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Redistribution of wealth up as the essence of neoliberalism

Decline of middle class in the USA under neoliberal regime
and rise of Economic Royalists ("Let them eat cake ")

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"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."

-- Abraham Lincoln

Isn’t inequality merely the price of America being No. 1? ... That’s almost certainly false... Prior to about 20 years ago, most economists thought that inequality greased the wheels of progress. Wealth Inequality in America Overwhelmingly now, people who study it empirically think that it’s sand in the wheels. ... Inequality breeds conflict, and conflict breeds wasted resources”

Samuel Bowles,
cited from Economist's View: Inequality and Guard Labor

From 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent.

Nicholas D. Kristof, NYT, November 6, 2010

Roughly 1 in 4 Americans is employed to keep fellow citizens in line and protect private wealth from would-be Robin Hoods

Guard Labor Why is Inequality Bad

If labor is a commodity like any other, who is the idiot in charge of inventory management?.

Economist's View '


Introduction

As aptly noted Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems ( The Guardian,  April 15, 2016)

Imagine if the people of the Soviet Union had never heard of communism. The ideology that dominates our lives has, for most of us, no name. Mention it in conversation and you'll be rewarded with a shrug. Even if your listeners have heard the term before, they will struggle to define it. Neoliberalism: do you know what it is?

Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007‑8, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness , the collapse of ecosystems, rejection of the current neoliberal elite by majority of American people and the rise of candidates like Donald Trump . But we respond to these developments as if they emerge in isolation, apparently unaware that they have all been either catalyzed or exacerbated by the same coherent philosophy; a philosophy that has – or had – a name. What greater power can there be than to operate namelessly? 

One of the key property of neoliberalism is that it recasts inequality as virtuous. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve. If you deserve to die, so be it. Of course. that does not apply to the financial oligarchy which is above the law and remains unpunished even for very serious crimes. This fate is reserved for bottom 99% of population.

One of the key property of neoliberalism is that it recasts inequality as virtuous. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve. If you deserve to die, so be it. Of course. that does not apply to the financial oligarchy which is above the law and remains unpunished even for very serious crimes.

Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations, In other words neoliberal economic model uses "unable to compete in the labor market" label for poor people in the same way Nazi used concept of Untermensch for Slavic people.

That also mean that for those outside top 20% of population the destiny is brutal exploitation not that different then in slave societies. It victimizes and artfully creates complex of inferiority among poor people trying to brainwash that they themselves are guilty in their status and that their children do not deserve better. This is why subsidies for colleges are cut. Unfortunately now even lower middle class is coming under tremendous pressure and essentially is moved into poverty. Disappearance of well-paid middle class "white collar" jobs such as IT jobs and recently oil sector jobs  and conversion of many jobs to temp or to outsourcing/off-shoring model is a fact that can't be denied. Rise in inequality in the USA for that last twenty years of neoliberalism domination is simply dramatic and medial income per family actually dropped.

Everything is moving in the direction of a pretty brutal joke: poor Americans just got a new slave-owners. And now slaves are not distinguished by  the color of their skin.

The economic status of Wal Mart employees (as well as employees of many other retailers, who are predominantly women) are not that different from slaves. In "rich" states like NY and NJ Wal-Mart cashiers are paid around $9 an hour. That's around $18K a year if you can get 40hours a week (big if),  You can't survive on those money living alone and renting an apartment. Two people might be able to survive if they share the apartment costs.  And forget about that if you have a child (aka "single mothers"  as a new face of the US poverty). You can survive only with additional social programs like food stamps. In other words the federal state subsidizes Wal-Mart, increasing their revenue at taxpayers expense.

Piketty thinks a rentier society (which is another definition of neoliberal society) contradicts the meritocratic worldview of democratic societies and is toxic for democracy as it enforces "one dollar one vote" election process (corporation buy politicians; ordinary people just legitimize with their votes pre-selected by elite candidates, see Two Party System as Polyarchy):

 “…no ineluctable force standing in the way to extreme concentration of wealth…if growth slows and the return on capital increases [as] tax competition between nations heats up…Our democratic societies rest on a meritocratic worldview, or at any rate, a meritocratic hope, by which I mean a belief in a society in which inequality is based more on merit and effort than on kinship and rents. This belief and hope play a very crucial role in modern society, for a simple reason: in a democracy the professed equality of rights of all citizens contrasts sharply with the very real inequality of living conditions, and in order to overcome this contradiction it is vital to make sure that social inequalities derive from ration and universal principles rather than arbitrary contingencies. Inequalities must therefore be just and useful to all, at least in the realm of discourse and as far as possible in reality as well…Durkheim predicted that modern democratic society would not put for long with the existence of inherited wealth and would ultimately see to it that the ownership of property ended at death.” p. 422

A neo-liberal point discussed in Raymond Plant's book on neo-liberalism is that if a fortune has been made through no injustice, then it is OK. So we should not condemn the resulting distribution of wealth, as fantastically concentrated as it may be. That that's not true, as such cases always involve some level of injustice, if only by exploiting some loophole in the current laws. Piketty is correct that to the extent that citizens understood the nature of a rentier society they would rise in opposition to it. The astronomical pay of "super-managers" cannot be justified in meritocratic terms. CEO's can capture boards and force their incentive to grow faster then  company profits. Manipulations with shares buyback are used to meet "targets". So neoliberal extreme is definitely bad.

At the same time we now know the equality if not achievable and communism was a pipe dream that actually inflicted cruelty on a lot of people in the name of unachievable utopia. But does this means that inequality, any level of inequality, is OK. It does not look this way and we can actually argue that extremes meet.

But collapse of the USSR lead to triumph of neoliberalism which is all about rising inequality. Under neoliberalism the wealthy and their academic servants, see inequality as a noble outcome. They want to further enrich top 1%, shrink middle class making it less secure, and impoverish poor. In other words they promote under the disguise of "free market" Newspeak a type of economy which can be called a plantation economy. In this type of the economy all the resources and power are in the hands of a wealthy planter class who then gives preference for easy jobs and the easy life to their loyal toadies. The wealthy elites like cheap labor. And it's much easier to dictate their conditions of employment when unemployment is high. Keynesian economics values the middle class and does not value unemployment or cheap labor. Neoliberals like a system that rewards them for their loyalty to the top 1% with an easier life than they otherwise merit. In a meritocracy where individuals receive public goods and services that allow them to compete on a level playing field, many neoliberal toadies would be losers who cannot compete.

In a 2005 report to investors three analysts at Citigroup advised that “the World is dividing into two blocs—the Plutonomy and the rest … In a plutonomy there is no such animal as “the U.S. consumer” or “the UK consumer", or indeed the “Russian consumer”.

In other words there are analysts that believe that we are moving to a replay of Middle Ages on a new, global level, were there are only rich who do the lion share of the total consumption and poor, who does not matter.

We can also state, that under neoliberal regime the sources of American economic inequality are largely political. In other words they are the result of deliberate political decision of the US elite to shape markets in neoliberal ways, and dismantle New Deal.

Part of this "shaping the markets in neoliberal ways" was corruption of academic economists. Under neoliberalism most economists are engaged in what John Kenneth Galbraith called "the economics of innocent fraud." With the important correction that there is nothing innocent in their activities. Most of them, especially "neoclassical" economists are prostitutes for financial oligarchy. So their prescription and analysis as for the reasons of high unemployment should be taken with due skepticism.

We also know that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. That means that existence of aristocracy might not be optimal for society "at large". But without moderating influence of the existence of the USSR on appetites of the US elite, they engage is audacious struggle for accumulation as much power and wealth as possible. In a way that situation matches the situation in 1920th, which was known to be toxic.

But society slowly but steadily moves in this direction since mid 80th. According to the official wage statistics for 2012 http://www.ssa.gov , 40% of the US work force earned less than $20,000, 53% earned less than $30,000, and 73% earned less than $50,000. The median US wage or salary was $27,519 per year. The amounts are in current dollars and they are "total" compensation amounts subject to state and federal income taxes and to Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes. In other words, the take home pay is less.

In other word the USA is now entered an inequality bubble, the bubble with the financial oligarchy as new aristocracy, which strives for absolute control of all layers of the government. The corruption has a systemic character. It take not only traditional form of the intermarriage between Wall street and DC power brokers (aka revolving doors). It also create a caste of guard labor to protect oligarchy.

Redistribution of wealth up as the goal of neoliberalism makes it unsustainable social system

As George H.W. Bush once  said (can't find exact quote):   Neoliberalism is about redistribution of wealth into fewer, higher and tighter hands. Until approximately 2008  the increasing disparity between rich and poor has, largely been non-disruptive in the USA because the lower 90% have been placated enough, by way of the proverbial bread and circuses, not to cause any waves. Sure, there have been little movements here and there, such as Occupy Wall Street, but they were quickly crashed by enormous national security state intelligence agencies.

But just imagine another financial crisis and its consequences

The public mindset might quickly turn against the neoliberal "The New Class" -- neoliberal nomenklatura. Even under Trump with his fake promises social tension had risen significantly because:

Can you imagine the backlash against the Neoliberalism in such circumstances? I suspect it might be larger then in 2008 despite the power of national security state and the fact that the Americans are too dumbed down and drugged to revolt.

As one ZeroHedge commenter put it: "It's not rich against poor. It's FIRE sector parasites vs. earned income hosts."

New global caste structure and stratification of the US society

Some researchers point out that neoliberal world is increasingly characterized by a three-tiered social structure(net4dem.org):

This process of stratification and fossilization of "haves" and "haves-not" is now pretty much established in the USA. The US population can be partitioned into five distinct classes, or strata:

  1. Lower class (poor) bottom 20%. Those folks have income close to official poverty line, which varies from state to state. In "expensive states" like NJ and NY this category ranks much higher then national level, up to 40%. Official figures from a Census Bureau that state that in 2010 twelve states had poverty rates above 17%, up from five in 2009, while ten metropolitan areas had poverty rates over 18%. Texas had the highest poverty rate, at 33.4%, followed by Fresno, California, at 26.8%.

    According to figures published by the Social Security Administration in October 2011, the median income for American workers in 2010 was $26,364, just slightly above the official poverty level of $22,025 for a family of four. Most single parent families with children fall into this category. Many single earner families belong to this category too.

    The median income figure reflects the fact that salaries of 50% of all workers are less then $26,364 and gives a much truer picture of the real social conditions in the United States than the more widely publicized average income, which was $39,959 in 2010. This figure is considerably higher than median income because the distribution of income is so unequal—a relative handful of ultra-high income individuals pulls up the average.

  2. Lower middle class (60%). Depending on class model used, the middle class may constitute anywhere from 25% to 66% of households. Typically includes households with incomes above $46,326 (all households) or $67,348 (dual earners households) per year. The latter is more realistic. In order for two earners family to qualify each earner should get approximately $34K a year or more ($17 per hour wage with 40 hours workweek). Per household member income is around $23.5K
    The lower middle class... these are people in technical and lower-level management positions who work for those in the upper middle class as lower managers, craftspeople, and the like. They enjoy a reasonably comfortable standard of living, although it is constantly threatened by taxes and inflation. Generally, they have a Bachelor's and sometimes Masters college degree.

    —Brian K. William, Stacy C. Sawyer and Carl M. Wahlstrom, Marriages, Families & Intimate Relationships, 2006 (Adapted from Dennis Gilbert 1997; and Joseph Kahl 1993)[4]

  3. Upper middle class (top 20%). The includes households with incomes above 91K per year.
  4. Upper class (elite): top 1%. Annual comes (AGI) for this group exceed $380K per year. Commonly called multimillionaires (net worth two millions or more). In 2010 controlled at least 25% of total nation income (23.5% in 2007, 8.9% in 1979) . Top 1% owns more than 90% of combined or 33.8% of the nation private wealth.
  5. Super rich (top 0.01%, oligarchs, super-elite, or top 1000 families). A close to this category of super-rich are billionaires. US is home of 425 billionaires, while Russia and China have 95 and 96 correspondingly. The average worth of the world's billionaires is now $3.5 billion, or $500 million more than last year.( Forbes)

Share of consumption for families outside upper middle class (with income, say, below $91K per year (80% of US households) is much less then commonly assumed. That means that in the USA consumer spending are driven by upper class and as such is pretty much isolated from decline of wages of lower 80% of population. The median household income in the United States is around $50K.

Possibility of the return to the clan society

The danger of high level of inequality might be revival of nationalism and return to clan (mafia) society in the form of corporatism or even some form of national socialism. Mark S. Weine made this point in his book The Rule of the Clan. What an Ancient Form of Social Organization Reveals About the Future of Individual Freedom . From one Amazon review:

Weiner's book is more than worth its price simply as an armchair tour of interesting places and cultures and mores, deftly and briefly described. But he has a more serious and important point to make. While the social cohesion that the values of the clan promote is alluring, they are ultimately at odds with the values of individual autonomy that only the much-maligned modern liberal state can offer.

Even the state's modern defenders tend to view it, at best, as a necessary evil. It keeps the peace, upholds (somewhat) international order, and manages the complexity of modern life in ways that allow individuals to get on with their journeys of personal fulfillment.

Weiner shows (in too brief but nevertheless eloquent ways) that this reductive view of the state is insufficient to resist the seductive appeal of the clan, and that it will be for the worse if we can't find ways to combat this allure within the legal structures of modern liberalism.

Read alongside James Ault's masterful participant study of fundamentalist Baptism, Spirit and Flesh, and draw your own conclusions.

Dramatic increase in the use of guard labor and conversion of the state into National Security State

Of course the elite is worried about security of their ill-gotten gains. And that's partially why the USA need such huge totally militarized police force and outsize military. Police and military are typical guard labor, that protects private wealth of the US plutocrats. Add to this equally strong private army of security contractors.

Other suggested that not only the USA, but the global neoliberal society is deeply sick with the same disease that the US society expected in 20th (and like previously with globalism of robber barons age, the triumph of neoliberalism in 1990th was and is a global phenomenon).

High inequality logically leads to dramatic increase of guard labor and inevitable conversion of state into National Security State. Which entail total surveillance over the citizens as a defining factor. Ruling elite is always paranoid, but neoliberal elite proved to be borderline psychopathic. They do not want merely security, they want to crush all the resistance.

Butler Shaffer wrote recently that the old state system in the United States is dying before our very eyes:

A system that insists on controlling others through increasing levels of systematic violence; that loots the many for the aggrandizement of the few; that regulates any expressions of human behavior that are not of service to the rulers; that presumes the power to wage wars against any nation of its choosing, a principle that got a number of men hanged at the Nuremberg trials; and finally, criminalizes those who would speak the truth to its victims, has no moral energy remaining with which to sustain itself.

Low mobility created potential for the degeneration of the elite

It is pretty clear that the USA became a society where there is de facto royalty. In the form of the strata which Roosevelt called "Economic royalists". Jut look at third generation of Walton family or Rocafeller family.

Remember the degenerative Soviet Politburo, or, for a change, unforgettable dyslexic President George W Bush ? The painful truth is that in the most unequal nations including the UK and the US – the intergenerational transmission of income is very strong (in plain language they have a heredity-based aristocracy). See Let them eat cake. In more equal societies such as Denmark, the tendency of privilege to breed privilege is much lower but also exists and is on the rise. As Roosevelt observed in a similar situation of 30th:

These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power.

High inequality undermines social cohesion

Neoliberalism and its ideology(Randism) undermined social cohesion, making society members more hostile to each other and as such less willing to defend the country in case of real danger. Betrayal of the country is no longer an unspeakable crime.

The purpose of government should be to foster a "civil society". The slogan of the "oligarchic right" is "me first", or, as in Paul Ryan's adoration of Ayn Rand, greed is good. Objectivism became kind of new civic religion, with the goal of maximizing the wealth of a single individual at the expense of the civil society is a virtue. And those new social norms (instilled by MSM) allow the fat cats simply to stole from everybody else without fear of punishment. See an outburst from Stephen Schwarzman. If there are two societies inside of the country with bridges burned, the bottom part is less willing to spill blood for the upper part. And having a contractual army has its own set of dangers, as it spirals into high level of militarism (being in war is a new normal for the USA during the last 30 years or so), which while enriching part of the elite bankrupts the country. The quality of roads is a testament of this process.

Countervailing mechanisms and forces are destroyed. Plutocrats now can shape the conversation by buying up newspapers and television channels as well as funding political campaigns. The mousetrap of high inequality became irreversible without external shocks. The more unequal our societies become, the more we all become prisoners of that inequality. The key question is: Has our political system been so degraded by misinformation and disinformation that it can no longer function because it lost the touch with reality? The stream of outright falsehoods that MSM feed the lemmings (aka society members) is clearly politically motivated. But a side effect (externality) of all that brainwashing efforts is that nobody including players at the top of the government now understands what's going on. Look at Obama and Joe Biden.

As the growth of manufacturing base slowed down and return on capital dropped, the elite wants less government social spending. They wants to end popular government programs such as Social Security, no matter how much such cuts would cause economic dislocation and strains in the current social safety net. The claims are that these programs are "Waste" and could be cut without anyone, but the "moochers" noticing the effects. They use the economic strain felt by many in the economy to promote these cuts. They promise that cuts to vital programs will leave more money in the pockets of the average person. In reality, the increase in money will be marginal, but the effects on security and loss of "group purchasing power" economy of scale will make the cuts worse than worthless (Economist's View Paul Krugman Moment of Truthiness)

Two party system makes the mousetrap complete

The US system of voting (winner take all) leads inexorably to Two party system. Third parties are only spoilers. Protest votes in the current system are COUNTERPRODUCTIVE (i.e. they help the evil, not the merely bad). Deliberate and grotesque gerrymandering further dilutes protest votes.

Again, I would like to stress that rich consumers, few in number, getting the gigantic slice of income and the most of consumption (that's why the US consumption was so resilient during two last financial crises). There are the rest, the “non-rich”, accounting for surprisingly small bites of the national pie.

The question arise "Why we should care?". Most of the readers of this page are not at the bottom bracket anyway. Many are pretty high up. Here is one possible answer:

But should we care? There are two reasons we might: process and outcome.

Creating a strata of the outcasts aka permanently unemployed

It is very difficult to understand the real situation with inequality in the USA today without experiencing long term unemployed.

Or if you forced into job of a WalMart cashier or other low paid employee. Job that does not provide a living minimum wage. You need to watch this YouTube video Wealth Inequality in America to understand the reality. The video was posted anonymously by someone using the YouTube handle politizane. It is pretty clear that not only the USA became a society where there is de facto royalty, economic royalty but also a strata of people completely deprived. An Outcaste.

And the royalty became recklessly like it should promoting to the top the likes of recovered alcoholic Bush II or "private equity shark" Romney (and remember who Romney father was).

See Over 50 and unemployed

Education is no longer the answer to rising inequality

In the current circumstances education is no longer the answer to rising inequality. Instead of serving as a social lift it, at least in some cases, became more of a social trap. This is connected with neoliberal transformation of education. With the collapse of post-war public funded educational model and privatization of the University education students face a pretty cruel world. World in which they are cows to milk. Now universities became institutions very similar to McDonalds ( or, in less politically correct terms, Bordellos of Higher Learning). Like McDonalds they need to price their services so that to receive nice profit and they to make themselves more attractive to industry they intentionally feed students with overspecialized curriculum instead of concentrating on fundamentals and the developing the ability to understand the world. Which was a hallmark of university education of the past.

Since 1970th Neo-Liberal University model replaced public funded university model (Dewey model). It is now collapsing as there are not that many students, who are able (and now with lower job prospects and tale of graduates working as bartender, willing) to pay infated tuition fees. That means that higher education again by-and-large became privilege of the rich and upper middle class.

Lower student enrollment first hit minted during dot-com boom expensive private colleges, who hunt for people with government support (such a former members of Arm forces). It remains viable only in elite universities, which traditionally serve the top 1% and rich foreigners. As David Schultz wrote in his article (Logos, 2012):

Yet the Dewey model began to collapse in middle of the 1970s. Perhaps it was the retrenchment of the SUNY and CUNY systems in New York under Governor Hugh Carey in 1976 that began the end of the democratic university. What caused its retrenchment was the fiscal crisis of the 1970s.

The fiscal crisis of the 1970s was born of numerous problems. Inflationary pressures caused by Vietnam and the energy embargoes of the 1970s, and recessionary forces from relative declines in American economic productivity produced significant economic shocks, including to the public sector where many state and local governments edged toward bankruptcy.

Efforts to relieve declining corporate profits and productivity initiated efforts to restructure the economy, including cutting back on government services. The response, first in England under Margaret Thatcher and then in the United States under Ronald Reagan, was an effort to retrench the state by a package that included decreases in government expenditures for social welfare programs, cutbacks on business regulations, resistance to labor rights, and tax cuts. Collectively these proposals are referred to as Neo-liberalism and their aim was to restore profitability and autonomy to free markets with the belief that unfettered by the government that would restore productivity.

Neo-liberalism had a major impact on higher education. First beginning under President Carter and then more so under Ronald Reagan, the federal and state governments cut taxes and public expenditures. The combination of the two meant a halt to the Dewey business model as support for public institutions decreased and federal money dried up.

From a high in the 1960s and early 70s when states and the federal government provided generous funding to expand their public systems to educate the Baby Boomers, state universities now receive only a small percentage of their money from the government. As I pointed out in my 2005 Logos “The Corporate University in American Society” article in 1991, 74% of the funding for public universities came from states, in 2004; it was down to 64%, with state systems in Illinois, Michigan and Virginia down to 25%, 18%, and 8% respectively. Since then, the percentages have shrunk even more, rendering state universities public institutions more in name than in funding.

Higher education under Neo-liberalism needed a new business model and it found it in the corporate university. The corporate university is one where colleges increasingly use corporate structures and management styles to run the university. This includes abandoning the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) shared governance model where faculty had an equal voice in the running of the school, including over curriculum, selection of department chairs, deans, and presidents, and determination of many of the other policies affecting the academy. The corporate university replaced the shared governance model with one more typical of a business corporation.

For the corporate university, many decisions, including increasingly those affecting curriculum, are determined by a top-down pyramid style of authority. University administration often composed not of typical academics but those with business or corporate backgrounds had pre-empted many of the decisions faculty used to make. Under a corporate model, the trustees, increasingly composed of more business leaders than before, select, often with minimal input from the faculty, the president who, in turn, again with minimal or no faculty voice, select the deans, department heads, and other administrative personnel.

University presidents became way too greedy

Neoliberalism professes the idea the personal greed can serve positive society goals, which is reflected in famous neoliberal slogan "greed is good". And university presidents listen. Now presidents of neoliberal universities do not want to get $100K per year salary, they want one, or better several, million dollar salary of the CEO of major corporation (Student Debt Grows Faster at Universities With Highest-Paid Leaders, Study Finds - NYTimes.com)

At the 25 public universities with the highest-paid presidents, both student debt and the use of part-time adjunct faculty grew far faster than at the average state university from 2005 to 2012, according to a new study by the Institute for Policy Studies, a left-leaning Washington research group.

The study, “The One Percent at State U: How University Presidents Profit from Rising Student Debt and Low-Wage Faculty Labor,” examined the relationship between executive pay, student debt and low-wage faculty labor at the 25 top-paying public universities.

The co-authors, Andrew Erwin and Marjorie Wood, found that administrative expenditures at the highest-paying universities outpaced spending on scholarships by more than two to one. And while adjunct faculty members became more numerous at the 25 universities, the share of permanent faculty declined drastically.

“The high executive pay obviously isn’t the direct cause of higher student debt, or cuts in labor spending,” Ms. Wood said. “But if you think about it in terms of the allocation of resources, it does seem to be the tip of a very large iceberg, with universities that have top-heavy executive spending also having more adjuncts, more tuition increases and more administrative spending.”

... ... ...

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s annual survey of public university presidents’ compensation, also released Sunday, found that nine chief executives earned more than $1 million in total compensation in 2012-13, up from four the previous year, and three in 2010-11. The median total compensation of the 256 presidents in the survey was $478,896, a 5 percent increase over the previous year.

... ... ...

As in several past years, the highest-compensated president, at $6,057,615 in this period, was E. Gordon Gee, who resigned from Ohio State last summer amid trustee complaints about frequent gaffes. He has since become the president of West Virginia University.

This trick requires dramatic raising of tuition costs. University bureaucracy also got taste for better salaries and all those deans, etc want to be remunerated like vice presidents. So raising the tuition costs became the key existential idea of neoliberal university. Not quality of education, but tuition costs now are the key criteria of success. And if you can charge students $40K per semester it is very, very good. If does not matter that most population get less then $20 an hour.

The same is true for professors, who proved to be no less corruptible. And some of them, such as economic departments, simply serve as prostitutes for financial oligarchy. So they were corrupted even before that rat race for profit. Of course there are exceptions. But they only prove the rule.

As the result university tuition inflation outpaced inflation by leaps and bounds. At some point amount that you pay (and the level of debt after graduation) becomes an important factor in choosing the university. So children of "have" and "have nots" get into different educational institutions and do not meet each other. In a way aristocracy returned via back door.

Neoliberal university professes "deep specialization" to create "ready for the market" graduates. And that creates another problem: education became more like stock market game and that makes more difficult for you to change you specialization late in the education cycle. But early choice entail typical stock market problem: you might miss the peak of the market or worse get into prolonged slump as graduates in finance learned all too well in 2008. That's why it is important not to accumulate too much debt: this is a kind of "all in" play in poker. You essentially bet that in a particular specialty there will be open positions with high salary, when you graduate. If you lose this bet you are done.

As a result of this "reaction to the market trends" by neoliberal universities, when universities bacem appendixes of HR of large corporations students need to be more aware of real university machinery then students in 50th or 60th of the last century. And first of all assume that it is functioning not to their benefits.

One problem for a student is that there are now way too many variables that you do not control. Among them:

On the deep level neoliberal university is not interested to help you to find specialization and place in life where can unleash your talents. You are just a paying customers much like in McDonalds, and university interests are such they might try to push you in wrong direction or load you with too much debt.

If there is deep mismatch as was with computer science graduates after crash of dot-com boom, or simply bad job market due to economy stagnation and you can't find the job for your new specialty (or if you got "junk" specialty with inherent high level of unemployment among professionals) and you have substantial education debt, then waiting tables or having some other MacJob is a real disaster for you. As with such selaries you simply can't pay it back. So controlling the level of debt is very important and in this sence parents financial help is now necessary. In other words education became more and more "rich kids game".

That does not mean that university education should be avoided for those from families with modest means. On the contrary it provides unique experience and help a person to mature in multiple ways difficult to achieve without it. It is still one of the best ways to get vertical mobility. But unless parents can support you you need to try to find the most economical way to obtain it without acquiring too much debt. This is you first university exam. And if you fail it you are in trouble.

For example, computer science education is a great way to learn quite a few things necessary for a modern life. But the price does matter and prestige of the university institution that you attend is just one of the factors you should consider in your evaluation. It should not be the major factor ("vanity fair") unless your parents are rich and can support you. If you are good you can get later a master degree in a prestigious university after graduation from a regular college. Or even Ph.D.

County colleges are greatly underappreciated and generally provide pretty high standard of education, giving ability to students to save money for the first two years before transferring to a four year college. They also smooth the transition as finding yourself among people who are only equal or superior then you (and have access to financial respource that you don't have) is a huge stress. The proverb say that it is better to be first in the village then last in the town has some truth in it. Prestigious universities might provide a career boost (high fly companies usually accept resumes only from Ivy League members), but they cost so much that you need to be a son or daughter of well-to-do parents to feel comfortably in them. Or extremely talented. Also amount of career boost that elite universities provide depends on whom your parents are and what connections they have. It does not depend solely on you and the university. Again, I would like to stress that you should resist "vanity fair" approach to your education: a much better way is to try to obtain BS in a regular university and them try to obtain MS and then, if you are good, PHD, in a prestigious university. Here is a fragment of an interesting discussion that covers this topic (Low Mobility Is Not a Social Tragedy?, Feb 13, 2013 ; I recommend you to read the whole discussion ):

kievite:

I would like to defend Greg Clack.

I think that Greg Clack point is that the number of gifted children is limited and that exceptionally gifted children have some chance for upper move in almost all, even the most hierarchical societies (story of Alexander Hamilton was really fascinating for me, the story of Mikhail Lomonosov http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Lomonosov was another one -- he went from the very bottom to the top of Russian aristocracy just on the strength of his abilities as a scientist). In no way the ability to "hold its own" (typical for rich families kids) against which many here expressed some resentment represents social mobility. But the number of kids who went down is low -- that's actually proves Greg Clack point:

(1) Studies of social mobility using surnames suggest two things. Social mobility rates are much lower than conventionally estimated. And social mobility rates estimated in this way vary little across societies and time periods. Sweden is no more mobile than contemporary England and the USA, or even than medieval England. Social mobility rates seem to be independent of social institutions (see the other studies on China, India, Japan and the USA now linked here).

Francisco Ferreira rejects this interpretation, and restates the idea that there is a strong link between social mobility rates and inequality in his interesting post.

What is wrong with the data Ferreira cites? Conventional estimates of social mobility, which look at just single aspects of social status such as income, are contaminated by noise. If we measure mobility on one aspect of status such as income, it will seem rapid.

But this is because income is a very noisy measure of the underlying status of families. The status of families is a combination of their education, occupation, income, wealth, health, and residence. They will often trade off income for some other aspect of status such as occupation. A child can be as socially successful as a low paid philosophy professor as a high paid car salesman. Thus if we measure just one aspect of status such as income we are going to confuse the random fluctuations of income across generations, influenced by such things as career choices between business and philosophy, with true generalised social mobility.

If these estimates of social mobility were anywhere near correct as indicating true underlying rates of social mobility, then we would not find that the aristocrats of 1700 in Sweden are still overrepresented in all elite occupations of Sweden. Further, the more equal is income in a society, the less signal will income give of the true social status of families. In a society such as Sweden, where the difference in income between bus drivers and philosophy professors is modest, income tells us little about the social status of families. It is contaminated much more by random noise. Thus it will appear if we measure social status just by income that mobility is much greater in Sweden than in the USA, because in the USA income is a much better indicator of the true overall status of families.

The last two paragraphs of Greg Clark article cited by Mark Thoma are badly written and actually are somewhat disconnected with his line of thinking as I understand it as well as with the general line of argumentation of the paper.

Again, I would like to stress that a low intergenerational mobility includes the ability of kids with silver spoon in their mouth to keep a status close to their parent. The fact that they a have different starting point then kids from lower strata of society does not change that.

I think that the key argument that needs testing is that the number of challengers from lower strata of the society is always pretty low and is to a large extent accommodated by the societies we know (of course some societies are better then others).

Actually it would be interesting to look at the social mobility data of the USSR from this point of view.

But in no way, say, Mark Thoma was a regular kid, although circumstances for vertical mobility at this time were definitely better then now. He did possessed some qualities which made possible his upward move although his choice of economics was probably a mistake ;-).

Whether those qualities were enough in more restrictive environments we simply don't know, but circumstances for him were difficult enough as they were.

EC -> kievite...

"the number of gifted children is limited"

I stopped reading after that. I teach at a high school in a town with a real mix of highly elite families, working class families, and poor families, and I can tell you that the children of affluent parents are not obviously more gifted than the children of poor families. They do, however, have a lot more social capital, and they have vastly more success. But the limitations on being "gifted" are irrelevant.

According to an extensive study (Turkheimer et al., 2003) of 50,000 pregnant women and the children they went on to have (including enough sets of twins to be able to study the role of innate genetic differences), variation in IQ among the affluent seems to be largely genetic.

Among the poor, however, IQ has very little to do with genes -- probably because the genetic differences are swamped and suppressed by the environmental differences, as few poor kids are able to develop as fully as they would in less constrained circumstances.

kievite -> EC...

All you said is true. I completely agree that "...few poor kids are able to develop as fully as they would in less constrained circumstances." So there are losses here and we should openly talk about them.

Also it goes without saying that social capital is extremely important for a child. That's why downward mobility of children from upper classes is suppressed, despite the fact that some of them are plain vanilla stupid.

But how this disproves the point made that "exceptionally gifted children have some chance for upper move in almost all, even the most hierarchical societies"? I think you just jumped the gun...

mrrunangun:

The early boomers benefitted from the happy confluence of the postwar boom, LBJ's Great Society efforts toward financial assistance for those seeking to advance their educations, and the 1964 Civil Rights Act which opened opportunities for marginalized social groups in institutions largely closed to them under the prewar social customs in the US.

The US Supreme Court is made up of only Jews and Catholics as of this writing, a circumstance inconceivable in the prewar America. Catholics were largely relegated to separate and unequal institutions. Jews' opportunities were limited by quotas and had a separate set of institutions of their own where their numbers could support such. Where their numbers were not sufficient, they were often relegated to second rate institutions.

Jewish doctors frequently became the leading men in the Catholic hospitals in Midwestern industrial towns where they were unwelcome in the towns' main hospitals. Schools, clubs, hospitals, professional and commercial organizations often had quota or exclusionary policies. Meritocracy has its drawbacks, but we've seen worse in living memory.

College textbook publishing became a racket with the growth of neoliberalism. That means at least since 1980. And it is pretty dirty racket with willing accomplishes in form of so called professors like Greg Mankiw. For instance, you can find a used 5th edition Mankiw introductory to Microeconomics for under $4.00, while a new 7th edition costs over $200. An interesting discussion of this problem can be found at Thoughts on High-Priced Textbooks'

See Slightly Skeptical View on University Education

New generation of robber barons: US oligarchy never was so audacious

As Jesse aptly noted at his blog post Echoes of the Past In The Economist - The Return of the Übermenschen the US oligarchy never was so audacious.

And it is as isolated as the aristocracies of bygone days, isolation reinforced by newly minted royalty withdrawal into gated estates, Ivy League Universities, and private planes.

They are not openly suggesting that no child should rise above the status of parents, presumably in terms of wealth, education, and opportunity. But their policies are directed toward this goal. If you are born to poor parents in the USA, all bets are off -- your success is highly unlikely, and your servile status, if not poverty is supposedly pre-destined by poor generic material that you got.

This is of course not because the children of the elite inherit the talent, energy, drive, and resilience to overcome the many obstacles they will face in life from their parents. Whatever abilities they have (and regression to the mean is applicable to royalty children too), they are greatly supplemented, of course, by the easy opportunities, valuable connections, and access to power. That's why the result of SAT in the USA so strongly correlated with the wealth of parents. And a virtual freedom from prosecution does not hurt either, in case they have inherited a penchant for sociopathy, or something worse, along with their many gifts.

The view that the children of the poor will not do well, because they are genetically inferior became kind of hidden agenda. These are the pesky 99% just deserve to be cheated and robbed by the elite, because of the inherent superiority of the top one percent. There is no fraud in the system, only good and bad breeding, natural predators and prey.

This line of thinking rests on the assumption that I succeed, therefore I am. And if you do not, well, so be it. You will be low-paid office slave or waiter in McDonalds with a college diploma as it is necessary for the maximization of profits of the elite. There is no space at the top for everybody. Enjoy the ride... Here is an typical expression of such views:

"Many commentators automatically assume that low intergenerational mobility rates represent a social tragedy. I do not understand this reflexive wailing and beating of breasts in response to the finding of slow mobility rates.

The fact that the social competence of children is highly predictable once we know the status of their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents is not a threat to the American Way of Life and the ideals of the open society

The children of earlier elites will not succeed because they are born with a silver spoon in their mouth, and an automatic ticket to the Ivy League.

They will succeed because they have inherited the talent, energy, drive, and resilience to overcome the many obstacles they will face in life. Life is still a struggle for all who hope to have economic and social success. It is just that we can predict who will be likely to possess the necessary characteristics from their ancestry."

Greg Clark, The Economist, 13 Feb. 2013

Mr. Clark is now a professor of economics and was the department chair until 2013 at the University of California, Davis. His areas of research are long term economic growth, the wealth of nations, and the economic history of England and India.

And another one:

"During this time, a growing professional class believed that scientific progress could be used to cure all social ills, and many educated people accepted that humans, like all animals, were subject to natural selection.

Darwinian evolution viewed humans as a flawed species that required pruning to maintain its health. Therefore negative eugenics seemed to offer a rational solution to certain age-old social problems."

David Micklos, Elof Carlson, Engineering American Society: The Lesson of Eugenics

If we compare this like of thinking with the thinking of eightieth century and you will see that the progress is really limited:

“With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment.

There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man.

It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, if so urged by hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with a certain and great present evil.

Hence we must bear without complaining the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely the weaker and inferior members of society not marrying so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased, though this is more to be hoped for than expected, by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage.”

Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man

So all this screams of MSM about dropping consumer spending is just a smoke screen. In oligarchic republic which USA represents, consumption is heavily shifted to top 20% and as such is much less dependent of the conditions of the economy. And top 20% can afford $8 per gallon gas (European price) without any problems.

John Barkley Rosser, Jr. With Marina V. Rosser and Ehsan Ahmed, argued for a two-way positive link between income inequality (economic inequality) and the size of an underground economy in a nation (Rosser, Rosser, and Ahmed, 2000).

Globally in 2005, top fifth (20%) of the world accounted for 76.6% of total private consumption (20:80 Pareto rule). The poorest fifth just 1.5%. I do not think the USA differs that much from the rest of the world.

Citigroup Plutonomy Research reports

There was two famous Citigroup Plutonomy research reports (2005 and 2006) featured in in Capitalism: A Love Story . Here is how Yves Smith summarized the findings (in her post High Income Disparity Leads to Low Savings Rates)

On the one hand, the authors, Ajay Kapur, Niall Macleod, and Narendra Singh get some credit for addressing a topic surprisingly ignored by mainstream economists. There have been some noteworthy efforts to measure the increase in concentration of income and wealth in the US most notably by Thomas Piketty and Edmund Saez. But while there have been some efforts to dispute their findings (that the rich, particularly the top 1%, have gotten relatively MUCH richer in the last 20 years), for the most part discussions of what to make of it (as least in the US) have rapidly descended into theological debates. One camp laments the fall in economic mobility (a predictable side effect), the corrosive impact of perceived unfairness, and the public health costs (even the richest in high income disparity countries suffer from shortened life spans). The other camp tends to focus on the Darwinian aspects, that rising income disparity is the result of a vibrant, open economy, and the higher growth rates that allegedly result will lift help all workers.

Yet as far as I can tell, there has been virtually no discussion of the macroeconomy effects of rising income and wealth disparities, or to look into what the implications for investment strategies might be. One interesting effect is that with rising inequality the share of "guard labor" grows very quickly and that puts an upper limit on the further growth of inequality (half of the citizens cannot be guards protecting few billionaires from the other half).

Now the fact that the Citi team asked a worthwhile question does not mean they came up with a sound answer. In fact, he reports are almost ludicrously funny in the way they attempt to depict what they call plutonomy as not merely a tradeable trend (as in leading to some useful investment ideas), but as a Brave New Economy development. I haven't recalled such Panglossian prose since the most delirious days of the dot-com bubble:

We will posit that:

1) the world is dividing into two blocs – the plutonomies, where economic growth is powered by and largely consumed by the wealthy few, and the rest. Plutonomies have occurred before in sixteenth century Spain, in seventeenth century Holland, the Gilded Age and the Roaring Twenties in the U.S.

What are the common drivers of Plutonomy? Disruptive technology-driven productivity gains, creative financial innovation, capitalist-friendly cooperative governments, an international dimension of immigrants and overseas conquests invigorating wealth creation, the rule of law, and patenting inventions. Often these wealth waves involve great complexity, exploited best by the rich and educated of the time…..Most “Global Imbalances” (high current account deficits and low savings rates, high consumer debt levels in the Anglo-Saxon world, etc) that continue to (unprofitably) preoccupy the world’s intelligentsia look a lot less threatening when examined through the prism of plutonomy. The risk premium on equities that might derive from the dyspeptic “global imbalance” school is unwarranted – the earth is not going to be shaken off its axis, and sucked into the cosmos by these “imbalances”. The earth is being held up by the muscular arms of its entrepreneur-plutocrats, like it, or not..

Yves here. Translation: plutonomy is such a great thing that the entire stock market would be valued higher if everyone understood it. And the hoops the reports go through to defend it are impressive. The plutomony countries (the notorious Anglo-Saxon model, the US, UK, Canada and Australia) even have unusually risk-seeking populations (and that is a Good Thing):

…a new, rather out-of-the box hypothesis suggests that dopamine differentials can explain differences in risk-taking between societies. John Mauldin, the author of “Bulls-Eye Investing” in an email last month cited this work. The thesis: Dopamine, a pleasure-inducing brain chemical, is linked with curiosity, adventure, entrepreneurship, and helps drive results in uncertain environments. Populations generally have about 2% of their members with high enough dopamine levels with the curiosity to emigrate. Ergo, immigrant nations like the U.S. and Canada, and increasingly the UK, have high dopamine-intensity populations.

Yves here. What happened to “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free/The wretched refuse of your teeming shore”? Were the Puritans a high dopamine population? Doubtful. How about the Irish emigration to the US, which peaked during its great famine?

Despite a good deal of romanticization standing in for analysis, the report does have one intriguing, and well documented finding: that the plutonomies have low savings rates. Consider an fictional pep rally chant:

We’re from Greenwich
We’re invincible
Living off our income
Never touch the principal

Think about that. If you are rich, you can afford to spend all your income. You don’t need to save, because your existing wealth provides you with a more than sufficient cushion.

The ramifications when you have a high wealth concentration are profound. From the October 2005 report:

In a plutonomy, the rich drop their savings rate, consume a larger fraction of their bloated, very large share of the economy. This behavior overshadows the decisions of everybody else. The behavior of the exceptionally rich drives the national numbers – the “appallingly low” overall savings rates, the “over-extended consumer”, and the “unsustainable” current accounts that accompany this phenomenon….

Feeling wealthier, the rich decide to consume a part of their capital gains right away. In other words, they save less from their income, the wellknown wealth effect. The key point though is that this new lower savings rate is applied to their newer massive income. Remember they got a much bigger chunk of the economy, that’s how it became a plutonomy. The consequent decline in absolute savings for them (and the country) is huge when this happens. They just account for too large a part of the national economy; even a small fall in their savings rate overwhelms the decisions of all the rest.

Yves here. This account rather cheerily dismisses the notion that there might be overextended consumers on the other end of the food chain. Unprecedented credit card delinquencies and mortgage defaults suggest otherwise. But behaviors on both ends of the income spectrum no doubt played into the low-savings dynamic: wealthy who spend heavily, and struggling average consumers who increasingly came to rely on borrowings to improve or merely maintain their lifestyle. And let us not forget: were encouraged to monetize their home equity, so they actually aped the behavior of their betters, treating appreciated assets as savings. Before you chide people who did that as profligate (naive might be a better characterization), recall that no one less than Ben Bernanke was untroubled by rising consumer debt levels because they also showed rising asset levels. Bernanke ignored the fact that debt needs to be serviced out of incomes, and households for the most part were not borrowing to acquire income-producing assets. So unless the rising tide of consumer debt was matched by rising incomes, this process was bound to come to an ugly end.

Also under Bush country definitely moved from oligarchy to plutocracy. Bush openly claimed that "have more" is his base. The top 1% of earners have captured four-fifths of all new income.

An interesting question is whether the extremely unequal income distribution like we have now make the broader society unstable. Or plebs is satisfied with "Bread and circuses" (aka house, SUV, boat, Daytona 500 and 500 channels on cable) as long as loot from the other parts of the world is still coming...

What is the upper limit of inequality?

Martin Bento in his response to Risk Pollution, Market Failure & Social Justice — Crooked Timber made the following point:

Donald made a point I was going to. I would go a bit further though. It’s not clear to me that economic inequality is not desired for its own sake by the some of the elite. After all, studies suggest that once you get past the level of income needed for a reasonably comfortable life – about $40K for a single person in the US - the quest for money is mostly about status.

Meeting your needs is not necessarily zero sum, but status is: my status can only be higher than yours to the extent that yours is lower than mine.

The more inequality there is, the more status differentiation there is. Of course, there are other sources of status than money, but I’m talking specifically about people who value money for the status it confers. This is in addition to the “Donner Party Conservatism” calls to make sure the incentives to work are as strong as possible (to be fair, I think tolerating some inequality for the sake of incentives is worthwhile, but we seem to be well beyond that).

For example currently the USA is No.3 in Gini measured inequality (cyeahoo, Oct 16, 2009), but still the society is reasonably stable:

Gini score: 40.8
GDP 2007 (US$ billions): 13,751.4
Share of income or expenditure (%)
Poorest 10%: 1.9
Richest 10%: 29.9
Ratio of income or expenditure, share of top 10% to lowest 10%: 15.9

What is really surprising is how low the average American salary is: just $26,352 or ~$2,200 a month. This is equal approximately to $13 an hour.

At the same time:

Some interesting facts about upper class (top 1% of the US population). First of all this is pretty self-isolated group (a nation within a nation). They associate almost exclusively with members of their own social and economic standing, few members of the bottom 90% of Americans have ever even personally met a member of the upper class.

Now about top 400:

Here are some interesting hypothesis about affect of inequality of the society:

Higher inequality is somewhat connected with imperial outreach. As Kevin de Bruxelles noted in comment to What collapsing empire looks like - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com

I’m surprised a thoughtful guy like Glenn Greenwald would make such an unsubstantiated link between collapsing public services for American peasants and a collapse of America’s global (indirect) imperial realm. Is there really a historic link between the quality of a nation’s services to its citizens and its global power? If so the Scandinavian countries would have been ruling the world for the past fifty years. If anything there is probably a reverse correlation. None of the great historic imperial powers, such as the British, Roman, Spanish, Russian, Ottoman, Mongolian, Chinese, Islamic, or Persian, were associated with egalitarian living conditions for anyone outside of the elite. So from a historic point of view, the ability to divert resources away from the peasants and towards the national security state is a sign of elite power and should be seen as a sign increased American imperial potential.

Now if America’s global power was still based on economic production then an argument could be made that closing libraries and cancelling the 12th grade would lower America’s power potential. But as we all know that is no longer the case and now America’s power is as the global consumer of excess production. Will a dumber peasantry consume even more? I think there is a good chance that the answer is yes.

Now a limit could be reached to how far the elite can lower their peasant’s standard of living if these changes actually resulted in civil disorder that demanded much energy for American elites to quell. But so far that is far from the case. Even a facile gesture such as voting for any other political party except the ruling Republicrats seems like a bridge too far for 95% of the peasants to attempt. No, the sad truth is that American elites, thanks to their exceptional ability to deliver an ever increasing amount of diverting bread and circuses, have plenty of room to further cut standards of living and are nowhere near reaching any limits.

What the reductions in economic and educational options will result in are higher quality volunteers into America’s security machinery, which again obviously raise America’s global power potential. This, along with an increasingly ruthless elite, should assure that into the medium term America’s powerful position will remain unchallenged. If one colors in blue on a world map all the countries under de facto indirect US control then one will start to realize the extent of US power. The only major countries outside of US control are Iran, North Korea, Syria, Cuba, and Venezuela. Iraq and Afghanistan are recent converts to the blue column but it far from certain whether they will stay that way. American elites will resist to the bitter end any country falling from the blue category. But this colored world map is the best metric for judging US global power.

In the end it’s just wishful thinking to link the declining of the American peasant’s standard of living with a declining of the American elite’s global power. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this proven in an attack on Iran in the near future.

High inequality and organized crime

Higher pay inequality feeds organized crime (and here we assume that banksters are different from the organized crime, which is probably a very weak hypothesis ;-). That's why Peter Drucker was probably right. He thought that top execs shouldn't get more than 25 times the average salary in the company (which would cap it around $2 millions). I would suggest a metric based on multiple from the average of lower 50% full time jobs for a particular firm (for example in Wal Mart that would cashers and cleaners, people who are living in Latin American style poverty, if they are single mothers as many are). One of the particular strengths of the idea of the maximum wage base on average of lower 50% of salaries is that if senior managers want to increase their own pay, they have to increase that of the lower-paid employees too.

And in a way financial industry itself became an organized crime. The notion of exorbitant wages prevalent in financial industry (and, before it, pioneered by in high-tech companies during dot-com boom via stock options) is based on the idea that some people are at least hundred times more productive then the others. In some professions like programming this is true and such people do exists. But any sufficiently large company is about team work. No matter what job a person does and no matter how many hours they work, there is no possible way that an single individual will create a whole product. It's a team effort. That means that neither skill nor expertise or intelligence can justify the payment of 200, 300 or even 400 times the wages of the lowest-paid 20% workers in any large organization.

This is especially questionable for financial professionals because by and large they are engaged in non-productive. often harmful for the society as whole redistribution activities, the same activities that organized crime performs. Moreover, modern traders are actually play a tremendously destructive role as subprime crisis (and before it saving and loans debacle) aptly demonstrated. which make them indistinguishable in this societal roles from cocaine pushers on the streets.

Drucker's views on the subject are probably worth revisiting. Rick Wartzman wrote in his Business Week article Put a Cap on CEO Pay' that "those who understand that what comes with their authority is the weight of responsibility, not "the mantle of privilege," as writer and editor Thomas Stewart described Drucker's view. It's their job "to do what is right for the enterprise—not for shareholders alone, and certainly not for themselves alone."

Large pay also attracts sociopathic personalities. Sociopathic personalities at the top of modern organizations is another important but rarely discussed danger.

"I'm not talking about the bitter feelings of the people on the plant floor," Drucker told a reporter in 2004. "They're convinced that their bosses are crooks anyway. It's the mid-level management that is incredibly disillusioned" by CEO compensation that seems to have no bounds. " This is especially true, Drucker explained in an earlier interview, when CEOs pocket huge sums while laying off workers. That kind of action, he said, is "morally unforgivable." There can be exceptions but they should be in middle management not in top management ranks.

Put it all together, and the picture became really discouraging. We have an ill-informed or misinformed electorate, politicians who gleefully add to the misinformation, watchdogs who are afraid to bark and guards on each and every corner. Mousetrap is complete.

Recommended Books

Winner-Take-All Politics How Washington Made the Rich Richer -- and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class by Paul Pierson, Jacob S. Hacker

Henry J. Farrell

Transforming American politics, September 16, 2010

This review is from: Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (Hardcover) This is a transformative book. It's the best book on American politics that I've read since Rick Perlstein's Before the Storm. Not all of it is original (the authors seek to synthesize others' work as well as present their own, but provide due credit where credit is due). Not all of its arguments are fully supported (the authors provide a strong circumstantial case to support their argument, but don't have smoking gun evidence on many of the relevant causal relations). But it should transform the ways in which we think about and debate the political economy of the US.

The underlying argument is straightforward. The sources of American economic inequality are largely political - the result of deliberate political decisions to shape markets in ways that benefit the already-privileged at the expense of a more-or-less unaware public. The authors weave a historical narrative which Kevin Drum (who says the same things that I am saying about the book's importance) summarizes cogently here. This is not necessarily original - a lot of leftwing and left-of-center writers have been making similar claims for a long time. What is new is both the specific evidence that the authors use, and their conscious and deliberate effort to reframe what is important about American politics.

First - the evidence. Hacker and Pierson draw on work by economists like Picketty and Saez on the substantial growth in US inequality (and on comparisons between the US and other countries), but argue that many of the explanations preferred by economists (the effects of technological change on demand for skills) simply don't explain what is going on. First, they do not explain why inequality is so top-heavy - that is, why so many of the economic benefits go to a tiny, tiny minority of individuals among those with apparently similar skills. Second, they do not explain cross national variation - why the differences in the level of inequality among advanced industrialized countries, all of which have gone through more-or-less similar technological shocks, are so stark. While Hacker and Pierson agree that technological change is part of the story, they suggest that the ways in which this is channeled in different national contexts is crucial. And it is here that politics plays a key role.

Many economists are skeptical that politics explains the outcome, suggesting that conventional forms of political intervention are not big enough to have such dramatic consequences. Hacker and Pierson's reply implicitly points to a blind spot of many economists - they argue that markets are not `natural,' but instead are constituted by government policy and political institutions. If institutions are designed one way, they result in one form of market activity, whereas if they are designed another way, they will result in very different outcomes. Hence, results that appear like `natural' market operations to a neo-classical economist may in fact be the result of political decisions, or indeed of deliberate political inaction. Hacker and Pierson cite e.g. the decision of the Clinton administration not to police derivatives as an example of how political coalitions may block reforms in ways that have dramatic economic consequences.

Hence, Hacker and Pierson turn to the lessons of ongoing political science research. This is both a strength and a weakness. I'll talk about the weakness below - but I found the account of the current research convincing, readable and accurate. It builds on both Hacker and Pierson's own work and the work of others (e.g. the revisionist account of American party structures from Zaller et al. and the work of Bartels). This original body of work is not written in ways that make it easily accessible to non-professionals - while Bartels' book was both excellent and influential, it was not an easy read. Winner-Take-All Politics pulls off the tricky task of both presenting the key arguments underlying work without distorting them and integrating them into a highly readable narrative.

As noted above, the book sets out (in my view quite successfully) to reframe how we should think about American politics. It downplays the importance of electoral politics, without dismissing it, in favor of a focus on policy-setting, institutions, and organization.

In Hacker and Pierson's account, these three together account for the systematic political bias towards greater inequality. In simplified form: Organizations - and battles between organizations over policy as well as elections - are the structuring conflicts of American politics. The interests of the rich are represented by far more powerful organizations than the interests of the poor and middle class. The institutions of the US provide these organizations and their political allies with a variety of tools to promote new policies that reshape markets in their interests. This account is in some ways neo-Galbraithian (Hacker and Pierson refer in passing to the notion of `countervailing powers'). But while it lacks Galbraith's magisterial and mellifluous prose style, it is much better than he was on the details.

Even so (and here begin the criticisms) - it is not detailed enough. The authors set the book up as a whodunit: Who or what is responsible for the gross inequalities of American economic life? They show that the other major suspects have decent alibis (they may inadvertently have helped the culprit, but they did not carry out the crime itself. They show that their preferred culprit had the motive and, apparently, the means. They find good circumstantial evidence that he did it. But they do not find a smoking gun. For me, the culprit (the American political system) is like OJ. As matters stand, I'm pretty sure that he committed the crime. But I'm not sure that he could be convicted in a court of law, and I could be convinced that I was wrong, if major new exculpatory evidence was uncovered.

The lack of any smoking gun (or, alternatively, good evidence against a smoking gun) is the direct result of a major failure of American intellectual life. As the authors observe elsewhere, there is no field of American political economy. Economists have typically treated the economy as non-political. Political scientists have typically not concerned themselves with the American economy. There are recent efforts to change this, coming from economists like Paul Krugman and political scientists like Larry Bartels, but they are still in their infancy. We do not have the kinds of detailed and systematic accounts of the relationship between political institutions and economic order for the US that we have e.g. for most mainland European countries. We will need a decade or more of research to build the foundations of one.

Hence, while Hacker and Pierson show that political science can get us a large part of the way, it cannot get us as far as they would like us to go, for the simple reason that political science is not well developed enough yet. We can identify the causal mechanisms intervening between some specific political decisions and non-decisions and observed outcomes in the economy. We cannot yet provide a really satisfactory account of how these particular mechanisms work across a wider variety of settings and hence produce the general forms of inequality that they point to. Nor do we yet have a really good account of the precise interactions between these mechanisms and other mechanisms.

None of this is to discount the importance of this book. If it has the impact it deserves, it will transform American public arguments about politics and policymaking. I cannot see how someone who was fair minded could come away from reading this book and not be convinced that politics plays a key role in the enormous economic inequality that we see. And even if it is aimed at a general audience, it also challenges academics and researchers in economics, political science and economic sociology both to re-examine their assumptions about how economics and politics work, and to figure out ways better to engage with the key political debates of our time as Hacker and Pierson have done. If you can, buy it.

Great Faulkner's Ghost (Washington, DC)

This review is from: Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (Hardcover) Many people have observed that American politics and the American economy reached some kind of turning point around 1980, which conveniently marks the election of Ronald Reagan. Some also pointed to other factors such as the deregulation of stock brokerage commissions in 1975 and the high inflation of the 1970s. Other analysts have put the turning point back in 1968, when Richard Nixon became President on the back of a wave of white, middle-class resentment against the 1960s. Hacker and Pierson, however, point the finger at the 1970s. As they describe in Chapter 4, the Nixon presidency saw the high-water market of the regulatory state; the demise of traditional liberalism occurred during the Carter administration, despite Democratic control of Washington, when highly organized business interests were able to torpedo the Democratic agenda and begin the era of cutting taxes for the rich that apparently has not yet ended today.

Why then? Not, as popular commentary would have it, because public opinion shifted. Hacker and Pierson cite studies showing that public opinion on issues such as inequality has not shifted over the past thirty years; most people still think society is too unequal and that taxes should be used to reduce inequality. What has shifted is that Congressmen are now much more receptive to the opinions of the rich, and there is actually a negative correlation between their positions and the preferences of their poor constituents (p. 111). Citing Martin Gilens, they write, "When well-off people strongly supported a policy change, it had almost three times the chance of becoming law as when they strongly opposed it. When median-income people strongly supported a policy change, it had hardly any greater chance of becoming law than when they strongly opposed it" (p. 112). In other words, it isn't public opinion, or the median voter, that matters; it's what the rich want.

That shift occurred in the 1970s because businesses and the super-rich began a process of political organization in the early 1970s that enabled them to pool their wealth and contacts to achieve dominant political influence (described in Chapter 5). To take one of the many statistics they provide, the number of companies with registered lobbyists in Washington grew from 175 in 1971 to nearly 2,500 in 1982 (p. 118). Money pouring into lobbying firms, political campaigns, and ideological think tanks created the organizational muscle that gave the Republicans a formidable institutional advantage by the 1980s. The Democrats have only reduced that advantage in the past two decades by becoming more like Republicans-more business-friendly, more anti-tax, and more dependent on money from the super-rich. And that dependency has severely limited both their ability and their desire to fight back on behalf of the middle class (let alone the poor), which has few defenders in Washington.

At a high level, the lesson of Winner-Take-All Politics is similar to that of 13 Bankers: when looking at economic phenomena, be they the financial crisis or the vast increase in inequality of the past thirty years, it's politics that matters, not just abstract economic forces. One of the singular victories of the rich has been convincing the rest of us that their disproportionate success has been due to abstract economic forces beyond anyone's control (technology, globalization, etc.), not old-fashioned power politics. Hopefully the financial crisis and the recession that has ended only on paper (if that) will provide the opportunity to teach people that there is no such thing as abstract economic forces; instead, there are different groups using the political system to fight for larger shares of society's wealth. And one group has been winning for over thirty years.

Citizen John (USA)

In Winner-Take-All Politics, two political science professors explain what caused the Middle Class to become vulnerable. Understanding this phenomenon is the Holy Grail of contemporary economics in the U.S.

Some may feel this book is just as polarizing as the current state of politics and media in America. The decades-long decline in income taxes of wealthy individuals is cited in detail. Wage earners are usually subjected to the FICA taxes against all their ordinary income (all or almost their entire total income). But the top wealthy Americans may have only a small percentage (or none) of their income subjected to FICA taxes. Thus Warren Buffett announced that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. Buffett has cited income inequality for "poisoning democracy."

When you search the Net for Buffett quotes on inequality, you get a lot of results showing how controversial he became for stating the obvious. Drawing attention to the inequity of the tax regime won him powerful enemies. Those same people are not going to like the authors for writing Winner-Take-All. They say these political science people are condescending because they presume to tell people their political interests.

Many of studies of poverty show how economic and political policies generally favor the rich throughout the world, some of which are cited in this book. Military spending and financial bailouts in particular favor the wealthy. Authors Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson document a long U.S. policy trend favoring wealthy Americans. This trend resulted in diminished middle class access to quality healthcare and education, making it harder to keep up with the wealthy in relative terms. Further, once people have lost basic foundations of security, they are less willing and able to take on more risk in terms of investing or starting a business.

The rise of special interests has been at the expense of the middle class, according to the authors. Former President Carter talked about this and was ridiculed. Since then government has grown further from most of us. Even federal employees are not like most of us anymore. In its August 10, 2010 issue, USA Today discussed government salaries: "At a time when workers' pay and benefits have stagnated, federal employees' average compensation has grown to more than double what private sector workers earn, a USA TODAY analysis finds."

An excellent documentary showing how difficult it is to address income inequality is One Percent, by Jamie Johnson of the Johnson & Johnson family. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, by Pulitzer Prize-winner Jared Diamond Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed shows examples of what can happen when a society disregards a coming disaster until too late. I hope that Winner-Take-All will prompt people to demand more of elected officials and to arrest the growing income gap for the sake of our democracy.

Michael Emmett Brady "mandmbrady" (Bellflower, California ,United States)

4.5 stars-Wall Street speculators control both parties, September 19, 2010 See all my reviews

This review is from: Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (Hardcover)

This book basically argues that Wall Street controls both political parties through the use of massive campaign contributions and lobbyists who buy off both the Republicans and Democrats in the White House,Senate and House.This is essentially correct but obvious.Anyone can go back to the 1976 Jimmy Carter campaign and simply verify that the majority of his campaign funds and advisors came from Wall Street.This identical conclusion also holds with respect to Ronald Reagan,George H W Bush,Bill Clinton,George W Bush and Barack Obama. The only Presidents/Presidential candidates not dominated by Wall Street since 1976 were Gerald Ford, Walter Mondale, Ross Perot, Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan.

For instance,it is common knowledge to anyone who carefully checks to see where the money is coming from that Wall Street financiers, hedgefunds, private equity firms and giant commercial banks are calling the shots. For example, one could simply read the July 9,2007 issue of FORTUNE magazine to discover who the major backers of John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were. One could also have read Business Week(2-25-2008) or the Los Angeles Times of 3-21-2008.Through February, 2008 the major donors to the McCain campaign were 1)Merrill Lynch, 2) Citigroup, 3)Goldman Sachs, 4)J P Morgan Chase and 5)Credit Suisse

The major donors to the Hillary Clinton campaign were 1)Goldman Sachs, 2)Morgan Stanley, 3)Citigroup, 4)Lehman Brothers and 5)J P Morgan Chase.

Guess who were the major donors to the Obama campaign ? If you guessed 1)Goldman Sachs,2)UBS Ag,3)J P Morgan Chase ,4)Lehman Brothers and 5)Citigroup, then you are correct.

It didn't matter who became President-Hillary Clinton,Barack Obama or John McCain.All three had been thoroughly vetted by Wall Street. The campaign staffs of all three candidates ,especially their economic and finance advisors, were all Wall Street connected. Wall Street would have been bailed out regardless of which party won the 2008 election.

Obama is not going to change anything substantially in the financial markets. Neither is Rep. Barney Frank, Sen. Chris Dodd, Sen. Kerry or Sen. Schumer, etc. Nor is any Republican candidate going to make any changes, simply because the Republican Party is dominated even more so by Wall Street(100%) than the Democratic Party(80%). The logical solution would be to support a Third Party candidate, for example, Ross Perot .

One aspect of the book is deficient. True conservatives like Ross Perot, Pat Buchanan and Lou Dobbs have been warning about the grave dangers of hallowing out and downsizing the American Manufacturing -Industrial sector, with the consequent offshoring and/or loss of many millions of American jobs, for about 20 years at the same time that the " financial services " sector has exploded from 3% of the total service sector in 1972 to just under 40% by 2007. This is what is causing the great shrinkage in the middle class in America .

Matt Milholland (California)

An Important Book, October 9, 2010 See all my reviews

This review is from: Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (Hardcover)

This is a phenomenal book and everyone interested in how American politics works (or more accurately, doesn't work) should pick it up. It's both really smart and really accessible to a lay audience, which is rare for a political science book.

Extreme economic inequality and the near paralysis of our governing institutions has lead to a status-quo that is almost entirely indifferent to the needs of working families. Hacker & Pierson chronicle the rise of this corrupt system and the dual, yet distinct, roles the Republican and Democratic Parties have played in abetting it.

Seriously, it's top-notch. Read this book.

Loyd E. Eskildson "Pragmatist" By(Phoenix, AZ.)

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Timely, but Also Off-Base in Some Regards, September 15, 2010 See all my reviews

This review is from: Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (Hardcover) The thirty-eight biggest Wall Street companies earned $140 billion in 2009, a record that all taxpayers who contributed to their bailouts can be proud of. Among those, Goldman Sachs paid its employees an average $600,000, also a record, and at least partially attributable to our bailout of AIG, which promptly gave much of the money to Goldman. Prior to that, the top 25 hedge fund managers earned an average of $892 million in 2007. "Winner-Take-All Politics" is framed as a detective story about how we got to inequality levels where the top 300,000 (0.1%) receive over 20% of national income, vs. 13.5% for the bottom 180 million (60% of the population).

Between 1947 and 1973, real family median income essentially doubled, and the growth percentage was virtually the same for all income levels. In the mid-1970s, however, economic inequality began to increase sharply and middle-incomes lagged. Increased female workforce participation rates and more overtime helped cushion the stagnation or decline for many (they also increased the risk of layoffs/family), then growing credit card debt shielded many families from reality. Unfortunately, expectations of stable full-time employment also began shrinking, part-time, temporary, and economic risk-bearing (eg. taxi drivers leasing vehicles and paying the fuel costs; deliverymen 'buying' routes and trucks) work increased, workers covered by employer-sponsored health insurance fell from 69% in 1979 to 56% in 2004, and retirement coverage was either been dropped entirely or mostly converted to much less valuable fix-contribution plans for private sector employees. Some exceptions have occurred that benefit the middle and lower-income segments - Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Medicaid, and Medicare were initiated or expanded, but these have not blunted the overall trend. Conversely, welfare reform, incarceration rates rising 6X between 1970 and 2000, bankruptcy reform, and increased tax audits for EITC recipients have also added to their burden, Social Security is being challenged again (despite stock market declines, enormous transition costs, and vastly increased overhead costs and fraud opportunity), and 2009's universal health care reform will be aggressively challenged both in the courts and Washington.

Authors Hacker and Pierson contend that growing inequality is not the 'natural' product of market rewards, but mostly the artificial result of deliberate government policies, strongly influenced by industry lobbyists and donations, new and expanded conservative 'think tanks,' and inadequate media coverage that focused more on the 'horse race' aspects of various initiatives than their content and impact. First came the capital gains tax cuts under President Carter, then deregulation of the financial industry under Clinton, the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, and the financial bailouts in 2008-09. The authors contend that if the 1970 tax structure remained today, the top gains would be considerably less.

But what about the fact that in 1965 CEOs of large corporations only earned about 24X the average worker, compared to 300+X now? Hacker and Pierson largely ignore the role of board-room politics and malfeasance that have mostly allowed managers to serve themselves with payment without regard to performance and out of proportion to other nations. In 2006, the 20 highest-paid European managers made an average $12.5 million, only one-third as much as the 20 highest-earning U.S. executives. Yet, the Europeans led larger firms - $65.5 billion in sales vs. $46.5 billion for the U.S. Asian CEOs commonly make only 10X-15X what their base level employees make. Jiang Jianqing, Chairman of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (world's largest), made $234,700 in 2008, less than 2% of the $19.6 million awarded Jamie Dimon, CEO of the world's fourth-largest bank, JPMorgan Chase.

"Winner-Take-All Politics" also provides readers with the composition of 2004 taxpayers in the top 0.1% of earners (including capital gains). Non-finance executives comprised 41% of the group, finance professionals 18.4%, lawyers 6%, real estate personages 5%, physicians 4%, entrepreneurs 4%, and arts and sports stars 3%. The authors assert that this shows education and skills levels are not the great dividers most everyone credits them to be - the vast majority of Americans losing ground to the super-rich includes many well-educated individuals, while the super-rich includes many without a college education (Sheldon Adelson, Paul Allen, Edgar Bronfman, Jack Kent Cook, Michael Dell, Walt Disney, Larry Ellison, Bill Gates, Wayne Huizenga, Steve Jobs, Rush Limbaugh, Steve Wozniak, and Mark Zuckerberg).

Authors Hacker and Pierson are political science professors and it is understandable that they emphasize political causes (PACs, greater recruitment of evangelical voters, lobbying - eg. $500 million on health care lobbying in 2009, filibusters that allow senators representing just 10% of the population to stop legislation and make the other side look incompetent, etc.) for today's income inequality. However, their claim that foreign trade is "largely innocent" as a cause is neither substantiated nor logical. Foreign trade as practiced today pads corporate profits and executive bonuses while destroying/threatening millions of American jobs and lowering/holding down the incomes of those affected. Worse yet, the authors don't even mention the impact of millions of illegal aliens depressing wage rates while taking jobs from Americans, nor do they address the canard that tax cuts for and spending by the super-wealthy are essential to our economic success (refuted by Moody's Analytics and Austan Goolsbee, Business Week - 9/13/2010). They're also annoyingly biased towards unions, ignoring their constant strikes and abuses in the 1960s and 1970s, major contributions to G.M., Chrysler, and legacy airline bankruptcies, and current school district, local, and state financial difficulties.

Bottom-Line: It is a sad commentary on the American political system that growing and record levels of inequality are being met by populist backlash against income redistribution and expanding trust in government, currently evidenced by those supporting extending tax cuts for the rich and railing against reforming health care to reduce expenditures from 17.3+% of GDP to more internationally competitive levels (4-6%) while improving patient outcomes. "Winner-Take-All Politics" is interesting reading, provides some essential data, and point out some evidence of the inadequacy of many voters. However, the authors miss the 'elephant in the room' - American-style democracy is not viable when at most 10% of citizens are 'proficient' per functional literacy tests ([...]), and only a small proportion of them have the time and access required to sift through the flood of half-truths, lies, and irrelevancies to objectively evaluate 2,000+ page bills and other political activity. (Ideology-dominated economic professionals and short-term thinking human rights advocates are two others.) Comments (2)

Brian Kodi

"Americans live in Russia, but they think they live in Sweden." - Chrystia Freeland, March 26, 2011 See all my reviews

This review is from: Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (Hardcover)

No one should doubt the rising income inequality in America, which the authors trace back to the late 1970s since the latter part of Carter's presidency in what they call the "30 Year War". Zachary Roth, in a March 4th Time magazine article stated "A slew of conservative economists of unimpeachable academic credentials--including Martin Feldstein of Harvard, Glenn Hubbard, who was President Bush's top economic adviser, and Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke--have all acknowledged that inequality is on the rise."

And why should we care that most of the after tax income growth since 30 years ago has gone the way of the richest Americans in a "winner-take-all" economy? Because as Supreme Court justice biographer Melvin Urofsky stated, "in a democratic society the existence of large centers of private power is dangerous to the continuing vitality of a free people." (p. 81) Because if unchecked, a new economic aristocracy may replace the old hereditary aristocracy America's Founders fought to defeat (p. 298). Because unequal societies are unhappy societies, and inequality can foster individual resentment that may lead to a pervasive decline in civility and erosion of culture.

And why should we be concerned that this trend in rising inequality may not experience the period of renewal the authors are optimistic about? Because unlike the shock of the 1930s' Great Depression that served as the impetus for the politics of middle class democracy, the potential shockwaves of the 2008 Great Recession were tempered by massive government stimulus, resulting in no meaningful financial reform, and an extension of the tax cuts for the wealthy. And because of the lottery mentality of a large swath of the population which opposes tax increases on the rich. One day, they or their children too can share in the American dream. According to an October 2000 Time-CNN poll, 19 percent of Americans were convinced they belonged to the richest 1 percent. Another 20 percent thought they'd make the rank of the top 1 percent at some point in their lives. That's quite a turnover in the top 1 percent category to accommodate 20 percent of the population passing through.

Mr. Hacker and Mr. Pierson have put together powerful arguments on the root causes of income inequality in the U.S., its political and economic ramifications, and to a lesser extent, a roadmap to returning democracy to the masses. This is an eye opening and disturbing, yet informative book, even for readers who may disagree with their opinions.

J. Strauss (NYC)

3.0 out of 5 stars great history of big money influence on policy but needs more analysis of the ways policy affects the winner-take-all economy, September 21, 2011 See all my reviews

Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)

This review is from: Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (Hardcover)

Writing:

A bit hokey and repetitive for the first couple chapters. Much better after that. Stick with it if you're interested in the subject.

Content:

This book does a very good job explaining how and why certain special interest groups (notably those that represent the wealthiest .1%) have come to have such a stranglehold on government, particularly Congress. I come away with a clear understanding of how the wealthiest citizens are able to exert their influence over legislative policy and enforcement at the federal level.

What I would have liked more of are better explanations of the mechanisms through which government policies exacerbate the winner-take-all economy. Tax policy (rates and loopholes) is the most obvious answer, and the book provides plenty of stats on the regression of tax policy over the past 30 years.

But complicated, interesting, and largely missing from public discourse is why PRE-TAX incomes have become so much more radically skewed during that time. This is certainly touched on - the authors are deliberate in saying it's not JUST tax policy that's contributing to increased inequality - but I would've liked much more analysis of the other policy-driven factors. "Deregulation" is too general an explanation to paint a clear picture.

The authors make it clear that they believe the increasing divide in pre-tax incomes (the winner-take-all economy) is not the inevitable result of technological changes and of differences in education ("the usual suspects"), but of policy decisions made at the state and, especially, federal levels. Personally, I wasn't fully convinced that technological change has little or nothing to do with the skew (though I agree that while education goes a long way toward explaining the gap between poor and middle class, it doesn't explain much of the gap between middle class and super rich). But I do believe, as they do, that public policy plays a large role in influencing the extent of inequality in pre-tax incomes, even beyond more obvious market-impacting factors like union influence, and mandates including the minimum wage, restrictions on pollution, workplace safety and fairness laws, etc.

Off the top of my head, here are some regulatory issues that affect market outcomes and can influence the extent of winner-take-all effects in the marketplace (a few of these may have been mentioned in the book, but none were discussed in detail):

And many more. I know regulatory issues like that play huge roles in the distribution of pre-tax "market" incomes, but I'd like to have a better understanding of how, and also to be better able to articulate how in response to those who seem to believe taxes (and perhaps obvious restrictions, such as on pollution or the minimum wage) are the only significant means through which governments influence wealth disparities.

There wasn't a whole lot of discussion of these or similar regulatory issues in the book. I would like to see another edition, or perhaps another book entirely, that does. Please let me know if you have any recommendations.


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"You load 16 tons and whaddaya get??
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don'tcha call me 'Cause-I can't go…
I owe my soul to the Company Store"

-- "Sixteen Tons"

[Jul 04, 2020] Low-Income American Households Suffer Inflation Shock From Virus

Notable quotes:
"... "In a period of protest and increasing anger about inequality, the differential inflation rate experienced by low- and high-income households is a concern," said Bloomberg Economics' Björn van Roye and Tom Orlik. ..."
Jul 04, 2020 | www.bloomberg.com

The coronavirus is inflicting a price shock on low income Americans that risks further driving up inequality.

In a study released this week, Bloomberg Economics estimated higher grocery and housing costs for lockdown necessities meant those households whose incomes are in the bottom 10% currently face inflation of 1.5% compared with 1.0% for the top 10% and the official 0.1% overall average recorded in May.

Recalculating Inflation

'Have nots' suffered disproportionately as virus changed buying patterns

https://www.bloomberg.com

Sources: Bloomberg Economics, BLS, https://opportunityinsights.org

Note: Inflation for the lowest (highest) 10% takes the alternative CPI basket for the lowest (highest) decile of household income before taxes from the 2018 Consumer Expenditure Survey

The explanation for the difference lies in how the Covid-19 pandemic has changed consumption patterns by forcing households to buy more food while spending less on transportation or recreational activities.

"In a period of protest and increasing anger about inequality, the differential inflation rate experienced by low- and high-income households is a concern," said Bloomberg Economics' Björn van Roye and Tom Orlik.

The suggestion the virus is less disinflationary than many economists believe poses a challenge for the Federal Reserve which is eyeing a slower inflation rate than that experienced by lower earners, who are instead facing a steady erosion of their purchasing power.

"Taken together with concerns about central banks bailing out investors ahead of firms and workers, and the benefits rich, asset-owning households gain from quantitative easing, it adds to the sense that central banks are unintentional contributors to the problem of inequality," van Roye and Orlik said.

[Jul 03, 2020] Is math unjust and grounded in discrimination ? Sometimes I wonder if the world is some kind of sitcom for aliens

Notable quotes:
"... This lady is sitting there lying trying to prove a point. I have been in enough arguments to kow when someone is just arguing to keep the discussion going ..."
Jul 03, 2020 | www.youtube.com

John Smith , 7 months ago

Crazy lady: Math is discriminatory!

Mia Light , 8 months ago (edited)

Sometimes I wonder if the world is some kind of sitcom for aliens.

Johnny West , 7 months ago

Comprehending mathematics requires IQ ! Not equality. Lord, this woman lives in a rabbit hole.

Ruttigorn Logsdon , 7 months ago

And son that's how America became a third world country over night!

L0nN13 , 8 months ago

The bottom line is, they want to take away any problem solving skills that might build character, because someone might get hurt! Victimhood culture run amuck.

Sal Pacheco , 8 months ago

Mathematics is the cornerstone of all forms of trade, communications, home economics and every other aspect of life. Truth is they're dumbing everyone down to control populations!

Oprah and Michael Jordan are black billionaires , 4 days ago

As a black American, this is so ignorant and offensive to me

Jewel Heart , 7 months ago

The brilliant NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson just proves what a load of bx this latest rubbish is.

Mach 1 , 2 years ago

I have Master's Degree in Mechanical Engineering and I'm 62-years old. I have never once cared about the history of mathematics, other than a curiosity. Knowing the history of mathematics never helped me once to solve an ordinary second order differential equation.

Aric Lyles , 8 months ago

When a person lies while giving an interview they should be shocked or something. This lady is sitting there lying trying to prove a point. I have been in enough arguments to kow when someone is just arguing to keep the discussion going. She has already lost the argument deflected and differed responsibility when confronted with the legitimacy of the paper.

Go exercise healthy body makes a healthy mind not the other way around.

[Jul 01, 2020] The Sack Prof Priyamvada Gopal (the Cambridge Race Troll ) Petition is down

Cue bono? Not black people (actually she is an Indian, which until recently was a caste society). Is she a victim of "affirmative action" policy and occupies a position for which there are more worthy academically candidates. University is not sinecure, at least it should not be.
How good is she as an academic? Is she mentally stable?
The decision of Cambridge University to promote her after such an idiotic tweet creates several additional questions.
Jul 01, 2020 | www.reddit.com

https://www.change.org/p/cambridge-university-fire-cambridge-professor-for-racism

Petition against Prof Priyamvada Gopal now off line. Additionally I noticed earlier today that the comments given on the site voicing why they were signing had all been removed, but not on other petitions. As of yesterday evening these comments were peaceful, and not personal, just things like 'because it is racist' and 'do I even need to give a reason'?

The petition had nearly 25,000 signed supporters earlier today, and new signings were flooding in at over 1/sec when I checked.

In addition in an affront to common decency the University/College promoted her whilst they had stated earlier they were aware of the controversial nature of her tweets.

Her original tweet was deleted by Twitter as a breach of community guidelines. She also reports that, in spite of senselessly provoking people at a delicate time with racist tweets, that the extremely racist responses she got from some far right people was being looked at by the Police.

All in all this establishes a systematic problem. Being deliberately vague means you cannot use context as a defence, and the context of all her tweets shows some extreme patterns of thinking against certain groups that casts very considerable doubts on the validity of such a defense. Moreover, context hasn't been a defence when others have been prosecuted for far less. Nobody, including Cambridge academics, should be above the law.

To those people that think that what she said was justified because she was trying to defend BLM from supposed alternative movements, all she in fact did do was to achieve the opposite of that.

If one wishes to convey complex ideas a teacher of English in her position *must know* that this requires a long form medium to provide argumentation, and that Twitter is no such place to do it due to its character count. But taking in all the other comments she has made, its very clear the double standards and overall bias that really does amount to overt prejudice.

At the very least she is so contradictory, immature and incompetent as to make a mockery of her college and for that reason at minimum, she should lose her job. I'm sorry to say that as well.

But something about this whole episode feels like a jumping the shark moment. I don't think this is going away all that easily.

[Jun 30, 2020] Older Workers Targeted in Trump's Lawsuit to End Obamacare by DEAN BAKER

Notable quotes:
"... This would be bad news for anyone with a serious health condition, but it would be especially bad news for the oldest pre-Medicare age group, people between the ages of 55 and 64. This group currently faces average premiums of close to $10,000 a year per person for insurance purchased through the ACA exchanges. Insurers could easily charge people with serious health conditions two or three times this amount if the Trump administration wins its case. ..."
"... The 55 to 64 age group will also be hard hit because they are far more likely to have serious health issues than younger people. Just 18 percent of the people in the youngest 18 to 34 age group have a serious health condition, compared to 44 percent of those in the 55 to 64 age group, as shown in the figure above. ..."
Jun 30, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

Anne , June 30, 2020 12:49 pm

https://cepr.net/older-workers-targeted-in-trumps-lawsuit-to-end-obamacare/

June 30, 2020

Older Workers Targeted in Trump's Lawsuit to End Obamacare
By DEAN BAKER

The Trump administration is supporting a lawsuit which seeks to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in its entirety. The implication is that a large share of the older workers now able to afford health insurance as a result of the ACA will no longer be able to afford it if the Trump administration wins its lawsuit.

Furthermore, if the suit succeeds it will both end the expansion of Medicaid, which has insured tens of millions of people, and again allow discrimination against people with serious health conditions. Ending this discrimination was one of the major goals of the ACA. The issue is that insurers don't want to insure people who are likely to have health issues that cost them money. While they are happy to insure healthy people with few medical expenses, people with heart disease, diabetes, or other health conditions are a bad deal for insurers.

Before the ACA, insurers could charge outlandish fees to cover people with health conditions, or simply refuse to insure them altogether. The ACA required insurers to cover everyone within an age bracket at the same price, regardless of their health. If the Trump administration has its way, we would go back to the world where insurers could charge people with health issues whatever they wanted, or alternatively, just deny them coverage.

This would be bad news for anyone with a serious health condition, but it would be especially bad news for the oldest pre-Medicare age group, people between the ages of 55 and 64. This group currently faces average premiums of close to $10,000 a year per person for insurance purchased through the ACA exchanges. Insurers could easily charge people with serious health conditions two or three times this amount if the Trump administration wins its case.

And, since a Trump victory would eliminate the ACA subsidiaries, people in this age group with health conditions could be looking to pay $20,000 to $30,000 a year for insurance, with no help from the government. That will be especially hard since many people with serious health conditions are unable to work full-time jobs, and some can't work at all.
[Graph]

The 55 to 64 age group will also be hard hit because they are far more likely to have serious health issues than younger people. Just 18 percent of the people in the youngest 18 to 34 age group have a serious health condition, compared to 44 percent of those in the 55 to 64 age group, as shown in the figure above.

The ACA has many inadequacies, but it has allowed tens of millions to get insurance who could not otherwise. Donald Trump wants to take this insurance away.

[Jun 21, 2020] Eliminating Talent By Force by Rod Dreher

Highly recommended!
De Blasio policies are directed against middle class. Upper class uses private schools anyway and as such is exempt from his experiments.
Notable quotes:
"... there's an essay on socialism by Igor Shafarevich. In it, he quotes Marx saying that communism aims to "eliminate talent by force." Equality must be achieved above all things. ..."
"... Mayor Bill de Blasio's School Diversity Advisory Group has recommended that the city eliminated gifted and talented programs for elementary schools, and stop using academic criteria for admission to middle schools. Why? Diversity, of course. ..."
"... You can have excellence, or you can have equality, but you can't have both. ..."
"... This criterion for racism is non-sensical...admission based on merit cannot be racist, because it is based on merit and not race! Need I say that if based on the latter, then it would be some form of racism.... ..."
"... The opposite of "equality" isn't inequality, but difference. And everyone really knows there is no blank slate. Children have a genetic heritage which combines with environment factors in creating intelligence and success. ..."
"... Acknowledging "difference" is true celebration of life and its varieties. And some people are smarter than others. ..."
Aug 28, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
The Equalizer: NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio ( Morning Joe screenshot ) In that same book I quoted in an earlier post , From Under The Rubble (which you can read online for free by following the link), there's an essay on socialism by Igor Shafarevich. In it, he quotes Marx saying that communism aims to "eliminate talent by force." Equality must be achieved above all things.

Reading the Shafarevich, I thought of the removal and/or relocation of photographs of white males from medical schools, on ideological grounds ( I wrote about it here on Monday. ) It won't stop there. That's just the first step. They begin by removing the images of certain figures, and will eventually get around to removing people like them from the schools, all in the name of equality.

Something like this might be about to happen in New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio's School Diversity Advisory Group has recommended that the city eliminated gifted and talented programs for elementary schools, and stop using academic criteria for admission to middle schools. Why? Diversity, of course. Too many of the kids who get into the better schools and programs are white and Asian, not enough are black and Hispanic, according to progressive dogma. Christine Rosen writes:

All the city's selective schools are already open to anyone regardless of race. But because the majority of students who gain admission to schools that screen applicants are white and Asian, the panel reasoned, merit-based admissions procedures must be racist. Indeed, the advisory panel describes merit-based testing and other screening procedures used in New York City's public schools as "exclusionary admissions practices," not because they found any evidence of racial bias in the screening procedures but simply because the outcome of screening does not perfectly reflect the demographic make-up of the city. According to the New York Times , the panel argued that a screening system based on academic ability "is not equitable, even if it is effective for some."

The Progressive Caucus of the city council agrees. In a letter to the diversity panel, it urged "caps on the allowable concentrations of high-achieving and low-achieving students in the same schools." New York City schools chancellor Richard Carranza, who would implement the panel's recommendations if the mayor approves them, already thinks too many students are labeled "gifted."

In other words, the progressives' answer to the problem of racial gaps in educational achievement is a Harrison Bergeron-like downward social leveling that would ensure that excellence and competition are eliminated in favor of mediocrity and "diversity." Since more than half of the city's public school students can't pass the state math and English exams, and only 28 percent of the city's black students passed the math exam (compared to 67 percent of white students and 74 percent of Asian-American students), the leveling effect will likely be significant.

Punishing excellence by demanding that everyone conform to the lowest common denominator is a recipe for educational failure and societal stagnation. By this logic, schools will eventually have to eliminate grades and other forms of ranking, since outcomes will never match progressives' diversity requirements.

This is identity politics in action. It will punish, or eliminate, talent by force. It's the old socialist claim -- that hierarchy is always and everywhere the result of injustice -- applied to racial politics.

Here's how The New York Times describes the situation:

For years, New York City has essentially maintained two parallel public school systems.

A group of selective schools and programs geared to students labeled gifted and talented is filled mostly with white and Asian children. The rest of the system is open to all students and is predominantly black and Hispanic.

Now, a high-level panel appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio is recommending that the city do away with most of these selective programs in an effort to desegregate the system, which has 1.1 million students and is by far the largest in the country.

More:

The panel's report, obtained by The New York Times, amounts to a repudiation of former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's education agenda, which reoriented the system toward school choice for families, including more gifted and screened schools, to combat decades of low performance.

Some of those policies deepened inequality even as student achievement rose . Mr. de Blasio has been sharply critical of his predecessor's philosophy on education, but must now decide whether to dismantle some of the structures that Mr. Bloomberg helped to build.

You can have excellence, or you can have equality, but you can't have both. De Blasio seems to be aiming for equality by denying the concept of "good schools":

Though Mr. de Blasio has vowed to create a school system where the idea of "good schools" and "bad schools" becomes obsolete, dozens of schools are extremely low-performing, and many more are struggling.

As the city has tried for decades to improve its underperforming schools, it has long relied on accelerated academic offerings and screened schools, including the specialized high schools, to entice white families to stay in public schools.

But at the same time, white, Asian and middle-class families have sometimes exacerbated segregation by avoiding neighborhood schools , and instead choosing gifted programs or other selective schools. In gentrifying neighborhoods, some white parents have rallied for more gifted classes, which has in some cases led to segregated classrooms within diverse schools .

Progressives don't allow one to ask why white, Asian, and middle-class families are avoiding those schools, or that gifted classes lead to segregated classrooms within diverse schools. The progressive mind can only imagine that these outcomes are racist, and therefore must be eliminated so New York City can build a pedagogical heaven on earth.

One more note:

Still, the so-called School Diversity Advisory Group acknowledged that the city would have to take pains to prevent middle-class families from fleeing the system.

If those students decamp to private schools or to the suburbs, "it will become even more difficult to create high-quality integrated schools," in New York, the report said. The panel wrote that "high-achievement students deserve to be challenged," but in different ways.

Right. Here's a link to the full School Diversity Advisory Group report.

The panel blamed the failure of G&T programs in schools serving poor neighborhoods on economic privilege:

The reforms of the early 2000s brought over 20 new G&T programs meant to cater to underserved communities, in further hopes of expanded enrichment opportunities for a more diverse group of children. Three years later, most of these new programs were unable to fill a single spot in their incoming classes, because the majority of students in these neighborhoods and districts were low-income and not able to invest in equitable test-prep resources. Since the mid-2000s the number of G&T programs has nearly halved, with most surviving offerings operating in affluent white neighborhoods.

There's no doubt that well-off parents have the resources to help their children prepare for tests. But the panel does not consider the role of culture -- within the family, and the students' communities -- in affecting the outcomes. It's widely known that Asian families put a premium on education, and that that means Asian kids generally study more and work harder to achieve. Why should they be punished for that?

NYC is a left-wing town, as we all know, but it's also the case that middle-class progressives get real protective of their own children, and may find some rationale to fight this proposal, at the expense of their own stated principles. But perhaps not. Because left-wing identity politics demonizes achievement by people of the "wrong" ethnicity, it might not be possible to fight this -- not if the price of resisting it is bearing the cost of being publicly condemned as racist.

It's down to the Asians to lead the resistance, if there is any resistance at all.

UPDATE: Reader Another Dave comments:

I live in NYC and have kids in the public school system. Asians are already pushing back hard, and have attended several public forums en masse to jeer at and heckle Carranza, and openly call him a bigot, which he clearly is.

Both DiBlasio and Carranza are loathsome midwits, and deserve whatever vitriol is directed at them.

The NYPost has covered most of this in detail, but a number of Asian community groups have formed activist committees, and are making as much noise as humanly possible, and then some.

I could go into much greater detail about my own experiences with the public school system here on the UES, but it would take up too much space and potentially bore everyone.

I socialize with several people, all of the black and Latin, who have worked in education in NYC for decades, and have had whatever remained of their progressive rose colored glasses shattered by dealing directly with poor black and Hispanic communities. Suffice it to say, poor black and Hispanic communities, outside of some individual exceptions, simply don't place a premium on scholastic excellence and academic rigor.

Again, there are exceptions, and there are certainly students with parents from Africa or the Caribbean who do not fit into this category, but generally speaking, no matter what the racial ideologues and the woke activists say, poor and working class blacks and Hispanics just don't have the same regard for academic achievement. The parents will tell you to your face that they do, and then you see how they raise their kids and how they approach homework and test prep, and it just doesn't compare to what Asian and white parents do with and for their kids. It's two different worlds.

Black and Hispanic parents obviously love their kids, and do what they think is right, but they simply lack the same degree of focus and stick-to-it-iveness, and yes, even intellectual horsepower, that Asian and white parents have.

This is an important story, because it reveals just how far racial activists intend on going to achieve parity. They will detonate the entire system to do so, and this doesn't really bother them in the least. To them, the disparities prove the system is not just broken, but evil, and must be overturned. Asian and white excellence is a continual slap in the face, and it cannot be allowed to stand, no matter the consequences.

The mayor, his attack dog Carranza, and all of the racist black and Hispanic activists have a deep, emotional commitment to their utopian vision, and reason will not be allowed to prevail, up to and including chasing the highest performing whites and Asians right out of the entire system and into private education.

This is a microcosm of a larger societal drama, and all of Rod's self deceptive liberal commenters would do well to acquaint themselves with the details, because this is where our entire society is headed if we don't put the brakes on.


David J. White 2 hours ago

I suspect that more and more wealthy parents of high-achieving students will simply move out of New York, unless their brains have been rotted by Wokeness.
Rod Dreher Moderator Matt in VA 2 hours ago
I'm talking about only in NYC will the Asians be able to effectively lead the resistance, because they can't be accused of racism. If you read the links I posted, you'll find that 70 percent of the population of NYC schools are black and Hispanic. White people can (and should) fight to preserve the schools where their kids attend, but political reality on the ground in NYC indicates that the resistance will have a better chance of resisting if it is led by Asians, given their immunity to the usual progressive racial demagoguery. Mind you, I know some Asians buy into this demagoguery, but I'm betting most ordinary ones in NYC don't. I could be wrong.
Matthew Rod Dreher an hour ago
Essentially the Asian community will be fighting the same battle as those now fighting to see just how explicitly Harvard discriminates against Asians when it comes to their admissions policy. And in that case it certainly is not a unified front. Many of those Asian students have no desire to be put front and center in this ideological battle. There have been a few different essays about the Harvard admissions challenge that specifically quoted Asian students as not wanting to wade into the political mess, or they simply agreed with and supported Harvards P.C. admissions policy. It is a lot easier to just accept your admission into top tier school 2 or 3 on your list and move on.
Sheldon2 an hour ago • edited
Well-to-do white families will opt for private school. The ones who will suffer under the new arrangement will be those who can't afford private school or a move to the suburbs: middle- and lower-class white families with bright kids who will now get a lowest-common-denominator education.

No one would argue with efforts to address the inequality in resources devoted to poorer kids and neighborhoods, and to provide struggling families with additional support. But attempting to overcome inequality by eliminating gifted and talented programs is a deeply stupid, immoral, counterproductive, and ultimately fanatical form of social engineering. As an aside, good luck trying to win re-election, Mr. de Blasio.

Manualman an hour ago
If I read correctly on this elsewhere, the mayor doesn't control the high schools so can't implement this there. But the logic would apply. Consider these as predictions of where this is going:
1. Honors and AP classes have been found to be excessively populated by white and Asian kids, so we are going to discontinue them and place kids in classes randomly from now on to assure diversity and prevent racism.
2. An extensive evaluation of the graduates of Columbia University has shown that the upper 10% of every graduating class remains consistently over-represented in white and Asian populations. In spite of repeated warnings, the university has failed to end it's clearly racist policies, so will be shut down immediately. We have a variety of very good community colleges whose diversity scores are better, so they are obviously better schools anyways.
You get the idea. If we can contain this madness to enclaves like New York, they will destroy themselves in a generation or two and sane people can move in and take over. Anybody who has ever spent time in a classroom knows that the worst kid sets the tone and culture for the rest. The only way to let the best kids flourish is to protect them from the kids who want only to tear down and destroy. Race has nothing to do with that, but culture sure does.
Mike an hour ago
As a kid who loved his gifted/talented classes,I believe in their worthiness. For me there was nothing worse than being in a class bored silly and one should be challenged in school, otherwise what's the point? Rather than drastically change the standards, why not invest in resources for the test prep? Would that not increase the number of minority students qualifying?
ludwig an hour ago • edited
"majority of students who gain admission to schools that screen applicants are white and Asian, the panel reasoned, merit-based admissions procedures must be racist"

This criterion for racism is non-sensical...admission based on merit cannot be racist, because it is based on merit and not race! Need I say that if based on the latter, then it would be some form of racism....

next, from rod, "In it, he quotes Marx saying that communism aims to "eliminate talent by force." Equality must be achieved above all things."

but what about the oft-quoted and here-paraphrased marxian quote, "each to his ability, each to his interest". seems to contradict 'eliminating talent by force'?

Gaius1Gracchus 44 minutes ago
The opposite of "equality" isn't inequality, but difference. And everyone really knows there is no blank slate. Children have a genetic heritage which combines with environment factors in creating intelligence and success.

Not everyone can be a great artist. Even with all the resources in the world, an untalented would be artist (myself, for example) will never be good.

Likewise most all the best long distance runners are from a single tribe in Kenya.

Acknowledging "difference" is true celebration of life and its varieties. And some people are smarter than others.

The smartest boy in my elementary school class stopped taking difficult classes in middle school. He didn't take a single honors or AP class. He still got a high SAT score and went to a University of California school (I can't remember if it was Berkeley or another one) and failed out after one year. He moved home and has been a pothead bum for 30 years.

Talent gurantees nothing, but gives opportunities. Social status and such also give opportunities.

It almost seems like the attempt to close the NYC elite public schools is really an effort to shut down a way up for lower and middle class families. The rich largely skip the elite schools because there is too much competition and their kids will not succeed. They want to limit real meritocracy and really just want their credentialism to continue.

This is just more class warfare by the rich against those beneath them.

Another Dave 38 minutes ago
I live in NYC and have kids in the public school system. Asians are already pushing back hard, and have attended several public forums en masse to jeer at and heckle Carranza, and openly call him a bigot, which he clearly is.

Both DiBlasio and Carranza are loathsome midwits, and deserve whatever vitriol is directed at them. The NYPost has covered most of this in detail, but a number of Asian community groups have formed activist committees, and are making as much noise as humanly possible, and then some.

I could go into much greater detail about my own experiences with the public school system here on the UES, but it would take up too much space and potentially bore everyone.

I socialize with several people, all of the black and Latin, who have worked in education in NYC for decades, and have had whatever remained of their progressive rose colored glasses shattered by dealing directly with poor black and Hispanic communities. Suffice it to say, poor black and Hispanic communities, outside of some individual exceptions, simply don't place a premium on scholastic excellence and academic rigor.

Again, there are exceptions, and there are certainly students with parents from Africa or the Caribbean who do not fit into this category, but generally speaking, no matter what the racial ideologues and the woke activists say, poor and working class blacks and Hispanics just don't have the same regard for academic achievement. The parents will tell you to your face that they do, and then you see how they raise their kids and how they approach homework and test prep, and it just doesn't compare to what Asian and white parents do with and for their kids. It's two different worlds.

Black and Hispanic parents obviously love their kids, and do what they think is right, but they simply lack the same degree of focus and stick-to-it-iveness, and yes, even intellectual horsepower, that Asian and white parents have.

This is an important story, because it reveals just how far racial activists intend on going to achieve parity. They will detonate the entire system to do so, and this doesn't really bother them in the least. To them, the disparities prove the system is not just broken, but evil, and must be overturned. Asian and white excellence is a continual slap in the face, and it cannot be allowed to stand, no matter the consequences.

The mayor, his attack dog Carranza, and all of the racist black and Hispanic activists have a deep, emotional commitment to their utopian vision, and reason will not be allowed to prevail, up to and including chasing the highest performing whites and Asians right out of the entire system and into private education.

This is a microcosm of a larger societal drama, and all of Rod's self deceptive liberal commenters would do well to acquaint themselves with the details, because this is where our entire society is headed if we don't put the brakes on.

William harrington 28 minutes ago
Well, progressives have used antiquated ideologies for over a century to try to solve the social problems they see. Can't figure out how to improve failing schools/ Scream racism and eliminate schools that aren't failing. Then the problem disappears from view. This is the same thing we see with gun control; can't figure out why more and more people are choosing to commit mass murder? Blame the tool, not the tool user. This way the tools passing laws can get votes and look like they are doing something, but we haven't solved the underlying problem, why do more and more people want to commit mass murder. I suppose the problem is that progressiveness has become a religion with an inferior anthropology that has little to offer in the way of guidance for self examination or examination of society.

Identitarianism is a dualistic system of understanding the world that has no capacity to analyze the actual complexities of human individuals or society. Progressive identitarians have no choice but to seek simplistic solutions that will exacerbate the actual problems because their system is unable to express the actual problems.

[Jun 21, 2020] 'I used to push for working class kids to go to university, but no longer they are toxic institutions of prejudice' -- RT Op-ed

Jun 21, 2020 | www.rt.com

'I used to push for working class kids to go to university, but no longer: they are toxic institutions of prejudice' Dr Lisa McKenzie Dr Lisa McKenzie Dr Lisa McKenzie is a working-class academic. She grew up in a coal-mining town in Nottinghamshire and became politicized through the 1984 miners' strike with her family. At 31, she went to the University of Nottingham and did an undergraduate degree in sociology. Dr McKenzie lectures in sociology at the University of Durham and is the author of 'Getting By: Estates, Class and Culture in Austerity Britain.' She's a political activist, writer and thinker. Follow her on Twitter @redrumlisa . Dr Lisa McKenzie is a working-class academic. She grew up in a coal-mining town in Nottinghamshire and became politicized through the 1984 miners' strike with her family. At 31, she went to the University of Nottingham and did an undergraduate degree in sociology. Dr McKenzie lectures in sociology at the University of Durham and is the author of 'Getting By: Estates, Class and Culture in Austerity Britain.' She's a political activist, writer and thinker. Follow her on Twitter @redrumlisa . 21 Jun, 2020 07:11 Get short URL 'I used to push for working class kids to go to university, but no longer: they are toxic institutions of prejudice' © Getty Images / Joe Sohm / Visions of America/ Universal Images Group Follow RT on RT I've spent the last 20 years of my life working with and supporting working class people to get into higher education. Today I'm wondering whether I've been right to do so. I remember my first day at University. I was 31 and had gone to Nottingham University, part of the so-called elite Russell Group, from an access course for mature students. I had no idea what I was walking into. I didn't know anyone who had been to university, and had spent the years since I left school working mainly on piece work in a factory making women's tights.

I'd never ever been on the campus, even though I only lived only two miles away. I went to that university out of ignorance. I thought that wanting to study sociology was enough – I'd read a book about St Ann's, the part of Nottingham where I lived, authored by two researchers who had worked at the university. The book was called Poverty: The Forgotten Englishman and was based on research about poverty in Nottingham during the 1960s. It was written the year I was born, and I recognised my community in it; I wanted to study sociology, because I wanted to represent and fight for that community.

Read more Removing Rhodes statue would be a total whitewash of both British and African history Removing Rhodes statue would be a total whitewash of both British and African history

On that first day, two things happened. During the initial welcome speech, the vice chancellor welcomed all of the students to Nottingham and told them to enjoy the city and the university, but warned them that there were some areas of the town to avoid, that were not so welcoming – "Don't go to St Ann's," he said. Which, as it was where I lived and the reason why I was at the university, was going to be more than a little difficult for me. I remember being devastated and not feeling welcome at all.

Later that day, I sat in my first lecture. It was about women and work and the lecturer talked about how choice for working class women was never a "real choice" and that the idea of "choice" meant different things to different groups of people. I sat there and a wave of relief poured over me – not because I had learned something new, but because what I had suspected all of my life was being validated: that surely my poor status in life couldn't entirely be my own fault.

I realised from that day forwards that we working class people – whether we are black, white, men, women, transgender or no gender, Muslim, Christian or atheist – had something in common. Being working class meant you were individually held responsible for what you think is your failure. I later found out that the way the structure of our society is built is that working class people suffer unfair disadvantages, while the middle class benefit from equally unfair advantages.

Twenty years on from that first day at university, I've learned so much more about how society is structured and I have tried in any and every way to support other working class people to get into university so they, too, can have that knowledge that it's not their fault.

However, along that long route from student to lecturer, from no qualifications to a PhD, I have had some incredible experiences and students, but also some soul-destroying, awful experiences.

Also on rt.com Yes, the George Floyd video is distressing. But allowing 'traumatized' students who've seen it to get better exam grades is a joke

One university I worked at refused to let young working class people from my estate, who were part of a community football club, use the university's sports' pitches as they were concerned they would come back "at night" , presumably to rob, or steal or worse. I was heartbroken. I knew those kids and felt so ashamed that I had thought that this would be ok, and they had been so excited about going onto the posh, manicured football pitches.

Read more As a UC Berkeley professor and a person of color, I REFUSE TO SERVE the Democratic party and #BLM – and so should you As a UC Berkeley professor and a person of color, I REFUSE TO SERVE the Democratic party and #BLM – and so should you

Over the last twenty years, I have met and had emails and messages from hundreds of working class students and lecturers who have thanked me for speaking about working class experience at university.

But they also told me their own harrowing stories, such as being asked about "their poverty" in seminars, about sitting in lectures as professors have accused their communities - the places where they and their families live - as being dangerous/racist/stupid/violent/ignorant/criminal; take your pick, it's all been said. The prejudices that working class students, workers or lecturers suffer at these middle- and upper-class institutions are legion. And they only dare speak openly about it when they are together.

When I think about all of these instances of symbolic violence, of being passed over, and of having your work scrutinised in a way that I know is not done to the middle class in higher education... When I think about the awful and depressing conversations I've had to have with working class students who have sought me out to talk about how difficult it is to for them to sit in those lectures, to have their accents constantly commented on, to be asked "what school they went to" , and who don't understand the sly smirks and looks they get when they give the answer

When I think about those things I realise just how tired I am, and I have to ask myself: am I really doing the right thing by encouraging other working class people to put themselves through this toxic, anti-working class environment? I'm sad to conclude that I am probably not.

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!

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

[Jun 21, 2020] Ivy league universities and low cost state colleges will be OK, while private colleges in the middle are screwed

Notable quotes:
"... State universities have a much larger enrollment (the California State system has 23 campuses with an average of 22K students each) and the elites have featherbedded the Ivies, so both will survive, even if the former have some belt-tightening. ..."
Jun 21, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

grhabyt , , June 18, 2020 at 7:35 pm

Professor/Administrator in California State University here. I'm on the campus team trying to respond and thus reading everything current in Higher Ed on this. The conclusion is that high end and low end will be OK, but private colleges in the middle are screwed.
Students go to college for four reasons:

a) signalling;
b) networking;
c) skills acquisition; and
d) parties

With instruction online, b) and d) disappear. The elite universities can coast because of a) and endowments, the lower cost state universities like mine are seeing enrollment *increase* because, in a recession, many students on the line about attending college choose c) over unemployment. And as our tuition is only $7K ($12K for out-of-state/international), plenty of the cash-strapped middle class will dial down to us.

But expensive, tuition-driven (eg little endowment) private colleges are going to be hit very hard if they can't offer the whole traditional in-person experience. Most of these have announced that they will be meeting in-person, but the unspoken assumption is that they are lying to their prospective students, and will pull the football away at the last minute.

The media will dwell on "the death of higher education" at length, because these were the colleges that many of them went to.

But the reality is that their share of the pie is relatively small. State universities have a much larger enrollment (the California State system has 23 campuses with an average of 22K students each) and the elites have featherbedded the Ivies, so both will survive, even if the former have some belt-tightening.

Democrita , , June 19, 2020 at 7:16 am

To label 'd' partying is unfair. D is being with their peers, building their first independent relationships, falling in love.

Mine will be a soph in UC system, and is processing the announcement from the school yesterday that only some students will have classes, the rest will be online. They all read that to mean STEM majors will get the in person experience.

He and his friends are all deciding whether they will bother or take a term or two off -- because zoom school sucks. Or, as he put it, "why would we pay $20,000 for me to rent an apartment in Santa Cruz and attend Phoenix University?" Universities may find students not willing to waste resources on distance learning. Especially if there's no job at the end of the rainbow.

BUT if he skips a term, what to do in that time? Jobs hard to come by and risky.

I feel for the kids. Unlike that family blogger Joe Biden.

Re small biz and recovery: my employer got some PPP money, although the impact has not hit our magazine in a big way. Yet.

But we, like other business-niche publishers, made a good bit of money from conferences and such live events. Partly, it's direct earnings, but there are other ways live events fueled our biz. I believe Institutional Investor had basically ditched publishing for the conference business. We hadnt gone that far (we weren't that good at it).

Also, the boss is drooling over the idea that he can ditch the monthly rent for our manhattan offices. Our ship is so tight that I do not worry about getting laid off, only that the entire enterprise could go under. So far that's not happening, but past performance etc.

Yves Smith Post author , , June 19, 2020 at 1:04 am

I'm not as certain as you are that big name unis will not suffer too. I think this is them believing their own PR.

Harvard is already trying to get employees to take early retirement. And in a long interview, Larry Summers went on in a long Business Insider interview about how universities (clearly including Harvard) should close down entire operations that were losing money. He advocated that Harvard should largely abandon live instruction and instead should become a MOOC, since it could easily get 20 million students.

[Jun 20, 2020] Colleges will have a lot of trouble this fall

Another issue with all types of education is that lots of students, especially foreign students, depend very heavily on restarats temp jobs and casual hospitality work.
Jun 20, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

4. Colleges will have a lot of trouble this fall . First, they are losing nearly all their full-freight-paying Chinese students, between concern over US Covid-19 risks, Administration hostility, and travel restrictions. That alone is a big blow.

On top of that, some are planning to reopen but MIT's announcement yesterday, that it will not allow all students to return to campus, probably represents a new normal. Well-placed MIT alumni read the university's decision as driven significantly by a desire to protect faculty and staff; I hear from sources with contacts at other universities that administrators that they see no way to put kids in dorms without running unacceptably high Covid risks.

Remember, even though kids almost never die of Covid-19, but there is a risk of serious damage. 1/2 the asymptomatic cases on the Diamond Princess now show abnormal lungs. And remember those cruises have half the people on board as crew, and the crew skews young. College is a lot less appealing if you don't stay in a dorm.

Just as diminished activity in central business districts has negative knock-on effects to nearby business, so to do hollowed-out colleges and universities have for their communities, as described in more depth in a recent Bloomberg story .

Krystyn Podgajski , June 18, 2020 at 7:52 am

The coming college semester is a big question mark. The influx of students is entangled with real estate, shopping and the biggest in my town, restaurants and bars. Not to mention the college sports season which supported so many AirBnB's here.

They are starting the year early here (UNC Chapel Hill) and ending it early as well, on Thanksgiving! And up to 1000 new students will be learning from home instead of coming to campus.

Vastydeep , June 18, 2020 at 11:30 am

Big question mark -- MIT's president Reif yesterday noted that

"At least for the fall, we can only bring some of our undergraduates back to campus." and "Everything that can be taught effectively online will be taught online."

Courses are comparatively easy, but labs, research, and sports look doubtful if/when case counts start marching up again.

[Jun 18, 2020] Meritocracy Legitimizes, Deepens Existing Inequality

Exclusive access to the elite universities is the key for reproducing the "new aristocracy"
Notable quotes:
"... Meritocracy is supposed to function best when an insecure 'middle class' constantly strives to secure, preserve and augment their income, status and other privileges by maximizing returns to their exclusive education. But access to elite education – that enables a few of modest circumstances to climb the social ladder – waxes and wanes. ..."
"... Most middle class families cannot afford the privileged education that wealth can buy, while most ordinary, government financed and run schools have fallen further behind exclusive elite schools, including some funded with public money. In recent decades, the resources gap between better and poorer public schools has also been growing. ..."
"... Elite universities and private schools still provide training and socialization, mainly to children of the wealthy, privileged and connected. Huge endowments, obscure admissions policies and tax exemption allow elite US private universities to spend much more than publicly funded institutions. ..."
"... technological and social changes have transformed the labour force and economies greatly increasing economic returns to the cognitive, ascriptive and other attributes as well as credentials of 'the best' institutions, especially universities and professional guilds, which effectively remain exclusive and elitist. ..."
"... Welcome to cosmetic meritocracy to go along with your cosmetic democracy. And in America, you can have as much of either you can afford to buy ..."
"... I think several high cost colleges like U.C.Berkeley are replacing the SAT and ACT tests with the important Bank Balance test. (joke!) ..."
"... School maybe, but then admission to University was absolutely done on merit. at least where I grew up, in Romania, the admissions were based on multiple written exams, were completely anonymized, and there were two independent markers. If the grading of the two markers diverged by more than one point, another one was brought to check. ..."
"... I would argue that a real education is one that liberates the student to become a free citizen, to become someone who can think for herself or himself. ..."
Jun 18, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. Meritocracy is a pet topic, or perhaps more accurately, a pet peeve. This 2007 Conference Board Review article explains why meritocracy is unattainable , so the whole idea was always problematic.

Chinese mandarins, who won their positions via performance on the imperial examination, are an early, if not the first, example of a meritocratic system. Napoleon standardized education throughout France with the explicit goal of making it possible for poor but bright boys to be identified and further schooled to become bureaucrats.

This article includes issues regularly discussed in comments, such as how higher education has come to be mainly about credentialing. It provides a high-level, accessible discussion of how whatever value the idea of meritocracy had in theory, it has become perverted in practice.

By Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a former economics professor, who was United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, and received the Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought. Originally published at the Inter Press Service

How often have you heard someone lamenting or even condemning inequality in society, concluding with an appeal to meritocracy? We like to think that if only the deserving, the smart ones, those we deem competent or capable, often meaning the ones who are more like us, were in charge, things would be better, or just fine.

Meritocracy's Appeal

Since the 1960s, many institutions, the world over, have embraced the notion of meritocracy. With post-Cold War neoliberal ideologies enabling growing wealth concentration, the rich, the privileged and their apologists invoke variants of 'meritocracy' to legitimize economic inequality.

Instead, corporations and other social institutions, which used to be run by hereditary elites, increasingly recruit and promote on the bases of qualifications, ability, competence and performance. Meritocracy is thus supposed to democratize and level society.

Ironically, British sociologist Michael Young pejoratively coined the term meritocracy in his 1958 dystopian satire, The Rise of the Meritocracy. With his intended criticism rejected as no longer relevant, the term is now used in the English language without the negative connotations Young intended.

It has been uncritically embraced by supporters of a social philosophy of meritocracy in which influence is supposedly distributed according to the intellectual ability and achievement of individuals.

Many appreciate meritocracy's two core virtues. First, the meritocratic elite is presumed to be more capable and effective as their status, income and wealth are due to their ability, rather than their family connections.

Second, 'opening up' the elite supposedly on the bases of individual capacities and capabilities is believed to be consistent with and complementary to 'fair competition'. They may claim the moral high ground by invoking 'equality of opportunity', but are usually careful to stress that 'equality of outcome' is to be eschewed at all cost.

As Yale Law School Professor Daniel Markovits argues in The Meritocracy Trap, unlike the hereditary elites preceding them, meritocratic elites must often work long and hard, e.g., in medicine, finance or consulting, to enhance their own privileges, and to pass them on to their children, siblings and other close relatives, friends and allies.

Gaming Meritocracy

Meritocracy is supposed to function best when an insecure 'middle class' constantly strives to secure, preserve and augment their income, status and other privileges by maximizing returns to their exclusive education. But access to elite education – that enables a few of modest circumstances to climb the social ladder – waxes and wanes.

Most middle class families cannot afford the privileged education that wealth can buy, while most ordinary, government financed and run schools have fallen further behind exclusive elite schools, including some funded with public money. In recent decades, the resources gap between better and poorer public schools has also been growing.

Elite universities and private schools still provide training and socialization, mainly to children of the wealthy, privileged and connected. Huge endowments, obscure admissions policies and tax exemption allow elite US private universities to spend much more than publicly funded institutions.

Meanwhile, technological and social changes have transformed the labour force and economies greatly increasing economic returns to the cognitive, ascriptive and other attributes as well as credentials of 'the best' institutions, especially universities and professional guilds, which effectively remain exclusive and elitist.

As 'meritocrats' captured growing shares of the education pies, the purported value of 'schooling' increased, legitimized by the bogus notion of 'human capital'. While meritocracy transformed elites over time, it has also increasingly inhibited, not promoted social mobility.

A Different Elite

Thus, although meritocrats like to see themselves as the antithesis of the old 'aristocratic' elite, rather than 'democratize' society through greater inclusion, meritocracy may even increase inequality and further polarize society, albeit differently.

While the old 'aristocratic' elite was often unable to ensure their own children were well educated, competent and excellent, meritocrats – who have often achieved their status and privileges with education and related credentials – have often increased their significance.

Hence, a meritocratic system – seemingly open to inclusion, ostensibly based on ability – has become the new means for exclusion, which Chicago University Professor Raghuram Rajan attributes to the digital revolution.

Meritocrats have increased the significance of schooling, with credential attainment legitimizing growing pay inequality, as they secure even better education for thus own children, thus recreating and perpetuating inequalities.

Recent public doubts about, and opposition to rising executive remuneration, MBA education, professional guild cartels and labour remuneration disparities reflect the growing delegitimization of ostensibly meritocratic hierarchies and inequalities.

High Moral Ground

To add insult to injury, meritocratic ideology suggests that those excluded are undeserving, if not contemptible. With progressive options lacking middle class and elite support, those marginalized have increasingly turned to 'ethno-populism' and other 'communal' appeals in this age of identity politics.

Unsurprisingly, their opposition to educational and economic inequalities and marginalization is typically pitted against the ethnic 'Other' – real, imagined or 'constructed' – typically seen as 'foreign', even if domestic, as the 'alien within'.

Markovits argues that meritocracy undermines not only itself, but also democratic and egalitarian ideals. He insists that meritocracy also hurts the new 'meritocratic' and 'technocratic' elite, hoping to recruit them to the anti-meritocracy cause, perhaps reflecting his appreciation of the need to build broad inclusive coalitions to bring about social transformation.

"Progressives inflame middle-class resentment, and trigger elite resistance while demagogues and charlatans monopolize and exploit meritocracy's discontents. Meritocratic inequality therefore induces not only deep discontent but also widespread pessimism, verging on despair."

Reducing Inequality Possible

In the US and elsewhere, tax policy, other incentives and even Covid-19 will encourage replacing mid-skilled workers with automation and highly skilled professionals, e.g., facilitated by the growing use of artificial intelligence applications.

One alternative is to reform labour market as well as tax policies and regulations to promote more skilled, 'middle-class' employment. Those introducing new technologies would then be motivated to enable more productive, higher income, middle-class employment.

A more open, inclusive and broader educational system would also provide the workforce needed for such technologies. Thus, the transitions from school to work, which have tended to increase inequality, can be transformed to reduce inequality.

Rather than de-skill workers to be paid less in order to become more profitable, 'up-skilling' workers to be more productive can also be profitable. For example, an Indian cardio-thoracic hospital has trained nurses for many routine medical procedures, allowing specialist doctors to focus on tasks really requiring their expertise.

At relatively lower cost, using workers who are not fully trained doctors, but are paid and treated better, can cost-effectively deliver important healthcare services at lower cost at scale. Such innovations would strengthen the middle class, rather than undermine and erode it.


Sound of the Suburbs , June 18, 2020 at 5:02 am

New Labour talked about a meritocracy. A classless society where anyone could get to the top through their own hard work, drive and ambition. In a meritocracy those at the top do get their on their own merit and deserve their rewards.

In a meritocracy those at the bottom are there through their own lack of effort and others shouldn't feel responsible for them

But what happened? We adopted meritocratic ideas, but never created a meritocracy.

What does a meritocracy look like?

1) In a meritocracy everyone succeeds on their own merit. This is obvious, but to succeed on your own merit, we need to do away the traditional mechanisms that socially stratify society due to wealth flowing down the generations. Anything that comes from your parents has nothing to do with your own effort.

2) There is no un-earned wealth or power, e.g inheritance, trust funds, hereditary titles. In a meritocracy we need equal opportunity for all. We can't have the current two tier education system with its fast track of private schools for people with wealthy parents.
3) There is a uniform schools system for everyone with no private schools.

New Labour's meritocratic vision won a landslide victory in 1997, they just never followed through to actually create that meritocratic society where everyone has equal opportunity. All we got were the meritocratic ideas.

Those at the top got there on a playing field tilted in their favour, but they swan around thinking they got to the top in a meritocracy.
The poor suffer the legacy of New Labour's meritocratic ideas with people thinking we live in a meritocracy and the poor are poor through their own lack of effort.

This is the worst of both worlds, meritocratic ideas without a meritocracy.

Sound of the Suburbs , June 18, 2020 at 5:09 am

In a proper meritocracy you wouldn't be able to use your money to ensure your children succeeded. (Even someone like Boris can become Prime Minister, if you can afford the 30k a year fees for Eton. Look at Trump, inherited wealth personified.)

When you can't guarantee your own children's success, you are going to be a lot more concerned with the well being of those lower down the scale as that is where your own children might end up.

eg , June 18, 2020 at 5:32 am

Welcome to cosmetic meritocracy to go along with your cosmetic democracy. And in America, you can have as much of either you can afford to buy

Adam Eran , June 18, 2020 at 1:14 pm

+1000! Exactly. My favorite example (from NC?) is schools. By de-funding education (55% reduction in funding for higher education since 1972), public policy has made even public universities dependent on tuition (gosh! I wonder why it's been rising) or student loans (double gosh!) for an ever-growing portion of their budgets. Professors can't flunk the incompetent with impunity, then, since it might impair the financial viability of the institution that employs them.

A sensible society understands enhancing its human capital has merit in and of itself, so directs resources to it beyond what tuition students can pay.

Meanwhile, no study validates merit pay for teachers, charter schools, and testing as ways to improve educational outcomes. What does correlate with those outcomes? Answer: childhood poverty rates.

GM , June 18, 2020 at 5:36 am

This is a lot of BS when examined outside the unquestionable assumptions of the US situation.

In the US you have locally funded and geographically segregated schools, which in a rational world should be an absolute scandal that is a topic of constant discussion until the situation gets fixed. Instead people are taking it for granted as they only way things could be.

Well, if you are only allowed to go to the school in your neighborhood, which in turn is funded by whatever the tax base is the immediate vicinity, then of course a system based on educational achievement will very quickly cement existing inequalities into inherited class differences.

A problem with a very simple solution -- fund public schools at the federal level and fund them equally, and also ban all private schools.

That is what the USSR did back in the days, and it did in fact achieve very high level of social equality and mobility. It works. All that is needed is to properly identify the problem and work toward addressing it.

Going after the idea that those who are best educated should be the ones doing the decision making in society is not going to solve the problem and will in fact hurt society in the long run.

Then there is the problem of wealth inequality, which is in fact a separate one from that of status. There is no reason why social status has to be so tightly correlated with wealth. It has not been at many times and in many places throughout history.

And we are once again fighting the wrong battle if we go after "meritocracy" instead of the more concrete mechanismS that create wealth inequality.

Again, in the USSR there was no wealth inequality because the system redistributed very effectively and prevented accumulation of excess wealth by individuals. And before someone screams "but that was communism", we only have to go back to the situation in the 1950s in the US when you had a 90% top income tax rate and the various loopholes that exist now for hiding wealth derived from the wonders of financialization did not exist.

vlade , June 18, 2020 at 6:02 am

"That is what the USSR did back in the days, and it did in fact achieve very high level of social equality and mobility. It works. "

Except that there still were better and worse schools (for various reasons), and party members were better able to place their kids. Not to mention, that being a party member meant a better post-school placement of your kids int he first place, and goign to the uni w/o party membership in family as pretty hard.

And re the wealth distribution – hahahahah. Again, if you were a high-placed party official (which was not based on meritocracy, but on massive political infighting), you did not have to worry about "official" wealth. Because a lot of "state" assets were yours to use as you wished (depending on where in the hierarchy you were).

So you had your 90% of non-communist party members (in mid 80s, party membership was about 10% of populatin), then your 10% of party members, of which you had your 1% and 0.01% respectively.

Duh.

Franklin , June 18, 2020 at 1:27 pm

How does affirmative action affect meritocracy?

For every kid from the ghetto placed in a technical school, after lowering admission requirements, one fewer high testing child is placed.

U.C. Berkeley is no longer requiring SATs because they are "racist".

The affect of this is to elevate the status of the very privileged even higher and to create strife and infighting among the middle class and lower middle class.

flora , June 18, 2020 at 3:42 pm

I think several high cost colleges like U.C.Berkeley are replacing the SAT and ACT tests with the important Bank Balance test. (joke!)

flora , June 18, 2020 at 3:53 pm

more seriously: some rich people learned how to game the SAT and ACT test results. There was a huge scandal about this last year.

https://variety.com/2019/tv/news/lori-loughlin-felicity-huffman-college-admissions-scam-1203161229/

Left in Wisconsin , June 18, 2020 at 4:10 pm

It's not at all clear that affirmative action is at odds with merit, though it is clearly at odds with the credentialing (grade point averages, and all the resume padding) that one sees on the resumes of the PMG progeny. My neck of the academic woods is full of PMC grinders who don't really have much to offer and could use way more people with real life experience.

Which gets to the real problem with meritocracy: it is only concerned with ranking/allocation of of jobs, not the overall structure of the job market. If good jobs were less rare, there would be less infighting about who got to fill them, more social mixing, and we would all have an easier time dispatching the "meritocrats" who don't contribute.

Alex , June 18, 2020 at 7:08 am

The education system in the USSR was definitely meritocratic. There were 'special' schools with advanced curriculum (I studied in one) and you needed to pass exams to get into one. Likewise the admission to universities was also based on examinations and the alumni of these elite schools and universities were overrepresented in the Soviet and then Russian elite

GM , June 18, 2020 at 7:24 am

Yes, and it was based entirely on examinations. None of the "we ask for SAT but mostly decide based on subjective crtiria" BS that results in 75% of the undergraduate slots at the likes of Harvard going to children of alumni and the wealthy (which is mostly the same thing) BS, but a clear cutoff based on exam scores alone. I myself have passed through that exact same system too, so I know very well its virtues (and deficiencies too).

Perhaps even more importantly, kindergartens and primary schools provided as equal educational opportunities as possible. There were no private schools so when the time to pass those exams came, everyone was on as equal footing as possible, they had gone through the same classes together. Unfortunately, there was an exception -- the offspring of high party officials could bypass these barriers, which was deeply unfair and caused quite a bit of resentment, but other than that it was a true meritocracy.

Yes, it was still not a system in which where you were born played no role. The children of university professors will on average be academically far ahead of the children of agricultural workers, just by virtue of the environment they grew up in. There is no way around that other than taking kids away from their parents and raising them communally.

But it is important that everyone has the opportunity to rise through the ranks and that starts from the bottom of the educational pyramid.

We are stubbornly avoiding having that discussion though, instead we talk about how we should be giving preferential treatment to women and minorities when they are in their 20s and applying for jobs and positions. It is almost as if the latter serves the purposes of preventing us from talking about the former

vlade , June 18, 2020 at 8:25 am

That's not true. Party members had access to special schools for their own kids. Often these schools weren't "officially" special, but very often in a district there was a school that got more funding, first pick of teachers etc. and party members had preferential acceptance to those. As I say, it often might not have been an official party line (although I believe there were some schoold reserved for party member kids), but was a common local party office practice.

I say this as someone who went through the system and actually had the advantage (which I did not understand until I was much older) as a grandson of an important party functionary and anti-nazi hero. It even managed to beat the fact that my uncle (from the other side of the family) emigrated to the US, which was often a fatal hit to anyone's college/uni dreams in the rest of the family.

Kouros , June 18, 2020 at 3:34 pm

School maybe, but then admission to University was absolutely done on merit. at least where I grew up, in Romania, the admissions were based on multiple written exams, were completely anonymized, and there were two independent markers. If the grading of the two markers diverged by more than one point, another one was brought to check.

I know children of really big party wigs that couldn't get into university under these circumstances

vlade , June 18, 2020 at 8:09 am

Or you needed to be a kid of a high-enough placed party hack, although in most cases, they didn't bother to put their kids there, as they could get them a job they wanted w/o the school. I _know_ (because I have seen it first hand numerous times) that who the parents were and who they knew played an important role.

That all said, the school system was way less about credentials than the US one. And also, because hard-science schools were not seen as a way to a (guaranteed large) career advancement, the people who went there were most people who really wanted to do it, not taking it as a soft option.

The career advancement path were the various "economic" schools, as that with a right set of connections would more or less guarantee a very cushy top job.

Kurtismayfield , June 18, 2020 at 9:41 am

This country doesn't value home grown STEM graduates.. if it did it wouldn't be undercutting them with H1-B's. So you would have to start there and show kids that getting into STEM is seen as equally valuable as getting an MBA.

Ian Ollmann , June 18, 2020 at 9:19 pm

Why should we value home grown workers if it is a meritocracy?

Jesper , June 18, 2020 at 5:42 am

IP-laws are the source of some/much of current inequality, those IP-laws are most definitely a political choice and they most definitely are not automatically benefitting the meritocratic. Sometimes they do, often they don't.

But as always this is seen as the 'cure':

Rather than de-skill workers to be paid less in order to become more profitable, 'up-skilling' workers to be more productive can also be profitable.

More training, more education .. The de-skilling is done to jobs which might, but does not have to, lead to de-skilling of workers. The stage is set to reduce the work-load and share the work, the de-skilled work is designed to make workers easily replaceable so the 'skill-shortage' stopping a reduction of the hours worked is not as valid of an excuse as it was 40 years ago.

The author does acknowledge the role that governments and legislation has but for some reason reducing the hours worked by an individual and sharing the work is not seen as a valid option. But then again this kind of futurists believe that in the future then there will not be enough resources to house and feed the retired. Another view might be that in the future there will be enough resources to house and feed the retired but those resources might, due to political choices , be spent on luxury for the few leaving homelessness and starvation for the rest.

The Rev Kev , June 18, 2020 at 10:57 am

McDonalds was a pioneer at the movement for de-skilling workers. When they first opened up you actually had people at the back peeling bag after bag of potatoes. Eventually they were able to replace the potatoes with bags of frozen fries which took no skill at all to use. They actually spent a huge amount of effort at de-skilling work there so that workers could be easily replaced and had no skills that they could bargain higher wages for.

stefan , June 18, 2020 at 6:38 am

I would argue that a real education is one that liberates the student to become a free citizen, to become someone who can think for herself or himself. This is what used to be called a liberal arts education. Vocational training may certainly be important, but ought not be confused with education. Vocational training is perhaps best left to the institutions that actually will employ the individual. An education in liberal arts prepares the student to learn how to learn. But we are not the employees of society. We are citizens.

juliania , June 18, 2020 at 1:08 pm

Indeed, stefan, that is entirely the point, and ought to be the goal. Society is only as good as the quality of education given to all its members, not just the elite. This country has forgotten how important education is to the stability of the state, education from the first steps in public schools, so that when time comes to go on with that education at more sophisticated levels, all minds (all minds!) whatever the parents' station in life, have the ability to go where their talents take them. We know how to do this; it's not rocket science!!

I say we know how to do this. But it is clear – this country is not doing it. And it is not doing it on purpose.

That is something to be out on the streets protesting against. One of the many, many things.

Ian Ollmann , June 18, 2020 at 9:13 pm

Maybe, but if you could tell in advance which kids are going to need it, it would be a lot cheaper and waste less of people's time to do advanced degrees for only the best and brightest. For most people, hitting the workforce at the tender young age of 31, for example, has a certain reproductive cost, not to mention lost income. It isn't for everyone.

Also, in my experience, education just gets your foot in the door. Once you get there, it is quite likely you are the worst guy on the factory floor (for some definition of factory) -- the greenhorn -- and whether or not you do well will eventually boil down to quality of work or maybe management potential. In this regard, some will shine and other will not, and at the end of the day, in a meritocracy those are the ones that will do well. In this environment, at least in most fields, the advance degree is quickly forgotten in the absence of law enforcing strict hierarchy (e.g. medicine).

This is as it should be.

Adam Eran , June 18, 2020 at 1:17 pm

In Rome, "liberal arts" were the courses forbidden to slaves.

anon50 , June 18, 2020 at 7:11 am

Ancient Israel had a meritocracy in that those (including women, e.g. Deborah) who had exceptional ability were looked to as Judges.

Yet, every Hebrew family owned a roughly-equal-in-value plot of land they could not permanently lose regardless of their merit (Leviticus 25).

So, per the Bible, meritocracy definitely has its limits and does NOT legitimize, for example, inequality in land ownership.

Adam Eran , June 18, 2020 at 1:18 pm

I'll add that orthodox Christianity does not endorse "salvation by works" (i.e. meritocracy). The orthodox position is "salvation by grace [i.e. gift]" A wise man once told me "Christianity is just Judaism for gentiles"

Amfortas the hippie , June 18, 2020 at 7:29 am

I discovered the idea/Ideal of a Liberal Education around fifth grade. That's what I wanted, due to the influence of Jefferson, Emerson, Whitman and Nietzsche(yes, i was rather strange as a child).
But as the Schooling continued, I was continually frustrated by the all but hidden fact that this was not what American Education was for,lol.
This frustration extended all the way into the college experience I got accepted(with a GED, no less) to Oberlin, Brown, etc but was told we didn't have the money so a state school it was which turned out to be a High School with ashtrays..and an indelible focus on "Getting a Job".
Registrar actually laughed when I said i wanted to major in Philosophy ""what good is that?"
35 or so years later, and I got my Liberal Education, on my own .and it's had zero(if not a negative) effect on my work-life.
we've raised up a generation or 3 of technicians and micromanagers and ladder-climbers who don't have the smash to Think, except in very narrow terms. A favorite trope-like example: "Biology"= "specialisation", not just in Beetles or even a specific Family of Beetles but on a specific Species of Beetle with little regard for the world that Beetle is embedded in.(I knew a guy like this. knew all about June Bugs)
While i understand the utility of specialisation, this laser focus has negated the ability for so many to "Think Outside the Box" or to obtain a broader perspective of our complex world.
State College, for me, was all about "Networking" and learning how to kiss ass and say "Yes Sir" .not about becoming a Citizen let alone a Better Human
I hated it,lol.
It took a long time to be able to articulate it and that articulation is still wanting.
But the critique of "actually existing Meritocracy" is a good place to begin.
It's not really "Meritocratic", at all.
Just another justification for privilege and inequality and the status quo(world without end).

Paul Kleinman , June 18, 2020 at 4:07 pm

I don't think specialization = narrow mindedness. A long time ago at the university I made the progression from philosophy to anthropology to genetics/cell biology and of course my graduate thesis answered a very specific question (about the extracellular effects on collagen synthesis.) It is a fact that that rapidly growing knowledge requires people to specialize in deeply understanding parts of that knowlege. But I have never stopped reading philosophy (existential), Dostoevsky's novels, along with political reading. Specialization is not the reason for people's horizons to be so narrow. It's the societal shift toward disregarding anything that cannot be immediately monetized. It's also the disregard for teaching all students the tools for critical thinking.

Amfortas the hippie , June 18, 2020 at 7:38 pm

I stated that specialisation is necessary it just feels like(30 years on, mind you) that there was a narrowness that was encouraged. The opposite of a "Liberal Education", where one expands and learns to Think.
I'm also biased, because i went to two community colleges, and a state school that was famous for Criminal Justice, and for being neighbors to a bunch of prisons,lol.
I'm certainly glad, for instance, that there are people who specialise in Grasshoppers, cancer meds and soil biota.
But we long ago stopped encouraging big picture broadness .and i think that lack is rather acute, at the moment.
My Da Vincian Renaissance tendencies were quite actively discouraged, over my entire primary and secondary school experience to the point that i hated school from 3rd grade on(a remarkable achievement, in retrospect). I had, therefore, high hopes for college which were similarly dashed, due to the sort of ineffable culture of the place.
again, i admit that all this may be merely a function of place and time .as well as of my own anomalousness and expectations.
I might feel differently if i had been allowed to go to some of the real colleges i managed to get accepted to(but, Amor Fati, and all,lol would i be me without all that BS?)

jake , June 18, 2020 at 8:09 am

Forget sham meritocracy. What's the value of *actual* meritocracy, when the underlying activity -- say, investment banking -- is worthless or injurious?

Are prisons repositories of merit, because they hold the most active and determined of criminals?

CH , June 18, 2020 at 8:11 am

Running through an endless gauntlet of test-taking in order to have something approaching a stable, non-precarious life does not sound like a very pleasant society either, even if it is sufficiently "meritocratic." Neither does constantly chasing credentials. You get all these wasteful arms races. This was the type of society that the Hunger Games depicted: a never-ending, unremitting competition, with the stakes being just the ability to ensure one's basic survival. It sounds awful, even for the "winners".

MT_Bill , June 18, 2020 at 9:17 am

Life on this planet is a never-ending, unremitting competition, with the stakes being just the ability to ensure one's genes survival.

This is true across a spectrum of geographic and temporal scales. The plants in the yard? And endless evolutionary game of attracting pollinators at the expense of others while simultaneously engaging in chemical warfare with their neighbors.

The trap is the thought that we should be able to do better. I think the Romans probably showed the limit of what was possible, everything else has just been a remake with different stage props.

We've spent 2000 years or so basically knocking around the limits of what humanity is capable of achieving in terms of societal structure. Lots of technological advances made and to be discovered, but the parallel attempts on the societal side seem to end up being inherently unstable.

m sam , June 18, 2020 at 1:02 pm

I can't see how the plants in your backyard are a good model for any society. We do not need to savagely compete by starving our neighbors, for instance, to get food or shelter. Any scarcity of the basic necessities of life are pretty much induced.

Competition is instead over quality of life, social status, and most importantly, who gets to decide. It is here where so-called meritocracy is supposed to be an "objective" measure (but really, that there can be an objective measure of merit is where the idea fails, and proves itself to be a Utopian value that really only the successful "meritocrats" can embrace).

I think the real trap is in thinking we can't do any better (and your thought that we haven't progressed farther than the Romans is telling). And in in the age of falling life expectancy, incomes (for the bottom 90%), and social mobility, I would go so far as to say such an idea forecloses on the reality that shared progress has actually happened.

Off The Street , June 18, 2020 at 10:50 am

Crab-in-a-bucket scenario: other crabs prevent that venturesome one from escaping.

Meritocracy, current version scenario: escaped arthropods act as guards to let in only their own preferred candidates.

The latter has been in use at any number of companies, where the wrong kind of applicant just isn't acknowledged. No need to write down any rules, as those unspoken ones will do just fine. That can lead to a type of in-breeding with associated dysfunctions, and relies heavily upon the upstream provider filtering mechanisms, such as they are. Game those mechanisms in various ways and see the results populate, or pollute, the downstream pools.

rob , June 18, 2020 at 8:31 am

in the US our "meritocracy" is akin to the old saying;
"those who win in a rigged game too long ,get stupid"

We are stuck as a society because so many of the positions of authority are filled by people , who may be "smart" in some sense . but are really just stupid.
Whatever the dynamic that enables a certain type of mindset and worldview, to rise within the power structures , as they are is utterly insane and a serious flaw in the system.
the evidence of this is look who will be "running the free world" . today, and after the next election all choices point to zero.
Look at our form of capitalism . we allow banks to create our money out of nothing . then they can fund wall street speculation and corporate behemoths who dictate the playing field(through control of the political class) all business must play on. and so the lives and fortunes of the people and the planet and all of its life forms must endure.
the question of how stupid are we .. pretty damn stupid.

km , June 18, 2020 at 10:46 am

We can discuss the advantages and disadvantages of capitalism all day long – but we don't have capitalism – we have crony capitalism.

We can discuss whether or not meritocracy is a good thing – but our "meritocracy" is in fact massively rigged.

That said, a society has got to have some way to select leaders. If it doesn't select based on some kind of merit, what's the alternative? Accident of birth? Random lottery? Footraces?

CuriosityConcern , June 18, 2020 at 8:11 pm

Actually, I think random lottery of a group of citizens would be much better than a president. Make the group big enough that a citizen has a good chance of assuming office at least once in their average lifespan. Renumeration should be median of income. A democratic executive body.
This would probably make the US more agreement capable.

Polar Socialist , June 18, 2020 at 8:56 am

Having worked in academia for 25+ years (and counting), I really can't agree with equating the capability and/or competence with level of education. Just doesn't happen.

We have a rule of thumb: the more PhDs are involved in a project the more confused and messier it'll be for us to sort out and make to work. If professors are involved, even we can't sort it out.

Of course there are exceptions: some people can retain their common sense and competence regardless of higher education. They just don't tend to climb very high in the academic meritocracy.

Arizona Slim , June 18, 2020 at 3:38 pm

My father, who had a PhD, was fond of saying that a PhD was no substitute for common sense.

shinola , June 18, 2020 at 10:00 am

With the emphasis on "elite" education, I think the article is describing credentialism which is not exactly the same as actual meritocracy.

Meritocratic hierarchies have their own built-in problems – those of us of a certain age may recall "The Peter Principle."

Carolinian , June 18, 2020 at 2:11 pm

Yes but for purposes of this discussion they are the same thing since TPTP have decided that in our complicated society with so many millions of citizens credentials are a the way to separate "the wheat from the chaff." There was a time when you had a lot more self made men (and they were men) but our ossified economic system now makes that less likely. A country where individualism was once the hallmark has been turned–elite division–into a homogenized, fearful "safe space."

For the rest of us there is at least the internet where individualism can still thrive. They are trying to stamp that out.

Tom , June 18, 2020 at 10:17 am

You should have a look at the role of the meritocracy in Singapore. its amazing!

Bufeng , June 18, 2020 at 1:26 pm

We have similar problems with meritocracy as the rest of the world. "Ownership" of public housing is 80+% of citizen households, but the figure in our top school is nearer 50% (the other 50% live in private housing – they are not homeless!): https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/education/can-a-taxi-driver-or-hawkers-son-still-make-it-to-raffles-institution

There are many legacy "socialist era" policies (free basic education, subsidised basic healthcare, high ownership of public housing, well-functioning utilities and public transport and public services that in spite of being ostensibly privatized are actually owned by a state-owned enterprise – Temasek Holdings) that still keep things from becoming too nasty. But we've been heading the same direction as you all.

Red , June 18, 2020 at 9:35 pm

That's because despite being semi authoritarian Singapore couldn't resist marketisation. Doesn't make any sense to include market value of land in the price of public houses if the government owns that land and you essentially rent it from them. Or the recent electricity market privatisation. Just gets to show you that democratic or authoritarian, governments are out of ideas.

David , June 18, 2020 at 10:17 am

OK, but then the alternative is . not very obvious.
I think in fact that the problems people have with meritocracy are more to do with the "cracy" than the "merit" part of the term. After all, there are only three possible ways of choosing people to fill positions and run organisations. The first is patronage, favouritism, family and wealth, which has been the rule for most of human history, and was the only way to make career in Europe until relatively recently. You might accidentally get a person of ability appointed to an important job, but you obviously couldn't guarantee it. The second is selection by lot, which worked OK in Athens for certain jobs, but is hard to generalise. The only other option is competitive selection by merit, depending on the qualities needed for the job, and for promotion. All modern states have ultimately gone for the third option.

When people say that they don't approve of meritocracy, then, they don't usually mean that they want a return to the days when government positions were in the personal gift of Ministers. They mean one of two things. First, that selection by merit doesn't always work well or fairly, because the selection criteria can in practice favour candidates from wealthier or more educated backgrounds, second that meritocracies can themselves become hereditary, selecting people like themselves, just as patronage systems used to do. It's also true that success in one field can generate a sense of individual and collective arrogance and a belief that you are qualified to do anything. All of these are very valid criticisms (and all can be addressed to some extent) but none of them is an argument against the principle of merit-based selection. It's also important to remember that "merit" here really means just "most suited"; It's not a value judgement or the equivalent of the keys to a selective club.

Left in Wisconsin , June 18, 2020 at 4:49 pm

Yes, this is the key problem. But I would suggest two other possibilities that also exist: A) wide acceptance to entry-level positions, lots of training/assessment and promotions from within, and promotion by seniority (above a threshold of competence) – a scheme which has ups and downs and is probably not a good fit anymore for a world in which long term employment with one employer is not the norm; and B) democratic control with promotion determined from below (by those to be managed) rather than above. All the evidence suggests that good management is a function of getting the best out of your subordinates (true leadership), not all the fact BS around star performers.

The big problem with merit is that many jobs have no suitable pre-employment or even current employment merit indicators (think of K-12 teaching, where test scores are used to judge reading and math teachers but there are no comparable measures for teachers of any other discipline), and the ones that are used can be gamed, and so merit becomes conflated with credentials or test scores, which have limited real-world applicability. Another example: in the old days, you could become a lawyer through "apprenticeship," which allowed lots of talented people to become lawyers without the gatekeeping of law schools. It is impossible to argue that the profession is now better with than it was in those days.

Left in Wisconsin , June 18, 2020 at 4:57 pm

"fake," not "fact"

anon in so cal , June 18, 2020 at 10:27 am

Anyone familiar with the notorious Kingsley Davis and Wilbur Moore stratification theory? The theory attempted to legitimize economic and political stratification (i.e. inequality) in modern societies by using quasi-Parsonian notions of meritocracy. There are standard rebuttals to the Davis-Moore theory and this article sounds as though it has attempted to regurgitate some of those rebuttals.

anon50 , June 18, 2020 at 12:58 pm

Also, however much merit one has, that should not allow her/him to steal from the lessor-so via the use of what is, due to government privilege, the PUBLIC'S credit but for private gain.

In other words, those with merit should not have to steal from the poor, should they? Kinda of diminishes their triumph, doesn't it? Knowing their success is built on oppression?

Dave in Austin , June 18, 2020 at 2:18 pm

NFL wide receivers; NBA centers; MIT physics PHDs; University of Texas Petroleum Engineering grads.

"Meritocracy legitimizes, deepens inequality"

"Meritocracy" based on gatekeeping (lawyers, civil service rules that say "must have a a BA"; 7 years to become a physical therapist) these are, in my opinion , bad. I want to measure outputs not inputs. And that means those hardworking, always dependable high school girls who always turn in perfect homework (an input unconnected to knowledge) may have a high class rank but I'll take the kid with the bad attitude, bad clothing and lousy social skills who gets in the 98% percentile in the SAT Math exam (an output) every time (unless I'm hiring people to be TV weathermen and weather girls- I like cute too).

What would happen in the NFL if we demanded a masters degree in wide receiver studies from a state accredited university? Fewer blacks; fewer drug bust and girl friends beaten up and fewer amazing catches.

Ian Ollmann , June 18, 2020 at 8:59 pm

Some of this rings with class warfare hogwash. I am very far from a conservative, but even I must resort to that old saw in this case. Anyone who has worked in the same field or company for 20 years will eventually come to realize that in time at the workplace the academic degree is like so much kindling used to start a bonfire, and what really matters in the long run is the contribution you make in your chosen field over that time. This can hardly be lost on a bunch of academics nurturing their own career over decades so I must only conclude that such an edgy interpretation is intended to make waves. Degrees don't matter for sh__ once leadership figures out you don't know what you are doing. The best shine no matter how much muck you throw on them.

Where education matters is getting your foot in the door in the first place. If you can't manage that, then you may be a really great auto mechanic, rising to the top of your field, but failing to really make the same splash as you might have from being a mechanical engineer or chemist. Nonetheless, in almost any industry there is a need for smart competent people to help make sure the endeavor doesn't go off the rails and those will do well. Maybe they can afford to send their kids, who may be smart too probably, on to a better school.

It isn't about justifying inequality. It is about getting the best people in the right places to produce he best outcomes. Consult your Napoleon. When good outcomes are needed, and we aren't just writing papers, good people are essential.

Henry , June 18, 2020 at 10:18 pm

It depends what those meritocrats are doing. MBA s are a good example. Plus nothing original and creative comes out of a culture that prioritises corporate career building over other aspects of human beings. That's why you see the children of these meritocrats are so shallow and boring.

[Jun 18, 2020] Cornell Law Prof Says There's a Coordinated Effort To Have Him Fired After He Criticized Black Lives Matter

Highly recommended!
This is a typical hunt on dissidents
Jun 12, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Recall, it was just days ago that we pointed out Cornell professor and friend of Zero Hedge Dave Collum was publicly shamed by Cornell for daring to express the "wrong" opinion about current events on social media. Now, there's a second Cornell professor coming under fire for his critique of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Cornell Law School professor William A. Jacobson has challenged any student or faculty member to a public debate about the Black Lives Matter movement after he says liberals on campus have launched a "coordinated effort" to have him fired from his job. At least 15 emails from alumni have been sent to the dean, demanding that action be taken, according to Fox News .

"There is an effort underway to get me fired at Cornell Law School, where I've worked since November 2007, or if not fired, at least denounced publicly by the school," Jacobson wrote on Thursday . "I condemn in the strongest terms any insinuation that I am racist."

Jacobson founded the website Legal Insurrection and says he's had an "awkward relationship" with the university for years as a result. The recent outrage comes as a result of two posts he recently made on his site:

"Those posts accurately detail the history of how the Black Lives Matters Movement started, and the agenda of the founders which is playing out in the cultural purge and rioting taking place now," Jacobson said.

Jacobson (Source: Jacobson's Blog, Legal Insurrection )

He recently wrote on his blog: "Living as a conservative on a liberal campus is like being the mouse waiting for the cat to pounce. For over 12 years, the Cornell cat did not pounce. Though there were frequent and aggressive attempts by outsiders to get me fired, including threats and harassment, it always came from off campus."

"Not until now, to the best of my knowledge, has there been an effort from inside the Cornell community to get me fired," he says.

"The effort appears coordinated, as some of the emails were in a template form. All of the emails as of Monday were from graduates within the past 10 years," he continued. Jacobson's "clinical faculty colleagues, apparently in consultation with the Black Law Students Association" drafted and published a letter denouncing 'commentators, some of them attached to Ivy League Institutions, who are leading a smear campaign against Black Lives Matter.'"

Cornell responded , backhandedly defending the Professor's right to his own opinion:

"...the Law School's commitment to academic freedom does not constitute endorsement or approval of individual faculty speech. But to take disciplinary action against him for the views he has expressed would fatally pit our values against one another in ways that would corrode our ability to operate as an academic institution."

"This is not just about me. It's about the intellectual freedom and vibrancy of Cornell and other higher education institutions, and the society at large. Open inquiry and debate are core features of a vibrant intellectual community," he stated.

"I challenge a representative of those student groups and a faculty member of their choosing to a public debate at the law school regarding the Black Lives Matter Movement, so that I can present my argument and confront the false allegations in real-time rather than having to respond to baseless community email blasts."

"I condemn in the strongest terms any insinuation that I am racist, and I greatly resent any attempt to leverage meritless accusations in hopes of causing me reputational harm. While such efforts might succeed in scaring others in a similar position, I will not be intimidated," Jacobson concluded.

[Jun 16, 2020] "That's why they call it the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it." by George Carlin

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Old saying: A Recession is when your neighbor loses their Job. A Depression is when you lose your Job. ..."
"... A lot of mega wealthy people are cheats. They get insider info, they don't pay people and do all they can to provide the least amount of value possible while tricking suckers into buying their crap. Don't even get me started on trust fund brats who come out of the womb thinking they are Warren buffet level genius in business. ..."
"... There's a documentary about Wal-Mart that has the best title ever: The High Cost of Low Cost ..."
"... Globalism killed the American dream. We can buy cheap goods made somewhere else if we have a job here that pays us enough money. ..."
Jun 16, 2020 | www.youtube.com

Dave C , 4 days ago

"That's why they call it the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it." -George Carlin

Robert Schupp , 4 days ago

You can't just move to American cities to pursue opportunity; even the high wages paid in New York are rendered unhelpful because the cost of housing is so high.


Dingo Jones
, 3 days ago

@JOHN GAGLIANO Cost of living is ridiculous too.

Dirtysparkles , 4 days ago

Our country has become the American Nightmare

Jean-Pierre S , 4 days ago

Martin Luther King, Jr. was vilified and ultimately murdered when he was helping organize a Poor People's Campaign. Racial justice means economic justice.

John Sanders , 3 days ago

Old saying: A Recession is when your neighbor loses their Job. A Depression is when you lose your Job.

Adriano de Jesus , 4 days ago

A lot of mega wealthy people are cheats. They get insider info, they don't pay people and do all they can to provide the least amount of value possible while tricking suckers into buying their crap. Don't even get me started on trust fund brats who come out of the womb thinking they are Warren buffet level genius in business.

Ammon Weser , 4 days ago

There's a documentary about Wal-Mart that has the best title ever: The High Cost of Low Cost

crazyman8472 , 4 days ago

Night Owl: "What the hell happened to us? What happened to the American Dream?"

Comedian: "What happened to the American Dream? It came true! You're looking at it."

-- Watchmen

David Tidwell , 4 days ago

Nailed it. As a millennial, I'm sick of being told to just "deal with it" when the cards have always been stacked against me. Am I surviving? Yes. Am I thriving? No.

D dicin , 4 days ago

When the reserve status of the American dollar goes away, then it will become apparent how poor the US really is. You cannot maintain a country without retention of the ability to manufacture the articles you use on a daily basis. The military budget and all the jobs it brings will have to shrink catastrophically.

farber2 , 4 days ago

American trance. The billionaires hypnotized people with this lie.

Michael D , 4 days ago (edited)

...and sometimes you CAN'T afford to move. You can't find a decent job. You certainly can't build a meaningful savings. You can't find an apartment. And if you have kids? That makes it even harder. I've been trying to move for years, but the conditions have to be perfect to do it responsibly. The American Dream died for me once I realized that no matter the choices I made, my four years of college, my years of saving and working hard....I do NOT have upward mobility. For me, the American Dream is dead. I've been finding a new dream. The human dream.

B Sim , 3 days ago

This is a very truncated view. You need to expand your thinking. WHY has the system been so overtly corrupted? It's globalism that has pushed all this economic pressure on the millennials and the middle class. It was the elites, working with corrupt politicians, that rigged the game so the law benefited them.

This is all reversible. History shows that capitalism can be properly regulated in a way that benefits all. The answer to the problem is to bring back those rules, not implement socialism.

Trump has:

The result? before COVID hit the average American worker saw the first inflation adjusted wage increase in over 30 years!

This is why the fake news and hollywood continue to propagandize the masses into hating Trump.

Trump is implementing economic policies good for the people and bad for the elites

Sound Author , 3 days ago

The dream was never alive in the first place. It was always bullshit.

Julia Galaudet , 4 days ago

Maybe it's time for a maximum wage.

Scott Clark , 4 days ago

Private equity strips the country for years! It's the AMERICAN DREAM!!!

Siri Erieott , 4 days ago

A dream for 1%, a nightmare for 99%.

andrew kubiak , 4 days ago

Globalism killed the American dream. We can buy cheap goods made somewhere else if we have a job here that pays us enough money.

[Jun 16, 2020] Krystal Ball: The American dream is dead, good riddance

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Debt-free is the new American dream ..."
Jun 12, 2020 | www.youtube.com

Krystal Ball exposes the delusion of the American dream.

About Rising: Rising is a weekday morning show with bipartisan hosts that breaks the mold of morning TV by taking viewers inside the halls of Washington power like never before. The show leans into the day's political cycle with cutting edge analysis from DC insiders who can predict what is going to happen.

It also sets the day's political agenda by breaking exclusive news with a team of scoop-driven reporters and demanding answers during interviews with the country's most important political newsmakers.

Owen Cousino , 4 days ago

Debt-free is the new American dream

poppaDehorn , 4 days ago

Got my degree just as the great recession hit. Couldn't find real work for 3 years, not using my degree... But it was work. now after 8 years, im laid off. I did everything "right". do good in school, go to college, get a job...

I've never been fired in my life. its always, "Your contract is up" "Sorry we cant afford to keep you", "You can make more money collecting! but we'll give a recommendation if you find anything."

Now I'm back where i started... only now I have new house and a family to support... no pressure.

[Jun 16, 2020] History is often more complex that we think and textbooks often present one-sided story

I doubt that the opinion below is right, but it creates certain concerns about treatment of Great Britain behaviour in India as cruel and ruthless colonialism, at least on initial stages. One interesting nuance that British brutality was almost matched by several other players during this period.
Jun 16, 2020 | www.unz.com

Malla , says: Show Comment June 13, 2020 at 4:24 pm GMT

@karel

asymmetry of the relationship between India, or its various provinces, to be more accurate, and the GB.

Agreed but the Europeans wanted a way to the Indies (East Indies – a territorial description in those days which included South Asia and South East Asia all the way to Indonesia.) Indeed it was Indonesia which was the first prize (spices) which the Dutch got. India was the second best price, some spices yes but most importantly garments. And they Western Europeans (Portuguese, Spanish, French, Dutch, British, Danish [very small players]) wanted a way to the Indies to beat the monopoly of this trade by the Muslims and Venice. And when Constantinople fell to the Turks, this desire to find an alternative route increased further. I did not ask the Turks to conquer Constantinople. The whole colonial Empire chapter of mankind started thanks to the actions of the Turks.

a bit of eastern civilization to the savage people of these dismal islands.

Savage people? Abu Taleb Khan's book on British Society gives the opposite picture.

The eastern devil had also a little chance to gang up with the worst segments of the British ruling class to suck even more blood from its indigenous slaves. Had he made it, then Nawab Siraj Ud Daulah would have been awarded by haveing a nice statue of him erected in every major town of GB.

The East India Company itself stamped out all such corrupt practices with time. That is why Robert Clive was sent for a second time.

The British came to India to trade. But rivalry with other European powers especially the French led to the conquest of India. The earliest conquest of Indian regions of India by the English was primarily because of rivalry with France. It was originally France which started interfering in Indian affairs forcing the British to do the same in response out of fear of losing trade rights in India. Before that the English policy was to not interfere in local affairs much but just concentrate on trade. India for a while (especially) South India was going more French than British. However French ambitions depended on one person Joseph François Dupleix, a Napoleonic type figure of whom Empire builders are made of. However the French East India Company Directors lambasted Dupleix to not waste energy on conquests and empire buildings but concentrate on trade.

Must add that many Indian powers like Hyder Ali of Mysore were friends of Dupleix, unlike the French East India Company directors, the local powers were not complaining about his actions.

And how can we forget the Maratha Empire. It were the Maratha raids which would give the best help to the conquest and expansion of the British Empire in India. Marathas raided and decimated Bengal. They looted it out by their heavy taxation of Chouth (1/4th taxation i.e. 25% of the conquered/raided ) as well as killed many. So heavy were the impact of these Maratha raids, that the fierce Rajput Kings themselves voluntarily signed an alliance with the British East Indian Company for protection. Travancore Kingdom in South India signed a similar treaty with the English to save them from Tipu Sultan's invasions. Also must add that Nawab Shiraj Ud Daulah, the Nawab of Bengal crushed the Borgees, Maratha raiders who would raid and kill and rape and loot Bengal. One must add that a Peshwa (Prime Minister of the Royal Maratha Bhosle Family but defacto rulers) of the Marathas tried to stop all this raiding but before he could take any action in Bengal he had to return to Pune (the capital of the Peshwas and Maratha power center).

And what about Nader Shah the brave Sultan of Iran. Nadir Shah looted out of India multiple times of what the British East India Company earned in India till the mutiny. During the course of one day (March 22) 20,000 to 30,000 Indians were brutally killed by Iranian troops and as many as 10,000 women and children were taken as slaves, forcing Indian Mughal Emperor Mohammad Shah to beg Nader Shah for mercy.

In response, Iranian Emperor Nader Shah agreed to withdraw, but Indian Emperor Mohammad Shah paid the consequence in handing over the keys of his royal treasury, and losing even the fabled Peacock Throne to the Iranian emperor. The Peacock Throne, thereafter, served as a symbol of Iranian imperial might. It is estimated that Nader took away with him treasures worth as much as seven hundred million rupees. Among a trove of other fabulous jewels, Nader also looted the Koh-i-Noor (meaning "Mountain of Light" in Persian) and Darya-ye Noor (meaning "Sea of Light") diamonds. The Iranian troops left Delhi at the beginning of May 1739, but before they left, he ceded back to Muhammad Shah all territories to the east of the Indus which he had overrun. The booty they had collected was loaded on 700 elephants, 4,000 camels, and 12,000 horses.

I let us not even start about Ahmed Shah Abdali, the Lord of the Afghans who had his own lootings in India. The British East India Company got peanuts compared to the above two Empires. LOL.

You think Iranian Emperor Nadir Shah, would feel guilty about slavery? LOL. Imagine a bunch of pussyboy leftist SJWs & anti fa thugs going to manly Nadir Shah's court and calling him evul because he enslaved people. Nadir Shah would roar with laughter so hard, the SJWs/anti-fas would collectively pee in their pants. He would probably keep the male SJWs & anti fas as nautch boys and females would be forced into his harem or distributed to his courtiers.

Malla , says: Show Comment June 13, 2020 at 5:06 pm GMT
@Anon

British empire wasn't run by Indian merchants.

It was run by White British 'gentlemen.'

British Empire had its own Jew lobby just like how Jews control America today.

But the people whos topped that evil trade were all British Protestant missionaries. No Indian Baniya or Parsi or Bengali cared about the Chinese dying. Do you really think the typical Indian baniya trader would give a rats ass about the deaths of chinkis (East Asians) or Goras (Whites) or Kalus (Blacks)? They would not Giva a f ** k. The Jews definitely did not care about Chinese dying. It were evul Whitey Anglos who led a campaign to stop this trade.

The opium trade faced intense enmity from the later British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone. As a member of Parliament, Gladstone called it "most infamous and atrocious" referring to the opium trade between China and British India in particular . Gladstone was fiercely against both of the Opium Wars and ardently opposed to the British trade in opium to China. He lambasted it as "Palmerston's Opium War" and said that he felt "in dread of the judgments of God upon England for our national iniquity towards China" in May 1840. Gladstone criticized it as "a war more unjust in its origin, a war more calculated in its progress to cover this country with permanent disgrace,".

In the 1890s, the effects of opium use were still largely undocumented by science. Protestant missionaries in China compiled data to demonstrate the harm of the drug, which they had observed. They were outraged that the British Royal Commission on Opium visited India but not China. They created the Anti-Opium League in China among their colleagues in every mission station, for which the American missionary Hampden Coit DuBose served as the first president. This organization was instrumental in gathering data from Western-trained medical doctors in China, most of whom were missionaries. They published their data and conclusions in 1899 as Opinions of Over 100 Physicians on the Use of Opium in China. The survey included doctors in private practices, particularly in Shanghai and Hong Kong, as well as Chinese who had been trained in medical schools in Western countries.

In England, the home director of the China Inland Mission, Benjamin Broomhall, was an active opponent of the opium trade; he wrote two books to promote banning opium smoking: Truth about Opium Smoking and The Chinese Opium Smoker. In 1888 Broomhall formed and became secretary of the "Christian Union for the Severance of the British Empire with the Opium Traffic" and editor of its periodical, National Righteousness. He lobbied the British Parliament to stop the opium trade. He and James Laidlaw Maxwell appealed to the London Missionary Conference of 1888 and the Edinburgh Missionary Conference of 1910 to condemn the trade. As he lay dying, the government signed an agreement to end the opium trade within two years.

Malla , says: Show Comment June 13, 2020 at 10:13 pm GMT
@Anon

A lot of those Jewish and Indian traders brought valuable goods to Britain,

The valuable goods were brought to Britain by the East India Company itself.

Indians made a lot of money, it's because they were better traders than British.

http://www.ibtimes.co.in/chinas-opium-war-was-completely-indian-enterprise-not-british-indian-author-amitav-ghosh-628177

China's Opium War Was 'Completely Indian Enterprise', not British: Indian Author Amitav Ghosh

At this juncture he found that the first opium war in China was an Indian undertaking. " The first opium war (was) planned in India, it was financed by Indian money, it was fought with Indian soldiers. But it has all completely vanished from our historical memory ," Ghosh, whose third book of Ibis series 'Flood of Fire' is all about migration in the 1830s, told IANS.

" The putting together of the expeditionary force took place in India. The British naval ships for the expedition were accompanied by 50 supply ships, all provided for by Parsi merchants in Bombay (now Mumbai). From top to bottom, it was a completely Indian enterprise; all the wherewithal for it came from India," he added.

http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/Article.aspx?eid=31808&articlexml=SPOILS-OF-WAR-History-of-capitalism-is-written-27112016018050

What role did India Inc play in the opium trade war?

They [Indian companies] played a pioneering part. In large parts, the opium war was financed by Indian money – by old Bombay money. Many of t he big Indian families made their money in opium. This is equally true about America.

Many American companies and families have made their money in opium -President Franklin Roo sevelt's family, t he C a l v i n Coolidge family, Forbes family from where you get the current secretary of state, John Kerry, even institutions like Yale and Brown. Singapore and Hong Kong wouldn't exist today without opium.Essentially opium was the most important commodity of the 19th century.

Are companies hesitant to acknowledge their past connections to opium?

Very hesitant . Jardine Matheson was one of the most important opium trading companies in the 19th century. Their closest partner was Sir Jamsetji Jeejeebhoy, who built half of Bombay. To this day, Jardine Matheson does not like this connection mentioned. In fact, they've been known to threaten journalists. Similarly, people who've been trying to work with papers of various Indian companies find it very difficult to access documents. Let me just say it tactfully that several companies don't like this to be spoken of in public.

Would it have been difficult for companies to hide their past if there was social media at that time?

The opium war was a very modern war. It was sold to the British government by merchants. They collected money and sent William Jardine to London to bribe politicians into starting this war. It's a collusion between the State and the private sector, which benefited not only from the policies of the opium trade, but also from the whole war being sub-contracted to them, in terms of provisions, supply ships etc. It was the template of the Iraq war. First, you pick up something, drum it up by publishing some articles about it, the people will get worked up, then you start the war. You keep hidden what is actually happening.

Malla , says: Show Comment June 13, 2020 at 10:15 pm GMT
@Malla

But the people whos topped that evil trade were all British Protestant missionaries.

Sorry dangerous typo.
It is
But the people who stopped that evil trade were all British (& American) Protestant missionaries.

[Jun 16, 2020] The so called History Websites I used to read are 50% BS, and so are their Professors that are writing them.

Jun 16, 2020 | www.unz.com

GMC , says: Show Comment June 14, 2020 at 8:02 am GMT

There is one War that is being waged on the populace of the world , especially in the West, and it's the War on Knowledge, Truths and Common Sense. Ask a previous forged history question to a person who has read extensively Alternate Websites like Unz Rev. , ICH, the Late Robt. Parry etc. and then ask someone who hasn't – and the war on knowledge, truth is quite visible. When the Author shows his history lessons from the British Educational system, { the same as the American ones } with regards to the India history, the Brits are always in the right . But real knowledge and truth are just the opposite. The so called History Websites I used to read are 50% BS, and so are their Professors that are writing for them.

[Jun 16, 2020] There's never been any reality in 20th Century US history, at least since WWII ended.

Jun 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Richard Steven Hack , Jun 16 2020 1:44 utc | 79

Posted by: vk | Jun 15 2020 22:29 utc | 58

I can't explain, but you can certainly feel in the air that the October Revolution and the USSR still haunt the American people - from Alabama to California; from North Dakota to New York.

I think that, deep down, every American knows they are a capitalist empire - it's "popular wisdom", as they say.

Agreed. You had to have lived from 1949 to now, i.e., the Cold War. *Everyone* in that period remembers certain things: the Kennedy assassination, Khrushchev pounding his shoe in the UN, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Berlin Airlift, the Vietnam War (and the opposition to it). Maybe not clearly, but they remember it was in their history.

Most people under 50 only remember things from the 1970's on. Economically, things only started going bad in the 1970's with the oil crisis, the Nixon corruption, then the '80s, '90s. Then 9/11 and the bogus "War on Terrorism" takes over for the last twenty years.

The conflict between the Soviet Empire and the US Empire pretty much controls how the US perception was created. The media had a hand in it, too. In the '50s everything was "Ozzie and Harriet" (does anyone even remember that show existed?) In the '60s it was "Father Knows Best." In the '70s it was Archie Bunker - the first sign of a change. In the '80s it was "Cheers". In the '90s it was "middle class black" shows like "Fresh Prince". You can see the progression just from Google searching "TV icons" of each period.

There's never been any reality in 20th Century US history, at least since WWII ended.

[Jun 14, 2020] Anonymous Berkeley Professor Shreds BLM Injustice Narrative With Damning Facts And Logic

Highly recommended!
A strange mixture of Black nationalism with Black Bolshevism is a very interesting and pretty alarming phenomenon. It proved to be a pretty toxic mix. But it is far from being new. We saw how the Eugène Pottier famous song International lines "We have been naught we shall be all." and "Servile masses arise, arise." unfolded before under Stalinism in Soviet Russia.
We also saw Lysenkoism in Academia before, and it was not a pretty picture. Some Russian/Soviet scientists such as Academician Vavilov paid with their life for the sin of not being politically correct. From this letter it is clear that the some departments already reached the stage tragically close to that situation.
Lysenkoism was "politically correct" (a term invented by Lenin) because it was consistent with the broader Marxist doctrine. Marxists wanted to believe that heredity had a limited role even among humans, and that human characteristics changed by living under socialism would be inherited by subsequent generations of humans. Thus would be created the selfless new Soviet man
"Lysenko was consequently embraced and lionized by the Soviet media propaganda machine. Scientists who promoted Lysenkoism with faked data and destroyed counterevidence were favored with government funding and official recognition and award. Lysenko and his followers and media acolytes responded to critics by impugning their motives, and denouncing them as bourgeois fascists resisting the advance of the new modern Marxism." The Disgraceful Episode Of Lysenkoism Brings Us Global Warming Theory
Notable quotes:
"... In the extended links and resources you provided, I could not find a single instance of substantial counter-argument or alternative narrative to explain the under-representation of black individuals in academia or their over-representation in the criminal justice system. ..."
"... any cogent objections to this thesis have been raised by sober voices, including from within the black community itself, such as Thomas Sowell and Wilfred Reilly. These people are not racists or 'Uncle Toms'. They are intelligent scholars who reject a narrative that strips black people of agency and systematically externalizes the problems of the black community onto outsiders . Their view is entirely absent from the departmental and UCB-wide communiques. ..."
"... The claim that the difficulties that the black community faces are entirely causally explained by exogenous factors in the form of white systemic racism, white supremacy, and other forms of white discrimination remains a problematic hypothesis that should be vigorously challenged by historians ..."
"... Would we characterize criminal justice as a systemically misandrist conspiracy against innocent American men? I hope you see that this type of reasoning is flawed, and requires a significant suspension of our rational faculties. Black people are not incarcerated at higher rates than their involvement in violent crime would predict . This fact has been demonstrated multiple times across multiple jurisdictions in multiple countries. ..."
"... If we claim that the criminal justice system is white-supremacist, why is it that Asian Americans, Indian Americans, and Nigerian Americans are incarcerated at vastly lower rates than white Americans? ..."
"... Increasingly, we are being called upon to comply and subscribe to BLM's problematic view of history , and the department is being presented as unified on the matter. In particular, ethnic minorities are being aggressively marshaled into a single position. Any apparent unity is surely a function of the fact that dissent could almost certainly lead to expulsion or cancellation for those of us in a precarious position , which is no small number. ..."
"... The vast majority of violence visited on the black community is committed by black people . There are virtually no marches for these invisible victims, no public silences, no heartfelt letters from the UC regents, deans, and departmental heads. The message is clear: Black lives only matter when whites take them. Black violence is expected and insoluble, while white violence requires explanation and demands solution. Please look into your hearts and see how monstrously bigoted this formulation truly is. ..."
"... The claim that black intraracial violence is the product of redlining, slavery, and other injustices is a largely historical claim. It is for historians, therefore, to explain why Japanese internment or the massacre of European Jewry hasn't led to equivalent rates of dysfunction and low SES performance among Japanese and Jewish Americans respectively. ..."
"... Arab Americans have been viciously demonized since 9/11, as have Chinese Americans more recently. However, both groups outperform white Americans on nearly all SES indices - as do Nigerian Americans , who incidentally have black skin. It is for historians to point out and discuss these anomalies. However, no real discussion is possible in the current climate at our department . The explanation is provided to us, disagreement with it is racist, and the job of historians is to further explore additional ways in which the explanation is additionally correct. This is a mockery of the historical profession. ..."
"... Donating to BLM today is to indirectly donate to Joe Biden's 2020 campaign. This is grotesque given the fact that the American cities with the worst rates of black-on-black violence and police-on-black violence are overwhelmingly Democrat-run. Minneapolis itself has been entirely in the hands of Democrats for over five decades ; the 'systemic racism' there was built by successive Democrat administrations. ..."
"... The total alliance of major corporations involved in human exploitation with BLM should be a warning flag to us, and yet this damning evidence goes unnoticed, purposefully ignored, or perversely celebrated. We are the useful idiots of the wealthiest classes , carrying water for Jeff Bezos and other actual, real, modern-day slavers. Starbucks, an organisation using literal black slaves in its coffee plantation suppliers, is in favor of BLM. Sony, an organisation using cobalt mined by yet more literal black slaves, many of whom are children, is in favor of BLM. And so, apparently, are we. The absence of counter-narrative enables this obscenity. Fiat lux, indeed. ..."
"... MLK would likely be called an Uncle Tom if he spoke on our campus today . We are training leaders who intend, explicitly, to destroy one of the only truly successful ethnically diverse societies in modern history. As the PRC, an ethnonationalist and aggressively racially chauvinist national polity with null immigration and no concept of jus solis increasingly presents itself as the global political alternative to the US, I ask you: Is this wise? Are we really doing the right thing? ..."
Jun 12, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Dear profs X, Y, Z

I am one of your colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley. I have met you both personally but do not know you closely, and am contacting you anonymously, with apologies. I am worried that writing this email publicly might lead to me losing my job, and likely all future jobs in my field.

In your recent departmental emails you mentioned our pledge to diversity, but I am increasingly alarmed by the absence of diversity of opinion on the topic of the recent protests and our community response to them.

In the extended links and resources you provided, I could not find a single instance of substantial counter-argument or alternative narrative to explain the under-representation of black individuals in academia or their over-representation in the criminal justice system. The explanation provided in your documentation, to the near exclusion of all others, is univariate: the problems of the black community are caused by whites, or, when whites are not physically present, by the infiltration of white supremacy and white systemic racism into American brains, souls, and institutions.

Many cogent objections to this thesis have been raised by sober voices, including from within the black community itself, such as Thomas Sowell and Wilfred Reilly. These people are not racists or 'Uncle Toms'. They are intelligent scholars who reject a narrative that strips black people of agency and systematically externalizes the problems of the black community onto outsiders . Their view is entirely absent from the departmental and UCB-wide communiques.

The claim that the difficulties that the black community faces are entirely causally explained by exogenous factors in the form of white systemic racism, white supremacy, and other forms of white discrimination remains a problematic hypothesis that should be vigorously challenged by historians . Instead, it is being treated as an axiomatic and actionable truth without serious consideration of its profound flaws, or its worrying implication of total black impotence. This hypothesis is transforming our institution and our culture, without any space for dissent outside of a tightly policed, narrow discourse.

A counternarrative exists. If you have time, please consider examining some of the documents I attach at the end of this email. Overwhelmingly, the reasoning provided by BLM and allies is either primarily anecdotal (as in the case with the bulk of Ta-Nehisi Coates' undeniably moving article) or it is transparently motivated. As an example of the latter problem, consider the proportion of black incarcerated Americans. This proportion is often used to characterize the criminal justice system as anti-black. However, if we use the precise same methodology, we would have to conclude that the criminal justice system is even more anti-male than it is anti-black .

Would we characterize criminal justice as a systemically misandrist conspiracy against innocent American men? I hope you see that this type of reasoning is flawed, and requires a significant suspension of our rational faculties. Black people are not incarcerated at higher rates than their involvement in violent crime would predict . This fact has been demonstrated multiple times across multiple jurisdictions in multiple countries.

And yet, I see my department uncritically reproducing a narrative that diminishes black agency in favor of a white-centric explanation that appeals to the department's apparent desire to shoulder the 'white man's burden' and to promote a narrative of white guilt .

If we claim that the criminal justice system is white-supremacist, why is it that Asian Americans, Indian Americans, and Nigerian Americans are incarcerated at vastly lower rates than white Americans? This is a funny sort of white supremacy. Even Jewish Americans are incarcerated less than gentile whites. I think it's fair to say that your average white supremacist disapproves of Jews. And yet, these alleged white supremacists incarcerate gentiles at vastly higher rates than Jews. None of this is addressed in your literature. None of this is explained, beyond hand-waving and ad hominems. "Those are racist dogwhistles". "The model minority myth is white supremacist". "Only fascists talk about black-on-black crime", ad nauseam.

These types of statements do not amount to counterarguments: they are simply arbitrary offensive classifications, intended to silence and oppress discourse . Any serious historian will recognize these for the silencing orthodoxy tactics they are , common to suppressive regimes, doctrines, and religions throughout time and space. They are intended to crush real diversity and permanently exile the culture of robust criticism from our department.

Increasingly, we are being called upon to comply and subscribe to BLM's problematic view of history , and the department is being presented as unified on the matter. In particular, ethnic minorities are being aggressively marshaled into a single position. Any apparent unity is surely a function of the fact that dissent could almost certainly lead to expulsion or cancellation for those of us in a precarious position , which is no small number.

I personally don't dare speak out against the BLM narrative , and with this barrage of alleged unity being mass-produced by the administration, tenured professoriat, the UC administration, corporate America, and the media, the punishment for dissent is a clear danger at a time of widespread economic vulnerability. I am certain that if my name were attached to this email, I would lose my job and all future jobs, even though I believe in and can justify every word I type.

The vast majority of violence visited on the black community is committed by black people . There are virtually no marches for these invisible victims, no public silences, no heartfelt letters from the UC regents, deans, and departmental heads. The message is clear: Black lives only matter when whites take them. Black violence is expected and insoluble, while white violence requires explanation and demands solution. Please look into your hearts and see how monstrously bigoted this formulation truly is.

No discussion is permitted for nonblack victims of black violence, who proportionally outnumber black victims of nonblack violence. This is especially bitter in the Bay Area, where Asian victimization by black assailants has reached epidemic proportions, to the point that the SF police chief has advised Asians to stop hanging good-luck charms on their doors, as this attracts the attention of (overwhelmingly black) home invaders . Home invaders like George Floyd . For this actual, lived, physically experienced reality of violence in the USA, there are no marches, no tearful emails from departmental heads, no support from McDonald's and Wal-Mart. For the History department, our silence is not a mere abrogation of our duty to shed light on the truth: it is a rejection of it.

The claim that black intraracial violence is the product of redlining, slavery, and other injustices is a largely historical claim. It is for historians, therefore, to explain why Japanese internment or the massacre of European Jewry hasn't led to equivalent rates of dysfunction and low SES performance among Japanese and Jewish Americans respectively.

Arab Americans have been viciously demonized since 9/11, as have Chinese Americans more recently. However, both groups outperform white Americans on nearly all SES indices - as do Nigerian Americans , who incidentally have black skin. It is for historians to point out and discuss these anomalies. However, no real discussion is possible in the current climate at our department . The explanation is provided to us, disagreement with it is racist, and the job of historians is to further explore additional ways in which the explanation is additionally correct. This is a mockery of the historical profession.

Most troublingly, our department appears to have been entirely captured by the interests of the Democratic National Convention, and the Democratic Party more broadly. To explain what I mean, consider what happens if you choose to donate to Black Lives Matter, an organization UCB History has explicitly promoted in its recent mailers. All donations to the official BLM website are immediately redirected to ActBlue Charities , an organization primarily concerned with bankrolling election campaigns for Democrat candidates. Donating to BLM today is to indirectly donate to Joe Biden's 2020 campaign. This is grotesque given the fact that the American cities with the worst rates of black-on-black violence and police-on-black violence are overwhelmingly Democrat-run. Minneapolis itself has been entirely in the hands of Democrats for over five decades ; the 'systemic racism' there was built by successive Democrat administrations.

The patronizing and condescending attitudes of Democrat leaders towards the black community, exemplified by nearly every Biden statement on the black race, all but guarantee a perpetual state of misery, resentment, poverty, and the attendant grievance politics which are simultaneously annihilating American political discourse and black lives. And yet, donating to BLM is bankrolling the election campaigns of men like Mayor Frey, who saw their cities devolve into violence . This is a grotesque capture of a good-faith movement for necessary police reform, and of our department, by a political party. Even worse, there are virtually no avenues for dissent in academic circles . I refuse to serve the Party, and so should you.

The total alliance of major corporations involved in human exploitation with BLM should be a warning flag to us, and yet this damning evidence goes unnoticed, purposefully ignored, or perversely celebrated. We are the useful idiots of the wealthiest classes , carrying water for Jeff Bezos and other actual, real, modern-day slavers. Starbucks, an organisation using literal black slaves in its coffee plantation suppliers, is in favor of BLM. Sony, an organisation using cobalt mined by yet more literal black slaves, many of whom are children, is in favor of BLM. And so, apparently, are we. The absence of counter-narrative enables this obscenity. Fiat lux, indeed.

There also exists a large constituency of what can only be called 'race hustlers': hucksters of all colors who benefit from stoking the fires of racial conflict to secure administrative jobs, charity management positions, academic jobs and advancement, or personal political entrepreneurship.

Given the direction our history department appears to be taking far from any commitment to truth , we can regard ourselves as a formative training institution for this brand of snake-oil salespeople. Their activities are corrosive, demolishing any hope at harmonious racial coexistence in our nation and colonizing our political and institutional life. Many of their voices are unironically segregationist.

MLK would likely be called an Uncle Tom if he spoke on our campus today . We are training leaders who intend, explicitly, to destroy one of the only truly successful ethnically diverse societies in modern history. As the PRC, an ethnonationalist and aggressively racially chauvinist national polity with null immigration and no concept of jus solis increasingly presents itself as the global political alternative to the US, I ask you: Is this wise? Are we really doing the right thing?

As a final point, our university and department has made multiple statements celebrating and eulogizing George Floyd. Floyd was a multiple felon who once held a pregnant black woman at gunpoint. He broke into her home with a gang of men and pointed a gun at her pregnant stomach. He terrorized the women in his community. He sired and abandoned multiple children , playing no part in their support or upbringing, failing one of the most basic tests of decency for a human being. He was a drug-addict and sometime drug-dealer, a swindler who preyed upon his honest and hard-working neighbors .

And yet, the regents of UC and the historians of the UCB History department are celebrating this violent criminal, elevating his name to virtual sainthood . A man who hurt women. A man who hurt black women. With the full collaboration of the UCB history department, corporate America, most mainstream media outlets, and some of the wealthiest and most privileged opinion-shaping elites of the USA, he has become a culture hero, buried in a golden casket, his (recognized) family showered with gifts and praise . Americans are being socially pressured into kneeling for this violent, abusive misogynist . A generation of black men are being coerced into identifying with George Floyd, the absolute worst specimen of our race and species.

I'm ashamed of my department. I would say that I'm ashamed of both of you, but perhaps you agree with me, and are simply afraid, as I am, of the backlash of speaking the truth. It's hard to know what kneeling means, when you have to kneel to keep your job.

It shouldn't affect the strength of my argument above, but for the record, I write as a person of color . My family have been personally victimized by men like Floyd. We are aware of the condescending depredations of the Democrat party against our race. The humiliating assumption that we are too stupid to do STEM , that we need special help and lower requirements to get ahead in life, is richly familiar to us. I sometimes wonder if it wouldn't be easier to deal with open fascists, who at least would be straightforward in calling me a subhuman, and who are unlikely to share my race.

The ever-present soft bigotry of low expectations and the permanent claim that the solutions to the plight of my people rest exclusively on the goodwill of whites rather than on our own hard work is psychologically devastating . No other group in America is systematically demoralized in this way by its alleged allies. A whole generation of black children are being taught that only by begging and weeping and screaming will they get handouts from guilt-ridden whites.

No message will more surely devastate their futures, especially if whites run out of guilt, or indeed if America runs out of whites. If this had been done to Japanese Americans, or Jewish Americans, or Chinese Americans, then Chinatown and Japantown would surely be no different to the roughest parts of Baltimore and East St. Louis today. The History department of UCB is now an integral institutional promulgator of a destructive and denigrating fallacy about the black race.

I hope you appreciate the frustration behind this message. I do not support BLM. I do not support the Democrat grievance agenda and the Party's uncontested capture of our department. I do not support the Party co-opting my race, as Biden recently did in his disturbing interview, claiming that voting Democrat and being black are isomorphic. I condemn the manner of George Floyd's death and join you in calling for greater police accountability and police reform. However, I will not pretend that George Floyd was anything other than a violent misogynist, a brutal man who met a predictably brutal end .

I also want to protect the practice of history. Cleo is no grovelling handmaiden to politicians and corporations. Like us, she is free. play_arrow

LEEPERMAX , 12 seconds ago

Donations to Black Lives Matter are funneled through a Democratic fundraising group ...

seryanhoj , 36 seconds ago

This guy is not playing by the rules of US political discourse. His sins are:

1). Using real facts

2). Making logical deductions from the facts

3) Making assertions not in line with the script from his party, social group or race.

There is no future for such a man. We are in a time which prefers hysteria , lies and epic partisanship

simpson seers , 36 minutes ago

white muricans aren't racist, they kill equally....

https://www.fort-russ.com/2020/01/u-s-regime-has-killed-20-30-million-people-since-world-war-ii/

https://www.fort-russ.com/2020/02/former-american-drone-operator-us-military-worse-than-nazis/

Aubiekong , 36 minutes ago

Blacks will always be poor and fucked in life when 75% of black infants are born to single most likely welfare dependent mothers... And the more amount of welfare monies spent to combat poverty the worse this problem will grow...

taketheredpill , 37 minutes ago

Anonymous....

1) Is he really a Professor at Berkeley?

2) Is he really a Professor anywhere?

3) Is he really Black?

4) Is he really a He?

LEEPERMAX , 44 minutes ago

BLM is an international organization. They solicit tax free charitable donations via ActBlue. ActBlue then funnels billions of dollars to DNC campaigns. This is a violation of campaign finance law and allows foreign influence in American elections.

CRM114 , 44 minutes ago

I've pointed this out before:

In 2015, after the Freddie Gray death Officers were hung out to dry by the Mayor of Baltimore (yes, her, the Chair of the DNC in 2016), active policing in Baltimore basically stopped. They just count the bodies now. The clearance rate for homicides has dropped to, well, we don't know because the Police refuse to say, but it appears to be under 15%. The homicide rate jumped 50% almost immediately and has stayed there. 95% of homicides are black on black.

The Baltimore Sun keeps excellent records, so you can check this all for yourself.

Looking at killings by cops; if we take the worst case and exclude all the ones where the victim was armed and independent witnesses state fired first, and assume all the others were cop murders, then there's about 1 cop murder every 3 years, which means that since has now stopped and the homicide rate's gone up...

For every black man now not murdered by a cop, 400 more black men are murdered by other black men.

taketheredpill , 46 minutes ago

"As an example of the latter problem, consider the proportion of black incarcerated Americans. This proportion is often used to characterize the criminal justice system as anti-black. However, if we use the precise same methodology, we would have to conclude that the criminal justice system is even more anti-male than it is anti-black ."

It is the RATIO of UNARMED BLACK MALES KILLED to UNARMED WHITE MALES KILLED in RELATION TO % OF POPULATION. RATIO.

RATIO. UNARMED.

BLACK % POPULATION 13% BLACK % UNARMED MEN KILLED 37%

WHITE % POPULATION 74% BLACK % UNARMED MEN KILLED 45%

Is there a trend of MORE Black people being killed by police?

No. But there is an underlying difference in the numbers that is bad.

>>>>> As of 2018, Unarmed Blacks made up 36% of all people UNARMED killed by police. But black people make up 13% of the (unarmed) population.

UNARMED KILLINGS BY POLICE

UNARMED KILLINGS BY POLICE

YEAR Black Hispanic White

2015 36 19 31

2016 18 9 20

2017 19 12 24

2018(Apr) 7 1 10

2019 15 11 25

YEAR Black Hispanic White

2015 42% 22% 36%

2016 38% 19% 43%

2017 35% 22% 44%

2018(Apr) 39% 6% 56%

2019 29% 22% 49%

AVG 37% 18% 45%

% POPN 13% 16% 72%

ARMED > 18 YRS OLD TOY WEAPON

Black Hispanic White

2019 5 3 11

26% 16% 58%

https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/fatal-police-shootings-of-unarmed-people-have-significantly-declined-experts-say/2018/05/03/d5eab374-4349-11e8-8569-26fda6b404c7_story.html

radical-extremist , 47 minutes ago

There's a massive Silent Majority of Americans , including black Americans, that are fed up with this absurd nonsense.

While there's a Vocal Minority of Americans : including Democrats, the media, corporations and race hustlers, that wish to continue to promulgate a FALSE NARRATIVE into perpetuity...because it's a lucrative industry.

Gaius Konstantine , 57 minutes ago

A short while ago I had an ex friend get into it with me about how Europeans (whites), were the most destructive race on the planet, responsible for all the world's evil. I pointed out to him that Genghis Khan, an Asian, slaughtered millions at a time when technology made this a remarkable feat. I reminded him the Japanese gleefully killed millions in China and that the American Indian Empires ran 24/7 human sacrifices with some also practicing cannibalism. His poor libtard brain couldn't handle the fact that evil is a human trait, not restricted to a particular race and we parted (good riddance)

But along with evil, there is accomplishment. Europeans created Empires and pursued science, The Asians also participated in these pursuits and even the Aztec and Inca built marvelous cities and massive states spanning vast stretches of territory. The only race that accomplished little save entering the stone age is the Africans. Are we supposed to give them a participation trophy to make them feel better? Is this feeling of inferiority what is truly behind their constant rage?

Police in the US have been militarized for a long time now and kill many more unarmed whites than they do blacks, where is the outrage? I'm getting the feeling that this isn't really about George, just an excuse to do what savages do.

lwilland1012 , 1 hour ago

"Truth is treason in an empire of lies."

George Orwell

You know that the reason he is anonymous is that Berkley would strip him of his teaching credentials and there would be multiple attempts on his life...

Ignatius , 1 hour ago

" The vast majority of violence visited on the black community is committed by black people . There are virtually no marches for these invisible victims, no public silences, no heartfelt letters from the UC regents, deans, and departmental heads. The message is clear: Black lives only matter when whites take them. Black violence is expected and insoluble, while white violence requires explanation and demands solution. Please look into your hearts and see how monstrously bigoted this formulation truly is."

PhD thesis, right there. ..

Templar X , 1 hour ago

Ex-fed who trained Buffalo cops says shoved activist 'got away lightly'

By Craig McCarthy

June 12, 2020 | 12:31pm

A former fed who trained the police in Buffalo believes the elderly protester who was hospitalized after a cop pushed him to the ground "got away lightly" and "took a dive," according to a report.

The retired FBI agent, Gary DiLaura, told The Sun he thinks there's no chance Buffalo officers will be convicted of assault over the now-viral video showing the longtime peace activist Martin Gugino fall and left bleeding on the ground.

" I can't believe that they didn't deck him. If that would have been a 40-year-old guy going up there, I guarantee you they'd have been all over him, " DiLaura said.

" He absolutely got away lightly. He got a light push and in my humble opinion, he took a dive and the dive backfired because he hit his head. Maybe it'll knock a little bit of sense into him, " added the former fed, who trained Buffalo police on firearms and defensive tactics, according to the report...

https://nypost.com/2020/06/12/ex-fed-who-trained-buffalo-cops-elderly-activist-got-away-lightly/

NanoRap , 17 minutes ago

It's a great brainwashing process, which goes very slow[ly] and is divided [into] four basic stages. The first one [is] demoralization ; it takes from 15-20 years to demoralize a nation. Why that many years? Because this is the minimum number of years which [is required] to educate one generation of students in the country of your enemy, exposed to the ideology of the enemy. In other words, Marxist-Leninist ideology is being pumped into the soft heads of at least three generations of American students, without being challenged, or counter-balanced by the basic values of Americanism (American patriotism).

The result? The result you can see. Most of the people who graduated in the sixties (drop-outs or half-baked intellectuals) are now occupying the positions of power in the government, civil service, business, mass media, [and the] educational system. You are stuck with them. You cannot get rid of them. T hey are contaminated; they are programmed to think and react to certain stimuli in a certain pattern. You cannot change their mind[s], even if you expose them to authentic information, even if you prove that white is white and black is black, you still cannot change the basic perception and the logic of behavior. In other words, these people... the process of demoralization is complete and irreversible. To [rid] society of these people, you need another twenty or fifteen years to educate a new generation of patriotically-minded and common sense people, who would be acting in favor and in the interests of United States society.

Yuri Bezmenov

American Psycho , 16 minutes ago

This article was one of the most articulate and succinct rebuttals to the BLM political power grab. I too have been calling these "allies" useful idiots and I am happy to hear this professor doing the same. Bravo professor!

[Jun 13, 2020] Already-Broke Colleges Being Bullied Into Hosting Costly White Privilege Workshops Amid Virus Crisis

Jun 13, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Already many families are opting out of sending their recent high school graduates off to college as a potential second wave COVID-19 crisis looms. Many students are no doubt thinking it's a good time for a 'gap year' .

This is a trend likely to only grow, especially given the degree to which universities stop actually educating in Literature, History, Science, Business, Math, and the Classics - and instead focus on dubious and highly elastic concepts like "privilege" and "systemic racism".

[Jun 12, 2020] How Do We Fight The Woke Militants

Jun 12, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

UPDATE.3: From a professor in the comments section:

I am a full professor in the humanities at a major private university. Everyone on this blog would likely recognize my name if I published it here.

I've decided that at this point my life–I am in my late 50s–that proactively fighting is just not worth it for me. Over a decade ago I suffered a severe depressive episode after a student at my school sought to destroy me online by publishing, without my permission, a kindly penned private note to her. (It involved a "woke" topic. But I'll just leave it at that). In any event, it seemed like hell for about two weeks, suffering night terrors, severe insomnia, excruciating brain zaps in the middle of the night, etc. I could have turned her into the provost's office for violating the university's honor code. But I knew if I did that I would create my own Streisand effect. Thus, I thought to myself, just suffer for a little while and it will go away. It did. But the episode changed me immensely.

So, with BLM and its insane sycophantic Jonestown-like disciples, I will not go out of my way to cause trouble, such as asking my university president difficult questions, boycotting the school's required diversity training, and so forth. However, I will not lie, and I will not confess things I do not believe. That, of course, may be enough to attract negative attention from "the Woman." (Take note: it's not "the Man" anymore). So be it. I have a nice chunk of change in savings, retirement, and investments, and I am confident that I can find work at lower ranked institutions that would be more than happy to hire me. So for me, it's not a question of money or finding work. It's the emotional toll. I want to continue writing, doing first rate scholarship, and try as best I can to contribute to my discipline.

As far as my students go, I will continue to teach in a "Benedict Option" way, trying the best I can to "strengthen the things that remain" (Rev. 3) and pass on to them the best that has been thought, believed, and lived in Western Civilisation. My experience has been that students are hungry for such direction, but you have to present it to them in a way what meets them where they are at. You cannot presuppose anything. For this reason, I have found creative ways to introduce them to ancient and modern ideas that do not directly address contemporary concerns. As they say, I try to find "the thin edge of the wedge" and pound away, using self-deprecating humor, personal anecdotes, and a sense of joy in my teaching. (Don't ever, I mean ever, underestimate the attractiveness and power of exhibiting love for one's students). This results in them letting their guard down. (We used to call it in the old days "being open minded." Back then "being closed minded" was considered disgraceful. Now it's an essential qualification for employment at the New York Times. Go figure). On the other hand, I will not compromise in my lectures or acquiesce to altering my curricular plan to meet the non-academic demands of the Office of Diversity and Equity (if such demands in fact arise, though they have not yet). I realize that I can not avoid them forever, that at some point they will likely try to force me to confess my allegiance to their bizarre Uncivil Religion. At that point, I will be among my blessed predecessors, including Socrates, Jesus, St. Peter, St. Paul, and Dante. What an honor.

SB 7 hours ago

One weapon in the arsenal of progressives has been, for generations, popular media. (How many were encouraged by Lennon's "Heaven" to leave the faith? How many people did U2 get to join amnesty International?)

I wonder whether it might not be useful to assemble a catalog of art/media that (a) is universally acknowledged as genuinely good, decent, and true, and (b) tends to undermine some of the worst excesses of the woke.

These should be works that do not in any obvious way present themselves as "conservative" or even as proposing what you would call specific policy positions; instead, they would model resistance to the sort of compulsory conformity that we are dreading.

I'll start the list:

A Man for All Seasons (1966 film), specifically for Thomas More's thoughts concerning silence and the freedom of conscience.

L RNY 7 hours ago
The militants have chosen the most sympathetic states, governors and mayors for these protests, riots, arson, assault, etc and most recently urban takeovers but success against pacifist mayors and governors breads hubris and conceit and over confidence. Eventually they are going to try this in a less sympathetic state and the national guard or the military will be called in to secure the areas possibly with real bullets and with a totality of securing Baghdad or Kabul. The domestic terrorism laws and treason laws will be dusted off and applied to those arrested.

[Jun 11, 2020] The silver lining in the dark cloud: the COVID Crisis Canceled Many Graduation Speeches. Thank Goodness...

Jun 11, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

As with allmost everything that occurs as a university, the purpose of the commencement speech is not to provide a service to the students, but to make the institution's faculty and staff feel important...

...It should be noted that most students who attend commencement ceremonies couldn't care less who the celebrity speaker is. Most of them are there because they like the ritualistic aspects of it, and virtually no one remembers what is said at commencement speeches in any case.

The fact that most students (i.e., paying customers) just want to "feel graduated" by going to these ceremonies should be a tip to the faculty that speakers should be non-controversial. But, because these administrators want attention and influence, they often insist on bringing in controversial political figures and causing even more grief for their customers, as if four years of over-priced classes and social conditioning wasn't enough.

The fact colleges and universities couldn't care less about the people who pay the bills was reinforced all the more this year when most universities shut down as a result of the COVID-19 panic. Most higher education institutions insisted on charging students full price even though "college" was reduced to series of Zoom meetings and online assignments. Obviously, that's not what most students paid for. College administrators, of course, were adamant that the students keep paying through the nose for services not rendered

...

Fortunately, some of the more intelligent university trustees have already done away with it altogether. Cep notes:

As Jason Song of The Los Angeles Times noticed, current Washington and Lee President Kenneth Ruscio explained in 2009: "The wise and fiscally prudent Board determined that in future years our graduates and families should rest easy knowing that if they had to endure a worthless Commencement address, it would at least be inexpensive," meaning the president gives the only speech.


Tennessee Patriot , 4 minutes ago

Best example I ever heard of describing a graduation ceremony:

Imagine you are sitting there in the hot sun, wrapped in a shower curtain, listening to someone read a NYC Phone book for 3 hours.

I had to do that for HS, two Bachelor's Degrees, a Masters, two daughters & two out of 7 Grandbabies.

No thanks. Highly overrated ********. If it was up to me, they can mail it to me and lets go straight to the party afterwards.

Handful of Dust , 1 hour ago

" I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man."

Joe Biden, referring to the Kenyan at the beginning of the 2008 Democratic primary campaign, Jan. 31, 2007.

"He's like magic. Some day they'll be calling him The Magic *****!"

Yen Cross , 1 hour ago

The longer these kids are away from their indoctrination camps, the better.

Bear , 1 hour ago

"As many colleges struggle with tight budgets" ... what a crook, they have so much money they can pay their professors 250,000 to toe the line and they a support staff of thousands ... America's most corrup institution (after the FED)

[Jun 11, 2020] History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce: The replay on the new level of slogans Viva proletarian science. Down with Bourgeoisie lackeys in academia

Politicized science makes a strong comeback.
Notable quotes:
"... Who is Amy Siskind going to call to arrest Tucker Carlson and bring him to a tribunal? The defunded police? ..."
Jun 11, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Look at what's happening to Harald Uhlig, a prominent University of Chicago economist, who posted:

Harald Uhlig @haralduhlig

Too bad, but # blacklivesmatter per its core organization @ Blklivesmatter just torpedoed itself, with its full-fledged support of # defundthepolice : "We call for a national defunding of police." Suuuure. They knew this is non-starter, and tried a sensible Orwell 1984 of saying,

603 11:43 PM - Jun 8, 2020 Twitter Ads info and privacy

281 people are talking about this

Uhlig now faces a social media campaign, led by a prominent University of Michigan economist, to get him booted as editor of the Journal of Political Economy . Here is another leader of the professional lynch mob:

Max Auffhammer @auffhammer

I am calling for the resignation of Harald Uhlig ( @ haralduhlig ) as the editor of the Journal of Political Economy. If you would like to add your name to this call, it is posted at https:// forms.gle/9uiJVqCAXBDBg6 8N9 . It will be delivered by end of day 6/10 (tomorrow).

Letter calling for the resignation of Harald Uhlig as Editor of the Journal of Political Economy

To: The editors of the Journal of Political Economy and President of The University of Chicago Press We, the undersigned, call for the resignation of Harald Uhlig, the Bruce Allen and Barbara...

docs.google.com
413 5:34 PM - Jun 9, 2020 Twitter Ads info and privacy

216 people are talking about this

These are academics.


Jack 19 hours ago

Amy Siskind sounds like a Pol Pot in waiting.

Civis Romanus Sum 19 hours ago

There has been a rash of firings of editors this week. One interesting thing - judging by the publications listed and by the cringing, groveling apologies given by these editors, they are liberals who are being eaten by up-and-coming radicals. It's like the liberals had no idea what hit them.

Wilfred 18 hours ago

I used to worry the future would be like "1984". Then the Soviet Union fell, things seemed OK tor awhile. After 9/11, I worried the future would be like "Khartoum". But now, it looks like it is going to be a weird combination of "Invasion of the Body-Snatchers" and "Planet of the Apes".

Seoulite 18 hours ago

Now seeing reports on Twitter that the Seattle Autonomous Zone now has its first warlord. America truly is a diverse place. You have hippie communes, religious sects, semi-autonomous Indian reservations, a gerontocracy in Washington, and now your very own Africa style fiefdom complete with warlord.

I really am sorry. This must be so depressing to watch as an American.

RBH 18 hours ago • edited

Arizona State journalism school retracts offer to new dean because of an "insensitive" tweets and comments - by insensitive we mean, not sufficiently zealous and not hip to the full-spectrum wokeness. Online student petitions follow, and you know the rest of the story.

This is madness. The true late stages of a revolution where they start eating their own.

https://www.azcentral.com/s...

SatirevFlesti 18 hours ago

Those tweets above (and countless others like them) just demonstrate the absolute intellectual and moral rot that now reigns in academia. I saw one yesterday by an attorney for a prominent activist organization who said he couldn't understand why the Constitution isn't interpreted as "requiring" the demolition of the Robert E. Lee statue in Virginia, and others like it. I'm having a harder time understanding how he ever graduated from an accredited law school.

Forget "defund the police," perhaps "defund universities" would be the best place to start healing what ails contemporary culture. The rot started there, not only with the "anti-racist" (as opposed to "mere" non-racism) cant, it with gender ideology (Judith Butler), Cultural Marxism, etc. When "pc" first became a common term in the early '90s I thought it passing fad. We now see the result of the decades long radical march through the institutions bearing fruit, and it's more strange and rotten fruit than ever.

Raskolnik 17 hours ago

Woke leftists are the people who believe in the myth of aggregate Black intellectual parity with Whites and Asians the least. That's why they constantly do absolutely everything in their power to juke the statistics, like allowing Black students to not have to take exams, which is really just an extension of this same principle at work in "affirmative action."

lohengrin 17 hours ago • edited

The French Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Great Leap Forward, the Khmer Rouge--100,000,000 people were murdered in the name of extreme egalitarianism across the 20th century. When leftism gets out of control, tragedy happens.

I have no idea why you believe hard totalitarian methods aren't coming. I'm not sure what the answer is. We can expect no help from the Republican party. That much is certain. A disturbing number of people have not yet awoken from their dogmatic slumber.

Mr. Karamazov 17 hours ago

People are going to have to stand up to these bullies. If you back down they will just beat you up again tomorrow.

Fyodor D 16 hours ago

Who is Amy Siskind going to call to arrest Tucker Carlson and bring him to a tribunal? The defunded police?

It seems to me that the left has gone about this bassackwards. First you ashcan the Second Amendment, THEN you take away their First Amendment Rights. You most certainly do not go around silencing people with political correctness, then go around announcing your intention to kulak an entire group of very well-armed people. But that's just my opinion...

Rod, I disagree that a "soft totalitarianism" is what awaits us if these barbarians are allowed to run around unopposed. The notion of human rights is a product of the religion they despise, so I see no reason why they would respect this ideal when dealing with vile white wreckers of the multi-cultural utopia they have envisioned.

[Jun 06, 2020] Peter Thiel calls for top universities to lose non-profit status

There are no longer non-profit. They are for-profits disguised as non-profits. How else you can explain salaries of top bureaucrats?
Jul 31, 2019 | video.foxnews.com

Billionaire and Facebook board member Peter Thiel on his fight against Ivy League schools receiving tax exempt status.

[Jun 04, 2020] The Gig Economy: WTF? Precarity and Work under Neoliberalism

Highly recommended!
"The gig economy is just a way for corporations to cut the cost of employees, by turning them into subcontractors. They blur the line between employee and subcontractors by having tight rules like an employer, and since most people have a employee mentality, the company nurtures the idea that they somehow are more like employees, then they get mostly good workers, working hard for very little compensation. The Gig economy is just another sign of our failing way of life."
Notable quotes:
"... The gig economy would be great if we lived in a society where health care is free, food is cheap, housing is common, and nobody suffers from economic Issues Which is not what we are living in ..."
"... Neo-liberals - we support freedom and stuff. Removes mask Is actually corporation lapdogs. ..."
Jun 04, 2020 | www.youtube.com

Unlike most developments in the employment market, the Gig Economy has received a great deal of press attention and established itself firmly as a point of reference in the popular consciousness. In recent years, increasing numbers of people have turned to services such as Uber, Lyft, Deliveroo, Just Eat, TaskRabbit and Fiverr as either a side hustle or their main source of income.

Following on from my video on neoliberalism and neoliberal capitalism, in today's episode of What the Theory?, we look deeper into how the gig economy (or sharing economy) works and what differentiates it from the rest of the economy. We ask whether the gig economy is truly an opportunity for those wanting a more flexible work arrangement or whether it is simply a means for multinational corporations to circumvent hard-won workers rights and labour laws.

Finally, we also consider whether there might be some historical precedents to the sharing economy in the early industrial period and look at some of the challenges facing those attempting to organise Deliveroo riders, Uber drivers and other gig economy workers into trade unions in order to negotiate for better rates of pay and conditions.

If you'd like to support my channel then please do check out my Patreon page at http://patreon.com/tomnicholas


Simple Things , 5 months ago

Unregulated capitalism? You mean like child labor and passing the hat when a worker dies in an accident? They don't want workers. They want people who are desperate.

Tom Nicholas , 5 months ago

Well, how far it all goes is something that remains to be seen. I don't think we'll get as far as child labour but the curation of dependence is something that's definitely in progress.

memeoverlord 2010 , 5 months ago

They don't want people who are desperate, they want slaves.

Tyler Potts , 4 months ago

Tom Nicholas but if they could they would have kids gigging. The gig economy is a scam, I'd rather pay more for an Uber and have unionized drivers.

Tyler Potts , 4 months ago

Daxton Lyon except the majority of entrepreneurs and business owners didn't come Into their business ownership via merit. You are forgetting that most of these people are born into a situation where they have access to capital, access to legal services and education. Sure there are a minority of people who make it from nothing but that number is diminishingly small.

John Jourdan , 3 months ago

I notice not one of you mentioned immigrants. lol

EYTPS , 2 months ago

Daxton Lyon "You don't like the gig? Do something else." Too bad the economy is currently setup to where around half of individuals are limited to gig and don't have the resources and money to do anything else.

EYTPS , 2 months ago

Daxton Lyon "If any of you did, your panzy responses regarding corporate greed would be squashed!" No, they wouldn't, but keep performing those red herrings and hasty, extremely-worshipping generalizations about entrepreneurship to distract from the point; I'm sure they'll catch on.

Justin Goretoy , 5 months ago

Neoliberalism is the religious belief that markets are magical and will regulate themselves.

User Name , 4 months ago

The gig economy would be great if we lived in a society where health care is free, food is cheap, housing is common, and nobody suffers from economic Issues Which is not what we are living in

memeoverlord 2010 , 5 months ago

Neo-liberals - we support freedom and stuff. Removes mask Is actually corporation lapdogs.

[Jun 02, 2020] Don't understand the protests? What you're seeing is people pushed to the edge

Jun 02, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

  1. anne , May 31, 2020 4:48 pm

    https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-05-30/dont-understand-the-protests-what-youre-seeing-is-people-pushed-to-the-edge

    May 30, 2020

    Don't understand the protests? What you're seeing is people pushed to the edge
    By KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR – Los Angeles Times

    What was your first reaction when you saw the video of the white cop kneeling on George Floyd's neck while Floyd croaked, "I can't breathe"?

    If you're white, you probably muttered a horrified, "Oh, my God" while shaking your head at the cruel injustice. If you're black, you probably leapt to your feet, cursed, maybe threw something (certainly wanted to throw something), while shouting, "Not @#$%! again!" Then you remember the two white vigilantes accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery as he jogged through their neighborhood in February, and how if it wasn't for that video emerging a few weeks ago, they would have gotten away with it. And how those Minneapolis cops claimed Floyd was resisting arrest but a store's video showed he wasn't. And how the cop on Floyd's neck wasn't an enraged redneck stereotype, but a sworn officer who looked calm and entitled and devoid of pity: the banality of evil incarnate.

    Maybe you also are thinking about the Karen in Central Park who called 911 claiming the black man who asked her to put a leash on her dog was threatening her. Or the black Yale University grad student napping in the common room of her dorm who was reported by a white student. Because you realize it's not just a supposed "black criminal" who is targeted, it's the whole spectrum of black faces from Yonkers to Yale.

    You start to wonder if it should be all black people who wear body cams, not the cops.

    What do you see when you see angry black protesters amassing outside police stations with raised fists? If you're white, you may be thinking, "They certainly aren't social distancing." Then you notice the black faces looting Target and you think, "Well, that just hurts their cause." Then you see the police station on fire and you wag a finger saying, "That's putting the cause backward."

    You're not wrong -- but you're not right, either. The black community is used to the institutional racism inherent in education, the justice system and jobs. And even though we do all the conventional things to raise public and political awareness -- write articulate and insightful pieces in the Atlantic, explain the continued devastation on CNN, support candidates who promise change -- the needle hardly budges.

    But COVID-19 has been slamming the consequences of all that home as we die at a significantly higher rate than whites, are the first to lose our jobs, and watch helplessly as Republicans try to keep us from voting .

Bert Schlitz , May 31, 2020 7:14 pm

The protests are self centered crap blacks do year after year. Considering 370 whites over 100 Latinos were killed by cops, many as bad as that guy in minnie. Blacks have a Trumptard mentality. We have a ecological disaster, a economic disaster and pandemic(when th they are spreading). Yet let's whine about one bad cop related homicide.

This may begin the breakup of the Democratic party and the blacks. The differences are just to large.

Kaleberg , May 31, 2020 9:40 pm

It's rather sad that it takes a massive civil disturbance to get the authorities to arrest a man videotaped killing another. You'd think that would just happen as a matter of course, but that's how it works in this country.

Denis Drew , June 1, 2020 10:17 am

THE WAY BACK -- THE ONLY WAY BACK -- BOTH ECONOMICALLY AND POLITICALLY (pardon me if I take up a lot of space -- almost everyone else has said most of what they want to say)

EITC shifts only 2% of income while 40% of American workers earn less that what we think the minimum wage should be -- $15/hr.
http://fortune.com/2015/04/13/who-makes-15-per-hour/

The minimum wage itself should only mark the highest wage that we presume firms with highest labor costs can pay* -- like fast food with 25% labor costs. Lower labor cost businesses -- e.g., retail like Walgreens and Target with 10-15% labor costs can potentially pay north of $20/hr; Walmart with 7% labor costs, $25/hr!

That kind of income can only be squeezed out of the consumer market (meaning out of the consumer) by labor union bargaining.

Raise fast food wages from $10/hr to $15/hr and prices go up only a doable 12.5%. Raise Walgreens, Target from $10/hr to $20/hr and prices there only go up a piddling 6.25%. Keeping the math easy here -- I know that Walgreens and Target pay more to start but that only reinforces my argument about how much labor income is being left on the (missing) bargaining table.

Hook up Walmart with 7% labor costs with the Teamsters Union and the wage and benefit sky might be the limit! Don't forget (everybody seems to) that as more income shifts to lower wage workers, more demand starts to come from lower wage workers -- reinforcing their job security as they spend more proportionately at lower wage firms (does not work for low wage employees of high end restaurants -- the exception that actually proves the rule).

Add in sector wide labor agreements and watch Germany appear on this side of the Atlantic overnight.
* * * * * *

If Republicans held the House in the last (115th) Congress they would have passed HR2723-Employee Rights Act -- mandating new union recertification/decertification paper ballots in any bargaining unit that has had experienced "turnover, expansion, or alteration by merger of unit represented employees exceeding 50 percent of the bargaining unit" by the date of the enactment -- and for all time from thereafter. Trump would have signed it and virtually every union in the country would have experienced mandated recert/decert votes in every bargaining unit.
https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2723/text

Democrats can make the most obvious point about what was lacking in the Republican bill by pretending to be for a cert/recert bill that mandates union ballots only at places where there is no union now. Republicans jumping up and down can scream the point for us that there is no reason to have ballots in non union places and not in unionized workplaces -- and vice versa.
* * * * * *

Biggest problem advocating the vastly attractive and all healing proposal of federally mandated cert/recert/decert elections seems to be that nobody will discuss it as long as nobody else discusses it -- some kind of innate social behavior I think, from deep in our (pea sized) midbrains. How else can you explain the perfect pitch's neglect. I suspect that if I waved a $100 bill in front of a bunch of progressives and offered it to the first one would say the words out loud: "Regularly scheduled union elections are the only way to restore shared prosperity and political fairness to America", that I might not get one taker. FWIW.

Another big problem when I try to talk to workers about this on the street -- just to get a reaction -- is that more than half have no idea in the world what unions are all about. Those who do understand, think the idea so sensible they often think action must be pending.

Here is Andrew Strom's take:
https://onlabor.org/why-not-hold-union-representation-elections-on-a-regular-schedule/

[see just below for last link -- can't lay more than three at a time :-)]

Denis Drew , June 1, 2020 10:17 am

*1968 federal minimum was $12/hr – indicating that consumer support was there at half today's per capita income.
https://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl?cost1=1.60&year1=196801&year2=202001

rick shapiro , June 1, 2020 10:46 am

econ101 should tell you that the eitc is a subsidy to the corporations that hire droves of low-paid workers, with meagre spillover to the workers themselves. More effective and persistent improvements to social justice would come from significant increases to the minimum wage, societal support to unionization, and other efforts to increase the threshold of what is considered by society to be the bare minimum of compensation for work.
The concomitant decline in the value of the dollar and the terms of trade would be small compared to the reduction in inequality.

Bernard , June 1, 2020 5:21 pm

such a third world country as America , riots are the only way to get heard for some. the Elite have been looting us blind for decades, the Covid bail outs to Corporations by the Elites in DC as the latest installment of Capitalist theft know as Business as Usual.
it's all about the money.
sick,sick country praising capitalism over everything else.
the comfortable white people are afraid of losing what they have. Divide and Conquer is the Republican and now Democratic way they run America.

to the rich go the spoils. the rest, well. screw them .

the Lee Atwater idea to use coded language when St. Reagan implemented the destruction of America society, coincided with St. Thatcher's destruction of England.

the White elites post Civil War in the South knew how to divide the poor whites and the poor blacks.

that is how we got to where we are now.

Did you see any of the bankers go to jail for the 2008 ripoff?
not one and they got bonuses for their "deeds."

America, such a nation of Grifters, Thieves and Scam artist. like Pelosi , McConnel and all the people in DC and the Business men who sold out our country and the American people for "small change".

God forbid Corporations should ever have to pay for the damage they have done to America and its" people. My RIGHT to Greed trumps your right to clean air, water, safe neighborhoods, says Capitalism!

the Rich get richer and the poor get poorer, Everybody Knows!!!

But let's not focus on things lest some uncomfortable truths.

and wonder why riots happen, Not at All!

[Jun 01, 2020] It didn't happen overnight

Jun 01, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

Dan Crawford | May 31, 2020 9:12 am

US/Global Economics by Ken Melvin

3 rd World

--

It didn't happen overnight.

The nightly news, when talking about the effect of the pandemic on the populace in, say, Southeast Asian, African, South American, countries, invariably refer to the tenuous hold on life of their working poor; they don't really have a job. Each day they rise and go forth looking for work that pays enough that they and their family can continue to subsist. It is, in some countries, a long-standing problem.

Sound too familiar? Sometime in the late 80s (??) Americans began to see day labors line up at Home Depot and Lowe's lots in numbers not seen since The Great Depression. Manufacturing Corporations began subbing out their work to sub-contractors, otherwise known as employees without benefits; Construction Contractors subbed out construction work to these employees without benefits; Engineering Firms subbed out engineering to these employees without benefits; Landscapers' workers were now sub-contractors/independent contractors; Here, in the SF Bay Area, time and again, we saw vans loads of undocumented Hispanics under a 'Labor Contractor' come in from the Central Valley to build condos; the white Contractor for the project didn't have a single employee; none of the workers got a W-2. Recall watching, sometime in the 90s (??), a familiar, well dressed, rotund guest from Wall Street, on the PBS News Hour, forcefully proclaiming to the TV audience:

American workers are going to have to learn to compete with the Chinese; Civil Service employees, factory employees, are all going to have to work for less

All this subcontracting, independent contractors, was a scam, a scam meant to circumvent paying going wages and benefits, to enhance profit margins; a scam that transferred more wealth to the top. Meanwhile back at The Ranch, after the H1B Immigration Act of 1990, Microsoft could hire programmers from India for one-half the cost of a citizen programmer. Half of Bill Gates' fortune was resultant these labor savings; the other half was made off those not US Citizens. Taking a cue, Banks, Bio-Techs, some City and State Governments began subcontracting out their programming to H1Bs. Often, the subcontractors/labor contractors (often themselves immigrants) providing the programmers, held the programmers' passports/visas for security.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, friends of Bush/Cheney made fortunes on clean up contracts they subbed out for next to nothing; the independent/subcontractor scam was now officially governmentally sanctioned.

By about 2000 we began to hear the term gig-workers applied to these employees without benefits. Uber appeared in 2007 to be followed by Lift. Both are scams based on paying less than prevailing wages, on not providing worker benefits,

These days, the nightly news, when talking about the effect of the pandemic on the populace in America, shows footage of Food Banks in California with lines 2! miles long. Many of those waiting in these lines didn't have a real job before; they were gig-workers; they can't apply for Unemployment Benefits. It is estimated that 1.6 million American workers (1% of the workforce) are gig-workers; they don't have a real job. That 1% is in addition to the 16 million American workers (10% of the workforce) that are independent contractors. Of the more than 40 million currently unemployed Americans, some 17 million are either gig-workers or subcontractors/independent contractors. All of these are scams meant to transfer more wealth to the top. All of these are scams with American Workers the victims; scams, in a race to the bottom.


Denis Drew , May 31, 2020 10:51 am

Ken,

Read this by the SEIU counsel Andrew Strom -- and tell me what you think:
https://onlabor.org/why-not-hold-union-representation-elections-on-a-regular-schedule/

Democrats in the so called battle ground states would clean up at the polls with this. Why do you think those states strayed? It was because Obama and Hillary had no idea what they really needed. Voters had no idea what they SPECIFICALLY needed either -- UNIONS! They had been deunionized so thoroughly for so long that they THEMSELVES no long knew what they were missing (frogs in the slowly boiling pot).

In 1988 Jesse Jackson took the Democratic primary in Michigan with 54% against Dukakis and Gephardt. Obama beat Wall Street Romney and red-white-and-blue McCain in Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan. But nobody told these voters -- because nobody seems to remember -- what they really needed. These voter just knew by 2016 that Democrats had not what they needed and looked elsewhere -- anywhere else!

Strom presents an easy as can be, on-step-back treatment that should go down oh, so smoothly and sweetly. What do you think?

  • Matthew young , May 31, 2020 10:51 am

    Not overnight, but a few days in 1972 when Nixon fouled the defaults and none of us knew how badly at the time.

    Reseting prices takes a long time, it is not magic and Nixon had fouled the precious metals market, overnight. That and all the commodities market needed a restructure to adapt to our new regime.

    Our way out was to export price instability to Asia. My suggestion this time is to think through the math a bit before we all suddenly freak and do another over nighter. Think about how one might spread the partial default over a 15 year period.

    All of us, stuck with 40 years of flat earth economic planning without a clue. Now we have a year at best to nail down the Lucas criteria and get a default done with some science behind it.

    I doubt it. I figure we will all go to monetary meetup with our insurance contracts ready to be confirmed. That is impossible and Trump will be stuck doing a volatile, overnight partial default, like Nixon.,

  • EMichael , May 31, 2020 12:02 pm

    Dennis,

    The states you mentioned have overwhelmingly voted Rep for the last 3 decades in their state races. One of them has instituted right to work laws, and the other two have come very close to doing the same.

    The white working class cares nothing about unions at all. They have been voting against them for decades. It's why union rights and membership has deteriorated for 5 decades.

    run75441 , May 31, 2020 12:32 pm

    EM:

    Notably, I had posted the 2016 presidential election numbers numbers for MI, PA, and WI which resulted in an "anyone but Trump or Clinton vote" and gave th election to Trump. The "anyone but Trump or Clinton vote" resulted in a historical high for the "others" category and was anywhere from 3 to 6 times higher than previously experienced in other presidential elections. It also resulted in those three states casting Electoral votes for a Republican presidential candidate since 1992 – MI, 1988 – PA, and 1988 – WI. While this does defeat your comment above on those states voting Republican, it does not take away from your other comment on Sarandon. People punished themselves with Trump in spite of every obvious clue he demonstrated of being a loon. In this case the white working class voted against themselves for Trump and those of Sarandon's ilk helped them along by voting for "others."

  • EMichael , May 31, 2020 12:45 pm

    Run, I stated in "state elections".

    Y'know one other thing I have seen in MI voting is that the amount of people who voted did not cast a voted for President also was the highest ever. Thinking these are the same people like Sarandon. It was close to 90,000 in MI.

    "87,810: Number of voters this election who cast a ballot but did not cast a vote for president. That compares to 49,840 undervotes for president in 2012.

    5 percent: Proportion of voters who opted for a third-party candidate in this election, compared to 1 percent in 2012."

    https://www.mlive.com/politics/2016/11/michigans_presidential_electio.html

    run75441 , May 31, 2020 1:58 pm

    EM:

    I am going to put the numbers out here for Presidential Election 2012 and 2016. It is easier to look at them and the percentages.

    Michigan Presidential Vote 2012 and 2016

    In this site, you can look year to year on the vote. US Election Atlas

  • ken melvin , May 31, 2020 1:04 pm

    Denis

    Thanks for your comment and the link. Wow! Where to start, huh?

    SEIU was a player from the get go, but I don't want to go there just now.

    Before Reagan, there was the first rust belt move to the non-union south. Why was the south so anti-union? I think this stuff is engendered from infancy and most of us are incapable of thinking anew when it comes to stuff our parents 'taught' us. MLK was the best thing that ever happened to the dirt-road poor south, yet they hated him and they hated the very unions that might have lifted them up. They did seem to take pleasure in the yanks' loss of jobs.

    I think the Reagan era was prelude to what is going on now, i.e., going backward while yelling whee look at me go. No doubt, Reagan turned union members against their own unions. But, the genesis of demise probably lay with automation and the early offshoring to Mexico. By Reagan, the car plants were losing jobs to Toyota and Honda and automation. By 1990, car plants that had previously employed 5,000, now automated, produced more cars employing only 1200. At the time, much of the nation's wealth was still derived from car production.

    Skipping forward a bit, the democrats blew it for years with all their talk about the 'middle-class' without realizing it was the 'disappearing middle-class'. They ignored the poor working-class vote and lost election after election.

    I've come to not like the term labor, think it affords capital an undeserved status, though much diminished, I think thought all workers would be better off in a union. Otherwise, as we are witnessing, there is no parity between workers and wealth; we are in a race to the bottom with the wealth increasingly go to the top.

  • ken melvin , May 31, 2020 1:15 pm

    Matthew – thanks for your comment

    I think that we are into a transition (about 45 yrs into) as great as the industrial revolution. We, as probably those poor souls of the 18th and 19th centuries did, are floundering, unable to come to terms with what is going on.

    I also think that those such as the Kochs have a good grasp of what is going on and are moving to protect themselves and their class.

  • ken melvin , May 31, 2020 1:21 pm

    EMichael, thanks for the comment

    Are you implying that the politicians are way behind the curve? If so, I think that you are right.

    Let me share what I was thinking last night about thinking:

    Descartes' problem was that he desperately wanted to make philosophy work within the framework of his religion, Catholicism. Paul Krugman desperately wants to make economics all work within the Holy Duality of Capitalism and Free Markets. Even Joe Stiglitz can't step out of this text. All things being possible, it is possible that either could come up with a solution to today's economic problems that would fit within the Two; but the odds are not good. Better to think anew.

    We see politicians try and try to find solutions for today's problems from within their own dogmas/ideologies. Even if they can't, they persist, they still try to impose these dogmas/ideologies in the desperate hope they might work if only applied to a greater degree. How else explain any belief that markets could anticipate and respond to pandemics? That markets could best respond to housing demand?

  • anne , May 31, 2020 1:48 pm

    Ken Melvin,

    Interesting and fine writing.

  • anne , May 31, 2020 1:49 pm

    https://twitter.com/paulkrugman/status/1267060950026326018

    Paul Krugman @paulkrugman

    Glad to see Noah Smith highlighting this all-too-relevant work by the late Alberto Alesina 1/

    https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-05-30/racism-is-the-biggest-reason-u-s-safety-net-is-so-weak

    Racism Is the Biggest Reason the U.S. Safety Net Is So Weak
    Harvard economist Alberto Alesina, who died last week, found that ethnic divisions made the country less effective at providing public goods.

    7:50 AM · May 31, 2020

    The Alesina/Glaeser/Sacerdote paper on why America doesn't have a European-style welfare state -- racism -- had a big impact on my own thinking 2/

    https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/glaeser/files/why_doesnt_the_u.s._have_a_european-style_welfare_state.pdf

    For a long time anyone who pointed out that the modern GOP is basically a party that serves plutocratic ends by weaponizing white racism was treated as "shrill" and partisan. Can we now admit the obvious? 3/

  • EMichael , May 31, 2020 1:53 pm

    Ken,

    Half the politicians are behind the curve. When George Wallace showed the GOP how to win elections (Don't ever get outniggerred) the Dem Party failed to see and react to it. Then the Kochs of the world stepped in with the John Birch society (fromerly the KKK) and started playing race against class, which resulted in the white working class supporting anti-labor pols and legislation.

    The election of Obama caused the racists to go totally off the reservation with the Tea Party (formerly the KKK and the John Birch Society) and lead us to where we are now.

    Of course, the corporate world followed the blueprint.

    Way past time for the Dem Party to start attacking on a constant basis the racist GOP. And also to start appealing more to workers, though the 2016 platform certainly did that to a large degree, and the 2020 platform looks to be mush more supportive of labor than ever.

    "It's a detailed and aggressive agenda that includes doubling the minimum wage and tripling funding for schools with low-income students. He is proposing the most sweeping overhaul of immigration policy in a generation, the biggest pro-union push in three generations, and the most ambitious environmental agenda of all time.

    If Democrats take back the Senate in the fall, Biden could make his agenda happen. A primary is about airing disagreements, but legislating is about building consensus. The Democratic Party largely agrees on a suite of big policy changes that would improve the lives of millions of Americans in meaningful ways. Biden has detailed, considered plans to put much of this agenda in place. But getting these plans done will be driven much more by the outcome of the congressional elections than his questioned ambition.

    A big minimum wage increase

    Biden's commitment to raising the federal minimum wage from its current $7.25 to $15 an hour is one of the least talked-about plans at stake in the 2020 election.

    In the 2016 cycle when Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders disagreed about raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, the debate was the subject of extensive coverage. By the 2020 cycle, all the major Democratic candidates were on board, so it didn't come up much. But it's significant that this is no longer controversial in Democratic Party circles. If the party is broadly comfortable with the wage hike as a matter of both politics and substance, Democrats in Congress are likely to make it happen if it's at all possible.
    Noji Olaigbe, left, from the Fight for $15 minimum wage movement, speaks during a McDonald's workers' strike in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on May 23, 2019. David Santiago/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service/Getty Images

    The $15-an-hour minimum wage increase is also a signature issue for Biden. He endorsed New York's version of it in the fall of 2015, back when he was vice president and his boss Barack Obama was pushing a smaller federal raise.

    A big minimum wage hike polls well, it aligns with Biden's thematic emphasis on "the dignity of work," and it's a topic on which he's genuinely been a leader. It reflects his political sensibilities, which are moderate but in a decidedly more populist mode than Obama's technocratic one.

    Biden has a big Plan A to support organized labor, and a Plan B that's still consequential and considerably more plausible politically.

    Beyond a general disposition to be a good coalition partner to organized labor, the centerpiece of his union agenda is support for the PRO Act, which passed the House of Representatives earlier this year.

    That bill, were it to become law, would be the biggest victory for unions and collective bargaining since the end of World War II -- overriding state "right to work" laws, barring mandatory anti-union briefings from management during organizing campaigns, imposing much more meaningful financial penalties on companies that illegally fire workers for pro-union activity, and allowing organizing through a streamlined card check process. Separately, Biden and House Democrats have lined up behind a Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act that would bolster public sector workers' collective bargaining rights. "

    https://www.vox.com/2020/5/26/21257648/joe-biden-climate-economy-tax-plans

    One of the big issues here is Biden not committing to killing the filibuster, in addition to Dem Senators not in agreement either. That would be a disaster for any legislation.

    Makes sense not to run on ending the filibuster now, as there is a chance trump can win and teh GOP keeps the Senate. But if the opposite happens and Biden wins and Dems take the Senate, they will have to pivot quickly to getting rid of the filibuster. Apply any and all possible pressure to those Dem Senators who do not agree with that. Threaten them with losing committee posts; primary opponents; the kitchen sink.

    Yes, it poses a risk in the event the Reps get a trifecta again, but it is time to flood progressive legislation into law, and getting rid of the filibuster is the only way.

    And if they can hit the trifecta and bring this platform to fruition, they won't have to worry about a GOP trifecta for a long, long time. Possibly forever.

  • anne , May 31, 2020 1:56 pm

    https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/glaeser/files/why_doesnt_the_u.s._have_a_european-style_welfare_state.pdf

    September, 2001

    Why Doesn't the United States Have a European-Style Welfare State?
    By Alberto Alesina, Edward Glaeser and Bruce Sacerdote

    Abstract

    European countries are much more generous to the poor relative to the US level of generosity. Economic models suggest that redistribution is a function of the variance and skewness of the pre-tax income distribution, the volatility of income (perhaps because of trade shocks), the social costs of taxation and the expected income mobility of the median voter. None of these factors appear to explain the differences between the US and Europe. Instead, the differences appear to be the result of racial heterogeneity in the US and American political institutions. Racial animosity in the US makes redistribution to the poor, who are disproportionately black, unappealing to many voters. American political institutions limited the growth of a socialist party, and more generally limited the political power of the poor.

  • rick shapiro , May 31, 2020 2:07 pm

    This dynamic is not limited to low-skill jobs. I have seen it at work in electronics engineering. When I was a sprat, job shoppers got an hourly wage nearly twice that of their company peers, because they had no benefits or long-term employment. Today, job shoppers are actually paid less than company engineers; and the companies are outsourcing ever more of their staffing to the brokers.
    Without labor market frictions, the iron law of wages drives wages to starvation levels. As sophisticated uberization software eliminates the frictions that have protected middle class wages in the recent past, we will all need to enlist unionization and government wage standards to protect us.

  • ken melvin , May 31, 2020 2:29 pm

    Rick

    The big engineering offices of the 70s were decimated and worse by the mid-90s; mostly by the advent of computers w/ software. One engineer could now do the work of 10 and didn't need any draftsman.

  • rick shapiro , May 31, 2020 2:40 pm

    I was speaking of engineers with equal skill in the same office. Many at GE Avionics were laid off, and came back as lower paid contract empoyees.

  • ken melvin , May 31, 2020 2:46 pm

    Rick

    Die biden

  • ken melvin , May 31, 2020 2:52 pm

    beiden

    The both

  • ken melvin , May 31, 2020 3:05 pm

    EMichael

    Minimum wage, the row about the $600, all such things endanger the indentured servant economic model so favored in the south. Keep them poor and hungry and they will work for next to nothing. 'Still they persist.' On PBS, a black woman cooking for a restaurant said that she was being paid less than $4/hr.

  • anne , May 31, 2020 4:48 pm

    https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-05-30/dont-understand-the-protests-what-youre-seeing-is-people-pushed-to-the-edge

    May 30, 2020

    Don't understand the protests? What you're seeing is people pushed to the edge
    By KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR – Los Angeles Times

    What was your first reaction when you saw the video of the white cop kneeling on George Floyd's neck while Floyd croaked, "I can't breathe"?

    If you're white, you probably muttered a horrified, "Oh, my God" while shaking your head at the cruel injustice. If you're black, you probably leapt to your feet, cursed, maybe threw something (certainly wanted to throw something), while shouting, "Not @#$%! again!" Then you remember the two white vigilantes accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery as he jogged through their neighborhood in February, and how if it wasn't for that video emerging a few weeks ago, they would have gotten away with it. And how those Minneapolis cops claimed Floyd was resisting arrest but a store's video showed he wasn't. And how the cop on Floyd's neck wasn't an enraged redneck stereotype, but a sworn officer who looked calm and entitled and devoid of pity: the banality of evil incarnate.

    Maybe you also are thinking about the Karen in Central Park who called 911 claiming the black man who asked her to put a leash on her dog was threatening her. Or the black Yale University grad student napping in the common room of her dorm who was reported by a white student. Because you realize it's not just a supposed "black criminal" who is targeted, it's the whole spectrum of black faces from Yonkers to Yale.

    You start to wonder if it should be all black people who wear body cams, not the cops.

    What do you see when you see angry black protesters amassing outside police stations with raised fists? If you're white, you may be thinking, "They certainly aren't social distancing." Then you notice the black faces looting Target and you think, "Well, that just hurts their cause." Then you see the police station on fire and you wag a finger saying, "That's putting the cause backward."

    You're not wrong -- but you're not right, either. The black community is used to the institutional racism inherent in education, the justice system and jobs. And even though we do all the conventional things to raise public and political awareness -- write articulate and insightful pieces in the Atlantic, explain the continued devastation on CNN, support candidates who promise change -- the needle hardly budges.

    But COVID-19 has been slamming the consequences of all that home as we die at a significantly higher rate than whites, are the first to lose our jobs, and watch helplessly as Republicans try to keep us from voting .

    run75441 , May 31, 2020 9:39 pm

    anne:

    If you rcomments are not appearing they are going to spam, Just let me know and I will fish them out of spam. Just approved 4 of yours.

  • Bert Schlitz , May 31, 2020 7:14 pm

    The protests are self centered crap blacks do year after year. Considering 370 whites over 100 Latinos were killed by cops, many as bad as that guy in minnie. Blacks have a Trumptard mentality. We have a ecological disaster, a economic disaster and pandemic(when th they are spreading). Yet let's whine about one bad cop related homicide.

    This may begin the breakup of the Democratic party and the blacks. The differences are just to large.

  • Kaleberg , May 31, 2020 9:40 pm

    It's rather sad that it takes a massive civil disturbance to get the authorities to arrest a man videotaped killing another. You'd think that would just happen as a matter of course, but that's how it works in this country. Post Comment Leave a Reply Cancel reply

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    [May 30, 2020] Trump kicking out all China PHD students

    May 30, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

    Susan , May 29 2020 17:51 utc | 60

    I just can't imagine the stupidity of Trump kicking out all the PHD students!
    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/05/29/chin-m29.html

    [May 29, 2020] Trump's Tax Cuts Get an "F" for enriching the Globalist Elite by Michael Cuenco

    Highly recommended!
    Notable quotes:
    "... Instead of reining in the "globalist elites" he so vociferously ran against or those corporations "who have no loyalty to America," his one legislative achievement has been to award them a massive tax cut. Through it, he has maintained their favorite mix of low revenue intake and high deficits which gives Republicans a pretext to "starve the beast" and induce fiscal anorexia. ..."
    "... Trump ran as a populist firebrand -- a fusion of Huey Long and Ross Perot -- and while he never abandoned that style, he has governed for the most part as a milquetoast free market Republican in perfect tandem with Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, one whose solution to everything is more tax cuts and deregulation: a kind of turbo-charged "high-energy Jeb." ..."
    "... With the outbreak of COVID-19, many on the reformist right are hoping for the emergence of the President Trump they thought they were promised, a leader just as ready to break out of the donor-enforced "small government" straitjacket while in power as he was during the campaign. ..."
    "... The heightened rhetoric against China will continue -- the one thing Trump is good at -- but it is unlikely to be matched with the required policy ..."
    "... If neoliberalism excused inequality at home by extolling the equalization of incomes across the globe (millions of Chinese raised from poverty, while millions of American workers fall back into it!), the new position must shift emphasis back to ensuring a more equitable domestic distribution of wealth and opportunity across all classes and communities in this country. ..."
    "... It is worth pondering what might have happened if the administration had gone the other way and followed the last piece of policy advice given by Steve Bannon before his ouster in August 2017. Bannon suggested raising the top marginal income tax rate to 44 percent while "arguing that it would actually hit left-wing millionaires in Silicon Valley, on Wall Street, and in Hollywood." ..."
    "... It might well have put Trump on the path to becoming what Daniel Patrick Moynihan once proposed as a model for Richard Nixon when he gifted the 37th president a biography of Disraeli, namely a Tory Republican who could outsmart the left by crafting broad popular coalitions based on a blending of patriotic cultural conservatism with class-conscious economic and social policy. ..."
    "... Then and even more so now, the idea resonates: a Reuters/Ipsos poll from January found that 64 percent of Americans support a wealth tax, a majority of Republicans included. Poll after poll has reaffirmed this. It seems as if there is right-wing populist support for taxing the rich more. ..."
    "... There is one more thing to be said about the significance of taxing the rich. Up until very recently, there has been a prevailing tendency among the reformist right (with some important exceptions) to couch criticism of the elites primarily or even exclusively in cultural terms. There seems to have been a polite hesitation at taking the cultural critique to its logical economic conclusions. It is easy to excoriate the excesses of elite identity politics, the "woke" part of woke capitalism; it's something all conservatives -- and indeed growing numbers of liberals and socialists -- agree on. Fish in a barrel. ..."
    "... But to challenge the capitalism part, i.e. free market orthodoxy, not in a secondary or tertiary way, but head on and in specific policy terms as Lofgren and a few others have done, would involve confronting difficult truths, namely that the biggest beneficiaries of tax cuts and Reaganite economic policy in general, which most conservatives enthusiastically promoted for four decades, are the selfsame decadent coastal elites they claim to oppose. It is they who more than anyone else thrive on financialized globalization, arbitrage and offshoring. ..."
    "... In other words, it amounts to an honest recognition of the complicity of conservatism in the mess we're in, which is perhaps a psychological bridge too far for too many on the right, reformist or not. (Trigger Warning!) This separation of culture and economics has led to the farce of a self-styled nationalist president lining the pockets of his nominal enemies, the globalist ruling class. ..."
    "... A conservative call to tax the rich would signal that the right is ready to end this charade and chart a course toward a more patriotic, public-spirited and yes, proudly hyphenated capitalism. ..."
    "... Michael Cuenco is a writer on politics and policy. He has also written for American Affairs. ..."
    May 26, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

    They also left worker wages stagnant and increased the deficit. Where is our more nationalist economic policy?

    Much has been written about the disappointment of certain segments of the right in the apparent capitulation of Donald Trump to the agenda of the conservative establishment.

    Instead of reining in the "globalist elites" he so vociferously ran against or those corporations "who have no loyalty to America," his one legislative achievement has been to award them a massive tax cut. Through it, he has maintained their favorite mix of low revenue intake and high deficits which gives Republicans a pretext to "starve the beast" and induce fiscal anorexia.

    The president has granted them as well their ideal labor market through an ingenious formula: double down on mostly symbolic raids (as opposed to systemic solutions like Mandatory E-Verify) and ramp up the rhetoric about "shithole countries" to distract the media, but keep the supply of cheap, exploitable low-skill labor (legal and illegal) intact for the business lobby.

    Trump ran as a populist firebrand -- a fusion of Huey Long and Ross Perot -- and while he never abandoned that style, he has governed for the most part as a milquetoast free market Republican in perfect tandem with Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, one whose solution to everything is more tax cuts and deregulation: a kind of turbo-charged "high-energy Jeb."

    With the outbreak of COVID-19, many on the reformist right are hoping for the emergence of the President Trump they thought they were promised, a leader just as ready to break out of the donor-enforced "small government" straitjacket while in power as he was during the campaign.

    Despite signs of progress, what's more likely is a return to business as usual. Already the GOP's impulse for austerity and parsimony is proving to be stronger than any willingness to think and act outside the box.

    The heightened rhetoric against China will continue -- the one thing Trump is good at -- but it is unlikely to be matched with the required policy, such as a long-term plan to reshore U.S. industry (that doesn't just rely on blindly giving corporations the benefit of the doubt). At this point, we already know where the president's priorities lie when given a choice between the advancement of America's workers or continued labor arbitrage and carte blanche corporate handouts.

    Lest they be engulfed by it like everyone else, the reformist right should ask: is there any way to stand athwart the supply-side swamp yelling Stop?

    Many of these conservatives lament the Trump tax cut not just because it was a disaster that failed to spark reinvestment, left wages stagnant, needlessly blew up the deficit and served as a slush fund for stock buybacks, but more fundamentally because it betrayed the overwhelming intellectual inertia and lack of imagination that characterizes conservative policymaking.

    More than in any other issue then, a distinct position on taxes would make the new conservatism truly worth distinguishing from the old: tax cuts were after all the defining policy dogma of the neoliberal Reagan era.

    If neoliberalism excused inequality at home by extolling the equalization of incomes across the globe (millions of Chinese raised from poverty, while millions of American workers fall back into it!), the new position must shift emphasis back to ensuring a more equitable domestic distribution of wealth and opportunity across all classes and communities in this country.

    A reformulation of fiscal policy along populist economic nationalist lines can help with that.

    It is worth pondering what might have happened if the administration had gone the other way and followed the last piece of policy advice given by Steve Bannon before his ouster in August 2017. Bannon suggested raising the top marginal income tax rate to 44 percent while "arguing that it would actually hit left-wing millionaires in Silicon Valley, on Wall Street, and in Hollywood."

    Such a move would have been nothing short of revolutionary: it would have been a faithful and full-blown expression of the populist economic nationalism Trump ran on; it would have presented a genuine material threat to the elite ruling class of both parties, and likely would have pre-empted the shock value of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proposing a 70 percent top marginal rate.

    It might well have put Trump on the path to becoming what Daniel Patrick Moynihan once proposed as a model for Richard Nixon when he gifted the 37th president a biography of Disraeli, namely a Tory Republican who could outsmart the left by crafting broad popular coalitions based on a blending of patriotic cultural conservatism with class-conscious economic and social policy.

    Not that Trump would have needed to go back to Nixon or Disraeli for instruction on the matter. In 1999, long before Elizabeth Warren came along on the national scene, a presidential candidate eyeing the Reform Party nomination contemplated the imposition of a 14.25 percent wealth tax on America's richest citizens in order to pay off the national debt: his name was Donald Trump.

    What ever happened to that guy? The Trump of 1999 was onto something. Maybe this could be a way to deal with our post-pandemic deficits.

    Then and even more so now, the idea resonates: a Reuters/Ipsos poll from January found that 64 percent of Americans support a wealth tax, a majority of Republicans included. Poll after poll has reaffirmed this. It seems as if there is right-wing populist support for taxing the rich more.

    To the common refrain, "the rich are just going to find ways to shelter their income or relocate it offshore," I have written elsewhere about the concrete policy measures countries can and have taken to clip the wings of mobile global capital and prevent such an outcome.

    I have written as well about how taxing the rich and tightening the screws on tax enforcement have implications that go beyond the merely redistributive approach to fiscal policy conventionally favored by the left; about how it can be a form of leverage against an unaccountable investor class used to shopping at home and abroad for the most opaque assets in which to hoard vast amounts of essentially idle capital.

    A deft administration would use aggressive fiscal policy as an inducement for this irresponsible class to make things right by reinvesting in such priorities as the wages and well-being of workers, the vitality of communities, the strength of strategic industries and the productivity of the real economy – or else Uncle Sam will tax their wealth and do it for them.

    It would also be an assertion of national sovereignty against globalization's command for countries to stay "competitive" by immiserating their citizens with ever-lower taxes on capital holders and ever more loose and "flexible" labor markets in a never-ending race to the bottom.

    Mike Lofgren has penned a marvelous essay in these pages about the virtual secession of the rich from the American nation, "with their prehensile greed, their asocial cultural values, and their absence of civic responsibility."

    What better way to remind them that they are still citizens of a country and members of a society -- and not just floating streams of deracinated capital -- than by making them perform that most basic of civic duties, paying one's fair share and contributing to the commonweal? America need not revert to the 70-90 percent top marginal rates of the bolshevik administrations of Truman, Eisenhower or Kennedy, but proposals for modest moves in that direction would be welcome.

    There is one more thing to be said about the significance of taxing the rich. Up until very recently, there has been a prevailing tendency among the reformist right (with some important exceptions) to couch criticism of the elites primarily or even exclusively in cultural terms. There seems to have been a polite hesitation at taking the cultural critique to its logical economic conclusions. It is easy to excoriate the excesses of elite identity politics, the "woke" part of woke capitalism; it's something all conservatives -- and indeed growing numbers of liberals and socialists -- agree on. Fish in a barrel.

    But to challenge the capitalism part, i.e. free market orthodoxy, not in a secondary or tertiary way, but head on and in specific policy terms as Lofgren and a few others have done, would involve confronting difficult truths, namely that the biggest beneficiaries of tax cuts and Reaganite economic policy in general, which most conservatives enthusiastically promoted for four decades, are the selfsame decadent coastal elites they claim to oppose. It is they who more than anyone else thrive on financialized globalization, arbitrage and offshoring.

    In other words, it amounts to an honest recognition of the complicity of conservatism in the mess we're in, which is perhaps a psychological bridge too far for too many on the right, reformist or not. (Trigger Warning!) This separation of culture and economics has led to the farce of a self-styled nationalist president lining the pockets of his nominal enemies, the globalist ruling class.

    Already, the White House is proposing yet another gigantic corporate tax cut. Using the exact same discredited logic as the last one, senior economic advisor Larry Kudlow wants Americans to trust him when he says that halving the already lowered 2017 rate to 10.5 percent will encourage these eminently reasonable multinationals to reinvest. There he goes again.

    A conservative call to tax the rich would signal that the right is ready to end this charade and chart a course toward a more patriotic, public-spirited and yes, proudly hyphenated capitalism.

    Michael Cuenco is a writer on politics and policy. He has also written for American Affairs.


    Kent 3 days ago

    "America need not revert to the 70-90 percent top marginal rates of the bolshevik administrations of Truman, Eisenhower or Kennedy, but proposals for modest moves in that direction would be welcome."

    Those tax rates were offset by direct investment in the US economy. So if I invested in the stock market, I'd get a 90% tax rate because that doesn't produce actual wealth. On the other hand, if I invested in building factories that created thousands of jobs for American citizens, my tax rate may fall to 0%. And those policies created a fantastic economy that we oldsters remember as the golden age. That wasn't bolshevism, it was competitive capitalism. What we have today is libertarianism. And as long as conservatives are going to let the libertarian boogey-man's nose under the tent, we are going to have this ugly, bifurcated economy. Your choice. Man up.

    Winston Nevis Kent 3 days ago • edited
    You ever tell hear of sarcasm, bud? I think that's what the author was going for. Don't think he was trying to say that Ike and Truman were Bolsheviks but was rather making fun of libertarians who hyperbolically associate high tax rates with socialism and Soviet Communism...
    K squared Winston Nevis 3 days ago
    Plenty of goldwater's supporters in 1964 called President Eisenhower a communist
    GAguilar K squared 2 days ago
    Particularly the John Birchers, including my parents!
    SKPeterson Kent 3 days ago • edited
    We absolutely do not have libertarianism operating in this country today. There is simply no evidence that there is any sort of libertarian economic or political system in place. Oh sure, you'll whine "but globalism without actually defining what globalism is, or what is wrong about precisely, but just that it's somehow wrong and that libertarians are to blame for it. There's a good word for such an argument: bullshit.
    We have an economy that is extraordinarily dominated by the state via mandates, regulations, and monetary interference that is most decidedly not libertarian in any way whatsoever. The current system though does create and perpetuate a system of rent-seeking cronies who conform rather nicely to the descriptions of said actors by Buchanan and Tullock. The problems of the modern economy are the result of state interference, not its absence, and Cuenco's sorry policy prescriptions do nothing to minimize the state but instead just create a different set of rent-seeking cronies for which the wealth and incomes of the nation are to be expropriated.
    marku52 SKPeterson 3 days ago
    O dear, No True Scotsman....
    SKPeterson marku52 2 days ago
    If you can point to how the current situation is in any way "libertarian" without creating your own perfect little lazy straw man definition then by all means do so. Until then your retort is without
    substance (you see a no true Scotsman reply doesn't work if the facts are in the favor of the person supposedly making such an argument. Here you fail to establish why what I said is such a case; saying it doesn't make it so). When Kent makes some throwaway comment that we're somehow living in some sort of libertarian era he's full of it, you know it, and all you can do is provide some weak "no true Scotsman" defense? Come on and man up, stop appealing to artificial complaints of fallacious argumentation, and give me an actual solid argument with evidence beyond "this is so libertarian" that we're living in some libertarian golden age that's driving the oppression of the masses.
    cka2nd SKPeterson 3 days ago
    Busted unions, contracting out and privatization, deregulation of vast swaths of the economy since the late 1970's (Jimmy Carter has gotten kudos from libertarian writers for his de-regulatory efforts), lowered tax rates, especially on financial speculation and concentrated wealth, a blind eye or shrugged shoulder to anti-trust law and corporate consolidation. Yeah, nothing to see here, no partial victories for the libertarian wings of the ruling class or the GOP, at all. The Koch Brothers accomplished nothing, absolutely nothing, since David was the Libertarian Party's nominee for Vice President in 1980; all that money gone to waste. Sure.
    SKPeterson cka2nd 2 days ago
    So, now some sort of "partial victory" means we're living in some sort of libertarian era? And what exactly was so wonderful about all the things you listed being perpetuated? So, union "busting" is terrible, but union corruption was a great part of our national solidarity and should have been protected? Deregulation of vast swathes of the economy? You mean the elimination of government controlled cartels in the form of trucking and airlines? You mean the sorts of things that have enabled the working class folks you supposedly favor to travel to places that were previously out of reach for them and only accessible to the rich for their vacations? Yes, that's truly terrible. Again, you're on the side of the little guy, right? Lowered taxes? Are you seriously going to argue that the traditional conservative position has been for high tax rates? What are taxes placed upon? People and property. What do conservatives want to protect? People and property. So... arguing for higher taxes or saying that low taxes are bad or even especially, libertarian, is really going off the rails. That's just bad reasoning. And regarding financialization, those weren't especially libertarian in their enacting, but rather flow directly out of the consequences of the modern Progressive implementation of neo-Keynesian monetary and fiscal policy. Suffice it to say, I don't think you'll find too many arguments from libertarians that the policies encouraging financialization were good or followed libertarian economic policy prescriptions. Moreover, they led entirely to the repulsive "too big to fail" situation and if there's one thing that libertarians hold to is that there is no such thing (or shouldn't be) as "too big to fail." The objection to anti-trust law is that it was regularly abused and actually created government-protected firms that harmed consumers. If you think anti-trust laws are good things and should be supported by conservatives then by all means encourage Joe Biden to have Elizabeth Warren as his vice-presidential running mate and go vote Democrat this fall.
    Blood Alcohol SKPeterson 3 days ago
    "The problems of the modern economy are the result of state interference, not its absence". That's because the "state interference" is working as proxy for the interests of vulture capitalist.

    What we have today is vulture capitalism as opposed to free enterprise capitalism.

    DUNK Blood Alcohol 2 days ago • edited
    You could also call it "crony capitalism" or "inverted totalitarianism".

    Chris Hedges: "Sheldon Wolin and Inverted Totalitarianism" (November 2, 2015)

    GAguilar DUNK 2 days ago
    Princeton professor Sheldon Wolin's excellent book is entitled, "Democracy Incorporated."

    He lays out how we're living in a totalitarian, capitalist surveillance state, as if that's not already obvious to most people around here.

    SKPeterson Blood Alcohol 2 days ago
    Exactly. The existence of a vulture capitalist or crony capitalist economy, which we have in many sectors, is evidence that "libertarianism" is nothing more than a convenient totem to invoke as a rationale for complaint against the outcomes of the existing crony capitalist state of affairs. My contention is that Cuenco, et al are simply advocating for a replacement of the cronies and vultures.
    1701 3 days ago
    A very similar article(but probably coming at it from a slightly different angle) wouldn't look out of place in a socialist publication.
    The culture war really is a pointless waste of time that keeps working class people from working towards a common solution to shared problems.
    bumbershoot 3 days ago
    Trump wants to "keep the supply of cheap, exploitable low-skill labor (legal and illegal) intact for the business lobby."

    Well of course he does -- otherwise how would he staff Mar-A-Lago and other Trump Organization businesses?

    SKPeterson 3 days ago
    I used to think that conservatism was about protecting private property and not, like Cuenco, in coming up with ever more excuses for expropriating it.
    Kent SKPeterson 3 days ago
    No, that's libertarianism (or more properly propertarianism). Conservatism is first and foremost about responsibility to God, community, family and self. Property is only of value in its utility towards a means.
    GAguilar Kent 2 days ago • edited
    As I see it, here are examples of how "conservatives" have actually practiced their "responsibility to God, community, family and self":

    The genocide of Native Americans
    The slavery and murder of blacks

    Their opposition to child labor laws, to womens' suffrage, etc.
    Their support of Jim Crow laws
    Their opposition to ending slavery and opposition to desegregation
    Opposition to Civil Liberties Laws

    Willingness to block, or curtail, voting rights.

    Hyping the "imminent threat" of an ever more powerful communist menace bearing
    down on us from the late 40s to the "unanticipated" collapse of the
    USSR in '91. All of which was little more than endless "threat inflation" used
    by our defense industry-corporate kleptocrats to justify monstrous increases
    in deficits that have been "invested" in our meddlesome, murderous militarism all around the world, with the torture and deaths of millions from S. E. Asia, to Indonesia, to Latin America, to the Middle East, to Africa, etc.

    Violations of privacy rights (conservative hero J. Edgar Hoover's illegal domestic surveillance and acts of domestic terrorism, "justified" by
    his loopy paranoia about commies on every corner and under every bed.)

    Toppling of democracies to install totalitarian despots in Iran
    ("Ike" '53), Guatemala (Ike, again, '54), Chile (Nixon '73), Brazil (LBJ, '64) and many, many more countries.

    Strong support of the Vietnam War, the wars in Laos and Cambodia, and the Iraq War, which, according to conservative W. Bush, God had inspired.

    The myriad "dirty wars" we've fought around the world, and not only in Latin America.

    With a few, notable exceptions, conservatives have routinely been on the wrong side of these issues. For the most part, it has been the left, particularly the "hard left," that has gotten it right.

    AdmBenson SKPeterson 2 days ago
    "conservatism was about protecting private property"

    You're conflating conservatism and libertarianism. Conservatives realize they are citizens of a country. Libertarians wish they weren't.

    SKPeterson AdmBenson 2 days ago
    So conservatism should be entirely about taking people's property "for the good of the country"? That the purpose of a country is to loot the people? That the people exist for the government and not the government for the people? Seems Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk would like to have a word with you Adm.

    To quote Kirk as just one example of your fundamental error:

    Seventh, conservatives are persuaded that freedom and property are closely linked . [Apparently, Adm. you dispute Kirk's assertion and accuse him thereby of conflating libertarianism and conservatism. Yes, I know Kirk was a hater of the idea of patriotism, but he was such a raging libertarian what else could he do?] Separate property from private possession, and Leviathan becomes master of all. Upon the foundation of private property, great civilizations are built. The more widespread is the possession of private property, the more stable and productive is a commonwealth. Economic levelling [this is the outcome of Cuenco's policy prescriptions by the way] , conservatives maintain, is not economic progress. Getting and spending are not the chief aims of human existence; but a sound economic basis for the person, the family, and the commonwealth is much to be desired.

    So, either "Mr. Conservative" Russell Kirk wasn't really a conservative but a man who horribly conflated libertarianism and conservatism, or we can say that Kirk was a conservative and that he recognized the protection of private property as crucial in minimizing the control and reach of the Leviathan state. If the latter holds, then maybe what we've established is that AdmBenson isn't particularly conservative.

    Winston Nevis SKPeterson 2 days ago • edited
    "The more widespread is the possession of private property, the more stable and productive is a commonwealth." This status quo has produced precisely the opposite of this. Wealth, assets, capital has been captured by the elite. The pitchforks are coming. See this CBO chart: View Hide
    AdmBenson SKPeterson 2 days ago
    Conservatives accept taxes as a part of citizenship. Since taxes can't be avoided, a conservative insists on democratic representation and has a general desire to get maximum bang for their taxpayer buck.

    Libertarians, on the other hand, see everything through the lens of an individual's property rights. Taxes and regulation are infringements on those rights, so a libertarian is always at war with their own government. They're not interested in bang for their taxpayer buck, they just want the government to go away. I can't fault people for believing this way, but I can point out that it is severely faulty as the operating philosophy beyond anything but a small community.

    As for me not being particularly conservative, ya got me. It really depends on time of day and the level of sunspot activity.

    SKPeterson AdmBenson 2 days ago
    Sunspots, eh? And here I thought it was your reliance on tinfoil.
    AdmBenson SKPeterson 2 days ago
    The tinfoil and the mask were scaring people. The tinfoil had to go, but that's had side effects.
    SKPeterson AdmBenson 2 days ago
    I should have put the /s on my reply, but your response did give me a good chuckle. Besides, for that finger pointing at you, there were three more pointing back at me.
    JMWB 3 days ago
    And somehow people continually fall for the Trickle Down economic theory. George HW Bush was correct when he called this VooDoo economics. Fiscal irresponsibility at it's finest.
    Victor_the_thinker JMWB 3 days ago
    Nah people don't fall for it, republicans do. The rest of us know this stuff doesn't work. We didn't need an additional datapoint to realize that. The Tax Cuts and Jobs act was the single most unpopular piece of legislation to ever pass since polling began. It never had support outside of the Republican Party which is why it's never had majority support.

    https://news.gallup.com/pol...

    Blood Alcohol JMWB 3 days ago
    John Kenneth Galbraith called Trickle Down "economics", "Oats and Horse Economics". If you feed the horse a lot of oats, eventually some be left on the road...
    Nelson 3 days ago
    The leader of Republicans isn't Trump. It's Mitch McConnell.
    J Villain Nelson 3 days ago
    Mitch is fully owned by Trump as is every republican that holds office except Romney. Mitch can't go to the bathroom with out asking Trumps permission.
    Nelson J Villain 3 days ago
    Mitch is owned by corporations and he likes it that way. He basically says as much whenever campaign finance reform pops up and he defends the status quo.
    aha! Nelson 2 hours ago
    Yep. The guy who declared war on the Tea Party. The guy who changed his tune entirely about China when he married into the family of a shipping magnate.
    SeekingTruth 3 days ago
    I'm eagerly awaiting a GOP plan for economic restructuring. I've been waiting for decade(s). Surely there is someone in the entire body of think tanks, congressional staffers, and political class that can propose a genuine and comprehensive plan for how to rebalance production, education, and technology for the better of ALL Americans. Surely...
    Tradcon SeekingTruth 3 days ago
    American Affairs (the policy journal this author writes for) and The American Compass are both very good.
    cka2nd SeekingTruth 3 days ago
    I honestly wonder if Jack Kemp might have had a "Road to Damascus" conversion away from his pseudo-libertarian and supply side economic convictions if he had lived through the decade after the Great Recession. Probably not, given his political and economic activity up until his death.
    Barry_II 3 days ago
    "They also left worker wages stagnant and increased the deficit. Where is our more nationalist economic policy?"

    In your dreams, just like those many large projects which Trump drove into bankruptcy.

    Right alongside the money owed to the many people he's stiffed.

    Name 3 days ago
    So after 30 years or more of " globalism" , the GOP is adopting Bernie Sanderism?
    Johnny Larue Name 3 days ago
    Uh, no.
    Name Johnny Larue 2 days ago
    Uh, it seems so. Did you even read?
    TheSnark 3 days ago • edited
    Trump pushed the tax cut because it saves him at least $20 million each year in taxes, probably closer to $50 million. That's the only reason he does anything, because he benefits personally.
    kouroi 3 days ago
    Thank you very much for posting the link to the wonderful essay by Mike Lofgren. Written 8 years ago it feels even more actual than then. I have bookmarked it for future reference.

    Looking at the US it always comes to my mind the way Rome and then Byzantium fell: a total erosion of the tax-base the rich refused to pay anything to the imperial coffers, and then some of the rich had land bigger than some modern countries... And then the barbarians came...

    Kent kouroi 3 days ago
    And, by then, the population welcomed the barbarians.
    kouroi Kent 3 days ago
    Likely true, with some exceptions... The Huns - and on that one I keep wondering if there isn't a whiff of "Yellow Peril" smell in all that outcry...
    Ray Woodcock kouroi 2 days ago • edited
    Lofgren: "What I mean by secession is a withdrawal into enclaves, an internal immigration, whereby the rich disconnect themselves from the civic life of the nation and from any concern about its well being except as a place to extract loot."

    That was in 2012, but that was what struck me about my well-to-do classmates when I transferred from Cal State Long Beach to Columbia University in 1977 . Suddenly I was among people who saw America, American laws, and a shared sense of civic responsibility as quaint, bothersome, rather tangential to the project of promoting oneself and/or one's special interest.

    kouroi Ray Woodcock 2 days ago
    Cold, eh mate? Reptiles, lizards...?
    Adriana Pena 3 days ago
    Did you ever hope that Trump would do what you wanted? You are adorable
    sam 3 days ago
    The only way that factories would come back is when Americans start buying made in America. We can't wait for ANY government to bring those factories and jobs ( and technology) . Only people voting with their pocketbooks can do it.
    J Villain 3 days ago
    Still waiting for the day the first American asks "What have WE done wrong?" Rather than just following in Trumps step and playing the victim card every step of the way and wondering why nothing gets better.
    Blood Alcohol J Villain 3 days ago
    nuffsaid. The blood is on everyone's hands.

    [May 28, 2020] US Lawmakers Propose Total Ban On STEM Visas For Chinese Students

    May 28, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

    US Lawmakers Propose Total Ban On STEM Visas For Chinese Students by Tyler Durden Thu, 05/28/2020 - 10:45 As the White House prepares to eject Chinese graduate students with ties to the PLA, three US lawmakers are taking things a step further - proposing a bill which would ban mainland Chinese students from studying STEM subjects in the United States .

    Chinese and other international students wave flags at 2018 Columbia University commencement ceremony.

    Two senators and one House member said on Wednesday that the Secure Campus Act would bar Chinese nationals from obtaining visas for graduate or postgraduate studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Students from Taiwan and Hong Kong would be exempt , according to SCMP .

    "The Chinese Communist Party has long used American universities to conduct espionage on the United States," said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK), one of the bill's sponsors, adding "What's worse is that their efforts exploit gaps in current law. It's time for that to end."

    "The Secure Campus Act will protect our national security and maintain the integrity of the American research enterprise."

    The proposed legislation comes as diplomatic relations have fractured between the world's two largest economies. The fissures started to show during a trade war that has been rumbling on for almost two years and have only widened amid accusations about the handling of the Covid-19 disease outbreak , and the treatment of ethnic minority groups in China.

    Hong Kong is the latest flashpoint after Beijing drew up a national security law that Washington says tramples on the city's mini-constitution. The US threatened retaliation over the move. -SCMP

    The bill will also tackle China's efforts to recruit talent overseas through their Thousand Talents Program , an operation launched in 2008 by the CCP which seeks out international experts in scientific research, innovation and entrepreneurship. It proposes that participants in China's recruitment of foreigners be made to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) , and would prohibit Chinese nationals and those participating in China-sponsored programs from receiving federal grants or working on federally funded R&D in STEM fields .

    Any university, research institute or laboratory receiving federal funding would be required to attest that they are not knowingly employing participants in China's recruitment programs - a list of which the US Secretary of State would publish.

    US law enforcement and educational agencies have raised red flags about undisclosed ties between federally funded researchers and foreign governments. A crackdown has included indictments and dismissals.

    In January, Charles Lieber, 60, chairman of the chemistry and chemical biology department at Harvard University, was arrested and charged for lying about his involvement in the Thousand Talents Programme . -SCMP

    Meanwhile, earlier this month a professor at the University of Arkansas who received millions of dollars in research grants, including $500,000 from NASA, was arrested and charged with one count of wire fraud.

    According to the FBI, Ang failed to disclose that he was getting paid by a Chinese university and Chinese companies in violation of university policy. He is accused of making false statements while failing to disclose his extensive ties to China as a member of the "Thousand Talents Scholars" program.

    63-year-old Simon Saw-Teong Ang is the director of the school's High Density Electronics Center, which received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Defense (DOD) and NASA. Since 2013, Ang has been the primary investigator or co-investigator on US government-funded grants totaling over $5 million, according to the Washington Examiner .

    In November, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations chaired by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) released a 109-page bipartisan report which concluded that foreign nations "seek to exploit America's openness to advance their own national interests," the most ambitious of which "has been China," according to the Examiner . According to the report, Chinese academics involved in their so-called 'Thousand Talents' program have been exploiting access to US research labs .

    Backlash

    According to SCMP , members of the US scientific community see the US as unfairly targeting Chinese colleagues , and that the campaigns will discourage talented individuals from pursuing studies at US universities.

    "While we must be vigilant to safeguard research, we must also ensure that the US remains a desirable and welcoming destination for researchers from around the world," wrote members of 60 groups - including the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Federation of American Scientists, in a 2019 letter to science policy officials.

    The US lawmakers' proposal follows China's March decision to revoke the press credentials for US journalists from three major US newspapers - declaring five US media outlets to be foreign government proxies. In February, the Trump administration labeled five Chinese state media groups as "foreign missions" (via SCMP ).

    [May 27, 2020] Life in Hell: Online Teaching by Paul Street

    Online lectures generally require more work from the instructor, but if good written notes are created this is not that bad as described
    May 27, 2020 | www.counterpunch.org
    I had long heard rumors from academicians about how "online teaching is a nightmare," "online teaching ruined my life," "online teaching sucked the brains out of my head," "online teaching is a new and insidious form of labor degradation," and the like.

    I foolishly tended to write these complaints off as hyperbole, saying "it can't be that bad."

    No more. I get it now. The COVID-19 era, which turned my formerly in-person adjunct class into an online course, has been instructive.

    If anything, by my experience, online teaching is worse than anything I had heard or read. It has been a nightmare.

    Online teaching the first time through became a health menace for me this spring. It has been lethal, both mentally and physically, to have been hit with a massive requirement of extra, unpaid online labor, requiring energy I didn't have for hours and hours of typing, typing, typing, into a computer screen and calling, calling, and calling tech people and internet providers and computer companies on the phone.

    Unpaid and extra new online tasks and madness? Oh, indeed :

    ... ... ...

    # Hours writing comments on papers via Track Changes. (Yes, grading papers is part of the job, but the online method of doing this has been a big time-adder for me. Track Changes is new to me as an editor [though not as a writer] and [for me at least] far more time-consuming than marking and writing with a red pen. It also gave me an intimate new look at how shockingly awful many students' writing skills are, something that has added considerably to the amount of time I have spent doing comments.)

    # Hours and hours spent trying to somehow make Zoom work via XXX.edu (this after my wife and numerous friends told me that private Zoom was "super-hack-able").

    # Hours spent filming Panopto video lectures that were erased until I got the hang of the idiosyncratic process (this had me nearly in tears during the second week).

    # Hours spent trying to edit a couple of Panopto videos that had been marred by household and neighborhood noise and interruptions.

    # Hours spent taking my computer down to sit outside the (closed) University of Iowa library in effort to hijack its powerful Wi-Fi to upload videos after Zoom (seemed to have) crashed my upload capacity (exactly why that crash occurred in Week 6 is still a mystery).

    # Hours spent trying to explain to students how D2L works (as if I really knew).

    Especially taxing have been he hours I've spent emailing with students like X1, who was angry over the creation of Facebook group for the class and who told me (no joke) that I have no right to comment on his failure to copy-edit his paper because he found a typo in one of my many group emails.

    Another good soul-crushing online time-suck was student X2, who handed in a paper brazenly stolen from an online Website (with a few small word changes). He denied his plagiarism and then confessed by saying that "I frankly think that writing papers is a waste of time ."

    (I would have reported X2, but I decided not to since I could not stomach yet more time typing, typing, typing into a computer screen, as would have been required if I'd gone to Academic Integrity.)

    It gets worse. I have also now spent hours and hours responding to false charges lodged against me online (how else?) by (an) unnamed student(s) and sadly taken seriously by a university dean. One such charge claims that I am "unreachable." That is nonsense: I have made my XXX.edu email and two of my private emails fully available to all students. I check each one of these email accounts twice daily.

    Another bogus charge claims that I gave a bad and punishing grade to a student's online comment because I disagreed with it. That is sheer nonsense. Online comments have no "grade" in my class. And I have explained again and again to students (and I reiterated my explanation quite clearly in the instance in question) that there is no grading penalty for disagreeing with me or any of my assigned authors – and no grading boost for agreeing with me or my assigned authors. I merely require that students show some meaningful engagement with my arguments and those of my assigned authors.

    Another false complaint relayed to me and taken seriously by a dean claims that I told students that they "all write like fifth graders." Nope: I said I would no longer read papers handed in without students having first done an elementary copy-edit. I sent a few papers back to students, asking them to use the editing function in Word and suggesting that they read their first drafts aloud to themselves. I recommended the university's first-rate Writing Center as a student resource and I added a few specific comments on things like punctuation and paragraph breaks.

    I had to explain all this in a long email to the academic authorities, who took the charges seriously because the Dean of Students took them seriously. In a recent email, I asked if any student or the dean had provided any actual evidence for their charges. The response: crickets.

    There is no extra pay for the time spent responding to absurd charges, just as there is no extra pay for the endless hours I've spent trying to work with the instructional technology, the tech staff, computer and printer companies, and so on .

    Online teaching for me has been a bad dream, even more base and cruel than what I had heard. I would only wish it on my very worst enemies .

    Three things have made it especially horrific in my experience this spring:

    (1) The inherent awfulness of online teaching has been significantly exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis, which has made coordination exceedingly difficult and has all kinds of collateral consequences.

    (2) I already spend a lot of time on a computer due to my ongoing writing career. The last thing a writer wants is another job that involves hours and hours and hours of typing, typing, typing into a computer screen. Give me a janitorial position before that!

    (3) As a teacher I am employed as an adjunct, paid per course, not by the hour. Prior to the online transition, the hourly rate was decent. With the extra work involved in Covid-era online instruction, it is more like sweatshop labor. By my best guess, the labor time has at the very least doubled (it may have tripled in my case). Along the way, the work requirements have interfered with the other paid work I do, which now earns at a higher hourly rate (it did not before).

    As Daniel Falcone writes, paraphrasing the political scientist Stephen Zunes, "the work has doubled and the rewards have been diminished." And, I would respectfully add, the harassment and abuse have escalated.

    I've been searching through my long employment record trying to recall a worse occupational experience: my second job ever, as an 18-year-old dishwasher in a diner (Augie's) on Chicago's North Clark St. The dishes and silverware and plates piled up endlessly, far beyond my capacity to load and wash them. Every ten minutes or so, the restaurant's Greek owner would come back and yell at me. This went on for weeks until one Friday night, when it was especially bad, I just put my coat on and walked out the back door into a black alley and never returned. I sacrificed two week's pay and it was worth it.

    Walking out of an online curse (I am going to leave that typo – this course is a curse ) is not an option: students are depending on a grade for this quarter and their folks have paid (absurdly) big tuition, so I will stick it out.

    Thank God it is almost over – the nightmare ends in two weeks and I have some serious and relevant intellectual and political work to do full time when it does. We are living and dying, after all, under a new American and global neo-fascism in a period of dire capitalogenic epidemiological, ecological, and economic crisis. This no freaking time to be spending hours online and on the phone trying to make yet another idiosyncratic XXX.edu program work, trying to rally alienated students who have other priorities, and arguing with people who think it is authoritarian bullying to want college-level students to edit their papers and write complete sentences that end with a period instead of a comma.

    [May 26, 2020] 6 ways a drop in international students could set back US higher education by David L. Di Maria

    May 26, 2020 | theconversation.com

    Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, fewer and fewer international students were coming to study in the United States.

    While the number of international students who newly enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities during the 2015-2016 school year stood at more than 300,000 , by the 2018-2019 school year, that number had fallen by about 10% to less than 270,000.

    This trend will undoubtedly accelerate in the fall of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The American Council on Education predicts that overall international enrollment for the next academic year will decline by as much as 25% . That means there could be 220,000 fewer international students in the U.S. than the approximately 870,000 there are now.

    One reason is that the U.S. has more COVID-19 cases than any other country . Other reasons include disapproval among international students regarding the U.S. response to COVID-19 compared to other nations, the ongoing suspension of the processing of U.S. visas and negative perceptions of the Trump administration's immigration policies and rhetoric .

    As an international education professional, I foresee six major ways that the expected steep decline in international enrollment will change U.S. higher education and the economy.

    1. Higher tuition

    International students often pay full tuition , which averages more than US$26,000 per year at public four-year institutions and $36,000 at private nonprofit four-year institutions. That matters because the tuition from foreign students provides extra funds to subsidize the costs of enrolling more students from the U.S. At public colleges and universities, the revenue generated from international enrollment also helps to make up for cuts in state funding for higher education.

    One study found that for every 10% drop in state funding for higher education, international enrollment increased by 12-17% at public research universities from 1996 to 2012.

    According to the Institute of International Education's 2019 Open Doors Report , 872,214 international students are enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities.

    As states cut budgets due to the loss of tax revenue brought on by the economic crisis caused by COVID-19, many institutions of higher education will be forced to raise tuition . While this may help college and university finances in the short term, in the long term it will make it more difficult for international students to be able to afford to study in the U.S., which in turn will make the U.S. a less attractive study destination.

    ... ... ...

    Associate Vice Provost for International Education, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

    [May 23, 2020] Neoliberalism promised freedom instead it delivers stifling control by George Monbiot

    Highly recommended!
    From comments: " neoliberalism to be a techno-economic order of control, requiring a state apparatus to enforce wholly artificial directives. Also, the work of recent critics of data markets such as Shoshana Zuboff has shown capitalism to be evolving into a totalitarian system of control through cybernetic data aggregation."
    "... By rolling back the state, neoliberalism was supposed to have allowed autonomy and creativity to flourish. Instead, it has delivered a semi-privatised authoritarianism more oppressive than the system it replaced. ..."
    "... Workers find themselves enmeshed in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy , centrally controlled and micromanaged. Organisations that depend on a cooperative ethic – such as schools and hospitals – are stripped down, hectored and forced to conform to suffocating diktats. The introduction of private capital into public services – that would herald a glorious new age of choice and openness – is brutally enforced. The doctrine promises diversity and freedom but demands conformity and silence. ..."
    "... Their problem is that neoliberal theology, as well as seeking to roll back the state, insists that collective bargaining and other forms of worker power be eliminated (in the name of freedom, of course). So the marketisation and semi-privatisation of public services became not so much a means of pursuing efficiency as an instrument of control. ..."
    "... Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd. The bureaucratic quantification of public administration goes far beyond an attempt at discerning efficacy. It has become an end in itself. ..."
    Notable quotes:
    "... By rolling back the state, neoliberalism was supposed to have allowed autonomy and creativity to flourish. Instead, it has delivered a semi-privatised authoritarianism more oppressive than the system it replaced. ..."
    "... Workers find themselves enmeshed in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy , centrally controlled and micromanaged. Organisations that depend on a cooperative ethic – such as schools and hospitals – are stripped down, hectored and forced to conform to suffocating diktats. The introduction of private capital into public services – that would herald a glorious new age of choice and openness – is brutally enforced. The doctrine promises diversity and freedom but demands conformity and silence. ..."
    "... Their problem is that neoliberal theology, as well as seeking to roll back the state, insists that collective bargaining and other forms of worker power be eliminated (in the name of freedom, of course). So the marketisation and semi-privatisation of public services became not so much a means of pursuing efficiency as an instrument of control. ..."
    "... Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd. The bureaucratic quantification of public administration goes far beyond an attempt at discerning efficacy. It has become an end in itself. ..."
    "... The other point to be made is that the return of fundamentalist nationalism is arguably a radicalized form of neoliberalism. ..."
    "... Therefore, neoliberal hegemony can only be perpetuated with authoritarian, nationalist ideologies and an order of market feudalism. In other words, neoliberalism's authoritarian orientations, previously effaced beneath discourses of egalitarian free-enterprise, become overt. ..."
    "... The market is no longer an enabler of private enterprise, but something more like a medieval religion, conferring ultimate authority on a demagogue. Individual entrepreneurs collectivise into a 'people' serving a market which has become synonymous with nationhood. ..."
    Apr 10, 2019 | www.theguardian.com

    Thousands of people march through London to protest against underfunding and privatisation of the NHS. Photograph: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Images M y life was saved last year by the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, through a skilful procedure to remove a cancer from my body . Now I will need another operation, to remove my jaw from the floor. I've just learned what was happening at the hospital while I was being treated. On the surface, it ran smoothly. Underneath, unknown to me, was fury and tumult. Many of the staff had objected to a decision by the National Health Service to privatise the hospital's cancer scanning . They complained that the scanners the private company was offering were less sensitive than the hospital's own machines. Privatisation, they said, would put patients at risk. In response, as the Guardian revealed last week , NHS England threatened to sue the hospital for libel if its staff continued to criticise the decision.

    The dominant system of political thought in this country, which produced both the creeping privatisation of public health services and this astonishing attempt to stifle free speech, promised to save us from dehumanising bureaucracy. By rolling back the state, neoliberalism was supposed to have allowed autonomy and creativity to flourish. Instead, it has delivered a semi-privatised authoritarianism more oppressive than the system it replaced.

    Workers find themselves enmeshed in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy , centrally controlled and micromanaged. Organisations that depend on a cooperative ethic – such as schools and hospitals – are stripped down, hectored and forced to conform to suffocating diktats. The introduction of private capital into public services – that would herald a glorious new age of choice and openness – is brutally enforced. The doctrine promises diversity and freedom but demands conformity and silence.

    Much of the theory behind these transformations arises from the work of Ludwig von Mises. In his book Bureaucracy , published in 1944, he argued that there could be no accommodation between capitalism and socialism. The creation of the National Health Service in the UK, the New Deal in the US and other experiments in social democracy would lead inexorably to the bureaucratic totalitarianism of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

    He recognised that some state bureaucracy was inevitable; there were certain functions that could not be discharged without it. But unless the role of the state is minimised – confined to defence, security, taxation, customs and not much else – workers would be reduced to cogs "in a vast bureaucratic machine", deprived of initiative and free will.

    By contrast, those who labour within an "unhampered capitalist system" are "free men", whose liberty is guaranteed by "an economic democracy in which every penny gives a right to vote". He forgot to add that some people, in his capitalist utopia, have more votes than others. And those votes become a source of power.

    His ideas, alongside the writings of Friedrich Hayek , Milton Friedman and other neoliberal thinkers, have been applied in this country by Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron, Theresa May and, to an alarming extent, Tony Blair. All of those have attempted to privatise or marketise public services in the name of freedom and efficiency, but they keep hitting the same snag: democracy. People want essential services to remain public, and they are right to do so.

    If you hand public services to private companies, either you create a private monopoly, which can use its dominance to extract wealth and shape the system to serve its own needs – or you introduce competition, creating an incoherent, fragmented service characterised by the institutional failure you can see every day on our railways. We're not idiots, even if we are treated as such. We know what the profit motive does to public services.

    So successive governments decided that if they could not privatise our core services outright, they would subject them to "market discipline". Von Mises repeatedly warned against this approach. "No reform could transform a public office into a sort of private enterprise," he cautioned. The value of public administration "cannot be expressed in terms of money". "Government efficiency and industrial efficiency are entirely different things."

    "Intellectual work cannot be measured and valued by mechanical devices." "You cannot 'measure' a doctor according to the time he employs in examining one case." They ignored his warnings.

    Their problem is that neoliberal theology, as well as seeking to roll back the state, insists that collective bargaining and other forms of worker power be eliminated (in the name of freedom, of course). So the marketisation and semi-privatisation of public services became not so much a means of pursuing efficiency as an instrument of control.

    Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd. The bureaucratic quantification of public administration goes far beyond an attempt at discerning efficacy. It has become an end in itself.

    Its perversities afflict all public services. Schools teach to the test , depriving children of a rounded and useful education. Hospitals manipulate waiting times, shuffling patients from one list to another. Police forces ignore some crimes, reclassify others, and persuade suspects to admit to extra offences to improve their statistics . Universities urge their researchers to write quick and superficial papers , instead of deep monographs, to maximise their scores under the research excellence framework.

    As a result, public services become highly inefficient for an obvious reason: the destruction of staff morale. Skilled people, including surgeons whose training costs hundreds of thousands of pounds, resign or retire early because of the stress and misery the system causes. The leakage of talent is a far greater waste than any inefficiencies this quantomania claims to address.

    New extremes in the surveillance and control of workers are not, of course, confined to the public sector. Amazon has patented a wristband that can track workers' movements and detect the slightest deviation from protocol. Technologies are used to monitor peoples' keystrokes, language, moods and tone of voice. Some companies have begun to experiment with the micro-chipping of their staff . As the philosopher Byung-Chul Han points out , neoliberal work practices, epitomised by the gig economy, that reclassifies workers as independent contractors, internalise exploitation. "Everyone is a self-exploiting worker in their own enterprise."

    The freedom we were promised turns out to be freedom for capital , gained at the expense of human liberty. The system neoliberalism has created is a bureaucracy that tends towards absolutism, produced in the public services by managers mimicking corporate executives, imposing inappropriate and self-defeating efficiency measures, and in the private sector by subjection to faceless technologies that can brook no argument or complaint.

    Attempts to resist are met by ever more extreme methods, such as the threatened lawsuit at the Churchill Hospital. Such instruments of control crush autonomy and creativity. It is true that the Soviet bureaucracy von Mises rightly denounced reduced its workers to subjugated drones. But the system his disciples have created is heading the same way.

    George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist


    Pinkie123 , 12 Apr 2019 03:23

    The other point to be made is that the return of fundamentalist nationalism is arguably a radicalized form of neoliberalism. If 'free markets' of enterprising individuals have been tested to destruction, then capitalism is unable to articulate an ideology with which to legitimise itself.

    Therefore, neoliberal hegemony can only be perpetuated with authoritarian, nationalist ideologies and an order of market feudalism. In other words, neoliberalism's authoritarian orientations, previously effaced beneath discourses of egalitarian free-enterprise, become overt.

    The market is no longer an enabler of private enterprise, but something more like a medieval religion, conferring ultimate authority on a demagogue. Individual entrepreneurs collectivise into a 'people' serving a market which has become synonymous with nationhood.

    A corporate state emerges, free of the regulatory fetters of democracy. The final restriction on the market - democracy itself - is removed. There then is no separate market and state, just a totalitarian market state.

    glisson , 12 Apr 2019 00:10
    This is the best piece of writing on neoliberalism I have ever seen. Look, 'what is in general good and probably most importantly what is in the future good'. Why are we collectively not viewing everything that way? Surely those thoughts should drive us all?
    economicalternative -> Pinkie123 , 11 Apr 2019 21:33
    Pinkie123: So good to read your understandings of neoliberalism. The political project is the imposition of the all seeing all knowing 'market' on all aspects of human life. This version of the market is an 'information processor'. Speaking of the different idea of the laissez-faire version of market/non market areas and the function of the night watchman state are you aware there are different neoliberalisms? The EU for example runs on the version called 'ordoliberalism'. I understand that this still sees some areas of society as separate from 'the market'?
    economicalternative -> ADamnSmith2016 , 11 Apr 2019 21:01
    ADamnSmith: Philip Mirowski has discussed this 'under the radar' aspect of neoliberalism. How to impose 'the market' on human affairs - best not to be to explicit about what you are doing. Only recently has some knowledge about the actual neoliberal project been appearing. Most people think of neoliberalism as 'making the rich richer' - just a ramped up version of capitalism. That's how the left has thought of it and they have been ineffective in stopping its implementation.
    economicalternative , 11 Apr 2019 20:42
    Finally. A writer who can talk about neoliberalism as NOT being a retro version of classical laissez faire liberalism. It is about imposing "The Market" as the sole arbiter of Truth on us all.
    Only the 'Market' knows what is true in life - no need for 'democracy' or 'education'. Neoliberals believe - unlike classical liberals with their view of people as rational individuals acting in their own self-interest - people are inherently 'unreliable', stupid. Only entrepreneurs - those close to the market - can know 'the truth' about anything. To succeed we all need to take our cues in life from what the market tells us. Neoliberalism is not about a 'small state'. The state is repurposed to impose the 'all knowing' market on everyone and everything. That is neoliberalism's political project. It is ultimately not about 'economics'.
    Pinkie123 , 11 Apr 2019 13:27
    The left have been entirely wrong to believe that neoliberalism is a mobilisation of anarchic, 'free' markets. It never was so. Only a few more acute thinkers on the left (Jacques Ranciere, Foucault, Deleuze and, more recently, Mark Fisher, Wendy Brown, Will Davies and David Graeber) have understood neoliberalism to be a techno-economic order of control, requiring a state apparatus to enforce wholly artificial directives. Also, the work of recent critics of data markets such as Shoshana Zuboff has shown capitalism to be evolving into a totalitarian system of control through cybernetic data aggregation.


    Only in theory is neoliberalism a form of laissez-faire. Neoliberalism is not a case of the state saying, as it were: 'OK everyone, we'll impose some very broad legal parameters, so we'll make sure the police will turn up if someone breaks into your house; but otherwise we'll hang back and let you do what you want'. Hayek is perfectly clear that a strong state is required to force people to act according to market logic. If left to their own devices, they might collectivise, think up dangerous utopian ideologies, and the next thing you know there would be socialism. This the paradox of neoliberalism as an intellectual critique of government: a socialist state can only be prohibited with an equally strong state. That is, neoliberals are not opposed to a state as such, but to a specifically centrally-planned state based on principles of social justice - a state which, to Hayek's mind, could only end in t totalitarianism. Because concepts of social justice are expressed in language, neoliberals are suspicious of linguistic concepts, regarding them as politically dangerous. Their preference has always been for numbers. Hence, market bureaucracy aims for the quantification of all values - translating the entirety of social reality into metrics, data, objectively measurable price signals. Numbers are safe. The laws of numbers never change. Numbers do not lead to revolutions. Hence, all the audit, performance review and tick-boxing that has been enforced into public institutions serves to render them forever subservient to numerical (market) logic. However, because social institutions are not measurable, attempts to make them so become increasingly mystical and absurd. Administrators manage data that has no relation to reality. Quantitatively unmeasurable things - like happiness or success - are measured, with absurd results.

    It should be understood (and I speak above all as a critic of neoliberalism) that neoliberal ideology is not merely a system of class power, but an entire metaphysic, a way of understanding the world that has an emotional hold over people. For any ideology to universalize itself, it must be based on some very powerful ideas. Hayek and Von Mises were Jewish fugitives of Nazism, living through the worst horrors of twentieth-century totalitarianism. There are passages of Hayek's that describe a world operating according to the rules of a benign abstract system that make it sound rather lovely. To understand neoliberalism, we must see that it has an appeal.

    However, there is no perfect order of price signals. People do not simply act according to economic self-interest. Therefore, neoliberalism is a utopian political project like any other, requiring the brute power of the state to enforce ideological tenets. With tragic irony, the neoliberal order eventually becomes not dissimilar to the totalitarian regimes that Hayek railed against.

    manolito22 -> MrJoe , 11 Apr 2019 08:14
    Nationalised rail in the UK was under-funded and 'set up to fail' in its latter phase to make privatisation seem like an attractive prospect. I have travelled by train under both nationalisation and privatisation and the latter has been an unmitigated disaster in my experience. Under privatisation, public services are run for the benefit of shareholders and CEO's, rather than customers and citizens and under the opaque shroud of undemocratic 'commercial confidentiality'.
    Galluses , 11 Apr 2019 07:26
    What has been very noticeable about the development of bureaucracy in the public and private spheres over the last 40 years (since Thatcher govt of 79) has been the way systems are designed now to place responsibility and culpability on the workers delivering the services - Teachers, Nurses, social workers, etc. While those making the policies, passing the laws, overseeing the regulations- viz. the people 'at the top', now no longer take the rap when something goes wrong- they may be the Captain of their particular ship, but the responsibility now rests with the man sweeping the decks. Instead they are covered by tying up in knots those teachers etc. having to fill in endless check lists and reports, which have as much use as clicking 'yes' one has understood those long legal terms provided by software companies.... yet are legally binding. So how the hell do we get out of this mess? By us as individuals uniting through unions or whatever and saying NO. No to your dumb educational directives, No to your cruel welfare policies, No to your stupid NHS mismanagement.... there would be a lot of No's but eventually we could say collectively 'Yes I did the right thing'.
    fairshares -> rjb04tony , 11 Apr 2019 07:17
    'The left wing dialogue about neoliberalism used to be that it was the Wild West and that anything goes. Now apparently it's a machine of mass control.'

    It is the Wild West and anything goes for the corporate entities, and a machine of control of the masses. Hence the wish of neoliberals to remove legislation that protects workers and consumers.

    [May 23, 2020] Academies are unaccountable bureaucracies with very expensive layers of management while teachers are badly paid and are being laid off

    Notable quotes:
    "... Meanwhile - as Public Services are devalued and denuded in this system the private sector becomes increasingly wealthy at the top while its workers become poorer and less powerful at the bottom ..."
    "... Education is a prime example of where neoliberalism has had a negative effect. ..."
    May 23, 2020 | discussion.theguardian.com

    Luxgeoff , 11 Apr 2019 12:42

    It's the same in education. Academies are unaccountable bureaucracies with very expensive layers of management while teachers are being laid off in some of the most deprived areas of the country, exemplified by this story from Sheffield

    https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/latest/strike-at-sheffield-school-over-plans-to-make-15-teachers-redundant-1-9653749

    JohnS58 , 11 Apr 2019 06:15
    Only the greedy, selfish, well off, egotistical and share holders believe that Public Services should, could and would benefit from privatisation and deregulation.

    Education and Health for example are (in theory) a universal right in the UK. As numbers in the population rise and demographics change so do costs ie delivery of the service becomes more expensive.As market force logic is introduced it also becomes less responsive - hence people not able to get the right drugs and treatment and challenging and challenged young people being denied an education that is vital for them in increasing numbers.

    Meanwhile - as Public Services are devalued and denuded in this system the private sector becomes increasingly wealthy at the top while its workers become poorer and less powerful at the bottom.

    With the introduction of Tory austerity which punishes the latter to the benefit of the former there is no surprise that this system does not work and has provided a platform for the unscrupulous greedy and corrupt to exploit Brexit and produce conditions which will take 'Neiliberalism' to where logic suggests it would always go - with the powerful rich protected minority exerting their power over an increasingly poor and powerless majority.

    Olympia1881 -> Centrecourt , 11 Apr 2019 05:46
    Education is a prime example of where neoliberalism has had a negative effect. It worked well when labour was pumping billions into it and they invested in early intervention schemes such as sure start and nursery expansion. Unfortunately under the tories we have had those progressive policies scaled right back. Children with SEND and/or in care are commodities bought and sold by local authorities. I've been working in a PRU which is a private company and it does good things, but I can't help but think if that was in the public sector that it would be in a purpose built building rather than some scruffy office with no playground. The facilities aren't what you would expect in this day in age. If we had a proper functioning government with a plan then what happens with vulnerable children would be properly organised rather than a reactive shit show.

    [May 19, 2020] If the American Dream is alive and well, why would MSM need to repeat it again and again?

    Notable quotes:
    "... 1978 was the last year real wages showed significant growth in real terms in the USA. After that, came the great stagnation of the neoliberal era (1978-2008), 30 consecutive years of frozen earns for the American working classes. This era is not marked by a slow down in consumption, though. On the contrary: consumption continued to rise, but, this time, it was mainly debt-fueled. Americans wages stagnated, but they didn't want to give up their hyperconsumption privileges, so they contracted debt after debt. ..."
    "... As the timeline shows, it is a myth neoliberalism begun in the USA only with Reagan's election in 1980. Most neoliberal reforms begun during Jimmy Carter's second half of his lonely term (1978-1980). It was Jimmy Carter, for example, who hired (nominated) Paul Volcker to the Fed. Other essential Acts that paved the way to neoliberalism were also passed during Jimmy Carter's later part of the reign. ..."
    "... I heard some politician suggest that while many of the jobs will never come back that people can learn to code. We need drug testing for our politicians. I 'code' and I'm wetting my pants. It's not because I think that it's so easy I an be easily replaced but but we still need demand. If everyone is losing their jobs ... terrifies me. ..."
    May 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
    If it were true why would they need to repeat it again and again?

    vk , May 19 2020 13:22 utc | 21

    If it were true why would they need to repeat it again and again? The American Dream died in 1969 - the last year of the post-war miracle in the USA. For the following five years, the country continued to flourish, but at a clear slower pace. With the oil crisis of 1974-5, the American Dream definitely died, albeit some indicators (e.g. real wages) still showed some improvements.

    1978 was the last year real wages showed significant growth in real terms in the USA. After that, came the great stagnation of the neoliberal era (1978-2008), 30 consecutive years of frozen earns for the American working classes. This era is not marked by a slow down in consumption, though. On the contrary: consumption continued to rise, but, this time, it was mainly debt-fueled. Americans wages stagnated, but they didn't want to give up their hyperconsumption privileges, so they contracted debt after debt.

    As the timeline shows, it is a myth neoliberalism begun in the USA only with Reagan's election in 1980. Most neoliberal reforms begun during Jimmy Carter's second half of his lonely term (1978-1980). It was Jimmy Carter, for example, who hired (nominated) Paul Volcker to the Fed. Other essential Acts that paved the way to neoliberalism were also passed during Jimmy Carter's later part of the reign.


    Jen , May 19 2020 10:58 utc | 6

    Not only does the headline "The American Dream is Alive and Well" need to be repeated ad nauseam but also the narrative it promotes, of the immigrant family that succeeds through sheer hard work and dedication and nothing else - no help from government subsidies or relatives already in the country, no dependence on bank loans that help start a business or put teenagers through college, no discrimination whatsoever - has to be hammered constantly over and over, even when everyone can see that the story template no longer has any legs if it ever had any.

    For all the sophisticated techniques and tools of propaganda that the likes of Edward Bernays and his followers in the PR industry bequeathed to the US, the elites and their mass media lackeys can't even get the repetition to look and sound more than banal and one-dimensional.

    William Gruff , May 19 2020 12:58 utc | 18
    Jen @6: "For all the sophisticated techniques and tools of propaganda that the likes of Edward Bernays and his followers in the PR industry bequeathed to the US, the elites and their mass media lackeys can't even get the repetition to look and sound more than banal and one-dimensional."

    Nice observation that incompetence is pervasive even among the empire's most important servants. It must be asked, though, if better talent is really necessary? The propaganda and brainwashing may be ham fisted and blunt as a hammer, but it does seem to work nonetheless.

    Anyway, the more sophisticated brainwashing is not in the infotainment field but rather in the supposedly pure entertainment domain. Redneck dynasties built upon the monster retail bonanza from selling duck lures, for example. Those implant "The American Dream" directly into the subconscious without the need for awkward capitalist ideological exposition, bypassing any potential bullshit filters that the typical media consumers might possess.

    lizard , May 19 2020 12:56 utc | 17
    I wonder what America would have become if sociopaths like Allen Dulles hadn't relocated to Nazi braintrust after WWII. maybe it was inevitable that we would become the 4th reich.

    David Talbot's book The Devil's Chessboard should be required reading for all Americans.

    William Gruff , May 19 2020 12:58 utc | 18
    Jen @6: "For all the sophisticated techniques and tools of propaganda that the likes of Edward Bernays and his followers in the PR industry bequeathed to the US, the elites and their mass media lackeys can't even get the repetition to look and sound more than banal and one-dimensional."

    Nice observation that incompetence is pervasive even among the empire's most important servants. It must be asked, though, if better talent is really necessary? The propaganda and brainwashing may be ham fisted and blunt as a hammer, but it does seem to work nonetheless.

    Anyway, the more sophisticated brainwashing is not in the infotainment field but rather in the supposedly pure entertainment domain. Redneck dynasties built upon the monster retail bonanza from selling duck lures, for example. Those implant "The American Dream" directly into the subconscious without the need for awkward capitalist ideological exposition, bypassing any potential bullshit filters that the typical media consumers might possess.

    Linda Amick , May 19 2020 12:59 utc | 19
    We all know these main stream media outlets do little more than pump out propaganda to the ignorant masses who need someone to tell them what they want to hear.
    Christian J Chuba , May 19 2020 13:01 utc | 20
    May 2020, seriously???

    Wow, those guys were phoning it in. 1. Their dreamland pieces were identical to the ones in 2015, 2. the bottom 20% who they claim either don't have it so bad or can easily improve their lot, have been gutted like a fish and left out to dry. Did people write these opinion pieces or robots, robots could easily replace their jobs, pity their jobs won't be automated but I really don't see why they couldn't be. Actually Neocons could be replaced by automatons.

    Recent contributions, burger flippers => code slingers

    I heard some politician suggest that while many of the jobs will never come back that people can learn to code. We need drug testing for our politicians. I 'code' and I'm wetting my pants. It's not because I think that it's so easy I an be easily replaced but but we still need demand. If everyone is losing their jobs ... terrifies me.

    Richard Steven Hack , May 19 2020 12:02 utc | 15
    As an aside that is nonetheless relevant, dealing as it does with issues of the responsibility that banks have for the mess in this world, I recommend watching the TV series, "Devils", described here on Wikipedia:

    Devils (TV series)
    https://tinyurl.com/yb8cbwsq


    Plot

    London, 2011. The Italian Massimo Ruggero is the head of trading at the banking giant American New York - London Bank (NYL). While the financial crisis is raging across Europe, Massimo is making hundreds of millions thanks to speculation. His mentor is Dominic Morgan, the American CEO of NYL and the closest thing to a father Massimo has ever had. He fully supports it, the talented trader seems to be the first choice in the run for vice-CEO. But when Massimo is unwillingly involved in a scandal that sees his ex-wife implicated as an escort, Dominic denies him the promotion, instead choosing the old school banker Edward Stuart.

    Massimo is amazed: his father turns his back on him. Convinced that he has been set up, Massimo is determined to bring out the truth, but when Edward suddenly dies, Massimo realizes that something bigger is at stake. With the help of his team and a group of hackers, Massimo will discover the plot hidden behind apparently unrelated events such as the Strauss-Kahn scandal, the war in Libya and the PIIGS crisis. Finding himself in front of the Devils who pull the ropes of the world, Massimo will have to choose whether to fight them or join them.

    The series is well-written and well-acted. If you have access to it (I get it off the Internet, but it does not appear to be available in the US market yet), it's well worth watching. It is in some ways better than "Deep State", the spy series that was on a season or two ago. It has already been renewed for a second season.

    [May 16, 2020] Reopening Isn't only about Reopening -- It's also about forcefully removing people from unemployment insurance by Peter Dorman

    May 16, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

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

    Donald Trump, cheering on his "warriors" who demand that states lift their lockdown and distancing orders (where they have them), would have you believe this is about bringing the economy back to life so ordinary people can get their jobs and normal lives back. Elitist liberals who work from home and have country estates to retreat to don't care, but "real" people do.

    The reality is different. The shuttering of stores, restaurants, hotels and workplaces didn't begin with government orders and won't end with them. If the rate of new infection and death is too high, a lot of people won't go along. Not everyone, but enough to make a huge economic difference. Ask any small business owner what it would mean for demand to drop by 25-50%. Lifting government orders won't magically restore the economic conditions of mid-winter. So what's it about? Even as it makes a big PR show of supporting state by state "liberation" in America, the Trump administration is advising state governments on how to remove workers from unemployment insurance once orders are lifted. Without government directives, employers can demand workers show up, and if they refuse they no longer qualify. And why might workers refuse? Perhaps because their workplaces are still unsafe and they have vulnerable family members they want to keep from getting infected? Not good enough -- once the state has been "liberated".

    How should we respond to this travesty? First, of course, by telling the truth that an anti-worker, anti-human campaign is being conducted under the guise of defending workers. If the Democrats weren't themselves such a tool of business interests we might hear that narrative from them, but the rest of us are free to speak out and should start doing it, loudly, wherever we can.

    Second, one of the laws of the land is the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which gives workers the right to refuse imminently hazardous work. This hasn't been used very often, nor is there much case law around it, but the current pandemic is a good reason to pull it out of storage.

    If there are public interest law firms looking for something useful to do during distancing, they could advertise their willingness to defend workers who need to stay home until work is safe -- while still getting their paycheck. If employers thought the choice was between public support for workers sitting out the pandemic or their support for them we might hear less about "liberation".


    none , May 14, 2020 at 10:30 am

    They want to throw people off of unemployment while using the virus threat to stop any serious protests against that. It is literally biological warfare against working people. Same class war as before, but now with CBW.

    Rod , May 14, 2020 at 10:47 am

    Taught it for years. This is the biggest net and is the # 1 Cited Violation for 1910/1926 and MSHA–ever.

    OSHA 654 5(a)1 The General Duty Clause.

    OSHA Laws & Regulations OSH Act of 1970
    OSH Act of 1970
    Table of Contents
    General Duty Clause
    Complete OSH Act Version ("All-in-One")
    SEC.
    5.
    Duties
    (a)
    Each employer --
    (1)
    29 USC 654
    shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees;
    (2)
    shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this Act.
    (b)
    Each employee shall comply with occupational safety and health standards and all rules, regulations, and orders issued pursuant to this Act which are applicable to his own actions and conduct.

    And 'Recognized' totes a lot of water.

    Rod , May 14, 2020 at 10:53 am

    Quick Take –Two way street.
    Employers mus t mitigate hazards. Employees must comply with mitigation.
    No Employer Mitigation=Breaking the Law=No Employee requirement to work in Unsafe Conditions.

    L , May 14, 2020 at 11:16 am

    "Lifting all boats" was always a lie. It was simply a way to sell trickle down by claiming that the objectively observable inequality it produced would somehow help everyone, eventually, sort of. There was not and has never been a plan by the Conservative Movement to lift all boats. Only a plan to feign interest in doing so.

    Librarian Guy , May 15, 2020 at 12:02 pm

    I agree with most of your comment except the "smarter" part.

    They don't seem smart to me, they openly plunder and loot and spit in the populace's faces. They don't even pretend to believe in or work for a "common good" anymore, really. That is the story of the 21st Century in the US, starting with Baby Bush II. (Okay, I get that the Obama crew seemed "smart" or sophisticated to the PMC and comfortable liberals, but how smart were they if they led to the open Kleptocratic Disruption of Trumpism and the God Emperor?)

    What the Elites have that the proles don't is in-group solidarity. (And a captured Media establishment.) They protect their own, while the hoi polloi fight one another for scraps.

    Hoppy , May 14, 2020 at 12:54 pm

    What is the death rate among the working age population?

    Seem like a tough hill to die on given the curve has flattened, hospitals are not overflowing, and the economy is teetering on the edge of depression.

    No one has a vaccine, this isn't going away any time soon. It's time to focus on protecting the most vulnerable instead of pretending this effects everyone equally.

    Allow states to cut benefits? Come on, UI benefits are taxed for pete's sake. 'Available to work' basically means you have start at 8am the next day which is doesn't align with any reality of hiring except in low end service sector jobs.

    campbeln , May 14, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    > and the economy is teetering on the edge of depression

    This was baked in the cake already, COVID was simply the spark that ignited all that dead wood on the forest floor.

    cripes , May 15, 2020 at 12:16 am

    campbeln:

    Yes.

    I thought the quiet transfer of trillions in helicopter money to the banksters in the last half of 2019, way before the covid craze was telling.

    How convenient.

    Wally , May 14, 2020 at 1:49 pm

    The other really significant thing is that 're-opening' doesn't necessarily mean returning to business. For example, Musk insists on re-opening Tesla the assumption being that sales are there to be had if they re-open. But if not no sales, no need for employees back down the drain we go.
    Same for restaurants. retail, hotels, transit and white collar jobs – attorneys, architects, CPAs

    DHG , May 14, 2020 at 5:48 pm

    Yup, the smart and shrewd will conceal themselves as much as possible and live, the stupid will rush out and most likely die.

    JBird4049 , May 15, 2020 at 1:20 am

    The poorest and the most desperate actually. Some people still have not received any money from the state or federal governments. The quarantine started about two months ago. So no job, no income, no money, and no joke. No matter how shrewd or smart you are sometimes you are not making the decisions. Reality makes them for you.

    KFritz , May 14, 2020 at 3:24 pm

    There's another possible reason to reopen. If the country officially reopens, there's no need for any more federal stimulus!

    campbeln , May 14, 2020 at 3:26 pm

    Bankers got their TRILLIONS?

    Pack it up, boys! We're done here.

    J.k , May 14, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    Well till the markets crashes again and they need to save the assets of the wealthiest.

    I just got a text from a buddy who is an electrician. His company just told him they are not expecting to take any major work till second quarter of next year. They will only be taking emergency calls. This is in Chicago.

    LawnDart , May 14, 2020 at 6:28 pm

    Your buddy might be able to use this link:

    https://wepoweramerica.org/hotjobs.cgi

    Granted, it's a union site, but one point that they make is how union saturation raises the wages for all workers within a given region.

    In Appalachia, I was offered $15hr. to work as an electrician. In Chicagoland, starting wages were close to or more than double that. Guess where I went in order to establish a salary history? And no, the cost of living is really not too different between those two places, but opportunities sure were.

    (moderators: in response to an "Eat the Rich!" comment, I posted a link with recipes: I apologize for this. Admittedly, it was in poor taste.)

    [May 15, 2020] US Unemployment Update

    Notable quotes:
    "... @apenultimate ..."
    May 15, 2020 | caucus99percent.com

    apenultimate on Thu, 05/14/2020 - 9:50am The past week's unemployment claims came out today, and add another 2.98 million to the pile. This brings total unemployment claims for the past 8 weeks (two months or so) to 36.5 million.

    Determining unemployment percentages depends on what data you use. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows the employment numbers for the United States in August 2019 as ~157 million ( https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat08.htm ). Admittedly, that's not March 2020 statistics, but employment numbers would not change all that much in half of a year.

    The St. Louis Federal Reserve has a different set of statistics that show 205.5 million Americans employed in March 2020 ( https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LFWA64TTUSM647S ). (They show the August 2019 period with employment at 206 million.)

    Why the huge difference? I have no idea. But going forward, I'll use both to determine unemployment numbers. Remember that in early March 2020, unemployment was already around 3%.

    Using the BLS statistics, we get an unemployment rate of 23.16% for the past 8 weeks. Add on the previous 3% of people unemployed, and you reach 26.16% unemployment.

    Using the St. Louis Fed statistics, we get an unemployment rate of 17.76% for the past 8 weeks. Add on the previous 3% of people unemployed, and you reach 20.76% unemployment.

    The peak rate of unemployment during The Great Depression was 24.9%. The peak rate of unemployment during the the Great Recession in 2008 was 10%.

    According to BLS statistics, we are already greater than Great Depression unemployment numbers.

    According to the St. Louis Fed, we are already more than double Great Recession numbers and only about 4 percentage points away from Great Depression peaks.

    The Labor Department last week reported April unemployment for the United states at 14.7%, but this according to their own admission was undercounting the real rates. Be careful of any numbers coming out of the mainstream media or government sources.

    https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Coronavirus-job-loss-Weekly...

    Some jobs will definitely come back, but many will not. For example, JC Penny's reported that they are permanently closing 200 of their 850 nationwide stores. Those jobs will not be coming back. There are weekly reports of many cafes, restaurants, and small businesses shuttering their doors for good. Those jobs will not be coming back.

    Even for the companies that do not shut down, it may be a long haul before economic activity has picked up enough to bring workers back. In most cases, it will not be a quick recovery.

    Hang on for a very rough ride. 2 users have voted.

    ggersh on Thu, 05/14/2020 - 10:52am
    This is the place to go for stats

    @apenultimate and like everything else our govt does, the unemployment number is just pure BS

    http://www.shadowstats.com/article/csfu1435

    • Headline April 2020 Unemployment Really Was Around 20%, Not 15%
    • Bureau of Labor Statistics Disclosed Erroneous Unemployment Surveying for a Second Month
    • About 7.5 Million People in the April Household Survey Were Misclassified as Employed Instead of Unemployed, per the BLS
    • Headline April U.3 Unemployment at 14.7%, Should Have Been 19.5%
    • The BLS Had Disclosed the Same Surveying Error Last Month; Where Headline March 2020 U.3 Was 4.4%, It Should Have Been 5.3%
    • Per the BLS, Headline Data Will Not Be Corrected: "To maintain data integrity, no ad hoc actions are taken to reclassify survey responses."
    • Nonetheless, Headline April Unemployment Soared to Historic Highs from March: U.3 from 4.4% to 14.7%, U.6 from 8.7% to 22.8% and ShadowStats from 22.9% to 35.4%
    • More Realistic, Those Same Unemployment Numbers, Corrected: U.3 from 5.3 % to 19.5%, U.6 from 9.6% to 27.7% and ShadowStats from 23.7% to 39.6%
    • April 2020 Payrolls Collapsed by an Unprecedented 20.5 Million Jobs
    • Annual Growth in April 2020 Money Supply Measures Soared to Historic Highs
    • U.S. Economic Activity Has Collapsed to Great Depression Levels, with the Federal Reserve Creating Unlimited Money

    apenultimate on Thu, 05/14/2020 - 10:58am
    Nice

    @ggersh

    Thanks for that. Seems like a large percentage of the difference is that BLS says 7.5 million were mis-classified as employed.

    At the very least, it seems the BLS does a bit of correcting, whereas the Fed does not.

    gulfgal98 on Thu, 05/14/2020 - 1:13pm
    Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell

    stated in the very beginning of this video, that of people who were employed in February of this year, nearly 40% of those earning $40,000 or less have become unemployed. This is an unprecedented human tragedy that Congress in all their bailouts now totalling about $8 Trillion have seen fit to throw a one time pittance of $1,200. With mountains of cash going to corporations and lobbyists, Congress insultingly gave real suffering Americans a few pennies and in effect told them that their lives do not matter to Washington DC.

    //www.youtube.com/embed/AROXMTDOkjw?modestbranding=0&html5=1&rel=0&autoplay=0&wmode=opaque&loop=0&controls=1&autohide=0&showinfo=0&theme=dark&color=red&enablejsapi=0

    [May 12, 2020] 'Immediate danger' Half of world's workforce could lose livelihood due to Covid-19, UN agency warns

    www.defenddemocracy.press
    The International Labour Organization (ILO) has warned that around half of the world's workforce, or 1.6 billion workers, are at imminent risk of losing their livelihood because of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. In its latest report, the UN agency stated that those hardest hit by the financial effects of the Covid-19 outbreak have been 'informal economy' workers, including the self-employed and those on a short-term contract.

    "The first month of the crisis is estimated to have resulted in a drop of 60 percent in the income of informal workers globally," the ILO said of the economic damage already caused by the pandemic.

    The deepening crisis in many parts of the world has left more than 436 million businesses facing financial hardship and possible closure, the ILO stated, which will inevitably hurt workers. The report listed the worst-hit sectors as manufacturing, accommodation and food services, wholesale and retail trade, and real estate.

    "For millions of workers, no income means no food, no security and no future," ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said of the stark impact of an economic dip.

    He added that, according to ILO data, there is expected to be a "massive" rise in poverty levels worldwide, unless governments recognize the need to reconstruct their economies around better working practices and "not a return to the pre-pandemic world of precarious work for the majority."

    Since the novel coronavirus emerged in China late last year, over 3.1 million cases have been confirmed around the world, and more than 216,000 people have died. Drastic lockdowns to limit its spread have taken a dire toll on the global economy, prompting market turmoil and numerous projections of the heavy recession to strike this year.

    [May 12, 2020] Coronavirus To Decimate Colleges and Universities

    May 12, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

    Coronavirus To Decimate Colleges and Universities Posted on May 12, 2020 by Yves Smith "Decimate" might be too charitable a forecast for American higher educational institutions, since the word originated with the Roman army practice of killing one man in ten. Coronavirus is hitting pretty much all of the bad aspects of their business models at once.

    Let's list them:

    Dependence on/preference for foreign students, often not for their accomplishments but for their ability to pay full and even premium fees . Chinese students accounted for one-third of the total. Their enrollment was already falling as of 2019.

    .

    But Chinese students' contribution to revenues is out of proportion to their numbers. From the New York Times in March :

    Universities in English-speaking countries, especially Britain, Australia and the United States, have grown increasingly dependent on tuition from Chinese students, a business model that the virus could dismantle.

    With qualifying exams postponed, travel bans spreading and anger rising among Chinese students and parents at the West's permissive attitude toward public health, enrollment could plummet in the coming years, experts said, potentially leaving countries with multibillion- dollar holes in their universities' budgets.

    Foreign students were dismayed by the way US schools shut down abruptly and gave little to no help in helping get them back home.

    Skyrocketing prices leading more students to question college or emphasize "practical" degrees . As with mortgages, access to debt has led to higher prices. And with student debt terms so draconian, more and more students are trading down: going to cheaper schools or focusing on programs that teach harder skills that hopefully translate into market value.

    Bloated adminispheres and gold plated facilities . MBA parasites have colonized universities, with the justification often that they increase fundraising. For what purpose? To pay themselves better, and to create naming opportunities for donors with new buildings, and to justify high charges via plush dormitories. Apparently swanky gyms are common.

    All those expensive buildings have become an albatross.

    Now consider the impact of coronavirus.

    Litigation over terminating on-campus instruction . This is probably the least of their worries. Plaintiffs are seeking refunds for the degradation of the educational product. The schools argue quite explicitly that they are not in the business of educating but of conferring credentials, and it is they alone that determine what is adequate for them to hand out a degree. There is precedent supporting the universities' arguments, albeit with less bad facts than these.

    Low likelihood of resuming classes on campus this fall . My colleagues with contacts among university administrators say no one has any idea how to make dorms safe if coronavirus is still on the loose. This has many negative implications.

    Why should students and/or their parents be willing to pay full prices for a degraded product? They won't get interaction with instructors. For science and engineering classes, they won't get lab work. They won't get to make connections and meet potential mates. They won't get tips from other students on career and summer job strategies. They won't get to participate in extracurricular activities, which is a low-stakes way to learn to work with other people. They won't learn how to grow up in a somewhat protected environment.

    There is the very real possibility that employers will downgrade the value of degrees conferred during the plague years.

    It's hard to see how colleges and universities escape cutting tuition, save perhaps the most elite. I can't see any schools besides the most elite can maintain their charges without seeing a big falloff in enrollment. And with them administering classes remotely, the cost of delivery has fallen. And that's before seeing students postponing or abandoning degrees due to the horrible state of the economy.

    And what happens to university budgets due to the loss of room and board income?

    Schools already looking at probable downgrades . Standard & Poors is already put a long list of higher educational institutions on its negative watch list. Bear in mind that S&P and Moody's tend not to downgrade before Mr. Market already has the bond trading at a lower rating level. From an April 30 Ratings Action :

    The public and private colleges and universities affected by these actions include primarily those with lower ratings ('BBB' rating category and below), but also those entities that, in our opinion, have less holistic flexibility (from both a market position and financial standpoint) at their current rating level

    While S&P Global Ratings' outlook on the U.S. not-for-profit higher education sector has been negative for three consecutive years now, we believe that the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic and financial impacts exacerbate pressures already facing colleges and universities. The financial impact on institutions from the loss of auxiliary revenue from housing and dining fees, and parking fees; as well as revenues from athletics, theater, and other events, is material for many. For schools with health care systems, lost revenue from cancelled elective surgical procedures could also be significant. The recently passed CARES Act will provide some budgetary relief to higher education institutions; however, despite this aid, we expect to see stressed operating budgets, the scope of which will ultimately be determined by the magnitude of lost revenues, the duration of the pandemic, fall 2020 mode of instruction, and ultimate enrollment figures.

    Colleges and universities have reacted rapidly to the challenges presented by the pandemic. They have moved classes online to adhere to social-distancing rules, adjusted admission policies to accommodate disruptions to high school exams, and suspended academic conferences and travel. At the same time, many have implemented material expense cuts, including deferring capital expenditures, and imposing furloughs and layoffs, in some cases, with plans to continue to ramp up cost containment under various fall scenarios. Many colleges and universities have disclosed estimates of 2020 budget shortfalls, despite the inclusion of CARES stimulus funds. We expect that the colleges and universities we rate will face an unprecedented level of operating stress and tightened liquidity, which will worsen the longer and deeper the pandemic lasts.

    It's bizarre to see S&P depict sports programs as a financial plus; college football programs in fact are money losers and I doubt basketball programs are enough to bring college sports into the black.

    It is also not clear how much more help the Federal government will be willing to provide. Even though Congresscritters will be under pressure to help institutions in their district, the flip side is the Republicans know well that higher educational institutions are a Democratic party province, so they won't be high on their list of rescue priorities.\\

    This section seems very much behind the curve, as if S&P talks to too many Wall Street types who are betting on a V shaped recovery:

    Many of the colleges and universities that we rate have some headroom to absorb the impacts associated with COVID-19 at their current credit ratings, as they have built up reserves over recent years, hold solid balance sheets, and have relatively low debt levels. However, colleges and universities will face increased downward pressure on their current ratings depending on the extent to which economic disruptions associated with COVID-19 persist. If global travel restrictions are prolonged, or the imminent recession diminishes foreign students' financial means, then some could opt to study or work in their home countries instead. In our opinion, a fall 2020 with significantly fewer international students, as well as lower domestic enrollments overall, will cause serious operational pressures. At the same time, most U.S. colleges and universities depend on endowments and fundraising for a significant portion of revenues, and declining investment performance and endowment market values along with weaker fundraising results could negatively affect credit metrics during the outlook period.

    I strongly suggest you look at the list. You'll see many familiar names. In particular, the ones at the very bottom group, which already had a negative outlook before coronavirus, are the most downgrade exposed. Interestingly, Northwestern, which went to the "hedge fund with a university attached" model early and has an AAA rating, is in that cohort. Did they have an even bigger than typical blow up in their portfolio?

    Needless to say, this isn't cheery reading. While the universities set themselves for a big fall, a lot of people who had nothing to do with the bad policies will get hurt.


    PlutoniumKun , May 12, 2020 at 7:16 am

    As an aside, this is another reason why the 'we should relax lockdown as soon as possible' crowd are so very misguided. The education business, along with so many others, gears up after the August holidays right across the northern hemisphere. For many countries, there is a good chance of suppressing the virus between now and the summer so that there can be at least some sort of normalcy restored from August onwards. At the very least, this gives a chance of a normal academic year for students. But this is only a possibility if infection rates can be brought down to a 'track and trace' level over the summer. Failing to do this by September will be devastating for all education providers. The UK third level sector, already hit by Brexit, will be similarly wiped out if the virus is visibly not under control by then.

    Another Scott , May 12, 2020 at 7:21 am

    Regarding football programs.

    Although they are unprofitable for almost all schools, I'm not sure that the impact from cancelling the season is as clear cut, especially for the large D-I programs. Many of the costs like million-dollar coaches, hundred million-dollar stadiums are fixed. Scholarships will likely continue as well. Schools can probably cut costs of the lower paid employees without contracts, like assistant coaches and trainers, but I don't think those are the biggest drivers of costs.

    Gameday revenues are almost certainly cashflow positive for the schools (ushers and cleaners aren't paid very much); without them the football teams will be even bigger money losers for the school. The schools might even get fees from their broadcast partners, as is the case with many professional teams.

    The Rev Kev , May 12, 2020 at 9:32 am

    What happens with all these high-cost games like football and basketball if they cannot get crowds to watch them? Do these crowds off-set much of the costs of staging these games? I suppose that the institutes would be loath to drop them as they are such a "status" program to have but I fail to understand how a coach in such a place is entitled to a multi-million dollar salary as that money has to come from somewhere.

    kevin , May 12, 2020 at 10:04 am

    Most of their money is made through TV broadcasting rights, not in game ticket sales. People will still watch them. Arguably even more people will watch them, although I don't think that matters because the deals are already locked in with the various networks.

    Left in Wisconsin , May 12, 2020 at 6:27 pm

    TV is the king but game day revenues are not insignificant for most of the big programs that count on 70,000+ spectators times 7-8 home games a year.

    Also agree with Another Scott that big-time college football especially has a lot of fixed costs that will not go away if the season is cancelled. On the other hand, once you get outside the big D1 programs, I do think cancelling football would be net cash flow positive.

    SAKMAN , May 12, 2020 at 12:08 pm

    Comments like, "Football programs lose money" are so poorly thoughtout I just cant believe they are posted here.

    Honestly. . .

    Huge amounts of dollars go through those programs and the benefit of that circulating money to sooo many people and companies is enormous. There are many people who want to see those programs continue.

    If a Florida school thinks the price tag is too high, it is the begining of a series of price negotiations. . . thats it. Come on!

    curlydan , May 12, 2020 at 1:07 pm

    first, your "quoted" material wasn't a quote in this write up or comments, so you can take the quotes off. Second, look at the link Yves posted to see how football is a money pit for many D1 schools. Third, I think I understand what you're trying to say that there's tons of money flowing in and around college football, but the gist is that we're talking about the impact to and financial ratings of colleges and universities and not the impact to the Purple Porpoise in Gainesville, FL or similar establishments.

    m sam , May 12, 2020 at 2:04 pm

    You make it sound like it doesn't matter if they lose money, because with all that money sloshing around there then it's a net positive. The only problem is those universities aren't there to slosh money around in their football programs, they are there so our society can be an educated one. And when instead people start to think that the money sloshing around is more important (as in all areas of human life) the part that was point of the whole endeavor (as in, the education at the university) comes to look more like a cost. And what costs is what is cut. And what is cut is degraded, given a higher price, and otherwise forced to submit to those market forces that looks so good (well, at least when you have dollar signs tattooed on your eyes).

    The point is, whether football programs lose money or make lots of money slosh around, this model is exactly the thing that is destroying our society, and exactly what needs to be dismantled. So comments like "Football programs lose money" are exactly why people come around here in the first place, and it seems you must be confused if you "can't believe they are posted here."

    Merf56 , May 12, 2020 at 2:17 pm

    AS A PSU grad and active alumnus I can attest that Penn State uses its massive football revenues to fund ALL other of the school's sports programs. Though not part of the topic being discussed, football Game day revenues also basically fund theTown of State College's Downtown businesses FOR THE YEAR. And the full fare Chinese student contingent absolutely 'makes' the bottom line there. Those of us involved in alumni activities and meet with Board members and others often are VERY worried .

    Duke of Prunes , May 12, 2020 at 3:49 pm

    If one reads the article, the key part of the statement about "most football programs lose money" is that it's referring to FCS (Football Championship Series) schools which are the "lower tier" Division 1 schools. Not Big10, SEC, etc. I don't think there's much in the way of TV revenue for FCS either, except when they get a cut of the deal when playing a major team (once or maybe twice a year).

    Kirk Seidenbecker , May 12, 2020 at 5:56 pm

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2020/04/14/college-football-major-programs-could-see-billions-revenue-go-away/2989466001/

    Larry , May 12, 2020 at 7:25 am

    My cousin attends Union and decided she'll take a leave of absence in the fall if they are still remote.

    Northeastern in Boston has stated they'll be back in the fall. I believe they are deeply dependent on tuition revenue and have massive debts due to a campus expansion that must have been costly due to Boston real estate prices.

    Colonel Smithers , May 12, 2020 at 7:58 am

    Thank you, Yves.

    Readers may be interested in this from the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/06/coronavirus-uk-university-finances-student-numbers .

    In the UK, Queen Mary, Manchester (labouring under at least a billion pound debt for a state of the art campus by the canals) and (private) Buckingham are teetering. Oxford is also experiencing some discomfort.

    Yves Smith Post author , May 12, 2020 at 8:14 am

    I made this post unduly US focused due to having the S&P analysis, so thanks for additional input on the UK. The New York Times article above made it clear that UK unis were even more dependent than American ones on Chinese students paying hefty fees.

    Colonel Smithers , May 12, 2020 at 8:43 am

    Thank you, Yves.

    If I have time today and it's still "live", I will pipe up again.

    Biologist , May 12, 2020 at 10:16 am

    Thanks for that article. I've also heard that rumour about Queen Mary, is there any public information about them?

    I wonder how many other UK universities will announce redundancies in the coming months. Would be interesting to know numbers of current vs. normal (last year) applications from Asia for the coming year.

    oliverks , May 12, 2020 at 10:35 am

    I believe Edinburgh university has already announced things look a bit bleak.

    Musicismath , May 12, 2020 at 1:06 pm

    Yes, Edinburgh's situation is well known. Other prominent Scottish universities are in similar positions, having gone all-in on rich international students to subsidise their "free tuition for Scottish students" model. They're all very exposed now.

    In England, I've heard of a number of institutions this week setting up voluntary severance and redundancy schemes, with rather alarming stated goals for how many staff they want to shed. Big, prestigious universities, too -- again, it's that reliance on international students. The word I'm hearing repeatedly is "bloodbath."

    rtah100 , May 12, 2020 at 8:38 pm

    Interesting NYT article about Bath. We live on campus (our house is a former uni property) of another southwestern University, famous in no particular order for its campus being a botanic garden, its current vice chancellor being about to retire after 20 years of market-leading pay and it having closed its chemistry department, among others, 20 years ago to make savings to pay for other priorities.

    Again in no particular order, we gave remarked in the last few months:
    – just how many east Asian students and junior faculty the place has attracted. We have Japanese student lodgers!
    – just how many purpose built student factory farms are being built in the city and, more financially perilously, on the campus (building a massive student dorm extension campus on farmland that was prime city centre green space and materially upgrading facilities at other student blocks) and how distorted the local housing market is
    – just how long the grass is getting since lockdown. There's little infection risk on a single seater ride-on mower – the groundstaff, botanic garden not withstanding, have been furloughed / laid off to save money. One vice chancellor's salary could pay for them all. Austerity for thee, public subsidy for me.
    – just how tone deaf the University is to assert its campus is now closed to the public, when public roads run through it and it is used as a cycling and pedestrian right of way to cross the northern half of the city. The buildings are closed and the students are in their hutches. There is no danger of infection from people taking a walk from their confines .

    There is a big reckoning coming, with these bullying institutions suddenly acknowledging their public and local obligations in return for a bailout.

    Ps: I don't think the reaction of bath students to avoid sharing an elevator with a Chinese student was racist. Just prudent. On a risk adjusted basis, a Chinese ethnicity student is most likely a Chinese expat and if returning from Christmas or CNY to campus represented a higher risk than a non-Chinese. I was very wary on my weekly commute in January from London, of the Chinese students with big suitcases tagged Heathrow who were all getting off at my stop . Tables have turned now, of course!

    Steve H. , May 12, 2020 at 8:03 am

    > They won't get to make connections and meet potential mates.

    : Sherri Tepper: See. The word Festival. In the Onomasticon it carries the meaning 'opportunity for reproduction.' We talk of School House, but the book says, 'Protection of Genetic Potential.' We say True Game. The book says 'Population control.'

    The university of my town had moved from offering professions to Learning How To Learn in the last couple decades. Along with that was the gilting, providing a shared cultural experience, more in line with Tepper's definitions than educational outcomes. The incoming cash provided support for community culture as well, restaurants, arts, weird shops. The fallout for our cosmopolitan lifestyle in a small city is unfathomable.

    Deeper even still, in the middle of the last century, educator Frank Templeton wrote from the perspective that every citizen was like a brick, in the structure called a nation, and schools made for strong bricks.

    The harsh partial truth is that primary and secondary schools were hollowed out as daycare centers to increase the labor pool. And many parents who were willing to pay to get the older kids out of the house are now forced with a calculation: what's the roi on the educational/professional dimension, and what's the roi on the social/Tepper dimension? If both are low, why pay in this time of great uncertainty?

    ChrisPacific , May 12, 2020 at 4:59 pm

    I would like to re-read The True Game sometime, but I can't find it anywhere.

    nick , May 12, 2020 at 8:17 am

    Chinese student applications are well down this year–this from direct knowledge at one school and anecdotal at a few more. Companies that operate in China to connect students to US institutions are laying off. And if numbers at any given school don't absolutely crater (50%+), know that the discounting will have had to have been ramped up to make that possible. Obviously there are health and safety concerns, but there is also a nasty political climate with racist/xenophobic stuff coming from the Republicans that has been in some cases matched by e.g. Biden campaign or NYT and that might clear the way for disastrous bans on student/post-grad visas, if not increased violence.

    Shiloh1 , May 12, 2020 at 1:44 pm

    University of Illinois "flagship" was prescient to purchase insurance from Lloyds Of London for fortuitous Chinese student reduction risk. International students pay top dollar rate. All good, their insurance broker should be commended!

    Duke of Prunes , May 12, 2020 at 8:18 am

    Yesterday, Northwestern announced they are laying off ~250 personnel and cutting administrative salaries 10 – 20% (so it must be serious). So much for the "safety" of a higher education job.

    polecat , May 12, 2020 at 11:31 am

    On a tangential tack, locally, a slight majority of voters in our city passed a school levy to firm-up/construct school dist. infrastructure – elementary/middle-school .. with the future goal of a new shiny high school to replace the old/failing one. In the recent years past, the school board and their boosters would put forth levies that amounted to Taj Maschool 'wish-lists' .. which the community rightfully voted down. Same for the towns within close proximity. So, the result of said measure .. even though it is lower that the previous ones, is the rise, by hundreds of $$ annually (a bond floated, to be pay off in X years .. only to have new one's brought forth after), to every property owner to achieve these goals .. dollars that many would find a true burden Before the pandemic will be hit even harder going forward. We are not what one would call a rich community .. unless one only considers the movers/shakers/boosters. We rely less and less on timber exports – happening in spades now! – with incoming revenue predicated on the vaunted idea of 'Tourism'. 'Sigh'
    I see a failure of those same movers/shakers/boosters to consider that the whole college track gristmill is the wrong approach .. bring back hands-on vocational training instruction that was nixed years ago, having left it to the local college to do, with the added $-stream THAT entails .. and put much less emphasis on 'college for college sake' There are a plethora of skills that young folk are not being taught, that they will need for their very survival, in a conflicted and low resource world! Imo, the Federal Dept. Of Ed needs to be abolished, thus putting a end to it's often onerous 4 to 8 year changing 'mandates', and allow state and local communities to come up with their own models of instruction. Sure, some will no doubt fail, but I believe many others would in fact, thrive. There should of course be iron-clad restrictions on just who has sway on funding and 'pull' (no hedgefunds/private equity/ scoundrels, rakes, and thieves !) Leave to the locals to hash out!
    A little over a century ago, we had that kind of evironment, where children actually learned of the world, whilst also becomeing proficient in the basics .. as well as taking on truly practical skillsets .. from often small school settings – just look at an any exam test-sheet from back then to get an idea of how badly we've handled things since. This pandemic has brought to light our learned follies for sure.

    SouthSideGT , May 12, 2020 at 12:24 pm

    Very true. I read that in EvanstonNow. Also saw a story from about a month ago about the Wildcats 2020 prospects which IIRC previewed the 2020 schedule. So I guess college football will go on even as colleges are decimated by the coronavirus. Priorities, indeed.

    Jeff N , May 12, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    I saw that. At least for now, those people are retaining their benefits and health insurance.

    kareninca , May 12, 2020 at 4:55 pm

    I looked this up. It does not appear to be as dire as you describe it. The staff members are being temporarily furloughed, not laid off. And it is "university leaders" and deans that are taking pay cuts. That is not administrative salaries generally. I am not saying it won't get worse, just that it is not quite so terrible yet.

    "University leadership said approximately 250 staff members will be temporarily furloughed, the university will suspend 5% automatic and 5% match contributions to staff retirement plans, and university leaders will take a 20% pay cut.
    NU deans will also take a 10% pay cut reduction."

    https://abc7chicago.com/education/northwestern-university-furloughs-250-staff-announces-pay-cuts-due-to-covid-19-pandemic/6175678/

    Kirk Seidenbecker , May 12, 2020 at 5:59 pm

    https://dailynorthwestern.com/2019/05/23/sports/report-northwestern-received-big-ten-payout-of-roughly-54-million-for-fiscal-year-2018/

    rusti , May 12, 2020 at 8:30 am

    MBA parasites have colonized universities, with the justification often that they increase fundraising. For what purpose? To pay themselves better, and to create naming opportunities for donors with new buildings, and to justify high charges via plush dormitories. Apparently swanky gyms are common.

    I wish it were unique to the Anglosphere. Even here in Sweden one of the technical universities in my city is in the midst of a big economic crisis. My friends who work there as researchers attribute it to obscene administrative bloat that they've seen growing rampant in the past decade. This is also after the implementation of big tuition fees for non-EU students in 2011 (there were no tuition fees before that) which dramatically lowered the quality of international applicants.

    KLG , May 12, 2020 at 8:40 am

    Athletic budgets (public institutions) in context:
    https://sports.usatoday.com/ncaa/finances/
    The far right column is the key: percent of athletic budget that is "allocated," which means the part of the budget that comes directly out of the hide of the institution and its students. About two dozen of the usual suspects make a "profit." My alma mater is way profitable but still takes several million from captives in "student fees." Private institutions in the black would include Notre Dame, Stanford, USC, and probably Duke (basketball, which disappeared this spring). Note what the athletic budget does to schools like UCONN, Rutgers, and UMASS, not to mention the smaller state schools. Something's gotta give. It won't be the athletic departments.

    When I bring up these data with academic colleagues, especially from smaller institutions that have reestablished football as the prime money pit over the past 25 years, all I ever get is the bovine stare of disbelief.

    kevin , May 12, 2020 at 10:13 am

    To be fair, what this analysis doesn't take into account is how many students are going to the school (or how much more they are paying) who would not have gone if there were no sports teams

    I know thats a dumb reason to choose a college, but remember these are 18 year olds making a decision. I suspect many more than you would assume include going to a "winner" and additional social tailgating events as part of their criteria

    MLTPB , May 12, 2020 at 10:51 am

    Good point. I was going to ask about that.

    Additionally, I think there is a mentality, or pride, that you too can be like Duke in basketball or Notre Dame in football. But, first you have to commit to winning, or invest early.

    KLG , May 12, 2020 at 11:09 am

    Yes, this is the "intangibles, school spirit" argument, a perennial favorite of presidents and athletic directors and boards of trustees. It may be somewhat valid at the larger schools of the Power Five conferences (SEC; Big-10, where they apparently can't count to 14; ACC; Pac-12; Big-12, actually 10) but absolutely nowhere else except Notre Dame. And even in these conferences, the financial drain on some schools is huge. Way past time to realize the sunk costs associated with college sports are simply lost. Georgia Tech and Berkeley need big time college sports (i.e., football)? Really? Georgia Southern and Illinois State? Connecticut and Rutgers? Robert Maynard Hutchins to the white courtesy phone, please. Yes, I am unreasonable, but these are unreasonable times.

    And except for a brief renascence under Lou Holtz, Notre Dame football hasn't been much since Ara Parseghian retired and the Boys from Chicago are still and forever nonplussed about that.

    John Wright , May 12, 2020 at 1:19 pm

    And there is the small irony of educational institutions promoting a sport that can cause serious head and bodily injury (American football).

    Maybe some football programs do eventually pay for themselves via alumni contributions, but one wonders if there is a herd mentality in colleges NEEDING to have a football team.

    I know of one University of Calif campus (UC Santa Barbara) that dropped its football team in the late 1960's, weakly woke it up in 1987 and then dropped it again in 1992.

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

    "1985 a student referendum approved funding for a Division III, non-scholarship team. The team began play in 1987,.. with a 33-15 record from 1987 to 1991. However, in 1992 the NCAA decided to forbid schools playing in Division I in other sports from maintaining a lower level football program, and UCSB dropped the sport again."

    Maybe other schools can learn from UCSB's experience?

    juno mas , May 12, 2020 at 5:54 pm

    My high school buddy played on the last 1960's football team at UCSB. As a student there, many of us were too busy protesting the war and burning the IV bank than attending football games.

    John Wright , May 12, 2020 at 5:49 pm

    I looked at the ncaa/finances link and saw the "allocated" section.

    I find that focusing on the allocated % is misleading as a school with an athletic budget of only $100 that is not covered by gate receipts would show as %100 allocated.

    This could be put in more perspective if the allocated dollar amount is divided by the number of students.

    For example, the University of California, Davis shows up at a high 81.90% allocated with the allocated amount of $30,680,083.

    UC Davis shows as having a student population of 35,186 per Google.

    Per student, this is about $872 per student per year.

    While Connecticut shows up at a seemingly better 49.23% allocation, but spreading the shortfall over the 32183 student body size of Connecticut gives a cost of $1213 per student per year.

    One can wonder why the document did not give the per student cost and instead published a %allocation figure.

    Bob's Your Uncle , May 12, 2020 at 9:38 am

    These are historic times and one of the biggest sacrifices this generation of college students will have to make is sitting through Zoom classes.

    Let's keep this in perspective. Missing college because you've been drafted to fight in a war across the Pacific is not the same as delaying your college education because you can't get drunk with your frat. In the coming years employers will look much favorably on students that stuck to their 4 year plan regardless of the troubles they were (or thought they were) facing.

    PNWarriorWoman , May 12, 2020 at 9:50 am

    The Chronicle is tracking individual colleges' plans. Currently the vast majority say they are planning for an in-person fall semester. This database is not behind a paywall Here's a List of Colleges' Plans for Reopening in the Fall We'll see when August rolls around.

    CGKen , May 12, 2020 at 11:49 am

    At my university, the Registrar calculated that our campus has only ONE room large enough to seat more than 50 students maintaining 6 feet of separation.

    The rule of thumb is that covid capacity is 25-30% of normal capacity, so most classes will need to be capped at 20 students or fewer. Probably better for education, but very much not compatible with business as usual.

    I don't see any way we reopen in any way approaching normal.

    WJ , May 12, 2020 at 12:16 pm

    My university is probably going to be requiring us to teach half of the students in a class in the classroom, then half of the students in the class online, alternating which group is taught in a classroom and online throughout the semester. Unless this doesn't work, in which case we might go all online, or all in person. What is being suggested–I kid you not–is that we design each of our courses for the Fall to be taught in any one of three, or more, ways. We're also taking pay cuts and losing the university's contribution to our 403b plans. Good news though, we're still going through with our application to the NCAA for division 1 status!!

    The rot at the top of the university structure runs deep, I am afraid.

    P.S. And, of course, our annual evaluations–usually the basis for a raise of between 1-1.5%–will continue, even though we're all taking pay cuts. Lol

    David , May 12, 2020 at 10:16 am

    Thank you for this, Yves. The problem is much bigger – and with more ramifications – than most people realise, even in the education world itself .

    The Guardian article linked to by CS talks about some of the immediate financial problems this year. IN addition, huge numbers of students are going to consider putting off going to University, even in their own country, let alone abroad, because they can't be sure that the classes will start on time, or even at all. There's an increasing tendency, especially in Europe, for Universities to have highly complex exchange agreements with each other, especially at Master's level: I've taught classes with fifteen nationalities, the majority on exchange from elsewhere. At the best of times that's a logistic nightmare, and requires complex software to juggle. It's worse because the tendency over recent decades has been to replace traditional degrees with a few options, by Starbucks-style hand-made degrees assembled from bits and pieces. This works, as long as all the students who have signed up to come can and do arrive. Otherwise, it can mean empty classrooms or teachers with one student. Chaos is the kindest word one can use to describe what might happen in September. Courses will have to be cancelled and lecturers' contracts torn up. It's also going to make it permanently much more problematic to run courses on the expectation that you can attract foreign students and send your own abroad. I'm not sure, for example that I would now sign up for a four-year degree in (let's say) Japanese or Latin American Studies including a year abroad that might not materialise. Language degrees, indeed, are likely to be among the first casualties: it's almost impossible for one person to teach, say, Japanese grammar on line.

    I've taught courses using Zoom, and to be honest it's better than nothing but not a lot better. It only works if everybody is approximately on the same timezone, and even then, once you get above twenty students you can't actually see all of them on the screen and you have no idea who's listening and who's doing their Facebook page. The students get no interaction with you, and if you are using Powerpoint or similar they may hardly see your face the whole time. It's not clear that students in future years will sign up for courses where face to face teaching could be suspended at any moment because the virus comes back. Remember that the virus is now pretty much everywhere and could reappear pretty much everywhere over the next few years. When you add to that that, even today, students expect to "go to" University rather than have it come to them, and to at least start to mature and find their feet, you have to wonder how attractive University is going to seem, especially given the frightening costs involved.

    The situation is no better in Europe. In France, governments over the last decade have made a huge push to attract foreign students, not just at Universities, but at the elite Grandes Écoles like Sciences Po in Paris, where a third of the student body is from abroad and many courses are taught in English. (You can study for some degrees in France without speaking the language). Not many people will pay for the privilege of hearing French teachers teaching in English while cooped up in their parents' home in a country a long way away. For some institutions this is going to be catastrophic.

    I have to say, though, as somebody who's been involved with Universities most of my life, that this isn't all bad. In the UK, for example, there are simply too many degree courses, and people who aren't really up to it are paying lots of money they can't afford for courses they don't need and won't use. This could be the start of a sanity check. It's interesting that the two universities mentioned in the Guardian article, including that of the author, didn't used to be universities at all. They were both Polytechnics, specialising in vocational teaching, magically transformed into universities about 25 years ago by giving them a new name. This has led to too many graduates chasing university jobs, and too many, frankly, sub-standard courses. There'll be some winnowing out. Partly for bad reasons – you can't put engineering courses entirely on line – and partly for good ones: do I really need that Master's degree in Intersectional Theory?

    There's a lot more to say but that'll do for now.

    PlutoniumKun , May 12, 2020 at 11:13 am

    Thanks for the insight, David. As someone who did a Masters in one of the former Poly's (in Oxford) back in the 1990's I was astonished at the commercialisation and pressure on teachers in comparison to what I'd experienced doing under and post grad study in pre-crapified (if very under-resourced) Irish Universities in the 1980's. Even then, the pressure the junior lecturers were put under seemed extreme. I'm told by lecturer friends that its gotten much worse over the years. And don't get them started on the standard of some of the fee paying students .

    I hope you are wrong, btw, about Japanese grammar, as I've just started online classes in precisely that topic!

    David , May 12, 2020 at 12:44 pm

    Sorry, badly expressed.You can indeed study languages online – in fact I've done so, including Japanese as it happens. What I was suggesting is that actually teaching languages at degree level entirely on line, and especially when you've got three writing systems to worry about, or when you have tonal systems, or non-standard sounds to memorise and practice, is going to be a hell of a problem. I think there's a substantial difference between studying a language online to use it, and studying it to degree level, which at least in theory qualifies you to teach it.

    PlutoniumKun , May 12, 2020 at 1:08 pm

    Don't worry, I know what you meant!

    In fact, I was just thinking of that yesterday, when watching an online conversation between two YouTuber Japanese teachers who were discussing the different ways of approaching the language. It seems to me to be a golden age for language learning, there are so many great resources available cheap or almost free online (I'm still picking and choosing which method works best for me and which ones are worth supporting), but at the same time, I was wondering if this is positive or negative for the old fashioned academic method.

    John Saari , May 12, 2020 at 11:39 am

    Newton spent two years on the farm during the plague years and invented the calculus and some ground breaking physics. Not to be too optimistic but perhaps there are some young folks who can profit from a bit of time alone to think and tinker.

    SouthSideGT , May 12, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    Thanks, David. Lots to unpack there. Much appreciated. And my two cents is that out of this historic pandemic, maybe our great established universities and colleges will drive online huckster "universities" out of business.

    ambrit , May 12, 2020 at 1:11 pm

    In a general view from the cheap seats, the real bottleneck here is the elite's usage of "degrees" as gateway metrics for employment decision making. Thus, the above mentioned transformation of "Trades Schools" into "Universities." I personally have encountered marginally competent managers who owe their positions to their credentials, and not any displayed skills. I have also encountered grossly incompetent managers who are not replaced by upper management because said upper management will not consider slotting "up from the ranks" workers into positions that they are manifestly qualified for by virtue of hands on working experience, but lacked credentials.
    This also highlights the mingling of both "Higher Education" programs with "Trade School" ones. As a rule of thumb, when one tries to be all things to all people, one ends up being nothing to anyone.

    allan , May 12, 2020 at 10:25 am

    One to keep an eye on is the University of Austrian Economics Chicago.
    Under its current president, they have been spending like crazy, are heavily tuition dependent,
    and (like Northwestern) have a large medical center which will have taken a massive hit
    from the pause on elective surgeries.

    But six years ago, Chicago already an outlier:

    University of Chicago Is Outlier With Growing Debt Load [Bloomberg, 2014]

    While the University of Chicago has about the same amount of debt as Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, its $6.7 billion endowment is a third the size of the Ivy League school's $20.8 billion. Chicago's debt as a percentage of its endowment is 54 percent, compared with 17 percent for Yale.

    Harvard, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Stanford University, near Palo Alto, California, have the most notes and bonds among the 20 richest schools. Yet as a percentage of their endowments, the obligations represent about 17 percent and 26 percent, respectively.

    It would be a damn shame if the home of expansionary austerity were to end up in the financial ICU,
    on the receiving end of Dr. Market's shock therapy.

    NoBrick , May 12, 2020 at 10:40 am

    "The schools argue quite explicitly that they are not in the business of educating but of conferring credentials, and it is they alone that determine what is adequate for them to hand out a degree. There is precedent supporting the universities' arguments."

    "What is adequate",
    didn't arise as a product of public debate (as it should have in a democracy),
    but as a distillation of private discussion. Their ideas contradict the original American charter
    veneer (of/by/for) but that doesn't disturb them. After all, they are on a mission.
    A "doctrine of faith" was/is their cognitive source

    Dewey's Pedagogic Creed statement of 1897:
    "Every teacher should realize he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of the proper
    social order and the securing of the right social growth. In this way the teacher is always the
    prophet of the true God and the usherer in of the true kingdom of heaven."

    Not to worry, if credentialism doesn't fly your kite, we have salvation by consumption, or
    redemption via electoral saviors

    Max , May 12, 2020 at 10:47 am

    Student jobs are probably some of the first to go, definitely anybody with a job on campus is probably now out of work. My brother lives in a small college town and he says it's a ghost town. Their economy depends on students spending their loan/mom/dad's money.

    If I were a student, I would be seriously thinking twice about taking a semester off, moving back with my parents and waiting for things to shake out. Who wants to do zoom classes? No way would I have been disciplined enough to self study at that age (or even now).

    College is still in session in a lot of places. It would be interesting to know how many students have already disappeared.

    juno mas , May 12, 2020 at 6:46 pm

    My local California community college transitioned to online classes mid- Spring semester. Most of the foreign students (Chinese, Scandinavian, European, etc.) returned home pronto. Registration for Fall 2020 classes (likely to again be online) is way down.

    Colleges are huge economic drivers in most towns. It sustains high rental income for landlords, lots of late's for Starbuck's, and retail stores soak up mucho dinero from them. Fortunately the wild and crazy driving antics around campus have abated.

    lyman alpha blob , May 12, 2020 at 10:58 am

    It would really be a shame if colleges and universities were forced to cut some of their bloated administrations in order to make up for the shortfall How would we ever get along without the people who go to meetings all day?

    Alex Cox , May 12, 2020 at 12:52 pm

    +1. CU Boulder just built a massive building which they call the Center for Academic Excellence. I thought the university was already such a center, but apparently not.

    What goes on in the Center for Academic Excellence? Is any teaching done there? No. It's extra office space for the administrators/mbas.

    KLG , May 12, 2020 at 2:28 pm

    I remember a faculty member (an Australian, naturally) at my home institution commenting on our recently established Center for Excellence in Something-or-Other: Why don't they just go ahead and call it the Center for Mediocrity in Something-or-Other ? That one stuck with me during my subsequent peregrinations. I have been fortunate to avoid such centers during my career.

    CGKen , May 12, 2020 at 4:42 pm

    Well, no luck so far after the first round of furloughs. Some of the admin had their pay reduced (don't worry they'll still make well into six figures next year), but they all still have jobs.

    DanB , May 12, 2020 at 11:07 am

    I am in Mass., retired and teach part time at two local colleges, one private and one a community college. The private college has already cut some classes for the fall semester, which they are trying to find a way to hold on-campus this fall. They are hoping to reinstate some of these canceled classes if enrollments of incoming freshmen increase in the next several weeks. As for the community college, it is conceivable -but who knows?-enrollments will increase due to the low cost option it presents compared to private colleges and universities -and even to public universities.

    allan , May 12, 2020 at 11:14 am

    And on a completely unrelated note. /s

    Protecting Art in College Collections [Inside Higher Ed]

    Academic museum directors know their fortunes are tied to those of their parent institutions.
    Some worry about the possibility that collections could be raided to raise funds.

    Rather than worrying about this possibility, shouldn't they be embracing the disruption?
    Campus art museums can be at the innovative cutting edge of modern higher ed finance.
    For $35 million, shouldn't a job creator on the Board of Trustees get more than his name
    (and it's usually a he) over the entrance to another cookie-cutter new dorm?

    I'll take the small Turner for the master bath, the Modigliani for the dining room,
    and a really big Rothko for the wine cellar.

    Doug , May 12, 2020 at 11:18 am

    I jokingly told my daughter no more Northwestern for you it's looking like Wuhan State.

    anon in so cal , May 12, 2020 at 11:56 am

    Here's the Chronicle's updated survey results from U.S. colleges and universities, concerning their tentative plans for the Fall 2020 semester:

    https://www.chronicle.com/article/Here-s-a-List-of-Colleges-/248626?cid=wcontentgrid_hp_1b

    L , May 12, 2020 at 12:15 pm

    I am at a University and I can speak to the fact that it is shaping up to be complicated. Some institutions are clearly more leveraged than others but there has been another factor which is the increasing focus of institutions on branding. Some of the bigger names e.g. MIT and even some "state" schools such as Berkeley have long since shifted from serving their communities to being international brands. The others like mine have attracted large foreign populations which supplement some programs notably in STEM fields but also maintain mostly local students.

    As a side note the risk for the non-US students is partially travel though Trump's behavior has already turned some off. It is also their own domestic economies. Despite the happy talk China's economy is taking a big hit from this and will continue to do so. Going abroad requires someone at home having the money to send you. That is less of a thing.

    Going forward one route is already being shopped around in the groupthink of record (NYMag) The Coming Disruption Scott Galloway predicts a handful of elite cyborg universities will soon monopolize higher education. . The model here is neoliberal education on steroids or "MIT+Google" basically take the existing brands serve them up to 10,000 students and have the major brands survive by eating the weak. This of course completely sheds the idea of education or college as a public institution and doubles down on the credentialing concept with the assumption that students will prefer Amazon-approved educational materials delivered in the comfort of their home over learning from a live instructor.

    Call it disaster education.

    The idea is clearly an update of the "Moocs will kill education" argument and is being trotted out as "inevitable" by someone with extensive silicon valley connections who clearly believes that he will be one of the survivors. Interestingly there is no notion that this education will be better for anyone (except the smaller slice of winners) only that it will allow the already wealthy to survive. For all that the interviewee makes two points that are salient:

    Let's look at Apple. It does something like $250 billion a year in revenue. Apple has to convince its stockholders that its stock price will double in five years, otherwise its stockholders will go buy Salesforce or Zoom or some other stock. Apple doesn't need to double revenue to double its stock price, but it needs to increase it by 60 or 80 percent. That means, in the next five years, Apple probably needs to increase its revenue base by $150 billion. To do this, you have to go big-game hunting. You can't feed a city raising squirrels. People ask if big tech wants to get into education and health care, and I say no, they have to get into education and health care. They have no choice. (emphasis mine)

    So even the proponents are clear that this kind of eat-the-system approach is all about stock boosting.

    That's the unfortunate part. When the government isn't able to bail out America, billionaires step in. But it always comes at a price. Those people become largely untouchable, and they can't be removed from office. Right now, we're in a situation where it's no longer NASA putting us on Mars or the CDC testing us for antibodies. It's Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. Basically, thanks to billionaires, you're going to pay the lowest tax rates.

    And again it all comes back to tax rates, although so far as I can tell it is not my rates that keep getting lowered. Whether the economy is working for everyone? Who cares.

    That said there is of course another alternative which is to treat education as a service again and to fund the government again so that we can actually build the nation not in a few power centers but everywhere. This would be driven by the recognition that the students taking MIT+Google online gain no real benefit if they continue to live in a community with no jobs and that such an eat the young approach will only speed the slow death of the states. But that is not Wall Street's concern.

    Rebuilding communities would mean making sustained community investments and paring down our obsession with branded elites in favor of local institutions. But doing that requires governing for Americans not Wall St.

    flora , May 12, 2020 at 1:26 pm

    +1. Thanks for this comment.

    flora , May 12, 2020 at 12:15 pm

    My uni's admin sent out an email saying something along the lines of "our uni isn't a 'place', it's an intellectual endeavor that continues even when we're apart. We're a global enterprise that can be joined and participated in from anywhere." They're trying to convince parents and students that remote online learning has the same value as in-person classes, lab work, and faculty mentoring. (Not to mention the 'college experience' and meeting people in your age group who you may meet again in your career.)

    I'm afraid the uni's sales pitch is running into strong headwinds. Parents have no interest in paying full, high dollar tuition for half a college experience. Students have no interest in paying full, high dollar tuition for online only classes.

    flora , May 12, 2020 at 12:39 pm

    adding: a few years ago, the admin went all in on a public-private debt financed real estate development campus buildings scheme that has left it in a world of financial hurt, even with full enrollment and high tuition. For some reason the endowment (huge) is never touched as a funding source for dire times. Nor are the sports programs' funding. odd.

    Alex Cox , May 12, 2020 at 12:39 pm

    Higher education in the US is not necessarily a Democrat environment. The professoriat may be liberal, but the regents and administration can be extremely right wing – as is the case of the University of Colorado, where I taught.

    Swamp Yankee , May 12, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    The President of Northwestern, Morty Schapiro, was the President of my undergrad alma mater (Williams College) back in the early 2000s. I personally tousled with him, made fun of him on the dais as Class Commencement Speaker at graduation, called him names in the school paper -- because then, I saw, though I may not have had a fully adult consideration of it, that he was a tool for The Money Power. Outright contempt for the scholarship kids who couldn't get donations.

    Scuttlebut from Professors, with whom I was close, both in the humanities and stories I heard from my friends in the Sciences, was that while "Morty" (as he demanded to be jocularly known) led a building wave that tore down much of a quaint semi-rustic campus and put the endowment funds in the hands of banksters, which came a'cropper in 2008 when he had providentially moved on to better and brighter opportunities . at Northwestern!

    It seems he did much the same there.

    On a tangential note, I was a grad student during the Great Financial Crisis of '08, and in the State of Michigan, which was among the worst hit (poor Michigan, so far from God, so close to the United States .), the differences that a hit to endowment reserves entailed were immediately and viscerally felt. A good example: food. Before the Crisis, we'd be treated to sumptuous, delicious spreads, Indian, Middle Eastern, quiches and cakes, you name it. After the crisis -- if there was anything beyond coffee and rolls, you might be lucky to grab some pizza or fruit. It was night and day. And that was at a relatively rich institution.

    As someone who teaches at a community college that was holding on by the skin of its teeth beforehand, I am not optimistic as to its long-term viability.

    We shall see. Stay safe and healthy, everyone.

    L , May 12, 2020 at 2:20 pm

    Yes stay safe. College presidents have a way of behaving like CEOs.

    Jeff N , May 12, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    Sad that all the big Illinois public colleges are found in the last list in that link, under "schools which already had a negative outlook"

    kareninca , May 12, 2020 at 4:43 pm

    If your family still has the money for this sort of thing, and there is a college that is very hard to get into that you would like to attend – in one manner or another – this would be a good year to apply. There will be less competition for admission.

    Maybe the pandemic will bring a partial reprieve to small local rural colleges. People with money may decide to send their children to someplace like St. Olaf (if they live in that state). It is easier to arrange physical distancing when you have lots of open space – rather than eg. at NYU or Columbia. And if the kids have to come home in a hurry, they will still be in-state. And they won't be bringing back big city exposure.

    Shiloh1 , May 12, 2020 at 7:52 pm

    St. Olaf very good for cross country running.

    flora , May 12, 2020 at 7:57 pm

    St. Olaf is a very good small private college in Minnesota. Much respect to them. This doesn't diminish the sudden new larger requirements for the larger world, as is. imo.

    [May 06, 2020] Richard Wolff US jobless totals are about to get WORSE than during the Great Depression. It's time for a RADICAL new approach

    May 06, 2020 | www.rt.com

    By Richard D. Wolff, Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University, NYC. Wolff's weekly show, Economic Update, is syndicated on over 100 radio stations and goes to 55 million TV receivers via Free Speech TV and his two recent books with Democracy at Work are Understanding Marxism and Understanding Socialism both available at democracyatwork.info . We are entering an even Greater Depression than the 1930s, with hundreds of millions thrown out of work across the world. Capitalism is a broken, unstable system that is beyond repair – but there are alternatives. Ninety-one years after the start of the Great Depression (capitalism's worst downturn until now), we are entering an even Greater Depression. The 1930s were so awful that leaders of capitalist economies ever since have said they had learned how to avoid any future depressions. All promised to take the steps needed to avoid them. Those promises have all been broken. Capitalism remains intrinsically unstable. Read more Richard D. Wolff: Viruses like Covid-19 are a part of nature we must accept. But Capitalism-2020 must be destroyed Richard D. Wolff: Viruses like Covid-19 are a part of nature we must accept. But Capitalism-2020 must be destroyed

    That instability is revealed in its recurring cycles, recessions, downturns, depressions, crashes, etc. They have plagued capitalism wherever it has settled in as the prevailing economic system. Now that the whole world's prevailing economic system is capitalism, we suffer global instability. To date, capitalist instability has resisted every effort (monetary and fiscal policies, Keynesian economics, privatization, deregulation, etc.) to overcome or stop it. And now it is here yet again.

    Across the world, hundreds of millions of workers are unemployed. The tools, equipment, and raw materials in their factories, offices and stores sit idle, gathering dust and rust. The goods and services they might have produced do not now emerge to help us through these awful times. Perishable plants and animals that cannot now be processed are destroyed even as scarcities multiply.

    Workers lose their jobs if and when employers – mostly private capitalists – fire them. Employers hire workers when workers add more value to what the employer sells than the value of those workers' wages. Hiring then adds to profits. Employers fire workers when they add less than the value of the wages paid to them. Firing then reduces losses. Employers protect and reproduce their enterprises by maximizing profits and minimizing losses.

    Profit, not the full employment of workers nor of means of production, is "the bottom line" of capitalists, and thus of capitalism. That is how the system works. Capitalists are rewarded when their profits are high and punished when they are not.

    No-one wants unemployment. Workers want their jobs back; employers want the workers back producing profitable output; governments want the tax revenues that depend on workers and capitalist employers actively collaborating to produce.

    Yet the capitalist system has regularly produced economic downturns everywhere for three centuries – on average, every four to seven years. We have had three crashes so far this century: 'dot.com' in 2000, 'sub-prime mortgage' in 2008, and now 'corona' in 2020. That averages out at one crash just under every seven years – capitalism's 'norm'. Capitalists do not want unemployment, but they regularly generate it. It is a basic contradiction of their system.

    Read more ONE IN SEVEN Americans would avoid Covid-19 treatment for fear of cost, even as pricey new pill shows promise against virus ONE IN SEVEN Americans would avoid Covid-19 treatment for fear of cost, even as pricey new pill shows promise against virus

    Today's massive US capitalist crisis – over 30 million unemployed and counting, a quarter of the workforce – shows dramatically that maximizing profit is not maximizing society's well-being. First and foremost, consider that the unemployed millions continue much of their consumption while ceasing much of their production. A portion of the wealth produced by those still employed must be redistributed to sustain the unemployed. Society thus suffers the usually intense struggles over the shares of profits versus wages that will be redistributed to the unemployed. These struggles, both public – over tax structures, for example – and private – for instance, over household budgets – can be profoundly destabilizing for societies.

    Redistribution struggles could be alleviated if, for example, public employment replaced private unemployment. If the state became the employer of last resort, those fired by private employers could immediately be rehired by the state to do useful social work.

    Then any government paying unemployment benefits would instead pay wages, obtain in return real goods and services, and distribute them to the public. The 1930s New Deal did exactly that for millions fired by private employers in the US. A similar alternative (not part of the New Deal) would be to organize the unemployed into worker co-ops performing socially useful work under contract with the government.

    This last alternative is the best, because it would develop a new worker co-op sector of the US economy. That would provide the US public with direct experience in comparing the capitalist with the worker co-op sector in terms of working conditions, product quality and price, civic responsibility, etc.

    On that concrete, empirical basis, societies could offer people a real, democratic choice as to what mix of capitalist and worker co-op sectors of the economy they prefer.

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

    [Apr 28, 2020] The Meditations, by a Roman emperor who died in a plague named after him, has much to say about how to face fear, pain, anxiety and loss by Donald Robertson

    Notable quotes:
    "... First of all, because Stoics believe that our true good resides in our own character and actions, they would frequently remind themselves to distinguish between what's "up to us" and what isn't. Modern Stoics tend to call this "the dichotomy of control" and many people find this distinction alone helpful in alleviating stress. What happens to me is never directly under my control, never completely ..."
    "... Marcus likes to ask himself, "What virtue has nature given me to deal with this situation?" That naturally leads to the question: "How do other people cope with similar challenges?" Stoics reflect on character strengths such as wisdom, patience and self-discipline, which potentially make them more resilient in the face of adversity. They try to exemplify these virtues and bring them to bear on the challenges they face in daily life, during a crisis like the pandemic. They learn from how other people cope. Even historical figures or fictional characters can serve as role models. ..."
    "... fear does us more harm than the things of which we're afraid. ..."
    "... Finally, during a pandemic, you may have to confront the risk, the possibility, of your own death. Since the day you were born, that's always been on the cards. Most of us find it easier to bury our heads in the sand. Avoidance is the No1 most popular coping strategy in the world. We live in denial of the self-evident fact that we all die eventually. ..."
    "... "All that comes to pass", he tells himself, even illness and death, should be as "familiar as the rose in spring and the fruit in autumn". Marcus Aurelius, through decades of training in Stoicism, in other words, had taught himself to face death with the steady calm of someone who has done so countless times already in the past. ..."
    Apr 25, 2020 | www.theguardian.com
    T he Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was the last famous Stoic philosopher of antiquity. During the last 14 years of his life he faced one of the worst plagues in European history. The Antonine Plague, named after him, was probably caused by a strain of the smallpox virus. It's estimated to have killed up to 5 million people, possibly including Marcus himself.

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    ="rich-link__link u-faux-block-link__overlay" aria-label="'What it means to be an American': Abraham Lincoln and a nation divided" href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/apr/11/abraham-lincoln-verge-book-ted-widmer-interview">

    From AD166 to around AD180, repeated outbreaks occurred throughout the known world. Roman historians describe the legions being devastated, and entire towns and villages being depopulated and going to ruin. Rome itself was particularly badly affected, carts leaving the city each day piled high with dead bodies.

    In the middle of this plague, Marcus wrote a book, known as The Meditations, which records the moral and psychological advice he gave himself at this time. He frequently applies Stoic philosophy to the challenges of coping with pain, illness, anxiety and loss. It's no stretch of the imagination to view The Meditations as a manual for developing precisely the mental resilience skills required to cope with a pandemic.

    First of all, because Stoics believe that our true good resides in our own character and actions, they would frequently remind themselves to distinguish between what's "up to us" and what isn't. Modern Stoics tend to call this "the dichotomy of control" and many people find this distinction alone helpful in alleviating stress. What happens to me is never directly under my control, never completely up to me, but my own thoughts and actions are – at least the voluntary ones. The pandemic isn't really under my control but the way I behave in response to it is.

    Much, if not all, of our thinking is also up to us. Hence, "It's not events that upset us but rather our opinions about them." More specifically, our judgment that something is really bad, awful or even catastrophic, causes our distress.

    This is one of the basic psychological principles of Stoicism. It's also the basic premise of modern cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), the leading evidence-based form of psychotherapy. The pioneers of CBT, Albert Ellis and Aaron T Beck, both describe Stoicism as the philosophical inspiration for their approach. It's not the virus that makes us afraid but rather our opinions about it. Nor is it the inconsiderate actions of others, those ignoring social distancing recommendations, that make us angry so much as our opinions about them.

    Many people are struck, on reading The Meditations, by the fact that it opens with a chapter in which Marcus lists the qualities he most admires in other individuals, about 17 friends, members of his family and teachers. This is an extended example of one of the central practices of Stoicism.

    Marcus likes to ask himself, "What virtue has nature given me to deal with this situation?" That naturally leads to the question: "How do other people cope with similar challenges?" Stoics reflect on character strengths such as wisdom, patience and self-discipline, which potentially make them more resilient in the face of adversity. They try to exemplify these virtues and bring them to bear on the challenges they face in daily life, during a crisis like the pandemic. They learn from how other people cope. Even historical figures or fictional characters can serve as role models.

    With all of this in mind, it's easier to understand another common slogan of Stoicism: fear does us more harm than the things of which we're afraid. This applies to unhealthy emotions in general, which the Stoics term "passions" – from pathos , the source of our word "pathological". It's true, first of all, in a superficial sense. Even if you have a 99% chance, or more, of surviving the pandemic, worry and anxiety may be ruining your life and driving you crazy. In extreme cases some people may even take their own lives.

    In that respect, it's easy to see how fear can do us more harm than the things of which we're afraid because it can impinge on our physical health and quality of life. However, this saying also has a deeper meaning for Stoics. The virus can only harm your body – the worst it can do is kill you. However, fear penetrates into the moral core of our being. It can destroy your humanity if you let it. For the Stoics that's a fate worse than death.

    Finally, during a pandemic, you may have to confront the risk, the possibility, of your own death. Since the day you were born, that's always been on the cards. Most of us find it easier to bury our heads in the sand. Avoidance is the No1 most popular coping strategy in the world. We live in denial of the self-evident fact that we all die eventually. The Stoics believed that when we're confronted with our own mortality, and grasp its implications, that can change our perspective on life quite dramatically. Any one of us could die at any moment. Life doesn't go on forever.

    We're told this was what Marcus was thinking about on his deathbed. According to one historian, his circle of friends were distraught. Marcus calmly asked why they were weeping for him when, in fact, they should accept both sickness and death as inevitable, part of nature and the common lot of mankind. He returns to this theme many times throughout The Meditations.

    "All that comes to pass", he tells himself, even illness and death, should be as "familiar as the rose in spring and the fruit in autumn". Marcus Aurelius, through decades of training in Stoicism, in other words, had taught himself to face death with the steady calm of someone who has done so countless times already in the past.

    Donald Robertson is cognitive behavioural therapist and the author of several books on philosophy and psychotherapy, including Stoicism and the Art of Happiness and How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius

    [Apr 27, 2020] The Math Is Not Pretty - COVID Concerns Spark Existential Threat For Many Colleges

    Apr 26, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

    Colleges across the country are trying to figure out whether they can reopen campus this fall. Right now, it's a 50/50 shot. No one knows, and with a second coronavirus wave looming later this year, face-to-face classes might not be seen until early 2021.

    Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education, said reopening colleges could be a drawn-out process and lead to a 15% decline in students, resulting in billions of dollars lost for schools.

    "The math is not pretty," Robert Kelchen, a student at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, told NPR News . "Colleges are stressed both on the revenue side and on the expenditure side."

    The transition to virtual classes has been epic. Schools in nearly every state have moved courses online in just weeks, triggering lawsuits filed by some students that claim refunds for tuition, fees, and room and board must be seen.

    Dominique Baker, a professor of education policy at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, warned that every college would feel financial stress related to coronavirus lockdowns.

    NPR estimates that virus lockdowns are leading to significant losses for some universities:

    "The University of Michigan estimates it may lose up to $1 billion by the end of the year. For the University of Kentucky, it's $70 million. Hundreds of schools -- including some with endowments of more than a billion dollars, like Duke University, Virginia Tech and Brown -- have announced hiring freezes. Other institutions have cut pay and have laid off staff and contractors. In Vermont, state officials have floated potential college shutdowns."

    Baker said the lockdowns would affect colleges in disproportionate ways. "For some colleges, this is an existential threat that means they'll have to close," she said, while others have the financial support to weather the virus storm.

    The higher education community received a bailout via the CARES Act. Congress allocated around $14 billion to colleges and universities affected by the shutdowns, though the American Council on Education said it was not enough and is calling for $46 billion more.

    Campus Reform identified the top ten schools receiving the most bailout money, courtesy of the American taxpayer:

    1. Arizona State University- $63.5 million
    2. Pennsylvania State University- $54.9 million
    3. Rutgers University- $54.1 million
    4. University of Central Florida- $51 million
    5. Miami Dade College- $49 million
    6. Georgia State University- $45.2 million
    7. California State University-Northridge- $44.6 million
    8. The Ohio State University- $42.8 million
    9. California State University- Long Beach- $41.7 million
    10. California State University- Fullerton- $41 million

    Kelchen described a situation that happened over a decade ago when the economy crashed in 2008, and state budgets were not able to fund schools. With a depression unfolding , it appears funding for higher education will come into question once more.

    And to make matters worse, nationwide enrollment in higher education has plunged 11% in the last eight years as millennials figure out they don't need to rack up tens of thousands of dollars in debt before entering the labor force.

    Nicholas Christakis, a sociologist and physician at Yale University, said colleges are not returning to normal this fall.

    "This idea -- that we can somehow just get back to normal and go back to school in the fall, because we always have, it's not reasonable, actually. I think we're going to have to figure out other ways of doing this," said Christakis.

    Bryan Alexander, an educational futurist at Georgetown University, said the pandemic is going to reshape everything we know about college.

    "There are many ways a reconstructed fall might look, including the option of continuing everything online, though many colleges that teach in-person still think of that as a last resort. They cite online learning growing pains and an ambivalent faculty. Plus there's some fear that students and their families won't be willing to pay as much for an online offering. Among the ideas being floated for tweaking the in-person model is changing the traditional academic calendar. Instead of starting in August or September, school might open in October or even January. Instead of 16-week semesters, colleges could shift to quarter systems or even shorter, four-week courses to allow flexibility," said NPR.

    Some have floated the idea of trying smaller classes and hosting larger ones online. Kim Weeden, a sociologist at Cornell, along with colleague Benjamin Cornwell, said large lecture classes should be eliminated.

    "Just eliminating those 100-person or more classes didn't seem to reduce the small-world nature of the network all that much," Weeden said. Their research -- which was published recently in a white paper, but not peer reviewed -- was only looking at classes and didn't factor in dorm life or campus events such as social gatherings and athletics.

    "There's just so much uncertainty," said Weeden. "You know, a big piece of this, of course, is whether there is going to be [coronavirus] testing available and what those tests can and cannot tell us. And you know, everybody wants to know the answer to that question."

    The million-dollar question is if college classes will return to normal by fall. And the answer is likely no, while many schools will push for virtual classes, extended lockdowns, and a second coronavirus wave could lead to the implosion of higher education.

    [Apr 22, 2020] Replacing Workers Has Many Costs by Cheryl Carleton

    Apr 22, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

    It goes without saying that the consequences to workers are damaging to catastrophic. Normally, being unemployed for more than six months is a near-insurmountable barrier to getting hired again. Perhaps coronavirus will create a better new normal on this front, of companies taking a more understanding view of crisis-induced resume gaps.

    By Cheryl Carleton, Assistant Professor of Economics, Villanova University. Originally published at The Conversation

    The labor market is changing rapidly with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Many organizations are laying off almost all of their workers , while others are considering which workers to lay off, which to furlough and which to keep. Alternatively, some are expanding their labor forces .

    When the economy starts to open up again, employers will need to consider rehiring or replacing workers, or hiring workers with a different mix of skills. The cost of replacing an employee is high for employers, and being out of work is harmful for workers, who may be replaced with artificial intelligence or contractors and risk losing their skills.

    I'm an expert in labor economics , and my work with a colleague investigates the increase in people engaging in alternative work arrangements such as contract or gig work, along with the implications such jobs have for all workers' well-being .

    There is no denying that the U.S. was experiencing a tight labor market and a low rate of unemployment before the coronavirus pandemic took hold. For some fields, particularly health care and services deemed essential by local governments, the labor market continues to be tight.

    A sudden massive loss of demand for their goods and services is forcing companies to make quick decisions, and some employers may underestimate the cost to replace good employees. Knowing these costs may encourage them to keep more of their workers on the payroll.

    Where Are the Costs?

    There are costs involved in losing a worker and replacing them, such as completing paperwork when they leave, advertising the open position, reviewing resumes, interviewing candidates and training the new worker.

    Once a new worker is hired, others must also spend time training them, and it will take some time for the new worker to achieve the same level of productivity as the worker who left.

    Another cost is the loss in social capital . Social capital is the relationships between individuals at work that take time to build and add to the productivity of the firm.

    The Society for Human Resource Management found that departures cost about one-third of a worker's annual earnings .

    The Center for American Progress drilled in deeper. They found the costs of replacing workers who earn less than US$30,000 per year to be 16% of annual salary, or $3,200 for an individual earning $20,000 per year.

    For those earning $30,000 to $50,000 per year, it is estimated to cost about 20% of annual salary, or $8,000 for an individual earning $40,000. For highly educated executive positions, replacement costs are estimated to be 213% of annual salary – $213,000 for a CEO earning $100,000 per year.

    The much higher cost for replacing CEOs is partly due to the fact that they require higher levels of education, greater training, and firms may lose clients and institutional knowledge with such turnovers.

    Employee Alternatives

    This high cost of losing and replacing workers has important implications for organizations, consumers and workers, especially now with an estimated 15 million unemployed .

    For those workers where the costs to replace them are high, firms will try to accommodate them. Strategies may include maintaining pay, increasing benefits and retraining. These actions are also costly, so firms will weigh them against the cost of simply hiring new workers .

    This means businesses face high costs to replace workers in the future, and high costs to retain current workers, leading to higher costs for consumers who buy the firms' goods and services.

    While the above consequences might sound great for workers that organizations choose to keep, these are not the only ways in which firms can respond.

    The high cost of replacing workers, along with the increased uncertainty about the economy may cause businesses to use more automation and robots . Though such switches may entail a significant upfront cost, once they are made the firms then have more control over their production processes.

    Another alternative for firms is to hire fewer permanent employees and turn instead to contract workers . With contract workers, employers are not responsible for benefits, and they can more simply increase or decrease the number of workers as needed.

    While this may increase employment for some workers, it will decrease it for others and it has serious implications for the availability of health and pension benefits as well as unemployment benefits, as the current crisis has revealed.

    Businesses might also consider limiting the scope of what some workers do to limit the cost of replacing them. If the scope of a worker's job is limited, then fewer areas will be impacted by the individual leaving, and the costs to train a replacement will be lower. For workers, however, it means fewer opportunities to gain experience.

    For example, instead of training workers on several or all parts of the production process, the business may limit them to one specific aspect. It will then be less costly for the firm to replace them and the worker will have less experience to add to their resume. This also means less bargaining power for employees.

    Some Win, But Others Lose

    The high cost of losing and then hiring new workers along with increased restrictions on hiring nonresidents might mean higher wages and increased benefits for some workers.

    However, the high degree of uncertainty in the current labor market, along with the potential increase in contract workers and automation means that some workers will not realize these potential gains, and all of us as consumers will most likely end up paying higher prices for the goods and services we buy.

    [Apr 01, 2020] Could the Covid19 Response be More Deadly than the Virus OffGuardian

    Apr 01, 2020 | off-guardian.org

    Suicides and Drug Abuse

    According to the National Center for Health Statistics, over 48,000 suicides occurred in the US in 2018. This equates to an annual rate of about 14 suicides per 100,000 people. As expected, suicides increase substantially during times of economic depression. For example, as a result of the 2008 recession there was an approximate 25% increase. Similarly, during a peak year of the Great Depression, in 1932, the rate rose to 17 suicides per 100,000 people.

    Recent research ties high suicide rates "to the unraveling of the social fabric" that happens when societal breakdowns occur. People become despondent over economic hardship, the loss of social structures, loneliness, and related factors.

    There is probably no greater example of these kinds of losses than what we are experiencing today with the extreme response to COVID-19 and the effects will be felt for many years. The social structures might return in a few months but the economy will not.

    Some think that the economy will recover in three years and others think it will never recover in terms of impact to low-income households, as was the case for the 2008 recession. However, if we estimate a full recovery in six years, the effects will contribute around 3 suicides per 100,000 people every year during that time for a total of over 59,000 deaths in the United States.

    Related to suicides are drug abuse deaths. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 67,000 deaths from overdose of illicit or prescription drugs occurred in 2018. This does not include alcohol abuse. Only 7% were suicides and 87% were known to be unintentional deaths largely due to drug abuse caused by depression or other mental conditions. Such conditions can be expected to rise during times of economic collapse and if we estimate the impact due to COVID-19 over six years as being a 25% increase (as with suicides) that projects about 87,000 additional deaths due to drug abuse.

    Lack of Medical Coverage or Treatment

    Unemployment is expected to rise dramatically as a result of the COVID-19 response and the effect is already being seen in jobless claims. One of the major impacts of unemployment, apart from depression and poverty, is a lack of medical coverage.

    A Harvard study found nearly 45,000 excess deaths annually linked to lack of health coverage. That was at the pre-COVID-19 unemployment rate of 4%.

    As reported recently, millions of Americans are losing their jobs in the COVID-19 recession/depression. For every 2% increase in unemployment, there are about 3.5 million lost jobs.

    The US Secretary of Treasury has predicted a 20% unemployment level, which translates to 12 million lost jobs. If the 45,000 excess deaths due to lack of medical coverage increases uniformly by unemployment rate, we can expect about 225,000 deaths annually due to lack of medical coverage in the US at 20% unemployment. Extrapolating this over a 6-year period would mean 1.35 million deaths .

    This assumes that funding for important health-related programs are not further cut or ignored, a bad assumption that means the estimate is probably low.

    Beyond lack of coverage, medical services are being reprioritized to respond preferentially to COVID-19, causing less resources to be available for treatment of other medical conditions. The capacity of medical service providers has already been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 response in some areas.

    Additionally, clinical trials and drug development are expected to be severely impacted. This means that important new medicines will not reach the market and people will die who otherwise would have lived. There is not yet enough information on the overall impact to medical service provision therefore we will not include an estimate.

    Poverty and Food Access

    The Columbia University School of Public Health studied the effects of poverty on death rates. The investigators found that 4.5% of US deaths were attributable to poverty. That's about 130,000 deaths annually.

    How will this be affected by COVID-19? One way to begin estimating is to consider how the number of people living in poverty will increase.

    Before the COVID-19 response, approximately 12% of Americans lived below the officially defined poverty line. That percentage will undoubtedly rise significantly due to the expected increase in unemployment. If unemployment rises to 20% (from 4%) as predicted, the number of people living in poverty could easily double. If that is the extent of the effect, we will see another 130,000 deaths per year from general poverty.

    Although deaths due to poverty are not entirely about food access, it is a significant factor in that category. In times of economic hardship many people can't afford good food, causing malnutrition and, in some cases, starvation. People also can't access food causing the same outcomes. Limited access to nutritious food is a root cause of diet-related diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and infant mortality issues. A recent estimate suggests 20% of all deaths worldwide are linked to poor diets.

    Food access issues will be further exacerbated with the COVID-19 problem due to the anticipated issues with food production and prices. If the COVID-19 response lasts for years as expected, our estimate will need to be a multiple of the 130,000 annual figure. Using the 6-year estimate, we get 780,000 deaths.

    Conclusion

    The total deaths attributable to the COVID-19 response, from just this limited examination, are estimated to be:

    Suicides 59,000 Drug abuse 87,000 Lack of medical coverage or treatment 1,350,000 Poverty and food access 780,000

    These estimates, totaling more than two million deaths above the estimated 150,000 expected from the virus itself, do not include other predictable issues with the COVID-19 response. An example is the lack of medical services as stated above. Other examples include the EPA's suspension of environmental regulations. It has been estimated that the EPA's Clean Air Act alone has saved 230,000 lives each year.

    Moreover, the anticipated failure of the US Postal Service (USPS) will lead to more illness and death. The USPS "delivers about 1 million lifesaving medications each year and serves as the only delivery link to Americans living in rural areas."

    Even using these low estimates, however, we can see that the response will be much worse than the virus. The social devastation and economic scarring could last more than six years, with one expert predicting that it will be "long-lasting and calamitous."

    That expert has noted that he is not overly concerned with the virus itself because "as much as 99 percent of active cases [of COVID-19] in the general population are 'mild' and do not require specific medical treatment."

    Yet he is deeply concerned about the "the social, economic and public health consequences of this near total meltdown of normal life." He suggests a better alternative is to focus only on those most susceptible to the virus. Others have reasonably suggested that only those who are known to be infected should self-quarantine.

    Some public health professionals have been pleading with authorities to consider the implications of the unreasonable response. Many experts have spoken out publicly, criticizing the overreaction to COVID-19. A professor of medical microbiology, for example, has written an open letter to German Chancellor Merkel in an attempt to draw attention to the concerns.

    The real problem we face today is not a virus. The greater problem is that people have failed to engage in critical thinking due to the fear promoted by some media and government officials. Fear is the mind killer, as author Frank Herbert once wrote. Ultimately, the fear of COVID-19 and the lack of critical thinking that has arisen from it are likely to cause far more deaths than the virus itself.


    George Mc ,

    List of the effects of this virus (not exhaustive):

    • Total shut down on all other news items.
    • The speeding up of an economic meltdown which was going to happen anyway but which now can be attributed to the virus alone.
    • The speeding up of the inevitable confrontation between the overlords and the masses on conditions favourable to the former.
    • The reduction of the public to a condition in which most welcome draconian restrictions
    • The harsh and vitriolic gap between those who are urging on the restrictions and those who are suspicious i.e. a divide and rule matter which threatens to become physically violent.
    • The curtailing and indeed destruction of the rights and protections for the general population that have been hard won over the last century.
    • The reduction of social life to a social media matrix. (And yes I'm using the word "matrix" in a knowing way.)
    • The seemingly legitimate emergence of a police state
    • The wrecking of the public sector. Of course this also means the wrecking of the private sector but that will happen in a bottom up way i.e. smaller businesses tanking, then slightly larger, then larger still. But by the time it affects the giants, the game can be called off since the public sector will be gone.

    Joerg ,

    Some weeks ago on youtube there was a video with an interview with a German virologist Dr. Köhnlein. Youtube removed this video – but now it is back on youtube again (only in German): "CORONA – Alles nur Panik (Dr. Köhnlein)" – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVHZ1bLceRw&feature=youtu.be

    Toby Russell ,

    I've been trying to get a grip on the extent to which the PCR test is used to establish who has been infected with this alleged virus. Part of my research led me to this very recent presentation on YouTube by a well credentialed doctor called Andrew Kaufman. In it, he sets out how inaccurate the test is, that there isn't even a gold standard against which to assess its accuracy, but the one attempt to do so he could find arrived at an 80% false-positive rate. I heard from a doctor friend that its inventor, Kary Mullis, insisted it should never be used for diagnosis. My understanding is that it is being used everywhere but China, where a new test is being developed. If this is true, the figures we are being bombarded with are not remotely trustable.

    But the main thrust of the presentation by Dr Kaufman is the identity between exosomes and covid-19. Exosomes are natural cellular defense mechanisms recently becoming known amongst molecular biologists. They are largely unknown by doctors and nurses. Kaufman's assertion is that covid-19 is in fact an exosome. He quotes James Hildreth, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer at Meharry Medical College and a former professor at John Hopkins: " the virus is fully an exosome in every sense of the word."

    The presentation is about 40 minutes long and followed by a fairly lengthy question and answer session. Because falsifiable, and because it explains all the oddities of this case, I feel his theory deserves widespread attention.

    In other news I had time today to translate:

    The New England Journal of Medicine is the world's leading medical journal. In its 26 March 2020 edition, we find: "[ ] This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of COVID-19 may ultimately be more akin to a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS [ ]"

    This article was penned by a few authors, one of whom was none other than Anthony S Fauci. Yes, THE Anthony S Fauci. Note the case fatality rate. If anyone is interested in a full translation, please let me know

    Cassandra2 ,

    The human race is being 'played' and the majority have been conditioned to accept it.

    The really SCARY aspect of all this is that even if 97% of the global population were given a complete insight into what was actually going on and who was (and has been for a considerable time) manipulating events – what could they do about it?

    Answer 'NOTHING'

    The people are atomised, disconnected and totally powerless as they have no control over MASS MEDIA COMMUNICATION . . . . . they do (RE: BBC).

    A catalyst is required to unite the human race to establish an effective Counter-Offensive capable of cleaning the earth of the dark forces currently in play.

    [Mar 16, 2020] Situation with COVID-19 on campuses

    Mar 16, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

    Sophy , March 14, 2020 at 11:43 am

    Everything the CDC has been doing has been shocking. As a health care provider I just don't want to even look at their recommendations anymore: their information is months old and not based in science, let alone current research on COVID-19.

    Local colleges have been shutting down but forcing instructors to go to the schools – that's not social distancing. And many are still having students in EMT, nursing, psychology, physical therapy, and other health sciences, go to their clinicals, where they will be exposed without adequate personal protection equipment. This is because of the CDC. And admin's greed for money.

    Anon , March 14, 2020 at 1:41 pm

    My local community college, after implementing/pleading with students to incorporate careful hygiene and social distancing into their time on campus, and seeing minimal compliance, decided to make ALL lecture classes online access for the next 3 weeks (at least). We have no known Covid-19 cases in the COUNTY. (But since testing is not extant, or common, no one knows what the true situation is.)

    The goal of moving to online class instruction is to minimize the number of students (15K total) on campus and limit contact with older instructors, counselors, and other staff. Lab classes (PE, Science) will continue under strict personal contact protocol. The solution is a compromise between health issues and the need for students to complete 80% of course curricula to get transferable college credits. We'll see if the gamble works out.

    Closing K-12 schools is a "no win" situation. Some parents want them closed, others don't. In Los Angeles the school district decided to close from pressure by the teachers labor union. Again, few kids understand/implement the protocols of social distancing and smaller home groups may be the better option (for some). Meals for disadvantaged students will continue at the LAUSD (~500K students), but they will be drive-thru pick-up.

    It appears the pandemic could bring even the invincible US to its knees.

    Jack Parsons , March 15, 2020 at 12:11 am

    Children are all super-spreaders. There is no good argument for schools to be open.

    [Mar 12, 2020] Harvard's Let Them Eat Veritas Richest University's Poor Students Shafted as School Provides Spotty, Inadequate Help as It T

    Mar 12, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

    Harvard University should be ashamed of itself. It has dumped the problem of its sudden closure due to coronavirus largely on the students themselves and their families. While most of them are affluent enough to handle the financial fallout of buying airfare at the last minute and storing or shipping their clothes, books, and other possessions, Harvard's students from lower income backgrounds have, to a significant degree, been left in the lurch.

    ... ... ...

    But Harvard's conduct is indefensible. Harvard has, or perhaps more accurately had, a nearly $39 billion endowment. Contrast that with an exceedingly generous estimate of what it might cost to help make these financially stressed undergraduates whole, at least in terms of getting out of Cambridge, or for the ones who really can't go home (flights to their country cancelled), putting them up. Harvard has 6,800 undergraduates. Assume 25% get significant financial support. Even a gold plated solution would cost at most $10,000.

    6,800 x .25 x $10,000 = $17 million.

    That is couch lint for Harvard.

    As the University of Dayton example attests, university and college closures are widespread. For the well-endowed ones who have students attending only by virtue of having received financial aid and/or having the school arrange for paid employment to help pay for their tuition, the failure of the school to provide generous help is a disgrace.

    At Harvard, the afflicted students are petitioning the university to let them store things on campus for free (which was standard practice in my day) and let the ones who can't go home stay on campus. How many could that possibly be? 200 at most? Harvard has a medical center that won't have anything to do once the kids leave. How hard would it be for their staff to check these students' temperatures daily and test anyone who had symptoms?

    And the university will have enough empty rooms that it could easily set aside other dorm rooms if quarantine were needed.

    But the Harvard disregard is a sign of where things are likely to go in the US. A university is supposed to be a community. They are more cohesive than most of our cities and towns. Yet a crisis comes, and the grotesquely well paid university administrators can't be bothered either to make creative use of resources at hand, or dip in Harvard's huge pot of money.

    In other words, expect the rich to walk all over the poor out of indifference, as we are seeing at Harvard now.

    ___

    1 Harvard houses and Yale colleges are groups of dormitories, each with their own adminisphere (such as a faculty dean a resident dean, a house tutor), their own kitchen and dining room, a common room, a library, and other amenities. They are modeled on the Cambridge and Oxford college system. At Harvard, a house has roughly 300 to 400 students.


    Michael , March 12, 2020 at 1:09 am

    The future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed. Get Out! Just got notice I am next up at my library for Wm Gibson's new book, Agency. $17M is a rounding error yet the wealthy feel its too much to ask.

    Bill Gates $5M stills rankles me

    bmeisen , March 12, 2020 at 2:41 am

    Are we hearing the American "college experience" bubble popping? In this fantasy, youth buy products that are packaged as educational experiences. They pay through the nose for them and they are blind to their folly because they believe that the stamped and signed receipt of payment handed to them with great pomp and circumstance will boost their future earning potential to the degree necessary so that they can some day lead lives that are free of educational debt, which until then will of course involve interest costs (compounded) as we do not want socialism.

    Why exactly doesn't Harvard charge 1 million? They could get it and they'd only have customers who can deal gracefully with situations like this.

    Enrico Malatesta , March 12, 2020 at 8:39 am

    Although Harvard (and other esteemed Universities) are selling 'exclusivity', the veneer of egalitarianism is still required for the Brand.

    Two Random Thoughts:

    I'd like to know the graduation statistics of those college students that entered through the Admissions Scandle.

    The Harvard Endowment is an important pool of shadow money, never forget it was the Harvard Fund that 'bought' the worthless Arbusto (Harken Energy) stock that enabled Dubya to get his stake to become Texas Rangers managing general partner, and then Governor, and then front man for Dick Cheney.

    Larry Y , March 12, 2020 at 10:26 am

    At many US elite academic institutions, the hardest part is getting in (exceptions usually in "hard science", engineering, etc.). Also, they probably have all the the help they need to graduate.

    Dave , March 12, 2020 at 3:11 am

    Come to California. Harvard is dead! You'll get a better education and the weather doesn't suck. Harvard stopped being relevant over a decade ago.

    Anon , March 12, 2020 at 1:49 pm

    Actually, don't come to California for higher education. Housing, traffic, cycling risks, and, now, Covid-19 is getting worse. The UC/CalState system can't provide access to it's own in-state high school students that qualify for entry.

    The Rev Kev , March 12, 2020 at 3:33 am

    This is brutal this. They could have helped their own students using only the money in their petty cash drawer and they said nope! I suppose that this is a lesson for those Harvard students that is pretty simple. If you have money so this move is not a problem for you, then that is the way that it is supposed to be. If you are studying here and are in a precarious position then it is all on you. Pure power politics.

    It would be ironic if down the track that Harvard produced a Bill Gates from the later group that went on to achieve fabulous wealth. But that this future alumni, when asked by Harvard for money for them, would say sure – and give a massive contribution to Yale and call it the 2020 Corona Fund.

    GM , March 12, 2020 at 4:18 am

    I too was an undergrad at an institution in the Cambridge area, and I am not from the US.

    Got a full financial aid, but that does not fully cover your housing and does not at all cover your food or other expenses, so you had to work during the term to make it. And you had to move out of the dorm in the summer. Fortunately, in our particular dorm, there was storage in the basement of the dorm, so we did not have to look for outside storage, but others were not so lucky. But moving out at the end of the term was still a major disruption that one had to plan for well in advance.

    So I am very well aware of the situation undergrads at Harvard find themselves in, and my first thought when I saw the news was "WTF are these students supposed to do now?".

    Especially the international ones. Because a day after Harvard announces that students are kicked out of the dorms, what does Trump do? Bans travel from Europe for 30 days. Which effectively means banning traveling TO Europe too, because those are all round-trip flights. This is on top of the travel restrictions regarding several countries in Asia already in place.

    In the best of times, it was always near-impossible to find a flight on such a short notice. Now when so many flights have been cancelled, how is one supposed to go home, when there are thousands of others in the same situation (because Harvard isn't the only university that is doing this)? It is not even a possibility for many, forget the expenses. There are simply no flights. And most of these students don't even have a car to sleep in.

    I will venture a guess regarding why this is done -- they don't want to get sued by litigious-minded parents if undergrads get it while on campus. Which, admittedly, there is a high chance of happening, unless they self-isolated the whole campus (but that would have created a legal mess on a whole new level). Dorms often have 2, 3, 4 students living in the same room, and the virus is very clearly airborne, so it would also get between rooms through the air seeping beneath the doors (which is why in China quarantines involve sealing the doors with tape). Also, bathrooms are shared across the whole floor, which is another transmission risk.

    So the administration took the easy decision -- instead of trying to help the student population, and start that early on when it was the time to do so (i.e. mid-February), which would have involved some effort and risk on its part, it just dumped the problem onto the students

    PlutoniumKun , March 12, 2020 at 4:43 am

    Thats quite disgusting – I'm assuming it is fear of litigation that is driving this.

    I was in Trinity College Dublin last night for an evening class – the nearest Ireland would have to a Harvard (except, as the grads there would no doubt add 'with about 300 more years of history and teaching experience'). They had a Covid case in, ironically enough, the biology department last week.

    But they are acting I think quite responsibly – phasing in a slow shutdown – all lectures have gone online, but small tutorials, etc., still going on, with lots of support for foreign students. They were actually criticised for being over the top (there are still plenty of people who still 'don't get it' and sadly many are in a position of authority.)

    GM , March 12, 2020 at 6:33 am

    Litigation is certainly a big part of it. The other aspect might be health insurance. Students are on university plans. Which tend to not be that great, because it is a young and healthy population. When catastrophic situations have arisen in the past on campus (which happens regularly, several times a year in fact), the university has often been stuck with the bill, especially with international students.

    And it will be a lot of long ICU stays to pay for in the coming months, even among the young and healthy.

    Louis Fyne , March 12, 2020 at 9:07 am

    I think you're right w/health insurance. plans are likely self-insured and not modeled to have a cohort students popping into the ICU. Then add rash panic.

    Smaller colleges I can kinda understand, Harvard? give me a break

    Adam1 , March 12, 2020 at 6:02 am

    It seems like almost all colleges and universitys will be moving to the online solution, but you can tell it's a decision made by some administrators who really don't get it. Online classes may be a substitute for lecture, but they wont fill the needs of art students (like my wife who laughed at hearing this idea), science and engineering majors or anyone who needs other facilities and equipment to actually complete work – your oven at home wont replace a kiln as my wife says.

    Left in Wisconsin , March 12, 2020 at 2:06 pm

    I would disagree that the administrators don't get it. On their list of priorities, "avoiding huge lawsuits" is a much higher priority than "providing quality instruction to students." I have been in and around higher ed for the last 30 years and it's not clear to me that the latter is even on the list.

    Louis Fyne , March 12, 2020 at 9:04 am

    Online classes for the yes of the year–mmmm, ok .but closing dorms? that is just insane and against the medical evidence (aka seniors are the most at risk, under-40, while not immune, are in infinitely better shape than those over 70 and/or those w/health issues).

    And Dorms are (generally) like typical apartment complexes, not military barracks.

    If anything, keeping students (aka asymptomatic, mobile, disease vectors) away from seniors is the absolutely best thing for society. just saying

    Hana M , March 12, 2020 at 11:44 am

    Yes! 100% correct.

    Anon , March 12, 2020 at 2:37 pm

    Sending the students home promotes the "OK Boomer Revenge" aspect of the this novel coronavirus.

    (OK Boomer Revenge: older voters with Medicare being impacted greater than younger voters w/o Medicare.)

    Democrita , March 12, 2020 at 9:39 am

    I have a child at UC Santa Cruz, hotbed of striking teaching assistants. We are coming up on spring break and last night had a talk with him about what to do. There are risks to flying home. There are risks to staying at school. But the latter risks are compounded by the fact that we don't know what the school admin will do.

    If he comes home for spring break, will he be able to go back? If he can't, what happens to his stuff? If he stays, will they be allowed to remain in the dorms? And what happens in September? I am sure he will not want to change schools now that he has established friendships and a sense of place. I don't want to pay $66,000 per year -- an effort that involves his parents and both sets of grandparents -- for him to take online classes. I have been a university teacher, so I know exactly what those are worth. :)

    At least we can afford it, and we have friends in Cali if he gets stuck there. This action by Harvard is unconscionable. Then again, if Harvard had a conscience, it wouldn't be Harvard. But UCSC, based on its treatment of the striking TAs, doesn't have a conscience either.

    I have a handful of relatives who voted for Biden, too, and I just want to punch them all in the face. Idjits. Hooray for ecocide! Onward to mass extinction! Guess the kid won't need that college education after all. Maybe we can use the money to send him to survival school.

    Randy G , March 12, 2020 at 11:59 am

    Wow! $66,000! For a supposedly public university. I went to UC Santa Cruz, admittedly a few decades ago, and I was paying something like $2000 a year. The U.S. is making incredible progress -- just all of it heading off in the wrong direction and toward the edge of the cliff. Very soon your local library–should it still exist -- can file The Road Warrior in the documentary section.

    Good luck to you and your children. And give your Biden loving relatives a friendly punch for me.

    Anon , March 12, 2020 at 2:42 pm

    They are likely paying out-of-state tuition. In-state is about one-third of that.

    Left in Wisconsin , March 12, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    But UCSC, based on its treatment of the striking TAs, doesn't have a conscience either.

    This is the key point. The neoliberalization of the U.S. university – "public" as well as private – has been clear for quite awhile but there are strong ideological pressures not to see it, not least by all the brainiacs who exist on college campuses.

    My prediction is that most U administrations will issue guidance to faculty to give students full credit for all courses this semester (regardless of how much work actually gets done). The smart ones are looking ahead to the fall and trying to figure out what to do if enrollment/tuition, state aid and research funding crash, which seems pretty likely if things are not back to normal shortly. The 2008 crash turned out to be a godsend to higher ed, driving huge numbers of unemployed back to school for "re-training." But that bubble only lasted a couple of years and enrollment trends have been steeply downward since 2010-11. The last five years have already seen, again mostly uncommented on, the beginnings of a shake-out (some schools closing, lots of changing emphasis to programs that can bring cash in the door, ubiquitous move to adjuncts instead of permanent faculty). Expect that to ramp up considerably. Ironically, perhaps the only counter-trend has been a HUGE increase in the number of Chinese students (of which there are now apparently about 5K at my Big 10 U) paying full freight. Can that continue?

    Anon , March 12, 2020 at 2:53 pm

    Well, California does have standards. Getting course credit will require completing 80% of the course curricula. Since the UC System is on the Quarter system (12 weeks, not 15) the UCSC students have likely passed that threshold.

    Encouraging International students to attend at out-of-state tuition rates is now standard operating procedure in California. The new president of my local community college unabashedly said it in a recent letter that it was necessary. The college needs to eliminate its $5M budget deficit by 2022. (Real estate investors are salivating: student housing, apartments, and SF Home speculation, etc.)

    Mark D , March 12, 2020 at 10:21 am

    Harvard's endowment is only $40 billion. How can you expect an institution with only $40 billion in the bank to spend money to help poor students?

    Hana M , March 12, 2020 at 11:38 am

    From a public health standpoint this is insane. Boston is a known epicenter for the pandemic with reported cases doubling daily. To send students home–wherever home is–without testing for the virus risks spreading the disease further. I hope Governor Charlie Baker will step in stop this from happening.

    https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2020/03/11/heres-how-boston-colleges-are-approaching-refunds-after-asking-students-to-vacate-campus-housing

    [Mar 10, 2020] Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us by Paul Verhaeghe

    Highly recommended!
    Neoliberalism destroys solidarity; as the result it destroys both the society and individuals
    Notable quotes:
    "... Thirty years of neoliberalism, free-market forces and privatisation have taken their toll, as relentless pressure to achieve has become normative. If you're reading this sceptically, I put this simple statement to you: meritocratic neoliberalism favours certain personality traits and penalises others. ..."
    "... On top of all this, you are flexible and impulsive, always on the lookout for new stimuli and challenges. In practice, this leads to risky behaviour, but never mind, it won't be you who has to pick up the pieces. The source of inspiration for this list? The psychopathy checklist by Robert Hare , the best-known specialist on psychopathy today. ..."
    "... the financial crisis illustrated at a macro-social level (for example, in the conflicts between eurozone countries) what a neoliberal meritocracy does to people. Solidarity becomes an expensive luxury and makes way for temporary alliances, the main preoccupation always being to extract more profit from the situation than your competition. Social ties with colleagues weaken, as does emotional commitment to the enterprise or organisation. ..."
    "... Bullying used to be confined to schools; now it is a common feature of the workplace. This is a typical symptom of the impotent venting their frustration on the weak – in psychology it's known as displaced aggression. There is a buried sense of fear, ranging from performance anxiety to a broader social fear of the threatening other. ..."
    "... Constant evaluations at work cause a decline in autonomy and a growing dependence on external, often shifting, norms ..."
    "... More important, though, is the serious damage to people's self-respect. Self-respect largely depends on the recognition that we receive from the other, as thinkers from Hegel to Lacan have shown. Sennett comes to a similar conclusion when he sees the main question for employees these days as being "Who needs me?" For a growing group of people, the answer is: no one. ..."
    "... A neoliberal meritocracy would have us believe that success depends on individual effort and talents, meaning responsibility lies entirely with the individual and authorities should give people as much freedom as possible to achieve this goal. ..."
    "... the paradox of our era as: "Never have we been so free. Never have we felt so powerless." ..."
    Sep 29, 2014 | www.theguardian.com

    An economic system that rewards psychopathic personality traits has changed our ethics and our personalities

    'We are forever told that we are freer to choose the course of our lives than ever before, but the freedom to choose outside the success narrative is limited.'

    We tend to perceive our identities as stable and largely separate from outside forces. But over decades of research and therapeutic practice, I have become convinced that economic change is having a profound effect not only on our values but also on our personalities. Thirty years of neoliberalism, free-market forces and privatisation have taken their toll, as relentless pressure to achieve has become normative. If you're reading this sceptically, I put this simple statement to you: meritocratic neoliberalism favours certain personality traits and penalises others.

    There are certain ideal characteristics needed to make a career today. The first is articulateness, the aim being to win over as many people as possible. Contact can be superficial, but since this applies to most human interaction nowadays, this won't really be noticed.

    It's important to be able to talk up your own capacities as much as you can – you know a lot of people, you've got plenty of experience under your belt and you recently completed a major project. Later, people will find out that this was mostly hot air, but the fact that they were initially fooled is down to another personality trait: you can lie convincingly and feel little guilt. That's why you never take responsibility for your own behaviour.

    On top of all this, you are flexible and impulsive, always on the lookout for new stimuli and challenges. In practice, this leads to risky behaviour, but never mind, it won't be you who has to pick up the pieces. The source of inspiration for this list? The psychopathy checklist by Robert Hare , the best-known specialist on psychopathy today.

    This description is, of course, a caricature taken to extremes. Nevertheless, the financial crisis illustrated at a macro-social level (for example, in the conflicts between eurozone countries) what a neoliberal meritocracy does to people. Solidarity becomes an expensive luxury and makes way for temporary alliances, the main preoccupation always being to extract more profit from the situation than your competition. Social ties with colleagues weaken, as does emotional commitment to the enterprise or organisation.

    Bullying used to be confined to schools; now it is a common feature of the workplace. This is a typical symptom of the impotent venting their frustration on the weak – in psychology it's known as displaced aggression. There is a buried sense of fear, ranging from performance anxiety to a broader social fear of the threatening other.

    Constant evaluations at work cause a decline in autonomy and a growing dependence on external, often shifting, norms. This results in what the sociologist Richard Sennett has aptly described as the "infantilisation of the workers". Adults display childish outbursts of temper and are jealous about trivialities ("She got a new office chair and I didn't"), tell white lies, resort to deceit, delight in the downfall of others and cherish petty feelings of revenge. This is the consequence of a system that prevents people from thinking independently and that fails to treat employees as adults.

    More important, though, is the serious damage to people's self-respect. Self-respect largely depends on the recognition that we receive from the other, as thinkers from Hegel to Lacan have shown. Sennett comes to a similar conclusion when he sees the main question for employees these days as being "Who needs me?" For a growing group of people, the answer is: no one.

    Our society constantly proclaims that anyone can make it if they just try hard enough, all the while reinforcing privilege and putting increasing pressure on its overstretched and exhausted citizens. An increasing number of people fail, feeling humiliated, guilty and ashamed. We are forever told that we are freer to choose the course of our lives than ever before, but the freedom to choose outside the success narrative is limited. Furthermore, those who fail are deemed to be losers or scroungers, taking advantage of our social security system.

    A neoliberal meritocracy would have us believe that success depends on individual effort and talents, meaning responsibility lies entirely with the individual and authorities should give people as much freedom as possible to achieve this goal. For those who believe in the fairytale of unrestricted choice, self-government and self-management are the pre-eminent political messages, especially if they appear to promise freedom. Along with the idea of the perfectible individual, the freedom we perceive ourselves as having in the west is the greatest untruth of this day and age.

    The sociologist Zygmunt Bauman neatly summarised the paradox of our era as: "Never have we been so free. Never have we felt so powerless." We are indeed freer than before, in the sense that we can criticise religion, take advantage of the new laissez-faire attitude to sex and support any political movement we like. We can do all these things because they no longer have any significance – freedom of this kind is prompted by indifference. Yet, on the other hand, our daily lives have become a constant battle against a bureaucracy that would make Kafka weak at the knees. There are regulations about everything, from the salt content of bread to urban poultry-keeping.

    Our presumed freedom is tied to one central condition: we must be successful – that is, "make" something of ourselves. You don't need to look far for examples. A highly skilled individual who puts parenting before their career comes in for criticism. A person with a good job who turns down a promotion to invest more time in other things is seen as crazy – unless those other things ensure success. A young woman who wants to become a primary school teacher is told by her parents that she should start off by getting a master's degree in economics – a primary school teacher, whatever can she be thinking of?

    There are constant laments about the so-called loss of norms and values in our culture. Yet our norms and values make up an integral and essential part of our identity. So they cannot be lost, only changed. And that is precisely what has happened: a changed economy reflects changed ethics and brings about changed identity. The current economic system is bringing out the worst in us.

    Psychology Work & careers Economics Economic policy

    See also

    [Mar 04, 2020] May the Best Man Win

    Mar 04, 2020 | caucus99percent.com

    Cant Stop the M... on Wed, 03/04/2020 - 8:28am We base our entire politics on the idea that we're living in a meritocracy. In other words, like the knights of old at a joust, we find out who is best through competition, a competition assumed to be both fair and honest. In the old days, the joust was assumed to be fair and honest because God was both omnipotent and just and therefore, obviously, would not allow a bad man to win. Nowadays, even most of us who believe in God don't believe that God controls the outcome of competitions in that way. Yet the assumption of a fair and honest competition persists, despite blatant evidence to the contrary.

    In the case of U.S. elections, it is assumed, not that the will of God controls the outcome of competitions, but that the will of the people does. Voter suppression and election fraud are hand-waved away on the dubious grounds that any candidate strong enough could overcome such things. Or maybe the people are to blame. The supporters of the defeated candidate must not have worked hard enough, or maybe the people generally are to blame for not voting in large enough numbers. Those who challenge any of these assumptions are defeated, either by institutional inertia or by gaslighting.

    Nothing happens, so nothing happened

    Here's what I mean by institutional inertia.

    In 2000, there was ample evidence that George W. Bush had committed fraud in the presidential election, with the help of his brother, the governor of Florida. In 2004, there was ample evidence that George W. Bush had committed fraud once again, famously in Ohio, and less famously in Florida for a second time. However, in the first case, Gore stopped fighting after an obviously partisan and corrupt Supreme Court decision, and not a single member of the U.S. Senate was willing to help the Congressional Black Caucus challenge the election. In the second case, Kerry refused to challenge the election in Congress, and the legal case he brought about election fraud, after the fact, did not even make it to the Supreme Court.

    In 2016, when New Yorkers brought a case that there had been election fraud and voter suppression in the Democratic primaries, the case was thrown out on the grounds that each county in New York had to file such cases separately, and, by then, the election would be over. Pleas to delay the vote count, or to delay declaring a winner, until the voting rights of the people could be secured, were brushed aside. Much later, when a civil lawsuit was brought against the DNC, the case was once again thrown out for lack of standing, but not before the DNC lawyers had defended their client on the grounds that the DNC didn't have to provide a fair competition, or any competition at all, really, and certainly didn't have to care what the people thought.

    The effect of this institutional inertia is not simply that cheaters win the day, or that the people, whose will is being suppressed, lose morale and give up. The complaint itself begins to fade from people's minds. People begin to make excuses for what happened, to justify it, to act as if there never were cheating to begin with. Even many of those who dissent find that, over time, the injustice they remember mellows: no less a person than Jimmy Dore, hardly a weak-minded hack for the establishment, talks now about Gore's "loss" in 2000 as an evil caused by the electoral college. While the electoral college is obviously a tool for elites to control American politics (and never has that been so obvious as over the past two election cycles), such a narrative ignores and erases the police checkpoints that were set up in 2000 near predominantly African American polling places in Leon county, Florida. It ignores the Republican Speaker of the House, Tom DeLay, sending Republican staffers to Dade County to break up Miami's vote count by marching into the Supervisor of Elections office and screaming at the top of their lungs so that no accurate count could take place. It ignores and erases the digital Jim Crow that purged the voter lists of African American Democrats by claiming, falsely, that they were felons. It ignores the fact that emails between the State of Florida and the company that created the Jim Crow software revealed that the company had warned that their software would draw too many false positives, and that the State of Florida had replied "That's just what we want."

    Similarly, the DNC's perfidy in 2016 has been reduced to the following: 1) that they had pre-selected their candidate, and didn't provide a real or fair competition, 2) that they gave debate questions ahead of time to Hillary Clinton, 3)that they used the electoral college, most particularly superdelegates, to overwhelm the Sanders movement, and that 4) the party primaries were often closed, not allowing independents the right to vote. Left out, or forgotten, are the multiple polling places closed in states from Arizona to New York (in New York, sometimes even the open polling places had no staff or broken machines), the media calling California for Clinton before the votes were counted, the 136,000 voters purged off Brooklyn's voter rolls (no doubt because Bernie Sanders was born and grew up in Brooklyn and that might have given him an advantage there), and the much larger multi-state purge of the Democratic party through changing people's voter registration without their knowledge and consent.

    I'm not bringing this up to attack Jimmy Dore, who is one of the most reliable truth-tellers in the media today, but rather to point out what people's minds do under the stress of watching the establishment normalize corruption again and again. If there is no power to challenge institutional corruption, most people, over time, make of the corruption something less unjust and outrageous. Simply smothering objections to injustice with institutional inertia, will, over time, allow the victors to erase the evidence of their crime.

    Sore Loserman

    Since we believe, with the faith of fanatics, that competition must be honest and fair, it's easy to gaslight the losers (or the apparent losers). The Republicans in 2000 did not need to disprove the fact that George W. Bush had committed fraud and contravened the will of the people when he climbed up a staircase of disenfranchised Black faces to become President. All the Republicans needed to do was issue tens of thousands of bumper stickers that replaced the words "Gore/Lieberman" with "Sore Loserman." The RNC was using the same argument that was bruited about in the 1980s about poverty and employment. Unemployed poor people had lost the economic competition. Therefore, there must be something wrong with them. Maybe they weren't educated enough, smart enough, clean enough, hard-working enough; maybe they were people of bad character. Bloomberg's racial profiling worked much the same way. Black people are losers in the judicial game because they commit more crimes. That's why we put more police in their neighborhoods, because there are more criminals among young Black men than anywhere else. Corruption can't bring down a meritorious man. If you're good, you'll win. If you complain about cheating or any other form of injustice, you must be a Sore Loserman, attempting to cover up your own inadequacies by whining.

    It's pretty obvious that this way of thinking makes it literally impossible to stop even the most outrageous injustice, as long as the perpetrators of that injustice have enough power to spread their "Sore Loser" messaging far and wide. So if I commit identity theft today and access one of your bank accounts, I can be brought to account. But if Wall St cheats homeowners, there was probably something wrong with the homeowners, or with the government for suggesting that those homeowners should get loans. If George W. Bush cheats in an election, there was probably something wrong with the other candidate, or with the voters.

    People tend to get upset when I bring this up, because they think that talking about the corruption of the system will demoralize voters, making such discussions their own form of voter suppression. But I bring this up because the worst damage that can come out of Bernie Sanders losing contests in a highly compromised electoral process is that the idea of meritocracy be preserved. There are valid reasons for voting even in a corrupted system (of the "make 'em sweat" variety). There are valid reasons for not voting in a corrupted system. But whatever a citizen chooses to do on Election Day, the idea of meritocracy must die.

    Despite all the truly horrendous policies, from both the Democrats and the Republicans, that have laid our society, our people, and the world to waste, the most poisonous effect of the tyranny we live under is its fraudulence: its pretense of being a fair, accurate, and reasonable expression of the will of the people. Even the Democrats' attacks on Trump, who is supposed to be a Manchurian candidate placed in office by Russian intelligence operatives and an existential threat to our democracy, have, in the past two years, increasingly focused on the people who support Trump. It's the voters fault for supporting the bad man. So even when we are supposedly in a situation of foreign powers changing the outcome of a presidential election, it's still the people's fault. Why? Well, there was a competition, and somebody won, so the person who won must be there by the will of the people. It has to be the people's fault.

    Corruption among the powerful isn't a thing.

    System-wide corruption in all the various infrastructures of our country, especially the political ones, isn't a thing.

    Or, if it is, you just didn't do enough lifting at the political gym to be able to fend it off.

    [Jan 27, 2020] Warren as an extremely weak, incoherent politician: one example if her approach to student debt problem

    There is a huge difference between extremely bright students and medicate ones. Bright students are the future of the society and need to be nurtures and helped in any way possible for the range of specialties that are important (STEM is one example)
    There is difference between the degree in computer science and the degree in some obscure nationality studies (let's say Eastern European studies; few people that are needed can be paid by intelligence agencies ;-) Obscure areas should be generally available only to well to do students, who can pay for their education.
    Like is the case with alcoholism, some student debt is the result of bad personal choices.
    Notable quotes:
    "... Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times, ..."
    "... "My daughter's getting out of school, I saved all my money, so she doesn't have any student debt. Am I going to get my money back?" ..."
    "... So, we end up paying for people who didn't save any money, then those who did the right thing get screwed, ..."
    "... "We did the right thing and we get screwed," ..."
    "... "Look, we build a future going forward by making it better. By that same logic what would we have done? Not started Social Security because we didn't start it last week for you or last month for you," ..."
    "... "We don't build an America by saddling our kids with debt. We build an America by saying we're going to open up those opportunities for kids to be able to get an education without getting crushed by student loan debt." ..."
    "... Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) campaigns in Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 19, 2020. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) ..."
    "... "I'll direct the Secretary of Education to use their authority to begin to compromise and modify federal student loans consistent with my plan to cancel up to $50,000 in debt for 95% of student loan borrowers (about 42 million people)," ..."
    "... A scholarship system awarding free tuition to the top 5% of college applicants (NOT biased by race, gender, etc) who apply to the U.S.'s best STEM programs, hell yes! Free tuition for future Democrat voters, f^%k that! ..."
    Jan 27, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

    Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times,

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) defended her plan to pay off college loans after being confronted by a father in Iowa in an exchange that went viral.

    Senator Elizabeth Warren is confronted by a father who worked double shifts to pay for his daughters education and wants to know if he will get his money back. pic.twitter.com/t2GGbAnG08

    -- Eddie Donovan (@EddieDonovan) January 21, 2020

    The father approached Warren, a leading Democratic presidential contender, after a campaign event in Grimes.

    "My daughter's getting out of school, I saved all my money, so she doesn't have any student debt. Am I going to get my money back?" the man asked Warren.

    "Of course not," Warren replied.

    " So, we end up paying for people who didn't save any money, then those who did the right thing get screwed, " the father told her.

    He then described a friend who makes more money but didn't save up while he worked double shifts to save up to pay for his daughter's college.

    The father became upset, accusing Warren of laughing.

    "We did the right thing and we get screwed," he added before walking off.

    In an appearance on "CBS This Morning" on Friday, Warren was asked about the exchange.

    Last night, a father who saved for his daughter's college education approached @SenWarren and challenged her proposed student loan forgiveness plan. @TonyDokoupil asks the senator for her response: pic.twitter.com/jLUXPqChC6

    -- CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) January 24, 2020

    "Look, we build a future going forward by making it better. By that same logic what would we have done? Not started Social Security because we didn't start it last week for you or last month for you," Warren said.

    Pressed on whether she was saying "tough luck" to people like the father, she said "No." She then recounted how she got to go to college despite coming from a poor family.

    "There was a $50 a semester option for me. I was able to go to college and become a public school teacher because America had invested in a $50 a semester option for me. Today that's not available," she said.

    "We don't build an America by saddling our kids with debt. We build an America by saying we're going to open up those opportunities for kids to be able to get an education without getting crushed by student loan debt."

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) campaigns in Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 19, 2020. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

    One of Warren's plans is to cancel student loans. According to her website , on her first day as president she would cancel student loan debt as well as give free tuition to public colleges and technical schools and ban for-profit colleges from getting aid from the federal government.

    "I'll direct the Secretary of Education to use their authority to begin to compromise and modify federal student loans consistent with my plan to cancel up to $50,000 in debt for 95% of student loan borrowers (about 42 million people)," Warren wrote.

    "I'll also direct the Secretary of Education to use every existing authority available to rein in the for-profit college industry, crack down on predatory student lending, and combat the racial disparities in our higher education system."

    Sounds an awful lot like the dad above is right those that did the "right thing" are gonna get "screwed."


    csmith , 1 minute ago link

    Warren's debt forgiveness plan will turbo-boost the increases in college costs. It is the EXACTLY backwards remedy for out-of-control college costs.

    mtndds , 2 minutes ago link

    Warren you bitch, I paid back my student loans responsibly by working my *** off (140k) and now you want to give others a free ride? I sure hope that I get a refund for all that money I paid back.

    moron counter , 7 minutes ago link

    Obama did this kinds thing with housing. I got outbid by 100k on a house. The other bidder who got it didn't make his house payments so Obama restructured his loan knocking off 100k from his loan and giving him a 1% interest rate on it. He again didn't make his payments and got it restructured again but I didn't hear the terms of that one.

    chelydra , 12 minutes ago link

    If student loan debt is such a crisis, force every university to use their precious endowment funds to underwrite those loans AND let those loans get discharged in bankruptcy. Maybe then those schools would start to question whether having a dozen "Diversity Deans" each being paid $100k+ salaries is really worth the expense (among other things).

    Imagine That , 12 minutes ago link

    A scholarship system awarding free tuition to the top 5% of college applicants (NOT biased by race, gender, etc) who apply to the U.S.'s best STEM programs, hell yes! Free tuition for future Democrat voters, f^%k that!

    FightingDinosaur , 15 minutes ago link

    The pissed off dad in this story has only one person to be pissed off at: himself, for being stupid. Understand something about college degrees: 90% of them, including majors like accounting, are not worth the paper they are printed on. Anyone who works double shifts to pay for anyone's college degree, even their own, is stupid. Look at why college costs so much: go to any state, and you'll see that 70% or more of the highest paid state employees are employed by public colleges and universities. You need to play these sons of bitches at their game, use their funny money to pay for the degree, and walk away. If you play the way these sons of bitches tell you to play, you get what you deserve.

    I used their funny money to get a degree that wasn't worth the paper it was printed on and walked away. I don't give a **** if the sons of bitches grab my tax refund. Why? Because I have my withholdings set up so they get next to nothing in April. It costs the sons of bitches more to print up the garnishment letter and send it to me than what they're stealing from me. Guess what I use for an address? P.O. Box (can't serve a summons to a ghost).

    If you're going to do what stupid, pissed off dad did, and work double shifts, you need to be trading out of all that funny money you're being paid for those double shifts, and trading into personal economic leverage (gold first, then silver). Instead of having bedrock to build multi-generational wealth, he has a daughter with a degree in pouring coffee, and nothing else to show for it. He only has himself to blame for drinking the Kool Aid. I can grab overtime every Saturday at my job if I want it, and every last penny of that OT is traded out of funny money and into gold ASAP.

    Understand the US real estate market: the only reason it did not die five years ago was because we welcomed rich foreigners to come in and buy real estate to protect their wealth. We've stopped doing that, we have an over-abundance of domestic sellers and a severe shortage of domestic buyers. It's also where history says you need to be if you want to build multi-generational wealth. Warren actually needs to go further than what she's proposing. Not only does she need to discharge 100% of those balances by EO, she also needs to refund all those tax refunds stolen under false pretenses. Anything less, and we are guaranteed, for the next 40 years, to have a real estate market and economy which resembles Japan since 1989.

    Why do I buy gold? So I can play people like Warren at their game. I'll take whatever loan discharge she gives me, and have lots of leverage in reserve to take advantage of what will be a once in a lifetime real estate fire sale.

    Centurion9.41 , 13 minutes ago link

    Here's an idea...

    Make those who want to be bailed out have to pay the bailout back by working every non-holiday Saturday (at the minimum wage rate) for the government and citizens (e.g who need work done around the house, take care of the elderly - in the bathroom) until the debt is paid back. AND let those who have not taken the debt relief supervise them - getting paid by the government at the same rate, minimum wage. 🦞🦞🦞🦞🦞

    gatorengineer , 13 minutes ago link

    For a decent college it's between 35-70k a year.... Why? 300k a year library professors, if it weren't for tenure the problem would largely he self correcting as rntrillments drop...

    southpaw47 , 18 minutes ago link

    My how times have changed. My son was a college grad circa 1996. He did the JUCO thing for 1 1/2 years , worked a part time job for the duration, and picked up an A S while making the President's list. I aid, out of pocket all educational expenses while he lived at home and provided for a nice lifestyle while he was in school. As promised, he finished his education, out of state, which I paid for all along the way. 2 more years, he graduated, on the Pres list, and picked up his B S. No student debt, in his words, was one of the the greatest gifts. Today he is debt free, (so am I ), and he is a very happy , financially secure ( until the world goes upside down) mature adult. Hey Lizzie, send me a check.

    Snaffew , 27 minutes ago link

    They are all ignoring the real problem...the Federal mandated system of the guaranteed student loan program. Anyone with a pulse can get a guaranteed student loan, thus creating a massive rise in college admissions. The colleges are guaranteed the money for these loans, while the lender (the US gov't) is not guaranteed to be paid back by the students receiving these loans,. this created a fool proof, risk free ability for colleges and universities across the country to jack up their tuition costs at over a 5:1 ratio of income growth over the last 25 years. The problem is the program itself, students need to earn their ability to enroll in college through hard work and good grades. Currently, any moron with a high school diploma can go to college on a guaranteed student loan program and the colleges are more than willing to take on any idiot that wants to go to school despite their aspirations, work ethics, intelligence, achievements, etc. The universities have been given a blank check to expand their campuses, drastically inflate the salaries and pensions of professors and administrators of these schools all at the expense of this guaranteed "free" money from the government that only achieved an immense amount of the population going to overpriced schools in order to get a diploma in useless pursuits like african american studies, philosophy, creative writing, music, criminal justice, arts, basket weaving, etc.. The skyrocketing costs of colleges and student debt is the direct result of this miserably failed system of the guaranteed student loan. The majority of which have no business going to higher education because they don't have the aptitude, work ethic and intelligence necessary to actually receive a degree in anything that benefits the economy and themselves going forward. 30 years ago the average state college admission was roughly $4k a year for a good state school, today it is roughly $20k or far more. Meanwhile, the average income has gone up a meaningless amount. Get rid of the guaranteed student loan program and make the colleges responsible for accepting the responsibility of the loans for their students. I guarantee enrollment will decrease and costs will decline making it much more affordable for the truly responsible and aspiring student to achieve their dreams of a degree without a $250k loan needed for completion nor the lifelong strain of debt on their future incomes. The colleges are raping the system the same as all these shoestring companies take advantage of the medicaid system and give hovarounds and walking canes, and hearing aids for free because the gov't reimburses them at wildly inflated prices under some federally passed mandate. The system is the problem, eliminating the debt will only exacerbate it and cost taxpayers trillions more each and every year as "free" college will now entice every moron with a heartbeat the ability to go to outrageously priced schools with no skin in the game on the taxpayer's dime. Elizabeth Warren is an idiot....someone needs to have a sit down with her and discuss this rationale in her luxurious, state of the art TeePee.

    Balance-Sheet , 11 minutes ago link

    While you are correct corrupting academics with huge payoffs is how you secure their votes and the votes of most of the 'students' for decades to come.

    Any group or industry can be paid off and you might think of the system as a set of interlocking payoffs until you get out to the margins and the fringes where the cash and benefits are a lot thinner.

    bkwaz4 , 25 minutes ago link

    Everyone who continues to pay taxes to these neo-Bolsheviks is going to get screwed. The only alternative is to stop funding these criminals completely.

    johnduncan78 , 25 minutes ago link

    What a sorry presidential canditate! She flat out LIED about being native american to get FREE college. And now this. Where has America gone????????? Socialism sems to be what most want nowadays. It has NEVER EVER worked anywhere in the world at any time! If yoou think therwise, just name ONE countryn it has worked in ! What a lying bunch the democrats are..........................

    Lie_Detector , 27 minutes ago link

    Warren Defends Plan To Cancel Student Debt

    So all if us have to pay for it. Why did I have to pay for University and College in the 1970's if I wanted to further my education and now that I am older I have to foot the bill for the young people of today? Pay DOUBLE? (just to buy votes for traitors?)

    I think NOT! Take your theft from the people, to buy votes of everyone from young people to illegal criminals to outright criminals in prison to dead people and resign before we decide to arrest you.

    Democrats, HANG IT UP! We are NOT paying for YOUR illegitimate votes.

    Resist-Socialist-Dem-Lies , 24 minutes ago link

    Notice too how all their "we're going to wipe out your debt!" promises never seem to include the big "endowments" of these fascist colleges that jacked up tuition 1000% over what it used to cost.

    No, those creepy commie profs and their freaky administrators get to keep their big TAX FREE endowments AND their big salaries.

    Big Gov by Sanders/Warren don't seem to think that's obscene.

    Lie_Detector , 22 minutes ago link

    You are absolutely correct. 45 years ago you could almost work part time and actually PAY your way through college. Today you almost need a physicians salary to pay for these OVERPRICED sewers filled with leftist propaganda.

    moron counter , 27 minutes ago link

    It's obvious that Warren doesn't teach economics or even math. They weren't smart enough when they took out the loans and they are not good with paying their bills so move the goal posts to bail them out. Has anyone given the thought that maybe they shouldn't have gone to college at all. Sounds like they will all work for the government anyways.

    [Jan 24, 2020] Bloomberg's Plan for Addressing Economic Inequality: not a wealth tax by Linda Beale

    Jan 23, 2020 | angrybearblog.com
    A bit ago (Jan 8, 2020), the New York Times described Michael Bloomberg's plan 1 for addressing the income and wealth inequality in the United States that has been a constant topic of discussion by Democratic candidates. Briefly, as with the robber barons of Teddy Roosevelt's age, the wealth of the global commerce titans and particularly the private equity fund buyers and sellers of companies (and layers off of employees) has exploded over the last four decades in the US, beginning in earnest with Ronald Reagan's presidency. Most of the benefits of productivity gains have gone to a very few people at the top, and the bottom 50% of the wealth distribution actually owns a smaller share of the nation's wealth than 40 years ago. The top 1% have gained enormously, and the top 0.5% have been even more enriched. We have ultra multibillionaires like Jeff Bezos who can pay $9 billion to his wife in a divorce settlement and still be the wealthiest man in the world with more than $130 billion in net worth. He earns about $78.5 billion a year (counting value of his Amazon shares) or more than $6.5 billion a month 2 and thus exemplifies this new "gilded age" of ultrawealthy tycoons. This exists at the same time that the Trump administration proposes work requirements that will eliminate food stamp aid for 700,000 of hungry Americans and, with other initiatives, will take food stamps from 3.7 million beneficiaries who simply cannot get work that pays well enough to fund a sustainable lifestyle for themselves and their families. 3 This will "save" the U.S. about $5.5 billion over five years–less than Bezos 'earns' in a month. This disparity–$5.5 billion to feed 3.5 million hungry Americans versus provide a month's additional wealth for a person already wallowing in wealth like Jeff Bezos–is why it is clear that the US needs to figure out how to respond to the inequality crisis in order to protect American democracy and ensure Americans have a decent standard of living.

    Bloomberg's plan seems to be a moderate stance like Obama and Biden that attempts to focus on factors other than the wealth gap and the accompanying power gap that wealth provides. As the NY Times reports, he "frames the economic divide primarily in regional terms–and not along rich-versus-everyone-else class lines." 1 The Times article notes that his plan is not unlike the charge Obama gave to Joe Biden for the Middle Class Task Force. 1\

    Bloomberg's proposals for addressing the problem are similarly centered on things long discussed and tried that are difficult to do at a large enough scale to make any inroads into the inequality problem or the power gap problem. He is most definitely not proposing a wealth tax. His proposals include a focus on education and skills training, infrastructure projects, and entrepreneurial training centers. Although the GI Bill was a significant part of the post-WWII economic boom because it allowed vast numbers of returning veterans to get a college education, Bloomberg seems to be thinking more of apprenticeships and community colleges (training for a job) rather than university (training for a career and an approach to learning throughout life). The Times notes his interest in raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, and encouraging unions while disallowing noncompetes for low- and middle-income jobs.

    All those are minimal steps that any progressive candidate should take, but while they may have marginal impact on middle class mobility, they will not do much at all to ease the income and wealth gap that has been caused by technology, globalization, and financialization of the economy together that has measured success almost solely from stock market numbers and thus allowed corporate and private equity tycoons to garner the major gains in productivity over decades while paying their workers too little (or moving offshore to pay even less), combined with a tax system that privileges wealth, including, among a host of others, extremely favorable corporate tax provisions after the 2017 tax legislation, ridiculously low maximum rates on ordinary income, carried interest provision, section 1031 exchanges, section 1202 exclusion for gains on original issue small business stock, capital gains preference, and an absurdly low flat estate tax above a too-high exemption amount with a step-up in basis for heirs.

    Bloomberg is a billionaire who is at least aware that the inequality in this country is problematic and needs to be addressed. But like most of the "have-so-much" class, he shows little interest in what is truly required–a shift in the direction of redistribution to balance the distorted seesaw of billionaires getting all the height and the rest sitting at the bottom. FDR's New Deal is said to have worked because the robber barons were scared that the proletariat would rise up in support of communism–the so-called 'red scare' behind the success of social security enactment. There may not be a red scare now (though the Trump campaigners try to paint democratic socialist programs as communism), but there is a real likelihood that the contrast–and possibly real class warfare– between the squalor and despair of poor families who work hard but cannot fend for themselves and rich kids with silver spoons that only grow bigger and bigger may eventually threaten the global nation of the plutocrats. 4

    1 Jim Tankersley, Michael Bloomberg's Jobs Plan is Focused on Place over Class , New York Times (Jan 8, 2020).

    2 Hillary Hoffower, We did the math to calculate how much money Jeff Bezos makes in a year, month, week, day, hour, minute, and second , BusinessInsider.com (Jan 9, 2020).

    3 Phil McCausland, T rump administration proposals could cause millions to lose food stamps , NBC News (Nov. 30, 2019) (discussing proposed changes to SNAP program that would impose stricter work requirements, cap deductions for utility allowances and 'reform' the way states automatically enroll families when they receive other aid). See also

    4. See, e.g., Chrystia Freeland, Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich (2012) (described in The Guardian book review as "a necessary and at times depressing book about the staggeringly wealthy"). Freeland is neither Marxist nor socialist, and as I am reading the book, not evenappropriately skeptical of the amount of merit behind the plutocrats' self-claimed meritocracy.

    1. pgl , January 23, 2020 7:40 am

      Bloomberg was mayor of NYC for 12 years. During that period he opposed raising taxes on the rich. He also showed what he thought about the various classes by making sure that upper Manhattan (where his fellow billionaires often live) got taken care of but the other boroughs (where the working class often live) received scant attention or real resources. OK – he was a better mayor than RUDY G. but that is a very low bar.

    [Jan 22, 2020] Journalism as the last escape of mathematically illiterates

    Jan 22, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

    Walter , Jan 22 2020 12:30 utc | 95

    @ Russ | Jan 22 2020 8:33 utc | 86 (about the gas cylinder(s).

    Any bright high-school kid who's been through the math curriculum and has some calculus can tell you, give you, a range of terminal velocities in air at that elevation. You have to assume that the thing fell in the "best" attitude, and also the "worst" attitude - a matter of aerodynamic drag. Obviously there's a terminal velocity - somewhere about 200 feet per second. There's a minimum altitude above which it doesn't fall any faster because of drag...and it has a krappy drag coefficient. You have to work with the numbers to get a fine understanding...but it's the sort of question you'd see in a university engineering exam.

    The mass is assumed to be something like 100 pounds. Do the math.

    Then there's the question of concrete quality...it's highly heterogeneous..but you can assume it's top quality, and estimate the rebar density and thickness from the pretty pictures.

    And you can assume zero projectile deformation (not even straps torn off!!?) and the hole's not big enough.

    The story's bull.

    William Gruff , Jan 22 2020 13:48 utc | 98

    somebody @96: "But Western main stream media does not report on it."

    Of course not. The western corporate mass media does not have among their workforce "Any bright high-school kid who's been through the math curriculum and has some calculus..." that Walter @95 points out as being a prerequisite to see how bogus is the narrative they are tasked with amplifying. The workforce chose to major in Journalism specifically because they had difficulties with basic arithmetic, with such heartless and unyielding topics as addition and subtraction being forever beyond them in the absence of a calculator.

    Many think I exaggerate or am joking, but this is literal truth. These individuals of which the corporate mass media are composed get their conception of physics from crappy syfy movies in which spaceship blasters make "Pew-pew!!" noises in the vacuum of space. If it is necessary for the plot that a flimsy canister is able to punch through steel rebar reinforced concrete with barely a scratch, then they are fine with it. If these new age journalists' "contact" in Langley (what we know to be their "handler" or "operator" ) says it is believable, they won't pause for an instant to question.

    After all, earnest delusion and ignorance serves the Mockingbird mass media's handlers in the CIA far better than does cynical and deliberate deception, though that last does have a sizable role to play as well. Deliberate deception is difficult and requires some skill, while any American can do stupidity with the greatest of ease.

    [Jan 19, 2020] Inequality in the USA has reached an 100-year record high

    Jan 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

    vk , Jan 18 2020 13:29 utc | 135

    @ Posted by: V | Jan 18 2020 9:49 utc | 118

    Inequality in the USA has reached an 100-year record high:

    It's not the 1% anymore but the 0.1%!

    The top 0.1% of US wealth holders now have as much wealth (property, financial assets) as the bottom 90% for the first time since the 'roaring 20s'.

    It's not the 1% anymore but the 0.1%!

    [Jan 19, 2020] Death and Neglect in the 7th Fleet

    Jan 19, 2020 | www.propublica.org

    . A firsthand account from a U.S. Naval officer is eye opening (emphasis mine).

    He'd seen his ship, one of the Navy's fleet of 11 minesweepers, sidelined by repairs and maintenance for more than 20 months. Once the ship, based in Japan, returned to action, its crew was only able to conduct its most essential training -- how to identify and defuse underwater mines -- for fewer than 10 days the entire next year . During those training missions, the officer said, the crew found it hard to trust the ship's faulty navigation system: It ran on Windows 2000.

    Sonar which identifies dishwashers, crab traps and cars as possible mines, can hardly be considered a rebuilt military. The Navy's eleven minesweepers built more than 25 years ago, have had their decommissioning continually delayed because no replacement plan was implemented. I'll await the deeper understanding of 'deterrence' from b, even as I consider willingness to commit and brag about war crimes as beyond the point of no return.

    Posted by: psychedelicatessen | Jan 19 2020 9:14 utc | 98

    [Jan 19, 2020] Comparing the American to the former Soviet educational system

    Highly recommended!
    Notable quotes:
    "... There was nothing particularly great in the Soviet educational system. Other than students, who were selected very competitively (often more than 10-30 people for one place in ordinary universities and 100-1000 in elite; yes, 1000 or more per one place was observed in theater specialties). ..."
    "... Also, the motivation for study was pretty high: if you fail two times to be admitted to the university, you were drafted into the Red Army. If you were expelled for the bad academic rating (which was, I think, to fail more then two exams in one semester) -- the same call from the Red Army was waiting for you. ..."
    "... translation of foreign books in the USSR was the only first-class enterprise (despite outdated equipment). It was first-class both in the selection and the speed of translation. For example, as Knuth mentioned, all three volumes of his books were translated into Russian within a very short interval. ..."
    "... But I think students learn as much from each other as from professors, and if the level of the class was extremely high, the results were corresponding. In other words, poor university teachers did not harm them that much, and a lot what they learn, they learn on their own (except fundamental disciplines) -- kind of self-education buried within ;-). ..."
    "... Also, rigid soviet system (you have a zero opportunity to select your own set of subjects for a degree) has one important advantage. It schools you to be determined and persisting, no matter what subject you were assigned. To be a real fighter, in some academic or non-academic sense. ..."
    "... I think that the main reason for the high quality of Soviet engineers of this period was not the education the got, but the fact that talented people were nowhere to go; there was no "business path." That's why Berezovsky became an academic scholar and even reached the level of the Corresponding Member of the USSR Academy of Science ..."
    "... The level of backwardness of computer science education in the 90th in the USSR was staggering. So the fact that there were so many talented programmers in the country, many of whom later found a well-paid job in the Western countries, was mostly due to the level of the talent of those few who managed to get into universities. ..."
    "... Many problems with Soviet education persist in Russia. Andrei Martyanov looks at many problems of Russian society via rose glasses. Taking into account the current level of Russophobia, that's a noble stance, and I do not object to his exaggerations. ..."
    Dec 09, 2019 | www.unz.com

    refl says: Next New Comment December 8, 2019 at 6:30 am GMT 200 Words

    @RadicalCenter

    The question even to compare the American to the Russian or former Soviet educational system is delusional.

    However, the US has understood something that the Russians and any decent people don't get: The people are consumers. They should not be educated beyond the needed to use the most recent applications on their electronic devices. Anything further carries the danger of having them discontent and thus an inroad to the Western entity.

    Also, a military is not there to win wars and subsequently have a headache about how to deal with the conquered people. It is about wrecking far away places and providing opportunities to claim invoices from the federal government.

    Modern, hybrid warfare is not about applying this or that military means, but about occupying the universities, courts and parliaments of the subdued people – finally occupying their minds. And yes, to do so includes that the weaponry should look cool and provide job opportunities for the hopeless youngsters of that amorphous mass formerly called the nation.

    The Russians, Chinese, Iranians will have to stay alert 24/7/365 not to fall into the abyss of depravity that the Great Western Civilisation is offering to them. I am afraid, that the threat is very real that in the end they will be worn down.

    likbez says: December 9, 2019 at 5:47 am GMT 800 Words @refl refl,

    The question even to compare the American to the Russian or former Soviet educational system is delusional.

    Believe me or not, I would prefer the USA system of education (with all its warts) to the Soviet system in the 70-90th without any hesitation. And with the same quality of students, the USA would achive the same or better results.

    There was nothing particularly great in the Soviet educational system. Other than students, who were selected very competitively (often more than 10-30 people for one place in ordinary universities and 100-1000 in elite; yes, 1000 or more per one place was observed in theater specialties).

    Soviet universities were as poor as church rats, which has one good side effect that they were forced to concentrate more on classic subjects like physics and math, which do not require expensive labs. So students got a solid background in math and physics. But that's about it.

    Also, the motivation for study was pretty high: if you fail two times to be admitted to the university, you were drafted into the Red Army. If you were expelled for the bad academic rating (which was, I think, to fail more then two exams in one semester) -- the same call from the Red Army was waiting for you.

    As emigrants from the USSR told me, programming courses were simply dismal, and graduates essentially learned the craft of the jobs, not at universities.

    Even math books were the second rate in comparison with the USA textbooks of the same period.

    They were written by a representative of so-called axiomatic schools and were extremely boring and uninformative. But many good math books were translated (for example, Polia writings) Actually, as I understand, translation of foreign books in the USSR was the only first-class enterprise (despite outdated equipment). It was first-class both in the selection and the speed of translation. For example, as Knuth mentioned, all three volumes of his books were translated into Russian within a very short interval.

    Academic degrees were also mostly fake (much like they are in the USA now ;-): one of my friends told me that his Ph.D. from top Ukrainian University was counted only as a master degree in the USA by the commission which studied his thesis (I believe in NYU)

    But again, most good western books on tech subjects were translated and were somewhat available. And if you compare Feynman lectures (which were also translated) to Soviet physics textbooks, Soviet textbooks were not even competitive. Some "cutting edge" books was OK. But very few.

    The professors and lectures (including professors large part of which were just incompetent jerks, promoted due to nepotism or Communist party activities) deteriorated to the level that was simply painful to watch. Some came to lectures completely unprepared or drank, or tried to teach some completely bogus theories of their own invention. Many did not come at all sending assistants.

    My impression is that essentially, in 1990, Soviet science and education experienced the same crisis as the Communist social system as a whole.

    But I think students learn as much from each other as from professors, and if the level of the class was extremely high, the results were corresponding. In other words, poor university teachers did not harm them that much, and a lot what they learn, they learn on their own (except fundamental disciplines) -- kind of self-education buried within ;-).

    Also, rigid soviet system (you have a zero opportunity to select your own set of subjects for a degree) has one important advantage. It schools you to be determined and persisting, no matter what subject you were assigned. To be a real fighter, in some academic or non-academic sense.

    That was especially true as you also need to pass exams in Marxism philosophy and Political economy to get a degree. Those subjects were frown upon, but in retrospect were useful: students were forced to read classics, not junk like in neo-classical economics courses in the USA.

    I think that the main reason for the high quality of Soviet engineers of this period was not the education the got, but the fact that talented people were nowhere to go; there was no "business path." That's why Berezovsky became an academic scholar and even reached the level of the Corresponding Member of the USSR Academy of Science

    The level of backwardness of computer science education in the 90th in the USSR was staggering. So the fact that there were so many talented programmers in the country, many of whom later found a well-paid job in the Western countries, was mostly due to the level of the talent of those few who managed to get into universities.

    Many problems with Soviet education persist in Russia. Andrei Martyanov looks at many problems of Russian society via rose glasses. Taking into account the current level of Russophobia, that's a noble stance, and I do not object to his exaggerations.

    But the reality is more complex.

    [Jan 11, 2020] Atomization of workforce as a part of atomization of society under neoliberalism

    Highly recommended!
    Notable quotes:
    "... a friend of mine, born in Venice and a long-time resident of Rome, pointed out to me that dogs are a sign of loneliness. ..."
    "... And the cafes and restaurants on weekends in Chicago–chockfull of people, each on his or her own Powerbook, surfing the WWW all by themselves. ..."
    "... The preaching of self-reliance by those who have never had to practice it is galling. ..."
    "... Katherine: Agreed. It is also one of the reasons why I am skeptical of various evangelical / fundi pastors, who are living at the expense of their churches, preaching about individual salvation. ..."
    "... So you have the upper crust (often with inheritances and trust funds) preaching economic self-reliances, and you have divines preaching individual salvation as they go back to the house provided by the members of the church. ..."
    Apr 18, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    DJG , April 17, 2017 at 11:09 am
    Neoliberalism is creating loneliness. That's what's wrenching society apart George Monbiot, Guardian

    George Monbiot on human loneliness and its toll. I agree with his observations. I have been cataloguing them in my head for years, especially after a friend of mine, born in Venice and a long-time resident of Rome, pointed out to me that dogs are a sign of loneliness.

    A couple of recent trips to Rome have made that point ever more obvious to me: Compared to my North Side neighborhood in Chicago, where every other person seems to have a dog, and on weekends Clark Street is awash in dogs (on their way to the dog boutiques and the dog food truck), Rome has few dogs. Rome is much more densely populated, and the Italians still have each other, for good or for ill. And Americans use the dog as an odd means of making human contact, at least with other dog owners.

    But Americanization advances: I was surprised to see people bring dogs into the dining room of a fairly upscale restaurant in Turin. I haven't seen that before. (Most Italian cafes and restaurants are just too small to accommodate a dog, and the owners don't have much patience for disruptions.) The dogs barked at each other for while–violating a cardinal rule in Italy that mealtime is sacred and tranquil. Loneliness rules.

    And the cafes and restaurants on weekends in Chicago–chockfull of people, each on his or her own Powerbook, surfing the WWW all by themselves.

    That's why the comments about March on Everywhere in Harper's, recommended by Lambert, fascinated me. Maybe, to be less lonely, you just have to attend the occasional march, no matter how disorganized (and the Chicago Women's March organizers made a few big logistical mistakes), no matter how incoherent. Safety in numbers? (And as Monbiot points out, overeating at home alone is a sign of loneliness: Another argument for a walk with a placard.)

    Katharine , April 17, 2017 at 11:39 am

    I particularly liked this point:

    In Britain, men who have spent their entire lives in quadrangles – at school, at college, at the bar, in parliament – instruct us to stand on our own two feet.

    With different imagery, the same is true in this country. The preaching of self-reliance by those who have never had to practice it is galling.

    DJG , April 17, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Katherine: Agreed. It is also one of the reasons why I am skeptical of various evangelical / fundi pastors, who are living at the expense of their churches, preaching about individual salvation.

    So you have the upper crust (often with inheritances and trust funds) preaching economic self-reliances, and you have divines preaching individual salvation as they go back to the house provided by the members of the church.

    [Jan 02, 2020] The Purpose Of Life Is Not Happiness: It s Usefulness Happiness as an achievable goal is an illusion, but that doesn t mean happiness itself is not attainable by Darius Foroux

    Highly recommended!
    Notable quotes:
    "... "The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well." ..."
    "... Recently I read Not Fade Away by Laurence Shames and Peter Barton. It's about Peter Barton, the founder of Liberty Media, who shares his thoughts about dying from cancer. ..."
    Aug 22, 2019 | getpocket.com

    For the longest time, I believed that there's only one purpose of life: And that is to be happy. Right? Why else go through all the pain and hardship? It's to achieve happiness in some way. And I'm not the only person who believed that. In fact, if you look around you, most people are pursuing happiness in their lives.

    That's why we collectively buy shit we don't need, go to bed with people we don't love, and try to work hard to get approval of people we don't like.

    Why do we do these things? To be honest, I don't care what the exact reason is. I'm not a scientist. All I know is that it has something to do with history, culture, media, economy, psychology, politics, the information era, and you name it. The list is endless.

    We are who are.

    Let's just accept that. Most people love to analyze why people are not happy or don't live fulfilling lives. I don't necessarily care about the why .

    I care more about how we can change.

    Just a few short years ago, I did everything to chase happiness.

    But at the end of the day, you're lying in your bed (alone or next to your spouse), and you think: "What's next in this endless pursuit of happiness?"

    Well, I can tell you what's next: You, chasing something random that you believe makes you happy.

    It's all a façade. A hoax. A story that's been made up.

    Did Aristotle lie to us when he said:

    "Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence."

    I think we have to look at that quote from a different angle. Because when you read it, you think that happiness is the main goal. And that's kind of what the quote says as well.

    But here's the thing: How do you achieve happiness?

    Happiness can't be a goal in itself. Therefore, it's not something that's achievable. I believe that happiness is merely a byproduct of usefulness. When I talk about this concept with friends, family, and colleagues, I always find it difficult to put this into words. But I'll give it a try here. Most things we do in life are just activities and experiences.

    Those things should make you happy, right? But they are not useful. You're not creating anything. You're just consuming or doing something. And that's great.

    Don't get me wrong. I love to go on holiday, or go shopping sometimes. But to be honest, it's not what gives meaning to life.

    What really makes me happy is when I'm useful. When I create something that others can use. Or even when I create something I can use.

    For the longest time I foud it difficult to explain the concept of usefulness and happiness. But when I recently ran into a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, the dots connected.

    Emerson says:

    "The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well."

    And I didn't get that before I became more conscious of what I'm doing with my life. And that always sounds heavy and all. But it's actually really simple.

    It comes down to this: What are you DOING that's making a difference?

    Did you do useful things in your lifetime? You don't have to change the world or anything. Just make it a little bit better than you were born.

    If you don't know how, here are some ideas.

    That's just some stuff I like to do. You can make up your own useful activities.

    You see? It's not anything big. But when you do little useful things every day, it adds up to a life that is well lived. A life that mattered.

    The last thing I want is to be on my deathbed and realize there's zero evidence that I ever existed.

    Recently I read Not Fade Away by Laurence Shames and Peter Barton. It's about Peter Barton, the founder of Liberty Media, who shares his thoughts about dying from cancer.

    It's a very powerful book and it will definitely bring tears to your eyes. In the book, he writes about how he lived his life and how he found his calling. He also went to business school, and this is what he thought of his fellow MBA candidates:

    "Bottom line: they were extremely bright people who would never really anything, would never add much to society, would leave no legacy behind. I found this terribly sad, in the way that wasted potential is always sad."

    You can say that about all of us. And after he realized that in his thirties, he founded a company that turned him into a multi-millionaire.

    Another person who always makes himself useful is Casey Neistat . I've been following him for a year and a half now, and every time I watch his YouTube show , he's doing something.

    He also talks about how he always wants to do and create something. He even has a tattoo on his forearm that says "Do More."

    Most people would say, "why would you work more?" And then they turn on Netflix and watch back to back episodes of Daredevil.

    A different mindset.

    Being useful is a mindset. And like with any mindset, it starts with a decision. One day I woke up and thought to myself: What am I doing for this world? The answer was nothing.

    And that same day I started writing. For you it can be painting, creating a product, helping elderly, or anything you feel like doing.

    Don't take it too seriously. Don't overthink it. Just DO something that's useful. Anything.

    Darius Foroux writes about productivity, habits, decision making, and personal finance. His ideas and work have been featured in TIME, NBC, Fast Company, Inc., Observer, and many more publications. Join his free weekly newsletter.

    More from Darius Foroux

    This article was originally published on October 3, 2016, by Darius Foroux, and is republished here with permission. Darius Foroux writes about productivity, habits, decision making, and personal finance.

    Join his newsletter.


    [Dec 02, 2019] The Fake Myth of American Meritocracy by Barbara Boland

    Highly recommended!
    Notable quotes:
    "... As part of the scam, parents would "donate" money to a fake charity run by Singer. The funds would then be laundered to either pay off an SAT or ACT administrator to take the exams or bribe an employee in college athletics to name the rich, non-athlete children as recruits. Virtually every scenario relied on multiple layers of corruption, all of which eventually allowed wealthy students to masquerade as "deserving" of the merit-based college slots they paid up to half a million dollars to "qualify" for. ..."
    "... When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it. ..."
    "... The conclusion of the study? We live in an oligarchy: ..."
    Mar 15, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

    The college bribery scandal reveals an ugly truth: our society is unjust, dominated by a small elite. Actress Lori Loughlin, who has been implicated in the Operation Varsity Blues scandal. Credit: Featureflash Photo Agency/Shutterstock The most destructive and pervasive myth in America today is that we live in a meritocracy. Our elites, so the myth goes, earned their places at Yale and Harvard, on Wall Street and in Washington -- not because of the accident of their birth, but because they are better, stronger, and smarter than the rest of us. Therefore, they think, they've "earned" their places in the halls of power and "deserve" to lead.

    The fervor with which so many believe this enables elites to lord over those worse off than they are. On we slumber, believing that we live in a country that values justice, instead of working towards a more equitable and authentically meritocratic society.

    Take the Operation Varsity Blues scandal. On Tuesday, the FBI and federal prosecutors announced that 50 people had been charged in, as Sports Illustrated put it , "a nationwide college admissions scheme that used bribes to help potential students cheat on college entrance exams or to pose as potential athletic recruits to get admitted to high-profile universities." Thirty-three parents, nine collegiate coaches, two SAT/ACT exam administrators, an exam proctor, and a college athletics administrator were among those charged. The man who allegedly ran the scheme, William Rick Singer, pled guilty to four charges of racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the U.S., and obstruction of justice.

    As part of the scam, parents would "donate" money to a fake charity run by Singer. The funds would then be laundered to either pay off an SAT or ACT administrator to take the exams or bribe an employee in college athletics to name the rich, non-athlete children as recruits. Virtually every scenario relied on multiple layers of corruption, all of which eventually allowed wealthy students to masquerade as "deserving" of the merit-based college slots they paid up to half a million dollars to "qualify" for.

    Cheating. Bribery. Lying. The wealthy and privileged buying what was reserved for the deserving. It's all there on vivid display. Modern American society has become increasingly and banally corrupt , both in the ways in which "justice" is meted out and in who is allowed to access elite education and the power that comes with it.

    The U.S. is now a country where corruption is rampant and money buys both access and outcomes. We pretend to be better than Russia and other oligarchies, but we too are dominated by a rich and powerful elite.

    The average American citizen has very little power, as a 2014 study by Princeton University found. The research reviewed 1,779 public policy questions asked between 1981 and 2002 and the responses by different income levels and interest groups; then calculated the likelihood that certain policies would be adopted.

    What they found came as no surprise: How to Fix College Admissions

    A proposed policy change with low support among economically elite Americans (one-out-of-five in favor) is adopted only about 18 percent of the time, while a proposed change with high support (four-out-of-five in favor) is adopted about 45% of the time.

    That's in stark contrast with policies favored by average Americans:

    When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.

    The conclusion of the study? We live in an oligarchy:

    our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. [T]he preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.

    The belief in the myth of merit hurts the smart kid with great grades who aced his SATs but was still rejected from Yale and Harvard. It hurts talented athletes who have worked their tails off for so many years. It hurts parents who have committed hundreds of school nights and weekends to their children. It hurts HR departments that believe degrees from Ivy League schools mean that graduates are qualified. It hurts all of us who buy into the great myth that America is a democratic meritocracy and that we can achieve whatever we want if only we're willing to expend blood, toil, sweat, and tears.

    At least in an outright class system like the British Houses of Lords and Commons, there is not this farcical playacting of equal opportunity. The elites, with their privilege and titles, know the reason they are there and feel some sense of obligation to those less well off than they are. At the very least, they do not engage in the ritual pretense of "deserving" what they "earned" -- quite unlike those who descend on Washington, D.C. believing that they really are better than their compatriots in flyover country.

    All societies engage in myth-making about themselves. But the myth of meritocracy may be our most pervasive and destructive belief -- and it mirrors the myth that anything like "justice" is served up in our courts.

    Remember the Dupont heir who received no prison time after being convicted for raping his three-year-old daughter because the judge ruled that six-foot-four Robert Richards "wouldn't fare well in prison"? Or the more recent case of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who had connections to both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and faced a 53-page federal indictment for sex-trafficking over two dozens underage girls ? He received instead a sweetheart deal that concealed the extent of his crimes. Rather than the federal life imprisonment term he was facing, Epstein is currently on house arrest after receiving only 13 months in county jail. The lead prosecutor in that case had previously been reprimanded by a federal judge in another underage sex crimes case for concealing victim information, the Miami Herald reports .

    While the rich are able to escape consequences for even the most horrific of crimes , the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Approximately 7 million people were under some form of correctional control by the end of 2011, including 2.2 million who were detained in federal, state, and local prisons and jails. One in every 10 black men in his thirties is in prison or jail, and one out of three black men born in 2001 can expect to go to prison in their lifetimes.

    While black people make up only 13 percent of the population, they make up 42 percent of death row and 35 percent of those who are executed . There are big racial disparities in charging, sentencing, plea bargaining, and executions, Department of Justice reviews have concluded, and black and brown people are disproportionately found to be innocent after landing on death row. The poor and disadvantaged thereby become grist for a system that cares nothing for them.

    Despite all this evidence, most Americans embrace a version of the Calvinist beliefs promulgated by their forebears, believing that the elect deserve their status. We remain confident that when our children apply to college or are questioned by police , they will receive just and fair outcomes. If our neighbors' and friends' kids do not, then we assure ourselves that it is they who are at fault, not the system.

    The result has been a gaping chasm through our society. Lives are destroyed because, rather than working for real merit-based systems and justice, we worship at the altar of false promises offered by our institutions. Instead we should be rolling up our sleeves and seeing Operation Varsity Blues for what it is: a call to action.

    Barbara Boland is the former weekend editor of the Washington Examiner . Her work has been featured on Fox News, the Drudge Report, HotAir.com, RealClearDefense, RealClearPolitics, and elsewhere. She's the author of Patton Uncovered , a book about General Patton in World War II. Follow her on Twitter @BBatDC .

    MORE FROM THIS AUTHOR

    The GOP's Laughable Call for a Balanced Budget Amendment Congress's "One Spending Bill to Rule Them All" is a Debt-Fueled Disgrace Hide 11 comments 11 Responses to The Myth of American Meritocracy

    Collin March 15, 2019 at 1:46 pm

    If conservatives are going to dance the graves of Aunt Beckie, the backlash is going to be big. Sure this is a 'scandal' but it seems these parents weren't rich enough to bribe their kids in college the right way, like Trumps and Kushner, and probably slightly duped into going along with this scheme. (It appears the government got the ring leader to call all defendants to get evidence they participated in a crime.)

    Just wait until the mug shot of Aunt Beckie is on the internet and Olivia Jade does 60 minutes doing teary eyed interview of how much she loves her mother. And how many parents are stress that their kids will struggle in the global competitive economy.

    Fran Macadam , , March 15, 2019 at 1:52 pm
    I fully recall the days of getting government computing contracts. Once a certain threshold was reached, you discovered you had to hire a "lobbyist," and give him a significant amount of money to dole out to various gatekeepers in the bureaucracy for your contracts to be approved. That was the end of our government contracts, and the end was hastened by the reaction to trying to complain about it.
    prodigalson , , March 15, 2019 at 1:56 pm
    Great article, well done. More of this please TAC.
    Kurt Gayle , , March 15, 2019 at 2:17 pm
    Thank you, Barbara Boland, for "The Myth of American Meritocracy" and for linking ("Related Articles" box) to the 2012 "The Myth of American Meritocracy" by Ron Unz, then publisher of the American Conservative.

    The 26,000-word Ron Unz research masterpiece was the opening salvo in the nation-wide discussion that ultimately led to the federal court case nearing resolution in Boston.

    "The Myth of American Meritocracy -- How corrupt are Ivy League admissions?" by Ron Unz, The American Conservative, Nov 28, 2012:

    https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-myth-of-american-meritocracy/

    Kurt Gayle , , March 15, 2019 at 2:18 pm
    Barbara Boland "While black people make up only 13 percent of the population, they make up 42 percent of death row and 35 percent of those who are executed."

    Ms. Boland: According to the US Department of Justice, African Americans [13 per cent of the population] accounted for 52.5% of all homicide offenders from 1980 to 2008.

    JeffK , , March 15, 2019 at 2:46 pm
    I agree with prodigalson. This is the type of article that TAC should uphold as a 'gold standard'. One reason I read, and comment on, TAC is that it offers thought provoking, and sometimes contrarian, articles (although the constant harping on transgender BS gets annoying).

    America has always been somewhat corrupt. But, to borrow a phrase, wealth corrupts, and uber wealth corrupts absolutely.

    As Warren Buffet says "There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning".

    I have said it before, and I will say it again. During the next severe financial recession, if the rich are protected and coddled and everybody else is left to fend for themselves the ARs will come out of the closets when the sheriff comes to take the house or the pickup truck. My sense is that average Americans have had enough.

    Imagine if the digital transfer of money was abolished. Imagine if everybody had to have their money in a local bank instead of on an account in one of the major banks. Imagine if Americans saw, day after day, armored vehicles showing up at local banks to offload sacks of currency that went to only a few individual accounts.

    Instead, the elites get their financial statements showing an ever increasing pile of cash at their disposal. They see it, but nobody else does. But, if everybody physically saw the river of wealth flowing to the elites, I believe things would change. Fast. Right now this transfer of wealth is all digital, hidden from the view of 99.99% of Americans. And the elites, the banking industry, and the wealth management cabal prefer it that way.

    Mike N in MA , , March 15, 2019 at 2:49 pm
    You said it sister. Great article.

    I am amazed by the media coverage of this scandal. Was anyone actually under the impression that college admissions were on the level before these Hollywood bozos were caught red handed?

    BDavi52 , , March 15, 2019 at 2:49 pm
    What total silliness!

    No, the meritocracy is not dead; it's not even dying. It is, in fact, alive and well and the absolute best alternative to any other method used to separate wheat from chaff, cream from milk, diamonds from rust.

    What else is there that is even half as good?

    Are merit-based systems perfect? Heck, no. They've never been perfect; they will never be perfect. They are administered by people and people are flawed. Not just flawed in the way Singer, and Huffman are flawed (and those individuals are not simply flawed, they're corrupt) but flawed in the everyday kind of sense. Yes, we all have tendencies, biases, preferences that will -- inevitably -- leak into our selection process, no matter how objectively strict the process may be structured, no matter how rigorously fair we try to be.

    So the fact that -- as with most things -- we can find a trace of corruption here that fact is meaningless. We can find evidence of human corruption, venality, greed, sloth, lust, envy (all of the 7 Deadly Sins) pretty much everywhere. But if we look at the 20M students enrolled in college, the vast majority are successfully & fairly admitted through merit-based filtering systems (which are more or less rigorous) which have been in place forever.

    Ms. Boland tells us (with a straight face, no less) that "The U.S. is now a country where corruption is rampant and money buys both access and outcomes." But what does that even mean?

    Certainly money can buy access and certainly money can buy outcomes. But that's what money does. She might as well assert that money can buy goods and services, and lions and tigers and bears -- oh my! Of course it can. Equally networks can 'buy' access and outcomes (if my best friend is working as the manager for Adele, I'm betting he could probably arrange my meeting Adele). Equally success & fame can buy access and outcomes. I'm betting Adele can probably arrange a meeting with Gwen Stefani .and both can arrange a meeting with Tom Brady. So what? Does the fact that money can be used to purchase goods & services mean money or the use of money is corrupt or morally degenerate? No, of course not. In truth, we all leverage what we have (whatever that may be) to get what we want. That's how life works. But the fact that we all do that does not mean we are all corrupt.

    But yes, corruption does exist and can usually be found, in trace amounts -- as I said -- pretty much everywhere.

    So is it rampant? Can I buy my way into the NBA or the NFL? If I go to Clark Hunt and give him $20M and tell him I want to play QB for the Chiefs, will he let me? Can I buy my way into the CEO's position at General Electric, Apple, Microsoft, Google, Sprint, Verizon, General Motors, Toyota or any of the Fortune 500? Heck, can I even buy my way into the Governor's mansion? To become the Mayor of Chicago? Or the Police Commissioner? No -- these things are not possible. But what I can buy is my presence on the media stage.

    What happens after cannot be purchased.

    So no, by any measure, corruption is not rampant. And though many things are, in fact, for sale -- not everything is. And no matter how much money I give anyone, I'm never gonna QB the Chiefs or play for the Lakers.

    She tells us, "we are dominated by a rich and powerful elite." No, we're not. Most of us live our lives making the choices we want to make, given the means that each of us has, without any interference from any so-called "elite". The "elite" didn't tell me where to go to school, or where to get a job, or how to do my job, or when to have kids, or what loaf of bread to buy, or what brand of beer tastes best, or where to go on the family vacation. No one did. The elite obviously did not tell us who to vote for in the last presidential election.

    Of course one of the problems with the "it's the fault of the elite" is the weight given institutions by people like Ms.Boland. "Oh, lordy, the Elite used their dominating power to get a brainless twit of a daughter into USC". Now if my kid were cheated out of a position at USC because the Twit got in, I'd be upset but beyond that who really cares if a Twit gets an undergraduate degree from USC or Yale .or Harvard .or wherever. Some of the brightest people I've known earned their degrees at Easter PolyTechnic U (some don't even have college degrees -- oh, the horror!); some of the stupidest have Ivy League credentials. So what?

    Only if you care about the exclusivity of such a relatively meaningless thing as a degree from USC, does gaming the exclusivity matter.

    She ends with the exhortation: "The result has been a gaping chasm through our society. Lives are destroyed because, rather than working for real merit-based systems and justice, we worship at the altar of false promises offered by our institutions. Instead we should be rolling up our sleeves and seeing Operation Varsity Blues for what it is: a call to action."

    To do what, exactly?

    Toss the baby and the bathwater? Substitute lottery selection for merit? Flip a coin? What?
    Again the very best method is and always will be merit-based. That is the incentive which drives all of us: the hope that if we work hard enough and do well enough, that we will succeed. Anything else is just a lie.

    Yes, we can root out this piece of corruption. Yes, we can build better and more rigorously fair systems. But in the end, merit is the only game in town. Far better to roll-up our sleeves and simply buckle down, Winsocki. There isn't anything better.

    Sid Finster , , March 15, 2019 at 2:52 pm
    Gee, and people wonder why the rubes think that the system is gamed, why the dogs no longer want to eat the dog food.
    Jim Jatras , , March 15, 2019 at 3:22 pm
    "While black people make up only 13 percent of the population, they make up 42 percent of death row and 35 percent of those who are executed. There are big racial disparities in charging, sentencing, plea bargaining, and executions, Department of Justice reviews have concluded, and black and brown people are disproportionately found to be innocent after landing on death row. The poor and disadvantaged thereby become grist for a system that cares nothing for them."

    So to what degree are these "disparities" "disproportionate" in light of actual criminal behavior? To be "proportionate," would we expect criminal behavior to correlate exactly to racial, ethnic, sex, and age demographics of society as a whole?

    Put another way, if you are a victim of a violent crime in America, what are the odds your assailant is, say, an elderly, Asian female? Approximately zero.

    Conversely, what are the odds your assailant is a young, black male? Rather high, and if you yourself are a young, black male, approaching 100 percent.

    Pam , , March 15, 2019 at 3:42 pm

    Mostly thumbs up to this article. But why you gotta pick on Calvinism at the end? Anyway, your understanding of Calvinism is entirely upside down. Calvinists believe they are elect by divine grace, and salvation is something given by God through Jesus, which means you can't earn it and you most assuredly don't deserve it. Calvinism also teaches that all people are made in the image of God and worthy of respect, regardless of class or status. There's no "version" of Calvinism that teaches what you claim.

    [Dec 01, 2019] Academic Conformism is the road to 1984. - Sic Semper Tyrannis

    Highly recommended!
    Dec 01, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

    Academic Conformism is the road to "1984."

    Symptoms-of-groupthink-janis-72-l

    The world is filled with conformism and groupthink. Most people do not wish to think for themselves. Thinking for oneself is dangerous, requires effort and often leads to rejection by the herd of one's peers.

    The profession of arms, the intelligence business, the civil service bureaucracy, the wondrous world of groups like the League of Women Voters, Rotary Club as well as the empire of the thinktanks are all rotten with this sickness, an illness which leads inevitably to stereotyped and unrealistic thinking, thinking that does not reflect reality.

    The worst locus of this mentally crippling phenomenon is the world of the academics. I have served on a number of boards that awarded Ph.D and post doctoral grants. I was on the Fulbright Fellowship federal board. I was on the HF Guggenheim program and executive boards for a long time. Those are two examples of my exposure to the individual and collective academic minds.

    As a class of people I find them unimpressive. The credentialing exercise in acquiring a doctorate is basically a nepotistic process of sucking up to elders and a crutch for ego support as well as an entrance ticket for various hierarchies, among them the world of the academy. The process of degree acquisition itself requires sponsorship by esteemed academics who recommend candidates who do not stray very far from the corpus of known work in whichever narrow field is involved. The endorsements from RESPECTED academics are often decisive in the award of grants.

    This process is continued throughout a career in academic research. PEER REVIEW is the sine qua non for acceptance of a "paper," invitation to career making conferences, or to the Holy of Holies, TENURE.

    This life experience forms and creates CONFORMISTS, people who instinctively boot-lick their fellows in a search for the "Good Doggy" moments that make up their lives. These people are for sale. Their price may not be money, but they are still for sale. They want to be accepted as members of their group. Dissent leads to expulsion or effective rejection from the group.

    This mentality renders doubtful any assertion that a large group of academics supports any stated conclusion. As a species academics will say or do anything to be included in their caste.

    This makes them inherently dangerous. They will support any party or parties, of any political inclination if that group has the money, and the potential or actual power to maintain the academics as a tribe. pl


    doug , 01 December 2019 at 01:01 PM

    Sir,

    That is the nature of tribes and humans are very tribal. At least most of them. Fortunately, there are outliers. I was recently reading "Political Tribes" which was written by a couple who are both law professors that examines this.

    Take global warming (aka the rebranded climate change). Good luck getting grants to do any skeptical research. This highly complex subject which posits human impact is a perfect example of tribal bias.

    My success in the private sector comes from consistent questioning what I wanted to be true to prevent suboptimal design decisions.

    I also instinctively dislike groups that have some idealized view of "What is to be done?"

    As Groucho said: "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member"

    J , 01 December 2019 at 01:22 PM
    Reminds one of the Borg, doesn't it?

    The 'isms' had it, be it Nazism, Fascism, Communism, Totalitarianism, Elitism all demand conformity and adherence to group think. If one does not co-tow to whichever 'ism' is at play, those outside their group think are persecuted, ostracized, jailed, and executed all because they defy their conformity demands, and defy allegiance to them.

    One world, one religion, one government, one Borg. all lead down the same road to -- Orwell's 1984.

    Factotum , 01 December 2019 at 03:18 PM
    David Halberstam: The Best and the Brightest. (Reminder how the heck we got into Vietnam, when the best and the brightest were serving as presidential advisors.)

    Also good Halberstam re-read: The Powers that Be - when the conservative media controlled the levers of power; not the uber-liberal one we experience today.

    [Oct 06, 2019] Devop created huge opportunities for a new generation of snake oil salesman

    Highly recommended!
    Oct 06, 2019 | www.reddit.com

    DragonDrew Jack of All Trades 772 points · 4 days ago

    "I am resolute in my ability to elevate this collaborative, forward-thinking team into the revenue powerhouse that I believe it can be. We will transition into a DevOps team specialising in migrating our existing infrastructure entirely to code and go completely serverless!" - CFO that outsources IT level 2 OpenScore Sysadmin 527 points · 4 days ago

    "We will utilize Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, Cloud technologies, python, data science and blockchain to achieve business value"

    [Sep 19, 2019] Form vs. substance in the neoliberal university

    Highly recommended!
    This is a classic catch 22 situation with this "oath" described below...
    Also I think a lot of professors of neo-classical economics look like the member of Komsomol described below ;-) For them it is about opening new opportunities for advancement not about the truth and the level of corresponding to the reality of this pseudo-scientific neo-classical garbage, with the smoke screen of mathematics as a lipstick on the pig (mathiness)
    Most such people will teach students complete garbage understanding that this is a complete garbage with a smile. Still, in in Soviet way it is possible for some to accept the position and work to undermine neo-classical economics acting within the institution using Aesopian language in lectures and papers.
    The book Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More The Last Soviet Generation (In-Formation) by Alexei Yurchak is a recommended reading for those who want to understand the perversion of neoliberal way of life in the USA today, as they mirror the perversions of Soviet life in a very uncanny way.
    Notable quotes:
    "... Consider an example from the contemporary United States. Today a number of private universities, colleges, and schools in several states require teachers and professors to take a "loyalty oath" to ensure that they do not "hold or foster undesirable political beliefs.... ..."
    "... From a political standpoint she disagreed with the practice of taking loyalty oaths, and later, in her role as professor of the sociology of law, she voiced political positions counter to those mentioned in the oath and challenged the oath-taking practice itself. ..."
    "... However, before she could do this, she first had to take the oath, understanding that without this act she would not be employed or recognized by the institution as a legitimate member with a voice authorized to participate in teaching, research, and the institution's politics (committees, meetings, elections, and so forth), including even the possibility to question publicly the practice of taking oaths. ..."
    "... "The oath did not mean much if you took it, but it meant a lot if you didn't." ..."
    "... However, "when a vote had to be taken, everyone roused -- a certain sensor clicked in the head: 'Who is in favor?' -- and you raised your hand automatically" (see a discussion of such ritualized practices within the Komsomol in chapter a). ..."
    "... Participating in these acts reproduced oneself as a "normal" Soviet person within the system of relations, collectivities, and subject positions, with all the constraints and possibilities that position entailed, even including the possibility, after the meetings, to engage in interests, pursuits, and meanings that ran against those that were stated in the resolutions one had voted for. ..."
    "... These acts are not about stating facts and describing opinions but about doing things and opening new possibilities. ..."
    Sep 19, 2019 | www.amazon.com

    Originally from: Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More The Last Soviet Generation (In-Formation) by Alexei Yurchak

    formal Shift

    A general shift at the level of concrete ritualized forms of discourse, in which the formal dimension's importance grows, while the
    informal, substantiative dimension opens up to new meanings, can and does occur in different historical and cultural contexts.

    Consider an example from the contemporary United States. Today a number of private universities, colleges, and schools in several states require teachers and professors to take a "loyalty oath" to ensure that they do not "hold or foster undesirable political beliefs....

    While the statutes vary, [these institutions] generally deny the right to teach to those who cannot or will not take the loyalty oath" (Chin and Rao 2003, 431 -32). Recently, a sociologist of law took such a loyalty oath at a Midwestern university when her appointment as a professor began.

    From a political standpoint she disagreed with the practice of taking loyalty oaths, and later, in her role as professor of the sociology of law, she voiced political positions counter to those mentioned in the oath and challenged the oath-taking practice itself.

    However, before she could do this, she first had to take the oath, understanding that without this act she would not be employed or recognized by the institution as a legitimate member with a voice authorized to participate in teaching, research, and the institution's politics (committees, meetings, elections, and so forth), including even the possibility to question publicly the practice of taking oaths.

    Here, the informal, substantiative dimension of the ritualized act experiences a shift, while the formal dimension remains fixed and important: taking the oath opens a world of possibilities where new informal, substantiative meanings become possible, including a professorial position with a recognized political voice within the institution. In the sociologist's words, "The oath did not mean much if you took it, but it meant a lot if you didn't." 3 ^

    This example illustrates the general principle of how some discursive acts or whole types of discourse can drift historically in the direction of an increasingly expanding formal dimension and increasingly open or even irrelevant informal, substantiative dimension. During Soviet late socialism, the formal dimension of speech acts at formal gathering and rituals became particularly important in most contexts and during most events.

    One person who participated in large Komsomol meetings in the 1970s and 1980s described how he often spent the meetings reading a book. However, "when a vote had to be taken, everyone roused -- a certain sensor clicked in the head: 'Who is in favor?' -- and you raised your hand automatically" (see a discussion of such ritualized practices within the Komsomol in chapter a).

    Here the emphasis on the formal dimension of organizational discourse was unique both in scale and substance. Most ritualized acts of "organizational discourse" during this time underwent such a transformation.

    Participating in these acts reproduced oneself as a "normal" Soviet person within the system of relations, collectivities, and subject positions, with all the constraints and possibilities that position entailed, even including the possibility, after the meetings, to engage in interests, pursuits, and meanings that ran against those that were stated in the resolutions one had voted for.

    It would obviously be wrong to see these acts of voting simply as informal, substantiative statements about supporting the resolution that are either true (real support) or false (dissimulation of support). These acts are not about stating facts and describing opinions but about doing things and opening new possibilities.

    [Sep 13, 2019] Clowns, AI and layoffs

    Sep 13, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

    Bugs Bunny , September 13, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    Clowns should be increasingly used in redundancy (layoff, firing) meetings until it becomes the norm and employers start to compete with each other to offer the best clown redundancy experience and promote it as a benefit.

    It would also create clown jobs, which would probably require more clown schools, meaning that the tuition prices would go through the roof and young people dreaming of becoming redundancy clowns would either have to come from wealth or take out massive clown loans to fund their education for clown universities and grad schools. Shareholders can only take so much top line costs and Wall Street pressure would force corporations to improve return on investment and reduce redundancy clown labor expenses. Sadly, redundancy clowns would find themselves training their own replacements – HB1 clowns from "low cost" countries. Employers would respond to quality criticisms of the HB1 clown experience by publishing survey results showing very similar almost ex-employee satisfaction with the new clowns.

    Eventually, of course, redundancy clowns will be replaced by AI and robots. It's just the future and we will need to think about how to adapt to it today by putting in place a UBI for the inevitable redundant redundancy clowns.

    [Sep 09, 2019] What's the True Unemployment Rate in the US? by Jack Rasmus

    Highly recommended!
    Notable quotes:
    "... The real unemployment rate is probably somewhere between 10%-12%. ..."
    "... The U-6 also includes what the labor dept. calls involuntary part time employed. It should include the voluntary part time as well, but doesn't (See, they're not actively looking for work even if unemployed). ..."
    "... But even the involuntary part time is itself under-estimated. I believe the Labor Dept. counts only those involuntarily part time unemployed whose part time job is their primary job. It doesn't count those who have second and third involuntary part time jobs. That would raise the U-6 unemployment rate significantly. The labor Dept's estimate of the 'discouraged' and 'missing labor force' is grossly underestimated. ..."
    "... The labor dept. also misses the 1-2 million workers who went on social security disability (SSDI) after 2008 because it provides better pay, for longer, than does unemployment insurance. That number rose dramatically after 2008 and hasn't come down much (although the government and courts are going after them). ..."
    "... The way the government calculates unemployment is by means of 60,000 monthly household surveys but that phone survey method misses a lot of workers who are undocumented and others working in the underground economy in the inner cities (about 10-12% of the economy according to most economists and therefore potentially 10-12% of the reported labor force in size as well). ..."
    "... The SSDI, undocumented, underground, underestimation of part timers, etc. are what I call the 'hidden unemployed'. And that brings the unemployed well above the 3.7%. ..."
    Sep 09, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

    The real unemployment rate is probably somewhere between 10%-12%. Here's why: the 3.7% is the U-3 rate, per the labor dept. But that's the rate only for full time employed. What the labor dept. calls the U-6 includes what it calls discouraged workers (those who haven't looked for work in the past 4 weeks). Then there's what's called the 'missing labor force'–i.e. those who haven't looked in the past year. They're not calculated in the 3.7% U-3 unemployment rate number either. Why? Because you have to be 'out of work and actively looking for work' to be counted as unemployed and therefore part of the 3.7% rate.

    The U-6 also includes what the labor dept. calls involuntary part time employed. It should include the voluntary part time as well, but doesn't (See, they're not actively looking for work even if unemployed).

    But even the involuntary part time is itself under-estimated. I believe the Labor Dept. counts only those involuntarily part time unemployed whose part time job is their primary job. It doesn't count those who have second and third involuntary part time jobs. That would raise the U-6 unemployment rate significantly. The labor Dept's estimate of the 'discouraged' and 'missing labor force' is grossly underestimated.

    The labor dept. also misses the 1-2 million workers who went on social security disability (SSDI) after 2008 because it provides better pay, for longer, than does unemployment insurance. That number rose dramatically after 2008 and hasn't come down much (although the government and courts are going after them).

    The way the government calculates unemployment is by means of 60,000 monthly household surveys but that phone survey method misses a lot of workers who are undocumented and others working in the underground economy in the inner cities (about 10-12% of the economy according to most economists and therefore potentially 10-12% of the reported labor force in size as well). The labor dept. just makes assumptions about that number (conservatively, I may add) and plugs in a number to be added to the unemployment totals. But it has no real idea of how many undocumented or underground economy workers are actually employed or unemployed since these workers do not participate in the labor dept. phone surveys, and who can blame them.

    The SSDI, undocumented, underground, underestimation of part timers, etc. are what I call the 'hidden unemployed'. And that brings the unemployed well above the 3.7%.

    Finally, there's the corroborating evidence about what's called the labor force participation rate. It has declined by roughly 5% since 2007. That's 6 to 9 million workers who should have entered the labor force but haven't. The labor force should be that much larger, but it isn't. Where have they gone? Did they just not enter the labor force? If not, they're likely a majority unemployed, or in the underground economy, or belong to the labor dept's 'missing labor force' which should be much greater than reported. The government has no adequate explanation why the participation rate has declined so dramatically. Or where have the workers gone. If they had entered the labor force they would have been counted. And their 6 to 9 million would result in an increase in the total labor force number and therefore raise the unemployment rate.

    All these reasons–-i.e. only counting full timers in the official 3.7%; under-estimating the size of the part time workforce; under-estimating the size of the discouraged and so-called 'missing labor force'; using methodologies that don't capture the undocumented and underground unemployed accurately; not counting part of the SSI increase as unemployed; and reducing the total labor force because of the declining labor force participation-–together means the true unemployment rate is definitely over 10% and likely closer to 12%. And even that's a conservative estimate perhaps." Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: Jack Rasmus

    Jack Rasmus is author of the recently published book, 'Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes: Monetary Policy and the Coming Depression', Clarity Press, August 2017. He blogs at jackrasmus.com and his twitter handle is @drjackrasmus. His website is http://kyklosproductions.com .

    [Aug 30, 2019] Over 50 and unemployed: Don t panic!

    Highly recommended!
    Don't panic is always a good advice. Following it is another story...
    Notable quotes:
    "... Using contacts, no matter how far in the past they rest, is nothing to be ashamed of! You've probably spent most of your life working, and meeting a lot of people along the way. ..."
    "... Your resume should be tailored to each and every job you apply for. While it is important to showcase your talent and skills, how you present the information is equally important. ..."
    Jan 03, 2012 | Palmetto Workforce Connections

    When you find yourself over 50 and unemployed, the thought of finding another job may seem daunting and hopeless.

    It is quite easy to become discouraged because many people fear being stereotyped because of their age, the tough job market, or the prospect of being interviewed by someone half their age. However, there are some things the older unemployed should keep in mind while on the job search. Using the following tips will increase your chances of a short job search and create an overall more pleasant experience.

    1. Quit telling yourself that no one hires older workers. This is simply just not true. In some cases older workers have to exert more effort to overcome discrimination, but this is certainly not the case for every employer. There are even entire websites with jobs posted specifically for older workers, and a quick Google search will render you a list of those websites. Take advantage of such resources!
    2. Take advantage of new technology. Learn to blog and micro-blog, via Twitter, about your profession and interests. You should even create a LinkedIn profile (a website similar to Facebook yet has a more career oriented function) to assist it meeting people in your desired field. All of which will help you stay fine tuned on your skills, while developing new ones. Learning to use social networking will indicate to potential employers that you can adapt to change and learn new things, particularly technology, fairly quickly.
    3. Use all those hard earned contacts. Using contacts, no matter how far in the past they rest, is nothing to be ashamed of! You've probably spent most of your life working, and meeting a lot of people along the way. It is completely acceptable to reach out to former colleagues, class mates, co-workers and employers for job possibilities. Using resources like Facebook or LinkedIn are great ways to find those long lost contacts as well. Chances are they would love to hear from you and help you out if possible.
    4. Don't clutter your resume. Your resume should be tailored to each and every job you apply for. While it is important to showcase your talent and skills, how you present the information is equally important. This means keep it straight to the point and relate your past experience to the skills necessary for the job you are applying for. Essentially, don't do a history dump of every job you've ever had, instead, make each word count!
    5. Don't act superior to the interviewer. It is likely that the people interviewing you will be younger than you. But this does not mean you should look down upon them. Obviously they have earned their position, and if you play your cards right, in due time, you will earn yours! Even if you've worked more years than your interviewer has been alive, it's not okay to tell him or her that you can "teach" them anything. A better idea would be to state your experience working in a multi-generational work place.

    Use these tips to help make your job search less stressful and more positive. Whatever you do, don't throw in the towel before you've even tried. Your experience and knowledge will be recognized. All you need is the right employer to identify it.

    [Jun 21, 2019] A Slow Death The Ills of the Neoliberal Academic

    Highly recommended!
    The term Casializatin was repced by more correct term "neoliberalization" for clarity.
    Notable quotes:
    "... Neoliberalization, a word that says much in, and of, itself, is seen as analogue of broader outsourcing initiatives. Militaries do it, governments do it, and the university does it. Services long held to be the domain of the state, itself an animation of the social contract, the spirit of the people, have now become the incentive of the corporate mind, and, it follows, its associated vices. The entire scope of what has come to be known as outsourcing is itself a creature of propaganda, cheered on as an opportunity drawing benefits rather than an ill encouraging a brutish, tenuous life. ..."
    "... Practitioners and policy makers within the education industry have become devotees of the amoral dictates of supply and demand, underpinned by an insatiable management class. Central to their program of university mismanagement is the neoliberal academic, a creature both embraced and maligned in the tertiary sectors of the globe. ..."
    "... The neoliberal academic is meant to be an underpaid miracle worker, whose divining acts rescue often lax academics from discharging their duties. (These duties are outlined in that deceptive and unreliable document known as a "workplan", as tedious as it is fictional.) The neoliberal academic grades papers, lectures, tutors and coordinates subjects. The neoliberal provides cover, a shield, and an excuse for a certain class of academic manager who prefers the calling of pretence to the realities of work. ..."
    "... Often, these neoliberal academics are students undertaking a postgraduate degree and subject to inordinate degrees of stress in an environment of perennial uncertainty. ..."
    "... A representative sample of PhD students studying in Flanders, Belgium found that one in two experienced psychological distress, with one in three at risk of a common psychiatric disorder. Mental health problems tended to be higher in PhD students "than in the highly educated general population, highly education employees and higher education students." ..."
    "... Neoliberalization can be seen alongside a host of other ills. If the instructor is disposable and vulnerable, then so are the manifestations of learning. Libraries and research collections, for instance, are being regarded as deadening, inanimate burdens on the modern, vibrant university environment. Some institutions make a regular habit of culling their supply of texts and references: we are all e-people now, bound to prefer screens to paper, the bleary-eyed session of online engagement to the tactile session with a book. ..."
    Jun 21, 2019 | dissidentvoice.org

    A Slow Death: The Ills of the Neoliberal Academic

    by Binoy Kampmark / June 20th, 2019

    Any sentient being should be offended. Eventually, the Neoliberalization of the academic workforce was bound to find lazy enthusiasts who neither teach, nor understand the value of a tenured position dedicated to that musty, soon-to-be-forgotten vocation of the pedagogue. It shows in the designs of certain universities who confuse frothy trendiness with tangible depth: the pedagogue banished from the podium, with rooms lacking a centre, or a focal point for the instructor. Not chic, not cool, we are told, often by learning and teaching committees that perform neither task. Keep it modern; do not sound too bright and hide the learning: we are all equal in the classroom, inspiringly even and scrubbed of knowledge. The result is what was always to be expected: profound laziness on the part of instructors and students, dedicated mediocrity, and a rejection of all things intellectually taxing.

    Neoliberalization, a word that says much in, and of, itself, is seen as analogue of broader outsourcing initiatives. Militaries do it, governments do it, and the university does it. Services long held to be the domain of the state, itself an animation of the social contract, the spirit of the people, have now become the incentive of the corporate mind, and, it follows, its associated vices. The entire scope of what has come to be known as outsourcing is itself a creature of propaganda, cheered on as an opportunity drawing benefits rather than an ill encouraging a brutish, tenuous life.

    One such text is Douglas Brown and Scott Wilson's The Black Book of Outsourcing . Plaudits for it resemble worshippers at a shrine planning kisses upon icons and holy relics. "Brown & Wilson deliver on the best, most innovative, new practices all aimed at helping one and all survive, manage and lead in this new economy," praises Joann Martin, Vice President of Pitney Bowes Management Services. Brown and Wilson take aim at a fundamental "myth": that "Outsourcing is bad for America." They cite work sponsored by the Information Technology Association of America (of course) that "the practice of outsourcing is good for the US economy and its workers."

    Practitioners and policy makers within the education industry have become devotees of the amoral dictates of supply and demand, underpinned by an insatiable management class. Central to their program of university mismanagement is the neoliberal academic, a creature both embraced and maligned in the tertiary sectors of the globe.

    The neoliberal academic is meant to be an underpaid miracle worker, whose divining acts rescue often lax academics from discharging their duties. (These duties are outlined in that deceptive and unreliable document known as a "workplan", as tedious as it is fictional.) The neoliberal academic grades papers, lectures, tutors and coordinates subjects. The neoliberal provides cover, a shield, and an excuse for a certain class of academic manager who prefers the calling of pretence to the realities of work.

    Often, these neoliberal academics are students undertaking a postgraduate degree and subject to inordinate degrees of stress in an environment of perennial uncertainty. The stresses associated with such students are documented in the Guardian's Academics Anonymous series and have also been the subject of research in the journal Research Policy . A representative sample of PhD students studying in Flanders, Belgium found that one in two experienced psychological distress, with one in three at risk of a common psychiatric disorder. Mental health problems tended to be higher in PhD students "than in the highly educated general population, highly education employees and higher education students."

    This is hardly helped by the prospects faced by those PhDs for future permanent employment, given what the authors of the Research Policy article describe as the "unfavourable shift in the labour-supply demand balance, a growing popularity of short-term contracts, budget cuts and increased competition for research sources".

    There have been a few pompom holders encouraging the Neoliberalization mania, suggesting that it is good for the academic sector. The explanations are never more than structural: a neoliberal workforce, for instance, copes with fluctuating enrolments and reduces labour costs. "Using neoliberal academics brings benefits and challenges," we find Dorothy Wardale, Julia Richardson and Yuliani Suseno telling us in The Conversation . This, in truth, is much like suggesting that syphilis and irritable bowel syndrome is necessary to keep you on your toes, sharp and streamlined. The mindset of the academic-administrator is to assume that such things are such (Neoliberalization, the authors insist, is not going way, so embrace) and adopt a prostrate position in the face of funding cuts from the public purse.

    Neoliberalization can be seen alongside a host of other ills. If the instructor is disposable and vulnerable, then so are the manifestations of learning. Libraries and research collections, for instance, are being regarded as deadening, inanimate burdens on the modern, vibrant university environment. Some institutions make a regular habit of culling their supply of texts and references: we are all e-people now, bound to prefer screens to paper, the bleary-eyed session of online engagement to the tactile session with a book.

    The neoliberal, sessional academic also has, for company, the "hot-desk", a spot for temporary, and all too fleeting occupation. The hot-desk has replaced the work desk; the partitions of the office are giving way to the intrusions of the open plan. The hot-desker, like coitus, is temporary and brief. The neoliberal academic epitomises that unstable reality; there is little need to give such workers more than temporary, precarious space. As a result, confidentiality is impaired, and privacy all but negated. Despite extensive research showing the negative costs of "hot-desking" and open plan settings, university management remains crusade bound to implement such daft ideas in the name of efficiency.

    Neoliberalization also compounds fraudulence in the academy. It supplies the bejewelled short cut route, the bypass, the evasion of the rigorous things in learning. Academics may reek like piddling middle class spongers avoiding the issues while pretending to deal with them, but the good ones at least make some effort to teach their brood decently and marshal their thoughts in a way that resembles, at the very least, a sound whiff of knowledge. This ancient code, tested and tried, is worth keeping, but it is something that modern management types, along with their parasitic cognates, ignore. In Australia, this is particularly problematic, given suggestions that up to 80 percent of undergraduate courses in certain higher learning institutions are taught by neoliberal academics.

    The union between the spread sheet manager and the uninterested academic who sees promotion through the management channel rather than scholarship, throws up a terrible hybrid, one vicious enough to degrade all in its pathway. This sort of hybrid hack resorts to skiving and getting neoliberals to do the work he or she ought to be doing. Such people co-ordinate courses but make sure they get the wallahs and helpers desperate for cash to do it. Manipulation is guaranteed, exploitation is assured.

    The economy of desperation is cashed in like a reliable blue-chip stock: the skiver with an ongoing position knows that a neoliberal academic desperate to earn some cash cannot dissent, will do little to rock the misdirected boat, and will have to go along with utterly dotty notions. There are no additional benefits from work, no ongoing income, no insurance, and, importantly, inflated hours that rarely take into account the amount of preparation required for the task.

    The ultimate nature of the Neoliberalization catastrophe is its diminution of the entire academic sector. Neoliberals suffer, but so do students. The result is not mere sloth but misrepresentation of the worst kind: the university keen to advertise a particular service it cannot provide sufficiently. This, in time, is normalised: what would students, who in many instances may not even know the grader of their paper, expect? The remunerated, secure academic-manager, being in the castle, can raise the drawbridge and throw the neoliberals to the vengeful crowd, an employment environment made safe for hypocrisy.

    Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne and can be reached at: bkampmark@gmail.com . Read other articles by Binoy .

    This article was posted on Thursday, June 20th, 2019 at 9:00pm and is filed under Neoliberalization , Education , Universities .

    [Jun 19, 2019] America s Suicide Epidemic

    Highly recommended!
    Notable quotes:
    "... A suicide occurs in the United States roughly once every 12 minutes . What's more, after decades of decline, the rate of self-inflicted deaths per 100,000 people annually -- the suicide rate -- has been increasing sharply since the late 1990s. Suicides now claim two-and-a-half times as many lives in this country as do homicides , even though the murder rate gets so much more attention. ..."
    "... In some states the upsurge was far higher: North Dakota (57.6%), New Hampshire (48.3%), Kansas (45%), Idaho (43%). ..."
    "... Since 2008 , suicide has ranked 10th among the causes of death in this country. For Americans between the ages of 10 and 34, however, it comes in second; for those between 35 and 45, fourth. The United States also has the ninth-highest rate in the 38-country Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Globally , it ranks 27th. ..."
    "... The rates in rural counties are almost double those in the most urbanized ones, which is why states like Idaho, Kansas, New Hampshire, and North Dakota sit atop the suicide list. Furthermore, a far higher percentage of people in rural states own guns than in cities and suburbs, leading to a higher rate of suicide involving firearms, the means used in half of all such acts in this country. ..."
    "... Education is also a factor. The suicide rate is lowest among individuals with college degrees. Those who, at best, completed high school are, by comparison, twice as likely to kill themselves. Suicide rates also tend to be lower among people in higher-income brackets. ..."
    "... Evidence from the United States , Brazil , Japan , and Sweden does indicate that, as income inequality increases, so does the suicide rate. ..."
    "... One aspect of the suicide epidemic is puzzling. Though whites have fared far better economically (and in many other ways) than African Americans, their suicide rate is significantly higher . ..."
    "... The higher suicide rate among whites as well as among people with only a high school diploma highlights suicide's disproportionate effect on working-class whites. This segment of the population also accounts for a disproportionate share of what economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton have labeled " deaths of despair " -- those caused by suicides plus opioid overdoses and liver diseases linked to alcohol abuse. Though it's hard to offer a complete explanation for this, economic hardship and its ripple effects do appear to matter. ..."
    "... Trump has neglected his base on pretty much every issue; this one's no exception. ..."
    Jun 19, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

    Yves here. This post describes how the forces driving the US suicide surge started well before the Trump era, but explains how Trump has not only refused to acknowledge the problem, but has made matters worse.

    However, it's not as if the Democrats are embracing this issue either.

    BY Rajan Menon, the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Professor of International Relations at the Powell School, City College of New York, and Senior Research Fellow at Columbia University's Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. His latest book is The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention Originally published at TomDispatch .

    We hear a lot about suicide when celebrities like Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade die by their own hand. Otherwise, it seldom makes the headlines. That's odd given the magnitude of the problem.

    In 2017, 47,173 Americans killed themselves. In that single year, in other words, the suicide count was nearly seven times greater than the number of American soldiers killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars between 2001 and 2018.

    A suicide occurs in the United States roughly once every 12 minutes . What's more, after decades of decline, the rate of self-inflicted deaths per 100,000 people annually -- the suicide rate -- has been increasing sharply since the late 1990s. Suicides now claim two-and-a-half times as many lives in this country as do homicides , even though the murder rate gets so much more attention.

    In other words, we're talking about a national epidemic of self-inflicted deaths.

    Worrisome Numbers

    Anyone who has lost a close relative or friend to suicide or has worked on a suicide hotline (as I have) knows that statistics transform the individual, the personal, and indeed the mysterious aspects of that violent act -- Why this person? Why now? Why in this manner? -- into depersonalized abstractions. Still, to grasp how serious the suicide epidemic has become, numbers are a necessity.

    According to a 2018 Centers for Disease Control study , between 1999 and 2016, the suicide rate increased in every state in the union except Nevada, which already had a remarkably high rate. In 30 states, it jumped by 25% or more; in 17, by at least a third. Nationally, it increased 33% . In some states the upsurge was far higher: North Dakota (57.6%), New Hampshire (48.3%), Kansas (45%), Idaho (43%).

    Alas, the news only gets grimmer.

    Since 2008 , suicide has ranked 10th among the causes of death in this country. For Americans between the ages of 10 and 34, however, it comes in second; for those between 35 and 45, fourth. The United States also has the ninth-highest rate in the 38-country Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Globally , it ranks 27th.

    More importantly, the trend in the United States doesn't align with what's happening elsewhere in the developed world. The World Health Organization, for instance, reports that Great Britain, Canada, and China all have notably lower suicide rates than the U.S., as do all but six countries in the European Union. (Japan's is only slightly lower.)

    World Bank statistics show that, worldwide, the suicide rate fell from 12.8 per 100,000 in 2000 to 10.6 in 2016. It's been falling in China , Japan (where it has declined steadily for nearly a decade and is at its lowest point in 37 years), most of Europe, and even countries like South Korea and Russia that have a significantly higher suicide rate than the United States. In Russia, for instance, it has dropped by nearly 26% from a high point of 42 per 100,000 in 1994 to 31 in 2019.

    We know a fair amount about the patterns of suicide in the United States. In 2017, the rate was highest for men between the ages of 45 and 64 (30 per 100,000) and those 75 and older (39.7 per 100,000).

    The rates in rural counties are almost double those in the most urbanized ones, which is why states like Idaho, Kansas, New Hampshire, and North Dakota sit atop the suicide list. Furthermore, a far higher percentage of people in rural states own guns than in cities and suburbs, leading to a higher rate of suicide involving firearms, the means used in half of all such acts in this country.

    There are gender-based differences as well. From 1999 to 2017, the rate for men was substantially higher than for women -- almost four-and-a-half times higher in the first of those years, slightly more than three-and-a-half times in the last.

    Education is also a factor. The suicide rate is lowest among individuals with college degrees. Those who, at best, completed high school are, by comparison, twice as likely to kill themselves. Suicide rates also tend to be lower among people in higher-income brackets.

    The Economics of Stress

    This surge in the suicide rate has taken place in years during which the working class has experienced greater economic hardship and psychological stress. Increased competition from abroad and outsourcing, the results of globalization, have contributed to job loss, particularly in economic sectors like manufacturing, steel, and mining that had long been mainstays of employment for such workers. The jobs still available often paid less and provided fewer benefits.

    Technological change, including computerization, robotics, and the coming of artificial intelligence, has similarly begun to displace labor in significant ways, leaving Americans without college degrees, especially those 50 and older, in far more difficult straits when it comes to finding new jobs that pay well. The lack of anything resembling an industrial policy of a sort that exists in Europe has made these dislocations even more painful for American workers, while a sharp decline in private-sector union membership -- down from nearly 17% in 1983 to 6.4% today -- has reduced their ability to press for higher wages through collective bargaining.

    Furthermore, the inflation-adjusted median wage has barely budged over the last four decades (even as CEO salaries have soared). And a decline in worker productivity doesn't explain it: between 1973 and 2017 productivity increased by 77%, while a worker's average hourly wage only rose by 12.4%. Wage stagnation has made it harder for working-class Americans to get by, let alone have a lifestyle comparable to that of their parents or grandparents.

    The gap in earnings between those at the top and bottom of American society has also increased -- a lot. Since 1979, the wages of Americans in the 10th percentile increased by a pitiful 1.2%. Those in the 50th percentile did a bit better, making a gain of 6%. By contrast, those in the 90th percentile increased by 34.3% and those near the peak of the wage pyramid -- the top 1% and especially the rarefied 0.1% -- made far more substantial gains.

    And mind you, we're just talking about wages, not other forms of income like large stock dividends, expensive homes, or eyepopping inheritances. The share of net national wealth held by the richest 0.1% increased from 10% in the 1980s to 20% in 2016. By contrast, the share of the bottom 90% shrank in those same decades from about 35% to 20%. As for the top 1%, by 2016 its share had increased to almost 39% .

    The precise relationship between economic inequality and suicide rates remains unclear, and suicide certainly can't simply be reduced to wealth disparities or financial stress. Still, strikingly, in contrast to the United States, suicide rates are noticeably lower and have been declining in Western European countries where income inequalities are far less pronounced, publicly funded healthcare is regarded as a right (not demonized as a pathway to serfdom), social safety nets far more extensive, and apprenticeships and worker retraining programs more widespread.

    Evidence from the United States , Brazil , Japan , and Sweden does indicate that, as income inequality increases, so does the suicide rate. If so, the good news is that progressive economic policies -- should Democrats ever retake the White House and the Senate -- could make a positive difference. A study based on state-by-state variations in the U.S. found that simply boosting the minimum wage and Earned Income Tax Credit by 10% appreciably reduces the suicide rate among people without college degrees.

    The Race Enigma

    One aspect of the suicide epidemic is puzzling. Though whites have fared far better economically (and in many other ways) than African Americans, their suicide rate is significantly higher . It increased from 11.3 per 100,000 in 2000 to 15.85 per 100,000 in 2017; for African Americans in those years the rates were 5.52 per 100,000 and 6.61 per 100,000. Black men are 10 times more likely to be homicide victims than white men, but the latter are two-and-half times more likely to kill themselves.

    The higher suicide rate among whites as well as among people with only a high school diploma highlights suicide's disproportionate effect on working-class whites. This segment of the population also accounts for a disproportionate share of what economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton have labeled " deaths of despair " -- those caused by suicides plus opioid overdoses and liver diseases linked to alcohol abuse. Though it's hard to offer a complete explanation for this, economic hardship and its ripple effects do appear to matter.

    According to a study by the St. Louis Federal Reserve , the white working class accounted for 45% of all income earned in the United States in 1990, but only 27% in 2016. In those same years, its share of national wealth plummeted, from 45% to 22%. And as inflation-adjusted wages have decreased for men without college degrees, many white workers seem to have lost hope of success of any sort. Paradoxically, the sense of failure and the accompanying stress may be greater for white workers precisely because they traditionally were much better off economically than their African American and Hispanic counterparts.

    In addition, the fraying of communities knit together by employment in once-robust factories and mines has increased social isolation among them, and the evidence that it -- along with opioid addiction and alcohol abuse -- increases the risk of suicide is strong . On top of that, a significantly higher proportion of whites than blacks and Hispanics own firearms, and suicide rates are markedly higher in states where gun ownership is more widespread.

    Trump's Faux Populism

    The large increase in suicide within the white working class began a couple of decades before Donald Trump's election. Still, it's reasonable to ask what he's tried to do about it, particularly since votes from these Americans helped propel him to the White House. In 2016, he received 64% of the votes of whites without college degrees; Hillary Clinton, only 28%. Nationwide, he beat Clinton in counties where deaths of despair rose significantly between 2000 and 2015.

    White workers will remain crucial to Trump's chances of winning in 2020. Yet while he has spoken about, and initiated steps aimed at reducing, the high suicide rate among veterans , his speeches and tweets have never highlighted the national suicide epidemic or its inordinate impact on white workers. More importantly, to the extent that economic despair contributes to their high suicide rate, his policies will only make matters worse.

    The real benefits from the December 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act championed by the president and congressional Republicans flowed to those on the top steps of the economic ladder. By 2027, when the Act's provisions will run out, the wealthiest Americans are expected to have captured 81.8% of the gains. And that's not counting the windfall they received from recent changes in taxes on inheritances. Trump and the GOP doubled the annual amount exempt from estate taxes -- wealth bequeathed to heirs -- through 2025 from $5.6 million per individual to $11.2 million (or $22.4 million per couple). And who benefits most from this act of generosity? Not workers, that's for sure, but every household with an estate worth $22 million or more will.

    As for job retraining provided by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the president proposed cutting that program by 40% in his 2019 budget, later settling for keeping it at 2017 levels. Future cuts seem in the cards as long as Trump is in the White House. The Congressional Budget Office projects that his tax cuts alone will produce even bigger budget deficits in the years to come. (The shortfall last year was $779 billion and it is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2020.) Inevitably, the president and congressional Republicans will then demand additional reductions in spending for social programs.

    This is all the more likely because Trump and those Republicans also slashed corporate taxes from 35% to 21% -- an estimated $1.4 trillion in savings for corporations over the next decade. And unlike the income tax cut, the corporate tax has no end date . The president assured his base that the big bucks those companies had stashed abroad would start flowing home and produce a wave of job creation -- all without adding to the deficit. As it happens, however, most of that repatriated cash has been used for corporate stock buy-backs, which totaled more than $800 billion last year. That, in turn, boosted share prices, but didn't exactly rain money down on workers. No surprise, of course, since the wealthiest 10% of Americans own at least 84% of all stocks and the bottom 60% have less than 2% of them.

    And the president's corporate tax cut hasn't produced the tsunami of job-generating investments he predicted either. Indeed, in its aftermath, more than 80% of American companies stated that their plans for investment and hiring hadn't changed. As a result, the monthly increase in jobs has proven unremarkable compared to President Obama's second term, when the economic recovery that Trump largely inherited began. Yes, the economy did grow 2.3% in 2017 and 2.9% in 2018 (though not 3.1% as the president claimed). There wasn't, however, any "unprecedented economic boom -- a boom that has rarely been seen before" as he insisted in this year's State of the Union Address .

    Anyway, what matters for workers struggling to get by is growth in real wages, and there's nothing to celebrate on that front: between 2017 and mid-2018 they actually declined by 1.63% for white workers and 2.5% for African Americans, while they rose for Hispanics by a measly 0.37%. And though Trump insists that his beloved tariff hikes are going to help workers, they will actually raise the prices of goods, hurting the working class and other low-income Americans the most .

    Then there are the obstacles those susceptible to suicide face in receiving insurance-provided mental-health care. If you're a white worker without medical coverage or have a policy with a deductible and co-payments that are high and your income, while low, is too high to qualify for Medicaid, Trump and the GOP haven't done anything for you. Never mind the president's