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Chronic Unemployment

Neoliberalism as the Cause of Chronic, Structural Unemployment in the USA

News Over 50 and unemployed Recommended Links Chronic stress Computers eat people Underemployment Eroding Western living standards
The neoliberal myth of human capital Perma Temps Adverse Selection Scapegoating and victimization of poor Productivity Myth and "Rising labor costs" hypocrisy Neoliberalism and Christianity The problem of inequality
Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Corporatism Casino Capitalism If Corporations Are People, They Are Psychopaths Toxic Managers Office Stockholm Syndrome Learned helplessness
Unemployment after graduation Fake Employment Statistics Destructiveness of GDP Mania   Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability

Economics Pseudo Theories

Notes on Republican Economic Policy
John Kenneth Galbraith Invisible Hand Hypothesis Inflation vs. Deflation Lysenkoism Financial Humor Humor  Etc

Unemployment offices, homeless shelters,  hospitals, prisons and casinos. and are the only real growth industries of Obama Administration. In Jan 2010 35 millions, or one in eight Americans, were on food stamps.

Obama's  biggest — and only major — jobs program is the U.S. military


When I was a kid they told us that automation would "free" us from working long hours. What they didn't tell us what that they weren't going to pay us for all this leisure time we'd get.

Mass unemployment is the primary indication of the collapse of a given form of society -- James Burnham


Introduction


"Unemployment" statistics has been the political advertising media for every Administration in modern times

From comment in
The Rise of Invisible Unemployment
 The Atlantic, Nov 9, 2014

 

Chronic unemployment is an immanent feature of neoliberalism, which requires the army of unemployed to suppress wages in order to increase share of profits for the top 1$ and, especially, the top 0.01%.  Another problem is secular (long-term) stagnation of the economy due to destruction of consumer demand, which comes with the deterioration of the standard of living and high level of unemployment.  As Pope Francis noted:

...Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “disposable” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

... ... ...

One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.

The institutions of neoliberal capitalism, while promoting an expanded role in the economy for "market forces" (read "financial oligarchy")  simultaneously transform labor relations. The “market” under neoliberalism certainly no longer refers to competition as a form of the production and distribution goods and services. Instead, it means something more along the lines of international financial monopolies protected by collusion between captured vassal state institutions (including neoliberal fifth column domination in the all major branches of government, especially executive and  legislative branches, educational institutions and media) and multinationals, which pay money to sustain this social order. The term “Free markets” under neoliberalism means letting rich people do what they want, not promoting efficient allocation of resources through competition and the price mechanism. The core of the fifth column are local oligarchs and so called "Chicago boys": sons and daughters of local elite who are trained for and indoctrinated for this purpose in Western universities. As aptly noted Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems ( The Guardian,  April 15, 2016)

We internalize and reproduce its creeds. The rich persuade themselves that they acquired their wealth through merit, ignoring the advantages – such as education, inheritance and class – that may have helped to secure it. The poor begin to blame themselves for their failures, even when they can do little to change their circumstances.

Never mind structural unemployment: if you don't have a job it's because you are unenterprising. Never mind the impossible costs of housing: if your credit card is maxed out, you're feckless and improvident. Never mind that your children no longer have a school playing field: if they get fat, it's your fault. In a world governed by competition, those who fall behind become defined and self-defined as losers.

Under neoliberalism labor relations assumes the form of full domination of labor by capitalists. Unions are officially suppressed and large part of middle class is brainwashed to hate using set of propaganda stories about unions corruption, welfare quinsy, lack of competitiveness in unionized industries (with Detroit as a prime story), etc.  In this sense crushing by Reagan of the strike of air controllers was one of the first manifestation of this dominance. Workers again are downgraded to the role of debt slaves, who should be glad to get subsistence wages. And, for example, wages in Wal-Mart are really on subsistence level, no question about it (Making Change at Wal-Mart » Fact Sheet – Wages):

Wal-Mart jobs are poverty-level jobs.
Wal-Mart's average sale Associate makes $8.81 per hour, according to IBISWorld, an independent market research group. This translates to annual pay of $15,576, based upon Wal-Mart's full-time status of 34 hours per week1. This is significantly below the 2010 Federal Poverty Level of $22,050 for a family of four. The Wall Street Journal reported that the average Wal-Mart cashier makes just $8.48 an hour, far below the $11.22 national average for all cashiers.

This contrasts with the capital-labor compromise that characterized the state capitalism that existed several post-WWII decades and that was crushed by neoliberalism in 1970th. Neoliberalism also brought change in the relation between financial and non-financial capital: financial capital now again like in 1920th plays a dominant role dictating the rules of the game to manufacturing sector and controlling it via banks.

Under neoliberalism the wealthy and their academic servants, see inequality as a noble outcome. University professors of economics form the most corrupt part of intellectual elite – they are nothing more than employees of the financial oligarchy paid to administer intellectual anesthetic to those among debt slaves, who still have enough time to ask what’s going on. They want to further enrich top 1%, shrink middle class making it less secure, and impoverish poor.  That's an officially state goal. Then in 1992, when asked what Iran-Contra was really all about, Bush I replied that it was done for "...the continuous consolidation of money and power into higher, tighter and righter hands."

The upward redistribution of wealth requires high unemployment to weep prols into unconditional obedience.  In other words neoliberalism and high unemployment are twins.

Under the disguise of "free market" Newspeak  neoliberals promote a type of economy which is often 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: 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, so it is incompatible with neoliberal ideology and needs to be suppressed.  Neoliberals created the system which richly reward stooges of neoliberalism for their loyalty to the top 1%  bestowing on them 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 academic toadies would be losers who cannot compete.

One of the most important measures of the health of an economy is the following criteria: how many fulfilling, living-wage jobs are created or destroyed (most other economic factors can be distilled to this.). For example, widely used measure of economic growth, GDP is too influenced by financial masturbation and does not distinguish useful activity from harmful or irrelevant. 

Under neoliberalism the elite revived Roman emperor Septimius Severus advice to his sons before he died at Eboracum (York) on  February 4, 211:

"Avoid infighting, pay well the soldiers, and ignore everybody else" . 

So during the Great Recession Congress simply tuned backs to unemployed. With the implicit message you just need to die out folks ;-).

Military budget at the same time was greatly expanded and several unnecessary wars were launched.  Brainwashed American public eats all those neoliberal policies like real lemmings, demonstrating the level of groupthink and lack of critical thinking that is typical for high demand cults. So the myth about highly conscious "proletariat" that Marxists cherished remains a myth. Moreover quite opposite tendencies to creation of "enlightened lower classes" show their ugly face (Chris Hedges America is a Tinderbox naked capitalism):

ictus92, July 21, 2013 at 5:07 pm

To paraphrase Madeline Albright: “What’s the point of creating a totalitarian police state if you’re not going to use it?”

So where is the American totalitarian state going? If you look at the NDAA and the discussion around repealing the Posse Comitatus Act, the key words include quelling “domestic civil unrest”… So what are the “deep government” types anticipating so hysterically?

Well, the financial crisis keeps grinding away and is about to enter another phase of collapse as “quantitative easing” has run its course. Interest rates are rising, posing “technical insolvency” of the Federal Reserve itself. What this means is that time’s up for the 46 million in the Food Stamp Supplemental Program; 56 million getting Social Security retirement or disability benefits; and at least 20 million more needing full time employment. Obviously there’s some overlap, but the total number of people living on the margins of subsistence pushes 30% of the population.

For these, they face an immediate “Final Solution”… not exactly direct extermination, but death by deprivation, illness etc. Can work camps be far off for these tens of millions and the many millions more living paycheck to paycheck? This population and their sympathizers comprise the tinder for “civil unrest”. Hence the corollary to the famous “Collect it all” (communications) is “control it all” (civil disorder following further economic collapse).

Furthermore, prolonged neglect of key infrastructure will lead inevitably to severe food, water and electric power access shortages — another source of civil unrest potential.

Of course, overseas the totalitarian police state eliminates all expression of opposition that can change policies in the quest for “Permanent War” and “full spectrum” military dominance. This ends in global military confrontation… just as the financial crisis of the 30’s gave rise to another World War… only this time around world war will pitch towards thermonuclear war in short order. That’s how totalitarian regimes collapse into catastrophe, dragging the rest of us to an unpleasant demise.

Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a damn thing any of us can do to arrest this beserk Levithan…

tongorad, July 20, 2013 at 3:21 pm

This is America, not Denmark. In this country, tens of millions of people choose to watch FoxNews not simply because Americans are credulous idiots or at the behest of some right-wing corporate cabal, but because average Americans respect viciousness.

They are attracted to viciousness for a lot of reasons. In part, it reminds them of their bosses, whom they secretly adore. Americans hate themselves for the way they behave in public, always smiling and nodding their heads with accompanying really?s and uh-huhs to show that they’re listening to the other person, never having the guts to say what they really feel. So they vicariously scream and bully others into submission through right-wing surrogate-brutes. Spending time watching Sean Hannity is enough for your average American white male to feel less cowardly than he really is.

The left won’t accept this awful truth about the American soul, a beast that they believe they can fix “if only the people knew the Truth.”

But what if the Truth is that Americans don’t want to know the Truth? What if Americans consciously choose lies over truth when given the chance–and not even very interesting lies, but rather the blandest, dumbest and meanest lies? What if Americans are not a likeable people? The left’s wires short-circuit when confronted with this terrible possibility; the right, on the other hand, warmly embraces Middle America’s rank soul and exploits it to their full advantage. The Republicans know Americans better than the left. They know that it’s not so much Goering’s famous “bigger lie” that works here, but the dumber and meaner the lie, the more the public wants to hear it repeated.”

“We, The Spiteful” by Mark Ames

http://exiledonline.com/we-the-spiteful/

Dave, July 20, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Please consider that the “right” is far more realistic in their assessment of human nature. The “left” wants things to be according to what they think it should be, mostly because of their left wing educators. The majority of humans are not perfectible.

Even Asians, with their highly socialized societies, have behaved very badly towards those outside their country.

This tendency of self-deception of "blue color America" and resonating of Republican Party ideas within "working poor" and lower middle class, two strata of the US society that typically votes against its own economic interests is analyzed in   What's the matter with Kansas  And to fight neoliberal machine is not easy as media dominance is total, and on a new technological level, which does not require silencing of opponents, just ignoring them, approach the level typical for the USSR or Nazi Germany.  And even if some people question the system, like (at the very beginning) Tea Party did, or later "Occupy Wall Street" movement did, they are mercilessly co-opted or crashed by well paid guard labor. The latter is one of the few  types of employment which prospers under neoliberal empire. See  The Rise of Guard Labor (dollarsandsense.org)

The reality is that many rich countries including the USA now face two problems. One is a shortage of jobs, especially middle class jobs.  The other is stagnant (or falling) wages for those outside top 1%.  This is not a temporary problem. Despite all the propaganda smoke this is an immanent feature of neoliberal regimes that now dominate in the USA and most other countries.  Neoliberalism requires high unemployment as a way to keep workers in check and prevent attempts to slow down redistribution of wealth toward the top.

As George Bush Sr . noted in November 1992 neoliberalism is "the continuous consolidation of money and power into higher, tighter and righter hands". The essence is  the consolidation of money and power to the top 0.1% or even 0.01%.  In a very deep sense our new lords from financial and political oligarchy are not that different from feudal aristocracy, may be only less educated, more prone to avoid military service and much more greedy. 

Unlike Keynesian economy which put middle class in the center of society serving a buffer between rich and poor,  under neoliberalism  middle class is no longer needed as a buffer between aristocracy and proles, as repressive power of the state and regime of total surveillance (National Security State) makes an organized opposition practically impossible. The fate of "Occupy Wall Street" movement is nice illustration here.

On the other hand neoliberalism as an ideology, while discredited by event of 2008 still does not have any viable alternative.  Socialism was discredited by collapse of the USSR (which in reality was a neoliberal counterrevolution by Soviet nomenklatura including part of KGB).  Authoritarian versions of state capitalism does not look too attractive, despite being quite effective as was proven by economic progress of "Asian tigers".

Other important factors are also in play. Technology has stripped away the ability for many to hold a job and the trend continues.  In other words automation eats jobs. Outsourcing eats jobs too. Between those two trends almost no job growth left. This is a structural situation, not transitional caused by recession due to aftermath of 2008 financial bubble bust.  In other words jobs that disappeared will never return. And jobs in construction sector and finance were artificial and unsustainable in any case, crisis or no crisis (as in "what can't last forever eventually stops." )

We are in the midst of slow motion employment collapse. Eurozone unemployment recently reached 12%. The US has probably 20% rate of involuntary unemployment now. The official unemployment "rate" is lower, but that is because both 60-65 years old and 20 to 24 year olds are dropping out of the wage force.

Add to this "peak energy" problem and the situation looks really bleak. That's the funny thing about oil and modern civilization -- almost everybody in large western urban centers is dependent on mass produced technology (much of which was invented before we were born) and cheap oil (and generally cheap energy), Those who live in those urban centers no longer have any direct control or ability to produce own food or transportation energy or heating. those three activities are completely outsourced. See Peak Oil Demand is Already a Huge Problem.

Globalization is yet another problem. I was actually surprised by how many jobs large corporations managed to shred during 2008-2013 without negatively affecting  profitability.  The impression is that it is no low limit.  Usual wisdom is that if you shred too much, this labor shortage will bite you in a couple of years. This is no longer the case in the USA. No visible backlash at all.  Even consumption that should be suffering due to destruction of middle class in this process is no suffering much, because it was already mostly top 1% game and, as such, is recession proof. Here is one interesting comment form Krugman column Globalization and Macroeconomics - NYTimes.com

Floxo Australia

The analysis is flawed. The issue is not goods trade - on its own, this is relatively benign. The real problem is the associated capital drain. Owners of capital will transfer productive capital abroad for better returns. This process creates deep structural problems for all developed economies. Here are some basic predictions:

Recessions are difficult to manage and may become protracted. In a downturn, capital formation dries up but the capital drain continues. This erodes the output gap. A fiscal stimulus now has less headroom for expansion. On top of that, an increase in domestic demand may be met by investment in productive capital abroad; the domestic investment response is missing. This may even cause a fall in labor productivity ( UK productivity puzzle?).

In short, globalization IS the problem.

Unemployment and well being

Recessions generate inequality in both income and well-being: people who lose their jobs bear a disproportionate burden of the recession.  As Kathleen Geier noted the impact of unemployment on well-being it’s even worse than you thought

While reading this odd and meandering New York Times op-ed this morning, I stumbled upon a link to a fascinating study from last year on the impact of unemployment on non-monetary well-being. It was conducted by Stanford sociologist Cristobal Young, who discovered that unemployment has an even more catastrophic effect on personal happiness that we thought.

The study produced three major findings. The first is the devastating impact job loss has on personal well-being. Job loss, says Young, “produces a large drop in subjective well-being”:

Job loss into unemployment, however, is a different matter; this brings on deep distress that is greater in magnitude than the effect of changes in family structure, home-ownership or parental status. The distress of job loss is also hard to ameliorate: family income does not help, unemployment insurance appears to do little and even reemployment does not provide a full recovery [italics mine].

The second finding is that while unemployment insurance (UI) is successful as a macroeconomic stabilizer, it doesn’t make unemployed people any happier. UI, says Young:

is not central to their sense of well-being… [Snip] …[ I]t does little to support their identity, sense of purpose or self-regard.

Third, job loss has a strong, lasting negative impact on well-being that may persist for years:

[J]ob loss has consequences that linger even after people return to work. Finding a job, on average, recovers only about two thirds of the initial harm of losing a job. It is not clear how long it takes for the nonpecuniary effect of unemployment to heal.

Other research suggests that what Young refers to as “the scarring effect” of job loss can last from three to five years, or even longer. He also notes that “the more generalized fear of becoming jobless” may persist.

Young’s discussion of these findings stresses the inequality theme. He points out that “recessions generate inequality in both income and well-being: people who lose their jobs bear a disproportionate burden of the recession.” He suggests job-sharing as a way to reduce the concentrated misery of unemployment. That’s a great idea that unfortunately never seems to go anywhere. Employers today seem more interested in squeezing as much labor out of employees as possible for the lowest cost. They’re looking to shrink their payroll rather than expand it. And unfortunately, there are very few public policies that promote job-sharing, let alone do it effectively.

The sheer human misery created by the economic downturn has been stunning. The economic damage is, in some ways, the least of it. Another study shows that the long-term unemployed experience shame, loss of self-respect, and strained relationships with friends and family. They even suffer significantly higher rates of suicide.

Yesterday, Paul Krugman and others discussed the impact of economic inequality vs. unemployment on income. Krugman argued that inequality has had the greater impact, and I agree. Among other things, inequality is also the root cause of the unemployment problem. Special interests which have disproportionate power in our political system prevented more stimulus and inflicted an austerity agenda, which has had a disastrous effect on employment. Enacting an economic equality agenda will be huge political challenge, but it’s the only way I can see of ultimately resetting the priorities of our government so that it starts working on behalf of ordinary Americans again.

Official measures of unemployment

There are two popular unemployment measured U3 (commonly cited as "official unemployment rate", which dramatically understates real unemployment) and U6, which is close to actual unemployment rate as was measured during the Great Depression. U3 is often as low as half of U6 (that's why it sometimes called 50 cents unemployment rate). As The Big Picture note in the entry Unemployment Reporting

Its been pretty obvious for sometime that the Financial Media are doing a disservice to their readers by only reporting U3, given how dramatically it understates Unemployment. Indeed, consumer sentiment reports are at deep negative levels that only occur when Unemployment is much than what U3 has been saying. It is painfully obvious that U3 does not paint an accurate view of the Employment situation.

Here's the experiment I propose: Let's start reporting both, with appropriate descriptions of each. Report U3, add U6, provide monthly and year over year changes. Let the reader see the full picture, via BLS data.

See Table A-12. Alternative measures of labor underutilization

Factors that make the current unemployment structural

I would like to stress it again: many factors point to the fact that the current level of unemployment is mostly structural. In other words jobs eliminated will not be coming back. Among the most important factors we can mention:

  1. Neoliberal ideology, which prevents strong government action and direct employment by government on infrastructure projects like during New Deal. Related to the dominance of neoliberalism the hypertrophy of financial sector lead to games with "Main street" after which high, self-sustainable (aka structural) unemployment for in now a destiny for millions. Making the whole society sick.
     
  2. Outsourcing (which partially is due to much better communication channels available and computerized navigation)
     
  3. Computerization (which directly "eats jobs" much like during industrial revolution in the UK).
     
  4. High price of energy, which serves as strong depressing factor. If I remember correctly, a decade ago price of oil above $100 was considered an equivalent to permanent recession. This is never mentioned today, but still might be as true today as it was ten years ago: with the high price of oil the economic recovery is simply impossible. The only option, the only trajectory for economy is permanent stagnation.
     
  5. Growth of "lumpen-proletariat". Narcoaddicts, alcoholics, single mothers from poor families with just high school diplomas,  people with "generosity-based" high school (considerable part of Afro-Americans) and university diplomas from "diploma mills" (essentially fake diplomas),  various categories of handicapped, people with criminal records (substantial part of Afro-American male population), etc.  

The first three factors changed the distribution of power between labor and capital in favor of capital; and those guys are not inclined to take prisoners, when there is a chance to fatten their pockets.  None of the first three factors will probably be reversed soon, although neoliberal ideology is after 2008 entered a zombie state.

Also computerization and Internet allowed capital and political forces behind it much better organize politically. So like in in previous human history well organized and wealthy minority dictates its will less-organized poor majority.

I think that financial capital might eventually experience some setbacks. This bacchanalia of greed with those hedge fund  which hack financial system left and right  might come to an abrupt end with the rise of the price of oil. Even now price of oil indirectly pressure "masters of the universe".  And remember famous slogan of 2008 "Jump suckers" ;-). It reflects the society attitude to financial oligarchy and as such entail certain dangers of "blowback" for all those derivatives games.

Not under Obama watch as he is essentially a sock puppet of financial oligarchy. But eventually setback for "big finance" can happen. At the end of the day it is oil that is the real convertible currency and when oil production is diminishing or flat,  financial oligarchy will be pushed back. 

Measures taken by political elite to save financial institutions after 2008 collapse means that unemployment is a part of a general political problem with neoliberalism as a social system. Under neoliberal regime the elite can't care less about long term unemployment. National Security State ensures the security of the neoliberal elite. Elections in the USA are a sham as two party system effectively blocks candidates outside the list approved by the current elite.  The latter might even see sharp division of the society into "have" and "have nots"  as a solution of oil depletion problem (Economist's View):

bakho:

Exactly.

Monetary policy does not operate in a vacuum. Monetary policy operates in an economic system that includes fiscal and regulatory tools. It is a mistake to lock the fiscal and regulatory tools in a shed.

Fiscal policy ALWAYS operates in a recession, at least in the form of automatic stabilizers, (UI, etc.) and sometimes in the form of additional stimulus.

The meagre automatic stabilizers currently in place are enough for a mild recession, but are woefully short of what is needed in a recession like the recent one.

The primary objection to fiscal policy manipulations is that fiscal policy is more easily politicized. This overlooks the fact that monetary policy is not only political, but bankers (who constitute a wealthy special interest) have an agenda that tilts monetary policy to their own self interests.

The primary objection to using fiscal stimulus to address our unemployment crisis is POLITICAL. Wealthy special interests want pay less taxes and short term stimulus would interfere with their political agenda to roll back spending and reduce spending as a percent of GDP.

Wealthy special interests have the upper hand at the moment because enough politicians are dependent on their campaign donations. However, this politicalization of fiscal policy, doing too little to address unemployment, is the prime force behind the Fed keeping interest rates low. If enough fiscal stimulus was enacted to quickly return to full employment and inflation at or slightly above the target, the Fed would not have to consider extraordinary measures.

Anyone unhappy about extraordinary monetary measures should be urging Congress to fix unemployment now. This is not what our elites are doing. They are complaining about extraordinary monetary measures AND about additional stimulus. This suggests that these policy elites care nothing about social problems of long term unemployment, are content to have the US become a divided nation between haves and have nots and are content to oversee the creation of an underclass in order to concentrate wealthy upward.

When one is saying that unemployment became a structural problem that means that it is immune to the business cycle. For example, during the last economic expansion (Jan 2002 -Dec 2007), the median US household income dropped by $2,000. In other words many Americans were worse off at the end of an economic cycle as jobs went outsourced to low wage countries due to wage arbitrage... 

Collapse of Casino Capitalism and unemployment

The collapse of “casino capitalism” model in 2008-2009 was so profound that all sectors of the economy became depressed. As securitization mess exploded in the face of their creators as it became clear to everybody that the king is naked. Debt overhand of financial industry is tremendous and it was just socialized, not removed. Essentially it became the problem of the USA government debt. In many ways problems the USA faces now are more serious then the problems the country faced during Great Depression because economic crisis doubles as the crisis of dominant ideology -- the ideology of neoliberalism.  And the Great Recession, despite Economic Cycle Institute premature desire to bury it, is still with us. Five years in the making as of 2013.

Ideology on which FIRE sector dominance was based is now questioned and that creates additional problems both nationally and internationally, much more internationally. Internationally it means a substantial loss of the USA "soft power", the factor that played tremendous role in the decade of 1990-2000.  When other country laugh at the US financial oligarchy tribulations it is difficult to open new markets selling old neoliberalism doctrine. due to debt overhand the US dollar is replaced by currency swaps in national currency for several major trading partners of China such as Brazil and Russia.   First of all that makes the crisis even deeper and analogies between the USSR and the USA more sinister. As with Stalinists in USSR who destroyed the country economically, there is a powerful block of republican dead enders and democratic supporters of financial oligarchy (blue dogs) who  will continue to promote the current neoliberal course with its deification of "free markets" (free as in "free shooting zone"), oblivious to consequences of neoliberal policies which eat the society and protected by the size of their accounts. There is nothing new here. Oligarchic  democracies can commit suicide. Actually none lasted long. And with such a formidable political wrecking crew in action and gridlock in Congress even over minor reforms that became less probable.

For all practical purposes two party system actually works like one-party system: democrats were also captured by FIRE industries to the extent that they should not be considered an independent party, but as a slightly more moderate wing of the Republican Party. Similarly by all accounts Obama is a moderate Republican with the policies to the right of such Republican Presidents as Dwight Eisenhower and Theodore Roosevelt. In a way, Democratic Party perform the role of spoiler: it exists for the sole purpose of attracting disgruntled left-wing electorate away from more radical parties. Republicans play symmetrical role for right wing crazies. None can or want to became the agent of change. In this sense Obama electoral slogan "change we can believe in" was a nasty, cruel joke of political insiders over political outsiders.  Note how unceremoniously Obama dumped labor after his reelection, while courting it during his reelection campaign.

As private sector is still downsizing, and government can't be the employer of last resort due to dominance of neoliberal ideology, the whole situation looks more and more like Japanese lost decade. The only area where government can expand workforce are defense contractors (military keysianism):

Minsky, however, argued for a “bubble-up” approach, sending money to the poor and unskilled first. The government - or what he liked to call “Big Government” - should become the “employer of last resort,” he said, offering a job to anyone who wanted one at a set minimum wage. It would be paid to workers who would supply child care, clean streets, and provide services that would give taxpayers a visible return on their dollars. In being available to everyone, it would be even more ambitious than the New Deal, sharply reducing the welfare rolls by guaranteeing a job for anyone who was able to work. Such a program would not only help the poor and unskilled, he believed, but would put a floor beneath everyone else’s wages too, preventing salaries of more skilled workers from falling too precipitously, and sending benefits up the socioeconomic ladder.

It is important to understand that the USA is not just coping with the largest financial crisis in history, the USA is also going through a major restructuring of the American economy as well as the world economy due to plato in oil extraction. This transformation, which was postponed by two decades due the collapse of the USSR (which gave the USA companies half billion of new consumers and huge area to dollarize and buy assets for pennies on a dollar), will be very long, very painful and very slow. One additional factor that complicates the picture of "peak oil", is that it is  more properly can be called "end of cheap oil", as at higher prices more oil became economically available. So this is  not a peak but long plato.

As GDP is highly correlated with the energy consumption, the side effect of peak oil will probably be stagnant (close to zero after inflation) growth and with it speed up in permanent decline of the standard of living for middle class 

Also complicating the situation is the status of baby boomers which lost significant part of their savings during last two bubble bursts and now need to retire or will be pushed out of workforce. Pensions are already cuts either directly or indirectly (via inflation). For example, defined benefit pensions almost disappeared outside of government job force. After housing crash middle class no longer has a realistic prospect to fund their retirement and need to work longer: that increases competition for jobs. For middle aged professionals who are unemployed now the odds of finding reasonably paid work are low and they create additional competition for young people entering work force from universities. People over 50 now face especially poor job prospects.

At the same time corporate executives became corporate aristocracy (with differences in pay raising from 10-20 to 100-200 more of average corporate salary; this is the differences close to what used to exist in feudal societies). Most corporations are taking a lazy way out of the crisis with relentless cost-cutting.  This is a self-defeating strategy as cost cuttings eventually returns back via supply chain and bite the corporation which performs it. But so far this did not happened.

In addition productive sectors of economy are now under pressure of rampant financial speculation which serves as a huge tax on productive sectors of economy. Financial system is controlled by small number of large firms that permanently shifted their main activity into gambling and hacking of the financial system. There is some justice that computers which fueled all this crazy gambling on the strength of global reserve currency led to outsourcing of IT professionals to the extent that this part of US economy was destroyed and became a shadow of its former self in just ten years (2000-2010).

Another important sign of stagnation is that new college graduates face extremely bad job market which squeezes out anybody without substantial experience so for them it's Catch 22. Only graduates form Ivy League colleges has real prospect to get a job after graduation. Plus those with good family connections. In a way education is no longer a guarantee for better paying job, the same situation what was typical for the USSR and other countries of Eastern block during Brezhnev's stagnation.

There is also an interesting transformation of the quality of the education that also parallel transformation  experienced by the USSR in post-war period, but in especially acute form, three decades before the collapse. Private education became more like subprime lending.  It's quality became fake, as the term "diploma mills" suggests.  This rat rate to the lowest possible quality (quality instead of quality) was the central tendency in Brezhnev's USSR. 

In the USA in addition to devaluation of education caused by low quality "everything passes, everybody graduates, just pay" modus operandi of diploma mills, graduates from lower middle class families are now overloaded with debt, which creates for them really difficult situation and push many of them into low level service jobs like waiting. In other words excessive debt after college make getting into workforce using acquired specialty even more difficult as there is no space for long job search, relocation is more difficult and so on and so forth. 

There is also huge criminal industry that flourished around people desperate attempts to find well paying jobs. Many educational scams like "we will make you an ultrasound technician in six month; 90% of our graduates found jobs that pay over $60K in the first month after graduation"  or " software tester in four month; 100% of our graduates find jobs" are trying to capitalize of people desperate to find job, any job and getting into crushing debt trying to improve their chances in job market. Those criminals are not prosecuted.  For more information see:

The main source on new jobs is service sector and the lion share of new positions are McJobs

The employment growth comes mainly from the service sector which feeds off of consumer spending. It was hit by outsourcing especially in such areas as IT. Manufacturing no longer create jobs – outsourcing and computers eat them and you no longer need more people to make more stuff. 

Peter Dornan at EconoSpeak has the following comment which perhaps looks deeper at why the elite is so indifferent to mass unemployment and growing poverty in the U.S.

“…The process is more complicated: where one sits in society and the kinds of problems one typically has to solve leads to a way of thinking, and this manner of thinking then informs politics.

For centuries, the finance perspective has played a central role in economic theorizing, and there is ordinarily a body of research to support it. What I am proposing is this: economic orthodoxy is regaining control over policy because it reflects the outlook of those who occupy the upper reaches of government and business….”

http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2010/05/a-political-economy-moment.html

IMHO to get the economy out of this mess, government should concentrate on direct job creation (like was the case with Roosevelt administration), not on propping zombie banks hoping that they will generate credit necessary for creation o new jobs. Growth of credit will not happen and if it will happen it will not generate new jobs: most of it  is pushed into speculation.  Spectacular rise of S&P500 in first half of 2013 is a pretty good illustration of the process.

Long term high unemployment is a disaster for the country and disaster for the people, despite the fact that it is irrelevant for banksters, too busy playing in the huge casino they created. Failure to address this problem directly by Obama administration (which in economic terms is the second Summers-Bush administration making a joke in the slogan "change we can believe in") make Obama a real serial betrayer of people who elected him, the role he seems enjoy playing. 

Additional factors the complicates the picture

There are several additional factors that makes addressing the problem of chronic, structural unemployment even more difficult:

  1. The economic crisis coincides with deep ideological and political crisis.

    One can't solve the current problems the US are facing without the reform of the political system and institutions. Power of lobbyists need to be curtailed. Senate needs to be reformed.  Republican Party probably should be dissolved or temporary prohibited like Communists after the dissolution of the USSR as it is unable to reform. As there is no political will for political changes the crisis is structural and little people have to suffer.
     

  2. Real economy was damaged by excessive growth of  FIRE sector and associated "fictional" economy.  Real economy can't support the current size of FIRE sector and it needs now to downsized. There is no smooth, painless route back to the easy-money based false prosperity of Reagan-Clinton-Bush era (age of leveraging). A new economy needs to be created for sustainable recovery because the old, FIRE-based was unsustainable. In 2010 housing probably will decline further. Both commercial and residential construction continues to decline. States continue to cut back budgets creating negative feedback loop. Personal bankruptcies are up, more defaults are on the horizon. The U.S. economy needs to be re-structured, both on the "technical" and inter-sectoral level. That amounts to a collective, system-wide Chapter 11 re-organization. Obama administration has totally failed to sell the public on the validity of "stimulus", however named. Suspicion that this administration is a puppet of big banks had grown sharply. Trying to kick the can down the road will yield Republican Congressional majorities in both houses.
  3. The USA is experiencing the process of separation of workforce into two-tiers, with an elite class of highly paid employees at top companies and a subclass of minimal wage and part time laborers who work for less pay, have less job security and receive fewer benefits.
  4. Foreign wars have substantial financial costs and are an important drag on the USA economy. In the book True Cost of the Iraq Conflict, Joseph Stiglitz was estimated he cost at three trillion dollars of which probably only one trillion was offset by looting of Iraq resources. Afghanistan is about  $2 billion a week, and unless all heroin trade is controlled by CIA there is little that can offset those costs. This is the longest ongoing conflict in U.S. history.  And since Joseph Stiglitz book was written things became worse.

    The disability rates are higher. The cost of caring for the disabled are higher. Almost one out of two people coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan are disabled. This is an unfunded liability of—we calculate now to be almost a trillion dollars, over $900 billion. So, one of the big ways of reducing our deficit is a—is cut back some expenditures....

    With Libya and Syria added to the list, the hidden costs of foreign wars will weight on weakened economics more heavily. Annual cost per soldier oversees is approximately $1 Million per year.
  5. Rent that hypertrophied financial sector  extracts from the rest of the society continues to be a serious drag on the economy. This drag adds to substantial drag caused by foreign wars and military bases as well as huge military industrial complex. While parasites are omnipresent in nature, two large parasites instead of one might spells trouble for the host. Moreover the ascendancy of the financial sector and the decline of manufacturing in the U.S. ("Casino Capitalism" ) has implications similar to consequences of an organized crime running the country.  The creation of tangible products whose utility/quality can be more or less objectively measured were phased out in favor of "financial products," whose utility/quality is much easier to conceal behind legal/technical jargon and junk economics. That created a huge new class of white collar criminals. While Blankfein is out claiming that GS is doing God’s work, the reality is quite different: it became a training ground for new type of ruthless criminals, much more dangerous then bank robbers. Killing of Glass-Steagall by Clinton and leverage obtained by financial sector operating without regulatory limit created prerequisites to the financial panic of 2008. Glass-Steagall enshrined two principles that were abandoned:

    The violation of the second principle directly leads to a regulatory capture in which anything goes and a corresponding observed "need" to accommodate indiscretions, as with the Greenspan/Bernanke put. It perhaps should be identified as THE primary cause, since it left Wall Street with the well-founded (LTCM, Latin America debt crisis, etc. ) and since-proved belief that prudence and capital were quite unnecessary, and that reckless, sociopathic deal making is profitable. Four examples :

  6. Capture of the government and the media by financial sector makes the necessary reforms unlikely. “Failed Regulatory Oversight” is a politically correct term for corruption. The latter was probably the second reason of the current high unemployment . See Toxic Sludge is Good For You: Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry by John C. Stauber
  7. Effects of coming CRE crash on unemployment and economy in general might be underestimated of official forecasts.  The occupancy rate is the malls and commercial buildings is still declining. Many strip malls in the country are still are empty. Nice office buildings with signs "for rent" are feature of landscape in 2013. Many buildings, even large well designed buildings with datacenter infrastructure are vacant for years and eventually are demolished.  A full scale commercial real-estate crash can also hurt the economy in a way similar to residential home estate crash. Loans that were made in 2005-2007 were refinanced for three years in 2009-2011. And again in 2012-2013. But eventually they will be coming home to roost.  This also affects the construction  sector.  Only $400 billion of loans came due by the end of 2009, but nearly $2 trillion was refinanced by 2012.  

    The collapse in the U.S. commercial real estate market is fought by the government will maximum force but government resources to fight the crisis are diminishing too. in 2011 state financial crises led to cuts in state budget. In addition, in June 2013 municipal bonds came under fire, making financing more costly.  Commercial debt is approximately one third of the size of the total residential debt and it is concentrated in the same places creating double whammy. In Florida commercial loans, broadly defined, are bigger then residential. Unlike residential real estate, problem with commercial real estate are not solved by growth of population and creation of new families.

    Retail and white-collar positions will be directly impacted by CRE crash. As stores and offices close, mall and office building owners suffer from cuts in cash flow and severely limited prospects for new tenants. Insurance companies, hedge funds and regional banks are heavily invested in CRE and are next in line so some financial jobs will be lost too. Extend and pretend might work but the question is if there is enough liquidity to stretch loans.
     

  8. Computers eat people jobs. Automation and the recent advances in robotic and computers make more and more workers redundant.  The latest victims are cashiers in supermarkets. Manufacturing jobs continue to disappear not only due to outsourcing, but also due to new computerized technologies. The reality is that manufacturing employs a mere 11.5 million workers in the U.S.A., or 9% of the workforce and this percentage will never increase substantially.

    My feeling is that even in corporate IT after drastic cuts that were the standard game for large corporations in 2008-2009, additional cuts are possible. But the situation on the ground is somewhat paradoxical as real cuts runs deeper that you would assume from headcount: a lot of current IT personnel belongs to "untouchable" caste -- wives of somebody higher up in this or linked by the supply chain company, sons of somebody important and so on. I can't give you percentage, but probably 10%-20% of "untouchables" would be an educated guess. So removing of at least 10% of the current IT workforce means removal of 12% or more those who do actual work. 

    Another factor is that cuts in IT are one way street as they stimulate replacing of people with technology and there are still tremendous potential for computerization of many areas including first of all IT itself.

    For example all this cloud initiatives are in disguise politically correct way to move things in the direction of higher automation and outsourcing because under the surface there is not much innovation in those "new" technologies.
     

  9. Oil prices despite coming down in September 2011 are back to $85-$90 level.  That level is putting additional stress on manufacturing, transportation and agriculture. Solid US growth of the past decade and earlier was dependent on two factors:

    With the rising oil all bets for re-inflating the economy (aka kicking the can down the road) are off.
     

  10. Indirect job creation strategies via stimulus to businesses seized to produce meaningful job generation. Reaganomics has put the U.S. economy into a high-unemployment equilibrium when the high-rate of labor unemployment is reinforced by the shortage (or absence) of idle, but useful capital stock due to offshoring and  outsourcing as well as chronically low consumer demand due to high level of debt. Only service sector and financial jobs can be generated with minimum capital infrastructure (for financial jobs internet connection and computer are almost all that needed). Automation of production lead to less and less workers.
     
  11. Confidence is really low.  Businesses have no confidence that customers ever return, therefore are not hiring much and scaling down the production. This chicken-egg-chicken-egg cycle has to be broken, but I am really puzzled how that is going to happen without large government role in the economy, which is big no-no for ideological consideration (the USA preaches neoliberalism as a "civil religion" similarly like USSR and other "communist" countries preached Marxism). Without large government projects employees have no confidence in their jobs, therefore are not consuming much.
     
  12. In the face of growing unemployment the current administration proved to be as incompetent as Bush administration in case of Hurricane Katrina. And that means totally incompetent.

Effects on population

Unemployment is a very harsh condition, that traumatize the workers greatly (Sliding into the Great Depression)

At first the unemployed searched eagerly and diligently for alternative sources of work. But if four months or so passed without successful reemployment, the unemployed tended to become discouraged and distraught.

After eight months of continuous unemployment, the typical unemployed worker still searches for a job, but in a desultory fashion and without much hope.

And within a year of becoming unemployed the worker is out of the labor market for all practical purposes: a job must arrive at his or her door, grab him or her by the scruff of the neck, and through him or her back into the nine-to-five routine if he or she is to be employed again.

The USA as a whole is facing the worst labor market prospects since 1929. In terms of duration of elevated unemployment we already rival the early 80s. But in no way we can expect a steep decline in the rate of unemployment in the way that happened in 1983 when unemployment declined at a brisk 2%. And permanent high unemployment creates economic conditions that feel like the USA brought back slavery. The new reserve army of the unemployed drives wages down, while average productivity continues to rise, as a way to generate surpluses to be channeled into executive bonuses. The whole sectors like IT were decimated by outsourcing. Unfortunately given the current overcapacity and ample supply of qualified job seekers in many occupations, I certainly don't expect labor arrangements and employment conditions to become more favorable.

Looks like 7% unemployment is going to become the "new normal". In any case government statistics is very suspect (see Fake Employment Statistics) and actually unemployment is higher. For example, the declining participation in work force means that actual unemployment rate is higher then reported.

Obama-Bush administration saved banks waiting most of taxpayers money and piling up debt in hopes that they restore credit flow in the economy. But this was a fallacy: banks aren’t lending to prospective home buyers, small businesses and real estate developers because bankers recognize the obvious — many of those loans won’t get repaid. Of course, as bankers refuse to lend, the stagnation becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But since society is burdened with too much debt, piling on more debt would not be the solution in any case.

There is no smooth, painless route back to the easy-money based false prosperity of Reagan-Clinton-Bush era (age of leveraging). We entered the age of deleveraging. Obama’s “you owe us” message to the banks is the height of naïveté’ and tells us a lot about him. In 2013 our problems are worse than they were in 2007 before the crisis. Peak credit is as dangerous for the economy as peak oil...

Corruption of economic profession

The inability of the economics profession to forecast unemployment in the short, medium, or long run would be downright comical, if not for the human tragedy involved. While the Occam Razor approach suggests incompetence as a culprit, I think it's a manifestation of the corruption of the profession by financial interests (with some "don't rock the boat" variations).  First of all, economists much like elected officials and Wall Street executives have a vested interest in keeping the perception of a robust economy. The employment data announced each month are critical to this perception. That's why government "prints up jobs out of thin air" the same way the Federal Reserve prints money. This is economic propaganda and as such it is not that much different from the over-stated earnings practiced by companies of all striped and colors.

The second problem is that fiscal policy cannot solve the problem of job creation in all circumstances, especially in deleveraging environment. Position of people like The Fed Can Help, But Fiscal Policy Is The Key To Job Creation ) is a step in right direction. But without something like Jobs Corps to get out of the current situation is very difficult. In 1982 SETH S. KING wrote in NYT (PROPOSAL FOR JOB CORPS RECALLS ROOSEVELT PLAN):

Few of this city's recent celebrations of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 100th birthday have passed without nostalgic references to the Civilian Conservation Corps, that President's cherished vehicle for getting thousands of jobless, hungry youths off the streets and putting them to work refurbishing the nation's parks and forests.

With today's unemployment rate nearing a postwar high and new thousands of young people again unable to find work, Congress is preparing to wrestle with the Reagan Administration for money to start a new youth job training program and reconstitute the Job Corps, the pale copy of the old C.C.C. that emerged in the Carter days.

But there is little in these plans that is likely to reproduce those Depression era pictures of sturdy, bare-chested young men planting trees, building bridges and saving the nation's battered farmlands.

Nor is today's procedure-encumbered Washington, where a year usually elapses between idea and action, likely to duplicate the astonishing start on the C.C.C., which four months after being conceived had been approved by Congress and had more than 300,000 young men being clothed, housed, fed and paid $30 a month while they breathed all that fresh air.

In this crisis the main lesson was that theologically captured by free market fundamentalism government can destroy economy at a really staggering rate. This is "Back in the USSR" situation. Eight years of Clinton and eight years of Bush administration (see The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush, by Joseph E. Stiglitz) are as good proof of this as one can ever get. Clinton and Bush regimes (especially Rubin-Greenspan alliance and "vice president from an undisclosed location" activities)  proved to be a real wrecking crew. But that does not mean that government cannot put it weight on easing the unemployment burden. Incentives such a investment tax credit matters. Not tax cuts for the rich, but direct investment credit. direct job creation which is anathema to market fundamentalism would be even better and less costly. Roosevelt administration did it, so why not capitalize on positive experience and develop it further ?

In this crisis the main lesson was that theologically captured by free market fundamentalism government can destroy economy at a really staggering rate.

In any case socializing losses and privatizing gain (crony capitalism) should be downsized. Insurance for gambling by big banks should be cut.

As long as economists believe their report card is the rise in GDP (GDP Mania), we will remain in a failure mode. A country is not defined by GDP but by the quality of life of its citizens. And quality of life cannot be assessed by a simplistic, one-dimensional metric such as GDP. The key dimensions for well-being are: employment, earnings, wealth, health, infrastructure, and living conditions. In that particular order. With employment as the critical factor: the USA looks like an underdeveloped banana republic by the current measure of unemployment and in many respect has became such.

It looks like high persistent unemployment became the defining feature of this recession. Jobs creation prospect in 2014 look pretty grim -- there is no sector other then government that can absorb redundant workforce and automation in manufacturing makes sure that those who are unemployed right now will stay unemployed in the foreseeable future. Most jobs cut are permanent, not temporary, especially in such sectors as IT (structural shift). As Robert Reich noted:

...The basic assumption that jobs will eventually return when the economy recovers is probably wrong. Some jobs will come back, of course. But the reality that no one wants to talk about is a structural change in the economy that's been going on for years but which the Great Recession has dramatically accelerated.

Under the pressure of this awful recession, many companies have found ways to cut their payrolls for good. They’ve discovered that new software and computer technologies have made workers in Asia and Latin America just about as productive as Americans, and that the Internet allows far more work to be efficiently outsourced abroad.

This means many Americans won’t be rehired unless they’re willing to settle for much lower wages and benefits. Today's official unemployment numbers hide the extent to which Americans are already on this path. Among those with jobs, a large and growing number have had to accept lower pay... Or they've lost higher-paying jobs and are now in a new ones that pays less.

The current crisis also means that financial services and real estate (FIRE) economy, this gigantic casino that the US government was trying to build for the last 25 years is now in trouble and shed workers in vast numbers (although working condition in financial industry are still good or very good depending on your position in the food chain). But the profitability of large banks and can achieved only by oversees expansion and derivatives games with foreign assets. The most profitable essentially converted themselves into hedge funds, getting most profits from trading operations, not from the traditional banking activities.

The simplest and the most obvious solution in the current situation is to cut work week and hours of work (4 days six hours a day). That will put enough people to work to make unemployment bearable and it might slightly help entertainment and hospitality industries which now is suffering more that others. From the other point of view if lower standard of living is inescapable, why not to make the transition smoother and more fun by cutting work hours.

Military Keynesianism no longer works

But that's not enough. The USA needs drastically cut military budget. Military Keynesianism no longer works as expected.  As John Maudin in his e-letter proposed (see Thoughts on the Economy- Problems and Solutions):

Mauldin: Unemployment is likely to continue to rise and last longer than ever before. We have to take care of the basic needs of those who want work but can't find it. Unemployment insurance should be extended to those who are still looking for work past the time for benefits to expire, and some program of local volunteer service should be instituted as the price for getting continued benefits after the primary benefits time period runs out. Not only will this help the community, but it will get the person out into the world where he is more likely to meet someone who can give him a job. But the costs of this program should be revenue-neutral. Something else has to be cut.

Mish: Can we deal with 15 million volunteers? Somehow I doubt it.

Mauldin: We have to re-think our military costs (I can't believe I am writing this!). We now spend almost 50% of the world's total military budget. Maybe we need to understand that we can't fight two wars and support hundreds of bases around the world. If we kill the goose, our ability to fight even one medium-sized war will be diminished. The harsh reality is that everything has to be re-evaluated. As an example, do we really need to be in Korea? If so, why can't Korea pay for much of the cost? They are now a rich nation. There are budgetary fiscal limits to being the policeman for the world.

Mish: Bingo. We can easily slash our military budget by 70% and still be the most powerful nation in the world. Moreover, it is time to declare the war in Iraq and Afghanistan over, pack our bags and leave. Gradually, over the next 5-8 years we should bring home all our troops from literally every county they are stationed.

This chart shows the absurdity of our spending.

Chart courtesy of Global Issues - World Military Spending.

By the way that chart does not include the latest increase in the US military budget. Please consider US lawmakers pass 680-billion-dollar defense budget bill

The US House of Representatives passed a 680-billion-dollar defense authorization bill on Thursday that includes funds to train Afghan security forces and more mine-resistant troop carriers.

Lawmakers defied President Barack Obama's veto threat and approved 560 million dollars to continue work on an alternative engine for the F-35 fighter jet built by General Electric and British manufacturer Rolls-Royce.

The compromise legislation would also raise military pay by 3.4 percent -- half a percentage point higher than Pentagon recommendations -- and assign 6.7 billion dollars for mine-resistant armored vehicles known as MRAPs, which is 1.2 billion dollars more than the administration had proposed.

Nearly $700 billion dollars of "defense" spending. The amount needed for actual defense is 20% of that at most, and more likely 5%. Balancing the budget is easy if you start here.

Mauldin: Glass-Steagall, or some form of it, should be brought back. Banks, which are subject to taxpayer bailouts, should not be in the investment banking and derivatives-creating business. Derivatives, especially credit default swaps, should be on an exchange, and too big to fail must go. Banks have enough risk just making loans. Leverage should be dialed down, and hedge funds selling what amounts to naked call options in any form, derivative or otherwise, should be regulated.

Mish: What we need to do is get rid of the Fed, FDIC, and fractional reserve lending. Regulation has failed every step of the way. Regulation created Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Fed. Regulation by the SEC anointed Moodys, Fitch, and the S&P as debt rating companies. We do not need more regulation, we need less regulation, a sound currency, and no Fed. Regulation is clearly the problem, yet the cries for still more regulation come from nearly every corner save the Austrian economists.

Mauldin: Let me see, is there any group I have not offended yet? But something like I am suggesting is going to have to be done at some point. There is no way we can continue forever on the current path. At some point, we will hit the wall. The fight between the bug and the windshield always ends in favor of the windshield. The bond market is going to have to see a credible effort to get back to a reasonable deficit, or we risk a very difficult economic environment. The longer we wait, the worse it will be.

Mish: "Is there any group I have not offended yet?" Yes. You failed to offend those on public pension plans. Not to fear, I did that myself in Five Major Pension Problems - One Simple Solution.

Unsolvable Problems


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[Dec 20, 2020] The American ruling class has failed on pretty much every issue of significance for the past several decades

Neoliberals as an occupying force for the country
Notable quotes:
"... The bottom line is the true enemies of the American people are no foreign nation or adversary---the true enemy of the American people are the people who control America. ..."
"... This way of thinking points to a dilemma for the American ruling class. Contrary to a lot of the rhetoric you hear, much of the American ruling class, including the "deep state" is actually quite anti-China. To fully account for this would take longer than I have here. But the nutshell intuitive explanation is that the ruling class, particularly Wall Street, was happy for the past several decades to enrich both themselves and China by destroying the American working class with policies such as "free-trade" and outsourcing. But in many ways the milk from that teat is no more, and now you have an American ruling class much more concerned about protecting their loot from a serious geopolitical competitor (China) than squeezing out the last few drops of milk from the "free trade." ..."
Dec 20, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
Bemildred , Dec 19 2020 2:00 utc | 124

This is awesome, he nails the dilemma which our owners are confronted with;

I'll put it this way: It is not as though the American ruling class is intelligent, competent, and patriotic on most important matters and happens to have a glaring blind spot when it comes to appreciating the threat of China. If this were the case, it would make sense to emphasize the threat of China above all else.

But this is not the case. The American ruling class has failed on pretty much every issue of significance for the past several decades. If China were to disappear, they would simply be selling out the country to India, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, or some other country (in fact they are doing this just to a lesser extent).

Our ruling class has failed us on China because they have failed us on everything. For this reason I believe that there will be no serious, sound policy on China that benefits Americans until there is a legitimate ruling class in the United States. For this reason pointing fingers at the wickedness and danger of China is less useful than emphasizing the failure of the American ruling class. The bottom line is the true enemies of the American people are no foreign nation or adversary---the true enemy of the American people are the people who control America.

This way of thinking points to a dilemma for the American ruling class. Contrary to a lot of the rhetoric you hear, much of the American ruling class, including the "deep state" is actually quite anti-China. To fully account for this would take longer than I have here. But the nutshell intuitive explanation is that the ruling class, particularly Wall Street, was happy for the past several decades to enrich both themselves and China by destroying the American working class with policies such as "free-trade" and outsourcing. But in many ways the milk from that teat is no more, and now you have an American ruling class much more concerned about protecting their loot from a serious geopolitical competitor (China) than squeezing out the last few drops of milk from the "free trade."

The Zürich Interviews - Darren J. Beattie: If Only You Knew How Bad Things Really Are


Grieved , Dec 19 2020 3:12 utc | 129

@102 karlof1 - "By deliberately setting policy to inflate asset prices, the Fed has priced US labor out of a job, while as you report employers sought labor costs that allowed them to remain competitive."

I never heard it said so succinctly and truly as this before. That is what happened isn't it? The worker can't afford life anymore, in this country.

And if the worker can't afford the cost of living - who bears the cause of this, how follows the remedy of this, and what then comes next?

I really appreciate your point of view, which is the only point of view, which is that the designers of the economy, the governors of the economy, have placed the workers of the economy in a position that is simply just not tenable.

No wonder they strive to divide in order to rule - because they have over-reached through greed and killed the worker, who holds up the society.

How long can the worker flounder around blaming others before the spotlight must turn on the employer?

uncle tungsten , Dec 19 2020 3:12 utc | 130

Bemildred #115

You have to remember these people really do think they are better. They do think in class terms even if they avoid that rhetoric in public. The problem is they thought they could control China like they did Japan. That was dumb then and it looks even dumber now. You can see similar dumbness in their lack of grip on any realisitic view of Russia. Provincials really. Rich peasants.

Thank you, they certainly DO think in class terms ALWAYS. + Rich peasants is perfect :))

Thankfully they are blinded by hubris at the same time. The USA destroyed the Allende government in Chile in 1973. After the Nixon Kissinger visit to China in 1979 they assumed they could just pull a color revolution stunt when they deemed it to be the right time. Perhaps in their hubris they thought every Chinese worker would be infatuated with capitalism and growth.

They tested that out in the People Power colour (yellow) revolt in the Filipines in 1986 following a rigged election by Marcos. In 1989 only 16 years after China had been buoyed up with growth and development following the opening to USA capitalism, they tried out the same trick in Tienanmen square in China but those students were up against the ruling party of the entire nation - not the ruling class. BIG MISTAKE. The ruling party of China was solidly backed by the peasant and working class that was finally enjoying some meager prosperity and reward a mere 40 years after the Chinese Communist Party and their parents and grandparents had liberated China from 100 years of occupation, plunder, human and cultural rapine and colonial insult. Then in 2020 it was tried on again in Hong Kong. FAIL.

The hubris of the ruling class and its running dogs is pathetic.

We see the same with Pelosi and the ruling class in the Dimoratss today. They push Biden Harris to the fore, piss on the left and refuse to even hold a vote on Medicare for All in the middle of a pandemic. Meanwhile the USAi ruling class has its running dogs and hangers on bleating that "its wrong tactic, its premature, its whatever craven excuse to avoid exposing the ruling class for what they are - thieves, bereft of compassion, absent any sense of social justice, fakes lurking behind their class supposition.

They come here to the bar with their arrogant hubris, brimming with pointless information some even with emoji glitter stuck on their noses. Not a marxist or even a leftie among them. Still its class that matters and its the ruling class that we must break.

chu teh , Dec 19 2020 4:00 utc | 131

@102 karlof1 and Grieved | Dec 19 2020 3:12 utc | 129

I did not understand inflate-assets/suppress-workers and forgot to return to it to clear it up. Grieved sent me back to Karlof1. I just got it.

That viewpoint indeed explains method of operation to accomplish the results I observed. When Nixon was forced to default on Bretton Woods use of Gold Exchange Standard* [the USD is as good as gold], then printing fiat solved the problem [threat to US inventory of gold]....but printing fiat [no longer redeemable as a promise convert to gold] became the new problem [no way to extinguish the promises to redeem/pay].

So how to proceed? Aha! Steal from the workers; squeeze 'em, entertain and dazzle 'em!.. Such an elegant solution...slow, certain and hardly noticeable...like slow-boiling frogs...an on-going project as we blog.

Now I'll read Karlof1's link.

[Dec 12, 2020] On the Demise of Universities

Dec 12, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Yves here. Friend of the site Erasmus e-mailed Lambert and me about his post on Covid accelerating the conversion of universities from institutions of learning to money generators. As you'll see, Erasmus has direct experience with some of the pathologies, which extend beyond colonization by MBAs.

By Erasmus, an academic in the humanities

Thank you for the Dec 7 post on the demise of universities . I know this terrain all too well.

Universities have become far more profit-oriented, and corrupted by administrative bloat and bullshit jobs (Graeber)/make-work (like "assessment" mandates), as well as by the customer service mentality of pleasing and placating students to the detriment of standards and solid education. There are plenty of books about various facets of academe, including satirical novels. The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed are useful, but there are plenty of silly articles there too, often written by well-intentioned administrators or English faculty. Parkinson's Law and all his other insights should be rigorously imposed on the whole mess.

Standards have declined precipitously, which no one admits except curmudgeon tenured senior faculty. Grade inflation is a related problem. There is cheating and lack of study skills, lack of attention span, lack of discipline. A Harvard professor, Harvey Mansfield, has denounced grade inflation publicly, which is excellent, but most cannot do that. The high schools do not teach much, so students cannot handle college work, and there is a lot of partying and dysfunction and anxiety and superficial learning, often done in groups. The pseudoscientific obsession with metrics instead of the hard work of engagement and informed judgment means that student course evaluations (numbers) are important, and that corrupts the teacher-student relationship.

On tenure. Tenure can be legally revoked, but it is rare, and usually due to gross misconduct or something serious. Probably every college and university faculty handbook has a boilerplate section on emergency situations in which the administration can eliminate academic departments and lay off tenured faculty – this has happened. It has been rare up to now, but we will probably see more of it. The Medaille place mentioned in the post is a nothing school, but it is ominous.

Legally the university is a corporation, and you can usually find the faculty handbook on its website. Interesting reading. There are business/executive types on boards of trustees who don't understand and/or don't care about university customs and would love to eliminate all tenure. It is happening incrementally, with tenured faculty retirements being replaced with low-wage, contingent adjuncts, lecturers, "clinical" faculty, "assistant teaching professors", and the like. Gigs instead of stable positions with the traditional ranks: assistant, associate, and full professor. In the UK a lecturer is a higher status than in the US system. Germany and France and Italy have their own systems. Of course, as you would expect, the Italian system (today) is the nuttiest, and unfortunately there is a lot of nepotism there, to the detriment of serious research and teaching. Italy gave us Vico and Eco and others though, so there's that.

In my view, it is a massive, systemic fail of the faculty to not stand up to the bad decisions and greed of administrators and prevent a lot of this. Faculty governance is a pleasant myth, but faculty have lost a lot of ground over the decades. Some faculty are in denial and believe that what is customary will prevail. They do not understand the difference between custom and law. The faculty handbook is a ratified document, in force for making decisions.

Most faculty are cowards and careerists and sycophants who just want to be comfortable or gain status with peers, but this neglects the institution. They are politically inept, like the progressives (as Matt Stoller has observed). Most of them do not know how to get anything done. They do not understand power. It used to be that mediocre faculty tended to go into administration, but now there is an expanding administrative class that rules over the budget and faculty, and this is detrimental to the institution. Tenured faculty have not prevented the exponential growth in the use (exploitation) of adjuncts for undergraduate teaching. I say this as a person with a PhD from a public university that has had a unionized faculty for decades. It didn't make much difference. My institution was the only one in the US charging tuition to PhD students teaching on its undergrad campuses – taking back money paid for teaching in the system (extremely low-paid, of course). This is one reason why I will never donate.

Yep, academic freedom is being undermined. It's elusive if one can't pay the rent and is a gig laborer for an institution run like a brutal plantation.

Yep, teaching is not job training. George Carlin had a few words on this topic – obedient workers are the desired product of the school system. There are various brilliant scholars who wrote worthwhile books on teaching, usually forgotten.

One insidious practice I have seen is the notion of "collegiality" being a factor in tenure decisions. The traditional categories, usually weighted, are teaching, research, and service. People have been sabotaged and denied tenure due to collegiality issues, which can hide bullying and nasty dept politics or bigotry. There are legal cases about it. It is vague and subjective, and there is no way for it to be imposed fairly as a standard. The AAUP has position papers for various issues on its site, as does the MLA (Modern Language Assn).

Books: Higher Education?, The Last Professors, many others document what has been happening.

Jacques Barzun foresaw a lot of what is happening in his book The American University . He dissected the parasitical centers and institutes that infest campuses. He has a chapter in there on an essay by William James (if I recall) on the "PhD octopus" which exemplifies the expansion of credentials and degrees. Barzun's book Teacher in America is also excellent and worthwhile, in my opinion.

Camille Paglia (I know Yves views her work as uneven, but when Paglia talks about academia, she is perceptive) has written since the 1990s about the intellectual corruption in the humanities, and many other topics. In fairness, she has been teaching undergraduates for decades, and she was exiled from having a "normal" academic career because she was and is outspoken and direct. She is very serious about education and students. She was in the culture wars. She sees what is happening now.

There was a professor, Richard Mitchell, who wrote a delightful newsletter, The Underground Grammarian, later published as books . He also foresaw the coming idiocy. He denounced idiocy coming out of schools of education, and deconstructed the poor thought in their convoluted prose, which is similar to administrative prose. There are entire journals devoted to such bloviation.

The brutal economic conditions caused by the pandemic (well, due to lack of support from DC) are only accelerating processes that were already well underway for many years in US colleges and universities.

It is not enough to throw money at the problem – there needs to be substantial reform, and no upper administrator wants to cut off the branch s/he is sitting on. There was great expansion in the 1960s and 1970s, and some of those places might die out. Neoliberalism again.

When I look back at the wonderful teachers and professors I have known across multiple disciplines, and see the tremendous impoverishment of students today, it is heartbreaking.


LowellHighlander , December 11, 2020 at 6:10 am

When I was employed as an economist within the Bureau of Labor Statistics, I was required to interview authorities in certain occupations and industries for my work. For that reason, I interviewed people at professional engineering associations, and one or two of them confirmed for me that the land-grant system (and consequently the GI Bill arising out of WWII) had given the U.S. a major advantage over other countries. This was because many, many graduate programs in engineering had sprung up or expanded in the 1950s and 1960s, in large part because so many more students (than prior to WWII) were now able to attend university, and the U.S. as a consequence did indeed produce much more "human capital", particularly in science and engineering.

And, as an economist, I fully agree that the neo-liberal model is destroying all this in its corrupting the institutions of academia so that they become "profit centers". [Certainly, the ever-widening maldistribution of wealth and income, as seen in states' decisions to steadily decrease funding for their public universities, also contributed mightily to this trend.] But this is what happens in empires: institutions become so corrupted that they no longer function. The sooner we all realize that the U.S. has become such a polity, the sooner we might be able to reverse course [although, I admit, I am anything but sanguine].

John A , December 11, 2020 at 6:14 am

Not sure if the 1980s British play 'Educating Rita' ever made it across the Atlantic, though it was made into a film with Michael Caine, so maybe. Rita is a hairdresser wanting to better herself by attending Open University and has tutorials with a worldweary English lit lecturer, Frank. The pair gradually get to know each other. At one point, Rita asks Frank if he could ever be fired from his secure tenure. His response is that the only sackable offence would be 'buggering the bursar'.
How times change.

The Rev Kev , December 11, 2020 at 9:28 am

A great film that as well as a great book. I have some of the author's – Willy Russell – other works and when you read about his early life, you realize that Rita's story is really his own story in disguise. But that era of ordinary people achieving higher education may be gone now. Mark Blyth once remarked that if today's education system was around when he was young, that he would have ended up as just some yobbo hanging around the streets of Glasgow.

icancho , December 11, 2020 at 9:37 pm

Yes, indeed. There are (small) legions of us provincial, working class kids who lucked out by growing up in the UK in that magic quarter century or so (~'45–'75) when, if you did well enough in O- and A-levels to secure an offer of a place at uni, all expenses were paid direct, and you got a living allowance on top! (£375 p.a. -- sounds like a pittance, but, with care, and not too much beer, you could save on it).
I'm with Mark Blyth -- not in Glasgow -- but without that visionary national social policy, I'd have been in the same boat, in another northern town.

Patrice , December 11, 2020 at 10:02 am

"Educating Rita" with Michael Caine, is on YouTube, if interested.

savedbyirony , December 11, 2020 at 11:18 am

Great movie. MIchael Caine, Julie Walters, Michael Williams – what a wonderful cast. Saw it my junior year of HS and just loved it. Still a big fan of Dame Julie.

jackiebass , December 11, 2020 at 7:14 am

A big negative effect of this is the quality of research. At one time university research was trusted as valid. Now money has corrupted it to the point a lot of the research is questionable and not trust worthy.

KLG , December 11, 2020 at 8:02 am

True. Credit most of this to the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, along with the substantial decrease, adjusted for inflation, in federal support (NSF, NIH) for essential, fundamental scientific research during the neoliberalization of all things. Gresham's Law in action, the bad money did drive out the good.

David , December 11, 2020 at 11:03 am

But even outside the big money areas, research has become a race to publish as much as you can, irrespective of quality, to get the right metrics for you and your institution. There are profit-making companies whose sole job is to act as F***b**ks for academics, signing them up and encouraging them to obsessively pore over how many people have read their work and how many, um, "likes" they have received.

Fox Blew , December 11, 2020 at 7:41 am

Thank you very much for this, Erasmus. Most especially citing Jacques Barzun. (Another darn book for me to read as Lambert would put it. Ha!) It all seems spot on to what I have personally witnessed in my little college town since the late 80's. I would like to add John Ralston Saul to the list of folks to read/listen/watch on this subject too.

Peconomist , December 11, 2020 at 9:03 am

One more author, the late Canadian writer Robertson Davies who has much to say about the decline of the University as a teaching/scholarly institution.

CanCyn , December 11, 2020 at 9:24 am

As someone who just retired from the community college system in Ontario, all of this rings true to me. Especially the cowardice of full-time faculty (it isn't called tenure in the college system in Ontario, but effectively that is what it is). Voting for pay increases contract after contract while the holes in the collective agreement just kept getting bigger and bigger year after year. Old timers protecting their bank accounts and youngsters living under the delusion that things would stay the same, not wanting to rock the boat.
And yes the bloat of administration. And the contracting of private sector consultants to do everything from re-decorate to write curriculum. Assessments done by outside firms so that the college didn't own the data and was therefore not subject to Freedom of Information requests. More and more administrators who know or care nothing for education. Bloated grades and high school graduates who arrive incapable of doing the work – and thus a whole new wing of non-academic support personnel created to help them succeed.
This post also brought to mind IM dr's comments of the other day the about the know-nothing, unmotivated residents he is encountering at his hospital. I came across many nursing students who needed remedial math and science help to get by in their college level courses. And watched this play out in real life – once when my father was in the hospital, I listened while two young nurses tried to figure out the drip rate for an IV for a new drug prescribed by the doctor. The IV bag was a different strength than what was prescribed so they needed to do some figuring. I had to intervene and have them call the doctor as they were clearly hopeless at the math required to determine the correct drip rate. So, indeed neoliberalization is not just hurting bank accounts, the crapification of our educational institutes is now having detrimental effects in many parts of our society. It is scary.

HeadInClouds , December 11, 2020 at 10:11 am

I'm currently working in the Ontario community college system (on contract) and see little hope of improvement. Full time faculty (i.e. tenured) have little incentive to rock the boat because they are comfortable and secure – this is in spite of the fact that many are left-leaning and consider themselves champions of social justice. Contract faculty (i.e. adjuncts) are too cowed to speak out because it could mean non-renewal of teaching contracts. Better to put your head down and hope you eventually win the full time lottery.

The strike three years ago ended up being the longest ever, and then went to arbitration that resulted in no improvement for contract faculty (aside from superficial gestures). Most full time faculty I spoke to were begrudging participants. Some complained about the five weeks of pay they gave up to be on strike. A couple examples: One guy was disappointed because he was expecting 2017 to be the first year he made six figures, until the strike. Another told me he had to delay a bathroom reno. Boohoo, I thought sarcastically, but I held my tongue because, you know, solidarity.

Meanwhile, things will only get worse. The pandemic is accelerating a shift to more online learning, and has given the colleges an excuse to freeze full time faculty hiring. Will be looking for a way out of the mess in 2021

CanCyn , December 11, 2020 at 1:43 pm

You're right about that last strike. It was long and, in the end, pointless. I was a faculty librarian for most of my career and decided to try my hand at admin before I retired and had just become a low level manager when that strike happened. Being on the admin side I was shocked by the disdain for faculty openly expressed by many administrators. Between that us vs. them status quo and the faculty unwilling to rock the boat, I don't see things changing for the better, ever. I had a 5 years-to-retirement plan when I got the management gig. I only lasted 3 years, just couldn't take the nonsense anymore. Lucky for me I could afford to go. Good luck to you!

Kouros , December 11, 2020 at 1:47 pm

I wanted to comment separately but the mentioning of the two nurses inability to calculate the drip rate is a combination of insufficient education as well as lack of training.

I see education as providing the knowledge as well as furthering the ability to understand the nature of things. Training would refer to the ability to better and more efficiently deploy this knowledge by strengthening the pathways (brain and flesh muscles) that enable the realization of any objective/task.

Somebody in the post that started this discussion also tried to emphasize the role of training and I totally agree that it is important. A deep level of professionalism does involve mastering of the knowledge and having the ability to skilfully deploy that knowledge.

An example at limit: Stephen Hawkins had the brains, but in the end, he did rely on some very smart, skilled young ones, that were able to carry on many of the calculations necessary for his theorizing. Oh, the graduate student, the other lab rat of the research environment.

CanCyn , December 11, 2020 at 4:13 pm

I agree that some on the job training is required but those nurses were on their own on the floor, they should have known how to calculate the drip rate. Nursing education is not pure theoretical learning, they get a lot of hands on 'training' along with their math, science and anatomy curriculum and should arrive on the job with those skills and abilities. That said, I agree that on the job training is an important aspect of work and one that we don't do anymore. Now it is 'orientation and 'on boarding' by HR, company propaganda for the most part. One of my early part time jobs was a cashier in a grocery store. We were toured through every isle, seeing what was where. We learned how to identify produce (there were no stickers on fruit in those days). We actually had to go through the produce dept before every shift to see what was on sale and what seasonal produce was available so we could identify it and ring it in properly. We were even taught the proper way to open a roll of coins! Unroll carefully, do not bang on side of coin drawer at risk of coins falling everywhere if you were wondering ;

G , December 11, 2020 at 2:20 pm

I know of a university student in a teacher's ed program who asked the professor for help on an upcoming test: "I don't understand this adding fractions thing." No trace of embarrassment. Nor was the professor fazed. This is normal. This potential future teacher cannot add 2/3 + 1/2.

Many faculty have problems with writing. I'm not talking English as second language (ESL) problems – those I can understand – I'm talking native speakers who don't know how to use a comma.

Grading student writing, I decided to ignore most grammar errors. On the one hand, many ESL students were flat-out incapable of assembling correct sentences. I didn't particularly blame them: but I couldn't let them off the hook while penalizing native speakers (assuming I could even determine who was who, probably a no-no). On the other hand, many native speakers were at least as bad. I basically had a choice: fail half of them on English or grade them on the course content. I graded them on the course content.

There's an attitude problem too. There are students employed to edit writing for publication. When their errors are caught and corrected, they rise up in rebellion. "That's how I like to do it." "You need to respect my positionality."

Dictionary.com: "Positionality is the social and political context that creates your identity in terms of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability status." Like my child in public school, I suppose they are being taught novel pronouns, but not English grammar; how many genders there are, but not how to count them. The consensus on multiplication tables with other parents I've talked to: learn them on your own, or not at all. (What happens to the kids of the often working class parents who haven't the time, patience or ability to do that?)

Universities are changing mottoes and mission statements. It's no longer about finding truth. It's about changing the world. My fear is that they will succeed.

Lambert Strether , December 11, 2020 at 2:25 pm

> "You need to respect my positionality."

No. Really? Seems like that's the attitude at the New York Times, though

G , December 11, 2020 at 3:23 pm

This is the story I heard from someone not familiar with the term, who had no idea it was an idpol thing. The main thing though is the sensitivity: whether they try out some ridiculous claim like that, or just act huffy or hurt, the students feel it's not ok to be corrected.

The Rev Kev , December 11, 2020 at 11:56 pm

Maybe they were just channeling their inner Eric Cartman-

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

CanCyn , December 11, 2020 at 4:25 pm

Students' sensitivity to correction is at unbelievable heights. I once explained the difference between a tattletale and a whistleblower to a student who called himself the the latter, saying, "I ain't no whistleblower" when he clearly meant tattletale. I was smiling and clearly not giving him 'heck' but his angry reaction was as though I had just yelled and called him stupid. I was shocked. That was quite a few years ago, it has only gotten worse. I can't even remember how long ago I was told that teachers shouldn't correct work with a red pen because it is considered too harsh! I don't understand how things have changed so much and it is not as though kids are particularly happy at school. They're constantly talking about all the stress they're under. I say this as someone who understands that the world has changed and there's is much to be stressed about, but still, it is school for goodness sake. I had a math teacher in high school who used to throw chalk at us when we were wrong and I am pretty sure I had way more fun in school than kids today.

G , December 11, 2020 at 4:43 pm

Some of my favourite teachers were mean. One took positvie evil glee in calling on students for answers and humiliating them when they got them wrong. But he was equal opportunity: the better the student, the harder he tried, until he got what he wanted. When one survived the attack and got it right (which was probably most of the time), he played all disappointment. Every right answer came with a flash of pride.

The effect was to make us study hard and build camaradarie. He was a dedicated teacher who truly loved his students, and I think we loved him back.

In my experience, there are few things more discouraging than praise for mediocre work. The best teachers make you work for it: but when you suceed (if you're just not very talented, success can be something others might consider minor), you own it, and it's worth it.

Today, a teacher like would probably be called up on abuse or something. But I bet his students would stand by him.

G , December 11, 2020 at 5:15 pm

It occurs to me that this dynamic of humiliation, pride, failure, triumph and camaradarie are only possible in a physical classroom.

As an introvert who is happy to read a book, I have long wondered why we spend so much on classes. This social and emotional framework is the best example I can think of of something a book or a video (or a Zoom call) cannot replace.

Of course universities are trying hard to commodify instruction. They want a course to be a package they can own, deliver, and reuse, while charging an arm and a leg. So the trend of draining all potential unpleasantness from education (even if in the long run it results in more stress) indirectly works to their advantage, making it even less likely that they would reverse course.

fajensen , December 12, 2020 at 12:23 am

There is a bright side to this: In 30 years no weapons designs will be possible because nobody will be able to do the figuring and manual writing without getting into duelling over where the decimal goes and which symbols to use. :p.

430MLK , December 11, 2020 at 8:12 am

I think I posted Part 1 of this community college look at the state of higher ed in the comments to this week's earlier post about universities. Here's part two, which looks at some different marketing strategies and my college's choice of a "Buy 9, get the 10th free" model.

https://noclexington.com/free-coffee-and-customer-retention/

As a side note to the piece posted above–I wonder how much universities are even related to the ideas of learning and scholarship anymore. Where I live, the flagship for the state of Kentucky has a $2 billion+ budget that spans running healthcare/hospitals and Top 10 basketball programs to accumulating a surprisingly large cache of city and state real estate.

Scholarship (mostly by Ivy and Ivy-adjacent trained scholars who have zero intellectual or emotional understanding of their city and region) is just how they get the tax breaks.

KLG , December 11, 2020 at 1:50 pm

Nice to see that North of Center has returned. The first iteration was an excellent counter to the local cheerleading in Lexington. Regarding the University of Basketball, yes, it has a huge budgetary footprint. Twenty-plus years ago something called the Research Challenge Trust Fund (RCTF) was implemented as part of an initiative to make UK a Top-20 Public Research University by 2020. Fine. When it was pointed out that would require running three times faster than those ahead of UK who were not standing still (UCLA, Michigan, Berkeley, Wisconsin even Florida and Georgia), crickets. And after all that money was spent UK is still the University of Basketball. But even that seems to be in disarray. Just the other day the Wildcats were taken absolutely apart by Georgia Tech. Oops.

Long but a good look at the asininity of the University of Basketball's plans, from the first iteration of North of Center , is also a good summary of what neoliberalization of everything education has produced:
https://noclexington.com/wages-of-a-top-20-education-nougat-re-post/

seabos84 , December 11, 2020 at 8:37 am

Sadly for us lowly peeee-on$, for decades The Noble Liberal Cla$$ has exalted their Tomes of Truth! & had pretty much nothing but contempt for the hard work of actually making stuff work. They have done a stellar job of looking out for themselves.

"There was, thus, a turning point, which had not yet reached a clarity of options. No country moves forward more by ideas than America. And one of the problems of 1972 was that the idea system had become clogged by its own excessive outpourings. American intellectuals had written the Constitution, engineered turn-of-the-century reform, provided Franklin Roosevelt with his blueprints of reorganization, armed America with marvels of technology during th Second World War. They had been rewarded with a gush of approval, with an outpouring of funds, private and public, that had all but choked off fresh ideas – like a garden over-seeded and over-fertilized. The American idea system poured out paper after paper, study after study, learned investigation after learned investigation on the race problem, the urban problem, the environment problem, the television problem, the violence problem, the identity problem, until clear thinking was suffocated by the mattress of scholary investigation."

Prologue – The End Of The Postwar World, xxviii

The Making of The President 1972, Theodore H. White, published 1973.

[Background – White's first "Making of the President 1960" won him a Pulitzer Prize. He grew up on Boston, went to Boston Latin & then Harvard, and was in Nationalist China during WW2 working for Time or Life? magazine.]

jefemt , December 11, 2020 at 8:38 am

Irony or paradox: banner ads accompanying this article on viewers right on my computer feature an ad for the sole four year university in the great state of Wyoming UW. Go Cowboys!

NB Wyoming made a strategic decision scores of years ago to have a single University, to gather any of the scarce resources for higher ed into a single grantee/ beneficiary.

CH , December 11, 2020 at 8:57 am

So, let me get this straight. Navigation of this system is considered to be the "meritocracy" and those who manage to do it are deserving of their riches while the rest of us deserve our precarious and part-time gig work? Just checking.

anon y'mouse , December 11, 2020 at 11:33 am

considering the number of tertiary degree and higher holders who enjoy p/t work at the local starbucks, it ain't just you!

i knew a chem degree holding pizza delivery man for awhile. eventually he packed it in for the Electrician's union.

Arizona Slim , December 11, 2020 at 1:27 pm

Same thing happened to me back in the 1980s. I found that my university economics degree qualified me for such lofty positions as dishwasher, cashier, and shelf stocker.

Color me as someone who is VERY skeptical of higher education.

John Wright , December 11, 2020 at 2:40 pm

I remember the words of my late father, who graduated with a Notre Dame business degree in the 1930's.

He told of spending sleepless nights wondering what he would do.

Eventually he interviewed for a job as a butcher at Safeway.

He believed he got the job, over many other applicants, because of his experience at my grandparents' small family grocery store.

During the interview, he related that his experience "could help Safeway sell more meat" and told them how he would do this.

He remained skeptical of investing too much in higher education.

Hepativore , December 12, 2020 at 1:05 am

An unlucky histologist here. I enjoyed my degree program and wanted to go into pure biotechnology research. To my chagrin I found out that most of the much-vaunted STEM fields particularly the S and E portions of it were being destroyed in the private sector by a combination of gig work, offshoring and insourcing with cheap guestworkers from overseas. This was part of process that has been happening since the Regan era.

Now, I work in retail at a pet store with the only thing my degrees have gotten me is several thousand dollars in student loan debt which I am still paying off in my meager income. I honestly do not think that my job prospects are going to improve for the forseeable future. I am 36 and most R&D companies consider anybody older than their early-30's to be over-the-hill.

In all honesty, if I knew then what I know now after graduating from high school I would not have bothered with college. After all, few people work in their intended fields after obtaining their degrees and you will be shackled with student loan debt that you may never pay off. Many of my coworkers also have advanced degrees in various subjects but many of us have resigned ourselves to being retail wage slaves for the rest of our lives. Retirement is probably out of the question for many people younger than Gen-X.

Likewise, I watched as my father had his tenured position as a university professor at the University of River Falls in Wisconsin instantly snatched away retroactively by governor Scott Walker. My father had been tenured for ten years and after Walker got rid of tenure for all public university professors within the state, many universities in Wisconsin responded by firing all of their older full-time faculty and replacing them with adjunct staff.

My father was made an offer by the president of the university to be hired as an adjunct the following semester. It would have been a one-semester position for $12,000 and no benefits or promises of returning to the school next year. There was no way my parents could live off of that so they were forced to sell their house and move to Missouribecause of the low cost of living there. My father now works as a manager at an Ace Hardware store as that was the only job he could find at 65 and being at academia all of his career.

The Rev Kev , December 12, 2020 at 1:35 am

So sorry to hear what happened to you and your family. The word disgusted does not even begin to cover it. Not surprised that Scott Walker's name comes into the mix though. There is no thought here about building up capacity in countries like the US and making use of talent. The sheer amount of talent and abilities going to waste must be staggering. Must be because most managers do not think much past this financial quarter.

Robert Gray , December 12, 2020 at 10:25 am

' and [a] after Walker got rid of tenure for all public university professors within the state, [b] many universities in Wisconsin responded by firing all of their older full-time faculty and replacing them with adjunct staff.'

This is total fantasy. Scott Walker was a disaster but neither 'a' nor 'b' ever happened.

Moreover, there is no such place as 'the University of River Falls'. And, in the UW system, 'the president of the university' does not make contract offers to individual faculty or academic staff members at the constituent campuses.

Hepativore , December 12, 2020 at 11:39 am

Yes, UWRF does exist.

https://www.uwrf.edu/

Scott Walker did indeed get rid of tenure for public university professors within the state as part of a 2015 budget deal just like he got rid of the right of collective bargaining for public employees in 2011. During his terms, Walker tried to systemically destroy higher education and the careers of academic faculty while in office.

https://www.politico.com/story/2015/07/scott-walker-college-professor-tenure-120009

My father was not given a "formal" offer by the UWRF president, it was an email circulated to all of the liquidated professors that they would be given priority hiring for the adjunct positions that their jobs were being replaced with.

cocomaan , December 11, 2020 at 9:05 am

As someone with experience in higher ed, and a couple of humanities degrees, Camille Paglia's criticisms of the humanities cut so deep, so great to see her referenced here.

https://vimeo.com/247848325

This is a good example of her talking about teaching the humanities and what modern humanities have come to. I was blown away by this.

I do agree that Paglia can be uneven, but that's what the humanities is all about.

lyman alpha blob , December 11, 2020 at 10:40 am

Thanks for that – I always enjoy listening to Paglia. Her criticism of the postmodernists as 'word choppers' is spot on. I think that may be one of the worst results of neoliberalism – destroying the meanings of words to the point it becomes difficult to communicate at a societal level. And while the rest of us argue over what the meaning of 'is' is, the criminals in power are robbing us blind.

Neoliberalism has also done a number on numbers. The article notes the overliance on assessments, presumably 'data driven' ones. We have had two successive school superintendents in my area who have openly admitted that math is not their strong point and yet they rely heavily on data driven assessments and will produce metrics for everything. I don't believe they have a clue what they're looking at. Our current superintendent was publicly embarrassed a couple years ago when a parent who does understand math pointed out at a well attended school board meeting that the grading software he relied on was a complete joke in dramatic fashion. As an accountant, I'm well aware that numbers can be manipulated to make them seem like they mean pretty much whatever the manipulator wants them to mean. Silicon Valley has made billions preying on people who don't understand math to the point where we have unnecessary software for everything, tracking and monetizing every little action we make, and we are obviously at this point not the better for it.

cocomaan , December 11, 2020 at 1:53 pm

I absolutely identify with the lousy data nonsense.

In my work, I often had to work with the Institutional Effectiveness Office, which should be called the "Statistics Office".

I respect them and their knowledge, but often, these offices are tasked with producing data for whatever pet project is being promoted by administration at the time. That's why I saw tons of turnover happen in that area, plus constant stress and alcoholism in the director. Lots of race-based statistics making that had to represent that the institution was failing to be accommodating to students of color on one hand, but also succeeding in every metric on the other. No wonder the poor woman turned to drink. "Let's bake a cake using flour, but it has to be keto-friendly."

Alrus , December 11, 2020 at 11:15 am

It's unfortunate that this is hosted by Peterson. He starts the interview off by asking about "Neomarxism" which starts the whole thing off on the wrong foot. I don't expect I'm going to hear about the corrupting influence of Capitalism and money in universities.

cocomaan , December 11, 2020 at 1:49 pm

Yeah, you have to accept that he's there if you're not a Peterson fan (I like him but many don't), but the interview does come across as Peterson interviewing her, and trying to understand her ideas, rather than him overwhelming the conversation with his usual.

Kouros , December 11, 2020 at 1:55 pm

I some – not few – aspects, Peterson is a hack. And he'll embrace the paradigm of the overseers, as long as he will have the ability to monetize his continuous gospel.

lyman alpha blob , December 11, 2020 at 1:57 pm

I've never really listened to or read much by Peterson before but about halfway through the interview it started getting pretty clear why he is widely disliked.

Paglia is uneven – at one point she's arguing that historically men and women never shared labor duties and my grandmother who milked a few dozen cows by hand twice a day along with my grandfather, and then went in and did all the housework too would surely disagree – but she hits the nail on the head on a lot and plus is always a hoot.

Nivek , December 12, 2020 at 10:34 am

A very, very thorough assessment (reaming) of Peterson's oeuvre by Nathan J. Robinson: The Intellectual We Deserve.

John B , December 11, 2020 at 9:10 am

On top of all that, the raw material that universities must work with -- high school students -- is about to become much, much worse due to the coronavirus, at least in the US. They will have even fewer study skills, and much more mental illness. Those who can afford it may add another post-graduate year before college to compensate, but there are very few such programs; community colleges should start them.

cocomaan , December 11, 2020 at 9:15 am

Yikes, you're right, and that's depressing.

My cousin is an English teacher in a rural area, economically challenged. He was telling me that the kids are getting stupider by the day. He is watching the assignments handed in degrade in quality.

The older I get, the more I realize that learning is not about facts, but understanding how you yourself can learn new things. School is as much about the habit of learning as it is the content and we now have an entire cohort of kids whose habits have been undone.

JWP , December 11, 2020 at 2:33 pm

By design. grades, grades, grades. That's all there is. taking time to enjoy learning, something I have worked on, has led to lower grades because it requires time and going outside of the textbook and homework. Kids are able to enjoy what they learn if given the opportunity, yet from a young age it never presents itself. The advent of tech dominated lives and short attention spans makes it all worse too.

Kurtismayfield , December 11, 2020 at 11:41 am

The quality of work has dropped off a cliff. The kids are fried, and they do not think they will be/should be held responsible for their actions or work.

Administrations are just doing a collective CYA exercise, because the failure rates have tripled.

Parents don't know what to do. At this point probably the most productive thing a parent can do with a remote/hybrid learning student is watch them work. Just watch them. See what they are doing, and how many distractions they have in their lives. One of the advantages of grade school environments is that the distraction is removed (for the most part) during class time. Not anymore.

Eudora Welty , December 11, 2020 at 7:35 pm

This is slightly tangential, but I was 7/8 years old in 1967, and I remember noticing all the popular culture things I had to be current on (the Monkees, etc), and I specifically thought that the powers-that-be are making up all these things to pay attention to so that we aren't paying attention to the things that actually matter. I was OK when I was a little kid.

Lou Mannheim , December 11, 2020 at 9:26 am

I spent a year as a "Career Coach" at an absurdly priced East Coast university. My job was a mix of office hours, hosting events for students/alumni/hiring managers, and creating Excel and Bloomberg training classes (there weren't any).

It was fun for a bit, until I realized the students had no concept of how competitive finance is. Everybody that came to me had big plans for a career on Wall Street – that's nothing new. However, hardly any of them were going to get a look – their grades were middling, their communication skills needed work, and not nearly enough evidenced critical thinking skills (although on a conference call a hiring manager explicitly stated they're not looking for that. Sigh).

And then I made a presentation to the Alumni Committee, and that's when I realized how this school is run. It was littered with wealthy PE and sell-side people, and the mantra was they wanted more alumni in the business. Why? Ego. It doesn't matter that they're ready or qualified, just get'r done or I'll donate elsewhere.

My brother has a PhD in History and taught for several years. He had to leave because he couldn't support his family. He was also very discouraged by student apathy and all the administrative BS.

I think this excellent post is part and parcel with the Great Inflation of the past 40 years. All the provosts and new layers, new buildings, coordination with private business, grade inflation, sports entertainment and the big contracts, all the bells and whistles that are entirely unnecessary for LEARNING.

There is no solution.

Anonymous , December 11, 2020 at 9:42 am

Most faculty are cowards and careerists and sycophants who just want to be comfortable or gain status with peers, but this neglects the institution. They are politically inept, like the progressives (as Matt Stoller has observed). Most of them do not know how to get anything done. They do not understand power.

I know this is tangential to the thrust of the article but I wish the writer had given examples of the evaluation of progressives?

1. I wonder who the writer would define as progressives. For example Neera Tanden is billing herself as a progressive but that is to laugh.
2. Maybe someone at NC could explain?
Matt never responds to me on Twitter or I'd go ask him. In fact I did do that.

I think Bernie (who is a Progressive), did an excellent job of speaking truth to power as well as organizing a movement. The fact that the powers that be ganged up on him to stomp on the movement is the reality of entrenched power these days. That is why I'm advocating for the formation of a new national party. The historical analogy I'm using is the anti-slavery movement. I would ask that people find everything they can and study up on that segment of American history as to how to proceed against today's entrenched neo-liberals.

freebird , December 11, 2020 at 10:24 am

Bernie did a fantastic job right up til they ganged up on him right before Super Tuesday. From then until he conceded, had he been more politically 'ept', he would have used the power he had from the support of many millions of people to demand a concession or two before conceding. Such as Medicare for All, a 2d round of stimulus, police reform, or something. But he didn't, instead he conceded and then campaigned harder for Biden than Biden did for himself. Pretending that he would get his 'good friend Joe' to actually do something progressive if asked nicely.

I think this is what the author is getting at, the failure to play hardball LBJ style to get some compromise deals done whenever possible. And you don't have to look only at 'real' progressives. If you look at the faux progressives like Nancy Pelosi etc., they have for many years started at the middle and allowed conservatives to call the tune. This is deliberate on behalf of donors/bribers, but some pundits still think it's because of ineptness.

Anonymous , December 11, 2020 at 12:16 pm

Thanks for the bit of analysis. And too, I just had my second cup of tea so I'm more wide awake now.

You're 100% correct about Bernie-he's never been one to dig in when the opposition mounts a concerted attack. That really makes him much like the other members of the Democratic party who are more adept at slugging it out in intramural sporting events with other Dems than they are with taking on the true opponents in the GOP and big business. And in fact the blood thirsty cheerleaders who are on the outside of government (at least officially); those are who we should all be pushing on in a steady and consistent manner until we force them to yield.

You're right too about Bernie conceding to not make waves-he did that with Hillary. So he tries to avoid real confrontations when he needs to take a stand. Even when its not fun. So there's a time to fight and a time to join. Bernie's too easily swayed to be a joiner.

Someday another Bernie Sanders type will come along and do what he did not-run as an independent and shred the Democratic Party: even if it means losing a battle to the GOP in order to win the larger war. Again, looking back at the formation of the Republican Party-the leaders gave up on the Whigs and that party finally died off but the new party-headed by Lincoln, carried the torch.

Oh of another Abraham Lincoln.

albrt , December 11, 2020 at 11:49 pm

"Someday another Bernie Sanders type will come along and do what he did not-run as an independent and shred the Democratic Party"

How much time do you think humans have?

tegnost , December 11, 2020 at 10:45 am

when I see progressive I think left leaning centrist. Incrementalism is the tell

Kouros , December 11, 2020 at 2:05 pm

Good luck with getting a third party running in the US. Since it is the states legislation that operationalize elections, you will probably find out that a third party to be put on the ballot (not for president, but for representatives), in many a state would need more supporters and signatures than there are democrats and republicans combined. Mobilizing such numbers is a daunting task that would be possible only if more than 50% of the population were to be unemployed AND HUNGRY.

And if that were to happen, other legal technicalities would be brought up.

And then the NSA, FBI, State Police, and the local sheriff would also be brought in. A lot of male candidates would start o be accused of childhood pornography, etc., etc., etc

Carolinian , December 11, 2020 at 9:43 am

Perhaps it's not just universities. Cities now compete with each other on the quality of their school systems. In my town a functional but aging 1960 high school was just replaced with a billion dollar megaplex complete with stadium, basketball "arena," and fully equipped performing arts center. This spare no expense approach is apparently seen as necessary to compete with charter schools and private schools not to mention other towns.

Which is to say that the neoliberals have introduced competitive pressure into the government/nonprofit world while seeking to reduce or eliminate it in the business world. I have no idea whether this change in culture is turning out better students but it almost seems as though these institutions have taken on a life of their own with education somewhere down the list.

Lou Mannheim , December 11, 2020 at 10:23 am

The competition is everywhere, I think. Government jobs are tough to come by, in fact anything that offers benefits and a stable wage is tough to get, and this was before the pandemic hit. There are a lot of people with advanced degrees and not nearly enough jobs.

But at least the Nation got sports entertainment this year.

J7915 , December 11, 2020 at 12:19 pm

Few years ago had to go north of Manhattan, nyc over the East River to yonkers anyway beyong 208 st stop on the Ind. Anyway was chocked at the Columbia U stadium on the east river it would have severly embarassed the Union HS in Tulsa, Ok. And that stadium is being remodelled an embellished, with skyboxes no doubt. Have to drive by and see.

Rod , December 11, 2020 at 9:57 am

from CanCyn, as seen with my own two eyes:
And yes the bloat of administration. And the contracting of private sector consultants to do everything from re-decorate to write curriculum. Assessments done by outside firms so that the college didn't own the data and was therefore not subject to Freedom of Information requests. More and more administrators who know or care nothing for education. Bloated grades and high school graduates who arrive incapable of doing the work – and thus a whole new wing of non-academic support personnel created to help them succeed.
Like Lampreys.

and cocoman, seeing the other part, with my bold:

the more I realize that learning is not about facts, but understanding how you yourself can learn new things. School is as much about the habit of learning as it is the content and we now have an entire cohort of kids whose habits have been undone.

imo -- the desire to Learn and acquire Knowledge must be developed first–any benefit–tangible or intangible–emanates from that center. It is not Performative.

cocomaan , December 11, 2020 at 1:54 pm

Thanks Rod! Agree with you 100%

CanCyn , December 11, 2020 at 6:54 pm

Yeps and absolutely. Curiosity and interest in the world are driven out early. And you can't really learn without them. Give me the wonder of a wide eyed child over the apathy and need to conform of teens and young adults with their focus on their phones and social media any day.

fajensen , December 12, 2020 at 3:51 am

To be honest, there has always been a trend in American education towards teaching "Facts", and "Procedures" rather than teaching "free-form"reasoning. At least within Engineering.

The ideal seemed to be to have a few really bright experts like Feynman figure out optimal solutions, then "communicate" their Thinking and Reasoning into checklists, nomographs, tabulated values and flowcharts for the lesser talents to follow. I believe it was considered to be some kind of efficient allocation of talent, not that "one didn't want too much thinking around the place".

The Electrical Code in America is prescribing how to reach the design goals, the European one is the opposite, stating the goals, and not how to get there. Many, many discussions will flow from that in a multinational project!

With "digitalisation" of course anything that can be packetised as binary choices will be boosted enormously by being very easy to digitise and once digital, costs nothing to distribute. Driving a tsunami of "rote learning" and "rote thinking" within all academic fields, meeting "the requirements" is what moves one forward, not understanding.

Exemplified with essay grading "AI", where Just mashing keywords into the text is what triggers the "learning objective", which now is The Grade and not The Writing and Making a Coherent Argument.

IMO, this way of learning allows too many to succeed. People with "frontal-lobe issues", expressed by weak self regulation, lack of internal motivation and brains glitching out when corrected, instead of maturing and then making progress, we now have "Gamegate" minds showing up "early" at university level!

Then they can use their credentials to move on into positions where they have authority and a budget.

It will be one hell of a ride!

David , December 11, 2020 at 10:01 am

I've followed this at first hand in universities in several countries. It's heartbreaking.
At least it is for me, but apparently not for lots of others. Why?
It has to do, I think, with what you think a university (or any form of education) is actually for. In Britain, which I know best, education of any type has always been seen by the ruling class as a ticket to a better life, and a means of preserving their privileges, but never as an end in itself. They sent their children to "public" (ie private) schools less for the education than to make social contacts and acquire a cachet which would financially benefit them for the rest of their lives. It was thus an investment with a promised return. The more intelligent of the ruling class's children would go to Oxford or Cambridge, again less for the education than for the fact of having been there and getting to know people. They would then be best placed to get high-paying jobs in the City, or elsewhere in the Establishment, so that the ruling class could perpetuate itself.

For the rest of us, especially those who studied humanities rather than subjects like law and medicine, education was an end in itself, and a way to escape from our origins into a better world. Fifty years ago, my Head of Department welcomed new students by posing the hypothetical question, Why Study Literature, as opposed to say, Engineering? It was, he said, a self-justifying activity. Such statements were as common then as they are unthinkable now. And more widely, successive governments then believed that an educated population was better than an uneducated one. But those were the days when the newly-elected Labour Prime Minister was a grammar-school educated economist who believed in technology. Twenty-five years later, the newly elected Labour leader was a public-school educated lawyer who believed in God.

So what happened was that British elites, for whom education was first and last an individual financial investment, wrested back control of education from the more progressive forces of the postwar boom years. Above all, if individuals had to pay for their education, if failing their exams was a disaster, and if a degree was a minimum passport to anything like a decent life, elites could be assured of generations of servile, well-behaved students, unlike the bolshy lot that I was part of.

Finally, this wouldn't have been so bad if it hadn't been for parallel social trends after the 1960s. The mindless worship of the individual, the infantilisation of young people and the move from seeing higher education as a privilege that had to be earned to a commodity that could be bought, has combined with the mangerialisation of institutions to produce something like a perfect storm. In my experience, students are less mature, intellectually and personally, less well-educated, more demanding of support and comfort, more frightened of failing and generally less well suited to university education than even twenty years ago. And the sterile managerialism and the cancerous growth of "administration" has actually exacerbated the problem. In the circumstances it's surprising that things are not worse than they are.

Not every country has suffered to the same extent. France, with its effectively free education, and its tradition of Republican education as a liberating device, was better until recently. But even there the poison is seeping in, as anglo-saxon management and grievance politics have started to take over French universities. The reaction of French student unions to the virus has been to demand better treatment, less to learn, less to write, more free time, and of course lower requirements for "vulnerable and marginalised groups" etc. etc.

And the end of all of this? Societies where people have worthless degrees, where they can't actually do the jobs they've been recruited for, where the best teachers leave, where the quality of teaching declines (never mind research) and the spiral goes ever downwards. As I said, it's heartbreaking.

SoCal Rhino , December 11, 2020 at 10:11 am

In an engineering program decades ago, several of my professors openly expressed contempt at the lack of demands being placed on current students, with far too little time spent in classes and out of class work, and the ridiculous notion of grading on a curve,(Thinking a bit, these were all in the Physics department) at a time when incoming students were warned not to try to hold part time jobs and to expect to spend at least 40 hours per week on work outside of class. My student experience confirms that this trend started a long time ago.

Robert Gray , December 11, 2020 at 10:14 am

'Erasmus' mentions in passing the late (d. 2002) lamented Prof Richard Mitchell. I subscribed to The Underground Grammarian back in the day and I will always remember an observation from Ben Jonson that Mitchell quoted as a sort of epigram:

Neither can his mind be thought to be in tune, whose words do jarre;
nor his reason in frame, whose sentence is preposterous.

flora , December 11, 2020 at 11:13 am

Great post! Thank you.

In tandem, China rises on the world stage.

JustAnotherVolunteer , December 11, 2020 at 11:23 am

The University of Oregon is currently offering a buy out package to long serving faculty and officers of administration:

https://hr.uoregon.edu/benefits/retirement/2021-retirement-incentive

This pool includes both tenured faculty and career faculty and OAs who fall into the PERS tier1/tier2 buckets. Current new hires come in at tier 4 – a very different critter.

Those who remember the IBM "voluntary transition" buyouts of the 90s will recognize the strategy. This undercuts tenure, may reduce some departments in ways that are not recoverable, and reduces pension liability since the sweetener here is a one time payout for health insurance rather then PERS support.

The target pool are skeptical but the long term health of the UO is also dicey.

Rock and a hard place.

juno mas , December 11, 2020 at 12:39 pm

These "retirement" buy-outs are happening in the California community college system (~1 million students). They are offered to both administrators and tenured profs alike. Cutting costs is imperative when the incoming high school enrollment is down an average of 7-8%; AND International (Chinese) enrollment (high fee students) is more than 50% lower. My local community college has a $4M shortfall. (That's huge, actually.)

Faculty members have lobbied for tenured backfill of their lost positions. Only five positions have been approved; but not yet funded. The faculty is now predominately adjuncts (gig workers) at 70%. Yet people still strive for that Ph Ed. (which is shortened to PhD in their resume' and administrative title).

I expect the educational game will return to normal as the emergency vaccines prove effective over the Spring and Summer. My college is planning on in-person instruction Fall 2021.

Calypso Facto , December 11, 2020 at 12:11 pm

I'm more well-known around these parts for attempting to demystify Big Tech's functional machinations thanks to being a tech worker this past miserable decade, but I actually left the industry over the summer. In an attempt to switch careers I enrolled in a US undergrad state program that is well-regarded for remote learning and girded myself for jumping on the undergrad wagon in my upper 30s. I had gone to a non-university school in my 20s for something utterly unrelated to tech – fashion design – and had a tech support job through that round of school. When I left in 2011 it made more sense to stay in tech than make clothes. Earlier this year it seemed to make more sense to learn soil science or botany remotely while doing lesser-grade tech work remotely.

Unfortunately I barely lasted two weeks because the remote learning experience – my own several years of working remotely and 2020's exceptional pandemic/political fireworks aside – was so bad I was immediately infuriated at the cost and teaching style that I knew I would not be able to complete years of it, it would not train me for a job in any way, and I would be better served to get out ASAP and avoid the debt.

Years of tech work has acutely attuned me to recognizing the software fabric behind any technical implementation, and the schools that were all recognized as remote learning leaders prior to the pandemic are firmly built on big tech's toolset. I'm less bothered in this specific case by the security/data issues inherent there than the understanding of how colossally bloated and sh!tty the apps running the schools (Canvas in the front, Gainsight in the back for student admin, Google Apps for document, a patchwork for branded tech services for things like authentication, library services, collaboration) – because that means multiple layers of the school are dependent on the bloat inherent in those tech platforms that make their ecampus work. That means it will never get better, it will never get cheaper, and it will always get worse year over year as bigger teams have to be hired by school admin to keep up with the sales quotas issued by all those tech services they're using.

And then the classes themselves were in some cases links to Youtube videos of history documentaries made for tv, for discussion in the Canvas forum app. I thought I was going to faint from rage the first time I saw it and then I realized this is just how it is now. If my goal is to do more meaningful work with soil and plants I can get there by planting a garden and designing some open source hardware for monitoring in my spare time. I don't know how to really comment effectively on what universities used to be – I know before I went in I thought they were still more-or-less a place where you went to learn and contribute to the body of human knowledge – fashion school was set up like an oldschool dressmaker's academy, we cut patterns and sewed and were judged on the quality of our work rather than lecture. But what I experienced was not in any way job training or teaching how to learn or think critically. It was standard big tech marketing magic laid over a combo powerpoint and commenting module-making application, and i was expected to pay tens of thousands for the privilege. No.

Arizona Slim , December 11, 2020 at 1:56 pm

If you're in an area where there's Master Gardener certification, go for it. Although it's a location-specific curriculum, the training is excellent. Link:

https://ahsgardening.org/gardening-resources/master-gardeners/

And I'm VERY impressed with your fashion school training. Sounds like practical education within a worthwhile body of knowledge.

Calypso Facto , December 11, 2020 at 3:24 pm

Thanks Slim!!

Yeah the apprentice-style model is vastly superior to teaching any kind of trade or skilled handiwork. For something like plant science I expected a lot of organic chemistry transitioning into greenhouse labs (that I'd be able to do in person after the pandemic ended). Imagine my disappointment to find that most upper level botany and plant biologist 'jobs' available now are computational (genomics). Years of learning to code for Big Tech and saving to leave for the verdant groves of academe only to find out that even the plant sciences are being driven to the software mines.

edit to add: probably the most revolutionary act one can do now is refuse to learn to code and reject the entire premise for software eating the world

Dirk77 , December 11, 2020 at 11:14 pm

Yet, I have found working as a coder useful for the same reason you have: I easily recognize the [family blog] in using software where it isn't needed and is actually harmful.

Brian Westva , December 11, 2020 at 1:47 pm

I agree that higher education is failing. Sports, buildings, administrators, and social life is much more important than the over-priced "education" that students get. I teach forestry at a very small college in a rural state that has been struggling financially for years mostly due to poor management and a focus on athletics. The college has been saddled with a tremendous amount of debt to renovate buildings and build new buildings (for athletics) despite declining enrollment. It surprises me that the college was able to sell so many bonds. I surely wouldn't buy any.

I've been leery of the online classes and entire programs that are online. How can the majority of students learn online? I know most of my students don't like online because they don't learn as much. I think that online classes are mostly bull****. Sure they might work for some motivated learners but most college kids don't fit into that category. When the history of our time is written online classes will be amongst TV, air conditioning, video games, fast food, cars, and neoliberalism that led to our demise.

The thing that really gets me about higher education is all of the assessment and accreditation that can apparently be so easily gamed by the colleges. There is a large consulting industry to help colleges meet the criteria. The amount of critical thinking and review that goes into the accreditation process is minimal. It is more about creating a narrative that the college is meeting the criteria than actually self-reflecting on how do we improve.

I know that many college students aren't learning very much while they are at our school. Yet those students are eligible for sports and even get scholarships. All the while other students are paying full tuition and working hard to pass their classes.

In our program we try to hold the line. We have expectations for our students. We make students do homework, papers, lab reports, lab activities, readings, projects, etc. we make students go out in the field even when it is cold or rainy. I'm always amazed to hear from students that professor X just has 4 tests in his/her class. That is shameful. Students have to interact with faculty and have to engage with the material. They have to think about what they are learning. They have to practice what they are learning. They have to demonstrate what they have learned. Not just pick one out of four answers on a multiple choice test.

COVID should be a wake up call to higher education. Colleges need to cut out the BS ( admin, sports, etc) and focus on rigorously preparing the next generation. They will face challenges greater than any in the 20th century.

Arizona Slim , December 11, 2020 at 3:37 pm

The part about making students go out into the field even when it's cold and rainy brought a smile to my face. Because, no matter how bad the weather, the trees have to stay outside and cope with it.

Alexandra , December 11, 2020 at 2:26 pm

Just some further observations from someone who has been in the trenches and is still trench-adjacent (lots of family and friends who are/were teachers or academics)–with apologies for length:

I taught for 10-ish years as an adjunct at a couple of public universities in the Midwest (science and social sciences). Over that time I saw a precipitate decline in students' ability to reason, learn, and communicate verbally.

By the end, I found them incapable of basic "if then" logical inference and they had little understanding of analogy. If I taught them that A + B = C, then asked on a test C – B = ?, they were totally lost. Their only learning skill was (poor) memorization, and they appeared to experience not just frustration but almost an existential terror when encountering subjects that either had no single answer, or where they were asked to discover the answer.

My closest friend, one of the few who actually managed to secure a tenure-track position*, was recently telling me how she has to stay absolutely au courant with political correctness and rigorously self-police her own language because a single offended student could end her career. A slip up as slight as addressing a group as "you guys" is all it could take to tank her life's work.

*I don't know of a single one of my former colleagues who has secured a tenure-track job unless they were (1) engaged in quantitative, scientific research or (2) male. If you're female and in the humanities/social sciences, I guess you better learn to code.

She has commented many times that her students can be ruthlessly judgmental and their judgments do not take context into account. This is how they've been trained to be from early childhood: totally literal, nuance-free memorizers of "content" and generators of "metrics," trusting in any so-called authority figure to give them "the answers" (so long as that authority doesn't use forbidden words), willing and eager to prove their own worth by policing their fellows Perfect Orwellian employees and citizens.

Are the universities broken or are they working as intended? I actually hope it's the former.

flora , December 11, 2020 at 7:10 pm

Their only learning skill was (poor) memorization, and they appeared to experience not just frustration but almost an existential terror when encountering subjects that either had no single answer, or where they were asked to discover the answer.

Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001. It was promoted as a way to improve struggling schools, but it was soon clear the real payload was cutting public school funding for schools whose students did poorly on tests. This quickly created a 'teach to the test' k-12 public school evironment. So 10 years ago, say, students entering college were products of at least 7 or eight years of high-stakes, k-12, teach to the test teaching and memorization demands. Teaching was in too many cases replaced with rote drill; a change made necessary for public schools not to be docked funding and for teachers to keep their jobs. Silicon Valley digital education companies made money, of course. I think this form of teaching has had a very negative effect on students and teachers. It seems like a way to destroy what's best in public k-12 education. (The rationales used to pass NCLB were based on questionable international testing metrics.) My 2 cents.

https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1011096

Michael Fiorillo , December 11, 2020 at 10:20 pm

And the Common Core curriculum, largely funded by the Gates Foundation, explicitly rejected teaching context, instead focusing on sterile "close reading" of excerpts. Kids are barely reading short stories, let alone novels, in high school anymore. Increasingly, the kids don't have the attention span or cognitive stamina to do it.

Dirk77 , December 12, 2020 at 1:26 am

As a commenter stated in Lambert's column about academia last week: "You educate humans and train animals". Turning that around, if you train humans, but don't educate them, what you will get are animals.

JWP , December 11, 2020 at 2:29 pm

"The university is a corporation" can easily be turned into "the university is an extension of corporations" which is at the heart of why there's no learning. The courses, especially econ, business, and other FIRE precursor departments have their curriculum basically laid out by the largest local employers and wall street players. So now everyone is learning tailored curriculum that ignores fundamentals and denies criticism in favor of trends and profitable models. No one like to learn this, it is boring, time consuming, and inapplicable in daily life unless you are at work for one of these places. This leads the average student, who is made abundantly clear they need a 3.5 or above to land a job at one of those places (the only well playing jobs), to do anything possible to get the grade including cheating and streamlining studying to answer specific questions as opposed to understanding concepts. I myself have done this because the material is so boring and I merely want to get the grade and get out of the class.

Tack on the relentless pursuit of career centers, recruitment fairs, and emails with the subjects like "is your resume interview ready" every other day, it is an assembly line for turning students into corporate drones. Yet almost all students recognize it to some degree and either through economic, cultural, or familial pressures know its alm sot impossible to have a stable life without giving in, hence widespread depression and anxiety on campuses. I'd say upward of 80% of the student population has one of these at any given time.

Edward , December 11, 2020 at 3:03 pm

Higher education does have problems and it is not organized to tackle this situation. Everybody is absorbed with their own problems and responsibilities. It is easier just to contend with your immediate situation and put off the long-term and global problems. The government is in the best position to respond to this society-wide problem, but we haven't seen this kind of leadership in a long time. The demise of American education probably started under Reagan.

One factor in the financial problems of colleges might be the wars and the bailouts. Does giving vast sums of money to the banks and military make everyone else poorer? That is my suspicion.

An old carpenter , December 11, 2020 at 3:15 pm

This is an issue which has been discussed over a long time. One could start with Pitirim Sorokin's " Social and Cultural Mobility " (1959), followed by Neil Postman's " Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology " (1993) and " The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School " (1996) and, then, Christopher Lasch's " The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy " (1996). The concepts in these books could then be combined with Clark Kerr's analysis in " The Uses of the University " (1963). IMO such an exercise would show why the present situation, explained in detail by Benjamin Ginsberg in " The Fall of the Faculty and the Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters " (2011) was inevitable. Further cogitation might also show the part non-deplorable elites played/play in this saga.

dmc , December 11, 2020 at 4:01 pm

Best post on higher ed I have read in recent memory, and I have read a lot of them.

IMHO, cultural and organizational problems like these (and to this list I'd add the growth in student debt) are frequently the result of economic mistakes (misallocation of resources, ridiculous subsidies, etc.) We might as well admit it: in this case, the mistake is that there are too damned many universities in the US.

So Erasmus can recommend "reform," and he or she is correct, but the only reform that would make a difference is one that changes the economics. My recommendation would be for the Feds to get out of the student loan businesses and require the universities to make and hold the loans themselves. (Maybe the feds could stay in the game with needs-tested grants, or a program to buy down the interest rates.)

Wah-la! Fewer universities. Fewer slacker students wasting their money and ours. Better focus among the schools and the students that remain. Lesser burden on the taxpayer.

Major pain for faculty, I know, but there is major pain now, especially among underemployed and indebted graduates. Adjustment always hurts.

Extra bonus: Nice real estate available to retirees.

PS My Dad, a career K-12 superintendent, said that there is no such thing as higher ed, it's just later ed.

TBellT , December 11, 2020 at 4:16 pm

So Erasmus can recommend "reform," and he or she is correct, but the only reform that would make a difference is one that changes the economics. My recommendation would be for the Feds to get out of the student loan businesses and require the universities to make and hold the loans themselves. (Maybe the feds could stay in the game with needs-tested grants, or a program to buy down the interest rates.)

Maybe but first you have to change the economics that life in America without a college degree for most is cruelty stacked upon misery. Pretty much every other developed country treats non-college grads better than we do.

dmc , December 11, 2020 at 5:18 pm

Agreed but part of the point is that American misery is gradually extending to more and more of us and a college "education" is no prophylactic. Given a choice between minimum-wage-slavery-or-unemployment without debt, and with, I'd take the former. Most people would; we can read Hobbes and Proust on our own. Fewer worthless degrees and less educational debt are a loss to no one except the higher ed institutions themselves. The revolution may or not arrive; but in the meantime perhaps we can get our universities to stop lying to us about what we'll get in exchange for our dollars and our years and our hopes. And we can save our subsidy dollars, if any are left, for real bargains or the truly needy.

Edward , December 11, 2020 at 5:19 pm

I wonder if paying students a salary could change some of the negative dynamics. Being a student is somewhat like working at a job, but without renumeration, at least in the immediate term. It would allow teachers to demand more from the students and probably reduce or eliminate grade inflation.

doily , December 11, 2020 at 4:46 pm

This is a painful subject for me and there is much that resonates in the post and in a number of the comments (the decline of secondary education, reducing universities to garbage-in-garbage-out; the insolubility of treating students as customers while employers who call the shots want them to be products; the political naivete and cowardice of faculty who have abdicated university governance) . I have lived through the "rock and a hard place" dilemma between sticking with an academic career or taking the package, as one's university, indeed one's entire national system of universities, is ground into the neoliberal dust (I chose the hard place and learned to code).

There were a few comments under Lambert's original post from University of Chicago alumni. I am one as well (BA Economics class of 1982). The College of the University of Chicago was an incredible place in the late 1970s. There were fewer undergraduates than law school or MBA students, fewer even than some large suburban high schools. In my final year I had classes with fewer than a dozen students. It cost my parents and I very little (with financial aid and low interest loans). I started off determined to get to law school or get an MBA, but I was a student willing to be malleable, to be formed and produced by teachers who believed that inquiry was self-justifying and who controlled a core curriculum that included Marx, Freud, Dostoevsky, Joyce, Marcuse I don't know what's on the core curriculum these days. I think they teach you how to code.

Perry Anderson has a long historical perspective on the UK going back to Atlee's Labour government in the 1940s in a recent New Left Review. In a section on the vicissitudes of the intelligentsia (if that's what it can even be called anymore after the Blair era), I was struck solidly in the chest by this summary. In Blair's early years, Anderson writes:

"[In the Academy], hopes that [New Labour policies] would repair the damage left by the Thatcher period were soon gone, as it became clear that, on the contrary, the new regime was going not only to accept, but extend it, with still more far-reaching measures of managerial control and marketization. By the end of the New Labour era, the universities had been battered thrice over. First, with deep spending cuts and subjection of scholarship to crudely quantified targeting of output under Thatcher; then by imposition of corporate management systems, inflating bureaucracy at the expense of teaching and research; then by the introduction of fees converting students into customers, and of public -- sc. market -- 'impact' as a criterion of promotion and funding. No other country in the advanced capitalist world saw a reduction of higher education to commercial logic so extreme. What was the reaction? Within the academy, a single scholar, Stephan Collini, published two books of eloquent protest, each well received; outside it, a single independent researcher, Andrew McGettigan, produced two books dismantling the economics of the changes, each well documented.* Neither to the smallest visible effect. The intelligentsia on the receiving end of two decades of brutal neo-liberal assault lifted scarcely a finger of collective resistance to it. Finally, after twenty-five years, when even its pensions were cut, token strikes (absences of a fortnight at a time), bungled by the union, ignored the majority of university teachers, and shutting down not a single campus, began in fits and starts in 2018, petering out fruitlessly in 2020 -- all belated, all confined to narrowly economic issues, none raising broader structural questions."

* Stafan Collini, What are Universities For? , London 2012, and Speaking of Universities , London 2017; Andrew McGettigan, False Accounting , London 2012, and The Great University Gamble , London 2013.

Why did I quit? It wasn't because of the transparent stupidity of inflating bureaucracy at the expense of teaching and research, the transparent stupidity of treating students as customers, the transparent stupidity of the 'employability' cross-curricular themes. And it was not about the sycophants, the cowards, the dysfunctional union, and the complete absence of organised pushback. The last straw was the 'impact' thing. I remember sitting in an "impact case study session" looking an ass dean across the table in the eye while we were literally being taught how to fudge and make shit up on our case studies, surrounded by young lecturers earnestly taking notes. It felt like a hopeless, intellectually bankrupt place to be.

We could start all over with mutual aid societies, as Lambert suggested, but we would need to take over the libraries and the labs first.

Dirk77 , December 12, 2020 at 2:36 am

Given how all the factories that weren't shipped to China were sold pennies on the dollar, I'm sure you could get the library and labs cheap, as long as someone's bonus was tied to it.

HotFlash , December 11, 2020 at 4:51 pm

I was going to set this as a reply to Alexandra , but then it seemed a good response to JWP just below, Edward, and more up top. So yes, Alexandra, the universities and other educational institutions are working as intended, at least since 1971. That was the year that Lewis Powell wrote this memorandum (text courtesy of his alma mater, Washington and Lee University) at the request of his friend Eugene B. Sydnor Jr., who was education director of the US Chamber of Commerce, the original Big Business lobby. The program was accepted and carried out, funded by old-money tycoons like Richard Mellon Scaife and the cough-drop Smiths, as well as those johnny-come-lately oligarchs, the Kochs. They founded and funded business-oriented think tanks, speakers bureaus (available to college campuses and the 'rubber-chicken' circuit of Rotary, Lions, and other small-town service clubs, or really. They starteded magazines and, eventually, ALEC -- yes, that ALEC .

You see, they took Joe Hill's advice , and we did not.

HotFlash , December 11, 2020 at 4:58 pm

I was going to set this as a reply to Alexandra , but then it seemed a good response to JWP just below, Edward, and more up top. So yes, Alexandra, the universities and other educational institutions are working as intended, at least since 1971. That was the year that Lewis Powell wrote this memorandum (text courtesy of his alma mater, Washington and Lee University) at the request of his friend Eugene B. Sydnor Jr., who was education director of the US Chamber of Commerce, the original Big Business lobby. The program was accepted and carried out, funded by old-money tycoons like Richard Mellon Scaife and the cough-drop Smiths, as well as those johnny-come-lately oligarchs, the Kochs. They founded and funded business-oriented think tanks, speakers bureaus (available to college campuses and the 'rubber-chicken' circuit of Rotary, Lions, and other small-town service clubs, or really any group. They started magazines and, eventually, ALEC -- yes, that ALEC .

You see, they took Joe Hill's advice , and we did not.

Ep3 , December 12, 2020 at 9:01 am

First i want to thank YVes for the ability for me to run my mouth freely about the following:

In my mid 20s i quit my full time job to go back to college and finish my accounting degree, as that was supposedly better than a factory job with retirement. I wasn't totally blinded by teenage optimism. This is a big ten school. The professors all went on and on about the starting pay, and not to be tempted by leaving a firm too soon chasing that even bigger money. They laughed it off like everyone had such opportunity. They brought in former students to talk about this. Then when it came to the material, professors constantly waved off further lecture and questions about several topics, stating "you will learn that once you get working in a firm". Then when testing time came, the tests were overly complex and detailed. Materials were reviewed beforehand. But testing, like the grading, is being based on a curve. So while i was getting Cs & Ds on tests, i would end the class with a 3.0-3.5 final grade. I feel they were whittling us out to get only the smartest (maybe not fastest, but quickest to adapt) students, while not really teaching everyone in the class. Heck it was really a ranking for their benefactors, the top 4 firms. (Funny story, Arthur Anderson's name was everywhere one year. Then the next year it disappeared). Most professors were former employees who still maintained their connections in the firm.
I went there to get a great education from a top business school. But my intentions were never to go work at the Top 4 and spend half my time living in one town, while traveling the country the rest of the time.
I can only imagine what it's like now. I was attending in 2003-2006. Half my accounting professors were former alumni that had been teaching there for decades. Then the other ones were younger persons who spent the majority of their time doing research.

juno mas , December 12, 2020 at 12:05 pm

Here"s a link to a LA Times article about the current condition of the largest on-site research University system in the world:

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-12-12/uc-chancellors-tuition-increase

[Nov 28, 2020] Krystal and Saagar- New Study Shows Deaths Of Despair Hitting Poor Working Class Of ALL Races

Nov 28, 2020 | www.youtube.com

Daniel George @drdanielgeorge • Nov 10 000

A research team I'm part of just published data looking at the 'diseases of despair' crisis over the last decade (full article is free and available online).

A brief summary of our findings below, and some thoughts....

Trends in the diagnosis of diseases of despair in the United States...

Background and objective Increasing mortality and decreasing life expectancy in the USA are largely attributable to accidental...

See also: Saagar Enjeti- How Both Parties FAILED Us On Stimulus Guaranteeing Mass Unemployment, Business Death - YouTube

[Nov 28, 2020] Diseases of despair diagnoses increase in Pennsylvania - EurekAlert! Science News

Nov 28, 2020 | www.eurekalert.org

Diseases of despair diagnoses increase in Pennsylvania

PENN STATE

Research News

AUDIO: FOR THE FIRST TIME IN NEARLY 100 YEARS, LIFE EXPECTANCY IS DECREASING IN THE UNITED STATES. IN THIS EPISODE, DR. LARRY SINOWAY DISCUSSES THE DECLINE AND HOW IT RELATES TO... view more

CREDIT: PENN STATE CLINICAL AND TRANSLATIONAL SCIENCE INSTITUTE

Medical diagnoses involving alcohol-related disorders, substance-related disorders and suicidal thoughts and behaviors -- commonly referred to as diseases of despair -- increased in Pennsylvania health insurance claims between the years 2007 and 2018, according to researchers from Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute and Highmark Health Enterprise Analytics.

Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton proposed the concept of deaths of despair in 2015. Case and Deaton's research observed a decline in life expectancy of middle-aged white men and women between 1999 and 2015 -- the first such decline since the flu pandemic of 1918. They theorized that this decline is associated with the social and economic downturn in rural communities and small towns. These changes include loss of industry, falling wages, lower marriage rates, increasing barriers to higher education, an increase in one-parent homes and a loss of social infrastructure.

"It is theorized that these changes have fostered growing feelings of despair including disillusionment, precariousness and resignation in many peoples' lives," Daniel George, associate professor of humanities and public health sciences, Penn State College of Medicine, said. "Despair can trigger emotional, cognitive, behavioral and even biological changes, increasing the likelihood of diseases that can progress and ultimately culminate in deaths of despair."

With the commonwealth's considerable rural and small-town population, particularly around Penn State campuses, Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute led a research study to understand the rate of diseases of despair in Pennsylvania. Institute researchers collaborated with Highmark Health, one of the state's largest health insurance providers. Highmark provides employer-sponsored, individual, Affordable Care Act and Medicare plans.

Highmark Health's Enterprise Analytics team analyzed the claims of more than 12 million people on their plans from 2007 to 2018. Penn State did not have access to Highmark member data or individual private health information. Although the insurance claims included members from neighboring states, including West Virginia, Delaware, and Ohio, the majority of the claims were from Pennsylvania residents. Researchers reported their results in BMJ Open .

The researchers defined diseases of despair as diagnoses related to alcohol use, substance use and suicidal thoughts or behaviors. They searched the claims data for the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes related to these diagnoses. ICD codes form a standardized system maintained by the World Health Organization and are used in health records and for billing.

The researchers found that the rate of diagnoses related to diseases of despair increased significantly in the Highmark claims in the past decade. Nearly one in 20 people in the study sample was diagnosed with a disease of despair. Between 2009 and 2018, the rates of alcohol-, substance-, and suicide-related diagnoses increased by 37%, 94% and 170%. Following Case and Deaton's findings, the researchers saw the most substantial percentage increase in disease of despair diagnoses among men ages 35 to 74, followed by women ages 55 to 74 and 18 to 34.

The rate of alcohol-related diagnoses significantly increased among men and women ages 18 and over. The most dramatic increases were among men and women ages 55 to 74. Rates increased for men in this age group by 50% and 80% for women.

The rate of substance-related diagnoses roughly doubled for men and women ages 35 to 54 and increased by 170% in ages 55 to 74. In 2018, the most recent year of claims included in the study, rates of substance-use diagnoses were highest in 18-to-34-year-olds.

The rate of diagnoses related to suicidal thoughts and behaviors increased for all age groups. Among 18-to-34-year-olds, rates increased by at least 200%. The rate for all other age groups increased by at least 60%.

The type of insurance patients had also mattered. People with Medicare insurance had 1.5 times higher odds of having a disease of despair diagnosis and those with Affordable Care Act insurance had 1.3 times higher odds.

One increase stood out to researchers: among infants, substance-related diagnoses doubled.

"This increase was entirely attributable to neonatal abstinence syndrome and corresponded closely with increases in substance-related disorders among women of childbearing age," Emily Brignone, senior research scientist, Highmark Health Enterprise Analytics, said.

Neonatal abstinence syndrome occurs when a baby withdraws from substances, especially opioids, exposed to in the womb.

Future research can concentrate on identifying "hot spots" of diseases of despair diagnoses in the commonwealth to then study the social and economic conditions in these areas. With this data, researchers can potentially create predictive models to identify communities at risk and develop interventions.

"We found a broad view of who is impacted by increases in diseases of despair, which cross racial, ethnic and geographic groups," Jennifer Kraschnewski, professor of medicine, public health sciences and pediatrics, said. "Although originally thought to mostly affect rural communities, these increases in all middle-aged adults across the rural-urban continuum likely foreshadows future premature deaths."

###

National Center for Advancing Translational Science of the National Institutes of Health through Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute funded this research.

A podcast about this topic is available here.

Other researchers on this project were Lawrence Sinoway, director, Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute; Curren Katz and Robert Gladden, Highmark Health Enterprise Analytics; Charity Sauder, administrative director, Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute; and Andrea Murray, project manager, Penn State College of Medicine.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

[Nov 28, 2020] Deplorables, or Expendables

Notable quotes:
"... The Expendables: How the Middle Class got Screwed by Globalization ..."
"... The Innovation Illusion ..."
"... The Expendables ..."
"... Napoleon Linarthatos is a writer based in New York. ..."
Nov 28, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Home / Articles / Economy / Deplorables, Or Expendables? ECONOMY Deplorables, Or Expendables?

Rubin offers some valuable, albeit well-known, critiques of globalized trade, but doesn't go far beyond that. (By momente/Shutterstock)

NOVEMBER 26, 2020

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12:01 AM

NAPOLEON LINARTHATOS

Back in 2013 a group of Apple employees decided to sue the global behemoth. Every day, after they were clocking out, they were required to go through a corporate screening where their personal belongings were examined. It was a process required and administered by Apple. But Apple did not want to pay its employees for the time it had required them to spend. It could be anywhere from 40 to 80 hours a year that an employee spent going through that process. What made Apple so confident in brazenly nickel-and-diming its geniuses?

Jeff Rubin, author of The Expendables: How the Middle Class got Screwed by Globalization , has an answer to the above question that is easily deduced from the subtitle of his book. The socio-economic arrangements produced by globalization have made labor the most flexible and plentiful resource in the economic process. The pressure on the middle class, and all that falls below it, has been so persistent and powerful, that now " only 37 percent of Americans believe their children will be better off financially than they themselves are. Only 24 percent in Canada or Australia feel the same. And in France, that figure dips to only 9 percent." And "[i]n the mid-1980s it would have taken a typical middle-income family with two children less than seven years of income to save up to buy a home; it now takes more than ten years. At the same time, housing expenditures that accounted for a quarter of most middle-class household incomes in the 1990s now account for a third ."

https://lockerdome.com/lad/13045197114175078?pubid=ld-dfp-ad-13045197114175078-0&pubo=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theamericanconservative.com&rid=www.nakedcapitalism.com&width=838

The story of globalization is engraved in the " shuttered factories across North America, the boarded-up main streets, the empty union halls." Rubin does admit that there are benefits accrued from globalization, billions have been lifted up out of poverty in what was previously known as the third world, wealth has been created, certain efficiencies have been achieved. The question for someone in the western world is how much more of a price he's willing to pay to keep the whole thing going on, especially as we have entered a phase of diminishing returns for almost all involved.

As Joel Kotkin has written, "[e]ven in Asia, there are signs of social collapse. According to a recent survey by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs, half of all Korean households have experienced some form of family crisis, many involving debt, job loss, or issues relating to child or elder care." And "[i]n "classless" China, a massive class of migrant workers -- over 280 million -- inhabit a netherworld of substandard housing, unsteady work, and miserable environmental conditions, all after leaving their offspring behind in villages. These new serfs vastly outnumber the Westernized, highly educated Chinese whom most Westerners encounter. " "Rather than replicating the middle-class growth of post–World War II America and Europe, notes researcher Nan Chen, 'China appears to have skipped that stage altogether and headed straight for a model of extraordinary productivity but disproportionately distributed wealth like the contemporary United States.'"

Although Rubin concedes to the globalist side higher GDP growth, even that does not seem to be so true for the western world in the last couple decades. Per Nicholas Eberstadt, in "Our Miserable 21st Century," "[b]etween late 2000 and late 2007, per capita GDP growth averaged less than 1.5 percent per annum." "With postwar, pre-21st-century rates for the years 2000–2016, per capita GDP in America would be more than 20 percent higher than it is today."

Stagnation seems to be a more apt characterization of the situation we are in. Fredrik Erixon in his superb The Innovation Illusion , argues that "[p]roductivity growth is going south, and has been doing so for several decades." "Between 1995 and 2009, Europe's labor productivity grew by just 1 percent annually." Noting that "[t]he four factors that have made Western capitalism dull and hidebound are gray capital, corporate managerialism, globalization, and complex regulation."

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Contrary to popular belief, globalization has functioned as a substitute for innovation and growth. With globalization on the march, the western ruling class could continue to indulge in its most preferred activities, regulation and taxation, in an environment where both of these political addictions appeared sustainable. Non-western elites could perpetuate their authoritarian regimes, garnering growth and legitimacy, from the access to the western markets. Their copy-and-paste method of "innovation" from western firms would fit well with an indigenous business class composed of mostly insiders and ex-regime apparatchiks.

There are plenty of criticisms that can be laid at the feet of globalization. The issue with Rubin's book is that is does not advance very much beyond some timeworn condemnations of it. One gets the sense that the value of this book is merely in its audacity to question the conventional wisdom on the issue at hand. Rubin, who is somewhat sympathetic to Donald Trump, seems to be much closer to someone like Bernie Sanders, especially an earlier version of Sanders that dared to talk about the debilitating effects of immigration on the working class.

Like Sanders, Rubin starts to get blurry as he goes from the condemnation phase to the programmatic offers available. What exactly would be his tariffs policy, how far he would go? What would be the tradeoffs of this policy? Where we could demarcate a reasonable fair environment for the worker and industry and where we would start to create another type of a stagnation trap for the whole economy? All these would be important questions for Rubin to grapple with and would give to his criticisms more gravitas.

It would have also been of value if he had dealt more deeply with the policies of the Trump administration. On the one hand, the Trump administration cracked down on illegal and legal immigration. It also started to use tariffs and other trade measures as a way to boost industry and employment. On the other hand, it reduced personal and corporate taxes and it deregulated to the utmost degree possible. It was a kind of 'walled' laisser-faire that seemed to work until Covid-19 hit. Real household income in the U.S. increased $4,379 in 2019 over 2018. It was "more income growth in one year than in the 8 years of Obama-Biden." And during Trump's time, the lowest paid workers started not to just be making gains, but making gains faster than the wealthy. "Low-wage workers are getting bigger raises than bosses" ran a CBS News headline .

Rubin seems to view tax cuts and deregulation as another giveaway to large corporations. But these large corporations are just fine with high taxation, since they have a choice as to when and where they get taxed. Regulation is also more of a tool than a burden for them. It's a very expedient means for eliminating competitors and competition, a useful barrier to entry for any upstart innovator that would upend the industry they are in. Besides, if high taxation and regulation were a kind of antidote to globalization, then France would be in a much better shape than it appears to be. But France seems to be doing worse than anybody else. In the aforementioned poll about if their "children will be better off financially than they themselves are" France was at the bottom in the group of countries that Rubin cited. The recent events with the yellow-vests movement indicate a very deep dissatisfaction and pessimism of its middle and working class.

Moreover, there does not seem to be much hostility or even much contention between government bureaucracies and the upper echelons of the corporate world. Something that Rubin's politics and economics would necessitate. And cultural and political like-mindedness between government bureaucracies and the managerial class of large corporations is not just limited to the mutual embrace of woke politics. It seems that there is a cross pollination of a much broader set of ideas and habits between bureaucrats and the managerial class. For instance, Erixon notes that "[c]orporate managers shy away from uncertainty but turn companies into bureaucratic entities free from entrepreneurial habits. They strive to make capitalism predictable." Striving for predictability is a very bureaucratic state of mind.

In Rubin's book, missed trends like that make his perspective to feel a bit dated. There is still valuable information in The Expendables . Rubin does know a lot about international trade deals. For instance, a point that is often ignored in the press about international trade agreements is that "[i]f you're designated a "developing" country, you get to protect your own industries with tariffs that are a multiple of those that developed economies are allowed to use to protect their workers." A rule that China exploits to the utmost.

Meanwhile, Apple, after its apparent lawsuit loss on the case with its employees in California, now seems committed to another fight with the expendables of another locale. The Washington Post reported that "Apple lobbyists are trying to weaken a bill aimed at preventing forced labor in China, according to two congressional staffers familiar with the matter, highlighting the clash between its business imperatives and its official stance on human rights." "The bill aims to end the use of forced Uighur labor in the Xinjiang region of China ." The war against the expendables never ends.

Napoleon Linarthatos is a writer based in New York.

[Nov 17, 2020] A short note of class struggle

Nov 17, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

hunkerdown , November 16, 2020 at 10:29 am

Consider the structure of the term "common sense", which is just shared opinion. If there is no common sense, there will be no common action.

The problem with coming together is that the ruling class divides and rules us as a normal procedure of creating a class system. Nobody in the ruling class has a problem with this. Their purpose in life is to reproduce the system of mass slavery and adapt it to present conditions and they, being among the elect, are fine with this.

Pat , November 16, 2020 at 9:48 am

Cognitive dissonance is a daily occurrence for anyone paying attention. And our struggling "leaders" are largely struggling over territory while ignoring the state of the nation.

True national emergencies are ignored as they are inconvenient, or more honestly buried under the rug, because they might mean our sociopaths at the top of the food chain would have to pony up some of their Ill gotten gains to the social good AND lose some of their leverage over modern serfs. And unlike "war" and "military intervention" which have been monetized to the nth degree, pandemic response has been bungled not only because the social systems have been shredded but because factions are fighting over response in order to find a way to strip as much public money from it as possible.

We make black jokes here about brunch, but the election of Biden is NOT about him, it is a probably a vain attempt to put the genie back in the bottle. The sad thing is that instead of pretending to be the adults in the room, the usual suspects kept up their four year long tantrum, instead of letting the process play out and talking about how our system works, it was all "he isn't giving up, he is being mean." All because it slightly delayed them reestablishing their rice bowls. And so ends the "bring us together" meme with nary a whimper.

I wish there was a chance our national leaders would get their heads out of the pockets of their donors long enough to notice that the foundation THEY depend on for their corrupt lifestyles had been destroyed. I wish our foundations had not been so corrupted that even one part remains strong.

I am not entirely pessimistic. The kids are largely alright. I just hope we can hold it together long enough to give them a chance.

David , November 16, 2020 at 11:30 am

Two slightly different things here, perhaps.
I think it's generally accepted that all societies need a common frame of reference against which you can have discussions and arguments, make and critique policy and try to interpret the world. This doesn't mean that everybody agrees, or still less that everybody is obliged to, but rather that everybody agrees about what the issues are and about the ground over which they may disagree. Back in the days of the Cold War, for example, there were furious debates about politics, not to mention wars, atrocities and dictatorships, but pretty much everybody agreed what the issues were, even if they were on different sides of them. Historically, this was very much the norm: the religious wars of Europe, or the wars of the French Revolution were between people with very different views, but who agreed on the underlying context. What we have now, is what the philosopher Alasdair McIntyre called "incommensurability": a jaw-breaking term which means, essentially, that people don't even begin from the same assumptions, and so are condemned to talk past each other. This accounts for a lot of the cognitive dissonance. In the case of Brexit, for example, much of the bitterness and confusion arose from the fact that Leavers and Remainers were simply talking about different things, and starting from different assumptions, but didn't realise it. The same applies, obviously to the whole TDS story. As a result, Joe Public is now faced with the need to choose between competing and mutually exclusive interpretations of events, or even whether events have actually occurred. It's hardly surprising there's so much confusion and stress.

It's made worse by the kind of thing Thuto mentions. One of the least helpful ideas to emerge from the 1960s was that children should be "left to find their own way", rather than being taught things. But children mature by testing their ideas against the norms and structures of society, and indeed their parents, and coming to some sort of personal vision of the world. A lot of modern politics (and practically all of IdiotPol) is the result of middle-class educated people who were never contradicted as children, and are still looking to shock and provoke twenty or thirty years later. Once you understand that much of the political and media system is made of people who are basically adolescents ("why does it have to make sense? Tell me why it has to make sense!) the chaos and stress become easier to understand.

Sound of the Suburbs , November 16, 2020 at 1:00 pm

This is what we should expect.
Western liberalism's descent into chaos.
1920s/2000s – neoclassical economics, high inequality, high banker pay, low regulation, low taxes for the wealthy, robber barons (CEOs), reckless bankers, globalisation phase
1929/2008 – Wall Street crash
1930s/2010s – Global recession, currency wars, trade wars, austerity, rising nationalism and extremism
1940s – World war.

Right wing populist leaders are what we should expect at this stage in the descent into chaos.

Why is Western liberalism always such a disaster?
They did try and learn from past mistakes to create a new liberalism (neoliberalism), but the Mont Pelerin Society went round in a circle and got back to pretty much where they started.

It equates making money with creating wealth and people try and make money in the easiest way possible, which doesn't actually create any wealth.
In 1984, for the first time in American history, "unearned" income exceeded "earned" income.
The American have lost sight of what real wealth creation is, and are just focussed on making money.
You might as well do that in the easiest way possible.
It looks like a parasitic rentier capitalism because that is what it is.

Bankers make the most money when they are driving your economy into a financial crisis.
What they are doing is really an illusion; they are just pulling future spending power into today.
The 1920s roared at the expense of an impoverished 1930s.
Japan roared on the money creation of real estate lending in the 1980s, they spent the next 30 years repaying the debt they had built up in the 1980s and the economy flat-lined.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YTyJzmiHGk

Bankers use bank credit to pump up asset prices, which doesn't actually create any wealth.
The money creation of bank credit flows into the economy making it boom, but you are heading towards a financial crisis and claims on future prosperity are building up in the financial system.
https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/quarterly-bulletin/2014/money-creation-in-the-modern-economy.pdf
Early success comes at the expense of an impoverished future.

Things haven't been the same since 2008.
Early success came at the expense of an impoverished future.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAStZJCKmbU&list=PLmtuEaMvhDZZQLxg24CAiFgZYldtoCR-R&index=6
At 18 mins.
The money creation of bank credit flowed into the economy before 2008 making it boom, but they were heading towards a financial crisis and claims on future prosperity were building up in the financial system.
It's repayment time.

Sound of the Suburbs , November 16, 2020 at 1:01 pm

Let's get the basics sorted.
When no one knows what real wealth creation is, you are in trouble.

We want economic success
Step one – Identify where wealth creation occurs in the economy.
Houston, we have a problem.

Economists do identify where real wealth creation in the economy occurs, but this is a most inconvenient truth as it reveals many at the top don't actually create any wealth.
This is the problem.
Much of their money comes from wealth extraction rather than wealth creation, and they need to get everyone thoroughly confused so we don't realise what they are really up to.

The Classical Economists had a quick look around and noticed the aristocracy were maintained in luxury and leisure by the hard work of everyone else.
They haven't done anything economically productive for centuries, they couldn't miss it.
The Classical economist, Adam Smith:
"The labour and time of the poor is in civilised countries sacrificed to the maintaining of the rich in ease and luxury. The Landlord is maintained in idleness and luxury by the labour of his tenants. The moneyed man is supported by his extractions from the industrious merchant and the needy who are obliged to support him in ease by a return for the use of his money."
There was no benefits system in those days, and if those at the bottom didn't work they died.
They had to earn money to live.

Ricardo was an expert on the small state, unregulated capitalism he observed in the world around him. He was part of the new capitalist class, and the old landowning class were a huge problem with their rents that had to be paid both directly and through wages.
"The interest of the landlords is always opposed to the interest of every other class in the community" Ricardo 1815 / Classical Economist.
They soon identified the constructive "earned" income and the parasitic "unearned" income.
This disappeared in neoclassical economics.

GDP was invented after they used neoclassical economics last time.
In the 1920s, the economy roared, the stock market soared and nearly everyone had been making lots of money.
In the 1930s, they were wondering what the hell had just happened as everything had appeared to be going so well in the 1920s and then it all just fell apart.
They needed a better measure to see what was really going on in the economy and came up with GDP.
In the 1930s, they pondered over where all that wealth had gone to in 1929 and realised inflating asset prices doesn't create real wealth, they came up with the GDP measure to track real wealth creation in the economy.
The transfer of existing assets, like stocks and real estate, doesn't create real wealth and therefore does not add to GDP. The real wealth creation in the economy is measured by GDP.
Real wealth creation involves real work producing new goods and services in the economy.

So all that transferring existing financial assets around doesn't create wealth?
No it doesn't, and now you are ready to start thinking about what is really going on there.

GlassHammer , November 16, 2020 at 2:08 pm

"Much of their money comes from wealth extraction rather than wealth creation, and they need to get everyone thoroughly confused so we don't realise what they are really up to."

And this is why the quintessential business model in the U.S (at least since the 1970s) has been the multi-level marketing scheme.

[Nov 07, 2020] .It's a class-war people, recognize it for such.

Nov 07, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

donten , Nov 5 2020 23:33 utc | 178

The amount of cerebral activity wasted here is, well, wasted...It's a class-war people, recognize it for such. The U.S. needs to fall down among the weeds, and fertilize what's coming...The libertarian impulse must be squashed until it is unrecognizable!!

Equality, Fraternity, and Liberty in that order, my friends. All else is sickness in the mind.

[Nov 02, 2020] Over half of college seniors who graduated from public and private nonprofit colleges in 2019 had student-loan debt averaging $28K

A decent state should provide for gifted student lodging and $400 a month so that they can graduate. Less gifted students need to pay.
Nov 02, 2020 | newsletter.chronicle.com

Institute for College Access & Success (Ticas) has just released its annual report on what college graduates owe in student debt . The latest: 62 percent of college seniors who graduated from public and private nonprofit colleges in 2019 had student-loan debt averaging $28,950, slightly lower than the previous year. Still, the rise in graduates' student-debt burden has far outpaced inflation over the 15 years Ticas has been tracking it.

[Oct 30, 2020] Tsunami Of Empty College Dorms Risks Student Housing Market Implosion

Did not most collages behaved like bandits raising tuition fees from 1980 till 2020. That's 40 years.
Oct 30, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Fall enrollment has plunged , some colleges are shuttering operations, revenues across the entire higher education industry are collapsing, and the shift from physical to virtual education due to the virus pandemic could prick the next bubble: the student housing debt market.

Our warning about the coming implosion of the higher education industry (see here from 2014) , as a whole, has become louder and louder over the last six-plus years as the student debt bubble has recently swelled to more than $1.6 trillion. Years ago, no one at the time, could've forecasted a virus pandemic would doom colleges and universities.

Credit rating agency Moody's recently downgraded the entire higher education sector to negative from stable, and the American Council on Education estimates colleges and universities will experience a $23 billion decline in revenues over the next academic year.

Bloomberg outlines the increase of virtual education in a virus pandemic has resulted in an abundance of empty dorms at colleges and universities, creating a $14 billion headache for the student housing debt market.

"West Virginia State University, already hit with a 10% enrollment drop, plans to give money to a school foundation so it can meet its bond covenants for residence hall debt. A community college in Ohio is using part of a $1.5 million donation for a financially-strapped student housing project. And officials at New Jersey City University, which serves largely first-generation and lower-income students and has recorded years of deficits, are prepared to shore up a dorm there," Bloomberg said.

The squeeze on university finances comes as the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center warned about a 16% drop in first-year undergraduate students enrolled for the fall semester. This means new revenue streams are quickly drying up for overleveraged colleges and universities.

"The limiting factor is some of these schools themselves are facing uncertainty with many of their revenue streams," S&P Global Ratings analyst Amber Schafer said in an interview. "It's a matter of not only willingness, but if they're able to support the project."

"Typically, privatized student housing debt is paid off by the revenue generated by the dorms -- meaning there's little recourse for bondholders if things go south," Bloomberg said. With occupancy rates already declining as coronavirus cases are surging, well, this could be bad news for colleges and universities heading into 2021.

"Borrowers have begun revealing how empty residence halls are as the pandemic spurs many campuses to keep classes online. According to the school foundation that sold the debt, West Virginia State University's dorm is 71% full, putting it about 20 percentage points from where it needs to be to satisfy debt covenants. Other privatized student housing projects, like two on Howard University's campus, are virtually empty due to online-only instruction there," Bloomberg said.

https://lockerdome.com/lad/13084989113709670?pubid=ld-dfp-ad-13084989113709670-0&pubo=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com&rid=www.zerohedge.com&width=890

Bloomberg warns: "Privatized dorms are struggling the most given that they weren't structured to withstand 20% to 30% drops in occupancy -- or no students at all."

"West Virginia State University may have to step in to help student housing bonds at risk of violating a debt service coverage ratio, Moody's warned this month. The historically-black college faces "considerable" challenges in backstopping the bonds, Moody's said.

The nearly 290-bed residence hall with rents of $3,881 per semester was just 71% occupied this fall, while it needed to be about 92% occupied, said Patricia Schumann, president of the university foundation that sold the debt. Schumann said the university is projected to provide a $75,000 payment in January. In the meantime, she said the school was working to bolster its financial position and boost recruitment and donations.

"We're not standing still," she said.

Ohio's Terra State Community College, which has more than 2,100 students, was downgraded deeper into junk over the risk posed by a dorm owned by a nonprofit, given that the school "appears to provide an unconditional guarantee" to meet the debt obligations, Moody's said. The project was financed through a bank note.

The dorm's occupancy fell to 62%, and the college is using a previously-received donation to cover a shortfall in project revenue amounting between $500,000 to $600,000, the ratings company said in a report this month.

At New Jersey City University, a student housing project financed though a separate entity will likely miss a required debt service coverage ratio. The public school having to step in to help the bonds would be a challenge, but a surmountable one, said Jodi Bailey, the university's associate vice president for student affairs. The student housing bonds aren't a debt of the university, so the school would be choosing to provide financial support, according to bond documents .

The school is working to cut expenses related to the dorm. "Is it a harder year? Most definitely," she said.

The student housing bonds, issued by West Campus Housing LLC in 2015, were slashed deeper into junk in September by S&P, which said in a report that residence halls' occupancy there had fallen to 56% so the school could accommodate social-distancing guidelines," said Bloomberg.

To summarize, plunging enrollments, resulting in falling occupancy rates for dorms, is a debt bomb waiting to go off for many overleveraged colleges and universities that are panicking at the moment to divert enough funds to service debts, as the usual revenue streams, that being rent checks from students, are nowhere to be found as virtual learning keeps young adults in their parents' basements and out of dorms.

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If occupancy rates continue to slide through 2021, then we must revisit what we said months before the virus pandemic began in the US:

"...20% of colleges and universities will shut down or merge in the next ten years , and probably more."

Absent of a federal bailout, things could get ugly for colleges and universities in 2021.

[Sep 26, 2020] The Stockdale Paradox

Notable quotes:
"... You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end -- which you can never afford to lose -- with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be. ..."
Sep 26, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

grug-cave-head , 2 hours ago

Let me post something.

The Stockdale Paradox[ edit ]

James C. Collins related a conversation he had with Stockdale regarding his coping strategy during his period in the Vietnamese POW camp. [21] [ non-primary source needed ] When Collins asked which prisoners didn't make it out of Vietnam, Stockdale replied:

Oh, that's easy, the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, 'We're going to be out by Christmas.' And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they'd say, 'We're going to be out by Easter.' And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart. This is a very important lesson.

You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end -- which you can never afford to lose -- with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be. [22]

Collins called this the Stockdale Paradox. [21]

[Sep 16, 2020] Harvard And Yale Under Continued Fire For Discrimination Against White, Asian Applicants

Sep 16, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Harvard and Yale are set to respond this week to a series of legal challenges accusing them of racial bias against Asian and White applicants during the admissions process, according to Bloomberg .

Protesters at a media conference held by Harvard lawyers following closing arguments in the Harvard-admissions trial, in November 2018 in Boston (via chronicle.com )

The universities will respond to two of those challenges to 'race-conscious admissions,' while two more make their way through the legal system against other universities. The controversy could make it all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled over 40 years ago in its Bakke decision that race is a valid factor in creating a diverse student body.

While the decision has been reaffirmed over the years, it's possible that the 'conservative' majority Supreme Court will strike Bakke down .

"Sandra Day O'Connor basically opined that we could have another 20 years or 25 years of affirmative action programs, but that they would not go on forever," said conservative Linda Chavez, chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity. " And yet we do see them going on forever ," she added.

O'Connor speculated in 2003 that the race-based consideration wouldn't go on 'forever.' 17-years later, it's still happening.

" We're now talking about kids who are getting into college on the basis of some racial or ethnic preference who are the grandchildren of people who first got those preferences. "

The Justice Department has threatened to sue Yale unless it agrees to stop considering race . " Unlawfully dividing Americans into racial and ethnic blocs fosters stereotypes, bitterness, and division ," the government wrote to the university in August. Yale, which has vowed to "vigorously defend" a process "endorsed repeatedly by the Supreme Court," is due to respond this week.

On Wednesday, Harvard goes before a federal appeals court over a case that it engages in "racial balancing" by holding Asian-American applicants to a higher standard than other minority groups. Harvard denies discriminating and won the case in federal district court last fall. - Bloomberg

The Harvard suit and two other pending lawsuitsagainst the University of North Carolin and the University of Texas were brought by activist Edward Blum - a longtime foe of affirmative action and founder of Students for Fair Admissions. The Justice Department filed in the Harvard case in support of the group , claiming that the school's admissions process is " infected with racial bias ."

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Making a review by the Supreme Court even more likely is that there are now four challenges in four states against both public and private universities, meaning that conflicting rulings from different appeals courts would call for the higher court's opinion.

"That's what they want," said Audrey Anderson, former general counsel at Vanderbilt University. "They want it to go to the Supreme Court because the justices who upheld affirmative action are not on the court anymore."

Amid the flurry of court papers, a July study by the Education Trust , which advocates for educational opportunities for disadvantaged students, found that African Americans and Latinos continue to be underrepresented at 101 of the country's top public universities and that their representation has even regressed in many instances over the past two decades.

"I know that there's folks who are against affirmative action, of all backgrounds," who believe "that we are there, and it's not needed, and maybe there's even some over-representation or over-emphasis on race that we need to correct for," said Tiffany Jones , senior director of education policy at the Trust. That perception, she said, "is contradicted by the data and the research and the information about who has access to higher education." - Bloomberg

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Last year, US District Judge Allison Burroughs found that Harvard didn't set quotas or give undue consideration to race when reviewing applicants, and instead weighed race as one of over 200 factors which includes socioeconomic background, areas of study and letters of recommendation, according to the report.

Blum, on the other hand, says that the evidence in the Harvard case "compellingly proved Harvard's systematic discrimination against Asian-American applicants," and that "We assert the district court erred in its analysis of this evidence and, surprisingly, virtually ignored Harvard's own internal studies" that he says showed bias.

[Sep 02, 2020] Student life is reduced to a pixelated screen and the college experience is stripped of its self-realizations component and the role of pears in this process

Also " the number of students pursuing a college degree could be the smallest in two decades"
Sep 02, 2020 | nymag.com

student life is reduced to a pixilated screen and the college experience is stripped of its self-realizations and rites of passage...

The question now is whether and to what extent those changes will persist beyond the current crisis.

Will this mass experiment with online education turn more students on to lower-cost online degrees, or will it only make the in-person experience of college life seem all the more valuable?

The pandemic is a monkey wrench dropped into the middle of our cobbled-together public-private higher-education machine, freezing it up and, just possibly, breaking it.

Financially, colleges need to be open. Their operating budgets depend on tuition revenue, and schools need students on campus to be spending money in the bookstore or the dining hall or on sporting events. So there are a few different scenarios floating around right now for fall instruction. One is a hybrid of virtual and in person. This seems to be the most popular scenario, where colleges have larger classes being virtual and smaller classes in person in large spaces where they can better socially distance. We heard of a college considering turning an on-campus ballroom into a large classroom where students can be better spread out. They're also looking at adjusting the residential model. Dorms are pretty small, and they're densely populated. We've heard of schools that are considering buying up local hotels or even casino spaces in order to give students single rooms so they can better spread out.

[Sep 02, 2020] In my opinion, it's the American k-12 education which has failed miserably in teaching the American students the solid basics, has to be reformed."

Sep 02, 2020 | www.unz.com

Tom Welsh , says: August 24, 2020 at 9:26 am GMT

@Saggy n/no-division-required-in-this-school-problem.html

(27) In another televised beauty pageant, a high school girl was asked to explain a quote by Confucius. In response, she said: "Confucius was one of the men who invented confusion."

(28) https://www.unz.com/runz/the-myth-of-american-meritocracy/

(29) An article in Forbes magazine stated that "America's Millennials Are Among the World's Least Skilled". Specifically, they are short on literacy, numeracy, ability to follow simple orders, poor at solving problems.

[Aug 29, 2020] Endurance- Shackleton's Incredible Voyage, Lansing, Alfred, eBook - Amazon.com

Aug 29, 2020 | www.amazon.com

The harrowing tale of British explorer Ernest Shackleton's 1914 attempt to reach the South Pole, one of the greatest adventure stories of the modern age.

In August 1914, polar explorer Ernest Shackleton boarded the Endurance and set sail for Antarctica, where he planned to cross the last uncharted continent on foot. In January 1915, after battling its way through a thousand miles of pack ice and only a day's sail short of its destination, the Endurance became locked in an island of ice. Thus began the legendary ordeal of Shackleton and his crew of twenty-seven men. When their ship was finally crushed between two ice floes, they attempted a near-impossible journey over 850 miles of the South Atlantic's heaviest seas to the closest outpost of civilization.

In Endurance , the definitive account of Ernest Shackleton's fateful trip, Alfred Lansing brilliantly narrates the harrowing and miraculous voyage that has defined heroism for the modern age.

>


Bama Fan

The book gave me several adrenaline rushes...it's that well written.

5.0 out of 5 stars The book gave me several adrenaline rushes...it's that well written. Reviewed in the United States on December 27, 2018 Verified Purchase This is an amazing account of Shackleton's journey that went into intricate details about the twists and turns every step of the way for this small group of brave explorers. It reads like a thrilling fiction novel, but the fact that it is non-fiction makes it even more astounding. The description really paints a true picture of the hellacious conditions that they continued to face time and time again. This book really put into perspective what a challenge truly is. A simple headache that we might get now is nowhere near getting your sleeping bag drenched and still having to sleep in it in temperatures near 0 when you don't know how the weather or current is going to change while you try to sleep. Great read and really hard to put down because even though you think you know what's going to happen, you still have to find out how. Would highly recommend if you're looking for a good book that you will have trouble putting down. 38 people found this helpful

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Twostory
Cold

5.0 out of 5 stars Cold Reviewed in the United States on November 17, 2018 Verified Purchase Very cold. Always cold. This is a very detailed (true) story about men trying to survive in a very hostile environment in c. 1915. Stark and full of detail, the reader almost gets to feel the cold, hunger and pain the crew experienced while trying to survive Antarctica and return to civilization. it's amazing that anyone survived this ordeal let alone all of them. Sadly, many creatures and peaceful animals paid the price for mans survival. The details often are so descriptive and redundant due to the scope of the story, that it sometimes becomes repetitive and familiar. This is because of the constant distress and horrible conditions the crew experienced for such a long time. It's a well documented and exciting story with a bit of a history lesson that really held my interest. It's a popular book that is deserving of its high ratings. 21 people found this helpful

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George E. Dawson
A REMARKABLE TALE OF SURVIVAL, SUPERBLY TOLD.

5.0 out of 5 stars A REMARKABLE TALE OF SURVIVAL, SUPERBLY TOLD. Reviewed in the United States on September 16, 2017 Verified Purchase "There can be little doubt that Shackleton, in his way, was an extraordinary leader of men." (p. 11).

There is no doubt in my mind that I would not be able to endure even one, the best, day of the unimaginable hardships that the men of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Exposition (1914-17) -- under the leadership of Sir Ernest Shackleton -- struggled with for more than 400 days. They endured and survived some of the most incredible, unbelievable, conditions ever experienced; and Alfred Lansing captures the urgency, the deprivation, and the desperation, with spellbinding storytelling.

Recommendation: Best adventure story, ever. Should be read by all, especially those of high school age.

"In all the world there is no desolation more complete than the polar night. It is a return to the Ice Age -- no warmth, no life, no movement." (p. 46).

Basic Books. Kindle Edition, 268 pages. 16 people found this helpful

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Dataman
A Riveting True Story of Adventure, Survival and Hope

5.0 out of 5 stars A Riveting True Story of Adventure, Survival and Hope Reviewed in the United States on September 25, 2014 Verified Purchase In 1914 Sir Ernest Shackleton set out on an expedition to make the first land crossing of the barren Antarctic continent from the east to the west coast. The expedition failed to accomplish its objective, but became recognized instead as an amazing feat of endurance. Shackleton and a crew of 27 (plus one stowaway) first headed to the Weddell Sea on the ship Endurance. Their ship was trapped by pack ice short of their destination and eventually crushed. Forced to abandon ship, the men were trapped on ice floes for months while they drifted north. Once they were far enough north that the ice thinned somewhat, they were forced to journey in lifeboats they'd dragged off the ship. After six terrible days, they made it to uninhabited Elephant Island; from there Shackleton and five other men set off in an open 22-foot boat on an incredible 800-mile voyage across the notoriously tempestuous Drake Passage to South Georgia Island, where they hiked across the island's mountain range to reach a whaling camp. From there, they returned in a ship to rescue the men left behind on Elephant Island.

That these men were able to survive in the harsh, barren conditions of Antarctica, where temperatures frequently fell below zero is amazing. It's nearly unimaginable that these men could survive for almost two years, their lives marked by a seemingly endless stretch of misery, suffering, and boredom, not to mention the threat of starvation. At every turn, their situation seems to go from bad to worse. If this were a work of fiction, one would be inclined to claim the story was simply too far-fetched. But Endurance isn't just a tale of misery, it is a vivid description of their journey, the dangers they faced, and the obstacles they overcame. Through all of this, Shackleton has never lost a man.

Alfred Lansing's book, written in 1958 from interviews and journals of the survivors, is now back in print. It's a riveting tale of adventure, survival and hope. It is also a rare historical, non-fiction book that is as exciting as any novel. I've read a number of stories of survival and would rate this as the best of all I have read. This is one of the great adventure stories of our time. Don't miss it. Read more 45 people found this helpful

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Sam
I recommend this book to add to the collection of those ...

5.0 out of 5 stars I recommend this book to add to the collection of those ... Reviewed in the United States on August 7, 2015 Verified Purchase What a page turner. Lansing is a master for the description of those explorers hardships, desire to follow Shacketon' orders. I kept saying to myself that there are few humans today that are as tough as those men. I recommend this book to add to the collection of those books that give us the knowledge of what it takes to conquer a goal. 51 people found this helpful

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S. Cherkas
By far one of the best books I've ever read, & I've read many!

5.0 out of 5 stars By far one of the best books I've ever read, & I've read many! Reviewed in the United States on January 30, 2019 Verified Purchase I just finished reading 2 of Grann's books - Lost City of Z & The White Darkness. The latter is the story of Henry Worsley, the grandson of Frank Worsley one of the "extraordinary" men in Lansing's Endurance. Grann suggested Endurance as a worthy read. Sir Earnest Shackleton & Frank Worsley were two of some 20 men who incredibly survived a journey to Antarctica that went awry from almost its onset. Two years later all hands were rescued through the extraordinary will of the men who found themselves at the mercy of the elements. Lansing's research & grasp of the situation in which these men found themselves in conjunction with his writing style has put this book at the top of my all time favorites! Fabulous! Fabulous! Anyone 12 or older will be blown away by this true story & this writer! 4 people found this helpful

[Aug 24, 2020] The link between political instability and inequality

Aug 24, 2020 | peakoilbarrel.com

Schinzy Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 9:21 AM

Modelling political instability is the subject of cliodynamcs, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cliodynamics . The graph on that page seems to link political instability with inequality. My suspicion is that it is also linked to scarcity.

[Aug 01, 2020] Everyone working in academia, the non-profit sector, and journalism is aware that there are many ideas broadly held which people hesitate to say because they are worried a group of their strident colleagues will try to destroy their career

Highly recommended!
Free speech is not a dimmer switch, its on or its off – you can’t have it both ways. Cancel culture is a reincarnation of Stalinist purges, or McCarthyism.
Notable quotes:
"... The sort of "lose your job for engaging in speech" thing happens in other contexts, too. Companies routinely censor their employees' speech in ways small and large, and this includes completely non-political speech about purely technical matters. ..."
"... the government severely punishes employers whose employees speak in ways the government/the identity politics left (they are working together here) dislike, and so effectively outsources speech regulation to employers. ..."
"... The concern about cancel culture is in my observation largely driven by this dynamic: the frequent tagline right-leaning speech is violence, while left-leaning violence is speech" reflects the fact that getting some particular approach to a topic defined as "discrimination" ..."
"... Think about Rebecca Long-Bailey's recent demotion from the Labour shadow cabinet over a tweet she made. Last month, she retweeted a newspaper interview with prominent Labour-supporting actress Maxine Peake, calling her an "absolute diamond." The interview included an inaccurate claim from Peake ( based apparently on information in a Morning Star article, and which Peake subsequently withdrew when she was challenged on it) that the specific knee restraint used on George Floyd had been taught to Mineapolis police by Israeli secret police consultants. ..."
"... Long-Bailey lost the Shadow Education role, and her political career is likely over, ostensibly on the basis of this one tweet. ..."
"... The RLB case also throws a spotlight on language. The various rationales for cancelling listed in the OP -- racism, transphobia, or (in this case) antisemitism -- are rarely clear-cut in real-world instances ..."
"... This, I would suggest, is also related to power. The purpose of an accusation like this is to demonstrate the power or dominance of the cancelling agent, and to intimidate others by example. ..."
"... These concepts are capable of apparently endless linguistic elasticity. Indeed, it's when they're at their most extended or diffuse, that these grounds for cancellation seem to have the most signifying power. ..."
"... Everyone working in academia, the non-profit sector, and journalism is aware that there are many ideas broadly held which people hesitate to say because they are worried a group of their strident colleagues will try to destroy their career ..."
"... it is unquestionable that "canceling from the left" is a bigger threat from the right. ..."
"... Remember that the academic institutions in which controversies about 'cancel culture' exist are bourgeois institutions, pretty much like corporations. It is a world of authority, hierarchy, and carefully controlled behavior. ..."
"... As the power and prestige of the bourgeoisie shrink, the inmates of that particular cage will fight more fiercely for what's left. One way of fighting is to get someone's job by turning up something disreputable, such as the use of an apparently racist epithet. ..."
"... It seems to me that "cancel culture" is based on the infosphere's equivalent of the technological progress that now allows a small group of determined people with AK-47s to render a region ungovernable. ..."
"... The arms dealers don't care – they sell to everyone, and the more ammunition they sell, the more you'll need. ..."
"... Whether justified or not, a significant minority of Americans, across multiple lines, are fearful that their political opinions could endanger their jobs; this suggests the problem might be more than just people getting "bent-out-of-shape that they can't be raging bigots" . ..."
"... Purveyors of what-aboutery will probably appreciate that Steve Salita now makes a living as a bus driver ; I have no reason to think that the Harpers Letter signers (even Bari Weiss) would regard that situation as any more just than other examples. ..."
"... My position on this is that individuals shouldn't face public opprobrium unless there is 1) Clear and convincing evidence they are motivated by fundamentally malicious ends and 2) They have no remorse about it. Even when these conditions are met the opprobrium they receive should be clearly proportional to the wrong they've committed. We should relax these rules somewhat for celebrities, and a great deal for politicians, who have implicitly agreed to face criticism as a consequence of their role. ..."
"... In that testing sense, cancel culture can be seen as a type of supplementary social defense mechanism compared to the standard immune system response of trying to prove the political cult wrong in the eyes of unbiased observers; in too many historical cases, the immune response is weakened by factors such as adverse economic or geopolitical circumstances (e.g., a lost war) ..."
"... Cancel culture then works as (a) tracking and removal in the form of boycotts and ostracism, in that the infected cells(individuals) are removed from positions of influence, and (b) as a type of lockdown measure (censorship) that is warranted when the infected individual is transmitting patently false versions of current events or past history, and is starting to infect others around him. ..."
"... As to Peter's argument that cancel culture disfigures the left, I would add that the only cases where the radical left has seized power took place in the brutal aftermath of right-wing pandemics: e.g. the hyper-nationalism that led Germany and Russia among others to war in 1914, or KMT/warlord attempts to violently and brutally suppress peasant demands in the case of China. In such situations, it is no surprise that the radical left becomes infected with political cultism. ..."
"... Between those two positions there's a large space where people get harassed, threatened, ostracised and silenced for minor slips, reasonable disagreements, details that were lost in translation and failures to recite the correct thought-terminating cliches with sufficient conviction – basically, things that don't threaten anyone else's ability to speak. ..."
Aug 01, 2020 | crookedtimber.org

J-D 07.30.20 at 9:16 am

When I read this, I got the idea that there'd been a related discussion here at Crooked Timber before, and indeed there was!

https://crookedtimber.org/2016/08/27/the-university-of-chicago-is-nothing-more-and-nothing-less-than-a-complex-of-safe-spaces/


Tim H. 07.30.20 at 11:21 am ( 8 )

Racism from my perspective, looks like an unwillingness to evaluate people on an individual basis, whether it's from sloth, contempt or disability and it's a terrible look for an intellectual.

CHETAN R MURTHY 07.30.20 at 1:08 pm ( 11 )

JQ @ 1: The sort of "lose your job for engaging in speech" thing happens in other contexts, too. Companies routinely censor their employees' speech in ways small and large, and this includes completely non-political speech about purely technical matters.

I know of a case where a famous chip designer got up at a conference and said "none of you people talking about Itanium [Intel's ia64 chip that was the future of microprocessors once upon a time] actually think it's going to succeed -- why don't any of you admit it?"

Within moments he was covered in PR and lawyers basically taping his mouth shut. When I worked in global enterprise IT, I didn't post blog comments (neither political nor technical) b/c it was clear that there would always be the possibility of career repercussions for making statements that would have post-hoc repercussions

Companies censor their employees speech before-and-after-the-fact for lots of reasons, sometimes political. This is a fact of life, and you're very right to point out that if people actually cared about this [as opposed to getting bent-out-of-shape that they can't be raging bigots] they'd support strong unions.

SamChevre 07.30.20 at 1:25 pm ( 13 )

This is mainly a problem in the US because of employment at will.

Employment at will may contribute, but a larger part of the problem is that the US laws around free speech are odd. Technically, the government cannot regulate speech at all (with very limited exceptions, not relevant here.) In practice, though, what has happened (via so-called "antidiscrimination" law) is that the government severely punishes employers whose employees speak in ways the government/the identity politics left (they are working together here) dislike, and so effectively outsources speech regulation to employers.

The concern about cancel culture is in my observation largely driven by this dynamic: the frequent tagline right-leaning speech is violence, while left-leaning violence is speech" reflects the fact that getting some particular approach to a topic defined as "discrimination" means that it is severely punished by government, at second-hand.

Musicismath 07.30.20 at 1:42 pm (16 )

One thing that might be useful is distinguishing "cancel culture" as a phenomenon from cancellation more narrowly defined as a tactic . So many of the discussions I've seen recently about the issue seem content to operate at the big-picture level, asking whether such a thing as cancel culture even exists (the New Statesman approach) or (if it does) whether it's a good thing or a bad thing. Focussing in on actual cases, and thinking about who (precisely) benefits from individual instances, might instead help us think about the specific function of cancel culture, and the role that language plays in it.

Think about Rebecca Long-Bailey's recent demotion from the Labour shadow cabinet over a tweet she made. Last month, she retweeted a newspaper interview with prominent Labour-supporting actress Maxine Peake, calling her an "absolute diamond." The interview included an inaccurate claim from Peake ( based apparently on information in a Morning Star article, and which Peake subsequently withdrew when she was challenged on it) that the specific knee restraint used on George Floyd had been taught to Mineapolis police by Israeli secret police consultants.

Long-Bailey lost the Shadow Education role, and her political career is likely over, ostensibly on the basis of this one tweet. This, to me, is a fairly clear instance of cancellation at work, but it would be inadequate to leave it at that. The complete lack of commensurability between the transgression and the outcome would be incomprehensible without asking how RLB's cancellation fits into Labour Party politics; that is, the function of cancelling in this specific instance. Absolutely no one I know thinks this tweet proved Long-Bailey was genuinely antisemitic, or that it was even the primary reason she was demoted. Instead, it's been broadly (and, I think, correctly) interpreted as a signal from the Starmer wing of the party that the Corbyn faction with which RLB is aligned has no future in Labour. Cancellation, in this case, is a naked piece of power politics: a way of getting political opponents out of the way.

The RLB case also throws a spotlight on language. The various rationales for cancelling listed in the OP -- racism, transphobia, or (in this case) antisemitism -- are rarely clear-cut in real-world instances. In fact, there's a kind of homeopathic logic at work, where the more tendentious the attribution is, the more cut-through it often seems to have.

This, I would suggest, is also related to power. The purpose of an accusation like this is to demonstrate the power or dominance of the cancelling agent, and to intimidate others by example. ("If RLB got cancelled for this , then how little would I need to do to suffer the same fate?") As Jonathan Dollimore has pointed out, there's a certain in-built "linguistic imprecision" in many of the terms that cancellation depends on, and it's from that imprecision that the capacity for intimidation or fear generation stems from.

These concepts are capable of apparently endless linguistic elasticity. Indeed, it's when they're at their most extended or diffuse, that these grounds for cancellation seem to have the most signifying power.

Anon For Obvious Reasons 07.30.20 at 5:31 pm (
23
)

I find this deliberately misleading. "Cancel culture" in practice refers to the idea that you shouldn't be ostracized by your peers, friends, or professional field for holding and voicing ideas that are essentially mainstream.

Everyone thinks that if you insult someone with a racial slur, there should be consequences.

But after that, what should be the proper "bound" that discourse should not cross? I would argue that "any idea which can be studied rigorously" and "any idea held by a reasonably broad cross section of society" is clearly within the bound, and we do ourselves a huge disservice by refusing to countenance ideas in those sets. Further, as a commenter above notes, most people in the world are not left-wing activists. Setting the norm that you shouldn't be friends with/work with/hire/buy from people with ideas you find acceptable, but which are not extreme, will be and has been a disaster for gay people, atheists, and many others.

Everyone working in academia, the non-profit sector, and journalism is aware that there are many ideas broadly held which people hesitate to say because they are worried a group of their strident colleagues will try to destroy their career. The Shor example comes up because, as Matt Yglesias pointed out yesterday, it is so obviously ridiculous to lose your job for linking to a paper in APSR by a prominent (young, black) political scientist, and yet there really are many people in that world, progressive political campaigns, who would refuse to work with you if you hired Shor . It wasn't just his boss or "workplace protections" – he was kicked out of the listserv that is the main vector for finding jobs in that sphere, and his new employer remains anonymous on purpose!

And yes, this is not just a lefty thing. I'm sure that right-wing media sites, and church groups, and the rest all have similar cases. Trump clearly "canceled" Kaepernick, with the NFL's help. Yet we all agree that is bad! And in the sphere many of us are in, academia, it is unquestionable that "canceling from the left" is a bigger threat from the right.

Anarcissie 07.30.20 at 8:35 pm ( 30 )

Trader Joe 07.30.20 at 2:17 pm @ 17 --
Remember that the academic institutions in which controversies about 'cancel culture' exist are bourgeois institutions, pretty much like corporations. It is a world of authority, hierarchy, and carefully controlled behavior. Obviously there is little expression which may not have adverse consequences.

As the power and prestige of the bourgeoisie shrink, the inmates of that particular cage will fight more fiercely for what's left. One way of fighting is to get someone's job by turning up something disreputable, such as the use of an apparently racist epithet.

This didn't start yesterday. There is a certain spillover into popcult as students emerge from academia into the outer, also declining world and repeat the patterns which they have observed. Numerous stories are available, but I'll spare you. Anyway, Mr. Taibbi has been ranting well, and you can go there.

kinnikinick 07.30.20 at 9:08 pm (
34
)

Surprising to see so little emphasis on social media as the main catalyst. Tribalism is the driver of "engagement" online, and if righteous anger at the out-group gets the clicks, so be it. Consider how any Twitter post can become a tiny gleaming tableau, a battle flag, an allegory of sin or virtue. Context and interpretation cannot be arbiters, and must only serve the self-evident cause of loyalty to one's synthetic tribe. Faith and bad faith merge; that's just optimal use of an app's system of influence. "We shape our tools and then our tools shape us".

It seems to me that "cancel culture" is based on the infosphere's equivalent of the technological progress that now allows a small group of determined people with AK-47s to render a region ungovernable. This does not imply that the region's current government is a good one. It does not imply anything about the group's views, except that debating them is not likely to be on the agenda when they visit your village. There will no doubt be some unpleasant people among the casualties; perhaps that counts as a silver lining.

The arms dealers don't care – they sell to everyone, and the more ammunition they sell, the more you'll need.

Kiwanda 07.31.20 at 12:00 am ( 45 )

John Quiggin:

"But the fact that the same example (David Shor) is cited every time the issue is raised " here is one attempt to tabulate cancellations, at least on the left identitarian side; I am not endorsing any particular example. (NB: Sophie Jane in this case, not Sophie Grace.)

I would be curious about whether Henry approves of the suppression of speech as much as the OP does.

Whether justified or not, a significant minority of Americans, across multiple lines, are fearful that their political opinions could endanger their jobs; this suggests the problem might be more than just people getting "bent-out-of-shape that they can't be raging bigots" .

Purveyors of what-aboutery will probably appreciate that Steve Salita now makes a living as a bus driver ; I have no reason to think that the Harpers Letter signers (even Bari Weiss) would regard that situation as any more just than other examples.

J-D 07.31.20 at 12:05 am ( 46 )

There have been occasions in my life when I have justly and rightly experienced adverse consequences as a result of things that I have said. The proposition that nobody should ever experience adverse consequences as a result of statements made is utterly indefensible.

de Pony Sum 07.31.20 at 2:16 am ( 48 )

Discussions over "cancellation" can make things unnecessarily difficult because it's a very hard term to define- exactly how badly does your public reputation have to be before you are cancelled. All too often debates turn into "well so and so wasn't cancelled because they still have a job/they still have a platform/they're still living their life." (Although your post does avoid this by describing it in terms of an attempt instead of outcome) So to avoid ambiguities that attend "cancellation", I prefer "opprobrium"

My position on this is that individuals shouldn't face public opprobrium unless there is 1) Clear and convincing evidence they are motivated by fundamentally malicious ends and 2) They have no remorse about it. Even when these conditions are met the opprobrium they receive should be clearly proportional to the wrong they've committed. We should relax these rules somewhat for celebrities, and a great deal for politicians, who have implicitly agreed to face criticism as a consequence of their role.

I support this anti-opprobrium position because being shamed publicly is extremely painful. I would rather lose a limb than be widely publicly shamed and reviled, and I think a lot of people feel the same way, so, by the golden rule and all of that

In terms of the position you outline it seems to me that we're going to agree on a lot of issues. Pre-meditated use of racial slurs, for example. But I think there are a lot of instances of cancel culture that we won't agree on.

Here's some people I think have been unfairly subject to vast amounts of pubic opprobrium that some people would call cancel culture:

The p**nstar ( I won't spell it out because I'm at work) who killed herself in part because of the criticism she received when tweeted out (homophobically) that she didn't want to work actors who had done gay male scenes. While criticism would have been appropriate, the torrent of backlash she received was disproportionate.

The woman who went to the Washington Post's cartoonist party in blackface in a very misguided but not malicious attempt to satirize blackface and subsequently lost her job when the Washington post named her in their paper. Natalie Wynn of Contrapoints – for many different things.

Glenn Greenwald over the age difference between him and his partner

Now I'm picking cases of opprobrium that came from the left broadly construed, because I think of this as an internal conversation on the left. However, one thing that frustrates me about this debate is that no one is acknowledging that the right are masters of excessive opprobrium. Some examples:

But maybe my position amounts to a silly apolitical wish that people would be nice to each other, unless there's a very, very good reason not to.

Andres 07.31.20 at 3:07 am ( 49 )

Chris: An interesting case can be made in favor of cancel culture if we start thinking of most political cults including communism, fascism, maga-Trumpism and other types of fake populism as pandemics.

For starters, there is the testing. A positive test result is indicated by

(a) the talking points or analysis are exclusionary toward one or more social groups that are being "othered" based on any common aspect other than political actions that are unethical by some well-defined criterion; the extent indicates the severity of the symptoms, and

(b) the speaker or commenter is repeating someone else's talking points or writing rather than their own attempts to understand the issue; the extent indicates the degree of infectiousness.

In that testing sense, cancel culture can be seen as a type of supplementary social defense mechanism compared to the standard immune system response of trying to prove the political cult wrong in the eyes of unbiased observers; in too many historical cases, the immune response is weakened by factors such as adverse economic or geopolitical circumstances (e.g., a lost war).

Cancel culture then works as (a) tracking and removal in the form of boycotts and ostracism, in that the infected cells(individuals) are removed from positions of influence, and (b) as a type of lockdown measure (censorship) that is warranted when the infected individual is transmitting patently false versions of current events or past history, and is starting to infect others around him.

I am not in complete agreement with the above political cults-as-pandemics theory, but it has some compelling aspects in exceptional situations. Normally, the political-economic-cultural discourse is sufficiently healthy that the standard "cure for bad speech is more good speech" response is sufficient. Commenters above such as Peter Dorman are assuming that the "body politic" has a healthy and undisrupted immune system, but I would argue that is far from being the case right now; the U.S. is afflicted by oligarchic politics, highly unequal and quasi-feudal economics that make appeals to the free market laughable, and by standard of living deterioration in a large number of inner urban areas as well as mid-tier and small cities. So the patient is immuno-compromised and additional interventions are called for.

As to Peter's argument that cancel culture disfigures the left, I would add that the only cases where the radical left has seized power took place in the brutal aftermath of right-wing pandemics: e.g. the hyper-nationalism that led Germany and Russia among others to war in 1914, or KMT/warlord attempts to violently and brutally suppress peasant demands in the case of China. In such situations, it is no surprise that the radical left becomes infected with political cultism.

The important thing is to know when to apply cancel culture (and other resistance measures including mass disobedience) to left-wing movements that are "infected". Post-1989 Eastern Europe is a good example, though now it is right-wing pandemics that are taking hold. That is, cancel culture is not just for Lost Cause racism and proto-fascism, but for all political movements that cross the border into cultism and "othering".

Aubergine 07.31.20 at 3:14 am ( 50 )

CB:

Much of the pushback against cancel culture has come from prominent journalists and intellectuals who perceive every negative reaction from ordinary people on social media as an affront.

I don't think this is fair. As EB says @22:

The (wealthy, high profile) signers of the Harper's letter were not complaining on their own behalf; they were complaining on behalf of the millions of people with no power or money who are also threatened with mobbing if they voice divergent (not racist, not transphobic, not misogyist) views.

JK Rowling is pretty hard to cancel; she has a mountain of cash, and her books are still selling. But people who don't have a mountain of cash are going to look at examples like children's author Gillian Philip, who appears to have been "let go" by her publisher after being targetted by a cancellation campaign for tweeting "#ISTANDWITHROWLING", and think very carefully about whether they can afford to stick their head over the parapet. Personally, I've made a number of comments on Crooked Timber which I don't think were at all outside the bounds of acceptable discourse – certainly not in the same category as the racist speech you refer to (and at least one moderator must have agreed, because they were posted) – but which I simply couldn't risk making without a pseudonym.

I often detect a bit of motte-and-bailey in the anti-anti-cancel culture argument. The outer bailey is something like "cancel culture isn't the problem it's made out to be; it's just how norms of acceptable behaviour are worked out these days"; the motte is "it's okay to deplatform hardcore racists and holocaust deniers".

Between those two positions there's a large space where people get harassed, threatened, ostracised and silenced for minor slips, reasonable disagreements, details that were lost in translation and failures to recite the correct thought-terminating cliches with sufficient conviction – basically, things that don't threaten anyone else's ability to speak. Often this is done with the assistance of the false-flag social media "activist" accounts that right-wing agitators use to pick away at fault lines on the left.

Even when there are no serious real-world consequences this tends to create a narrow, stifling intellectual environment, which is what a large part of the opposition to "cancel culture" is trying to prevent. You do realise, don't you, that Crooked Timber's willingness to acknowledge heterodox views, on certain subjects, from the broad left puts it radically out of step with most of the "progressive" Western Internet?

(There are other parts where cancel-culture tactics are used against different targets, such as apostates and feminists in general (not just the wrong kind of feminists), which hopefully we can all agree is not good.)

Basically, I don't think it's an adequate response to critique of cancel-culture to pick out the cases where relatively mild tactics were used against acceptable targets, without acknowledging that the critique is much broader than that.

[Aug 01, 2020] Black Lives Matter- An Immodest Suggestion -

Aug 01, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by MN Gordon via EconomicPrism.com,

Where will America's productivity miracle come from?

Public education is not teaching students what they need to know to compete in the global economy.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, math scores of U.S. students rank 30th in the world. The East Asian peers of today's American students will eat their lunch in the growth industries of tomorrow.

Here's where Black Lives Matter has a real opportunity.

The protests. The riots. The calls for reparation payments. Social justice wealth transfers. White privilege taxes. All the nonsense. Where's the strategy? Where's the long-range 'strategery'?

No doubt, those selling BLM T-shirts in Walmart parking lots are exercising gumption. But it's not gonna cut it. Moreover, like bingo winnings, reparation payments will be quickly squandered while the unhappiness remains.

And as far as we can tell the BLM movement is empty of ideas and without direction.

lay_arrow

chubbar , 14 minutes ago

"If BLM was strategic"?????? Holy ****, if they were strategic they'd be making damn sure that testing, like SAT scores, were no longer accepted as proof of accomplishment or learning. Oh, wait?.......

Let's all agree, blacks don't want a "head to head" test, EVER.

I don't give a crap what they say, they don't want to be judged on MERIT, they love the skin color test. That way they can always claim racism instead of ability.

libtears , 40 minutes ago

The BLM Movement is definitely empty of ideas and clear leadership. Their supposed goals are all over the map from day to day. They are rudderless mobs of filthy vagrants and criminal elements make up most of their movement.

What's going on which is credited to BLM has nothing to do with black people for the most part. Commies have co-opted this movement and are engaging in anarchy to take down the system of government. They will do whatever they want at all costs because they believe they have the moral high ground. They are radicals just like people call them.

The best thing that could happen is for these loser mayors and governors to enforce the law against these mobs of filthy scum.

How can you even reason with a mob of idiots that don't even have one, if not a hierarchy of leadership and clear goals that they agree upon?

These people are taking a page out of the Bolshevik book on revolution. And they're much weaker than the Bolsheviks, mentally and physically. One good thump on the head and these b!tches are crying.

The longer the public allows teaching institutions to promote BLM the worse this sh!t is going to get.

...

JaxPavan , 42 minutes ago

The Ford Foundation gave BLM $100 million to engage in terrorism. Who do you think bought all those ultra high end looting vehicles?

quanttech , 39 minutes ago

Indeed, the BLM organization is primarily funded by mostly white-run corporations and foundations. The money rules.

HopefulCynical , 22 minutes ago

And WHO is in control of the Ford Foundtion? WHO?!

[Jul 31, 2020] The Consequences of a Very High Level of Inequality Can Be Fatal

After some level inequality is akin to cancel -- it can destroy the society. In a countries with very high level of inequality the government can't rely on loyalty of people. It also leads to the proliferation of "guard labor" in one form or another.
Just think what it means for the USA counterintelligence now. Add to this the collapse of the neoliberal ideology which also does not help to instill the loyalty.
Jul 31, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
The Consequences of Inequality Can Be Fatal Posted on July 30, 2020 by Yves Smith

Yves here. So many of health costs of inequality are obvious, yet most people seem trained to look past them. And Congress fiddles about a new stimulus package, with the odds of getting it back on track soon not looking very good, while Americans have rent and mortgage payments looming.

By Richard D. Wolff, professor of economics emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a visiting professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University, in New York. Wolff's weekly show, "Economic Update," is syndicated by more than 100 radio stations and goes to 55 million TV receivers via Free Speech TV. His two recent books with Democracy at Work are Understanding Marxism and Understanding Socialism , both available at democracyatwork.info . Produced by Economy for All , a project of the Independent Media Institute

Capitalism, as Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century shows, relentlessly worsens wealth and income inequalities. That inherent tendency is only occasionally stopped or reversed when masses of people rise up against it. That happened, for example, in western Europe and the U.S. during the 1930s Great Depression. It prompted social democracy in Europe and the New Deal in the United States. So far in capitalism's history, however, stoppages or reversals around the world proved temporary. The last half-century witnessed a neoliberal reaction that rolled back both European social democracy and the New Deal. Capitalism has always managed to resume its tendential movement toward greater inequality.

Among the consequences of a system with such a tendency, many are awful. We are living through one now as the COVID-19 pandemic, inadequately contained by the U.S. system, savages Americans of middle and lower incomes and wealth markedly more than the rich.

The rich buy better health care and diets, second homes away from crowded cities, better connections to get government bailouts, and so on. Many of the poor are homeless. Tasteless advice to "shelter at home" is, for them, absurd. Low-income people are often crowded into the kinds of dense housing and dense working conditions that facilitate infection. Poor residents of low-cost nursing homes die disproportionally, as do prison inmates (mostly poor). Pandemic capitalism distributes death in inverse proportion to wealth and income.

Social distancing has destroyed especially low-wage service sector jobs. Rarely did top executives lose their positions, and when they did, they found others. The result is a widened gap between high salaries for some and low or no wages for many. Unemployment invites employers to lower wages for the still employed because they can. Pandemic capitalism has provoked a massive increase in money-creation by central banks. That money fuels rising stock markets and thereby enriches the rich who own most shares. The coincidence of rising stock markets and mass unemployment plus falling wages only adds momentum to worsening inequality.

Unequal economic distributions (of income and wealth) finance unequal political outcomes. Whenever a small minority enjoys concentrated wealth within a society committed to universal suffrage, the rich quickly understand their vulnerability. The non-wealthy majority can use universal suffrage to prevail politically. The majority's political power could then undo the results of the economy including its unequal distribution of income and wealth. The rich corrupt politics with their money to prevent exactly that outcome. Capitalists spend part of their wealth to preserve (and enlarge) all of their wealth.

The rich and those eager to join them in the U.S. dominate within both Republican and Democratic parties. The rich provide most of the donations that sustain candidates and parties, the funding for armies of lobbyists "advising" legislators, the bribes, and many issue-oriented public campaigns. The laws and regulations that flow from Washington, states, and cities reflect the needs and desires of the rich far more than those of the rest of us. The peculiar structure of U.S. property taxes offers an example. In the U.S., property is divided into two kinds: tangible and intangible. Tangible property includes land, buildings, business inventories, automobiles, etc. Intangible property is mostly stocks and bonds. Rich people hold most of their wealth in the form of intangible property. It is thus remarkable that in the U.S., only tangible property is subject to property tax. Intangible property is not subject to any property tax.

The kinds of property (tangible) that many people own get taxed, but the kinds of property (intangible) mostly owned by the richest minority do not get taxed. If you own a house rented to tenants, you pay a property tax to the municipality where the house is located. You also pay an income tax on the received rents to the federal government and likely also the state government where you live. You are thus taxed twice: once on the value of the property you own and once on the income you derive from that property. If you sell a $100,000 house and then buy $100,000 worth of shares, you will owe no property taxes to any level of government in the United States. You will only owe income tax on dividends paid to you on the shares you own. The form of property you own determines whether you pay property tax or not.

This property tax system is excellent for those rich enough to buy significant amounts of shares. The rich used their wealth to get tax laws written that way for them. The rest of us pay more in taxes because the rich pay less. Because the rich save money -- since their intangible property is not taxed -- they have that much more to buy the politicians who secure such a tax system for them. And that tax system worsens inequality of wealth and income.

Unequal economic distributions finance unequal cultural outcomes. For example, the goal of a unifying, democratizing public school system has always been subverted by economic inequality. In general (with few exceptions), the better schools cost more to attend. The tutors needed to help struggling students are affordable for the rich but less so for everyone else. The children of the wealthy get the private schools, books, quiet rooms, computers, educational trips, extra art and music lessons, and virtually everything else needed for higher educational achievement.

Unequal economic distributions finance unequal "natural" outcomes. The U.S. now displays two differently priced foods. Rich people can afford "organic" while the rest of us worry but still buy "conventional" food for budget reasons. Countless studies indicate the dangers of herbicides, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, food processing methods, and additives. Nonetheless, the two-price food system delivers the better, safer food more to the rich than to everyone else. Likewise, the rich buy the safer automobiles, more safely equip their homes, and clean and filter the water they drink and the air they breathe. No wonder the rich live years longer on average than other people. Inequality is often fatal, not just during pandemics.

In ancient Greece, Plato and Aristotle worried about and discussed the threat to community, to social cohesion, posed by inequalities of wealth and income. They criticized markets as institutions because, in their view, markets facilitated and aggravated income and wealth inequalities. But modern capitalism sanctifies markets and has thus conveniently forgotten Plato's and Aristotle's cautions and warnings about markets and inequality.

The thousands of years since Plato and Aristotle have seen countless critiques, reforms, and revolutions directed against wealth and income inequalities. They have rarely succeeded and have even more rarely persisted. Pessimists have responded, as the Bible does, with the notion that "the poor shall always be with us." We rather ask the question: Why did so many heroic efforts at equality fail?

The answer concerns the economic system, and how it organizes the people who work to produce and distribute the goods and services societies depend on. If its economic organization splits participants into a small rich minority and a large non-rich majority, the former will likely be determined to reproduce that organization over time. Slavery (master versus slave) did; feudalism (lord versus serf) did; and capitalism (employer versus employee) does. Inequality in the economy is a root cause contributing to society-wide inequalities.

We might then infer that an alternative economic system based on a democratically organized community producing goods and services -- not split into a dominant minority and a subordinate majority -- might finally end social inequality.


Ignacio , July 30, 2020 at 10:16 am

Wow! I just can say this is very well pointed and that It must be understood we cannot expect empathy from the well off. Even if some are empathic by nature they just cannot see what's really happening given how wide is the rift.

rob , July 30, 2020 at 10:39 am

inequality is a state of nature. blame god .right.
but here in this humanistic creation, we ought not institutionalize inequality.
That is one of the big points of monetary reform.
The current federal reserve system and the banking system ,having control of the "money creation" of this country, PROMOTES wealth inequality.
The nationalization of the fed, and the ending of banks creating money; is the main essence of monetary reform. The people who have been trying to discuss the world with a different ,more equal access to the fiat created "for the people to use, for the economy to function",point to the growth of inequality by the nature of how the system currently is structured. They point to how our money is created and by whom.They point to who gets "the debt"
Some people try to dismiss the 100 year history of the fed promoting inequality as a bug . but how can someone not see it is a feature, The monetary system we have now was created by an act of law. It would be unconstitutional ,if not for the federal reserve act. Allowing the banks to create money.Instead of the congress..as the constitution explicitly stated.
But now, we are no longer a fledgling republic.
The world accepted our fiat, as created by bankers now we ought to create our own money and retire our national debt.Heal ourselves, to lead forward in the future. Time to write a new law .
https://www.congress.gov/bill/112-thcongress/house-bill/2990/text

Anonymous , July 30, 2020 at 10:53 am

Pessimists have responded, as the Bible does, with the notion that "the poor shall always be with us."

The Bible does not say that, it says:

However, there will be no poor among you , since the Lord will surely bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, if only you listen obediently to the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all this commandment which I am commanding you today. Deuteronomy 15:4 [bold added]

But just a few verses later:

For the poor will never cease to be in the land ; therefore I command you, saying, 'You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.' Deuteronomy 15:11 [bold added]

Taken together, these verses are not about the inevitability of poverty but the inevitability of poverty from DISOBEDIENCE to what is being commanded – especially, i suppose, wrt economic justice.

So though we might never completely eliminate poverty, it can certainly be reduced to the extent we are willing to obey – per the Bible.

And as anyone who has read the Old Testament should know, the US is far from obedience wrt economic justice (e.g. Deuteronomy 23:19-20, e.g. Leviticus 25).

Alternate Delegate , July 30, 2020 at 3:39 pm

Yes the Bible most certainly does say that.

Mark 14:7 For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.

Matthew 26:11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.

Anonymous , July 30, 2020 at 4:43 pm

Those statements are indictments of injustice, not excuses for poverty (cf. Deuteronomy 15:4).

TomDority , July 30, 2020 at 1:27 pm

"If you own a house rented to tenants, you pay a property tax to the municipality where the house is located."
the above means that you are already up the income ladder enough to not qualify as being low income _ most of the country is low income since the word Low is comparative – it is comparative to the cost of living –
So the above property tax is paid by the tenant – the carry costs by the tenant and the profit – by the tenant.
So the rent is a high cost of living due to the bidding up or asset inflation that most "investment goes into today"
A key way to reduce inequality is through a tax system that penalizes activities that tend to raise the cost of living – tax heavier the investments that inflate asset prices (assets are things already created).
Taxing something is to put a burden upon an activity
Why we tax labor so much – who knows

Michael Fiorillo , July 30, 2020 at 4:43 pm

The Great Depression of the 1930's prompted social democracy in Europe?

The professor skipped an episode or two there, no?

Susan the other , July 30, 2020 at 2:59 pm

When it comes to the value of money everything is skewed. If Picketty were analyzing money as merely a medium of exchange and not a store of wealth he'd have much less inequity. When the value of money is considered in on-the-ground finance operations "lost opportunity" is considered into the interest rate. Lost opportunity is totally ignored on a human level. You'd think that money itself was a person.

[Jul 30, 2020] Building an Inclusive Post-Pandemic American Workforce by Michele Steeb Michele Steeb

Jul 30, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

>

ll eyes are on the declining number of unemployed. The May and June jobs reports chronicle the reabsorption of 5.3 million who lost their jobs in the COVID-19 pandemic. Twelve million jobs to go to reach pre-pandemic employment.

Yet prior to the pandemic, there were 18 million Americans missing from the economy. These persons were neither employed nor seeking employment -- nor retirees, students or in-home caregivers -- and therefore were excluded from the Bureau of Labor Statistics count of the workforce. In order that America emerge from the pandemic stronger than before, a concerted initiative by federal and state governments to move them back into the economy -- using existing resources -- must begin now.

...

Research on the social determinants of health finds that employment has a very strong correlation with positive health outcomes. To exist as a non-participant in the economy is thus an invitation to dire health outcomes including premature death.

What's more, these individuals are needed as contributors to our national commonweal, fueling increased economic and social progress. And people engaged in productive activities are much less likely to engage in negative and destructive behaviors.

... The USDA's food stamp program has a robustly funded, though underutilized, employment and training grant. States use the excuse of USDA's partial match requirement as a reason to opt out.

[Jul 29, 2020] Meanwhile, great line from an infosec researcher and teacher here in San Francisco about whether university classes will reopen

Jul 29, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Richard Steven Hack , Jul 28 2020 5:39 utc | 122

Meanwhile, great line from an infosec researcher and teacher here in San Francisco about whether university classes will reopen:

Sam Bowne @sambowne Jul 26
Q: "When will this class be offered?" A: "Difficult to say, because there's a critical budget crisis at the college, city, state, and national level, and most if not all the officials at every level appear to be corrupt, incompetent, and insane."

[Jul 26, 2020] Young male tradesmen vs colledge graduates

There might be some extremely smart tradesmen, but exception does not justify the rule. Colledge is a nessesary step for a smart people to mature and obtain a wider worldview as well as some specific skills
Jul 26, 2020 | www.unz.com

Anonymous [194] Disclaimer , says: July 24, 2020 at 5:30 pm GMT

@Supply and Demand

Young male tradesmen I've met are the smartest of the bunch. Most of them have high test scores and could easily go to college, but they see the writing on the wall. They, rightfully, see no point in wasting 4 years of their life for a low paying office job in an environment of outright discrimination. I know several kids that finished highchool in 3 years and are making real money at the age of 18 with no debt involved. They don't have to worry about the system being stacked against them because none of the affirmative action types want to do actual work anyway.

Supply and Demand , says: July 24, 2020 at 7:07 pm GMT
@Anonymous

1. There is no "real money" -- this is all fiat currency and the gravy train is ending very soon.

2. Trump supports H1B visas being extended to "essential trades". These young men will be pushed out of these fields within 3-5 years by Indians and legalized aliens, DACA recpients, etc. My colleagues at my university think tank who advise our Republican Senator on public policy are advocating for explicitly this.

3. Unionized trade workers average between 84-97IQ nationally on the Stanford-Binet test. They are the definition of "Low IQ", which is what I asserted they were.

As the youth would say, "cope".

[Jul 14, 2020] To lose 263,000 hostages in less than one year would be a devastating blow to American diplomacy.

Jul 14, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Jul 13 2020 18:57 utc | 2

Funny how the visa-free map from before the COVID-19 pandemic is roughly equal to the extent of the American Empire itself.

And the loss of foreign students signifies much more than the mere loss of income for the American universities: it also means the loss of grip over the provinces' regional elites.

Most of the foreign students in the USA are sons and daughters of the regional elites. They live the American way of life, get westernized, and go back to their countries (which they will likely rule) with a liberal ideology ingrained in their minds. They are the rough equivalent to what the hostage was during Antiquity. To lose 263,000 hostages in less than one year would be a devastating blow to American diplomacy.

Peter AU1 , Jul 13 2020 19:09 utc | 4

vk

One commenter mentioned a brain drain in relation to foreign students no longer coming to America but I guess the brain drain will occur when out of work professors start heading off to other countries like China in search of work.

[Jul 09, 2020] Who belongs to working class and who to manageria class

I think the difference is owning of stock. If a person owns anough money to maintin the current standard of living without employment this person belong to upper middle class.
In this sense Steven Johnson comment are bunk.
Jul 09, 2020 | crookedtimber.org

Chetan Murthy 07.06.20 at 6:45 am (
48
)

likbez @ 39:

Without working class votes they can't win. And those votes are lost

It's helpful that you told us who you were, in so few words. The Dems didn't lose working-class votes in 2016: the median income of a Hillary voter was less than that of a Trump voter [or maybe it was average? In any case, not much difference.] What the Dems lost, was "white non-college-educated" voters. They retained working class voters of color.

But hey, they don't count as working-class voters to you. Thanks for playing.

MisterMr 07.06.20 at 8:21 am ( 49 )

Two points:

1) White collar are, by definition, working class, because they don't own the means of production. What I see is an opposition between blue collars and white collars, that are two wings of the working class, not that democrats are going against the working class.
For some reason, the main divide in politics today is a sort of culture war, and republicans and other right wing parties managed to present the traditionalist side of the culture war as the "working class" one, and therefore the other side as the evil cosmopolitan prosecco sipping faux leftish but in reality very snobbish one, so that they pretend that they are the working class party because of their traditionalist stance.
But they aren't: already the fact that they blame "cosmopolitans" shows that they think in terms of nationalism (like Trump and his China virus), which is a way to deflect the attention from class conflict.
So comparatively the Dems are still the working class party, and the fact that some working class guys vote for trump sows that they suffer from false consciousness, not that the Dems are too right wing (the dems ARE too right wing, but this isn't the reason some working class guys are voting Trump).

2) Neoliberalism and free markets are not the same thing, and furthermore neoliberalism and capitalism are not the same thing; at most neoliberalism is a form of unadultered capitalism. However since neoliberalism basically means "anti new deal", and new deal economies were still free market and still capitalist (we can call them social democratic, but in this sense social democracy is a form of controlled capitalism), it follows that the most economically succesful form of capitalism and free markets to date is not neoliberalism.

Orange Watch 07.06.20 at 5:40 pm (
59
)

Chetan Murthy@48:

It's helpful that you told us who you were, in so few words. 43% of the US are non-voters. The median household income of non-voters is less than half of the median income of a Clinton voter (which was higher than the overall US median, albeit by less than the Trump median was). Clinton didn't lose in 2016 because of who voted as much as who didn't ; every serious analysis (and countless centrist screeds) since Trump's installation has told us that. Losing the working class doesn't require that the Republicans gain them; if the working class drops out, that shifts the electoral playing field further into the favor of politics who cater to the remaining voting blocks. Democrats playing Republican-lite while mouthing pieties about how they're totally not the party of the rich will always fare worse in that field than Republicans playing Republicans while mouthing pieties about how they ARE the party of the rich, but also of giving everyone a chance to make themselves rich. I know it's been de rigour for both Dems and the GOP to ignore the first half of Clinton's deplorable quote, but it truly was just as important as the half both sides freely remember. The Democrats have become a party of C-suite diversity, and they have abandoned the working class. And when their best pick for President's plenty bold plan for solving police violence is to encourage LEOs to shoot people in the leg instead of the chest (something that could only be said by a grifter or someone with more knowledge of Hollywood than ballistics or anatomy), the prospect of keeping the non-white portions of the working class from continuing to drop out is looking bleak.

MisterMr@49:

The traditional threading of that needle is to expand class-based analysis to more accurately reflect real-world political and economic behavior. In the past (and in some countries who updated the applicable definitions, still), the most relevant additional class was the petty bourgeoisie; in the modern US, however, the concept of the professional-managerial class is the most useful frame of reference.

MisterMr 07.07.20 at 12:06 pm (
76
)

Orange Watch 59

"The traditional threading of that needle is to expand class-based analysis to more accurately reflect real-world political and economic behavior. In the past (and in some countries who updated the applicable definitions, still), the most relevant additional class was the petty bourgeoisie; in the modern US, however, the concept of the professional-managerial class is the most useful frame of reference."

Sure, but one has to adopt a logicwhen building "class" groups. One relrvant dimension is educational attainment, which is IMHO where the "professional-managerial" class comes from.
But, not everyone with a degree is a manager, and "professional" normally implies a level of income that is higher that that of an average rank and file white collar.

So the question is whether this "new class" is really managers, or just white collar workers who work in services instead than in industrial production.
Furthermore, as technology increases, it is natural that a larger share of people will work in services and a smaller share in industry, for the same reason that increased agricultural productivity means less agricultural jobs.

Orange Watch 07.08.20 at 11:01 pm (
105
)

steven t johnson@98:

There are a great many unstated assumptions baked into this comment, but I'll take a shot at a foundational one. You suggest PMC is a distinction without difference vis a vis middle class appears to suggest that you've bought into a commonly accepted "truth" that can't withstand close scrutiny, and your claim that economic status is not a useful distinguisher only further drives it home. What is the cutoff between middle class and rich? I've seen far too many well-educated idiots with professional degrees make ridiculous claims like $150k household income representing a solidly middle-class income. That's in the upper 15% of national incomes, but it's being called middle class. 240% of the national median household income, but it's "middle class". And to pre-empt cost-of-living arguments, it's 175% of the median household income in Manhattan. So when you say PMC is not a useful concept, and that income is not a useful class distinction, I need to ask you where you draw your lines, or if you're asserting that class has no economic aspect at all. If you're arguing that households in the upper quintile and bottom quintile don't have different concerns, outlooks, values, and lifestyles – that someone in either could be working class or middle class (but I assume not upper class? Arguments like what yours appears to be typically don't start the upper class anywhere below the 1% ) is hard to treat as serious. If that is an assertion you'd stand by, what that tells me is that you're using private definitions of working and middle class, and they're essentially unintelligible.

Gorgonzola Petrovna 07.09.20 at 10:13 am (
113
)

@MisterMr
White collar are, by definition, working class, because they don't own the means of production

That's not the definition. For example: despite not owning any means of production, lumpenproletariat is not part of the working class.

What I see is an opposition between blue collars and white collars, that are two wings of the working class

If this is the way you feel, that's fine. It is, however, a controversial view. An alternative (and quite convincing, imo) view is that "white collars" belong to the 'professional-managerial class', with entirely different interests.

Anyhow, a bourgeois democracy (aka 'dictatorship of the bourgeoisie') does not and can not represent interests of the working class; this is indeed "by definition". Any benefits encountered by the working class are coincidental.

And in the current circumstance, the struggle between the remains of domestic bourgeoisie and global finance capitalism, the former faction is definitely – obviously – better aligned with interests of the domestic working class.

Orange Watch 07.08.20 at 11:01 pm (no link)

steven t johnson@98:

There are a great many unstated assumptions baked into this comment, but I'll take a shot at a foundational one. You suggest PMC is a distinction without difference vis a vis middle class appears to suggest that you've bought into a commonly accepted "truth" that can't withstand close scrutiny, and your claim that economic status is not a useful distinguisher only further drives it home. What is the cutoff between middle class and rich? I've seen far too many well-educated idiots with professional degrees make ridiculous claims like $150k household income representing a solidly middle-class income. That's in the upper 15% of national incomes, but it's being called middle class. 240% of the national median household income, but it's "middle class". And to pre-empt cost-of-living arguments, it's 175% of the median household income in Manhattan. So when you say PMC is not a useful concept, and that income is not a useful class distinction, I need to ask you where you draw your lines, or if you're asserting that class has no economic aspect at all. If you're arguing that households in the upper quintile and bottom quintile don't have different concerns, outlooks, values, and lifestyles – that someone in either could be working class or middle class (but I assume not upper class? Arguments like what yours appears to be typically don't start the upper class anywhere below the 1% ) is hard to treat as serious. If that is an assertion you'd stand by, what that tells me is that you're using private definitions of working and middle class, and they're essentially unintelligible.

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

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

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

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

Recalculating Inflation

'Have nots' suffered disproportionately as virus changed buying patterns

https://www.bloomberg.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Smith , 7 months ago

Crazy lady: Math is discriminatory!

Mia Light , 8 months ago (edited)

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

Johnny West , 7 months ago

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

Ruttigorn Logsdon , 7 months ago

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

L0nN13 , 8 months ago

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

Sal Pacheco , 8 months ago

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

Oprah and Michael Jordan are black billionaires , 4 days ago

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

Jewel Heart , 7 months ago

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

Mach 1 , 2 years ago

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

Aric Lyles , 8 months ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anne , June 30, 2020 12:49 pm

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

June 30, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Jun 21, 2020] Do not stop at renaming Berkeley schools; be consistent and rename Yale as it was named after slave trader

Standard "Pot calling cattle black" games played against and again ;-) Berkeley to rename George Washington, Thomas Jefferson schools after Black Lives Matter push - Washington Times
In this Black Maidan or Black bolshevism. And who finance it?
Jun 21, 2020 | www.rt.com

Conservatives got #CancelYale trending on Twitter and targeted liberals like Hillary Clinton in their effort to troll the left, calling for the Ivy League school to change its name because it's named after a slave trader .

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

Jun 21, 2020 | www.rt.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vastydeep , June 18, 2020 at 11:30 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meritocracy's Appeal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gaming Meritocracy

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

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

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

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

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

A Different Elite

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

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

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

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

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

High Moral Ground

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

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

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

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

Reducing Inequality Possible

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

What does a meritocracy look like?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

eg , June 18, 2020 at 5:32 am

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

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

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

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

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

GM , June 18, 2020 at 5:36 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

vlade , June 18, 2020 at 6:02 am

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

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

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

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

Duh.

Franklin , June 18, 2020 at 1:27 pm

How does affirmative action affect meritocracy?

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

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

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

flora , June 18, 2020 at 3:42 pm

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

flora , June 18, 2020 at 3:53 pm

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

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

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

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

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

Alex , June 18, 2020 at 7:08 am

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

GM , June 18, 2020 at 7:24 am

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

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

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

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

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

vlade , June 18, 2020 at 8:25 am

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

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

Kouros , June 18, 2020 at 3:34 pm

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

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

vlade , June 18, 2020 at 8:09 am

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

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

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

Kurtismayfield , June 18, 2020 at 9:41 am

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

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

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

Jesper , June 18, 2020 at 5:42 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

stefan , June 18, 2020 at 6:38 am

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

juliania , June 18, 2020 at 1:08 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is as it should be.

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

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

anon50 , June 18, 2020 at 7:11 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

jake , June 18, 2020 at 8:09 am

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

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

CH , June 18, 2020 at 8:11 am

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

MT_Bill , June 18, 2020 at 9:17 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

rob , June 18, 2020 at 8:31 am

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

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

km , June 18, 2020 at 10:46 am

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

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

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

CuriosityConcern , June 18, 2020 at 8:11 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

shinola , June 18, 2020 at 10:00 am

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

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

Carolinian , June 18, 2020 at 2:11 pm

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

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

Tom , June 18, 2020 at 10:17 am

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

Bufeng , June 18, 2020 at 1:26 pm

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

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

Red , June 18, 2020 at 9:35 pm

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

David , June 18, 2020 at 10:17 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

"fake," not "fact"

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

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

anon50 , June 18, 2020 at 12:58 pm

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

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

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

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

"Meritocracy legitimizes, deepens inequality"

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

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

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

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

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

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

Henry , June 18, 2020 at 10:18 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dave C , 4 days ago

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

Robert Schupp , 4 days ago

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


Dingo Jones
, 3 days ago

@JOHN GAGLIANO Cost of living is ridiculous too.

Dirtysparkles , 4 days ago

Our country has become the American Nightmare

Jean-Pierre S , 4 days ago

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

John Sanders , 3 days ago

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

Adriano de Jesus , 4 days ago

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

Ammon Weser , 4 days ago

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

crazyman8472 , 4 days ago

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

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

-- Watchmen

David Tidwell , 4 days ago

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

D dicin , 4 days ago

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

farber2 , 4 days ago

American trance. The billionaires hypnotized people with this lie.

Michael D , 4 days ago (edited)

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

B Sim , 3 days ago

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

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

Trump has:

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

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

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

Sound Author , 3 days ago

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

Julia Galaudet , 4 days ago

Maybe it's time for a maximum wage.

Scott Clark , 4 days ago

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

Siri Erieott , 4 days ago

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

andrew kubiak , 4 days ago

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

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

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

Krystal Ball exposes the delusion of the American dream.

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

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

Owen Cousino , 4 days ago

Debt-free is the new American dream

poppaDehorn , 4 days ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

@karel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

British empire wasn't run by Indian merchants.

It was run by White British 'gentlemen.'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are companies hesitant to acknowledge their past connections to opium?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jun 16, 2020 | www.unz.com

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

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

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

Jun 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear profs X, Y, Z

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LEEPERMAX , 12 seconds ago

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

seryanhoj , 36 seconds ago

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

1). Using real facts

2). Making logical deductions from the facts

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

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

simpson seers , 36 minutes ago

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

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

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

Aubiekong , 36 minutes ago

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

taketheredpill , 37 minutes ago

Anonymous....

1) Is he really a Professor at Berkeley?

2) Is he really a Professor anywhere?

3) Is he really Black?

4) Is he really a He?

LEEPERMAX , 44 minutes ago

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

CRM114 , 44 minutes ago

I've pointed this out before:

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

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

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

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

taketheredpill , 46 minutes ago

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

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

RATIO. UNARMED.

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

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

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

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

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

UNARMED KILLINGS BY POLICE

UNARMED KILLINGS BY POLICE

YEAR Black Hispanic White

2015 36 19 31

2016 18 9 20

2017 19 12 24

2018(Apr) 7 1 10

2019 15 11 25

YEAR Black Hispanic White

2015 42% 22% 36%

2016 38% 19% 43%

2017 35% 22% 44%

2018(Apr) 39% 6% 56%

2019 29% 22% 49%

AVG 37% 18% 45%

% POPN 13% 16% 72%

ARMED > 18 YRS OLD TOY WEAPON

Black Hispanic White

2019 5 3 11

26% 16% 58%

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

radical-extremist , 47 minutes ago

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

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

Gaius Konstantine , 57 minutes ago

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

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

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

lwilland1012 , 1 hour ago

"Truth is treason in an empire of lies."

George Orwell

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

Ignatius , 1 hour ago

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

PhD thesis, right there. ..

Templar X , 1 hour ago

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

By Craig McCarthy

June 12, 2020 | 12:31pm

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

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

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

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

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

NanoRap , 17 minutes ago

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

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

Yuri Bezmenov

American Psycho , 16 minutes ago

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

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

Jun 13, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

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

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

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

Jun 12, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

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

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

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

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

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

SB 7 hours ago

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

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

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

I'll start the list:

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

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

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

Jun 11, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

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

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

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

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

...

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

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


Tennessee Patriot , 4 minutes ago

Best example I ever heard of describing a graduation ceremony:

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

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

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

Handful of Dust , 1 hour ago

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

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

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

Yen Cross , 1 hour ago

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

Bear , 1 hour ago

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

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

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

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

Harald Uhlig @haralduhlig

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

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

281 people are talking about this

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

Max Auffhammer @auffhammer

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

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

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

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

216 people are talking about this

These are academics.


Jack 19 hours ago

Amy Siskind sounds like a Pol Pot in waiting.

Civis Romanus Sum 19 hours ago

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

Wilfred 18 hours ago

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

Seoulite 18 hours ago

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

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

RBH 18 hours ago • edited

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

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

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

SatirevFlesti 18 hours ago

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

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

Raskolnik 17 hours ago

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

lohengrin 17 hours ago • edited

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

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

Mr. Karamazov 17 hours ago

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

Fyodor D 16 hours ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Simple Things , 5 months ago

Unregulated capitalism? You mean like child labor and passing the hat when a worker dies in an accident? They don't want workers. They want people who are desperate.

Tom Nicholas , 5 months ago

Well, how far it all goes is something that remains to be seen. I don't think we'll get as far as child labour but the curation of dependence is something that's definitely in progress.

memeoverlord 2010 , 5 months ago

They don't want people who are desperate, they want slaves.

Tyler Potts , 4 months ago

Tom Nicholas but if they could they would have kids gigging. The gig economy is a scam, I'd rather pay more for an Uber and have unionized drivers.

Tyler Potts , 4 months ago

Daxton Lyon except the majority of entrepreneurs and business owners didn't come Into their business ownership via merit. You are forgetting that most of these people are born into a situation where they have access to capital, access to legal services and education. Sure there are a minority of people who make it from nothing but that number is diminishingly small.

John Jourdan , 3 months ago

I notice not one of you mentioned immigrants. lol

EYTPS , 2 months ago

Daxton Lyon "You don't like the gig? Do something else." Too bad the economy is currently setup to where around half of individuals are limited to gig and don't have the resources and money to do anything else.

EYTPS , 2 months ago

Daxton Lyon "If any of you did, your panzy responses regarding corporate greed would be squashed!" No, they wouldn't, but keep performing those red herrings and hasty, extremely-worshipping generalizations about entrepreneurship to distract from the point; I'm sure they'll catch on.

Justin Goretoy , 5 months ago

Neoliberalism is the religious belief that markets are magical and will regulate themselves.

User Name , 4 months ago

The gig economy would be great if we lived in a society where health care is free, food is cheap, housing is common, and nobody suffers from economic Issues Which is not what we are living in

memeoverlord 2010 , 5 months ago

Neo-liberals - we support freedom and stuff. Removes mask Is actually corporation lapdogs.

[Jun 02, 2020] Don't understand the protests? What you're seeing is people pushed to the edge

Jun 02, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

  1. anne , May 31, 2020 4:48 pm

    https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-05-30/dont-understand-the-protests-what-youre-seeing-is-people-pushed-to-the-edge

    May 30, 2020

    Don't understand the protests? What you're seeing is people pushed to the edge
    By KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR – Los Angeles Times

    What was your first reaction when you saw the video of the white cop kneeling on George Floyd's neck while Floyd croaked, "I can't breathe"?

    If you're white, you probably muttered a horrified, "Oh, my God" while shaking your head at the cruel injustice. If you're black, you probably leapt to your feet, cursed, maybe threw something (certainly wanted to throw something), while shouting, "Not @#$%! again!" Then you remember the two white vigilantes accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery as he jogged through their neighborhood in February, and how if it wasn't for that video emerging a few weeks ago, they would have gotten away with it. And how those Minneapolis cops claimed Floyd was resisting arrest but a store's video showed he wasn't. And how the cop on Floyd's neck wasn't an enraged redneck stereotype, but a sworn officer who looked calm and entitled and devoid of pity: the banality of evil incarnate.

    Maybe you also are thinking about the Karen in Central Park who called 911 claiming the black man who asked her to put a leash on her dog was threatening her. Or the black Yale University grad student napping in the common room of her dorm who was reported by a white student. Because you realize it's not just a supposed "black criminal" who is targeted, it's the whole spectrum of black faces from Yonkers to Yale.

    You start to wonder if it should be all black people who wear body cams, not the cops.

    What do you see when you see angry black protesters amassing outside police stations with raised fists? If you're white, you may be thinking, "They certainly aren't social distancing." Then you notice the black faces looting Target and you think, "Well, that just hurts their cause." Then you see the police station on fire and you wag a finger saying, "That's putting the cause backward."

    You're not wrong -- but you're not right, either. The black community is used to the institutional racism inherent in education, the justice system and jobs. And even though we do all the conventional things to raise public and political awareness -- write articulate and insightful pieces in the Atlantic, explain the continued devastation on CNN, support candidates who promise change -- the needle hardly budges.

    But COVID-19 has been slamming the consequences of all that home as we die at a significantly higher rate than whites, are the first to lose our jobs, and watch helplessly as Republicans try to keep us from voting .

Bert Schlitz , May 31, 2020 7:14 pm

The protests are self centered crap blacks do year after year. Considering 370 whites over 100 Latinos were killed by cops, many as bad as that guy in minnie. Blacks have a Trumptard mentality. We have a ecological disaster, a economic disaster and pandemic(when th they are spreading). Yet let's whine about one bad cop related homicide.

This may begin the breakup of the Democratic party and the blacks. The differences are just to large.

Kaleberg , May 31, 2020 9:40 pm

It's rather sad that it takes a massive civil disturbance to get the authorities to arrest a man videotaped killing another. You'd think that would just happen as a matter of course, but that's how it works in this country.

Denis Drew , June 1, 2020 10:17 am

THE WAY BACK -- THE ONLY WAY BACK -- BOTH ECONOMICALLY AND POLITICALLY (pardon me if I take up a lot of space -- almost everyone else has said most of what they want to say)

EITC shifts only 2% of income while 40% of American workers earn less that what we think the minimum wage should be -- $15/hr.
http://fortune.com/2015/04/13/who-makes-15-per-hour/

The minimum wage itself should only mark the highest wage that we presume firms with highest labor costs can pay* -- like fast food with 25% labor costs. Lower labor cost businesses -- e.g., retail like Walgreens and Target with 10-15% labor costs can potentially pay north of $20/hr; Walmart with 7% labor costs, $25/hr!

That kind of income can only be squeezed out of the consumer market (meaning out of the consumer) by labor union bargaining.

Raise fast food wages from $10/hr to $15/hr and prices go up only a doable 12.5%. Raise Walgreens, Target from $10/hr to $20/hr and prices there only go up a piddling 6.25%. Keeping the math easy here -- I know that Walgreens and Target pay more to start but that only reinforces my argument about how much labor income is being left on the (missing) bargaining table.

Hook up Walmart with 7% labor costs with the Teamsters Union and the wage and benefit sky might be the limit! Don't forget (everybody seems to) that as more income shifts to lower wage workers, more demand starts to come from lower wage workers -- reinforcing their job security as they spend more proportionately at lower wage firms (does not work for low wage employees of high end restaurants -- the exception that actually proves the rule).

Add in sector wide labor agreements and watch Germany appear on this side of the Atlantic overnight.
* * * * * *

If Republicans held the House in the last (115th) Congress they would have passed HR2723-Employee Rights Act -- mandating new union recertification/decertification paper ballots in any bargaining unit that has had experienced "turnover, expansion, or alteration by merger of unit represented employees exceeding 50 percent of the bargaining unit" by the date of the enactment -- and for all time from thereafter. Trump would have signed it and virtually every union in the country would have experienced mandated recert/decert votes in every bargaining unit.
https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2723/text

Democrats can make the most obvious point about what was lacking in the Republican bill by pretending to be for a cert/recert bill that mandates union ballots only at places where there is no union now. Republicans jumping up and down can scream the point for us that there is no reason to have ballots in non union places and not in unionized workplaces -- and vice versa.
* * * * * *

Biggest problem advocating the vastly attractive and all healing proposal of federally mandated cert/recert/decert elections seems to be that nobody will discuss it as long as nobody else discusses it -- some kind of innate social behavior I think, from deep in our (pea sized) midbrains. How else can you explain the perfect pitch's neglect. I suspect that if I waved a $100 bill in front of a bunch of progressives and offered it to the first one would say the words out loud: "Regularly scheduled union elections are the only way to restore shared prosperity and political fairness to America", that I might not get one taker. FWIW.

Another big problem when I try to talk to workers about this on the street -- just to get a reaction -- is that more than half have no idea in the world what unions are all about. Those who do understand, think the idea so sensible they often think action must be pending.

Here is Andrew Strom's take:
https://onlabor.org/why-not-hold-union-representation-elections-on-a-regular-schedule/

[see just below for last link -- can't lay more than three at a time :-)]

Denis Drew , June 1, 2020 10:17 am

*1968 federal minimum was $12/hr – indicating that consumer support was there at half today's per capita income.
https://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl?cost1=1.60&year1=196801&year2=202001

rick shapiro , June 1, 2020 10:46 am

econ101 should tell you that the eitc is a subsidy to the corporations that hire droves of low-paid workers, with meagre spillover to the workers themselves. More effective and persistent improvements to social justice would come from significant increases to the minimum wage, societal support to unionization, and other efforts to increase the threshold of what is considered by society to be the bare minimum of compensation for work.
The concomitant decline in the value of the dollar and the terms of trade would be small compared to the reduction in inequality.

Bernard , June 1, 2020 5:21 pm

such a third world country as America , riots are the only way to get heard for some. the Elite have been looting us blind for decades, the Covid bail outs to Corporations by the Elites in DC as the latest installment of Capitalist theft know as Business as Usual.
it's all about the money.
sick,sick country praising capitalism over everything else.
the comfortable white people are afraid of losing what they have. Divide and Conquer is the Republican and now Democratic way they run America.

to the rich go the spoils. the rest, well. screw them .

the Lee Atwater idea to use coded language when St. Reagan implemented the destruction of America society, coincided with St. Thatcher's destruction of England.

the White elites post Civil War in the South knew how to divide the poor whites and the poor blacks.

that is how we got to where we are now.

Did you see any of the bankers go to jail for the 2008 ripoff?
not one and they got bonuses for their "deeds."

America, such a nation of Grifters, Thieves and Scam artist. like Pelosi , McConnel and all the people in DC and the Business men who sold out our country and the American people for "small change".

God forbid Corporations should ever have to pay for the damage they have done to America and its" people. My RIGHT to Greed trumps your right to clean air, water, safe neighborhoods, says Capitalism!

the Rich get richer and the poor get poorer, Everybody Knows!!!

But let's not focus on things lest some uncomfortable truths.

and wonder why riots happen, Not at All!

[Jun 02, 2020] So we're going to tell our soldiers that we're redeploying them from the Middle East to the midwest? What do we think they're going to say, 'yeah, sure, no problem?' Guess again."

Trump's threat to deploy the military here is an excessive and dangerous one. Mark Perry reports on the reaction from military officers to the president's threat:
Jun 02, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Senior military officer on Trump statement: "So we're going to tell our soldiers that we're redeploying them from the Middle East to the midwest? What do we think they're going to say, 'yeah, sure, no problem?' Guess again."

-- Mark Perry (@markperrydc) June 2, 2020

Earlier in the day yesterday, audio has leaked in which the Secretary of Defense referred to U.S. cities as the "battlespace." Separately, Sen. Tom Cotton was making vile remarks about using the military to give "no quarter" to looters. This is the language of militarism.

It is a consequence of decades of endless war and the government's tendency to rely on militarized options as their answer for every problem. Endless war has had a deeply corrosive effect on this country's political system: presidential overreach, the normalization of illegal uses of force, a lack of legal accountability for crimes committed in the wars, and a lack of political accountability for the leaders that continue to wage pointless and illegal wars. Now we see new abuses committed and encouraged by a lawless president, but this time it is Americans that are on the receiving end. Trump hasn't ended any of the foreign wars he inherited, and now it seems that he will use the military in an llegal mission here at home.

Megan San hour ago

The military is the only American institution that young people still have any real degree of faith in, it will be interesting to see the polls when this is all over with.

[Jun 02, 2020] Cornel West America Is A Failed Social Experiment, Neoliberal Wing Of Democratic Party Must Be Fought

See also End of empire Blueprint or scramble — RT Renegade Inc. Of the many important interviews you've done, this is one of the most important and best.
Notable quotes:
"... our culture so market-driven, everybody for sale, everything for sale, you can't deliver the kind of really real nourishment for soul, for meaning, for purpose. ..."
"... The system cannot reform itself. We've tried black faces in high places ..."
"... You've got a neoliberal wing of the Democratic party that is now in the driver's seat with the collapse of brother Bernie and they really don't know what to do because all they want to do is show more black faces -- show more black faces. ..."
"... So when you talk about the masses of black people, the precious poor and working-class black people, brown, red, yellow, whatever color, they're the ones left out and they feel so thoroughly powerless, helpless, hopeless, then you get rebellion. ..."
May 29, 2020 | www.realclearpolitics.com
Dr. Cornel West said on Friday we are witnessing the failed social experiment that is the United States of America in the protests and riots that have followed the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. West told CNN host Anderson Cooper that what is going on is rebellion to a failed capitalist economy that does not protect the people. West, a professor, denounced the neoliberal wing of the Democratic party that is all about "black faces in high places" but not actual change. The professor remarked even those black faces often lose legitimacy because they ingriatiate themselves into the establishment neo-liberal Democratic party.

"I think we are witnessing America as a failed social experiment," West said. "What I mean by that is that the history of black people for over 200 and some years in America has been looking at America's failure, its capitalist economy could not generate and deliver in such a way people can live lives of decency. The nation-state, it's criminal justice system, it's legal system could not generate protection of rights and liberties."

From commentary delivered on CNN Friday night:

DR. CORNEL WEST: And now our culture so market-driven, everybody for sale, everything for sale, you can't deliver the kind of really real nourishment for soul, for meaning, for purpose.

So when you get this perfect storm of all these multiple failures at these different levels of the American empire, and Martin King already told us about that...

The system cannot reform itself. We've tried black faces in high places. Too often our black politicians, professional class, middle class become too accommodated to the capitalist economy, too accommodated to a militarized nation-state, too accommodated to the market-driven culture of celebrities, status, power, fame, all that superficial stuff that means so much to so many fellow citizens.

And what happens is we have a neofascist gangster in the White House who doesn't care for the most part. You've got a neoliberal wing of the Democratic party that is now in the driver's seat with the collapse of brother Bernie and they really don't know what to do because all they want to do is show more black faces -- show more black faces.

But often times those black faces are losing legitimacy too because the Black Lives Matter movement emerged under a black president, a black attorney general, and a black Homeland Security [Secretary] and they couldn't deliver.

So when you talk about the masses of black people, the precious poor and working-class black people, brown, red, yellow, whatever color, they're the ones left out and they feel so thoroughly powerless, helpless, hopeless, then you get rebellion.

... ...

[Jun 02, 2020] There is increasing evidence that certain gangs and other nefarious outside agitators are engaged in deliberate property damage and vandalism during the recent protests against police brutality--demonstrating that they are trying to hijack these protests

Organized crime in the USA is not a myth and its connections to law enforcement also is not a myth. They are ideal provocateurs for riots. Also they want their piece of action too ;-)
Jun 02, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
ak74 , Jun 2 2020 0:49 utc | 132
News Flash!!!

There is increasing evidence that certain gangs and other nefarious outside agitators are engaged in deliberate property damage and vandalism during the recent protests against police brutality--demonstrating that they are trying to hijack these protests and are not sincerely concerned about the issue of racism against African Americans/minorities in the US or police repression.

I wonder if William Barr or the American Regime will now finally declare these groups as "terrorists"?

Police at Protests All Over the Country Caught Destroying Property

https://libya360.wordpress.com/2020/06/01/police-at-protests-all-over-the-country-caught-destroying-property/

[Jun 02, 2020] Two goons who work at a fancy nightclub (aka Mob Headquarters) and one ends up dead. Smells like a mob hit; ordered and paid for by who is the right question

Jun 02, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Trailer Trash , Jun 1 2020 19:10 utc | 37

It is my informal observation that riots tend to collapse from exhaustion after about three days. That's not happening this time, as every new day sees more and more house arrest orders (called "curfew", a nice antiseptic term) across the country.

Current events bring to mind the 1933 failed fascist coup d'etat exposed by General Smedley "War is a Racket" Butler. Instead of organizing half a million war veterans by the VFW, today's "Business Plot" organizers would have at their disposal one million already trained and equipped paramilitary police forces.

In such a scenario there is no reason for local cops to know who is pulling strings; all they have to do is follow orders, which they are more than willing to do, especially with commanders giving them football-style pep talks before going out to break heads.

It's well-documented that the spooks have been trying to get rid of Trump since the election, first with "Russia-gate", then arresting and/or driving out all his trusted staff, then the impeachment. Why should anyone think the spooks have given up? How many times did they try to kill Castro?

If the idea that a spook-led coup d'etat is in progress really has merit (I have "medium confidence"), it will be enforced by the police, not the Army or even National Guard units. So far, Guard units have not fired on protesters and many are not armed. I strongly suspect the army is not reliable, and commanders know it :

In Denver, Guard troops are carrying nonlethal weapons, including batons, tasers, and pepper spray. "They were fully embedded with Denver PD," said Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael Loh, Colorado's adjutant general. "The Denver police chief Paul Pazen said if we have to use deadly force and I want my police officers to do it , and I want you to be in support."

National Guard are recruited with boatloads of TV ads all promoting how Guardsmen are used to help their neighbors during natural disasters. Those ads never feature Guardsmen facing down or shooting angry protesters, and Guardsmen want to believe they are there "to help". The police, however, are under no such illusions and affirm their willingness to kill civilians every time they strap on their side-arm.

If Guardsmen get itchy trigger fingers and shoot civilians without orders, well that just happens sometimes, not a big deal. But if commanders give the order to shoot and they don't, that is a huge crisis which I assume commanders would want to avoid.

--------
From the BBC timeline :

During this attempt [to put Floyd in the patrolcar], at 20:19, Mr Chauvin pulled Mr Floyd out of the passenger side, causing him to fall to the ground, the report said.

He lay there, face down, still in handcuffs.

This suggests he was pulled out of the car by Chauvin for the express purpose of killing him. His cool demeanor is striking. He knows he is openly killing Floyd while being filmed but remains confident he is protected.

Two goons who work at a fancy nightclub (aka Mob Headquarters) and one ends up dead. Smells like a mob hit; ordered and paid for by who is the right question.


Alpi , Jun 1 2020 20:28 utc | 55

The death of George Floyd was ruled a HOMICIDE by independent autopsy.

https://www.rt.com/usa/490441-george-floyd-died-asphyxia-neck/

This report, combined with the fact that Derek Chauvin knew and worked with the victim, makes this homicide premeditated or at the very least a 2nd degree murder.

The fact that the other officers did not intervene makes them complicit in the act and should be brought up on manslaughter charges and accessory to commit murder.

Charging the other officers will help slightly in tamping down the riots, although it may be too late. The wheels have been placed in motion and this is morphing into something bigger than George Floyd.

RJPJR , Jun 1 2020 20:33 utc | 57
Look closely at the film of the end of the murder when the ambulance came for the victim:

https://twitter.com/littllemel/status/1266393141906726912

First responders immediately examine the victim for any signs of life, and they come prepared with equipment to resuscitate the victim if possible. Not these men.

They got out of the ambulance and moved in fast, picked up his body like it was a huge sack of potatoes, and THREW him on to the gurney. Obviously, they knew that he was dead, knew that he was supposed to be dead.

They were NOT first responders in any sense, but openly armed and uniformed policemen.

Consider...

[Jun 02, 2020] As the world watches the US being confronted with massive riots, looting, chaos and heightened violence, US officials, instead of reflecting on the systematic problems in their society that led to such a crisis, have returned to their old 'blame game' against left-wingers, 'fake news' media and 'external forces....

Jun 02, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Jun 1 2020 17:14 utc | 15

It's True how this analysis sees and describes what's occurring within the Outlaw US Empire, more than validating Cornel West's assessment, except it misses the major component--Class--while seeing lizard's list:

"As the world watches the US being confronted with massive riots, looting, chaos and heightened violence, US officials, instead of reflecting on the systematic problems in their society that led to such a crisis, have returned to their old 'blame game' against left-wingers, 'fake news' media and 'external forces....'

"[O]bservers see a weak, irresponsible and incompetent leadership navigating the country into a completely opposite direction, with all-out efforts to deflect public attention from its own failure.

"Mass protests erupted in a growing numbers of cities in the US over the weekend, and at least 40 cities have imposed curfews, while the National Guard has been activated in 14 states and Washington DC, according to US media reports ... [P]rotests across the country continued into a sixth straight night.

"More Americans have slammed the US president for inciting hatred and racism, and US officials, who turn a blind eye to the deep-seated issues in American society, including racial injustice, economic woes and the coronavirus pandemic, began shifting the blame to the former US president, extremists, and China for inflaming the social unrests."

Blaming Chinese, Russians and/or Martians isn't going to help Trump. Without doing a thing, Biden has risen to a lead of 8-10% in the most recent polling. Trumps many mistakes have dug him a hole that now seems to be collapsing in upon him. He's cursed worse than Midas as everything he attempts turns out a big negative and only worsens the situation.

[Jun 02, 2020] How you define "oppression" ?

Jan 03, 2020 | crookedtimber.org

soru 12.31.19 at 6:39 pm 21 ( 21 )

The problem is in how you define "oppression".

For example if you take a marxian definition of l class, it means people who don't own the means of production, that easily means the bottom 80% of the population. However a large part of this group is usually considered middle class, and is not really seen as oppressed.

I don't think this is right; unlike 'exploited', Marx doesn't use the word 'oppression' in any technical or unusual way, just in it's usual sense.

So a prosperous middle class person in a liberal democracy is not oppressed. A Marxist would merely point out that they would be in a more capitalist society; one without a universal franchise that requires the rich to seek political allies.

people of the working class don't feel they are working class, but rather identify as blue collars

If you look into the actual details of vote tallies; you find more or less the precise opposite. There are a key block of people who, objectively speaking, earn most of their income from stocks that they own, in the form of pension funds. Up until recently, this block was the victim of false consciousness; they identified as something like 'blue collar', based on the jobs they used to do, and the communities they they used to belong to. As of the last few elections, political activity by the Republicans and Tories has managed to overcome that, so they now vote based on their objective class interests. Those who rely on a small lump of capital have mostly the same class interests as those in possession of more; fewer environmental regulations, lower minimum wages, and so forth.

Meanwhile, most of the current working class don't get to vote, because they lack citizenship in the countries in question.

[Jun 01, 2020] Riots underline the need for systemic social change. An end to vulture capitalism which has caused most of the problems associated with extreme income inequity.

Jun 01, 2020 | www.unz.com

Nancy O'Brien Simpson , says: Show Comment June 1, 2020 at 2:09 pm GMT

@mark green It is interesting how both sides think they know the other side. Liberals think that Deplorables are redneck Nascar people with zero education. Rightists think the left are deluded commie pinkos, radical queers and pink pussy hatted idiots.

To help with your education I have protested the death of George Floyd in Cincinnati for two days. The protests were mostly young persons and half were white. About two thousand were in our park yesterday to hear speeches. The speeches were about systemic social change. An end to vulture capitalism which has caused most of the problems associated with extreme income inequity.

Also, an end to the endless insane wars fought for profit and American hegemony in places we do not belong. No one is horrified at the violence, we are surprised it did not begin sooner. Desperate people act in desperate ways. The system needs to change.

[Jun 01, 2020] Class struggle and the reaction of the neoliberal society to riots in the USA

Notable quotes:
"... It's also true that the oligarchy will continue to preserve the system it's created in the U.S. through all available means, using its militarized police forces as its loyal street level enforcers. Change would happen very quickly if enough police turned and join with the "mobs". ..."
Jun 01, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

by lizard

hauled from a comment

I think this relevant to how fractured the discourse is. it's a repost from my litter watering hole.

I know it's going to be difficult to accept what I'm about to say because people get very invested in their chosen narratives, but it's important that you at least be exposed to the notion that it's all true.

It's true that now is the time to realize what's at stake, but instead of acting collectively for our mutual benefit, the cognitive challenge of accepting that all these things can be true at the same time will keep us tied to one of these things to the exclusion of all the others.

It's hard work, I know. But I have faith in you.

Posted by b on June 1, 2020 at 16:08 UTC | Permalink

this analysis sees and describes what's occurring within the Outlaw US Empire, more than validating Cornel West's assessment, except it misses the major component--Class--while seeing lizard's list:

"As the world watches the US being confronted with massive riots, looting, chaos and heightened violence, US officials, instead of reflecting on the systematic problems in their society that led to such a crisis, have returned to their old 'blame game' against left-wingers, 'fake news' media and 'external forces....'

"[O]bservers see a weak, irresponsible and incompetent leadership navigating the country into a completely opposite direction, with all-out efforts to deflect public attention from its own failure.

"Mass protests erupted in a growing numbers of cities in the US over the weekend, and at least 40 cities have imposed curfews, while the National Guard has been activated in 14 states and Washington DC, according to US media reports ... [P]rotests across the country continued into a sixth straight night.

"More Americans have slammed the US president for inciting hatred and racism, and US officials, who turn a blind eye to the deep-seated issues in American society, including racial injustice, economic woes and the coronavirus pandemic, began shifting the blame to the former US president, extremists, and China for inflaming the social unrests."

Blaming Chinese, Russians and/or Martians isn't going to help Trump. Without doing a thing, Biden has risen to a lead of 8-10% in the most recent polling. Trumps many mistakes have dug him a hole that now seems to be collapsing in upon him. He's cursed worse than Midas as everything he attempts turns out a big negative and only worsens the situation.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 1 2020 17:14 utc | 15

It's also true that the oligarchy will continue to preserve the system it's created in the U.S. through all available means, using its militarized police forces as its loyal street level enforcers. Change would happen very quickly if enough police turned and join with the "mobs". Otherwise any positive change in the prevailing structure will be extremely incremental if at all, and will be resisted at every level until it collapses because there is nothing left worth to exploit.

Posted by: krypton | Jun 1 2020 17:24 utc | 18


Posted by: Noirette | Jun 1 2020 17:26 utc | 19

Imho the present protests, social 'unrest,' in the USA will just die out as usual, nothing will be accomplished - what are the politcal demands? zero.. - on to the next chapter of misery and oppression.

Posted by: Noirette | Jun 1 2020 17:26 utc | 19

Indeed, and there was no other goal by stirring up these protest to the public murder of Floyd in plain daylight, after decades of deideologization of the US masses by brainwashing through US education system, TV, Hollywood, and so on.

Provocate the poor masses to find no way than to emotionally revolt through a brute action broadcasted to the four corners of the US through the media, to then show the rightful protesters as disorganized anarchist riotters without any vison or idea ( with unestimable help by white supremacists and cops infiltrated, and even by rich blonde boys stealing surf boards as if there was no tomorrow...)so as to show the middle and upper classes that this will be the aspect of the country in case socialist policies would be put in practice. This is to appeal once again, and possibly the last one, to the greedy individualist allegevd "winner" to once more vote against its own interest, as after the elections all what would not be looted by the poor would be looted by the state. Then it will come the gnashing of teeth and regrets on not having suppoorted those poor people when they were being murdered in the streets.

But, may be, some would even be grateful of being quirurgically robed by the state ( thorugh their bank accounts and propieties value going down the hole...) instead of by these obviously majority of needed people....needed at least of respect....

Posted by: H.Schmatz | Jun 1 2020 17:42 utc | 20

"Antifa" only shows up and exists when it is needed, then magically disappears; same as Ali Queada and ISIS ...

This!

<> <> <> <> <>

Reposting my earlier comment on the Open Thread:

ZH reports that 6 people have died in the protests. Dozens of protesters and police have been injured. Tens of millions of dollars in property damage, police overtime, and cost of the likely spread of coronavirus ('second wave' now being blamed on the protesters).

All because the authorities will not appropriately charge the killers of George Floyd.

Instead, Trump and MSM turn the focus to "antifa". How convenient. MSM says nothing of the killing of 26-year old Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia weeks before and the attempted cover-up of his killing.

How many more have to die before the authorities act appropriately? How much more destruction and silent spread of coronavirus?

<> <> <> <> <>

The protesters say that a manslaughter charge against Chauvin is an injustice. Chauvin was a veteran officer who KNEW WHAT HE WAS DOING when he remained on Floyd for more than 3 minutes after he had become non-responsive.

The protesters say that the other officers are accessories to murder because they did nothing to stop it.

Every reasonable person understands that the protesters have valid points. I would say that there's a consensus that Chauvin should be charged with Second-degree murder and the other officers charged as accessories. But the authorities drag their feet - while America burns.

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jun 1 2020 17:44 utc | 21

Posted by: Lozion | Jun 1 2020 17:49 utc | 22

a)refrain from looting and that specifically the the small properties is a stupidity that will backfire quickly!
b) the demonstrations leaders must organize their own security
squads to prevent provocateurs from outside.
Fm these tasks the 1st one is rather difficult to reach, yes.The second one is much easier.

Posted by: augusto | Jun 1 2020 16:43 utc | 6

[Jun 01, 2020] It didn't happen overnight

Jun 01, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

Dan Crawford | May 31, 2020 9:12 am

US/Global Economics by Ken Melvin

3 rd World

--

It didn't happen overnight.

The nightly news, when talking about the effect of the pandemic on the populace in, say, Southeast Asian, African, South American, countries, invariably refer to the tenuous hold on life of their working poor; they don't really have a job. Each day they rise and go forth looking for work that pays enough that they and their family can continue to subsist. It is, in some countries, a long-standing problem.

Sound too familiar? Sometime in the late 80s (??) Americans began to see day labors line up at Home Depot and Lowe's lots in numbers not seen since The Great Depression. Manufacturing Corporations began subbing out their work to sub-contractors, otherwise known as employees without benefits; Construction Contractors subbed out construction work to these employees without benefits; Engineering Firms subbed out engineering to these employees without benefits; Landscapers' workers were now sub-contractors/independent contractors; Here, in the SF Bay Area, time and again, we saw vans loads of undocumented Hispanics under a 'Labor Contractor' come in from the Central Valley to build condos; the white Contractor for the project didn't have a single employee; none of the workers got a W-2. Recall watching, sometime in the 90s (??), a familiar, well dressed, rotund guest from Wall Street, on the PBS News Hour, forcefully proclaiming to the TV audience:

American workers are going to have to learn to compete with the Chinese; Civil Service employees, factory employees, are all going to have to work for less

All this subcontracting, independent contractors, was a scam, a scam meant to circumvent paying going wages and benefits, to enhance profit margins; a scam that transferred more wealth to the top. Meanwhile back at The Ranch, after the H1B Immigration Act of 1990, Microsoft could hire programmers from India for one-half the cost of a citizen programmer. Half of Bill Gates' fortune was resultant these labor savings; the other half was made off those not US Citizens. Taking a cue, Banks, Bio-Techs, some City and State Governments began subcontracting out their programming to H1Bs. Often, the subcontractors/labor contractors (often themselves immigrants) providing the programmers, held the programmers' passports/visas for security.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, friends of Bush/Cheney made fortunes on clean up contracts they subbed out for next to nothing; the independent/subcontractor scam was now officially governmentally sanctioned.

By about 2000 we began to hear the term gig-workers applied to these employees without benefits. Uber appeared in 2007 to be followed by Lift. Both are scams based on paying less than prevailing wages, on not providing worker benefits,

These days, the nightly news, when talking about the effect of the pandemic on the populace in America, shows footage of Food Banks in California with lines 2! miles long. Many of those waiting in these lines didn't have a real job before; they were gig-workers; they can't apply for Unemployment Benefits. It is estimated that 1.6 million American workers (1% of the workforce) are gig-workers; they don't have a real job. That 1% is in addition to the 16 million American workers (10% of the workforce) that are independent contractors. Of the more than 40 million currently unemployed Americans, some 17 million are either gig-workers or subcontractors/independent contractors. All of these are scams meant to transfer more wealth to the top. All of these are scams with American Workers the victims; scams, in a race to the bottom.


Denis Drew , May 31, 2020 10:51 am

Ken,

Read this by the SEIU counsel Andrew Strom -- and tell me what you think:
https://onlabor.org/why-not-hold-union-representation-elections-on-a-regular-schedule/

Democrats in the so called battle ground states would clean up at the polls with this. Why do you think those states strayed? It was because Obama and Hillary had no idea what they really needed. Voters had no idea what they SPECIFICALLY needed either -- UNIONS! They had been deunionized so thoroughly for so long that they THEMSELVES no long knew what they were missing (frogs in the slowly boiling pot).

In 1988 Jesse Jackson took the Democratic primary in Michigan with 54% against Dukakis and Gephardt. Obama beat Wall Street Romney and red-white-and-blue McCain in Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan. But nobody told these voters -- because nobody seems to remember -- what they really needed. These voter just knew by 2016 that Democrats had not what they needed and looked elsewhere -- anywhere else!

Strom presents an easy as can be, on-step-back treatment that should go down oh, so smoothly and sweetly. What do you think?

  • Matthew young , May 31, 2020 10:51 am

    Not overnight, but a few days in 1972 when Nixon fouled the defaults and none of us knew how badly at the time.

    Reseting prices takes a long time, it is not magic and Nixon had fouled the precious metals market, overnight. That and all the commodities market needed a restructure to adapt to our new regime.

    Our way out was to export price instability to Asia. My suggestion this time is to think through the math a bit before we all suddenly freak and do another over nighter. Think about how one might spread the partial default over a 15 year period.

    All of us, stuck with 40 years of flat earth economic planning without a clue. Now we have a year at best to nail down the Lucas criteria and get a default done with some science behind it.

    I doubt it. I figure we will all go to monetary meetup with our insurance contracts ready to be confirmed. That is impossible and Trump will be stuck doing a volatile, overnight partial default, like Nixon.,

  • EMichael , May 31, 2020 12:02 pm

    Dennis,

    The states you mentioned have overwhelmingly voted Rep for the last 3 decades in their state races. One of them has instituted right to work laws, and the other two have come very close to doing the same.

    The white working class cares nothing about unions at all. They have been voting against them for decades. It's why union rights and membership has deteriorated for 5 decades.

    run75441 , May 31, 2020 12:32 pm

    EM:

    Notably, I had posted the 2016 presidential election numbers numbers for MI, PA, and WI which resulted in an "anyone but Trump or Clinton vote" and gave th election to Trump. The "anyone but Trump or Clinton vote" resulted in a historical high for the "others" category and was anywhere from 3 to 6 times higher than previously experienced in other presidential elections. It also resulted in those three states casting Electoral votes for a Republican presidential candidate since 1992 – MI, 1988 – PA, and 1988 – WI. While this does defeat your comment above on those states voting Republican, it does not take away from your other comment on Sarandon. People punished themselves with Trump in spite of every obvious clue he demonstrated of being a loon. In this case the white working class voted against themselves for Trump and those of Sarandon's ilk helped them along by voting for "others."

  • EMichael , May 31, 2020 12:45 pm

    Run, I stated in "state elections".

    Y'know one other thing I have seen in MI voting is that the amount of people who voted did not cast a voted for President also was the highest ever. Thinking these are the same people like Sarandon. It was close to 90,000 in MI.

    "87,810: Number of voters this election who cast a ballot but did not cast a vote for president. That compares to 49,840 undervotes for president in 2012.

    5 percent: Proportion of voters who opted for a third-party candidate in this election, compared to 1 percent in 2012."

    https://www.mlive.com/politics/2016/11/michigans_presidential_electio.html

    run75441 , May 31, 2020 1:58 pm

    EM:

    I am going to put the numbers out here for Presidential Election 2012 and 2016. It is easier to look at them and the percentages.

    Michigan Presidential Vote 2012 and 2016

    In this site, you can look year to year on the vote. US Election Atlas

  • ken melvin , May 31, 2020 1:04 pm

    Denis

    Thanks for your comment and the link. Wow! Where to start, huh?

    SEIU was a player from the get go, but I don't want to go there just now.

    Before Reagan, there was the first rust belt move to the non-union south. Why was the south so anti-union? I think this stuff is engendered from infancy and most of us are incapable of thinking anew when it comes to stuff our parents 'taught' us. MLK was the best thing that ever happened to the dirt-road poor south, yet they hated him and they hated the very unions that might have lifted them up. They did seem to take pleasure in the yanks' loss of jobs.

    I think the Reagan era was prelude to what is going on now, i.e., going backward while yelling whee look at me go. No doubt, Reagan turned union members against their own unions. But, the genesis of demise probably lay with automation and the early offshoring to Mexico. By Reagan, the car plants were losing jobs to Toyota and Honda and automation. By 1990, car plants that had previously employed 5,000, now automated, produced more cars employing only 1200. At the time, much of the nation's wealth was still derived from car production.

    Skipping forward a bit, the democrats blew it for years with all their talk about the 'middle-class' without realizing it was the 'disappearing middle-class'. They ignored the poor working-class vote and lost election after election.

    I've come to not like the term labor, think it affords capital an undeserved status, though much diminished, I think thought all workers would be better off in a union. Otherwise, as we are witnessing, there is no parity between workers and wealth; we are in a race to the bottom with the wealth increasingly go to the top.

  • ken melvin , May 31, 2020 1:15 pm

    Matthew – thanks for your comment

    I think that we are into a transition (about 45 yrs into) as great as the industrial revolution. We, as probably those poor souls of the 18th and 19th centuries did, are floundering, unable to come to terms with what is going on.

    I also think that those such as the Kochs have a good grasp of what is going on and are moving to protect themselves and their class.

  • ken melvin , May 31, 2020 1:21 pm

    EMichael, thanks for the comment

    Are you implying that the politicians are way behind the curve? If so, I think that you are right.

    Let me share what I was thinking last night about thinking:

    Descartes' problem was that he desperately wanted to make philosophy work within the framework of his religion, Catholicism. Paul Krugman desperately wants to make economics all work within the Holy Duality of Capitalism and Free Markets. Even Joe Stiglitz can't step out of this text. All things being possible, it is possible that either could come up with a solution to today's economic problems that would fit within the Two; but the odds are not good. Better to think anew.

    We see politicians try and try to find solutions for today's problems from within their own dogmas/ideologies. Even if they can't, they persist, they still try to impose these dogmas/ideologies in the desperate hope they might work if only applied to a greater degree. How else explain any belief that markets could anticipate and respond to pandemics? That markets could best respond to housing demand?

  • anne , May 31, 2020 1:48 pm

    Ken Melvin,

    Interesting and fine writing.

  • anne , May 31, 2020 1:49 pm

    https://twitter.com/paulkrugman/status/1267060950026326018

    Paul Krugman @paulkrugman

    Glad to see Noah Smith highlighting this all-too-relevant work by the late Alberto Alesina 1/

    https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-05-30/racism-is-the-biggest-reason-u-s-safety-net-is-so-weak

    Racism Is the Biggest Reason the U.S. Safety Net Is So Weak
    Harvard economist Alberto Alesina, who died last week, found that ethnic divisions made the country less effective at providing public goods.

    7:50 AM · May 31, 2020

    The Alesina/Glaeser/Sacerdote paper on why America doesn't have a European-style welfare state -- racism -- had a big impact on my own thinking 2/

    https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/glaeser/files/why_doesnt_the_u.s._have_a_european-style_welfare_state.pdf

    For a long time anyone who pointed out that the modern GOP is basically a party that serves plutocratic ends by weaponizing white racism was treated as "shrill" and partisan. Can we now admit the obvious? 3/

  • EMichael , May 31, 2020 1:53 pm

    Ken,

    Half the politicians are behind the curve. When George Wallace showed the GOP how to win elections (Don't ever get outniggerred) the Dem Party failed to see and react to it. Then the Kochs of the world stepped in with the John Birch society (fromerly the KKK) and started playing race against class, which resulted in the white working class supporting anti-labor pols and legislation.

    The election of Obama caused the racists to go totally off the reservation with the Tea Party (formerly the KKK and the John Birch Society) and lead us to where we are now.

    Of course, the corporate world followed the blueprint.

    Way past time for the Dem Party to start attacking on a constant basis the racist GOP. And also to start appealing more to workers, though the 2016 platform certainly did that to a large degree, and the 2020 platform looks to be mush more supportive of labor than ever.

    "It's a detailed and aggressive agenda that includes doubling the minimum wage and tripling funding for schools with low-income students. He is proposing the most sweeping overhaul of immigration policy in a generation, the biggest pro-union push in three generations, and the most ambitious environmental agenda of all time.

    If Democrats take back the Senate in the fall, Biden could make his agenda happen. A primary is about airing disagreements, but legislating is about building consensus. The Democratic Party largely agrees on a suite of big policy changes that would improve the lives of millions of Americans in meaningful ways. Biden has detailed, considered plans to put much of this agenda in place. But getting these plans done will be driven much more by the outcome of the congressional elections than his questioned ambition.

    A big minimum wage increase

    Biden's commitment to raising the federal minimum wage from its current $7.25 to $15 an hour is one of the least talked-about plans at stake in the 2020 election.

    In the 2016 cycle when Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders disagreed about raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, the debate was the subject of extensive coverage. By the 2020 cycle, all the major Democratic candidates were on board, so it didn't come up much. But it's significant that this is no longer controversial in Democratic Party circles. If the party is broadly comfortable with the wage hike as a matter of both politics and substance, Democrats in Congress are likely to make it happen if it's at all possible.
    Noji Olaigbe, left, from the Fight for $15 minimum wage movement, speaks during a McDonald's workers' strike in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on May 23, 2019. David Santiago/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service/Getty Images

    The $15-an-hour minimum wage increase is also a signature issue for Biden. He endorsed New York's version of it in the fall of 2015, back when he was vice president and his boss Barack Obama was pushing a smaller federal raise.

    A big minimum wage hike polls well, it aligns with Biden's thematic emphasis on "the dignity of work," and it's a topic on which he's genuinely been a leader. It reflects his political sensibilities, which are moderate but in a decidedly more populist mode than Obama's technocratic one.

    Biden has a big Plan A to support organized labor, and a Plan B that's still consequential and considerably more plausible politically.

    Beyond a general disposition to be a good coalition partner to organized labor, the centerpiece of his union agenda is support for the PRO Act, which passed the House of Representatives earlier this year.

    That bill, were it to become law, would be the biggest victory for unions and collective bargaining since the end of World War II -- overriding state "right to work" laws, barring mandatory anti-union briefings from management during organizing campaigns, imposing much more meaningful financial penalties on companies that illegally fire workers for pro-union activity, and allowing organizing through a streamlined card check process. Separately, Biden and House Democrats have lined up behind a Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act that would bolster public sector workers' collective bargaining rights. "

    https://www.vox.com/2020/5/26/21257648/joe-biden-climate-economy-tax-plans

    One of the big issues here is Biden not committing to killing the filibuster, in addition to Dem Senators not in agreement either. That would be a disaster for any legislation.

    Makes sense not to run on ending the filibuster now, as there is a chance trump can win and teh GOP keeps the Senate. But if the opposite happens and Biden wins and Dems take the Senate, they will have to pivot quickly to getting rid of the filibuster. Apply any and all possible pressure to those Dem Senators who do not agree with that. Threaten them with losing committee posts; primary opponents; the kitchen sink.

    Yes, it poses a risk in the event the Reps get a trifecta again, but it is time to flood progressive legislation into law, and getting rid of the filibuster is the only way.

    And if they can hit the trifecta and bring this platform to fruition, they won't have to worry about a GOP trifecta for a long, long time. Possibly forever.

  • anne , May 31, 2020 1:56 pm

    https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/glaeser/files/why_doesnt_the_u.s._have_a_european-style_welfare_state.pdf

    September, 2001

    Why Doesn't the United States Have a European-Style Welfare State?
    By Alberto Alesina, Edward Glaeser and Bruce Sacerdote

    Abstract

    European countries are much more generous to the poor relative to the US level of generosity. Economic models suggest that redistribution is a function of the variance and skewness of the pre-tax income distribution, the volatility of income (perhaps because of trade shocks), the social costs of taxation and the expected income mobility of the median voter. None of these factors appear to explain the differences between the US and Europe. Instead, the differences appear to be the result of racial heterogeneity in the US and American political institutions. Racial animosity in the US makes redistribution to the poor, who are disproportionately black, unappealing to many voters. American political institutions limited the growth of a socialist party, and more generally limited the political power of the poor.

  • rick shapiro , May 31, 2020 2:07 pm

    This dynamic is not limited to low-skill jobs. I have seen it at work in electronics engineering. When I was a sprat, job shoppers got an hourly wage nearly twice that of their company peers, because they had no benefits or long-term employment. Today, job shoppers are actually paid less than company engineers; and the companies are outsourcing ever more of their staffing to the brokers.
    Without labor market frictions, the iron law of wages drives wages to starvation levels. As sophisticated uberization software eliminates the frictions that have protected middle class wages in the recent past, we will all need to enlist unionization and government wage standards to protect us.

  • ken melvin , May 31, 2020 2:29 pm

    Rick

    The big engineering offices of the 70s were decimated and worse by the mid-90s; mostly by the advent of computers w/ software. One engineer could now do the work of 10 and didn't need any draftsman.

  • rick shapiro , May 31, 2020 2:40 pm

    I was speaking of engineers with equal skill in the same office. Many at GE Avionics were laid off, and came back as lower paid contract empoyees.

  • ken melvin , May 31, 2020 2:46 pm

    Rick

    Die biden

  • ken melvin , May 31, 2020 2:52 pm

    beiden

    The both

  • ken melvin , May 31, 2020 3:05 pm

    EMichael

    Minimum wage, the row about the $600, all such things endanger the indentured servant economic model so favored in the south. Keep them poor and hungry and they will work for next to nothing. 'Still they persist.' On PBS, a black woman cooking for a restaurant said that she was being paid less than $4/hr.

  • anne , May 31, 2020 4:48 pm

    https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-05-30/dont-understand-the-protests-what-youre-seeing-is-people-pushed-to-the-edge

    May 30, 2020

    Don't understand the protests? What you're seeing is people pushed to the edge
    By KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR – Los Angeles Times

    What was your first reaction when you saw the video of the white cop kneeling on George Floyd's neck while Floyd croaked, "I can't breathe"?

    If you're white, you probably muttered a horrified, "Oh, my God" while shaking your head at the cruel injustice. If you're black, you probably leapt to your feet, cursed, maybe threw something (certainly wanted to throw something), while shouting, "Not @#$%! again!" Then you remember the two white vigilantes accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery as he jogged through their neighborhood in February, and how if it wasn't for that video emerging a few weeks ago, they would have gotten away with it. And how those Minneapolis cops claimed Floyd was resisting arrest but a store's video showed he wasn't. And how the cop on Floyd's neck wasn't an enraged redneck stereotype, but a sworn officer who looked calm and entitled and devoid of pity: the banality of evil incarnate.

    Maybe you also are thinking about the Karen in Central Park who called 911 claiming the black man who asked her to put a leash on her dog was threatening her. Or the black Yale University grad student napping in the common room of her dorm who was reported by a white student. Because you realize it's not just a supposed "black criminal" who is targeted, it's the whole spectrum of black faces from Yonkers to Yale.

    You start to wonder if it should be all black people who wear body cams, not the cops.

    What do you see when you see angry black protesters amassing outside police stations with raised fists? If you're white, you may be thinking, "They certainly aren't social distancing." Then you notice the black faces looting Target and you think, "Well, that just hurts their cause." Then you see the police station on fire and you wag a finger saying, "That's putting the cause backward."

    You're not wrong -- but you're not right, either. The black community is used to the institutional racism inherent in education, the justice system and jobs. And even though we do all the conventional things to raise public and political awareness -- write articulate and insightful pieces in the Atlantic, explain the continued devastation on CNN, support candidates who promise change -- the needle hardly budges.

    But COVID-19 has been slamming the consequences of all that home as we die at a significantly higher rate than whites, are the first to lose our jobs, and watch helplessly as Republicans try to keep us from voting .

    run75441 , May 31, 2020 9:39 pm

    anne:

    If you rcomments are not appearing they are going to spam, Just let me know and I will fish them out of spam. Just approved 4 of yours.

  • Bert Schlitz , May 31, 2020 7:14 pm

    The protests are self centered crap blacks do year after year. Considering 370 whites over 100 Latinos were killed by cops, many as bad as that guy in minnie. Blacks have a Trumptard mentality. We have a ecological disaster, a economic disaster and pandemic(when th they are spreading). Yet let's whine about one bad cop related homicide.

    This may begin the breakup of the Democratic party and the blacks. The differences are just to large.

  • Kaleberg , May 31, 2020 9:40 pm

    It's rather sad that it takes a massive civil disturbance to get the authorities to arrest a man videotaped killing another. You'd think that would just happen as a matter of course, but that's how it works in this country. Post Comment Leave a Reply Cancel reply

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    [May 30, 2020] Trump kicking out all China PHD students

    May 30, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

    Susan , May 29 2020 17:51 utc | 60

    I just can't imagine the stupidity of Trump kicking out all the PHD students!
    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/05/29/chin-m29.html

    [May 29, 2020] It s not a civil war until the *other* civilians start shooting at the rioters

    May 29, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

    Richard Steven Hack , May 29 2020 13:54 utc | 18

    It's not a civil war until the *other* civilians start shooting at the rioters. At this point, it's just the usual police repression.

    Now given that thousands of people who previously never owned a firearm have now acquired them - although it is unclear how many of them will be concealed carriers, given the variance in state laws - it's only a matter of time before some people start shooting. Like the Korean shop owners in LA notably did during the Rodney King riots IIRC.

    But it won't be a civil war until a significant number of people on both sides are actually shooting.

    There's a guy named Selco Begovic who survived the civil war in Bosnia. He writes articles for prepper Web sites and he has book out. He has vividly described conditions of life in a civil war. Most people in the US are not going to handle that sort of thing well. Try this one as it pertains to b's post.

    How the SHTF in Bosnia: Selco Asks Americans, "Does this sound familiar?"

    Trisha , May 29 2020 15:02 utc | 32

    The true enemies of humanity are corporations, so the violence is not a "civil war", but revolt. Along those lines, it's not "looting" but sabotage. And the "police" are not peace-keepers but militarized enforcers.

    It's a complete waste of time engaging in electoral "politics." Politicians are corporate whores doing their master's bidding, as are the "police."

    Thanks b, for another incisive post.

    Nemesiscalling , May 29 2020 16:07 utc | 44
    Blacks occupy a disproportionate piece of those in poverty.

    Poverty breeds a lot of different evils and many of them are self-defeating cycles.

    ... ... ...

    karlof1 , May 29 2020 21:26 utc | 90
    Just finished listening to the latest interview given by Michael Hudson , "Defining a Tyrant," whose focus is on the necessity of applying debt forgiveness to those residing within the Outlaw US Empire as the economic affects of COVID-19 will be much worse than we've already seen. Those who want to get to the current moment can begin listening at the 40 minute mark (yes, it's just audio). You'll need to note that the unemployment numbers as I've been writing for awhile now are greatly understated, although the host Gary Null does allude to that reality as NYC itself is emptying out--imagine Wall Street sitting in the middle of a ghost metropolis. As you'll learn, Trump's MAGA Mantra is 100% hollow without enacting a wide ranging debt write-off--even if factories could be put back into business, the Outlaw US Empire's economy would still remain very uncompetitive because of the issue of debt service and privatized health care--issues I've written about before.

    And so the main topic: Civil War. Or, is it? Reality demands it be named Class War, for that's what it is in reality. Hudson maps out how its done and by whom while naming the abettors. The Popular Forces number 280 million, not including those too young/old/infirm to bear arms. The Forces of Reaction minus the paid forces of coercion number well under 100,000. Even adding in police and military, it's still 280 million to perhaps 10 million. And even if only half of the 280 million stand up, that's 140 million. The rallying cry ought to be It's better to die standing up for your rights versus groveling on your knees. Too bad all of the above's too large for one Tweet.

    willie , May 29 2020 21:31 utc | 91
    The way they provoked the violence on smashing shop windows with forehammer is exactly what was witnessed inParis when apparent "black block" types did the same and then got back in their policevan.
    I note that in France Riot police is clad in robocop armour and that this armour is a weapon in itself,it deshumanizes the man inside to himself,and to others.A strike of his arm is much more powerful than if he were dressed as your american cop on patrol,probably they give them steroid or something to be able to move rapidly with all the weight.They must feel like the Hulk!

    Now it would be a sign of peaceful government if just any political party would make a ban on those outfits.

    vinnieoh , May 29 2020 21:51 utc | 93
    So the medical examiner concluded that there was no evidence of choking or suffocation, and instead was the result of his "restraint" exacerbating underlying conditions, and suggesting there was the possibility of intoxication or drugs, which is the basis for the pre-determination that Chauvin will only be charged with 3rd degree murder, which of course they'll try to whittle down to manslaughter (the coincidental charge.)

    Let me see if I've got this straight: a man that is being restrained by the neck, who eventually dies from no other action, who repeatedly pleads that "I can't breath," who onlookers see and record that the man can not in fact breath, and the medical examiner finds no evidence of choking or strangulation.

    Further, Officer Chauvin, in close physical contact with the eventual corpse of his victim, must surely have felt the life ebbing from George Floyd. No way no how this mother fucker gets charged with anything other than 1st degree murder. His accomplices get charged with accessory to 1st degree murder.

    Dr Wellington Yueh , May 29 2020 21:59 utc | 97
    Note to peaceful protestors: CAPTURE THE PROVOCATEUR!!!!!

    If you see somebody doing this shit, don't wag your finger at him, get that fucker and firmly-but-peacefully eject him from the crowd.

    CitizenX , May 29 2020 22:10 utc | 102
    Do yourself a favor and read-

    "War is a Racket" -Smedley Butler 1933
    "Beyond Vietnam - Time to Break the Silence" -MLK 1967
    "Art Truth and Politics" -Harold Pinter 2005

    What has changed in 100 yrs of uSSa Empire? Foreign policy? Domestic policy?
    Economic policy? All have become worse.

    The u$$a Regime lies, cheats, steals, rapes, murders, tortures, overthrows, bombs,
    invades, destroys, and loots with impunity Global wide.
    How a citizen of this Rogue nation can feel good about that is beyond hypocrisy.

    This Regime and the humans behind this sickening system must be replaced.
    The Military Surveilance Police state must end. The Humans behind this system must be replaced
    by any means necessary. Both the safety of the world and domestically rely on their removal.

    When finished "Entertaining Ourselves to Death" and coming to terms with the truly Evil nature of the human beings operating and supporting this system- perhaps you will becomea full human being. Get Up Stand Up.

    The difference between ignorance and delusions are substantial.
    Ignorance being the lack of knowledge. Delusion being the presence of false
    knowledge. Where do you stand?

    I don't need protection from the police.
    But We ALL need protection FROM the police state.
    Will you fight to defend yourself, your family, your neighbor or fellow human being
    against a cruel vile corrupt system? Selfishness and greed are no excuse for complacency.
    What is worth defending- your property or your virtues?

    I have long been disgusted by the u$$a regimes domestic and foreign policies. Which means I have long been disgusted by my fellow citizens (human beings) which support and operate this vile system.

    Revolution-
    Complacency and passive complicit citizens Or values, humaneness and justice?

    Where do you stand? When do you stand for a meaningful life of society?

    lysias , May 29 2020 22:24 utc | 106
    The white working and lower middle classes will not support violent rioting by blacks over a black issue. This is not a way to start a revolution.

    What's more, the latest reporting I read in the Washington Post is that Floyd initially resisted arrest. The early reporting that he did not resist arrest was apparently incorrect.

    Moreover, the medical evidence suggests that he died not from asphyxiation or a broken neck, but because of comorbidities.

    Floyd had a lengthy criminal record.

    If you want a revolution in the U.S., wait a month or two until there are mass evictions.

    H.Schmatz , May 29 2020 22:30 utc | 108
    It seems that the revolution will not happen after all, just has been declared curfew...

    This is a warning to anybody who would dare to revolt against the coming misery conditions of life while the oligarchs continue enriching themselves and looting every penny available.

    This is a secondary gain from the pandemic, as we were accustomed to multiple declared state of alarm throughout the world, they thinks that going a step further would not cause any shock....

    There have been equally violent revolts in France and Chile continuously during the past year, and in France again in the banlieus, and then curfew was not declared...

    This is the land of the free....There you have your fascist state turning on yourselves...
    When they came for the Venezuelans, seized their assets and embassies, I did nothing; when they came for the Iranians and murdered Soleimani, I said nothing; when they came for the communists in the Odessa House of Unions, I did not move a finger; when they slaughtered people at the four cardinal points of the world, I did continue living my "American Dream" as if the thing would not go with me...until I did awaken to find myself in the same nightmare....

    https://twitter.com/edukabak/status/1266055032883023872/photo/1

    Do you think that were not for the riots of the last nights, Chauvin would had been detained and charged?

    Richard Steven Hack , May 29 2020 22:50 utc | 112
    I've suggested in the past that civil war was unlikely in the US because that would requires a significant percentage of the electorate to actually take sides and shoot someone - and most of the population is so anti-gun these days that such a scenario was unlikely, especially over political issues that aren't usually considered as *directly* adversely affecting most of the population, at least in their minds. It would also require some direct organization on both sides and I don't see anyone capable of that on the national scene.

    What I can easily see happening, however, is the sort of multi-city, large-scale rioting that occurred in the Sixties and in other parts of the world, leading to a declaration of martial law in at least some, possibly many, larger cities, if not nation-wide (a lot of rural areas would likely not be affected.) Economic issues and issues of social repression are usually the causes of large-scale violence historically in most countries. Most "political" issues usually boil down to either ethnic or economic or repression issues.

    The US doesn't have really that much ethnic issues, except in the Southwest over Latino immigration. The US has racial, economic and repression issues, however. Most of the time they just simmer, with local limited outbreaks of violence. But in cases of blatant repression, or under severe economic pressure, they can explode into wider-scale violence.

    And we've got both on the horizon. The impact of the pandemic (and the government's clueless response, thanks to Trump and previous Presidents) on the economy is likely to produce extreme economic pressure, especially on the middle class and the poor. Adding the extreme militarization of the US police over the last several decades, and this is a recipe for large-scale violence that continues for more than a few days or a week. Once police over-reaction and the appearance of the National Guard to control rioting results in the sort of deaths like in the well-known Kent State incident, then like in Ukraine we could start to see cops and National Guard fatalities from snipers. Next we could see things like the 1985 Philadelphia police bombing of the MOVE headquarters and the use of armed drones (Connecticut has a law banning armed drones - but not for police.) The next step beyond that is curfew, and the next step beyond that is martial law.

    The next step beyond that is not civil war - it's explicit fascism. And that ends in revolution - which then usually recycles into either more fascism or "modified: fascism (see France in the 1800's.)

    Bottom line: It's not going to get better. One of the many things preppers have been warning against is national repression. They warned against natural disasters like hurricanes and no one listened until Katrina. They warned against pandemics and no one listened - until today. They've been warning against national repression - like the Selco article I linked to. Better listen this time.

    The US government has been preparing for some time:
    Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown

    Maybe you should: How To Prepare for Civil Unrest: 30 Steps You Can Take Now

    [May 29, 2020] Trump's Tax Cuts Get an "F" for enriching the Globalist Elite by Michael Cuenco

    Highly recommended!
    Notable quotes:
    "... Instead of reining in the "globalist elites" he so vociferously ran against or those corporations "who have no loyalty to America," his one legislative achievement has been to award them a massive tax cut. Through it, he has maintained their favorite mix of low revenue intake and high deficits which gives Republicans a pretext to "starve the beast" and induce fiscal anorexia. ..."
    "... Trump ran as a populist firebrand -- a fusion of Huey Long and Ross Perot -- and while he never abandoned that style, he has governed for the most part as a milquetoast free market Republican in perfect tandem with Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, one whose solution to everything is more tax cuts and deregulation: a kind of turbo-charged "high-energy Jeb." ..."
    "... With the outbreak of COVID-19, many on the reformist right are hoping for the emergence of the President Trump they thought they were promised, a leader just as ready to break out of the donor-enforced "small government" straitjacket while in power as he was during the campaign. ..."
    "... The heightened rhetoric against China will continue -- the one thing Trump is good at -- but it is unlikely to be matched with the required policy ..."
    "... If neoliberalism excused inequality at home by extolling the equalization of incomes across the globe (millions of Chinese raised from poverty, while millions of American workers fall back into it!), the new position must shift emphasis back to ensuring a more equitable domestic distribution of wealth and opportunity across all classes and communities in this country. ..."
    "... It is worth pondering what might have happened if the administration had gone the other way and followed the last piece of policy advice given by Steve Bannon before his ouster in August 2017. Bannon suggested raising the top marginal income tax rate to 44 percent while "arguing that it would actually hit left-wing millionaires in Silicon Valley, on Wall Street, and in Hollywood." ..."
    "... It might well have put Trump on the path to becoming what Daniel Patrick Moynihan once proposed as a model for Richard Nixon when he gifted the 37th president a biography of Disraeli, namely a Tory Republican who could outsmart the left by crafting broad popular coalitions based on a blending of patriotic cultural conservatism with class-conscious economic and social policy. ..."
    "... Then and even more so now, the idea resonates: a Reuters/Ipsos poll from January found that 64 percent of Americans support a wealth tax, a majority of Republicans included. Poll after poll has reaffirmed this. It seems as if there is right-wing populist support for taxing the rich more. ..."
    "... There is one more thing to be said about the significance of taxing the rich. Up until very recently, there has been a prevailing tendency among the reformist right (with some important exceptions) to couch criticism of the elites primarily or even exclusively in cultural terms. There seems to have been a polite hesitation at taking the cultural critique to its logical economic conclusions. It is easy to excoriate the excesses of elite identity politics, the "woke" part of woke capitalism; it's something all conservatives -- and indeed growing numbers of liberals and socialists -- agree on. Fish in a barrel. ..."
    "... But to challenge the capitalism part, i.e. free market orthodoxy, not in a secondary or tertiary way, but head on and in specific policy terms as Lofgren and a few others have done, would involve confronting difficult truths, namely that the biggest beneficiaries of tax cuts and Reaganite economic policy in general, which most conservatives enthusiastically promoted for four decades, are the selfsame decadent coastal elites they claim to oppose. It is they who more than anyone else thrive on financialized globalization, arbitrage and offshoring. ..."
    "... In other words, it amounts to an honest recognition of the complicity of conservatism in the mess we're in, which is perhaps a psychological bridge too far for too many on the right, reformist or not. (Trigger Warning!) This separation of culture and economics has led to the farce of a self-styled nationalist president lining the pockets of his nominal enemies, the globalist ruling class. ..."
    "... A conservative call to tax the rich would signal that the right is ready to end this charade and chart a course toward a more patriotic, public-spirited and yes, proudly hyphenated capitalism. ..."
    "... Michael Cuenco is a writer on politics and policy. He has also written for American Affairs. ..."
    May 26, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

    They also left worker wages stagnant and increased the deficit. Where is our more nationalist economic policy?

    Much has been written about the disappointment of certain segments of the right in the apparent capitulation of Donald Trump to the agenda of the conservative establishment.

    Instead of reining in the "globalist elites" he so vociferously ran against or those corporations "who have no loyalty to America," his one legislative achievement has been to award them a massive tax cut. Through it, he has maintained their favorite mix of low revenue intake and high deficits which gives Republicans a pretext to "starve the beast" and induce fiscal anorexia.

    The president has granted them as well their ideal labor market through an ingenious formula: double down on mostly symbolic raids (as opposed to systemic solutions like Mandatory E-Verify) and ramp up the rhetoric about "shithole countries" to distract the media, but keep the supply of cheap, exploitable low-skill labor (legal and illegal) intact for the business lobby.

    Trump ran as a populist firebrand -- a fusion of Huey Long and Ross Perot -- and while he never abandoned that style, he has governed for the most part as a milquetoast free market Republican in perfect tandem with Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, one whose solution to everything is more tax cuts and deregulation: a kind of turbo-charged "high-energy Jeb."

    With the outbreak of COVID-19, many on the reformist right are hoping for the emergence of the President Trump they thought they were promised, a leader just as ready to break out of the donor-enforced "small government" straitjacket while in power as he was during the campaign.

    Despite signs of progress, what's more likely is a return to business as usual. Already the GOP's impulse for austerity and parsimony is proving to be stronger than any willingness to think and act outside the box.

    The heightened rhetoric against China will continue -- the one thing Trump is good at -- but it is unlikely to be matched with the required policy, such as a long-term plan to reshore U.S. industry (that doesn't just rely on blindly giving corporations the benefit of the doubt). At this point, we already know where the president's priorities lie when given a choice between the advancement of America's workers or continued labor arbitrage and carte blanche corporate handouts.

    Lest they be engulfed by it like everyone else, the reformist right should ask: is there any way to stand athwart the supply-side swamp yelling Stop?

    Many of these conservatives lament the Trump tax cut not just because it was a disaster that failed to spark reinvestment, left wages stagnant, needlessly blew up the deficit and served as a slush fund for stock buybacks, but more fundamentally because it betrayed the overwhelming intellectual inertia and lack of imagination that characterizes conservative policymaking.

    More than in any other issue then, a distinct position on taxes would make the new conservatism truly worth distinguishing from the old: tax cuts were after all the defining policy dogma of the neoliberal Reagan era.

    If neoliberalism excused inequality at home by extolling the equalization of incomes across the globe (millions of Chinese raised from poverty, while millions of American workers fall back into it!), the new position must shift emphasis back to ensuring a more equitable domestic distribution of wealth and opportunity across all classes and communities in this country.

    A reformulation of fiscal policy along populist economic nationalist lines can help with that.

    It is worth pondering what might have happened if the administration had gone the other way and followed the last piece of policy advice given by Steve Bannon before his ouster in August 2017. Bannon suggested raising the top marginal income tax rate to 44 percent while "arguing that it would actually hit left-wing millionaires in Silicon Valley, on Wall Street, and in Hollywood."

    Such a move would have been nothing short of revolutionary: it would have been a faithful and full-blown expression of the populist economic nationalism Trump ran on; it would have presented a genuine material threat to the elite ruling class of both parties, and likely would have pre-empted the shock value of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proposing a 70 percent top marginal rate.

    It might well have put Trump on the path to becoming what Daniel Patrick Moynihan once proposed as a model for Richard Nixon when he gifted the 37th president a biography of Disraeli, namely a Tory Republican who could outsmart the left by crafting broad popular coalitions based on a blending of patriotic cultural conservatism with class-conscious economic and social policy.

    Not that Trump would have needed to go back to Nixon or Disraeli for instruction on the matter. In 1999, long before Elizabeth Warren came along on the national scene, a presidential candidate eyeing the Reform Party nomination contemplated the imposition of a 14.25 percent wealth tax on America's richest citizens in order to pay off the national debt: his name was Donald Trump.

    What ever happened to that guy? The Trump of 1999 was onto something. Maybe this could be a way to deal with our post-pandemic deficits.

    Then and even more so now, the idea resonates: a Reuters/Ipsos poll from January found that 64 percent of Americans support a wealth tax, a majority of Republicans included. Poll after poll has reaffirmed this. It seems as if there is right-wing populist support for taxing the rich more.

    To the common refrain, "the rich are just going to find ways to shelter their income or relocate it offshore," I have written elsewhere about the concrete policy measures countries can and have taken to clip the wings of mobile global capital and prevent such an outcome.

    I have written as well about how taxing the rich and tightening the screws on tax enforcement have implications that go beyond the merely redistributive approach to fiscal policy conventionally favored by the left; about how it can be a form of leverage against an unaccountable investor class used to shopping at home and abroad for the most opaque assets in which to hoard vast amounts of essentially idle capital.

    A deft administration would use aggressive fiscal policy as an inducement for this irresponsible class to make things right by reinvesting in such priorities as the wages and well-being of workers, the vitality of communities, the strength of strategic industries and the productivity of the real economy – or else Uncle Sam will tax their wealth and do it for them.

    It would also be an assertion of national sovereignty against globalization's command for countries to stay "competitive" by immiserating their citizens with ever-lower taxes on capital holders and ever more loose and "flexible" labor markets in a never-ending race to the bottom.

    Mike Lofgren has penned a marvelous essay in these pages about the virtual secession of the rich from the American nation, "with their prehensile greed, their asocial cultural values, and their absence of civic responsibility."

    What better way to remind them that they are still citizens of a country and members of a society -- and not just floating streams of deracinated capital -- than by making them perform that most basic of civic duties, paying one's fair share and contributing to the commonweal? America need not revert to the 70-90 percent top marginal rates of the bolshevik administrations of Truman, Eisenhower or Kennedy, but proposals for modest moves in that direction would be welcome.

    There is one more thing to be said about the significance of taxing the rich. Up until very recently, there has been a prevailing tendency among the reformist right (with some important exceptions) to couch criticism of the elites primarily or even exclusively in cultural terms. There seems to have been a polite hesitation at taking the cultural critique to its logical economic conclusions. It is easy to excoriate the excesses of elite identity politics, the "woke" part of woke capitalism; it's something all conservatives -- and indeed growing numbers of liberals and socialists -- agree on. Fish in a barrel.

    But to challenge the capitalism part, i.e. free market orthodoxy, not in a secondary or tertiary way, but head on and in specific policy terms as Lofgren and a few others have done, would involve confronting difficult truths, namely that the biggest beneficiaries of tax cuts and Reaganite economic policy in general, which most conservatives enthusiastically promoted for four decades, are the selfsame decadent coastal elites they claim to oppose. It is they who more than anyone else thrive on financialized globalization, arbitrage and offshoring.

    In other words, it amounts to an honest recognition of the complicity of conservatism in the mess we're in, which is perhaps a psychological bridge too far for too many on the right, reformist or not. (Trigger Warning!) This separation of culture and economics has led to the farce of a self-styled nationalist president lining the pockets of his nominal enemies, the globalist ruling class.

    Already, the White House is proposing yet another gigantic corporate tax cut. Using the exact same discredited logic as the last one, senior economic advisor Larry Kudlow wants Americans to trust him when he says that halving the already lowered 2017 rate to 10.5 percent will encourage these eminently reasonable multinationals to reinvest. There he goes again.

    A conservative call to tax the rich would signal that the right is ready to end this charade and chart a course toward a more patriotic, public-spirited and yes, proudly hyphenated capitalism.

    Michael Cuenco is a writer on politics and policy. He has also written for American Affairs.


    Kent 3 days ago

    "America need not revert to the 70-90 percent top marginal rates of the bolshevik administrations of Truman, Eisenhower or Kennedy, but proposals for modest moves in that direction would be welcome."

    Those tax rates were offset by direct investment in the US economy. So if I invested in the stock market, I'd get a 90% tax rate because that doesn't produce actual wealth. On the other hand, if I invested in building factories that created thousands of jobs for American citizens, my tax rate may fall to 0%. And those policies created a fantastic economy that we oldsters remember as the golden age. That wasn't bolshevism, it was competitive capitalism. What we have today is libertarianism. And as long as conservatives are going to let the libertarian boogey-man's nose under the tent, we are going to have this ugly, bifurcated economy. Your choice. Man up.

    Winston Nevis Kent 3 days ago • edited
    You ever tell hear of sarcasm, bud? I think that's what the author was going for. Don't think he was trying to say that Ike and Truman were Bolsheviks but was rather making fun of libertarians who hyperbolically associate high tax rates with socialism and Soviet Communism...
    K squared Winston Nevis 3 days ago
    Plenty of goldwater's supporters in 1964 called President Eisenhower a communist
    GAguilar K squared 2 days ago
    Particularly the John Birchers, including my parents!
    SKPeterson Kent 3 days ago • edited
    We absolutely do not have libertarianism operating in this country today. There is simply no evidence that there is any sort of libertarian economic or political system in place. Oh sure, you'll whine "but globalism without actually defining what globalism is, or what is wrong about precisely, but just that it's somehow wrong and that libertarians are to blame for it. There's a good word for such an argument: bullshit.
    We have an economy that is extraordinarily dominated by the state via mandates, regulations, and monetary interference that is most decidedly not libertarian in any way whatsoever. The current system though does create and perpetuate a system of rent-seeking cronies who conform rather nicely to the descriptions of said actors by Buchanan and Tullock. The problems of the modern economy are the result of state interference, not its absence, and Cuenco's sorry policy prescriptions do nothing to minimize the state but instead just create a different set of rent-seeking cronies for which the wealth and incomes of the nation are to be expropriated.
    marku52 SKPeterson 3 days ago
    O dear, No True Scotsman....
    SKPeterson marku52 2 days ago
    If you can point to how the current situation is in any way "libertarian" without creating your own perfect little lazy straw man definition then by all means do so. Until then your retort is without
    substance (you see a no true Scotsman reply doesn't work if the facts are in the favor of the person supposedly making such an argument. Here you fail to establish why what I said is such a case; saying it doesn't make it so). When Kent makes some throwaway comment that we're somehow living in some sort of libertarian era he's full of it, you know it, and all you can do is provide some weak "no true Scotsman" defense? Come on and man up, stop appealing to artificial complaints of fallacious argumentation, and give me an actual solid argument with evidence beyond "this is so libertarian" that we're living in some libertarian golden age that's driving the oppression of the masses.
    cka2nd SKPeterson 3 days ago
    Busted unions, contracting out and privatization, deregulation of vast swaths of the economy since the late 1970's (Jimmy Carter has gotten kudos from libertarian writers for his de-regulatory efforts), lowered tax rates, especially on financial speculation and concentrated wealth, a blind eye or shrugged shoulder to anti-trust law and corporate consolidation. Yeah, nothing to see here, no partial victories for the libertarian wings of the ruling class or the GOP, at all. The Koch Brothers accomplished nothing, absolutely nothing, since David was the Libertarian Party's nominee for Vice President in 1980; all that money gone to waste. Sure.
    SKPeterson cka2nd 2 days ago
    So, now some sort of "partial victory" means we're living in some sort of libertarian era? And what exactly was so wonderful about all the things you listed being perpetuated? So, union "busting" is terrible, but union corruption was a great part of our national solidarity and should have been protected? Deregulation of vast swathes of the economy? You mean the elimination of government controlled cartels in the form of trucking and airlines? You mean the sorts of things that have enabled the working class folks you supposedly favor to travel to places that were previously out of reach for them and only accessible to the rich for their vacations? Yes, that's truly terrible. Again, you're on the side of the little guy, right? Lowered taxes? Are you seriously going to argue that the traditional conservative position has been for high tax rates? What are taxes placed upon? People and property. What do conservatives want to protect? People and property. So... arguing for higher taxes or saying that low taxes are bad or even especially, libertarian, is really going off the rails. That's just bad reasoning. And regarding financialization, those weren't especially libertarian in their enacting, but rather flow directly out of the consequences of the modern Progressive implementation of neo-Keynesian monetary and fiscal policy. Suffice it to say, I don't think you'll find too many arguments from libertarians that the policies encouraging financialization were good or followed libertarian economic policy prescriptions. Moreover, they led entirely to the repulsive "too big to fail" situation and if there's one thing that libertarians hold to is that there is no such thing (or shouldn't be) as "too big to fail." The objection to anti-trust law is that it was regularly abused and actually created government-protected firms that harmed consumers. If you think anti-trust laws are good things and should be supported by conservatives then by all means encourage Joe Biden to have Elizabeth Warren as his vice-presidential running mate and go vote Democrat this fall.
    Blood Alcohol SKPeterson 3 days ago
    "The problems of the modern economy are the result of state interference, not its absence". That's because the "state interference" is working as proxy for the interests of vulture capitalist.

    What we have today is vulture capitalism as opposed to free enterprise capitalism.

    DUNK Blood Alcohol 2 days ago • edited
    You could also call it "crony capitalism" or "inverted totalitarianism".

    Chris Hedges: "Sheldon Wolin and Inverted Totalitarianism" (November 2, 2015)

    GAguilar DUNK 2 days ago
    Princeton professor Sheldon Wolin's excellent book is entitled, "Democracy Incorporated."

    He lays out how we're living in a totalitarian, capitalist surveillance state, as if that's not already obvious to most people around here.

    SKPeterson Blood Alcohol 2 days ago
    Exactly. The existence of a vulture capitalist or crony capitalist economy, which we have in many sectors, is evidence that "libertarianism" is nothing more than a convenient totem to invoke as a rationale for complaint against the outcomes of the existing crony capitalist state of affairs. My contention is that Cuenco, et al are simply advocating for a replacement of the cronies and vultures.
    1701 3 days ago
    A very similar article(but probably coming at it from a slightly different angle) wouldn't look out of place in a socialist publication.
    The culture war really is a pointless waste of time that keeps working class people from working towards a common solution to shared problems.
    bumbershoot 3 days ago
    Trump wants to "keep the supply of cheap, exploitable low-skill labor (legal and illegal) intact for the business lobby."

    Well of course he does -- otherwise how would he staff Mar-A-Lago and other Trump Organization businesses?

    SKPeterson 3 days ago
    I used to think that conservatism was about protecting private property and not, like Cuenco, in coming up with ever more excuses for expropriating it.
    Kent SKPeterson 3 days ago
    No, that's libertarianism (or more properly propertarianism). Conservatism is first and foremost about responsibility to God, community, family and self. Property is only of value in its utility towards a means.
    GAguilar Kent 2 days ago • edited
    As I see it, here are examples of how "conservatives" have actually practiced their "responsibility to God, community, family and self":

    The genocide of Native Americans
    The slavery and murder of blacks

    Their opposition to child labor laws, to womens' suffrage, etc.
    Their support of Jim Crow laws
    Their opposition to ending slavery and opposition to desegregation
    Opposition to Civil Liberties Laws

    Willingness to block, or curtail, voting rights.

    Hyping the "imminent threat" of an ever more powerful communist menace bearing
    down on us from the late 40s to the "unanticipated" collapse of the
    USSR in '91. All of which was little more than endless "threat inflation" used
    by our defense industry-corporate kleptocrats to justify monstrous increases
    in deficits that have been "invested" in our meddlesome, murderous militarism all around the world, with the torture and deaths of millions from S. E. Asia, to Indonesia, to Latin America, to the Middle East, to Africa, etc.

    Violations of privacy rights (conservative hero J. Edgar Hoover's illegal domestic surveillance and acts of domestic terrorism, "justified" by
    his loopy paranoia about commies on every corner and under every bed.)

    Toppling of democracies to install totalitarian despots in Iran
    ("Ike" '53), Guatemala (Ike, again, '54), Chile (Nixon '73), Brazil (LBJ, '64) and many, many more countries.

    Strong support of the Vietnam War, the wars in Laos and Cambodia, and the Iraq War, which, according to conservative W. Bush, God had inspired.

    The myriad "dirty wars" we've fought around the world, and not only in Latin America.

    With a few, notable exceptions, conservatives have routinely been on the wrong side of these issues. For the most part, it has been the left, particularly the "hard left," that has gotten it right.

    AdmBenson SKPeterson 2 days ago
    "conservatism was about protecting private property"

    You're conflating conservatism and libertarianism. Conservatives realize they are citizens of a country. Libertarians wish they weren't.

    SKPeterson AdmBenson 2 days ago
    So conservatism should be entirely about taking people's property "for the good of the country"? That the purpose of a country is to loot the people? That the people exist for the government and not the government for the people? Seems Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk would like to have a word with you Adm.

    To quote Kirk as just one example of your fundamental error:

    Seventh, conservatives are persuaded that freedom and property are closely linked . [Apparently, Adm. you dispute Kirk's assertion and accuse him thereby of conflating libertarianism and conservatism. Yes, I know Kirk was a hater of the idea of patriotism, but he was such a raging libertarian what else could he do?] Separate property from private possession, and Leviathan becomes master of all. Upon the foundation of private property, great civilizations are built. The more widespread is the possession of private property, the more stable and productive is a commonwealth. Economic levelling [this is the outcome of Cuenco's policy prescriptions by the way] , conservatives maintain, is not economic progress. Getting and spending are not the chief aims of human existence; but a sound economic basis for the person, the family, and the commonwealth is much to be desired.

    So, either "Mr. Conservative" Russell Kirk wasn't really a conservative but a man who horribly conflated libertarianism and conservatism, or we can say that Kirk was a conservative and that he recognized the protection of private property as crucial in minimizing the control and reach of the Leviathan state. If the latter holds, then maybe what we've established is that AdmBenson isn't particularly conservative.

    Winston Nevis SKPeterson 2 days ago • edited
    "The more widespread is the possession of private property, the more stable and productive is a commonwealth." This status quo has produced precisely the opposite of this. Wealth, assets, capital has been captured by the elite. The pitchforks are coming. See this CBO chart: View Hide
    AdmBenson SKPeterson 2 days ago
    Conservatives accept taxes as a part of citizenship. Since taxes can't be avoided, a conservative insists on democratic representation and has a general desire to get maximum bang for their taxpayer buck.

    Libertarians, on the other hand, see everything through the lens of an individual's property rights. Taxes and regulation are infringements on those rights, so a libertarian is always at war with their own government. They're not interested in bang for their taxpayer buck, they just want the government to go away. I can't fault people for believing this way, but I can point out that it is severely faulty as the operating philosophy beyond anything but a small community.

    As for me not being particularly conservative, ya got me. It really depends on time of day and the level of sunspot activity.

    SKPeterson AdmBenson 2 days ago
    Sunspots, eh? And here I thought it was your reliance on tinfoil.
    AdmBenson SKPeterson 2 days ago
    The tinfoil and the mask were scaring people. The tinfoil had to go, but that's had side effects.
    SKPeterson AdmBenson 2 days ago
    I should have put the /s on my reply, but your response did give me a good chuckle. Besides, for that finger pointing at you, there were three more pointing back at me.
    JMWB 3 days ago
    And somehow people continually fall for the Trickle Down economic theory. George HW Bush was correct when he called this VooDoo economics. Fiscal irresponsibility at it's finest.
    Victor_the_thinker JMWB 3 days ago
    Nah people don't fall for it, republicans do. The rest of us know this stuff doesn't work. We didn't need an additional datapoint to realize that. The Tax Cuts and Jobs act was the single most unpopular piece of legislation to ever pass since polling began. It never had support outside of the Republican Party which is why it's never had majority support.

    https://news.gallup.com/pol...

    Blood Alcohol JMWB 3 days ago
    John Kenneth Galbraith called Trickle Down "economics", "Oats and Horse Economics". If you feed the horse a lot of oats, eventually some be left on the road...
    Nelson 3 days ago
    The leader of Republicans isn't Trump. It's Mitch McConnell.
    J Villain Nelson 3 days ago
    Mitch is fully owned by Trump as is every republican that holds office except Romney. Mitch can't go to the bathroom with out asking Trumps permission.
    Nelson J Villain 3 days ago
    Mitch is owned by corporations and he likes it that way. He basically says as much whenever campaign finance reform pops up and he defends the status quo.
    aha! Nelson 2 hours ago
    Yep. The guy who declared war on the Tea Party. The guy who changed his tune entirely about China when he married into the family of a shipping magnate.
    SeekingTruth 3 days ago
    I'm eagerly awaiting a GOP plan for economic restructuring. I've been waiting for decade(s). Surely there is someone in the entire body of think tanks, congressional staffers, and political class that can propose a genuine and comprehensive plan for how to rebalance production, education, and technology for the better of ALL Americans. Surely...
    Tradcon SeekingTruth 3 days ago
    American Affairs (the policy journal this author writes for) and The American Compass are both very good.
    cka2nd SeekingTruth 3 days ago
    I honestly wonder if Jack Kemp might have had a "Road to Damascus" conversion away from his pseudo-libertarian and supply side economic convictions if he had lived through the decade after the Great Recession. Probably not, given his political and economic activity up until his death.
    Barry_II 3 days ago
    "They also left worker wages stagnant and increased the deficit. Where is our more nationalist economic policy?"

    In your dreams, just like those many large projects which Trump drove into bankruptcy.

    Right alongside the money owed to the many people he's stiffed.

    Name 3 days ago
    So after 30 years or more of " globalism" , the GOP is adopting Bernie Sanderism?
    Johnny Larue Name 3 days ago
    Uh, no.
    Name Johnny Larue 2 days ago
    Uh, it seems so. Did you even read?
    TheSnark 3 days ago • edited
    Trump pushed the tax cut because it saves him at least $20 million each year in taxes, probably closer to $50 million. That's the only reason he does anything, because he benefits personally.
    kouroi 3 days ago
    Thank you very much for posting the link to the wonderful essay by Mike Lofgren. Written 8 years ago it feels even more actual than then. I have bookmarked it for future reference.

    Looking at the US it always comes to my mind the way Rome and then Byzantium fell: a total erosion of the tax-base the rich refused to pay anything to the imperial coffers, and then some of the rich had land bigger than some modern countries... And then the barbarians came...

    Kent kouroi 3 days ago
    And, by then, the population welcomed the barbarians.
    kouroi Kent 3 days ago
    Likely true, with some exceptions... The Huns - and on that one I keep wondering if there isn't a whiff of "Yellow Peril" smell in all that outcry...
    Ray Woodcock kouroi 2 days ago • edited
    Lofgren: "What I mean by secession is a withdrawal into enclaves, an internal immigration, whereby the rich disconnect themselves from the civic life of the nation and from any concern about its well being except as a place to extract loot."

    That was in 2012, but that was what struck me about my well-to-do classmates when I transferred from Cal State Long Beach to Columbia University in 1977 . Suddenly I was among people who saw America, American laws, and a shared sense of civic responsibility as quaint, bothersome, rather tangential to the project of promoting oneself and/or one's special interest.

    kouroi Ray Woodcock 2 days ago
    Cold, eh mate? Reptiles, lizards...?
    Adriana Pena 3 days ago
    Did you ever hope that Trump would do what you wanted? You are adorable
    sam 3 days ago
    The only way that factories would come back is when Americans start buying made in America. We can't wait for ANY government to bring those factories and jobs ( and technology) . Only people voting with their pocketbooks can do it.
    J Villain 3 days ago
    Still waiting for the day the first American asks "What have WE done wrong?" Rather than just following in Trumps step and playing the victim card every step of the way and wondering why nothing gets better.
    Blood Alcohol J Villain 3 days ago
    nuffsaid. The blood is on everyone's hands.

    [May 28, 2020] US Lawmakers Propose Total Ban On STEM Visas For Chinese Students

    May 28, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

    US Lawmakers Propose Total Ban On STEM Visas For Chinese Students by Tyler Durden Thu, 05/28/2020 - 10:45 As the White House prepares to eject Chinese graduate students with ties to the PLA, three US lawmakers are taking things a step further - proposing a bill which would ban mainland Chinese students from studying STEM subjects in the United States .

    Chinese and other international students wave flags at 2018 Columbia University commencement ceremony.

    Two senators and one House member said on Wednesday that the Secure Campus Act would bar Chinese nationals from obtaining visas for graduate or postgraduate studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Students from Taiwan and Hong Kong would be exempt , according to SCMP .

    "The Chinese Communist Party has long used American universities to conduct espionage on the United States," said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK), one of the bill's sponsors, adding "What's worse is that their efforts exploit gaps in current law. It's time for that to end."

    "The Secure Campus Act will protect our national security and maintain the integrity of the American research enterprise."

    The proposed legislation comes as diplomatic relations have fractured between the world's two largest economies. The fissures started to show during a trade war that has been rumbling on for almost two years and have only widened amid accusations about the handling of the Covid-19 disease outbreak , and the treatment of ethnic minority groups in China.

    Hong Kong is the latest flashpoint after Beijing drew up a national security law that Washington says tramples on the city's mini-constitution. The US threatened retaliation over the move. -SCMP

    The bill will also tackle China's efforts to recruit talent overseas through their Thousand Talents Program , an operation launched in 2008 by the CCP which seeks out international experts in scientific research, innovation and entrepreneurship. It proposes that participants in China's recruitment of foreigners be made to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) , and would prohibit Chinese nationals and those participating in China-sponsored programs from receiving federal grants or working on federally funded R&D in STEM fields .

    Any university, research institute or laboratory receiving federal funding would be required to attest that they are not knowingly employing participants in China's recruitment programs - a list of which the US Secretary of State would publish.

    US law enforcement and educational agencies have raised red flags about undisclosed ties between federally funded researchers and foreign governments. A crackdown has included indictments and dismissals.

    In January, Charles Lieber, 60, chairman of the chemistry and chemical biology department at Harvard University, was arrested and charged for lying about his involvement in the Thousand Talents Programme . -SCMP

    Meanwhile, earlier this month a professor at the University of Arkansas who received millions of dollars in research grants, including $500,000 from NASA, was arrested and charged with one count of wire fraud.

    According to the FBI, Ang failed to disclose that he was getting paid by a Chinese university and Chinese companies in violation of university policy. He is accused of making false statements while failing to disclose his extensive ties to China as a member of the "Thousand Talents Scholars" program.

    63-year-old Simon Saw-Teong Ang is the director of the school's High Density Electronics Center, which received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Defense (DOD) and NASA. Since 2013, Ang has been the primary investigator or co-investigator on US government-funded grants totaling over $5 million, according to the Washington Examiner .

    In November, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations chaired by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) released a 109-page bipartisan report which concluded that foreign nations "seek to exploit America's openness to advance their own national interests," the most ambitious of which "has been China," according to the Examiner . According to the report, Chinese academics involved in their so-called 'Thousand Talents' program have been exploiting access to US research labs .

    Backlash

    According to SCMP , members of the US scientific community see the US as unfairly targeting Chinese colleagues , and that the campaigns will discourage talented individuals from pursuing studies at US universities.

    "While we must be vigilant to safeguard research, we must also ensure that the US remains a desirable and welcoming destination for researchers from around the world," wrote members of 60 groups - including the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Federation of American Scientists, in a 2019 letter to science policy officials.

    The US lawmakers' proposal follows China's March decision to revoke the press credentials for US journalists from three major US newspapers - declaring five US media outlets to be foreign government proxies. In February, the Trump administration labeled five Chinese state media groups as "foreign missions" (via SCMP ).

    [May 27, 2020] Life in Hell: Online Teaching by Paul Street

    Online lectures generally require more work from the instructor, but if good written notes are created this is not that bad as described
    May 27, 2020 | www.counterpunch.org
    I had long heard rumors from academicians about how "online teaching is a nightmare," "online teaching ruined my life," "online teaching sucked the brains out of my head," "online teaching is a new and insidious form of labor degradation," and the like.

    I foolishly tended to write these complaints off as hyperbole, saying "it can't be that bad."

    No more. I get it now. The COVID-19 era, which turned my formerly in-person adjunct class into an online course, has been instructive.

    If anything, by my experience, online teaching is worse than anything I had heard or read. It has been a nightmare.

    Online teaching the first time through became a health menace for me this spring. It has been lethal, both mentally and physically, to have been hit with a massive requirement of extra, unpaid online labor, requiring energy I didn't have for hours and hours of typing, typing, typing, into a computer screen and calling, calling, and calling tech people and internet providers and computer companies on the phone.

    Unpaid and extra new online tasks and madness? Oh, indeed :

    ... ... ...

    # Hours writing comments on papers via Track Changes. (Yes, grading papers is part of the job, but the online method of doing this has been a big time-adder for me. Track Changes is new to me as an editor [though not as a writer] and [for me at least] far more time-consuming than marking and writing with a red pen. It also gave me an intimate new look at how shockingly awful many students' writing skills are, something that has added considerably to the amount of time I have spent doing comments.)

    # Hours and hours spent trying to somehow make Zoom work via XXX.edu (this after my wife and numerous friends told me that private Zoom was "super-hack-able").

    # Hours spent filming Panopto video lectures that were erased until I got the hang of the idiosyncratic process (this had me nearly in tears during the second week).

    # Hours spent trying to edit a couple of Panopto videos that had been marred by household and neighborhood noise and interruptions.

    # Hours spent taking my computer down to sit outside the (closed) University of Iowa library in effort to hijack its powerful Wi-Fi to upload videos after Zoom (seemed to have) crashed my upload capacity (exactly why that crash occurred in Week 6 is still a mystery).

    # Hours spent trying to explain to students how D2L works (as if I really knew).

    Especially taxing have been he hours I've spent emailing with students like X1, who was angry over the creation of Facebook group for the class and who told me (no joke) that I have no right to comment on his failure to copy-edit his paper because he found a typo in one of my many group emails.

    Another good soul-crushing online time-suck was student X2, who handed in a paper brazenly stolen from an online Website (with a few small word changes). He denied his plagiarism and then confessed by saying that "I frankly think that writing papers is a waste of time ."

    (I would have reported X2, but I decided not to since I could not stomach yet more time typing, typing, typing into a computer screen, as would have been required if I'd gone to Academic Integrity.)

    It gets worse. I have also now spent hours and hours responding to false charges lodged against me online (how else?) by (an) unnamed student(s) and sadly taken seriously by a university dean. One such charge claims that I am "unreachable." That is nonsense: I have made my XXX.edu email and two of my private emails fully available to all students. I check each one of these email accounts twice daily.

    Another bogus charge claims that I gave a bad and punishing grade to a student's online comment because I disagreed with it. That is sheer nonsense. Online comments have no "grade" in my class. And I have explained again and again to students (and I reiterated my explanation quite clearly in the instance in question) that there is no grading penalty for disagreeing with me or any of my assigned authors – and no grading boost for agreeing with me or my assigned authors. I merely require that students show some meaningful engagement with my arguments and those of my assigned authors.

    Another false complaint relayed to me and taken seriously by a dean claims that I told students that they "all write like fifth graders." Nope: I said I would no longer read papers handed in without students having first done an elementary copy-edit. I sent a few papers back to students, asking them to use the editing function in Word and suggesting that they read their first drafts aloud to themselves. I recommended the university's first-rate Writing Center as a student resource and I added a few specific comments on things like punctuation and paragraph breaks.

    I had to explain all this in a long email to the academic authorities, who took the charges seriously because the Dean of Students took them seriously. In a recent email, I asked if any student or the dean had provided any actual evidence for their charges. The response: crickets.

    There is no extra pay for the time spent responding to absurd charges, just as there is no extra pay for the endless hours I've spent trying to work with the instructional technology, the tech staff, computer and printer companies, and so on .

    Online teaching for me has been a bad dream, even more base and cruel than what I had heard. I would only wish it on my very worst enemies .

    Three things have made it especially horrific in my experience this spring:

    (1) The inherent awfulness of online teaching has been significantly exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis, which has made coordination exceedingly difficult and has all kinds of collateral consequences.

    (2) I already spend a lot of time on a computer due to my ongoing writing career. The last thing a writer wants is another job that involves hours and hours and hours of typing, typing, typing into a computer screen. Give me a janitorial position before that!

    (3) As a teacher I am employed as an adjunct, paid per course, not by the hour. Prior to the online transition, the hourly rate was decent. With the extra work involved in Covid-era online instruction, it is more like sweatshop labor. By my best guess, the labor time has at the very least doubled (it may have tripled in my case). Along the way, the work requirements have interfered with the other paid work I do, which now earns at a higher hourly rate (it did not before).

    As Daniel Falcone writes, paraphrasing the political scientist Stephen Zunes, "the work has doubled and the rewards have been diminished." And, I would respectfully add, the harassment and abuse have escalated.

    I've been searching through my long employment record trying to recall a worse occupational experience: my second job ever, as an 18-year-old dishwasher in a diner (Augie's) on Chicago's North Clark St. The dishes and silverware and plates piled up endlessly, far beyond my capacity to load and wash them. Every ten minutes or so, the restaurant's Greek owner would come back and yell at me. This went on for weeks until one Friday night, when it was especially bad, I just put my coat on and walked out the back door into a black alley and never returned. I sacrificed two week's pay and it was worth it.

    Walking out of an online curse (I am going to leave that typo – this course is a curse ) is not an option: students are depending on a grade for this quarter and their folks have paid (absurdly) big tuition, so I will stick it out.

    Thank God it is almost over – the nightmare ends in two weeks and I have some serious and relevant intellectual and political work to do full time when it does. We are living and dying, after all, under a new American and global neo-fascism in a period of dire capitalogenic epidemiological, ecological, and economic crisis. This no freaking time to be spending hours online and on the phone trying to make yet another idiosyncratic XXX.edu program work, trying to rally alienated students who have other priorities, and arguing with people who think it is authoritarian bullying to want college-level students to edit their papers and write complete sentences that end with a period instead of a comma.

    [May 26, 2020] 6 ways a drop in international students could set back US higher education by David L. Di Maria

    May 26, 2020 | theconversation.com

    Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, fewer and fewer international students were coming to study in the United States.

    While the number of international students who newly enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities during the 2015-2016 school year stood at more than 300,000 , by the 2018-2019 school year, that number had fallen by about 10% to less than 270,000.

    This trend will undoubtedly accelerate in the fall of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The American Council on Education predicts that overall international enrollment for the next academic year will decline by as much as 25% . That means there could be 220,000 fewer international students in the U.S. than the approximately 870,000 there are now.

    One reason is that the U.S. has more COVID-19 cases than any other country . Other reasons include disapproval among international students regarding the U.S. response to COVID-19 compared to other nations, the ongoing suspension of the processing of U.S. visas and negative perceptions of the Trump administration's immigration policies and rhetoric .

    As an international education professional, I foresee six major ways that the expected steep decline in international enrollment will change U.S. higher education and the economy.

    1. Higher tuition

    International students often pay full tuition , which averages more than US$26,000 per year at public four-year institutions and $36,000 at private nonprofit four-year institutions. That matters because the tuition from foreign students provides extra funds to subsidize the costs of enrolling more students from the U.S. At public colleges and universities, the revenue generated from international enrollment also helps to make up for cuts in state funding for higher education.

    One study found that for every 10% drop in state funding for higher education, international enrollment increased by 12-17% at public research universities from 1996 to 2012.

    According to the Institute of International Education's 2019 Open Doors Report , 872,214 international students are enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities.

    As states cut budgets due to the loss of tax revenue brought on by the economic crisis caused by COVID-19, many institutions of higher education will be forced to raise tuition . While this may help college and university finances in the short term, in the long term it will make it more difficult for international students to be able to afford to study in the U.S., which in turn will make the U.S. a less attractive study destination.

    ... ... ...

    Associate Vice Provost for International Education, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

    [May 23, 2020] Neoliberalism promised freedom instead it delivers stifling control by George Monbiot

    Highly recommended!
    From comments: " neoliberalism to be a techno-economic order of control, requiring a state apparatus to enforce wholly artificial directives. Also, the work of recent critics of data markets such as Shoshana Zuboff has shown capitalism to be evolving into a totalitarian system of control through cybernetic data aggregation."
    "... By rolling back the state, neoliberalism was supposed to have allowed autonomy and creativity to flourish. Instead, it has delivered a semi-privatised authoritarianism more oppressive than the system it replaced. ..."
    "... Workers find themselves enmeshed in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy , centrally controlled and micromanaged. Organisations that depend on a cooperative ethic – such as schools and hospitals – are stripped down, hectored and forced to conform to suffocating diktats. The introduction of private capital into public services – that would herald a glorious new age of choice and openness – is brutally enforced. The doctrine promises diversity and freedom but demands conformity and silence. ..."
    "... Their problem is that neoliberal theology, as well as seeking to roll back the state, insists that collective bargaining and other forms of worker power be eliminated (in the name of freedom, of course). So the marketisation and semi-privatisation of public services became not so much a means of pursuing efficiency as an instrument of control. ..."
    "... Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd. The bureaucratic quantification of public administration goes far beyond an attempt at discerning efficacy. It has become an end in itself. ..."
    Notable quotes:
    "... By rolling back the state, neoliberalism was supposed to have allowed autonomy and creativity to flourish. Instead, it has delivered a semi-privatised authoritarianism more oppressive than the system it replaced. ..."
    "... Workers find themselves enmeshed in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy , centrally controlled and micromanaged. Organisations that depend on a cooperative ethic – such as schools and hospitals – are stripped down, hectored and forced to conform to suffocating diktats. The introduction of private capital into public services – that would herald a glorious new age of choice and openness – is brutally enforced. The doctrine promises diversity and freedom but demands conformity and silence. ..."
    "... Their problem is that neoliberal theology, as well as seeking to roll back the state, insists that collective bargaining and other forms of worker power be eliminated (in the name of freedom, of course). So the marketisation and semi-privatisation of public services became not so much a means of pursuing efficiency as an instrument of control. ..."
    "... Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd. The bureaucratic quantification of public administration goes far beyond an attempt at discerning efficacy. It has become an end in itself. ..."
    "... The other point to be made is that the return of fundamentalist nationalism is arguably a radicalized form of neoliberalism. ..."
    "... Therefore, neoliberal hegemony can only be perpetuated with authoritarian, nationalist ideologies and an order of market feudalism. In other words, neoliberalism's authoritarian orientations, previously effaced beneath discourses of egalitarian free-enterprise, become overt. ..."
    "... The market is no longer an enabler of private enterprise, but something more like a medieval religion, conferring ultimate authority on a demagogue. Individual entrepreneurs collectivise into a 'people' serving a market which has become synonymous with nationhood. ..."
    Apr 10, 2019 | www.theguardian.com

    Thousands of people march through London to protest against underfunding and privatisation of the NHS. Photograph: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Images M y life was saved last year by the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, through a skilful procedure to remove a cancer from my body . Now I will need another operation, to remove my jaw from the floor. I've just learned what was happening at the hospital while I was being treated. On the surface, it ran smoothly. Underneath, unknown to me, was fury and tumult. Many of the staff had objected to a decision by the National Health Service to privatise the hospital's cancer scanning . They complained that the scanners the private company was offering were less sensitive than the hospital's own machines. Privatisation, they said, would put patients at risk. In response, as the Guardian revealed last week , NHS England threatened to sue the hospital for libel if its staff continued to criticise the decision.

    The dominant system of political thought in this country, which produced both the creeping privatisation of public health services and this astonishing attempt to stifle free speech, promised to save us from dehumanising bureaucracy. By rolling back the state, neoliberalism was supposed to have allowed autonomy and creativity to flourish. Instead, it has delivered a semi-privatised authoritarianism more oppressive than the system it replaced.

    Workers find themselves enmeshed in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy , centrally controlled and micromanaged. Organisations that depend on a cooperative ethic – such as schools and hospitals – are stripped down, hectored and forced to conform to suffocating diktats. The introduction of private capital into public services – that would herald a glorious new age of choice and openness – is brutally enforced. The doctrine promises diversity and freedom but demands conformity and silence.

    Much of the theory behind these transformations arises from the work of Ludwig von Mises. In his book Bureaucracy , published in 1944, he argued that there could be no accommodation between capitalism and socialism. The creation of the National Health Service in the UK, the New Deal in the US and other experiments in social democracy would lead inexorably to the bureaucratic totalitarianism of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

    He recognised that some state bureaucracy was inevitable; there were certain functions that could not be discharged without it. But unless the role of the state is minimised – confined to defence, security, taxation, customs and not much else – workers would be reduced to cogs "in a vast bureaucratic machine", deprived of initiative and free will.

    By contrast, those who labour within an "unhampered capitalist system" are "free men", whose liberty is guaranteed by "an economic democracy in which every penny gives a right to vote". He forgot to add that some people, in his capitalist utopia, have more votes than others. And those votes become a source of power.

    His ideas, alongside the writings of Friedrich Hayek , Milton Friedman and other neoliberal thinkers, have been applied in this country by Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron, Theresa May and, to an alarming extent, Tony Blair. All of those have attempted to privatise or marketise public services in the name of freedom and efficiency, but they keep hitting the same snag: democracy. People want essential services to remain public, and they are right to do so.

    If you hand public services to private companies, either you create a private monopoly, which can use its dominance to extract wealth and shape the system to serve its own needs – or you introduce competition, creating an incoherent, fragmented service characterised by the institutional failure you can see every day on our railways. We're not idiots, even if we are treated as such. We know what the profit motive does to public services.

    So successive governments decided that if they could not privatise our core services outright, they would subject them to "market discipline". Von Mises repeatedly warned against this approach. "No reform could transform a public office into a sort of private enterprise," he cautioned. The value of public administration "cannot be expressed in terms of money". "Government efficiency and industrial efficiency are entirely different things."

    "Intellectual work cannot be measured and valued by mechanical devices." "You cannot 'measure' a doctor according to the time he employs in examining one case." They ignored his warnings.

    Their problem is that neoliberal theology, as well as seeking to roll back the state, insists that collective bargaining and other forms of worker power be eliminated (in the name of freedom, of course). So the marketisation and semi-privatisation of public services became not so much a means of pursuing efficiency as an instrument of control.

    Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd. The bureaucratic quantification of public administration goes far beyond an attempt at discerning efficacy. It has become an end in itself.

    Its perversities afflict all public services. Schools teach to the test , depriving children of a rounded and useful education. Hospitals manipulate waiting times, shuffling patients from one list to another. Police forces ignore some crimes, reclassify others, and persuade suspects to admit to extra offences to improve their statistics . Universities urge their researchers to write quick and superficial papers , instead of deep monographs, to maximise their scores under the research excellence framework.

    As a result, public services become highly inefficient for an obvious reason: the destruction of staff morale. Skilled people, including surgeons whose training costs hundreds of thousands of pounds, resign or retire early because of the stress and misery the system causes. The leakage of talent is a far greater waste than any inefficiencies this quantomania claims to address.

    New extremes in the surveillance and control of workers are not, of course, confined to the public sector. Amazon has patented a wristband that can track workers' movements and detect the slightest deviation from protocol. Technologies are used to monitor peoples' keystrokes, language, moods and tone of voice. Some companies have begun to experiment with the micro-chipping of their staff . As the philosopher Byung-Chul Han points out , neoliberal work practices, epitomised by the gig economy, that reclassifies workers as independent contractors, internalise exploitation. "Everyone is a self-exploiting worker in their own enterprise."

    The freedom we were promised turns out to be freedom for capital , gained at the expense of human liberty. The system neoliberalism has created is a bureaucracy that tends towards absolutism, produced in the public services by managers mimicking corporate executives, imposing inappropriate and self-defeating efficiency measures, and in the private sector by subjection to faceless technologies that can brook no argument or complaint.

    Attempts to resist are met by ever more extreme methods, such as the threatened lawsuit at the Churchill Hospital. Such instruments of control crush autonomy and creativity. It is true that the Soviet bureaucracy von Mises rightly denounced reduced its workers to subjugated drones. But the system his disciples have created is heading the same way.

    George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist


    Pinkie123 , 12 Apr 2019 03:23

    The other point to be made is that the return of fundamentalist nationalism is arguably a radicalized form of neoliberalism. If 'free markets' of enterprising individuals have been tested to destruction, then capitalism is unable to articulate an ideology with which to legitimise itself.

    Therefore, neoliberal hegemony can only be perpetuated with authoritarian, nationalist ideologies and an order of market feudalism. In other words, neoliberalism's authoritarian orientations, previously effaced beneath discourses of egalitarian free-enterprise, become overt.

    The market is no longer an enabler of private enterprise, but something more like a medieval religion, conferring ultimate authority on a demagogue. Individual entrepreneurs collectivise into a 'people' serving a market which has become synonymous with nationhood.

    A corporate state emerges, free of the regulatory fetters of democracy. The final restriction on the market - democracy itself - is removed. There then is no separate market and state, just a totalitarian market state.

    glisson , 12 Apr 2019 00:10
    This is the best piece of writing on neoliberalism I have ever seen. Look, 'what is in general good and probably most importantly what is in the future good'. Why are we collectively not viewing everything that way? Surely those thoughts should drive us all?
    economicalternative -> Pinkie123 , 11 Apr 2019 21:33
    Pinkie123: So good to read your understandings of neoliberalism. The political project is the imposition of the all seeing all knowing 'market' on all aspects of human life. This version of the market is an 'information processor'. Speaking of the different idea of the laissez-faire version of market/non market areas and the function of the night watchman state are you aware there are different neoliberalisms? The EU for example runs on the version called 'ordoliberalism'. I understand that this still sees some areas of society as separate from 'the market'?
    economicalternative -> ADamnSmith2016 , 11 Apr 2019 21:01
    ADamnSmith: Philip Mirowski has discussed this 'under the radar' aspect of neoliberalism. How to impose 'the market' on human affairs - best not to be to explicit about what you are doing. Only recently has some knowledge about the actual neoliberal project been appearing. Most people think of neoliberalism as 'making the rich richer' - just a ramped up version of capitalism. That's how the left has thought of it and they have been ineffective in stopping its implementation.
    economicalternative , 11 Apr 2019 20:42
    Finally. A writer who can talk about neoliberalism as NOT being a retro version of classical laissez faire liberalism. It is about imposing "The Market" as the sole arbiter of Truth on us all.
    Only the 'Market' knows what is true in life - no need for 'democracy' or 'education'. Neoliberals believe - unlike classical liberals with their view of people as rational individuals acting in their own self-interest - people are inherently 'unreliable', stupid. Only entrepreneurs - those close to the market - can know 'the truth' about anything. To succeed we all need to take our cues in life from what the market tells us. Neoliberalism is not about a 'small state'. The state is repurposed to impose the 'all knowing' market on everyone and everything. That is neoliberalism's political project. It is ultimately not about 'economics'.
    Pinkie123 , 11 Apr 2019 13:27
    The left have been entirely wrong to believe that neoliberalism is a mobilisation of anarchic, 'free' markets. It never was so. Only a few more acute thinkers on the left (Jacques Ranciere, Foucault, Deleuze and, more recently, Mark Fisher, Wendy Brown, Will Davies and David Graeber) have understood neoliberalism to be a techno-economic order of control, requiring a state apparatus to enforce wholly artificial directives. Also, the work of recent critics of data markets such as Shoshana Zuboff has shown capitalism to be evolving into a totalitarian system of control through cybernetic data aggregation.


    Only in theory is neoliberalism a form of laissez-faire. Neoliberalism is not a case of the state saying, as it were: 'OK everyone, we'll impose some very broad legal parameters, so we'll make sure the police will turn up if someone breaks into your house; but otherwise we'll hang back and let you do what you want'. Hayek is perfectly clear that a strong state is required to force people to act according to market logic. If left to their own devices, they might collectivise, think up dangerous utopian ideologies, and the next thing you know there would be socialism. This the paradox of neoliberalism as an intellectual critique of government: a socialist state can only be prohibited with an equally strong state. That is, neoliberals are not opposed to a state as such, but to a specifically centrally-planned state based on principles of social justice - a state which, to Hayek's mind, could only end in t totalitarianism. Because concepts of social justice are expressed in language, neoliberals are suspicious of linguistic concepts, regarding them as politically dangerous. Their preference has always been for numbers. Hence, market bureaucracy aims for the quantification of all values - translating the entirety of social reality into metrics, data, objectively measurable price signals. Numbers are safe. The laws of numbers never change. Numbers do not lead to revolutions. Hence, all the audit, performance review and tick-boxing that has been enforced into public institutions serves to render them forever subservient to numerical (market) logic. However, because social institutions are not measurable, attempts to make them so become increasingly mystical and absurd. Administrators manage data that has no relation to reality. Quantitatively unmeasurable things - like happiness or success - are measured, with absurd results.

    It should be understood (and I speak above all as a critic of neoliberalism) that neoliberal ideology is not merely a system of class power, but an entire metaphysic, a way of understanding the world that has an emotional hold over people. For any ideology to universalize itself, it must be based on some very powerful ideas. Hayek and Von Mises were Jewish fugitives of Nazism, living through the worst horrors of twentieth-century totalitarianism. There are passages of Hayek's that describe a world operating according to the rules of a benign abstract system that make it sound rather lovely. To understand neoliberalism, we must see that it has an appeal.

    However, there is no perfect order of price signals. People do not simply act according to economic self-interest. Therefore, neoliberalism is a utopian political project like any other, requiring the brute power of the state to enforce ideological tenets. With tragic irony, the neoliberal order eventually becomes not dissimilar to the totalitarian regimes that Hayek railed against.

    manolito22 -> MrJoe , 11 Apr 2019 08:14
    Nationalised rail in the UK was under-funded and 'set up to fail' in its latter phase to make privatisation seem like an attractive prospect. I have travelled by train under both nationalisation and privatisation and the latter has been an unmitigated disaster in my experience. Under privatisation, public services are run for the benefit of shareholders and CEO's, rather than customers and citizens and under the opaque shroud of undemocratic 'commercial confidentiality'.
    Galluses , 11 Apr 2019 07:26
    What has been very noticeable about the development of bureaucracy in the public and private spheres over the last 40 years (since Thatcher govt of 79) has been the way systems are designed now to place responsibility and culpability on the workers delivering the services - Teachers, Nurses, social workers, etc. While those making the policies, passing the laws, overseeing the regulations- viz. the people 'at the top', now no longer take the rap when something goes wrong- they may be the Captain of their particular ship, but the responsibility now rests with the man sweeping the decks. Instead they are covered by tying up in knots those teachers etc. having to fill in endless check lists and reports, which have as much use as clicking 'yes' one has understood those long legal terms provided by software companies.... yet are legally binding. So how the hell do we get out of this mess? By us as individuals uniting through unions or whatever and saying NO. No to your dumb educational directives, No to your cruel welfare policies, No to your stupid NHS mismanagement.... there would be a lot of No's but eventually we could say collectively 'Yes I did the right thing'.
    fairshares -> rjb04tony , 11 Apr 2019 07:17
    'The left wing dialogue about neoliberalism used to be that it was the Wild West and that anything goes. Now apparently it's a machine of mass control.'

    It is the Wild West and anything goes for the corporate entities, and a machine of control of the masses. Hence the wish of neoliberals to remove legislation that protects workers and consumers.

    [May 23, 2020] Academies are unaccountable bureaucracies with very expensive layers of management while teachers are badly paid and are being laid off

    Notable quotes:
    "... Meanwhile - as Public Services are devalued and denuded in this system the private sector becomes increasingly wealthy at the top while its workers become poorer and less powerful at the bottom ..."
    "... Education is a prime example of where neoliberalism has had a negative effect. ..."
    May 23, 2020 | discussion.theguardian.com

    Luxgeoff , 11 Apr 2019 12:42

    It's the same in education. Academies are unaccountable bureaucracies with very expensive layers of management while teachers are being laid off in some of the most deprived areas of the country, exemplified by this story from Sheffield

    https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/latest/strike-at-sheffield-school-over-plans-to-make-15-teachers-redundant-1-9653749

    JohnS58 , 11 Apr 2019 06:15
    Only the greedy, selfish, well off, egotistical and share holders believe that Public Services should, could and would benefit from privatisation and deregulation.

    Education and Health for example are (in theory) a universal right in the UK. As numbers in the population rise and demographics change so do costs ie delivery of the service becomes more expensive.As market force logic is introduced it also becomes less responsive - hence people not able to get the right drugs and treatment and challenging and challenged young people being denied an education that is vital for them in increasing numbers.

    Meanwhile - as Public Services are devalued and denuded in this system the private sector becomes increasingly wealthy at the top while its workers become poorer and less powerful at the bottom.

    With the introduction of Tory austerity which punishes the latter to the benefit of the former there is no surprise that this system does not work and has provided a platform for the unscrupulous greedy and corrupt to exploit Brexit and produce conditions which will take 'Neiliberalism' to where logic suggests it would always go - with the powerful rich protected minority exerting their power over an increasingly poor and powerless majority.

    Olympia1881 -> Centrecourt , 11 Apr 2019 05:46
    Education is a prime example of where neoliberalism has had a negative effect. It worked well when labour was pumping billions into it and they invested in early intervention schemes such as sure start and nursery expansion. Unfortunately under the tories we have had those progressive policies scaled right back. Children with SEND and/or in care are commodities bought and sold by local authorities. I've been working in a PRU which is a private company and it does good things, but I can't help but think if that was in the public sector that it would be in a purpose built building rather than some scruffy office with no playground. The facilities aren't what you would expect in this day in age. If we had a proper functioning government with a plan then what happens with vulnerable children would be properly organised rather than a reactive shit show.

    [May 19, 2020] If the American Dream is alive and well, why would MSM need to repeat it again and again?

    Notable quotes:
    "... 1978 was the last year real wages showed significant growth in real terms in the USA. After that, came the great stagnation of the neoliberal era (1978-2008), 30 consecutive years of frozen earns for the American working classes. This era is not marked by a slow down in consumption, though. On the contrary: consumption continued to rise, but, this time, it was mainly debt-fueled. Americans wages stagnated, but they didn't want to give up their hyperconsumption privileges, so they contracted debt after debt. ..."
    "... As the timeline shows, it is a myth neoliberalism begun in the USA only with Reagan's election in 1980. Most neoliberal reforms begun during Jimmy Carter's second half of his lonely term (1978-1980). It was Jimmy Carter, for example, who hired (nominated) Paul Volcker to the Fed. Other essential Acts that paved the way to neoliberalism were also passed during Jimmy Carter's later part of the reign. ..."
    "... I heard some politician suggest that while many of the jobs will never come back that people can learn to code. We need drug testing for our politicians. I 'code' and I'm wetting my pants. It's not because I think that it's so easy I an be easily replaced but but we still need demand. If everyone is losing their jobs ... terrifies me. ..."
    May 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
    If it were true why would they need to repeat it again and again?

    vk , May 19 2020 13:22 utc | 21

    If it were true why would they need to repeat it again and again? The American Dream died in 1969 - the last year of the post-war miracle in the USA. For the following five years, the country continued to flourish, but at a clear slower pace. With the oil crisis of 1974-5, the American Dream definitely died, albeit some indicators (e.g. real wages) still showed some improvements.

    1978 was the last year real wages showed significant growth in real terms in the USA. After that, came the great stagnation of the neoliberal era (1978-2008), 30 consecutive years of frozen earns for the American working classes. This era is not marked by a slow down in consumption, though. On the contrary: consumption continued to rise, but, this time, it was mainly debt-fueled. Americans wages stagnated, but they didn't want to give up their hyperconsumption privileges, so they contracted debt after debt.

    As the timeline shows, it is a myth neoliberalism begun in the USA only with Reagan's election in 1980. Most neoliberal reforms begun during Jimmy Carter's second half of his lonely term (1978-1980). It was Jimmy Carter, for example, who hired (nominated) Paul Volcker to the Fed. Other essential Acts that paved the way to neoliberalism were also passed during Jimmy Carter's later part of the reign.


    Jen , May 19 2020 10:58 utc | 6

    Not only does the headline "The American Dream is Alive and Well" need to be repeated ad nauseam but also the narrative it promotes, of the immigrant family that succeeds through sheer hard work and dedication and nothing else - no help from government subsidies or relatives already in the country, no dependence on bank loans that help start a business or put teenagers through college, no discrimination whatsoever - has to be hammered constantly over and over, even when everyone can see that the story template no longer has any legs if it ever had any.

    For all the sophisticated techniques and tools of propaganda that the likes of Edward Bernays and his followers in the PR industry bequeathed to the US, the elites and their mass media lackeys can't even get the repetition to look and sound more than banal and one-dimensional.

    William Gruff , May 19 2020 12:58 utc | 18
    Jen @6: "For all the sophisticated techniques and tools of propaganda that the likes of Edward Bernays and his followers in the PR industry bequeathed to the US, the elites and their mass media lackeys can't even get the repetition to look and sound more than banal and one-dimensional."

    Nice observation that incompetence is pervasive even among the empire's most important servants. It must be asked, though, if better talent is really necessary? The propaganda and brainwashing may be ham fisted and blunt as a hammer, but it does seem to work nonetheless.

    Anyway, the more sophisticated brainwashing is not in the infotainment field but rather in the supposedly pure entertainment domain. Redneck dynasties built upon the monster retail bonanza from selling duck lures, for example. Those implant "The American Dream" directly into the subconscious without the need for awkward capitalist ideological exposition, bypassing any potential bullshit filters that the typical media consumers might possess.

    lizard , May 19 2020 12:56 utc | 17
    I wonder what America would have become if sociopaths like Allen Dulles hadn't relocated to Nazi braintrust after WWII. maybe it was inevitable that we would become the 4th reich.

    David Talbot's book The Devil's Chessboard should be required reading for all Americans.

    William Gruff , May 19 2020 12:58 utc | 18
    Jen @6: "For all the sophisticated techniques and tools of propaganda that the likes of Edward Bernays and his followers in the PR industry bequeathed to the US, the elites and their mass media lackeys can't even get the repetition to look and sound more than banal and one-dimensional."

    Nice observation that incompetence is pervasive even among the empire's most important servants. It must be asked, though, if better talent is really necessary? The propaganda and brainwashing may be ham fisted and blunt as a hammer, but it does seem to work nonetheless.

    Anyway, the more sophisticated brainwashing is not in the infotainment field but rather in the supposedly pure entertainment domain. Redneck dynasties built upon the monster retail bonanza from selling duck lures, for example. Those implant "The American Dream" directly into the subconscious without the need for awkward capitalist ideological exposition, bypassing any potential bullshit filters that the typical media consumers might possess.

    Linda Amick , May 19 2020 12:59 utc | 19
    We all know these main stream media outlets do little more than pump out propaganda to the ignorant masses who need someone to tell them what they want to hear.
    Christian J Chuba , May 19 2020 13:01 utc | 20
    May 2020, seriously???

    Wow, those guys were phoning it in. 1. Their dreamland pieces were identical to the ones in 2015, 2. the bottom 20% who they claim either don't have it so bad or can easily improve their lot, have been gutted like a fish and left out to dry. Did people write these opinion pieces or robots, robots could easily replace their jobs, pity their jobs won't be automated but I really don't see why they couldn't be. Actually Neocons could be replaced by automatons.

    Recent contributions, burger flippers => code slingers

    I heard some politician suggest that while many of the jobs will never come back that people can learn to code. We need drug testing for our politicians. I 'code' and I'm wetting my pants. It's not because I think that it's so easy I an be easily replaced but but we still need demand. If everyone is losing their jobs ... terrifies me.

    Richard Steven Hack , May 19 2020 12:02 utc | 15
    As an aside that is nonetheless relevant, dealing as it does with issues of the responsibility that banks have for the mess in this world, I recommend watching the TV series, "Devils", described here on Wikipedia:

    Devils (TV series)
    https://tinyurl.com/yb8cbwsq


    Plot

    London, 2011. The Italian Massimo Ruggero is the head of trading at the banking giant American New York - London Bank (NYL). While the financial crisis is raging across Europe, Massimo is making hundreds of millions thanks to speculation. His mentor is Dominic Morgan, the American CEO of NYL and the closest thing to a father Massimo has ever had. He fully supports it, the talented trader seems to be the first choice in the run for vice-CEO. But when Massimo is unwillingly involved in a scandal that sees his ex-wife implicated as an escort, Dominic denies him the promotion, instead choosing the old school banker Edward Stuart.

    Massimo is amazed: his father turns his back on him. Convinced that he has been set up, Massimo is determined to bring out the truth, but when Edward suddenly dies, Massimo realizes that something bigger is at stake. With the help of his team and a group of hackers, Massimo will discover the plot hidden behind apparently unrelated events such as the Strauss-Kahn scandal, the war in Libya and the PIIGS crisis. Finding himself in front of the Devils who pull the ropes of the world, Massimo will have to choose whether to fight them or join them.

    The series is well-written and well-acted. If you have access to it (I get it off the Internet, but it does not appear to be available in the US market yet), it's well worth watching. It is in some ways better than "Deep State", the spy series that was on a season or two ago. It has already been renewed for a second season.

    [May 16, 2020] Reopening Isn't only about Reopening -- It's also about forcefully removing people from unemployment insurance by Peter Dorman

    May 16, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

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

    Donald Trump, cheering on his "warriors" who demand that states lift their lockdown and distancing orders (where they have them), would have you believe this is about bringing the economy back to life so ordinary people can get their jobs and normal lives back. Elitist liberals who work from home and have country estates to retreat to don't care, but "real" people do.

    The reality is different. The shuttering of stores, restaurants, hotels and workplaces didn't begin with government orders and won't end with them. If the rate of new infection and death is too high, a lot of people won't go along. Not everyone, but enough to make a huge economic difference. Ask any small business owner what it would mean for demand to drop by 25-50%. Lifting government orders won't magically restore the economic conditions of mid-winter. So what's it about? Even as it makes a big PR show of supporting state by state "liberation" in America, the Trump administration is advising state governments on how to remove workers from unemployment insurance once orders are lifted. Without government directives, employers can demand workers show up, and if they refuse they no longer qualify. And why might workers refuse? Perhaps because their workplaces are still unsafe and they have vulnerable family members they want to keep from getting infected? Not good enough -- once the state has been "liberated".

    How should we respond to this travesty? First, of course, by telling the truth that an anti-worker, anti-human campaign is being conducted under the guise of defending workers. If the Democrats weren't themselves such a tool of business interests we might hear that narrative from them, but the rest of us are free to speak out and should start doing it, loudly, wherever we can.

    Second, one of the laws of the land is the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which gives workers the right to refuse imminently hazardous work. This hasn't been used very often, nor is there much case law around it, but the current pandemic is a good reason to pull it out of storage.

    If there are public interest law firms looking for something useful to do during distancing, they could advertise their willingness to defend workers who need to stay home until work is safe -- while still getting their paycheck. If employers thought the choice was between public support for workers sitting out the pandemic or their support for them we might hear less about "liberation".


    none , May 14, 2020 at 10:30 am

    They want to throw people off of unemployment while using the virus threat to stop any serious protests against that. It is literally biological warfare against working people. Same class war as before, but now with CBW.

    Rod , May 14, 2020 at 10:47 am

    Taught it for years. This is the biggest net and is the # 1 Cited Violation for 1910/1926 and MSHA–ever.

    OSHA 654 5(a)1 The General Duty Clause.

    OSHA Laws & Regulations OSH Act of 1970
    OSH Act of 1970
    Table of Contents
    General Duty Clause
    Complete OSH Act Version ("All-in-One")
    SEC.
    5.
    Duties
    (a)
    Each employer --
    (1)
    29 USC 654
    shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees;
    (2)
    shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this Act.
    (b)
    Each employee shall comply with occupational safety and health standards and all rules, regulations, and orders issued pursuant to this Act which are applicable to his own actions and conduct.

    And 'Recognized' totes a lot of water.

    Rod , May 14, 2020 at 10:53 am

    Quick Take –Two way street.
    Employers mus t mitigate hazards. Employees must comply with mitigation.
    No Employer Mitigation=Breaking the Law=No Employee requirement to work in Unsafe Conditions.

    L , May 14, 2020 at 11:16 am

    "Lifting all boats" was always a lie. It was simply a way to sell trickle down by claiming that the objectively observable inequality it produced would somehow help everyone, eventually, sort of. There was not and has never been a plan by the Conservative Movement to lift all boats. Only a plan to feign interest in doing so.

    Librarian Guy , May 15, 2020 at 12:02 pm

    I agree with most of your comment except the "smarter" part.

    They don't seem smart to me, they openly plunder and loot and spit in the populace's faces. They don't even pretend to believe in or work for a "common good" anymore, really. That is the story of the 21st Century in the US, starting with Baby Bush II. (Okay, I get that the Obama crew seemed "smart" or sophisticated to the PMC and comfortable liberals, but how smart were they if they led to the open Kleptocratic Disruption of Trumpism and the God Emperor?)

    What the Elites have that the proles don't is in-group solidarity. (And a captured Media establishment.) They protect their own, while the hoi polloi fight one another for scraps.

    Hoppy , May 14, 2020 at 12:54 pm

    What is the death rate among the working age population?

    Seem like a tough hill to die on given the curve has flattened, hospitals are not overflowing, and the economy is teetering on the edge of depression.

    No one has a vaccine, this isn't going away any time soon. It's time to focus on protecting the most vulnerable instead of pretending this effects everyone equally.

    Allow states to cut benefits? Come on, UI benefits are taxed for pete's sake. 'Available to work' basically means you have start at 8am the next day which is doesn't align with any reality of hiring except in low end service sector jobs.

    campbeln , May 14, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    > and the economy is teetering on the edge of depression

    This was baked in the cake already, COVID was simply the spark that ignited all that dead wood on the forest floor.

    cripes , May 15, 2020 at 12:16 am

    campbeln:

    Yes.

    I thought the quiet transfer of trillions in helicopter money to the banksters in the last half of 2019, way before the covid craze was telling.

    How convenient.

    Wally , May 14, 2020 at 1:49 pm

    The other really significant thing is that 're-opening' doesn't necessarily mean returning to business. For example, Musk insists on re-opening Tesla the assumption being that sales are there to be had if they re-open. But if not no sales, no need for employees back down the drain we go.
    Same for restaurants. retail, hotels, transit and white collar jobs – attorneys, architects, CPAs

    DHG , May 14, 2020 at 5:48 pm

    Yup, the smart and shrewd will conceal themselves as much as possible and live, the stupid will rush out and most likely die.

    JBird4049 , May 15, 2020 at 1:20 am

    The poorest and the most desperate actually. Some people still have not received any money from the state or federal governments. The quarantine started about two months ago. So no job, no income, no money, and no joke. No matter how shrewd or smart you are sometimes you are not making the decisions. Reality makes them for you.

    KFritz , May 14, 2020 at 3:24 pm

    There's another possible reason to reopen. If the country officially reopens, there's no need for any more federal stimulus!

    campbeln , May 14, 2020 at 3:26 pm

    Bankers got their TRILLIONS?

    Pack it up, boys! We're done here.

    J.k , May 14, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    Well till the markets crashes again and they need to save the assets of the wealthiest.

    I just got a text from a buddy who is an electrician. His company just told him they are not expecting to take any major work till second quarter of next year. They will only be taking emergency calls. This is in Chicago.

    LawnDart , May 14, 2020 at 6:28 pm

    Your buddy might be able to use this link:

    https://wepoweramerica.org/hotjobs.cgi

    Granted, it's a union site, but one point that they make is how union saturation raises the wages for all workers within a given region.

    In Appalachia, I was offered $15hr. to work as an electrician. In Chicagoland, starting wages were close to or more than double that. Guess where I went in order to establish a salary history? And no, the cost of living is really not too different between those two places, but opportunities sure were.

    (moderators: in response to an "Eat the Rich!" comment, I posted a link with recipes: I apologize for this. Admittedly, it was in poor taste.)

    [May 15, 2020] US Unemployment Update

    Notable quotes:
    "... @apenultimate ..."
    May 15, 2020 | caucus99percent.com

    apenultimate on Thu, 05/14/2020 - 9:50am The past week's unemployment claims came out today, and add another 2.98 million to the pile. This brings total unemployment claims for the past 8 weeks (two months or so) to 36.5 million.

    Determining unemployment percentages depends on what data you use. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows the employment numbers for the United States in August 2019 as ~157 million ( https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat08.htm ). Admittedly, that's not March 2020 statistics, but employment numbers would not change all that much in half of a year.

    The St. Louis Federal Reserve has a different set of statistics that show 205.5 million Americans employed in March 2020 ( https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LFWA64TTUSM647S ). (They show the August 2019 period with employment at 206 million.)

    Why the huge difference? I have no idea. But going forward, I'll use both to determine unemployment numbers. Remember that in early March 2020, unemployment was already around 3%.

    Using the BLS statistics, we get an unemployment rate of 23.16% for the past 8 weeks. Add on the previous 3% of people unemployed, and you reach 26.16% unemployment.

    Using the St. Louis Fed statistics, we get an unemployment rate of 17.76% for the past 8 weeks. Add on the previous 3% of people unemployed, and you reach 20.76% unemployment.

    The peak rate of unemployment during The Great Depression was 24.9%. The peak rate of unemployment during the the Great Recession in 2008 was 10%.

    According to BLS statistics, we are already greater than Great Depression unemployment numbers.

    According to the St. Louis Fed, we are already more than double Great Recession numbers and only about 4 percentage points away from Great Depression peaks.

    The Labor Department last week reported April unemployment for the United states at 14.7%, but this according to their own admission was undercounting the real rates. Be careful of any numbers coming out of the mainstream media or government sources.

    https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Coronavirus-job-loss-Weekly...

    Some jobs will definitely come back, but many will not. For example, JC Penny's reported that they are permanently closing 200 of their 850 nationwide stores. Those jobs will not be coming back. There are weekly reports of many cafes, restaurants, and small businesses shuttering their doors for good. Those jobs will not be coming back.

    Even for the companies that do not shut down, it may be a long haul before economic activity has picked up enough to bring workers back. In most cases, it will not be a quick recovery.

    Hang on for a very rough ride. 2 users have voted.

    ggersh on Thu, 05/14/2020 - 10:52am
    This is the place to go for stats

    @apenultimate and like everything else our govt does, the unemployment number is just pure BS

    http://www.shadowstats.com/article/csfu1435

    • Headline April 2020 Unemployment Really Was Around 20%, Not 15%
    • Bureau of Labor Statistics Disclosed Erroneous Unemployment Surveying for a Second Month
    • About 7.5 Million People in the April Household Survey Were Misclassified as Employed Instead of Unemployed, per the BLS
    • Headline April U.3 Unemployment at 14.7%, Should Have Been 19.5%
    • The BLS Had Disclosed the Same Surveying Error Last Month; Where Headline March 2020 U.3 Was 4.4%, It Should Have Been 5.3%
    • Per the BLS, Headline Data Will Not Be Corrected: "To maintain data integrity, no ad hoc actions are taken to reclassify survey responses."
    • Nonetheless, Headline April Unemployment Soared to Historic Highs from March: U.3 from 4.4% to 14.7%, U.6 from 8.7% to 22.8% and ShadowStats from 22.9% to 35.4%
    • More Realistic, Those Same Unemployment Numbers, Corrected: U.3 from 5.3 % to 19.5%, U.6 from 9.6% to 27.7% and ShadowStats from 23.7% to 39.6%
    • April 2020 Payrolls Collapsed by an Unprecedented 20.5 Million Jobs
    • Annual Growth in April 2020 Money Supply Measures Soared to Historic Highs
    • U.S. Economic Activity Has Collapsed to Great Depression Levels, with the Federal Reserve Creating Unlimited Money

    apenultimate on Thu, 05/14/2020 - 10:58am
    Nice

    @ggersh

    Thanks for that. Seems like a large percentage of the difference is that BLS says 7.5 million were mis-classified as employed.

    At the very least, it seems the BLS does a bit of correcting, whereas the Fed does not.

    gulfgal98 on Thu, 05/14/2020 - 1:13pm
    Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell

    stated in the very beginning of this video, that of people who were employed in February of this year, nearly 40% of those earning $40,000 or less have become unemployed. This is an unprecedented human tragedy that Congress in all their bailouts now totalling about $8 Trillion have seen fit to throw a one time pittance of $1,200. With mountains of cash going to corporations and lobbyists, Congress insultingly gave real suffering Americans a few pennies and in effect told them that their lives do not matter to Washington DC.

    //www.youtube.com/embed/AROXMTDOkjw?modestbranding=0&html5=1&rel=0&autoplay=0&wmode=opaque&loop=0&controls=1&autohide=0&showinfo=0&theme=dark&color=red&enablejsapi=0

    [May 12, 2020] 'Immediate danger' Half of world's workforce could lose livelihood due to Covid-19, UN agency warns

    www.defenddemocracy.press
    The International Labour Organization (ILO) has warned that around half of the world's workforce, or 1.6 billion workers, are at imminent risk of losing their livelihood because of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. In its latest report, the UN agency stated that those hardest hit by the financial effects of the Covid-19 outbreak have been 'informal economy' workers, including the self-employed and those on a short-term contract.

    "The first month of the crisis is estimated to have resulted in a drop of 60 percent in the income of informal workers globally," the ILO said of the economic damage already caused by the pandemic.

    The deepening crisis in many parts of the world has left more than 436 million businesses facing financial hardship and possible closure, the ILO stated, which will inevitably hurt workers. The report listed the worst-hit sectors as manufacturing, accommodation and food services, wholesale and retail trade, and real estate.

    "For millions of workers, no income means no food, no security and no future," ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said of the stark impact of an economic dip.

    He added that, according to ILO data, there is expected to be a "massive" rise in poverty levels worldwide, unless governments recognize the need to reconstruct their economies around better working practices and "not a return to the pre-pandemic world of precarious work for the majority."

    Since the novel coronavirus emerged in China late last year, over 3.1 million cases have been confirmed around the world, and more than 216,000 people have died. Drastic lockdowns to limit its spread have taken a dire toll on the global economy, prompting market turmoil and numerous projections of the heavy recession to strike this year.

    [May 12, 2020] Coronavirus To Decimate Colleges and Universities

    May 12, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

    Coronavirus To Decimate Colleges and Universities Posted on May 12, 2020 by Yves Smith "Decimate" might be too charitable a forecast for American higher educational institutions, since the word originated with the Roman army practice of killing one man in ten. Coronavirus is hitting pretty much all of the bad aspects of their business models at once.

    Let's list them:

    Dependence on/preference for foreign students, often not for their accomplishments but for their ability to pay full and even premium fees . Chinese students accounted for one-third of the total. Their enrollment was already falling as of 2019.

    .

    But Chinese students' contribution to revenues is out of proportion to their numbers. From the New York Times in March :

    Universities in English-speaking countries, especially Britain, Australia and the United States, have grown increasingly dependent on tuition from Chinese students, a business model that the virus could dismantle.

    With qualifying exams postponed, travel bans spreading and anger rising among Chinese students and parents at the West's permissive attitude toward public health, enrollment could plummet in the coming years, experts said, potentially leaving countries with multibillion- dollar holes in their universities' budgets.

    Foreign students were dismayed by the way US schools shut down abruptly and gave little to no help in helping get them back home.

    Skyrocketing prices leading more students to question college or emphasize "practical" degrees . As with mortgages, access to debt has led to higher prices. And with student debt terms so draconian, more and more students are trading down: going to cheaper schools or focusing on programs that teach harder skills that hopefully translate into market value.

    Bloated adminispheres and gold plated facilities . MBA parasites have colonized universities, with the justification often that they increase fundraising. For what purpose? To pay themselves better, and to create naming opportunities for donors with new buildings, and to justify high charges via plush dormitories. Apparently swanky gyms are common.

    All those expensive buildings have become an albatross.

    Now consider the impact of coronavirus.

    Litigation over terminating on-campus instruction . This is probably the least of their worries. Plaintiffs are seeking refunds for the degradation of the educational product. The schools argue quite explicitly that they are not in the business of educating but of conferring credentials, and it is they alone that determine what is adequate for them to hand out a degree. There is precedent supporting the universities' arguments, albeit with less bad facts than these.

    Low likelihood of resuming classes on campus this fall . My colleagues with contacts among university administrators say no one has any idea how to make dorms safe if coronavirus is still on the loose. This has many negative implications.

    Why should students and/or their parents be willing to pay full prices for a degraded product? They won't get interaction with instructors. For science and engineering classes, they won't get lab work. They won't get to make connections and meet potential mates. They won't get tips from other students on career and summer job strategies. They won't get to participate in extracurricular activities, which is a low-stakes way to learn to work with other people. They won't learn how to grow up in a somewhat protected environment.

    There is the very real possibility that employers will downgrade the value of degrees conferred during the plague years.

    It's hard to see how colleges and universities escape cutting tuition, save perhaps the most elite. I can't see any schools besides the most elite can maintain their charges without seeing a big falloff in enrollment. And with them administering classes remotely, the cost of delivery has fallen. And that's before seeing students postponing or abandoning degrees due to the horrible state of the economy.

    And what happens to university budgets due to the loss of room and board income?

    Schools already looking at probable downgrades . Standard & Poors is already put a long list of higher educational institutions on its negative watch list. Bear in mind that S&P and Moody's tend not to downgrade before Mr. Market already has the bond trading at a lower rating level. From an April 30 Ratings Action :

    The public and private colleges and universities affected by these actions include primarily those with lower ratings ('BBB' rating category and below), but also those entities that, in our opinion, have less holistic flexibility (from both a market position and financial standpoint) at their current rating level

    While S&P Global Ratings' outlook on the U.S. not-for-profit higher education sector has been negative for three consecutive years now, we believe that the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic and financial impacts exacerbate pressures already facing colleges and universities. The financial impact on institutions from the loss of auxiliary revenue from housing and dining fees, and parking fees; as well as revenues from athletics, theater, and other events, is material for many. For schools with health care systems, lost revenue from cancelled elective surgical procedures could also be significant. The recently passed CARES Act will provide some budgetary relief to higher education institutions; however, despite this aid, we expect to see stressed operating budgets, the scope of which will ultimately be determined by the magnitude of lost revenues, the duration of the pandemic, fall 2020 mode of instruction, and ultimate enrollment figures.

    Colleges and universities have reacted rapidly to the challenges presented by the pandemic. They have moved classes online to adhere to social-distancing rules, adjusted admission policies to accommodate disruptions to high school exams, and suspended academic conferences and travel. At the same time, many have implemented material expense cuts, including deferring capital expenditures, and imposing furloughs and layoffs, in some cases, with plans to continue to ramp up cost containment under various fall scenarios. Many colleges and universities have disclosed estimates of 2020 budget shortfalls, despite the inclusion of CARES stimulus funds. We expect that the colleges and universities we rate will face an unprecedented level of operating stress and tightened liquidity, which will worsen the longer and deeper the pandemic lasts.

    It's bizarre to see S&P depict sports programs as a financial plus; college football programs in fact are money losers and I doubt basketball programs are enough to bring college sports into the black.

    It is also not clear how much more help the Federal government will be willing to provide. Even though Congresscritters will be under pressure to help institutions in their district, the flip side is the Republicans know well that higher educational institutions are a Democratic party province, so they won't be high on their list of rescue priorities.\\

    This section seems very much behind the curve, as if S&P talks to too many Wall Street types who are betting on a V shaped recovery:

    Many of the colleges and universities that we rate have some headroom to absorb the impacts associated with COVID-19 at their current credit ratings, as they have built up reserves over recent years, hold solid balance sheets, and have relatively low debt levels. However, colleges and universities will face increased downward pressure on their current ratings depending on the extent to which economic disruptions associated with COVID-19 persist. If global travel restrictions are prolonged, or the imminent recession diminishes foreign students' financial means, then some could opt to study or work in their home countries instead. In our opinion, a fall 2020 with significantly fewer international students, as well as lower domestic enrollments overall, will cause serious operational pressures. At the same time, most U.S. colleges and universities depend on endowments and fundraising for a significant portion of revenues, and declining investment performance and endowment market values along with weaker fundraising results could negatively affect credit metrics during the outlook period.

    I strongly suggest you look at the list. You'll see many familiar names. In particular, the ones at the very bottom group, which already had a negative outlook before coronavirus, are the most downgrade exposed. Interestingly, Northwestern, which went to the "hedge fund with a university attached" model early and has an AAA rating, is in that cohort. Did they have an even bigger than typical blow up in their portfolio?

    Needless to say, this isn't cheery reading. While the universities set themselves for a big fall, a lot of people who had nothing to do with the bad policies will get hurt.


    PlutoniumKun , May 12, 2020 at 7:16 am

    As an aside, this is another reason why the 'we should relax lockdown as soon as possible' crowd are so very misguided. The education business, along with so many others, gears up after the August holidays right across the northern hemisphere. For many countries, there is a good chance of suppressing the virus between now and the summer so that there can be at least some sort of normalcy restored from August onwards. At the very least, this gives a chance of a normal academic year for students. But this is only a possibility if infection rates can be brought down to a 'track and trace' level over the summer. Failing to do this by September will be devastating for all education providers. The UK third level sector, already hit by Brexit, will be similarly wiped out if the virus is visibly not under control by then.

    Another Scott , May 12, 2020 at 7:21 am

    Regarding football programs.

    Although they are unprofitable for almost all schools, I'm not sure that the impact from cancelling the season is as clear cut, especially for the large D-I programs. Many of the costs like million-dollar coaches, hundred million-dollar stadiums are fixed. Scholarships will likely continue as well. Schools can probably cut costs of the lower paid employees without contracts, like assistant coaches and trainers, but I don't think those are the biggest drivers of costs.

    Gameday revenues are almost certainly cashflow positive for the schools (ushers and cleaners aren't paid very much); without them the football teams will be even bigger money losers for the school. The schools might even get fees from their broadcast partners, as is the case with many professional teams.

    The Rev Kev , May 12, 2020 at 9:32 am

    What happens with all these high-cost games like football and basketball if they cannot get crowds to watch them? Do these crowds off-set much of the costs of staging these games? I suppose that the institutes would be loath to drop them as they are such a "status" program to have but I fail to understand how a coach in such a place is entitled to a multi-million dollar salary as that money has to come from somewhere.

    kevin , May 12, 2020 at 10:04 am

    Most of their money is made through TV broadcasting rights, not in game ticket sales. People will still watch them. Arguably even more people will watch them, although I don't think that matters because the deals are already locked in with the various networks.

    Left in Wisconsin , May 12, 2020 at 6:27 pm

    TV is the king but game day revenues are not insignificant for most of the big programs that count on 70,000+ spectators times 7-8 home games a year.

    Also agree with Another Scott that big-time college football especially has a lot of fixed costs that will not go away if the season is cancelled. On the other hand, once you get outside the big D1 programs, I do think cancelling football would be net cash flow positive.

    SAKMAN , May 12, 2020 at 12:08 pm

    Comments like, "Football programs lose money" are so poorly thoughtout I just cant believe they are posted here.

    Honestly. . .

    Huge amounts of dollars go through those programs and the benefit of that circulating money to sooo many people and companies is enormous. There are many people who want to see those programs continue.

    If a Florida school thinks the price tag is too high, it is the begining of a series of price negotiations. . . thats it. Come on!

    curlydan , May 12, 2020 at 1:07 pm

    first, your "quoted" material wasn't a quote in this write up or comments, so you can take the quotes off. Second, look at the link Yves posted to see how football is a money pit for many D1 schools. Third, I think I understand what you're trying to say that there's tons of money flowing in and around college football, but the gist is that we're talking about the impact to and financial ratings of colleges and universities and not the impact to the Purple Porpoise in Gainesville, FL or similar establishments.

    m sam , May 12, 2020 at 2:04 pm

    You make it sound like it doesn't matter if they lose money, because with all that money sloshing around there then it's a net positive. The only problem is those universities aren't there to slosh money around in their football programs, they are there so our society can be an educated one. And when instead people start to think that the money sloshing around is more important (as in all areas of human life) the part that was point of the whole endeavor (as in, the education at the university) comes to look more like a cost. And what costs is what is cut. And what is cut is degraded, given a higher price, and otherwise forced to submit to those market forces that looks so good (well, at least when you have dollar signs tattooed on your eyes).

    The point is, whether football programs lose money or make lots of money slosh around, this model is exactly the thing that is destroying our society, and exactly what needs to be dismantled. So comments like "Football programs lose money" are exactly why people come around here in the first place, and it seems you must be confused if you "can't believe they are posted here."

    Merf56 , May 12, 2020 at 2:17 pm

    AS A PSU grad and active alumnus I can attest that Penn State uses its massive football revenues to fund ALL other of the school's sports programs. Though not part of the topic being discussed, football Game day revenues also basically fund theTown of State College's Downtown businesses FOR THE YEAR. And the full fare Chinese student contingent absolutely 'makes' the bottom line there. Those of us involved in alumni activities and meet with Board members and others often are VERY worried .

    Duke of Prunes , May 12, 2020 at 3:49 pm

    If one reads the article, the key part of the statement about "most football programs lose money" is that it's referring to FCS (Football Championship Series) schools which are the "lower tier" Division 1 schools. Not Big10, SEC, etc. I don't think there's much in the way of TV revenue for FCS either, except when they get a cut of the deal when playing a major team (once or maybe twice a year).

    Kirk Seidenbecker , May 12, 2020 at 5:56 pm

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2020/04/14/college-football-major-programs-could-see-billions-revenue-go-away/2989466001/

    Larry , May 12, 2020 at 7:25 am

    My cousin attends Union and decided she'll take a leave of absence in the fall if they are still remote.

    Northeastern in Boston has stated they'll be back in the fall. I believe they are deeply dependent on tuition revenue and have massive debts due to a campus expansion that must have been costly due to Boston real estate prices.

    Colonel Smithers , May 12, 2020 at 7:58 am

    Thank you, Yves.

    Readers may be interested in this from the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/06/coronavirus-uk-university-finances-student-numbers .

    In the UK, Queen Mary, Manchester (labouring under at least a billion pound debt for a state of the art campus by the canals) and (private) Buckingham are teetering. Oxford is also experiencing some discomfort.

    Yves Smith Post author , May 12, 2020 at 8:14 am

    I made this post unduly US focused due to having the S&P analysis, so thanks for additional input on the UK. The New York Times article above made it clear that UK unis were even more dependent than American ones on Chinese students paying hefty fees.

    Colonel Smithers , May 12, 2020 at 8:43 am

    Thank you, Yves.

    If I have time today and it's still "live", I will pipe up again.

    Biologist , May 12, 2020 at 10:16 am

    Thanks for that article. I've also heard that rumour about Queen Mary, is there any public information about them?

    I wonder how many other UK universities will announce redundancies in the coming months. Would be interesting to know numbers of current vs. normal (last year) applications from Asia for the coming year.

    oliverks , May 12, 2020 at 10:35 am

    I believe Edinburgh university has already announced things look a bit bleak.

    Musicismath , May 12, 2020 at 1:06 pm

    Yes, Edinburgh's situation is well known. Other prominent Scottish universities are in similar positions, having gone all-in on rich international students to subsidise their "free tuition for Scottish students" model. They're all very exposed now.

    In England, I've heard of a number of institutions this week setting up voluntary severance and redundancy schemes, with rather alarming stated goals for how many staff they want to shed. Big, prestigious universities, too -- again, it's that reliance on international students. The word I'm hearing repeatedly is "bloodbath."

    rtah100 , May 12, 2020 at 8:38 pm

    Interesting NYT article about Bath. We live on campus (our house is a former uni property) of another southwestern University, famous in no particular order for its campus being a botanic garden, its current vice chancellor being about to retire after 20 years of market-leading pay and it having closed its chemistry department, among others, 20 years ago to make savings to pay for other priorities.

    Again in no particular order, we gave remarked in the last few months:
    – just how many east Asian students and junior faculty the place has attracted. We have Japanese student lodgers!
    – just how many purpose built student factory farms are being built in the city and, more financially perilously, on the campus (building a massive student dorm extension campus on farmland that was prime city centre green space and materially upgrading facilities at other student blocks) and how distorted the local housing market is
    – just how long the grass is getting since lockdown. There's little infection risk on a single seater ride-on mower – the groundstaff, botanic garden not withstanding, have been furloughed / laid off to save money. One vice chancellor's salary could pay for them all. Austerity for thee, public subsidy for me.
    – just how tone deaf the University is to assert its campus is now closed to the public, when public roads run through it and it is used as a cycling and pedestrian right of way to cross the northern half of the city. The buildings are closed and the students are in their hutches. There is no danger of infection from people taking a walk from their confines .

    There is a big reckoning coming, with these bullying institutions suddenly acknowledging their public and local obligations in return for a bailout.

    Ps: I don't think the reaction of bath students to avoid sharing an elevator with a Chinese student was racist. Just prudent. On a risk adjusted basis, a Chinese ethnicity student is most likely a Chinese expat and if returning from Christmas or CNY to campus represented a higher risk than a non-Chinese. I was very wary on my weekly commute in January from London, of the Chinese students with big suitcases tagged Heathrow who were all getting off at my stop . Tables have turned now, of course!

    Steve H. , May 12, 2020 at 8:03 am

    > They won't get to make connections and meet potential mates.

    : Sherri Tepper: See. The word Festival. In the Onomasticon it carries the meaning 'opportunity for reproduction.' We talk of School House, but the book says, 'Protection of Genetic Potential.' We say True Game. The book says 'Population control.'

    The university of my town had moved from offering professions to Learning How To Learn in the last couple decades. Along with that was the gilting, providing a shared cultural experience, more in line with Tepper's definitions than educational outcomes. The incoming cash provided support for community culture as well, restaurants, arts, weird shops. The fallout for our cosmopolitan lifestyle in a small city is unfathomable.

    Deeper even still, in the middle of the last century, educator Frank Templeton wrote from the perspective that every citizen was like a brick, in the structure called a nation, and schools made for strong bricks.

    The harsh partial truth is that primary and secondary schools were hollowed out as daycare centers to increase the labor pool. And many parents who were willing to pay to get the older kids out of the house are now forced with a calculation: what's the roi on the educational/professional dimension, and what's the roi on the social/Tepper dimension? If both are low, why pay in this time of great uncertainty?

    ChrisPacific , May 12, 2020 at 4:59 pm

    I would like to re-read The True Game sometime, but I can't find it anywhere.

    nick , May 12, 2020 at 8:17 am

    Chinese student applications are well down this year–this from direct knowledge at one school and anecdotal at a few more. Companies that operate in China to connect students to US institutions are laying off. And if numbers at any given school don't absolutely crater (50%+), know that the discounting will have had to have been ramped up to make that possible. Obviously there are health and safety concerns, but there is also a nasty political climate with racist/xenophobic stuff coming from the Republicans that has been in some cases matched by e.g. Biden campaign or NYT and that might clear the way for disastrous bans on student/post-grad visas, if not increased violence.

    Shiloh1 , May 12, 2020 at 1:44 pm

    University of Illinois "flagship" was prescient to purchase insurance from Lloyds Of London for fortuitous Chinese student reduction risk. International students pay top dollar rate. All good, their insurance broker should be commended!

    Duke of Prunes , May 12, 2020 at 8:18 am

    Yesterday, Northwestern announced they are laying off ~250 personnel and cutting administrative salaries 10 – 20% (so it must be serious). So much for the "safety" of a higher education job.

    polecat , May 12, 2020 at 11:31 am

    On a tangential tack, locally, a slight majority of voters in our city passed a school levy to firm-up/construct school dist. infrastructure – elementary/middle-school .. with the future goal of a new shiny high school to replace the old/failing one. In the recent years past, the school board and their boosters would put forth levies that amounted to Taj Maschool 'wish-lists' .. which the community rightfully voted down. Same for the towns within close proximity. So, the result of said measure .. even though it is lower that the previous ones, is the rise, by hundreds of $$ annually (a bond floated, to be pay off in X years .. only to have new one's brought forth after), to every property owner to achieve these goals .. dollars that many would find a true burden Before the pandemic will be hit even harder going forward. We are not what one would call a rich community .. unless one only considers the movers/shakers/boosters. We rely less and less on timber exports – happening in spades now! – with incoming revenue predicated on the vaunted idea of 'Tourism'. 'Sigh'
    I see a failure of those same movers/shakers/boosters to consider that the whole college track gristmill is the wrong approach .. bring back hands-on vocational training instruction that was nixed years ago, having left it to the local college to do, with the added $-stream THAT entails .. and put much less emphasis on 'college for college sake' There are a plethora of skills that young folk are not being taught, that they will need for their very survival, in a conflicted and low resource world! Imo, the Federal Dept. Of Ed needs to be abolished, thus putting a end to it's often onerous 4 to 8 year changing 'mandates', and allow state and local communities to come up with their own models of instruction. Sure, some will no doubt fail, but I believe many others would in fact, thrive. There should of course be iron-clad restrictions on just who has sway on funding and 'pull' (no hedgefunds/private equity/ scoundrels, rakes, and thieves !) Leave to the locals to hash out!
    A little over a century ago, we had that kind of evironment, where children actually learned of the world, whilst also becomeing proficient in the basics .. as well as taking on truly practical skillsets .. from often small school settings – just look at an any exam test-sheet from back then to get an idea of how badly we've handled things since. This pandemic has brought to light our learned follies for sure.

    SouthSideGT , May 12, 2020 at 12:24 pm

    Very true. I read that in EvanstonNow. Also saw a story from about a month ago about the Wildcats 2020 prospects which IIRC previewed the 2020 schedule. So I guess college football will go on even as colleges are decimated by the coronavirus. Priorities, indeed.

    Jeff N , May 12, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    I saw that. At least for now, those people are retaining their benefits and health insurance.

    kareninca , May 12, 2020 at 4:55 pm

    I looked this up. It does not appear to be as dire as you describe it. The staff members are being temporarily furloughed, not laid off. And it is "university leaders" and deans that are taking pay cuts. That is not administrative salaries generally. I am not saying it won't get worse, just that it is not quite so terrible yet.

    "University leadership said approximately 250 staff members will be temporarily furloughed, the university will suspend 5% automatic and 5% match contributions to staff retirement plans, and university leaders will take a 20% pay cut.
    NU deans will also take a 10% pay cut reduction."

    https://abc7chicago.com/education/northwestern-university-furloughs-250-staff-announces-pay-cuts-due-to-covid-19-pandemic/6175678/

    Kirk Seidenbecker , May 12, 2020 at 5:59 pm

    https://dailynorthwestern.com/2019/05/23/sports/report-northwestern-received-big-ten-payout-of-roughly-54-million-for-fiscal-year-2018/

    rusti , May 12, 2020 at 8:30 am

    MBA parasites have colonized universities, with the justification often that they increase fundraising. For what purpose? To pay themselves better, and to create naming opportunities for donors with new buildings, and to justify high charges via plush dormitories. Apparently swanky gyms are common.

    I wish it were unique to the Anglosphere. Even here in Sweden one of the technical universities in my city is in the midst of a big economic crisis. My friends who work there as researchers attribute it to obscene administrative bloat that they've seen growing rampant in the past decade. This is also after the implementation of big tuition fees for non-EU students in 2011 (there were no tuition fees before that) which dramatically lowered the quality of international applicants.

    KLG , May 12, 2020 at 8:40 am

    Athletic budgets (public institutions) in context:
    https://sports.usatoday.com/ncaa/finances/
    The far right column is the key: percent of athletic budget that is "allocated," which means the part of the budget that comes directly out of the hide of the institution and its students. About two dozen of the usual suspects make a "profit." My alma mater is way profitable but still takes several million from captives in "student fees." Private institutions in the black would include Notre Dame, Stanford, USC, and probably Duke (basketball, which disappeared this spring). Note what the athletic budget does to schools like UCONN, Rutgers, and UMASS, not to mention the smaller state schools. Something's gotta give. It won't be the athletic departments.

    When I bring up these data with academic colleagues, especially from smaller institutions that have reestablished football as the prime money pit over the past 25 years, all I ever get is the bovine stare of disbelief.

    kevin , May 12, 2020 at 10:13 am

    To be fair, what this analysis doesn't take into account is how many students are going to the school (or how much more they are paying) who would not have gone if there were no sports teams

    I know thats a dumb reason to choose a college, but remember these are 18 year olds making a decision. I suspect many more than you would assume include going to a "winner" and additional social tailgating events as part of their criteria

    MLTPB , May 12, 2020 at 10:51 am

    Good point. I was going to ask about that.

    Additionally, I think there is a mentality, or pride, that you too can be like Duke in basketball or Notre Dame in football. But, first you have to commit to winning, or invest early.

    KLG , May 12, 2020 at 11:09 am

    Yes, this is the "intangibles, school spirit" argument, a perennial favorite of presidents and athletic directors and boards of trustees. It may be somewhat valid at the larger schools of the Power Five conferences (SEC; Big-10, where they apparently can't count to 14; ACC; Pac-12; Big-12, actually 10) but absolutely nowhere else except Notre Dame. And even in these conferences, the financial drain on some schools is huge. Way past time to realize the sunk costs associated with college sports are simply lost. Georgia Tech and Berkeley need big time college sports (i.e., football)? Really? Georgia Southern and Illinois State? Connecticut and Rutgers? Robert Maynard Hutchins to the white courtesy phone, please. Yes, I am unreasonable, but these are unreasonable times.

    And except for a brief renascence under Lou Holtz, Notre Dame football hasn't been much since Ara Parseghian retired and the Boys from Chicago are still and forever nonplussed about that.

    John Wright , May 12, 2020 at 1:19 pm

    And there is the small irony of educational institutions promoting a sport that can cause serious head and bodily injury (American football).

    Maybe some football programs do eventually pay for themselves via alumni contributions, but one wonders if there is a herd mentality in colleges NEEDING to have a football team.

    I know of one University of Calif campus (UC Santa Barbara) that dropped its football team in the late 1960's, weakly woke it up in 1987 and then dropped it again in 1992.

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

    "1985 a student referendum approved funding for a Division III, non-scholarship team. The team began play in 1987,.. with a 33-15 record from 1987 to 1991. However, in 1992 the NCAA decided to forbid schools playing in Division I in other sports from maintaining a lower level football program, and UCSB dropped the sport again."

    Maybe other schools can learn from UCSB's experience?

    juno mas , May 12, 2020 at 5:54 pm

    My high school buddy played on the last 1960's football team at UCSB. As a student there, many of us were too busy protesting the war and burning the IV bank than attending football games.

    John Wright , May 12, 2020 at 5:49 pm

    I looked at the ncaa/finances link and saw the "allocated" section.

    I find that focusing on the allocated % is misleading as a school with an athletic budget of only $100 that is not covered by gate receipts would show as %100 allocated.

    This could be put in more perspective if the allocated dollar amount is divided by the number of students.

    For example, the University of California, Davis shows up at a high 81.90% allocated with the allocated amount of $30,680,083.

    UC Davis shows as having a student population of 35,186 per Google.

    Per student, this is about $872 per student per year.

    While Connecticut shows up at a seemingly better 49.23% allocation, but spreading the shortfall over the 32183 student body size of Connecticut gives a cost of $1213 per student per year.

    One can wonder why the document did not give the per student cost and instead published a %allocation figure.

    Bob's Your Uncle , May 12, 2020 at 9:38 am

    These are historic times and one of the biggest sacrifices this generation of college students will have to make is sitting through Zoom classes.

    Let's keep this in perspective. Missing college because you've been drafted to fight in a war across the Pacific is not the same as delaying your college education because you can't get drunk with your frat. In the coming years employers will look much favorably on students that stuck to their 4 year plan regardless of the troubles they were (or thought they were) facing.

    PNWarriorWoman , May 12, 2020 at 9:50 am

    The Chronicle is tracking individual colleges' plans. Currently the vast majority say they are planning for an in-person fall semester. This database is not behind a paywall Here's a List of Colleges' Plans for Reopening in the Fall We'll see when August rolls around.

    CGKen , May 12, 2020 at 11:49 am

    At my university, the Registrar calculated that our campus has only ONE room large enough to seat more than 50 students maintaining 6 feet of separation.

    The rule of thumb is that covid capacity is 25-30% of normal capacity, so most classes will need to be capped at 20 students or fewer. Probably better for education, but very much not compatible with business as usual.

    I don't see any way we reopen in any way approaching normal.

    WJ , May 12, 2020 at 12:16 pm

    My university is probably going to be requiring us to teach half of the students in a class in the classroom, then half of the students in the class online, alternating which group is taught in a classroom and online throughout the semester. Unless this doesn't work, in which case we might go all online, or all in person. What is being suggested–I kid you not–is that we design each of our courses for the Fall to be taught in any one of three, or more, ways. We're also taking pay cuts and losing the university's contribution to our 403b plans. Good news though, we're still going through with our application to the NCAA for division 1 status!!

    The rot at the top of the university structure runs deep, I am afraid.

    P.S. And, of course, our annual evaluations–usually the basis for a raise of between 1-1.5%–will continue, even though we're all taking pay cuts. Lol

    David , May 12, 2020 at 10:16 am

    Thank you for this, Yves. The problem is much bigger – and with more ramifications – than most people realise, even in the education world itself .

    The Guardian article linked to by CS talks about some of the immediate financial problems this year. IN addition, huge numbers of students are going to consider putting off going to University, even in their own country, let alone abroad, because they can't be sure that the classes will start on time, or even at all. There's an increasing tendency, especially in Europe, for Universities to have highly complex exchange agreements with each other, especially at Master's level: I've taught classes with fifteen nationalities, the majority on exchange from elsewhere. At the best of times that's a logistic nightmare, and requires complex software to juggle. It's worse because the tendency over recent decades has been to replace traditional degrees with a few options, by Starbucks-style hand-made degrees assembled from bits and pieces. This works, as long as all the students who have signed up to come can and do arrive. Otherwise, it can mean empty classrooms or teachers with one student. Chaos is the kindest word one can use to describe what might happen in September. Courses will have to be cancelled and lecturers' contracts torn up. It's also going to make it permanently much more problematic to run courses on the expectation that you can attract foreign students and send your own abroad. I'm not sure, for example that I would now sign up for a four-year degree in (let's say) Japanese or Latin American Studies including a year abroad that might not materialise. Language degrees, indeed, are likely to be among the first casualties: it's almost impossible for one person to teach, say, Japanese grammar on line.

    I've taught courses using Zoom, and to be honest it's better than nothing but not a lot better. It only works if everybody is approximately on the same timezone, and even then, once you get above twenty students you can't actually see all of them on the screen and you have no idea who's listening and who's doing their Facebook page. The students get no interaction with you, and if you are using Powerpoint or similar they may hardly see your face the whole time. It's not clear that students in future years will sign up for courses where face to face teaching could be suspended at any moment because the virus comes back. Remember that the virus is now pretty much everywhere and could reappear pretty much everywhere over the next few years. When you add to that that, even today, students expect to "go to" University rather than have it come to them, and to at least start to mature and find their feet, you have to wonder how attractive University is going to seem, especially given the frightening costs involved.

    The situation is no better in Europe. In France, governments over the last decade have made a huge push to attract foreign students, not just at Universities, but at the elite Grandes Écoles like Sciences Po in Paris, where a third of the student body is from abroad and many courses are taught in English. (You can study for some degrees in France without speaking the language). Not many people will pay for the privilege of hearing French teachers teaching in English while cooped up in their parents' home in a country a long way away. For some institutions this is going to be catastrophic.

    I have to say, though, as somebody who's been involved with Universities most of my life, that this isn't all bad. In the UK, for example, there are simply too many degree courses, and people who aren't really up to it are paying lots of money they can't afford for courses they don't need and won't use. This could be the start of a sanity check. It's interesting that the two universities mentioned in the Guardian article, including that of the author, didn't used to be universities at all. They were both Polytechnics, specialising in vocational teaching, magically transformed into universities about 25 years ago by giving them a new name. This has led to too many graduates chasing university jobs, and too many, frankly, sub-standard courses. There'll be some winnowing out. Partly for bad reasons – you can't put engineering courses entirely on line – and partly for good ones: do I really need that Master's degree in Intersectional Theory?

    There's a lot more to say but that'll do for now.

    PlutoniumKun , May 12, 2020 at 11:13 am

    Thanks for the insight, David. As someone who did a Masters in one of the former Poly's (in Oxford) back in the 1990's I was astonished at the commercialisation and pressure on teachers in comparison to what I'd experienced doing under and post grad study in pre-crapified (if very under-resourced) Irish Universities in the 1980's. Even then, the pressure the junior lecturers were put under seemed extreme. I'm told by lecturer friends that its gotten much worse over the years. And don't get them started on the standard of some of the fee paying students .

    I hope you are wrong, btw, about Japanese grammar, as I've just started online classes in precisely that topic!

    David , May 12, 2020 at 12:44 pm

    Sorry, badly expressed.You can indeed study languages online – in fact I've done so, including Japanese as it happens. What I was suggesting is that actually teaching languages at degree level entirely on line, and especially when you've got three writing systems to worry about, or when you have tonal systems, or non-standard sounds to memorise and practice, is going to be a hell of a problem. I think there's a substantial difference between studying a language online to use it, and studying it to degree level, which at least in theory qualifies you to teach it.

    PlutoniumKun , May 12, 2020 at 1:08 pm

    Don't worry, I know what you meant!

    In fact, I was just thinking of that yesterday, when watching an online conversation between two YouTuber Japanese teachers who were discussing the different ways of approaching the language. It seems to me to be a golden age for language learning, there are so many great resources available cheap or almost free online (I'm still picking and choosing which method works best for me and which ones are worth supporting), but at the same time, I was wondering if this is positive or negative for the old fashioned academic method.

    John Saari , May 12, 2020 at 11:39 am

    Newton spent two years on the farm during the plague years and invented the calculus and some ground breaking physics. Not to be too optimistic but perhaps there are some young folks who can profit from a bit of time alone to think and tinker.

    SouthSideGT , May 12, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    Thanks, David. Lots to unpack there. Much appreciated. And my two cents is that out of this historic pandemic, maybe our great established universities and colleges will drive online huckster "universities" out of business.

    ambrit , May 12, 2020 at 1:11 pm

    In a general view from the cheap seats, the real bottleneck here is the elite's usage of "degrees" as gateway metrics for employment decision making. Thus, the above mentioned transformation of "Trades Schools" into "Universities." I personally have encountered marginally competent managers who owe their positions to their credentials, and not any displayed skills. I have also encountered grossly incompetent managers who are not replaced by upper management because said upper management will not consider slotting "up from the ranks" workers into positions that they are manifestly qualified for by virtue of hands on working experience, but lacked credentials.
    This also highlights the mingling of both "Higher Education" programs with "Trade School" ones. As a rule of thumb, when one tries to be all things to all people, one ends up being nothing to anyone.

    allan , May 12, 2020 at 10:25 am

    One to keep an eye on is the University of Austrian Economics Chicago.
    Under its current president, they have been spending like crazy, are heavily tuition dependent,
    and (like Northwestern) have a large medical center which will have taken a massive hit
    from the pause on elective surgeries.

    But six years ago, Chicago already an outlier:

    University of Chicago Is Outlier With Growing Debt Load [Bloomberg, 2014]

    While the University of Chicago has about the same amount of debt as Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, its $6.7 billion endowment is a third the size of the Ivy League school's $20.8 billion. Chicago's debt as a percentage of its endowment is 54 percent, compared with 17 percent for Yale.

    Harvard, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Stanford University, near Palo Alto, California, have the most notes and bonds among the 20 richest schools. Yet as a percentage of their endowments, the obligations represent about 17 percent and 26 percent, respectively.

    It would be a damn shame if the home of expansionary austerity were to end up in the financial ICU,
    on the receiving end of Dr. Market's shock therapy.

    NoBrick , May 12, 2020 at 10:40 am

    "The schools argue quite explicitly that they are not in the business of educating but of conferring credentials, and it is they alone that determine what is adequate for them to hand out a degree. There is precedent supporting the universities' arguments."

    "What is adequate",
    didn't arise as a product of public debate (as it should have in a democracy),
    but as a distillation of private discussion. Their ideas contradict the original American charter
    veneer (of/by/for) but that doesn't disturb them. After all, they are on a mission.
    A "doctrine of faith" was/is their cognitive source

    Dewey's Pedagogic Creed statement of 1897:
    "Every teacher should realize he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of the proper
    social order and the securing of the right social growth. In this way the teacher is always the
    prophet of the true God and the usherer in of the true kingdom of heaven."

    Not to worry, if credentialism doesn't fly your kite, we have salvation by consumption, or
    redemption via electoral saviors

    Max , May 12, 2020 at 10:47 am

    Student jobs are probably some of the first to go, definitely anybody with a job on campus is probably now out of work. My brother lives in a small college town and he says it's a ghost town. Their economy depends on students spending their loan/mom/dad's money.

    If I were a student, I would be seriously thinking twice about taking a semester off, moving back with my parents and waiting for things to shake out. Who wants to do zoom classes? No way would I have been disciplined enough to self study at that age (or even now).

    College is still in session in a lot of places. It would be interesting to know how many students have already disappeared.

    juno mas , May 12, 2020 at 6:46 pm

    My local California community college transitioned to online classes mid- Spring semester. Most of the foreign students (Chinese, Scandinavian, European, etc.) returned home pronto. Registration for Fall 2020 classes (likely to again be online) is way down.

    Colleges are huge economic drivers in most towns. It sustains high rental income for landlords, lots of late's for Starbuck's, and retail stores soak up mucho dinero from them. Fortunately the wild and crazy driving antics around campus have abated.

    lyman alpha blob , May 12, 2020 at 10:58 am

    It would really be a shame if colleges and universities were forced to cut some of their bloated administrations in order to make up for the shortfall How would we ever get along without the people who go to meetings all day?

    Alex Cox , May 12, 2020 at 12:52 pm

    +1. CU Boulder just built a massive building which they call the Center for Academic Excellence. I thought the university was already such a center, but apparently not.

    What goes on in the Center for Academic Excellence? Is any teaching done there? No. It's extra office space for the administrators/mbas.

    KLG , May 12, 2020 at 2:28 pm

    I remember a faculty member (an Australian, naturally) at my home institution commenting on our recently established Center for Excellence in Something-or-Other: Why don't they just go ahead and call it the Center for Mediocrity in Something-or-Other ? That one stuck with me during my subsequent peregrinations. I have been fortunate to avoid such centers during my career.

    CGKen , May 12, 2020 at 4:42 pm

    Well, no luck so far after the first round of furloughs. Some of the admin had their pay reduced (don't worry they'll still make well into six figures next year), but they all still have jobs.

    DanB , May 12, 2020 at 11:07 am

    I am in Mass., retired and teach part time at two local colleges, one private and one a community college. The private college has already cut some classes for the fall semester, which they are trying to find a way to hold on-campus this fall. They are hoping to reinstate some of these canceled classes if enrollments of incoming freshmen increase in the next several weeks. As for the community college, it is conceivable -but who knows?-enrollments will increase due to the low cost option it presents compared to private colleges and universities -and even to public universities.

    allan , May 12, 2020 at 11:14 am

    And on a completely unrelated note. /s

    Protecting Art in College Collections [Inside Higher Ed]

    Academic museum directors know their fortunes are tied to those of their parent institutions.
    Some worry about the possibility that collections could be raided to raise funds.

    Rather than worrying about this possibility, shouldn't they be embracing the disruption?
    Campus art museums can be at the innovative cutting edge of modern higher ed finance.
    For $35 million, shouldn't a job creator on the Board of Trustees get more than his name
    (and it's usually a he) over the entrance to another cookie-cutter new dorm?

    I'll take the small Turner for the master bath, the Modigliani for the dining room,
    and a really big Rothko for the wine cellar.

    Doug , May 12, 2020 at 11:18 am

    I jokingly told my daughter no more Northwestern for you it's looking like Wuhan State.

    anon in so cal , May 12, 2020 at 11:56 am

    Here's the Chronicle's updated survey results from U.S. colleges and universities, concerning their tentative plans for the Fall 2020 semester:

    https://www.chronicle.com/article/Here-s-a-List-of-Colleges-/248626?cid=wcontentgrid_hp_1b

    L , May 12, 2020 at 12:15 pm

    I am at a University and I can speak to the fact that it is shaping up to be complicated. Some institutions are clearly more leveraged than others but there has been another factor which is the increasing focus of institutions on branding. Some of the bigger names e.g. MIT and even some "state" schools such as Berkeley have long since shifted from serving their communities to being international brands. The others like mine have attracted large foreign populations which supplement some programs notably in STEM fields but also maintain mostly local students.

    As a side note the risk for the non-US students is partially travel though Trump's behavior has already turned some off. It is also their own domestic economies. Despite the happy talk China's economy is taking a big hit from this and will continue to do so. Going abroad requires someone at home having the money to send you. That is less of a thing.

    Going forward one route is already being shopped around in the groupthink of record (NYMag) The Coming Disruption Scott Galloway predicts a handful of elite cyborg universities will soon monopolize higher education. . The model here is neoliberal education on steroids or "MIT+Google" basically take the existing brands serve them up to 10,000 students and have the major brands survive by eating the weak. This of course completely she