November 01, 2019 at 04:28 AM

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/11/opinion/sunday/wealth-income-tax-rate.html

October 11, 2019

How to Tax Our Way Back to Justice: It is absurd that the working class is now paying higher tax rates than the richest people in America.
By Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman

America's soaring inequality has a new engine: its regressive tax system. Over the past half century, even as their wealth rose to previously unseen heights, the richest Americans watched their tax rates collapse. Over the same period, as wages stagnated for the working classes, work conditions deteriorated and debts ballooned, their tax rates increased.

Stop to think this over for a minute: For the first time in the past hundred years, the working class -- the 50 percent of Americans with the lowest incomes -- today pays higher tax rates than billionaires.

The full extent of this situation is not visible in official statistics, which is perhaps why it has not received more attention so far. Government agencies like the Congressional Budget Office publish information about the distribution of federal taxes, but they disregard state and local taxes, which account for a third of all taxes paid by Americans and are in general highly regressive. The official statistics keepers do not provide specific information on the ultra-wealthy, who although few in number earn a large fraction of national income and therefore account for a large share of potential tax revenue. And until now there were no estimates of the total tax burden that factored in the effect of President Trump's tax reform enacted at the end of 2017, which was particularly generous for the ultra-wealthy.

To fill this gap, we have estimated how much each social group, from the poorest to billionaires, paid in taxes for the year 2018. Our starting point is the total amount of tax revenue collected in the United States, 28 percent of national income. We allocate this total across the population, divided into 15 income groups: the bottom 10 percent (the 24 million adults with the lowest pretax income), the next 10 percent and so on, with finer-grained groups within the top 10 percent, up to the 400 wealthiest Americans.

The Regressive American Tax System

How combined federal, state and local taxes fall on American adults, by income percentile.

Three regressive taxes account for most of the burden on the working class:

Consumption taxes
Payroll tax
Residential property taxes

Our data series include all taxes paid to the federal, state and local governments: the federal income tax, of course, but also state income taxes, myriad sales and excise taxes, the corporate income tax, business and residential property taxes and payroll taxes. In the end, all taxes are paid by people. The corporate tax, for example, is paid by shareholders, because it reduces the amount of profit they can receive in dividends or reinvest in their companies.

You will often hear that we have a progressive tax system in the United States -- you owe more, as a fraction of your income, as you earn more. When he was a presidential candidate in 2012, Senator Mitt Romney famously lambasted the 47 percent of "takers" who, according to him, do not contribute to the public coffers. In reality, the bottom half of the income distribution may not pay much in income taxes, but it pays a lot in sales and payroll taxes. Taking into account all taxes paid, each group contributes between 25 percent and 30 percent of its income to the community's needs. The only exception is the billionaires, who pay a tax rate of 23 percent, less than every other group.

The tax system in the United States has become a giant flat tax -- except at the top, where it's regressive. The notion that America, even if it may not collect as much in taxes as European countries, at least does so in a progressive way, is a myth. As a group, and although their individual situations are not all the same, the Trumps, the Bezoses and the Buffetts of this world pay lower tax rates than teachers and secretaries do.

This is the tax system of a plutocracy. With tax rates of barely 23 percent at the top of the pyramid, wealth will keep accumulating with hardly any barrier. So too will the power of the wealthy, including their ability to shape policymaking and government for their own benefit.

From Kennedy Through Trump, the Rich Have Done Very, Very Well

Here's the change in total wealth per adult since 1962, on average, from the poorest to the richest slices of America. Circles representing wealth are proportionate, which is why they're almost too small to see for the bottom 50 percent of Americans. All wealth figures are in 2018 dollars.

By Bill Marsh/The New York Times | Source: Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, University of California, Berkeley; wealth includes all non-financial assets plus financial assets net of debts; tax rates account for all taxes paid at all levels of government (federal, state and local) and are expressed as a fraction of pre-tax income; adults in analysis are age 20 and older.

The good news is that we can fix tax injustice, right now. There is nothing inherent in modern technology or globalization that destroys our ability to institute a highly progressive tax system. The choice is ours. We can countenance a sprawling industry that helps the affluent dodge taxation, or we can choose to regulate it. We can let multinationals pick the country where they declare their profits, or we can pick for them. We can tolerate financial opacity and the countless possibilities for tax evasion that come with it, or we can choose to measure, record and tax wealth.

If we believe most commentators, tax avoidance is a law of nature. Because politics is messy and democracy imperfect, this argument goes, the tax code is always full of "loopholes" that the rich will exploit. Tax justice has never prevailed, and it will never prevail.

For example, in response to Elizabeth Warren's wealth tax proposal -- which we helped develop -- pundits have argued that the tax would raise much less revenue than expected. In a similar vein, world leaders have become convinced that taxing multinational companies is now close to impossible, because of international tax competition. During his presidency, Barack Obama argued in favor of reducing the federal corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 28 percent, with a lower rate of 25 percent for manufacturers. In 2017, under President Trump, the United States cut its corporate tax rate to 21 percent. In France, President Emmanuel Macron is in motion to reduce the corporate tax in 2022 to 25 percent from 33 percent. Britain is ahead of the curve: It started slashing its rate under Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2008 and is aiming for 17 percent by 2020. On that issue, the Browns, Macrons and Trumps of the world agree: The winners of global markets are mobile; we can't tax them too much.

But they are mistaken. Tax avoidance, international tax competition and the race to the bottom that rage today are not laws of nature. They are policy choices, decisions we've collectively made -- perhaps not consciously or explicitly, certainly not choices that were debated transparently and democratically -- but choices nonetheless. And other, better choices are possible.

Take big corporations. Some countries may have an interest in applying low tax rates, but that's not an obstacle to making multinationals (and their shareholders) pay a lot. How? By collecting the taxes that tax havens choose not to levy. For example, imagine that the corporate tax rate in the United States was increased to 35 percent and that Apple found a way to book billions in profits in Ireland, taxed at 1 percent. The United States could simply decide to collect the missing 34 percent. Apple, like most Fortune 500 companies, does in fact have a big tax deficit: It pays much less in taxes globally than what it would pay if its profits were taxed at 35 percent in each country where it operates. For companies headquartered in the United States, the Internal Revenue Service should collect 100 percent of this tax deficit immediately, taking up the role of tax collector of last resort. The permission of tax havens is not required. All it would take is adding a paragraph in the United States tax code.

The same logic can be applied to companies headquartered abroad that sell products in America. The only difference is that the United States would collect not all but only a fraction of their tax deficit. For example, if the Swiss food giant Nestlé has a tax deficit of $1 billion and makes 20 percent of its global sales in the United States, the I.R.S. could collect 20 percent of its tax deficit, in addition to any tax owed in the United States. The information necessary to collect this remedial tax already exists: Thanks to recent advances in international cooperation, the I.R.S. knows where Nestlé books its profits, how much tax it pays in each country and where it makes its sales.

Collecting part of the tax deficit of foreign companies would not violate any international treaty. This mechanism can be applied tomorrow by any country, unilaterally. It would put an end to international tax competition, because there would be no point any more for businesses to move production or paper profits to low-tax places. Although companies might choose to stop selling products in certain nations to avoid paying taxes, this would be unlikely to be a risk in the United States. No company can afford to snub the large American market.

These examples are powerful because they show, contrary to received wisdom, that the taxation of capital and globalization are perfectly compatible. The notion that external or technical constraints make tax justice idle fantasy does not withstand scrutiny. When it comes to the future of taxation, there is an infinity of possible futures ahead of us.

What Taxes Should Look Like

A proposal to return tax rates at the top to where they were in 1950.

Are these ideas for greater economic justice realistic politically? It is easy to lose hope -- money in politics and self-serving ideologies are powerful foes. But although these problems are real, we should not despair. Before injustice triumphed, the United States was a beacon of tax justice. It was the democracy with the most steeply progressive system of taxation on the planet. In the 1930s, American policymakers invented -- and then for almost half a century applied -- top marginal income tax rates of close to 90 percent on the highest earners. Corporate profits were taxed at 50 percent, large estates at close to 80 percent.

The history of taxation is full of U-turns. Instead of elevating some supposedly invincible and natural constraints -- that are often invincible and natural only in terms of their own models -- economists should act more like plumbers, making the tax machinery work, fixing leaks. With good plumbing -- and if the growing political will to address the rise of inequality takes hold -- there is a bright future for tax justice.


Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman are economists at the University of California, Berkeley.

[Nov 03, 2019] How Controlling Syria s Oil Serves Washington s Strategic Objectives by Nauman Sadiq

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Washington's basic purpose in deploying the US forces in oil and natural gas fields of Deir al-Zor governorate is to deny the valuable source of income to its other main rival in the region, Damascus. ..."
Nov 02, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Nauman Sadiq,

Before the evacuation of 1,000 American troops from northern Syria to western Iraq, the Pentagon had 2,000 US forces in Syria. After the drawdown of US troops at Erdogan's insistence in order for Ankara to mount a ground offensive in northern Syria, the US has still deployed 1,000 troops, mainly in oil-rich eastern Deir al-Zor province and at al-Tanf military base.

Al-Tanf military base is strategically located in southeastern Syria on the border between Syria, Iraq and Jordan, and it straddles on a critically important Damascus-Baghdad highway, which serves as a lifeline for Damascus. Washington has illegally occupied 55-kilometer area around al-Tanf since 2016, and several hundred US Marines have trained several Syrian militant groups there.

It's worth noting that rather than fighting the Islamic State, the purpose of continued presence of the US forces at al-Tanf military base is to address Israel's concerns regarding the expansion of Iran's influence in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

Regarding the oil- and natural gas-rich Deir al-Zor governorate, it's worth pointing out that Syria used to produce modest quantities of oil for domestic needs before the war – roughly 400,000 barrels per day, which isn't much compared to tens of millions barrels daily oil production in the Gulf states.

Although Donald Trump crowed in a characteristic blunt manner in a tweet after the withdrawal of 1,000 American troops from northern Syria that Washington had deployed forces in eastern Syria where there was oil, the purpose of exercising control over Syria's oil is neither to smuggle oil out of Syria nor to deny the valuable source of revenue to the Islamic State.

There is no denying the fact that the remnants of the Islamic State militants are still found in Syria and Iraq but its emirate has been completely dismantled in the region and its leadership is on the run. So much so that the fugitive caliph of the terrorist organization was killed in the bastion of a rival jihadist outfit, al-Nusra Front in Idlib, hundreds of kilometers away from the Islamic State strongholds in eastern Syria.

Much like the "scorched earth" battle strategy of medieval warlords – as in the case of the Islamic State which early in the year burned crops of local farmers while retreating from its former strongholds in eastern Syria – Washington's basic purpose in deploying the US forces in oil and natural gas fields of Deir al-Zor governorate is to deny the valuable source of income to its other main rival in the region, Damascus.

After the devastation caused by eight years of proxy war, the Syrian government is in dire need of tens of billions dollars international assistance to rebuild the country. Not only is Washington hampering efforts to provide international aid to the hapless country, it is in fact squatting over Syria's own resources with the help of its only ally in the region, the Kurds.

Although Donald Trump claimed credit for expropriating Syria's oil wealth, it bears mentioning that "scorched earth" policy is not a business strategy, it is the institutional logic of the deep state. President Trump is known to be a businessman and at least ostensibly follows a non-interventionist ideology; being a novice in the craft of international diplomacy, however, he has time and again been misled by the Pentagon and Washington's national security establishment.

Regarding Washington's interest in propping up the Gulf's autocrats and fighting their wars in regional conflicts, it bears mentioning that in April 2016, the Saudi foreign minister threatened that the Saudi kingdom would sell up to $750 billion in treasury securities and other assets if the US Congress passed a bill that would allow Americans to sue the Saudi government in the United States courts for its role in the September 11, 2001 terror attack – though the bill was eventually passed, Saudi authorities have not been held accountable; even though 15 out of 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals.

Moreover, $750 billion is only the Saudi investment in the United States, if we add its investment in Western Europe and the investments of UAE, Kuwait and Qatar in the Western economies, the sum total would amount to trillions of dollars of Gulf's investments in North America and Western Europe.

Furthermore, in order to bring home the significance of the Persian Gulf's oil in the energy-starved industrialized world, here are a few stats from the OPEC data: Saudi Arabia has the world's largest proven crude oil reserves of 265 billion barrels and its daily oil production exceeds 10 million barrels; Iran and Iraq, each, has 150 billion barrels reserves and has the capacity to produce 5 million barrels per day, each; while UAE and Kuwait, each, has 100 billion barrels reserves and produces 3 million barrels per day, each; thus, all the littoral states of the Persian Gulf, together, hold 788 billion barrels, more than half of world's 1477 billion barrels of proven oil reserves.

No wonder then, 36,000 United States troops have currently been deployed in their numerous military bases and aircraft carriers in the oil-rich Persian Gulf in accordance with the Carter Doctrine of 1980, which states: "Let our position be absolutely clear: an attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force."

Additionally, regarding the Western defense production industry's sales of arms to the Gulf Arab States, a report authored by William Hartung of the US-based Center for International Policy found that the Obama administration had offered Saudi Arabia more than $115 billion in weapons, military equipment and training during its eight-year tenure.

Similarly, the top items in Trump's agenda for his maiden visit to Saudi Arabia in May 2017 were: firstly, he threw his weight behind the idea of the Saudi-led "Arab NATO" to counter Iran's influence in the region; and secondly, he announced an unprecedented arms package for Saudi Arabia. The package included between $98 billion and $128 billion in arms sales.

Therefore, keeping the economic dependence of the Western countries on the Gulf Arab States in mind, during the times of global recession when most of manufacturing has been outsourced to China, it is not surprising that when the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia decided to provide training and arms to the Islamic jihadists in the border regions of Turkey and Jordan against the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the Obama administration was left with no other choice but to toe the destructive policy of its regional Middle Eastern allies, despite the sectarian nature of the proxy war and its attendant consequences of breeding a new generation of Islamic jihadists who would become a long-term security risk not only to the Middle East but to the Western countries, as well.

Similarly, when King Abdullah's successor King Salman decided, on the whim of the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, to invade Yemen in March 2015, once again the Obama administration had to yield to the dictates of Saudi Arabia and UAE by fully coordinating the Gulf-led military campaign in Yemen not only by providing intelligence, planning and logistical support but also by selling billions of dollars' worth of arms and ammunition to the Gulf Arab States during the conflict.

In this reciprocal relationship, the US provides security to the ruling families of the Gulf Arab states by providing weapons and troops; and in return, the Gulf's petro-sheikhs contribute substantial investments to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars to the Western economies.

Regarding the Pax Americana which is the reality of the contemporary neocolonial order, according to a January 2017 infographic by the New York Times, 210,000 US military personnel were stationed all over the world, including 79,000 in Europe, 45,000 in Japan, 28,500 in South Korea and 36,000 in the Middle East.

Although Donald Trump keeps complaining that NATO must share the cost of deployment of US troops, particularly in Europe where 47,000 American troops are stationed in Germany since the end of the Second World War, 15,000 in Italy and 8,000 in the United Kingdom, fact of the matter is that the cost is already shared between Washington and host countries.

Roughly, European countries pay one-third of the cost for maintaining US military bases in Europe whereas Washington chips in the remaining two-third. In the Far Eastern countries, 75% of the cost for the deployment of American troops is shared by Japan and the remaining 25% by Washington, and in South Korea, 40% cost is shared by the host country and the US contributes the remaining 60%.

Whereas the oil-rich Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) – Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait and Qatar – pay two-third of the cost for maintaining 36,000 US troops in the Persian Gulf where more than half of world's proven oil reserves are located and Washington contributes the remaining one-third.

* * *

Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism and petro-imperialism.


ipsprez , 8 minutes ago link

I am always amazed (and amused) at how much smarter "journalists" are than POTUS. If ONLY Mr. Trump would read more and listen to those who OBVIOUSLY are sooo much smarter!!!! Maybe then he wouldn't be cowed and bullied by Erdogan, Xi, Jung-on, Trudeau (OK so maybe that one was too far fetched) to name a few. Please note the sarcasm. Do I really need to go in to the success after success Mr. Trump's foreign policy has enjoyed? Come on Man.

OLD-Pipe , 19 minutes ago link

What a load of BOLOCKS...The ONLY, I mean The Real and True Reason for American Armored presence is one thing,,,,,,,Ready for IT ? ? ? To Steal as much OIL as Possible, AND convert the Booty into Currency, Diamonds or some other intrinsically valuable commodity, Millions of Dollars at a Time......17 Years of Shadows and Ghost Trucks and Tankers Loading and Off-Loading the Black Gold...this is what its all about......M-O-N-E-Y....... Say It With Me.... Mon-nee, Money Money Mo_on_ne_e_ey, ......

Blue Steel 309 , 5 minutes ago link

This is about Israel, not oil.

ombon , 58 minutes ago link

From the sale of US oil in Syria receive 30 million. dollars per month. Image losses are immeasurably greater. The United States put the United States as a robbery bandit. This is American democracy. The longer the troops are in Syria, the more countries will switch to settlements in national currencies.

Pandelis , 28 minutes ago link

yeah well these are mafia guys...

uhland62 , 50 minutes ago link

"Our interests", "strategic interests" is always about money, just a euphemism so it doesn't look as greedy as it is. Another euphemism is "security' ,meaning war preparations.

BobEore , 1 hour ago link

...The military power of the USA put directly in the service of "the original TM" PIRATE STATE. U are the man Norm! But wait... now things get a little hazy... in the classic... 'alt0media fake storyline' fashion!

"President Trump is known to be a businessman and at least ostensibly follows a non-interventionist ideology; being a novice in the craft of international diplomacy, however, he has time and again been misled by the Pentagon and Washington's national security establishment."

Awww! Poor "DUmb as Rocks Donnie" done been fooled agin!

...In the USA... the military men are stirring at last... having been made all too aware that their putative 'boss' has been operating on behalf of foreign powers ever since being [s]elected, that the State Dept of the once Great Republic has been in active cahoots with the jihadis ...

and that those who were sent over there to fight against the headchoppers discovered that the only straight shooters in the whole mess turned out to be the Kurds who AGENT FRIMpf THREW UNDER THE BUS ON INSTRUCTIONS FROM JIHADI HQ!

... ... ...

[Nov 03, 2019] Reminiscence of the Future... Whistle While You Work...

Notable quotes:
"... If you think that a person who does such research as this "Structural ambiguity in the Georgian verbal noun" is a serious analyst, I have a bridge to sell. Knowing language is just a first step in knowing cultures and nations. The idea that some barely 30 years old kid can have a profound understanding of factors forming geopolitical balance by merely studying language or working in the Wold Bank is preposterous ..."
"... It is not even the issue of IQ-driven so called intelligence metric. I met many people with IQ through the roof and some of them were one of the most impressive dumbfvcks I ever encountered in my life. The issue here is deeper--you literally have brainwashed political operatives, most of them not even book-smart, who are excreted every year from the American "humanities" programs who have "credentials" but have zero actual serious skills which are imperative for a serious statesmanship. They simply do not teach this in the US, nor can it be changed because the whole machine of the US "humanities" education pulsates between two extremes: one is of a complete deconstruction of the American history and culture into one non-stop genocide by whites of everyone else or, on the other extreme, utterly delusional exceptionalist shining city on the hill narrative with latter being as false as the former one. Few common sense and objective views which exist in between are pure coincidence which are there despite a totally corrupt educational system in the US when dealing with humanities. ..."
"... That is why, US elites having "analysts" like Ciaramella will not get out of this rut because the only thing they can reproduce are such specimens as this guy perfectly honed for one thing--to exist in the self-contained system of corruption, treachery, snitching, dirty intrigue and delusion, also known as American political system. ..."
Nov 03, 2019 | smoothiex12.blogspot.com

Whistle While You Work... In the CIA or in the White House. Evidently, if to believe media frenzy, the name of the so called "whistle blower" against Trump is 33 years old Eric Ciaramella, whose profile nails him directly as a snitch to the Brennan's cabal of putchists who continue to rape Constitution and eradicate the last remnants of the Republic, turning it into the Third World shithole mafia state.

Eric Ciaramella, 33, is a Ukraine expert and his background matches the biographical details reported by The New York Times and other media outlets about the whistleblower. According to The Times, the whistleblower is a CIA officer who was detailed to work at the White House before returning to the CIA. The Times wrote, "His complaint suggested he was an analyst by training and made clear he was steeped in details of American foreign policy toward Europe, demonstrating a sophisticated understanding of Ukrainian politics and at least some knowledge of the law."
OK, that clarifies it somewhat but this is not what is truly interesting about this CIA "analyst" who, at this moment still may or may not be a blowjo...pardon me, whistle-blower for Adan Schiff and his collection of treasonous operatives. No. The thing which catches one's attention who have at least some serious military or intelligence background is this:
Ciaramella grew up in Prospect, Connecticut, as one of three children. He spent time attending Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls, Connecticut, and then graduated from Chase Collegiate School, in Waterbury, Connecticut, in 2004, according to the prep school's alumni magazine. After high school, Ciaramella attended Yale University, graduating in 2008 as a Russian and East European studies major. In 2007, he was awarded a grant by the Yale Macmillan Center for European Union Studies to "research on the perceptions of the EU among rural Italian residents." While at Yale, Ciaramella, who speaks Russian, Ukrainian and Arabic, led a protest over the departure of an Arabic department professor, according to the Yale Daily News. The student newspaper wrote, "Students convened outside Silliman at 9 a.m., all dressed in white to symbolize their future goal of bridging the gap between the United States and the Middle East through the use of the Arab language, said Eric Ciaramella '08, one of the students who led the protest." Ciaramella also studied at Harvard University, focusing on Russia, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, according to the school's website. He received a grant in 2009 for research on "Language in the Public Sphere in Three Post-Soviet Capital Cities," Tbilisi, Georgia; Yerevan, Armenia; Baku, Azerbaijan. Ciaramella was additionally a corresponding author for Harvard's Department of Linguistics and wrote a paper in 2015 titled, "Structural ambiguity in the Georgian verbal noun."Ciaramella worked at the World Bank after college, according to a 2011 publication by the international financial institution. In the World Bank report, "Russia: Reshaping Economic Geography," published in June 2011, Ciaramella is listed in the acknowledgments for making "important contributions" to the research. On a now-deleted Linkedin profile, he described himself as being a "Consultant, Poverty Reduction/Economic Management" at World Bank.
Ah, that's warmer. And it is an Exhibit A of a main reason why the United States finds itself where it is today and why current American so called "elites" cannot find their own ass with both hands in a brightly lit room. One is bound to struggle with own ass finding when having background such as Ciaramella's, and his background with slight deviations within narrow confines of humanities education, from Law to Political "Science", is a background of the overwhelming majority of people who "shape" US policies both domestically and abroad. Ciaramella is a classic product of the US Ivy League degree mills for good ol' boys and girls and, as is expected, possesses zero required instruments for serious foreign policy analysis in which power factor is at the center of an issue and it is beyond, wrong as they are, so called modelling and methodology used in the US for studying this issue--a body of absolutely overwhelming evidence of utter and humiliating, I may add, failure of American institutions dealing with country studies. No bigger evidence exists than a wasteland of Russia Studies field in the United States.

If you think that a person who does such research as this "Structural ambiguity in the Georgian verbal noun" is a serious analyst, I have a bridge to sell. Knowing language is just a first step in knowing cultures and nations. The idea that some barely 30 years old kid can have a profound understanding of factors forming geopolitical balance by merely studying language or working in the Wold Bank is preposterous.

It is not even the issue of IQ-driven so called intelligence metric. I met many people with IQ through the roof and some of them were one of the most impressive dumbfvcks I ever encountered in my life. The issue here is deeper--you literally have brainwashed political operatives, most of them not even book-smart, who are excreted every year from the American "humanities" programs who have "credentials" but have zero actual serious skills which are imperative for a serious statesmanship. They simply do not teach this in the US, nor can it be changed because the whole machine of the US "humanities" education pulsates between two extremes: one is of a complete deconstruction of the American history and culture into one non-stop genocide by whites of everyone else or, on the other extreme, utterly delusional exceptionalist shining city on the hill narrative with latter being as false as the former one. Few common sense and objective views which exist in between are pure coincidence which are there despite a totally corrupt educational system in the US when dealing with humanities.

That is why, US elites having "analysts" like Ciaramella will not get out of this rut because the only thing they can reproduce are such specimens as this guy perfectly honed for one thing--to exist in the self-contained system of corruption, treachery, snitching, dirty intrigue and delusion, also known as American political system. In this case, forestalling any undeniably upcoming claims from these types of guys about their "honor", duty to a country or "democracy" it should be made patently clear that they have none, other than personal and narrow political interests and ambitions attached to a destruction of America which, at least nominally, was so far known as a land of laws and of the Constitution and which it is no more.

[Nov 01, 2019] I like to think that Trump's saying that the US army are going to steal Syria's oil is very much the same strategy. What better way to turn world opinion against US occupation of Syria?

Nov 01, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Maximus , Oct 31 2019 21:06 utc | 51

Good historical rundown of Uncle Sam's blatant theft of resources in Syria .. has historical precedent too I believe; the wars in Southeast Asia (the golden triangle and the drug trade). Afghanistan (heroin and the poppies); imagine, we come and destroy your country and then steal your resources in the aftermath. Sickening

Tim Glover , Oct 31 2019 20:37 utc | 49

@joost #33 I like to think that Trump's saying that the US army are going to steal Syria's oil is very much the same strategy. What better way to turn world opinion against US occupation of Syria?

karlof1 , Oct 31 2019 20:37 utc | 50
breadonwater @45--

Yes. The route goes within its 12 mile limit, but the okay is provisional and won't become final for @ 4 more weeks.

Maximus , Oct 31 2019 21:06 utc | 51
Good historical rundown of Uncle Sam's blatant theft of resources in Syria .. has historical precedent too I believe; the wars in southeast asia (the golden triangle and the drug trade). Afghanistan (heroin and the poppies); imagine, we come and destroy your country and then steal your resources in the aftermath. Sickening
Joost , Oct 31 2019 21:40 utc | 55
@49 Tim Glover. Exactly, imagine Obama saying that. Trump seems to have a habit of using reverse psychology on people. This strategy works very well when nobody likes you and you have the power of Twitter at your disposal.
People tend to overestimate the power of the US president. Every one of them, being democrat or republican, gets assimilated by the borg. Resistance is futile, unless you are perceived to be an idiot and do just enough to please your overlords. The Borg likes what he says, "we are there for the oil" and they are getting reckless, exposing themselves for what they are. Group think distorts perception and that is their weak spot. The borg will get more open about their crimes and their true intentions. This breaks global support for the petrodollar and that will be the end of the "outlaw" US empire.
augrr , Oct 31 2019 22:30 utc | 61
I am surprised that I've not seen any commentary regarding the US's announcement that they will continue to steal Syria's oil, and more importantly what anyone - Syria, Russia or anyone else - might do about this blatant crime.
Clearly this challenges Syria's sovereignty as well as Russia's declared aim to restore Syrian territory in full.

Any thoughts how this situation might evolve? IMO Russia has to remain a facilitator rather than an actor. A "no-fly zone" enforced by Syrians and SAA ground troops?


Don Bacon , Oct 31 2019 23:14 utc | 68
Stripes:
Carolina Army Guard troops move into eastern Syria with Bradley Fighting Vehicles
WASHINGTON – National Guard members from North and South Carolina began moving into eastern Syria with heavy armored vehicles on Thursday as part of the Pentagon's new mission to secure oil fields wrestled from the Islamic State, a military spokesman said.

Soldiers with the North Carolina-based 4th Battalion, 118th Infantry Regiment and the South Carolina-based 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade were deployed to Deir al-Zour to protect American-held oil fields around that city, Army Col. Myles Caggins, the spokesmen for the U.S.-led anti-ISIS mission known as Operation Inherent Resolve, tweeted Thursday. Caggins' tweet included photos of soldiers loading M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles onto Air Force C-17 Globemaster cargo jets to be used on the mission. . . .

For now, the new deployment will not include M1 Abrams tanks, the Pentagon official said Thursday. here

Why use regulars when we can call up the National Guard?
Peter AU 1 , Nov 1 2019 0:23 utc | 72
US hold on the oilfields depends mostly on Iraq. The oilfields of Deir Ezzor are in open country with few towns and apart from the Euphrates flood plain is sparsely populated.

The only cover for guerrilla style attacks against US or its proxies on the oilfields will be the occasional dust storm.

Apart from Iraq, syria setting up S-300 at deir Ezzor and taking control of the airspace would also be a game changer but this may not happen.

Lebanon and Iraq are both undergoing US color revolutions at the moment so its a matter of waiting for the dust to settle on both these moves to see where US is positioned in the region.

JW , Nov 1 2019 0:50 utc | 74
@Sally #1

Yet the US military is overwhelmingly the #1 most trusted US institution among Americans, despite it forcibly wasting their hard earned money to kill tens of millions of innocents abroad. At the same time the US is also filled to the brim with draft dodgers.

If anybody thinks Bolton and his chickenhawking buddies isn't representative of the whole US, think again.

Peter AU 1 , Nov 1 2019 1:12 utc | 78
Don Bacon 73 "Really? I thought the protests were like many other protests around the world, over economic issues."

As was the Syrian 'revolution'. Plenty of small US companies willing to go in. US already has buyers as they have been shipping oil out of east Syria for some time. Turkey, Israel ect plus many more willing to buy at a discount. And considering the oilfields are simply stolen, oil can be sold at a discount.

[Nov 01, 2019] Numbers came out for the EU as a whole today, signaling total stagnation

Nov 01, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Oct 31 2019 15:45 utc | 9

Bank of Japan suggests future rate cut, not now

Translation from the "Politiquese": the BoJ will, absolutely, 100% sure, lower its interest rates in the near future.

Japan is a clown show. After 40 consecutive years of recession and stagnation, people should finally give up.

Speaking of clowns, the USA has lowered its interest rate -- again:

Stocks rise, dollar falls as Fed cuts rates again

Chairman Jerome Powell, however, signals that it expects to hold off on further rate changes for now

No, you don't. And you know you won't.

Let's just remember: just one year ago, Powell was the "rise the interest rates" guy. Now he's speaking of an "expectation to hold off further [downwards] rate changes".

American corporate debt is through the roof. Any interest rate rising will trigger another 2008. Only this time, it will be the jewels of the crown (Apple, Microsoft etc.) which will be in the bail out queue.

Continuing on the economic front, we have that the USA has lost the trade war:

US manufacturing has bottomed but isn't improving

And, from Michael Roberts' Blog facebook :

US real GDP growth slowed to an annual rate of 1.9% in the third quarter of 2019, according to advance official estimates, only slightly slower than the 2% annual rate in Q2. The year-on year rate slowed to 2% from 2.3% in Q2.

But the big news was the sharp contraction in business investment, which fell 3%, the worst figure since the mini-recession of 2015-6. Structures investment (oil rigs etc) dropped 15% from Q2, which had also seen an 11% fall. Equipment investment (computer hardware, transport etc) also dropped nearly 4%. Only so-called 'intellectual property' investment (software, patents etc) held up.

History shows that when business investment falls consistently, real GDP follows in a year or so. So far, on a year-on-year basis, business investment is still positive, but slowing fast. Business investment is falling because corporate profits are also stagnating at best.

As I've been saying here for some time now, Trump's "decoupling" strategy is failed by design. Even if manufacturing goes out of China, it won't go back to the USA. The reason for this is that the USA issues the world's universal fiat currency -- the USD -- so, when it raises its debt, inflation won't go up but costs of production do: the USA pays its debt in the form of deindustrialization, not rising inflation (as is the case of the rest of the world).

And manufacturing won't simply go out of China. Yes, low value manufacturing has been exiting China for two decades now, mainly to India and Vietnam. But the Chinese already knew of that, and were preparing for this before Trump even dreamed about being POTUS. That's why it changed its short term economic paradigm in 2012, redirecting its development towards higher technology, sustainable (but lower) growth with a focus on domestic consumption.

This is the true nature of socialist "praxis". As Lenin once wrote: Marxism is the analysis of the concrete situation in a concrete moment. Deng Xiaoping translated it to the Chinese people when he said that communists don't have a style: they get the job done (the cat who can kill the mouse, regardless of its color). These teachings still reverberate to the newer generations:

China's growth inseparable from its system

In the article "Farm lessons from China" published on The India Express, Indian scholars Ashok Gulati and Sakshi Gupta suggest that India should pay attention to China's three lessons to improve agricultural production.

[...]

What is more worthy of mention are China's water conservancy, highways, and other infrastructure. In the 70 years since the founding of the People's Republic of China, China's investment in water conservancy has created a record in human history. By the end of 2018, China had completed more than 11 million rural water supply facilities, benefiting 940 million rural people, and the rural centralized water supply rate reached 86 percent.

These achievements would be impossible with any single or group of private companies. Without such large-scale and organized national input, it is unlikely China's agriculture would have reached the level it has today.

Last but not least: game is over for the EU, too: Lacking market space, German economy trapped in overproduction 'black hole' The writer of this article uses bourgeois economics terminology, but he essentially is saying that Germany's profit rate is secularly falling, thus confirming (once more) Marx's Law of the Tendency of the Profit Rate to Fall.

Numbers came out for the EU as a whole today, signaling total stagnation (+0.2%) in Q3. Nothing is going to come out of there, and it's no wonder even Germanophile Putin is focusing on partnership and cooperation with China -- after all, cultural and ethnic identities won't bring food on the table of the little Russians, will it?

[Oct 31, 2019] Who Is Eric Ciaramella

Oct 11, 2019 | meaninginhistory.blogspot.com
Who Is Eric Ciaramella? This morning in a comment, Mike Sylwester linked to a blog at American Thinker that discussed possible "whistleblower" candidates: Who is the whistleblower? Eric Ciaramella is the third candidate discussed. There's some shocking material available about Ciaramella, who was a Susan Rice protege and was brought into the White House by H. R. McMaster, a truly disastrous appointment. Of course I have no idea whether Ciaramella is Sammy #1. I merely offer here some material re Ciaramella to show what Trump has been up against throughout his first term. These are excerpts only--the portions that pertain to Ciaramella--of longer blogs:
Ciaramella was involved in 2016 correspondence about $1 billion loan guarantee which Biden had held up, pending firing of prosecutor Viktor Shokin. Ciaramella associate of Clintonista neocon Victoria Nuland, whose name turns up too often, even re Steele https://t.co/vmkWBdjKU5 -- Stephen McIntyre (@ClimateAudit)

Trump's reshuffle: the McMaster Chronicles -- Part 2

On May 15, Alex Jones and Roger Stone wondered if McMaster was leaking information to save his job . Jones tweeted:

Mc Master Caught Leaking to Make Himself Indespensible

On June 11, Cernovich posted again on Medium. The Right News has a copy (emphasis mine):

Meet Eric Ciaramella -- H.R. McMaster Appoints Susan Rice Ally to be his Personal Aide

This is an explosive article, excerpted below (emphases in the original):

Ciaramella's ascension is surprising considering pro-Trump sources within the Obama administration disclosed to me in December, 2016 that Ciaramella's helped draft Susan Rice's anti-Trump talking points before the Inauguration .

In fall of 2016 as Obama's director for Ukraine on the NSC, Ciaramella was the main force pushing Trump-Russia conspiracy theories.

Some suspect Ciaramella was one of the original leakers who told the media about classified conversations Trump had with Russian diplomat Sergei Lavrov . While it's unproven that Ciaramella leaked that conversation, it is now a fact of life that he will have access to every conversation Trump has with foreign officials, as part of his official duties for McMaster.

W hen this story first came to me, my question was, "This is a huge personnel move. Why hasn't Politico run it?"

My sources told me other outlets passed on the story, because, "This isn't the type of information the mainstream media wants out there ."

Note the second sentence in the third paragraph:

it is now a fact of life that he will have access to every conversation Trump has with foreign officials, as part of his official duties for McMaster.

Meet Eric Ciaramella  --  H.R. McMaster Appoints Susan Rice Ally to be his Personal Aide W est Wing officials confirmed to Cernovich Media that Eric Ciaramella, who worked closely with Susan Rice while at NSC , was recently promoted to be H.R. McMaster's personal aide. Ciaramella will have unfettered access to McMaster's conversations with foreign leaders . Ciaramella's ascension is surprising considering pro-Trump sources within the Obama administration disclosed to me in December, 2016 that Ciaramella's helped draft Susan Rice's anti-Trump talking points before the Inauguration . In fall of 2016 as Obama's director for Ukraine on the NSC, Ciaramella was the main force pushing Trump-Russia conspiracy theories. Some suspect Ciaramella was one of the original leakers who told the media about classified conversations Trump had with Russian diplomat Sergei Lavrov . While it's unproven that Ciaramella leaked that conversation, it is now a fact of life that he will have access to every conversation Trump has with foreign officials, as part of his official duties for McMaster. W hen this story first came to me, my question was, "This is a huge personnel move. Why hasn't Politico run it?" My sources told me other outlets passed on the story, because, "This isn't the type of information the mainstream media wants out there ." Staunchly pro-Ukraine and anti-Russia, Ciaramella is the media's dream, which explains why this high-profile personnel move hasn't been covered in any mainstream media outlets. The only result for Ciaramella in Google News is a 2015 article about a meeting of religious leaders from the Ukraine meeting with Barack Obama.

[Oct 31, 2019] The Political Parties and the Media Have Abandoned the Working "Middle Class"

Oct 31, 2019 | www.oftwominds.com

October 31, 2019

Where is the line between "working class" and "middle class"? Maybe there isn't any.

Defining the "middle class" has devolved to a pundit parlor game, so let's get real for a moment (if we dare): the "middle class" is no longer defined by the traditional metrics of income or job type (blue collar, white collar), but by an entirely different set of metrics:

1. Household indebtedness, i.e. how much of the income is devoted to debt service, and

2. How much of the household spending is funded by debt.

3. The ability of the household to set aside substantial savings / capital investment.

4. The security of the households' employment.

5. The dependence of the household wealth on speculative asset bubbles inflated by central bank policies.

6. The percentage of the household income that is unearned, i.e. derived not from labor but from productive assets.

7. The exposure of the households' employment to automation, AI or offshoring.

8. How much of the household income is government transfers: benefits, subsidies, etc.

After writing about the middle class and America's class structure in depth for over a decade, it seems to me the actual, real-world class structure is something along these lines:

1. No formal earned income, dependent on government transfers, possibly supplemented by informal "black market" income; no family wealth.

2. The Working Poor, those laboring at minimum wage or part-time jobs with few if any benefits. This class depends on government transfers to get by: EBT (food stamps), housing subsidies, school lunch subsidies, Medicaid, etc. Highly exposed to reductions in hours, tips, gigs, etc. and layoffs.

3. The "muddle class" which muddles through on earned income, much of which goes to debt service (student loans, auto loans, mortgages, credit cards) and skyrocketing big-ticket expenses: rent, healthcare, childcare, etc. Unable to save enough to move the needle on household capital, any net worth is dependent on speculative asset bubbles continuing to inflate. Highly exposed to layoffs or destabilizing changes in employment status: from full-time to part-time, loss of benefits, etc.

This article from WSJ.com describes the Muddle Class: Families Go Deep in Debt to Stay in the Middle Class

4. The Protected Class with secure income/earnings and benefits: this includes the nomenklatura of government employees, mid-level technocrat / managerial employees in academia, government-funded non-profits, etc., and retirees with Medicare, Social Security and other income (pensions, unearned investment income, etc.) and family assets (home owned free and clear, substantial 401K nest eggs, etc.)

5. "Winner Take Most" Corporate America / market-economy households: top managers and salespeople, entrepreneurs, successful business owners, speculators in financialization/asset bubbles, marketers, those earning substantial royalties, etc. Most work crazy-hard and make sacrifices, as per this article from The Atlantic: Why You Never See Your Friends Anymore : Our unpredictable and overburdened schedules are taking a dire toll on American society.

6. The wealthy and super-wealthy. Many continue working hard despite being worth tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars, as per this article from NYT.com: Why Don't Rich People Just Stop Working? Are the wealthy addicted to money, competition, or just feeling important? Yes.

7. The upper reaches of this class constitute a Financial Aristocracy / Oligarchy / New Nobility, those who have leveraged mere wealth into political, social and financial power .

8. The Mobile Creatives Class , currently small but expanding, which essentially obsoletes the entire status quo of working for an employer (often to get benefits), going heavily into debt for a college degree, vehicle, house, wedding, etc., hiring employees and paying outrageous prices to live in an overcrowded, soul-destroying city, etc.

I've written often about Mobile Creatives , but the basic idea is multiple income streams and forms of capital provide security rather than depending on the state or an employer: Career Advice to 20-Somethings: Create Value as a Mobile Creative .

Where is the line between "working class" and "middle class"? Maybe there isn't any. The old definitions of working and middle class were social more than financial--the middle class was better educated (school teacher, etc.) than the working class (factory worker, skilled tradesperson) but both could aspire to owning a home and giving their children a more secure life than they had started with.

The working class was not limited to the working poor : working-class jobs provided security and social mobility, just like white-collar middle class jobs.

What differentiates classes now is debt, employment security and the ability to build household capital that isn't just a sand castle of speculative bubble "wealth." The worker with tradecraft skills (welding, logger, etc.) has more security and earning power than a college graduate with few skills that can't be outsourced or automated.

Many college graduates work in sectors that are highly exposed to layoffs and downsizing once the economy contracts: food and beverages, hospitality, etc.

All of which leads us to a highly verboten conclusion: both political parties and the corporate media have abandoned the 2/3 of the workforce that is working/middle class. The bottom 20% dependent on government transfers has more security than those earning just enough to disqualify the household for transfers, while the top 15% in the Protected Class are doing just fine unless they're over-indebted.

The winner take most class and the wealthy dominate both political parties and the media which is now dependent on advertising that appeals to the top 10% of households that collect more than 50% of the national income.

The political parties take care of the government dependent class to keep the rabble from rebelling, and they keep the government gravy train flowing to the Protected Class (healthcare, national defense, academia, government employees) to insure their support at election time, but they take their marching orders from the Aristocracy / Oligarchy that fund their campaigns and enrich them with $100,000 speaking fees, seats on the board of directors, etc.

The Working/Middle Class gets nothing but lip-service, and that's been the case for decades. The political parties and the media abandoned the Working/Middle Class long ago, buttering their bread with the soaring wealth of the Aristocracy / Oligarchy and relegating everyone outside the Protected Class who labors for their livelihood to the servitude of politically impotent tax donkey / debt-serfdom.

Please examine these charts closely. They look busy but show that income inequality has been rising for over three decades.

Here's income by quintile. The top 5% have done extremely well, the Protected Class 15% below them have done just fine, and the bottom 80%, well, who cares about them as long as they're politically passive and make their loan payments?

Cumulative income reveals the widening gap between the bottom 80% and the top 5%. The gap was not very big in the early 1990s, but look at it now:

Another chart of the top 5% pulling away from the rest of us:

No wonder the media depends on luxury/aspirational advertising: the top 5% are the only ones with the money and credit to blow on status-signifying fripperies:

Where does this lead? To this--a collapse of buffers: debt is not income, and eventually the buffers of borrowing more to keep afloat thin and break down. When the financial buffers of the middle two-thirds of working / middle class households break down, the economy and the social-political order will break down, too.

Don't think it won't happen just because it hasn't happened yet.

My recent books:

Will You Be Richer or Poorer? Profit, Power and A.I. in a Traumatized World (15% discount in October, Kindle $5.95, print $10.95) Read the first section for free (PDF) .

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($6.95 (Kindle), $12 (print), $13.08 ( audiobook ): Read the first section for free (PDF) .

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 (Kindle), $15 (print) Read the first section for free (PDF).

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com .

[Oct 29, 2019] Deplorables, 'Human Scum,' and a party without a future

Oct 29, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

Fred C. Dobbs , October 26, 2019 at 06:05 AM

(It's great to have you back!)

Deplorables, 'Human Scum,' and a party without a future https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/10/25/deplorables-human-scum-and-party-without-future/ntpdTYnvwABCmYYiTvVlmO/story.html?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe

Nestor Ramos - October 25

For the Furrowed Brow Society, things are finally looking up. Small in number and feeble in influence, so-called "Never Trumper" Republicans have spent three years now peeking out from behind the congressional drapes to express dismay over President Trump's antics.

Your John Kasiches, your Mitt Romneys, your Bens Sasse: They are among a handful of national Republican figures who all reliably emerge to criticize Trump on the occasion of his latest embarrassment. After every new indignity, the informal society assembles like an ineffectual version of the Avengers. Picture Captain America and Iron Man just sort of grunting ruefully and shaking their heads while they watch Fox News.

Has this resulted in any noticeable change in the president's policy or demeanor? Of course not. Will the Republican Party finally come to its senses and turn to this crew to lead it into the future? Also no.

. . . But!

The air of desperation surrounding the president these days has to be heartening. Even some Frequent Trumpers are starting to wonder whether it might be time to get off the train. Suddenly, the Never Trumpers are so ascendant that Trump is lashing out at them, pleading with his administration officials to stop giving them jobs (this would seem to be within his control, but whatever).

And so we've reached a remarkable moment in the discourse: Some of these people seem positively delighted to be called -- this is almost unbelievable, but I promise it's true -- "human scum."

"The Never Trumper Republicans, though on respirators with not many left, are in certain ways worse and more dangerous for our Country than the Do Nothing Democrats," Trump tweeted on Wednesday afternoon, amid a fairly standard-issue tirade and blizzard of bonkers retweets. "Watch out for them, they are human scum!"

Hey, at least he called them "human," which is more grace than he usually affords immigrants. But even in today's uniquely debased political culture, the phrase "human scum" would seem to rise below our very low bar. And yet . . .

"Apparently, I'm human scum," the conservative cybersecurity expert and former homeland security official Paul Rosenzweig wrote in The Atlantic, in a column headlined "I'm Proud to Be Called Human Scum."

(Proud to Be Called Human Scum - Paul Rosenzweig.
https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/10/trumps-tweet-makes-me-proud-be-human-scum/600685/ )

If you're keeping score at home, the Republican Party is now overwhelmingly composed of people gleefully calling themselves "deplorable," and a separate, opposed group proudly self-identifying as "human scum."

Extremely normal, healthy stuff.

So I reached out to one of the few Republicans I could think of who does not seem to be in a hurry to brand himself as some sort of nightmare person -- who seems to genuinely want to rise above all this: America's Most Popular Governor™ Charlie Baker. Baker doesn't spend a lot of time firing back at the president's daily dumpster fire, which is probably wise.

"Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito did not support President Trump because he doesn't have the right temperament for the office," Baker's press secretary, Sarah Finlaw, said in an e-mail, "and the administration doesn't respond to sophomoric name-calling and will stay focused on working for the residents of Massachusetts. Washington, DC would be well served to follow suit."

So if he wasn't on the human scum list before, he probably is now. Sorry about that, Governor.

It's tempting to think that people like Baker, Bill Weld, and Romney (who must have thought everyone was telling him to "grow a Pierre" these last few years) will one day soon restore the Republican Party to some semblance of sanity. Even if you don't have much use for the small government/fiscal conservatism that supposedly drove the Republican Party before it abandoned even the pretense of responsibility, that ethos would be a lot less damaging than what we've got now.

(In praise of Pierre Delecto -- er, Mitt Romney
https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/10/23/praise-pierre/t2S0xe8ais1STWhoTDaaJO/story.html?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe)

But I'm not sure that kind of reversal is even possible anymore. Nobody who abetted this nonsense should be taken seriously ever again, but that category includes the vast majority of elected Republicans in Washington. ...

Plp -> Fred C. Dobbs... , October 26, 2019 at 06:38 AM
Reviewing the recent episodes of our continuing story " two party soap opera " with sardonic mirth

Like its just pretend boob tube stuff. Reflects a comfortable perch above the dismal job world 150 million of us revolve thru week by week

Oh well better then high school, or prison, or a tour in Afghanistan, or retirement on social security

[Oct 29, 2019] Although they are not officially called taxes, insurance premiums paid by employers are just like taxes but taxes paid to private insurers instead of paid to the government.

Oct 29, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

Joe , October 26, 2019 at 10:02 PM

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/25/medicare-for-all-taxes-saez-zucman

Although they are not officially called taxes, insurance premiums paid by employers are just like taxes – but taxes paid to private insurers instead of paid to the government.
---

This is Saez, and official member of tour Orwellian group here. He almost calls premium taxes. He needs to equate taxes and insurance premiums to prove his priors, it is all one cost. He is using the tax concept to prove a prior that emichael and the gang insist upon.

No need to complain about his assumption, we will choose our own fiction, just note he used the term taxes.

Let me help out more. The Supreme Court called mandatory Obamacare premiums taxes. Saez needs to use the word taxes so he can prove his priors, and his priors are ordained by our Orwellian masters. So it is OK to say Medicare for All is paid with taxes, we now have that in our talking points.

Fell free to say Medicare for All taxes are wonderful gifts from Godot as our prior dictate, but you are hereby ordered by the official in charge of talking points that Medicare for All taxes is an acceptable semantic. It is OK, we have it from the high central planners, it is OK to use medicare taxes, we now have an expectation story to explain it as a cost savings. We have met our expectation theory requirements.

[Oct 29, 2019] https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/oureconomy/impoverished-economics-unpacking-economics-nobel-prize/

Oct 29, 2019 | www.opendemocracy.net

October 18, 2019

Impoverished economics? Unpacking the economics Nobel Prize
When the world is facing large systemic crises, why is the economics profession celebrating small technical fixes?
By Ingrid Harvold Kvangraven

This week it was announced that Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer won the Economics Nobel Prize (or more accurately: the 'Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel'). The trio of economists were awarded the prize for "their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty".

On social media and in mainstream newspapers, there was an exceptional level of praise for the laureates, reflecting their existing rockstar status within development economics. The Financial Times even claimed that the "Economics Nobel for poverty work will help restore profession's relevance". However, the widespread calls for celebration need to be considered with a cautionary counterweight.

The experimental approach to poverty alleviation relies on so-called Randomized Control Trials (RCTs). Inspired by studies in medicine, the approach targets specific interventions to a randomly selected group (schools, classes, mothers, etc), and then compares how specific outcomes change in the recipient group versus those who did not receive the treatment. As the groups are assumed to be otherwise similar, the difference in outcomes can be causally attributed to the intervention.

While the laureates were first pioneering this work in the 1990s in Kenyan schools, the approach is now widely considered the new "gold standard" in development economics, also sometimes simply called "New Economics". The approach has become enormously influential among governments, international agencies and NGOs. The body of work pioneered by the laureates, or the randomistas as they are sometimes called, is meant to alleviate poverty through simple interventions such as combating teacher absenteeism, through cash transfers, and through stimulating positive thinking among the people living in poverty. Sound good so far?

While the laureates' approach to poverty research and policy may seem harmless, if not laudable, there are many reasons for concern. Both heterodox and mainstream economists as well as other social scientists have long provided thorough critique of the turn towards RCTs in economics, on philosophical, epistemological, political and methodological grounds. The concerns with the approach can be roughly grouped into questions of focus, theory, and methodology.

Focus: tackling symptoms and thinking small

The approach that is being promoted is concerned with poverty, not development, and is thus a part of the larger trend in development economics that is moving away from development as structural transformation to development as poverty alleviation. This movement towards "thinking small" is a part of a broader trend, which has squeezed out questions related to global economic institutions, trade, agricultural, industrial and fiscal policy, and the role of political dynamics, in favor of the best ways to make smaller technical interventions.

The interventions considered by the Nobel laureates tend to be removed from analyses of power and wider social change. In fact, the Nobel committee specifically gave it to Banerjee, Duflo and Kremer for addressing "smaller, more manageable questions," rather than big ideas. While such small interventions might generate positive results at the micro-level, they do little to challenge the systems that produce the problems.

For example, rather than challenging the cuts to the school systems that are forced by austerity, the focus of the randomistas directs our attention to absenteeism of teachers, the effects of school meals and the number of teachers in the classroom on learning. Meanwhile, their lack of challenge to the existing economic order is perhaps also precisely one of the secrets to media and donor appeal, and ultimately also their success.

The lack of engagement with the conditions that create poverty has led many critics to question to what extent RCTs will actually be able to significantly reduce global poverty. A further consequence of this impoverished economics is that it limits the types of questions we can ask, and it leads us "to imagine too few ways to change the world".

Theory: methodological individualism lives on

In a 2017 speech, Duflo famously likened economists to plumbers. In her view the role of an economist is to solve real world problems in specific situations. This is a dangerous assertion, as it suggests that the "plumbing" the randomistas are doing is purely technical, and not guided by theory or values. However, the randomistas' approach to economics is not objective, value-neutral, nor pragmatic, but rather, rooted in a particular theoretical framework and world view – neoclassical microeconomic theory and methodological individualism.

The experiments' grounding has implications for how experiments are designed and the underlying assumptions about individual and collective behavior that are made. Perhaps the most obvious example of this is that the laureates often argue that specific aspects of poverty can be solved by correcting cognitive biases. Unsurprisingly, there is much overlap between the work of randomistas and the mainstream behavioral economists, including a focus on nudges that may facilitate better choices on the part of people living in poverty.

Another example is Duflo's analysis of women empowerment. Naila Kabeer argues that it employs an understanding of human behavior "uncritically informed by neoclassical microeconomic theory." Since all behavior can allegedly be explained as manifestations of individual maximizing behavior, alternative explanations are dispensed with. Because of this, Duflo fails to understand a series of other important factors related to women's empowerment, such as the role of sustained struggle by women's organizations for rights or the need to address unfair distribution of unpaid work that limits women's ability to participate in the community.

Note that there is nothing embedded in RCTs that forces randomistas to assume individuals are rational optimizing agents. These assumptions come from the economics tradition. This is therefore not a critique of RCTs per se, but of the way RCTs are employed in the laureates' work and in most of mainstream economics.

Method: If you didn't randomize it, is it really knowledge?

While understanding causal processes is important in development economics, as in other social science disciplines, RCTs do so in a very limited way. The causal model underlying RCTs focuses on causal effects rather than causal mechanisms. Not only do RCTs not tell us exactly what mechanisms are involved when something works, they also do not tell us whether the policy in question can be reliably implemented elsewhere. In order to make such a judgement, a broader assessment of economic and social realities is unavoidable.

Assuming that interventions are valid across geographies and scale suggests that micro results are independent of their macroeconomic environment. However, while "effects" on individuals and households are not separate from the societies in which they exist, randomistas give little acknowledgement to other ways of knowing about the world that might help us better understand individual motivations and socio-economic situations. As it is difficult to achieve truly random sampling in human communities, it is perhaps not surprising that when RCTs are replicated, they may come to substantially different results than the original.

Not only do RCTs rarely have external validity, but the specific circumstances needed to understand the extent to which the experiments may have external validity are usually inadequately reported. This has led even critics within the mainstream to argue that there are misunderstandings about what RCTs are capable of accomplishing. A deeper epistemological critique involves the problematic underlying assumption that there is one specific true impact that can be uncovered through experiments.

Recent research has found that alternative attempts to assess the success of programs transferring assets to women in extreme poverty in West Bengal and Sindh have been far superior to RCTs, which provide very limited explanations for the patterns of outcomes observed. The research concludes that it is unlikely that RCTs will be able to acknowledge the central role of human agency in project success if they confine themselves to quantitative methods alone.

There are also serious ethical problems at stake. Among these are issues such as lying, instrumentalizing people, the role of consent, accountability, and foreign intervention, in addition to the choice of who gets treatment. While ethical concerns regarding potential harm to groups is discussed extensively in the medical literature, it receives less attention in economics, despite the many ethically dubious experimental studies (e.g. allowing bribes for people to get their drivers' licences in India or incentivizing Hong Kong university students into participation in an antiauthoritarian protest). Finally, the colonial dimensions of US-based researchers intervening to estimate what is best for people in the Global South cannot be ignored.

Why it matters: limits to knowledge and policy-making

There will always be research that is more or less relevant for development, so why does it matter what the randomistas do? Well, as the Nobel Committee stated, their "experimental research methods now entirely dominate development economics". A serious epistemological problem arises when the definition of what rigour and evidence means gets narrowed down to one single approach that has so many limitations. This shift has taken place over the past couple of decades in development economics, and is now strengthened by the 2019 Nobel Prize. As both Banerjee and Duflo acknowledged in interviews after the prize was announced, this is not just a prize for them, but a prize for the entire movement.

The discipline has not always been this way. The history of thought on development economics is rich with debates about how capital accumulation differs across space, the role of institutions in shaping behavior and economic development, the legacies of colonialism and imperialism, unequal exchange, the global governance of technology, the role of fiscal policy, and the relationship between agriculture and industry. The larger questions have since been pushed out of the discipline, in favor of debates about smaller interventions.

The rise of the randomistas also matters because the randomistas are committed to provoke results, not just provide an understanding of the situations in which people living in poverty find themselves. In fact, it is one of their stated goals to produce a "better integration between theory and empirical practice". A key argument by the randomistas is that "all too often development policy is based on fads, and randomised evaluations could allow it to be based on evidence".

However, the narrowness of the randomized trials is impractical for most forms of policies. While RCTs tend to test at most a couple of variations of a policy, in the real world of development, interventions are overlapping and synergistic. This reality recently led 15 leading economists to call to "evaluate whole public policies" rather than assess "short-term impacts of micro-projects," given that what is needed is systems-level thinking to tackle the scale of overlapping crises. Furthermore, the value of experimentation in policy-making, rather than promoting pre-prescribed policies, should not be neglected.

The concept of "evidence-based policy" associated with the randomistas needs some unpacking. It is important to note that policies are informed by reflections on values and objectives, which economists are not necessarily well-suited to intervene in. Of course, evidence should be a part of a policy-making process, but the pursuit of ineffective policies is often driven by political priorities rather than lack of evidence.

While randomistas might respond to this by arguing that their trials are precisely meant to de-politicize public policy, this is not necessarily a desirable step. Policy decisions are political in nature, and shielding these value judgements from public scrutiny and debate does little to strengthen democratic decision making. Suggesting that policy-making can be depoliticized is dangerous and it belittles the agency and participation of people in policy-making. After all, why should a policy that has been proven effective through an RCT carry more weight than, for example, policies driven by people's demands and political and social mobilisation?

While the Nobel Prize does leave those of us concerned with broader political economy challenges in the world anxious, not everything is doom and gloom. Firstly, the Nobel directs attention to the persistence of poverty in the world and the need to do something about it. What we as critical development economists now need to do is to challenge the fact that the Prize also legitimizes a prescriptive view of how to find solutions to global problems.

Secondly, the fact that a woman and a person of color were awarded a prize that is usually reserved for white men is a step forward for a more open and inclusive field. Duflo herself recognizes that the gender imbalance among Nobel Prize winners reflects a "structural" problem in the economics profession and that her profession lacks ethnic diversity.

However, it is obvious that to challenge racism, sexism and Eurocentrism in economics, it is not enough to simply be more inclusive of women and people of color that are firmly placed at the top of the narrow, Eurocentric mainstream. To truly achieve a more open and democratic science it is necessary to push for a field that is welcoming of a plurality of viewpoints, methodologies, theoretical frameworks, forms of knowledge, and perspectives.

This is a massive challenge, but the systemic, global crises we face require broad, interdisciplinary engagement in debates about possible solutions.


Ingrid Harvold Kvangraven is a Lecturer in International Development at the University of York. Reply Saturday, October 26, 2019 at 11:52 AM Paine said in reply to anne... Development v poverty amelioration

A Very basic goal conflict indeed


Transformation
will never come
thru
More effective off sets
to
Institutionally produced
misery powerlesses
helplessness

In a word
Systemic human

" redundancy "

Reply Sunday, October 27, 2019 at 07:14 AM anne said in reply to anne... https://africasacountry.com/2019/10/the-poverty-of-poor-economics

October 17, 2019

The poverty of poor economics
The winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics experiment on the poor, but their research doesn't solve poverty.
By Grieve Chelwa and Seán Muller

Monday, the Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the "Nobel Prize" in economics to Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer for "their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty."

...

Banerjee and Duflo teach at MIT while Kremer is at Harvard. The trio have been at the forefront of pushing the use of randomized control trials (RCTs) in the sub-discipline of economics known as development economics.... The main idea behind their work is that RCTs allow us to know what works and doesn't work in development because of its "experimental" approach. RCTs are most well-known for their use in medicine and involve the random assignment of interventions into "treatment" and "control" groups. And just like in medicine, so the argument goes, RCTs allow us to know which development pill to swallow because of the rigor associated with the experimental approach. Banerjee and Duflo popularized their work in a 2011 book "Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty."

Even though other Nobel prize awards often attract public controversy (peace and literature come to mind), the economics prize has largely flown under the radar with prize announcements often met with the same shrugging of the shoulders as, for example, the chemistry prize. This year has however been different (and so was the year that Milton Friedman, that high priest of neoliberalism, won).

A broad section of commentary, particularly from the Global South, has puzzled over the Committee's decision to not only reward an approach that many consider as suffering from serious ethical and methodological problems, but also extol its virtues and supposed benefits for poor people.

Many of the trio's RCTs have been performed on black and brown people in poor parts of the world. And here, serious ethical and moral questions have been raised particularly about the types of experiments that the randomistas, as they are colloquially known, have been allowed to perform. In one study in western Kenya, which is one-half of the epicenter of this kind of experimentation, randomistas deliberately gave some villages more money and others less money to check if villages receiving less would become envious of those receiving more. The study's authors, without any sense of shame, titled their paper "Is Your Gain My Pain?" In another study in India, the other half of the epicenter, researchers installed intrusive cameras in class rooms to police teacher attendance (this study was actually favorably mentioned by the Swedish Academy). There are some superficial rationalizations for this sort of thing, but studies of this kind -- and there are many -- would never have seen the light of day had the experimental subjects been rich Westerners.

There are also concerns around the extractive nature of the RCT enterprise. To execute these interventions, randomistas rely on massive teams of local assistants (local academics, students, community workers, etcetera) who often make non-trivial contributions to the projects. Similarly, those to be studied (the poor villagers) lend their incalculable emotional labor to these projects (it is often unclear whether they have been adequately consulted or if the randomistas have simply struck deals with local officials). The villagers are the ones that have to deal with all the community-level disruptions that the randomistas introduce and then leave behind once they've gone back to their cushy lives in the US and Europe.

And while there is an increasing amount of posturing to compensate for this exploitation, with some researchers gushing about how they and their "native assistants" are bosom buddies, the payoffs of the projects (lucrative career advancement, fame, speaking gigs, etcetera) only ever accrue to the randomistas and randomistas alone. The extreme case is obviously this week's award.

Beyond the ethics of the Nobel winners, their disciples, and the institutions they have created in their image are two serious methodological problems that fundamentally undermine their findings.

The first is that the vast majority of studies conducted using these methods (our rough guess is more than 90%) have no formal basis for generalization. In other words, there is no basis to believe that the findings of these studies can be applied beyond the narrow confines of the population on which the experiments are undertaken. This is simply fatal for policy purposes.

The prize giving committee addresses this only in passing by saying that "the laureates have also been at the forefront of research on the issue of [whether experimental results apply in other contexts]." This is misleading at best and false at worst. There are some advocates of randomised trials who have done important research on the problem, but the majority of key contributions are not by advocates of randomised trials and the three awardees have been marginal contributors. The more important point is simply that if the problem of whether experimental results are relevant outside the experiment has not been resolved, how can it be claimed that the trio's work is "reducing world poverty?"

The second contradiction is more widely understood: despite the gushing headlines in the Western press, there is simply no evidence that policy based on randomized trials is better than alternatives. Countries that are now developed did not need foreign researchers running experiments on local poor people to grow their economies. There is ample historical evidence that growth, development and dramatic reductions in poverty can be achieved without randomised trials. Randomistas claim that their methods are the holy grail of development yet they have not presented any serious arguments to show why theirs is the appropriate response. Instead, the case that such methods are crucial for policy is largely taken for granted by them because they think they are doing "science." But while they are certainly imitating what researchers in various scientific disciplines do, the claim that the results are as reliable and useful for economic and social questions is unsupported. It is instead a matter of blind faith -- as with the conviction many such individuals appear to have of a calling to save the poor, usually black and brown, masses of the world.

We do not have a view on whether these individuals ought to have been awarded the prize -- prizes are usually somewhat dubious in their arbitrariness and historical contingency. But the claims made about the usefulness and credibility of the methods employed are concerning, both because they are unfounded and because they inform a missionary complex that we believe is more of a threat to the progress of developing countries than it is an aid.


Grieve Chelwa teaches economics at the University of Cape Town. Seán Muller teaches economics at the University of Johannesburg. Reply Sunday, October 27, 2019 at 12:40 PM anne said in reply to anne... How curious that China starting from being among the poorest of countries, far poorer than India in 1980, and having a population that is now 1.4 billion could have raised hundreds of millions to middle class well-being, could have raised hundreds of millions from poverty and coming ever closer to ending severe poverty in 2020, would have no economist worth a Nobel prize for work on poverty. To me, this is a travesty of awarding the Nobel Prize for work on poverty to 3 Massachusetts economists.

Distressing that the astonishing and wonderful progress China has made against poverty should be given no attention and credit by the Nobel Prize folks or by the articles about the prize that I have so far read. This tells me that the Massachusetts work on poverty and evaluation of the work is highly problematic, which I already knew from reading the work. Reply Sunday, October 27, 2019 at 12:44 PM

[Oct 29, 2019] Oh No! Interest on the Debt Is Half As Large as the 1990s Peak!

Oct 29, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , October 26, 2019 at 01:32 PM

http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/oh-no-interest-on-the-debt-is-half-as-large-as-the-1990s-peak

October 26, 2019

Oh No! Interest on the Debt Is Half As Large as the 1990s Peak!
By Dean Baker

The Washington Post had a piece * on newly released data on the federal budget deficit. The piece included the obligatory comments from the always wrong budget "experts" at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. It also warned readers:

"U.S. debt is considered one of the safest investments in the world and interest rates remain low, which is why the government has been able to borrow money at cheap rates to finance the large annual deficits. But the costs are adding up. The government spent about $380 billion in interest payments on its debt last year, almost as much as the entire federal government contribution to Medicaid."

"Almost as much as the entire federal government contribution to Medicaid!" Think about that. Try also thinking about the fact that interest payments were around 1.7 percent of GDP last year (before deducting money refunded from the Federal Reserve). That compares to a peak of 3.2 percent of GDP in 1991. Are you scared yet?

It's also not quite right to claim that interest rates in the United States are especially low, at least not compared to other rich countries. The U.S. pays an interest rate on 10-year government bonds that is more two full percentage points higher than the interest rate paid by Germany and the Netherlands. It's even higher than the interest rate paid by Greece.

* https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/10/25/us-deficit-hit-billion-marking-nearly-percent-increase-during-trump-era/

Paine -> anne... , October 27, 2019 at 06:39 AM
The merit class is full
of secular Calvinists

That love fuss budgeting
Even where it's complete nonsense

Uncle is shackled by imaginary budget constraints
Conjured by superstitious but affluent
Liberal arts trained
professional class ignoranti


The bottom half solite you

Oh prudent ones

With extended middle fingers

Paine -> Paine... , October 27, 2019 at 06:40 AM
Solute you
got putzinated
By capitalist micro meme autobots
RC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to Paine... , October 28, 2019 at 06:53 AM
salute when given to the sun might be a solute - dunno - or maybe a liquid form
Paine -> anne... , October 27, 2019 at 06:58 AM
We need a real zero ceiling on short
safe rates as a starter

[Oct 28, 2019] Quotes used by Jesse in recent posts

Notable quotes:
"... "The banks must be restrained, and the financial system reformed, and balance restored to the economy, before there can be any sustained recovery." ~ Jesse, July 2009 ..."
"... "Being in a position to know and nevertheless shunning knowledge creates direct responsibility for the consequences." ~Albert Speer ..."
"... Those who corrupt the public mind are just as evil as those who steal from the public purse ..."
"... 'The banks are circling the wagons. Somebody's got a problem.' ~Charles R. Geisst, as quoted in There's Nothing Normal About the Fed Pumping Hundreds of Billions Weekly to Unnamed Banks on Wall Street ..."
"... "Crowd-pleasers [demagogues] are generally brainless swine who can go out on a stage and whip their supporters into an orgiastic frenzy -- then go back to the office and sell every one of the poor bastards down the tube for a nickel apiece." ~Hunter S. Thompson ..."
"... "A confident, aggressive delivery style - often larded with jargon, clichés, and flowery phrases - makes up for the lack of substance and sincerity in their interactions with others ... they are masters of impression management; their insight into the psyche of others combined with a superficial - but convincing - verbal fluency allows them to change their personas skillfully as it suits the situation and their game plan. The most debilitating characteristic of even the most well-behaved psychopath is the inability to form a workable team." ~Paul Babiak and Robert Hare, Snakes in Suits ..."
"... "Any idea pushed into the popular mind with considerable force will keep on going until some opposing force -- or the slow resistance of friction -- stops it at last." ~Charlotte Perkins Gilman ..."
"... "Evil, when we are in its power, is not felt as evil but as a necessity, or even a duty. Power is as pitiless to the man who possesses it, or thinks he does, as it is to its victims; the latter it crushes, the former it intoxicates. The truth is, no one really possesses it." ~Simone Weil ..."
"... "People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage. Intellectual myopia, often called stupidity, is no doubt a reason. But the privileged also feel that their privileges, however egregious they may seem to others, are a solemn, basic, God-given right." ~John Kenneth Galbraith ..."
"... "Fascism begins the moment a ruling class, fearing the people may use their political democracy to gain economic democracy, begins to destroy political democracy in order to retain its power of exploitation and special privilege." ~Thomas Clement Douglas ..."
Oct 28, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

[Oct 28, 2019] The Market as God

Oct 28, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

"As everything in what used to be called creation becomes a commodity, human beings begin to look at one another, and at themselves, in a funny way, and they see price tags. There was a time when people spoke, at least occasionally, of 'inherent worth' -- if not of things, then at least of persons.

It is sometimes said that since everything is for sale under the rule of The Market, nothing is sacred. The Market is not omnipotent -- yet. But the process is under way and it is gaining momentum."

Harvey Cox, The Market as God

[Oct 28, 2019] A Violent Indifference - The God of the Market and Its Toxic Cult o

Oct 28, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

"Behold the aggrieved, reactive creature fashioned by neoliberal reason and its effects, who embraces freedom without the social contract, authority without democratic legitimacy, and vengeance without values or futurity. Far from the calculating, entrepreneurial, moral, and disciplined being imagined by Hayek and his intellectual kin, this one is angry, amoral, and impetuous, spurred by unavowed humiliation and thirst for revenge.

The intensity of this energy is tremendous on its own, and also easily exploited by plutocrats, rightwing politicians, and tabloid media moguls whipping it up and keeping it stupid. It does not need to be addressed by policy producing its concrete betterment because it seeks mainly psychic anointment of its wounds. For this same reason it cannot be easily pacified -- it is fueled mainly by rancor and unavowed nihilistic despair. It cannot be appealed to by reason, facts, or sustained argument because it does not want to know, and it is unmotivated by consistency or depth in its values or by belief in truth.

Its conscience is weak while its own sense of victimization and persecution runs high. It cannot be wooed by a viable alternative future, where it sees no place for itself, no prospect for restoring its lost supremacy. The freedom it champions has gained credence as the needs, urges, and values of the private have become legitimate forms of public life and public expression.

Having nothing to lose, its nihilism does not simply negate but is festive and even apocalyptic, willing to take Britain over a cliff, deny climate change, support manifestly undemocratic powers, or put an unstable know-nothing in the most powerful position on earth, because it has nothing else. It probably cannot be reached or transformed yet also has no endgame.

But what to do with it? And might we also need to examine the ways these logics and energies organize aspects of left responses to contemporary predicaments?"

Wendy Brown, Neoliberalism's Frankenstein

[Oct 28, 2019] Sleepwalking Into the Abyss

Oct 28, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

Sleepwalking Into the Abyss

"As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I've done before!) "

Donald J. Trump

"China uses a host of monopolizing strategies to extend its geopolitical and commercial power, everything from below cost pricing to grab market share, patent trolling, espionage, mergers, and financial manipulation. In fact, the CCP is best understood as a giant monopoly that also controls a nation of 1.4 billion people and a large military apparatus...

China's biggest asset in gaining power was how most people in the West just didn't realize that the CCP aimed to use it. Now China's cover is blown. The raw exercise of power to censor a random Houston Rockets basketball executive has made millions of people take notice. Everyone knows, the Chinese government isn't content to control its own nation, it must have all bow down to its power and authority.

Matt Stoller, How Joe Biden Empowered China's Censorship of the NBA


Matt overstates the headline I think. The empowerment of China may have gone into higher gear with Bill Clinton perhaps, but has been fully supported by every President, both parties, and especially the moneyed interests in the US, who place their short term greed first and foremost.

Follow the money. China is certainly not alone among organizations, and even nations, in playing on the personal greed, divided loyalties, and lust for power of our political and financial class.

This in itself is nothing new. But the extent of it, and the fashionable acceptance of it amongst our society's elites, the industrialization of political corruption and big money in politics, has been breathtaking.

[Oct 28, 2019] Notes on financialization: The Corruption of the Public Mind and Flight Into Fantasy

Oct 28, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

"I thought of this upside down debt pyramid when I was at Citibank in the early '60s. I first gave talks on it inside the bank, trying to influence the bank because I saw too much borrowing short term and lending long term. It was just awful! I kept on warning the bank, but was just brushed aside.

When Nixon closed the gold window I said, 'This is my chance to get out,' so I took it. [laughing] It was a great move on my part because I could buy gold and gold mining shares when gold was F$50 an ounce or less. Now Citibank is on the problem list because it has so many bad assets."

John Exter, 1991, Simplex Munditis

"Among the items of interest in JPMorgan Chase's written [earnings] presentation was that it spent $6.7 billion in this past third quarter buying up its own stock and thus boosting its stock price artificially beyond outside investor demand. The third quarter buybacks of its stock came on top of spending $5 billion in the second quarter and $4.7 billion in the first quarter, bringing its net repurchases of its own stock just so far this year to a whopping $16.4 billion -- money that could have otherwise gone to loans to small businesses to kickstart innovation and job growth in America.

The [House Financial Services'] Subcommittee notes that buybacks have skyrocketed from less than $200 billion in 2000 to a record $811 billion last year. The mega banks on Wall Street are responsible for a big chunk of those dollars.

Another unprecedented and totally crazy aspect of today's banking scene is that criminal felony charges no longer matter. You can be a bank like JPMorgan Chase, holding $1.6 billion in deposits for risk-adverse savers, while also being regularly charged with crimes."

Pam and Russ Martens, Capping the Craziest Banking Era in US History

"It is no exaggeration to say that since the 1980s, much of the global financial sector has become criminalised, creating an industry culture that tolerates or even encourages systematic fraud. The behaviour that caused the mortgage bubble and financial crisis of 2008 was a natural outcome and continuation of this pattern, rather than some kind of economic accident.

This behaviour is criminal. We are talking about deliberate concealment of financial transactions that aided terrorism, nuclear weapons proliferation and large-scale tax evasion; assisting in major financial frauds and in concealment of criminal assets; and committing frauds that substantially worsened the worst financial bubbles and crises since the Depression.

And yet none of this conduct has been punished in any significant way."

Charles H. Ferguson, Heist of the century: Wall Street's role in the financial crisis

"Twenty-five years ago, when most economists were extolling the virtues of financial deregulation and innovation, a maverick named Hyman P. Minsky maintained a more negative view of Wall Street; in fact, he noted that bankers, traders, and other financiers periodically played the role of arsonists, setting the entire economy ablaze. Wall Street encouraged businesses and individuals to take on too much risk, he believed, generating ruinous boom-and-bust cycles. The only way to break this pattern was for the government to step in and regulate the moneymen.

Many of Minsky's colleagues regarded his 'financial-instability hypothesis,' which he first developed in the nineteen-sixties, as radical, if not crackpot. Today, with the subprime crisis seemingly on the verge of metamorphosing into a recession, references to it have become commonplace on financial web sites and in the reports of Wall Street analysts. Minsky's hypothesis is well worth revisiting."

John Cassidy, The Minsky Moment , The New Yorker, 4 February 2008.

"The more people rationalize cheating, the more it becomes a culture of dishonesty. And that can become a vicious, downward cycle. Because suddenly, if everyone else is cheating, you feel a need to cheat, too."

Stephen Covey

"The prevalence of the corporation in America has led men of this generation to act, at times, as if the privilege of doing business in corporate form were inherent in the citizen; and has led them to accept the evils attendant upon the free and unrestricted use of the corporate mechanism as if these evils were the inescapable price of civilized life, and, hence to be borne with resignation.

Through size, corporations, once merely an efficient tool employed by individuals in the conduct of private business have become an institution -- an institution which has brought such concentration of economic power that so-called private corporations are sometimes able to dominate the state.

Coincident with the growth of these giant corporations, there has occurred a marked concentration of individual wealth; and that the resulting disparity in incomes is a major cause of the existing depression [1933].

We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."

Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis

"You can know the value of every item of merchandise, but if you don't know the value of your own soul it is all a vanity.

This, this then is the essence of all wisdom -- that you should know who you will be when your Day of Reckoning arrives."

Rumi

"A fair amount of the earnings growth the S&P 500 has exhibited in recent years might be ephemeral, related to gains in the value of companies' investments rather than the underlying strength of their operations. Under the hood, then, profit margins aren't as good as they appear. If business starts to falter, companies' may take an ax to costs, with bad repercussions for the economy."

Justin Lahart, Wall Street Journal, Squeeze on U.S. Companies May Be Worse Than It Seems

"Every bubble rests on two pillars: a) it's different this time; b) some other sucker will buy this worthless asset from me at a higher price, so I should hold on against my better judgment."

Louis-Vincent Gave

"Price discovery is not a sexy function of markets, but it is critical to the efficient allocation of scarce capital and resources, and to the preservation of the long term wealth of investors and the economy as a whole. If price discovery is compromised by manipulation, then we will all be gradually impoverished and the economy will be imbalanced and unstable.

Over the past 25 years the forces of regulatory liberalisation and demutualisation of markets have allowed the largest global banks to set the rules, processes and infrastructure of global markets to their own self-interested requirements."

London Banker, Lies, Damn Lies, and LIBOR

"There seems little question that in 1929, modifying a famous cliche, the economy was fundamentally unsound. This is a circumstance of first-rate importance. In 1929 the rich were indubitable rich. The figures are not entirely satisfactory, but it seems certain that the five per cent of the population with the highest incomes in that year received approximately one-third of all income. The proportion of personal income received in the form of interest, dividends, and rent – the income, broadly speaking, of the well-to-do – was about twice as great as in the years following the Second World War.

This highly unequal income distribution meant that the economy was dependent on a high level of investment or a high level of luxury consumer spending or both. The rich cannot buy great quantities of bread. If they are to dispose of what they receive it must be on luxuries or by way of investment in new plants and new projects. Both investment and luxury spending are subject, inevitably, to more erratic influences and to wider fluctuations than the bread and rent outlays of the $25-week workman. This high bracket spending and investment was especially susceptible, one may assume, to the crushing news from the stock market in October 1929."

John Kenneth Galbraith, The Great Crash of 1929


"Wall Street got the credit for this prosperity and Wall Street was dominated by just a small group of wealthy men. Rarely in the history of this nation had so much raw power been concentrated in the hands of a few businessmen.

Everything was not fine that spring with the American economy. It was showing ominous signs of trouble. Steel production was declining. The construction industry was sluggish. Car sales dropped. Customers were getting harder to find. And because of easy credit, many people were deeply in debt. Large sections of the population were poor and getting poorer.

Just as Wall Street had reflected a steady growth in the economy throughout most of the 20s, it would seem that now the market should reflect the economic slowdown. Instead, it soared to record heights. Stock prices no longer had anything to do with company profits, the economy or anything else. The speculative boom had acquired a momentum of its own.

On September 5th, economist Roger Babson gave a speech to a group of businessmen. 'Sooner or later, a crash is coming and it may be terrific.' The market took a severe dip. They called it the "Babson Break." The next day, prices stabilized, but several days later, they began to drift lower. Though investors had no way of knowing it, the collapse had already begun."

The market fluctuated wildly up and down. On September 12th, prices dropped ten percent. They dipped sharply again on the 20th. Stock markets around the world were falling, too. Then, on September 25th, the market suddenly rallied.

Practically every business leader in American and banker, right around the time of 1929, was saying how wonderful things were and the economy had only one way to go and that was up.

There came a Wednesday, October 23rd, when the market was a little shaky, weak. And whether this caused some spread of pessimism, one doesn't know. It certainly led a lot of people to think they should get out.

And so, Thursday, October the 24th -- the first Black Thursday -- the market, beginning in the morning, took a terrific tumble. The market opened in an absolutely free fall and some people couldn't even get any bids for their shares and it was wild panic. And an ugly crowd gathered outside the stock exchange and it was described as making weird and threatening noises. It was, indeed, one of the worst days that had ever been seen down there.

But Monday was not good. Apparently, people had thought about things over the weekend, over Sunday, and decided maybe they might be safer to get out. And then came the real crash, which was on Tuesday, when the market went down and down and down, without seeming limit...Morgan's bankers could no longer stem the tide. It was like trying to stop Niagara Falls. Everyone wanted to sell.

In brokers' offices across the country, the small investors -- the tailors, the grocers, the secretaries -- stared at the moving ticker in numb silence. Hope of an easy retirement, the new home, their children's education, everything was gone."

PBS American Experience, The Great Crash of 1929


"Our basic trouble was not an insufficiency of capital . It was an insufficient distribution of buying power coupled with an over-sufficient speculation in production. While wages rose in many of our industries, they did not as a whole rise proportionately to the reward to capital , and at the same time the purchasing power of other great groups of our population was permitted to shrink .

We accumulated such a superabundance of capital that our great bankers were vying with each other, some of them employing questionable methods, in their efforts to lend [leverage] this capital at home and abroad . I believe that we are at the threshold of a fundamental change in our popular economic thought, that in the future we are going to think less about the producer and more about the consumer.

Do what we may have to do to inject life into our ailing economic order, we cannot make it endure for long unless we can bring about a wiser, more equitable distribution of the national income."

Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1932

"People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage. Intellectual myopia, often called stupidity, is no doubt a reason. But the privileged also feel that their privileges, however egregious they may seem to others, are a solemn, basic, God-given right."

John Kenneth Galbraith

"It's not just political spin, however, that explains the rose-colored coverage [in the media]. Another explanation is that the media is plain stupid -- quick to accept guidance from economists on Wall Street, for example, who have a vested interest in making everything wonderful."

John Crudele

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it."

Upton Sinclair


"Experience, however, shows that neither a state nor a bank ever have had the unrestricted power of issuing paper money without abusing that power; in all states, therefore, the issue of paper money ought to be under some check and control; and none seems so proper for that purpose as that of subjecting the issuers of paper money to the obligation of paying their notes either in gold coin or bullion."

David Ricardo

"When depreciated, mutilated, or debased coinage or currency is in concurrent circulation with money of high value in terms of precious metals, the good money automatically disappears.

Bad money drives out good."

Thomas Gresham

[Oct 28, 2019] One "keeping" Syrian oil: the point of "keeping the oil" is not to profit from it, but to deny it to the Syrians. That's what Bibi wants.

Oct 28, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Horace , Oct 27 2019 17:37 utc | 39

Read the transcript of Trump's announcement this morning. He explicitly says he is keeping the oil, and might invite in Exxon to use it. Logistics are sketchy, because who will buy it? The pipelines will go through Syrian controlled territory. But he also says that a deal might be possible. It's ridiculous.

William Gruff , Oct 27 2019 18:18 utc | 46

Revenue from Syria's oilfields is about a $million/day. That is a small fraction of what it costs to maintain even one little US military base in Syria.

Try to hold tight to a sense of perspective, folks. Trump is a businessman. Not a very good one, perhaps, but certainly not so stupid that he cannot see that as an incredibly bad deal. This "keeping the oil" nonsense is empty posturing intended to appeal to shallow thinkers who don't know the difference between Syria and Venezuela and who don't really care what American foreign policy is so long as it is done with an arrogant swagger. Now that may be the majority of the US population, but these kinds are not even going to remember the tweet this time next week, much less even care.

"Keeping the oil" is not only tactically, strategically, and logistically untenable, it is such a baldfaced violation of so many US and international laws, treaties, and agreements that even America's fig leaf of last resort, Canada, would have to condemn it. This is just childish posturing to throw the appearance of bravado on America's exit from the theatre. People functioning at the level of many posters here need to stop taking it so seriously.

Laguerre , Oct 27 2019 18:37 utc | 54
Revenue from Syria's oilfields is about a $million/day. That is a small fraction of what it costs to maintain even one little US military base in Syria.
Try to hold tight to a sense of perspective, folks.

Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 27 2019 18:18 utc | 45

The point of "keeping the oil" is not to profit from it, but to deny it to the Syrians. That's what Bibi wants.

Don Bacon , Oct 27 2019 18:51 utc | 60
@ 53
"Keeping the oil" is also meant to send a political message that you-know-who is still in charge here, a Carter Doctrine policy that has been in tatters recently.
Peter AU 1 , Oct 27 2019 19:19 utc | 67
On the Syrian oil, US apparently was raking in 30 million a month in an operation that was small enough to be kept from the public. If they take over the oilfields publicly and boost oil infrastructure, the monthly take will rise considerably.

The oil fields on the east bank of the Euphrates produced the bulk of Syrian oil. If production there was only 50% of Syrian production, the figures in dollar terms would still be high.

200,0000 BPD would be just over half Syria pre war oil production, so 200,000 X say $40 per barrel brings the take up to $8 million per day. Not bad when its money for nothing.

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

"before the Syrian Civil War, oil sales for 2010 were projected to generate $3.2 billion for the Syrian government"

" In 2010, Syria produced around 385,000 barrels (61,200 m3) per day of crude oil"

Peter AU 1 , Oct 27 2019 19:47 utc | 74
William Gruff
Trump has made no effort or even noises to pull out of Tanf. I think he wants to continue holding the Syrian border where he can. Denying the oil to Syria is a plus for him and that also has the bonus of partly paying the cost of stationing the US along that border.
Zionism, oil, getting returns on military expenditure seems to be Trump's foreign policy or as foreign policy is termed in the US 'War Policy"
Laguerre , Oct 27 2019 20:06 utc | 78
"Keeping the oil" is also meant to send a political message that you-know-who is still in charge here, a Carter Doctrine policy that has been in tatters recently.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 27 2019 18:51 utc | 60

Sure, that's also true. The NeoCon warmongers only got convincing very late in the game, when US Special Forces were already withdrawing from most of Rojava, and could not be stopped, except for this massively mounted late defence of the oil-fields. As the NeoCons were resisting from the beginning, what was it that changed Trump's mind? Bibi sounds like the answer, but I'm open to others.

William Gruff , Oct 28 2019 0:46 utc | 120
"So why did Trump state so emphatically that Russia and China love U.S. presence there???"

Reverse psychology. If Trump can get that narrative to fly then the mindless Russophobic and Sinophobic brainwash victims in the US will start screaming for the US to get out. After all, jello-brained Americans believe they must do the opposite of whatever China and Russia think is good. The USA certainly cannot do anything that China or Russia might approve of, right? So if they want us to stay then we have to leave.

Let's see if it works.

nemo , Oct 28 2019 2:27 utc | 133
Russia loves the US stealing Syria's oil. Listen, Russia delivered a beat down to murican regime change policy the likes of which the world has never seen before. It is epic humiliation beyond all endurance! The Syrian state is saved and the prospects of a Libya just a few hours from Russia's border are now gone! The US is scared shittless to attack Iran head on, so the status quo is returning to this region faster than murica's tiny brain can process. So what to do? Grab the oil! Be a thug and criminal! No more pretense, just sin proudly like the evil turd you are! Lol! And Russia can point at that turd and condemn it on the world stage for the whole world to see. No excuses...no sympathy. Of course that bravado wont last long. When push comes to shove, murica will fold like the dodgy piece of toilet paper it is and go home. Be patient and enjoy the Evil Empire's death agony a while longer...make popcorn...
Don Bacon , Oct 28 2019 2:54 utc | 136
Here's some historical documents

The Redirection, Mar 5, 2007
Is the Administration's new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?
By Seymour M. Hersh
To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia's government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda. . . here

InsurgeIntel, May 22, 2015
Pentagon report predicted West's support for Islamist rebels would create ISIS
Anti-ISIS coalition knowingly sponsored violent extremists to 'isolate' Assad, rollback 'Shia expansion'
by Nafeez Ahmed
The newly declassified DIA [Defense Intelligence Agency -- headed by General Flynn!] document from 2012 confirms that the main component of the anti-Assad rebel forces by this time comprised Islamist insurgents affiliated to groups that would lead to the emergence of ISIS. Despite this, these groups were to continue receiving support from Western militaries and their regional allies. . . here

The DIA doc is here

A good overview is here

Don Bacon , Oct 28 2019 3:29 utc | 137
Some more history on how Russia's changed the US attitude toward Syria oil shipments to foreign customers. Specifically, whereas until 2015 US air force pilots were not given permission to fire on ISIS oil shipments, that policy changed when Russia entered the war.

In September 2015, the Federation Council, Russia's upper house of parliament authorised the Russian president to use armed forces in Syria.[9][10] Russia acknowledged that Russian air and missile strikes targeted not only ISIL, but also rebel groups in the Army of Conquest coalition like al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda's Syrian branch, and even FSA.
On 30 September 2015, Russia launched its first airstrikes against targets in Rastan, Talbiseh, and Zafaraniya in Homs province of Syria. Moscow gave the United States a one-hour advance notice of its operations. The Homs area is crucial to President Bashar al-Assad's control of western Syria. -- wiki here

CBSNEWS, Nov 23, 2015
U.S. airstrikes against ISIS target oil tanker trucks
Two airstrikes, the most recent over the weekend, have destroyed almost 500 tanker trucks ISIS uses to smuggle oil and sell it on the black market.
By one estimate, these attacks have destroyed roughly half the trucks ISIS uses to bring in $1 million a day in revenues.
Until now, the U.S. has not gone after the tankers for fear of killing the civilian drivers. . . here

That's the first time (and probably the last time) ever that the US military had any consideration for civilian casualties. But they were ISIS employees so. . .cut 'em some slack. Still, only half the trucks were destroyed at that time (more were destroyed much later).

[Oct 27, 2019] There is a probably valid school of thought that the deep establishment has a faction that is pro-Trump and behind the general idea of disengaging from wasteful overseas adventures, since it is becoming clear that this is a ruinous path that the US cannot really afford anymore...

Oct 27, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

juliania , Oct 26 2019 15:24 utc | 105

My thought about Barr holding fire on Epstein is that he may have known that was a red herring, false flag, or whatever you want to call it. That whole Epstein affair sounded like a juicy distraction to me, in the manner of "if it bleeds it leads". When someone actually dies who is the center of contraversial activity, you may be sure, unfortunately, that someone, he or another, is getting close to truths that ought not see the light of day. Somewhat in the nature of the baiting of Putin as Ukraine was beginning its time of troubles. The old revolutionary dictum "Hold your fire until you see the whites of their eyes" may have been in Barr's mind at the time of Epstein's demise.

Certainly such investigations as the one he is involved in take much time to sort out the who-what-where in terms sufficiently damaging to become a credible enterprise. We have seen such attempts fail in the past. I hope he takes his time and gets all his ducks in a row before the hammer falls as fall it must. It is so vital to this country that this attempt succeed; for if it fails only the shambles of Kiev style fisticuffs in Congress can be the result. Not pretty.

In b's post we are reminded of the power of the press to misinform. I would suggest we badly need divestiture of our media from the huge corporations now more wealthy than some countries. The latter are too powerful in this country now, and they do need to be whittled down to size. We not only need fact finders, we need eloquent voices to present those facts to the public. We need free speech!


flankerbandit , Oct 26 2019 17:12 utc | 111

Juliania...about Barr...

He is a deep state creature...his father Donald Barr was an OSS guy and original CIA [which morphed from the wartime OSS]...

Barr senior was also Epstein's mentor and got him his start at the deeply establishment Dalton School [and probably Epstein's handler as an asset or 'agent' as they are called]...

So things go a bit deeper than the surface when it comes to Barr junior...and what he is doing here...

There is a probably valid school of thought that the deep establishment has a faction that is pro-Trump and behind the general idea of disengaging from wasteful overseas adventures, since it is becoming clear that this is a ruinous path that the US cannot really afford anymore...

I would also agree with the theory that says that these two 'deep' factions ['nationalist' vs 'globalist'] are at war...with the 'DNC-Hillary-MSM-interventionist faction' possibly on the decline, but still powerful enough to blow up a lot of the plans that Trump and his deep backers would like to get done...

Epstein is a whole 'nuther can of worms here and I would not be surprised if he was not actually dead...Trump himself is deeply entangled with many of the prime players in the Epstein web...it all depends if he is more useful alive than dead...

Btw...pulling off a deception like a fake death is kindergarten level for these kinds of operators and the unlimited resources they possess to shape so-called 'reality' as brought to us on our little screens...

So really I find it kind of silly that the right wingers are looking at Barr as some kind of White Knight...there really are none of those in these circles...as much as the sheeple would like to believe that...

chu teh , Oct 26 2019 19:08 utc | 112
karlof1 | Oct 25 2019 22:15 utc | 54

re: source of "God has an infinite sense of humor"...

Was told that in 1994[?] conversation w Jerry, a fellow worker, abt the baffling condition of Mankind. Never heard it before or since. At the time it was one of most incisive and impinging viewpoints; it still is.

It was said to me dryly, not coy and no smile, almost plaintively as tho it would be ignored and pass thru unrecognized. I never met a more rational or sharper mind.

Once, I remarked I was looking for an obscure book that was mentioned in another book, as "1 of the 3 best autobios ever written in English" by someone I never heard of. J:"Who and what?" Me:"Kropotkin and Revolutionist".
J:"Oh, sure! I think my wife still has a copy" and he brought it in next day.[An awesome read, too!]

karlof1 , Oct 26 2019 19:56 utc | 113
chu the @112--

Thanks for your reply! I was also thinking that perhaps it was a cynical observation made by a stoic son of a Baptist or Methodist Minister, like the retort in M*A*S*H about how someone like that (Hawkeye, IIRC) got into the Army--"He got drafted," which caused the audience to erupt in laughter (definitely a context-dependent joke).

Peter AU 1 , Oct 26 2019 20:43 utc | 114
flankerbandit 111
"There is a probably valid school of thought that the deep establishment has a faction that is pro-Trump and behind the general idea of disengaging from wasteful overseas adventures, since it is becoming clear that this is a ruinous path that the US cannot really afford anymore..."

I think this what is occuring. And when Trump says swamp, I think it is the section of the swamp that this faction believe set the US on a ruinous path.

pogohere , Oct 26 2019 20:46 utc | 115
chu teh @44 & 112

God is a comedian whose audience refuses to laugh.

uncle tungsten , Oct 26 2019 20:52 utc | 116
Bemildred #66

Good post my friend, no wonder the demoncrazies went berserk over Trump dipping in to their honeypot. I could never definitively find a reason for those spectacular ammunition storage bonfires in Ukraine. I figured it was either to disable their sale or cover up theft.

ERing46Z , Oct 26 2019 22:55 utc | 117
W. Gruff, thanks for the process insight.
I was long-aware the removal of the Smith-Mundt Act was loaded into the 2012 NDAA. No attempt on Trump's watch has been made to bring a needed, modern form of it back. I didn't vote for Trump, and until the damn looney media is reeled back into factual, in-context reporting, it will remain obvious Trump is only expanding a variety of nefarious things on the absence of legislation such as the S-M Act.

[Oct 26, 2019] Defrauding the Elderly Beware These Danger Signs

Oct 26, 2019 | www.kiplinger.com

What Elder Fraud Looks Like

Humans have an amazing capacity to suspend disbelief, a trait that novelists, Hollywood and, sadly, criminals, have used to notable effect. Here are some typical frauds.

[Oct 26, 2019] The Famous Baseball-Watching Equality-Equity Graphic, Scrutinized by Peter Dorman

Notable quotes:
"... The real world politics of affirmative action, targeted (as opposed to universal) benefit programs and the like reside in these complexities. The equity graphic conveys the initial insight, but the assumptions packed into its story make it harder rather than easier to think through the controversies that bedevil equity politics. ..."
"... This goes back to what I call justice vs fairness. Justice is supposed to be blind, with the same outcome for all. It ain't so at the moment, but let's suppose we'd get a perfect justice. It still would not be fair. Fine of 1k may mean bankruptcy for some, and way beyond the level of recognition for someone else. ..."
"... But if you start getting into "fair", it has its own problems. Namely, fair depends on the context, and the context may vary – what is fair in one context may be deeply unfair in another, and it's possible that there's no solution where something is "fair" in all possible (or even majority) contexts. ..."
"... Precisely a point. Abstract words require context when applied to concrete cases. The main case for 'equal' is likely "all men are created equal" in the Declaration of Independence. The context there especially is a retort to the divine right of royalty. ..."
"... I think this argues for why a human element – judges – are indispensible for taking into account context and setting consequences appropriately. So Yves' introduction about the co-optation of the judiciary by Law & Economics is pertinent. It is vital for society to require the judiciary to act in the public interest. ..."
"... The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread. Anatole France ..."
"... Another angle: all three are cheating, trying to watch the game without paying. If everybody did that. The point of the pictures is to simplify the concepts enough to provide a working definition – though as Studebaker wrote, it isn't a very good definition. ..."
"... Neo-liberal economics has resulted in more and more Americans finding themselves on the ' outside' , looking in, and a great many of them are quite upset about that because they remember a better time, and understand that in a very real sense, they're situation is the result of the callous, and willful behavior of elites who've profited in ruining their quality of life. ..."
"... Indeed. "The baseball game is dependent on the wall." Because, for one, who wants to run all the way to the river and wade in after the stupid ball? Baseball is an enjoyable distraction. So, to carry this metaphor, is the economy. Equity, to me, was always an equal share of something. A stake in something. Equal justice under the law. Without equity, as is now dawning on me, there can be no hope of equality. ..."
"... Neoliberalism is "accumulation by dispossession" (David Harvey) so there's no equity there. Hence no equality. ..."
Oct 25, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. To give you a bit of break rom the loud warble coming from far too many news outlets, here's a point of entry into a classic debate about fairness, or more specifically, equality versus equity.

In case you missed it, there's been a war on equity in the form of the law and economics movement. From ECONNED:

The third avenue for promoting and institutionalizing the "free market" ideology was inculcating judges. It was one of the most far-reaching actions the radical right wing could take. Precedents are powerful, and the bench turns over slowly. Success here would make the "free markets" revolution difficult to reverse.

While conservative scholars like Richard Posner and Richard Epstein at the University of Chicago trained some of the initial right-leaning jurists, attorney Henry Manne gave the effort far greater reach. Manne established his "law and economics" courses for judges, which grew into the Law and Economics Center, which in 1980 moved from the University of Miami to Emory in Atlanta and eventually to George Mason University.

Manne had gotten the backing of over 200 conservative sponsors, including some known for extreme right-wing views, such as the Adolph Coors Company, plus many of the large U.S. corporations that were also funding the deregulation.

Manne is often depicted as an entrepreneur in the realm of ideas. He took note of the fact that, at the time, the University of Chicago had one of the few law schools that solicited funding from large corporations. Manne sought to create a new law school, not along conventional brick-and-mortar lines (his efforts here failed), but as a network. He set out to become a wholesaler, teaching law professors and judges. However, although Manne presented his courses as teaching economics from a legal perspective, they had a strong ideological bias:

The center is directed by Henry Manne, a corporate lawyer who has undertaken to demolish what he calls "the myth of corporate responsibility." "Every time I hear a businessman acknowledge public interest in what they do," Manne warns, "they invite political control over their activities." At Manne's center in Miami, interested judges learn how to write decisions against such outside political control couched in the new norms of market efficiency.

Manne approached his effort not simply as education, but as a political movement. He would not accept law professors into his courses unless at least two came from a single school, so that they could support each other and push for others from the law and economics school of thought to be hired.

The program expanded to include seminars for judges, training in legal issues for economists, and an economics institute for Congressional aides. A 1979 Fortune article on the program noted that the instructors "almost to a man" were from the "free market" school of economics. Through 1980, 137 federal district and circuit court judges had finished the basic program and 56 had taken additional "advanced" one-week courses.

It is hard to overstate the change this campaign produced, namely, a major shift in jurisprudence. As Steven Teles of the University of Maryland noted:

In the beginning, the law and economics (with the partial exception of its application to antitrust) was so far out of the legal academic mainstream as to be reasonably characterized as "off the wall." . . . Moving law and economics' status from "off the wall" to "controversial but respectable" required a combination of celebrity and organizational entrepreneurship. . . . Mannes' programs for federal judges helped erase law and economics' stigma, since if judges -- the symbol of legal professional respectability -- took the ideas seriously, they could not be crazy and irresponsible.

Now why was law and economics vantage seen as "off the wall?" Previously, as noted above, economic thinking had been limited to antitrust, which inherently involves economic concepts (various ways to measure the power of large companies in a market). So extending economic concepts further was at least novel, and novel could be tantamount to "off the wall" in some circles. But with hindsight, equally strong words like "radical," "activist," and "revolutionary" would apply.

Why? The law and economics promoters sought to colonize legal minds. And, to a large extent they succeeded. For centuries (literally), jurisprudence had been a multifaceted subject aimed at ordering human affairs. The law and economics advocates wanted none of that. The law and economics advocates wanted none of that. They wanted their narrow construct to play as prominent a role as possible.

For instance, a notion that predates the legal practice is equity, that is, fairness. The law in its various forms including legislative, constitutional, private (i.e., contract), judicial, and administrative, is supposed to operate within broad, inherited concepts of equity. Another fundamental premise is the importance of "due process," meaning adherence to procedures set by the state. By contrast, the "free markets" ideology focuses on efficiency and seeks aggressively to minimize the role of government. The two sets of assumptions are diametrically opposed.

By Peter Dorman, professor of economics at The Evergreen State College. Originally published at Econospeak

Here's the graphic, widely used to explain why equity outcomes require unequal treatment of different people.

Benjamin Studebaker (hat tip Naked Capitalism ) doesn't like it at all: "I hate it so much." But his complaints, about the way the graphic elides classic debates in political theory, strike me as being too redolent of grad school obsessions. The graphic is not trying to advance one academic doctrine over another; it just makes a simple case for compensatory policy. I agree in a general way with this perspective.

Consider the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which mandates special facilities in public buildings to accommodate people in wheelchairs or facing other mobility challenges. This is unequal treatment: extra money is spent to install ramps that only a few will use, rather than for amenities for everyone. But it's a great idea! Yes, compensation is concentrated on a minority, but it aims to allow everyone to participate in public activities, and in doing this it embodies a spirit of solidarity that ought to embrace all of us. By making a simple, intuitive case for focused compensation, the graphic captures the spirit behind the ADA and many other policies that take account of inequalities that would otherwise leave some members of the community excluded and oppressed.

Unfortunately, however, there are serious limitations to the graphic; above all, it embodies assumptions that beg most of the questions people ask about compensatory programs. Some are challenges from conservatives of a more individualistic bent, others might be asked by friendly critics on the left, but all are worthy of being taken seriously.

1. Watching the game over the fence is binary: either you can see it or you can't. In the real world, however, most activities are matters of degree. You can learn more or less of a particular subject in school, have a better or worse chance of getting the job you want, live in a bigger or smaller house or apartment. How much compensation is enough? At what point do we decide that the gains from ex post equity are not large enough to justify the other costs of the program, not only monetary but possible conflicts with other social objectives? Every teacher who has thought about how much extra attention to give those students who come to the classroom with extra needs has faced this problem.

2. Watching the game is passive, an act of pure consumption. Things get more complex when inequalities involve activities that produce goods of value to others. For instance, how would the graphic address compensatory programs for the baseball players ? Yes, a player from an underserved, overlooked community should get an extra chance to show they should be on the team. But should the criteria for who makes the team be relaxed? How and how much? In case you haven't noticed, this gets to the core of debates over affirmative action. Again, I am in favor of the principle of taking extra steps to compensate for pre-existing inequalities, but the graphic offers no guidance in figuring out how far to go in that direction.

3. Height is a largely inherited condition, but what about differences in opportunity that are at least partly the result of the choices we make ourselves? This is red meat to conservatives, who denounce affirmative action and other compensatory policies on the grounds that they undermine the incentive to try hard and do one's best. I think this position is too extreme, since inherited and environmental conditions are obviously crucial in many contexts, but it would also be a mistake to say that individual choices play no role at all. Again we are facing questions of degree, and the graphic, with it's clear intimation that inequality is inborn and ineluctable, doesn't help.

4. The inequality depicted in the graphic is height, which is easily and uncontroversially measured. Most social inequalities are anything but. Student A went to a high school with a library; student B's high school didn't have one. That's a meaningful inequality, and if an opportunity can be awarded to only one of them, like entrance into a selective college program, it ought to be considered. But how big an effect should we attribute to it? Damned if I know.

5. There is no real scarcity facing the three game-watchers in the graphics. There are enough boxes to allow everyone to get a good view and enough fence space for everyone to share. In the real world neither tends to be true. Resources that can be devoted to compensatory programs are limited, especially on a global scale, which, if you're really an egalitarian, is how you should think about these things. Even locally, the money often runs short. The college I used to teach at could be criticized for not doing enough for students from low income and rural backgrounds with weak K-12 systems (I certainly did), but even with the best of intentions the money was not there. Of course, where the goods to be distributed are competitive, like slots in a school or job openings at a company, the problem is that there's not enough fence space to go around. Yes, we should take action to provide more opportunities and reduce the competitive scarcity. No, this won't make the scarcity go away completely.

6. The graphic shows us three individuals and asks us to visually compare their heights. America has a population of over 320 million, and even "small" communities can have a cast of thousands. Surely we are not expected to make individual calculations for every person-by-person comparison. No, those using the graphic usually have in mind group comparisons -- differences requiring compensatory interventions according to race, class, gender, ability status, etc. But while that makes things easier by reducing the number of comparisons, it makes everything else much harder to figure out: How do we measure group advantages and disadvantages? How do we account for intersections? Are they additive, multiplicative or something else? Do all members of the group get assigned the same advantage/disadvantage rankings? If not, on what criteria? These are tremendously difficult questions. I am not suggesting that they force us to abandon an egalitarian commitment to substantive, ex post equality -- quite the contrary, in fact. We do have to face them if we want to reduce the inequality in this world. My point here is that, by depicting just these three fans watching a baseball game over a fence, one tall, one medium, one short, the graphic is a dishonest guide to navigating actual situations.

My bottom line is that, while I agree with the spirit of the graphic that policies, whether at a single office, a large institution or an entire country, should take account of the inequalities people face in real life and try to compensate for them, how and how far to go is difficult to resolve. Achieving ex post equality is complicated in the face of so many factors that affect our chances in life, and on top of this, equality is only one of many values we ought to respect.

The real world politics of affirmative action, targeted (as opposed to universal) benefit programs and the like reside in these complexities. The equity graphic conveys the initial insight, but the assumptions packed into its story make it harder rather than easier to think through the controversies that bedevil equity politics.


vlade , October 25, 2019 at 4:22 am

This goes back to what I call justice vs fairness. Justice is supposed to be blind, with the same outcome for all. It ain't so at the moment, but let's suppose we'd get a perfect justice. It still would not be fair. Fine of 1k may mean bankruptcy for some, and way beyond the level of recognition for someone else.

But if you start getting into "fair", it has its own problems. Namely, fair depends on the context, and the context may vary – what is fair in one context may be deeply unfair in another, and it's possible that there's no solution where something is "fair" in all possible (or even majority) contexts.

Justice is blind really means it declaratively sets the context and recognises no other. But if we lock the context for fairness, we'll generate some unfair outcomes.

That all said, the fact that the perfect outcome is unachievable doesn't mean we'd not strive for a better one.

Steve H. , October 25, 2019 at 7:31 am

> context may vary

Precisely a point. Abstract words require context when applied to concrete cases. The main case for 'equal' is likely "all men are created equal" in the Declaration of Independence. The context there especially is a retort to the divine right of royalty.

Abstractions are particularly subject to korinthenkacking, "questions of degree". Commitment to decisions tend to binarism, and (imo) usually based on one or two factors, with a third for nuance.

For all the dithers, there is an egalatarianism inherent in the image; universally, everyone has been a child and at some point has felt the pain of being too small. That emotional impact is part of its success.

Oguk , October 25, 2019 at 11:41 am

I think this argues for why a human element – judges – are indispensible for taking into account context and setting consequences appropriately. So Yves' introduction about the co-optation of the judiciary by Law & Economics is pertinent. It is vital for society to require the judiciary to act in the public interest. Manne's framing of this as "political control" is not completely wrong. The kind of judicial reform we (I) would like to see needs to articulate what "public interest" means. I find Dorman's grappling with this graphic to be a helpful start. The left seems deficient in thinking about this kind of complexity (though perhaps I've missed it).

Katniss Everdeen , October 25, 2019 at 8:13 am

Wow, hadn't seen this before. Kinda fun to think about. Maybe the whole point is just to illustrate the difference in the definitions of the two words in an Ikea sorta way. Haven't seen the Studebaker critique so I don't know what his issues are.

I also have no idea what the "classic debates in political theory" wrt this graphic are. But a few thoughts occur to me–can the short guy cut a hole in the the fence, or do the "rules" say that the only way to see the game, without buying a ticket of course, is by looking OVER the fence?

Is there a legitimate reason for the fence at all? If so, what is it? If not, why is it there? Why are there no wheel chairs in the picture, when the discussion involves disabled accommodation? Why do the kibitzers in the graphic appear to be minorities, no whites?

Gotta take the dog to the vet now. Will look for the Studebaker piece later. Maybe he answers my questions.

Greg Gerner , October 25, 2019 at 8:36 am

The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread. Anatole France

James Fox , October 25, 2019 at 8:45 am

I have always found this graphic both confusing and troubling. Why are the three central figures watching the game outside the park? Isn't the difference between the outside the fence watchers and the comfortably seated audience inside the park a question of equality and equity? Are equity standards only applied to people relegated to not only 'second class seating' but standing room only areas? Finally, do the people inside the park get to decide not only who gets into the park but also how well or poorly the excluded fence watchers execute a workaround to subvert the exclusionary practices implied by the presence of a fence?

Oregoncharles , October 26, 2019 at 12:33 am

Another angle: all three are cheating, trying to watch the game without paying. If everybody did that. The point of the pictures is to simplify the concepts enough to provide a working definition – though as Studebaker wrote, it isn't a very good definition.

In simplifying it so much, it leaves a tremendous amount out and dodges a legion of questions – both our writers seem to agree that it dodges crucial questions.

In the end, it's just a cartoon. You're right: the field would have guards out there to prevent this sort of thing, unless they were consciously offering charity.

Watt4Bob , October 25, 2019 at 9:21 am

Why has no one made note of the fact that the people in the graphic are all excluded, presumedly because of lack of the price of a ticket?

And is that lack of money due to the fact that they are all people of color, and so subject to the economic inequality, based on racial prejudice, that plagues our system?

To me, the graphic portrays, in sub-text, the notion that people with less can/should be happy with less than full participation in the culture in which they live, so long as that austerity is ' properly' distributed amongst those ' outside ' the fence.

Neo-liberal economics has resulted in more and more Americans finding themselves on the ' outside' , looking in, and a great many of them are quite upset about that because they remember a better time, and understand that in a very real sense, they're situation is the result of the callous, and willful behavior of elites who've profited in ruining their quality of life.

To take my analysis a bit further, IMO, it is the ' nouveau poor ' who, because of their belief that they deserve the better life they clearly remember, and so recently lost, insist that the ' equality ' portrayed in the left panel is reasonable, and should be accepted because it is obviously evenly distributed.

This misinformed opinion might be attributed to their lack of experience with their new life ' outside ', where people over time learn to cooperate in making do with less.

There is a rich literature dealing with this reality, think The Prince and the Pauper, or even the teachings of Jesus, and the Buddha.

The folks who believe in MAGA, are refusing to adjust, and believe that somehow, they will regain their rightful place in an economy that has clearly decided to leave them behind, and ' outside '.

Our job then, is to help them understand that their only real hope for a better life is in solidarity with the rest of us, in our fight to get everyone a place inside the fence.

This job is obviously a long, up hill battle, largely because of the long history of the PTB stigmatizing socialism, dividing to conquer, and of course the MSM's total abandonment of their civic duty.

It's Bernie or bust!

Dan , October 25, 2019 at 12:56 pm

And, that the little kid will, unless they are a midget, grow to the point where they can see over the fence?

Oh, and poor white people, who outnumber blacks? What about them?

Will Shetterly , October 25, 2019 at 10:02 am

Socialism flattens the fence so anyone who wants to watch can take a seat in the stadium.

Watt4Bob , October 25, 2019 at 4:44 pm

Exactly!

Cuba is a baseball-crazy country, how many people in Cuba are watching from over the fence?

Joe Well , October 25, 2019 at 5:48 pm

I odce spent a few months in Cuba. It is absolutely not a model for most things. One anecdote: an employee of the film industry (ICAIC) told me she gave some desperately poor friends movie theater tickets. They ended up not going because they couldn't afford the bus fare.

A bigger issue: the daily struggle to get enough to eat beyond rice, beans, and sugar. We can debate the role of the US in turning Cuba into a near prison, and all sanctions need to stop now, but it is what it is.

witters , October 26, 2019 at 12:57 am

We can debate the role of the US in turning Cuba into a near prison, and all sanctions need to stop now, but it is what it is.

And we can debate why, without sanctions, the US has the largest prison population in the world at the highest rate of imprisonment. Tthough, of course, there is "no daily struggle" for food or healthcare )

https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2019.html

Joe Well , October 26, 2019 at 10:15 am

Cuba is an actual country with 11 million real people in it, not just a set of talking points or a hypothetical. Of all the manifestations of North American arrogance, being made into fairy tales pisses off Latin Americans, including the left, about as much as any. We can abolish the current prison model and also abolish the sanctions on Cuba and do other things not to make their already difficult lives worse.

A country a hundred miles from Disney World has the boot of the US state pressing down on its suffering people and most American leftists only talk about it in terms of an internal US political debate. Exhibit 10000 of why the American left sucks.

And yes, Cuba today distributes what resources it does have so unequally that it is not a great model of social justice.

Anarcissie , October 25, 2019 at 11:41 am

In the graphic, there are at least three games going on: the baseball game, about which we don't learn very much; the game of the fence, which is solved with box arrangements, or by taking it down; and the game of the definitions of 'equality' and 'equity', which comes through the fourth wall into the world in which the cartoonist is trying to prove something. According to my communistic prejudices, I would have said the only just solution would be to remove the wall, but it could be that the baseball game is dependent on the wall -- I would think most goods produced by labor, especially performances, would require some defining structure -- and certainly the word game requires the wall as part of its raw material.

PKMKII , October 25, 2019 at 11:45 am

Or, replace the wall with clear plexiglass, thus retaining the nature of the game but removing the market barriers that keep people without access to funds from enjoying the game.

Susan the Other , October 25, 2019 at 2:02 pm

Indeed. "The baseball game is dependent on the wall." Because, for one, who wants to run all the way to the river and wade in after the stupid ball? Baseball is an enjoyable distraction. So, to carry this metaphor, is the economy. Equity, to me, was always an equal share of something. A stake in something. Equal justice under the law. Without equity, as is now dawning on me, there can be no hope of equality.

Little Manu Macron, in a burst of hypocrisy, told Trump that the difference between France and the US was that France was based more on social justice. Justice. I really don't see that as fundamentally French. But I definitely don't see it as fundamentally USA. "Equity" is as much verbiage as "Equality". We might want to start looking at the antonyms. Neoliberalism is "accumulation by dispossession" (David Harvey) so there's no equity there. Hence no equality.

Appleseed , October 25, 2019 at 3:00 pm

A version of this graphic was used at a civic engagement seminar on multi-modal transportation accessibility I attended last night. It featured one twist – the replacement of the slotted fence with a chain link fence so that all could see the game "because the cause of the inequity was addressed. The systemic barrier was removed." In the context of the presentation about accessibility in the city, the presenter mentioned universal design . This reminded me of Bucky Fuller's anticipatory design since both seek to think comprehensively (i.e. inclusively) about design challenges and to accommodate the maximum number of beneficiaries while doing harm to the least number possible. Seem equitable to me! The designer of the equity meme has a great post at Medium that provides a thorough overview of how the graphic has evolved (including the the chain link fence addition), the variety of interpretations, and how the "famous" meme has spread far and wide.

William S , October 25, 2019 at 12:28 pm

Is Mr. Dorman damning this image with faint praise? I think it's a brilliant way of illustrating how an issue can be turned on it's head and looked at from a different perspective.

It presents the difference between equality of opportunity vs. equality of outcome. Even some self-labeled progressives (perhaps in order to appease conservatives?) have claimed they are only interested in the former, not the latter. The graphic shows how meaningless that way of judging results is.

The first step in trying to achieve good outcomes for all is to listen to all. This gets my goat:

"Surely we are not expected to make individual calculations for every person-by-person comparison."

Well, that's what individuals do, and if you respect them you take their perceptions of inequity as data for your distributed computation. Not everyone wants the same thing. Some people don't even like baseball.

And yes, that fence around the field is a good starter for a conversation about the problems of enclosure. You wouldn't need the damn boxes if you hadn't blocked the view.

Katniss Everdeen , October 25, 2019 at 1:06 pm

Wow, hadn't seen this before. Kinda fun to think about. Maybe the whole point is just to illustrate the difference in the definitions of the two words in an Ikea sorta way. Haven't seen the Studebaker critique so I don't know what his issues are.

I also have no idea what the "classic debates in political theory" wrt this graphic are. But a few thoughts occur to me–can the short guy cut a hole in the the fence, or do the "rules" say that the only way to see the game, without buying a ticket of course, is by looking OVER the fence?

Is there a legitimate reason for the fence at all? If so, what is it? If not, why is it there? Why are there no wheel chairs in the picture, when the discussion involves disabled accommodation? Why do the people in the graphic appear to be minorities, no whites?

Gotta take the dog to the vet now. Will look for the Studebaker piece later. Maybe he answers my questions.

rd , October 25, 2019 at 6:32 pm

I think a big challenge in the US is the general assumption that equality, equity, etc. are a zero-sum game. If somebody gets something, then other people have lost. I think this thinking is one of the reasons that we have seen low productivity growth over the past couple of decades.

If the lower-class elements in society can get better conditions and opportunities, they also have the opportunity to contribute more to society which increases the total size of the pool for everybody to split. High inequality, such as now, means that many people are not able to contribute to their full potential, which means the total size of the pool can be smaller than it otherwise might be.

I don't think it is accidental that one of the great economic booms of all time occurred from about 1950 to 2000 when the US:

1. Helped fund reconstruction of Europe and Japan after WW II;
2. Instituted the GI Bill which allowed many people who would never have gone to higher education to do so;
3. Desegregated schools and generally allowed minorities to participate more fully;
4. Encouraged women to participate more fully in society; and
5. Disabled people could participate more fully.

All of these factors contributed to substantial growth in the 50s-90s period as more and more groups become economically prosperous. However, we are now going to the ultimate meritocracy where the economic winners are beginning to crush the people who have not done as well and concentrate wealth at the top. As a result, the growth has stagnated as mobility is decreasing and the upper pools are not growing.

witters , October 26, 2019 at 1:03 am

1950-2000? I think the key date is 1973, when labor productivity was detached from wage compensation. That's your neoliberalism kicking in, and it kicks on (and down).

Knute Rife , October 26, 2019 at 4:55 pm

Destroying the equity powers of the federal courts was a major goal of Rehnquist & Co. For the most part, mission accomplished.

[Oct 26, 2019] Mish Pondering The Collapse Of The Entire Shadow Banking System

Oct 26, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk,

What's behind the ever-increasing need for emergency repos? A couple of correspondents have an eye on shadow banking.

Shadow Banking

The above from Investopedia .

Image courtesy of my friend Chris Temple.

Hey It's Not QE, Not Even Monetary

Yesterday, I commented Fed to Increase Emergency Repos to $120 Billion, But Hey, It's Not Monetary .

Let's recap before reviewing excellent comments from a couple of valued sources.

The Fed keeps increasing the size and duration of "overnight" funding. It's now up $120 billion a day, every day, extended for weeks. That is on top of new additions.

Three Fed Statements
  1. Emergency repos were needed for " end-of-quarter funding ".
  2. Balance sheet expansion is " not QE ". Rather, it's " organic growth ".
  3. This is "not monetary policy ".
Three Mish Comments
  1. Hmm. A quick check of my calendar says the quarter ended on September 30 and today is October 23.
  2. Hmm. Historically "organic" growth was about $2 to $3 billion.
  3. Hmm. Somehow it takes an emergency (but let's no longer call it that), $120 billion " at least " in repetitive " overnight " repos to control interest rates, but that does not constitute "monetary policy"

I made this statement: I claim these "non-emergency", "non-QE", "non-monetary policy" operations suggest we may already be at the effective lower bound for the Fed's current balance sheet holding .

Shadow Banking Suggestion by David Collum

Pater Tenebrarum at the Acting Man blog pinged me with these comments on my article, emphasis mine.

While there is too much collateral and not enough reserves to fund it, we don't know anything about the distribution [or quality] of this collateral . It could well be that some market participants do not have sufficient high quality collateral and were told to bugger off when they tried to repo it in the private markets.

Such market participants would become unable to fund their leveraged positions in CLOs or whatever else they hold.

Mind, I'm not saying that's the case, but the entire shadow banking system is opaque and we usually only find out what's what when someone keels over or is forced to report a huge loss.

Reader Comments
  1. Axiom7: Euro banks are starving for dollar funding and if there is a hard Brexit both UK and German banks are in big trouble. I wonder if this implies that the EU will crack in negotiations knowing that a DB fail is too-big-to-bail?
  2. Cheesie: How do you do repos with a negative interest rate?
  3. Harry-Ireland: [sarcastically], Of course, it's not QE. How can it be, it's the greatest economy ever and there's absolutely nobody over-leveraged and the system is as healthy as can be!
  4. Ian: Taking bad collateral to keep banks solvent is not QE.

In regards to point number four, I commented:

This is not TARP 2009. [The Fed is not swapping money for dodgy collateral] Someone or someones is caught in some sort of borrow-short lend-long scheme and the Fed is giving them reserves for nothing in return. Where's the collateral?

Pater Tenebrarum partially agrees.

Yes, this is not "TARP" - the Fed is not taking shoddy collateral, only treasury and agency bonds are accepted. The primary dealers hold a huge inventory of treasuries that needs to be funded every day in order to provide them with the cash needed for day-to-day operations - they are one of the main sources of the "collateral surplus".

Guessing Game

We are all guessing here, so I am submitting possible ideas for discussion.

Rehypothecation

I am not convinced the Fed isn't bailing out a US major bank, foreign bank, or some other financial institution by taking rehypothecated , essentially non-existent, as collateral.

Rehypothecation is the practice by banks and brokers of using, for their own purposes, assets that have been posted as collateral by their clients.

In a typical example of rehypothecation, securities that have been posted with a prime brokerage as collateral by a hedge fund are used by the brokerage to back its own transactions and trades.

Current Primary Dealers
  1. Amherst Pierpont Securities LLC
  2. Bank of Nova Scotia, New York Agency
  3. BMO Capital Markets Corp.
  4. BNP Paribas Securities Corp.
  5. Barclays Capital Inc.
  6. Cantor Fitzgerald & Co.
  7. Citigroup Global Markets Inc.
  8. Credit Suisse AG, New York Branch
  9. Daiwa Capital Markets America Inc.
  10. Deutsche Bank Securities Inc.
  11. Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC
  12. HSBC Securities (USA) Inc.
  13. Jefferies LLC
  14. J.P. Morgan Securities LLC
  15. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated
  16. Mizuho Securities USA LLC
  17. Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC
  18. NatWest Markets Securities Inc.
  19. Nomura Securities International, Inc.
  20. RBC Capital Markets, LLC
  21. Societe Generale, New York Branch
  22. TD Securities (USA) LLC
  23. UBS Securities LLC.
  24. Wells Fargo Securities LLC.

The above Primary Dealer List from Wikipedia as of May 6, 2019.

Anyone spot any candidates?

My gosh, how many are foreign entities?

It's important to note those are not "shadow banking" institutions, while also noting that derivative messes within those banks would be considered "shadow banking".

Tenebrarum Reply

In this case the problem is specifically that the primary dealers are holding huge inventories of treasuries and bank reserves are apparently not sufficient to both pre-fund the daily liquidity requirements of banks and leave them with enough leeway to lend reserves to repo market participants.

The Fed itself does not accept anything except treasuries and agency MBS in its repo operations, and only organizations authorized to access the federal funds market can participate by offering collateral in exchange for Fed liquidity (mainly the primary dealers, banks, money market funds,...).

Since most of the repo lending is overnight - i.e., is reversed within a 24 hour period (except for term repos) - I don't think re-hypothecated securities play a big role in this.

But private repo markets are broader and have far more participants, so possibly there is a problem elsewhere that is propagating into the slice of the market the Fed is connected with. Note though, since the Treasury is borrowing like crazy and is at the same time rebuilding its deposits with the Fed (which lowers bank reserves, ceteris paribus), there is a several-pronged push underway that is making short term funding of treasury collateral more difficult at the moment.

So I'm not sure a case can really be made that there is anything going on beyond what meets the eye - which is already bad enough if you ask me.

Preparation for End of LIBOR

What about all the LIBOR-based derivatives with the end of LIBOR coming up?

The Wall Street Journal reports U.S. Companies Advised to Prepare for Multiple Benchmark Rates in Transition from Libor

Libor is a scandal-plagued benchmark that is used to set the price of trillions of dollars of loans and derivatives globally. A group of banks and regulators in 2017 settled on a replacement created by the Federal Reserve known as the secured overnight financing rate, or SOFR. Companies must move away from Libor by the end of 2021, when banks will no longer be required to publish rates used to calculate it.

"We don't expect that 100% of the Libor-based positions today will migrate 100% to SOFR," Jeff Vitali, a partner at Ernst & Young, said this week during a panel at an Association for Financial Professionals conference in Boston. "It is going to be a scenario where entities are going to have to prepare and be flexible and build flexibility into their systems and models and processes that can handle multiple pricing environments in the same jurisdiction."

Repro Quake

​I invite readers to consider Tenebrarum's " Repro Quake - A Primer " but caution that it is complicated.

He informs me "a credit analyst at the largest bank in my neck of the woods sent me a mail to tell me this was by far the best article on the topic he has come across".

Note: That was supposed to be a private comment to me. I placed it in as an endorsement.

Tenebrarum live in Europe. Here are his conclusions.

What Else is the Fed Missing? Effective Lower Bound

Finally, Tenebrarum commented: " I agree on your effective lower bound comment, since obviously, the 'dearth' of excess reserves was pushing up all overnight rates, including the FF rate ."

For discussion of why the effective lower bound of interest rates may be much higher than zero, please see In Search of the Effective Lower Bound .


argento3 , 4 hours ago link

my gut tells me (I have no tangible evidence)

that some of this money is leaking out to continue to prop up the stock market. I've been trading for 46 years and current valuations are beyond ridiculous. for example, Tesla made a buck a share in the last quarter. woop di do. and the stock zooms to $300++ a share with a market cap of $58 bil. 60% more than Ford???!!! We know that Porsche and BMW and Mercedes and Audi are going to build a much better EV. another one, Cintas. They rent uniforms. what a sexy business! valued at a p/e of 32 with a $28 bil. market cap. Book value of $29 a share. the stock is at $270 !!! the list goes on and on and on Carvana, etc.

personally, I have 5% bitcoin 5% gold and have a nice chunk in a very high quality diversified commodity mutual fund. Commodities (relative to stocks) are at multi decade lows. a deep value trade. very best wishes to you. Argento

Doge , 4 hours ago link

Can you name the commodity fund you own?

argento3 , 4 hours ago link

i like both DCMSX and PCRAX (DFA and Pimco)

this sector has under performed stocks as written above. so the returns have been negative (for now)

Let it Go , 6 hours ago link

On occasion, it is important to revisit issues that have been swept under the rug or simply overlooked. For most people, the derivatives market falls into this category, partly because they don't understand exactly what derivatives are or why this market is so important.

Anyone paying attention knows that the size of the derivatives market dwarfs the global economy. Paul Wilmott who holds a doctorate in applied mathematics from Oxford University has written several books on derivatives. Wilmott estimates the derivatives market at $1.2 quadrillion, to put that in perspective it is about 20 times the size of the world economy.

http://Derivatives Could Explode Like A bomb!html

namrider , 6 hours ago link

That is an OLD guess... today it is estimated that derivatives exceeds $2 quadrillion, and that just commodity derivatives approaches the old figure. Interest rate based derivatives still dominate, my guess is much higher.

[Oct 26, 2019] The globalist criminal elites will not be held responsible for any of these crimes. They're bound together by ties of blackmail forged by guys like Epstein, mutually assured incrimination in serial swindles which cross Left and Right political boundaries and literal murder in the case of guys like Seth Rich

Oct 26, 2019 | www.unz.com

Exile , says: October 25, 2019 at 6:42 pm GMT

The globalist criminal elites will not be held responsible for any of these crimes. They're bound together by ties of blackmail forged by guys like Epstein, mutually assured incrimination in serial swindles which cross Left and Right political boundaries and literal murder in the case of guys like Seth Rich.

The cozy proximity of recently-murdered Epstein himself to crypto-converso AG Barr's family only makes me more certain that they will get away with this heist like they've done with dozens of other billion-dollar swindles.

If they were only stealing money it would be bad enough, but the fact that these same grifters are our "diplomats" and warmakers is positively Orwellian. Watching these petty hoodlums play nuclear chicken with Russia so they can squeeze more shekels from the supine Ukraine would be laughable if I could get the first-strike nightmares of my Cold War childhood out of my head long enough to laugh.

[Oct 25, 2019] Trump-Haters, Not Trump, Are The Ones Wrecking America s Institutions, WSJ s Strassel Says

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... "I've always felt that the media leaned left. That wasn't a surprise to anyone. "But what we've seen over the past three years is something entirely different. This is the media actively engaging on one side of a partisan warfare. It's overt." ..."
"... "We had a media cheerleading the FBI for meddling in American politics. Can you ever imagine a time in American history where the media would have played such a role? ..."
"... "I keep warning my friends on the other side of the aisle: Think about the precedent you are setting here," Strassel said. ..."
Oct 24, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Trump-Haters, Not Trump, Are The Ones Wrecking America's Institutions, WSJ's Strassel Says by Tyler Durden Thu, 10/24/2019 - 17:15 0 SHARES

Authored by Irene Luo and Jan Jekielek via The Epoch Times,

The anti- Trump "Resistance" has devastated core American institutions and broken longstanding political norms in seeking to defeat and now oust from office President Donald Trump, said Kimberley Strassel, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal and member of the Journal's editorial board.

"And this, to me, is the irony, right? We've been told for three years that Donald Trump is wrecking institutions," Strassel said in an interview with The Epoch Times for the "American Thought Leaders" program.

" But in terms of real wreckage to institutions, it's not on Donald Trump that public faith in the FBI and the Department of Justice has precipitously fallen. That's because of Jim Comey and Andy McCabe. It's not on Donald Trump that the Senate confirmation process for the Supreme Court is in ashes after what happened to Brett Kavanaugh. It's not on Donald Trump that we are turning impeachment into a partisan political tool."

The damage inflicted by the anti-Trump Resistance is the subject of Strassel's new book, "Resistance (At All Costs): How Trump Haters Are Breaking America."

Strassel uses the term "haters" deliberately, to differentiate this demographic from Trump's "critics."

In Strassel's view, all thoughtful critics of Trump - and she counts herself among them - would look at Trump the same way that they have examined past presidents - namely, to call him out when he does something wrong, but also laud him when he does something right.

" The 'haters' can't abide nuance. To the Resistance, any praise - no matter how qualified - of Trump is tantamount to American betrayal, " Strassel writes in "Resistance (At All Costs)."

She told The Epoch Times: "Up until the point at which Donald Trump was elected, what happened when political parties lost is that they would retreat, regroup, lick their wounds, talk about what they did wrong.

"That's not what happened this time around. Instead, you had people who essentially said we should have won."

From the moment Trump was elected, this group believed Trump to be an illegitimate president and therefore felt they could use whatever means necessary to remove him from office , Strassel said.

'Unprecedented Acts'

"One thing I try really hard to do in this book is enunciate what rules and regulations and standards were broken, what political boundaries were crossed, because I think that that's where we're seeing the damage," Strassel said.

The "unprecedented acts" of the Resistance have caused the public to lose trust in longstanding institutions such as the FBI, the CIA, and the Department of Justice, and cheapened important political processes like impeachment, she said.

The Resistance fabricated and pushed the theory that it was Trump's collusion with Russia that won him the presidency, not the support of the American people, and lied about the origins of the so-called evidence -- the Steele dossier -- that was used by the FBI to justify a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign, Strassel said.

"We have never, in the history of this country, had a counterintelligence investigation into a political campaign," she said.

In an anecdote that Strassel recounts in her book, she asked former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) if there was anything in America's laws that could have prohibited this situation.

Nunes, who had helped write or update many laws concerning the powers of the intelligence community, replied, "I would never have conceived of the FBI using our counterintelligence capabilities to target a political campaign.

"If it had crossed any of our minds, I can guarantee we'd have specifically written: 'Don't do that.'"

In Strassel's view, the Resistance is partially fueled by deep-seated anger, or what others have termed "Trump derangement syndrome" -- an inability to look rationally at a man so far outside of Washington norms.

But at the same time, in Strassel's view, much of the Resistance is motivated by a desire to amass political power using whatever means necessary.

"That involves removing the president who won. That involves some of these other things that you hear them talking about now: packing the Supreme Court, getting rid of the electoral college, letting 16-year-olds vote," she said.

"These are not reforms. Reforms are things that the country broadly agrees are going to help improve stuff. This is changing the rules so that you get power, and you stay in power."

The impeachment inquiry into the president, based on his phone call with Ukraine's president, is just another example of how the Resistance is violating political norms and relying on flimsy evidence to try to remove him from office, she said.

Testimony in the inquiry has taken place behind closed doors, led by three House committees, and Democrats have so far refused to release transcripts from the depositions of former and current State Department employees.

"[Impeachment] is one of the most serious and huge powers in the Constitution. It was meant always by the founders to be reserved for truly unusual circumstances. They debated not even putting it in because they were concerned that this is what would happen," Strassel said.

In the impeachment inquiries against Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, Strassel said, American leaders "understood the great importance of convincing the American public that their decision to use this tool was just and legitimate.

"So if you look back at Watergate, they had hundreds of hours of testimony broadcast over TV that people tuned into and watched. It's one of the reasons that Richard Nixon resigned before the House ever held a final impeachment vote on him, because the public had been convinced. He knew he had to go," she said.

But now, instead of access to the testimonies, the public is receiving only leaked snippets and dueling narratives.

"You have Democrats saying, 'Oh, this is very bad.' And Republicans saying, 'Oh, it's not so bad at all.' What are Americans supposed to think?" Strassel said.

Bureaucratic Resistance

Within the federal bureaucracy, there is a "vast swath of unelected officials" who have "a great deal of power to slow things down, mess things up, file the whistleblower complaints, leak information, actively engage against the president's policies," Strassel said.

"It's their job to implement his agenda. And yet a lot of them are part of the Resistance, too," she said.

Data shows that in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, government bureaucrats overwhelmingly contributed toward the Clinton campaign over the Trump campaign.

Ninety-five percent, or about $1.9 million, of bureaucrats' donations went to Clinton, according to The Hill's analysis of donations from federal workers up until September 2016. In particular, employees at the Department of Justice gave 97 percent of their donations to Clinton. For the State Department, it was even higher -- 99 percent.

"Imagine being a CEO and showing up and knowing that 95 percent of your workforce despises you and doesn't want you to be there," Strassel said.

Strassel pointed to when former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, a holdover from the Obama administration, publicly questioned the constitutionality of Trump's immigration ban and directed Justice Department employees to disobey the order.

"It was basically a call to arms," Strassel said. "What she should've done is honorably resigned if she felt that she could not in any way enforce this duly issued executive order.

"It really kicked off what we have seen ever since then: The nearly daily leaks from the administration, the whistleblower complaints," as well as "all kind of internal foot-dragging and outright obstruction to the president's agenda."

According to a report by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, in Trump's first 126 days in office, his administration "faced 125 leaked stories -- one leak a day -- containing information that is potentially damaging to national security under the standards laid out in a 2009 Executive Order signed by President Barack Obama."

Activist Media

Strassel says the media has played a critical role in bolstering the anti-Trump Resistance.

"I've been a reporter for 25 years," Strassel said.

"I've always felt that the media leaned left. That wasn't a surprise to anyone. "But what we've seen over the past three years is something entirely different. This is the media actively engaging on one side of a partisan warfare. It's overt."

Along the way, the media have largely abandoned journalistic standards, "whether it be the use of anonymous sources, whether it be putting uncorroborated accusations into the paper, whether it's using biased sources for information and cloaking them as neutral observers," she said.

Among the many examples of media misinformation cited in Strassel's book is a December 2017 CNN piece that claimed to have evidence that then-candidate Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. had been offered early access to hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee. But it turned out the date was wrong . Trump Jr. had received an email about the WikiLeaks release one day after WikiLeaks had made the documents public.

"If it hurts Donald Trump, they're on board," Strassel said. And in many cases, the attacks on Trump have been contradictory.

"He's either the dunce you claim he is every day or he's the most sophisticated Manchurian candidate that the world has ever seen. You can't have it both ways.

"He's either a dictator and an autocrat who is consolidating power around himself to rule with an iron fist, or he's the evil conservative who's cutting regulations."

Contrary to claims of authoritarianism, Trump has significantly decreased the size of the federal government. Notably, he reduced the Federal Register, a collection of all the national government's rules and regulations, to the lowest it's been since Bill Clinton's first year in office.

"You can't be a libertarian dictator," Strassel said.

In addition to the barrage of attacks on Trump, the media has actively sought to "de-legitimize anybody who has a different viewpoint than they do, or who is reporting the facts and the story in a way other than they would like them to be presented."

"They would love to make it sound as though none of us are worthy of writing about this story," she said.

"The media is supposed to be our guardrails, right? When a political party transgresses a political boundary, they're supposed to say 'No, that's beyond the pale.'"

Instead, "they indulged this behavior," Strassel said.

"We had a media cheerleading the FBI for meddling in American politics. Can you ever imagine a time in American history where the media would have played such a role?

"In a way, I blame that for so much else that has gone wrong."

Long-Term Consequences

Strassel says the actions taken by the Resistance will have long-term consequences for America.

"I keep warning my friends on the other side of the aisle: Think about the precedent you are setting here," Strassel said.

For example, if Joe Biden wins the presidency in 2020 but Republicans take back the House, would the Republican-dominated House immediately launch impeachment proceedings against Biden for alleged corruption in Ukraine?

"I wouldn't necessarily use the word [corruption], but there's a lot of Republicans who happily would. And if they thought they'd get another shot at the White House, why not?" Strassel said.

It's short-term thinking, she said, just like Sen. Harry Reid's decision in 2013 to drop the number of votes needed to overcome a filibuster for lower-court judges.

"Did he really stop to think about the fact that it paved the way for Republicans to get rid of the filibuster for Supreme Court judges?" Strassel said.

If there's any rule in Washington, "it's that when you set the bar low, it just keeps going lower," Strassel said.

"Donald Trump is going to be president for at most another five years. But the actions and the destruction that's coming with some of this could be with us for a very long time," she said.

"Should anyone allow their deep disregard for one particular man to so change the structure and the fabric of the country?"

[Oct 23, 2019] Retired imperial soldiers still dream about the glory of empire

Oct 23, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Dennis Coyne x Ignored says: 10/09/2019 at 9:55 am

Interesting piece.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/former-national-security-officials-fight-back-as-trump-attacks-impeachment-as-deep-state-conspiracy/ar-AAIu7Ju?ocid=spartanntp

Former national security officials fight back as Trump attacks impeachment as 'deep state' conspiracy

"What is happening currently is not normal," said Andrea Kendall-Taylor, who served as a U.S. intelligence officer on Russia and Eurasia before stepping down in 2018. "This represents a deviation from the way that these institutions regularly function. And when the institutions don't work, that is a national security threat."

She was among 90 national security veterans who signed an open letter published Sunday in support of the anonymous whistleblower who filed a complaint that Trump had acted improperly in asking the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden in a July phone call.

Trump has attempted to intimidate other government officials into not cooperating by casting those who offered information to the whistleblower as "close to spies." The open letter emphasized that the whistleblower "is protected from certain egregious forms of retaliation."

[Oct 23, 2019] Goodbye Middle Class 50% Of American Workers Make Less Than $33,000 A Year

Notable quotes:
"... Yes, about 10 percent of all American workers are making $100,000 or more a year, but most of those high paying jobs are concentrated in the major cities along the east and west coasts. For much of the rest of the country, these are very challenging times as the cost of living soars but their paychecks do not. ..."
Oct 23, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

The truth is that most American families are deeply struggling, but you hardly ever hear this from the mainstream media.

Yes, about 10 percent of all American workers are making $100,000 or more a year, but most of those high paying jobs are concentrated in the major cities along the east and west coasts. For much of the rest of the country, these are very challenging times as the cost of living soars but their paychecks do not.

According to the Social Security Administration , the median income in the United States last year was just $32,838.05. In other words, 50 percent of American workers made more than $32,838.05 and 50 percent of American workers made less than $32,838.05 in 2018. Let's be generous and round that number up to $33,000, and when you break it down on a monthly basis it comes to just $2,750 a month. Of course nobody can support a middle class lifestyle for a family of four on $2,750 a month before taxes, and so in most families more than one person is working these days. In fact, in many families today more than one person is working multiple jobs in a desperate attempt to make ends meet, and it still is often not quite enough.

If you want to look at the Social Security wage statistics for yourself, you can find them right here . As you will see, I am not making these numbers up.

These days many would have us feel bad if we are not making at least $100,000 a year, but according to the report only about 10 percent of all American workers make that much money.

Instead, most Americans are in what I would call "the barely getting by" category. Here are some key facts that I pulled out of the report

-33 percent of all American workers made less than $20,000 last year.

-46 percent of all American workers made less than $30,000 last year.

-58 percent of all American workers made less than $40,000 last year.

-67 percent of all American workers made less than $50,000 last year.

That means that approximately two-thirds of all American workers are making $4,000 or less a month before taxes.

Ouch.

But these numbers help us to understand why survey after survey has shown that most Americans are living paycheck to paycheck . After paying the bills, there just isn't much money left for most of us.

And for an increasing number of Americans, even paying the bills has become exceedingly difficult. In fact, a brand new report from UBS says that 44 percent of all U.S. consumers "don't make enough money to cover their expenses"

Low-income consumers are struggling to make ends meet despite the "greatest economy ever," and if a recession strikes or the employment cycle continues to decelerate -- this could mean the average American with insurmountable debts will likely fall behind on their debt servicing payments, according to a UBS report, first reported by Bloomberg .

UBS analyst Matthew Mish wrote in a recent report that 44% of consumers don't make enough money to cover their expenses.

That means that about half the country is flat broke and struggling just to survive financially.

Of course those at the top of the economic food chain often don't have a lot of sympathy for those that are hurting. Many of them have the attitude that those that are struggling should just go out and get one of the "good jobs" that the mainstream media is endlessly touting.

But most jobs in the United States are not "good jobs".

Today, the poverty level for a household of four in the United States is $25,750. More than 40 percent of the workers in this country make less than that each year.

Starting a business is always an option, but that takes money, and thanks to government regulations it is harder than ever to run a small business successfully.

Just look at what is happening to our dairy farmers. There are few occupations that are more quintessentially "American" than being a dairy farmer, and since most people drink milk and eat cheese, you would think that it would be a pretty safe profession.

But instead, dairy farms are shutting down at a pace that is absolutely chilling all over the nation. For example, just check out what has been going on in Wisconsin

Wisconsin lost another 42 dairy farms in July, and since January 1, has lost 491 farms, reports the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

At this rate, the Dairy State could lose 735 dairy farms this year, which would be a decline of 9%. In 2018, the state lost 691 farms, a rate of decline of 7.9%.

Over the last decade the state has lost more than 5,000 farms, or 40% of its licensed dairy farms. To state the obvious, the current rate of exits is more than double that of the last decade.

... ... ...

[Oct 23, 2019] Non-OPEC production according to the EIA International Energy Statistics " Peak Oil Barrel

Oct 23, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Ron Patterson x Ignored says: 10/06/2019 at 9:14 pm

Capital Flight Is Killing The US Shale Boom

Saudi Aramco has fully restored the damaged production from the Abqaiq and Khurais facilities from just a few weeks ago, an impressive turnaround in such a short period of time.

But now, Riyadh faces another challenge that could prove more daunting.

The oil market has demonstrated its inability to sustain a price rally as market traders are giving no premium to geopolitical risk. Instead, weak demand dominates, and oversupply looms. Brent fell below $60 per barrel this week as a wave of dismal economic news deepened fears of a global economic slowdown.

Oil demand forecasts have already been slashed several times this year, and the IEA's executive director said this week that another downward revision was likely. "Looking at the global economy weakening China, the driver of global oil demand, experiencing the lowest economic growth since 30 years. The advanced economies are slowing down. We may well revise down our demand numbers in the next days or months to come," the IEA's Fatih Birol said.

Top officials from OPEC and the non-OPEC partners recognize the predicament. "Of course, demand is affected by the status of the global economy, and the economy is slowing down," Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in Moscow. But for now, there appears to be no change of strategy. "There are no crisis events that call for an emergency meeting."

That may change if things continue to worsen. In a report on October 3, Standard Chartered marveled at how oil demand growth has plunged to a 10-year low. "This is the third consecutive month of y/y demand falls according to our disaggregated monthly balance model, the first time this has happened since 2009," the investment bank wrote. "Over the past 10 years, oil demand has risen y/y in 113 months and fallen in just seven. However, five of those seven falls have occurred in the past eight months.

In short, not since the global financial crisis has oil demand growth been this weak. Standard Chartered estimates that seven countries have posted year-on-year declines in demand of at least 100,000 bpd – Mexico, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey and Korea.

There are a few surprising and notable aspects about the current slide in oil prices. First, it comes just a few weeks after the largest supply disruption in oil market history. After a brief spike, prices fell back and the lasting impact has been negligible.

But another intriguing issue with the current downturn is the fact that the U.S. shale industry is being squeezed by poor financials, and production has already slowed dramatically. The recent fall in prices will put even more pressure on embattled drillers.

One would think that oil traders would begin factoring shale production growth undershooting expectations, which, all things equal, would put upward pressure on prices. But that is not the case.

That brings the focus back to demand. "For the market to be pushing prices lower at a point when the US oil industry is already in distress implies a more pessimistic market view of the global economy than is currently priced in most other asset markets in our view," Standard Chartered said. WTI is not far away from a sub-$50 price.

Saudi energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman drew a similar conclusion in comments to reporters in Moscow this week, but seemed more confident that the market would wake up to the fact that shale will disappoint. "There are things that are real, and things that are perceived. We are driven by negative expectations," Prince Abdulaziz said. "On the demand side, yes it's been lower, but people need to understand that supply also may become lower."

For now, lower-than-expected shale output is not sowing the seeds of a price rebound, not with the global economy slamming on the brakes.

If oil continues to lurch downwards, OPEC+ may have to revisit its plan of staying the course. As of now, the production cut agreement is set to expire in March, but an economic downturn may require deeper production cuts, or at a minimum, an extension of the current arrangement.

By Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com

Hickory x Ignored says: 10/06/2019 at 10:48 pm
"how oil demand growth has plunged to a 10-year low. "This is the third consecutive month of y/y demand falls according to our disaggregated monthly balance model, the first time this has happened since 2009"

Remarkable to me, is how this demand growth decrease for oil has occurred despite any significant economic slowdown- the global GDP growth has been over 2% since 2010.

Hugo x Ignored says: 10/07/2019 at 1:55 am
Hickory

Dennis has talking about the world consuming less oil. We are starting to see the reality of how global oil consumption is reduced.

https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/germany-italy-uk-are-headed-for-recession-and-ecb-is-out-of-tools-2019-8-1028435638

https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-japan-economy/key-japan-economic-index-falls-government-changes-view-to-worsening-idUKKBN1WM0CI

Dennis Coyne x Ignored says: 10/07/2019 at 8:16 am
Hugo,

Yes a recession will reduce oil consumption, World Bank forecasted 2.6 % World economic growth in June 2019 and the IMF forecasted 3.2% World economic growth in 2019 in July 2019.

https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2019/06/04/global-growth-to-weaken-to-26-in-2019-substantial-risks-seen

https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/WEO/Issues/2019/07/18/WEOupdateJuly2019

From 2015 to 2018 World real GDP growth ranged from 2.6% to 3.1% according to World Bank

For the IMF using real GDP growth at market exchange rates they predict 2.7% growth in 2019 (similar to World Bank) and World Real GDP growth was 2.5% to 3.2% at market exchange rates from 2015 to 2018 based on IMF estimates.

Bottom line, at the World level a recession was not expected by major international agencies midyear 2019. Forecasts often change.

Hugo x Ignored says: 10/07/2019 at 11:51 am
Dennis

Predictions are very often wrong.

I am looking at real recent news, which explains why oil consumption growth has slowed so much.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-says-growth-is-fine-private-data-show-a-sharper-slowdown-11567960192

Dennis Coyne x Ignored says: 10/07/2019 at 4:04 pm
Hugo,

Yes predictions can be too high or too low, one only knows which after the fact, your guess may be good or it may not, time will tell.
Keep in mind the "consumption" numbers are often a combination of output estimates and stock estimates, the stock estimates in particular are notoriously bad especially at the World level.

We don't really know what recent consumption has been, so the "slowdown" in consumption may not be real. In addition "consumption" of all liquids is of little interest, the important numbers are C+C, light and middle distillates, and residual fuel (aka fuel oil), the propane and ethane and other NGL output (with the exception of C5) is of little importance for transportation, the EIA's C+C and OPEC's crude output numbers are the only important numbers.

Based on EIA C+C data the long term trend in the rate of increase in oil output is 811 kb/d from Jan 1982 to July 2019. Over the long term consumption increase is the same as output increase because if that were not the case stocks would either build to beyond capacity or be drawn to zero it consumption and production were not balanced over the long run.

The other consumption predictions thrown around such as 1200 kb/d or 1400 kb/d are all liquids numbers including biofuel, NGL, and other oils not used for transportation, I ignore those estimates a they are of little consequence.

Hugo x Ignored says: 10/08/2019 at 1:54 am
Dennis

I am going by the link you sent me.

https://www.eia.gov/beta/international/data/browser/#/?pa=00000000000000000000000000000000002&f=M&c=00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001&tl_id=5-M&vs=INTL.57-1-WORL-TBPD.M&vo=0&v=T&start=197301&end=201906

It is obvious that C&C consumption has stalled for many months. I think a lot of GDP growth is due to luxury things being bought by the super rich, and GDP driven by ordinary people has stalled.

https://www.payscale.com/compensation-today/2019/04/payscale-index-q1-2019

This says it all, how do people buy more with less money?

Dennis Coyne x Ignored says: 10/08/2019 at 7:07 am
Hugo,

In the short run, consumption can be higher than output by drawing from oil stocks. We have output data that is pretty good, we do not have very good oil stock data for the World, consequently it is far from clear that oil consumption has stalled, we do not know.

An alternative view of income (real GDP per capita), average rate of growth over past 5 years is 2.3% per year for the US.

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/A229RX0Q048SBEA

Hugo x Ignored says: 10/08/2019 at 10:49 am
Dennis

and you believe what the Fed says?

average includes everybody, which includes the top 1%.

https://www.thebalance.com/income-inequality-in-america-3306190

52% of total growth was taken by top 1%

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/07/bloomberg-businessweek-wealth-number-ranking-shows-inequality.html

26 people are a wealthy as the bottom half

The world economy is limping by on more and more debt borrowed by the poor.
It is coming to it's limits.
I know you disagree.

We will see who is right

Dennis Coyne x Ignored says: 10/08/2019 at 12:43 pm
Hugo,

I agree income is very unequal in the US.

Median real personal income has grown by 2.36% per year on average from 2013 to 2018.

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MEPAINUSA672N

Yes I believe the data from the US Government. Do you distrust the information from your nations government?

Hickory x Ignored says: 10/07/2019 at 10:22 am
Hugo- certainly we all expect global recession to cut into demand for all industrial materials, like in 2009.
But there has not been a global recession lately, with over 2% gdp growth/yr since 2010.
The sources you quote anticipate growth slowdown upcoming, but this does not relate to the oil consumption growth slowdown already experienced in the recent past.
Hugo x Ignored says: 10/07/2019 at 12:00 pm
Hickory

The articles are talking about the economies slowing down in recent months and now.

quote regarding Europe " as three of the largest economies are tanking at the same time"

and India

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-49470466

and China

https://www.scmp.com/economy/china-economy/article/3022685/china-slowdown-persists-industrial-economy-posts-worst-growth

Dennis Coyne x Ignored says: 10/07/2019 at 1:01 pm
Hugo,

China growing at about 6% annually and India at 8%, so a slowdown could mean 5% and 7% in those nations. Advanced economies are growing more slowly, especially Japan with shrinking population, per capita real GDP growth was close to 2% for the World in 2017 and 2018, average rate of growth in real GDP per capita (2010 US$) at market exchange rates from 1975 to 2018 was 1.46% per year.

For China, real GDP per capita grew at 8.9% per year from 1990 to 2012, from 2012 to 2018 the rate of growth slowed to 6.2%. India's real GDP per capita growth has been 6.1% from 2012 to 2018 (an increase from the 4.6% annual growth rate of real GDP per capita from 1993 to 2013.)

The piece on India is an opinion piece, growth has slowed from 7% to 6%.

For China consumption growth (typically about 2/3 of GDP) was 7%, down from a blistering 9.8%. Industrial growth is not the only measure that is important, in fact consumption growth is what drives an economy especially in a huge market like China with almost 1.4 billion people.

hole in head x Ignored says: 10/08/2019 at 11:28 am
Denise,the info on India is incorrect . The last quarter growth was 5 % . Core sector growth was -0.5% yes negative . It is in a slowdown of MASSIVE proportion . By the way an ex member of the prime ministerial economic council has said that the government is inflating growth by anything from 1.5-2% . He resigned because he would not toe the govt line .
Dennis Coyne x Ignored says: 10/08/2019 at 1:39 pm
Hole in head,

I only have annual data from World bank and in 2018 growth using PPP measure was 6.98% for real GDP. IMF has 2018 real GDP growth at 7.3% and projects 7.5% for 2019. RBI is saying 6.1% for real GDP growth.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/oct/05/rbi-finally-gets-real-on-gdp-growth-raises-concerns-about-indian-economy-2043332.html

In any case 5% growth is pretty damn good IMO.

hole in head x Ignored says: 10/09/2019 at 12:31 am
You ignore the fact that the ex chief economic adviser admitted that growth is overstated by 1.5-2.0 % . So it could be anything between 3-3 .5% ,which is paltry for the nation of it^s size and a sizable decline from peak of 9.8% .
Dennis Coyne x Ignored says: 10/09/2019 at 8:19 am
Hole in head,

Most estimates are around 7%, so if it is overstated by 2% we would be at 5%, nobody has said it is overstated by 4%. Forecasts change and sometimes there are recessions, just the way capitalism works.

Capitalism is not perfect, but when properly regulated and combined with a highly progessive tax system, it is likely better than any other economic system humans have come up with.

Han Neumann x Ignored says: 10/07/2019 at 9:07 pm
Hugo wrote:

"Dennis has talking about the world consuming less oil. We are starting to see the reality of how global oil consumption is reduced."

Is it strange, with so much consumer debt and economies on steroids by what the central banks are doing ?
Somehow the monetary system is sick and a bubble is waiting to burst. That's my simple view of it.

Dennis Coyne x Ignored says: 10/08/2019 at 7:48 am
Han,

Chart below uses data from https://www.bis.org/statistics/totcredit.htm?m=6%7C380%7C669

This data is from BIS, often called the central bankers bank

https://www.bis.org/about/index.htm?m=1%7C1

Watcher x Ignored says: 10/07/2019 at 2:24 am
Even more remarkable that anyone would care about a model.
HHH x Ignored says: 10/06/2019 at 9:43 pm
Last weeks low on the Brent price chart touched the major supporting trendline that supports the entire up trend since lows of 2016. WTI is still 4-5 $ away from it's major supporting trendline from 2016. That little bounce we got last week was just a technical bounce. The only way to $20's oil is through these trendline. Do they hold or not? I think they both have to give way to get to $20's not just one of them. Brent can break below it's trendline and be a false break if WTI never confirms the move.
Dennis Coyne x Ignored says: 10/07/2019 at 8:03 am
HHH,

Can't imagine $20/bo would last more than a week or two. All oil development will cease at that price level and shortages would develop within a month. Only people that believe the Saudi America hype think $20/bo is possible. Perhaps there are enough fools who believe that hype to make $20/bo a reality before 2050. Some day we might get to $20/bo, but it will be 20 or 30 years down the road, before we see a 12 month average Brent oil price under $30/b0 in 2019 US$, perhaps even 50 years when we consider the difficulty of replacing petroleum liquid fuel in air and water transport.

Eulenspiegel x Ignored says: 10/07/2019 at 8:39 am
I don't think 20$ for more than a month even in 30 or 50 or 100 years. More wells will be closed, there is less economy of scale, oil field equipment and service will be much more expensive than now, enviromental regulations will be more strict to the black stuff since it's less important. So less and less lobby influence.

And running all these injections on old wrestled out Saudi oil fields will cost much, so the few barrels being squeezed out won't be cheap. Fracking a few D-Class Permian wells with old museum-equipment won't come cheap, too.

Piplelines will be stopped, so only rail and truck transport – all adds up.

If you need oil as an exotic chemical feedstock and fuel for ancient museum cars and planes in 100 years (normal energy is perhaps mainly from fusion plants and deep geothermal power plants) it doesn't matter it costs 100$ a barrel. It will be produced from old stripper wells – no oil industry left to explore new fields (and collapse price with this).

Nick G x Ignored says: 10/07/2019 at 10:54 am
There isn't any application that truly requires oil. Hydrocarbons (and therefore diesel, jet fuel, etc.) can come from biomass, coal, kerogen, or from electrolytic H2 and carbon extracted from air and water.

As you point out, as volumes fall economies of scale will reverse and the true costs of pollution will be recognized, and oil will no longer be burnt.

Petrochemicals might grow, but oil will have trouble competing with coal and natural gas – they'll no longer be burnt as fuel, so they'll be dirt cheap. China is already using coal as a chemical feedstock.

Dennis Coyne x Ignored says: 10/08/2019 at 7:42 am
Eulenspiegel,

There may come a time after 2040 (possibly not until 2050) where OPEC nations compete with each other for market share and the price of oil might fall to the marginal cost of the cheapest middle east barrels, which might be as low as $20/bo in 2017 US$. In any case I doubt it would be higher than $40/bo in 2017$, much depends on if it is possible to replace fossil fuels in air and water transport, if not then oil prices might rise as oil demand for petrochemical, air transport and water transport might be higher than oil supply by 2065 which would drive oil prices higher. Guesses for 2020 are not good, guesses for 2065 are pretty ridiculous and are likely to be far wide of the mark.

HHH x Ignored says: 10/07/2019 at 2:58 pm
Maybe trendlines hold Dennis. The Brent chart is very clean. Meaning price touched the underneath side of the original trendline coming off of Jan 2016 during Saudi attacks. Price kissed the underneath side and got rejected. And went straight down to the secondary trendline coming off Jan 2016 and bounced a bit.

We should find out fairly soon if this trendline hold. I've been telling you since April that price was going to revisit these trendline before either gathering enough support to move higher or break lower opening the way up to the $20's

WTI still has a ways to go to reach it's supporting trendline. If Brent has a break below here. WTI should reach it's trendline.

Wed. should be a important day. No trade deal is not good for oil. A trade deal of some sorts is not really good for oil as the dollar will rocket higher on a trade deal. 10y Bond yields will go higher on a deal. Unless market views a trade deal as bad for US equities. Since a deal probably means no more rate cuts any time soon. That could very well happen.

And if US equities happen to have a negative reaction to a trade deal i can't see it being any good for the price of oil.

If you need lower bond yields to roll over a bunch of debt yet you know making a trade deal will in fact send them higher. Do you make the deal? Personally i think stocks are going to get taken to the woodshed sooner or later in order to save government bonds.

This is where Watcher tells me they can just QE it and have both.
$100 pops every bubble created in wake of 2009. That is what will happen if QE is done again like it was done before.

ovi x Ignored says: 10/07/2019 at 12:39 pm
Platts is reporting that OPEC pumps 28.45 Mb/d in September, down 1.48 Mb/d on month.

https://www.spglobal.com/platts/en/market-insights/latest-news/oil/100719-opec-crude-output-plunges-on-saudi-attacks-sanctions-sampp-global-platts-survey

Survivalist x Ignored says: 10/07/2019 at 5:50 pm
Great post Ovi! Thanks so much.

[Oct 23, 2019] If you look at the shale oil "Annual Compounded Decline Rate" presently, it resembles a 70-75% STEEP CLIFF

Oct 23, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

SRSrocco x Ignored says: 10/09/2019 at 10:50 am

Complacency & Nothing To Be Concerned About

After my article on the Permian, some more notable oil folks came out of the woodwork to reply. Here is the link: https://srsroccoreport.com/more-than-50-of-the-mighty-permians-2018-oil-production-has-vaporized/

It seems as if ole David Hughes, which I have a lot of respect, decided to come on the website and leave a few comments. Basically, Hughes's reply was, "WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL IN 2018?" He went on to say that we all know these wells decline 50+% in the first year, so why start to make a STINK about it now?

I also had several email replies from some other folks. And then we had a bit of a TIT for TAT here in this blog with HUNTY.

However, what is going on in the Permian is only a small part of the overall situation. Regardless if we bicker about the future Permian revisions due to the incomplete TRRC data, the fact remains, if you look at the "Annual Compounded Decline Rate" presently, it resembles a 70-75% STEEP CLIFF. And, the Permian isn't the only one that looks like that. You can add the Bakken and Eagle Ford to varying degrees.

So, while a portion of the "OIL FOLKS" and a large percentage of the "DUMBED DOWN PUBLIC" believe there is NOTHING TO SEE HERE, they couldn't be more wrong.

Furthermore, the U.S. public debt just ballooned by $227 billion in less than two weeks and $814 billion since August 1st. While everyone has seemingly become NUMB to the amount of these figures, the rate at which debt is being added in the United States and globally is heading up in an exponential trend. But, there is nothing to see here.

And, then we have the fun taking place in the REPO MARKETS when, according to a specialist in the field, a large BLOCK of CASH has been removed from the market and hasn't come back, I gather it's just another sign that EVERYTHING IS OKAY . .nothing to see here.

Also, ExxonMobil, the largest U.S. oil company, had to borrow $7 billion in August to repay the huge $11 billion in short term paper it borrowed 1H 2019 in order to pay dividends and fortify its balance sheet as its Permian stake is destroying its bottom line.

And today, we see that ExxonMobil just sold its $4.5 billion upstream assets in Norway. Yes, this is part of Exxon's plan to sell $15 billion by 2021 to focus on KEY ASSETS. I gather that really means, they are going to have to fill in the RED they will be suffering in the Permian as its U.S. upstream earnings continue to suffer. But again nothing to see here

Lastly while the NOTHING TO SEE here mentality will continue even as the U.S. and global economy heads over the cliff, taking the highly leveraged debt-based financial system down with it, I'll make sure that I schedule some time from my day to come in here and read all the "I TOLD YOU SO" comments.

steve

hole in head x Ignored says: 10/09/2019 at 10:58 am
Keep plugging .Steve . Too many people worldwide smoking hopium .

[Oct 23, 2019] What if some rich exporter, UAE or Brunei for example, wanted to sell oil for substantially higher price,

Oct 23, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

OneofEU x Ignored says: 10/10/2019 at 7:09 am

Hey guys, a thought experiment:

OPEC sells oil under the free market equilibrium theory, expressing the belief that there should be a single price for oil (more or less) at any given time, and that members interests are common enough to work together towards that one price of oil. But maybe the interests of poor producers (who need to sell anyway) and rich producers are not exactly the same. I think it was either Watcher or HHH who pointed that when Argentina introduced fixed oil prices, it thus decoupled from supporting the illusion of one oil price by equilibrium. Argentina is not an oil exporter and it still seems to have already been perceived as a problem.

But what if some rich exporter, UAE or Brunei for example, wanted to sell oil for substantially higher price, like 120$, for example? Could they just stop selling oil for 60$ and say "we are not going to labour towards some incremental price increase anymore, from now on only 120$ for our oil please" ? What would happen?
The astonishing lack of economical diversification in countries of OPEC (significantly, besides Iran) is a bit suspicious and may be the expression of attempts to force them to rely on selling oil by NOT having a choice of not selling oil (something like that was depicted in "Syriana" movie where the progressive prince was taken down). Therefore, it is not only Saudi Arabia that props petrodollar but the entire OPEC, by its very exsitence and policy, does so too.

Watcher x Ignored says: 10/10/2019 at 10:10 am
The scenario is entirely legitimate.

It evolves from the fundamental concept that there is nothing negative for a country that is self-sufficient to decide to leave the oil underground for their grandchildren.

Norway is the obvious example of this. They are self-sufficient. They do not leave the oil underground for their grandchildren. Instead it has grown the largest Sovereign Wealth Fund in the world.

At some point it may occur to some people that oil underground is a Sovereign Wealth Fund in and of itself. Why produce and export that oil merely to convert wealth from one form into another? And dare I note the original form is likely quite a bit superior to the new form that is defined by unelected officials at central banks.

In the case of KSA, people think they produce oil to become wealthy, since they are producing far beyond their domestic consumption. But in their case it's not quite that. They produce because a choice noted above would generate invasion in the pre shale days. Anyone without an army who chooses to leave their oil underground and has a big portion of global supply would likely have their oil taken away from them.

Think about that. If someone decides so just keep their own oil there's probably no price you can offer them to change their minds because they have made the correct decision that oil is far more important than money. Such a decision would have to be changed by military force.

That's why Argentina's declaration of its own price is such a dangerous thing. It introduces all of the above thinking into too many minds -- many of which are sitting on billions of barrels.

OneofEU x Ignored says: 10/10/2019 at 10:21 am
Well, Norway is not self-sufficient. It must import a lot of food, like KSA. It does not produce enough food even for its 5 milion citizens (like KSA, they tried, and failed). It must import a lot of other things, too. The biggest industry there is still oil and gas. Likewise, the biggest industry in KSA and UAE is oil and gas. Difference or similarity?

The largest sovereign fund, by the very fact of being 'largest' is certainly a hostage of global economy.

So Norway is not a good example. It is a virtue signaling country par excellence. They signal virtue, not wisdom.

The interesting example would be Russia. Russia is self-sufficient, and can defend herself. Why not to decouple from global economy? Why pump 11 mbd, and not 6 mbd like in the nineties?

[Oct 23, 2019] The idea of tribunes a a check on ruling financial oligarchy can probably be reinstituted under late neoliberalism

That creates somewhat artificial division with the ruling elite, which might help to prevent stagnation and degradation.
Oct 23, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

hemeantwell , October 22, 2019 at 12:50 pm

In trying to make up for my ignorance on Rome's history I came across P. A. Brunt's "Social Conflicts in the Roman Republic." His account of the innovation of the office of the tribune gave me a good sense of the intensity of those conflicts:

"In 494 a great body of the plebs sat down en masse outside Rome and refused to serve in the army. Such a 'secession' or strike undoubtedly occurred in 287, and similar revolutionary action must have been taken now, to account for the concession the patricians were forced to make: the creation of the tribunate of the plebs. The ten tribunes were plebeians annually elected by an assembly organized in voting units calle tribes; these were local divisions of the state, originally four within the city and seventeen in the adjoining countryside. This assembly was truly democratic at the start, when the tribes were probably more or less equal in numbers; the rich had no superior voting power.

The original function of the tribunes was to protect humble Romans against oppression by the magistrates; they did so by literally stepping between them and their intended victims (intercessio). The magistrates did not dare touch their persons, which were 'sacrosanct'; that meant that the whole plebs were sworn to avenge them by lynching whoever laid hands on them. But their power was confined to the city; outside the walls, Roman territory was still too insecure for any restriction to be allowable on the discretion of the magistrates to act as they thought best for the public safety. This limitation on tribunician power subsisted throughout the Republic, long after its rationale had disappeared." p.52

In this light, it seems that the obstructionist quality of tribunician power that Yves' refers to stemmed from the original need to allow plebs to put the kabosh on patrician power to avoid revolution. Another instance of when peace brought about by a veto power eventually makes the veto power appear unnecessary.

The limitation on the power of the tribunes in rural areas was relevant to a factor in Rome's development Brunt places a lot of weight on: the breakdown of plebian farmholding, in part through loss of land through absence brought about by conscription, but also by patrician gang violence. In his telling this alienation by dispossession was ongoing to varying degrees during the Republic.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , October 22, 2019 at 1:50 pm

Tribunes.

Do we have something similar today, anywhere in the world?

likbez , October 23, 2019 at 12:29 am

Yes, I think so.

During the New Deal, the union leaders were effectively tribunes without veto power, but still considerable influence as they controlled a large number of voters belonging to respective unions.

Similar short story was with Russian "Soviets" -- worker and peasant consuls until Stalin centralization of governance. They were kind of power check on Bolshevik party Politburo (a kind of Senate, the Bolsheviks party nobility )

[Oct 23, 2019] The Pathocracy Of The Deep State Tyranny At The Hands Of A Psychopathic Government

Highly recommended!
If we assume that most politicians are latent psychopaths, they need to be more tightly controlled by the people. which means no re-election of Senators after two terms.
Notable quotes:
"... " Politicians are more likely than people in the general population to be sociopaths . I think you would find no expert in the field of sociopathy/psychopathy/antisocial personality disorder who would dispute this... That a small minority of human beings literally have no conscience was and is a bitter pill for our society to swallow -- but it does explain a great many things, shamelessly deceitful political behavior being one." ..."
Oct 23, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

" Politicians are more likely than people in the general population to be sociopaths . I think you would find no expert in the field of sociopathy/psychopathy/antisocial personality disorder who would dispute this... That a small minority of human beings literally have no conscience was and is a bitter pill for our society to swallow -- but it does explain a great many things, shamelessly deceitful political behavior being one."

- Dr. Martha Stout, clinical psychologist and former instructor at Harvard Medical School

Twenty years ago, a newspaper headline asked the question: " What's the difference between a politician and a psychopath? "

The answer, then and now, remains the same: None . There is no difference between psychopaths and politicians. Nor is there much of a difference between the havoc wreaked on innocent lives by uncaring, unfeeling, selfish, irresponsible, parasitic criminals and elected officials who lie to their constituents , trade political favors for campaign contributions, turn a blind eye to the wishes of the electorate, cheat taxpayers out of hard-earned dollars, favor the corporate elite, entrench the military industrial complex, and spare little thought for the impact their thoughtless actions and hastily passed legislation might have on defenseless citizens.

Psychopaths and politicians both have a tendency to be selfish, callous, remorseless users of others, irresponsible, pathological liars , glib, con artists, lacking in remorse and shallow.

Charismatic politicians, like criminal psychopaths, exhibit a failure to accept responsibility for their actions , have a high sense of self-worth, are chronically unstable, have socially deviant lifestyles, need constant stimulation, have parasitic lifestyles and possess unrealistic goals.

It doesn't matter whether you're talking about Democrats or Republicans.

Political psychopaths are all largely cut from the same pathological cloth, brimming with seemingly easy charm and boasting calculating minds . Such leaders eventually create pathocracies: totalitarian societies bent on power, control, and destruction of both freedom in general and those who exercise their freedoms.

Once psychopaths gain power, the result is usually some form of totalitarian government or a pathocracy. "At that point, the government operates against the interests of its own people except for favoring certain groups," author James G. Long notes. "We are currently witnessing deliberate polarizations of American citizens, illegal actions, and massive and needless acquisition of debt. This is typical of psychopathic systems , and very similar things happened in the Soviet Union as it overextended and collapsed."

In other words, electing a psychopath to public office is tantamount to national hara-kiri, the ritualized act of self-annihilation, self-destruction and suicide. It signals the demise of democratic government and lays the groundwork for a totalitarian regime that is legalistic, militaristic, inflexible, intolerant and inhuman.

Incredibly, despite clear evidence of the damage that has already been inflicted on our nation and its citizens by a psychopathic government, voters continue to elect psychopaths to positions of power and influence.

According to investigative journalist Zack Beauchamp , "In 2012, a group of psychologists evaluated every President from Washington to Bush II using 'psychopathy trait estimates derived from personality data completed by historical experts on each president.' They found that presidents tended to have the psychopath's characteristic fearlessness and low anxiety levels -- traits that appear to help Presidents, but also might cause them to make reckless decisions that hurt other people's lives."

The willingness to prioritize power above all else, including the welfare of their fellow human beings, ruthlessness, callousness and an utter lack of conscience are among the defining traits of the sociopath.

When our own government no longer sees us as human beings with dignity and worth but as things to be manipulated, maneuvered, mined for data, manhandled by police, conned into believing it has our best interests at heart, mistreated, jailed if we dare step out of line, and then punished unjustly without remorse -- all the while refusing to own up to its failings -- we are no longer operating under a constitutional republic.

Instead, what we are experiencing is a pathocracy: tyranny at the hands of a psychopathic government, which " operates against the interests of its own people except for favoring certain groups ."

Worse, psychopathology is not confined to those in high positions of government. It can spread like a virus among the populace. As an academic study into pathocracy concluded , "[T]yranny does not flourish because perpetuators are helpless and ignorant of their actions. It flourishes because they actively identify with those who promote vicious acts as virtuous."

People don't simply line up and salute. It is through one's own personal identification with a given leader, party or social order that they become agents of good or evil.

Much depends on how leaders " cultivate a sense of identification with their followers ," says Professor Alex Haslam. "I mean one pretty obvious thing is that leaders talk about 'we' rather than 'I,' and actually what leadership is about is cultivating this sense of shared identity about 'we-ness' and then getting people to want to act in terms of that 'we-ness,' to promote our collective interests. . . . [We] is the single word that has increased in the inaugural addresses over the last century . . . and the other one is 'America.'"

The goal of the modern corporate state is obvious: to promote, cultivate, and embed a sense of shared identification among its citizens. To this end, "we the people" have become "we the police state."

We are fast becoming slaves in thrall to a faceless, nameless, bureaucratic totalitarian government machine that relentlessly erodes our freedoms through countless laws, statutes, and prohibitions.

Any resistance to such regimes depends on the strength of opinions in the minds of those who choose to fight back. What this means is that we the citizenry must be very careful that we are not manipulated into marching in lockstep with an oppressive regime.

Writing for ThinkProgress , Beauchamp suggests that " one of the best cures to bad leaders may very well be political democracy ."

But what does this really mean in practical terms?

It means holding politicians accountable for their actions and the actions of their staff using every available means at our disposal: through investigative journalism (what used to be referred to as the Fourth Estate) that enlightens and informs, through whistleblower complaints that expose corruption, through lawsuits that challenge misconduct, and through protests and mass political action that remind the powers-that-be that "we the people" are the ones that call the shots.

Remember, education precedes action. Citizens need to the do the hard work of educating themselves about what the government is doing and how to hold it accountable. Don't allow yourselves to exist exclusively in an echo chamber that is restricted to views with which you agree. Expose yourself to multiple media sources, independent and mainstream, and think for yourself.

For that matter, no matter what your political leanings might be, don't allow your partisan bias to trump the principles that serve as the basis for our constitutional republic. As Beauchamp notes, "A system that actually holds people accountable to the broader conscience of society may be one of the best ways to keep conscienceless people in check."

That said, if we allow the ballot box to become our only means of pushing back against the police state, the battle is already lost.

Resistance will require a citizenry willing to be active at the local level.

Yet as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People , if you wait to act until the SWAT team is crashing through your door, until your name is placed on a terror watch list, until you are reported for such outlawed activities as collecting rainwater or letting your children play outside unsupervised, then it will be too late.

This much I know: we are not faceless numbers. We are not cogs in the machine. We are not slaves.

We are human beings, and for the moment, we have the opportunity to remain free -- that is, if we tirelessly advocate for our rights and resist at every turn attempts by the government to place us in chains.

The Founders understood that our freedoms do not flow from the government. They were not given to us only to be taken away by the will of the State. They are inherently ours. In the same way, the government's appointed purpose is not to threaten or undermine our freedoms, but to safeguard them.

Until we can get back to this way of thinking, until we can remind our fellow Americans what it really means to be free , and until we can stand firm in the face of threats to our freedoms, we will continue to be treated like slaves in thrall to a bureaucratic police state run by political psychopaths.


fudly , 4 minutes ago link

"There is no difference between psychopaths and politicians."

Could have just left it at that.

Is-Be , 13 minutes ago link

The solution, dear Zerohedge, is to pass a law demanding any official's psychological profile for public scrutiny. (By humans and by our superiors, Artificial Intelligence.)

(I think Is-Be just cracked a funny.)

BiloxiMarxKelly , 18 minutes ago link

http://www.ponerology.com/

Max.Power , 27 minutes ago link

The problem of democracy is that too many are unbelievably naive, and even more are poorly educated.

That's why propaganda always works, regardless of how absurd the narrative is.

herbivore , 29 minutes ago link

"Psychopaths and politicians both have a tendency to be selfish, callous, remorseless users of others, irresponsible, pathological liars , glib, con artists, lacking in remorse and shallow".

And the people who elect them are colloquially known as dumbasses.

IntercoursetheEU , 29 minutes ago link

The countries with the best psychopaths win ... they call it history.

Manthong , 32 minutes ago link

Gimme a break.

Just because they do not care about hurting people, are irritable, narcissistic, avaricious and lascivious does not mean they are psychopaths.

They are morally superior.

SocratesSolves , 22 minutes ago link

Bravo! The inner workings of psychopathy. All is justified. Included the Joker cults 911 mass murder with dancing after the fact. I want to see real dancing Israelis now. Dancing like hell to try to save their own murderous lives now. That's what we do with murderers out here in the west. We line them up and watch them DANCE for their lives.

Four chan , 22 minutes ago link

one could say gods chosen, or is this lie where the false sence of entitlement began?

Manthong , 21 minutes ago link

They are doing "God's work".

Don't worry about the slave trading, usury or death count thing.

PrintCash , 32 minutes ago link

What I find hilarious is the psychopathic politicians/bureaucrats/cia-fbi types/all matter of deep staters getting upset at Trumps words/tweets/style.

Pilfering the country for profit perfectly ok. Unseemly (by their standards) speech or tweets are not.

See, while they are pilfering Uncle Sam, ie you, they do it with charm (one of the strongest signs of a psychopath) and manners. What a narcissist/psychopath fears most is being outed as a fraud. And unfortunately, as long as Washington DC plays nice, throws in some lines about American values, helping the less fortunate, helping the kids, the majority fall in line with their pilfering, and whatever they want goes.

What they fear most about Trump is he hurts their Big Government brand. Either by his rhetoric, his logic, his investigative actions, or his brassness. This also includes Republicans, who only fell in line when the base forced them to fall in line.

Epstein101 , 35 minutes ago link

Big Tech Oligarchs' Best Tool for Censoring the Internet: The ADL

SocratesSolves , 18 minutes ago link

Just another *** shell game

Omni Consumer Product , 37 minutes ago link

Ahh, now we're talking about topics of substance:

There is no form of government, no perfect "ism" that can withstand the real-world effects of psycopaths at the top.

Until that problem is solved, history will continue to repeat.

http://pathocracy.net/

[Oct 20, 2019] Growing Secularism Is Pushing Religion, Traditional Values Aside, AG Barr Warns by Janita Kan

Notable quotes:
"... "Along with the wreckage of the family, we are seeing record levels of depression and mental illness, dispirited young people, soaring suicide rates, increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males, an increase in senseless violence, and a deadly drug epidemic," he said. ..."
Oct 12, 2019 | aim4truth.org
Share U.S. Attorney General William Barr raised concerns about the increase in secularism in society in a speech on Oct. 11, speaking about how that has contributed to a number of social issues plaguing communities across the nation.

Barr, who delivered his remarks to students at the University of Notre Dame's law school, drew attention to the comprehensive effort to drive away religion and traditional moral systems in society and to push secularism in their place.

"We see the growing ascendancy of secularism and the doctrine of moral relativism," Barr said.

He said that the forces of secularism are using mass media and popular culture, the promotion of greater reliance on government intervention for social problems, and the use of legal and judicial institutions to eliminate traditional moral norms.

Barr explored several of the consequences of "this moral upheaval," highlighting its effect on all parts of society.

"Along with the wreckage of the family, we are seeing record levels of depression and mental illness, dispirited young people, soaring suicide rates, increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males, an increase in senseless violence, and a deadly drug epidemic," he said.

"Over 70,000 people die a year from drug overdoses," he said. "But I won't dwell on the bitter results of the new secular age. Suffice it to say that the campaign to destroy the traditional moral order has coincided, and, as I believe, has brought with it, immense suffering and misery."

Barr said religion has come under increasing attack over the past 50 years, underscoring how secularists are using society's institutions to systematically destroy religion and stifle opposing views.

"Secularists and their allies have marshaled all the forces of mass communication, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values. These instruments are used not only to affirmatively promote secular orthodoxy but also to drown out and silence opposing voices," he said.

He said that people are moving away from "micro-morality" observed by Christians, a system of morality that seeks to transform the world by focusing on their own personal morality and transformation. Instead, he said the modern secularists are pushing a "macro-morality," which focuses on political causes and collective actions to address social problems.

"In the past, when societies are threatened by moral chaos, the overall social costs of licentiousness and irresponsible personal conduct become so high that society ultimately recoils and reevaluates the path it is on," Barr said.

"But today, in the face of all the increasing pathologies, instead of addressing the underlying cause, we have cast the state in the role as the alleviator of bad consequences. We call on the state to mitigate the social costs of personal conduct and irresponsibility. So the reaction to growing illegitimacy is not sexual responsibility but abortion; the reaction to drug addiction is safe injection sites."

"The call comes for more and more social programs to deal with this wreckage, and while we think we are resolving problems, we [actually] are underwriting them."

He also pointed out how the law has been used to "break down traditional moral values and establish moral relativism as the new orthodoxy," giving the example of how laws have been used to aggressively force religious people and entities to subscribe to practices and policies that are antithetical to their faith .

"The forces of secularism have been continually seeking to eliminate the laws that reflect traditional moral norms," he said.

Barr also highlighted the role of religion in society, saying it promotes moral discipline while it influences people's conduct.

"Religion also helps promote moral discipline in society. We're all fallen. We don't automatically conform our conduct to moral rules, even when we know that they're good for us. But religion helps teach, train, and habituate people to want what's good," he said.

"It doesn't do this primarily by formal laws -- that is, by coercive power -- it does this through moral education and by framing society's informal rules -- the customs and traditions which reflect the wisdom and experience of the ages. In other words, religion helps frame a moral culture within society that instills and reinforces moral discipline."

Follow Janita on Twitter: @janitakan

[Oct 15, 2019] "More Signs of Contraction When Will the GDP Turn Negative" Econbrowser

Recession will effectively dooms Trump
Oct 15, 2019 | econbrowser.com
49 Replies From Cass Freight Index Report – September 2019 :

With the -3.4% drop in September, following the -3.0% drop in August, -5.9% drop in July, -5.3% drop in June, and the -6.0% drop in May, we repeat our message from the previous four months: the shipments index has gone from "warning of a potential slowdown" to "signaling an economic contraction. "

The report continues:

The weakness in spot market pricing for many transportation services, especially trucking, is consistent with the negative Cass Shipments Index and, along with airfreight and railroad volume data, strengthens our concerns about the economy and the risk of ongoing trade policy disputes. Weakness in commodity prices, and the ongoing decline in interest rates, have all joined the chorus of signals calling for an economic contraction.

  1. Ed Hanson October 14, 2019 at 5:51 am

    Looking at the chart.

    The only time on the chart a sharp drop of the index was followed quickly by a recession was the end of 2001. But remember, no one (except Presidential candidate Bush) was predicting a recession and of course, accordingly to Menzie, it was proper they did not.

    More observations

    A similar but larger drop during 2005 but no recession for years.
    A very tiny drop (quite common in size) late 2007 was quickly followed by the start of great recession.
    A very similar drop but of greater size occurred during 2011 with no recession.
    The index on chart remained mostly negative until the election of 2017, with no recession.
    Need I observe that the index recovered after the election of President Trump.

    I do not claim to know the Cass index better than the people who created the report, but it seems that anyone interested might look up reports from the times of the above list. This quick look would seem that the index is not very good at calling recessions. Perhaps that is why they use the term contraction instead,. But we already know that GDP growth rate has slowed but that is not the same as recession.

    So to answer the title question, who knows? But this index has a very bad record of calling when GDP turns negative.

    By the way, another look at the index can be found at:

    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/FRGSHPUSM649NCIS

    And the look at this FRED chart does not look particularly menacing.

    Ed

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author October 14, 2019 at 9:15 am

      Ed Hanson: What are you babbling about? I was *in* the Bush Administration in 2001 (until June). I don't recall anybody in the Executive Office of the President (including my boss, the Chair of the CEA) saying we were in, or about to be in, a recession.

      Where *do* you get your information?

      Oh, and FYI, the NBER dating for the recession is March 2001 to November 2001 – not the end of 2001.

      1. Moses Herzog October 14, 2019 at 12:06 pm

        @ Menzie
        Maybe Cass already seasonally adjust theses numbers?? But I was thinking right now that the Christmas season could make these numbers look "overly positive" when say, the November and December numbers come out. I'm wondering (again assuming it's not already adjusted for in the numbers) if there is a statistical method to "smooth out" those numbers, or say compare the Cass index for this end year, Specifically November and December numbers to Christmas season numbers for other recession or "contraction" years.

        Reply