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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 cause 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.

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.

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"

[Feb 15, 2019] Losing a job in your 50s is especially tough. Here are 3 steps to take when layoffs happen by Peter Dunn

Unemployment usually is just six month or so; this is the time when you can plan you "downsizing". You do not need to rush.
Often losing job logically requires selling your home and moving to a modest apartment, especially if no children are living with you. At 50 it is abut time... You need to do it later anyway, so why not now.
But that's a very tough decision to make... Still, if the current housing market is close to the top, this is one of the best moves you can make. Getting from your house several hundred thousand dollars allows you to create kind of private pension to compensate for losses in income till you hit your Social Security check, which currently means 66.
$300K investment in A quality bonds that returns 3% per year are enough to provides you with $24K per year "pension" from 50 to age of 66. That allows you to pay for the apartment and amenities. The food is extra...
This way you can take lower paid job and survive.
And in this case you 401k remains intact and can supplement your SS income later on. Simple Excel spreadsheet can provide you with a complete picture of what you can afford and what not. Actually ability to walk of fresh air for 3 or more hours each day worth a lot of money ;-)
Notable quotes:
"... Losing a job in your 50s is a devastating moment, especially if the job is connected to a long career ripe with upward mobility. As a frequent observer of this phenomenon, it's as scary and troublesome as unchecked credit card debt or an expensive chronic health condition. This is one of the many reasons why I believe our 50s can be the most challenging decade of our lives. ..."
"... The first thing you should do is identify the exact day your job income stops arriving ..."
"... Next, and by next I mean five minutes later, explore your eligibility for unemployment benefits, and then file for them if you're able. ..."
"... Grab your bank statement, a marker, and a calculator. As much as you want to pretend its business as usual, you shouldn't. Identify expenses that don't make sense if you don't have a job. Circle them. Add them up. Resolve to eliminate them for the time being, and possibly permanently. While this won't necessarily lengthen your fuse, it could lessen the severity of a potential boom. ..."
Feb 15, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

... ... ...

Losing a job in your 50s is a devastating moment, especially if the job is connected to a long career ripe with upward mobility. As a frequent observer of this phenomenon, it's as scary and troublesome as unchecked credit card debt or an expensive chronic health condition. This is one of the many reasons why I believe our 50s can be the most challenging decade of our lives.

Assuming you can clear the mental challenges, the financial and administrative obstacles can leave you feeling like a Rube Goldberg machine.

Income, health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, bills, expenses, short-term savings and retirement savings are all immediately important in the face of a job loss. Never mind your Parent PLUS loans, financially-dependent aging parents, and boomerang children (adult kids who live at home), which might all be lurking as well.

When does your income stop?

From the shocking moment a person learns their job is no longer their job, the word "triage" must flash in bright lights like an obnoxiously large sign in Times Square. This is more challenging than you might think. Like a pickpocket bumping into you right before he grabs your wallet, the distraction is the problem that takes your focus away from the real problem.

This is hard to do because of the emotion that arrives with the dirty deed. The mind immediately begins to race to sources of money and relief. And unfortunately that relief is often found in the wrong place.

The first thing you should do is identify the exact day your job income stops arriving . That's how much time you have to defuse the bomb. Your fuse may come in the form of a severance package, or work you've performed but have't been paid for yet.

When do benefits kick in?

Next, and by next I mean five minutes later, explore your eligibility for unemployment benefits, and then file for them if you're able. However, in some states severance pay affects your immediate eligibility for unemployment benefits. In other words, you can't file for unemployment until your severance payments go away.

Assuming you can't just retire at this moment, which you likely can't, you must secure fresh employment income quickly. But quickly is relative to the length of your fuse. I've witnessed way too many people miscalculate the length and importance of their fuse. If you're able to get back to work quickly, the initial job loss plus severance ends up enhancing your financial life. If you take too much time, by your choice or that of the cosmos, boom.

The next move is much more hands-on, and must also be performed the day you find yourself without a job.

What nonessentials do I cut?

Grab your bank statement, a marker, and a calculator. As much as you want to pretend its business as usual, you shouldn't. Identify expenses that don't make sense if you don't have a job. Circle them. Add them up. Resolve to eliminate them for the time being, and possibly permanently. While this won't necessarily lengthen your fuse, it could lessen the severity of a potential boom.

The idea of diving into your spending habits on the day you lose your job is no fun. But when else will you have such a powerful reason to do so? You won't. It's better than dipping into your assets to fund your current lifestyle. And that's where we'll pick it up the next time.

We've covered day one. In my next column we will tackle day two and beyond.

Peter Dunn is an author, speaker and radio host, and he has a free podcast: "Million Dollar Plan." Have a question for Pete the Planner? Email him at AskPete@petetheplanner.com. The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.

[Feb 13, 2019] Microsoft patches 0-day vulnerabilities in IE and Exchange

It is unclear how long this vulnerability exists, but this is pretty serious staff that shows how Hillary server could be hacked via Abedin account. As Abedin technical level was lower then zero, to hack into her home laptop just just trivial.
Feb 13, 2019 | arstechnica.com

Microsoft also patched Exchange against a vulnerability that allowed remote attackers with little more than an unprivileged mailbox account to gain administrative control over the server. Dubbed PrivExchange, CVE-2019-0686 was publicly disclosed last month , along with proof-of-concept code that exploited it. In Tuesday's advisory , Microsoft officials said they haven't seen active exploits yet but that they were "likely."

[Feb 13, 2019] Death of the Public University Uncertain Futures for Higher Education in the Knowledge Economy

Notable quotes:
"... This assault on academic freedom by neoliberalism justifies itself by calling for "transparency" and "accountability" to the taxpayer and the public. But it operates used utter perversion of those terms. In the Neoliberal context, they mean "total surveillance" and "rampant rent-seeking. ..."
Feb 11, 2019 | www.amazon.com

skeptic, February 11, 2019

The eyes opening, very important for any student or educator book

This book is the collection of more than dozen of essays of various authors, but even the Introduction (Privatizing the Public University: Key Trends, Countertrends, and Alternatives) is worth the price of the book

Trends in neo-liberalization of university education are not new. But recently they took a more dangerous turn. And they are not easy to decipher, despite the fact that they are greatly affect the life of each student or educator. In this sense this is really an eyes-opening book.

In Europe previously higher education as assessable for free or almost free, but for talented student only. Admission criteria were strict and checked via written and oral entrance exams on key subjects. Now the tend is to view university as business that get customers, charge them exorbitant fees and those customers get diploma as hamburgers in McDonalds at the end for their money. Whether those degree are worth money charged, or not and were suitable for the particular student of not (many are "fake" degrees with little or no chances for getting employment) is not university business. On the contrary, marketing is used to attract as many students as possible and many of those student now remain in debt for large part of their adult life.

In other words, the neoliberalization of the university in the USA creates new, now dominant trend -- the conversion of the university into for-profit diploma mills, which are essentially a new type of rent-seeking (and they even attract speculative financial capital and open scamsters, like was in case of "Trump University" ). Even old universities with more than a century history more and more resemble diploma mills.

This assault on academic freedom by neoliberalism justifies itself by calling for "transparency" and "accountability" to the taxpayer and the public. But it operates used utter perversion of those terms. In the Neoliberal context, they mean "total surveillance" and "rampant rent-seeking. "

Neoliberalism has converted education from a public good to a personal investment in the future, a future conceived in terms of earning capacity. As this is about your future earning potential, it is logical that for a chance to increase it you need to take a loan.

Significantly, in the same period per capita, spending on prisons increased by 126 percent (Newfield 2008: 266). Between the 1970s and 1990s there was a 400 percent increase in charges in tuition, room, and board in U.S. universities and tuition costs have grown at about ten times the rate of family income (ibid.). What these instances highlight is not just the state's retreat from direct funding of higher education but also a calculated initiative to enable private companies to capture and profit from tax-funded student loans.

The other tendency is also alarming. Funds now are allocated to those institutions that performed best in what has become a fetishistic quest for ever-higher ratings. That creates the 'rankings arms-race.' It has very little or nothing to do with the quality of teaching of students in a particular university. On the contrary, the curriculums were "streamlined" and "ideologically charged courses" such as neoclassical economics are now required for graduation even in STEM specialties.

In the neoliberal university professors are now under the iron heel of management and various metrics were invented to measure the "quality of teaching." Most of them are very perverted, or can be perverted as when a measurement becomes a target teachers start to focus their resources and activities primarily on what 'counts' rather than on their wider competencies, professional ethics and societal goals (see Kohn and Shore, this volume).

Administration bloat and academic decline is another prominent feature of the neoliberal university. University presidents now view themselves as CEO and want similar salaries. The same is true for the growing staff of university administrators. The recruitment of administrators has far outpaced the growth in the number of faculty – or even students. Meanwhile, universities claim to be struggling with budget crises that force to reduce permanent academic posts, and widely use underpaid and overworked adjunct staff – the 'precariat' paid just a couple of thousand dollars per course and often existing on the edge of poverty, or in real poverty.

Money now is the key objective and the mission changed from cultural to "for profit" business including vast expenses on advancement of the prestige and competitiveness of the university as an end in itself. Ability to get grants is now an important criteria of getting the tenure.

[Feb 12, 2019] Older Workers Need a Different Kind of Layoff A 60-year-old whose position is eliminated might be unable to find another job, but could retire if allowed early access to Medicare

Highly recommended!
This is a constructive suggestion that is implementable even under neoliberalism. As everything is perverted under neoliberalism that might prompt layoffs before the age of 55.
Notable quotes:
"... Older workers often struggle to get rehired as easily as younger workers. Age discrimination is a well-known problem in corporate America. What's a 60-year-old back office worker supposed to do if downsized in a merger? The BB&T-SunTrust prospect highlights the need for a new type of unemployment insurance for some of the workforce. ..."
"... One policy might be treating unemployed older workers differently than younger workers. Giving them unemployment benefits for a longer period of time than younger workers would be one idea, as well as accelerating the age of Medicare eligibility for downsized employees over the age of 55. The latter idea would help younger workers as well, by encouraging older workers to accept buyout packages -- freeing up career opportunities for younger workers. ..."
Feb 12, 2019 | www.bloomberg.com

The proposed merger between SunTrust and BB&T makes sense for both firms -- which is why Wall Street sent both stocks higher on Thursday after the announcement. But employees of the two banks, especially older workers who are not yet retirement age, are understandably less enthused at the prospect of downsizing. In a nation with almost 37 million workers over the age of 55, the quandary of SunTrust-BB&T workforce will become increasingly familiar across the U.S. economy.

But what's good for the firms isn't good for all of the workers. Older workers often struggle to get rehired as easily as younger workers. Age discrimination is a well-known problem in corporate America. What's a 60-year-old back office worker supposed to do if downsized in a merger? The BB&T-SunTrust prospect highlights the need for a new type of unemployment insurance for some of the workforce.

One policy might be treating unemployed older workers differently than younger workers. Giving them unemployment benefits for a longer period of time than younger workers would be one idea, as well as accelerating the age of Medicare eligibility for downsized employees over the age of 55. The latter idea would help younger workers as well, by encouraging older workers to accept buyout packages -- freeing up career opportunities for younger workers.

The economy can be callous toward older workers, but policy makers don't have to be. We should think about ways of dealing with this shift in the labor market before it happens.

[Feb 12, 2019] The Neoliberal University

Notable quotes:
"... Neoliberalism has transformed education from a social good into a production process where the final product is a reserve army of workers for the information economy. What David Harvey calls the "state-finance nexus" pushes universities to play the part by withholding state funds until they expand their enrollment and increase the number of college graduates entering the workforce.[13] In 2012, the Obama Administration identified increasing the number of undergraduate STEM degrees by one million over the next decade as a 'Cross-Agency Priority Goal' on the recommendation of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). ..."
"... The present relationship between the university and the state flows from the dynamics of financialization. As financialization transforms the role of the United States in the global economy, it appropriates higher education to suit the needs of finance capital. Compared to the ever-expanding administrative apparatus responsible for managing contracts and investments, programs outside of STEM and business fields are considered superfluous. Humanities programs are often downsized and tenure tracks closed to push professors into permanent part-time employment arrangements.[15] Meanwhile, schools like Northeastern and MIT are surrounded by high-tech and business firms that rely on students and research facilities for cheap labor and productive capital. ..."
"... The position of financial and credit institutions as the financiers of America's productive infrastructure has far-reaching consequences for social institutions like universities with the potential to absorb surplus capital in the form of credit or produce the 21st-century 'information' workforce. Students, and faculty at universities like Northeastern will struggle against market pressures on universities to attract outside investors while downsizing education for as long as the U.S. economy is dominated by finance. ..."
Feb 12, 2019 | www.nupoliticalreview.com

Last month at Northeastern University, the adjunct union reached a tentative agreement with the university administration to avert a planned walkout after more than a year of unsuccessful negotiations. Those familiar with the adjunct campaign know that adjunct professors are contingent workers who comprise more than half of the teaching staff at Northeastern and are paid a couple thousand dollars for each class that they teach.[1] From a budgetary standpoint, contingent workers are economical because they are easily replaced and therefore can be paid less. Still, at a school like Northeastern University with an operating budget of more than $2.2 billion, it is hard to argue that more than half of all professors need to earn poverty wages for the school to remain profitable.[2]

In today's neoliberal landscape -- a term which refers to the coordinated effort by capital and financial interests after the 1980s to privatize public institutions and deregulate markets -- Northeastern is not unusual in its treatment of adjunct professors. The neoliberal university model of high tuitions, bloated administrative departments, and upscale student facilities -- along with assaults on the job security and pay of professors -- is the new norm. It is the image of a thoroughly financialized economy that has transformed the relationship between universities and the state.

From the 19th century through the 1970s, the relationship between universities and the state remained constant. There was an informal arrangement of mutual independence: Academics operated autonomously with state funding on the understanding that they were willing to pursue research in which the state had an interest, such as medicine or space exploration.[3] Underlying this arrangement was the assumption that as a social good, education should drive public research and development.

The story of how universities became neoliberalized begins with the economic crisis of the 1970s and the subsequent free-market discourse that invoked capitalism's insatiable need for economic growth in order to equate the interests of working people with the interests of financiers.

In the three decades after World War II, the U.S. established economic hegemony over the global capitalist world. The Fordist compromise between strong manufacturers and a strong, suburbanizing working class yielded unprecedented wage growth.[4] However, the Fordist model could not last forever. As a general rule, whenever compound economic growth falls below three percent, people begin to get scared . In order to sustain three percent compound growth, there must be no barriers to the continuous expansion and reinvestment of capital.

The suburbanization of postwar America did sustain high demand for American-made automobiles and home products, but reinvestment in manufacturing eventually became difficult for capital because a widely-unionized and militant working class created a labor shortage (i.e. near-full employment) which drove up wages and hurt profitability.[5][6] To the extent that productivity could be improved by technological innovations, organized labor insisted on "productivity agreements" that ensured that machines would not be used to undermine wages or benefits. To make matters worse for U.S. manufacturers, monopolies like the Big Three auto companies were broken by foreign imports from a newly rebuilt Europe and Japan.[7]

In The Grundrisse , Karl Marx remarked that "every limit [to capital accumulation] appears as a barrier to be overcome."[8] For Marx, sustained capital accumulation requires an "industrial reserve army" to keep the cost of labor (i.e. wages) from impeding profitability. To restore profits, American capital had to discipline labor by drawing from the global working population. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 addressed U.S. labor scarcity by abolishing immigration quotas based on nationality so that cheap labor would flood the market and drive down wages.[9] However, it proved more effective for manufacturing capital to simply relocate to countries with cheaper labor, and throughout the 1970s and 1980s capital did just that -- first to South Korea and Thailand, and then to China as wages in those countries became too high.[10]

"Globalization" entailed removing barriers to international capital relocation such as tariffs and quotas in order to construct a global market where liquid money capital could flow internationally to wherever it yielded the most profits. Of course, wage suppression eventually lowers consumer demand. The neoliberal solution was for financial institutions to sustain middle-class purchasing power through credit. In The Enigma of Capital , David Harvey writes that "the demand problem was temporarily bridged with respect to housing by debt-financing the developers as well as the buyers. The financial institutions collectively controlled both the supply of, and demand for, housing!"[11]

The point of this history though, is that the financialization of the American economy, through which financial markets came to dominate other forms of industrial and agricultural capital, served as the backdrop for the transformation of higher education into what it is today. Neoliberal ideology reframed the social value of higher education as a tool for building the next workforce to serve the new "information economy" -- a term that emerged in the midst of globalization to describe the role of U.S. suburban professionals in the global economy. Simultaneously, finance capital repurposed universities as points of capital accumulation and investment.

The discourse around the information economy sought to rationalize the offshoring of manufacturing from the U.S. The idea was that due to globalization, America has reached a stage of development where its participation in the global economy is as a white-collar work force, specializing in technology and the spread of information.[12] In this telling, there is nothing to critique about the deindustrialization of the American economy because it was inevitable. It was then simple to realign the social goals of universities with the economic goals of Wall Street because the state repression of radical civil rights movements on the Left and the emergent free-market discourse of the Right formed a widespread perception of the state as inherently problematic . State research and development at universities was easily dismissed as inefficient, which cleared space for a neoliberal redefinition of higher education.

Neoliberalism has transformed education from a social good into a production process where the final product is a reserve army of workers for the information economy. What David Harvey calls the "state-finance nexus" pushes universities to play the part by withholding state funds until they expand their enrollment and increase the number of college graduates entering the workforce.[13] In 2012, the Obama Administration identified increasing the number of undergraduate STEM degrees by one million over the next decade as a 'Cross-Agency Priority Goal' on the recommendation of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).

At the same time that neoliberalism transforms education into a production process for high-tech workers, it transforms the university itself into a site for surplus capital absorption through the construction of new labs, facilities, and houses to draw wealthy students and faculty capable of attracting federal grants. In December 2015, Northeastern filed a letter of intent with the Boston Redevelopment Authority to propose building a residence hall for approximately 800 students. The Boston Globe reported that the project is currently under review by American Campus Communities, the largest developer of private student housing in the U.S. To an economizing university administrator, private developers are very appealing because they assume the debt generated by construction projects. The circular process whereby a large university endowment comprised of financial assets is used to contract a debt-financed independent developer reveals how neoliberalism integrates universities into the circulatory system of capital as circuits of accumulation and investment.[14]

The present relationship between the university and the state flows from the dynamics of financialization. As financialization transforms the role of the United States in the global economy, it appropriates higher education to suit the needs of finance capital. Compared to the ever-expanding administrative apparatus responsible for managing contracts and investments, programs outside of STEM and business fields are considered superfluous. Humanities programs are often downsized and tenure tracks closed to push professors into permanent part-time employment arrangements.[15] Meanwhile, schools like Northeastern and MIT are surrounded by high-tech and business firms that rely on students and research facilities for cheap labor and productive capital.

The position of financial and credit institutions as the financiers of America's productive infrastructure has far-reaching consequences for social institutions like universities with the potential to absorb surplus capital in the form of credit or produce the 21st-century 'information' workforce. Students, and faculty at universities like Northeastern will struggle against market pressures on universities to attract outside investors while downsizing education for as long as the U.S. economy is dominated by finance.

[Feb 12, 2019] The neoliberal university is making us sick Who's to blame by Jodie-Lee Trembath

Feb 12, 2019 | thefamiliarstrange.com

June 14, 2018

Trigger warning: This post contains the discussion of depression and other mental health issues, and suicide. If you or anyone you know needs help or support for a mental health concern, please don't suffer in silence. Many countries have confidential phone helplines (in Australia you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, for example); this organisation provides worldwide support, while this website compiles a number of helpline sites from around the world.

I am writing today from a place of anger; from a rage that sits, simmering on the surface of a deep well of sadness. I didn't know Dr. Malcolm Anderson, the senior accountancy lecturer from Cardiff University whose death, after falling from the roof of his university building, was last week ruled a suicide . I obviously have no way to know the complexity of his feelings or what sequence of events led up to his decision to end his own life. However, according to the results of an inquest, we can know what Dr. Anderson wanted his university to understand about his death – that it was, at least in part, because of the pressures of his academic work.

The media reports that Dr. Anderson had recently been appointed to Deputy Head of his department, significantly increasing his administrative load. Nonetheless, he was still teaching 418 students and needed to mark their work within a 20-day turnaround. To meet that deadline, he would have needed to work approximately 9 hours a day without food or toilet breaks, for 20 days straight, and not do ANY other kind of work during that time (such as the admin that comes with being a Deputy Head). Practically impossible, given he was also a human being, with a home life, and physical needs like food, in addition to work responsibilities.

His wife, Diane, has been quoted saying that Dr. Anderson worked very long hours and often took marking to family events. She has said that although he was a passionate educator who won teaching awards every year, he had been showing signs of stress and had spoken to his managers about his difficulty meeting deadlines. A colleague told the inquest that he was given the same response each time he asked for help, and staffing cuts had continued.

A Marked Problem

... ... ...

And look, I get it. To someone outside the academy, I'm sure the perception remains that academics sit in leather armchairs, gazing out the gilded windows of our ivory towers, thinking all day.

That has not been my experience, nor that of anyone I know.

My colleagues and peers have, however , experienced levels of anxiety and depression that are six times higher than experienced in the general population (Evans et al. 2018). They report higher levels of workaholism , the kind that has a negative and unwanted effect on relationships with loved ones (Torp et al. 2018). The picture is often even bleaker for women , people of colour , and other non-White, non-middle-class, non-males. So whether you think academics are 'delicate woeful souls' or not, it's difficult to deny that there is a real problem to be tackled here.

Obviously, marking load is only one issue amongst many faced in universities the world over. But it's not bad as an illustration, partly because it's quantifiable . It's somewhat ironic that the neoliberal metrics that we rail against, the audit culture that causes these kinds of examples to happen, could also help us describe to others why they are a problem for us. So quantifiability brings us to neoliberalism. How did neoliberalism become so pervasive that it's almost impossible to imagine how the world could look different?

Neoliberalism, then and now

These last two weeks I've been working out of the Stockholm Centre for Organisational Research in Sweden, which, by coincidence, is where Professor Cris Shore , anthropologist of policy and the guest on our next podcast episode is currently based. I was chatting to him the other day about the interview we recorded last December, which centres around many of the ideas I'm discussing in this blog post. I had to admit, I hadn't realised until we did that interview how angry many people still feel towards the Thatcher government for introducing neoliberal ideologies and practices into the public sector. Despite doing a Ph.D. about modern university life, it hadn't fully registered for me that events of the past , specifically the histories of politics and economics in 'the West', were such active players in the theatre of higher education's present .

To understand today's neoliberal universities, let's explore a little history in the UK and the US, two of the biggest influencers in the global higher education sector today. In 1979, Margaret Thatcher rose to power on a platform of reviving the stagnant British economy by introducing market-style competition into the public sector. This way, she claimed, she was ensuring, that "the state's power [was] reduced and the power of the people, enhanced" (Edwards, 2017) . For universities, this meant increased "accountability" and quality assurance measures that would drag universities out of their complacency .

Meanwhile, in the US, Ronald Reagan was also arriving at neoliberalism via a different path. Americans historically don't trust central government (Roberts, 2007) , so in 1981, Reagan introduced tax cuts (especially for the rich) for the first time in American history, therefore "protecting" the American people from the rapacious spending habits of the state (Prasad, 2012) . In American universities, this manifested over the next 30 years in reduced public spending on higher education, transferring the costs for tuition to student-consumers, and encouraging partnerships with industry and endorsements from philanthropists (often with agendas) to cover research costs (Shumway, 2017) .

Then in the 90s, there was a moral panic about the public sector caused by scandals such as " the collapse of Barings Bank in 1995 , the failures of the medical profession revealed by investigations into the serial murders by Dr Harold Shipman , and the numerous cases of child abuse that have plagued the Catholic Church " (Shore, 2008) . Frankly, it seems pretty understandable that people were looking for greater transparency, a bit of accountability, and a whole lot less of, "leave it to the professionals, they seem like alright blokes, don't they?" from their public sector.

However, an ideology that had originally looked so promising to the public began, over time, to create a new set of problems. As Cris Shore points out in his seminal 2008 article, ' Audit culture and Illiberal governance: Universities and the politics of accountability ':

The official rationale for [neoliberal ideologies and actions] appears benign and incontestable: to improve efficiency and transparency and to make these institutions more accountable to the taxpayer and public (and no reasonable person could seriously challenge such commonsensical and progressive objectives). The problem, however, is that audit confuses 'accountability' with 'accountancy' so that 'being answerable to the public' is recast in terms of measures of productivity, 'economic efficiency' and delivering 'value for money' (VFM).

The trouble with neoliberalism and its offshoot, New Public Management , is that much like the Newspeak of Orwell's 1984 , the words that were used to sell it – quality, accountability, transparency etc. – in practice, mean the opposite of what they appear to mean. For example, as Chris Lorenz (2012) points out in an article that convincingly compares New Public Management in universities to the outcomes of a Communist regime , there has been no evidence, statistical or otherwise, that increasing 'quality control measures' in universities has actually improved quality in universities by any objective criteria – and often just the opposite.

What has "improved" in universities because of neoliberal practices is efficiency, often through measures like restructures and reviews. Again, taking steps to save money and time sounds like a positive. However, the problem with 'efficiency' is that, unlike its counterpart 'effectiveness' (the ability to bring about a specific effect), 'efficiency' has no end point – it is a goal unto itself. As Lorenz phrases it, "efficient, therefore, is never efficient enough," (2012, p. 607).

Bringing this back, then, to issues of mental health and increasing workloads on campus. Liz Morrish of Academic Irregularities pointed out last week that when tragedies such as the death of Malcolm Anderson occur in universities, the most common response is for said university to announce a review. As anticipated, two days after the results of Dr. Anderson's inquest were first reported in the media, Cardiff University announced that they would be reviewing the 'support, information, advice and specialist counselling' available to all staff, but also urged any academic "who has any concerns regarding workload, to raise them with their line manager, in the first instance, so all available advice and support can be offered."

This platitude has been taken by many online as exactly that – a platitude. Several commenters on Twitter have pointed out that providing more mental health support doesn't actually reduce workload, while others have noted that there has been no discussion by Cardiff U of attempting to fix the underlying cause. I agree with them, and it's part of the reason I'm so angry. Malcolm Anderson could easily be any one of us.

Yet, I have to admit, I'd also hate to be part of the executive team at Cardiff University right now. Can you imagine the anguish of knowing that someone had taken their life, and held you directly responsible? You'd have to feel so helpless, so powerless in the shadow of neoliberal forces that permeate every last aspect of the global higher education sector. I don't know, I haven't been a Vice Chancellor, maybe you wouldn't have to feel that way. But it's easy to imagine how one could.

The path to neoliberal hell is paved with good intentions

So, what's the answer? I wish I knew. What I do know is that anthropological thinking has a lot to offer in the exploration of big immutable mobiles 2 like neoliberalism. As Sherry Ortner asks in her 2016 article " Dark anthropology and its others: Theory since the eighties ", who better to question the power structures inherent in 'dark' topics such as neoliberalisation or colonialism than anthropologists? Yet, she urges an approach that also acknowledges the possibility of goodness in the world, quoting from the opening to Michael Lambek's Ordinary Ethics as rationale:

Ethnographers commonly find that the people they encounter are trying to do what they consider right or good, are being evaluated according to criteria of what is right and good, or are in some debate about what constitutes the human good. Yet anthropological theory tends to overlook all this in favor of analyses that emphasize structure, power, and interest. (Lambeck, 2010, p. 1)

And this is where I have to deviate from the majority of the neoliberal university critiques I've read. In these pieces, it's all too common to read criticisms of academic managers, or administrators, or university 'service providers' as if they are The Reason that neoliberal ideologies get enacted in university contexts. But usually, they're just human beings too, also subject to KPIs and managerial demands and neoliberal ideologies.

Having worked at different times as an educator, a researcher, and a communications manager in various universities for more than 10 years, and now having conducted fieldwork at a university for my PhD, I have had the chance to observe and conduct research on at least nine different university campuses, in at least five countries. Based on those experiences, I am in complete agreement with Lambek: the majority 3 of non-academics that I have encountered, in every type of department, and at every level of universities from Level 1 administrative officers to Presidents and Vice Chancellors, "are trying to do what they consider right or good" (2010, p. 1).

They demonstrate, both through words and their actions, their beliefs that education is valuable, and that students are important as human beings, not just as cash cows. They are often working long hours themselves, trying to keep up with the demands that neoliberal university life is placing on them. I just can't get on board with the idea that they are, universally, the villains of the neoliberal horror story.

It seems much more likely, to me, that neoliberal ideologies continue to get enacted and reinforced by academic managers because these practices have become the norm. Throughout and because of the historical growth pattern neoliberalism has experienced, these ideologies have put down roots, and these roots have become so entangled with other aspects of university life as to be inseparable. For many working-aged people, neoliberalism is the water we were born swimming in. Even presented with its inadequacies, it's difficult to imagine an alternative.

What I can agree with the critics about, however, is that non-academics often don't understand or appreciate – or perhaps remember (if they had worked in that capacity in the past) – the demands of being an academic, just like academics don't tend to understand or appreciate the demands that non-academics within the university are facing.

In their recently published book Death of the Public University (2017), Susan Wright and Cris Shore refer to the idea of 'Faculty Land' – a place synonymous with 'La La Land', where non-academic employees of universities think academics live. This really resonates with what I saw on fieldwork at an international university in Vietnam, but not only from administrators – academics too.

As I've said in a previous post , all the actors in universities are trying to abrogate responsibility sideways or upwards until they can only blame 'the neoliberal agenda', and once they get there, all they can see is a towering, monolithic idea , and it becomes like trying to have a fist fight with a cloud. Most people don't ever get to that point though, because the world feels more controllable if we believe that there is another human to blame .

The thing is though, blaming others almost never works . It doesn't make things better, it just creates a greater divide between groups, encourages isolationism and othering, and decreases the likelihood that either side will ever want to work together to fix the problem.

Dr Anderson's tragic death, and the similarly tragic statistics that tell us that the collective mental health of our academics is in crisis, should be a wake up call to all of us who work or study in universities, in any capacity. Whether it will be remains to be seen.

Again: If you or anyone you know needs help or support for a mental health concern, please don't suffer in silence . Sometimes talking about things with an objective outsider can help.

Yes, I know, this is a structural problem and we shouldn't have to take care of it as individuals (see Grace Krause's moving poem about this here ). But in the meantime, while we work on that, please seek help if you need it .

[Feb 12, 2019] Death of the Public University Uncertain Futures for Higher Education in the Knowledge Economy (Higher Education

Notable quotes:
"... Series editors: ..."
"... CRIS SHORE AND SUSAN WRIGHT ..."
"... 1. State Disinvestment in Universities – or Risk-free Profits for Private Providers? ..."
"... 2. New Regimes for Promoting Competitiveness ..."
"... 3. Rise of Audit Culture: Performance and Output Measures ..."
"... When a measurement becomes a target, institutional environments are restructured so that they focus their resources and activities primarily on what 'counts' to funders and governors rather than on their wider professional ethics and societal goals (see Kohn and Shore, this volume). ..."
"... 4. Administrative Bloat, Academic Decline ..."
"... The Fall of the Faculty ..."
"... One of the weaknesses in these statistics is that they fail to distinguish between administrative staff who support the teaching and research and those who do not. ..."
"... From the perspective of many university managers and human resources (HR) departments, academics are increasingly portrayed as a reluctant, unruly and undisciplined workforce that needs to be incentivized or cajoled to meet management's targeted outputs and performance indicators. ..."
"... 5. Institutional Capture: the Power of the 'Administeriat' ..."
"... Whereas in the past the main cleavage in universities was between the arts and the sciences, or what C.P. Snow (1956) famously termed 'the two cultures', today the main division is between academics and managers. ..."
"... Professor of Critical Management Studies Rebecca Boden compares the way that university managers expand their increasingly onerous regulations to the way that 'cuckoos lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, and how the young cuckoos then evict the nest-builders' offspring' (cited in Havergal 2015). This cuckoo-in-the-nest metaphor might seem somewhat overblown, but it highlights the important fact that managers and administrators have usurped power in what were formerly more collegial, self-governing institutions ..."
"... Today, rather than being treated as core members of a professional community, academics are constantly being told by managers and senior administrators what 'the university' expects of them, as if they were somehow peripheral or subordinate to 'the university'. ..."
"... 6. New Income Streams and the Rise of the 'Entrepreneurial University' ..."
"... Equally important has been the raising of student tuition fees and the relentless drive to recruit more high-fee-paying international students ..."
"... The relentless pursuit of these new income streams has had a transformative effect on universities. Almost two decades ago Marginson and Considine (2000) coined the term the 'enterprise university' to describe the model in which: the economic and academic dimensions are both subordinated to something else. Money is a key objective, but it is also the means to a more fundamental mission: to advance the prestige and competitiveness of the university as an end in itself (ibid. 2000: 5). ..."
"... Times Higher Education ..."
"... 7. Higher Education as Private Investment Versus Public Good ..."
"... most students and their families can only afford to pay for the costs of their higher education through the kinds of debt-financing that governments across the world now condemn as reckless and inappropriate for themselves. ..."
"... Yet students and parents are encouraged to take out what is effectively a 'subprime loan', in the gamble that it will eventually pay off by enhancing their future job prospects and earning power: it is a 'hedge against their future security' (Vernon 2008). In other words, higher education is now being modelled on the same types of financial speculation that produced the 2010 global financial crisis. ..."
"... The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge ..."
"... The University in Ruins ..."
"... But on the other hand, universities and their staff have been subjected to an almost continuous process of reforms and restructurings designed both to recast higher education institutions as transnational business corporations and to open up the sector to more private-sector involvement. ..."
"... One of the greatest threats to the university today lies in the 'unbundling' of its various research, teaching and degree-awarding functions into separate, profit-making activities that can then be outsourced and privatized. ..."
"... Universities no longer hold a monopoly over knowledge production and distribution and face growing competition from the emergence of new universities and from 'entirely new models of university' that Pearson itself has been spearheading to exploit the new environment of globalization and the digital revolution (ibid. 2013: 9–21). ..."
"... London Metropolitan's near-bankruptcy opened the possibility of a second method of privatization; a 'fire sale' of a university and its prized degree-awarding powers, to one of the many U.S. for profit education providers that had been seeking entry into the market ..."
Feb 12, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Higher Education in Critical Perspective: Practices and Policies

Series editors: Susan Wright, Aarhus University; Penny Welch, Wolverhampton University

INTRODUCTION Privatizing the Public University: Key Trends, Countertrends and Alternatives

CRIS SHORE AND SUSAN WRIGHT

Since the 1980s, public universities have undergone a seemingly unending series of reforms designed to make them more responsive both to markets and to government priorities. Initially, the aim behind these reforms was to render universities more economic, efficient and effective. However, by the 1990s, prompted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD 1998) and other international agencies, many national governments adopted the idea that the future lay in a 'global knowledge economy'. To these ends, they implemented policies to repurpose higher education as the engine for producing the knowledge, skills and graduates to generate the intellectual property and innovative products that would make their countries more globally competitive.

These reforms were premised on neoliberal ideas about turning universities into autonomous and entrepreneurial 'knowledge organizations' by promoting competition, opening them up to private investors, making educational services contribute to economic competitiveness, and enabling individuals to maximize their skills in global labour markets.

These policy narratives position universities as static entities within an all-encompassing market economy, but alternatively, the university can be seen as a dynamic and fluid set of relations within a wider 'ecology' of diverse interests and organizations (Hansen this volume; Wright 2016). The boundaries of the university are constantly being renegotiated as its core values and distinctive purpose rub up against those predatory market forces, or what Slaughter and Leslie (1997) term 'academic capitalism'. Under pressure to produce 'excellence', quality research and innovative teaching, improve world rankings, forge business links and attract elite, fee-paying students, many universities struggle to maintain their traditional mandate to be 'inclusive', foster social cohesion, improve social mobility and challenge received wisdom – let alone improve the poor records on gender, diversity and equality.

This book examines how public universities engage with these dilemmas and the implications for the future of the public university as an ideal and set of institutional practices. The book has arisen from a four-year programme of knowledge exchange between three research groups in Europe and the Asia Pacific, which focused on the future of public universities in contexts of globalization and regionalization. 1 The groups were based in the U.K. and Denmark, chosen as European countries whose public universities have quite different histories and current reform policies, and New Zealand, as a country at the forefront of developing 'entrepreneurial' public universities, and with networks to other university researchers in Australia and Asia. Through a series of six workshops, four conferences and over thirty individual exchange visits, the project developed an extended discussion between the three groups of researchers. This enabled us to generate a new approach and methodology for analysing the challenges facing public universities. As a result, this book asks:

Mapping the Major Trends

Nowhere are the above trends more evident than in the English-speaking universities, particularly in the U.K., Australia and New Zealand. These countries have been a laboratory for testing out a new model of the neoliberal entrepreneurial university. At least seven key features characterize these reforms.

1. State Disinvestment in Universities – or Risk-free Profits for Private Providers?

The first feature is a progressive withdrawal of government support for higher education. In the U.K., for example, the Dearing Report (1997) showed that during the previous twenty years, a period of massive university expansion, state funding per student had declined by 40 percent. While Tony Blair's New Labour government of 1997 proclaimed 'education, education, education' as its key priority, it did so by introducing cost-sharing, in the form of student tuition fees, as a way to reduce the annual deficit in the funding of university teaching.

In 2010, the British Conservative–Liberal government under David Cameron went even further by removing all state funding for teaching except in the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Instead, students were now to pay fees of £9,000 per annum (a three-fold increase) for which state-funded loans were made available. From the government's perspective, the genius of this shifting of state funding from teaching to loans was that private for-profit education providers could now access taxpayers' money – and this transfer of funds was further justified ideologically as providing competition and creating a 'level playing field' between public and private education providers.

Other countries have also decided to withdraw state funding for higher education. For example, in September 2015, Japan's education minister Hakobyan Shimomura wrote to all of the country's eighty-six national universities calling on them to 'take active steps to abolish [social science and humanities] organizations or to convert them to serve areas that better meet society's needs' (Grove 2015b).

These measures echo the wider global trend set by advocates of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School's brand of neoliberal economics. In the 1980s, the 'Chicago boys' carried out their most radical experiments in Chile, removing the state's direct grants to universities, funding teaching only through students' tuition fees, and making government loans available to students so that they could pay those fees (Bekhradnia 2015).

In the United States, the same policies have been adopted. For example, in California between 1984 and 2004, state spending per capita on higher education declined by 12 percent.

Significantly, in the same period per capita spending on prisons increased by 126 percent (Newfield 2008: 266). Between the 1970s and 1990s there was a 400 percent increase in charges in tuition, room and board in U.S. universities and tuition costs have grown at about ten times the rate of family income (ibid.). What these instances highlight is not just the state's retreat from direct

funding of higher education but also a calculated initiative to enable private companies to capture and profit from tax-funded student loans.

2. New Regimes for Promoting Competitiveness

A second major trend that has reshaped higher education has been the creation of funding and assessment regimes designed to increase productivity and competition between universities, both nationally and globally. What began in the 1980s as an exercise to assure the 'quality' of research in British universities had morphed, by the end of the 1990s, into ever-more invasive systems for ranking institutions, disciplines, departments, and even individuals.

The results were used to allocate funds to those institutions that performed best in what has become a fetishistic quest for ever-higher ratings and 'world class' status, or what Hazelkorn (2008: 209) has termed the 'rankings arms-race'.

Where some rankings are focused on research performance (such as the U.K.'s Research Excellence Framework, the Excellence in Research for Australia, and New Zealand's Performance Based Research Framework), others rank whole institutions (the Shanghai Jiao Tong Index, the QS and THE World University Rankings). Significantly, these ranking systems have especially negative impacts on minority groups and women (see Blackmore, Curtis, Grant and Lucas, this volume). This obsession with auditing and measuring performance also includes systems for evaluating teaching quality, surveying student satisfaction and measuring student engagement. 2

Even though vice chancellors and university managers ridicule ranking methodologies, they have learned to their cost to take them extremely seriously, as the financial viability of a university increasingly hinges on the reputational effects of these measures of performance (Sauder and Espeland 2009; Wright 2012).

3. Rise of Audit Culture: Performance and Output Measures

Third, running alongside the growth of these ranking systems has been the proliferation of performance and output measurements and indicators designed to foster transparency, efficiency and 'value for money'. This is part of a wider phenomenon called 'audit culture' and its growing presence throughout the public and private sectors, including higher education (Shore and Wright 2015; Strathern 2000). Driven by financial imperatives and the rhetoric of 'value for money' – and justified by a political discourse about the virtues of transparency and accountability – these technologies have been particularly instrumental

in promoting the logics of risk management, financialization and managerialism (see Dale, and Lewis and Shore, this volume). In Denmark, time has become a key metric and instrument for the efficient throughput of students and the accountability of institutions, but as Nielsen and Sarauw (this volume) show, these measures affect the very nature of education. Audits do not simply or passively measure performance; they actively reshape the institutions into which they are introduced (Power 1997; Shore and Wright 2015). When a measurement becomes a target, institutional environments are restructured so that they focus their resources and activities primarily on what 'counts' to funders and governors rather than on their wider professional ethics and societal goals (see Kohn and Shore, this volume).

4. Administrative Bloat, Academic Decline

The fourth key development during this period has been the extraordinary growth in the number and status of university managers and administrators. For the first time in history, as figures from the U.K.'s Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show, support staff now outnumber academic staff at 71 percent of higher education institutions (Jump 2015). In Denmark, there has been an equally large increase in the number of administrators and the increased percentage of annual expenditure on administrators in just five years alone was equivalent to 746 new lectureships (Wright and Boden 2010). The figures from the U.S. are even more dramatic. Federal figures for the period 1987 to 2011/2012 show that the number of college and university administrators and professional employees has more than doubled in the last twenty-five years; an increase of 517,636 people – or an average of eight-seven new administrators every working day (Marcus 2014). The recruitment of administrators has far outpaced the growth in the number of faculty – or even students. Meanwhile, universities claim to be struggling with budget crises that force them to reduce permanent academic posts, and the temporarily employed teaching assistants – the 'precariat' – have undergone a massive increase in numbers.

This astonishing increase in management and administration is partly due to the pressures universities now face to produce data and statistics for harvesting by the ranking industries. Universities themselves often attribute the growth of their administrative and technical units to the enormous rise in government regulations. As the President of the American Association of University Administrators recently explained, 'there are "thousands" of regulations governing the distribution of

financial aid alone' and every university that is accredited probably has at least one person dedicated to that. However, the proliferation of administrators and managers has also been fuelled by the universities themselves, as they have taken on new functions and pursued new income streams. This is particularly evident in the U.S.:

Since 1987, universities have also started or expanded departments devoted to marketing, diversity, disability, sustainability, security, environmental health, recruiting, technology and fundraising, and added new majors and graduate and athletics programs, satellite campuses, and conference centers (Marcus 2014).

These trends are captured with exceptional clarity in Benjamin Ginsberg's book, The Fall of the Faculty (2011a). Ginsberg's thesis is that the new professional managers 'make administration their life's work', to the detriment of the universities' core functions. They have little or no faculty experience and promoting teaching and research is less important than expanding their own administrative domains: 'under their supervision, the means have become the end' (ibid.: 2). Every year, writes Ginsberg: hosts of administrators and staffers are added to college and university payrolls, even as schools claim to be battling budget crises that are forcing them to reduce the size of their full-time faculties. As a result, universities are filled with armies of functionaries -- vice presidents, associate vice presidents, assistant vice presidents, provosts, associate provosts, vice provosts, assistant provosts, deans, deanlets, deanlings, each commanding staffers and assistants -- who, more and more, direct the operations of every school. Backed by their administrative legions, university presidents and other senior administrators have been able, at most schools, to dispense with faculty involvement in campus management and, thereby to reduce the faculty's influence in university affairs (Ginsberg 2011a: 2).

One of the weaknesses in these statistics is that they fail to distinguish between administrative staff who support the teaching and research and those who do not. Support staff are crucial to enabling academics to carry out effective research, teaching and scholarship – the traditional mission of the university. Likewise, universities need managers who support academics in fulfilling these key functions of the university, but the statistics are rarely sufficiently refined to make these distinctions. Interestingly, many universities have dropped the term 'support staff' in favour of terms like 'senior administrators' and

'professional staff'. This move reflects the way that many university managers now see their role – which is no longer to provide support for academics but, rather, to manage them as 'human capital' and a resource. From the perspective of many university managers and human resources (HR) departments, academics are increasingly portrayed as a reluctant, unruly and undisciplined workforce that needs to be incentivized or cajoled to meet management's targeted outputs and performance indicators.

5. Institutional Capture: the Power of the 'Administeriat'

The budgetary reallocation from academic to administrative salaries is linked to a fifth major trend: the rise of the 'administeriat' as a new governing class and the corresponding shift in power relations within the university. Whereas in the past the main cleavage in universities was between the arts and the sciences, or what C.P. Snow (1956) famously termed 'the two cultures', today the main division is between academics and managers.

Collini (2013) attributes this shift in power to the way all university activities are now reduced to a common managerial metric. As he puts it, the 'terms that suit [managers'] activities are the terms that have triumphed'. Scholars now spend increasing amounts of their working day accounting for their activities in the 'misleading' and 'alienating' language and categories of managers. This 'squeezing out' of the true use-value of scholarly labour accounts for the 'pervasive sense of malaise, stress and disenchantment within British universities' (Collini 2013).

Professor of Critical Management Studies Rebecca Boden compares the way that university managers expand their increasingly onerous regulations to the way that 'cuckoos lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, and how the young cuckoos then evict the nest-builders' offspring' (cited in Havergal 2015). This cuckoo-in-the-nest metaphor might seem somewhat overblown, but it highlights the important fact that managers and administrators have usurped power in what were formerly more collegial, self-governing institutions . Yet many of these managers would not succeed as professionals in industry. Levin and Greenwood (2016) argue that, if universities were indeed business corporations, they would soon collapse, as their work organization currently violates nearly every one of the practices that characterize successful and dynamic high-tech areas and service industries. It is a short step from here to managers' appropriation of the identity of the university, with managers increasingly claiming not only to speak for the

university but to be the university (Ørberg 2007; Readings 1996; Shore and Taitz 2010). Today, rather than being treated as core members of a professional community, academics are constantly being told by managers and senior administrators what 'the university' expects of them, as if they were somehow peripheral or subordinate to 'the university'.

6. New Income Streams and the Rise of the 'Entrepreneurial University'

Faced with diminishing state funding and year-on-year cuts to national budgets for higher education, universities have been compelled to seek alternative income streams. This has entailed fostering more lucrative and entrepreneurial partnerships with industry; conducting commissioned research for businesses and government; partnering up with venture capitalists; commercializing the university's intellectual property through patents and licences; developing campus spin-out (and spin-in) companies; engaging proactively in city development programmes; and maximizing university assets including real estate, halls of residence, conference facilities and industrial parks. Equally important has been the raising of student tuition fees and the relentless drive to recruit more high-fee-paying international students . This project has given rise to the moniker 'export education', a sector of the economy and foreign-currency earner of growing importance to many countries. For example, in Canada, expenditures of international education students (tuition, accommodation, living costs and so on) infused $6.5 billion into the Canadian economy, surpassing exports of coniferous lumber (CAN$5.1 billion) and coal (CAN$6.1 billion) and gave employment to 83,00 Canadians (Roslyn Kunin and Associates, Inc 2009). Similarly, 'educational services' has become one of Australia's leading export industries such that, by 2008, it had become Australia's third-largest generator of export earnings with over AU$12.6 billion (Olds 2008). Along with Australia and Canada, the U.S.A., U.K. and New Zealand dominate the trade in international students (OECD 2011; chart 3.3) and the global demand for international student places is estimated to rise to 5.8 million by 2020 (Bohm et al. 2004).

The relentless pursuit of these new income streams has had a transformative effect on universities. Almost two decades ago Marginson and Considine (2000) coined the term the 'enterprise university' to describe the model in which: the economic and academic dimensions are both subordinated to something else. Money is a key objective, but it is also the means to a more fundamental mission: to advance the prestige and competitiveness of the university as an end in itself (ibid. 2000: 5).

However, it would be misleading to suggest that all these changes are simply a consequence of the pressures that governments have placed on universities to refashion themselves as pseudo-business corporations. Some of the more entrepreneurially hawkish university rectors, vice chancellors and presidents have enthusiastically welcomed these changes. Many have benefitted from the enormous executive salaries that have become the norm for university 'CEOs', and they undoubtedly enjoy their vaulted status and the opportunities this provides to mingle with world leaders at prestigious summits and receptions, airport VIP lounges and gala fundraising events. For example, the Times Higher Education annual review of vice chancellors' pay shows that average salary and benefits for university vice chancellors in the U.K. rose by between £8,397 and £240,794 in 2013–2014. This constituted a 3.6 percent rise, whereas in the same period, other university staff received an increase of only 1 per cent (Grove 2015a).

A study by economists Bachan and Reilly (2015), from Brighton Business School, found that in the past two decades, vice chancellors have seen their salaries soar by an eye-watering 59 percent (Henry 2015), but concluded that these increases could not be justified in terms of their university's performance criteria, such as widening participation or bringing in income such as grants for teaching and research and capital funding. Rather, the study found that the presence of other high-paid administrative staff was pushing up vice chancellors' pay. Both the U.K.'s House of Commons' Public Accounts Committee and the former Minister for Business and Employment, Vince Cable, have condemned this 'substantial upward drift' of salaries among vice chancellors. However, this annual ritual of chastisement has little perceivable impact.

7. Higher Education as Private Investment Versus Public Good

The seventh major trend is recasting university education as a private and positional investment rather than a public good. The idea that gained prominence in the post-war era was that higher education was a public investment that benefits the economy and society as well as contributing to personal growth and social mobility (Morgan this volume). In the 1990s, this idea – and the Keynesian model that sustained it – was displaced by the Chicago School's economic doctrine and the notion that individuals, not the state, should take responsibility

for repeatedly investing in their education and skills in order to sustain and improve their position in a fast-changing competitive and global labour market. This is what the OECD termed 'new human capital theory' (Henry et al. 2001), an idea that came to dominate government thinking about growth and investment. However, several recent studies challenge the premises upon which this model is based (Ashton, Lauder and Brown 2011; Wright and Ørberg this volume).

Arising from this new way of conceptualizing higher education as a private individual good and the reduction of government funding for the sector, has been the replacement of student grants with loans. This has been coupled with a massive hike in student fees – or what is euphemistically called 'cost-sharing' by ministers and World Bank experts. There are several bizarre paradoxes in this way of financing higher education. First, as McGettigan (2013) shows, government funding of student loans to pay fees is likely to cost the taxpayer more than the previous system of funding universities directly for their teaching. Second, as Vernon (2010) points out, most students and their families can only afford to pay for the costs of their higher education through the kinds of debt-financing that governments across the world now condemn as reckless and inappropriate for themselves. Third, whereas the scale of national debt in many countries has become so severe that it has required emergency austerity measures to combat, the level of household debt is even more perilously high, peaking to 110 percent of GDP in 2009 in the U.K. (Jones 2013).

This was before the government transferred even more of the costs of higher education to families and tripled university fees. These policies are justified on the grounds that degree-holders gain a lifetime premium in earning: hence the catchphrase 'learn to earn'. In New Zealand, however, which has the seventh-highest university fees among developed countries, the OECD survey found that the value of a university degree in terms of earning power is the lowest in the world. The net value of a New Zealand tertiary education for a man is just $63,000 over his working life (compared with $395,000 in the U.S.). For a woman, it is even lower: $38,000 over her working life (Edmunds 2012). As Brown and Hesketh (2004) also show for the U.S., graduates' imagined future incomes are largely illusory. Yet students and parents are encouraged to take out what is effectively a 'subprime loan', in the gamble that it will eventually pay off by enhancing their future job prospects and earning power: it is a 'hedge against their future security' (Vernon 2008). In other words, higher education is now being modelled on the same types of financial speculation that produced the 2010 global financial crisis.

The Death of the Public University?

Do the seven trends outlined above spell the end of the public university? From the earliest beginnings of these developments, there has been an extensive literature foretelling the demise of the university. According to historians Sheldon Rothblatt and Bjorn Wittrock (1993: 1), the university is the second-longest unbroken institution in Western civilization, after the Catholic Church. Today, however, the university – or what John Henry Newman termed the 'idea of a university' – does indeed look broken. Or is this an unduly pessimistic conclusion? Jean-Francoise Lyotard set the agenda with his provocative book The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge . Noting the collapse of the university's traditional authority in producing legitimate knowledge, he wrote:

The question (overt or implied) now asked by the professionalist student, the State, or institutions of higher education is no long 'Is it true?' but 'What use is it?' In the context of the mercantilization of knowledge, more often than not this question is equivalent to: 'Is it saleable?' And in the context of power-growth: 'Is it efficient?' (Lyotard 1994: 51).

Following this line of reasoning, Bill Readings' book The University in Ruins (1996), noted both the decline of the university as the cultural arm of nation building and the administrators' eclipse of the scholar-teacher as the central figure in the university story. As he gloomily argued, the grand narrative of the university 'centred on the production of a liberal reasoning subject is no longer readily available to us (1996: 9). If, for Readings, the university was in a state of 'ruin', for David Mills, writing in 2003, it is locked in a state of permanent 'scaffolding'; an ongoing and ambiguous project of both maintenance and repair, construction and demolition. Thus 'crumbling bastions of social and intellectual elitism' are combined 'with shiny new campuses espousing lifelong access to 24/7 education for all' (Mills 2003). These contradictory trends have both positive and negative dimensions for universities and the project of higher education. On the one hand, access to universities has been massively increased and technological innovations, including Mass Open Online Courses (MOOCs), have allowed more distance learning. But on the other hand, universities and their staff have been subjected to an almost continuous process of reforms and restructurings designed both to recast higher education institutions as transnational business corporations and to open up the sector to more private-sector involvement.

The complaint often voiced by academics is that universities – like hospitals, libraries and other local community services – are undergoing a process of 'death by a thousand cuts'. But chronic underfunding of public institutions also reflects a wider and arguably more purposeful political agenda that aims to fundamentally transform the public sector. One of the greatest threats to the university today lies in the 'unbundling' of its various research, teaching and degree-awarding functions into separate, profit-making activities that can then be outsourced and privatized.

This agenda is articulated clearly in the recent report entitled 'An Avalanche is Coming: Higher Education and the Revolution Ahead' (Barber et al. 2013), published by the London-based think tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research. Its principal authors are Sir Michael Barber, Chief Education Advisor for Pearson PLC (a British-owned multinational education provider and publisher) and two of Pearson's executive directors. The report's central argument, captured in its 'avalanche' metaphor, is that the current system of higher education is untenable and will be swept away unless bold and radical steps are taken:

The next 50 years could see a golden age for higher education, but only if all the players in the system, from students to governments, seize the initiative and act ambitiously. If not, an avalanche of change will sweep the system away. Deep, radical and urgent transformation is required in higher education. The biggest risk is that as a result of complacency, caution or anxiety the pace of change is too slow and the nature of change is too incremental. The models of higher education that marched triumphantly across the globe in the second half of the 20th century are broken (Barber, Donnelly and Rizvi 2013: 5).

A series of forces that lie 'under the surface' threatens to transform the landscape of higher education. These include: a changing world economy in which the centre of gravity is shifting towards the Asia-Pacific region; a global economy still struggling to recover from the trauma of the global financial crash of 2007–2008; and the escalating costs of higher education, which are vastly outstripping inflation and household income. These are coupled with the declining value of a degree and a technological shift that makes information ubiquitous. Universities no longer hold a monopoly over knowledge production and distribution and face growing competition from the emergence of new universities and from 'entirely new models of university' that Pearson itself has been spearheading to exploit the new environment of globalization and the digital revolution (ibid. 2013: 9–21).

The Barber report is part of a growing literature which seeks to 'remake the university' as an altogether different kind of institution (see Bokor 2012). Epochal and prophetic in tone and often claiming to be diagnostic and neutral, this literature proposes solutions that are anything but impartial or disinterested. Pearson, for example, makes no secret of its ambition to acquire a larger share of the higher education market and the rents that can be captured from its various activities. In 2015, Pearson sold off its major publishing interests to restructure the company around for-profit educational provision both in England and worldwide. Pearson also has a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange and a secondary listing on the New York Stock Exchange. Writing in the preface to the Barber reports, former president of Harvard University Lawrence Summers underscores its central ambition when he writes that in this new 'phase of competitive intensity', all of the university's core functions can be 'unbundled and increasingly supplied, perhaps better, by providers that are not universities at all' (Barber 2013: 1). As John Morgan (this volume) shows, higher education has long been – and continues to be – a site of ideological struggle between competing interests and their vision of society.

Towards the Privatization of English Universities

In England, these processes have been taken to an extreme. Events since the Conservative–Liberal coalition took office in 2010 suggest a tipping point may have been reached in the transformation of the public university. Research by the legal firm Eversheds (2009) revealed that no legislation was needed for public universities to be transferred to the private for-profit sector, either by a management buyout or by outside interests buying-in (Wright 2015). London Metropolitan University was an early contender. It advertised a tender worth £74 million over five years for a partner who would create a for-profit 'special services vehicle' to deliver all the university's functions and services – everything except academic teaching and the Vice Chancellor's powers. Such 'special services vehicles' are a way for private investors to buy into the university's activities. This plan was only stymied because civil servants found major administrative failings, and the resulting fines and repayments pushed the university close to bankruptcy. But this 'special services vehicle' model has been implemented by other universities, including Falmouth and Exeter, where a private company runs not only catering, estate maintenance and services on the two campuses, but also its entire academic support services (libraries, IT, academic skills and disability support services) (University and College Union 2013).

London Metropolitan's near-bankruptcy opened the possibility of a second method of privatization; a 'fire sale' of a university and its prized degree-awarding powers, to one of the many U.S. for profit education providers that had been seeking entry into the market (Wright 2015). Privatization was only avoided thanks to the successful actions of its new Vice Chancellor. However, one university with a charter and degree-awarding powers has been transferred to the for-profit sector. In 2006, the Department of Business, Innovation and Science rushed through approval to give the College of Law in London degree-awarding powers and university status. This was just in time for its sale to finance company Montagu Private Equity. To maintain that university's charitable (tax-favourable) status and provide bursaries for students, the institution divided itself into a for-profit company with all the education and training activities, and an educational foundation. Montagu Private Equity made a leveraged buyout of the university: £177 million of the £200 million purchase price was borrowed and then put on the university's balance sheet, making it responsible for paying the debt and interest from its cash flow. A few years later, Montagu announced it was selling the university's buildings, in what was a clear case of asset stripping. The legal firm Eversheds recommended that other public universities follow this model and either sell stakes in their institution or be sold outright to financiers. As the University of Law example shows, such investors' prime interest is the short-term extraction of profit and liquidization of assets, rather the long-term future of higher education. Indeed, in June 2015, Montagu sold the University of Law to Aaron Etingen, founder and chief executive officer of Global University Systems (GUS), which owns a network of for-profit colleges worldwide (Morgan 2015).

[Feb 11, 2019] The current diploma mills> are the result of the consecutive waves of university reforms since the 1990s to ground knowledge production on market principles. If university employees behave like ruthless rent-seekers, it is because they are forced to do so by the incentive structures that have been imposed on them by Johan Söderberg

Highly recommended!
IMHO there is no economics, only "political economy" and mathiness and "cult of measurement" especially with all those some fuzzy metrics currently in use, are just a part of the ideological smokescreen over "naked neoliberalism." Like shaman dances around the fire. Impressive and useless simultaneously.
In other words, many current practitioners of neoliberal economic theories (including but not limited to neoclassical economics) are practicing pseudoscience and are, directly or indirectly, bought and paid by financial oligarchy. That does not exclude possibility of some, occasional, useful insight.
Notable quotes:
"... The counterargument that I will elaborate here, is that neoliberalism and social democracy should be treated as two distinct and internally consistent thought and value systems. The integrity of the two ideologies must neither be reduced to practices/policies, which occasionally may overlap, nor to individual representatives, who, over the course of a lifetime, can move from one pole to the other. ..."
"... Robbins Report ..."
"... Underpinning this analysis is a bleak diagnosis of what purpose the university system and its employees serve. It is a diagnosis that Fuller, by his own admission, has gleaned from the Virginia-style neoliberal Gordon Tullock. ..."
"... The task assigned to the university, i.e. to certify bodies of trustworthy knowledge, is not called for by any intrinsic property of that knowledge (it being true, safe etc.), but is rather a form of rent-seeking. The rent is extracted from the university's state-induced monopoly over the access rights to future employment opportunities. Rent-seeking is the raison-d'être of the university's claim to be the royal road to knowledge. ..."
"... Granted, the cynical reading of the university system as a rent-seeking diploma-mill has a ring of truth to it when we, for instance, think of how students are asked to pay higher and higher tuition fees, while the curriculum is successively being hollowed-out. ..."
"... this is the result of the consecutive waves of university reforms since the 1990s to ground knowledge production on market principles. If university employees behave like self-interested rent-seekers, it is because they are forced to do so by the incentive structures that have been imposed on them. ..."
"... Thirty years of neoliberal politics have created the conditions under which categories such as "human capital" and "rent-seeking" start to make good sense... ..."
Feb 11, 2019 | lse.ac.uk

From: A response to Steve Fuller The differences between social democracy and neoliberalism by Johan Söderberg

... ... ...

The counterargument that I will elaborate here, is that neoliberalism and social democracy should be treated as two distinct and internally consistent thought and value systems. The integrity of the two ideologies must neither be reduced to practices/policies, which occasionally may overlap, nor to individual representatives, who, over the course of a lifetime, can move from one pole to the other.

Neoliberalism and the university system

Fuller's argument pivots on the mixed legacy of Lionel Robbins. On the one hand, Robbins' credentials as a neoliberal are firmly established by his decision to recruit Friedrich Hayek to the LSE. On the other hand, Robbins authored the government report whereby many regional universities in the UK were founded, in keeping with a classic social democratic agenda of enrolling more students from the working class. This encourages Fuller to draw an arc from the 1963 Robbins Report to university reforms of a more recent date (and with a more distinct, neoliberal flavour).

The common denominator of all the reforms, Fuller says, is the ambition to enhance human capital. Alas, the enhancement of human capital is blocked on all sides by incumbent traditions and rent-seeking monopolies. From this problem description – which Fuller attributes to the neoliberals, but which is also his own – follows the solution: to increase the competition between knowledge providers. Just as the monopoly that Oxbridge held over higher education was offset by the creation of regional universities in the 1960s, so is the current university system's monopoly over knowledge acquisition sidelined by reforms to multiply and diversify the paths to learning.

Underpinning this analysis is a bleak diagnosis of what purpose the university system and its employees serve. It is a diagnosis that Fuller, by his own admission, has gleaned from the Virginia-style neoliberal Gordon Tullock.

The task assigned to the university, i.e. to certify bodies of trustworthy knowledge, is not called for by any intrinsic property of that knowledge (it being true, safe etc.), but is rather a form of rent-seeking. The rent is extracted from the university's state-induced monopoly over the access rights to future employment opportunities. Rent-seeking is the raison-d'être of the university's claim to be the royal road to knowledge.

In this acid bath of cynicism, the notions of truth and falsehood are dissolved into the basic element that Tullock's world is made up of – self-interest. This reasoning lines up with a 19 th century, free market epistemology, according to which the evolutionary process will sift out the propositions that swim from those that sink. With a theory of knowledge like that, university-certified experts have no rationale for being. Their knowledge claims are just so many excuses for lifting a salary on the taxpayers' expense. It bears to stress that this argument can easily be given a leftist spin, by emphasising the pluralism of this epistemology. This resonates with statements that Steve Fuller has made elsewhere , concerning the claimants of alternative facts.

Granted, the cynical reading of the university system as a rent-seeking diploma-mill has a ring of truth to it when we, for instance, think of how students are asked to pay higher and higher tuition fees, while the curriculum is successively being hollowed-out. However, as was pointed out to Fuller by many in the audience in Lancaster, this is the result of the consecutive waves of university reforms since the 1990s to ground knowledge production on market principles. If university employees behave like self-interested rent-seekers, it is because they are forced to do so by the incentive structures that have been imposed on them.

Thirty years of neoliberal politics have created the conditions under which categories such as "human capital" and "rent-seeking" start to make good sense...

... ... ...

The author would like to thank Adam Netzén, Karolina Enquist Källgren and Eric Deibel for feedback given on early drafts of this blog post, and especially Steve Fuller, for having invited a response to his argument.

[Feb 11, 2019] Universities in the neoliberal age by Rafael Winkler

Notable quotes:
"... Higher education was being made to conform to the norms of efficiency, value for money, customer service, audit and performance targets. One of the consequences of this was the substitution of the authority of the academic, which is based on his or her professional knowledge of the discipline, for the authority of the line manager. ..."
"... I don't think that there has been a more sinister assault on academic freedom than this colonisation of higher education by neoliberalism. It justifies itself by calling for "transparency" and "accountability" to the taxpayer and the public. But it operates with a perverted sense of these words (since what it really means is "discipline and surveillance" and "value for money"). ..."
"... Let me explain. One of the central aspects of neoliberalism is the disappearance of the distinction between the worker and the capitalist. In the neoliberal setting, the worker is not a partner of exchange with the capitalist. She does not sell her labour-power for a wage. ..."
"... The labourer's ability to work, her skill, is an income stream. It is an investment on which she receives a return in the form of wages. The worker is capital for herself. She is a source of future earnings. In the neoliberal market, as Michel Foucault remarks, everyone is a capitalist. ..."
"... Neoliberalism has converted education from a public good to a personal investment in the future, a future conceived in terms of earning capacity. ..."
Sep 14, 2018 | mg.co.za
Many of the students I have taught in Britain and South Africa see higher education as a place where they "invest" in themselves in the financial sense of the word. "Going to university," one student said, was a way of "increasing" his "value" or employability in the labour market.

This perception of the university has not arisen by chance.

Capitalism entered a new phase with the Thatcher and Reagan governments in Britain and the United States during the 1980s. The managerial practices used to run businesses were applied to the public sector, in particular to education and healthcare.

This reform of the public sector (called "new public management") introduced a new way of thinking about the university.

Higher education was being made to conform to the norms of efficiency, value for money, customer service, audit and performance targets. One of the consequences of this was the substitution of the authority of the academic, which is based on his or her professional knowledge of the discipline, for the authority of the line manager.

Since then, everything has come to depend on audits and metric standards of so-called quality assessment (student satisfaction, pass rates, league tables, et cetera). Academics have little, if any, say on whether departments should continue to exist, what degrees and courses should be on offer and even what kind of assessment methods should be used.

I don't think that there has been a more sinister assault on academic freedom than this colonisation of higher education by neoliberalism. It justifies itself by calling for "transparency" and "accountability" to the taxpayer and the public. But it operates with a perverted sense of these words (since what it really means is "discipline and surveillance" and "value for money").

Its effect, if not its aim, has been to commodify higher education and produce a new kind of social identity. This is the identity of the self as entrepreneur.

Let me explain. One of the central aspects of neoliberalism is the disappearance of the distinction between the worker and the capitalist. In the neoliberal setting, the worker is not a partner of exchange with the capitalist. She does not sell her labour-power for a wage.

The labourer's ability to work, her skill, is an income stream. It is an investment on which she receives a return in the form of wages. The worker is capital for herself. She is a source of future earnings. In the neoliberal market, as Michel Foucault remarks, everyone is a capitalist.

Neoliberalism has converted education from a public good to a personal investment in the future, a future conceived in terms of earning capacity.

How did we get to this situation?

The modern university came into existence at the start of the 19th century as an extension of the state. The aim of the state during the colonial and imperial age was to constitute the identity of the national subject. As a public institution, the university was designed to teach students to see their life in a specific way. They would learn to see that it is only as members of a national community and culture that their individual life has a meaning and worth. This was the aim of the educational programme that German philosophers such as Wilhelm von Humboldt and Johann Gottlieb Fichte envisaged for the University of Berlin. For them, science was in the service of the moral and intellectual education of the nation.

Established in 1810, the University of Berlin was the first modern university. It was founded on the principles of academic freedom, the unity of research and teaching, and the primacy of research over vocational training. It functioned as the prototype for universities in both the United States and Europe during the second half of the 19th century.

Once transnational corporations started to control more capital than nation-states in the 1980s, the university ceased to be one of its principal organs. It lost its ideological mission and entered the market as a corporation. It started to encourage students to think of themselves as customers rather than as members of a nation. This history shows that the university is today the site of two competing social identities.

Nationalism was an emancipatory political project during the anti-colonial struggles of the second half of the 20th century. It was not tribalist or communalist.

According to Eric Hobsbawm in Nations and Nationalism since 1780, its aim was to extend the size of the social, cultural and political group. It was not to restrict it or to separate it from others. Nationalism was a political programme divorced from ethnicity.

Is this political nationalism a viable way of resisting neoliberalism today? Can it gainsay the primacy of economic rationality and the culture of narcissist consumerism, and restore meaning to the political question concerning the common good? Or has nationalism irreversibly become an ethnic, separatist project? It is not easy to say. So far, we have witnessed one kind of response to the social insecurities generated by the global spread of neoliberalism. This is a return to ethnicity and religion as havens of safety and security.

When society fails us owing to job insecurity, and, concomitantly, with regard to housing and healthcare, one tends to fall back on one's ethnicity or religious identity as an ultimate guarantee.

Moreover, nationalism as a political programme depends on the idea of the state. It holds that a group defined as a "nation" has the right to form a territorial state and exercise sovereign power over it. But given the decline of the state, there are reasons to think that political nationalism has withdrawn as a real possibility.

By the "decline of the state" I do not mean that it no longer exists. The state has never been more present in the private life of individuals. It regulates the relations between men and women. It regulates their birth and death, the rearing of children, the health of individuals and so forth. The state is, today, ubiquitous.

What some people mean by the "decline of the state" is that, with the existence of transnational corporations, it is no longer the most important site of the reproduction of capital. The state has become managerial. Its function is to manage obstacles to liberalisation and free trade.

Perhaps that is one of the challenges of the 21st century. How is a "nation" possible, a "national community" that is not defined by ethnicity, on the one hand, and, on the other, that forsakes the desire to exercise sovereign power in general and, in particular, over a territorial state?

The university is perhaps the place where such a community can begin to be thought.

Rafael Winkler is an associate professor in the philosophy department at the University of Johannesburg

[Feb 05, 2019] Capitalists need their options regulated and their markets ripped from their control by the state. Profits must be subject to use it to a social purpose or heavily taxed. Dividends executive comp and interest payments included

Feb 05, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , January 31, 2019 at 08:22 PM

Is anyone else tired of the longest, least productive waste of war in American history ? What have we achieved, where are we going with this ? More war.
Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , January 31, 2019 at 08:31 PM
We are being fed a fairy tale of war about what men, long dead, did. And the reason they did it. America is being strangled by the burden of belief that now is like then.
Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , January 31, 2019 at 08:46 PM
By the patrician men and women administrators, posturing as soldiers like the WW2 army, lie for self profit. Why does anyone believe them ? Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, each an economic decision, rather than a security issue.
Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , January 31, 2019 at 08:48 PM
America is dying on the same sword as Rome, for the same reason.
Plp -> JF... , January 31, 2019 at 07:28 AM
Capitalists need their options regulated and their markets ripped from their control by the state. Profits must be subject to use it to a social purpose or heavily taxed. Dividends executive comp and interest payments included
Julio -> mulp ... , January 31, 2019 at 08:58 AM
Well done! Much clearer than your usual. There are several distinct motivations for taxes. We have been far enough from fairness to workers, for so long, that we need to use the tax system to redistribute the accumulated wealth of the plutocrats.

So I would say high marginal rates are a priority, which matches both objectives. Wealth tax is needed until we reverse the massive inequality supported by the policies of the last 40 years.

Carbon tax and the like are a different thing, use of the tax code to promote a particular policy and reduce damage to the commons.

Gerald -> Julio ... , January 31, 2019 at 04:14 PM
"...we need to use the tax system to redistribute the accumulated wealth of the plutocrats. So I would say high marginal rates are a priority..."

Forgive me, but high marginal rates (which I hugely favor) don't "redistribute the accumulated wealth" of the plutocrats. If such high marginal rates are ever enacted, they'll apply only to the current income of such plutocrats.

Julio -> Gerald... , January 31, 2019 at 06:22 PM
You merged paragraphs, and elided the next one. The way I see it, high rates are a prerequisite to prevent the reaccumulation of obscene wealth, and its diversion into financial gambling.

But yes that would be a very slow way to redistribute what has already accumulated.

Gerald -> Julio ... , February 01, 2019 at 04:48 AM
Didn't mean to misinterpret what you were saying, sorry. High rates are not only "a prerequisite to prevent the reaccumulation of obscene wealth," they are also a reimposition of fair taxation on current income (if it ever happens, of course).
Global Groundhog -> Julio ... , February 02, 2019 at 01:39 PM
Wealth tax is needed until we reverse the massive inequality supported by the policies of the last 40 years. Carbon tax and the like are a different thing, use of the tax code to promote a particular policy and reduce damage to the commons.
"

more wisdom as usual!

Although wealth tax will be unlikely, it could be a stopgap; could also be a guideline to other taxes as well. for example, Elizabeth points out that billionaires pay about 3% of their net worth into their annual tax bill whereas workers pay about 7% of their net worth into their annual tax bill. Do you see how that works?

it doesn't? this Warren argument gives us a guideline. it shows us where other taxes should be adjusted to even out this percentage of net worth that people are taxed for. Ceu, during the last meltdown 10 years or so ago, We were collecting more tax from the payroll than we were from the income tax. this phenomenon was a heavy burden on those of low net worth. All this needs be resorted. we've got to sort this out.

and the carbon tax? may never be; but it indicates to us what needs to be done to make this country more efficient. for example some folks, are spending half a million dollars on the Maybach automobile, about the same amount on a Ferrari or a Alfa Romeo Julia quadrifoglio, but the roads are built for a mere 40 miles an hour, full of potholes.

What good is it to own a fast car like that when you can't drive but 40 -- 50 miles an hour? and full of traffic jams. something is wrong with taxation incentives. we need to get a better grid-work of roads that will get people there faster.

Meanwhile most of those sports cars just sitting in the garage. we need a comprehensive integrated grid-work of one way streets, roads, highways, and interstates with no traffic lights, no stop signs; merely freeflow ramp-off overpass interchanges.

thanks, Julio! thanks
again
.!

JF -> Global Groundhog... , February 04, 2019 at 05:42 AM
Wonderful to see the discussion about public finance shifting to use net worth proportions as the focus and metric.

Wonderful. Let us see if press/media stories and opinion pieces use this same way of talking about the financing of self-government.

Mr. Bill -> anne... , February 03, 2019 at 08:15 PM
Jesus Christ said, in so many words, that a man's worth will be judged by his generosity and his avarice.

" 24And the disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus said to them again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." 26They were even more astonished and said to one another, "Who then can be saved?"

[Jan 31, 2019] Linus Torvalds and others on Linux's systemd by By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Notable quotes:
"... I think some of the design details are insane (I dislike the binary logs, for example) ..."
"... Systemd problems might not have mattered that much, except that GNOME has a similar attitude; they only care for a small subset of the Linux desktop users, and they have historically abandoned some ways of interacting the Desktop in the interest of supporting touchscreen devices and to try to attract less technically sophisticated users. ..."
"... If you don't fall in the demographic of what GNOME supports, you're sadly out of luck. (Or you become a second class citizen, being told that you have to rely on GNOME extensions that may break on every single new version of GNOME.) ..."
"... As a result, many traditional GNOME users have moved over to Cinnamon, XFCE, KDE, etc. But as systemd starts subsuming new functions, components like network-manager will only work on systemd or other components that are forced to be used due to a network of interlocking dependencies; and it may simply not be possible for these alternate desktops to continue to function, because there is [no] viable alternative to systemd supported by more and more distributions. ..."
| www.zdnet.com

So what do Linux's leaders think of all this? I asked them and this is what they told me.

Linus Torvalds said:

"I don't actually have any particularly strong opinions on systemd itself. I've had issues with some of the core developers that I think are much too cavalier about bugs and compatibility, and I think some of the design details are insane (I dislike the binary logs, for example) , but those are details, not big issues."

Theodore "Ted" Ts'o, a leading Linux kernel developer and a Google engineer, sees systemd as potentially being more of a problem. "The bottom line is that they are trying to solve some real problems that matter in some use cases. And, [that] sometimes that will break assumptions made in other parts of the system."

Another concern that Ts'o made -- which I've heard from many other developers -- is that the systemd move was made too quickly: "The problem is sometimes what they break are in other parts of the software stack, and so long as it works for GNOME, they don't necessarily consider it their responsibility to fix the rest of the Linux ecosystem."

This, as Ts'o sees it, feeds into another problem:

" Systemd problems might not have mattered that much, except that GNOME has a similar attitude; they only care for a small subset of the Linux desktop users, and they have historically abandoned some ways of interacting the Desktop in the interest of supporting touchscreen devices and to try to attract less technically sophisticated users.

If you don't fall in the demographic of what GNOME supports, you're sadly out of luck. (Or you become a second class citizen, being told that you have to rely on GNOME extensions that may break on every single new version of GNOME.) "

Ts'o has an excellent point. GNOME 3.x has alienated both users and developers . He continued,

" As a result, many traditional GNOME users have moved over to Cinnamon, XFCE, KDE, etc. But as systemd starts subsuming new functions, components like network-manager will only work on systemd or other components that are forced to be used due to a network of interlocking dependencies; and it may simply not be possible for these alternate desktops to continue to function, because there is [no] viable alternative to systemd supported by more and more distributions. "

Of course, Ts'o continued, "None of these nightmare scenarios have happened yet. The people who are most stridently objecting to systemd are people who are convinced that the nightmare scenario is inevitable so long as we continue on the same course and altitude."

Ts'o is "not entirely certain it's going to happen, but he's afraid it will.

What I find puzzling about all this is that even though everyone admits that sysvinit needed replacing and many people dislike systemd, the distributions keep adopting it. Only a few distributions, including Slackware , Gentoo , PCLinuxOS , and Chrome OS , haven't adopted it.

It's not like there aren't alternatives. These include Upstart , runit , and OpenRC .

If systemd really does turn out to be as bad as some developers fear, there are plenty of replacements waiting in the wings. Indeed, rather than hear so much about how awful systemd is, I'd rather see developers spending their time working on an alternative.

[Jan 29, 2019] The Language of Neoliberal Education by Henry Giroux

Highly recommended!
Interview by MITJA SARDOČ
Notable quotes:
"... This interview with Henry Giroux was conducted by Mitja Sardoč, of the Educational Research Institute, in the Faculty of the Social Sciences, at University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. ..."
"... Not only does it define itself as a political and economic system whose aim was to consolidate power in the hands of a corporate and financial elite, it also wages a war over ideas. In this instance, it has defined itself as a form of commonsense and functions as a mode of public pedagogy that produces a template for structuring not just markets but all of social life. ..."
"... In this sense, it has and continues to function not only through public and higher education to produce and distribute market-based values, identities, and modes of agency, but also in wider cultural apparatuses and platforms to privatize, deregulate, economize, and subject all of the commanding institutions and relations of everyday life to the dictates of privatization, efficiency, deregulation, and commodification. ..."
"... Since the 1970s as more and more of the commanding institutions of society come under the control of neoliberal ideology, its notions of common sense – an unchecked individualism, harsh competition, an aggressive attack on the welfare state, the evisceration of public goods, and its attack on all models of sociality at odds with market values – have become the reigning hegemony of capitalist societies. ..."
"... What many on the left have failed to realize is that neoliberalism is about more than economic structures, it is also is a powerful pedagogical force – especially in the era of social media – that engages in full-spectrum dominance at every level of civil society. ..."
"... Neoliberalism's promotion of effectiveness and efficiency gives credence to its ability to willingness and success in making education central to politics ..."
"... The Crisis of Democracy, ..."
"... At the core of the neoliberal investment in education is a desire to undermine the university's commitment to the truth, critical thinking, and its obligation to stand for justice ..."
"... Neoliberalism considers such a space to be dangerous and they have done everything possible to eliminate higher education as a space where students can realize themselves as critical citizens ..."
"... It is waging a war over not just the relationship between economic structures but over memory, words, meaning, and politics. Neoliberalism takes words like freedom and limits it to the freedom to consume, spew out hate, and celebrate notions of self-interest and a rabid individualism as the new common sense. ..."
"... Equality of opportunity means engaging in ruthless forms of competition, a war of all against all ethos, and a survival of the fittest mode of behavior. ..."
"... First, higher education needs to reassert its mission as a public good in order to reclaim its egalitarian and democratic impulses. Educators need to initiate and expand a national conversation in which higher education can be defended as a democratic public sphere and the classroom as a site of deliberative inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking, a site that makes a claim on the radical imagination and a sense of civic courage. ..."
"... The ascendancy of neoliberalism in American politics has made visible a plague of deep-seated civic illiteracy, a corrupt political system and a contempt for reason that has been decades in the making. ..."
"... It also points to the withering of civic attachments, the undoing of civic culture, the decline of public life and the erosion of any sense of shared citizenship. As market mentalities and moralities tighten their grip on all aspects of society, democratic institutions and public spheres are being downsized, if not altogether disappearing. ..."
"... First, too little is said about how neoliberalism functions not simply as an economic model for finance capital but as a public pedagogy that operates through a diverse number of sites and platforms. ..."
"... I define neoliberal fascism as both a project and a movement, which functions as an enabling force that weakens, if not destroys, the commanding institutions of a democracy while undermining its most valuable principles ..."
"... As a movement, it produces and legitimates massive economic inequality and suffering, privatizes public goods, dismantles essential government agencies, and individualizes all social problems. In addition, it transforms the political state into the corporate state, and uses the tools of surveillance, militarization, and law and order to discredit the critical press and media, undermine civil liberties while ridiculing and censoring critics. ..."
Dec 25, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

This interview with Henry Giroux was conducted by Mitja Sardoč, of the Educational Research Institute, in the Faculty of the Social Sciences, at University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Mitja Sardoč: For several decades now, neoliberalism has been at the forefront of discussions not only in the economy and finance but has infiltrated our vocabulary in a number of areas as diverse as governance studies, criminology, health care, jurisprudence, education etc. What has triggered the use and application ofthis'economistic'ideologyassociatedwith the promotion of effectiveness and efficiency?

Henry Giroux: Neoliberalism has become the dominant ideology of the times and has established itself as a central feature of politics. Not only does it define itself as a political and economic system whose aim was to consolidate power in the hands of a corporate and financial elite, it also wages a war over ideas. In this instance, it has defined itself as a form of commonsense and functions as a mode of public pedagogy that produces a template for structuring not just markets but all of social life.

In this sense, it has and continues to function not only through public and higher education to produce and distribute market-based values, identities, and modes of agency, but also in wider cultural apparatuses and platforms to privatize, deregulate, economize, and subject all of the commanding institutions and relations of everyday life to the dictates of privatization, efficiency, deregulation, and commodification.

Since the 1970s as more and more of the commanding institutions of society come under the control of neoliberal ideology, its notions of common sense – an unchecked individualism, harsh competition, an aggressive attack on the welfare state, the evisceration of public goods, and its attack on all models of sociality at odds with market values – have become the reigning hegemony of capitalist societies.

What many on the left have failed to realize is that neoliberalism is about more than economic structures, it is also is a powerful pedagogical force – especially in the era of social media – that engages in full-spectrum dominance at every level of civil society. Its reach extends not only into education but also among an array of digital platforms as well as in the broader sphere of popular culture. Under neoliberal modes of governance, regardless of the institution, every social relation is reduced to an act of commerce.

Neoliberalism's promotion of effectiveness and efficiency gives credence to its ability to willingness and success in making education central to politics. It also offers a warning to progressives, as Pierre Bourdieu has insisted that the left has underestimated the symbolic and pedagogical dimensions of struggle and have not always forged appropriate weapons to fight on this front."

Mitja Sardoč: According to the advocates of neoliberalism, education represents one of the main indicators of future economic growth and individual well-being.How – and why – education became one of the central elements of the 'neoliberal revolution'?

Henry Giroux: Advocates of neoliberalism have always recognized that education is a site of struggle over which there are very high stakes regarding how young people are educated, who is to be educated, and what vision of the present and future should be most valued and privileged. Higher education in the sixties went through a revolutionary period in the United States and many other countries as students sought to both redefine education as a democratic public sphere and to open it up to a variety of groups that up to that up to that point had been excluded. Conservatives were extremely frightened over this shift and did everything they could to counter it. Evidence of this is clear in the production of the Powell Memo published in 1971 and later in The Trilateral Commission's book-length report, namely, The Crisis of Democracy, published in 1975. From the 1960s on the, conservatives, especially the neoliberal right, has waged a war on education in order to rid it of its potential role as a democratic public sphere. At the same time, they sought aggressively to restructure its modes of governance, undercut the power of faculty, privilege knowledge that was instrumental to the market, define students mainly as clients and consumers, and reduce the function of higher education largely to training students for the global workforce.

At the core of the neoliberal investment in education is a desire to undermine the university's commitment to the truth, critical thinking, and its obligation to stand for justice and assume responsibility for safeguarding the interests of young as they enter a world marked massive inequalities, exclusion, and violence at home and abroad. Higher education may be one of the few institutions left in neoliberal societies that offers a protective space to question, challenge, and think against the grain.

Neoliberalism considers such a space to be dangerous and they have done everything possible to eliminate higher education as a space where students can realize themselves as critical citizens, faculty can participate in the governing structure, and education can be define itself as a right rather than as a privilege.

Mitja Sardoč: Almost by definition, reforms and other initiatives aimed to improve educational practice have been one of the pivotal mechanisms to infiltrate the neoliberal agenda of effectiveness and efficiency. What aspect of neoliberalism and its educational agenda you find most problematic? Why?

Henry Giroux: Increasingly aligned with market forces, higher education is mostly primed for teaching business principles and corporate values, while university administrators are prized as CEOs or bureaucrats in a neoliberal-based audit culture. Many colleges and universities have been McDonalds-ized as knowledge is increasingly viewed as a commodity resulting in curricula that resemble a fast-food menu. In addition, faculty are subjected increasingly to a Wal-Mart model of labor relations designed as Noam Chomsky points out "to reduce labor costs and to increase labor servility". In the age of precarity and flexibility, the majority of faculty have been reduced to part-time positions, subjected to low wages, lost control over the conditions of their labor, suffered reduced benefits, and frightened about addressing social issues critically in their classrooms for fear of losing their jobs.

The latter may be the central issue curbing free speech and academic freedom in the academy. Moreover, many of these faculty are barely able to make ends meet because of their impoverished salaries, and some are on food stamps. If faculty are treated like service workers, students fare no better and are now relegated to the status of customers and clients.

Moreover, they are not only inundated with the competitive, privatized, and market-driven values of neoliberalism, they are also punished by those values in the form of exorbitant tuition rates, astronomical debts owed to banks and other financial institutions, and in too many cases a lack of meaningful employment. As a project and movement, neoliberalism undermines the ability of educators and others to create the conditions that give students the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and the civic courage necessary to make desolation and cynicism unconvincing and hope practical.

As an ideology, neoliberalism is at odds with any viable notion of democracy which it sees as the enemy of the market. Yet, Democracy cannot work if citizens are not autonomous, self-judging, curious, reflective, and independent – qualities that are indispensable for students if they are going to make vital judgments and choices about participating in and shaping decisions that affect everyday life, institutional reform, and governmental policy.

Mitja Sardoč: Why large-scale assessments and quantitative data in general are a central part of the 'neo-liberal toolkit' in educational research?

Henry Giroux: These are the tools of accountants and have nothing to do with larger visions or questions about what matters as part of a university education. The overreliance on metrics and measurement has become a tool used to remove questions of responsibility, morality, and justice from the language and policies of education. I believe the neoliberal toolkit as you put it is part of the discourse of civic illiteracy that now runs rampant in higher educational research, a kind of mind-numbing investment in a metric-based culture that kills the imagination and wages an assault on what it means to be critical, thoughtful, daring, and willing to take risks. Metrics in the service of an audit culture has become the new face of a culture of positivism, a kind of empirical-based panopticon that turns ideas into numbers and the creative impulse into ashes. Large scale assessments and quantitative data are the driving mechanisms in which everything is absorbed into the culture of business.

The distinction between information and knowledge has become irrelevant in this model and anything that cannot be captured by numbers is treated with disdain. In this new audit panopticon, the only knowledge that matters is that which can be measured. What is missed here, of course, is that measurable utility is a curse as a universal principle because it ignores any form of knowledge based on the assumption that individuals need to know more than how things work or what their practical utility might be.

This is a language that cannot answer the question of what the responsibility of the university and educators might be in a time of tyranny, in the face of the unspeakable, and the current widespread attack on immigrants, Muslims, and others considered disposable. This is a language that is both afraid and unwilling to imagine what alternative worlds inspired by the search for equality and justice might be possible in an age beset by the increasing dark forces of authoritarianism.

Mitja Sardoč: While the analysis of the neoliberal agenda in education is well documented, the analysis of the language of neoliberal education is at the fringes of scholarly interest. In particular, the expansion of the neoliberal vocabulary with egalitarian ideas such as fairness, justice, equality of opportunity, well-being etc. has received [at best]only limited attention. What factors have contributed to this shift of emphasis?

Henry Giroux: Neoliberalism has upended how language is used in both education and the wider society. It works to appropriate discourses associated with liberal democracy that have become normalized in order to both limit their meanings and use them to mean the opposite of what they have meant traditionally, especially with respect to human rights, justice, informed judgment, critical agency, and democracy itself. It is waging a war over not just the relationship between economic structures but over memory, words, meaning, and politics. Neoliberalism takes words like freedom and limits it to the freedom to consume, spew out hate, and celebrate notions of self-interest and a rabid individualism as the new common sense.

Equality of opportunity means engaging in ruthless forms of competition, a war of all against all ethos, and a survival of the fittest mode of behavior.

The vocabulary of neoliberalism operates in the service of violence in that it reduces the capacity for human fulfillment in the collective sense, diminishes a broad understanding of freedom as fundamental to expanding the capacity for human agency, and diminishes the ethical imagination by reducing it to the interest of the market and the accumulation of capital. Words, memory, language and meaning are weaponized under neoliberalism.

Certainly, neither the media nor progressives have given enough attention to how neoliberalism colonizes language because neither group has given enough attention to viewing the crisis of neoliberalism as not only an economic crisis but also a crisis of ideas. Education is not viewed as a force central to politics and as such the intersection of language, power, and politics in the neoliberal paradigm has been largely ignored. Moreover, at a time when civic culture is being eradicated, public spheres are vanishing, and notions of shared citizenship appear obsolete, words that speak to the truth, reveal injustices and provide informed critical analysis also begin to disappear.

This makes it all the more difficult to engage critically the use of neoliberalism's colonization of language. In the United States, Trump prodigious tweets signify not only a time in which governments engage in the pathology of endless fabrications, but also how they function to reinforce a pedagogy of infantilism designed to animate his base in a glut of shock while reinforcing a culture of war, fear, divisiveness, and greed in ways that disempower his critics.

Mitja Sardoč: You have written extensively on neoliberalism's exclusively instrumental view of education, its reductionist understanding of effectiveness and its distorted image of fairness. In what way should radical pedagogy fight back neoliberalism and its educational agenda?

Henry Giroux: First, higher education needs to reassert its mission as a public good in order to reclaim its egalitarian and democratic impulses. Educators need to initiate and expand a national conversation in which higher education can be defended as a democratic public sphere and the classroom as a site of deliberative inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking, a site that makes a claim on the radical imagination and a sense of civic courage. At the same time, the discourse on defining higher education as a democratic public sphere can provide the platform for a more expressive commitment in developing a social movement in defense of public goods and against neoliberalism as a threat to democracy. This also means rethinking how education can be funded as a public good and what it might mean to fight for policies that both stop the defunding of education and fight to relocate funds from the death dealing military and incarceration budgets to those supporting education at all levels of society. The challenge here is for higher education not to abandon its commitment to democracy and to recognize that neoliberalism operates in the service of the forces of economic domination and ideological repression.

Second, educators need to acknowledge and make good on the claim that a critically literate citizen is indispensable to a democracy, especially at a time when higher education is being privatized and subject to neoliberal restructuring efforts. This suggests placing ethics, civic literacy, social responsibility, and compassion at the forefront of learning so as to combine knowledge, teaching, and research with the rudiments of what might be called the grammar of an ethical and social imagination. This would imply taking seriously those values, traditions, histories, and pedagogies that would promote a sense of dignity, self-reflection, and compassion at the heart of a real democracy. Third, higher education needs to be viewed as a right, as it is in many countries such as Germany, France, Norway, Finland, and Brazil, rather than a privilege for a limited few, as it is in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Fourth, in a world driven by data, metrics, and the replacement of knowledge by the overabundance of information, educators need to enable students to engage in multiple literacies extending from print and visual culture to digital culture. They need to become border crossers who can think dialectically, and learn not only how to consume culture but also to produce it. Fifth, faculty must reclaim their right to control over the nature of their labor, shape policies of governance, and be given tenure track lines with the guarantee of secure employment and protection for academic freedom and free speech.

Mitja Sardoč: Why is it important to analyze the relationship between neoliberalism and civic literacy particularly as an educational project?

Henry Giroux: The ascendancy of neoliberalism in American politics has made visible a plague of deep-seated civic illiteracy, a corrupt political system and a contempt for reason that has been decades in the making.

It also points to the withering of civic attachments, the undoing of civic culture, the decline of public life and the erosion of any sense of shared citizenship. As market mentalities and moralities tighten their grip on all aspects of society, democratic institutions and public spheres are being downsized, if not altogether disappearing.

As these institutions vanish – from public schools and alternative media to health care centers– there is also a serious erosion of the discourse of community, justice, equality, public values, and the common good. At the same time reason and truth are not simply contested, or the subject of informed arguments as they should be, but wrongly vilified – banished to Trump's poisonous world of fake news. For instance, under the Trump administration, language has been pillaged, truth and reason disparaged, and words and phrases emptied of any substance or turned into their opposite, all via the endless production of Trump's Twitter storms and the ongoing clown spectacle of Fox News. This grim reality points to a failure in the power of the civic imagination, political will, and open democracy. It is also part of a politics that strips the social of any democratic ideals and undermines any understanding of education as a public good. What we are witnessing under neoliberalism is not simply a political project to consolidate power in the hands of the corporate and financial elite but also a reworking of the very meaning of literacy and education as crucial to what it means to create an informed citizenry and democratic society. In an age when literacy and thinking become dangerous to the anti-democratic forces governing all the commanding economic and cultural institutions of the United States, truth is viewed as a liability, ignorance becomes a virtue, and informed judgments and critical thinking demeaned and turned into rubble and ashes. Under the reign of this normalized architecture of alleged common sense, literacy is regarded with disdain, words are reduced to data and science is confused with pseudo-science. Traces of critical thought appear more and more at the margins of the culture as ignorance becomes the primary organizing principle of American society.

Under the forty-year reign of neoliberalism, language has been militarized, handed over to advertisers, game show idiocy, and a political and culturally embarrassing anti-intellectualism sanctioned by the White House. Couple this with a celebrity culture that produces an ecosystem of babble, shock, and tawdry entertainment. Add on the cruel and clownish anti-public intellectuals such as Jordan Peterson who defend inequality, infantile forms of masculinity, and define ignorance and a warrior mentality as part of the natural order, all the while dethroning any viable sense of agency and the political.

The culture of manufactured illiteracy is also reproduced through a media apparatus that trades in illusions and the spectacle of violence. Under these circumstances, illiteracy becomes the norm and education becomes central to a version of neoliberal zombie politics that functions largely to remove democratic values, social relations, and compassion from the ideology, policies and commanding institutions that now control American society. In the age of manufactured illiteracy, there is more at work than simply an absence of learning, ideas or knowledge. Nor can the reign of manufactured illiteracy be solely attributed to the rise of the new social media, a culture of immediacy, and a society that thrives on instant gratification. On the contrary, manufactured illiteracy is political and educational project central to a right-wing corporatist ideology and set of policies that work aggressively to depoliticize people and make them complicitous with the neoliberal and racist political and economic forces that impose misery and suffering upon their lives. There is more at work here than what Ariel Dorfman calls a "felonious stupidity," there is also the workings of a deeply malicious form of 21 st century neoliberal fascism and a culture of cruelty in which language is forced into the service of violence while waging a relentless attack on the ethical imagination and the notion of the common good. In the current historical moment illiteracy and ignorance offer the pretense of a community in doing so has undermined the importance of civic literacy both in higher education and the larger society.

Mitja Sardoč: Is there any shortcoming in the analysis of such a complex (and controversial) social phenomenon as neoliberalism and its educational agenda? Put differently: is there any aspect of the neoliberal educational agenda that its critics have failed to address?

Henry Giroux: Any analysis of an ideology such as neoliberalism will always be incomplete. And the literature on neoliberalism in its different forms and diverse contexts is quite abundant. What is often underplayed in my mind are three things.

First, too little is said about how neoliberalism functions not simply as an economic model for finance capital but as a public pedagogy that operates through a diverse number of sites and platforms.

Second, not enough has been written about its war on a democratic notion of sociality and the concept of the social.

Third, at a time in which echoes of a past fascism are on the rise not enough is being said about the relationship between neoliberalism and fascism, or what I call neoliberal fascism, especially the relationship between the widespread suffering and misery caused by neoliberalism and the rise of white supremacy.

I define neoliberal fascism as both a project and a movement, which functions as an enabling force that weakens, if not destroys, the commanding institutions of a democracy while undermining its most valuable principles.

Consequently, it provides a fertile ground for the unleashing of the ideological architecture, poisonous values, and racist social relations sanctioned and produced under fascism. Neoliberalism and fascism conjoin and advance in a comfortable and mutually compatible project and movement that connects the worse excesses of capitalism with fascist ideals – the veneration of war, a hatred of reason and truth; a populist celebration of ultra-nationalism and racial purity; the suppression of freedom and dissent; a culture which promotes lies, spectacles, a demonization of the other, a discourse of decline, brutal violence, and ultimately state violence in heterogeneous forms. As a project, it destroys all the commanding institutions of democracy and consolidates power in the hands of a financial elite.

As a movement, it produces and legitimates massive economic inequality and suffering, privatizes public goods, dismantles essential government agencies, and individualizes all social problems. In addition, it transforms the political state into the corporate state, and uses the tools of surveillance, militarization, and law and order to discredit the critical press and media, undermine civil liberties while ridiculing and censoring critics.

What critics need to address is that neoliberalism is the face of a new fascism and as such it speaks to the need to repudiate the notion that capitalism and democracy are the same thing, renew faith in the promises of a democratic socialism, create new political formations around an alliance of diverse social movements, and take seriously the need to make education central to politics itself.

[Jan 29, 2019] Bilderberg 2015: where criminals mingle with ministers by Charlie Skelton

Notable quotes:
"... The Bilderberg set call people like you either their "dogs" (if you are in politics or the military) or the "dead." ..."
"... What do you mean "where criminals mingle with ministers". That is assuming that ministers are not criminals. Considering that there will be ministers from the USA, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the UK, I'd suggest that there is a near 100% certainty that some, if not all, the ministers there are criminals. ..."
"... That one group of almost-certainly-criminals meets another group of almost-certainly-criminals is hardly surprising. That the whole shebang is protected by the host's police force is even less so ..."
Jun 12, 2015 | The Guardian
Convicted criminals. Such as disgraced former CIA boss, David Petraeus, who's just been handed a $100,000 (£64,000) fine and two years' probation for leaking classified information.

Petraeus now works for the vulturous private equity firm KKR, run by Henry Kravis, who does arguably Bilderberg's best impression of Gordon Gecko out of Wall Street. Which he cleverly combines with a pretty good impression of an actual gecko.

... ... ...

"Can I go now?" Another no. So I continued my list of criminals. I moved on to someone closer to home: René Benko, the Austrian real estate baron, who had a conviction for bribery upheld recently by the supreme court. Which didn't stop him making the cut for this year's conference. "You know Benko?" The cop nodded. It wasn't easy to see in the glare of the searchlight, but he looked a little ashamed.

... ... ...

I decided to reward their vigilance with a chat about HSBC. The chairman of the troubled banking giant, Douglas Flint, is a regular attendee at Bilderberg, and he's heading here again this year, along with a member of the bank's board of directors, Rona Fairhead. Perhaps most tellingly, Flint is finding room in his Mercedes for the bank's busiest employee: its chief legal officer, Stuart Levey.

A Guardian editorial this week branded HSBC "a bank beyond shame" after it announced plans to cut 8,000 jobs in the UK, while at the same time threatening to shift its headquarters to Hong Kong. And having just been forced to pay £28m in fines to Swiss regulators investigating money-laundering claims. The big question, of course, is how will the chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, respond to all this? Easy – he'll go along to a luxury Austrian hotel and hole up with three senior members of HSBC in private. For three days.

High up on this year's conference agenda is "current economic issues", and without a doubt, one of the biggest economic issues for Osborne at the moment is the future and finances of Europe's largest bank. Luckily, the chancellor will have plenty of time at Bilderberg to chat all this through through with Flint, Levey and Fairhead. And the senior Swiss financial affairs official, Pierre Maudet, a member of the Geneva state council in charge of the department of security and the economy. It's all so incredibly convenient.

... ... ...

Related: The Guardian view on HSBC: a bank beyond shame | Editorial

consumersunite -> MickGJ 12 Jun 2015 15:23

Let's see, maybe because we have read over their leaked documents from the 1950s in which they discussed currency manipulation and GATT. Everything they have discussed in their meetings over the past decades has almost come to fruition. There are elected officials meeting with criminals such as HSBC. Did you even read the article? If you did, and you are not het up or whatever you call it, then you are of a peasant mentality, and there is no use talking to you.

The Bilderberg set call people like you either their "dogs" (if you are in politics or the military) or the "dead." I won't be looking for your response because you have confirmed that you do not matter.

Carpasia -> MickGJ 12 Jun 2015 10:52

Thank you for your comment, my good man. Hatred is human, and helps us all to avoid pain, for pain, especially unnecessary pain, is allowed to be hated by the agreement of all, if nothing else is. I would hate to be beaten by Nazis. Thus, I would avoid going to a place where that could occur. That is how hatred works for me. It is the only way it can work, and not be pernicious to the self and others.

I distrust the international order as it is the means, harnessed by money, whether corporate or state or individual or monarchical, by which this world is being destroyed. Could things have been better? Jesus is on one end of the spectrum, and Lord Acton on the other, of the spectrums of viewpoints from which that could be properly assessed.

If the corruption at the heart of the international order is not regulated properly, this world will come to an end, not the end of the world itself, but the end of the world as we know it. This is happening now. The world is finite.

I am not a xenophobe. In my experience, the people that are most likely to hurt me, and thus deserve fear, are those closest. Perhaps that is a cynical way of describing it, but anyone who thinks honestly about it would accede to the notion that it is the people who "love" us that hurt us the most, for we agree too be vulnerable to them. It is the matrix of love.

As for Austria and Bavaria, I have visited both places and they were, both, the cleanest locales I have ever seen, with Switzerland having to be mentioned in the same breath, of course.

I take a certain liberty in writing. I am not damning the human race, or strangers to me. If I did not entertain, but caused offence, I apologize to you. I do not possess omniscience, and my words will have to speak for themselves.

Thank you, again.

DemonicWarlordSlayer 12 Jun 2015 08:02

"How Geo Bush's Grandfather Helped Hitler's Rise to Power" in the UK Guardian >

"Did Geo H W Bush Coordinate a JFK Hit Team" at Veterans Today >

"9/11 Conspiracy Solved, Names, Connections, Details" on youtube....dot-to-dot of the

Demonic Warlord's Crimes Against Humanity....end feudalism.


Carpasia 12 Jun 2015 07:09

Excellent article.

I visited Austria once, and I know of what he speaks. It was the one place I have ever visited that I thought I would be jailed if I littered. I was wandering at the time, but I tentatively had a meal of chicken and departed henceforth.

Austrians are an interesting lot, to be sure. That they are perfect goes without saying. Their main virtue is that they do not travel, and that strangers, which we call tourists these days, are not welcomed. If only we were all like that, the world would be a far better place.

Austrians do everything well, including crime. Some of the greatest crimes in the world have been committed by Austrians, but their crimes did not include not having their papers.

During World War 2, and I pass over Hitler, the German machine of death had an unusually high proportion of Austrians in commanding roles assisting it. It can not be explained away by saying they were some kind of faux Germans, and so it matters not. Indeed, if anything, Germans are faux Austrians, looked at in the broad brush of history. Men of many nations joined the Germans and adorned themselves with the Death's Head, but many Austrians might as well have tattooed it onto their foreheads. I know of what I speak, for I read on it, and will justify if questioned.

Reinhard Heydrich is an epitome of this, in the true sense of the word. Kurt Waldheim was another, too young too rise too far before the Ragnarok of May of 1945, but government of the world was not out of his reach, a man who had materially assisted the transportation of the Jews of Thessaloniki to the gas chambers of Auschwitz and, when challenged, was unrepentant, not as a racist, but as something worse even, as a man whose great virtue was that he followed orders. It is order that the Austrians value over everything. Even crime is ordered.

In the common-law west we think criminals are disordered beasts to be locked up. We do not give them papers. They are registered only to warn us of their existence, and we do not like to let them travel, as much as we could benefit by their absence, because we think they flee to license, and we think it wrong to inflict them upon innocents abroad. In Austria, the criminal is the man with no papers. If he has papers, all is well, and he is no criminal, whatever he has done.

colingorton 12 Jun 2015 03:19

What do you mean "where criminals mingle with ministers". That is assuming that ministers are not criminals. Considering that there will be ministers from the USA, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the UK, I'd suggest that there is a near 100% certainty that some, if not all, the ministers there are criminals.

That one group of almost-certainly-criminals meets another group of almost-certainly-criminals is hardly surprising. That the whole shebang is protected by the host's police force is even less so.

How far can all this mutual back scratching go? It seems that the only alternative left is far too drastic, but there really seems to be no place for a legal alternative, does there?

[Jan 29, 2019] 7th Circuit Rules Age Discrimination Law Does Not Include Job Applicants

Notable quotes:
"... By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans. ..."
"... Kleber filed suit, pursuing claims for both disparate treatment and disparate impact under the ADEA. The Chicago Tribune notes in Hinsdale man loses appeal in age discrimination case that challenged experience caps in job ads that "Kleber had out of work and job hunting for three years" when he applied for the CareFusion job. ..."
"... Unfortunately, the seventh circuit has now held that the disparate impact section of the ADEA does not extend to job applicants. .Judge Michael Scudder, a Trump appointee, wrote the majority 8-4 opinion, which reverses an earlier 2-1 panel ruling last April in Kleber's favor that had initially overruled the district court's dismissal of Kleber's disparate impact claim. ..."
"... hiring discrimination is difficult to prove and often goes unreported. Only 3 percent have made a formal complaint. ..."
"... The decision narrowly applies to disparate impact claims of age discrimination under the ADEA. It is important to remember that job applicants are protected under the disparate treatment portion of the statute. ..."
"... I forbade my kids to study programming. ..."
"... I'm re reading the classic of Sociology Ain't No Makin It by Jay MacLeod, in which he studies the employment prospects of youths in the 1980s and determined that even then there was no stable private sector employment and your best option is a government job or to have an excellent "network" which is understandably hard for most people to achieve. ..."
"... I think the trick is to study something and programming, so the programming becomes a tool rather than an end. ..."
"... the problem is it is almost impossible to exit the programming business and join another domain. Anyone can enter it. (evidence – all the people with "engineering" degrees from India) Also my wages are now 50% of what i made 10 years ago (nominal). Also I notice that almost no one is doing sincere work. Most are just coasting, pretending to work with the latest toy (ie, preparing for the next interview). ..."
"... I am an "aging" former STEM worker (histology researcher) as well. Much like the IT landscape, you are considered "over-the-hill" at 35, which I turn on the 31st. ..."
"... Most of the positions in science and engineering fields now are basically "gig" positions, lasting a few months to a year. ..."
Jan 29, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.

The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit decided in Kleber v. CareFusion Corporation last Wednesday that disparate impact liability under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) applies only to current employees and does not include job applicants.

The case was brought by Dale Kleber, an attorney, who applied for a senior position in CareFusion's legal department. The job description required applicants to have "3 to 7 years (no more than 7 years) of relevant legal experience."

Kleber was 58 at the time he applied and had more than seven years of pertinent experience. CareFusion hired a 29-year-old applicant who met but did not exceed the experience requirement.

Kleber filed suit, pursuing claims for both disparate treatment and disparate impact under the ADEA. The Chicago Tribune notes in Hinsdale man loses appeal in age discrimination case that challenged experience caps in job ads that "Kleber had out of work and job hunting for three years" when he applied for the CareFusion job.

Some Basics

Let's start with some basics, as the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) set out in a brief primer on basic US age discrimination law entitled Questions and Answers on EEOC Final Rule on Disparate Impact and "Reasonable Factors Other Than Age" Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 . The EEOC began with a brief description of the purpose of the ADEA:

The purpose of the ADEA is to prohibit employment discrimination against people who are 40 years of age or older. Congress enacted the ADEA in 1967 because of its concern that older workers were disadvantaged in retaining and regaining employment. The ADEA also addressed concerns that older workers were barred from employment by some common employment practices that were not intended to exclude older workers, but that had the effect of doing so and were unrelated to job performance.

It was with these concerns in mind that Congress created a system that included liability for both disparate treatment and disparate impact. What's the difference between these two concepts?

According to the EEOC:

[The ADEA] prohibits discrimination against workers because of their older age with respect to any aspect of employment. In addition to prohibiting intentional discrimination against older workers (known as "disparate treatment"), the ADEA prohibits practices that, although facially neutral with regard to age, have the effect of harming older workers more than younger workers (known as "disparate impact"), unless the employer can show that the practice is based on an [Reasonable Factor Other Than Age (RFAO)]

The crux: it's much easier for a plaintiff to prove disparate impact, because s/he needn't show that the employer intended to discriminate. Of course, many if not most employers are savvy enough not to be explicit about their intentions to discriminate against older people as they don't wish to get sued.

District, Panel, and Full Seventh Circuit Decisions

The district court dismissed Kleber's disparate impact claim, on the grounds that the text of the statute- (§ 4(a)(2))- did not extend to outside job applicants. Kleber then voluntarily dismissed his separate claim for disparate treatment liability to appeal the dismissal of his disparate impact claim. No doubt he was aware – either because he was an attorney, or because of the legal advice received – that it is much more difficult to prevail on a disparate treatment claim, which would require that he establish CareFusion's intent to discriminate.

Or at least that was true before this decision was rendered.

Unfortunately, the seventh circuit has now held that the disparate impact section of the ADEA does not extend to job applicants. .Judge Michael Scudder, a Trump appointee, wrote the majority 8-4 opinion, which reverses an earlier 2-1 panel ruling last April in Kleber's favor that had initially overruled the district court's dismissal of Kleber's disparate impact claim.

The majority ruled:

By its terms, § 4(a)(2) proscribes certain conduct by employers and limits its protection to employees. The prohibited conduct entails an employer acting in any way to limit, segregate, or classify its employees based on age. The language of § 4(a)(2) then goes on to make clear that its proscriptions apply only if an employer's actions have a particular impact -- "depriv[ing] or tend[ing] to deprive any individual of em- ployment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect[ing] his status as an employee." This language plainly demonstrates that the requisite impact must befall an individual with "status as an employee." Put most simply, the reach of § 4(a)(2) does not extend to applicants for employment, as common dictionary definitions confirm that an applicant has no "status as an employee." (citation omitted)[opinion, pp. 3-4]

By contrast, in the disparate treatment part of the statute (§ 4(a)(1)):

Congress made it unlawful for an employer "to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privi- leges of employment, because of such individual's age."[opinion, p.6]

The court compared the disparate treatment section – § 4(a)(1) – directly with the disparate impact section – § 4(a)(2):

Yet a side-by-side comparison of § 4(a)(1) with § 4(a)(2) shows that the language in the former plainly covering appli-cants is conspicuously absent from the latter. Section 4(a)(2) says nothing about an employer's decision "to fail or refuse to hire any individual" and instead speaks only in terms of an employer's actions that "adversely affect his status as an employee." We cannot conclude this difference means nothing: "when 'Congress includes particular language in one section of a statute but omits it in another' -- let alone in the very next provision -- the Court presumes that Congress intended a difference in meaning." (citations omitted)[opinion, pp. 6-7]

The majority's conclusion:

In the end, the plain language of § 4(a)(2) leaves room for only one interpretation: Congress authorized only employees to bring disparate impact claims.[opinion, p.8]

Greying of the Workforce

Older people account for a growing percentage of the workforce, as Reuters reports in Age bias law does not cover job applicants: U.S. appeals court :

People 55 or older comprised 22.4 percent of U.S. workers in 2016, up from 11.9 percent in 1996, and may account for close to one-fourth of the labor force by 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The greying of the workforce is "thanks to better health in older age and insufficient savings that require people to keeping working longer," according to the Chicago Tribune. Yet:

numerous hiring practices are under fire for negatively impacting older applicants. In addition to experience caps, lawsuits have challenged the exclusive use of on-campus recruiting to fill positions and algorithms that target job ads to show only in certain people's social media feeds.

Unless Congress amends the ADEA to include job applicants, older people will continue to face barriers to getting jobs.

The Chicago Tribune reports:

The [EEOC], which receives about 20,000 age discrimination charges every year, issued a report in June citing surveys that found 3 in 4 older workers believe their age is an obstacle in getting a job. Yet hiring discrimination is difficult to prove and often goes unreported. Only 3 percent have made a formal complaint. Allowing older applicants to challenge policies that have an unintentionally discriminatory impact would offer another tool for fighting age discrimination, Ray Peeler, associate legal counsel at the EEOC, has said.

How will these disparate impact claims now fare?

The Bottom Line

FordHarrison, a firm specialising in human relations law, noted in Seventh Circuit Limits Job Applicants' Age Discrimination Claims :

The decision narrowly applies to disparate impact claims of age discrimination under the ADEA. It is important to remember that job applicants are protected under the disparate treatment portion of the statute. There is no split among the federal appeals courts on this issue, making it an unlikely candidate for Supreme Court review, but the four judges in dissent read the statute as being vague and susceptible to an interpretation that includes job applicants.

Their conclusion: "a decision finding disparate impact liability for job applicants under the ADEA is unlikely in the near future."

Alas, for reasons of space, I will not consider the extensive dissent. My purpose in writing this post is to discuss the majority decision, not to opine on which side made the better arguments.

antidlc , January 27, 2019 at 3:28 pm

8-4 opinion. Which judges ruled for the majority? Which judges ruled for the minority opinion?

Sorry,,,don't have time to research right now. It says a Trump appointee wrote the majority opinion. Who were the other 7?

grayslady , January 27, 2019 at 6:09 pm

There were 3 judges who dissented in whole and one who dissented in part. Of the three full dissensions, two were Clinton appointees (including the Chief Justice, who was one of the dissenters) and one was a Reagan appointee. The partial dissenter was also a Reagan appointee.

run75441 , January 27, 2019 at 11:25 pm

ant: Not your law clerk, read the opinion. Easterbook and Wood dissented. Find the other two and and you can figure out who agreed.

YankeeFrank , January 27, 2019 at 3:58 pm

"depriv[ing] or tend[ing] to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect[ing] his status as an employee."

–This language plainly demonstrates that the requisite impact must befall an individual with "status as an employee."

So they totally ignore the first part of the sentence -- "depriv[ing] or tend[ing] to deprive any individual of employment opportunities " -- "employment opportunities" clearly applies to applicants.

Its as if these judges cannot make sense of the English language. Hopefully the judges on appeal will display better command of the language.

Alfred , January 27, 2019 at 5:56 pm

I agree. "Employment opportunities," in the "plain language" so meticulously respected by the 7th Circuit, must surely refer at minimum to 'the chance to apply for a job and to have one's application fairly considered'. It seems on the other hand a stretch to interpret the phrase to mean only 'the chance to keep a job one already has'. Both are important, however; to split them would challenge even Solomonic wisdom, as I suppose the curious decision discussed here demonstrates. I am less convinced that the facts as presented here establish a clear case of age discrimination. True, they point in that direction. But a hypothetical 58-year old who only earned a law degree in his or her early 50s, perhaps after an earlier career in paralegal work, could have legitimately applied for a position requiring 3 to 7 years of "relevant legal experience." That last phrase, is of course, quite weasel-y: what counts as "relevant" and what counts as "legal" experience would under any circumstances be subject to (discriminatory) interpretation. The limitation of years of experience in the job announcement strikes me as a means to keep the salary within a certain budgetary range as prescribed either by law or collective bargaining.

KLG , January 27, 2019 at 6:42 pm

Almost like the willful misunderstanding of "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State "? Of course, that militia also meant slave patrols and the occasional posse to put down the native "savages," but still.

Lambert Strether , January 28, 2019 at 2:08 am

> "depriv[ing] or tend[ing] to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect[ing] his status as an employee."

Says "or." Not "and."

Magic Sam , January 27, 2019 at 5:53 pm

They are failing to find what they don't want to find.

Magic Sam , January 27, 2019 at 5:58 pm

Being pro-Labor will not get you Federalist Society approval to be nominated to the bench by Trump. This decision came down via the ideological makeup of the court, not the letter of the law. Their stated pretext is obviously b.s.. It contradicts itself.

Mattie , January 27, 2019 at 6:05 pm

Yep. That is when their Utah et al property mgt teams began breaking into homes, tossing contents – including pets – outside & changing locks

Even when borrowers were in approved HAMP, etc. pipelines

PLUG: If you haven't yet – See "The Florida Project"

nothing but the truth , January 27, 2019 at 7:18 pm

as an aging "stem" (cough coder) worker who typically has to look for a new "gig" every few years, i am trembling at this.

Luckily, i bought a small business when I had a few saved up, so I won't starve.

Health insurance is another matter.

I forbade my kids to study programming.

Lambert Strether , January 28, 2019 at 2:09 am

Plumbing. Electrical work. Permaculture. Get those kids Jackpot-ready!

Joe Well , January 28, 2019 at 11:40 am

I'm re reading the classic of Sociology Ain't No Makin It by Jay MacLeod, in which he studies the employment prospects of youths in the 1980s and determined that even then there was no stable private sector employment and your best option is a government job or to have an excellent "network" which is understandably hard for most people to achieve. So I'm genuinely interested in what possible options there are for anyone entering the job market today or God help you, re-entering. I am guessing the barriers to entry to those trades are quite high but would love to be corrected.

jrs , January 28, 2019 at 1:39 pm

what is the point of being jackpot ready if you can't even support yourself today? To fantasize about collapse while sleeping in a rented closet and driving for Uber? In that case one's personal collapse has already happened, which will matter a lot more to an individual than any potential jackpot.

Plumbers and electricians can make money now of course (although yea barriers to entry do seem high, don't you kind of have to know people to get in those industries?). But permaculture?

Ford Prefect , January 28, 2019 at 1:00 pm

I think the trick is to study something and programming, so the programming becomes a tool rather than an end. A couple of my kids used to ride horses. One of the instructors and stable owners said that a lot of people went to school for equine studies and ended up shoveling horse poop for a living. She said the thing to do was to study business and do the equestrian stuff as a hobby/minor. That way you came out prepared to run a business and hire the equine studies people to clean the stalls.

jrs , January 28, 2019 at 1:36 pm

Do you actually see that many jobs requiring something and programming though? I haven't really. There seems no easy transition out of software work which that would make possible either. Might as well just study the "something".

rd , January 28, 2019 at 2:21 pm

Programming is a means to an end, not the end itself. If all you do is program, then you are essentially a machine lathe operator, not somebody creating the products the lathe operators turn out.

Understanding what needs to be done helps with structured programs and better input/output design. In turn, structured programming is a good tool to understand the basics of how to manage tasks. At the higher level, Fred Brooks book "The Mythical Man-Month" has a lot of useful project management information that can be re-applied for non computer program development.

We are doing a lot of work with mobile computing and data collection to assist in our regular work. The people doing this are mainly non-computer scientists that have learned enough programming to get by.

The engineering programs that we use are typically written more by engineers than by programmers as the entire point behind the program is to apply the theory into a numerical computation and presentation system. Programmers with a graphic design background can assist in creating much better user interfaces.

If you have some sort of information theory background (GIS, statistics, etc.) then big data actually means something.

nothing but the truth , January 28, 2019 at 7:02 pm

the problem is it is almost impossible to exit the programming business and join another domain. Anyone can enter it. (evidence – all the people with "engineering" degrees from India) Also my wages are now 50% of what i made 10 years ago (nominal). Also I notice that almost no one is doing sincere work. Most are just coasting, pretending to work with the latest toy (ie, preparing for the next interview).

Now almost every "interview" requires writing a coding exam. Which other profession will make you write an exam for 25-30 year veterans? Can you write your high school exam again today? What if your profession requires you to write it a couple of times almost every year?

Hepativore , January 28, 2019 at 2:56 pm

I am an "aging" former STEM worker (histology researcher) as well. Much like the IT landscape, you are considered "over-the-hill" at 35, which I turn on the 31st. While I do not have children and never intend to get married, many biotech companies consider this the age at which a worker is getting long in the tooth. This is because there is the underlying assumption that is when people start having familial obligations.

Most of the positions in science and engineering fields now are basically "gig" positions, lasting a few months to a year. A lot of people my age are finding how much harder it is to find any position at all in these areas as there is a massive pool of people to choose from, even for permatemp work simply because serfs in their mid-30s might get uppity about benefits like family health plans or 401k

Steve , January 27, 2019 at 7:32 pm

I am 59 and do not mind having employers discriminate against me due to age. ( I also need a job) I had my own business and over the years got quite damaged. I was a contractor specializing in older (historical) work.

I was always the lead worker with many friends and other s working with me. At 52 I was given a choice of very involved neck surgery or quit. ( no small businesses have disability insurance!)

I shut down everything and helped my friends who worked for me take some of the work or find something else. I was also a nationally published computer consultant a long time ago and graphic artist.

Reality is I can still do many things but I do nothing as well as I did when I was younger and the cost to employers for me is far higher than a younger person. I had my chance and I chose poorly. Younger people, if that makes them abetter fit, deserve a chance now more than I do.

Joe Well , January 27, 2019 at 7:49 pm

I'm sorry for your predicament. Do you mean you chose poorly when you chose not to get neck surgery? What was the choice you regret?

Steve , January 27, 2019 at 10:12 pm

My career choices. Choosing to close my business to possibly avoid the surgery was actually a good choice.

Joe Well , January 28, 2019 at 11:47 am

I'm sorry for your challenges but I don't think there were many good careers you could have chosen and it would have required a crystal ball to know which were the good ones. Americans your age entered the job market just after the very end of the Golden Age of labor conditions and have been weathering the decline your entire working lives. At least I entered the job market when everyone knew for years things were falling apart. It's not your fault. You were cheated plain and simple.

Lambert Strether , January 28, 2019 at 2:14 am

> I had my chance and I chose poorly.

I don't see how it's possible to predict the labor market years in advance. Why blame yourself for poor choices when so much chance is involved?

With a Jobs Guarantee, such questions would not arise. I also don't think it's only a question of doing, but a question of sharing ("experience, strength, and hope," as AA -- a very successful organization! -- puts it, in a way of thinking that has wide application).

Dianne Shatin , January 27, 2019 at 7:46 pm

Unelected plutocrat and his international syndicate funded by former IBM artificial intelligence developer and social darwinian. data manipulation electronic platforms and social media are at the levels of power in the USA. Anti justice, anti enlightenment, etc.

Since the installation of GW Bush by the Supreme Court, almost 20 yrs. ago, they have tunneled deeply, speaking through propaganda machines such as Rush Limbaugh gaining traction .making it over the finish line with KGB and Russian oligarch backing. The net effect on us? The loss of all built on the foundation of the enlightenment and an exceptional nation no king, a nation of, for and by the people, and the rule of law. There is nothing Judeo-Christian about social darwinism but is eerily similar to National Socialism (Nazis). The ruling againt the plaintiff by the 7th circuit in the U.S. and their success in creating chaos in Great Britain vis a vis "Brexit" by fascist Lafarge Inc. are indicators how easy their ascent.
ows how powerful they have become.

anon y'mouse , January 27, 2019 at 9:19 pm

They had better get ready to lower the SSI retirement age to 55, then. Or I predict blood in the streets.

jrs , January 28, 2019 at 1:49 pm

I wish it was so. They just expect the older crowd to die quietly.

How is it legal , January 27, 2019 at 10:04 pm

Where are the Bipartisan Presidential Candidates and Legislators on oral and verbal condemnation of Age Discrimination , along with putting teeth into Age Discrimination Laws, and Tax Policy. – nowhere to be seen , or heard, that I've noticed; particularly in Blue ™ California, which is famed for Age Discrimination of those as young as 36 years of age, since Mark Zuckerberg proclaimed anyone over 35, over the hill in the early 2000's , and never got crushed for it by the media, or the Politicians, as he should have (particularly in Silicon Valley).

I know those Republicans are venal, but I dare anyone to show me a meaningful Age Discrimination Policy Proposal, pushed by Blue Obama, Hillary, even Sanders and Jill Stein. Certainly none of California's Nationally known (many well over retirement age) Gubernatorial and Legislative Democratic Politicians: Jerry Brown, Gavin Newsom, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi, Kamala Harris, and Ro Khanna (or the lesser known California Federal State and Local Democratic Politicians) have ever addressed it; despite the fact that homelessness deaths of those near 'retirement age' have been frighteningly increasing in California's obscenely wealthy homelessness 'hotspots,' such as Silicon Valley.

Such a tragic issue, which has occurred while the last over a decade of Mainstream News and Online Pundits, have Proclaimed 50 to be the new 30. Sadistic. I have no doubt this is linked to the ever increasing Deaths of Despair and attempted and successful suicides of those under, and just over retirement age– while the US has an average Senate age of 65, and a President and 2020 Presidential contenders, over 70 (I am not at all saying older persons shouldn't be elected, nor that younger persons shouldn't be elected, I'm pointing out the imbalance, insanity, and cruelty of it).

Further, age discrimination has been particularly brutal to single, divorced, and widowed females , whom have most assuredly made far, far less on the dollar than males (if they could even get hired for the position, or leave the kids alone, and housekeeping undone, to get a job):

Patrick Button, an assistant economics professor at Tulane University, was part of a research project last year that looked at callback rates from resumes in various entry-level jobs. He said women seeking the positions appeared to be most affected.

"Based on over 40,000 job applications, we find robust evidence of age discrimination in hiring against older women, especially those near retirement age, but considerably less evidence of age discrimination against men," according to an abstract of the study.

Jacquelyn James, co-director of the Center on Aging and Work at Boston College, said age discrimination in employment is a crucial issue in part because of societal changes that are forcing people to delay retirement. Moves away from defined-¬benefit pension plans to less assured forms of retirement savings are part of the reason.

Lambert Strether , January 28, 2019 at 2:15 am

> "Based on over 40,000 job applications, we find robust evidence of age discrimination in hiring against older women, especially those near retirement age, but considerably less evidence of age discrimination against men," according to an abstract of the study.

Well, these aren't real women, obviously. If they were, the Democrats would already be taking care of them.

jrs , January 28, 2019 at 1:58 pm

From the article: The greying of the workforce is "thanks to better health in older age and insufficient savings that require people to keeping working longer," according to the Chicago Tribune.

Get on the clue train Chicago Tribune, because your like W and Trump not knowing how a supermarket works, that's how dense you are. Even if one saved, and even if one won the luck lottery in terms of job stability and adequate income to save from, healthcare alone is a reason to work, either to get employer provided if lucky, or to work without it and put most of one's money toward an ACA plan or the like if not lucky. Yes the cost of almost all other necessities has also increased greatly, but even parts of the country without a high cost of living have unaffordable healthcare.

Enquiring Mind , January 27, 2019 at 11:07 pm

Benefits may be 23-30% or so of payroll and represent another expense management opportunity for the diligent executive. One piece of low-hanging fruit is the age-related healthcare cost. If you hire young people, who under-consume healthcare relative to older cohorts, you save money, ceteris paribus. They have lower premiums, lower loss experience and they rebound more quickly, so you hit a triple at your first at-bat swinging at that fruit. Yes, metaphors are fungible along with every line on the income statement.

If your company still has the vestiges of a pension or similar blandishment, you may even back-load contributions more aggressively, of course to the extent allowable. That added expense diligence will pay off when those annuated employees leave before hitting the more expensive funding years.

NB, the above reflects what I saw and heard at a Fortune 500 company.

rd , January 28, 2019 at 12:56 pm

Another good reason for a Canadian style single payer system. That turns a deciding factor into a non-factor.

Jack Hayes , January 28, 2019 at 8:15 am

A reason why the court system is overburdened is lack of clarity in laws and regulations. Fix the disparity between the two sections of the law so that courts don't have to decide which section rules.

rd , January 28, 2019 at 2:24 pm

Polarization has made tweaks and repairs of laws impossible.

Jeff N , January 28, 2019 at 10:17 am

Yep. Many police departments *legally* refuse to hire anyone over 35 years old (exceptions for prior police experience or certain military service)

Joe Well , January 28, 2019 at 12:36 pm

It amazes me how often the government will give itself exemptions to its own laws and principles, and also how often "progressive" nonprofits and political groups will also give themselves such exemptions, for instance, regarding health insurance, paid overtime, paid training, etc. that they are legally required to provide.

Ford Prefect , January 28, 2019 at 2:27 pm

There are specific physical demands in things like policing. So it doesn't make much sense to hire 55 year old rookie policemen when many policemen are retiring at that age.

Arthur Dent , January 28, 2019 at 2:59 pm

Its an interesting quandary. We have older staff that went back to school and changed careers. They do a good job and get paid at a rate similar to the younger staff with similar job-related experience. However, they will be retiring at about the same time as the much more experienced staff, so they will not be future succession replacements for the senior staff.

So we also have to hire people in their 20s and 30s because that will be the future when people like me retire in a few years. That could very well be the reason for the specific wording of the job opening (I haven't read the opinion). I know of current hiring for a position where the firm is primarily looking for somebody in their 20s or early 30s for precisely that reason. The staff currently doing the work are in their 40s and 50s and need to start bringing up the next generation. If somebody went back to school late and was in their 40s or 50s (so would be at a lower billing rate due to lack of job related experience), they would be seriously considered. But the firm would still be left with the challenge of having to hire another person at the younger age within a couple of years to build the succession. Once people make it past 5 years at the firm, they tend to stay for a long time with senior staff generally having been at the firm for 20 years or more, so hiring somebody really is a long-term investment.

[Jan 25, 2019] Davos Elites Love to Advocate for Equality - So Long As Nothing Gets Done -

Notable quotes:
"... The return to the industrial relations and tax policies of the early 19th century has been spearheaded by people who speak the language of equality, respect, participation, and transparency. ..."
"... Branko Milanovic is the author of Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization and of the forthcoming Capitalism, Alone, both published by Harvard University Press. He is senior scholar at the Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. An earlier version of this post has previously appeared in Milanovic's blog . ..."
Jan 25, 2019 | promarket.org

The return to the industrial relations and tax policies of the early 19th century has been spearheaded by people who speak the language of equality, respect, participation, and transparency.

You will find me eager to help you,

but slow to take any step.

-- Euripides, Hecuba

Thousands of people with a combined wealth of several hundred billion dollars, perhaps even close to a trillion, are gathering this week in Davos. Never in world history, quite possibly, has the amount of wealth per square foot been so high. This year, for the seventh or eighth consecutive time, one of the principal topics addressed by these captains of industry, billionaires, employers of thousands of people across the four corners of the globe, is inequality. Even the new "hot" topics of the day -- trade wars and populism -- are in turn related, or even caused by inequality of income, wealth, or political power.

Only in passing, and probably on the margins of the official program, will the global elites gathered in Davos get into a discussion of the tremendous monopoly and monopsony power their companies have. Neither will they publicly mention companies' ability to play one jurisdiction against another in order to avoid taxes, ban organized labor within their ranks, use government ambulance services to carry workers who have fainted from the heat (to save expenses on air conditioning), make their workforce complement its wages through private charity donations, or perhaps pay an average tax rate of between 0-12 percent.

Some participants, if they are from the emerging market economies, can also exchange experiences on how to delay payments of wages for several months while investing these funds at high interests rates, save on labor protection standards, or buy privatized companies for a song and then set up shell companies in the Caribbean or Channel Islands.

It is just that somehow, the "masters of the universe" who gather annually in Davos never managed to find enough money, or time, or perhaps willing lobbyists to help with the policies many will agree, during the official sessions, should be adopted. For example, increasing taxes on the top 1 percent and on large estates, providing decent wages or not impounding wages, reducing gaps between CEO compensation and average pay, spending more money on public education, making access to financial assets more attractive to the middle and working class, equalizing taxes on capital and labor, reducing corruption in government contracts and privatizations.

Actually, when policies that are supposed to make some headway in counteracting rising inequality are finally proposed, such as the one made by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) of 70 percent marginal tax on extra high-incomes (above $10 million annually), they are quick to argue that such policies will do more harm than good. One is left, to put it mildly, puzzled: If they are against a most obvious and rather modest proposal, what policies do they have in mind to fight inequality? In reality they have none, except for the vacuous talk of "social inclusion," "prosperity for all" and "trickle-down economics."

Not surprisingly, nothing has been done since the Global Financial Crisis to address inequality. Rather, the opposite has happened. Donald Trump has, as promised, passed a historic tax cut for the wealthy; Emmanuel Macron has discovered the attraction of latter-day Thatcherism; the Chinese government has slashed taxes on the rich and imprisoned the left-wing students at Peking University who supported striking workers. In Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro seems to consider praise for torture and the rising stock market as the ideal mélange of modern capitalism.

Bizarrely, this return to the industrial relations and tax policies of the early 19th century has been spearheaded by people who speak the language of equality, respect, participation, and transparency. The annual gathering in Davos, in that regard, is not just a display of the elites' financial superiority. It is also supposed to showcase their moral superiority. This is in line with a longstanding trend: Over the past fifty years, the language of equality has been harnessed in the pursuit of the most structurally inegalitarian policies. It is much easier (and profitable), apparently, to call journalists and tell them about nebulous schemes whereby 90 percent of wealth will be -- over an unknown number of years and under unknowable accounting practices -- given away as charity than to pay suppliers and workers reasonable rates or stop selling user data. They are loath to pay a living wage, but they will fund a philharmonic orchestra. They will ban unions, but they will organize a workshop on transparency in government.

And next year, as inequality continues to rise and the state of Western middle classes continues to deteriorate, the same elites will be back in Davos, talking about inequality and populism in grave tones. A new record in dollar wealth per square foot may be reached, but the topics of discussion within the conference halls, and on the margins, will remain the same.

Branko Milanovic is the author of Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization and of the forthcoming Capitalism, Alone, both published by Harvard University Press. He is senior scholar at the Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. An earlier version of this post has previously appeared in Milanovic's blog .

[Jan 20, 2019] Note on students debt peonage

Jan 20, 2019 | www.truthdig.com

RW: Well at this point I think it really depends on what indexes you're looking at. The biggest thing that's kept this economy going in the last few years should make everybody tremble. It's called debt, let me give you just a couple of examples. Ten years ago, at the height of the crash, the total debt carried by students in the United States was in the neighborhood of $700 billion, an enormous sum. What is it today? Over twice that, one-and-a-half trillion dollars. The reason part of our economy hasn't collapsed is that students have taken up an enormous amount of debt that they cannot afford, in order to get degrees which will let them get jobs whose incomes will not allow them to pay back the debts. And forget about getting married, forget about having a family.

We have paid an enormous price in hobbling the generation of people who would have otherwise lifted this economy and made us more productive. It is a disastrous mistake historically, and if you face that, and if you add to it the increased debt of our businesses, and the increased debt of our government, you see an economy that is held up by a monstrous increase in debt, not in underlying productivity, not in more jobs that really produce anything, but in debt.

That should frighten us because it was the debt bubble that burst in 2008 and brought us the crash. It is as if we cannot learn in our system to do other than we've always done and that's taking us into another crash coming now.

LC: Yeah. This is the land of the free, but it seems like most of us are chained down by debt peonage.

[Jan 20, 2019] Degeneration of the US neoliberal elite can be partially attributed to the conversion of neoliberal universities into indoctrination mechanism, rather then institutions for fostering critical thinking

Notable quotes:
"... An excellent piece. I would add only that the so-called elites mentioned by Mr Bacevich are largely the products of the uppermost stratum of colleges and universities, at least in the USA, and that for a generation or more now, those institutions have indoctrinated rather than educated. ..."
"... As their more recent alumni move into government, media and cultural production, the primitiveness of their views and their inability to think -- to say nothing of their fundamental ignorance about our civilization other than that it is bad and evil -- begin to have real effect. ..."
Jan 20, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Paul Reidinger, January 17, 2019 at 2:03 pm

An excellent piece. I would add only that the so-called elites mentioned by Mr Bacevich are largely the products of the uppermost stratum of colleges and universities, at least in the USA, and that for a generation or more now, those institutions have indoctrinated rather than educated.

As their more recent alumni move into government, media and cultural production, the primitiveness of their views and their inability to think -- to say nothing of their fundamental ignorance about our civilization other than that it is bad and evil -- begin to have real effect. The new dark age is no longer imminent. It is here, and it is them. I see no way to rectify the damage. When minds are ruined young, they remain ruined.

[Jan 17, 2019] Elizabeth Warren is demanding that Wells Fargo be kicked off college campuses, a market the bank has said is among its fastest-growing

Notable quotes:
"... The inquiry follows a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau report said that Wells Fargo charged students the highest fees of 573 banks examined. ..."
"... "When granted the privilege of providing financial services to students through colleges, Wells Fargo used this access to charge struggling college students exorbitant fees," Warren said in a statement. "These high fees, which are an outlier within the industry, demonstrate conclusively that Wells Fargo does not belong on college campuses." ..."
Jan 17, 2019 | www.bloomberg.com

Elizabeth Warren is demanding that Wells Fargo & Co. be kicked off college campuses, a market the bank has said is among its fastest-growing.

The Democratic senator from Massachusetts and likely presidential candidate said Thursday that she requested more information from Wells Fargo Chief Executive Officer Tim Sloan and from 31 colleges where the bank does business. The inquiry follows a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau report said that Wells Fargo charged students the highest fees of 573 banks examined.

"When granted the privilege of providing financial services to students through colleges, Wells Fargo used this access to charge struggling college students exorbitant fees," Warren said in a statement. "These high fees, which are an outlier within the industry, demonstrate conclusively that Wells Fargo does not belong on college campuses."

Warren has been a vocal critic of Wells Fargo -- including repeatedly calling for Sloan's ouster -- since a series of consumer issues at the company erupted more than two years ago with a phony-accounts scandal.

Wells Fargo is "continually working to improve how we serve our customers," a bank spokesman said in an emailed statement Thursday. "Before and since the CFPB's review on this topic, we have been pursuing customer-friendly actions that support students," including waiving service fees on some checking accounts offered to them.

A reputation for overcharging students could further harm Wells Fargo's consumer-banking strategy. The San Francisco-based bank has identified college-age consumers as a growth opportunity, and John Rasmussen, head of personal lending, said last year that Wells Fargo may expand into the refinancing of federal student loans.

[Jan 17, 2019] The financial struggles of unplanned retirement

People who are kicked out of their IT jobs around 55 now has difficulties to find even full-time McJobs... Only part time jobs are available. With the current round of layoff and job freezes, neoliberalism in the USA is entering terminal phase, I think.
Jan 17, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

A survey by Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found on average Americans are retiring at age 63, with more than half indicating they retired sooner than they had planned. Among them, most retired for health or employment-related reasons.

... ... ...

On April 3, 2018, Linda LaBarbera received the phone call that changed her life forever. "We are outsourcing your work to India and your services are no longer needed, effective today," the voice on the other end of the phone line said.

... ... ...

"It's not like we are starving or don't have a home or anything like that," she says. "But we did have other plans for before we retired and setting ourselves up a little better while we both still had jobs."

... ... ...

Linda hasn't needed to dip into her 401(k) yet. She plans to start collecting Social Security when she turns 70, which will give her the maximum benefit. To earn money and keep busy, Linda has taken short-term contract editing jobs. She says she will only withdraw money from her savings if something catastrophic happens. Her husband's salary is their main source of income.

"I am used to going out and spending money on other people," she says. "We are very generous with our family and friends who are not as well off as we are. So we take care of a lot of people. We can't do that anymore. I can't go out and be frivolous anymore. I do have to look at what we spend - what I spend."

Vogelbacher says cutting costs is essential when living in retirement, especially for those on a fixed income. He suggests moving to a tax-friendly location if possible. Kiplinger ranks Alaska, Wyoming, South Dakota, Mississippi, and Florida as the top five tax-friendly states for retirees. If their health allows, Vogelbacher recommends getting a part-time job. For those who own a home, he says paying off the mortgage is a smart financial move.

... ... ...

Monica is one of the 44 percent of unmarried persons who rely on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income. At the beginning of 2019, Monica and more than 62 million Americans received a 2.8 percent cost of living adjustment from Social Security. The increase is the largest since 2012.

With the Social Security hike, Monica's monthly check climbed $33. Unfortunately, the new year also brought her a slight increase in what she pays for Medicare; along with a $500 property tax bill and the usual laundry list of monthly expenses.

"If you don't have much, the (Social Security) raise doesn't represent anything," she says with a dry laugh. "But it's good to get it."

[Jan 14, 2019] Beware of billionaires and bankers bearing gifts: In education, philanthropy means Billionaires buying the policies they want

that's how neoliberalism was installed in the USA
Notable quotes:
"... quelle surprise ..."
Jan 14, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Paradox of Privilege

"Winners Take All" is one of several recently published books raising difficult questions about how the world's biggest donors approach their giving. As someone who studies, teaches and believes in philanthropy, I believe these writers have started an important debate that could potentially lead future donors to make make a bigger difference with their giving.

Giridharadas to a degree echoes Ford Foundation President Darren Walker , who has made a stir by denouncing a " paradox of privilege " that "shields (wealthy people) from fully experiencing or acknowledging inequality, even while giving us more power to do something about it."

Like Walker , Giridharadas finds it hard to shake the words of Martin Luther King Jr., who spoke of "the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary."

To avoid changes that might endanger their privileges, mega-donors typically seek what they call win-win solutions. But however impressive the quantifiable results of those efforts may seem, according to this argument, those outcomes will always fall short. Fixes that don't threaten the powers that be leave underlying issues intact.

Avoiding Win-Lose Solutions

In Giridharadas's view, efforts by big funders , such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation , to strengthen public K-12 education systems by funding charter schools look past the primary reason why not all students learn at the same pace: inequality .

As long as school systems are funded locally, based on property values, students in wealthy communities will have advantages over those residing in poorer ones. However, creating a more equal system to pay for schools would take tax dollars and advantages away from the rich. The wealthy would lose, and the disadvantaged would win.

So it's possible to see the nearly $500 million billionaires and other rich people have pumped into charter schools and other education reform efforts over the past dozen years as a way to dodge this problem.

Charters have surely made a difference for some kids, such as those in rural Oregon whose schools might otherwise have closed. But since the bid to expand charters doesn't address childhood poverty or challenge the status quo – aside from diluting the power of teacher unions and raising the stakes in school board elections – this approach seems unlikely to help all schoolchildren.

Indeed, years into the quest to fix this problem without overhauling school Paying for Tuition

Bloomberg's big donation raises a similar question.

He aims to make a Johns Hopkins education more accessible for promising low-income students. When so many Hopkins alumni have enjoyed success in a wide range of careers, what can be wrong with that?

Well, paying tuition challenges millions of Americans, not just the thousands who might attend Hopkins . Tuition, fees, room and board at the top-ranked school cost about $65,000 a year.

Only 5 percent of colleges and universities were affordable , according to the Institute for Higher Education Policy, a nonpartisan global research and policy center, for students from families earning $69,000 a year or less.

Like Giridharadas, the institute argues paying for college is "largely a problem of inequity."

Bloomberg's gift will certainly help some people earn a Hopkins degree. But it does nothing about the bigger challenge of making college more affordable for all in a country where student debt has surpassed $1.5 trillion .

One alternative would be to finance advocacy for legislative remedies to address affordability and inequity. For affluent donors, Giridharadas argues, this could prove to be a nonstarter. Like most of what he calls " win-lose solutions ," taking that route would lead to higher taxes for the wealthy.

Subsidies for Gifts from the Rich

Similarly, who could quibble with Bezos spending $2 billion to fund preschools and homeless shelters? Although he has not yet made clear what results he's after, I have no doubt they will make a difference for countless Americans.

No matter how he goes about it, the gesture still raises questions. As Stanford University philanthropy scholar Rob Reich explains in his new book " Just Giving ," the tax break rich Americans get when they make charitable contributions subsidizes their favorite causes.

Or, to phrase it another way, the federal government gives initiatives supported by Bezos and other wealthy donors like him preferential treatment. Does that make sense in a democracy? Reich says that it doesn't.

me title=

The elected representatives in democracies should decide how best to solve problems with tax dollars, not billionaires who are taken with one cause or another, the Stanford professor asserts.

That's why I think it's so important to ask the critical questions that Giridharadas and Reich are raising, and why the students taking my philanthropy classes this semester will be reading "Winners Take All" and "Just Giving."

Editor's note: Johns Hopkins University Press provides funding as a member of The Conversation US, which also has a grant from the Walton Family Foundation. The Gates Foundation is a funder of The Conversation Media Group.


tongorad , January 11, 2019 at 10:35 am

In education, philanthropy means Billionaires buying the policies they want. Re Bill Gates, Eli Broad, DeVos, etc,

Adam Eran , January 11, 2019 at 12:47 pm

None of the common tactics of the "reformers" have scientific backing. So (union-busting) charter schools, merit pay (because teachers are motivated by money), and testing kids until their eyeballs bleed are all bogus, and do not have an impact on educational outcomes.

The plutocrats have even funded a propaganda film called "Waiting for Superman" in which Michelle Rhee applies "tough love" to reform failing Washington D.C. schools, firing lots of teachers because their students' test scores didn't make the cut, etc.

Waiting for Superman touts the Finnish schools as the ones to emulate and they are very good ones, too. Omitted from their account is the fact that Finnish teachers are tenured, unionized, respected and quite well paid.

So what does correlate with educational outcomes? Childhood poverty. In Finland, only 2% of their children are poor. In the U.S. it's 23%.

The problem is systemic, not the teachers, or the types of schools.

L , January 11, 2019 at 10:52 am

In some sense this is nothing new. Back when Pittsburgh was a network of steel mills and mine tailings Carnegie funded meuseums, libraries, arboretums, and strike-breakers who shot workers that complained. He was public about the need to "give back" and made a point of demanding that the places were open on Sundays because he forced his workers to do 12 hour days six days a week.

No doubt he may have felt he was helping, and no doubt the institutions have been and still are a positive benefit, but they also did nothing to attack the root cause of the suffering nor did they make any fundamental change in society. That would upset his apple cart. By the same token the fact that private donors needed to fund public institutions was based upon the simple fact that they had all the money.

It is also notable that some of the more recent endeavors such as Gates' tech-driven charter schools, or Facebook's donation to the same, or for that matter Apple's donation of iPads to LAUSD have a direct commercial component. The intial gift may be free but in the end it is market-making as much of the cash routes back to the company. They may genuinely believe in the solution but the financial connection is also clear.

More interesting though Pierre Omidyar who combined his business and "philanthropy" more directly by putting money into a foundation that then invests in startups he runs which "do social good" or which sell technology to those that do so.

Ultimately Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos may have more to play with than Carnegie ever dreamed of but at the end of the day much of what they are doing is the same, starving necessary institutions of funds, smoothing out the rough edges of their PR (especially when, like Bezos, they are in the crosshairs), and then peddling "solutions" that look good but only reinforce the conditions that make them rich.

JerryDenim , January 11, 2019 at 12:42 pm

" have a direct commercial component. The intial gift may be free but in the end it is market-making as much of the cash routes back to the company."

How true, but you might not even be cynical enough. Back in 2012 (I believe) there was reportage about large banks quitely lobbying Bloomberg to make big cuts to the New York City's funding of local charities and non-profits. Several million dollars were cut as a result of the austerity lobbying by the banks. The same week the food pantry where I volunteered, which lost $40,000 of City funding if memory serves me correctly, received a "generous" gift of a folding table from Citibank. My wife who at the time worked at a large non-profit dedicated to community issues in the South Bronx, had to attend a presentation by a Citibank employee with a name like "How the Nonprofit Community Has Failed the Community". Her attendance was a courtesy demanded in exchange for a several thousand dollar donation from Citibank to her nonprofit. Her non-profit lost much more in funding from the City due to the banks' lobbying efforts, and surprise surprise, what was the main thrust of the Citibank presentation? How micro-finance lending can help historically marginalized communities of course! My wife's organization was engaged in several programs aimed at encouraging and aiding entrepreneurship and financial literacy. Citibank saw local non-profits that were helping the community keep their collective heads above the water as competition. Their programatic work was harmful to the bank's business model of luring people into odious debt by promulgating an environment of despair and desperation.

Beware of billionaires and bankers bearing gifts. Their vast fortunes should be trimmed down to size with taxation/force and distributed democratically according to the needs of the community, not the whims of the market or the misguided opinions of non-expert, know-it-all billionaires who have never lived nor worked in the communities they claim to care about.

Montanamaven , January 11, 2019 at 1:31 pm

Charity makes people supplicants which is a form of servitude. "Thank you kindly, sir, for you gracious gift." That is not a "free" society. We should have a society where no one needs some good folks' trickle downs. A basic guaranteed income might work better than the system we have now especially with an affordable heath care system. It would eliminate food banks and homeless shelters and jobs involving making lists and forms and graphs for the Medical Insurance Business. And it would eliminate a lot of other stupid and bullsh*t jobs. Yes, I've been rereading David Graeber's "Bullsh*t Jobs."

chuck roast , January 11, 2019 at 4:36 pm

Several years ago I collected signatures for Move to Amend, an organizations which advocates for an anti-corporate personhood amendment to the US Constitution. I learned two things:
1. ordinary citizens 'get it' about corporations running the show, and they are enthusiastic about bringing them to heel, and
2. ordinary citizens who work in 501(c)3 non-profits are far less enthusiastic about the possible withering away of their cozy corporate dole.
So, while the giant vampire squids of the world drift lazily along on a fine current of their own making, keep in mind that there are huge schools of pilot fish that depend on their leavings for survival. All of these small fish will surely resist any effort to tenderize this calamari.

drHampartzunk , January 11, 2019 at 4:43 pm

No one said it better than William Jewett Tucker, a contemporary critic of Carnegie:

"I can conceive of no greater mistake, more disastrous in the end to religion if not to society, than of trying to make charity do the work of justice."

David in Santa Cruz , January 11, 2019 at 8:28 pm

This was a terrific post on a very important issue.

Even in my insignificant little burg we have experienced this problem first-hand. A local Charter School was doing a very good job of "keeping out the brown people" and publishing a "walk of shame" of all who made "voluntary" contributions to their coffers, thus "outing" those who didn't (the California constitution forbids schools that spend public money from requiring fees). They even went so far as to hire a Head of School from one of the last Mississippi Segregation Acadamies, just in case their "mission" wasn't clear. Admission was by lottery ("because lotteries are fair!"), unless you happened to be on their massively bloated and self-appointed Board (including influential local officials, quelle surprise !). Those with learning differences or languages other than English were "strongly discouraged" from even applying.

The Charter covered their operating budget with all those "voluntary" contributions, and had sequestered all the cash squeezed out of the local public schools, in order to buy an office building (because kids just love preparing for the world of work by going to school in office buildings!). A local billionaire whose name rhymes with "Netflix" bailed them out with a $10M donation for the building when it appeared that some in authority might look askance at who would be the beneficiaries of this insider real estate deal using skimmed-off public monies.

Scratch a Charter School and 9 times out of 10 there's a real estate deal underlying it ("Because, the children !"). Billionaires should have no more influence than any other individual voter in making public policy.

orange cats , January 13, 2019 at 9:45 am

Grrrrr, Charter Schools are making me angry. The real estate deal(s), you mention are absolutely true. Here's another sweet scheme in Arizonia: "The Arizona Republic has reported that Rep. Eddie Farnsworth stands to make about $30 million from selling three charter schools he built with taxpayer money.
The toothless Arizona State Board for Charter Schools approved the transfer of his for-profit charter school to a new, non-profit company. He might collect up to $30 million -- and maybe even continue running the operation in addition to retaining a $3.8 million share in the new for-profit company.

The Benjamin Franklin charter schools operate in wealthy neighborhoods. The 3,000 students have good scores and the schools have a B rating. But that's not surprising, since most of the parents have high incomes and college educations. If the schools are like most charters in the state, they're more racially segregated than the campuses in the surrounding school districts. The state pays the charter schools $2,000 per student more than it pays traditional school districts like Payson -- which is supposedly to make up for the charter's inability to issue bonds and such.

However, converting the charters to a non-profit company will enable the schools to avoid property taxes and qualify for federal education funds. Taxpayers will essentially end up paying for the same schools twice, since taxpayers have footed the bills for the lease payments to the tune of about $5 million annually. Now, the new owners will use taxpayer money to finance the purchase of buildings already paid for by taxpayers."

drHampartzunk , January 11, 2019 at 9:08 pm

Stevenson school in Mountain View CA, a public school with PACT (parents and children together), has a lottery. Its students are 70% white. Across the street, Theuerkauf, which does not have PACT, is 30% white and no lottery. And a huge difference in the two schools test scores. Smells illegal.

Also, Google took the former building of the former PACT program hosting school, which resulted in this grotesque distortion of the supposed public service the school district provides.

Michael Fiorillo , January 12, 2019 at 9:09 am

As a former NYC public school teacher who fought against the billionaire-funded hostile takeover of public education for two decades, I'm gratified to see the beginnings of a harsher critique of so-called philanthropy, in education and everywhere else.

But the next hurdle is to overcome the tic of always qualifying critique and pushback with talk of the "good intentions" of these Overclass gorgons. Their intention are not "good" in the way most human beings construe that word, and are the same as they've always been: accumulation and establishing the political wherewithal to maintain/facilitiate the same. This hustle does the added trick of getting the public to subsidize it's own impoverishment and loss of political power (as in Overclass ed reformers funding efforts to eliminate local school boards).

When there is near-total congruence between your financial/political interests and the policies driven by your "philanthropy," the credibility of your "good intentions" transacts at an extremely high discount, no matter how much you try to dress it up with vacuous and insipid social justice cliches. For a case in point, just spend five minutes researching the behavior and rhetoric of Teach For America.

Malanthropy (n): the systemic use of non-profit, tax-exempt entities to facilitate the economic and political interests of their wealthy endowers, to the detriment of society at large. See also, Villainthropy.

Mattski , January 12, 2019 at 11:07 am

The critical thing, I have found, is to see "philanthropy" and charitable endeavor as a cornerstone of capitalism, without which the system would–without any doubt–fail. Engels and others documented, contemporary scholars have continued to document, the way that the wives of the first factory owners established almshouses and lying in hospitals where the deserving poor were separated from the undeserving, dunned with religion and political cant, and channelled into various forms of work, including reproductive labor. A very big piece of the neoliberal puzzle involves the rise of the NGO during the Clinton/Blair period, and its integration with works of the like of the IMF and USAID, the increasing sophistication of this enterprise which has at times also included union-busting (see Grenada in the aftermath of the US invasion) and worse. As a State Department function, the Peace Corps integrates the best of charity, grassroots capitalism, and good old Protestant cant.

Spring Texan , January 12, 2019 at 5:54 pm

I've read the Winners Take All book and it's terrific! Even if you understand the general outlines, the author will make you see things differently because of his intimate knowledge of how this ecosystem works. Highly recommended! Also recommend his twitter account, @AnandWrites ‏

He's really good on "pinkerizing" too, and "Thought Leaders" and how they comfort the comfortable.

[Jan 12, 2019] Tucker Carlson Mitt Romney supports the status quo. But for everyone else, it's infuriating Fox News

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Adapted from Tucker Carlson's monologue from "Tucker Carlson Tonight" on January 2, 2019. ..."
Jan 02, 2019 | www.foxnews.com
Tucker: America's goal is happiness, but leaders show no obligation to voters

Voters around the world revolt against leaders who won't improve their lives.

Newly-elected Utah senator Mitt Romney kicked off 2019 with an op-ed in the Washington Post that savaged Donald Trump's character and leadership. Romney's attack and Trump's response Wednesday morning on Twitter are the latest salvos in a longstanding personal feud between the two men. It's even possible that Romney is planning to challenge Trump for the Republican nomination in 2020. We'll see.

But for now, Romney's piece is fascinating on its own terms. It's well-worth reading. It's a window into how the people in charge, in both parties, see our country.

Romney's main complaint in the piece is that Donald Trump is a mercurial and divisive leader. That's true, of course. But beneath the personal slights, Romney has a policy critique of Trump. He seems genuinely angry that Trump might pull American troops out of the Syrian civil war. Romney doesn't explain how staying in Syria would benefit America. He doesn't appear to consider that a relevant question. More policing in the Middle East is always better. We know that. Virtually everyone in Washington agrees.

Corporate tax cuts are also popular in Washington, and Romney is strongly on board with those, too. His piece throws a rare compliment to Trump for cutting the corporate rate a year ago.

That's not surprising. Romney spent the bulk of his business career at a firm called Bain Capital. Bain Capital all but invented what is now a familiar business strategy: Take over an existing company for a short period of time, cut costs by firing employees, run up the debt, extract the wealth, and move on, sometimes leaving retirees without their earned pensions. Romney became fantastically rich doing this.

Meanwhile, a remarkable number of the companies are now bankrupt or extinct. This is the private equity model. Our ruling class sees nothing wrong with it. It's how they run the country.

Mitt Romney refers to unwavering support for a finance-based economy and an internationalist foreign policy as the "mainstream Republican" view. And he's right about that. For generations, Republicans have considered it their duty to make the world safe for banking, while simultaneously prosecuting ever more foreign wars. Modern Democrats generally support those goals enthusiastically.

There are signs, however, that most people do not support this, and not just in America. In countries around the world -- France, Brazil, Sweden, the Philippines, Germany, and many others -- voters are suddenly backing candidates and ideas that would have been unimaginable just a decade ago. These are not isolated events. What you're watching is entire populations revolting against leaders who refuse to improve their lives.

Something like this has been in happening in our country for three years. Donald Trump rode a surge of popular discontent all the way to the White House. Does he understand the political revolution that he harnessed? Can he reverse the economic and cultural trends that are destroying America? Those are open questions.

But they're less relevant than we think. At some point, Donald Trump will be gone. The rest of us will be gone, too. The country will remain. What kind of country will be it be then? How do we want our grandchildren to live? These are the only questions that matter.

The answer used to be obvious. The overriding goal for America is more prosperity, meaning cheaper consumer goods. But is that still true? Does anyone still believe that cheaper iPhones, or more Amazon deliveries of plastic garbage from China are going to make us happy? They haven't so far. A lot of Americans are drowning in stuff. And yet drug addiction and suicide are depopulating large parts of the country. Anyone who thinks the health of a nation can be summed up in GDP is an idiot.

The goal for America is both simpler and more elusive than mere prosperity. It's happiness. There are a lot of ingredients in being happy: Dignity. Purpose. Self-control. Independence. Above all, deep relationships with other people. Those are the things that you want for your children. They're what our leaders should want for us, and would want if they cared.

But our leaders don't care. We are ruled by mercenaries who feel no long-term obligation to the people they rule. They're day traders. Substitute teachers. They're just passing through. They have no skin in this game, and it shows. They can't solve our problems. They don't even bother to understand our problems.

One of the biggest lies our leaders tell us that you can separate economics from everything else that matters. Economics is a topic for public debate. Family and faith and culture, meanwhile, those are personal matters. Both parties believe this.

Members of our educated upper-middle-classes are now the backbone of the Democratic Party who usually describe themselves as fiscally responsible and socially moderate. In other words, functionally libertarian. They don't care how you live, as long as the bills are paid and the markets function. Somehow, they don't see a connection between people's personal lives and the health of our economy, or for that matter, the country's ability to pay its bills. As far as they're concerned, these are two totally separate categories.

Social conservatives, meanwhile, come to the debate from the opposite perspective, and yet reach a strikingly similar conclusion. The real problem, you'll hear them say, is that the American family is collapsing. Nothing can be fixed before we fix that. Yet, like the libertarians they claim to oppose, many social conservatives also consider markets sacrosanct. The idea that families are being crushed by market forces seems never to occur to them. They refuse to consider it. Questioning markets feels like apostasy.

Both sides miss the obvious point: Culture and economics are inseparably intertwined. Certain economic systems allow families to thrive. Thriving families make market economies possible. You can't separate the two. It used to be possible to deny this. Not anymore. The evidence is now overwhelming. How do we know? Consider the inner cities.

Thirty years ago, conservatives looked at Detroit or Newark and many other places and were horrified by what they saw. Conventional families had all but disappeared in poor neighborhoods. The majority of children were born out of wedlock. Single mothers were the rule. Crime and drugs and disorder became universal.

What caused this nightmare? Liberals didn't even want to acknowledge the question. They were benefiting from the disaster, in the form of reliable votes. Conservatives, though, had a ready explanation for inner-city dysfunction and it made sense: big government. Decades of badly-designed social programs had driven fathers from the home and created what conservatives called a "culture of poverty" that trapped people in generational decline.

There was truth in this. But it wasn't the whole story. How do we know? Because virtually the same thing has happened decades later to an entirely different population. In many ways, rural America now looks a lot like Detroit.

This is striking because rural Americans wouldn't seem to have much in common with anyone from the inner city. These groups have different cultures, different traditions and political beliefs. Usually they have different skin colors. Rural people are white conservatives, mostly.

Yet, the pathologies of modern rural America are familiar to anyone who visited downtown Baltimore in the 1980s: Stunning out of wedlock birthrates. High male unemployment. A terrifying drug epidemic. Two different worlds. Similar outcomes. How did this happen? You'd think our ruling class would be interested in knowing the answer. But mostly they're not. They don't have to be interested. It's easier to import foreign labor to take the place of native-born Americans who are slipping behind.

But Republicans now represent rural voters. They ought to be interested. Here's a big part of the answer: male wages declined. Manufacturing, a male-dominated industry, all but disappeared over the course of a generation. All that remained in many places were the schools and the hospitals, both traditional employers of women. In many places, women suddenly made more than men.

Now, before you applaud this as a victory for feminism, consider the effects. Study after study has shown that when men make less than women, women generally don't want to marry them. Maybe they should want to marry them, but they don't. Over big populations, this causes a drop in marriage, a spike in out-of-wedlock births, and all the familiar disasters that inevitably follow -- more drug and alcohol abuse, higher incarceration rates, fewer families formed in the next generation.

This isn't speculation. This is not propaganda from the evangelicals. It's social science. We know it's true. Rich people know it best of all. That's why they get married before they have kids. That model works. But increasingly, marriage is a luxury only the affluent in America can afford.

And yet, and here's the bewildering and infuriating part, those very same affluent married people, the ones making virtually all the decisions in our society, are doing pretty much nothing to help the people below them get and stay married. Rich people are happy to fight malaria in Congo. But working to raise men's wages in Dayton or Detroit? That's crazy.

This is negligence on a massive scale. Both parties ignore the crisis in marriage. Our mindless cultural leaders act like it's still 1961, and the biggest problem American families face is that sexism is preventing millions of housewives from becoming investment bankers or Facebook executives.

For our ruling class, more investment banking is always the answer. They teach us it's more virtuous to devote your life to some soulless corporation than it is to raise your own kids.

Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook wrote an entire book about this. Sandberg explained that our first duty is to shareholders, above our own children. No surprise there. Sandberg herself is one of America's biggest shareholders. Propaganda like this has made her rich.

We are ruled by mercenaries who feel no long-term obligation to the people they rule. They're day traders. Substitute teachers. They're just passing through. They have no skin in this game, and it shows.

What's remarkable is how the rest of us responded to it. We didn't question why Sandberg was saying this. We didn't laugh in her face at the pure absurdity of it. Our corporate media celebrated Sandberg as the leader of a liberation movement. Her book became a bestseller: "Lean In." As if putting a corporation first is empowerment. It is not. It is bondage. Republicans should say so.

They should also speak out against the ugliest parts of our financial system. Not all commerce is good. Why is it defensible to loan people money they can't possibly repay? Or charge them interest that impoverishes them? Payday loan outlets in poor neighborhoods collect 400 percent annual interest.

We're OK with that? We shouldn't be. Libertarians tell us that's how markets work -- consenting adults making voluntary decisions about how to live their lives. OK. But it's also disgusting. If you care about America, you ought to oppose the exploitation of Americans, whether it's happening in the inner city or on Wall Street.

And by the way, if you really loved your fellow Americans, as our leaders should, if it would break your heart to see them high all the time. Which they are. A huge number of our kids, especially our boys, are smoking weed constantly. You may not realize that, because new technology has made it odorless. But it's everywhere.

And that's not an accident. Once our leaders understood they could get rich from marijuana, marijuana became ubiquitous. In many places, tax-hungry politicians have legalized or decriminalized it. Former Speaker of the House John Boehner now lobbies for the marijuana industry. His fellow Republicans seem fine with that. "Oh, but it's better for you than alcohol," they tell us.

Maybe. Who cares? Talk about missing the point. Try having dinner with a 19-year-old who's been smoking weed. The life is gone. Passive, flat, trapped in their own heads. Do you want that for your kids? Of course not. Then why are our leaders pushing it on us? You know the reason. Because they don't care about us.

When you care about people, you do your best to treat them fairly. Our leaders don't even try. They hand out jobs and contracts and scholarships and slots at prestigious universities based purely on how we look. There's nothing less fair than that, though our tax code comes close.

Under our current system, an American who works for a salary pays about twice the tax rate as someone who's living off inherited money and doesn't work at all. We tax capital at half of what we tax labor. It's a sweet deal if you work in finance, as many of our rich people do.

In 2010, for example, Mitt Romney made about $22 million dollars in investment income. He paid an effective federal tax rate of 14 percent. For normal upper-middle-class wage earners, the federal tax rate is nearly 40 percent. No wonder Mitt Romney supports the status quo. But for everyone else, it's infuriating.

Our leaders rarely mention any of this. They tell us our multi-tiered tax code is based on the principles of the free market. Please. It's based on laws that the Congress passed, laws that companies lobbied for in order to increase their economic advantage. It worked well for those people. They did increase their economic advantage. But for everyone else, it came at a big cost. Unfairness is profoundly divisive. When you favor one child over another, your kids don't hate you. They hate each other.

That happens in countries, too. It's happening in ours, probably by design. Divided countries are easier to rule. And nothing divides us like the perception that some people are getting special treatment. In our country, some people definitely are getting special treatment. Republicans should oppose that with everything they have.

What kind of country do you want to live in? A fair country. A decent country. A cohesive country. A country whose leaders don't accelerate the forces of change purely for their own profit and amusement. A country you might recognize when you're old.

A country that listens to young people who don't live in Brooklyn. A country where you can make a solid living outside of the big cities. A country where Lewiston, Maine seems almost as important as the west side of Los Angeles. A country where environmentalism means getting outside and picking up the trash. A clean, orderly, stable country that respects itself. And above all, a country where normal people with an average education who grew up in no place special can get married, and have happy kids, and repeat unto the generations. A country that actually cares about families, the building block of everything.

Video

What will it take a get a country like that? Leaders who want it. For now, those leaders will have to be Republicans. There's no option at this point.

But first, Republican leaders will have to acknowledge that market capitalism is not a religion. Market capitalism is a tool, like a staple gun or a toaster. You'd have to be a fool to worship it. Our system was created by human beings for the benefit of human beings. We do not exist to serve markets. Just the opposite. Any economic system that weakens and destroys families is not worth having. A system like that is the enemy of a healthy society.

Internalizing all this will not be easy for Republican leaders. They'll have to unlearn decades of bumper sticker-talking points and corporate propaganda. They'll likely lose donors in the process. They'll be criticized. Libertarians are sure to call any deviation from market fundamentalism a form of socialism.

That's a lie. Socialism is a disaster. It doesn't work. It's what we should be working desperately to avoid. But socialism is exactly what we're going to get, and very soon unless a group of responsible people in our political system reforms the American economy in a way that protects normal people.

If you want to put America first, you've got to put its families first.

Adapted from Tucker Carlson's monologue from "Tucker Carlson Tonight" on January 2, 2019.

[Jan 12, 2019] Tucker Carlson has sparked the most interesting debate in conservative politics by Jane Coaston

Highly recommended!
Tucker Carlson sounds much more convincing then Trump: See Tucker Leaders show no obligation to American voters and Tucker The American dream is dying
Notable quotes:
"... America's "ruling class," Carlson says, are the "mercenaries" behind the failures of the middle class -- including sinking marriage rates -- and "the ugliest parts of our financial system." He went on: "Any economic system that weakens and destroys families is not worth having. A system like that is the enemy of a healthy society." ..."
"... He concluded with a demand for "a fair country. A decent country. A cohesive country. A country whose leaders don't accelerate the forces of change purely for their own profit and amusement." ..."
"... The monologue and its sweeping anti-elitism drove a wedge between conservative writers. The American Conservative's Rod Dreher wrote of Carlson's monologue, "A man or woman who can talk like that with conviction could become president. Voting for a conservative candidate like that would be the first affirmative vote I've ever cast for president. ..."
"... The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents Are Growing Broke ..."
"... Carlson wanted to be clear: He's just asking questions. "I'm not an economic adviser or a politician. I'm not a think tank fellow. I'm just a talk show host," he said, telling me that all he wants is to ask "the basic questions you would ask about any policy." But he wants to ask those questions about what he calls the "religious faith" of market capitalism, one he believes elites -- "mercenaries who feel no long-term obligation to the people they rule" -- have put ahead of "normal people." ..."
"... "What does [free market capitalism] get us?" he said in our call. "What kind of country do you want to live in? If you put these policies into effect, what will you have in 10 years?" ..."
"... Carlson is hardly the first right-leaning figure to make a pitch for populism, even tangentially, in the third year of Donald Trump, whose populist-lite presidential candidacy and presidency Carlson told me he views as "the smoke alarm ... telling you the building is on fire, and unless you figure out how to put the flames out, it will consume it." ..."
"... Trump borrowed some of that approach for his 2016 campaign but in office has governed as a fairly orthodox economic conservative, thus demonstrating the demand for populism on the right without really providing the supply and creating conditions for further ferment. ..."
"... Ocasio-Cortez wants a 70-80% income tax on the rich. I agree! Start with the Koch Bros. -- and also make it WEALTH tax. ..."
"... "I'm just saying as a matter of fact," he told me, "a country where a shrinking percentage of the population is taking home an ever-expanding proportion of the money is not a recipe for a stable society. It's not." ..."
"... Carlson told me he wanted to be clear: He is not a populist. But he believes some version of populism is necessary to prevent a full-scale political revolt or the onset of socialism. Using Theodore Roosevelt as an example of a president who recognized that labor needs economic power, he told me, "Unless you want something really extreme to happen, you need to take this seriously and figure out how to protect average people from these remarkably powerful forces that have been unleashed." ..."
"... But Carlson's brand of populism, and the populist sentiments sweeping the American right, aren't just focused on the current state of income inequality in America. Carlson tackled a bigger idea: that market capitalism and the "elites" whom he argues are its major drivers aren't working. The free market isn't working for families, or individuals, or kids. In his monologue, Carlson railed against libertarian economics and even payday loans, saying, "If you care about America, you ought to oppose the exploitation of Americans, whether it's happening in the inner city or on Wall Street" -- sounding very much like Sanders or Warren on the left. ..."
"... Capitalism/liberalism destroys the extended family by requiring people to move apart for work and destroying any sense of unchosen obligations one might have towards one's kin. ..."
"... Hillbilly Elegy ..."
"... Carlson told me that beyond changing our tax code, he has no major policies in mind. "I'm not even making the case for an economic system in particular," he told me. "All I'm saying is don't act like the way things are is somehow ordained by God or a function or raw nature." ..."
Jan 10, 2019 | www.vox.com

"All I'm saying is don't act like the way things are is somehow ordained by God."

Last Wednesday, the conservative talk show host Tucker Carlson started a fire on the right after airing a prolonged monologue on his show that was, in essence, an indictment of American capitalism.

America's "ruling class," Carlson says, are the "mercenaries" behind the failures of the middle class -- including sinking marriage rates -- and "the ugliest parts of our financial system." He went on: "Any economic system that weakens and destroys families is not worth having. A system like that is the enemy of a healthy society."

He concluded with a demand for "a fair country. A decent country. A cohesive country. A country whose leaders don't accelerate the forces of change purely for their own profit and amusement."

The monologue was stunning in itself, an incredible moment in which a Fox News host stated that for generations, "Republicans have considered it their duty to make the world safe for banking, while simultaneously prosecuting ever more foreign wars." More broadly, though, Carlson's position and the ensuing controversy reveals an ongoing and nearly unsolvable tension in conservative politics about the meaning of populism, a political ideology that Trump campaigned on but Carlson argues he may not truly understand.

Moreover, in Carlson's words: "At some point, Donald Trump will be gone. The rest of us will be gone too. The country will remain. What kind of country will be it be then?"

The monologue and its sweeping anti-elitism drove a wedge between conservative writers. The American Conservative's Rod Dreher wrote of Carlson's monologue, "A man or woman who can talk like that with conviction could become president. Voting for a conservative candidate like that would be the first affirmative vote I've ever cast for president." Other conservative commentators scoffed. Ben Shapiro wrote in National Review that Carlson's monologue sounded far more like Sens. Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren than, say, Ronald Reagan.

I spoke with Carlson by phone this week to discuss his monologue and its economic -- and cultural -- meaning. He agreed that his monologue was reminiscent of Warren, referencing her 2003 book The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents Are Growing Broke . "There were parts of the book that I disagree with, of course," he told me. "But there are parts of it that are really important and true. And nobody wanted to have that conversation."

Carlson wanted to be clear: He's just asking questions. "I'm not an economic adviser or a politician. I'm not a think tank fellow. I'm just a talk show host," he said, telling me that all he wants is to ask "the basic questions you would ask about any policy." But he wants to ask those questions about what he calls the "religious faith" of market capitalism, one he believes elites -- "mercenaries who feel no long-term obligation to the people they rule" -- have put ahead of "normal people."

But whether or not he likes it, Carlson is an important voice in conservative politics. His show is among the most-watched television programs in America. And his raising questions about market capitalism and the free market matters.

"What does [free market capitalism] get us?" he said in our call. "What kind of country do you want to live in? If you put these policies into effect, what will you have in 10 years?"

Populism on the right is gaining, again

Carlson is hardly the first right-leaning figure to make a pitch for populism, even tangentially, in the third year of Donald Trump, whose populist-lite presidential candidacy and presidency Carlson told me he views as "the smoke alarm ... telling you the building is on fire, and unless you figure out how to put the flames out, it will consume it."

Populism is a rhetorical approach that separates "the people" from elites. In the words of Cas Mudde, a professor at the University of Georgia, it divides the country into "two homogenous and antagonistic groups: the pure people on the one end and the corrupt elite on the other." Populist rhetoric has a long history in American politics, serving as the focal point of numerous presidential campaigns and powering William Jennings Bryan to the Democratic nomination for president in 1896. Trump borrowed some of that approach for his 2016 campaign but in office has governed as a fairly orthodox economic conservative, thus demonstrating the demand for populism on the right without really providing the supply and creating conditions for further ferment.

When right-leaning pundit Ann Coulter spoke with Breitbart Radio about Trump's Tuesday evening Oval Office address to the nation regarding border wall funding, she said she wanted to hear him say something like, "You know, you say a lot of wild things on the campaign trail. I'm speaking to big rallies. But I want to talk to America about a serious problem that is affecting the least among us, the working-class blue-collar workers":

Coulter urged Trump to bring up overdose deaths from heroin in order to speak to the "working class" and to blame the fact that working-class wages have stalled, if not fallen, in the last 20 years on immigration. She encouraged Trump to declare, "This is a national emergency for the people who don't have lobbyists in Washington."

Ocasio-Cortez wants a 70-80% income tax on the rich. I agree! Start with the Koch Bros. -- and also make it WEALTH tax.

-- Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) January 4, 2019

These sentiments have even pitted popular Fox News hosts against each other.

Sean Hannity warned his audience that New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's economic policies would mean that "the rich people won't be buying boats that they like recreationally, they're not going to be taking expensive vacations anymore." But Carlson agreed when I said his monologue was somewhat reminiscent of Ocasio-Cortez's past comments on the economy , and how even a strong economy was still leaving working-class Americans behind.

"I'm just saying as a matter of fact," he told me, "a country where a shrinking percentage of the population is taking home an ever-expanding proportion of the money is not a recipe for a stable society. It's not."

Carlson told me he wanted to be clear: He is not a populist. But he believes some version of populism is necessary to prevent a full-scale political revolt or the onset of socialism. Using Theodore Roosevelt as an example of a president who recognized that labor needs economic power, he told me, "Unless you want something really extreme to happen, you need to take this seriously and figure out how to protect average people from these remarkably powerful forces that have been unleashed."

"I think populism is potentially really disruptive. What I'm saying is that populism is a symptom of something being wrong," he told me. "Again, populism is a smoke alarm; do not ignore it."

But Carlson's brand of populism, and the populist sentiments sweeping the American right, aren't just focused on the current state of income inequality in America. Carlson tackled a bigger idea: that market capitalism and the "elites" whom he argues are its major drivers aren't working. The free market isn't working for families, or individuals, or kids. In his monologue, Carlson railed against libertarian economics and even payday loans, saying, "If you care about America, you ought to oppose the exploitation of Americans, whether it's happening in the inner city or on Wall Street" -- sounding very much like Sanders or Warren on the left.

Carlson's argument that "market capitalism is not a religion" is of course old hat on the left, but it's also been bubbling on the right for years now. When National Review writer Kevin Williamson wrote a 2016 op-ed about how rural whites "failed themselves," he faced a massive backlash in the Trumpier quarters of the right. And these sentiments are becoming increasingly potent at a time when Americans can see both a booming stock market and perhaps their own family members struggling to get by.

Capitalism/liberalism destroys the extended family by requiring people to move apart for work and destroying any sense of unchosen obligations one might have towards one's kin.

-- Jeremy McLallan (@JeremyMcLellan) January 8, 2019

At the Federalist, writer Kirk Jing wrote of Carlson's monologue, and a response to it by National Review columnist David French:

Our society is less French's America, the idea, and more Frantz Fanon's "Wretched of the Earth" (involving a very different French). The lowest are stripped of even social dignity and deemed unworthy of life . In Real America, wages are stagnant, life expectancy is crashing, people are fleeing the workforce, families are crumbling, and trust in the institutions on top are at all-time lows. To French, holding any leaders of those institutions responsible for their errors is "victimhood populism" ... The Right must do better if it seeks to govern a real America that exists outside of its fantasies.

J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy , wrote that the [neoliberal] economy's victories -- and praise for those wins from conservatives -- were largely meaningless to white working-class Americans living in Ohio and Kentucky: "Yes, they live in a country with a higher GDP than a generation ago, and they're undoubtedly able to buy cheaper consumer goods, but to paraphrase Reagan: Are they better off than they were 20 years ago? Many would say, unequivocally, 'no.'"

Carlson's populism holds, in his view, bipartisan possibilities. In a follow-up email, I asked him why his monologue was aimed at Republicans when many Democrats had long espoused the same criticisms of free market economics. "Fair question," he responded. "I hope it's not just Republicans. But any response to the country's systemic problems will have to give priority to the concerns of American citizens over the concerns of everyone else, just as you'd protect your own kids before the neighbor's kids."

Who is "they"?

And that's the point where Carlson and a host of others on the right who have begun to challenge the conservative movement's orthodoxy on free markets -- people ranging from occasionally mendacious bomb-throwers like Coulter to writers like Michael Brendan Dougherty -- separate themselves from many of those making those exact same arguments on the left.

When Carlson talks about the "normal people" he wants to save from nefarious elites, he is talking, usually, about a specific group of "normal people" -- white working-class Americans who are the "real" victims of capitalism, or marijuana legalization, or immigration policies.

In this telling, white working-class Americans who once relied on a manufacturing economy that doesn't look the way it did in 1955 are the unwilling pawns of elites. It's not their fault that, in Carlson's view, marriage is inaccessible to them, or that marijuana legalization means more teens are smoking weed ( this probably isn't true ). Someone, or something, did this to them. In Carlson's view, it's the responsibility of politicians: Our economic situation, and the plight of the white working class, is "the product of a series of conscious decisions that the Congress made."

The criticism of Carlson's monologue has largely focused on how he deviates from the free market capitalism that conservatives believe is the solution to poverty, not the creator of poverty. To orthodox conservatives, poverty is the result of poor decision making or a lack of virtue that can't be solved by government programs or an anti-elite political platform -- and they say Carlson's argument that elites are in some way responsible for dwindling marriage rates doesn't make sense .

But in French's response to Carlson, he goes deeper, writing that to embrace Carlson's brand of populism is to support "victimhood populism," one that makes white working-class Americans into the victims of an undefined "they:

Carlson is advancing a form of victim-politics populism that takes a series of tectonic cultural changes -- civil rights, women's rights, a technological revolution as significant as the industrial revolution, the mass-scale loss of religious faith, the sexual revolution, etc. -- and turns the negative or challenging aspects of those changes into an angry tale of what they are doing to you .

And that was my biggest question about Carlson's monologue, and the flurry of responses to it, and support for it: When other groups (say, black Americans) have pointed to systemic inequities within the economic system that have resulted in poverty and family dysfunction, the response from many on the right has been, shall we say, less than enthusiastic .

Really, it comes down to when black people have problems, it's personal responsibility, but when white people have the same problems, the system is messed up. Funny how that works!!

-- Judah Maccabeets (@AdamSerwer) January 9, 2019

Yet white working-class poverty receives, from Carlson and others, far more sympathy. And conservatives are far more likely to identify with a criticism of "elites" when they believe those elites are responsible for the expansion of trans rights or creeping secularism than the wealthy and powerful people who are investing in private prisons or an expansion of the militarization of police . Carlson's network, Fox News, and Carlson himself have frequently blasted leftist critics of market capitalism and efforts to fight inequality .

I asked Carlson about this, as his show is frequently centered on the turmoils caused by " demographic change ." He said that for decades, "conservatives just wrote [black economic struggles] off as a culture of poverty," a line he includes in his monologue .

He added that regarding black poverty, "it's pretty easy when you've got 12 percent of the population going through something to feel like, 'Well, there must be ... there's something wrong with that culture.' Which is actually a tricky thing to say because it's in part true, but what you're missing, what I missed, what I think a lot of people missed, was that the economic system you're living under affects your culture."

Carlson said that growing up in Washington, DC, and spending time in rural Maine, he didn't realize until recently that the same poverty and decay he observed in the Washington of the 1980s was also taking place in rural (and majority-white) Maine. "I was thinking, 'Wait a second ... maybe when the jobs go away the culture changes,'" he told me, "And the reason I didn't think of it before was because I was so blinded by this libertarian economic propaganda that I couldn't get past my own assumptions about economics." (For the record, libertarians have critiqued Carlson's monologue as well.)

Carlson told me that beyond changing our tax code, he has no major policies in mind. "I'm not even making the case for an economic system in particular," he told me. "All I'm saying is don't act like the way things are is somehow ordained by God or a function or raw nature."

And clearly, our market economy isn't driven by God or nature, as the stock market soars and unemployment dips and yet even those on the right are noticing lengthy periods of wage stagnation and dying little towns across the country. But what to do about those dying little towns, and which dying towns we care about and which we don't, and, most importantly, whose fault it is that those towns are dying in the first place -- those are all questions Carlson leaves to the viewer to answer.

[Jan 06, 2019] Neocons in US niversities: Everything Madeleine Albright Doesn t Like is Fascism

Notable quotes:
"... The fact that obviously deranged fanatic hack has students is a testimony to a sewer level of the US "elite-producing" machine and a pathetic sight contemporary US "elite" represents. ..."
"... "political science" is not a science but pseudo-academic field for losers who do not want to study real history or take courses which actually develop intellect and provide fundamental knowledge. ..."
Jan 06, 2019 | www.unz.com

Andrei Martyanov , says: Website January 5, 2019 at 7:02 pm GMT

Early on in her book, Albright says:

My students remarked that the Fascist chiefs we remember best were charismatic

Marked in bold is the most terrifying thing about Albright's book and I am not even going to read her pseudo-intellectual excrement. The fact that obviously deranged fanatic hack has students is a testimony to a sewer level of the US "elite-producing" machine and a pathetic sight contemporary US "elite" represents.

This is apart from the fact that "political science" is not a science but pseudo-academic field for losers who do not want to study real history or take courses which actually develop intellect and provide fundamental knowledge.

[Jan 04, 2019] A whopping 84 percent of all stocks owned by Americans belong to the wealthiest 10 percent of households. And that includes everyone's stakes in pension plans, 401(k)'s and individual retirement accounts, as well as trust funds, mutual funds and college savings programs like 529 plans.

Jan 04, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne -> anne... , January 01, 2019 at 12:58 PM

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/08/business/economy/stocks-economy.html

February 8, 2018

We All Have a Stake in the Stock Market, Right? Guess Again
By PATRICIA COHEN

Take a deep breath and relax.

The riotous market swings that have whipped up frothy peaks of anxiety over the last week -- bringing the major indexes down more than 10 percent from their high -- have virtually no impact on the income or wealth of most families. The reason: They own little or no stock.

A whopping 84 percent of all stocks owned by Americans belong to the wealthiest 10 percent of households. And that includes everyone's stakes in pension plans, 401(k)'s and individual retirement accounts, as well as trust funds, mutual funds and college savings programs like 529 plans.

"For the vast majority of Americans, fluctuations in the stock market have relatively little effect on their wealth, or well-being, for that matter," said Edward N. Wolff, an economist at New York University who recently published new research * on the topic....

* https://www.nber.org/papers/w24085

Tom aka Rusty said in reply to anne... , January 02, 2019 at 12:13 PM
I am skeptical of the 84% if only because 401(k) plans have gotten so large.
Darrell in Phoenix said in reply to Tom aka Rusty... , January 03, 2019 at 01:50 PM
What I could find says 401(k)s have $5.6T, IRAs have $2.5T, and when you add in pensions, the total is $29 trillion. Not sure when those numbers are from.

Hard to know what part of that is stocks vs. bonds.

As of last April, US stock markets had $34 trillion and the rest of the world $44 trillion equiv.

So, if IRA, 401(k) and retirement plans have almost as much wealth as the total of us stocks, and that is 16% of all stocks... does that mean we
1) Americans own a lot more foreign stocks than foreigners own american stocks
or
2) 84% of retirement assets are bonds?

There is, what? $50 trillion is US debt, much of it backed by bonds.

So, $30 trillion retirement assets, $24.5T bonds and $5.5 trillion stocks... such that $5.5T is 16% of $34T?


That doesn't "smell right" to me.

point , January 01, 2019 at 12:37 PM
Meh.

"And it certainly made most Americans poorer. While 2/3 of the corporate tax cut may have gone to U.S. residents, 84 percent of stocks are held by the wealthiest 10 percent of the population. Everyone else will see hardly any benefit."

Wildly unsubstantiated first sentence, though the rest seems likely true. Whether the bulk went to tax cuts for domestic or foreign national or into the furnace, there was indeed some sliver that actually went to the rest of us.

anne -> point... , January 01, 2019 at 01:05 PM
Wildly unsubstantiated...

[ Correct and documented, as always. ]

Plp -> anne... , January 01, 2019 at 01:41 PM
"And it certainly made most Americans poorer"

" everyone else will see hardly any
Benefit "

Well which is it

Poorer or a very little benefit ?


Sloppy righteousness

Plp -> Plp... , January 01, 2019 at 01:55 PM
Here's the PK finesse

"since the tax cut isn't paying for itself

it will eventually have to be paid for some other way "

Nonsense !


" either by raising other taxes
or by cutting spending on programs people value"

This pretends the federal government is a household

Not a self determining
sovereign economy

Plp -> Plp... , January 01, 2019 at 02:01 PM
Sovereign debt in the sovereign's own currency

Has no intrinsic real value

Example


The burden of that debt on society
can become zero
Once the rate of intetest
On the whole stock of debt is cycled
into a zero real rate status

The Fed could start that process at any time

Once it's zero real it can stay zero real forever

EMichael -> Plp... , January 02, 2019 at 04:38 AM
It's about efficiency, not just the printing press.

And even the MMT people realize there are limits.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to EMichael... , January 02, 2019 at 06:29 AM
Efficiency of what, I might ask? Efficiency of shipping goods halfway around the world from where people work for less in less safe environments is really the efficiency of theft by capitalists, not the efficiency of production. Taking from the land and sea and dumping waste into the land, sea, and air is the efficiency of theft by capitalists too, not the efficiency of resource use. We are very efficient at making billionaires from externalized costs. We continue to cheaply sell ourselves out because the price is right. Ask Paine what lies hidden in the price?
EMichael -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , January 02, 2019 at 06:47 AM
Yeah, I got that business and government can both be inefficient in many ways.

My point is that when you reduce the cost of doing business, or reduce the credit worthiness of a borrower, you will see greater inefficiency.

Digging holes and filling them in is one way to spend money. Building a road or a building is another.

Which would you prefer?

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to EMichael... , January 02, 2019 at 07:21 AM
I would prefer unhiding externalized costs and allocating domestic labor to pay those costs, not with taxes, but with production of domestic goods and the elimination of pollutants and managed use of limited resources. That's just me and entirely off the subject when it comes to macroeconomics.

In any case, I am also for Paine's KLV full employment macroeconomics. If anything KLV macro is more accessible both politically and intellectually than the kinds of price movements that would be required to place environmentally sustainable caps on carbon emissions or the commercial menhaden catch. A nominal interest rate for interbank lending that was maintained by the Fed to persist at just the rate of inflation except for lower when necessary to recover from a recession is not a terrible thing. The consequence of braking the economy just to avoid hitting some inflation target is reckless driving. As we know the crash victims are always labor.

EMichael -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , January 02, 2019 at 07:41 AM
I'd prefer all of that, and a pony.

You need to separate Paine's economics from his politics. He believes a peoples' party can deliver that. It cannot. It will not. As efficiency goes out the door when a small, unregulated group controls everything. Not to say our version of capitalism has anywhere near the government regulation I think it needs to reach your(and my) goals. But it is light years ahead of Paine's dreams.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to EMichael... , January 02, 2019 at 07:51 AM
Paine's economics are insightful and useful. Paine's politics are bifurcated. Paine is as much for a progressive liberal democrat as he is for an enlightened communist dictator. Which do you think has a greater chance of actually ever existing in this century?
EMichael -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , January 02, 2019 at 08:03 AM
I'm all in on Paine's economics, but I believe his politics make him an opponent to ever coming up with progressive liberal democrats running the country.

All or nothing with him, and that makes it beyond hard to move towards that goal. Many in here like that. I admire them for going through their life without once ever settling for anything but perfect. I never had that opportunity.

A bunch of small steps are necessary, as the Founders insured that. Raging against those facts are immense negatives. And it is why Reps win elections.

Christopher H. said in reply to EMichael... , January 02, 2019 at 09:21 AM
lol the Founders F!@#ed up. They gave us the Senate and electoral college.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to EMichael... , January 02, 2019 at 09:33 AM
I am largely in concurrence with you, but I do have some specific caveats.

At least in my part of the country Paine's far left politics are not representative of anything that we come into contact with in public life. Your politics are bit left of us here. I am the far left in these parts. Paine's more populous left side is barely represented by any group in my reality. So, for me, Paine is a unique curiosity reminiscent of my socialist friends from the 60's and early 70's for which I have seen no analog since the introduction of Disco and double-knit leisure suits.

The EV crowd in general is a microcosm of nerdiness rather than a microcosm of well informed constituencies of the US unrepresentative "democracy." There is nothing unsettling about it. This crowd is as normal as the characters of "Big Bang Theory."

Republicans win elections because they get the most votes. The VA voter turnout for 2018 was almost 60%, well above 2014 and 2010 midterms which were just above 40%. Most people think that Trump is the most politically divisive POTUS in history, but I think nothing in my life has done more to unify the Democratic Party given they can curb their enthusiasm about beating Trump in 2020 enough to not rip the party apart over who gets the spoils.

Turnout for POTUS election in VA has been above and sometimes well above 70% for every POTUS election since 1975 except for 2000. Turnout for VA gubernatorial elections has been between 40% and 50% for each election from 1997 up through 2017, but ran much higher before motor voter stopped the purging of voter registration rolls. VA elects state legislators in off years for statewide elections with just over 30% of voters showing up.

https://www.elections.virginia.gov/resultsreports/registration-statistics/registrationturnout-statistics/index.html

Tom aka Rusty said in reply to EMichael... , January 02, 2019 at 12:12 PM
Common sense can still be applied to politics.

Going all flaming leftist is a recipe for losing elections. We need to elect more Democrats.

EMichael -> Tom aka Rusty... , January 02, 2019 at 04:39 PM
Understand. But flaming leftist will help the working class.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to EMichael... , January 02, 2019 at 07:44 AM
"...My point is that when you reduce the cost of doing business, or reduce the credit worthiness of a borrower, you will see greater inefficiency.

Digging holes and filling them in is one way to spend money. Building a road or a building is another.

Which would you prefer?"

[While I would prefer bridges to digging holes and filling them, my hesitation in answering this question was with the assumption that lower interest rates generate more wasteful investment, despite that I know it to be true in some contexts. Speculation is the problem more than real projects by far. Diversity among investments can be a very good thing. Failure in this context is just a consequence of innovation by trial and error, one of the more efficient means. Besides, for private investment the risk spread limits useless excursions, while the state needs conscious limits on pork perhaps, but pork is also a useful medium of political exchange. Uncle's discretionary spending is a very small pot of gold.]

EMichael -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , January 02, 2019 at 08:05 AM
Lower interest make business plans much easier. In doing so, risks are taken that should not be taken, thus increasing inefficiency.

This is especially true when the planners carry absolutely no financial risk themselves on a project.

Christopher H. said in reply to EMichael... , January 02, 2019 at 09:17 AM
" Many in here like that. I admire them for going through their life without once ever settling for anything but perfect. I never had that opportunity.

A bunch of small steps are necessary, as the Founders insured that. Raging against those facts are immense negatives. And it is why Reps win elections."

The New Deal.

The Great Society.

Social Security. Medicare. Medicaid.

EMichael would have argued against all of them as overreaching.

His excuse for the Democrats was that past Presidents had large majorities in Congress.

He would say the country is too conservative and racist. But they like those programs now.

Christopher H. said in reply to EMichael... , January 02, 2019 at 09:19 AM
During the golden age of social democracy during the post War period, when entrepreneurs failed they had a safety net and could try again.

EMichael has this weird puritanical streak. Just like mulp, another crank on the Interent.

He wants his failed red state family member to wallow in bitterness.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to EMichael... , January 02, 2019 at 09:48 AM
"Lower interest make business plans much easier. In doing so, risks are taken that should not be taken, thus increasing inefficiency.

This is especially true when the planners carry absolutely no financial risk themselves on a project."


[I understood what you were going for and do not doubt that you have specific instances for which you are sure that is true. For a few years prior to 2008 then I am sure that was true, but those "animal spirits" were drunk on more than just low interest rates. There was a specific sequence of events that played out over a long period of time bringing the US economy to the precipice of financial system euphoria over the infallibility of markets. Lenders and borrowers and especially middlemen stared down into the abyss and then kept on truckin'. Then we all heard a big splat!

Now is not then. Some future now may be then again if we forget about then, but it takes a lot of stupid to get there, not just low interest rates. Taking a bit more risk, but without the stupid is how we learn from failure to achieve greater success.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , January 02, 2019 at 09:52 AM
If either the dot.com splat or the mortgage splat were not clearly visible at least three or four years before the splat then either you need a new prescription for your eye glasses or you need to step out of that fog that you were living in.
Darrell in Phoenix said in reply to RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , January 02, 2019 at 10:27 AM
"success through failure" has become a norm of American business, with the PotUS as the perfect example.

He never got into the casino, steak, wine, water, university, etc. businesses with intent on making money in those businesses. Heck, he barely breaks even on the condo and golf businesses.

He creates the towers and golf resorts to promote the name, and promotes the name to be able to lease it to doomed businesses which he starts with the intent of losing money on the leasing of his name. I suspect the most profitable thing he's ever done was "realty tv" host and having a book ghost-written in his name.

And yes, low interest rates DO create easy money, and much of it does find its way into "success through failure" investments. Why would you loan money to a business that you know was a scam just created to accumulate debt then go bust? Because you can securitize the debt and sell it off to Main Street suckers to eat the loss.

Why else "success through failure". Well, I've worked for a company that dumped a lot of money into a venture it knew was doomed long-term. Why? Because it intended to go IPO, and it needed the (unprofitable) revenue from the doomed venture to pump its price in the IPO.

I think we'd all agree that "success through failure" is terrible and wish it would go away. Problem is, it works.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to Darrell in Phoenix... , January 02, 2019 at 12:18 PM
Regarding "Success through failure" I was thinking in terms of the dot.com boom from which sprang the broadband Internet and Amazon. Out there in Phoenix AZ where you and EMichael live things must be really crazy. Back in 70's Phoenix was the yuppy Mecca. What happened?
Darrell in Phoenix said in reply to RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , January 02, 2019 at 01:18 PM
True, not all of the dot.com was bad investment. Just most.

We got a lot of housing built during the housing boom too. Too bad most of it was 2000-3000 sqft McMansions on golf courses, 50 miles from any jobs.

"Out there in Phoenix AZ where you and EMichael live things must be really crazy."

1970 Phoenix metro had 1 million people. Today we're at 4.75 million.

Politics are a mess. Big money is pushing to constantly lower taxes, but now people are pushing back wanting more funding for schools. Surprisingly, we've passed phased in $12 minimum wage and medical marijuana (recreational failed by less than 1%), and now have split representation at the federal level indicating a move toward liberal.

And yet, we'll still very Republican in the state house and go highly conservative on many other issues such as animal rights. A recent "green energy initiative" failed ugly.

So, to sum it up... Pretty Liberal, but Very CONservative, with a HUGE swing vote that goes this-way-and-that in random directions and on different issues...

...but in general want low taxes, are hate big government...

...except on the things like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Defense, education, transportation, police, fire, courts, justice system, boarder security, anti-terrorism, and the rest of stuff government actually spends almost all of its money on...

... but are all for getting rid of all the wasteful government that practically doesn't really exist...

... and we definitely want religious freedom, as long as that religion is Christianity and the freedom is to force their views onto others, and not allow other religions to have a place in society.

Hope that clarifies what happened.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to Darrell in Phoenix... , January 03, 2019 at 07:57 AM
"...1970 Phoenix metro had 1 million people. Today we're at 4.75 million...

...Hope that clarifies what happened."

[In spades, Dude. THANKS!]

EMichael -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , January 02, 2019 at 04:42 PM
Adequate regulation would have stopped that.

No one notices that the biggest factor in the housing bubble was bush ordering the OCC to take regulation of national banks out of the hands of the states.

The bubble would have been much, much less.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to EMichael... , January 03, 2019 at 07:58 AM
Oh, butt for the winged frog...
Darrell in Phoenix said in reply to EMichael... , January 03, 2019 at 08:56 AM
"Adequate regulation would have stopped that."

The population increase? People would have to be somewhere, and unlike coastal California with those stupid oceans, bays and mountains... Phoenix has plenty of open space.

2000-3000 sqft mcmansions 50 miles from jobs? Probably true. Without the housing bubble we would have hit the wall on housing and caused massive rent spike a decade ago instead of a few years ago. With that massive rent increase then instead of now, meaning that a decade ago we would have seen the in-building of small apartments and condos that we are now getting.

Net, we probably would have been better off with more in-building of smaller, multi-family units instead of massive sprawl of McMansions.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to Darrell in Phoenix... , January 03, 2019 at 09:41 AM
Don't complain too much. The "massive sprawl of McMansions" is a sure sign of widespread prosperity. Here in eastern Henrico County VA we have the massive sprawl of McCracker boxes instead although not just crackers live in them. McMansions are usually on at least 1/2 acre lots, while McCracker boxes are built so close together that most of the time there was not room left for a driveway and people park on the street except that some of those streets are actually the highways to the neighboring cracker box town. On street parking is just one sign of poverty. There are also drug related shootings just like in the big city.

In eastern Henrico there are only a few small McMansion developments in prime real estate overlooking the flood plain of the James River where there is any such high ground in eastern Henrico near the river. Chesterfield County across the James River has the advantage of very high ground near the James River at River's Bend, a.k.a, Meadowville, where there is plenty room for a golf course and marina as well as loads of McMansions and high-end apartment buildings. High and dry western Henrico County is where they build the McMansions along with all the exclusive high end shopping. The "Sad-eyed Lady of the Lowlands" was probably sad because her basement flooded whenever it rained:<)

Darrell in Phoenix said in reply to RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , January 03, 2019 at 10:50 AM
"Don't complain too much."

I wasn't complaining.

I was adding a tad to the "inefficiencies" discussion caused by disconnecting loan origination from loss risk.

I got my piece of the giant federal government giveaway needed to clean up the mess. In 2011 I bought a 1000 sqft condo for $48K that I now have leased out for a nice cash-flow positive $600+ a month and true after-tax profit of about the same $600 a month (add $100 of the payment that is principal reduction, then subtract 22% income tax on $500 a month ($700 profit - $200 depreciation)).

If you notice the purchase price doesn't match the depreciation, yeah, I've done over $20K in additional capital improvements that increase the base including new roof, new HVAC, replaced all aluminum windows and doors with high-E, gutted and replaced the kitchen and both baths. Summer cooling bill was cut by more than half from ~$300 to ~$125 by the new windows and doors and more efficient HVAC, increasing the monthly rent accordingly.

I've only been spending abut $400 of that $600 profit, letting the rest accumulate for maintenance, repairs, upgrades.

Oh, I also save about $250 a month on the mortgage of my primary by locking in 3% interest rate.

Not big deals in the grand scheme, but the boom->crash->rent squeeze worked out okay for me personally.... for now.

Darrell in Phoenix said in reply to Darrell in Phoenix... , January 03, 2019 at 11:10 AM
As for the cracker houses, we got a lot of those in the 80's and 90's before the big McMansion boom.


Like these 1990s beauties with almost, but not quite enough room in the driveway to park a car without blocking the sidewalk.

https://www.zillow.com/homes/for_sale/globalrelevanceex_sort/33.540639,-112.146931,33.538696,-112.149814_rect/18_zm/

To be perfectly honest, it is exactly those kinds of houses that the Phoenix market needs a lot more of.

Switching from those to McMansions, then hardly any construction at all for 6 or 7 years, is why there is such a crunch on housing, and skyrocketing rents and house prices now.

Even now they aren't building many of those small single family homes.

They are building redevelopment/in-fill condos in downtown/near ASU in Tempe and apartments in the middle-burbs.

anne -> anne... , January 01, 2019 at 01:43 PM
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/14/opinion/the-tax-cut-and-the-balance-of-payments-wonkish.html

November 14, 2018

The Tax Cut and the Balance of Payments (Wonkish)
Lots of financial maneuvering, signifying nothing
By Paul Krugman

What tax cuts were supposed to do

A tax cut for corporations looks, on its face, like a big giveaway to stockholders, mainly bypassing ordinary families: of stocks held by Americans, 84 percent are held by the wealthiest 10 percent; * 35 percent of U.S. stocks are held by foreigners. **

The claim by tax cut advocates was, however, that the tax cut would be passed through to workers, because we live in an integrated global capital market. There were multiple reasons not to believe this argument in practice, but it's still worth working through its implications....

* https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/08/business/economy/stocks-economy.html

** https://www.taxnotes.com/tax-notes/corporate-taxation/slashing-corporate-taxes-foreign-investors-are-surprise-winners/2017/10/23/1x78l

anne -> anne... , January 01, 2019 at 01:52 PM
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/01/opinion/the-trump-tax-cut-even-worse-than-youve-heard.html

The key point to realize is that in today's globalized corporate system, a lot of any country's corporate sector, our own very much included, is actually owned by foreigners, either directly because corporations here are foreign subsidiaries, or indirectly because foreigners own American stocks. Indeed, roughly a third of U.S. corporate profits basically flow to foreign nationals – which means that a third of the tax cut flowed abroad, rather than staying at home. This probably outweighs any positive effect on GDP growth. So the tax cut probably made America poorer, not richer.

And it certainly made most Americans poorer. While 2/3 of the corporate tax cut may have gone to U.S. residents, 84 percent of stocks are held by the wealthiest 10 percent of the population. Everyone else will see hardly any benefit....

-- Paul Krugman

Tom aka Rusty said in reply to anne... , January 02, 2019 at 12:10 PM
It will not make them poorer, but will not make many better off, there is a difference.
Tom aka Rusty said in reply to point... , January 02, 2019 at 12:08 PM
As my first tax professor said, "the best first answer to most tax questions is IT DEPENDS."

In the pro formas I have done not everyone in the middle class is getting a tax cut. Some a slight tax increase, most not too much impact at all.

We will know a lot more by April.

anne , January 01, 2019 at 12:50 PM
http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/steven-rattner-s-charts-in-the-nyt-don-t-show-he-says-they-show

December 31, 2018

Steven Rattner's Charts in the New York Times Don't Show He Says They Show
By Dean Baker

Steven Rattner used his New York Times column * to present a number of charts to show Donald Trump's failures as president. While some, like the drop in enrollments in the health care exchanges, do in fact show failure, others do not really make his case.

For example, he has a chart with a headline "paltry raise for the middle class." What his chart actually shows is that middle class wages, adjusted for inflation, fell sharply in the recession, but have been rising roughly 1.0 percent a year since 2014. They recovered their pre-recession levels in 2017 and now are almost a percentage point above the 2008 level. This is not a great story, but the picture under Trump is certainly better than under Obama. (This wasn't entirely Obama's fault, since he inherited an economy that was failing.)

The chart shows more rapid growth at the bottom of the pay ladder and a modest downturn under Trump for those at the top. By recent standards, this is not a bad picture, even if Trump does not especially deserve credit for it. (He came in with an unemployment rate that was low and falling.)

Rattner also presents as a bad sign projections for fewer Federal Reserve rate hikes. While one basis for projecting fewer rate hikes is that the economy now looks weaker for 2019 than had been thought earlier in the year (but still stronger than had been projected in 2016), another reason is that inflation is lower than expected. Economists have consistently over-estimated the impact that low unemployment would have on the inflation rate. With inflation coming in lower than projected, there is less reason for the Fed to raise rates.

Contrary to what Rattner is implying, this is a good development. It means that the unemployment rate can continue to fall and workers at the middle and the bottom of the pay ladder can continue to see real wage gains.

Rattner also shows us how growth projections for the U.S. and the world have been lowered since June of 2018. It's not clear how much Trump can be held responsible for growth in the EU (try blaming the European Commission's austerity drive) and the rest of the world, but his argument about the U.S. is pretty weak. The 2.4 percent growth projection from December 2018 is actually up 0.1 percentage point from the June projection. More importantly, it is up from a projection of 1.7 percent from January of 2017, the month Trump took office.

Then we have the chart showing the rise in the debt relative to GDP. While Rattner is right that the tax cuts to the rich were a waste of resources, the higher debt to GDP ratio is basically meaningless. (Japan's debt to GDP ratio is almost 250 percent and the current interest rate on its long-term bonds is 0.00 percent.)

If anyone is seriously concerned about the debt that the government is passing on to future generations then it is also necessary to include the rents associated with patent and copyright monopolies. These monopolies are alternative mechanisms to direct funding that the government uses to pay for services (i.e. research and creative work).

To take the most important case, suppose the government were the replace the $70 billion (0.35 percent of GDP) in patent monopoly supported research that the pharmaceutical industry conducts each year with direct funding of $70 billion. All research findings could then be placed in the public domain and new drugs would sell at generic prices.

Rattner and his crew would count the $70 billion in addition spending as an addition to the debt and deficit. However, when the industry is able to charge the public an extra $360 billion ** (1.8 percent of GDP) a year in higher drug prices due to patent monopolies and related protections, Rattner and company choose to ignore the burden. This sort of groundless debt fear mongering deserves only ridicule; it is not serious economic analysis.

Trump has done many awful things as president and threatens to do many more. But this is not a reason to adopt Trumpian tactics, the data provide plenty of grounds to attack his performance without playing games with it.

* https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/31/opinion/trump-2018-charts.html

** http://cepr.net/images/stories/reports/ip-2018-10.pdf

anne -> anne... , January 01, 2019 at 02:41 PM
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=mv7B

January 15, 2018

Real Median Weekly Earnings, * 1992-2018

* All full time wage and salary workers

(Percent change)


https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=mv7D

January 15, 2018

Real Median Weekly Earnings, * 1992-2018

* All full time wage and salary workers

(Indexed to 1992)

anne -> anne... , January 01, 2019 at 02:41 PM
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=mm0s

January 15, 2018

Real Median Weekly Earnings for men and women, * 1992-2018

* All full time wage and salary workers

(Percent change)


https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=mm0v

January 15, 2018

Real Median Weekly Earnings for men and women, * 1992-2018

* All full time wage and salary workers

(Indexed to 1992)

anne , January 01, 2019 at 12:50 PM
http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/e-j-dionne-provides-classic-example-of-liberals-missing-the-boat

December 31, 2018

E.J. Dionne Provides Classic Example of Liberals Missing the Boat
By Dean Baker

I often rail against liberals who wring their hands over the unfortunate folks who have been left behind by globalization and technology. E.J. Dionne gave us a classic example * of such hand-wringing in his piece today on the need to help the left behinds to keep them from becoming flaming reactionaries.

For some reason, it is difficult for many liberals to grasp the idea that the bad plight of tens of millions of middle class workers did not just happen, but rather was deliberately engineered. Longer and stronger patent and copyright protection did not just happen, it was deliberate policy. Subjecting manufacturing workers to global competition, while largely protecting doctors, dentists, and other highly paid professionals was also a policy decisions. Saving the Wall Street banks from the consequences of their own greed and incompetence was also conscious policy.

I know it's difficult for intellectuals to grasp new ideas, but if we want to talk seriously about rising inequality, then it will be necessary for them to try. (Yeah, I'm advertising my - free - book "Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer" ** again.) Anyhow, let's hope that in 2019 we can actually talk about the policies that were put in place to redistribute income upward and not just pretend that Bill Gates and his ilk getting all the money was a natural process.

* https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/there-is-much-to-fear-about-nationalism-but-liberals-need-to-address-it-the-right-way/2018/12/30/2c6e8f24-0ab7-11e9-88e3-989a3e456820_story.html

** https://deanbaker.net/images/stories/documents/Rigged.pdf

Plp -> anne... , January 01, 2019 at 01:27 PM
The way forward is not taking the path that got us here in reverse till its say 1976 again

Because once there where do we go next
Where do we go from there
that doesn't by twist and turn
lead back here in another post 2008
Quagmired earth

Christopher H. said in reply to Plp... , January 01, 2019 at 01:27 PM
The Nordic countries have gone further than 1976 - and it works!

But even they have been backsliding.

They key is rising living standards for everyone. That means eradicating poverty & financial precariousness and rising incomes up the income ladder.

End the Dem's fascination with means testing. Make big programs everyone supports. Republican party needs to be destroyed as Jane Curtin said on CNN.

[Jan 03, 2019] Piketty's World Inequality Review- A Critical Analysis - naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... By James K. Galbraith, Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in Government and Business Relations, University of Texas at Austin. Originally published at the Institute of New Economic Thinking website ..."
"... World Inequality Report 2018 ..."
"... World Top Incomes Database ..."
"... Capital in the XXI Century ..."
"... Development and Change ..."
"... World Inequality Report ..."
Jan 03, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Piketty's World Inequality Review: A Critical Analysis Posted on January 3, 2019 by Yves Smith

Yves here. It's surprising to see Piketty and even more so, one of this co-authors, Gabriel Zucman, make such strong claims for tax data as a way to measure income inequality. The rich and super rich engage in tax avoidance and evasion, to the degree that Zucman has estimated that 6% of the world's wealth is hidden. First, that wealth was hidden to avoid paying taxes on it and/or to hide its criminal origins (such as looting governments). Second, the income on hidden wealth is also by nature hidden.

By James K. Galbraith, Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in Government and Business Relations, University of Texas at Austin. Originally published at the Institute of New Economic Thinking website

Thomas Piketty and his colleagues [1] have produced a new exposition of their empirical work, entitled the World Inequality Report 2018 (hereafter: WIR). Their purpose is to showcase the exploration of income and wealth inequalities begun with the World Top Incomes Database (Atkinson and Piketty 2010) and theorized in Piketty's epic Capital in the XXI Century (2014) . In particular the WIR concentrates on the presentation of measures and evidence; the stated goal is to inform a "deliberative process" with "more rigorous and transparent information on income and wealth" than has been available to date. In a review article published on-line and open access in Development and Change on December 24, 2018, I initiate this "deliberative process" by examining the WIR data and the claims made for it.

The ground-breaking, systematic and transparent methodology on which the WIR rests is largely the use of tax records–specifically income tax records–mined to show the income shares of tranches of the income-earning population: top one percent, top ten percent, next forty percent, and bottom fifty percent are the usual divisions. These Piketty and his colleagues argue are more complete, comprehensive, and comparable across countries and through time than the generally-used alternative, which is household or person-based surveys.

The WIR authors write disparagingly of the "Gini index" -- the inequality measure most prevalent in such surveys -- which they find too "technical" and not sufficiently intuitive. But they also object to survey methods: "The main problem with household surveys, however, is that they usually rely entirely on self-reported information about income and wealth. As a consequence, they misrepresent top income and wealth levels, and therefore overall inequality." (p. 29) This sweeping critique carries on for several pages, brushing aside a body of research comprising thousands of papers and millions of survey observations, including the work of the Luxembourg Income Studies, the World Bank, Eurostat, the Economic Commission for Latin America, and the United States Census Bureau among scores of national data-collection agencies. It is a repudiation of what almost every previous researcher has done in this field over fifty years.

But are tax data really better? Where survey and tax measures both exist, and report different results, should one systematically prefer a measure based on taxes? The answer depends in part on the quality of the survey measures. But it also must depend in part on the quality, consistency, length and continuity of the national tax record, and in particular of the income tax. The WIR authors acknowledge that tax data have limits, in particular they cannot cover income and wealth hidden from tax authorities in tax havens. But the question of the quality of tax records goes much further than this.

My new essay examines the question from three points of view: the coverage provided by tax data in the world economy, the consistency of tax data with other sources of information on income inequality, and the peculiarities of tax-based measurement of inequality in the United States. It goes on to make a comparison with measures drawn from other forms of administrative data -- specifically payroll records, used by the University of Texas Inequality Project -- which are generally more consistent with records of inequality measured in household surveys than are the WIR's tax records.

In brief summary, the review shows that by comparison with payroll and survey data, available records from tax files are relatively sparse, and biased toward wealthier countries and those that were once British colonies, which imposed income tax. It shows that tax data are far less consistent with survey and payroll records than are the latter two with each other. And it shows that even within the United States, a country with good tax records by world standards, changes in tax law distort the WIR's measures of changes in the top income shares, while a misunderstanding of the nature of low-income tax filers in the US leads to a dramatic but nonsensical claim that the earnings of the bottom 50 percent of Americans have "collapsed" in recent decades.

Overall, the review casts doubt on claims by the authors of the World Inequality Report to have produced major advances in the study of world economic inequality, and documents that many of the findings touted in the Report as new and unprecedented have in fact been reported in the literature for years, even decades in some cases.

[1] The credited co-authors are Facundo Alvaredo, Lucas Chancel, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman.

Figure 1 Top One Percent Shares from the World Inequality Database, showing an unacknowledged data break due to the US Tax Reform Act of 1986. Adjusting the data for the change in the tax definition of income would show that the US top share tracks the UK and Canada very closely. Low numbers for France and Italy are likely due to inferior tax recording of high income persons, not an underlying condition of less inequality.

Mark , January 3, 2019 at 11:27 am

I do not see your and the essay's point about tax evasion impacting actual reported income more harshly than surveys. Even in cases where answers to surveys are required by law, the penalties and effort undertaken by enforcement agencies are going to be several orders of magnitude greater in cases of tax evasion compared to incorrect survey answers. Furthermore income taxes are frequently automated which makes correct or at least some reporting the default case while the default state of surveys is no data at all. Only by taking action is any data generated. While it is theoreticaly possible that surveys are more accurate because the incentive of lower taxes is also stronger, the logic argument given here is not self-evident and actual empirical data is needed for prove.

The critic regarding change in tax reporting over time is quite correct altough I am far from certain that neither survey methods nor questions haven't changed over the last century. A feature not talked about at all is samplesize which always favours actual tax data over surveys given that everyone with an income over a small threshold must pay taxes.

The only empirical evidence provided in the essay is self-referential. If one proxy (survey data) is faulty correlation between it and another proxy (payroll records) does not prove that the first proxy is correct because it remains possible that both proxies have the same deficiencies and are therefore correlated – instead of both being a good approximation of reality.

This is not to say that the essay must be wrong or Piketty et al's assertions must be right, but with only the information provided here a lack of evidence still exists in my opinion.

CanCyn , January 3, 2019 at 12:36 pm

this line towards the end: " nonsensical claim that the earnings of the bottom 50 percent of Americans have "collapsed" in recent decades." is nonsensical itself. Anyone who doesn't believe that low and middle income earners' incomes have collapsed is living in a very opaque bubble, head firmly planted up *ss.

I earned $12.00 per hour in retail with only a high school education in the early 1980s. I'm Canadian but I don't think the two countries are so different in this regard. In 2018 dollars, according to the Bank of Canada inflation calculator that is $26.00 per hour!! Do you know anyone in retail with only a high school education earning $26.00 per hour today? My husband, again, no high school, was making twice that amount in a steel mill in the eighties. Know anyone earning almost $60 per hour in any kind of factory work today? I sure don't. That includes the people who work in that factory now, it is mostly precarious contract work, at much lower wages, the union having been busted long ago

Further, I went back to school in the late 80s and ended with my Masters in Library Science, my first full-time job in the early 90s had me earning the 1990ish equivalent of that $12.00 per hour, things were already going south. It took me quite a few more years to outpace that 1980 retail wage. My husband and I are living proof that wages have collapsed. I don't care how anecdotal that is, I know the truth, just by looking around and talking to people.

It is beyond frustrating to have to argue against this stuff.

CanCyn , January 3, 2019 at 2:57 pm

one correction, that should be "only high school" not "no high school" with regard to my husband's education.

L , January 3, 2019 at 3:03 pm

One question for the author. How do you account for the fact that payroll records, at least as I understand them, generally omit capital gains which is where the upper income generally get most of their real wealth. Stock buybacks and share disbursements are not generally considered "payroll" as I understand it.

The advantage of tax is that it should, at least in theory, show money received by individuals rather than just money sent out in one category.

oaf , January 3, 2019 at 4:51 pm

There's a lot more to inequality than money,,,

[Dec 27, 2018] The Yoda of Silicon Valley by Siobhan Roberts

Highly recommended!
Although he is certainly a giant, Knuth will never be able to complete this monograph - the technology developed too quickly. Three volumes came out in 1963-1968 and then there was a lull. January 10, he will be 81. At this age it is difficult to work in the field of mathematics and system programming. So we will probably never see the complete fourth volume.
This inability to finish the work he devoted a large part of hi life is definitely a tragedy. The key problem here is that now it is simply impossible to cover the whole area of ​​system programming and related algorithms for one person. But the first three volumes played tremendous positive role for sure.
Also he was distracted for several years to create TeX. He needed to create a non-profit and complete this work by attracting the best minds from the outside. But he is by nature a loner, as many great scientists are, and prefer to work this way.
His other mistake is due to the fact that MIX - his emulator was too far from the IBM S/360, which became the standard de-facto in mid-60th. He then realized that this was a blunder and replaced MIX with more modem emulator MIXX, but it was "too little, too late" and it took time and effort. So the first three volumes and fragments of the fourth is all that we have now and probably forever.
Not all volumes fared equally well with time. The third volume suffered most IMHO and as of 2019 is partially obsolete. Also it was written by him in some haste and some parts of it are are far from clearly written ( it was based on earlier lectures of Floyd, so it was oriented of single CPU computers only. Now when multiprocessor machines, huge amount of RAM and SSD hard drives are the norm, the situation is very different from late 60th. It requires different sorting algorithms (the importance of mergesort increased, importance of quicksort decreased). He also got too carried away with sorting random numbers and establishing upper bound and average run time. The real data is almost never random and typically contain sorted fragments. For example, he overestimated the importance of quicksort and thus pushed the discipline in the wrong direction.
Notable quotes:
"... These days, it is 'coding', which is more like 'code-spraying'. Throw code at a problem until it kind of works, then fix the bugs in the post-release, or the next update. ..."
"... AI is a joke. None of the current 'AI' actually is. It is just another new buzz-word to throw around to people that do not understand it at all. ..."
"... One good teacher makes all the difference in life. More than one is a rare blessing. ..."
Dec 17, 2018 | www.nytimes.com

With more than one million copies in print, "The Art of Computer Programming " is the Bible of its field. "Like an actual bible, it is long and comprehensive; no other book is as comprehensive," said Peter Norvig, a director of research at Google. After 652 pages, volume one closes with a blurb on the back cover from Bill Gates: "You should definitely send me a résumé if you can read the whole thing."

The volume opens with an excerpt from " McCall's Cookbook ":

Here is your book, the one your thousands of letters have asked us to publish. It has taken us years to do, checking and rechecking countless recipes to bring you only the best, only the interesting, only the perfect.

Inside are algorithms, the recipes that feed the digital age -- although, as Dr. Knuth likes to point out, algorithms can also be found on Babylonian tablets from 3,800 years ago. He is an esteemed algorithmist; his name is attached to some of the field's most important specimens, such as the Knuth-Morris-Pratt string-searching algorithm. Devised in 1970, it finds all occurrences of a given word or pattern of letters in a text -- for instance, when you hit Command+F to search for a keyword in a document.

... ... ...

During summer vacations, Dr. Knuth made more money than professors earned in a year by writing compilers. A compiler is like a translator, converting a high-level programming language (resembling algebra) to a lower-level one (sometimes arcane binary) and, ideally, improving it in the process. In computer science, "optimization" is truly an art, and this is articulated in another Knuthian proverb: "Premature optimization is the root of all evil."

Eventually Dr. Knuth became a compiler himself, inadvertently founding a new field that he came to call the "analysis of algorithms." A publisher hired him to write a book about compilers, but it evolved into a book collecting everything he knew about how to write for computers -- a book about algorithms.

... ... ...

When Dr. Knuth started out, he intended to write a single work. Soon after, computer science underwent its Big Bang, so he reimagined and recast the project in seven volumes. Now he metes out sub-volumes, called fascicles. The next installation, "Volume 4, Fascicle 5," covering, among other things, "backtracking" and "dancing links," was meant to be published in time for Christmas. It is delayed until next April because he keeps finding more and more irresistible problems that he wants to present.

In order to optimize his chances of getting to the end, Dr. Knuth has long guarded his time. He retired at 55, restricted his public engagements and quit email (officially, at least). Andrei Broder recalled that time management was his professor's defining characteristic even in the early 1980s.

Dr. Knuth typically held student appointments on Friday mornings, until he started spending his nights in the lab of John McCarthy, a founder of artificial intelligence, to get access to the computers when they were free. Horrified by what his beloved book looked like on the page with the advent of digital publishing, Dr. Knuth had gone on a mission to create the TeX computer typesetting system, which remains the gold standard for all forms of scientific communication and publication. Some consider it Dr. Knuth's greatest contribution to the world, and the greatest contribution to typography since Gutenberg.

This decade-long detour took place back in the age when computers were shared among users and ran faster at night while most humans slept. So Dr. Knuth switched day into night, shifted his schedule by 12 hours and mapped his student appointments to Fridays from 8 p.m. to midnight. Dr. Broder recalled, "When I told my girlfriend that we can't do anything Friday night because Friday night at 10 I have to meet with my adviser, she thought, 'This is something that is so stupid it must be true.'"

... ... ...

Lucky, then, Dr. Knuth keeps at it. He figures it will take another 25 years to finish "The Art of Computer Programming," although that time frame has been a constant since about 1980. Might the algorithm-writing algorithms get their own chapter, or maybe a page in the epilogue? "Definitely not," said Dr. Knuth.

"I am worried that algorithms are getting too prominent in the world," he added. "It started out that computer scientists were worried nobody was listening to us. Now I'm worried that too many people are listening."


Scott Kim Burlingame, CA Dec. 18

Thanks Siobhan for your vivid portrait of my friend and mentor. When I came to Stanford as an undergrad in 1973 I asked who in the math dept was interested in puzzles. They pointed me to the computer science dept, where I met Knuth and we hit it off immediately. Not only a great thinker and writer, but as you so well described, always present and warm in person. He was also one of the best teachers I've ever had -- clear, funny, and interested in every student (his elegant policy was each student can only speak twice in class during a period, to give everyone a chance to participate, and he made a point of remembering everyone's names). Some thoughts from Knuth I carry with me: finding the right name for a project is half the work (not literally true, but he labored hard on finding the right names for TeX, Metafont, etc.), always do your best work, half of why the field of computer science exists is because it is a way for mathematically minded people who like to build things can meet each other, and the observation that when the computer science dept began at Stanford one of the standard interview questions was "what instrument do you play" -- there was a deep connection between music and computer science, and indeed the dept had multiple string quartets. But in recent decades that has changed entirely. If you do a book on Knuth (he deserves it), please be in touch.

IMiss America US Dec. 18

I remember when programming was art. I remember when programming was programming. These days, it is 'coding', which is more like 'code-spraying'. Throw code at a problem until it kind of works, then fix the bugs in the post-release, or the next update.

AI is a joke. None of the current 'AI' actually is. It is just another new buzz-word to throw around to people that do not understand it at all. We should be in a golden age of computing. Instead, we are cutting all corners to get something out as fast as possible. The technology exists to do far more. It is the human element that fails us.

Ronald Aaronson Armonk, NY Dec. 18

My particular field of interest has always been compiler writing and have been long awaiting Knuth's volume on that subject. I would just like to point out that among Kunth's many accomplishments is the invention of LR parsers, which are widely used for writing programming language compilers.

Edward Snowden Russia Dec. 18

Yes, \TeX, and its derivative, \LaTeX{} contributed greatly to being able to create elegant documents. It is also available for the web in the form MathJax, and it's about time the New York Times supported MathJax. Many times I want one of my New York Times comments to include math, but there's no way to do so! It comes up equivalent to: $e^{i\pi}+1$.

48 Recommend
henry pick new york Dec. 18

I read it at the time, because what I really wanted to read was volume 7, Compilers. As I understood it at the time, Professor Knuth wrote it in order to make enough money to build an organ. That apparantly happened by 3:Knuth, Searching and Sorting. The most impressive part is the mathemathics in Semi-numerical (2:Knuth). A lot of those problems are research projects over the literature of the last 400 years of mathematics.

Steve Singer Chicago Dec. 18

I own the three volume "Art of Computer Programming", the hardbound boxed set. Luxurious. I don't look at it very often thanks to time constraints, given my workload. But your article motivated me to at least pick it up and carry it from my reserve library to a spot closer to my main desk so I can at least grab Volume 1 and try to read some of it when the mood strikes. I had forgotten just how heavy it is, intellectual content aside. It must weigh more than 25 pounds.

Terry Hayes Los Altos, CA Dec. 18

I too used my copies of The Art of Computer Programming to guide me in several projects in my career, across a variety of topic areas. Now that I'm living in Silicon Valley, I enjoy seeing Knuth at events at the Computer History Museum (where he was a 1998 Fellow Award winner), and at Stanford. Another facet of his teaching is the annual Christmas Lecture, in which he presents something of recent (or not-so-recent) interest. The 2018 lecture is available online - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cR9zDlvP88

Chris Tong Kelseyville, California Dec. 17

One of the most special treats for first year Ph.D. students in the Stanford University Computer Science Department was to take the Computer Problem-Solving class with Don Knuth. It was small and intimate, and we sat around a table for our meetings. Knuth started the semester by giving us an extremely challenging, previously unsolved problem. We then formed teams of 2 or 3. Each week, each team would report progress (or lack thereof), and Knuth, in the most supportive way, would assess our problem-solving approach and make suggestions for how to improve it. To have a master thinker giving one feedback on how to think better was a rare and extraordinary experience, from which I am still benefiting! Knuth ended the semester (after we had all solved the problem) by having us over to his house for food, drink, and tales from his life. . . And for those like me with a musical interest, he let us play the magnificent pipe organ that was at the center of his music room. Thank you Professor Knuth, for giving me one of the most profound educational experiences I've ever had, with such encouragement and humor!

Been there Boulder, Colorado Dec. 17

I learned about Dr. Knuth as a graduate student in the early 70s from one of my professors and made the financial sacrifice (graduate student assistantships were not lucrative) to buy the first and then the second volume of the Art of Computer Programming. Later, at Bell Labs, when I was a bit richer, I bought the third volume. I have those books still and have used them for reference for years. Thank you Dr, Knuth. Art, indeed!

Gianni New York Dec. 18

@Trerra In the good old days, before Computer Science, anyone could take the Programming Aptitude Test. Pass it and companies would train you. Although there were many mathematicians and scientists, some of the best programmers turned out to be music majors. English, Social Sciences, and History majors were represented as well as scientists and mathematicians. It was a wonderful atmosphere to work in . When I started to look for a job as a programmer, I took Prudential Life Insurance's version of the Aptitude Test. After the test, the interviewer was all bent out of shape because my verbal score was higher than my math score; I was a physics major. Luckily they didn't hire me and I got a job with IBM.

M Martínez Miami Dec. 17

In summary, "May the force be with you" means: Did you read Donald Knuth's "The Art of Computer Programming"? Excellent, we loved this article. We will share it with many young developers we know.

mds USA Dec. 17

Dr. Knuth is a great Computer Scientist. Around 25 years ago, I met Dr. Knuth in a small gathering a day before he was awarded a honorary Doctorate in a university. This is my approximate recollection of a conversation. I said-- " Dr. Knuth, you have dedicated your book to a computer (one with which he had spent a lot of time, perhaps a predecessor to PDP-11). Isn't it unusual?". He said-- "Well, I love my wife as much as anyone." He then turned to his wife and said --"Don't you think so?". It would be nice if scientists with the gift of such great minds tried to address some problems of ordinary people, e.g. a model of economy where everyone can get a job and health insurance, say, like Dr. Paul Krugman.

Nadine NYC Dec. 17

I was in a training program for women in computer systems at CUNY graduate center, and they used his obtuse book. It was one of the reasons I dropped out. He used a fantasy language to describe his algorithms in his book that one could not test on computers. I already had work experience as a programmer with algorithms and I know how valuable real languages are. I might as well have read Animal Farm. It might have been different if he was the instructor.

Doug McKenna Boulder Colorado Dec. 17

Don Knuth's work has been a curious thread weaving in and out of my life. I was first introduced to Knuth and his The Art of Computer Programming back in 1973, when I was tasked with understanding a section of the then-only-two-volume Book well enough to give a lecture explaining it to my college algorithms class. But when I first met him in 1981 at Stanford, he was all-in on thinking about typography and this new-fangled system of his called TeX. Skip a quarter century. One day in 2009, I foolishly decided kind of on a whim to rewrite TeX from scratch (in my copious spare time), as a simple C library, so that its typesetting algorithms could be put to use in other software such as electronic eBook's with high-quality math typesetting and interactive pictures. I asked Knuth for advice. He warned me, prepare yourself, it's going to consume five years of your life. I didn't believe him, so I set off and tried anyway. As usual, he was right.

Baddy Khan San Francisco Dec. 17

I have signed copied of "Fundamental Algorithms" in my library, which I treasure. Knuth was a fine teacher, and is truly a brilliant and inspiring individual. He taught during the same period as Vint Cerf, another wonderful teacher with a great sense of humor who is truly a "father of the internet". One good teacher makes all the difference in life. More than one is a rare blessing.

Indisk Fringe Dec. 17

I am a biologist, specifically a geneticist. I became interested in LaTeX typesetting early in my career and have been either called pompous or vilified by people at all levels for wanting to use. One of my PhD advisors famously told me to forget LaTeX because it was a thing of the past. I have now forgotten him completely. I still use LaTeX almost every day in my work even though I don't generally typeset with equations or algorithms. My students always get trained in using proper typesetting. Unfortunately, the publishing industry has all but largely given up on TeX. Very few journals in my field accept TeX manuscripts, and most of them convert to word before feeding text to their publishing software. Whatever people might argue against TeX, the beauty and elegance of a property typeset document is unparalleled. Long live LaTeX

PaulSFO San Francisco Dec. 17

A few years ago Severo Ornstein (who, incidentally, did the hardware design for the first router, in 1969), and his wife Laura, hosted a concert in their home in the hills above Palo Alto. During a break a friend and I were chatting when a man came over and *asked* if he could chat with us (a high honor, indeed). His name was Don. After a few minutes I grew suspicious and asked "What's your last name?" Friendly, modest, brilliant; a nice addition to our little chat.

Tim Black Wilmington, NC Dec. 17

When I was a physics undergraduate (at Trinity in Hartford), I was hired to re-write professor's papers into TeX. Seeing the beauty of TeX, I wrote a program that re-wrote my lab reports (including graphs!) into TeX. My lab instructors were amazed! How did I do it? I never told them. But I just recognized that Knuth was a genius and rode his coat-tails, as I have continued to do for the last 30 years!

Jack512 Alexandria VA Dec. 17

A famous quote from Knuth: "Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not tried it." Anyone who has ever programmed a computer will feel the truth of this in their bones.

[Dec 24, 2018] Income inequality happens by design. We cant fix it by tweaking capitalism

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Stocks have always been "a legal form of gambling". What is happening now however, is that a pair of treys can beat out your straight flush. Companies that have never turned a profit fetch huge prices on the stock market. ..."
"... The stock market suckered millions in before 2008 and then prices plummeted. Where did the money from grandpa's pension fund go? ..."
"... Abraham Lincoln said that the purpose of government is to do for people what they cannot do for themselves. Government also should serve to keep people from hurting themselves and to restrain man's greed, which otherwise cannot be self-controlled. Anyone who seeks to own productive power that they cannot or won't use for consumption are beggaring their neighbor––the equivalency of mass murder––the impact of concentrated capital ownership. ..."
"... family wealth" predicts outcomes for 10 to 15 generations. Those with extreme wealth owe it to events going back "300 to 450" years ago, according to research published by the New Republic – an era when it wasn't unusual for white Americans to benefit from an economy dependent upon widespread, unpaid black labor in the form of slavery. ..."
"... Correction: The average person in poverty in the U.S. does not live in the same abject, third world poverty as you might find in Honduras, Central African Republic, Cambodia, or the barrios of Sao Paulo. ..."
"... Since our poor don't live in abject poverty, I invite you to live as a family of four on less than $11,000 a year anywhere in the United States. If you qualify and can obtain subsidized housing you may have some of the accoutrements in your home that you seem to equate with living the high life. You know, running water, a fridge, a toilet, a stove. You would also likely have a phone (subsidized at that) so you might be able to participate (or attempt to participate) in the job market in an honest attempt to better your family's economic prospects and as is required to qualify for most assistance programs. ..."
"... So many dutiful neoliberals on here rushing to the defense of poor Capitalism. Clearly, these commentators are among those who are in the privileged position of reaping the true benefits of Capitalism - And, of course, there are many benefits to reap if you are lucky enough to be born into the right racial-socioeconomic context. ..."
"... Please walk us through how non-capitalist systems create wealth and allow their lowest class people propel themselves to the top in one generation. You will note that most socialist systems derive their technology and advancements from the more capitalistic systems. Pharmaceuticals, software, and robotics are a great example of this. I shutter to think of what the welfare of the average citizen of the world would be like without the advancements made via the capitalist countries. ..."
Dec 05, 2015 | The Guardian

The poorest Americans have no realistic hope of achieving anything that approaches income equality. They still struggle for access to the basics

... ... ...

The disparities in wealth that we term "income inequality" are no accident, and they can't be fixed by fiddling at the edges of our current economic system. These disparities happened by design, and the system structurally disadvantages those at the bottom. The poorest Americans have no realistic hope of achieving anything that approaches income equality; even their very chances for access to the most basic tools of life are almost nil.

... ... ...

Too often, the answer by those who have hoarded everything is they will choose to "give back" in a manner of their choosing – just look at Mark Zuckerberg and his much-derided plan to "give away" 99% of his Facebook stock. He is unlikely to help change inequality or poverty any more than "giving away" of $100m helped children in Newark schools.

Allowing any of the 100 richest Americans to choose how they fix "income inequality" will not make the country more equal or even guarantee more access to life. You can't take down the master's house with the master's tools, even when you're the master; but more to the point, who would tear down his own house to distribute the bricks among so very many others?

mkenney63 5 Dec 2015 20:37

Excellent article. The problems we face are structural and can only be solved by making fundamental changes. We must bring an end to "Citizens United", modern day "Jim Crow" and the military industrial complex in order to restore our democracy. Then maybe, just maybe, we can have an economic system that will treat all with fairness and respect. Crony capitalism has had its day, it has mutated into criminality.

Kencathedrus -> Marcedward 5 Dec 2015 20:23

In the pre-capitalist system people learnt crafts to keep themselves afloat. The Industrial Revolution changed all that. Now we have the church of Education promising a better life if we get into debt to buy (sorry, earn) degrees.

The whole system is messed up and now we have millions of people on this planet who can't function even those with degrees. Barbarians are howling at the gates of Europe. The USA is rotting from within. As Marx predicted the Capitalists are merely paying their own grave diggers.

mkenney63 -> Bobishere 5 Dec 2015 20:17

I would suggest you read the economic and political history of the past 30 years. To help you in your study let me recommend a couple of recent books: "Winner Take all Politics" by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson and "The Age of Acquiescence" by Steve Fraser. It always amazes me that one can be so blind the facts of recent American history; it's not just "a statistical inequality", it's been a well thought-out strategy over time to rig the system, a strategy engaged in by politicians and capitalists. Shine some light on this issue by acquainting yourself with the facts.


Maharaja Brovinda -> Singh Jill Harrison 5 Dec 2015 19:42

We play out the prisoner's dilemma in life, in general, over and over in different circumstances, every day. And we always choose the dominant - rational - solution. But the best solution is not based on rationality, but rather on trust and faith in each other - rather ironically for our current, evidence based society!


Steven Palmer 5 Dec 2015 19:19

Like crack addicts the philanthropricks only seek to extend their individual glory, social image their primary goal, and yet given the context they will burn in history. Philanthroptits should at least offset the immeasurable damage they have done through their medieval wealth accumulation. Collaborative philanthropy for basic income is a good idea, but ye, masters tools.


BlairM -> Iconoclastick 5 Dec 2015 19:10

Well, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, capitalism is the worst possible economic system, except for all those other economic systems that have been tried from time to time.

I'd rather just have the freedom to earn money as I please, and if that means inequality, it's a small price to pay for not having some feudal lord or some party bureaucrat stomping on my humanity.

brusuz 5 Dec 2015 18:52

As long as wealth can be created by shuffling money from one place to another in the giant crap shoot we call our economy, nothing will change. Until something takes place to make it advantageous for the investor capitalists to put that money to work doing something that actually produces some benefit to the society as a whole, they will continue their extractive machinations. I see nothing on the horizon that is going to change any of that, and to cast this as some sort of a racial issue is quite superficial. We have all gotten the shaft, since there is no upward mobility available to anyone. Since the Bush crowd of neocons took power, we have all been shackled with "individual solutions to societal created problems."

Jimi Del Duca 5 Dec 2015 18:31

Friends, Capitalism is structural exploitation of ALL WORKERS. Thinking about it as solely a race issue is divisive. What we need is CLASS SOLIDARITY and ORGANIZATION. See iww.org We are the fighting union with no use for capitalists!

slightlynumb -> AmyInNH 5 Dec 2015 18:04

You'd be better off reading Marx if you want to understand capitalism. I think you are ascribing the word to what you think it should be rather than what it is.

It is essentially a class structure rather than any defined economic system. Neoliberal is essentially laissez faire capitalism. It is designed to suborn nation states to corporate benefit.

AmyInNH -> tommydog

They make $40 a month. Working 7 days a week. At least 12 hour days. Who's fed you that "we're doing them a favor" BS?

And I've news for you regarding "Those whose skills are less adaptable to doing so are seeing their earnings decline." We have many people who have 3 masters degrees making less than minimum wage. We have top notch STEM students shunned so corporations can hire captive/cheaper foreign labor, called H1-Bs, who then wait 10 years working for them waiting for their employment based green card. Or "visiting" students here on J1 visas, so the employers can get out of paying: social security, federal unemployment insurance, etc.

Wake up and smell the coffee tommydog. They've more than a thumb on the scale.

seamanbodine,
I am a socialist. I decided to read this piece to see if Mr. Thrasher could write about market savagery without propounding the fiction that whites are somehow exempt from the effects of it.

No, he could not. I clicked on the link accompanying his assertion that whites who are high school dropouts earn more than blacks with college degrees, and I read the linked piece in full. The linked piece does not in fact compare income (i.e., yearly earnings) of white high school dropouts with those of black college graduates, but it does compare family wealth across racial cohorts (though not educational ones), and the gap there is indeed stark, with average white family wealth in the six figures (full disclosure, I am white, and my personal wealth is below zero, as I owe more in student loans than I own, so perhaps I am not really white, or I do not fully partake of "whiteness," or whatever), and average black family wealth in the four figures.

The reason for this likely has a lot to do with home ownership disparities, which in turn are linked in significant part to racist redlining practices. So white dropouts often live in homes their parents or grandparents bought, while many black college graduates whose parents were locked out of home ownership by institutional racism and, possibly, the withering of manufacturing jobs just as the northward migration was beginning to bear some economic fruit for black families, are still struggling to become homeowners. Thus, the higher average wealth for the dropout who lives in a family owned home.

But this is not what Mr. Thrasher wrote. He specifically used the words "earn more," creating the impression that some white ignoramus is simply going to stumble his way into a higher salary than a cultivated, college educated black person. That is simply not the case, and the difference does matter.

Why does it matter? Because I regularly see middle aged whites who are broken and homeless on the streets of the town where I live, and I know they are simply the tip of a growing mountain of privation. Yeah, go ahead, call it white tears if you want, but if you cannot see that millions (including, of course, not simply folks who are out and out homeless, but folks who are struggling to get enough to eat and routinely go without needed medication and medical care) of people who have "white privilege" are indeed oppressed by global capitalism then I would say that you are, at the end of the day, NO BETTER THAN THE WHITES YOU DISDAIN.

If you have read this far, then you realize that I am in no way denying the reality of structural racism. But an account of economic savagery that entirely subsumes it into non-economic categories (race, gender, age), that refuses to acknowledge that blacks can be exploiters and whites can be exploited, is simply conservatism by other means. One gets the sense that if we have enough black millionaires and enough whites dying of things like a lack of medical care, then this might bring just a little bit of warmth to the hearts of people like Mr. Thrasher.

Call it what you want, but don't call it progressive. Maybe it is historical karma. Which is understandable, as there is no reason why globally privileged blacks in places like the U.S. or Great Britain should bear the burden of being any more selfless or humane than globally privileged whites are or have been. The Steven Thrashers of humanity are certainly no worse than many of the whites they cannot seem to recognize as fully human are.

But nor are they any better.
JohnLG 5 Dec 2015 17:23

I agree that the term "income inequality" is so vague that falls between useless and diversionary, but so too is most use of the word "capitalism", or so it seems to me. Typically missing is a penetrating analysis of where the problem lies, a comprehensibly supported remedy, or large-scale examples of anything except what's not working. "Income inequality" is pretty abstract until we look specifically at the consequences for individuals and society, and take a comprehensive look at all that is unequal. What does "capitalism" mean? Is capitalism the root of all this? Is capitalism any activity undertaken for profit, or substantial monopolization of markets and power?

Power tends to corrupt. Money is a form of power, but there are others. The use of power to essentially cheat, oppress or kill others is corrupt, whether that power is in the form of a weapon, wealth, the powers of the state, or all of the above. Power is seductive and addictive. Even those with good intensions can be corrupted by an excess of power and insufficient accountability, while predators are drawn to power like sharks to blood. Democracy involves dispersion of power, ideally throughout a whole society. A constitutional democracy may offer protection even to minorities against a "tyranny of the majority" so long as a love of justice prevails. Selective "liberty and justice" is not liberty and justice at all, but rather a tyranny of the many against the few, as in racism, or of the few against the many, as by despots. Both forms reinforce each other in the same society, both are corrupt, and any "ism" can be corrupted by narcissism. To what degree is any society a shining example of government of, for, and by the people, and to what degree can one discover empirical evidence of corruption? What do we do about it?

AmyInNH -> CaptainGrey 5 Dec 2015 17:15

You're too funny. It's not "lifting billions out of poverty". It's moving malicious manufacturing practices to the other side of the planet. To the lands of no labor laws. To hide it from consumers. To hide profits.

And it is dying. Legislatively they choke off their natural competition, which is an essential element of capitalism. Monopoly isn't capitalism. And when they bribe legislators, we don't have democracy any more either.

Jeremiah2000 -> Teresa Trujillo 5 Dec 2015 16:53

Stocks have always been "a legal form of gambling". What is happening now however, is that a pair of treys can beat out your straight flush. Companies that have never turned a profit fetch huge prices on the stock market.

The stock market suckered millions in before 2008 and then prices plummeted. Where did the money from grandpa's pension fund go?

Gary Reber 5 Dec 2015 16:45

Abraham Lincoln said that the purpose of government is to do for people what they cannot do for themselves. Government also should serve to keep people from hurting themselves and to restrain man's greed, which otherwise cannot be self-controlled. Anyone who seeks to own productive power that they cannot or won't use for consumption are beggaring their neighbor––the equivalency of mass murder––the impact of concentrated capital ownership.

The words "OWN" and "ASSETS" are the key descriptors of the definition of wealth. But these words are not well understood by the vast majority of Americans or for that matter, global citizens. They are limited to the vocabulary used by the wealthy ownership class and financial publications, which are not widely read, and not even taught in our colleges and universities.

The wealthy ownership class did not become wealthy because they are "three times as smart." Still there is a valid argument that the vast majority of Americans do not pay particular attention to the financial world and educate themselves on wealth building within the current system's limited past-savings paradigm. Significantly, the wealthy OWNERSHIP class use their political power (power always follows property OWNERSHIP) to write the system rules to benefit and enhance their wealth. As such they have benefited from forging trade policy agreements which further concentrate OWNERSHIP on a global scale, military-industrial complex subsidies and government contracts, tax code provisions and loopholes and collective-bargaining rules – policy changes they've used their wealth to champion.

Gary Reber 5 Dec 2015 16:44

Unfortunately, when it comes to recommendations for solutions to economic inequality, virtually every commentator, politician and economist is stuck in viewing the world in one factor terms – human labor, in spite of their implied understanding that the rich are rich because they OWN the non-human means of production – physical capital. The proposed variety of wealth-building programs, like "universal savings accounts that might be subsidized for low-income savers," are not practical solutions because they rely on savings (a denial of consumption which lessens demand in the economy), which the vast majority of Americans do not have, and for those who can save their savings are modest and insignificant. Though, millions of Americans own diluted stock value through the "stock market exchanges," purchased with their earnings as labor workers (savings), their stock holdings are relatively minuscule, as are their dividend payments compared to the top 10 percent of capital owners. Pew Research found that 53 percent of Americans own no stock at all, and out of the 47 percent who do, the richest 5 percent own two-thirds of that stock. And only 10 percent of Americans have pensions, so stock market gains or losses don't affect the incomes of most retirees.

As for taxpayer-supported saving subsidies or other wage-boosting measures, those who have only their labor power and its precarious value held up by coercive rigging and who desperately need capital ownership to enable them to be capital workers (their productive assets applied in the economy) as well as labor workers to have a way to earn more income, cannot satisfy their unsatisfied needs and wants and sufficiently provide for themselves and their families. With only access to labor wages, the 99 percenters will continue, in desperation, to demand more and more pay for the same or less work, as their input is exponentially replaced by productive capital.

As such, the vast majority of American consumers will continue to be strapped to mounting consumer debt bills, stagnant wages and inflationary price pressures. As their ONLY source of income is through wage employment, economic insecurity for the 99 percent majority of people means they cannot survive more than a week or two without a paycheck. Thus, the production side of the economy is under-nourished and hobbled as a result, because there are fewer and fewer "customers with money." We thus need to free economic growth from the slavery of past savings.

I mentioned that political power follows property OWNERSHIP because with concentrated capital asset OWNERSHIP our elected representatives are far too often bought with the expectation that they protect and enhance the interests of the wealthiest Americans, the OWNERSHIP class they too overwhelmingly belong to.

Many, including the author of this article, have concluded that with such a concentrated OWNERSHIP stronghold the wealthy have on our politics, "it's hard to see where this cycle ends." The ONLY way to reverse this cycle and broaden capital asset OWNERSHIP universally is a political revolution. (Bernie Sanders, are you listening?)

The political revolution must address the problem of lack of demand. To create demand, the FUTURE economy must be financed in ways that create new capital OWNERS, who will benefit from the full earnings of the FUTURE productive capability of the American economy, and without taking from those who already OWN. This means significantly slowing the further concentration of capital asset wealth among those who are already wealthy and ensuring that the system is reformed to promote inclusive prosperity, inclusive opportunity, and inclusive economic justice.

yamialwaysright 5 Dec 2015 16:13

I was interested and in agreement until I read about structured racism. Many black kidsin the US grow up without a father in the house. They turn to anti-social behaviour and crime. Once you are poor it is hard to get out of being poor but Journalists are not doing justice to a critique of US Society if they ignore the fact that some people behave in a self-destructive way. I would imagine that if some black men in the US and the UK stuck with one woman and played a positive role in the life of their kids, those kids would have a better chance at life. People of different racial and ethnic origin do this also but there does seem to be a disproportionate problem with some black US men and some black UK men. Poverty is one problem but growing up in poverty and without a father figure adds to the problem.

What the author writes applies to other countries not just the US in relation to the super wealthy being a small proportion of the population yet having the same wealth as a high percentage of the population. This in not a black or latino issue but a wealth distribution issue that affects everyone irrespective of race or ethnic origin. The top 1%, 5% or 10% having most of the wealth is well-known in many countries.

nuthermerican4u 5 Dec 2015 15:59

Capitalism, especially the current vulture capitalism, is dog eat dog. Always was, always will be. My advice is that if you are a capitalist that values your heirs, invest in getting off this soon-to-be slag heap and find other planets to pillage and rape. Either go all out for capitalism or reign in this beast before it kills all of us.

soundofthesuburbs 5 Dec 2015 15:32

Our antiquated class structure demonstrates the trickle up of Capitalism and the need to counterbalance it with progressive taxation.

In the 1960s/1970s we used high taxes on the wealthy to counter balance the trickle up of Capitalism and achieved much greater equality.

Today we have low taxes on the wealthy and Capitalism's trickle up is widening the inequality gap.

We are cutting benefits for the disabled, poor and elderly so inequality can get wider and the idle rich can remain idle.

They have issued enough propaganda to make people think it's those at the bottom that don't work.

Every society since the dawn of civilization has had a Leisure Class at the top, in the UK we call them the Aristocracy and they have been doing nothing for centuries.

The UK's aristocracy has seen social systems come and go, but they all provide a life of luxury and leisure and with someone else doing all the work.

Feudalism - exploit the masses through land ownership
Capitalism - exploit the masses through wealth (Capital)

Today this is done through the parasitic, rentier trickle up of Capitalism:

a) Those with excess capital invest it and collect interest, dividends and rent.
b) Those with insufficient capital borrow money and pay interest and rent.

The system itself provides for the idle rich and always has done from the first civilisations right up to the 21st Century.

The rich taking from the poor is always built into the system, taxes and benefits are the counterbalance that needs to be applied externally.

Iconoclastick 5 Dec 2015 15:31

I often chuckle when I read some of the right wing comments on articles such as this. Firstly, I question if readers actually read the article references I've highlighted, before rushing to comment.

Secondly, the comments are generated by cifers who probably haven't set the world alight, haven't made a difference in their local community, they'll have never created thousands of jobs in order to reward themselves with huge dividends having and as a consequence enjoy spectacular asset/investment growth, at best they'll be chugging along, just about keeping their shit together and yet they support a system that's broken, other than for the one percent, of the one percent.

A new report from the Institute for Policy Studies issued this week analyzed the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans and found that "the wealthiest 100 households now own about as much wealth as the entire African American population in the United States". That means that 100 families – most of whom are white – have as much wealth as the 41,000,000 black folks walking around the country (and the million or so locked up) combined.

Similarly, the report also stated that "the wealthiest 186 members of the Forbes 400 own as much wealth as the entire Latino population" of the nation. Here again, the breakdown in actual humans is broke down: 186 overwhelmingly white folks have more money than that an astounding 55,000,000 Latino people.

family wealth" predicts outcomes for 10 to 15 generations. Those with extreme wealth owe it to events going back "300 to 450" years ago, according to research published by the New Republic – an era when it wasn't unusual for white Americans to benefit from an economy dependent upon widespread, unpaid black labor in the form of slavery.

soundofthesuburbs -> soundofthesuburbs 5 Dec 2015 15:26

It is the 21st Century and most of the land in the UK is still owned by the descendants of feudal warlords that killed people and stole their land and wealth.

When there is no land to build houses for generation rent, land ownership becomes an issue.

David Cameron is married into the aristocracy and George Osborne is a member of the aristocracy, they must both be well acquainted with the Leisure Class.

I can't find any hard work going on looking at the Wikipedia page for David Cameron's father-in-law. His family have been on their estate since the sixteenth century and judging by today's thinking, expect to be on it until the end of time.

George Osborne's aristocratic pedigree goes back to the Tudor era:

"he is an aristocrat with a pedigree stretching back to early in the Tudor era. His father, Sir Peter Osborne, is the 17th holder of a hereditary baronetcy that has been passed from father to son for 10 generations, and of which George is next in line."

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/george-osborne-a-silver-spoon-for-the-golden-boy-2004814.html

soundofthesuburbs 5 Dec 2015 15:24

The working and middle classes toil to keep the upper class in luxury and leisure.

In the UK nothing has changed.

We call our Leisure Class the Aristocracy.

For the first time in five millennia of human civilisation some people at the bottom of society aren't working.

We can't have that; idleness is only for the rich.

It's the way it's always been and the way it must be again.

Did you think the upper; leisure class, social calendar disappeared in the 19th Century?
No it's alive and kicking in the 21st Century ....

Peer into the lives of today's Leisure Class with Tatler. http://www.tatler.com/the-season

If we have people at the bottom who are not working the whole of civilisation will be turned on its head.

"The modern industrial society developed from the barbarian tribal society, which featured a leisure class supported by subordinated working classes employed in economically productive occupations. The leisure class is composed of people exempted from manual work and from practicing economically productive occupations, because they belong to the leisure class."

The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions, by Thorstein Veblen. It was written a long time ago but much of it is as true today as it was then. The Wikipedia entry gives a good insight.

DBChas 5 Dec 2015 15:13
"income inequality" is best viewed as structural capitalism. It's not as if, did black and brown people and female people somehow (miraculously) attain the economic status of the lower-paid, white, male person, the problem would be solved--simply by adjusting pay scales. The problem is inherent to capitalism, which doesn't mean certain "types" of people aren't more disadvantaged for their "type." No one is saying that. For capitalists, it's easier to rationalize the obscene unfairness (only rich people say, "life's not fair") when their "type" is regarded as superior to a different "type," whether that be with respect to color or gender or both.

Over time--a long time--the dominant party (white males since the Dark Ages, also the life-span of capitalism coincidentally enough) came to dominance by various means, too many to try to list, or even know of. Why white males? BTW, just because most in power and in money are white males does not mean ALL white males are in positions of power and wealth. Most are not, and these facts help to fog the issue.

Indeed, "income inequality," is not an accident, nor can it be fixed, as the author notes, by tweaking (presumably he means capitalism). And he's quite right too in saying, "You can't take down the master's house with the master's tools..." I take that ALSO to mean, the problem can't be fixed by way of what Hedges has called a collapsing liberal establishment with its various institutions, officially speaking. That is, it's not institutional racism that's collapsing, but that institution is not officially recognized as such.

HOWEVER, it IS possible, even when burdened with an economics that is capitalism, to redistribute wealth, and I don't just mean Mark Zuckerberg's. I mean all wealth in whatever form can be redistributed if/when government decides it can. And THIS TIME, unlike the 1950s-60s, not only would taxes on the wealthy be the same as then but the wealth redistributed would be redistributed to ALL, not just to white families, and perhaps in particular to red families, the oft forgotten ones.

This is a matter of political will. But, of course, if that means whites as the largest voting block insist on electing to office those without the political will, nothing will change. In that case, other means have to be considered, and just a reminder: If the government fails to serve the people, the Constitution gives to the people the right to depose that government. But again, if whites as the largest voting block AND as the largest sub-group in the nation (and women are the largest part of that block, often voting as their men vote--just the facts, please, however unpleasant) have little interest in seeing to making necessary changes at least in voting booths, then...what? Bolshevism or what? No one seems to know and it's practically taboo even to talk about possibilities. Americans did it once, but not inclusively and not even paid in many instances. When it happens again, it has to happen with and for the participation of ALL. And it's worth noting that it will have to happen again, because capitalism by its very nature cannot survive itself. That is, as Marx rightly noted, capitalism will eventually collapse by dint of its internal contradictions.


mbidding Jeremiah2000 5 Dec 2015 15:08

Correction: The average person in poverty in the U.S. does not live in the same abject, third world poverty as you might find in Honduras, Central African Republic, Cambodia, or the barrios of Sao Paulo.

Since our poor don't live in abject poverty, I invite you to live as a family of four on less than $11,000 a year anywhere in the United States. If you qualify and can obtain subsidized housing you may have some of the accoutrements in your home that you seem to equate with living the high life. You know, running water, a fridge, a toilet, a stove. You would also likely have a phone (subsidized at that) so you might be able to participate (or attempt to participate) in the job market in an honest attempt to better your family's economic prospects and as is required to qualify for most assistance programs.

Consider as well that you don't have transportation to get a job that would improve your circumstances. You earn too much to qualify for meaningful levels of food support programs and fall into the insurance gap for subsidies because you live in a state that for ideological reasons refuses to expand Medicaid coverage. Your local schools are a disgrace but you can't take advantage of so-called school choice programs (vouchers, charters, and the like) as you don't have transportation or the time (given your employer's refusal to set fixed working hours for minimum wage part time work) to get your kids to that fine choice school.

You may have a fridge and a stove, but you have no food to cook. You may have access to running water and electricity, but you can't afford to pay the bills for such on account of having to choose between putting food in that fridge or flushing that toilet. You can't be there reliably for your kids to help with school, etc, because you work constantly shifting hours for crap pay.

Get back to me after six months to a year after living in such circumstances and then tell me again how Americans don't really live in poverty simply because they have access to appliances.


Earl Shelton 5 Dec 2015 15:08

The Earned Income Tax Credit seems to me a good starting point for reform. It has been around since the 70s -- conceived by Nixon/Moynihan -- and signed by socialist (kidding) Gerald Ford -- it already *redistributes* income (don't choke on the term, O'Reilly) directly from tax revenue (which is still largely progressive) to the working poor, with kids.

That program should be massively expanded to tax the 1% -- and especially the top 1/10 of 1% (including a wealth tax) -- and distribute the money to the bottom half of society, mostly in the form of work training, child care and other things that help put them in and keep them in the middle class. It is a mechanism already in existence to correct the worst ravages of Capitalism. Use it to build shared prosperity.


oKWJNRo 5 Dec 2015 14:40

So many dutiful neoliberals on here rushing to the defense of poor Capitalism. Clearly, these commentators are among those who are in the privileged position of reaping the true benefits of Capitalism - And, of course, there are many benefits to reap if you are lucky enough to be born into the right racial-socioeconomic context.

We can probably all agree that Capitalism has brought about widespread improvements in healthcare, education, living conditions, for example, compared to the feudal system that preceded it... But it also disproportionately benefits the upper echelons of Capitalist societies and is wholly unequal by design.

Capitalism depends upon the existence of a large underclass that can be exploited. This is part of the process of how surplus value is created and wealth is extracted from labour. This much is indisputable. It is therefore obvious that capitalism isn't an ideal system for most of us living on this planet.

As for the improvements in healthcare, education, living conditions etc that Capitalism has fostered... Most of these were won through long struggles against the Capitalist hegemony by the masses. We would have certainly chosen to make these improvements to our landscape sooner if Capitalism hadn't made every effort to stop us. The problem today is that Capitalism and its powerful beneficiaries have successfully convinced us that there is no possible alternative. It won't give us the chance to try or even permit us to believe there could be another, better way.

Martin Joseph -> realdoge 5 Dec 2015 14:33

Please walk us through how non-capitalist systems create wealth and allow their lowest class people propel themselves to the top in one generation. You will note that most socialist systems derive their technology and advancements from the more capitalistic systems. Pharmaceuticals, software, and robotics are a great example of this.

I shutter to think of what the welfare of the average citizen of the world would be like without the advancements made via the capitalist countries.

VWFeature 5 Dec 2015 14:29

Markets, economies and tax systems are created by people, and based on rules they agree on. Those rules can favor general prosperity or concentration of wealth. Destruction and predation are easier than creation and cooperation, so our rules have to favor cooperation if we want to avoid predation and destructive conflicts.

In the 1930's the US changed many of those rules to favor general prosperity. Since then they've been gradually changed to favor wealth concentration and predation. They can be changed back.

The trick is creating a system that encourages innovation while putting a safety net under the population so failure doesn't end in starvation.

A large part of our current problems is the natural tendency for large companies to get larger and larger until their failure would adversely affect too many others, so they're not allowed to fail. Tax law, not antitrust law, has to work against this. If a company can reduce its tax rate by breaking into 20 smaller (still huge) companies, then competition is preserved and no one company can dominate and control markets.

Robert Goldschmidt -> Jake321 5 Dec 2015 14:27

Bernie Sanders has it right on -- we can only heal our system by first having millions rise up and demand an end to the corruption of the corporations controlling our elected representatives. Corporations are not people and money is not speech.

moonwrap02 5 Dec 2015 14:26

The effects of wealth distribution has far reaching consequences. It is not just about money, but creating a fair society - one that is co-operative and cohesive. The present system has allowed an ever divide between the rich and poor, creating a two tier society where neither the twain shall meet. The rich and poor are almost different species on the planet and no longer belong to the same community. Commonality of interest is lost and so it's difficult to form community and to have good, friendly relationships across class differences that are that large.

"If capitalism is to be seen to be fair, the same rules are to apply to the big guy as to the little guy,"

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/2-charts-that-show-what-the-world-really-thinks-about-capitalism-a6719851.html


Jeremiah2000 -> bifess 5 Dec 2015 14:17

Sorry. I get it now. You actually think that because the Washington elite has repealed Glass-Steagel that we live in a unregulated capitalistic system.

This is so far from the truth that I wasn't comprehending that anyone could think that. You can see the graph of pages published in the Federal Register here. Unregulated capitalism? Wow.

Dodd Frank was passed in 2010 (without a single Republican vote). Originally it was 2,300 pages. It is STILL being written by nameless bureaucrats and is over 20,000 pages. Unregulated capitalism? Really?

But the reality is that Goliath is conspiring with the government to regulate what size sling David can use and how many stones and how many ounces.

So we need more government regulations? They will disallow David from anything but spitwads and only two of those.


neuronmaker -> AmyInNH 5 Dec 2015 14:16

Do you understand the concept of corporations which are products of capitalism?

The legal institutions within each capitalist corporations and nations are just that, they are capitalist and all about making profits.

The law is made by the rich capitalists and for the rich capitalists. Each Legislation is a link in the chain of economic slavery by capitalists.

Capitalism and the concept of money is a construction of the human mind, as it does not exist in the natural world. This construction is all about using other human beings like blood suckers to sustain a cruel and evil life style - with blood and brutality as the core ideology.


Marcedward -> MarjaE 5 Dec 2015 14:12

I would agree that our system of help for the less-well-off could be more accessible and more generous, but that doesn't negate that point that there is a lot of help out there - the most important help being that totally free educational system. Think about it, a free education, and to get the most out of it a student merely has to show up, obey the rules, do the homework and study for tests. It's all laid out there for the kids like a helicopter mom laying out her kids clothes. How much easier can we make it? If people can't be bothered to show up and put in effort, how is their failure based on racism


tommydog -> martinusher 5 Dec 2015 14:12

As you are referring to Carlos Slim, interestingly while he is Mexican by birth his parents were both Lebanese.

slightlynumb -> AmyInNH 5 Dec 2015 14:12

Why isn't that capitalism? It's raw capitalism on steroids.

Zara Von Fritz -> Toughspike 5 Dec 2015 14:12

It's an equal opportunity plantation now.

Robert Goldschmidt 5 Dec 2015 14:11

The key to repairing the system is to identify the causes of our problems.

Here is my list:

The information technology revolution which continues to destroy wages by enabling automation and outsourcing.

The reformation of monopolies which price gouge and block innovation.

Hitting ecological limits such as climate change, water shortages, unsustainable farming.

Then we can make meaningful changes such as regulation of the portion of corporate profit that are pay, enforcement of national and regional antitrust laws and an escalating carbon tax.

Zara Von Fritz -> PostCorbyn 5 Dec 2015 14:11

If you can believe these quality of life or happiness indexes they put out so often, the winners tend to be places that have nice environments and a higher socialist mix in their economy. Of course there are examples of poor countries that practice the same but its not clear that their choice is causal rather than reactive.

We created this mess and we can fix it.

Zara Von Fritz -> dig4victory 5 Dec 2015 14:03

Yes Basic Income is possibly the mythical third way. It socialises wealth to a point but at the same time frees markets from their obligation to perpetually grow and create jobs for the sake of jobs and also hereford reduces the subsequent need for governments to attempt to control them beyond maintaining their health.

Zara Von Fritz 5 Dec 2015 13:48

As I understand it, you don't just fiddle with capitalism, you counteract it, or counterweight it. A level of capitalism, or credit accumulation, and a level of socialism has always existed, including democracy which is a manifestation of socialism (1 vote each). So the project of capital accumulation seems to be out of control because larger accumulations become more powerful and meanwhile the power of labour in the marketplace has become less so due to forces driving unemployment. The danger is that capital's power to control the democratic system reaches a point of no return.


Jeremiah2000 -> bifess 5 Dec 2015 13:42

"I do not have the economic freedom to grow my own food because i do not have access to enough land to grow it and i do not have the economic clout to buy a piece of land."

Economic freedom does NOT mean you get money for free. It means that means that if you grow food for personal use, the federal government doesn't trash the Constitution by using the insterstate commerce clause to say that it can regulate how much you grow on your own personal land.

Economic freedom means that if you have a widget, you can choose to set the price for $10 or $100 and that a buyer is free to buy it from you or not buy it from you. It does NOT mean that you are entitled to "free" widgets.

"If capitalism has not managed to eradicate poverty in rich first world countries then just what chance if there of capitalism eradicating poverty on a global scale?"

The average person in poverty in the U.S. doesn't live in poverty:

In fact, 80.9 percent of households below the poverty level have cell phones, and a healthy majority-58.2 percent-have computers.

Fully 96.1 percent of American households in "poverty" have a television to watch, and 83.2 percent of them have a video-recording device in case they cannot get home in time to watch the football game or their favorite television show and they want to record it for watching later.

Refrigerators (97.8 percent), gas or electric stoves (96.6 percent) and microwaves (93.2 percent) are standard equipment in the homes of Americans in "poverty."

More than 83 percent have air-conditioning.

Interestingly, the appliances surveyed by the Census Bureau that households in poverty are least likely to own are dish washers (44.9 percent) and food freezers (26.2 percent).

However, most Americans in "poverty" do not need to go to a laundromat. According to the Census Bureau, 68.7 percent of households in poverty have a clothes washer and 65.3 percent have a clothes dryer.

(Data from the U.S. census.)

[Dec 23, 2018] Trump proposes cutting food stamps for over 700,000 people just before Christmas by Matthew Rozsa

Dec 20, 2018 | www.salon.com

President Donald Trump is planning on using his executive powers to cut food stamps for more than 700,000 Americans.

The United States Department of Agriculture is proposing that states should only be allowed to waive a current food stamps requirement -- namely, that adults without dependents must work or participate in a job-training program for at least 20 hours each week if they wish to collect food stamps for more than three months in a three-year period -- on the condition that those adults live in areas where unemployment is above 7 percent, according to The Washington Post . Currently the USDA regulations permit states to waive that requirement if an adult lives in an area where the unemployment rate is at least 20 percent greater than the national rate. In effect, this means that roughly 755,000 Americans would potentially lose their waivers that permit them to receive food stamps.

The current unemployment rate is 3.7 percent.

The Trump administration's decision to impose the stricter food stamp requirements through executive action constitutes an end-run around the legislative process. Although Trump is expected to sign an $870 billion farm bill later this week -- and because food stamps goes through the Agriculture Department, it contains food stamp provisions -- the measure does not include House stipulations restricting the waiver program and imposing new requirements on parents with children between the ages of six and 12. The Senate version ultimately removed those provisions, meaning that the version being signed into law does not impose a conservative policy on food stamps, which right-wing members of Congress were hoping for.

"Congress writes laws, and the administration is required to write rules based on the law," Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., told The New York Times (Stabenow is the top Democrat on the Senate's agriculture committee). "Administrative changes should not be driven by ideology. I do not support unilateral and unjustified changes that would take food away from families."

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

[Dec 17, 2018] Withouth the USSR as a countervailing force the level of inequality in Western societies will always rise to the level on which riots will start and then will fluctuates around this level.

Dec 17, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

AmyInNH -> Riever , 23 Aug 2016 10:00

Swing between extremes, however, consistent in US history, economic predatory dependence on free/ultra cheap labor with no legal rights. Current instantiation, offshored and illegal and "temporary" immigrant labor. Note neither party in the US is proposing "immigration reform" is green card upon hire. Ds merely propose green card for time served for those over X number of years donated as captive/cheap.
The entitled to cheap/captive now want it in law, national laws and trade agreements.
All privilege/no responsibilities, including taxes.
Doesn't scale. 1929 says so, 2008 says so.
CivilDiscussion , 23 Aug 2016 10:25
Liberals, the Left, Progressives -- whatever you want to call them suffer from a basic problem. They don't work together and have no common goals. As the article stated they complain but offer no real solutions that they can agree on. Should we emphasize gay pride or should we emphasize good-paying jobs and benefits with good social welfare benefits? Until they can agree at least on priorities they will never reform the current corrupt system -- it is too entrenched. Even if the Capitalist Monstrosity we have now self-destructs as the writer indicates -- nothing good will replace it until the Left get their act together.
AmyInNH -> Juillette , 23 Aug 2016 10:16
"Lesser of two evils" needs to go on the burn pile.
Encumbent congress needs a turn over.
Not showing up to vote is not okay. If people can't think of someone they want to write-in, "none of the above" is a protest vote. Not voting is silence, which equals consent.
Local elections, beat back Koch/ALEC, hiding on ballots as "Libertarian". "Privatize everything" is their mantra, so they can further profitize via inescapeable taxes, while gutting "regulation" - safety and market integrity, with no accountability.
Corporation 101: limited liability. While means we are left holding the bag. As in bailout - $125 billion in 1990, up to $7.7 trillion in 2008.
Dave_P -> Isiodore , 23 Aug 2016 09:59
Anything the Economist presents as the overriding choice is probably best relegated to one factor among many. I respect Milanovic's work, but he's seeing things from where we are now. Remember we've seen populist surges come and go from the witch-burnings and religious panics of the 17th century to 1890s Bryanism and the 1930s far right, and each time they've yielded to a more articulate vision, though the last time it cost sixty million dead - not something we want to see repeated. This time it's hard because dissent still clings to a "post-ideological" delusion that those on top never succumbed to. But change will come as what I'd term "post-rational" alternatives fail to deliver. Let's hope it's sooner rather than later.
willpodmore , 23 Aug 2016 09:53
"Brexit, too, was primarily a working-class revolt." Thank you Martin, at least someone writing in the Guardian has got the point!
We voted against the EU's unelected European Central Bank, its unelected European Commission, its European Court of Justice, its Common Agricultural Policy and its Common Fisheries Policy.
We voted against the EU's treaty-enshrined 'austerity' (= depression) policies, which have impoverished Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy.
We voted against the EU/US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which would privatise all our public services, which threatens all our rights, and which discriminates against the countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
We voted against the EU's tariffs against African farmers' cheaper produce.
We opposed the City of London Corporation, the Institute of Directors, the CBI, the IMF, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley, which all wanted us to stay in the EU.
We voted against the EU's undemocratic trilogue procedure and its pro-austerity Semester programme. We voted to leave this undemocratic, privatisation-enforcing, austerity-enforcing body.
AmyInNH -> ciaofornow , 23 Aug 2016 10:39
Bailout was because that was public savings, pensions, 401ks, etc. the banks were playing with, and lost. Bailout is billing all of us for it. Bad, letting the banks/financial "services" not only survive but continue the exact same practices.
Bailout: $7.2 to $7.7 trillion. Current derivative holdings: $500 trillion.
Not just moral hazard but economic hazard when capitalism basic rule is broken, allow bad businesses to die of their own accord. Subversion currently called "too big to fail", rather than tell the public "we lost all your savings, pensions, ...".
AmyInNH -> Dave_P , 23 Aug 2016 09:40
Relocating poverty from the East into the West isn't improvement.
Creating sweatshops in the East isn't raising their standard of living.
Creating economies so economically unstable that population declines isn't improvement.
Trying to bury that fact with immigration isn't improvement.
Configuring all of the above for record profit for the benefit of a tiny percentage of the population isn't improvement.
Gaming tax law to avoid paying into/for extensive business use of federal services and tax base isn't improvement.
Game over. Time for a reboot.
marxistelf -> Tobyrob , 23 Aug 2016 09:24
I am glad you finally concede a point on neo-liberalism. The moral hazard argument is extremely poor and typical in this era of runaway CEO pay, of a tendency to substitute self-help fables (a la "The monk who sold his Ferrari) and pop psychology ( a la Moral Hazard) for credible economic analysis.
The economic crisis is rooted in the profit motive just as capitalist economic growth is. Lowering of Tarrif barriers, outsourcing, changes in value capture (added value), new financial instruments, were attempts to restore the falling rate of profit. They did for a while, but, as always happens with Capitalism, the seeds of the new crisis were in the solution to the old.
And all the while the state continues growing in an attempt to keep capitalism afloat. Neoliberalism failed ( or should I say "small state" ) and here is the graph to prove it:
http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/include/usgs_chartSp03t.png
Homer32 , 23 Aug 2016 07:32
Interesting, and I believe accurate, analysis of the economic and political forces afoot. However it is ludicrous to state that Donald trump, who is a serial corpratist, out-sourcer, tax avoider and scam artist, actually believes any of those populist principles that you ascribe so firmly to him. The best and safest outcome of our election, in my opinion, would be to have a Clinton administration tempered by the influences from the populist wings of both parties.
Juillette , 23 Aug 2016 06:42
Great article, however the elite globalists are in complete denial in the US. Our only choice is to vote them out of power because the are owned by Wall Street. Both Bernie and Trump supporters should unite to vote establishment out of Washington.
Dave_P -> ShaunNewman , 23 Aug 2016 06:38
The opiate of the masses. As the churches empty, the stadiums fill.
Dave_P -> ciaofornow , 23 Aug 2016 06:36
There were similar observations in the immediate aftermath of 2008, and doubtless before. Many of us thought the crisis would trigger a rethink of the whole direction of the previous three decades, but instead we got austerity and a further lurch to the right, or at best Obama-style stimulus and modest tweaks which were better than the former but still rather missed the point. I still find it flabbergasting and depressing, but on reflection the 1930s should have been a warning of not just the economic hazards but also the political fallout, at least in Europe. The difference was that this time left ideology had all but vacated the field in the 1980s and was in no position to lead a fightback: all we can hope for is better late than never.
idontreadtheguardian -> thisisafact , 23 Aug 2016 05:16
Yes it is, it's an extremely bad thing destroying the fabric of society. Social science has documented that even the better off are more happy, satisfied with life and feel safer in societies (i.e. the Scandinavian) where there is a relatively high degree of economic equality. Yes, economic inequality is a BAD thing in itself.

Oh, give me a break. Social science will document anything it can publish, no matter how spurious. If Scandanavia is so great, why are they such pissheads? There has always been inequality, including in workers' paradises like the Soviet Union and Communist China. Inequality is what got us where we are today, through natural selection. Phenotype is largely dependent on genotype, so why shouldn't we pass on material wealth as well as our genes? Surely it is a parent's right to afford their offspring advantages if they can do so?

SaulGe -> John Black , 23 Aug 2016 03:30
Have you got any numbers? Or references for your allegations. I say the average or median wealth, opportunity, economic circumstance and health measures are substantially better than a generation (lets say 30 years) ago.

Heres this years data. Note the top 25 or so are almost all liberal western type democracies with mixed economies. http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_price_rankings?itemId=105

And here is the graph showing growth in wages whilst it slowed for a variety of complex reasons has been overall strong for 25 of the last 30 years http://www.rba.gov.au/publications/bulletin/2015/jun/pdf/bu-0615-2.pdf

Again I don't think our system is perfect. I don't deny that some in our societies struggle and don't benefit, particularly the poorly educated, disabled, mentally ill and drug addicted. I actually agree that we could better target our social redistribution from those that have to those that need help. I disagree that we need higher taxes, protectionism, socialism, more public servants, more legislation. Indeed I disagree with proposition that other systems are better.

shastakath -> TimWorstall , 23 Aug 2016 03:17
George Orwell said, in the 30s, that the price of social justice would include a lowering of living standards for the working- & middle-classes, at least temporarily, so I follow your line of thought. However, the outrageous tilt toward the upper .1% has no "adjustment" fluff to shield it from the harsh despotism it represents. So, do put that in your statistical pipe and smoke it.

[Dec 16, 2018] Palace of Ashes China and the Decline of American Higher Education by Mark S. Ferrara

Notable quotes:
"... I see this in young people all around, 25-35 year old's saddled with $50-100k in debt defining every action and option they have (or don't!). Not everyone gets themselves into this bind, people make poor decisions, but our higher educational institutions readily promote without ample warning and education and the result is what's rumored to be a $1 Trillion student loan debt bubble. This isn't sustainable ..."
"... Educational institutions should not be seen as a profit making enterprise, education should be attainable to all without the fear of untenable costs. ..."
Dec 16, 2018 | www.amazon.com

Andrew S 4.0 out of 5 stars An in-depth discussion on education and how we got to where we are today in the US... September 21, 2018 Format: Hardcover

A very scholarly and educational read, well researched and documented. It is very in-depth, perhaps not for the light hearted but I learned quite a bit about education philosophies world-wide, their origins, how that effects current thoughts and practices, etc. And how the United States higher educational institutions have gotten to where they are today, money printing machines with unsustainable growth and costs being pushed onto those just seeking to potentially better themselves.

I see this in young people all around, 25-35 year old's saddled with $50-100k in debt defining every action and option they have (or don't!). Not everyone gets themselves into this bind, people make poor decisions, but our higher educational institutions readily promote without ample warning and education and the result is what's rumored to be a $1 Trillion student loan debt bubble. This isn't sustainable

My years in oversea schools took place long ago, I can't testify nor draw direction comparisons to the situation we face today. But I can say, that with three young kids approaching college age we remain highly concerned to terrified what the costs and our kids futures.

Educational institutions should not be seen as a profit making enterprise, education should be attainable to all without the fear of untenable costs.

This is a good read, recommended.

[Dec 14, 2018] 10 of the best pieces of IT advice I ever heard

Dec 14, 2018 | www.techrepublic.com
  1. Learn to say "no"

    If you're new to the career, chances are you'll be saying "yes" to everything. However, as you gain experience and put in your time, the word "no" needs to creep into your vocabulary. Otherwise, you'll be exploited.

    Of course, you have to use this word with caution. Should the CTO approach and set a task before you, the "no" response might not be your best choice. But if you find end users-and friends-taking advantage of the word "yes," you'll wind up frustrated and exhausted at the end of the day.

  2. Be done at the end of the day

    I used to have a ritual at the end of every day. I would take off my watch and, at that point, I was done... no more work. That simple routine saved my sanity more often than not. I highly suggest you develop the means to inform yourself that, at some point, you are done for the day. Do not be that person who is willing to work through the evening and into the night... or you'll always be that person.

  3. Don't beat yourself up over mistakes made

    You are going to make mistakes. Sometimes will be simple and can be quickly repaired. Others may lean toward the catastrophic. But when you finally call your IT career done, you will have made plenty of mistakes. Beating yourself up over them will prevent you from moving forward. Instead of berating yourself, learn from the mistakes so you don't repeat them.

  4. Always have something nice to say

    You work with others on a daily basis. Too many times I've watched IT pros become bitter, jaded people who rarely have anything nice or positive to say. Don't be that person. If you focus on the positive, people will be more inclined to enjoy working with you, companies will want to hire you, and the daily grind will be less "grindy."

  5. Measure twice, cut once

    How many times have you issued a command or clicked OK before you were absolutely sure you should? The old woodworking adage fits perfectly here. Considering this simple sentence-before you click OK-can save you from quite a lot of headache. Rushing into a task is never the answer, even during an emergency. Always ask yourself: Is this the right solution?

  6. At every turn, be honest

    I've witnessed engineers lie to avoid the swift arm of justice. In the end, however, you must remember that log files don't lie. Too many times there is a trail that can lead to the truth. When the CTO or your department boss discovers this truth, one that points to you lying, the arm of justice will be that much more forceful. Even though you may feel like your job is in jeopardy, or the truth will cause you added hours of work, always opt for the truth. Always.

  7. Make sure you're passionate about what you're doing

    Ask yourself this question: Am I passionate about technology? If not, get out now; otherwise, that job will beat you down. A passion for technology, on the other hand, will continue to drive you forward. Just know this: The longer you are in the field, the more likely that passion is to falter. To prevent that from happening, learn something new.

  8. Don't stop learning

    Quick-how many operating systems have you gone through over the last decade? No career evolves faster than technology. The second you believe you have something perfected, it changes. If you decide you've learned enough, it's time to give up the keys to your kingdom. Not only will you find yourself behind the curve, all those servers and desktops you manage could quickly wind up vulnerable to every new attack in the wild. Don't fall behind.

  9. When you feel your back against a wall, take a breath and regroup

    This will happen to you. You'll be tasked to upgrade a server farm and one of the upgrades will go south. The sweat will collect, your breathing will reach panic level, and you'll lock up like Windows Me. When this happens... stop, take a breath, and reformulate your plan. Strangely enough, it's that breath taken in the moment of panic that will help you survive the nightmare. If a single, deep breath doesn't help, step outside and take in some fresh air so that you are in a better place to change course.

  10. Don't let clients see you Google a solution

    This should be a no-brainer... but I've watched it happen far too many times. If you're in the middle of something and aren't sure how to fix an issue, don't sit in front of a client and Google the solution. If you have to, step away, tell the client you need to use the restroom and, once in the safety of a stall, use your phone to Google the answer. Clients don't want to know you're learning on their dime.

See also

  • [Dec 14, 2018] Blatant neoliberal propagamda anout "booming US job market" by Danielle Paquette

    That's way too much hype even for WaPo pressitutes... The reality is that you can apply to 50 jobs and did not get a single responce.
    Dec 12, 2018 | www.latimes.com

    Economists report that workers are starting to act like millennials on Tinder: They're ditching jobs with nary a text. "A number of contacts said that they had been 'ghosted,' a situation in which a worker stops coming to work without notice and then is impossible to contact," the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago noted in December's Beige Book report, which tracks employment trends. Advertisement > National data on economic "ghosting" is lacking. The term, which normally applies to dating, first surfaced on Dictionary.com in 2016. But companies across the country say silent exits are on the rise. Analysts blame America's increasingly tight labor market. Job openings have surpassed the number of seekers for eight straight months, and the unemployment rate has clung to a 49-year low of 3.7% since September. Janitors, baristas, welders, accountants, engineers -- they're all in demand, said Michael Hicks, a labor economist at Ball State University in Indiana. More people may opt to skip tough conversations and slide right into the next thing. "Why hassle with a boss and a bunch of out-processing," he said, "when literally everyone has been hiring?" Recruiters at global staffing firm Robert Half have noticed a 10% to 20% increase in ghosting over the last year, D.C. district President Josh Howarth said. Applicants blow off interviews. New hires turn into no-shows. Workers leave one evening and never return. "You feel like someone has a high level of interest, only for them to just disappear," Howarth said. Over the summer, woes he heard from clients emerged in his own life. A job candidate for a recruiter role asked for a day to mull over an offer, saying she wanted to discuss the terms with her spouse. Then she halted communication. "In fairness," Howarth said, "there are some folks who might have so many opportunities they're considering, they honestly forget." Keith Station, director of business relations at Heartland Workforce Solutions, which connects job hunters with companies in Omaha, said workers in his area are most likely to skip out on low-paying service positions. "People just fall off the face of the Earth," he said of the area, which has an especially low unemployment rate of 2.8%. Some employers in Nebraska are trying to head off unfilled shifts by offering apprentice programs that guarantee raises and additional training over time. "Then you want to stay and watch your wage grow," Station said. Advertisement > Other recruitment businesses point to solutions from China, where ghosting took off during the last decade's explosive growth. "We generally make two offers for every job because somebody doesn't show up," said Rebecca Henderson, chief executive of Randstad Sourceright, a talent acquisition firm. And if both hires stick around, she said, her multinational clients are happy to deepen the bench. Though ghosting in the United States does not yet require that level of backup planning, consultants urge employers to build meaningful relationships at every stage of the hiring process. Someone who feels invested in an enterprise is less likely to bounce, said Melissa and Johnathan Nightingale, who have written about leadership and dysfunctional management. "Employees leave jobs that suck," they said in an email. "Jobs where they're abused. Jobs where they don't care about the work. And the less engaged they are, the less need they feel to give their bosses any warning." Some employees are simply young and restless, said James Cooper, former manager of the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park, where he said people ghosted regularly. A few of his staffers were college students who lived in park dormitories for the summer. "My favorite," he said, "was a kid who left a note on the floor in his dorm room that said, 'Sorry bros, had to ghost.' " Other ghosters describe an inner voice that just says: Nah. Zach Keel, a 26-year-old server in Austin, Texas, made the call last year to flee a combination bar and cinema after realizing he would have to clean the place until sunrise. More work, he calculated, was always around the corner. "I didn't call," Keel said. "I didn't show up. I figured: No point in feeling guilty about something that wasn't that big of an issue. Turnover is so high, anyway."

    [Dec 14, 2018] You apply for a job. You hear nothing. Here's what to do next

    Dec 14, 2018 | finance.yahoo.com

    But the more common situation is that applicants are ghosted by companies. They apply for a job and never hear anything in response, not even a rejection. In the U.S., companies are generally not legally obligated to deliver bad news to job candidates, so many don't.

    They also don't provide feedback, because it could open the company up to a legal risk if it shows that they decided against a candidate for discriminatory reasons protected by law such as race, gender or disability.

    Hiring can be a lengthy process, and rejecting 99 candidates is much more work than accepting one. But a consistently poor hiring process that leaves applicants hanging can cause companies to lose out on the best talent and even damage perception of their brand.

    Here's what companies can do differently to keep applicants in the loop, and how job seekers can know that it's time to cut their losses.


    What companies can do differently

    There are many ways that technology can make the hiring process easier for both HR professionals and applicants.

    Only about half of all companies get back to the candidates they're not planning to interview, Natalia Baryshnikova, director of product management on the enterprise product team at SmartRecruiters, tells CNBC Make It .

    "Technology has defaults, one change is in the default option," Baryshnikova says. She said that SmartRecruiters changed the default on its technology from "reject without a note" to "reject with a note," so that candidates will know they're no longer involved in the process.

    Companies can also use technology as a reminder to prioritize rejections. For the company, rejections are less urgent than hiring. But for a candidate, they are a top priority. "There are companies out there that get back to 100 percent of candidates, but they are not yet common," Baryshnikova says.

    How one company is trying to help

    WayUp was founded to make the process of applying for a job simpler.

    "The No. 1 complaint from candidates we've heard, from college students and recent grads especially, is that their application goes into a black hole," Liz Wessel, co-founder and CEO of WayUp, a platform that connects college students and recent graduates with employers, tells CNBC Make It .

    WayUp attempts to increase transparency in hiring by helping companies source and screen applicants, and by giving applicants feedback based on soft skills. They also let applicants know if they have advanced to the next round of interviewing within 24 hours.

    Wessel says that in addition to creating a better experience for applicants, WayUp's system helps companies address bias during the resume-screening processes. Resumes are assessed for hard skills up front, then each applicant participates in a phone screening before their application is passed to an employer. This ensures that no qualified candidate is passed over because their resume is different from the typical hire at an organization – something that can happen in a company that uses computers instead of people to scan resumes .

    "The companies we work with see twice as many minorities getting to offer letter," Wessel said.

    When you can safely assume that no news is bad news

    First, if you do feel that you're being ghosted by a company after sending in a job application, don't despair. No news could be good news, so don't assume right off the bat that silence means you didn't get the job.

    Hiring takes time, especially if you're applying for roles where multiple people could be hired, which is common in entry-level positions. It's possible that an HR team is working through hundreds or even thousands of resumes, and they might not have gotten to yours yet. It is not unheard of to hear back about next steps months after submitting an initial application.

    If you don't like waiting, you have a few options. Some companies have application tracking in their HR systems, so you can always check to see if the job you've applied for has that and if there's been an update to the status of your application.

    Otherwise, if you haven't heard anything, Wessel said that the only way to be sure that you aren't still in the running for the job is to determine if the position has started. Some companies will publish their calendar timelines for certain jobs and programs, so check that information to see if your resume could still be in review.

    "If that's the case and the deadline has passed," Wessel says, it's safe to say you didn't get the job.

    And finally, if you're still unclear on the status of your application, she says there's no problem with emailing a recruiter and asking outright.

    [Dec 13, 2018] Why inequality matters?

    Notable quotes:
    "... Somewhat foolishly he deepened the cleavage between himself and ordinary people by both his patrician predilections and the love of lecturing ..."
    Dec 13, 2018 | economistsview.typepad.com

    anne , December 07, 2018 at 04:13 PM

    https://glineq.blogspot.com/2018/12/why-inequality-matters.html

    December 5, 2018

    Why inequality matters?

    This is the question that I am often asked and will be asked in two days. So I decided to write my answers down.

    The argument why inequality should not matter is almost always couched in the following way: if everybody is getting better-off, why should we care if somebody is becoming extremely rich? Perhaps he deserves to be rich -- or whatever the case, even if he does not deserve, we need not worry about his wealth. If we do that implies envy and other moral flaws. I have dealt with the misplaced issue of envy here * (in response to points made by Martin Feldstein) and here ** (in response to Harry Frankfurt), and do not want to repeat it. So, let's leave envy out and focus on the reasons why we should be concerned about high inequality.

    The reasons can be formally broken down into three groups: instrumental reasons having to do with economic growth, reasons of fairness, and reasons of politics.

    The relationship between inequality and economic growth is one of the oldest relationships studied by economists. A very strong presumption was that without high profits there will be no growth, and high profits imply substantial inequality. We find this argument already in Ricardo where profit is the engine of economic growth. We find it also in Keynes and Schumpeter, and then in standard models of economic growth. We find it even in the Soviet industrialization debates. To invest you have to have profits (that is, surplus above subsistence); in a privately-owned economy it means that some people have to be wealthy enough to save and invest, and in a state-directed economy, it means that the state should take all the surplus.

    But notice that throughout the argument is not one in favor of inequality as such. If it were, we would not be concerned about the use of the surplus. The argument is about a seemingly paradoxical behavior of the wealthy: they should be sufficiently rich but should not use that money to live well and consume but to invest. This point is quite nicely, and famously, made by Keynes in the opening paragraphs of his "The Economic Consequence of the Peace". For us, it is sufficient to note that this is an argument in favor of inequality provided wealth is not used for private pleasure.

    The empirical work conducted in the past twenty years has failed to uncover a positive relationship between inequality and growth. The data were not sufficiently good, especially regarding inequality where the typical measure used was the Gini coefficient which is too aggregate and inert to capture changes in the distribution; also the relationship itself may vary in function of other variables, or the level of development. This has led economists to a cul-de-sac and discouragement so much so that since the late 1990s and early 2000s such empirical literature has almost ceased to be produced. It is reviewed in more detail in this paper. ***

    More recently, with much better data on income distribution, the argument that inequality and growth are negatively correlated has gained ground. In a joint paper **** Roy van der Weide and I show this using forty years of US micro data. With better data and somewhat more sophisticated thinking about inequality, the argument becomes much more nuanced: inequality may be good for future incomes of the rich (that is, they become even richer) but it may be bad for future incomes of the poor (that is, they fall further behind). In this dynamic framework, growth rate itself is no longer something homogeneous as indeed it is not in the real life. When we say that the American economy is growing at 3% per year, it simply means that the overall income increased at that rate, it tells us nothing about how much better off, or worse off, individuals at different points of income distribution are getting.

    Why would inequality have bad effect on the growth of the lower deciles of the distribution as Roy and I find? Because it leads to low educational (and even health) achievements among the poor who become excluded from meaningful jobs and from meaningful contributions they could make to their own and society's improvement. Excluding a certain group of people from good education, be it because of their insufficient income or gender or race, can never be good for the economy, or at least it can never be preferable to their inclusion.

    High inequality which effectively debars some people from full participation translates into an issue of fairness or justice. It does so because it affects inter-generational mobility. People who are relatively poor (which is what high inequality means) are not able, even if they are not poor in an absolute sense, to provide for their children a fraction of benefits, from education and inheritance to social capital, that the rich provide to their offspring. This implies that inequality tends to persist across generations which in turns means that opportunities are vastly different for those at the top of the pyramid and those on the bottom. We have the two factors joining forces here: on the one hand, the negative effect of exclusion on growth that carries over generations (which is our instrumental reason for not liking high inequality), and on the other, lack of equality of opportunity (which is an issue of justice).

    High inequality has also political effects. The rich have more political power and they use that political power to promote own interests and to entrench their relative position in the society. This means that all the negative effects due to exclusion and lack of equality of opportunity are reinforced and made permanent (at least, until a big social earthquake destroys them). In order to fight off the advent of such an earthquake, the rich must make themselves safe and unassailable from "conquest". This leads to adversarial politics and destroys social cohesion. Ironically, social instability which then results discourages investments of the rich, that is it undermines the very action that was at the beginning adduced as the key reason why high wealth and inequality may be socially desirable.

    We therefore reach the end point where the unfolding of actions that were at the first supposed to produce beneficent outcome destroys by its own logic the original rationale. We have to go back to the beginning and instead of seeing high inequality as promoting investments and growth, we begin to see it, over time, as producing exactly the opposite effects: reducing investments and growth.

    * https://www.gc.cuny.edu/CUNY_GC/media/CUNY-Graduate-Center/PDF/Centers/LIS/Milanovic/papers/2004/challenge_proofs.pdf

    ** http://glineq.blogspot.com/2015/08/all-our-needs-are-social.html

    *** http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/888731468331207447/pdf/WPS6963.pdf

    **** https://www.gc.cuny.edu/CUNY_GC/media/LISCenter/Branko%20Milanovic/vdWeide_Milanovic_Inequality_bad_for_the_growth_of_the_poor_not_the_rich_2018.pdf

    -- Branko Milanovic

    Darrell in Phoenix said in reply to anne... , December 07, 2018 at 05:59 PM
    "he argument is about a seemingly paradoxical behavior of the wealthy: they should be sufficiently rich but should not use that money to live well and consume but to invest."

    I disagree on this. I do not care if they use the high income to invest or to live well, as long as it is one or the other.

    The one thing I do not want the rich to do is to become a drain of money out of active circulation. The paradox of thrift. Excess saving by one dooms others into excess debt to keep the economy liquid.

    If you invent a new widget that everyone on earth simply must have, and is willing to give you $1 per to get it, such that you have $7 billion a year income... good for you!

    Now what do you deserve in return?

    1) To consumer $7 billion worth of other peoples' production?

    Or

    2) To trap the rest of humanity in $7 billion a year worth of debt servitude, which will have your income ever increase as interest is added to your income, a debt servitude from which it will be mathematically impossible for them to escape since you hold the money that they must get in order to repay their debts?

    I vote 1.

    Paine -> Darrell in Phoenix... , December 08, 2018 at 05:33 AM
    Yes it's corporate capitalist actions that matter

    The choice of capitalists to buy paper not products

    Wealthy households are obscene But not macro drags. When they buy luxury products and personal services

    When they buy existing stocks of land paintings and the like of course this is as bad as buying paper. But at least that portfolio shifting
    Can CO exist with product purchases. So long as each type of spending remains close to a stable ratio

    Darrell in Phoenix said in reply to Paine... , December 08, 2018 at 07:07 AM
    In my "ideal" tax regimen, steeply progressive income taxes would be avoided by real property spending or capital investment to get deductions.

    This, of course, would lead to over-investment in land, buildings, houses, etc. WHICH is why my regimen also includes a real property tax (in addition to state and local real estate taxes). The income tax would not be "avoided" by real property purchases as much as "delayed".

    To avoid 90% income tax, buy diamonds, paintings, expensive autos... then only pay 5% per year on the real property, spreading the the tax over 20 years. Buy land, buildings, houses, etc., get hit with the 5%, plus the local real estate taxes.

    Paine -> Darrell in Phoenix... , December 08, 2018 at 09:33 AM
    A 100 % ground rent tax Ie a location value confiscatory tax

    Can be off set by credits earned with the costs of "real " land improvements

    Paine -> Paine... , December 08, 2018 at 09:36 AM
    Existing stocks of jewels and paintings should be taxed
    to extract the socially created
    value of the item
    This is an analogue to location taxes

    Yes this can be avoided by.domation to a non.profit museum archive

    kurt -> Darrell in Phoenix... , December 10, 2018 at 03:00 PM
    It really depends on what is consumed. Consumption can lead to malinvestment. For instance, buying 1960s ferraris does very little for the current economy. This is an exceptionally low multiplier activity.
    Soul Super Bad said in reply to anne... , December 07, 2018 at 06:37 PM
    inequality have bad effect on the growth of the lower deciles of the distribution as Roy and I
    "
    ~~BM~

    keep in mind that there are many directions of growth. there is growth that benefits the workers, the rank-and-file. there is growth that benefits the excessively wealthy. but now, finally there's a third type of growth, the kind of growth that destroys the planet, and perhaps a 4th a new channel of growth that would help us to preserve the planet. we need to think about some of these things.

    https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/Screen-Shot-2018-11-29-at-2.41.17-PM.png?itok=WhDnbuoT

    thanks, gals and
    guys
    !

    reason -> anne... , December 08, 2018 at 01:59 AM
    One VERY important item is missing from that list - environmental sustainability - giving people control over much more resources than they need is a waste of something precious.
    Paine -> reason... , December 08, 2018 at 05:35 AM
    Capitalists
    Owning the planets surface
    and its natural resources and products
    Is pathological
    mulp -> reason... , December 10, 2018 at 01:16 AM
    Ted Turner owning millions of acres of land he's restoring to prairie sustained by bison, prairie dogs, wolves, etc is bad?

    I wish he had ten times as much land. Or more so a million bison were roaming the west and supplying lots of bison steaks, hides, etc, as they did for thousands of years before about 1850.

    anne , December 07, 2018 at 04:14 PM
    https://glineq.blogspot.com/2018/12/first-reflections-on-french-evenements.html

    December 5, 2018

    First reflections on the French "événements de décembre"

    Because I am suffering from insomnia (due to the jetlag) I decided to write down, in the middle of the night, my two quick impressions regarding the recent events in France -- events that watched from outside France seemed less dramatic than within.

    I think they raise two important issues: one new, another "old".

    It is indeed an accident that the straw that broke the camel's back was a tax on fuel that affected especially hard rural and periurban areas, and people with relatively modest incomes. It did so (I understand) not as much by the amount of the increase but by reinforcing the feeling among many that after already paying the costs of globalization, neoliberal policies, offshoring, competition with cheaper foreign labor, and deterioration of social services, now, in addition, they are to pay also what is, in their view and perhaps not entirely wrongly, seen as an elitist tax on climate change.

    This raises a more general issue which I discussed in my polemic with Jason Hickel and Kate Raworth. Proponents of degrowth and those who argue that we need to do something dramatic regarding climate change are singularly coy and shy when it comes to pointing out who is going to bear the costs of these changes. As I mentioned in this discussion with Jason and Kate, if they were serious they should go out and tell Western audiences that their real incomes should be cut in half and also explain them how that should be accomplished. Degrowers obviously know that such a plan is a political suicide, so they prefer to keep things vague and to cover up the issues under a "false communitarian" discourse that we are all affected and that somehow the economy will thrive if we all just took full conscience of the problem--without ever telling us what specific taxes they would like to raise or how they plan to reduce people's incomes.

    Now the French revolt brings this issue into the open. Many western middle classes, buffeted already by the winds of globalization, seem unwilling to pay a climate change tax. The degrowers should, I hope, now come up with concrete plans.

    The second issue is "old". It is the issue of the cleavage between the political elites and a significant part of the population. Macron rose on an essentially anti-mainstream platform, his heterogenous party having been created barely before the elections. But his policies have from the beginning been pro-rich, a sort of the latter-say Thatcherism. In addition, they were very elitist, often disdainful of the public opinion. It is somewhat bizarre that such "Jupiterian" presidency, by his own admission, would be lionized by the liberal English-language press when his domestic policies were strongly pro-rich and thus not dissimilar from Trump's. But because Macron's international rhetoric (mostly rhetoric) was anti-Trumpist, he got a pass on his domestic policies.

    Somewhat foolishly he deepened the cleavage between himself and ordinary people by both his patrician predilections and the love of lecturing others which at times veered into the absurd (as when he took several minutes to teach a 12-year old kid about the proper way to address the President). At the time when more than ever Western "couches populaires" wanted to have politicians that at least showed a modicum of empathy, Macron chose the very opposite tack of berating people for their lack of success or failure to find jobs (for which they apparently just needed to cross the road). He thus committed the same error that Hillary Clinton commuted with her "deplorables" comment. It is no surprise that his approval ratings have taken a dive, and, from what I understand, even they do not fully capture the extent of the disdain into which he is held by many.

    It is under such conditions that "les evenements" took place. The danger however is that their further radicalization, and especially violence, undermines their original objectives. One remembers that May 1968, after driving de Gaulle to run for cover to Baden-Baden, just a few months later handed him one of the largest electoral victories -- because of demonstrators' violence and mishandling of that great political opportunity.

    -- Branko Milanovic

    Darrell in Phoenix said in reply to mulp ... , December 10, 2018 at 08:28 AM
    "So, harvesting energy from the sun is unsustainable?"

    No. I'm saying it is not scale-able.

    How are you going to do it? Run diesel fuel powered tractors to dig pit mines to get metals, to be smelted in fossil fuel powered refineries. Burn fossil fuels to heat sand into glass. Use toxic solvents purify the glass and to electroplate toxic metals. Then incinerate the solvents in fossil fuel powered furnaces.

    That may get us to a 40% reduction in carbon, but it isn't getting us to 90% reduction.

    Even then, how are you going to get nitrogen fertilizers for farms? Currently we strip H2 from CH4 (natural gas), then mix with nitrogen in the air, apply electricity, poof, nitrogen fertilizers, and LOTS of CO2. I have yet to see a proposal for large-scale farming that offers a method of obtaining nitrogen fertilizers without CO2 emissions.

    AND, there is still a massive problem of storing the electricity from when the wind is blowing and sun is shining until times when it isn't.

    "So, you are calling for global thermonuclears war to purge 6 billion people from the planet?"

    Nope.

    "You clearly believe the solution is not paying workers to work, but to not pay them so they must die."

    I'm all about paying workers to work. I vehemently disagree with liberals when they breach the idea of "universal basic income"... a great way to end up like the old Soviet Union, where everyone has money, but waits in long lines to get into stores with nothing on the shelves for sale.

    "The population is too high to support hunter-gathers and subsistence farming for 7 billion people plus."

    Correct.

    "You have bought into Reagan's free lunch framing and argue less trash, less processing of 6trash to cut costs, so everyone must earn less so they consume less, ideally becoming dead."

    Not even close.

    This is where Liberals pissed me off right after Trump won and was still talking "border adjustment tax". The cry from the likes of Robert Reich was "oh noooo... prices will go up and hurt the poor." Since when were progressives the "we need low prices" party? I thought we were the ones that wanted higher prices, if those higher prices were caused by higher wages to workers!


    "I call for evveryone paying high living costs to pay more workers to eliminate the waste of landfilling what was just mined from the land."

    Not sure how that makes it magically possible to cut carbon emissions 90% though.

    [Dec 12, 2018] The Neoliberal Agenda and the Student Debt Crisis in U.S. Higher Education (Routledge Studies in Education)

    Notable quotes:
    "... Neoliberalism's presence in higher education is making matters worse for students and the student debt crisis, not better. ..."
    "... Cannan and Shumar (2008) focus their attention on resisting, transforming, and dismantling the neoliberal paradigm in higher education. They ask how can market-based reform serve as the solution to the problem neoliberal practices and policies have engineered? ..."
    "... What got us to where we are (escalating tuition costs, declining state monies, and increasing neoliberal influence in higher education) cannot get us out of the SI.4 trillion problem. And yet this metaphor may, in fact, be more apropos than most of us on the right, left, or center are as yet seeing because we mistakenly assume the market we have is the only or best one possible. ..."
    "... We only have to realize that the emperor has no clothes and reveal this reality. ..."
    "... Indeed, the approach our money-dependent and money-driven legislators and policymakers have employed has been neoliberal in form and function, and it will continue to be so unless we help them to see the light or get out of the way. This book focuses on the $1.4+ trillion student debt crisis in the United States. It doesn't share hard and fast solutions per se. ..."
    "... In 2011-2012, 50% of bachelor's degree recipients from for-profit institutions borrowed more than $40,000 and about 28% of associate degree recipients from for-profit institutions borrowed more than $30,000 (College Board, 2015a). ..."
    Dec 12, 2018 | www.amazon.com

    Despite tthe fact that necoliberalism brings poor economic growth, inadequate availability of jobs and career opportunities, and the concentration of economic and social rewards in the hands of a privileged upper class resistance to it, espcially at universities, remain weak to non-existant.

    The first sign of high levels of dissatisfaction with neoliberalism was the election of Trump (who, of course, betrayed all his elections promises, much like Obma before him). As a result, the legitimation of neoliberalism based on references to the efficient
    and effective functioning of the market (ideological legitimation) is
    exhausted while wealth redistribution practices (material legitimation) are
    not practiced and, in fact, considered unacceptable.

    Despite these problems, resistance to neoliberalism remains weak.
    Strategics and actions of opposition have been shifted from the sphere of
    labor to that of the market creating a situation in which the idea of the
    superiority and desirability of the market is shared by dominant and
    oppositional groups alike. Even emancipatory movements such as women,
    race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation have espoused individualistic,
    competition-centered, and meritocratic views typical of ncolibcral dis-
    courses. Moreover, corporate forces have colonized spaces and discourses
    that have traditionally been employed by oppositional groups and move-
    ments. However, as systemic instability' continues and capital accumulation
    needs to be achieved, change is necessary. Given the weakness of opposi-
    tion, this change is led by corporate forces that will continue to further
    their interests but will also attempt to mitigate socio-economic contra-
    dictions. The unavailability of ideological mechanisms to legitimize
    ncolibcral arrangements will motivate dominant social actors to make
    marginal concessions (material legitimation) to subordinate groups. These
    changes, however, will not alter the corporate co-optation and distortion of
    discourses that historically defined left-leaning opposition. As contradic-
    tions continue, however, their unsustainability will represent a real, albeit
    difficult, possibility for anti-neoliberal aggregation and substantive change.

    Connolly (2016) reported that a poll shows that some graduated student loan borrowers would willingly go to extremes to pay off outstanding student debt. Those extremes include experiencing physical pain and suffering and even a reduced lifespan. For instance, 35% of those polled would take one year off life expectancy and 6.5% would willingly cut off their pinky finger if it meant ridding themselves of the student loan debt they currently held.

    Neoliberalism's presence in higher education is making matters worse for students and the student debt crisis, not better. In their book Structure and Agency in the Neoliberal University, Cannan and Shumar (2008) focus their attention on resisting, transforming, and dismantling the neoliberal paradigm in higher education. They ask how can market-based reform serve as the solution to the problem neoliberal practices and policies have engineered?

    It is like an individual who loses his keys at night and who decides to look only beneath the street light. This may be convenient because there is light, but it might not be where the keys are located. This metaphorical example could relate to the student debt crisis. What got us to where we are (escalating tuition costs, declining state monies, and increasing neoliberal influence in higher education) cannot get us out of the SI.4 trillion problem. And yet this metaphor may, in fact, be more apropos than most of us on the right, left, or center are as yet seeing because we mistakenly assume the market we have is the only or best one possible.

    As Lucille (this volume) strives to expose, the systemic cause of our problem is "hidden in plain sight," right there in the street light for all who look carefully enough to see. We only have to realize that the emperor has no clothes and reveal this reality. If and when a critical mass of us do, systemic change in our monetary exchange relations can and, we hope, will become our funnel toward a sustainable and socially, economically, and ecologically just future where public education and democracy can finally become realities rather than merely ideals.

    Indeed, the approach our money-dependent and money-driven legislators and policymakers have employed has been neoliberal in form and function, and it will continue to be so unless we help them to see the light or get out of the way. This book focuses on the $1.4+ trillion student debt crisis in the United States. It doesn't share hard and fast solutions per se. Rather, it addresses real questions (and their real consequences). Are collegians overestimating the economic value of going to college?

    What are we, they, and our so-called elected leaders failing or refusing to sec and why? This critically minded, soul-searching volume shares territory with, yet pushes beyond, that of Akers and Chingos (2016), Baum (2016), Goldrick-Rab (2016), Graebcr (2011), and Johannscn (2016) in ways that we trust those critically minded authors -- and others concerned with our mess of debts, public and private, and unfulfilled human potential -- will find enlightening and even ground-breaking.

    ... ... ...

    In the meantime, college costs have significantly increased over the past fifty years. The average cost of tuition and fees (excluding room and board) for public four-year institutions for a full year has increased from 52,387 (in 2015 dollars) for the 1975-1976 academic year, to 59,410 for 2015-2016. The tuition for public two-year colleges averaged $1,079 in 1975-1976 (in 2015 dollars) and increased to $3,435 for 2015-2016. At private non-profit four-year institutions, the average 1975-1976 cost of tuition and fees (excluding room and board) was $10,088 (in 2015 dollars), which increased to $32,405 for 2015-2016 (College Board, 2015b).

    The purchasing power of Pell Grants has decreased. In fact, the maximum Pell Grants coverage of public four-year tuition and fees decreased from 83% in 1995-1996 to 61% in 2015-2016. The maximum Pell Grants coverage of private non-profit four-year tuition and fees decreased from 19% in 1995-1996 to 18% in 2015-2016 (College Board, 2015a).

    ... ... ....

    ... In 2013-2014, 61% of bachelor's degree recipients from public and private non-profit four-year institutions graduated with an average debt of $16,300 per graduate. In 2011-2012, 50% of bachelor's degree recipients from for-profit institutions borrowed more than $40,000 and about 28% of associate degree recipients from for-profit institutions borrowed more than $30,000 (College Board, 2015a).

    Rising student debt has become a key issue of higher education finance among many policymakers and researchers. Recently, the government has implemented a series of measures to address student debt. In 2005, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (2005) was passed, which barred the discharge of all student loans through bankruptcy for most borrowers (Collinge, 2009). This was the final nail in the bankruptcy coffin, which had begun in 1976 with a five-year ban on student loan debt (SLD) bankruptcy and was extended to seven years in 1990. Then in 1998, it became a permanent ban for all who could not clear a relatively high bar of undue hardship (Best 6c Best, 2014).

    By 2006, Sallie Mae had become the nation's largest private student loan lender, reporting loan holdings of $123 billion. Its fee income collected from defaulted loans grew from $280 million in 2000 to $920 million in 2005 (Collinge, 2009). In 2007, in response to growing student default rates, the College Cost Reduction Act was passed to provide loan forgiveness for student loan borrowers who work full-time in a public service job. The Federal Direct Loan will be forgiven after 120 payments were made. This Act also provided other benefits for students to pay for their postsecondary education, such as lowering interest rates of GSL, increasing the maximum amount of Pell Grant (though, as noted above, not sufficiently to meet rising tuition rates), as well as reducing guarantor collection fees (Collinge, 2009).

    In 2008, the Higher Education Opportunity Act (2008) was passed to increase transparency and accountability. This Act required institutions that are participating in federal financial aid programs to post a college price calculator on their websites in order to provide better college cost information for students and families (U.S. Department of Education |U.S. DoE|, 2015a). Due to the recession of 2008, the American Opportunity Tax Credit of 2009 (AOTC) was passed to expand the Hope Tax Credit program, in which the amount of tax credit increased to 100% for the first $2,000 of qualified educational expenses and was reduced to 25% of the second $2,000 in college expenses. The total credit cap increased from $1,500 to $2,500 per student. As a result, the federal spending on education tax benefits had a large increase since then (Crandall-Hollick, 2014), benefits that, again, are reaped only by those who file income taxes.

    [Dec 11, 2018] John Taylor Gatto s book, The Underground History of American Education, lays out the sad fact of western education ; which has nothing to do with education; but rather, an indoctrination for inclusion in society as a passive participant. Docility is paramount in members of U.S. society so as to maintain the status quo

    Highly recommended!
    Creation of docility is what neoliberal education is about. Too specialized slots, as if people can't learn something new. Look at requirements for the jobs at monster or elsewhere: they are so specific that only people with previous exactly same job expertise can apply. Especially oputragious are requernets posted by requetng firm. There is something really Orvallian in them. That puts people into medieval "slots" from which it is difficult to escape.
    I saw recently the following requirements for a sysadmin job: "Working knowledge of: Perl, JavaScript, PowerShell, BASH Script, XML, NodeJS, Python, Git, Cloud Technologies: ( AWS, Azure, GCP), Microsoft Active Directory, LDAP, SQL Server, Structured Query Language (SQL), HTML, Windows OS, RedHat(Linux), SaltStack, Some experience in Application Quality Testing."
    When I see such job posting i think that this is just a covert for H1B hire: there is no such person on the planet who has "working knowledge" of all those (mostly pretty complex) technologies. It is clearly designed to block potential candidates from applying.
    Neoliberalism looks like a cancer for the society... Unable to provide meaningful employment for people. Or at least look surprisingly close to one. Malignant growth.
    Dec 11, 2018 | www.ianwelsh.net

    [Dec 08, 2018] Americans don't "meekly allow fincancial crimes," No, Americans hugely endorse them. More students keep enrolling in all the biz schools all the time -- much more than any other field of study -- health care being a distant second

    As long as RICO statute is not applied to big banks that current situation will continue.
    And under neoliberalism it will be never be applied. Universities will continue helping big banks to recruit new talent. Like in poor neibophood gang leaders recruit street fighter.
    Notable quotes:
    "... The students not only continue to flock to the amorality skills courses, but also put themselves into mega-debt by student loans to turn themselves not just imaginatively and ethically over to the corporate idolatries, but also to do another double whammy on themselves. ..."
    Dec 08, 2018 | www.alternet.org

    kyushuphil -> Neo Conned 6 years ago ,

    People don't "meekly allow these crimes," Neo. Americans hugely endorse them.

    The students not only continue to flock to the amorality skills courses, but also put themselves into mega-debt by student loans to turn themselves not just imaginatively and ethically over to the corporate idolatries, but also to do another double whammy on themselves. They accept the servitude of massive student loan debt, and ensure by prolonged interest payments on that debt to keep bloating all the most cynically immoral of high finance.

    And then all the other departments of corporate academe have seen how smoothly work the most rank of corporate habits to ensure most mediocrity for most rank careerisms -- and all have only increased departmentalism protocols over recent years. Tenure now means nothing more than max award for most-narrowed specialist minds and for all most-max conformists in all those niched fields.

    Nuthin' "meek" about all this, Neo. The corporate disease, the cubicle culture, the deference to plutocracy, the reduced literacy, the tracking to numbers -- all has been only steroided since Citizens United quite flagrantly legally underlined what most genteel in corporate ed have been doing for years.

    willymack > kyushuphil • 6 years ago

    Well said, and sadly, TRUE.

    zonmoy > kyushuphil • 6 years ago

    and how have students been pushed into those programs and the problems pushed on them by the corporate crooks that own everything including our government.

    [Dec 06, 2018] Understanding Society Sexual harassment in academic contexts

    Dec 06, 2018 | understandingsociety.blogspot.com

    Sexual harassment in academic contexts
    Sexual harassment of women in academic settings is regrettably common and pervasive, and its consequences are grave. At the same time, it is a remarkably difficult problem to solve. The "me-too" movement has shed welcome light on specific individual offenders and has generated more awareness of some aspects of the problem of sexual harassment and misconduct. But we have not yet come to a public awareness of the changes needed to create a genuinely inclusive and non-harassing environment for women across the spectrum of mistreatment that has been documented. The most common institutional response following an incident is to create a program of training and reporting, with a public commitment to investigating complaints and enforcing university or institutional policies rigorously and transparently. These efforts are often well intentioned, but by themselves they are insufficient. They do not address the underlying institutional and cultural features that make sexual harassment so prevalent.

    The problem of sexual harassment in institutional contexts is a difficult one because it derives from multiple features of the organization. The ambient culture of the organization is often an important facilitator of harassing behavior -- often enough a patriarchal culture that is deferential to the status of higher-powered individuals at the expense of lower-powered targets. There is the fact that executive leadership in many institutions continues to be predominantly male, who bring with them a set of gendered assumptions that they often fail to recognize. The hierarchical nature of the power relations of an academic institution is conducive to mistreatment of many kinds, including sexual harassment. Bosses to administrative assistants, research directors to post-docs, thesis advisors to PhD candidates -- these unequal relations of power create a conducive environment for sexual harassment in many varieties. In each case the superior actor has enormous power and influence over the career prospects and work lives of the women over whom they exercise power. And then there are the habits of behavior that individuals bring to the workplace and the learning environment -- sometimes habits of masculine entitlement, sometimes disdainful attitudes towards female scholars or scientists, sometimes an underlying willingness to bully others that finds expression in an academic environment. (A recent issue of the Journal of Social Issues ( link ) devotes substantial research to the topic of toxic leadership in the tech sector and the "masculinity contest culture" that this group of researchers finds to be a root cause of the toxicity this sector displays for women professionals. Research by Jennifer Berdahl, Peter Glick, Natalya Alonso, and more than a dozen other scholars provides in-depth analysis of this common feature of work environments.)

    The scope and urgency of the problem of sexual harassment in academic contexts is documented in excellent and expert detail in a recent study report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine ( link ). This report deserves prominent discussion at every university.

    The study documents the frequency of sexual harassment in academic and scientific research contexts, and the data are sobering. Here are the results of two indicative studies at Penn State University System and the University of Texas System:


    The Penn State survey indicates that 43.4% of undergraduates, 58.9% of graduate students, and 72.8% of medical students have experienced gender harassment, while 5.1% of undergraduates, 6.0% of graduate students, and 5.7% of medical students report having experienced unwanted sexual attention and sexual coercion. These are staggering results, both in terms of the absolute number of students who were affected and the negative effects that these experiences had on their ability to fulfill their educational potential. The University of Texas study shows a similar pattern, but also permits us to see meaningful differences across fields of study. Engineering and medicine provide significantly more harmful environments for female students than non-STEM and science disciplines. The authors make a particularly worrisome observation about medicine in this context:

    The interviews conducted by RTI International revealed that unique settings such as medical residencies were described as breeding grounds for abusive behavior by superiors. Respondents expressed that this was largely because at this stage of the medical career, expectation of this behavior was widely accepted. The expectations of abusive, grueling conditions in training settings caused several respondents to view sexual harassment as a part of the continuum of what they were expected to endure. (63-64)
    The report also does an excellent job of defining the scope of sexual harassment. Media discussion of sexual harassment and misconduct focuses primarily on egregious acts of sexual coercion. However, the authors of the NAS study note that experts currently encompass sexual coercion, unwanted sexual attention, and gender harassment under this category of harmful interpersonal behavior. The largest sub-category is gender harassment:
    "a broad range of verbal and nonverbal behaviors not aimed at sexual cooperation but that convey insulting, hostile, and degrading attitudes about" members of one gender ( Fitzgerald, Gelfand, and Drasgow 1995 , 430). (25)
    The "iceberg" diagram (p. 32) captures the range of behaviors encompassed by the concept of sexual harassment. (See Leskinen, Cortina, and Kabat 2011 for extensive discussion of the varieties of sexual harassment and the harms associated with gender harassment.)


    The report emphasizes organizational features as a root cause of a harassment-friendly environment.

    By far, the greatest predictors of the occurrence of sexual harassment are organizational. Individual-level factors (e.g., sexist attitudes, beliefs that rationalize or justify harassment, etc.) that might make someone decide to harass a work colleague, student, or peer are surely important. However, a person that has proclivities for sexual harassment will have those behaviors greatly inhibited when exposed to role models who behave in a professional way as compared with role models who behave in a harassing way, or when in an environment that does not support harassing behaviors and/or has strong consequences for these behaviors. Thus, this section considers some of the organizational and environmental variables that increase the risk of sexual harassment perpetration. (46)
    Some of the organizational factors that they refer to include the extreme gender imbalance that exists in many professional work environments, the perceived absence of organizational sanctions for harassing behavior, work environments where sexist views and sexually harassing behavior are modeled, and power differentials (47-49). The authors make the point that gender harassment is chiefly aimed at indicating disrespect towards the target rather than sexual exploitation. This has an important implication for institutional change. An institution that creates a strong core set of values emphasizing civility and respect is less conducive to gender harassment. They summarize this analysis in the statement of findings as well:
    Organizational climate is, by far, the greatest predictor of the occurrence of sexual harassment, and ameliorating it can prevent people from sexually harassing others. A person more likely to engage in harassing behaviors is significantly less likely to do so in an environment that does not support harassing behaviors and/or has strong, clear, transparent consequences for these behaviors. (50)
    So what can a university or research institution do to reduce and eliminate the likelihood of sexual harassment for women within the institution? Several remedies seem fairly obvious, though difficult.
    As the authors put the point in the final chapter of the report:
    Preventing and effectively addressing sexual harassment of women in colleges and universities is a significant challenge, but we are optimistic that academic institutions can meet that challenge--if they demonstrate the will to do so. This is because the research shows what will work to prevent sexual harassment and why it will work. A systemwide change to the culture and climate in our nation's colleges and universities can stop the pattern of harassing behavior from impacting the next generation of women entering science, engineering, and medicine. (169)

    [Nov 29, 2018] Literature, language, history are essential for a truly cultured human.

    Notable quotes:
    "... They are from the social sciences like Political Science or International Relations which are empty of real content. ..."
    "... They throw in sometimes some "game theory" to give that an aura of "science", but most of it is BS. ..."
    "... Tucker Carlson is the only media individual left that is brave enough to state the truth. So by implication the United States has zero democracy when it comes to our foreign policy. ..."
    Nov 29, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

    Bálint Somkuti , 8 hours ago

    Being on the affected side as a historian please let me add, that the students' majority studies microhistory, family, company, or even family members' personal events that is, which adds very little to our understanding of the world. It is overly and openly supported currently in most universities for a number of reasons.

    This is why obviously ideologically biased works about major correspondences such as Piketty's or Niall Ferguson's, not to mention that young Israeli guy (Yair??) has so much effect. Because basically they are the only ones, or at least the ones with the chance to publish, who take the great effort of choosing the harder way and making the necessary research. There are too few willing to take the harder path.

    Scientification, or should I say natural scientification of social sciences also does not help, because it promotes the 'publish or perish' principle. But social sciences aren't like natural sciences, where X hours in a laboratory or experimenting yields surely X or X/2 publications.

    And on the top of that Marxist thinkers and intelligentsia, cast away from all meaningful positions to universities in the 50's and 60's fearing a communist influence have completely overtaken the higher education in the Western Hemisphere. In the Eastern European countries they managed to keep their positions.

    To sum it up while most of your criticism is valid, international relations e.g. has its merit, but are taught mostly by neoliberals and Marxists, with the known results.

    smoothieX12 -> Pat Lang , 17 hours ago
    They are from the social sciences like Political Science or International Relations which are empty of real content.

    Fully concur. They throw in sometimes some "game theory" to give that an aura of "science", but most of it is BS. If, just in case, I am misconstrued as fighting humanities field--I am not fighting it. Literature, language, history are essential for a truly cultured human. When I speak about "humanities" I personally mean namely Political "Science".

    Eric Newhill -> Pat Lang , 18 hours ago
    Sir, I stand corrected on the humanities into govt assertion. I do tend to get humanities and social sciences jumbled in my numbers/cost/benefit based thinking. I am open to people telling me how to do tasks that they have more experience performing and that I might need to know about. And I have curiosities about people's experiences and perspectives on how the world of men works, but I'm not so concerned about the world of men that I lose my integrity or soul or generally get sucked into their reality over my own. Of course that's just me. Someone like Trump seeks approval and high rank amongst men. So, yes, I guess he is susceptible; though I still think somewhat less than others. This is evident in how he refuses to follow the conventions and expectations of what a president should look and act like. He is a defiant sort. I like that about him. Of course needing to be defiant is still a need and therefore a chink in his armor.
    Pat Lang Mod -> Eric Newhill , 17 hours ago
    He is in thrall to the Israelis, their allies, the neocons, political donors and the popular media. An easy mark for skilled operators.
    Harlan Easley -> Pat Lang , 14 hours ago
    I agree with you and I believe their influence has deepen over the two years. The only pro neocon policy he ran on was regime change in Iran. Terrible idea no doubt. The vote was either potential regime change in Iran or a dangerous escalation with Russia in Syria. I voted for more time. He seemed to have some sense on Syria and Russia at the time. Of course Clinton was promising Apocalypse Now. You've stated the Neocon's have insinuated themselves into both parties. R2P and such. They basically control the foreign policy of both parties due to control by donors, organizational control of DNC, RNC, the moronic narrative, think tanks, media, probably security services, etc.

    Tucker Carlson is the only media individual left that is brave enough to state the truth. So by implication the United States has zero democracy when it comes to our foreign policy. As far as I can tell the United States policy toward Russia continues toward escalation. Two current examples being the absurd Mueller "investigation" into collusion and the Ukraine provocation in the Sea of Azov. Are we heading into the last war?

    Richard Higginbotham -> Pat Lang , 18 hours ago
    Engineer here, "worked" on myself and not even by very skilled people. Manipulative people are hard to counteract, if you're not manipulative yourself the thought process is not intuitive. If you spend most of your life solving problems, you think its everyone's goal. As I've gotten older I've only solidified my impression that as far as working and living outside of school, the best "education" to have would be history. Preferably far enough back or away to limit any cultural biases. I'm not sure that college classes would fill the gap though.

    Any advice to help the "marks" out there?

    Mark Logan -> Richard Higginbotham , 10 hours ago
    I'll pitch in with a suggestion for those who are for whatever reason not fond of reading: An old history education series called The Western Tradition. Eugene Weber. A shrewd old guy who was interested in motivations which drove our history and culture. Will get your kids solid A's in history if nothing else, if you can get them hooked on it. Insightful narrative as opposed to dry facts helps retention. There are much worse starting points.

    Moreover, the most of books which I believe constitute a canon of sorts are mentioned and points made in them brought to bear. Leviathan, The Prince, Erasmus, how they affected general thought, which makes the viewer want to read them.

    Re-reading TE Lawrence at the moment. What to watch a "pro" work? Scary good, he was.

    TTG -> Pat Lang , 10 hours ago
    To this day, my favorite college course was "The Century of Darwin" taught by Dr. Brown in the history department of RPI in 1973. Dr. Brown was a bespectacled, white haired little man who looked like everyone's idea of a history professor. The course examined the history of scientific discovery, evolving and competing religious and scientific ideas leading up to the general acceptance of Darwin's works. It was a history of everything course, an intellectually exhilarating experience. I still have the textbooks. I heartedly recommend those books.

    "Darwin's Century" by Loren Eiseley came out in 1958 and was reprinted in 2009 with a new forward by Stephan Bertman. "The Death of Adam" by John Green first came out in 1960 and was reprinted in 1981. "Genesis and Geology" by Charles C. Gillespie came out in 1951. My paperback edition was published in 1973 and cost $2.45 new.

    English Outsider -> Pat Lang , an hour ago
    Colonel - Boswell's life of Johnson. A giant of a man seen through the eyes of a clever and observant pygmy. And they both know it.

    That makes it an odd book, that interplay between the two. It's also the ultimate in tourism. One is dumped in the middle of eighteenth century London and very soon it becomes a second home.

    For a long time that's all I got out of the book. Johnson himself emerges only slowly. A true intellectual giant with a flawless acuity of perception, an elephantine memory, and the gift of turning out the perfect exposition, whether a long argument or one of his famous pithy comments, is the starting point only.

    As a person he can easily be read as a slovenly bully, at one time even as an unapologetic hired gun turning out the propaganda of the day. He was subject to long fits of depression alternating with periods of great industry. As he got older the industry fell away and he spent much of his time in the coffee house. It was there, often, that Boswell gathered up the materials - a fragment here, a disquisition there - that allow us to see through to Johnson's outlook.

    It was an outlook, or one could call it a philosophy of life, that could not be more needed at this time of frantic and one sided ideological war.

    It was no tidily worked-up outlook. Intensely patriotic yet ever conscious of the failings of his country. Honorable yet accepting that he lived at a time of great corruption. Loyal yet always yearning after an older dispensation. Robust common sense but fully recognizing the Transcendent. Narrowly prejudiced yet open to other cultures, recognizing their equal validity and worth while remaining rooted in his own.

    It's an outlook that today would be despised by many because, as far as I can tell, he had no ideology, no millenarian solution into which all problems can be jammed. Merely a broad and humane normality and a recognition that, ultimately, each pilgrim must find his own way.

    [Nov 28, 2018] Colonel Lang on importance of taking elective courses in Humanities (using Trump as a counterexample)

    Studying history is very important for your formation as a personality...
    Notable quotes:
    "... He evidently learned about balance sheets at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and wishes to apply the principle of the bottom line to everything. I will guess that he resisted taking elective courses in the Humanities as much as he could believing them to be useless. That is unfortunate since such courses tend to provide context for present day decisions. ..."
    "... I have known several very rich businessmen of similar type who sent their children to business school with exactly that instruction with regard to literature, history, philosophy, etc. From an espionage case officer's perspective he is an easy mark. If you are regular contact with him all that is needed to recruit him is to convince him that you believe in the "genius" manifested in his mighty ego and swaggering bluster and then slowly feed him what you want him to "know." ..."
    "... The number of folks who will pay the price for this are legion in comparison. His accomplices and "advisers" as you intone, will be deemed worthy of a Nuremburg of sorts when viewed in posterity. "Character must under grid talent or talent will cave in." His gut stove pipes him as a leader. I love and respect my dog. He follows his gut, because that is his end-state. It's honest. I will mourn the passing of one and and already rue the day the other was born. ..."
    "... He survived as a New York City Boss. He has the same problem as Ronald Reagan. He believes the con. In reality, since the restoration of classical economics, sovereign states are secondary to corporate plutocrats. Yes, he is saluted. He has his finger on the red button. But, he is told what they want them to hear. There are no realists within a 1000 yards of him. The one sure thing is there will be a future disaster be it climate change, economic collapse or a world war. He is not prepared for it. ..."
    "... There are other forces that are effective in addition to plutocrats and they are mostly bad. ..."
    "... Falling under the sway of those who know the price of everything, but the value of nothing is an unenviable estate. The concentrated wisdom discoverable through a clear-eyed study of the humanities can serve as a corrective, and if one is lucky, as a prophylaxis against thinking of this type. ..."
    "... A lot of people come out of humanities programs and into govt with all kinds of dopey notions; like R2P, globalism, open borders, etc. ..."
    "... He is in thrall to the Israelis, their allies, the neocons, political donors and the popular media. An easy mark for skilled operators. ..."
    "... Engineer here, "worked" on myself and not even by very skilled people. Manipulative people are hard to counteract, if you're not manipulative yourself the thought process is not intuitive. If you spend most of your life solving problems, you think its everyone's goal. As I've gotten older I've only solidified my impression that as far as working and living outside of school, the best "education" to have would be history. Preferably far enough back or away to limit any cultural biases. I'm not sure that college classes would fill the gap though. ..."
    "... Read widely. start with something encyclopedic like Will and Ariel Durant's "The Story of Civilization." ..."
    "... How about William H. McNeill's Rise of the West. ..."
    "... Unlike your brother a good recruiting case officer would never ignore you except maybe at the beginning as a tease. That also works with women that you want personally. ..."
    Nov 28, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

    Yes. Trump says that is how he "rolls." The indicators that this is true are everywhere. He does not believe what the "swampies" tell him. He listens to the State Department, the CIA, DoD, etc. and then acts on ill informed instinct and information provided by; lobbies, political donors, foreign embassies, and his personal impressions of people who have every reason to want to deceive him. As I wrote earlier he sees the world through an entrepreneurial hustler's lens.

    He crudely assigns absolute dollar values to policy outcomes and actions which rarely have little to do with the actual world even if they might have related opposed to the arena of contract negotiations.

    He evidently learned about balance sheets at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and wishes to apply the principle of the bottom line to everything. I will guess that he resisted taking elective courses in the Humanities as much as he could believing them to be useless. That is unfortunate since such courses tend to provide context for present day decisions.

    I have known several very rich businessmen of similar type who sent their children to business school with exactly that instruction with regard to literature, history, philosophy, etc. From an espionage case officer's perspective he is an easy mark. If you are regular contact with him all that is needed to recruit him is to convince him that you believe in the "genius" manifested in his mighty ego and swaggering bluster and then slowly feed him what you want him to "know."

    That does not mean that he has been recruited by someone or something but the vulnerability is evident. IMO the mistake he has made in surrounding himself with neocons and other special pleaders, people like Pompeo and Bolton is evidence that he is very controllable by the clever and subtle. pl

    Harlan Easley , 2 hours ago

    Col. Lang, I appreciate your insight on his personality which you have written about often and dead on for awhile.
    The Cage , 3 hours ago
    I have an aged wire haired Jack Russel Terrier. He is well past his time. He is almost blind, and is surely deaf. In his earlier days he was a force of nature. He still is now, but only in the context of food. He is still obsessed with it at every turn. Food is now his reality and he will not be sidetracked or otherwise distracted by any other stimuli beyond relieving himself when and where he sees fit. He lives by his gut feeling and damn everything else. There is no reason, no other calculus for him. Trump's trusting his "gut" is just about as simplistic and equally myopic. My dog is not a tragedy, he shoulders no burden for others and when he gets to the point of soiling himself or is in pain, he will be held in my arms and wept over for the gift he has been when the needle pierces his hide. Trump, well, he is a tragedy. He does shoulder a responsibility to millions and millions and for those to follow after he is long dead and gone. His willful ignorance in the face of reason and science reminds me of the lieutenant colonel of 2/7 Cav. you spoke of at LZ Buttons.

    The number of folks who will pay the price for this are legion in comparison. His accomplices and "advisers" as you intone, will be deemed worthy of a Nuremburg of sorts when viewed in posterity. "Character must under grid talent or talent will cave in." His gut stove pipes him as a leader. I love and respect my dog. He follows his gut, because that is his end-state. It's honest. I will mourn the passing of one and and already rue the day the other was born.

    Pat Lang Mod -> The Cage , 2 hours ago
    Were you at LZ Buttons?
    exSpec4Chuck , 4 hours ago
    Just after I looked at this post I went to Twitter and this came up. I don't know how long it's been since Jeremy Young was in grad school but a 35% decline drop in History dissertations is shocking even if it's over a span of 3-4 decades. View Hide
    Pat Lang Mod -> exSpec4Chuck , 4 hours ago
    Yes. It's either STEM or Social Sciences these days and that is almost as bad as Journalism or Communications Arts. Most media people are Journalism dummies.
    VietnamVet , 4 hours ago
    Colonel,

    Donald Trump is a Salesman. He stands out in the Supreme Court photo: https://www.washingtonpost....

    He survived as a New York City Boss. He has the same problem as Ronald Reagan. He believes the con. In reality, since the restoration of classical economics, sovereign states are secondary to corporate plutocrats. Yes, he is saluted. He has his finger on the red button. But, he is told what they want them to hear. There are no realists within a 1000 yards of him. The one sure thing is there will be a future disaster be it climate change, economic collapse or a world war. He is not prepared for it.

    Pat Lang Mod -> VietnamVet , 4 hours ago
    You are a one trick pony. There are other forces that are effective in addition to plutocrats and they are mostly bad.
    JerseyJeffersonian , 5 hours ago
    Falling under the sway of those who know the price of everything, but the value of nothing is an unenviable estate. The concentrated wisdom discoverable through a clear-eyed study of the humanities can serve as a corrective, and if one is lucky, as a prophylaxis against thinking of this type.

    I am commending study of the humanities as historically understood, not the "humanities" of contemporary academia, which is little better than atheistic materialism of the Marxist variety, out of which any place for the genuinely spiritual has been systematically extirpated in favor of the imposition of some sort of sentimentalism as an ersatz substitute.

    Eric Newhill , 6 hours ago
    My response to flattery, even if subtle, is, "Yeah? Gee thanks. Now please just tell me what you're really after". I'd think any experienced man should have arrived at the same reaction at least by the time he's 35. Ditto trusting anyone in an atmosphere where power and money are there for the taking by the ambitious and clever. As for a balance sheet approach, IMO, there is a real need for that kind of thinking in govt. Perhaps a happy mix of it + a humanities based perspective.

    A lot of people come out of humanities programs and into govt with all kinds of dopey notions; like R2P, globalism, open borders, etc.

    Pat Lang Mod -> Eric Newhill , 6 hours ago
    That is what the smart guys all say before really skilled people work on them. Eventually they ask you to tell them what is real. The Humanities thing stung? I remember the engineer students mocking me at VMI over this.
    smoothieX12 -> Pat Lang , 4 hours ago
    They are from the social sciences like Political Science or International Relations which are empty of real content.

    Fully concur. They throw in sometimes some "game theory" to give that an aura of "science", but most of it is BS. If, just in case, I am misconstrued as fighting humanities field--I am not fighting it. Literature, language, history are essential for a truly cultured human. When I speak about "humanities" I personally mean namely Political "Science".

    Grazhdanochka -> smoothieX12 , 2 hours ago
    As I wrote earlier the Issue in those Courses is they are actually pure and concentrated Fields...... Political Science, International Relations are ambigious enough that a candidate can appeal to many Sectors and it is accepted, expected they will be competent.... Whether that be Governance/Diplomacy, Business, Travel etc...

    Thus if you have no Idea what you want - those Fields are good to study, learning relatively little.....

    If you know what you want - you have a Path.... You can study more concentrated Fields, but you damn well have to hope there is a Job at the end of the Rainbow (Known at least a couple People who studied only to be told almost immediately - you will not find Jobs domestically)

    Pat Lang Mod -> Grazhdanochka , an hour ago
    No. PS and the other SS are artificial constructs in our universities that posit views of mankind that are false.
    Pat Lang Mod -> smoothieX12 , 3 hours ago
    "Political Science" as we understand it here is not among the Humanities. It is pseudo science invented in the 19th Century.
    Pat Lang Mod -> Pat Lang , 3 hours ago
    The Humanities as they have been known. https://en.wikipedia.org/wi...
    Eric Newhill -> Pat Lang , 5 hours ago
    Sir, I stand corrected on the humanities into govt assertion. I do tend to get humanities and social sciences jumbled in my numbers/cost/benefit based thinking. I am open to people telling me how to do tasks that they have more experience performing and that I might need to know about. And I have curiosities about people's experiences and perspectives on how the world of men works, but I'm not so concerned about the world of men that I lose my integrity or soul or generally get sucked into their reality over my own. Of course that's just me. Someone like Trump seeks approval and high rank amongst men. So, yes, I guess he is susceptible; though I still think somewhat less than others. This is evident in how he refuses to follow the conventions and expectations of what a president should look and act like. He is a defiant sort. I like that about him. Of course needing to be defiant is still a need and therefore a chink in his armor.
    Pat Lang Mod -> Eric Newhill , 3 hours ago
    He is in thrall to the Israelis, their allies, the neocons, political donors and the popular media. An easy mark for skilled operators.
    Richard Higginbotham -> Pat Lang , 5 hours ago
    Engineer here, "worked" on myself and not even by very skilled people. Manipulative people are hard to counteract, if you're not manipulative yourself the thought process is not intuitive. If you spend most of your life solving problems, you think its everyone's goal. As I've gotten older I've only solidified my impression that as far as working and living outside of school, the best "education" to have would be history. Preferably far enough back or away to limit any cultural biases. I'm not sure that college classes would fill the gap though.
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