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Contents Bulletin Scripting in shell and Perl Network troubleshooting History Humor

Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners"

Oligarchic "Quiet Coup" in the USA, "Greed is good" slogan and loss of trust in neoliberal governments

News Elite [Dominance] Theory And the Revolt of the Elite Recommended Links Quiet coup The Deep State National Security State / Surveillance State In Goldman Sachs we trust: classic example of regulatory capture by financial system hackers
Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Two Party System as polyarchy The Iron Law of Oligarchy The Pareto Law Media-Military-Industrial Complex Groupthink Bureaucracy as a Political Coalition
Corporatism Inverted Totalitarism US and British media are servants of security apparatus Casino Capitalism Ayn Rand and Objectivism Cult Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite Corruption of Regulators
Neoliberal Brainwashing: Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few The Guardian Slips Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment The importance of controlling the narrative New American Caste System The Essential Rules for Dominating Population What's the Matter with Kansas Big Uncle is Watching You
Nation under attack meme American Exceptionalism Neo-fascism Bureaucracies Military Bureaucracy Military Incompetence Bureaucratic Collectivism
Toxic Managers The psychopath in the corner office Female Sociopaths Office Stockholm Syndrome Quotes about Psychopaths Humor Etc


Introduction


There is an 'audacious oligarchy' of self-defined rulers who move freely between private industry and government, whose primary objective is preserving and furthering their own power and self-interest.

Jesse's Café Américain, Audacious Oligarchy

Audacious behaviour is often connected with the weakened self-preservation instinct, typical for sociopaths. So their audacity take the form of Chutzpah (shameless audacity; impudence, unmitigated effrontery or impudence; gall). It's inherently connected with the lack of empathy, which is a defining feature of sociopaths. The key question here is: to what extent the US elite became infected with substantial or even dominant number of sociopaths? Including female sociopaths as we saw recently in the reaction of behaviour of a wife of former president on killing Gaddafy (Hillary Clinton on Gaddafi: We came, we saw, he died ) ?

In fact this process of self-selection of sociopaths into neoliberal elite reached dangerous level was noted be many, including famous remark of Robert Johnson at Culture Project's IMPART 2012 Festival that essentially defined the term ("Legitimate if you can, coerce if you have to, and accommodate if you must."):

Oligarchy now is audacious. They don't really care if they are legitimate.

"Legitimate if you can, coerce if you have to, and accommodate if you must."

Robert Johnson serves as the Executive Director of the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) and a Senior Fellow and Director of the Global Finance Project for the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute in New York. Previously, Johnson was a Managing Director at Soros Fund Management where he managed a global currency, bond and equity portfolio specializing in emerging markets. Prior to working at Soros Fund Management, he was a Managing Director of Bankers Trust Company managing a global currency fund.

Johnson served as Chief Economist of the US Senate Banking Committee under the leadership of Chairman William Proxmire (D. Wisconsin) and of Chairman Pete Domenici (R. New Mexico). Johnson received a Ph.D. and M.A. in Economics from Princeton University and a B.S. in both Electrical Engineering and Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

As you can see this idea "Legitimate if you can, coerce if you have to, and accommodate if you must." does not differ much with the modus operandi of three-letter agencies, so the terms "audacious oligarchy" and "deep state" are closely related: deep state can be viewed as a social system in this audacious oligarchy rules the population.

We can also think about the term "audacious oligarchy" as the term related to the rise of neo-fascism, (be it neoliberal fascism or Inverted Totalitarism). For some details National Security State / Surveillance State: Review of Literature and a very interesting discussion of Robert Johnson remarks on financial oligarchy at “They’re All Standing on the Deck of the Titanic Looking in Each Other’s Eyes” (naked capitalism, April 21, 2013). That means the key elements of fascist ideology are preserved, with the replacement of Arian Nation for financial oligarchy, but without ruthless physical suppression of opposition which are replaced by financial instruments, blacklisting, economic sanctions and color revolutions in "deviant" countries. Like in Third Reich dominance is supported by relentless propaganda and brainwashing with mechanisms polished since Reagan to perfection. there is now no problem to create an "enemy of the people" when the elite wants and it does not matter which country or individual is selected as an enemy. The essence of elite politics in this area was best formulated by Hermann Goering, President of the Reichstag, Nazi Party, and Luftwaffe Commander in Chief

Naturally the common people don't want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

One interesting side effect of the dominance of financial oligarchy is loss of trusts in experts, especially economic expects, professors who now are nothing more then a prostitutes at the service of financial capital Ian Klaus in "Forging Capitalism: Rogues, Swindlers, Frauds, and the Rise of Modern Finance gives the following definition:

Trust, to be simple with our definition, is an expectation of behavior built upon norms and cultural habits. It is often dependent upon a shared set of ethics or values. It is also a process orchestrated through communities and institutions. In this sense, it is a cultural event and thus a historical phenomenon.

As Robert Johnson noted:

"People don't trust experts. If you saw 'Inside Job', you know why. People do not trust the private markets, and they don't trust government."

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

In the case of neoliberal transformation of the USA the state to a large extent seized to defend the population. Instead the state became a predictor, defender of international corporations, as hostile to the US people as Bolshevik rule was to Russians and other nationalities of the USSR. In other word the USA population became hostages of the system much like population of the USSR was. In a way nothing is new in human history.

The most important side effect of neoliberal transformation of the US society is the destruction (or more correctly emasculation) of legal system, which effectively lead to the situation when like in monarchy, some people are above the law. And we can suspect, judging from recent the USSR nomenklatura experience that such a caste might quickly degrades. As Long Aston said "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely". If you willfully and recklessly tear down the laws in the name of some misbegotten ideology the benefit to "chosen" few, blowback might come sooner or later. even if you successfully hide this in a smokescreen of sophisticated scam ideology (neoliberalism in case of current crony or casino capitalism, which replaced the New Deal "live and giver other chance to live" motto) the blowback eventually might knock the particular country down. In such system nobody trust anybody and the whole society gradually disintegrates becoming just extended version of a mafia clan. With typical for such clans deadly internal fights for power. Mexican drug cartels saying - plomo y plobo ('silver or lead'): either you accept our bribes or accept our bullets is perfectly applicable in this situation. And that's how "audacious oligarchy really operates at least of international scène. But the law of the jungle has one important difference with the regular law system: any more powerful group of states can became both a judge and executioner for less powerful, or competing group of states.

When you take some self-serving fairy tale and take it an extreme by sticking an 'ism' on the end of it, like is the case with neoliberalism, at the beginning everything is fine and population is carries by this lie with ease. But as soon as people discover this despite all the power of propaganda their standard of living is going down, some trouble appear on the horizon and there is no other way then to concert the state into national security state, as proponent of communism have found in the USSR. And under neoliberalism, the essence of which is redistribution of wealth in favor of the top 0.01% of the world population, this disillusionment in inevitable, unless we experience a new technological revolution, similar to computer revolution. it can't be hidden with fairly tales about "undemocratic nature" of poor state or corruption. People can only be suppressed by brute force. and the lead to overextension of the neoliberal empire.

When the financial oligarchy is completely exempt from the law and in this particular area regulation is burned to the ground to serve the interests of financial oligarchy, strange things start to happen. The first glimpse on which we already saw in 2008. There was a demonstration of an immanent feature of neoliberal regimes which might be called financial sector induced systemic instability of economy. The latter which lead to periodic booms and busts with unpredictable timing, severity and consequences for the society at large, but so far all of those crisis work also as mechanism of redistribution of the society wealth toward the top . this time the US oligarchy managed to swipe the dirt under the rug.

This instability happens automatically and does not depend on the presence of "bad apples" in the system, because the financial sector under neoliberalism functions not as the nerve system of the economy of the particular country, but more like an autoimmune disease. In other words financial sector destabilizes the "immune system" of the country by introducing positive feedback look into economic (and not only economic, look at the USA foreign policy since 1991) activities.

What exactly is neoliberal oligarchy ?

When we say audacious oligarchy we essentially mean neoliberal oligarchy, and first of all financial oligarchy. Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with an elite class distinguished by wealth, family ties, commercial, government and/or military positions. The actual literal translation from the Greek is the "rule of the few". The word oligarchy is derived from the Greek words "ὀλίγος" (olígos), "a few"[2] and the verb "ἄρχω" (archo), "to rule, to govern, to command".

Throughout history, most oligarchies have been tyrannical, relying on public servitude to exist, although some have been relatively benign. Plato pioneered the use of the term in Chapter Four, Book Eight of "The Republic" as a society in which wealth is the criterion of merit and the wealthy are in control.

However oligarchy is not always a rule according to the size of the wealth, as oligarchs can simply be a privileged group, and do not have to be distinguished from plebs by iether personal wealth or bloodlines as in a monarchy. Although often those two types of distinction are present too. For example, in the USSR the oligarchy was represented by special class of government and party servants (nomenklatura). The same is by-and-large true for Communist China. Those types of oligarchy has a lot of features in common with neoliberal oligarchy, although they are national in character. First of all in both system oligarchs are "working oligarchs". They actively participate in the their business or government activities. The second thing is that neoliberal oligarchy has very interesting connection with the idea of Communist International, and can be viewed as an interesting perversion of this concept ("Capitalism International") with some flavor of Trotskyism -- as it strives for and adopts Trotskyism central idea of permanent revolution as the method of reaching of the world dominance (see, neocons and color revolutions)

At the same time starting from 80th in the USA oligarchy by-and-large started to correspond to European aristocracy as vertical mobility became very limited and suppressed in the USA (actually more then in European countries, despite all the hype about the American dream).

The USA oligarchy by-and-large corresponds to European aristocracy, with substantial number of its members being children of oligarchic families. Vertical mobility, despite hype, is very limited and suppressed (actually more then in European countries). In no way the USA con be considered "the county of opportunities" anymore.

Russian oligarchy is very atypical in this sense, and is a pretty interesting case of a very high vertical mobility. As a country Russia is unique that in its history it several times wiped out its entrenched oligarchy. Two last "rotations" happened in 1917 then large part of old oligarchy lost their power and after neoliberal revolution of 1991 which brought into power the corrupt government of Boris Yeltsin. The drunkard, who imitated French proclaiming "enrich yourself" and launches (with gentle support from USA in a form of Harvard mafia) the most corrupt privatization of state wealth in human history.

But most members of the new, Post-Soviet Russian oligarchy did demonstrated tremendous level of upward mobility. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union on 31 December 1991, many directors and sometimes middle managers of state owned Russia-based corporations, especially producers of petroleum, natural gas, and metals managed to privatize their holdings and have become oligarchs. Criminal privatization under Yeltsin regime allowed them to amass phenomenal wealth and power almost overnight. In May 2004, the Russian edition of Forbes identified 36 of these oligarchs as being worth at least US$1 billion. And not of all them came from Nomenklatura. Many members of nomenklatura (even on the level of Politburo) did not fit in the new economic system and stopped being oligarchs.

All modern democracies should be viewed as oligarchies

Robert Michels believed that any political system eventually evolves into an oligarchy. He called this the iron law of oligarchy. According to this school of thought, modern democracies should be considered to be oligarchies. this is what his "iron law of oligarchy" is about. In other word when we speak the word democracy about such regimes as current exist in the USA or Western Europe, it is most self-deception.

That gives a pretty sinister meaning to the "promotion of democracy" and "support of democracy" activities, as in reality it is installation of more favorable to the promoter oligarchic group in power, often via coup d'état (with a specific neoliberal variant, which use developed by Gene Sharp political technology, called Color revolution), as recently happened in Libya and Ukraine.

In "modern democracies", the actual differences between viable political rivals are small, the oligarchic elite impose strict limits on what constitutes an acceptable and respectable political position, and politicians' careers depend heavily on unelected economic and media elites. Thus the popular phrase: there is always only one political party, the party of oligarchy.

This is especially true for winner takes all election systems, which create two party environment, with both party being a factions of the same elite. See Two Party System as Polyarchy

Quiet coup

The term "Quiet coup" which means the hijacking of the political power in the USA by financial oligarchy was introduced by Simon H. Johnson (born January 16, 1963). Simon Johnson is a British-American economist, who currently is the Ronald A. Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. From March 2007 through the end of August 2008, he was Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund.

The term was introduced in Simon Johnson article in Atlantic magazine, published in May 2009(The Quiet Coup - Simon Johnson - The Atlantic). Which opens with a revealing paragraph:

The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time.

The wealth of financial sector gave it unprecedented opportunities of simply buying the political power:

Becoming a Banana Republic

In its depth and suddenness, the U.S. economic and financial crisis is shockingly reminiscent of moments we have recently seen in emerging markets (and only in emerging markets): South Korea (1997), Malaysia (1998), Russia and Argentina (time and again). In each of those cases, global investors, afraid that the country or its financial sector wouldn’t be able to pay off mountainous debt, suddenly stopped lending. And in each case, that fear became self-fulfilling, as banks that couldn’t roll over their debt did, in fact, become unable to pay. This is precisely what drove Lehman Brothers into bankruptcy on September 15, causing all sources of funding to the U.S. financial sector to dry up overnight. Just as in emerging-market crises, the weakness in the banking system has quickly rippled out into the rest of the economy, causing a severe economic contraction and hardship for millions of people.

But there’s a deeper and more disturbing similarity: elite business interests—financiers, in the case of the U.S.—played a central role in creating the crisis, making ever-larger gambles, with the implicit backing of the government, until the inevitable collapse. More alarming, they are now using their influence to prevent precisely the sorts of reforms that are needed, and fast, to pull the economy out of its nosedive. The government seems helpless, or unwilling, to act against them.

Top investment bankers and government officials like to lay the blame for the current crisis on the lowering of U.S. interest rates after the dotcom bust or, even better—in a “buck stops somewhere else” sort of way—on the flow of savings out of China. Some on the right like to complain about Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, or even about longer-standing efforts to promote broader homeownership. And, of course, it is axiomatic to everyone that the regulators responsible for “safety and soundness” were fast asleep at the wheel.

But these various policies—lightweight regulation, cheap money, the unwritten Chinese-American economic alliance, the promotion of homeownership—had something in common. Even though some are traditionally associated with Democrats and some with Republicans, they all benefited the financial sector. Policy changes that might have forestalled the crisis but would have limited the financial sector’s profits—such as Brooksley Born’s now-famous attempts to regulate credit-default swaps at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, in 1998—were ignored or swept aside.

The financial industry has not always enjoyed such favored treatment. But for the past 25 years or so, finance has boomed, becoming ever more powerful. The boom began with the Reagan years, and it only gained strength with the deregulatory policies of the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. Several other factors helped fuel the financial industry’s ascent. Paul Volcker’s monetary policy in the 1980s, and the increased volatility in interest rates that accompanied it, made bond trading much more lucrative. The invention of securitization, interest-rate swaps, and credit-default swaps greatly increased the volume of transactions that bankers could make money on. And an aging and increasingly wealthy population invested more and more money in securities, helped by the invention of the IRA and the 401(k) plan. Together, these developments vastly increased the profit opportunities in financial services.

Not surprisingly, Wall Street ran with these opportunities. From 1973 to 1985, the financial sector never earned more than 16 percent of domestic corporate profits. In 1986, that figure reached 19 percent. In the 1990s, it oscillated between 21 percent and 30 percent, higher than it had ever been in the postwar period. This decade, it reached 41 percent. Pay rose just as dramatically. From 1948 to 1982, average compensation in the financial sector ranged between 99 percent and 108 percent of the average for all domestic private industries. From 1983, it shot upward, reaching 181 percent in 2007.

The great wealth that the financial sector created and concentrated gave bankers enormous political weight — a weight not seen in the U.S. since the era of J.P. Morgan (the man). In that period, the banking panic of 1907 could be stopped only by coordination among private-sector bankers: no government entity was able to offer an effective response. But that first age of banking oligarchs came to an end with the passage of significant banking regulation in response to the Great Depression; the reemergence of an American financial oligarchy is quite recent.

He further researched this theme in his book 2010 book 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown (ISBN 978-0307379054), coauthored with James Kwak. They also founded and regularly contributes to the economics blog The Baseline Scenario.

Financial oligarchy as an key part of modern neoliberal elite

Corporate oligarchy is a form of power, governmental or operational, where such power effectively rests with a small, elite group of inside individuals, sometimes from a small group of educational institutions, or influential economic entities or devices, such as banks, commercial entities that act in complicity with, or at the whim of the oligarchy, often with little or no regard for constitutionally protected prerogative. Monopolies are sometimes granted to state-controlled entities, such as the Royal Charter granted to the East India Company. In this regime people move freely from government posts to private industry and back.

In the USA the most rapidly rising part of national oligarchy is financial oligarchy. As Senator Dick Durbin noted referring to the US Congress Banks Frankly Own The Place. Moreover in many cases it is unclear who owns whom, for example whether Goldman Sachs owns NY FED or NY FED Goldman Sachs ( The Fed Under Goldman's Thumb - Bloomberg )

Senators questioned Dudley, 61, on issues ranging from whether some banks are too big to regulate to the Fed’s role in overseeing their commodities businesses.

Some of the criticism was pointed. Warren, a frequent critic of financial regulators, asked Dudley if he was “holding a mirror to your own behavior.”

Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, complained that bank employees involved in misdeeds haven’t been prosecuted and are “too big to jail.”

Dudley repeatedly disagreed with assertions that the New York Fed wasn’t doing enough to regulate banks and said lenders have become stronger and safer in the past few years.

... ... ...

Today’s Senate hearing follows reports that Goldman Sachs fired two bankers after one of them allegedly shared confidential documents from the New York Fed within the firm.

A junior banker, who had joined the company in July from the New York Fed, was dismissed a week after the discovery in late September, along with another employee who failed to escalate the issue, according to an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg News. Goldman Sachs confirmed the memo’s contents.

As Adair Turner noted in The Consequences of Money Manager Capitalism

In the wake of World War II, much of the western world, particularly the United States, adopted a new form of capitalism called “managerial welfare-state capitalism.”

The system by design constrained financial institutions with significant social welfare reforms and large oligopolistic corporations that financed investment primarily out of retained earnings. Private sector debt was small, but government debt left over from financing the War was large, providing safe assets for households, firms, and banks. The structure of this system was financially robust and unlikely to generate a deep recession. However, the constraints within the system didn’t hold.

The relative stability of the first few decades after WWII encouraged ever-greater risk-taking, and over time the financial system was transformed into our modern overly financialized economy. Today, the dominant financial players are “managed money” — lightly regulated “shadow banks” like pension funds, hedge funds, sovereign wealth funds, and university endowments—with huge pools of capital in search of the highest returns. In turn, innovations by financial engineers have encouraged the growth of private debt relative to income and the increased reliance on volatile short-term finance and massive uses of leverage.

What are the implications of this financialization on the modern global economy? According to Adair Lord Turner, a Senior Fellow at the Institute for New Economic Thinking and a former head of the United Kingdom’s Financial Services Authority, it means that finance has become central to the daily operations of the economic system. More precisely, the private nonfinancial sectors of the economy have become more dependent on the smooth functioning of the financial sector in order to maintain the liquidity and solvency of their balance sheets and to improve and maintain their economic welfare. For example, households have increased their use of debt to fund education, healthcare, housing, transportation, and leisure. And at the same time, they have become more dependent on interest, dividends, and capital gains as a means to maintain and improve their standard of living.

Another major consequence of financialized economies is that they typically generate repeated financial bubbles and major debt overhangs, the aftermath of which tends to exacerbate inequality and retard economic growth. Booms turn to busts, distressed sellers sell their assets to the beneficiaries of the previous bubble, and income inequality expands.

In the view of Lord Turner, currently there is no countervailing power (in John Kenneth Galbraith terms) able to deal with the consequences of neoliberalism, as he calls it "money manager capitalism.” The net result likely will be years more of economic stagnation and deteriorating living standards for many people around the world.

Finance is a form of modern warfare

As Michael Hudson aptly noted in Replacing Economic Democracy with Financial Oligarchy (2011)

Finance is a form of warfare. Like military conquest, its aim is to gain control of land, public infrastructure, and to impose tribute. This involves dictating laws to its subjects, and concentrating social as well as economic planning in centralized hands. This is what now is being done by financial means, without the cost to the aggressor of fielding an army. But the economies under attacked may be devastated as deeply by financial stringency as by military attack when it comes to demographic shrinkage, shortened life spans, emigration and capital flight.

This attack is being mounted not by nation states as such, but by a cosmopolitan financial class. Finance always has been cosmopolitan more than nationalistic – and always has sought to impose its priorities and lawmaking power over those of parliamentary democracies.

Like any monopoly or vested interest, the financial strategy seeks to block government power to regulate or tax it. From the financial vantage point, the ideal function of government is to enhance and protect finance capital and “the miracle of compound interest” that keeps fortunes multiplying exponentially, faster than the economy can grow, until they eat into the economic substance and do to the economy what predatory creditors and rentiers did to the Roman Empire.

Simon Johnson, former IMF Chief Economist, is coming out in May’s 2009 edition of The Atlantic with a fascinating, highly provocative article, on the collusion between the US’ “financial oligarchy” and the US government and how its persistence will contribute to prolonging the economic crisis. Here is the summary (hat tip to Global Conditions):

One thing you learn rather quickly when working at the International Monetary Fund is that no one is ever very happy to see you (…)

The reason, of course, is that the IMF specializes in telling its clients what they don’t want to hear.(…)

No, the real concern of the fund’s senior staff, and the biggest obstacle to recovery, is almost invariably the politics of countries in crisis. (…)

Typically, these countries are in a desperate economic situation for one simple reason—the powerful elites within them overreached in good times and took too many risks. Emerging-market governments and their private-sector allies commonly form a tight-knit—and, most of the time, genteel—oligarchy, running the country rather like a profit-seeking company in which they are the controlling shareholders (…)

Many IMF programs “go off track” (a euphemism) precisely because the government can’t stay tough on erstwhile cronies, and the consequences are massive inflation or other disasters. A program “goes back on track” once the government prevails or powerful oligarchs sort out among themselves who will govern—and thus win or lose—under the IMF-supported plan. (…)

In its depth and suddenness, the U.S. economic and financial crisis is shockingly reminiscent of moments we have recently seen in emerging markets (…).

(…) elite business interests—financiers, in the case of the U.S.—played a central role in creating the crisis, making ever-larger gambles, with the implicit backing of the government, until the inevitable collapse. More alarming, they are now using their influence to prevent precisely the sorts of reforms that are needed, and fast, to pull the economy out of its nosedive. The government seems helpless, or unwilling, to act against them.

Top investment bankers and government officials like to lay the blame for the current crisis on the lowering of U.S. interest rates after the dotcom bust or, even better—in a “buck stops somewhere else” sort of way—on the flow of savings out of China. Some on the right like to complain about Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, or even about longer-standing efforts to promote broader homeownership. And, of course, it is axiomatic to everyone that the regulators responsible for “safety and soundness” were fast asleep at the wheel.

But these various policies—lightweight regulation, cheap money, the unwritten Chinese-American economic alliance, the promotion of homeownership—had something in common. Even though some are traditionally associated with Democrats and some with Republicans, they all benefited the financial sector. Policy changes that might have forestalled the crisis but would have limited the financial sector’s profits—such as Brooksley Born’s now-famous attempts to regulate credit-default swaps at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, in 1998—were ignored or swept aside.

The financial industry has not always enjoyed such favored treatment. But for the past 25 years or so, finance has boomed, becoming ever more powerful. The boom began with the Reagan years, and it only gained strength with the deregulatory policies of the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

(…) the American financial industry gained political power by amassing a kind of cultural capital—a belief system. Once, perhaps, what was good for General Motors was good for the country. Over the past decade, the attitude took hold that what was good for Wall Street was good for the country. (…)

One channel of influence was, of course, the flow of individuals between Wall Street and Washington. Robert Rubin, once the co-chairman of Goldman Sachs, served in Washington as Treasury secretary under Clinton, and later became chairman of Citigroup’s executive committee. Henry Paulson, CEO of Goldman Sachs during the long boom, became Treasury secretary under George W.Bush. John Snow, Paulson’s predecessor, left to become chairman of Cerberus Capital Management, a large private-equity firm that also counts Dan Quayle among its executives. Alan Greenspan, after leaving the Federal Reserve, became a consultant to Pimco, perhaps the biggest player in international bond markets.

A whole generation of policy makers has been mesmerized by Wall Street, always and utterly convinced that whatever the banks said was true (…).

By now, the princes of the financial world have of course been stripped naked as leaders and strategists—at least in the eyes of most Americans. But as the months have rolled by, financial elites have continued to assume that their position as the economy’s favored children is safe, despite the wreckage they have caused (…)

Throughout the crisis, the government has taken extreme care not to upset the interests of the financial institutions, or to question the basic outlines of the system that got us here. In September 2008, Henry Paulson asked Congress for $700 billion to buy toxic assets from banks, with no strings attached and no judicial review of his purchase decisions. Many observers suspected that the purpose was to overpay for those assets and thereby take the problem off the banks’ hands—indeed, that is the only way that buying toxic assets would have helped anything. Perhaps because there was no way to make such a blatant subsidy politically acceptable, that plan was shelved.

Instead, the money was used to recapitalize banks, buying shares in them on terms that were grossly favorable to the banks themselves. As the crisis has deepened and financial institutions have needed more help, the government has gotten more and more creative in figuring out ways to provide banks with subsidies that are too complex for the general public to understand (…)

The challenges the United States faces are familiar territory to the people at the IMF. If you hid the name of the country and just showed them the numbers, there is no doubt what old IMF hands would say: nationalize troubled banks and break them up as necessary (…)

In some ways, of course, the government has already taken control of the banking system. It has essentially guaranteed the liabilities of the biggest banks, and it is their only plausible source of capital today.

Ideally, big banks should be sold in medium-size pieces, divided regionally or by type of business. Where this proves impractical—since we’ll want to sell the banks quickly—they could be sold whole, but with the requirement of being broken up within a short time. Banks that remain in private hands should also be subject to size limitations.

This may seem like a crude and arbitrary step, but it is the best way to limit the power of individual institutions in a sector that is essential to the economy as a whole. Of course, some people will complain about the “efficiency costs” of a more fragmented banking system, and these costs are real. But so are the costs when a bank that is too big to fail—a financial weapon of mass self-destruction—explodes. Anything that is too big to fail is too big to exist.

To ensure systematic bank breakup, and to prevent the eventual reemergence of dangerous behemoths, we also need to overhaul our antitrust legislation (…)

Caps on executive compensation, while redolent of populism, might help restore the political balance of power and deter the emergence of a new oligarchy. (…)

(…) Over time, though, the largest part may involve more transparency and competition, which would bring financial-industry fees down. To those who say this would drive financial activities to other countries, we can now safely say: fine”.

The predatory nature of financial oligarchy

The nature of financial oligarchy is such that the government’s capacity to take control of an entire financial system, and to clean, slice it up and re-privatize it impartially is almost non-existent. Instead we have growing, corrupt collusion between financial elites and government officials which is hall mark of corporatism in its most modern form -- neoliberalism.

Second probably is that institutions are more powerful them individuals and replacement or even jailing of corrupt current officials while a quite welcome move, can't by itself lead to drastic changes. You need to reinstall the whole system of government controls dismantled by Clinton-Bush regime. Otherwise one set of players will be simply replaced by the other, no less corrupt, hungry and unprincipled. As Daron Acemoglu pointed out recently, we are in a situation that attempt to fix the financial system will have to involve those same bankers (albeit in lower positions at the time of the crisis) that created the mess in the first place. To push the analogy a bit strongly, even in Germany post 1945 and Iraq post 2003 new governments still needed to work with some civil servants in the judicial and educational system from the previous regime as well as with tainted industrialists.

In theory, the best way to diminish the power of financiers is to limit the size (limiting the damage) and let them fail and crash badly. Also introduction of a tax of transactions (Tobin tax) can help to cool the frenzy of derivative trading. But there is nobody in power who can push those changes. That means the "silent coup" in which financial oligarchy got control of the state is complete.

Loss of trust led to conversion of the country into national security state

Paranoya of financial oligarchy after 2008 when most of the country wished them what was reflected in the slogan of the corner of Wallstreet (see the picture), led to speed up of creation of comprehensive network of spying over the citizens.

According to UN Human Right Council Report (17 April 2013) innovations in technology not only have increased the possibilities for communication and protections of free expression and opinion, enabling anonymity, rapid information-sharing and cross-cultural dialogues. They also simultaneously increased opportunities for State surveillance and interventions into individuals’ private communications facilitating to transformation of the state into National Security State, a form of corporatism characterized by continued and encompassing all forms of electronic communication electronic surveillance of all citizens.

Even if we assume that data collection is passive and never used it is like a ticking bomb or "skeleton in the closet" it is a powerful method of control of population, not the different from what was used by KGB in the USSR or STASI in East Germany.

So it does not really matter much what the data are collected for and what if official justification of such a collection. The mere fact of collection changes the situation to the worse, making opposition to the system practically impossible. The net result is what is matter. And the net result definitely resembles a move in the direction of a tyranny. US Senator Frank Church said in 1975:

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

Today his words sound even more true then in 1975 when computers were still in their infancy and mainframes dominated the computer landscape. With the proliferation of cheap electronic devices such as PCs and laptops, tablets and cell phones this really became "the abyss from which there is no return".

So the real, the key goal is not what is officially declared. Convenience of access to information has a side effect that it makes collection of information about you trivial and at the same time comprehensive. It is to keep the elite safe from common folks, not all those lies about national security. It is all about the security of the elite.

In other words 1984 dystopia materialized in slightly different, slightly more gentle form. The elite as a whole is not interesting in dismantling the tool that serve its interests so well even if it has some side effects on the elite members themselves. This is another confirmation of The Iron Law of Oligarchy

All-in-all it's a good time to smell the coffee and talk about the rise of a new mutation of totalitarism in the USA. That's exactly what this "Internet-inspired" flavor of total surveillance due to modern technical capabilities means. There is also distinct shadow of Stasi in all those activities. As countries of the USSR camp got into similar trap before, nothing is new under the sun. As Reinhold Niebuhr noted

"Communism is a vivid object lesson in the monstrous consequences of moral complacency about the relation of dubious means to supposedly good ends."

There is actually little difference between total surveillance as practiced by NSA and what was practiced by three letters agencies of Eastern block dictatorships. The key goal in both cases is protection and preservation of power of existing elite against the will of common people. So this is more about oppression of 99.9% from top 0.1% then surveillance per see.

Phone hacking and police corruption represent neoliberalism attempt to cling to life even entering in 2008 a zombie status. And we do not know if the change is possible (The zombie of neoliberalism can be beaten)

Poor growth figures put a "new" financial collapse back on the cards. The response from politicians, bankers and business leaders is more of the same – more of the same neoliberal policies that got us into this situation in the first place.

Neoliberalism no longer "makes sense", but its logic keeps stumbling on, without conscious direction, like a zombie: ugly, persistent and dangerous. Such is the "unlife" of a zombie, a body stripped of its goals, unable to adjust itself to the future, unable to make plans. It can only act habitually as it pursues a monomaniacal hunger. Unless there is a dramatic recomposition of society, we face the prospect of decades of drift as the crises we face – economic, social, environmental – remain unresolved. But where will that recomposition come from when we are living in the world of zombie-liberalism?

... ... ...

Neoliberalism, however, requires more than the internal realignment of a national ruling class. Every semi-stable form of capitalism also needs some sort of settlement with the wider population, or at least a decisive section of it. While the postwar Keynesian settlement contained an explicit deal linking rising real wages to rising productivity, neoliberalism contained an implicit deal based on access to cheap credit. While real wages have stagnated since the late 1970s, the mechanisms of debt have maintained most people's living standards. An additional part of neoliberalism's tacit deal was the abandonment of any pretence to democratic, collective control over the conditions of life: politics has been reduced to technocratic rule. Instead, individuals accepted the promise that, through hard work, shrewd educational and other "life" choices, and a little luck, they – or their children – would reap the benefits of economic growth.

The financial crisis shattered the central component of this deal: access to cheap credit. Living standards can no longer be supported and, for the first time in a century, there is widespread fear that children will lead poorer lives than their parents.

Conclusions

After 2008 the irresponsibility of the financial elites, the power and proliferation of special interest groups that defend interests of oligarchy, the paralysis of Congress and executive power to deal with challenges the financial oligarchy created have created atmosphere of public cynicism.

This correlated with withdrawal from public activity and elections. voter participation in the 1996 Presidential election reached similar to 1924 figure of 49%, less then half of eligible population. And with electronic surveillance reaching it zenith after 9/11/2001, the country quietly slid in the darkness of Inverted Totalitarism

Disillusionment with government and large corporation is a noticeable feature of contemporary America. There is a the widespread sense that big companies and those who run them are immune from prosecution and can't be held accountable by government for their crimes as that they are ... Too Big To Jail. Part of this leniency is connected with corruption of regulators. Which is an immanent part of neoliberal social order. There is also the issue off gaming the system. For very large and profitable multinationals paying some law firm or accounting firm a couple of million dollars to game the tax system in some sleazy way to park most of the income in tax havens represents a small fraction of their tax savings. So the big boys get away with this and middle market firms are the only ones who really pay corporate taxes.

The fact that no one has been imprisoned for the crime committed before 2008 is seen as outrageous by most Americans and large part of Main Street. At the same time, the multibillion-dollar fines and enforcement actions against financial institutions are providing large TBTF firms such as Goldman Sachs with wrong incentives. Paying with shareholders’ money as the price of protecting themselves is a very attractive trade-off. Punishment of individual executives who committed crimes or who failed in their managerial duty to monitor the behavior of their subordinates is short-changed because the principle that leaders should take responsibility for failure and resign contradicts neoliberal worldview.


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[Feb 12, 2017] Instead of the endless perception management or strategic communication or psychological operations or whatever the new code words are, you could open up the files regarding key turning-point moments and share the facts with the citizens

Notable quotes:
"... This bizarre feature of Trump's executive order shows how deep Official Washington's dysfunction goes. Trump has picked a major constitutional battle over a travel ban that targets the wrong countries. ..."
"... But there's a reason for this dysfunction: No one in Official Washington can speak the truth about terrorism without suffering severe political damage or getting blacklisted by the mainstream media. Since the truth puts Israel and especially Saudi Arabia in an uncomfortable position, the truth cannot be spoken. ..."
"... There was some hope that President Trump – for all his irascibility and unpredictability – might break from the absurd "Iran is the principal source of terrorism" mantra. But so far he has not. Nor has Trump moved to throw open the files on the Syrian and Ukraine conflicts so Americans can assess how the Obama administration sought to manipulate them into supporting these "regime change" adventures. ..."
"... But Trump has resisted intense pressure to again entrust U.S. foreign policy to the neoconservatives, a number of whom lost their jobs when President Obama left office, perhaps most significantly Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who helped orchestrate the violent overthrow of Ukraine's elected president and is an architect of the New Cold War with Russia. ..."
"... Other neocons who angled for jobs in the new administration, including John Bolton and James Woolsey, have failed to land them. Currently, there is pressure to ensconce Elliott Abrams, a top neocon dating back to the Reagan administration, in the key post of Deputy Secretary of State but that idea, too, has met resistance. ..."
"... The neocon threat to Trump's stated intent of restoring some geopolitical realism to U.S. foreign policy is that the neocons operate almost as an ideological cabal linked often in a subterranean fashion – or as I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's neocon chief of staff, once wrote in a cryptic letter to neocon journalist Judith Miller that aspen trees "turn in clusters, because their roots connect them." ..."
"... What is less clear is whether Trump, Tillerson and his fledgling State Department team have the intellectual heft to understand why U.S. foreign policy has drifted into the chaos and conflicts that now surround it – and whether they have the skill to navigate a route toward a safe harbor. ..."
"... My first concern, however, is the USA predilection for 'regime change" wars - and for that I blame the neocons. ..."
Feb 12, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
RGC : February 10, 2017 at 06:44 AM

If you wanted to bring sanity to a U.S. foreign policy that has spun crazily out of control, there would be some immediate steps that you – or, say, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – could take, starting with a renewed commitment to tell the truth to the American people.

Instead of the endless "perception management" or "strategic communication" or "psychological operations" or whatever the new code words are, you could open up the files regarding key turning-point moments and share the facts with the citizens – the "We the People" – who are supposed to be America's true sovereigns.

For instance, you could release what the U.S. government actually knows about the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin gas attack in Syria; what the files show about the origins of the Feb. 22, 2014 coup in Ukraine; what U.S. intelligence analysts have compiled about the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine. And those are just three examples of cases where U.S. government propagandists have sold a dubious bill of goods to the American and world publics in the "information warfare" campaign against the Syrian and Russian governments.

If you wanted to base U.S. foreign policy on the firm foundation of reality, you also could let the American people in on who is actually the principal sponsor of the terrorism that they're concerned about: Al Qaeda, Islamic State, the Taliban – all Sunni-led outfits, none of which are backed by Shiite-ruled Iran. Yet, all we hear from Official Washington's political and media insiders is that Iran is the chief sponsor of terrorism.

Of course, that is what Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Israel want you to believe because it serves their regional and sectarian interests, but it isn't true. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are the ones arming and financing Al Qaeda and Islamic State with Israel occasionally bombing Al Qaeda's military enemies inside Syria and providing medical support for Al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate operating near the Golan Heights.

The reason for this unsavory network of alliances is that Israel, like Saudi Arabia and the Sunni-led Gulf states, sees Iran and the so-called "Shiite crescent" – from Tehran through Damascus to Beirut – as their principal problem. And because of the oil sheiks' financial wealth and Israel's political clout, they control how pretty much everyone in Official Washington's establishment views the Middle East.

But the interests of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are not in line with the interests of the American people – nor the average European – who are not concerned about militant Shiites as much as militant Sunnis. After all, the worst terror attacks on Europe and the U.S. have come from Sunni extremists belonging to or inspired by Al Qaeda and Islamic State.

This gap between the reality of Sunni-extremist terrorism and the fantasy of Official Washington's "group think" fingering Shiite-ruled Iran explains the cognitive dissonance over President Trump's travel ban on people from seven mostly Muslim countries. Beyond the offensive anti-Muslim prejudice, there is the fact that he ignored the countries that produced the terrorists who have attacked the U.S., including the 9/11 hijackers.

This bizarre feature of Trump's executive order shows how deep Official Washington's dysfunction goes. Trump has picked a major constitutional battle over a travel ban that targets the wrong countries.

But there's a reason for this dysfunction: No one in Official Washington can speak the truth about terrorism without suffering severe political damage or getting blacklisted by the mainstream media. Since the truth puts Israel and especially Saudi Arabia in an uncomfortable position, the truth cannot be spoken.

There was some hope that President Trump – for all his irascibility and unpredictability – might break from the absurd "Iran is the principal source of terrorism" mantra. But so far he has not. Nor has Trump moved to throw open the files on the Syrian and Ukraine conflicts so Americans can assess how the Obama administration sought to manipulate them into supporting these "regime change" adventures.

But Trump has resisted intense pressure to again entrust U.S. foreign policy to the neoconservatives, a number of whom lost their jobs when President Obama left office, perhaps most significantly Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who helped orchestrate the violent overthrow of Ukraine's elected president and is an architect of the New Cold War with Russia.

Other neocons who angled for jobs in the new administration, including John Bolton and James Woolsey, have failed to land them. Currently, there is pressure to ensconce Elliott Abrams, a top neocon dating back to the Reagan administration, in the key post of Deputy Secretary of State but that idea, too, has met resistance.

The neocon threat to Trump's stated intent of restoring some geopolitical realism to U.S. foreign policy is that the neocons operate almost as an ideological cabal linked often in a subterranean fashion – or as I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's neocon chief of staff, once wrote in a cryptic letter to neocon journalist Judith Miller that aspen trees "turn in clusters, because their roots connect them."

In other words, if one neocon is given a key job, other neocons can be expected to follow. Then, any Trump deviation from neocon orthodoxy would be undermined in the classic Washington tradition of strategic leaking to powerful media and congressional allies.

So far, the Trump inner circle has shown the administrative savvy to avoid bringing in ideologues who would dedicate their efforts to thwarting any significant change in U.S. geopolitical directions.

What is less clear is whether Trump, Tillerson and his fledgling State Department team have the intellectual heft to understand why U.S. foreign policy has drifted into the chaos and conflicts that now surround it – and whether they have the skill to navigate a route toward a safe harbor.

https://consortiumnews.com/2017/02/09/trumps-foreign-policy-at-a-crossroads/

Julio -> RGC... , February 10, 2017 at 09:04 AM
Very good analysis.
The first and obvious question about the ban is "why isn't Saudi Arabia included"? As the article shows, this question unravels this (Trump's) current version of dysfunctional foreign policy based on misleading the public.
RGC -> Julio ... , February 10, 2017 at 09:43 AM
Yes, Trump seems to want to act directly but he also seems to often be off-target.

My first concern, however, is the USA predilection for 'regime change" wars - and for that I blame the neocons.

sanjait said in reply to RGC... , February 10, 2017 at 10:56 AM
I am all for transparency but very strongly opposed to asinine conspiracy theories.
RGC -> sanjait... , February 10, 2017 at 11:29 AM
Why should anyone care? Maybe you should actually learn something about a topic before you comment on it.

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

[Feb 12, 2017] Russia Will Not Sell Snowden To Trump; Heres Why Zero Hedge

Feb 12, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

Submitted by Alexander Mercouris via TheDuran.com,

On Friday 10th February 2017 NBC circulated a report the Russian government in order to improve relations with the Trump administration was preparing to hand Edward Snowden over to the US.

The report obviously worried Snowden himself, who tweeted that the report proved that he was not and never had been a Russian agent . That suggests that he took the report seriously.

Snowden should not be worried, since the report is groundless and is clearly a provocation. To see why it is only necessary to look at the NBC report itself , which makes it clear who is behind it...

U.S. intelligence has collected information that Russia is considering turning over Edward Snowden as a "gift" to President Donald Trump - who has called the NSA leaker a "spy" and a "traitor" who deserves to be executed.

That's according to a senior U.S. official who has analyzed a series of highly sensitive intelligence reports detailing Russian deliberations and who says a Snowden handover is one of various ploys to "curry favor" with Trump. A second source in the intelligence community confirms the intelligence about the Russian conversations and notes it has been gathered since the inauguration.

(bold italics added)

It turns out that the story does not originate in Russia. It originates with our old friends the 'anonymous officials' of the US intelligence community.

One of these officials claims that the story is based on "intelligence" of "Russian conversations" that the US intelligence community has 'gathered since the inauguration". We have no way of knowing at what level these "conversations" took place, assuming they took place at all, but it is inconceivable that the US intelligence community is genuinely informed of discussions within the top level of the Russian leadership – where such a question would be discussed – or if it is that it would publicise the fact by blurting the fact out to NBC.

The reality is that there is no possibility of the Russians handing Snowden over to the US in order to please Donald Trump . Not only would doing so almost certainly breach Russian law – as Snowden's lawyer, who has denied the whole story , has pointed out – but it contradicts what I personally heard Russian President Putin say at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in 2014 when the subject of Snowden was brought up, which is that Russia never hands over people like Snowden once they have gained asylum in Russia. That is indeed Russian practice extending far back into the Soviet period, and I can think of no exceptions to it.

As it happens Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova has denied the story in a Facebook post which links it to the ongoing struggle between the Trump administration and the US intelligence community (about which see more below). Here is how RT translates her post

Today, US intelligence agencies have stepped up their work, updating two stale stories, 'Russia can gift Snowden to Trump' and 'confirmation found on the details of the scandalous dossier on Trump allegedly collected by an ex-employee of British intelligence.' But it may seem so only to those who do not understand the essence of the game. None of these statements have been made by representatives of the special services, but is information coming from NBC and CNN, citing unnamed sources. The difference is obvious, but only to experts. Yet it is useful for scandalizing the public and maintaining a degree of [public outrage] .

It is evident that the pressure on the new administration on the part of political opponents within the United States continues, bargaining is going on. And that's why the US foreign policy doctrine has not yet been formed

It is just possible that US intelligence overheard some gossip in Moscow about the Kremlin handing Snowden over to Donald Trump in order to curry favour with him. The various reports the US intelligence community released during the Clinton leaks hacking scandal show that the US intelligence community is not actually very well informed about what goes on in Moscow or how the Russian government works. In light of that it would not be entirely surprising if someone overheard some gossip about Snowden in Moscow which the US intelligence community is over-interpreting.

Far more likely however is that – as Maria Zakharova says – this is a deliberate provocation, spread by someone within the US intelligence community who either wants to signal to Moscow what Moscow 'needs to do' if it wants better relations with the US, or (more probably) as a signal to Donald Trump of the minimum the US intelligence community expects of him if he wants the US intelligence community's support in seeking better relations with Russia.

This story is interesting not because of what it says about what the Russians are going to do to Snowden – which in reality is nothing. Rather it is interesting because it shows the degree to which Snowden continues to be an object of obsession for the US intelligence community.

The reason for that is that the US intelligence community knows that Snowden is not a Russian spy.

As Snowden has pointed out, if he really were a Russian spy no-one in Washington would be talking about the Russians handing him over. The Russians do not hand their spies over any more than the US does, and if Snowden really were a Russian spy no-one in Washington would talking about the Russians handing him over.

However if Snowden had been a Russian spy his actions would in that case have been simply a Russian intelligence operation of which the US intelligence community was the victim, of which there have been many since the Second World War. Espionage is what the US and Russia routinely do to each other, and there would be nothing remarkable about Snowden in that case.

It is the fact that Snowden is on the contrary a deeply patriotic American who acted from patriotic motives that has the US intelligence community enraged and alarmed. From their point of view having a patriotic American publicly expose their practices Jason Bourne style is a far greater threat than have a Russian spy penetrate their systems, since because of the far greater publicity it is far more likely to damage them politically.

This explains the extraordinary feud the US intelligence community has waged against Snowden, which in part explains why it has become so hostile to Russia, the country which has become his protector.

Mr.Sono -> knukles •Feb 12, 2017 5:41 PM
Putin is a man of his words and not a little bitch like Obama. I was suprised that fake news was all over zerohedge regarding this topic, but at the end zerohedge confirmed the fake news.
Giant Meteor -> FreeShitter •Feb 12, 2017 5:35 PM
One of the smartest plays the deep state could make is allowing him back, make small fuss, and issue a pardon. It would go far in deflating, diffusing the situation, de minimis so to speak. But, I suppose it is more about absolute control, control of the narrative, full spectrum dominance, cautionary tales etc. Pride goeth before the fall (destruction) I believe. Eventually this laundry is going to get sorted and cleaned, one way or the other.
boattrash •Feb 12, 2017 5:13 PM
" as Maria Zakharova says – this is a deliberate provocation, spread by someone within the US intelligence community who either wants to signal to Moscow what Moscow 'needs to do' if it wants better relations with the US, or (more probably) as a signal to Donald Trump of the minimum the US intelligence community expects of him if he wants the US intelligence community's support in seeking better relations with Russia."

A full pardon from Trump would improve his standing with the American people, IMHO, on both the left and the right.

HumanMan -> boattrash •Feb 12, 2017 5:29 PM
This was my thought when the story broke. Putin can no longer claim to be a protector of human rights if he hands over Snowden...Unless Trump is going to pardon him. As you pointed you, that would be great (politically) for Trump too. Done this way would be a win win for the two and another win for We The People. On top of that, Putin doesn't want to babysit Snowden. I'm sure the Russians would be happy to have a politically expediant way to get the American spy out of their country.
HRClinton •Feb 12, 2017 5:16 PM
The Deep State rules, no matter what DJT thinks.

The roots go deep in my fomer DOS and in the CIA. Even in the DOD and Senate. Bill and I know this better than anyone.

FAKE NEWS:

On Friday 10th February 2017 NBC circulated a report the Russian government in order to improve relations with the Trump administration was preparing to hand Edward Snowden over to the US.

How many gringos were fooled???--- not many

shovelhead •Feb 12, 2017 5:37 PM
Pissgate II...

Brought to you from your friends at the CIA.

Mr. Crisp •Feb 12, 2017 5:50 PM
Snowden showed the world that the NSA wasn't just tracking terrorists, they were tracking pretty much everyone, everywhere. He deserves a full pardon.

[Feb 11, 2017] Welfare is assumed to be based upon real income and not relative income with ones group

Feb 01, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Robert C Shelburne : January 23, 2017 at 09:10 AM

Another good article by Rodrik but a weakness of his analysis is that welfare is assumed to be based upon real income and not relative income with ones "group".

Most analyses of welfare find that relative income is quite important. Obviously if one assumes that one's reference group is the world, then the problem goes away; but empirically this is not the case.

Assuming that welfare is strongly affected by relative income with a group which is smaller than the world, then global equality is no longer welfare maximizing.

Those interested in these issues might be interested in Robert Shelburne, A Utilitarian Welfare Analysis of Trade Liberalization , available as a UN working paper.

[Feb 09, 2017] How lies work

Feb 09, 2017 | stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com

Nick Cohen makes a good point : it is not congenital liars that should worry us, but congenital believers – those who fall for the lies of charlatans. We know that many do so: almost half of voters believed the lie that leaving the EU would allow us to spend an extra £350m a week on the NHS.

This poses the question: why do people fall for lies? Here, we can learn from behavioural economics and research (pdf) into criminal fraud. I reckon there are several factors that liars exploit in politics.

One is wishful thinking. People want to believe there's a simple solution to NHS underfunding (leave the EU!) or to low wages (cut immigration!) just as they want to believe they can get rich quick or make money by taking no risk: Ponzi schemers like Bernie Madoff play upon that last one. The wish is often the father to the belief.

Relatedly, perhaps, there are lottery-type preferences. People like long-odds bets and pay too much for them: this is why they back longshots (pdf) too much and pay over the odds for speculative shares . To such people, the fact that an offer seems too good to be true is therefore, paradoxically, tempting. A study of fraud by the OFT found :

Some people viewed responding to a scam as taking a long-odds gamble: they recognised that there was something wrong with the offer, but the size of the possible prize or reward (relative to the initial outlay) induced them to give it a try on the off-chance that it might be genuine.

There's a particular type that is especially likely to take a long-odds bet: the desperate. Lonely people are vulnerable to the romance scam; gamblers who have lost take big bets to get even; losing teams try "hail Mary" tactics. In like fashion, people who feel like they have lost out in the era of globalization were tempted to vote for Trump and Brexit.

There's another mechanism here: people are likely to turn to con-men if the alternatives have failed. Werner Troesken shows (pdf) how snake-oil sellers exploited this. They invested a lot in advertising and in product differentiation and so when other products failed they could claim that theirs would work when the others hadn't. I suspect that fund managers use a similar trick: the failure of many to beat the market leads investors simply to trust others rather than tracker funds. The fact that previous policies had failed working people thus encouraged them to try something different – be it Brexit or Trump.

Yet another trick here is the affinity fraud. We tend to trust people like ourselves, or who at least who look like ourselves. Farage's endless posturing as a "man of the people" – fag and pint in hand, not caring about "political correctness" – laid the basis for people to trust him, just as Bernie Madoff joined all the right clubs to encourage wealthy (often Jewish) folk to trust him. By contrast, the claims from the Treasury and various think-tanks that Brexit would make us poorer came from metropolitan elites who were so different from poorer working class people that they weren't trusted. And in fact the very talk of "liberal elites" carried the subtext: "don't trust them: they're not like you".

All of these tendencies have been reinforced by another – the fact that, as David Leiser and Zeev Kril have shown , people are bad at making connections in economics. The idea that Brexit would hurt us rested upon tricky connections: between the terms of Brexit and trade rules; from trade rules to actual trade; and from trade to productivity. By contrast, the idea that leaving the EU would save us money was simple and easy to believe.

Now, I don't say all this merely to be a Remoaner; complaining about liars is like a fish complaining that the water is wet. Instead, I want to point out that it is not sufficient to blame the BBC for not calling out Brexiters' lies. Yes, the BBC disgraced itself during the plebiscite campaign. But we must also understand how voters fall for such mendacity. As Akerlof and Shiller write:

Voters are phishable in two major ways. First, they are not fully informed; they are information phools. Second, voters are also psychological phools; for example, because they respond to appeals such as lawnmower ads [a candidate seen mowing his own lawn is regarded as a man of the people] ( Phishing for Phools , p 75)

All this raises a challenge for liberals. Many used to believe the truth would win out over lies in the marketplace for ideas. This is no longer true, if it ever were. Instead, the questions now are: what can we do about this? And what should we do? The two questions might well have different answers. But we can make a start by understanding how lies are sometimes believed. Keith | February 07, 2017 at 04:47 PM

The marketplace of ideas assumes that the consumers are able and willing to inform themselves and be rational rather than emotional. Clearly this is not true of a lot of voters when confronted by a manipulative press and Tories like Jim with their right wing agenda slyly hidden for the time being.

Equally as in other areas such as health care shopping around is impossible to do as the consumers lack expert knowledge. Allowing the profit motive to apply to many areas is sure to be a disaster for human welfare as the profit incentive stops the experts using their knowledge for good. Finance is a classic example of the uninformed being repeatedly duped into unsound investments decade after decade. Benjamin Graham describes how in his first job selling Bonds to grannies he came to realise that he was being asked to steal the life savings of pensioners via commissions designed to get a sale of junk paper. Which is why he moved elsewhere to a more ethical line of work. But I am sure leaving the biggest most integrated market in the world where lots of foreigners have helpfully learned our language will surely increase our prosperity....Nigel says so.

Matthew Moore | February 07, 2017 at 05:37 PM
There will always be gullible people (/ people constrained by high opportunity cost of information search, as I prefer to think of them)

And there will always be liars looking to take advantage of them. Like 99% of politicians ever.

It's very Marxist to wonder how we might change this basic fact of humanity, when the real solution is clear. Don't set up powerful central institutions that rely on coercion: it attracts liars, rewards them, and makes new liars out of honest people.

Dipper | February 07, 2017 at 07:47 PM
Oh, we Leavers are being lectured again by our Remainer betters on our stupidity.

If the statements of the amount we pay to the EU were lies, how come we owe them €50 billion?

how come no-one ever asks why we have to implement the four freedoms when Germany gets a free pass on the Free market in Services?

the government announced house building plans today, and no-one asks whether a cause of high house prices and a housing shortage is too much immigration?

It's not the lies, it's the questions never asked that stand out.

Dipper | February 07, 2017 at 08:09 PM
@ Keith - "Tories like Jim"

I don't read Jim as a Tory. I read him as someone who was a Labour supporter but now just stares in amazement at a group of people who have become EU Federalist fanatics spouting delusional slogans who can never answer a straight question and refuse to acknowledge the obvious problems of democratic accountability.

How on earth did that happen? How did apparently intelligent people completely lose their critical faculties and join a quasi-religious cult that chants empty slogans and denounces anyone who questions them?

But I'm sure Jim can speak for himself.

Ralph Musgrave | February 07, 2017 at 09:45 PM
Chris missed out the fact that people tend to give others the benefit of the doubt. I.e. if X tells a monster lie, peoples' immediate reaction is: "X is is a bastard". But then on second thoughts they feel ashamed at accusing someone else of being a bastard, and assume it's they themselves that must be wrong.

Sotto Voce | February 07, 2017 at 10:45 PM
There is a bit of a danger here of another comment thread being derailed with Brexit mud-slinging. Chris's post isn't really about the pros and cons of Brexit, it just offers a vivid example of the phenomenon under discussion.

The point Chris makes in the last paragraph is more general and profound. If any and all data/information/evidence/argument is interpreted in partisan fashion and subject to massive confirmation bias so that debates increasingly polarise - or if different sides in debates proffer their own favoured but incompatible versions of the truth - then meaningful dialogue, deliberation and compromise become near impossible. All we get is intolerance, mistrust and greater partisanship. Clearly these are not entirely new issues, but it seems undeniable that there has been a qualitative shift in 'quality' of public debate.

We appear to be witnessing the US political system at great risk of imploding, as enlightenment values are abandoned and key tenets of liberal democratic practice are wilfully rejected. This is the route to chaos.

The questions Chris poses are, to my mind at least, the right ones. The very nature of the problem means that the old/favoured remedies are unlikely to be effective. But what can replace them? Is a violent conflagration the only way of shocking the system out of hyper-partisanship and the rejection of the foundational belief that we live in a shared reality (i.e. for people to 'come to their senses')? Or can we back out of this particular cul-de-sac peacefully? You've got to hope so. But, if so, how?

e | February 07, 2017 at 10:57 PM
Our upper echelon, i.e. our long-standing middle of the road Labour MPs and commentators, have long been successful in fighting off calls for left leaning policy/talk of how things work (because who knows where this will end) under a guise of fighting off racism/ a closed shop mentality; the routes of least resistance 50s – 00s which should alert us to the ability of the English working class to embrace immigration and avoid base philosophies. But it seems not. Seems to me our shared interest beyond race creed colour and gender continues to be deliberately and systematically no-platformed. What I fail to understand, given the rise of UKIP, is why this is not glaringly obvious; because if you're one of the majority who live life as best you might with as much consideration and tolerance as you can muster where does credence go when an ordinary workers tendency to sound 'populist' is marked up to racism no matter known history...

aragon | February 07, 2017 at 11:53 PM
Not again!
Phishing for Phools. The Political Brain...

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/26/books/review/Brooks-t.html

"Serious thinkers set to work, and produced a long shelf of books answering this question. Their answers tended to rely on similar themes. First, Democrats lose because they are too intelligent. Their arguments are too complicated for American voters. Second, Democrats lose because they are too tolerant. They refuse to cater to racism and hatred. Finally, Democrats lose because they are not good at the dark art of politics. Republicans, though they are knuckle-dragging simpletons when it comes to policy, are devilishly clever when it comes to electioneering. They have brilliant political consultants like Lee Atwater and Karl Rove, who frame issues so fiendishly, they can fool the American people into voting against their own best interests."

And immigration is about economics. This is Sweden an immigration superpower.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/755997/Sweden-Malmo-military-intervention-no-go-zone-crime-surge

"Swedish police last year issued a report where it detailed incidents from more than 55 areas which it branded as "no-go zones" as it detailed brutal attacks on police, sexual assaults, children carrying weapons and general turmoil sweeping across the country."

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/most-europeans-want-muslim-ban-immigration-control-middle-east-countries-syria-iran-iraq-poll-a7567301.html

"A ban was supported by 71 per cent of people in Poland, 65 per cent in Austria, 53 per cent in Germany and 51 per cent in Italy.
In the UK, 47 per cent supported a ban.
In no country did more than 32 per cent disagree with a ban."

aragon | February 08, 2017 at 12:29 AM
Phishing for Phools

"It thereby explains a paradox: why, at a time when we are better off than ever before in history, all too many of us are leading lives of quiet desperation."

http://nfs.sparknotes.com/macbeth/page_162.html

"Pour the sweet milk of concord into hell,
Uproar the universal peace, confound
All unity on earth."

Human Nature has not changed.

Guano | February 08, 2017 at 12:42 AM
The truth is complicated.

The truth is challenging.

Tony Holmes | February 08, 2017 at 09:13 AM
Chris, a bit off the point, but if everyone followed your advice and put money in tracker funds and active funds disappeared, what would happen to the stock market ? Instinct tells me it would become extremely volatile, but instinct is a bad guide...

gastro george | February 08, 2017 at 09:35 AM
FFS aragon, that "report" from Sweden is from the Express quoting directly a Swedish fascist.

reason | February 08, 2017 at 11:29 AM
Isn't the key point here prospect theory (I've just finished reading Kahneman). People with no good options gamble.

reason | February 08, 2017 at 11:30 AM
P.S. The no good options bit is a very good reason for opposing first past the post and the limited options consequence.

aragon | February 08, 2017 at 11:47 AM
gasto george

It is not an extreme story, I don't speak Swedish or have any contact with Sweden. I only read the main stream media which includes the Daily Express.

As you would expect most of the media does not report on Sweden, unless it has a British angle.
e.g. Birmingham Boy killed by a hand grenade.
(I don't know how you can spin Hand Grenade)

The report originates with the Swedish Police the situation in Malmo is serious and individual police officers like Peter Springare's Facebook post.

Here is a report from the thelocal.se
http://www.thelocal.se/20170127/malmo-police-chief-help-us

"After a wave of violence in Sweden's third city, police boss Stefan Sintéus has appealed to residents in Malmö: "Help us. Help us to tackle the problems. Cooperate with us.""

Dipper | February 08, 2017 at 12:03 PM
@ gastro george

This isn't the first time facists have made inflammatory comments about muslims. Nick Griffin did this and was prosecuted for inciting racial hatred in 2006. The summary of what he said is some way down this article.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/tougher-race-laws-likely-after-bnp-pair-cleared-423820.html

Eleven years later we have this http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-38845332

And that, in a nutshell, is the problem with banning "fake news". You have to be really open, transparent and clear and be absolutely sure you are right, otherwise you end up making heroes of facists and stoking the notion that its all a plot to hide the truth from the people. And that is a really bad outcome.

MPs wrestling with their consciences, loud debates, arguments about the truth ... this is the sound of a properly functioning parliamentary democracy and long may that noise continue.

Guano | February 08, 2017 at 02:06 PM
The first two words of the article: Nick Cohen.

Nick Cohen does make some good points but he himself has a complicated relationship with the truth in some areas. When he isn't talking about congenital liars and congenital believers, he continues to get into a rage about people who opposed the invasion of Iraq. As far as I can see, the invasion of Iraq has been the disaster that some of us feared (because regime change involves putting in place a new regime change, which is very difficult and for which the USA and UK do not have the skills). And, as far as I can see, some of the assumptions made by Nick Cohen in 2002 and 2003 in supporting the invasion (such as the ability of the Iraqi National Congress to create a new regime) were very dubious and their weakness of these assumptions is why the invasion was a failure and has had created an array of other problems.

In his campaign to avoid a post-truth future, Nick Cohen claims that people like him "are on their own" and he explicitly rejects working with the kind of people who opposed the invasion of Iraq. That's a pity, really, because many people appear to have started their opposition to the invasion because the information provided and the logic used appeared to be dodgy. The period from August 2002 to March 2003 prefigured the Trump/Brexit era for post-truth information and arguments. Nick Cohen would be on stronger ground if he admitted that the invasion of Iraq has not necessarily worked to anyone's advantage.

I guess that what is going on in Nick Cohen's mind (and I can only guess) is that he has built up a negative image of the type of person who opposed the invasion of Iraq and he has difficulty getting past that image and come to terms with what those people were saying and what has actually happened in Iraq. Thus in between writing articles about the need for truth, Nick Cohen writes expressions of outrage about opponents of the invasion of Iraq as if they had been found to be wrong.

It seems to be a very extreme example of seeing the messenger and not the message, which is one of the issues with failing to recognise lies.

gastro george | February 08, 2017 at 02:24 PM
@aragon

OK, well I've worked most of my life with Swedes and Norwegians, and have regularly visited Malmo three or four times a year recently, although the last was a bit over a year ago.

So, yes, immigration is an issue, and the Sweden Democrats (fascists) have been rising in the polls. Malmo itself has some problems in the suburbs.

But there are no no-go areas. Armed violence has more traditionally been associated with biker-gang turf-related drug wars - otherwise with the far right (see Breivik in Norway) and then, as your last link discusses, lone serial killers.

Reading anything the Sweden Democrats have to say is the equivalent of believing Wilders in the Netherlands - they are loons.

Barbara Konstant | February 08, 2017 at 05:36 PM
Despairing as it seems, our humanity has not reached the necessary level of awareness needed to function peacefully in our world.

[Feb 08, 2017] The U.S. Tax Code Actually Doesn't 'Soak the Rich'

Feb 08, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
The U.S. Tax Code Actually Doesn't "Soak the Rich" : In 2012, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney famously commented that 47 percent of Americans were "dependent on government" because they didn't pay any federal income taxes. He went on to explain that his job was "not to worry about those people."
Journalists and other public figures often claim that only the rich pay taxes, supporting this with the argument that the rich pay the vast majority of federal income taxes. However, federal income taxes are just one part of the broader tax code. When we consider other types of federal taxes as well as state and local taxes, it becomes clear that the overall tax code isn't extremely progressive – in other words, it doesn't "soak the rich," and it certainly doesn't let the poor off the hook. ...

pgl : February 08, 2017 at 01:11 PM

"Journalists and other public figures often claim that only the rich pay taxes, supporting this with the argument that the rich pay the vast majority of federal income taxes. However, federal income taxes are just one part of the broader tax code. When we consider other types of federal taxes as well as state and local taxes, it becomes clear that the overall tax code isn't extremely progressive – in other words, it doesn't "soak the rich," and it certainly doesn't let the poor off the hook."

Great detail. Mankiw is particularly bad in terms of citing only Federal taxes as if state and local taxation did not exist. He used to have a comment section where a few of us would remind him of the above. I hear that is why he turned off his comment section.

Peter K. -> pgl... , February 08, 2017 at 01:54 PM
So you've ruined more than one comment section. Was that the plan or can you just not help yourself?
Sanjait -> Peter K.... , February 08, 2017 at 02:39 PM
Look in the mirror, bro.
pgl -> Sanjait... , February 08, 2017 at 04:23 PM
He is actually defending Mankiw now? I guess pointing out facts is being rude in PeterK's world.
Peter K. -> pgl... , February 08, 2017 at 05:47 PM
Just pointing out how you shut down Mankiw's comment section and are currently trying to shut down Thoma's.

What do you have against dialogue and debate?

Jay -> pgl... , February 08, 2017 at 05:13 PM
And corporations pay no taxes. Well, PGL is only considering federal corporate income taxes when making such a ridiculous statement. Guess what, corporations pay other taxes too!
Sanjait : , February 08, 2017 at 02:41 PM
A point that should be well known by now, but worth repeating because many remain unaware. Federal income taxes are but a progressive subset of all taxes, the rest of which, in aggregate, is actually quite regressive.
pgl -> Sanjait... , February 08, 2017 at 04:24 PM
Yep! Mankiw tries to deny this. And now PeterK is taking Mankiw's side? OK!
DrDick -> Sanjait... , February 08, 2017 at 04:28 PM
And even they are not terribly progressive.
Jay -> Sanjait... , February 08, 2017 at 05:18 PM
That FICA is regressive is pretty meaningless, given you can do much more honest analysis by looking at the ROI. OASDI is simply coerced retirement savings along with forced purchase of various insurance.

But as we saw with ObamaCare, progtards will take every opportunity to include in legislation completely unrelated clauses that act as income redistribution - see the 3% income tax. Then again, to some morons (PGL, DrDonk and EMichael included) 100% of you income is owned by the government and there is a certain percentage that they leave you have. Looking at it from a "tax rate" perspective is wrong-headed and backwards.

Sanjait -> Jay... , February 08, 2017 at 05:29 PM
That is a great example ... of the borderline incoherent and histrionic way conservatives often talk about policy issues when they are trying to act intellectual.
JF : , February 08, 2017 at 03:59 PM
I commented on Dean Baker's blog and on this CEPR article too.

The gust is to get people to discuss public finance in net worth terms and not just by income taxation type or just by the transactional flows in a 12 month period.

The headline they chose fir this article would have been more informative.

Just think, looking at the top 1percent, what is their contribution to public finance compared to their net worth. Compare this to the medium, or just about any other strata and I think many might be better educated.

DrDick : , February 08, 2017 at 04:30 PM
More shocking news that has been available for decades, but which conservatives and the media (redundant?) studiously ignore.

[Feb 07, 2017] Don't Side With Neoliberalism in Opposing Trump

Notable quotes:
"... By Les Leopold, the director of the Labor Institute, who is currently working with unions and community organizations to build the educational infrastructure for a new anti-Wall Street movement. His new book Runaway Inequality: An Activist's Guide to Economic Justice serves as a text for this campaign. All proceeds go to support these educational efforts. Originally published at Alternet ..."
"... Thin Reed? Authoritarian rule for the oligarchs ..."
"... Most manufacturing jobs are lost via automation, not outsourcing. ..."
"... wasn't ..."
Feb 07, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Posted on February 6, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. As reader John Z pointed out, the policy program described in this post is very much in synch with the recommendations Lambert has been making. One small point of divergence is that Leopold reinforces the idea that taxes fund Federal spending. Taxes serve to create incentives, and since income inequality is highly correlated with many bad social outcomes, including more violence and shorter lifespans even for the rich, progressive taxation is key to having a society function well. However, he does get right (as very few do) that the purpose of a transaction tax is to discourage the activity being taxed, rather than raise money (aside from the MMT issue, the tax would shrink the level of transactions in question, making it not very productive in apparent revenue terms).

By Les Leopold, the director of the Labor Institute, who is currently working with unions and community organizations to build the educational infrastructure for a new anti-Wall Street movement. His new book Runaway Inequality: An Activist's Guide to Economic Justice serves as a text for this campaign. All proceeds go to support these educational efforts. Originally published at Alternet

During the Bernie Sanders campaign I heard a high-level official give a powerful speech blasting the Trans-Pacific Partnership Act for the harm it would bring to workers, environmentalists and to all who cared about protecting democracy.

Donald Trump now has signed an executive order pulling out of the TPP negotiations.

Is this a victory or a defeat for the tens of thousands of progressives who campaigned to kill the TPP?

On the same day Trump killed the TPP, he met with corporate executives saying he would cut taxes and regulations to spur business development. But he also warned that "a company that wants to fire all of the people in the United States and build some factories someplace else and think the product is going to flow across the border, that is not going to happen." He said he would use "a substantial border tax" to stop those practices.

Is this a victory or a defeat for workers and unions who for three decades have been begging politicians to stop the outsourcing of decent middle-class jobs?

Breaking the Spell of Neoliberalism

Our answers may be clouded by four decades of the neoliberal catechism-tax cuts on the wealthy, Wall Street deregulation, privatization of public services and "free" trade. Politicians, pundits and overpaid economists long ago concluded that such policies will encourage a "better business climate," which in turn will lead to all boats rising. Instead those very same policies led to a massive financial crash, runaway inequality and a revolt against neoliberalism which fueled both the Sanders and Trump insurgencies. (See enough facts to make you nauseous.)

This ideology is so pervasive that today no one is shocked or surprised to see Democratic governors on TV ads trying to lure business to their states by promising decades of tax holidays. No one gags when politicians lavish enormous tax gifts on corporations-even hedge funds-in order to keep jobs from leaving their states .

Similarly, we have grown accustomed to the neoliberal notion that we should go deeply into debt in order to gain access to higher education. Free higher education, which was the norm in New York and California until the 1970s, was "unrealistic" until Sanders rekindled the idea.

More troubling still, elites propagated the idea that public goods should not be free and available to all via progressive taxation. Rather public goods were denigrated and then offered up for privatization. Even civil rights icon Representative John Lewis used the neoliberal framework to attack Bernie Sanders' call for free higher education and universal health care: "I think it's the wrong message to send to any group. There's not anything free in America. We all have to pay for something. Education is not free. Health care is not free. Food is not free. Water is not free. I think it's very misleading to say to the American people, we're going to give you something free."

Obama/Clinton Didn't, Trump did

Ironically, while Lewis is defending neoliberalism, Trump actually is attacking two of its foundational elements-free trade and unlimited capital mobility. Not only is Trump violating neoliberal theory, he also is clashing with the most basic way Wall Street cannibalizes us. Without the free movement of capital, assisted by trade deals, financial elites and their corporate partners would not be able to slash labor costs, destroy unions and siphon off wealth into their own pockets.

In particular, we should be extremely worried about how Trump is approaching the loss of manufacturing jobs. The neoliberal fog should not cause us to miss the obvious: presidents Obama and Clinton did absolutely nothing to stop the hemorrhaging of middle-class manufacturing jobs to low-wage countries. (U.S. manufacturing fell from 20.1 percent of all jobs in 1980 to only 8.8 percent by 2013.) Not only did Obama and Clinton fail to stop even one factory from moving away, but they truly believed that capital mobility and free trade were good for America and the world. In other words they had sipped plenty of the neoliberal Kool-Aid.

Meanwhile, Trump is all in. He is saying that jobs in the U.S. are more important than the long-run benefits of capital mobility and TPP/NAFTA agreements. If he keeps bashing corporations for moving jobs abroad and if he manages to ignite even a mini U.S. manufacturing jobs boom, Trump could be with us for eight long years.

But What About the Poor in Other Countries?

To many progressives, saving American jobs sounds jingoistic and "protectionism" is a bad word. Isn't global trade helping the poor become less so around the world? Isn't it selfish only to protect American jobs? Isn't it more moral to share scarce manufacturing jobs with the poor in Mexico and Asia? After all, even if a plant closes in the Rust Belt, service sector jobs can be found at wages that still are far higher than what the poor can hope for in low-wage countries.

You can be sure corporations will be playing this tune if Trump tightens the screws on capital mobility.

These arguments however have little to do with how the world actually functions.

No, it's not possible to make a credible progressive case for outsourcing your neighbor's job

What Do We Do?

The progressive instinct, and rightfully so, is to trash Trump. If he's for it, we must be against it. When it comes to immigration, civil rights, abortion, freedom of the press and many, many other issues, that's a sound strategy.

But trashing Trump for saving jobs in the U.S. is suicidal.

In opposing Trump, we must not slip into defending neoliberalism. It's not okay for corporations to pack up and leave. We should have some control over our economic lives and not leave all the crucial decisions to Wall Street and their corporate puppets. Trade deals are bad deals unless they enforce the highest health, safety, environmental and labor standards. And those measures must be enforceable by all the parties. The race to the bottom is real and must stop.

In the U.S. We Should Be Mobilizing the Following Areas:

1. Organize the outsourced : We should identify and organize all those at risk from off-shoring. We need to make sure Trump and Congress hear from these actual and potential victims. Trump needs to be reminded each and every day that there are millions of jobs he must protect. At the same time we should be rounding up support for the Sanders bill to stop off-shoring .

2. Resist: Trump has made it clear to corporate America that in exchange for job creation in the U.S. he will cut their taxes and regulations. We should demand that all tax "reforms" include a new financial speculation tax ( Robin Hood Tax ) on Wall Street to slow down their insatiable greed. Also, we need to fight tooth and nail against any weakening of workplace health, safety and environmental regulations. We have to destroy the Faustian bargain where jobs are protected but the workers and the communities are poisoned.

3. Connect: More than 3 million people protested against Trump. But it is doubtful that dislocated workers and those facing outsourcing were involved in these marches. That's because the progressive movement has gotten too comfortable with issue silos that often exclude these kinds of working-class issues. That has to change in a hurry. We need to reach out to all workers in danger of off-shoring-blue and white collar alike.

4. Expand: Many key issues-from having the largest prison population in the world to having one the lowest life-spans-are connected through runaway inequality . Outsourcing is deeply connected to the driving force behind runaway inequality-a rapacious Wall Street and its constant pressure for higher returns. We need to broaden the outsourcing issue to include stock buybacks and the other techniques used by Wall Street to strip-mine our jobs and our communities. It's time for a broad-based common agenda that includes a Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street, free higher education, Medicare for All, an end to outsourcing, fair trade and a guaranteed job at a living wage for all those willing and able.

5. Educate: In order to build a sustained progressive movement we will need to develop a systematic educational campaign to counter neoliberal ideology. We need reading groups, study groups, formal classes, conferences, articles and more to undermine this pernicious ideology. Some of us are fortunate to be part of new train-the-trainer programs all over the country. We need to expand them so that we can field thousands of educators to carry this message.

Yes, all of this is very difficult, especially when it seems like a madman is running the country. It is far easier to resist than to tear apart neoliberalism. But we have to try. We need to recapture the job outsourcing issue and rekindle the flames that ignited Occupy Wall Street and the Sanders campaign.

34 0 191 0 2 Gerard Pierce , February 6, 2017 at 3:28 am

Les Leopold explained some of his beliefs on the Smirking Chimp. I made a comment to that article that I think should be repeated here ==>

At the moment, it's hopeless because we do not have a platform.

Most of the supposed liberals out there cannot defend welfare of any kind, cannot defend Social Security and cannot defend most of what they supposedly stand for in any kind of intelligent way.

There are circumstances where "welfare" is a moral necessity. There are also circumstances where you tell the claimants to get a job. Sometimes you help them to get that job.

It's necessary to be able to tell the difference and to be able to explain the difference.

Too many supposed liberals do not understand how the labor movement became corrupt enough that "right to work" looked good to people who were paying dues and getting little back.

If you do not understand your own "liberal" beliefs, some uneducated red-state buffoon will make you look like the bad guy

You not only need to understand your own beliefs, but you need to be able to debate them with other wanna-be liberals until you have a platform that means something.

flora , February 6, 2017 at 3:41 am

"we do not have a platform ."

The Sanders' campaign platform works for me.

BeliTsari , February 6, 2017 at 6:30 am

Yep, everything Trump will do to bait Liberal "resistance," they will eagerly fall for. It leaves a LOT of wiggle room for a movement to get between DC's Kleptocrats and Trump's supposed constituency (victims? marks?) about to lose their jobs, homes, equity, retirements & kids to imperialistic wars. If there's a Left in this country, it simply HAS to be more than white kids on TV, in black face masks we need to dodge Trump's trolling and fight unremittingly FOR living wages, job safety, healthcare, upwards mobility & AGAINST a predatory FIRE sector, ALEC kleptocracy & their media's 24/7 reality infomercial. For way too long, the whole good cop/ bad cop scam has been Yuppie liberals vs Oligarch's running dogs, we've tried to live off any chunks that'd trickle down through the maelstrom above our heads, to which we were not invited

nycTerrierist , February 6, 2017 at 9:17 am

Same here.

Katharine , February 6, 2017 at 10:04 am

+1

Mel , February 6, 2017 at 12:05 pm

Quite. No reason Sanders' platform can't be used. There's also a 5-point platform right in plain sight at the end of Leopold's article.
Some people seem to have this urge to outsource the platform to somebody else - the Democrat Party, or maybe others. No. No need to go elsewhere. There's two platforms right here. Use them.

b1daly , February 6, 2017 at 5:53 am

The problem is that economic systems are complex, emergent phenomena. They influenced by culture, chance, ideas, tribal instincts, technology (including financial technology), geography, tradition, the environment, human nature, migration, religion, and on and on.

This notion that something as complex as human society can be analyzed under an intellectual construct, whether neo-liberalism, socialism, or Rastafarianism defies common sense. Centuries of intense theorizing by some very smart people have led to an understanding of parts of social systems. But, for example, economists disagree profoundly on basic aspects of macroeconomics.

Neo-liberalism is not even a well defined concept. I don't know of any politician in the US who declare themselves "neo-liberal." Read the Wikipedia article to see just how poorly this concept is defined.

Among some self-imagined progressives it's become a perjorative term to apply to leaders who they disagree with. IMO, politicians do not govern according to abstract concepts. The honest ones are simply trying to govern, in the context of the society they live in. At times, historically unique situations arise, and political leaders are stumped for solutions. At such a time, some kind of think tank might propose their pet theory to be considered as a factor in making decisions (the "neo-cons" had their chance in the build up to the Iraq war).

I want Trumps ability to wreak havoc on the economy and civil infrastructure minimized, and him gone as President as soon as possible. This is not going to be easy. If, at the same time, think you can throw in the reform of global economic structures, and succeed, you're delusional.

FWIW, to the extent that policians like Chuck Shumer or Hilary Clinton are influenced by neo-liberal ideas, it is at the level of ideas. People can change their mind, or have it changed, on things like this. Quickly. In contrast to something like pro-Zionist policies, to which a polician might have a deeper attachment, very resistant to change.

Outis Philalithopoulos , February 6, 2017 at 11:09 am

I was a bit confused by this comment.

The first two paragraphs are making a broad sort of argument, which if taken with its full force seems to mean that any attempt to use theoretical generalizations to understand the world is oversimplifying and therefore questionable.

The third and fourth paragraphs take issue more specifically with the term "neoliberalism."

However, the fifth paragraph seems to imply that anti-neoliberalism involves "reform of global economic structures," and therefore maybe isn't as poorly defined as the previous paragraphs would have led one to assume.

Meanwhile, the sixth paragraph undercuts the fifth. The fifth implies that opposing Trump is so important that we should temporarily abandon any attempt to move the discourse on the overall economic direction of the country or the world. The reason given is that moving said discourse is supposed to be a herculean, nearly impossible task. The sixth paragraph, instead, suggests that Schumer and HRC can have their mind changed "quickly" on these sorts of issues, and so maybe the overall project isn't so infeasible after all.

Vatch , February 6, 2017 at 11:55 am

"FWIW, to the extent that policians like Chuck Shumer or Hilary Clinton are influenced by neo-liberal ideas, it is at the level of ideas."

I'm skeptical about this. Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton are influenced by neo-liberal ideas at the level of massive donations to their campaign committees or family foundation.

jrs , February 6, 2017 at 12:20 pm

If you just get Trump gone, another Trump or worse will be produced in a decade or so (never mind Pence in the meantime, that we could endure, I'm focusing longer term). An awful system, that makes everyone poor (mass impoverishment), stupid, and exhausted, produces awful results in terms of governance (money in politics does not help of course).

old flame , February 6, 2017 at 12:46 pm

I always took neo-liberalism to mean world domination by banks FIRE sector and neoconservatism by the military and their suppliers and also oil which greases the military wheels. Farms fall into the latter I guess for the defense of the "landed gentry". Watched the farm reports lately and they are quite upset by the non-passage of the TPP which would have given them higher price supports. All of it is ruled by multi-nationals' money and clout so there is overlap.

flora , February 6, 2017 at 2:22 pm

Don't equate the giant corporate agri-biz sector – Monsanto, ADM, IBP, et al – with small family farms. Factory farms might be for TPP. The small family farm, the independent farmer, not so much.

see, for example:
http://www.sraproject.org/2014/11/unfair-trade-ttp-and-ttip-vs-family-farms/

flora , February 6, 2017 at 2:43 pm

adding: Wall St speculates in grain and farm/food commodities. Wall St isn't happy with the demise of TTP. This from a few years back, but still relevant.

" Futures markets traditionally included two kinds of players. On one side were the farmers, the millers, and the warehousemen, market players who have a real, physical stake in wheat .

"On the other side is the speculator. The speculator neither produces nor consumes corn or soy or wheat, and wouldn't have a place to put the 20 tons of cereal he might buy at any given moment if ever it were delivered. Speculators make money through traditional market behavior, the arbitrage of buying low and selling high. And the physical stakeholders in grain futures have as a general rule welcomed traditional speculators to their market, for their endless stream of buy and sell orders gives the market its liquidity and provides bona fide hedgers a way to manage risk by allowing them to sell and buy just as they pleased.

"But Goldman's index perverted the symmetry of this system. The structure of the GSCI paid no heed to the centuries-old buy-sell/sell-buy patterns. This newfangled derivative product was "long only," which meant the product was constructed to buy commodities, and only buy. At the bottom of this "long-only" strategy lay an intent to transform an investment in commodities (previously the purview of specialists) into something that looked a great deal like an investment in a stock - the kind of asset class wherein anyone could park their money and let it accrue for decades (along the lines of General Electric or Apple). Once the commodity market had been made to look more like the stock market, bankers could expect new influxes of ready cash. But the long-only strategy possessed a flaw, at least for those of us who eat. The GSCI did not include a mechanism to sell or "short" a commodity. "

More neoliberalism in action. It doesn't benefit either the small farmer or the person buying groceries.

flora , February 6, 2017 at 2:46 pm

oh, link:
Foreign Policy
How Goldman Sachs Created the Food Crisis, 2011
http://foreignpolicy.com/2011/04/27/how-goldman-sachs-created-the-food-crisis/

Wall St. certainly wants the TTP.

Brad , February 6, 2017 at 1:20 pm

Either reality is an unknowable fog, or it isn't. I say its knowable, however complex.

PH , February 6, 2017 at 6:11 pm

I agree many people here get caught up in labels. I think there is value in iconoclasm, but ultimately we have to take practical actions if we want to avoid trouble. Or, at least, avoid the worst trouble.

Many who comment do not seem to take seriously the danger of right wing fanaticism. I am not sure what would convince them.

Unfortunately, we may find out someday.

that guy , February 6, 2017 at 7:38 pm

You might be right. I certainly don't take right wing fanaticism seriously. Moreover I don't think it should be taken seriously, and unless things seriously changed recently, I live in a state that, statistically, has a lot of right wing fanatics.

They're not organized, they don't have a message that truly appeals, they don't have messengers with mass appeal, there's nothing there anyone can build on. Moreover, anti-immigrant sentiment comes and goes. In the 1840's we were having riots and people were beating Irishmen in the street because the economy sucked. But when things don't suck so bad economically, that evaporates like the morning fog.

Until right wing fanaticism can look like anything other than some angry guy with too many tattoos shouting angry slogans, or some weird dude who wants to actually create White America that srsly nobody listens to, y'know, until there's some unifying figurehead who can take it further and make it sensible-sounding and mainstream to the folks at home who work a 9-to-5, it's not even worth worrying about. I'm more worried about left wing extremists who show up in huge mobs and cause property damage, personally.

Altandmain , February 6, 2017 at 10:43 am

They are liberals, not left wing people.

By that I mean, they want neoliberal econoimcs with a socially left wing platform. No wonder they hate the left and supported Clinton so much. They want the status quo. Many are safely in the upper middle class, as the comments on the Women's March in Washington DC have revealed. They will never have to deal with the consequences of neoliberalism.

The Sanders base by contrast wants left wing economics and socially.

NotTimothyGeithner , February 6, 2017 at 11:45 am

The neoliberals don't even want left wing social identity progress. They just use it as a tool to capture voters. Team Blue types did jack to advance social issues until they were forced too or were simply bypassed. Obama's "personal endorsement" of gay marriage was covered by his support of state rights.

Allegorio , February 6, 2017 at 12:14 pm

Remember "Don't ask, don't tell."? Oh so socially liberal!

jrs , February 6, 2017 at 12:25 pm

Is anyone all that safely in the middle class these days? Even if they have a nice middle class job, so much that they don't have to worry about age discrimination as they get older? I don't think so. So much that even if they have a nice plum insurance plan at work, they never have to worry about healthcare for themselves or their loved ones? I'm not so sure

But sure it's not as immediate a threat, doesn't have the immediacy of say facing immediate eviction for the lack of a rent payment or something.

Michael Berger , February 6, 2017 at 4:44 am

What appeals to me most is the recognition here (item 3.) of the same concern for visa holders being locked out of entering the country needing to be shown to the laboring class already in the country.

For those laborers, seeing a few hundred (or goodness gracious, a few thousand) people protesting another production line being shipped off is better "messaging" than anything our ruling class will ever manage to conceive.

Seriously, I can think of no better image than social justice warriors standing up for workers desperate enough to vote Trump (or resigned enough to not vote at all).

There are potential friendships – or allyships if you prefer – to be created that could do wonders for much beyond economic concerns.

John Rose , February 6, 2017 at 12:41 pm

This has been my position from the early days of the Tea Party movement when I couldn't understand why the Democratic Party immediately sent organizers to help them with both organization and more importantly consciousness-raising.

Kramer , February 6, 2017 at 5:12 am

My problem is that I'm in a Red state. Democrats don't win elections here. I need a political organization that can give me the best possible republican. This would look like America first economics to protect American jobs (there is a huge appetite for this among the Republican voters I talk to.) It would mean accepting conservative social positions. The democratic party might be able to this but it would require one hell of a make over.

b1daly , February 6, 2017 at 6:08 am

It would, but it might be doable. A lot of the divide in American politics is around "the culture wars." I think people can adopt new ideas, and ways of looking at things, if they get that "tribal sanction."

This is just arm chair theorizing, but one of the big hang ups is that cultural difference is interwoven with historical precedents that operated at a more substantive, fundamental level in the society. For example, the theories of white supremacy were used to justify the appalling institution of slavery in the US. At that time, this enabled the dominant culture to benefit at the expense of the exploited.

But when cultural conditions change, such that economic systems like slavery are no longer operative, the ideas of white supremacy can live on as simply cultural identity.

For all the problems of our society, we have made progress, and the overt, legal racism that existed just 50 years ago has been minimized. So perhaps people interested in social justice can relax the hyper-vigilant, hyper-accusatory attitudes of political correctness, to make common cause with populations they have common interests with.

When social justice activists use the label of "racist" as a badge of shame on someone who transgresses whatever social line, it tends to cause hurt feelings. And accusations of reverse racism. Sigh. It could be different.

Terry Humphrey , February 6, 2017 at 11:07 am

They divide culturally because the social and economic is too complex to put on a sign.

Allegorio , February 6, 2017 at 12:27 pm

The Kulture Wars were specifically designed to put economic and Class issues on the back burner, Divide and Rule. What is the point of Lady Gaga waving her pussy in our faces at the super bowl, but to drive the socially conservative working class into the Republican party. Frankly the issue of who sleeps with who, who marries who and who has a baby, is done , covered by the assertion of privacy protection by the constitution. In any case, economic justice should take precedence. Time to move on from socially divisive issues.

Booqueefius , February 6, 2017 at 4:22 pm

Love your line about Lady Gaga. It is as if the powers that be understand completely the "backfire effect" and deploy it consciously to their advantage.

Steve H. , February 6, 2017 at 8:41 am

I completely disagree. While party organizations in red states may have little impact on those elected from their state, a hostile takeover of a state party can have real impact in terms of control of the national organization.

NotTimothyGeithner , February 6, 2017 at 9:49 am

Democratic Parties in red states especially are interested in keeping their invitations to Inaugural balls and holding Jefferson-Jackson (one would think these would have been renamed by now given how totes woke Team Blue types are, sarc) dinners. Who knows what could happen if they cared about results?

NotTimothyGeithner , February 6, 2017 at 9:34 am

I disagree. "Good Democrats" can win. People respect people who fight for their values or seem to fight for those values more than say a Hillary. The messaging of Hillary as a defender for women and children wasn't an accident.

The problem for the "deplorables" in regards to Team Blue is the neo liberals treat their concerns with contempt and have a recent history of betrayal.

It might take a while, but Virginia's fifth congressional district is the largest district by area east of the Mississippi. It's bigger than New Jersey and a relatively good Democrat (probably not the most pro choice person) won in 2008 against a Republican who won by huge numbers every years. That win didn't start in early 2008. It started in 2001 with a couple of sacrificial lambs to build operations to register voters, making sure the blue precpincts were registered and to go into the precincts that should be blue believed they can win.

I believe people will make good choices when presented with options, but putting up a non entity with cash who bemoans partisanship especially those "tax and spend liberals" is why Democrats fail. How did Alan Grayson get into Congress despite running in a district that went for Bush/Cheney twice while an adjacent district that went for Gore and Kerry keeps sending Republicans to Congress? The answer is people respect when they aren't being pondered too, and that is all Clinton Inc knows how to do.

John Rose , February 6, 2017 at 12:47 pm

This is probably how it needs to be done, district by district. Was this entirely home-grown or was there outside help from move-on or other groups?

NotTimothyGeithner , February 6, 2017 at 2:46 pm

Entirely home grown for all intents and purposes. Lynchburg produced a fair amount of volunteers and money despite not being in the actual district.

Dean's 50th the strategy didn't come from no where. The Internet existed before Facebook, and people have long memories of Democrats that did organization before 1994 (gee, I wonder who was in charge of Team Blue) and the destruction of the then permanent Democratic majority. People discussed this all over. Admittedly, I didn't entirely buy it until Kaine thumped a well liked Republican in 2005 running up the vote tally in areas where people had been organizing.

There is a reason why Clinton Inc is despised by otherwise seemingly, sensible Democratic types. The Clintons under perform because they run childish goldilocks campaigns. In 1992, Bill mustered 43% of the vote against 41 and a guy who basically wanted to bring back prohibition.

Philip Martin , February 6, 2017 at 9:26 pm

Thanks for bringIng up Dr. Dean's 50 state strategy. What the heck happened to that? I'm convinced that the strategy was a good part of Obama's victory in 2008. In Kansas, the Dems took a seat from the Republicans that year, and won Indiana and North Carolina. Lost Missouri by only 4000 votes. We could compete in these states and others (Arizona, Texas, Georgia) if the state Democratic parties would arouse themselves and do a bit of listening to people in their state.

ArkansasAngie , February 6, 2017 at 7:01 am

No more wedgies.

We are so wedged that we cannot form coalitions.

The Fallacy of the false dilemma.

Example we are wedged on refugees. How about we stop bombing Syria so that the urgency of refugees is reduced.

PH , February 6, 2017 at 7:12 am

Not sure study groups are the answer. Couldn't hurt, I suppose.

The article makes it sound like there was nothing but a clash of ideas for 40 years.

Out of the 70's there was a lot of racism and resentment at the stagflation that got channeled into Reagan. The right wing think tanks started an Amen chorus, abortion wars reached a fever pitch, and Dems started scrambling to try to win elections that they used to win on a FDR platform.

Then came the bubble of the 90s, and Wall Street Dems looked like geniuses.

A lot of people were drinking the Koolaid. Not just sold out Dem pols.

New day now. Lessons have been learned. Unfortunately, many people have learned the wrong lessons, nodding to the siren call of fanatical nationalism and Trump.

I am not sure what plan the proprietors of this blog favor, but I hope it includes the Dem party because that thin reed is the only thing between us and authoritarian rule for the billionaires.

Eureka Springs , February 6, 2017 at 8:48 am

Thin Reed? Authoritarian rule for the oligarchs

The Dems are the very embodiment of neoliberalism, representatives of oligarchs and soft sellers of authoritarian rule. Far far on the wrong side of the thin reed.

As the post mentioned – Largest imprisoned, in the world. Lowest life expectancy, for highest expenditures.Allowing millions to be foreclosed upon while further enriching the banksters who rigged the system. That's authoritarian in an extreme and only a few oligarchs benefit. Neoliberalism/Liberalism is authoritarian. Dems are the first to shoot down those who challenge them with so much as polite rhetoric. Feckless as Sanders was he clarified that for anyone who dare look-see, admit it to themselves.

If Dems were the only party in existence we would be where we are today, if not far worse. Just the way they structure and operate their party is more than enough to prove these points.

Love the post title but I would wear a t-shirt which say either of these things:

Don't Side With Neoliberalism in Opposing Trump.

Don't Side With Democrats in Opposing Trump

In fact I would prefer the latter.

PH , February 6, 2017 at 10:51 am

Why do you prefer Trump and the Republicans?

Mel , February 6, 2017 at 12:18 pm

Who said prefer? The thing with siding with the Democrats in opposing Trump is that in four or eight years we're left with nothing but siding with somebody else in opposing the Democrats. How about getting something done, finally? Crazy dream: make the Democrats side with us in opposing Trump.

tegnost , February 6, 2017 at 9:17 am

Naked Capitalism is both a reading and study group hey here's a thought, why don't the dems try to include usians, we're not democrats we're americans, after all, and we don't need them if they're going to continue to play the game as they have been playing it, supporting authoritarianism and heaping favors on billionaires. I don't see lessons having been learned, none of the hillary marchers I know can have a cogent , fact based conversation, it's just omg trump, marching is good, globalization o care what will the poor illegal immgrants do, cheap labor is essential, self driving trucks blah blah blah bail out wall st while fraudulent MERS documents are fabricated to steal peoples homes, remember linda green, remember non dischargeable student loans? Have you noticed all those tents under the bridges? The dems ruled for the 10% but it's a big country and a numbers game. You need to get out more. If the dems wanted to win bernie was the ticket. Instead they chose wall st and war then lost like they deserved to lose. In a representative democracy they are supposed to represent us, we're not supposed to represent the dems. They'll be included when they deserve to be, no one owes them allegiance.

PH , February 6, 2017 at 12:07 pm

I understand you do not like Dem leaders. But ultimately, the politics are not about them. It is about us.

How do we protect our kids, our parents, and our friends.

It involves organizing behind candidates at election time.

And at this point in time (where we are now) that means organizing through the Dems, through the Repubs, or some third party.

None of those options are obvious paths to success.

But we have to pick one, or do nothing.

jrs , February 6, 2017 at 12:34 pm

"And at this point in time (where we are now) that means organizing through the Dems, through the Repubs, or some third party."

Sometimes I figure it may as well be the Repubs (but not of course with their current platform, yea I know people think the Dems is an easier party to take over, but due to LOTE voting I'm not so sure.

beth , February 6, 2017 at 7:46 pm

Maybe you can tell me which is better? Cory Booker voted to prevent importation of Canadian drugs to lower the outrageous rx costs. Ted Cruz voted to import drugs so that we are not held hostage to US companies raising drug costs with impunity. Unless the dems are benefiting citizens why should we support them. Bernie's bill would have passed except for 14 dem senators voted to keep drug costs high . Who should we vote for in the next election?

I hope I am not posting too late. Please delete this if you think I am.

PH , February 6, 2017 at 9:51 pm

Booker is a phony. Cruz is a creep. Not much to cheer for in either case.

I am not suggesting that you owe allegiance to any candidate or party.

I am suggesting that party politics is an avenue for organizing, and Dem party and traditional coalition is the better avenue for action. Not to do the same things, but to work for peace justice and tolerance.

Where to target work for change.

The Repubs are not what some people here imagine. And they will do great harm.

Ulysses , February 6, 2017 at 7:43 am

"That thin reed is the only thing between us and authoritarian rule for the billionaires."

No, that "thin reed" would have continued to obfuscate the existence of authoritarian rule for the billionaires through cynical, insincere manipulation of idpol wedge issues.

The regime change we are witnessing, here in the U.S., is the cutting out of a layer of cynical, professional grifters between the kleptocrats and the people. In other words authoritarian rule for the billionaires is morphing into direct, in-your-face kleptocracy by and for the billionaires.

There was an important discussion earlier, here at NC, that I think is relevant to our current situation, sparked by Kalecki's observation that:

"One of the important functions of fascism, as typified by the Nazi system, was to remove capitalist objections to full employment."

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/08/kalecki-on-the-political-obstacles-to-achieving-full-employment.html

It is understandable that American workers would find a genuine commitment to full employment, after so many decades of neoliberal job outsourcing, exhilarating.

Yet, smashing unions and "othering" large segments of the population didn't end well for the Germans in the mid-20th century, and there's no reason to believe it would work out any better over here.

PH , February 6, 2017 at 8:16 am

Maybe that was a significant aspect of the rise of Nazi rule, but it seems to me a bit reductionist to see the Nazis through such a narrow lense.

Similarly, I think we should resist the temptation of seeing Trump exclusively through the lenses of our anger at Bluedogs for getting us into this mess. I am angry. And those soulless climbers are still running the show in Congress. I am angry about that too.

But these are dangerous times. We need to organize. We need to win elections. And we do not have ANY easy path that I can see.

In my view, we need to channel our energy into primary challenges in the Dem party.

Gman , February 6, 2017 at 9:53 am

The US Democratic Party has more than a little in common with the British Labour Party sadly.

I wouldn't pin your hopes on their resolve to stand up for the average working voter in the face of big money interests.

Both parties have steadily rendered themselves irrelevant to their erstwhile core voters through a toxic combination of venality, hubris, contempt, obsessive virtue signalling/ political correctness, vacuous ideologies, a reliance on endless empty rhetoric, populism, 'foreign misadventure' and much more besides.

Their currency, in the eyes of swathes of once loyal voters, has been so devalued under the leaderships of flag of convenience crypto-neoliberal politicians like Blair, Brown, the Clintons and Obama that this is going to be a Herculean task to row back from in order to recentre and reconnect with betrayed, bruised voters.

Trump might be a crass out and out shameless, populist, self-serving sociopathic assh#le, but unlike those mentioned above, in the eyes of many of those disenfranchised who backed him, some most likely out of desperation, at least he's currently less of a lying hypocrite and, more importantly, he hasn't let them down badly yet.

Ulysses , February 6, 2017 at 10:56 am

"Both parties have steadily rendered themselves irrelevant to their erstwhile core voters through a toxic combination of venality, hubris, contempt, obsessive virtue signalling/ political correctness, vacuous ideologies, a reliance on endless empty rhetoric, populism, 'foreign misadventure' and much more besides."

Very well said!

Gman , February 6, 2017 at 3:20 pm

Many, many thanks.

Steven Greenberg , February 6, 2017 at 8:37 am

This is not quite right "Trade deals are bad deals unless they enforce the highest health, safety, environmental and labor standards."

Labor in the underdeveloped countries consider some of this to be the developed countries' trick of preventing the people in the underdeveloped countries from getting jobs. There is some truth to this idea. When we negotiate trade deals, we must remember that in a fair negotiation neither side gets everything it wants, but each side must get enough of what it wants to agree to the terms of the negotiation.

The trouble with past trade pacts is that only the corporations on both sides of the deal were represented. In the future, labor and environment on both sides must be represented in the negotiations.

tegnost , February 6, 2017 at 9:25 am

not quite right, the stateless multinationals play both sides off each other. Globalzation deals like TPP with ISDS clauses are designed to limit sovereignty. We have free trade, you can go anywhere in the world and buy whatever you want to, your "fair negotiation" is a canard and misdirection.

John Wright , February 6, 2017 at 9:33 am

One may also refer to USA communities who will accept higher levels of pollution caused by an EPA targeted local industry/plant that provides local jobs where they are in short supply..

This is very similar to a foreign country accepting higher pollution in trade for jobs for their citizens.

When someone is desperate to support their family, compromises are made, and the USA has plenty of examples.

BeliTsari , February 6, 2017 at 10:03 am

That's kind of representative of the basic problem: before the white working class morphed into The Middle Class during Reagan's Miracle, they'd long since abandoned hell with the lid off, for suburbia (the nation's economy was based upon this; unions, political parties, finance all fed off of upward mobility, basically away from the poor, polluted, neglected, heavily policed industrial areas (bottom feeders like Trump's dad or DNC's slumlord super-delegates hardly invented this). EZ Credit, Bail Bonds, Party Stores, doc-in-a-box, PayCheck Loans sucked-up what the politicians' business associates left behind. As Trump moves on from trolling liberal elites to fomenting race war, mass incarceration, etc, as LBJ, Nixon, Reagan & Clinton did with urban renewal, the war on drugs, welfare reform some of us will scrambling to figure out just how we're not just another part of the problem?

BeliTsari , February 6, 2017 at 12:15 pm

PS: The rust belt is a fascinating place just now! http://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/the-ending-of-84-lumbers-super-bowl-ad-is-a-beautiful-and-provocative-take-on-immigration/

John Rose , February 6, 2017 at 1:04 pm

I wish I was still building houses so I could change suppliers.

jrs , February 6, 2017 at 12:37 pm

U.S. = 3rd world country.

digi_owl , February 6, 2017 at 8:47 am

As best i can tell, the neolibs have hijacked feminism for their own ends

NotTimothyGeithner , February 6, 2017 at 9:19 am

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." -Upton Sinclair

One group of corporate war mongers likes different symbols.

polecat , February 6, 2017 at 3:17 pm

A contemporary version of that Sinclair quote could be stated as such :

"When Neo-fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a Lady Gaga p#ssy-gown and carrying a case of birth-control pills . while screaming 'White, Deplorable, F#cker' !!"

Gaylord , February 6, 2017 at 9:44 am

Offshore tax sheltered wealth in the trillions must be reigned in, but nobody in a position of leadership is allowed to touch it, only to make token noises about it like Sen. Warren does.

John Wright , February 6, 2017 at 9:58 am

It appears that Leopold misses another issue that hits American workers, that being the "insourcing" of foreign workers, either legally (H1-B's) or illegally to the USA.

American workers are certainly aware that some jobs can be outsourced via computer/phone networks to other countries, but are also aware that neo-libs have been more than willing to also let jobs that require a physical presence in the USA be wage arbitraged down via increasing the domestic labor supply via immigration.

I don't believe the old assertion that "an immigrant displacing an American worker frees the American to find a better job" gathers much support from American workers/voters, if it ever did.

Trump tapped into this, and the Democrats will ignore this issue at their peril..

Neither political party wants to enforce employer sanctions, via mandatory E-Verify, as that would be frowned on by both party's paymasters.

Sam , February 6, 2017 at 9:59 am

"Trump actually is attacking two of its foundational elements-free trade and unlimited capital mobility. Not only is Trump violating neoliberal theory, he also is clashing with the most basic way Wall Street cannibalizes us. Without the free movement of capital, assisted by trade deals, financial elites and their corporate partners would not be able to slash labor costs, destroy unions and siphon off wealth into their own pockets."

Given the ease with which Trump reverses himself, I wouldn't take these utterances seriously.

Vatch , February 6, 2017 at 10:03 am

At the same time we should be rounding up support for the Sanders bill to stop off-shoring.

I couldn't find "Outsourcing Prevention Act" at Congress.gov. It is possible that the bill hasn't been introduced yet? Or maybe it has another name? I found these possibilities:

H.R.357 – Overseas Outsourcing Accountability Act

H.R.685 – Bring Jobs Home Act

S.234 – A bill to provide incentives for businesses to keep jobs in America.

Carolinian , February 6, 2017 at 10:05 am

Good article but needs an addendum: don't side with Democrats in opposing Trump. There's a case to be made that Trump himself is really an independent even though he has by necessity stuffed his administration with some GOP trogs. Therefore when Trump does something our side likes he should be praised even though it might diminish the chances of the dearly sought Trumpexit. The US public at large increasingly see themselves as independents rather than supporters of the duopoly and the left–including and perhaps especially Sanders–should stop fooling themselves that they will ever reform the Dems. In fact the thing that might do the most to reform the Dems would be some vibrant third party competition that forces them to protect their left flank.

PH , February 6, 2017 at 2:24 pm

Nothing wrong with a third party approach in theory.

In practice, it would likely take many years. It is not culturally accepted, nor do our voting laws favor third parties.

I do not think we have that much time.

joe citizen , February 6, 2017 at 4:05 pm

But we have enough time to hope the Democratic Party who is completely subservient to corporate interests will suddenly decide to forget about all the money they are making and side with the workers, poor, and the environment? Voting in all new people would take many years, not to mention the party structure that cannot be changed by voting. The majority of registered democrats support neo-liberal candidates. How do you propose this quick change of the democratic party to support traditional leftist policy will take place?

paul Tioxon , February 6, 2017 at 10:18 am

Note to self: I will not be bamboozled into self-destructive political adventurism by mindlessly opposing the perfectly legitimate President Trump when ever he happens to do something so swell that helps pay the rent, buys food and keeps a roof over my head. I will stop going to ALL of those protest marches that demands that rowhouse Philadelphia give up their jobs in reparations for neo-colonial and hegemonic neo-liberal bad stuff by sending them to Mexico and the Dominican Republic or even Viet Nam or China. I understand that people in America are people too, and need their jobs and do not have trust funds to live off of when they donate their employment with no hope for a replacement job to prevent a downward spiral into poverty.

I get it, by not focusing on real pocket book issues and major social programs, like the ones we used to get in the afterglow of post WWII economic expansion, we just left the barn door open for all of the wronged white guys in coal mines, all 57,000 of them nationally, to come out in the full force of democracy in action under our definition of democracy, the electoral college. By not recognizing that the iron law of democracy, where the consent of the majority of people is the deciding principle in American politics, and marching after a political loss instead of going out in front of the coal mines and factories and laying down in front of the trucks hauling jobs away, I am a dope. I promise to fete The President Trump in editorial pages, blog sites, graffitti on walls and other public property when he creates jobs as a result, direct or indirect, of his policies. After all, it is axiomatic that if Trump repeatedly fails to do anything of value for our nation, most of us will suffer. If he puts forth an infrastructure financial package with the Japanese and their global investment bank, I will hail as a partnership in progress.

After all, if we can fix up the country's faltering highways and bridges and air ports and sea ports, we will modernized America, give people good paying jobs. And that is a good thing. I am all for it. President Trump is supposed to be all for it. So, when the jobs start pouring in with all of the concrete and rebar, I will not protest. I will publicly applaud him. I will however be organizing behind the scenes to crush him like a bug in the next election. I foresee a bidding war in jobs offered to the forgotten and not so forgotten and I expect to come out on top as the highest bidder.

Left in Wisconsin , February 6, 2017 at 10:31 am

Les Leopold is a smart guy and always has interesting things to say. But in this case, I think he glosses over the biggest issue: people will not organize into unions if they believe that doing so, or trying to do so, risks making their personal employment situation worse, not better.

Anti-union activity by employers is now so routine and expected, and protections for workers trying to organize, either from unions or government, are so weak that the vast majority of working people have come to view trying to organize as insane. (Yes, card check will help in a few situations but is not a game changer.) The purported low unemployment rate does nothing to empower working people because (except for the occasional exception that proves the rule) it is still overwhelming the case that one's current job is better than any likely other job one would have to get if one lost it. And irritating your boss is still the likeliest way to get fired, or get your department outsourced, or get your entire workplace shut down.

And the fact that some public sector workers still have workplaces that make them less likely to get fired or replaced for trying to exercise workplace "rights" just points out how poor things are for most private sector workers, resulting in even less sympathy for those workers.

What Trump gets is that, in this environment, most working people will support the (anti-tax, anti-regulation) platform their boss supports, rather than the (higher-tax, stronger-regulation) one their boss hates, if the (strong union) platform that is good for them that their boss really, really hates is off the table.

Platforms and study groups are well and good but we need much more. As said above, we need a new labor movement, in particular one that can organize in the private export-sensitive sector. There is no such thing as a(n even moderately) successful labor movement without strong unions in the private export-sensitive sector. But there is no way to organize workers in this sector without being able to demonstrate why being in a union is likely to materially improve their well-being. But one can't get such a thing without strong government support to ensure trying to organize doesn't in fact risk resulting in losing your job. Chicken-And-Egg problem.

old flame , February 6, 2017 at 12:20 pm

Employers have so much power over workers now: right-to -work laws, tax incentives, H1B and undocumented workers, Chamber of Commerce and lobbyists. Probably the only way to have any clout would be to have a National Strike and boycotts which would be tough to organize. I know that employers in an area will collude with other companies to set and limit wages and benefits. I had a friend that I worked with in a factory back in the 70s who was promoted to the office in a secretarial position who told me about meetings our company had with other ones in the community where they discussed and made agreements on labor issues. This was back in the 70s. They were always threatening us about unions and I never had heard anyone talk about joining one or any kind of union activity.

TG , February 6, 2017 at 10:32 am

Yes, well said as usual.

As regards the standard of living in third-world countries, it should by now be apparent that the model of 'development' that uses low wages to attract foreign businesses simply can not – and does not – increase general prosperity. How can it? The model is that low wages ('affordable labor costs') are the engine, therefore the wages need to stay low to keep the multinationals in place.

Look at the effects of NAFTA: the United States lost a lot of jobs, Mexico gained jobs, but Mexican wages remain low. The NAFTA model is pulling the United States down and not pulling Mexico up. That is now well established. Nobody need feel any guilt about opposing trade agreements like NAFTA.

Ah, but what about China? Well China is a little different from Mexico – they are more mercantilist. In the long run the established method of creating prosperity is to have a stable or slowly growing population, and slowly but steadily build up endogenous industries and a strong internal market. "Race to the bottom" trade agreements yield exactly what the term suggests.

PQS , February 6, 2017 at 11:08 am

Where do I sign up? I'm ready to go. However, I think one aspect of this transformational mission is missing: MONEY.

The RW has metric tons of billionaires who use their money to propagate their ideologies and build "think tanks" and other institutions to provide the veneer of respectability. I believe it's one of the primary reasons that they've been so successful in pushing their extreme ideas on everybody. They have an ALEC branch in every statehouse writing laws, which I'm sure they don't do for free. They can gerrymander, buy off, and otherwise distort the entire process for little more than walking around money for them.

I know Sanders nearly won with small donors, so perhaps that could be replicated in this scenario, but long term, I think having some serious money to back up these initiatives is going to make the job actually doable. And there are a few actual billionaires who might be amenable to using their wealth for the greater good. Nick Hanauer comes to mind.

JEHR , February 6, 2017 at 11:33 am

During the Depression of the 1930's in the Maritimes, the Antigonish Movement began:

The Antigonish Movement blended adult education, co-operatives, microfinance and rural community development to help small, resource-based communities around Canada's Maritimes improve their economic and social circumstances. A group of priests and educators, including Father Jimmy Tompkins, Father Moses Coady, Rev. Hugh MacPherson and A.B. MacDonald led this movement from a base at the Extension Department at St. Francis Xavier University (St. F.X.) in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

The credit union systems of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI owe their origins to the Antigonish Movement, which also had an important influence on other provincial systems across Canada. The Coady International Institute at St. F.X. has been instrumental in developing credit unions and in asset-based community development initiatives in developing countries ever since.

It is noteworthy that the movement began with Adult Education: if people do not understand what has brought them debt and poverty, it will be difficult to counteract them.

I'm sure that in the US during the Depression, there were many such movements which helped people understand and defeat the Depression.

Looking back at what succeeded in the past can help towards a better future. Of course, it will have to be adapted for the present problems, but starting with education is a really positive move.

John Rose , February 6, 2017 at 1:13 pm

How about online adult education drawing on the talents of charismatic teachers and more local face-to-face seminars to provide the core activists we need.

Jack , February 6, 2017 at 11:33 am

Good article which made some good points.
"The progressive instinct, and rightfully so, is to trash Trump. If he's for it, we must be against it."
One instance of this is the huge play the immigration fight is getting. I don't agree with how Trump enacted his immigration "reform" but I agree that immigration needs to be curtailed. Significantly curtailed. H1B visas pretty much need to be done away with, and if you are in this country illegally, you need to leave. And any further immigration needs to be reduced. This outcry against immigration reform by the liberals, what many in this country see as a huge problem, is not winning over any hearts and minds in flyover country. It's like when Bill Clinton first got elected and he wasted a lot of time and political capital on the gays i the military issue. Only this time the Dems are not even in office. Still a waste of political capital. In my mind this whole immigration reform paranoia is just another form of identity politics by the Democrats. What progressives need to focus on is campaign finance reform, jobs, health care reform, education, and increasing taxes on the wealthy and corporations. Those issues resonate with everyone, Republicans and Democrats alike. It is why Trump won. Don't fix these problems and immigration will be the least of our worries as a nation. If things get worse in our economy, immigrants and refugees are going to be in a much worse place than they are right now. People who are going hungry and who are sick with no hope on the horizon have to blame someone. And Americans are not known for the high level of intelligence and knowledge of how the world really works. Anyone who looks "different" will be blamed and there will be blood in the streets. I think we are almost to that point now.

jrs , February 6, 2017 at 12:46 pm

"This outcry against immigration reform by the liberals, what many in this country see as a huge problem, is not winning over any hearts and minds in flyover country. It's like when Bill Clinton first got elected and he wasted a lot of time and political capital on the gays i the military issue. Only this time the Dems are not even in office. Still a waste of political capital. In my mind this whole immigration reform paranoia is just another form of identity politics by the Democrats."

The Dims maybe, but that's not why actual people protest, it's mostly because they know illegals are those who serve their food when they order breakfast, are on the train on the way to work, etc.. I know fly-over just doesn't get it, because they don't live among and with illegals as part of their daily life, but it's hard to see them driven out if one does.

Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg , February 6, 2017 at 12:02 pm

re "But What About the Poor in Other Countries?"

All the points made in answer to that need to be memorized, because if you're to the left of Andrew Carnegie or Ayn Rand that's what they'll throw at you. 'Americans consume 99% of all fossil fuels and create 98% of all the trash and blah blah!' We're a little sick of it.

jrs , February 6, 2017 at 12:49 pm

"Americans consume 99% of all fossil fuels and create 98% of all the trash and blah blah!' We're a little sick of it."

It's all true of course.

But yea they rely on left/liberals basic goodness (ok not all liberals have any real goodness (or why don't they oppose the wars more?), most leftists are pretty darn moral though) and they'll use it to enrich themselves, because they are not good at all, but know how to get good people to be subserviant to their own selfish ends.

Wade Riddick , February 6, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Most manufacturing jobs are lost via automation, not outsourcing. What do we plan to do about that?

The cheaper the capital (e.g., low interest rates), the easier it is to substitute capital for labor. Whenever the Fed bails out a bubble via monetization, labor takes another hit.

Solar's more cost-effective and adding more jobs now than the fossil fuel industry – yet official policy now seems hell-bent on ginning up another oil reserve lending bubble.

Plenty of inconsistencies abound

Left in Wisconsin , February 6, 2017 at 12:09 pm

Most manufacturing jobs are lost via automation, not outsourcing.

Do you a citation for that? I have looked for actual evidence/proof of this claim and have not been able to locate any.

Brad , February 6, 2017 at 2:17 pm

Wade is correct. I've posted a chart of the BLS statistics on long term manufacturing employment in absolute and relative terms on this site. Manufacturing employment's relative share of total employment has fallen in a straight and steady diagonal line from upper right to lower left from its peak in the 1950's to the present. Began long before off-shoring was a thing, and off-shoring doesn't even clearly show as an independent variable. Otherwise we'd see a significant bend in the curve. Instead, significant deviations are conjunctural, connected to recessions.

The BLS charts can be easily researched by anybody on this site. I don't want to hear conspiracy theories about how BLS has politically rigged the stats for 60 years as lazy substitute for critical approaches to BLS statistical methods. If you want to refute the evidence, that's what is required.

BTW, as I've also mentioned, there is a "revolutionary left" version of this emphasis on off-shoring over automation/mechanization, "Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century" by John Smith, http://monthlyreview.org/2015/07/01/imperialism-in-the-twenty-first-century/

It fails to assess the real weight of off-shoring vs automation because Smith doesn't base his analysis on the effects of automation, and then move to assess the effects of off-shoring. Therefore Smith can never present a clear quantification of the effects of off-shoring on employment in a metropolitan country like the US.

At root Smith's limitations are found in his Andre G. Frank "development of underdevelopment" bias. This cannot conceive of under- or uneven- development in an "already developed" country like the US. But that is precisely, palpably, what has happened. And it is inevitable under capitalist automation once it reaches a tipping point. As I believe it has, where only some 25% of the total available labor force is required to produce everything we (very wastefully) consume now, today.

As an aside, note that off-shoring is not to include products never produced in the US in the first place, like most of Apples' iProducts. You can't "off-shore" jobs you never worked at, now can you! This represents a different process, the export of *new* capital investment, in this case in a contract relation with Chinese SEZ capitalists, not the transfer of *existing* productive investment overseas. But Smith includes iProducts in his "off-shoring" mix.

The Smith example shows this is a matter of the basic facts about capitalism, not about left or right politics. That is exactly why people gravitate towards off-shoring as a prime-mover in job loss, precisely because something politically can be done about that. Yet if you somehow forced all US corporations to 100% invest production in the US, you will only greatly accelerate the trend of job loss due to automation, as it will be the only lever they have left. Unless you want to halt all human progress in the productivity that has already freed up 75% of our labor time to do something other than maintain the current standard of living.

The real political problem we need to confront is that, despite these real productivity gains, capitalism requires that the whole mob of proles be continuously prodded onto the wage labor market, whether their labor is necessary or not. That's the fundamental program of the Congressional snakepit and its Statehouse auxiliaries. The wage labor social relation is the source of the social power of capitalists, and without it they and their system go Poof.

A good reform proposal would be: a guaranteed *medium* income for all (or alternatively, a guaranteed "job" for all at the same income or greater); a system for equitably circulating the total potential labor pool in and out of the pool of necessary labor. It will require a revolution to achieve such a reform.

pricklyone , February 6, 2017 at 5:31 pm

@Brad
"As an aside, note that off-shoring is not to include products never produced in the US in the first place, like most of Apples' iProducts. You can't "off-shore" jobs you never worked at, now can you! This represents a different process, the export of *new* capital investment, in this case in a contract relation with Chinese SEZ capitalists, not the transfer of *existing* productive investment overseas. But Smith includes iProducts in his "off-shoring" mix."

Doesn't seem like a different process to those needing work to survive. This is why "economists" are being ridiculed and derided among large swathes of the populace. Distinctions without differences which only serve to fit data into precious formulae, based on preconceived ideals. If I develop a new product in the US, and seek only China manufacture (to save myself the labor cost, and evade the external costs of environment, etc.) the result is the same. "New capital investment " is just a matter of timing. Lucky me, I didn't have to go thru the expense of tearing down an existing facility, or relationship, here first.

dragoonspires , February 6, 2017 at 6:37 pm

This seems to me one of the more incisive of the comments. So many are coming at it from the framework of what solutions best get us back to a situation that was better, like one we experienced between the 1950s to the turn of the century. This was a unique period of advantage for the US economically and industry-wise that is unlikely to be repeated, imo, and for awhile seemed to have more easy opportunities for all.

The progressive platform recognizes how the pillars providing for more equality of opportunity have been battered, and I agree with some of its proposals. But just reversing the tax burden shifts and trying to reinstate more affordable healthcare or education still leaves us with the situation where the need for and nature of work may still be changing radically. I have trouble seeing how a conservative half of the country with extremely powerful propaganda outlets, interest groups, and fountains of money will allow some if any of the ideas proposed in this article (hence Brad's claim that it would require a revolution sways me a good deal).

I also do not think that Bernie, basically not subjected to any big negative hits in the primary, would have won the general after the right's smear machine was done with him. Even then, the republican congress would have stopped cold any of his more significant proposals.

Progressives need to get realistic. This agenda will be slow in coming, unless things get so horrible that a true revolution does occur. What that would entail I do not know, but powerful forces are aligned against it. All who spend time theorizing (including me) on keyboards will have to start and sustain the very hard work of getting into the trenches, spreading and fighting for ideas, and most of all, actually winning primaries and elections and helping to get people out to vote. The right wing started doing this methodically over 45 years ago, with patience and persistence.

Trump/RW domination needs to be stopped asap, by whatever plausible if less than ideal tools we have. Protests are getting attention, and I hope more participation and results will come next. Purity tests of progressive ideals is a cancer that will only doom the cause. It will be hard and maybe slow, but we're going to need more than just the faithful to get this turned around. Bernie was a start, but too many are throwing up their hands just because he lost the primary.

I plan to keep working to change the democratic party for the better, at a pace that is realistic. Getting a more progressive tax structure again to fund any of these ideas is critical first. I also can't see a guaranteed income without a required work contribution to address the evolving economy, given this country's attitude towards earning one's keep. A sort of advanced CCC to work on massively fixing and improving our crumbling infrastructure and public spaces, fighting forest fires, etc. using these tax funds is one idea. Subsidizing quick as possible job training as new jobs evolve with the radical changes in the economy is another. More support for local small business and entrepreneurs (perhaps funding employees who they need for awhile in startup phase as part of minimum guaranteed income in exchange for work) until they prove to be an ongoing concern is another thought. Even if these ideas are flawed, we need to rethink the paradigm of work with which we grew up.

Yves Smith , February 6, 2017 at 7:04 pm

I don't agree. Obama could not only have done a Roosevelt 100 days, he literally could have re-implemented many of his policies. This was a window of opportunity that he ignored and bizarrely, the public at large airbrushes out of its memory.

I don't at all buy that the US can't afford this. Did you forget we spend ginormous amounts on our military, and that could instead be be redirected to domestic uses? Japan, a less rich country generally considered to be in decline, is vastly more egalitarian than America and scores way above us and every other country in the world on social indicators. Some of that, sadly, may prove out that ethnically mixed societies don't "do" egalitarianism because some groups don't want to cut less advantaged groups in.

The issue is that the elites (a word used only on sites like Alex Jones before the crisis) are all in for increasing inequality. That means not investing in education for the masses and much heavier policing, since unequal societies are more violent, among other things.

aab , February 6, 2017 at 7:43 pm

I also do not think that Bernie, basically not subjected to any big negative hits in the primary, would have won the general after the right's smear machine was done with him.

Progressives need to get realistic.

Purity tests of progressive ideals is a cancer that will only doom the cause. It will be hard and maybe slow, but we're going to need more than just the faithful to get this turned around.

I have pulled these out of your comments, because they are generally used by tribal Democrats to rationalize the party's incompetent, destructive behavior. I am not saying that's why you're doing it. But I'd like to address them.

I heartily concur with Yves' reply to you, to start.

Second, you mention in other places than the ones I quoted this idea of doing what's "realistic" and being "realistic." What do you mean by that? The neoliberal Democrats had a quarter of a century to demonstrate that their way worked for the citizens of the United States and the Democratic Party. They failed on both counts. More of strategy and policy that has a proven record of failure would be unwise - do you agree?

If you do agree, and you want to reform the Democratic Party, as you state above, then your choice is easy: focus your energies on getting rid of all the entrenched neoliberals and corporate-aligned Democrats, both party functionaries and elected officials. No positive change can occur until that task is completed.

If you do NOT agree that the neoliberal New Democrats must be purged from the party, what is your vision of realistic change, what makes it realistic, and what makes it change?

Also, you are simply incorrect about Bernie and the general election. All data we have demonstrates strongly that he would have won. There's no smear machine in America better than the Clinton machine plus the major corporate media aligned with it. He was smeared constantly with vile falsehoods - one of which you clearly fell for, which is that he wasn't smeared. He would have held the Democratic states unquestionably, and held the Rust Belt, and thus won the election. Tell me what states you imagine he would have lost to Trump?

The realistic approach is get rid of the New Democrats utterly and completely. They have failed catastrophically. That will be a hard task, but that doesn't' make it unrealistic. To leave them in place and think the party will win back governing power or do anything good for the average citizen would be unrealistic.

blucollarAl , February 6, 2017 at 12:29 pm

Can anyone any longer deceive oneself about the primary meaning and purpose of the Democratic Party? The DP, as it has been redefined and transformed since the Nixon-McGovern election of 1972, is a political vehicle that primarily seeks to represent the interests of mainly urban upper-middle suburban well-educated and well-off professionals, managers, educators, and technologists, along with those other racial/ethnic/social groups that happen to be privileged by elite opinion at any given time.

If the quixotic Sanders run taught us anything, it is that there is no interest, no room within the DP for critical economic and social argument. Not just radical class-based neo-Marxist criticism but even the kind of economic issue-framing that became a hallmark of the DP in the FDR regime and persisted with sometimes more, other times less strength until the 70's.

The so-called "resistance" to Trump has only reaffirmed this conclusion. Insofar as it is being led by DP and DP-leaning media and other talking-head pseudo-intelligentsia, it has focused almost entirely on the same social lifestyle and individual empowerment sexual/gender issues that have characterized it over the past 40 years. This inability to think outside of what too often reduces in final analysis to solipsistic "me-isms", for example by framing important political questions like immigration, imperial reach, and deregulation in ways that transcend the usual racial-ethnic-gender identity differences, prevents the DP and its sycophants from suggesting deeper grounds for solidarity-in-opposition. Most readers of NC understand what these deeper grounds are!

As I wrote another time a few years ago, DP players and pundits, often urban in residence and outlook, and often themselves financially well off, ensconced in high-priced city dwellings, shopping at Whole Foods, frequenting high-end fashion boutiques, attending the best schools on mommy and daddy's dime, often appear more transparently hostile and condescending to what they judge to be the unsophisticated prejudices and religious backwardness of lower, working, and middle class Americans than do the Trumps of the Republican Party. The latter, equally or even more well-heeled than their ersatz opponents, have learned beginning in the Nixon-Colson "silent majority" days, how to project a kind of "rural, small town folksiness", filling their rallies with country music stars and NASCAR heroes, and who know enough to drag out a "social-cultural conservative" every now and then to show that they "hear and care" for the "forgotten American" even if they consistently ignore these very people in the political arena.

To be sure, the Republicans don't give a rat's ass about these things. Applying the categories of the silent-majority Americans, they are as "amoral" as the Democrat special-interest spokespeople. However, when it is a case of neither party addressing the causes that underlie the real deep-rooted rottenness that has become 21st Century America, the blue collar "ordinary" American will often fall back on the party of lip-service that at least to him or her seems to be listening to the anxieties and resentments felt by them. The irony of course is that neoliberal policies consistently applied will destroy (have destroyed) whatever was real and true about the America they think has been left behind.

Livius Drusus , February 6, 2017 at 9:57 pm

Great post. As an example of what you are talking about, I see very little concern from Democrats and liberals about the current Republican efforts to pass a national right to work law, even though this will hurt unions which are supposed to be one of the core elements of the Democratic coalition. Is this surprising? Of course not, given Obama's failure to fight for card check and to give support to the embattled unions in Wisconsin during their fight with Scott Walker. What happened to those comfortable shoes? Did Obama lose them? Unions give the Democrats money and troops during election years and are then kicked to the curb when the Democrats are in power or at most given scraps.

The upper-middle class professionals and managers who dominate the Democratic Party want to continue the identity politics emphasis with regard to opposition to Trump because they are making out well under neoliberalism and are opposed to anything that would tilt the economy in a direction that is more favorable to ordinary workers because they would lose their relative status. Upper-middle class types don't want to go back to the days of the mid-20th century when doctors and lawyers might have to share a neighborhood with factory workers.

Elizabeth Burton , February 6, 2017 at 1:14 pm

To many progressives, saving American jobs sounds jingoistic and "protectionism" is a bad word. Isn't global trade helping the poor become less so around the world? Isn't it selfish only to protect American jobs? Isn't it more moral to share scarce manufacturing jobs with the poor in Mexico and Asia? After all, even if a plant closes in the Rust Belt, service sector jobs can be found at wages that still are far higher than what the poor can hope for in low-wage countries.

May I just say that as a deplorable member of the poor white working class who is a bone-deep progressive that these are classist views of people who sit in their comfortable middle-class bubbles and pretend there are n't people in this country who are suffering from the very things they are so nobly seeking to protect workers in the third world from suffering?

If you want to know why otherwise sensible, intelligent people voted for Trump, that paragraph right there is a major example. The content is bad enough, but that an author who has written an excellent overview of the situation would automatically attribute that kind of thinking to "progressives" shows just how insidious the academic mindset is, and why the working class, regardless of race, gender, religion, or sexual preference, automatically shuts out both categories when they stroll in to "educate."

Tim , February 6, 2017 at 1:58 pm

The idealism is correct in thought, BUT, if a nation doesn't take care of its own then who will? Nobody.

If everybody took care of those closest to their sphere of influence the world would be a better place.

pricklyone , February 6, 2017 at 7:03 pm

Any attempt to equalize wages in "poorer" countries, would also have to address cost-of-living differences, as well.
You are not allowed, in "developed" nations, to live a subsistence lifestyle, any longer.
With higher living standards, comes an obligation to provide citizens with a level of income which can sustain that standard.

Gman , February 6, 2017 at 6:19 pm

'Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes.

after that, who cares?
He's a mile away and you've got his shoes.'

~ Billy Connolly

*great comment by the way.

that guy , February 6, 2017 at 8:28 pm

Thank you. Better-put than I could have done. Might I add to this that I wasn't voting for the president of Uruguay or Mexico or whatever, who could reasonably be expected to look out for those people. I was voting for the next president of the United States, who I should be able to reasonably believe will look out for me, as an American, first and foremost.

Jeremy Grimm , February 6, 2017 at 4:52 pm

The recent primaries and Presidential election made clear to me how little the concerns of ordinary people mean to the two national parties. However Trump was and remains something of a wildcard - at least promising actions reflecting the concerns of the hoi polli. He has indeed delivered in short order on several of his promises.

I have trouble characterizing the opposition and protests against Trump. Are they inspired by the Democratic Party's knee-jerk opposition to anything Trump or Neoliberal opponents to Trump's dismantling of the grand corporate take-over embodied in the TPP or upper-middle "liberals" fuming about one or another of their pet issues of the moment like immigration or climate change - issues which Trump seems determined to throttle. My daughter was tempted to join the women's march because she will sorely miss planned parenthood clinics when their funds are cutoff - they were for her the only place she could find real healthCARE at any price.

At this point I tend to agree with Bernie Sanders assessment of Trump (ref. today's links - https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/02/05/after-trump-moves-to-undo-financial-regulations-sanders-calls-him-a-fraud/ ). I am glad the US seems more cozy with Russia - worried about the US and China and Iran - glad the TPP has been - at least temporarily - dismantled - in short I view Trump as a very mixed blessing whose actions and intents remain opaque. I believe Trump will benefit the obscenely wealthy classes but I'm not sure yet which portions of the obscenely wealthy. I believe there is a power struggle ongoing between different behemoth factions of the uber-rich but the waters they fight in are darkly murky.

witters , February 6, 2017 at 6:52 pm

"upper-middle "liberals" fuming about one or another of their pet issues of the moment like immigration or climate change "

Yeah, climate change an 'issue of the moment'.

Here is the bedrock of modern political stupdity. A total unconcern for the future of all of us. I don't care where you think you are on the left/right BS, anyone with your view is just another instance of the great problem.

Scott , February 6, 2017 at 8:07 pm

I cannot read all the comments & know my own will be but a wisp in the wind. I am grateful to naked capitalism, Yves & Lambert for publishing the best thinking on the subjects.
"Workers of the World Unite" is about all I can see as the real option to pursue. How to really do that means using all the means of the winners.
It's seems simply impossible on one hand to be nationalistic, and fair to labor internationally at the same time.
I keep looking at WWI.
Workers of the World Unite? How? Fair Trade, Internationally the world is a struggle between the Rich who have inherited wealth & get compound interest, pass on deeds that survive as if a neofeudalism is just ordained.
Ah hell, I say if you cannot even imagine a utopia you ought not call yourself a human being.
Purchasing Power Parity & World Government?
Without private property things get weird & corruption grows from elites getting access to all.
In my Transcendia Insurodollar I overcome the flaw of Communist theory.
I have a part of it going. I have a gov. in govs. concept workable as permanently small.
Time to expand. Doubtful, really really doubtful.
I do recognize Les is on the right track and has the correct goals. The puzzle is how to really work at the Two Nation Solution of Workers & Power, corporate Power is immense.
They throw out regulations we know are necessary.
Force & mind control propaganda are levers at their fingertips.
Force? 8 have so much wealth the majority divided by language & borders a challenge is seen as doomed.
I shall imagine.

VietnamVet , February 6, 2017 at 8:23 pm

I found myself agreeing with most of the points in the post. We must be clear that Donald Trump is anti-Globalist but to get GOP support and appointees he assimilated their tribal beliefs. If he is stupid or crazy we must say so and explain why. If he is right and does something that benefits American citizens such as ratcheting down the Cold War 2.0 with Russia, we must applaud. I am fairly certain that to spite him and keep the bribes flowing, Democrats will not support the re-branding of "Medicare for All" to "TrumpCare".

It may be my history or old age; but, I am afraid that the global elite have decided the USA is ripe for a final harvest and have gr

[Feb 04, 2017] Is Inequality a Political Choice?

Notable quotes:
"... Cross posted from the Institute for New Economic Thinking website ..."
"... Steve Bannon, Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to President Trump is a prominent proponent of the theory. As a documentary filmmaker Bannon discussed the details of Strauss-Howe generational theory in Generation Zero. According to historian David Kaiser, who was consulted for the film, Generation Zero "focused on the key aspect of their theory, the idea that every 80 years American history has been marked by a crisis, or 'fourth turning', that destroyed an old order and created a new one". Kaiser said Bannon "is very familiar with Strauss and Howe's theory of crisis, and has been thinking about how to use it to achieve particular goals for quite a while." A February 2017 article from Business Insider titled: Steve Bannon's obsession with a dark theory of history should be worrisome commented "Bannon seems to be trying to bring about the 'Fourth Turning'." ..."
"... no sh*t, Sherlock ..."
"... Wealth and Democracy ..."
"... However, reading about the recent Gini index leads me to believe that either our preference for inequality is changing [probably not the case, given Trump], or our history is outrunning our preferences. ..."
"... early 1980's TRUMP SWAMP WHISTLE-BLOWER WAYNE BARRET (RIP)? https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/19/business/media/wayne-barrett-dead-village-voice-columnist.html ..."
"... What socio-econ OU ..."
"... Cross posted from the Institute for New Economic Thinking website ..."
"... Steve Bannon, Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to President Trump is a prominent proponent of the theory. As a documentary filmmaker Bannon discussed the details of Strauss-Howe generational theory in Generation Zero. According to historian David Kaiser, who was consulted for the film, Generation Zero "focused on the key aspect of their theory, the idea that every 80 years American history has been marked by a crisis, or 'fourth turning', that destroyed an old order and created a new one". Kaiser said Bannon "is very familiar with Strauss and Howe's theory of crisis, and has been thinking about how to use it to achieve particular goals for quite a while." A February 2017 article from Business Insider titled: Steve Bannon's obsession with a dark theory of history should be worrisome commented "Bannon seems to be trying to bring about the 'Fourth Turning'." ..."
"... no sh*t, Sherlock ..."
"... Wealth and Democracy ..."
"... However, reading about the recent Gini index leads me to believe that either our preference for inequality is changing [probably not the case, given Trump], or our history is outrunning our preferences. ..."
"... early 1980's TRUMP SWAMP WHISTLE-BLOWER WAYNE BARRET (RIP)? https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/19/business/media/wayne-barrett-dead-village-voice-columnist.html ..."
"... What socio-econ OUTCOMES have resulted in even PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP ..."
"... and the so-called alternative weeklies who only make news hole available for Lifestyle features on the new Wellness Spa, Tattoo Parlor or Booze\Gourmet venture ..."
"... Mitch Ritter\Paradigm Shifters Lay-Low Studios, Ore-Wa Media Discussion Group ..."
"... TCOMES have resulted in even PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP ..."
"... and the so-called alternative weeklies who only make news hole available for Lifestyle features on the new Wellness Spa, Tattoo Parlor or Booze\Gourmet venture ..."
"... Mitch Ritter\Paradigm Shifters Lay-Low Studios, Ore-Wa Media Discussion Group ..."
Feb 04, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Posted on February 4, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. Both economists and the press do such a good job of selling the idea that inequality is the fault of those who come out on the short end of the stick that academics need to develop empirical evidence to prove what ought to be intuitively obvious.

Cross posted from the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

The fact that most of the fruits of US economic growth have not been shared with the lower-middle and working class is accepted across the political spectrum in America. But that inequality is often treated as a somehow inevitable consequence of globalization and technological change. That view is contradicted by the comparison of income growth and distribution statistics between the US and three others rich countries, France, Norway and the UK - according to new research by Max Roser and Stefan Thewissen of the Institute for New Economic Thinking at Oxford. Writing in Vox on the database they've constructed, Roser and Thewissen note:

"We compare the evolution of the income an individual needs to be right at the 10th percentile of the income distribution to the evolution of the income of an individual at the 90th percentile. We call these two groups the 'poor' and the 'rich.' We can then look at how much incomes grew for the poor and the rich in absolute terms as well as relative to each other - and thereby assess the extent to which growth was widely shared. We measure income after taxes and transfers, and adjust for differences in prices over time and across countries using inflation and purchasing power information. Our database can be accessed online, with more information on our exact measure and data for other countries."

The US performs poorly by comparison to these countries, for reasons that may have more to do with structure, institutions and policy. Roser and Thewissen conclude:

"The differences we have identified across countries and time imply that increased globalization and technological change cannot be blamed as sole causes for rising inequality. Those forces work across borders and should affect all countries. The fact that other developed countries have been able to share the benefits of these market forces suggests that policy choices on the national level play a central role for boosting living standards. Policies can make a difference not just in growth levels, but also in who gets the benefits of that growth."

8 0 16 3 1 This entry was posted in Banana republic , Free markets and their discontents , Global warming , Guest Post , Income disparity , Politics , Regulations and regulators , The destruction of the middle class on February 4, 2017 by Yves Smith . Subscribe to Post Comments 36 comments Disturbed Voter , February 4, 2017 at 7:03 am

The intuitively obvious, should be taken as axiomatic. Like two points determine a single line. When you start out from an unequal position (not like at the start of a foot race) it is unclear who to blame, for the one person who crosses the finish line first vs the losers. And much of life is "first across the finish line". Also since in this case, the winner of the last race, gets an advantage on the next starting line the unequal advantage tends to accumulate. Life is unfair. The point is to maintain the status quo, statically and dynamically. Those who have advantages today, continue to have them, as white collar US workers and even blue collar US workers used to. The previous winners continue to win these unequal contests, but the number of happy workers gets fewer and fewer. This is why Trump voters the benefits of inequality are now being shared less equally ;-) The purpose of government is to benefit the status quo. Therefore policy doesn't offer substantive way out. Change will occur but only when the current status quo maintenance system fails. Conclusion: like the game of Musical Chairs there is no change until the music stops, and someone different can't find a chair to sit in. But it is less fun in real life.

Moneta , February 4, 2017 at 7:16 am

Funny how kids' games are there to show how luck works in life and how people work around it, yet many never seem to see the link.

Disturbed Voter , February 4, 2017 at 8:08 am

Unfortunately many in the current generation are content to play the little pig, in Charlotte's Web. They forget where McDonald's McRib comes from. Again, children's culture is illustrative and simplified.

MP , February 4, 2017 at 10:14 am

I wouldn't underestimate "many in the current generation" – especially among those who don't have the "divided baggage" of the generations that preceded them. Due to purposely recirculated historical circumstances aligned with modern "evolution," it may not be as easy for power to continue to "manipulate and control."

Kris Alman , February 4, 2017 at 2:11 pm

Speaking of generations
In 2010, Steve Bannon directed and wrote this film: Generation Zero
http://generationzeromovie.com/trailers.html

You can watch the full length movie here:
http://www.snagfilms.com/films/title/generation_zero

In this fear-mongering film, conservatives like Gingrich put a spin on the power of the "elite" destroying the middle class in a revisionist approach (although they are quick to point out that both parties are captured by global corporations). The future: austerity, deregulation and 20 years of chaos (with probable war) ahead of us.

The film revolves around the Strauss-Howe generational theory.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strauss%E2%80%93Howe_generational_theory
Steve Bannon, Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to President Trump is a prominent proponent of the theory. As a documentary filmmaker Bannon discussed the details of Strauss-Howe generational theory in Generation Zero. According to historian David Kaiser, who was consulted for the film, Generation Zero "focused on the key aspect of their theory, the idea that every 80 years American history has been marked by a crisis, or 'fourth turning', that destroyed an old order and created a new one". Kaiser said Bannon "is very familiar with Strauss and Howe's theory of crisis, and has been thinking about how to use it to achieve particular goals for quite a while." A February 2017 article from Business Insider titled: Steve Bannon's obsession with a dark theory of history should be worrisome commented "Bannon seems to be trying to bring about the 'Fourth Turning'."

David Kaiser has distanced himself from Bannon's extreme views.
http://time.com/4575780/stephen-bannon-fourth-turning/

When I was first exposed to Strauss and Howe I began thinking how their ideas explained the histories of other countries as well, and during our interview, I mentioned that crises in countries like France in the 1790s and Russia after 1917 had led to reigns of terror. Bannon included those remarks in the final cut of Generation Zero.
A second, more alarming, interaction did not show up in the film. Bannon had clearly thought a long time both about the domestic potential and the foreign policy implications of Strauss and Howe. More than once during our interview, he pointed out that each of the three preceding crises had involved a great war, and those conflicts had increased in scope from the American Revolution through the Civil War to the Second World War. He expected a new and even bigger war as part of the current crisis, and he did not seem at all fazed by the prospect.
I did not agree, and said so. But, knowing that the history of international conflict was my own specialty, he repeatedly pressed me to say we could expect a conflict at least as big as the Second World War in the near or medium term. I refused.
Apocalyptic rhetoric and apocalyptic thinking flourish during crisis periods. This represents perhaps the biggest danger of the Trump presidency, and one that will bear watching from all concerned citizens in the months and years ahead.

That's why we should all be concerned about Bannon being added to the National Security Council. http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/29/politics/susan-rice-steve-bannon/index.html

Bannon's Islamaphobia portends a 'global war' between 'the Judeo-Christian west' and 'jihadist Islamic fascism.'
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/03/steve-bannon-islamophobia-film-script-muslims-islam

MP , February 4, 2017 at 3:01 pm

Thanks for the information. I'm aware of the madman's "movie" and his authoritarian ideology. He and his commander-of-thieves will continue to unravel right before our eyes. Many lives will continue to be severely impacted by these hateful, selfish, abusive throwbacks from "central casting."

DWD , February 4, 2017 at 10:10 am

The Race

Every day there is a race you have to run. For the sake of discussion, let's call it a 100 yard race.

The participants are called and then evaluated by the judges. Starting points for the race are then determined. If you are particularly comely, you are given an advantage: that is, your starting point is moved up depending on the judges. If you have a personality that people find attractive, you are given further yards. If you happen to have had great success in school, you are awarded so many yards because of your academic record. If you happen to be good looking and personable, the academic success yards are added onto your already determined starting point.

Then the quality and reputation of your educational institution is evaluated and you are given further yards to determine starting points with certain schools worth a better starting position. And even the type of training at the institution is evaluated and further yards given.

Finally the judges add your total experiences – including your finishing position in previous races – advanced degrees, and connections and further yards are added.

So when the gun sounds, the person without the advantages strives as hard as they can but they cannot win the race because some people only have to simply step over the finish line.

And even more troubling some people are moved behind the starting line because they could not even muster the necessary accomplishments to reach the starting line: drop outs from school, people who have been convicted of crimes and the rest. The worse the offense, the further you are moved behind the starting line.

Every day this continues and those striving to win – even running faster and harder than their competitors – are simply unable to do so because the rules are such that winning is not even a consideration when the race is rigged.

Jazz Paw , February 4, 2017 at 4:30 pm

The factors are certainly at work in inequality. Some of those factors can either be mitigated or compensated for by the individual and/or the social system.

There are other structural factors that influence inequality. Family connections, inherited wealth, and other forms of social capital that can make advancement easier is one. Savings and investment patterns that can be engaged in to varying degrees depending on just how much surplus income one has is another.

The social and political system in the US generally favors vigorous competition, private self-dealing, and asymmetric information. Individuals who learn to navigate these factors can prosper, while those who either can't or don't want to can suffer significant disadvantages in outcomes. The influence of these structural factors in any social system influences the degree of income/wealth stratification.

In my own family, many of the starting social factors are fairly equal among the individuals. Even though my various relatives have not necessarily made "bad" choices in the moral sense, their outcomes have been vastly different. The degree to which they have chosen to engagein income/wealth maximization has generally been a large factor. In that sense, the game is rigged away from living what many consider a humane life.

David , February 4, 2017 at 7:19 am

You mean people actually got paid to research and write stuff like this? You simply have to look at the (re)distribution policies of the countries concerned – and there are substantial differences between the three of them, by the way.
Wouldn't a much more interesting question be "By what mechanism does globalization necessarily increase inequality, and how does it work precisely in a number of contrasted cases"? But then you might get the wrong answer.

lyman alpha blob , February 4, 2017 at 9:38 am

No kidding – kind of amazing that people get paid good money to restate the obvious, but using sesquipedalian language just to make it more difficult to understand.

Inequality is caused by one group not having as much money as another. Money is simply a tool created by human beings. Much like a hammer, human beings could use it to build houses for everyone or to bash others about the head. We humans seem to prefer the latter use.

Grebo , February 4, 2017 at 1:43 pm

The people paid to prove the obvious are far outnumbered by those paid to disprove it. We need the former because of the latter.
On the other hand, there are many cases where the obvious turned out to be wrong when it was looked at carefully. More research needed!

Knute Rife , February 4, 2017 at 1:49 pm

We're in a world where politicians get paid to lie about these obvious things and legislate based on those lies, and businesses make their profits off the lies, so I can't get too exercised when someone gets paid to point out the lies.

Fred Grosso , February 4, 2017 at 7:52 am

Yes. I decided I wasn't going to be Fred Trump's son.

Disturbed Voter , February 4, 2017 at 8:06 am

Bravo. Who can tolerate the virtue signaling of the plutocracy?

Carla , February 4, 2017 at 10:20 am

+10

funemployed , February 4, 2017 at 8:36 am

"Forces." Really? "Globalization" and "technological change" are things humans do for human reasons. To treat them as "forces" somehow exogenous to human choices is self-evidently fallacious. It's precisely the same logic that says the King is the King cause God likes him best.

They're not "forces." They are heuristics. And as heuristics, they are pretty lousy unless you parse them quite a bit. Obama's 1 trillion dollar investment in nukes creates "technological change." The destruction of local agricultural techniques and knowledge is "technological change." A kindle is "technological change." Keyword searches readily available to academic researchers was a big "technological change."

I'm assuming what they mean by "technological change" here is the sort that allows us to collectively make more stuff with less work. God forbid anyone spell that out though. Because "hey, guess what: you have to work more for less because we can now make more stuff with less work," would quickly lead to the violent demise of economists and rich people. (more to say on "globalization" but this post is already way longer than intended.)

Sound of the Suburbs , February 4, 2017 at 9:21 am

Redistributive Keynesian capitalism produces the lowest levels of inequality within the developed world from the 1950s to the 1970s.

1980s – Let's get rid of redistributive Keynesian capitalism.

Inequality soars.

What was supposed to happen?

nowhere , February 4, 2017 at 6:31 pm

A rising tide of lifting boats

Pelham , February 4, 2017 at 10:06 am

Germany should have been included in the study. German manufacturing is far more technologically advanced than manufacturing in the US, yet Germany manages to maintain high employment in that sector, probably because the companies invest in worker training and feel some obligation toward labor.

There's a structural reason for this, with labor having powerful representation on German corporate boards and smaller companies being owned by families instead of faceless shareholders, with the families' long-term interests naturally more in alignment with those of their employees.

David , February 4, 2017 at 11:22 am

Actually, I thought the inclusion of France and the UK was a bit strange, as well. Inequality in both countries has been increasingly massively in recent years. One Thomas Piketty even wrote something on the topic, if I'm not mistaken. Japan would have been a much better example.

jrs , February 4, 2017 at 12:22 pm

I think it kind of makes the point, if even a country that isn't exactly known for egalitarianism, like the UK, is doing better than the U.S. it kind of shows how extreme on the scale the U.S. is.

nowhere , February 4, 2017 at 6:33 pm

We are exceptional in every way!

Barni , February 4, 2017 at 1:42 pm

Contrary to elite owned and serving mass media claims, the trick that created the German economic miracle is no mystery; it was, and IS, their banking system.
In Germany more than 70% of all banking is done by "municipally owned banks"!!!
A situation that the elites – masters of the universe -have been working day and night to drastically alter so that their "too big to fail" minion zombie banks can take complete AND total control of the economy, as they have in most of the developed world except North Dakota, Canada (Canada owns the Bank of Canada – the Finance Minister holds all the shares on behalf of all Canadians), and Switzerland (Switzerland has Cantonal {municipally or provincially} owned banks) – all three countries, like the German municipally owned banks, are under attack by the elite serving bureaucrats in the IMF and the U.S. Federal Reserve; all of whom are owned by, and minions of, Wall Street; and most importantly the corporate bought and sold world's university economics departments – co-opted to right agenda faux economic B.S.
The U.S. Federal Reserve now donates more money to universities worldwide than all of the rest of the donors combined!?! The proviso on these donations is that they only hire economics profs who have been published in one of the 37 journals published by the U.S. Federal Reserve – and we know what kind of right agenda 'fascist' mumbo-jumbo these minion economists are dedicated to serving up in order to get published by the U.S. Fed!!!
So what you say!! Well here's so what!
If you are in any other developed country than Germany and you have a great idea/product and require a one million dollar loan to build a factory and set up production – here's what happens to you. Your local banks will never lend you that money, so you have to go to the criminal Big Banks which will also never lend you the money you need, which means you will have to sell your idea/product at pennies on the dollar to one of their huge corporate clients, who will offshore production to a corrupted third world country where workers get paid pennies an hour and unions are considered a criminal enterprise. Leaving you, the creator of the product or service with pennies on the dollar; and leaving your local economy with zero economic growth and no well paid local employment opportunities. The corporate buyer of your technology/product/idea may well just kill your product because it is better than the (inferior) one they are currently making bags of money selling – for which they have just eliminated your innovative and superior competitive product.
If you are in Germany however the story is far different. In Germany you would go to your local municipally owned bank which is only too happy to give you the one million dollars you need to set up production (locally providing employment and contributing to local economic prosperity).
This is the basis for the strength of the German economy and the reason for the so called ":German economic miracle?"!
It is described as a "miracle" not because we have no idea how it happened, rather because the elites who own more than 80% of all corporate shares need to confuse us plebs they want to economically and politically crush!

Sluggeaux , February 4, 2017 at 11:01 am

American wealth inequality is a political problem? Well, no sh*t, Sherlock .

Kevin Phillips wrote about this phenomenon a decade ago in his wonderful book Wealth and Democracy . Between 1920 and 1980, American plutocrats had been placed in fear by the Bolshevik revolution, humbled by the Great Depression, and shamed by the Second World War. Greed was in check. Then they died-off and left their wealth to a new generation more interested in emulating Mick Jagger than Dwight D. Eisenhower. Ronnie Reagan was their Hollywood pal, who cut estate and coupon-clipping taxes so that they could party like rock stars.

Crass punks like Donald Trump and the Kochs are the scions of inherited wealth and Studio 54. They could never have made it on their own, on their own talents, and it is in their class interest to destroy any sort of meritocracy. They have used materialism and greed to buy the political class.

Advance , February 4, 2017 at 11:21 am

Look up Geert Hofstede's work on "power distance," which is the extent to which a nation accepts inequality.

According to Hofstede, countries have different "tastes" or preferences for inequality. For example, the Middle East, parts of S America, India, and other parts of Asia have a much bigger "taste" for inequality compared to, say, the Scandinavian countries, which have the lowest.

I would guess that differences in preferences for inequality between countries go back to a nation's history, and maybe other hard-to-pin down forces and factors.

The US, according to Hofstede's work, is at the middle point, or a little lower, as to taste for inequality. However, reading about the recent Gini index leads me to believe that either our preference for inequality is changing [probably not the case, given Trump], or our history is outrunning our preferences. In other words, we may be getting more inequality than we like.

By the way, Hofstede assumes that power distance preference is a fairly durable characteristic of a nation.

UserFriendly , February 4, 2017 at 2:45 pm

Preference?? Yes, I'm sure the mid east loves inequality, which is why they are known for choosing dictators who quash uprisings as their leaders. And how exactly would I choose egalitarianism here in the US? I can vote for Wall Street and Holly Wood or Wall Street and Exxon Mobil. Which one is the egalitarian one?

Ignacio , February 4, 2017 at 2:58 pm

"

However, reading about the recent Gini index leads me to believe that either our preference for inequality is changing [probably not the case, given Trump], or our history is outrunning our preferences.

"

What about "power distance" (extent to which a nation accepts inequality) interactions with "distance to power" extent to which a nation influences the powerful.

Sam , February 4, 2017 at 12:40 pm

According to Ha-Joon Chang, markets are political creations.

So, yes.

Bernard , February 4, 2017 at 12:45 pm

"To serve Humans." The cookbook from " the Outer Limits/Twilight Zone" TV series had aliens come to "devour" humans. such a farce!! lol

when the reality all along has been that's it the Rich who wrote the "Cookbook". Bernay's sauce, once again.

who would have thunk it! Inequality is the major ingredient.

Anonymous , February 4, 2017 at 2:17 pm

I've been reading Robert J. Gordon's book, 'The Rise and Fall of American Growth.' Gordon would say that American labor did well from 1870-1970 because of the innovations that drove the economy increased everyone's productivity and the value of their work. Since 1970, productivity has slowed down. It rose again during the decade of the '90s but mostly for knowledge workers, thanks to the internet, spreadsheets, etcetera, but now has continued to slow. That was a recipe for income inequality, and for wealth inequality as well, since the rise of digital industries has increased property values on the coasts and in select inland cities.

Slowing productivity also increased wealth inequality by facilitating the decline of interest rates. This helps the haves, since their assets are suddenly more valuable.

pretzelattack , February 4, 2017 at 3:23 pm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/martin-ford/is-american-economic-grow_b_9096698.html

this guy argues that productivity has been decoupled from compensation, and that has driven the rise of inequality.

off topic, but the krugman review of the book contained the interesting fact that, during the 1880's, wall street was 7 feet deep in manure in some places.

UserFriendly , February 4, 2017 at 2:53 pm

Of course inequality is a political choice. Chosen by the oligarchs who buy the politicians.

Just like every mainstream economist is choosing to make millions suffer and die every day because excepting MMT would bruise their ego's. That is a choice too.

Ignacio , February 4, 2017 at 3:01 pm

I think that inequality is not a political choice directly but a consequence of deregulation or "do nothing" policy. Reducing inequality is a policy choice.

marblex , February 4, 2017 at 3:32 pm

To quote the very astute Batman11 from ZH:

𝐀𝐥𝐥 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐯𝐞𝐬, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐧𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐬𝐞𝐞𝐦𝐬, 𝐢𝐧 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝, 𝐭𝐨 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐯𝐢𝐥𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐱𝐢𝐦 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐝." 𝐀𝐝𝐚𝐦 𝐒𝐦𝐢𝐭𝐡, 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐖𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐭𝐡 𝐨𝐟 𝐍𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬

𝐌𝐚𝐧𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐝 𝐟𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐞 𝐚 𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐩𝐥𝐮𝐬 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐥𝐲 𝐚𝐠𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐮𝐥𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞.

𝐈𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬𝐧'𝐭 𝐥𝐨𝐧𝐠 𝐛𝐞𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐞𝐬 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐧𝐭 𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐨 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐤𝐢𝐞𝐬, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐮𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐬, 𝐭𝐨 𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐝𝐢𝐜𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐬𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐚𝐦𝐚𝐳𝐞𝐝 𝐦𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐜𝐨𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐜𝐭 𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐛𝐮𝐭𝐞.

They soon made the most of the opportunity and removed themselves from any hard work to concentrate on "spiritual matters", i.e. any hocus-pocus they could come up with to elevate them from the masses, e.g. rituals, fertility rights, offering to the gods . etc and to turn the initially small tributes, into extracting all the surplus created by the hard work of the rest.

The elites became the representatives of the gods
and they were responsible for the bounty of the earth and the harvests. As long as all the surplus was handed over, all would be well.
Later they came up with money.

We pay you to do the work and you give it back to us when you buy things, you live a bare subsistence existence and we take the rest.

"𝐌𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐲 𝐢𝐬 𝐚 𝐧𝐞𝐰 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦 𝐨𝐟 𝐬𝐥𝐚𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐮𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐨𝐥𝐝 𝐬𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐲 𝐛𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐚𝐜𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐢𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 – 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐧𝐨 𝐡𝐮𝐦𝐚𝐧 𝐫𝐞𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐛𝐞𝐭𝐰𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐦𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐬𝐥𝐚𝐯𝐞." 𝐋𝐞𝐨 𝐓𝐨𝐥𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐲

𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐩𝐥𝐮𝐬 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐞𝐝 𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐚𝐠𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐮𝐥𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐥 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐮𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐮𝐬 𝐞𝐱𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐛𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐞.

A bare subsistence existence ensured the workers didn't die and could reproduce, why give them anymore? The vile maxim of the masters of mankind.

Basic capitalism was how it all started in the 18th and 19th Centuries, the poor lived in squalor and the rich lived in luxury, the same as it had always been.

Only organised labour movements got those at the bottom a larger slice of the pie, basic capitalism gives nothing to the people who do the work apart from a bare subsistence existence.

The wealthy decided they needed to do away with organised labour movements and the welfare state; it was interfering with the natural order where they extract all the surplus.

2017 – World's eight richest people have same wealth as poorest 50%

Nearly there.

They need a bit more fine tuning at Davos.

Some of the world's workers are not living a bare subsistence existence.

𝐀 𝐛𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐬𝐮𝐛𝐬𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐞𝐱𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐞𝐧𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐝𝐨𝐧'𝐭 𝐝𝐢𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐫𝐞𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐞, 𝐰𝐡𝐲 𝐠𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦 𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞? 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐯𝐢𝐥𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐱𝐢𝐦 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐝, 𝐜𝐮𝐫𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐥𝐲 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐚𝐬 𝐧𝐞𝐨-𝐥𝐢𝐛𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐦.

𝐁𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐜 𝐜𝐚𝐩𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐦, 𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐩𝐩𝐞𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐚 𝐰𝐞𝐥𝐟𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐫𝐠𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐥𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐦𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐬, 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐚 𝐠𝐥𝐨𝐛𝐚𝐥 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐜𝐞 𝐞𝐧𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐧 𝐞𝐱𝐜𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐬𝐮𝐩𝐩𝐥𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐥𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐝𝐫𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐚𝐠𝐞𝐬 𝐝𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐦𝐮𝐦.

𝐏𝐞𝐫𝐟𝐞𝐜𝐭, 𝐢𝐭'𝐬 𝐠𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐨𝐥𝐝 𝐝𝐚𝐲𝐬.

𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐢𝐡𝐞𝐝 𝐦𝐢𝐝𝐝𝐥𝐞 𝐜𝐥𝐚𝐬𝐬, 𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐝𝐢𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐞𝐧?

𝐈𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐧.

Francis Fukuyama talked of the "end of history" and "liberal democracy".

Liberal democracy was the bringing together of two mutually exclusive ideas.

Economic liberalism – that enriches the few and impoverishes the many.

Democracy – that requires the support of the majority.

Trying to bring two mutually exclusive ideas together just doesn't work.

The ideas of "Economic Liberalism" came from Milton Freidman and the University of Chicago. It was so radical they first tried it in a military dictatorship in Chile, it wouldn't be compatible with democracy. It took death squads, torture and terror to keep it in place, there was an ethnic cleansing of anyone who still showed signs of any left wing thinking.

It was tried in a few other places in South America using similar techniques. It then did succeed in a democracy but only by tricking the people into thinking they were voting for something else, severe oppression was needed when they found out what they were getting.

It brings extreme inequality and widespread poverty everywhere it's tested, they decide it's a system that should be rolled out globally. It's just what they are looking for.

𝐆𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐧𝐞𝐰𝐬 𝐢𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐬 𝐚𝐬 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐝.

𝟐𝟎𝟏𝟒 – "𝟖𝟓 𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐚𝐬 𝐰𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐭𝐡𝐲 𝐚𝐬 𝐩𝐨𝐨𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐡𝐚𝐥𝐟 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝"

𝟐𝟎𝟏𝟔 – "𝐑𝐢𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝟔𝟐 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐚𝐬 𝐰𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐭𝐡𝐲 𝐚𝐬 𝐡𝐚𝐥𝐟 𝐨𝐟 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝'𝐬 𝐩𝐨𝐩𝐮𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧"

𝟐𝟎𝟏𝟕 – 𝐖𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝'𝐬 𝐞𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐬𝐚𝐦𝐞 𝐰𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐭𝐡 𝐚𝐬 𝐩𝐨𝐨𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝟓𝟎%

𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐠𝐥𝐨𝐛𝐚𝐥 𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐮𝐧𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐩𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐟𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐢𝐫 𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐬.

𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐩𝐨𝐩𝐮𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐬 𝐠𝐨𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐢𝐧 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭?

𝐍𝐚𝐨𝐦𝐢 𝐊𝐥𝐞𝐢𝐧'𝐬 "𝐒𝐡𝐨𝐜𝐤 𝐃𝐨𝐜𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐞" 𝐜𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐨𝐥𝐨𝐠𝐲 𝐢𝐧 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐧𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬."
Post by Batman11@ZH

Mitch Ritter , February 4, 2017 at 4:14 pm

Would a for-profit chain of local newspapers whose business model and advertising is built on serving the Portland Business Alliance and Chamber of Commerce interests hire or keep on staff any kind of investigative journalistic team or even an individual columnist\calumnist like recently deceased VILLAGE VOICE early 1980's TRUMP SWAMP WHISTLE-BLOWER WAYNE BARRET (RIP)?
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/19/business/media/wayne-barrett-dead-village-voice-columnist.html

What socio-econ OU

Is Inequality a Political Choice? Posted on February 4, 2017 by Yves Smith
Yves here. Both economists and the press do such a good job of selling the idea that inequality is the fault of those who come out on the short end of the stick that academics need to develop empirical evidence to prove what ought to be intuitively obvious.

Cross posted from the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

The fact that most of the fruits of US economic growth have not been shared with the lower-middle and working class is accepted across the political spectrum in America. But that inequality is often treated as a somehow inevitable consequence of globalization and technological change. That view is contradicted by the comparison of income growth and distribution statistics between the US and three others rich countries, France, Norway and the UK - according to new research by Max Roser and Stefan Thewissen of the Institute for New Economic Thinking at Oxford. Writing in Vox on the database they've constructed, Roser and Thewissen note:

"We compare the evolution of the income an individual needs to be right at the 10th percentile of the income distribution to the evolution of the income of an individual at the 90th percentile. We call these two groups the 'poor' and the 'rich.' We can then look at how much incomes grew for the poor and the rich in absolute terms as well as relative to each other - and thereby assess the extent to which growth was widely shared. We measure income after taxes and transfers, and adjust for differences in prices over time and across countries using inflation and purchasing power information. Our database can be accessed online, with more information on our exact measure and data for other countries."

The US performs poorly by comparison to these countries, for reasons that may have more to do with structure, institutions and policy. Roser and Thewissen conclude:

"The differences we have identified across countries and time imply that increased globalization and technological change cannot be blamed as sole causes for rising inequality. Those forces work across borders and should affect all countries. The fact that other developed countries have been able to share the benefits of these market forces suggests that policy choices on the national level play a central role for boosting living standards. Policies can make a difference not just in growth levels, but also in who gets the benefits of that growth."

8 0 16 3 1 This entry was posted in Banana republic , Free markets and their discontents , Global warming , Guest Post , Income disparity , Politics , Regulations and regulators , The destruction of the middle class on February 4, 2017 by Yves Smith . Subscribe to Post Comments 36 comments
Disturbed Voter , February 4, 2017 at 7:03 am

The intuitively obvious, should be taken as axiomatic. Like two points determine a single line. When you start out from an unequal position (not like at the start of a foot race) it is unclear who to blame, for the one person who crosses the finish line first vs the losers. And much of life is "first across the finish line". Also since in this case, the winner of the last race, gets an advantage on the next starting line the unequal advantage tends to accumulate. Life is unfair. The point is to maintain the status quo, statically and dynamically. Those who have advantages today, continue to have them, as white collar US workers and even blue collar US workers used to. The previous winners continue to win these unequal contests, but the number of happy workers gets fewer and fewer. This is why Trump voters the benefits of inequality are now being shared less equally ;-) The purpose of government is to benefit the status quo. Therefore policy doesn't offer substantive way out. Change will occur but only when the current status quo maintenance system fails. Conclusion: like the game of Musical Chairs there is no change until the music stops, and someone different can't find a chair to sit in. But it is less fun in real life.

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Moneta , February 4, 2017 at 7:16 am

Funny how kids' games are there to show how luck works in life and how people work around it, yet many never seem to see the link.

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Disturbed Voter , February 4, 2017 at 8:08 am

Unfortunately many in the current generation are content to play the little pig, in Charlotte's Web. They forget where McDonald's McRib comes from. Again, children's culture is illustrative and simplified.

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MP , February 4, 2017 at 10:14 am

I wouldn't underestimate "many in the current generation" – especially among those who don't have the "divided baggage" of the generations that preceded them. Due to purposely recirculated historical circumstances aligned with modern "evolution," it may not be as easy for power to continue to "manipulate and control."

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Kris Alman , February 4, 2017 at 2:11 pm

Speaking of generations
In 2010, Steve Bannon directed and wrote this film: Generation Zero
http://generationzeromovie.com/trailers.html

You can watch the full length movie here:
http://www.snagfilms.com/films/title/generation_zero

In this fear-mongering film, conservatives like Gingrich put a spin on the power of the "elite" destroying the middle class in a revisionist approach (although they are quick to point out that both parties are captured by global corporations). The future: austerity, deregulation and 20 years of chaos (with probable war) ahead of us.

The film revolves around the Strauss-Howe generational theory.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strauss%E2%80%93Howe_generational_theory
Steve Bannon, Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to President Trump is a prominent proponent of the theory. As a documentary filmmaker Bannon discussed the details of Strauss-Howe generational theory in Generation Zero. According to historian David Kaiser, who was consulted for the film, Generation Zero "focused on the key aspect of their theory, the idea that every 80 years American history has been marked by a crisis, or 'fourth turning', that destroyed an old order and created a new one". Kaiser said Bannon "is very familiar with Strauss and Howe's theory of crisis, and has been thinking about how to use it to achieve particular goals for quite a while." A February 2017 article from Business Insider titled: Steve Bannon's obsession with a dark theory of history should be worrisome commented "Bannon seems to be trying to bring about the 'Fourth Turning'."

David Kaiser has distanced himself from Bannon's extreme views.
http://time.com/4575780/stephen-bannon-fourth-turning/

When I was first exposed to Strauss and Howe I began thinking how their ideas explained the histories of other countries as well, and during our interview, I mentioned that crises in countries like France in the 1790s and Russia after 1917 had led to reigns of terror. Bannon included those remarks in the final cut of Generation Zero.
A second, more alarming, interaction did not show up in the film. Bannon had clearly thought a long time both about the domestic potential and the foreign policy implications of Strauss and Howe. More than once during our interview, he pointed out that each of the three preceding crises had involved a great war, and those conflicts had increased in scope from the American Revolution through the Civil War to the Second World War. He expected a new and even bigger war as part of the current crisis, and he did not seem at all fazed by the prospect.
I did not agree, and said so. But, knowing that the history of international conflict was my own specialty, he repeatedly pressed me to say we could expect a conflict at least as big as the Second World War in the near or medium term. I refused.
Apocalyptic rhetoric and apocalyptic thinking flourish during crisis periods. This represents perhaps the biggest danger of the Trump presidency, and one that will bear watching from all concerned citizens in the months and years ahead.

That's why we should all be concerned about Bannon being added to the National Security Council. http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/29/politics/susan-rice-steve-bannon/index.html

Bannon's Islamaphobia portends a 'global war' between 'the Judeo-Christian west' and 'jihadist Islamic fascism.'
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/03/steve-bannon-islamophobia-film-script-muslims-islam

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MP , February 4, 2017 at 3:01 pm

Thanks for the information. I'm aware of the madman's "movie" and his authoritarian ideology. He and his commander-of-thieves will continue to unravel right before our eyes. Many lives will continue to be severely impacted by these hateful, selfish, abusive throwbacks from "central casting."

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DWD , February 4, 2017 at 10:10 am

The Race

Every day there is a race you have to run. For the sake of discussion, let's call it a 100 yard race.

The participants are called and then evaluated by the judges. Starting points for the race are then determined. If you are particularly comely, you are given an advantage: that is, your starting point is moved up depending on the judges. If you have a personality that people find attractive, you are given further yards. If you happen to have had great success in school, you are awarded so many yards because of your academic record. If you happen to be good looking and personable, the academic success yards are added onto your already determined starting point.

Then the quality and reputation of your educational institution is evaluated and you are given further yards to determine starting points with certain schools worth a better starting position. And even the type of training at the institution is evaluated and further yards given.

Finally the judges add your total experiences – including your finishing position in previous races – advanced degrees, and connections and further yards are added.

So when the gun sounds, the person without the advantages strives as hard as they can but they cannot win the race because some people only have to simply step over the finish line.

And even more troubling some people are moved behind the starting line because they could not even muster the necessary accomplishments to reach the starting line: drop outs from school, people who have been convicted of crimes and the rest. The worse the offense, the further you are moved behind the starting line.

Every day this continues and those striving to win – even running faster and harder than their competitors – are simply unable to do so because the rules are such that winning is not even a consideration when the race is rigged.

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Jazz Paw , February 4, 2017 at 4:30 pm

The factors are certainly at work in inequality. Some of those factors can either be mitigated or compensated for by the individual and/or the social system.

There are other structural factors that influence inequality. Family connections, inherited wealth, and other forms of social capital that can make advancement easier is one. Savings and investment patterns that can be engaged in to varying degrees depending on just how much surplus income one has is another.

The social and political system in the US generally favors vigorous competition, private self-dealing, and asymmetric information. Individuals who learn to navigate these factors can prosper, while those who either can't or don't want to can suffer significant disadvantages in outcomes. The influence of these structural factors in any social system influences the degree of income/wealth stratification.

In my own family, many of the starting social factors are fairly equal among the individuals. Even though my various relatives have not necessarily made "bad" choices in the moral sense, their outcomes have been vastly different. The degree to which they have chosen to engagein income/wealth maximization has generally been a large factor. In that sense, the game is rigged away from living what many consider a humane life.

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David , February 4, 2017 at 7:19 am

You mean people actually got paid to research and write stuff like this? You simply have to look at the (re)distribution policies of the countries concerned – and there are substantial differences between the three of them, by the way.
Wouldn't a much more interesting question be "By what mechanism does globalization necessarily increase inequality, and how does it work precisely in a number of contrasted cases"? But then you might get the wrong answer.

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lyman alpha blob , February 4, 2017 at 9:38 am

No kidding – kind of amazing that people get paid good money to restate the obvious, but using sesquipedalian language just to make it more difficult to understand.

Inequality is caused by one group not having as much money as another. Money is simply a tool created by human beings. Much like a hammer, human beings could use it to build houses for everyone or to bash others about the head. We humans seem to prefer the latter use.

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Grebo , February 4, 2017 at 1:43 pm

The people paid to prove the obvious are far outnumbered by those paid to disprove it. We need the former because of the latter.
On the other hand, there are many cases where the obvious turned out to be wrong when it was looked at carefully. More research needed!

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Knute Rife , February 4, 2017 at 1:49 pm

We're in a world where politicians get paid to lie about these obvious things and legislate based on those lies, and businesses make their profits off the lies, so I can't get too exercised when someone gets paid to point out the lies.

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Fred Grosso , February 4, 2017 at 7:52 am

Yes. I decided I wasn't going to be Fred Trump's son.

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Disturbed Voter , February 4, 2017 at 8:06 am

Bravo. Who can tolerate the virtue signaling of the plutocracy?

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Carla , February 4, 2017 at 10:20 am

+10

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funemployed , February 4, 2017 at 8:36 am

"Forces." Really? "Globalization" and "technological change" are things humans do for human reasons. To treat them as "forces" somehow exogenous to human choices is self-evidently fallacious. It's precisely the same logic that says the King is the King cause God likes him best.

They're not "forces." They are heuristics. And as heuristics, they are pretty lousy unless you parse them quite a bit. Obama's 1 trillion dollar investment in nukes creates "technological change." The destruction of local agricultural techniques and knowledge is "technological change." A kindle is "technological change." Keyword searches readily available to academic researchers was a big "technological change."

I'm assuming what they mean by "technological change" here is the sort that allows us to collectively make more stuff with less work. God forbid anyone spell that out though. Because "hey, guess what: you have to work more for less because we can now make more stuff with less work," would quickly lead to the violent demise of economists and rich people. (more to say on "globalization" but this post is already way longer than intended.)

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Sound of the Suburbs , February 4, 2017 at 9:21 am

Redistributive Keynesian capitalism produces the lowest levels of inequality within the developed world from the 1950s to the 1970s.

1980s – Let's get rid of redistributive Keynesian capitalism.

Inequality soars.

What was supposed to happen?

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nowhere , February 4, 2017 at 6:31 pm

A rising tide of lifting boats

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Pelham , February 4, 2017 at 10:06 am

Germany should have been included in the study. German manufacturing is far more technologically advanced than manufacturing in the US, yet Germany manages to maintain high employment in that sector, probably because the companies invest in worker training and feel some obligation toward labor.

There's a structural reason for this, with labor having powerful representation on German corporate boards and smaller companies being owned by families instead of faceless shareholders, with the families' long-term interests naturally more in alignment with those of their employees.

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David , February 4, 2017 at 11:22 am

Actually, I thought the inclusion of France and the UK was a bit strange, as well. Inequality in both countries has been increasingly massively in recent years. One Thomas Piketty even wrote something on the topic, if I'm not mistaken. Japan would have been a much better example.

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jrs , February 4, 2017 at 12:22 pm

I think it kind of makes the point, if even a country that isn't exactly known for egalitarianism, like the UK, is doing better than the U.S. it kind of shows how extreme on the scale the U.S. is.

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nowhere , February 4, 2017 at 6:33 pm

We are exceptional in every way!

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Barni , February 4, 2017 at 1:42 pm

Contrary to elite owned and serving mass media claims, the trick that created the German economic miracle is no mystery; it was, and IS, their banking system.
In Germany more than 70% of all banking is done by "municipally owned banks"!!!
A situation that the elites – masters of the universe -have been working day and night to drastically alter so that their "too big to fail" minion zombie banks can take complete AND total control of the economy, as they have in most of the developed world except North Dakota, Canada (Canada owns the Bank of Canada – the Finance Minister holds all the shares on behalf of all Canadians), and Switzerland (Switzerland has Cantonal {municipally or provincially} owned banks) – all three countries, like the German municipally owned banks, are under attack by the elite serving bureaucrats in the IMF and the U.S. Federal Reserve; all of whom are owned by, and minions of, Wall Street; and most importantly the corporate bought and sold world's university economics departments – co-opted to right agenda faux economic B.S.
The U.S. Federal Reserve now donates more money to universities worldwide than all of the rest of the donors combined!?! The proviso on these donations is that they only hire economics profs who have been published in one of the 37 journals published by the U.S. Federal Reserve – and we know what kind of right agenda 'fascist' mumbo-jumbo these minion economists are dedicated to serving up in order to get published by the U.S. Fed!!!
So what you say!! Well here's so what!
If you are in any other developed country than Germany and you have a great idea/product and require a one million dollar loan to build a factory and set up production – here's what happens to you. Your local banks will never lend you that money, so you have to go to the criminal Big Banks which will also never lend you the money you need, which means you will have to sell your idea/product at pennies on the dollar to one of their huge corporate clients, who will offshore production to a corrupted third world country where workers get paid pennies an hour and unions are considered a criminal enterprise. Leaving you, the creator of the product or service with pennies on the dollar; and leaving your local economy with zero economic growth and no well paid local employment opportunities. The corporate buyer of your technology/product/idea may well just kill your product because it is better than the (inferior) one they are currently making bags of money selling – for which they have just eliminated your innovative and superior competitive product.
If you are in Germany however the story is far different. In Germany you would go to your local municipally owned bank which is only too happy to give you the one million dollars you need to set up production (locally providing employment and contributing to local economic prosperity).
This is the basis for the strength of the German economy and the reason for the so called ":German economic miracle?"!
It is described as a "miracle" not because we have no idea how it happened, rather because the elites who own more than 80% of all corporate shares need to confuse us plebs they want to economically and politically crush!

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Sluggeaux , February 4, 2017 at 11:01 am

American wealth inequality is a political problem? Well, no sh*t, Sherlock .

Kevin Phillips wrote about this phenomenon a decade ago in his wonderful book Wealth and Democracy . Between 1920 and 1980, American plutocrats had been placed in fear by the Bolshevik revolution, humbled by the Great Depression, and shamed by the Second World War. Greed was in check. Then they died-off and left their wealth to a new generation more interested in emulating Mick Jagger than Dwight D. Eisenhower. Ronnie Reagan was their Hollywood pal, who cut estate and coupon-clipping taxes so that they could party like rock stars.

Crass punks like Donald Trump and the Kochs are the scions of inherited wealth and Studio 54. They could never have made it on their own, on their own talents, and it is in their class interest to destroy any sort of meritocracy. They have used materialism and greed to buy the political class.

Reply
Advance , February 4, 2017 at 11:21 am

Look up Geert Hofstede's work on "power distance," which is the extent to which a nation accepts inequality.

According to Hofstede, countries have different "tastes" or preferences for inequality. For example, the Middle East, parts of S America, India, and other parts of Asia have a much bigger "taste" for inequality compared to, say, the Scandinavian countries, which have the lowest.

I would guess that differences in preferences for inequality between countries go back to a nation's history, and maybe other hard-to-pin down forces and factors.

The US, according to Hofstede's work, is at the middle point, or a little lower, as to taste for inequality. However, reading about the recent Gini index leads me to believe that either our preference for inequality is changing [probably not the case, given Trump], or our history is outrunning our preferences. In other words, we may be getting more inequality than we like.

By the way, Hofstede assumes that power distance preference is a fairly durable characteristic of a nation.

Reply
UserFriendly , February 4, 2017 at 2:45 pm

Preference?? Yes, I'm sure the mid east loves inequality, which is why they are known for choosing dictators who quash uprisings as their leaders. And how exactly would I choose egalitarianism here in the US? I can vote for Wall Street and Holly Wood or Wall Street and Exxon Mobil. Which one is the egalitarian one?

Reply
Ignacio , February 4, 2017 at 2:58 pm

"

However, reading about the recent Gini index leads me to believe that either our preference for inequality is changing [probably not the case, given Trump], or our history is outrunning our preferences.

"

What about "power distance" (extent to which a nation accepts inequality) interactions with "distance to power" extent to which a nation influences the powerful.

Reply
Sam , February 4, 2017 at 12:40 pm

According to Ha-Joon Chang, markets are political creations.

So, yes.

Reply
Bernard , February 4, 2017 at 12:45 pm

"To serve Humans." The cookbook from " the Outer Limits/Twilight Zone" TV series had aliens come to "devour" humans. such a farce!! lol

when the reality all along has been that's it the Rich who wrote the "Cookbook". Bernay's sauce, once again.

who would have thunk it! Inequality is the major ingredient.

Reply
Anonymous , February 4, 2017 at 2:17 pm

I've been reading Robert J. Gordon's book, 'The Rise and Fall of American Growth.' Gordon would say that American labor did well from 1870-1970 because of the innovations that drove the economy increased everyone's productivity and the value of their work. Since 1970, productivity has slowed down. It rose again during the decade of the '90s but mostly for knowledge workers, thanks to the internet, spreadsheets, etcetera, but now has continued to slow. That was a recipe for income inequality, and for wealth inequality as well, since the rise of digital industries has increased property values on the coasts and in select inland cities.

Slowing productivity also increased wealth inequality by facilitating the decline of interest rates. This helps the haves, since their assets are suddenly more valuable.

Reply
pretzelattack , February 4, 2017 at 3:23 pm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/martin-ford/is-american-economic-grow_b_9096698.html

this guy argues that productivity has been decoupled from compensation, and that has driven the rise of inequality.

off topic, but the krugman review of the book contained the interesting fact that, during the 1880's, wall street was 7 feet deep in manure in some places.

Reply
UserFriendly , February 4, 2017 at 2:53 pm

Of course inequality is a political choice. Chosen by the oligarchs who buy the politicians.

Just like every mainstream economist is choosing to make millions suffer and die every day because excepting MMT would bruise their ego's. That is a choice too.

Reply
Ignacio , February 4, 2017 at 3:01 pm

I think that inequality is not a political choice directly but a consequence of deregulation or "do nothing" policy. Reducing inequality is a policy choice.

Reply
marblex , February 4, 2017 at 3:32 pm

To quote the very astute Batman11 from ZH:

𝐀𝐥𝐥 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐯𝐞𝐬, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐧𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐬𝐞𝐞𝐦𝐬, 𝐢𝐧 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝, 𝐭𝐨 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐯𝐢𝐥𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐱𝐢𝐦 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐝." 𝐀𝐝𝐚𝐦 𝐒𝐦𝐢𝐭𝐡, 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐖𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐭𝐡 𝐨𝐟 𝐍𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬

𝐌𝐚𝐧𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐝 𝐟𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐞 𝐚 𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐩𝐥𝐮𝐬 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐥𝐲 𝐚𝐠𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐮𝐥𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞.

𝐈𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬𝐧'𝐭 𝐥𝐨𝐧𝐠 𝐛𝐞𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐞𝐬 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐧𝐭 𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐨 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐤𝐢𝐞𝐬, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐮𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐬, 𝐭𝐨 𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐝𝐢𝐜𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐬𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐚𝐦𝐚𝐳𝐞𝐝 𝐦𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐜𝐨𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐜𝐭 𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐛𝐮𝐭𝐞.

They soon made the most of the opportunity and removed themselves from any hard work to concentrate on "spiritual matters", i.e. any hocus-pocus they could come up with to elevate them from the masses, e.g. rituals, fertility rights, offering to the gods . etc and to turn the initially small tributes, into extracting all the surplus created by the hard work of the rest.

The elites became the representatives of the gods
and they were responsible for the bounty of the earth and the harvests. As long as all the surplus was handed over, all would be well.
Later they came up with money.

We pay you to do the work and you give it back to us when you buy things, you live a bare subsistence existence and we take the rest.

"𝐌𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐲 𝐢𝐬 𝐚 𝐧𝐞𝐰 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦 𝐨𝐟 𝐬𝐥𝐚𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐮𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐨𝐥𝐝 𝐬𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐲 𝐛𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐚𝐜𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐢𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 – 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐧𝐨 𝐡𝐮𝐦𝐚𝐧 𝐫𝐞𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐛𝐞𝐭𝐰𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐦𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐬𝐥𝐚𝐯𝐞." 𝐋𝐞𝐨 𝐓𝐨𝐥𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐲

𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐩𝐥𝐮𝐬 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐞𝐝 𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐚𝐠𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐮𝐥𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐥 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐮𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐮𝐬 𝐞𝐱𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐛𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐞.

A bare subsistence existence ensured the workers didn't die and could reproduce, why give them anymore? The vile maxim of the masters of mankind.

Basic capitalism was how it all started in the 18th and 19th Centuries, the poor lived in squalor and the rich lived in luxury, the same as it had always been.

Only organised labour movements got those at the bottom a larger slice of the pie, basic capitalism gives nothing to the people who do the work apart from a bare subsistence existence.

The wealthy decided they needed to do away with organised labour movements and the welfare state; it was interfering with the natural order where they extract all the surplus.

2017 – World's eight richest people have same wealth as poorest 50%

Nearly there.

They need a bit more fine tuning at Davos.

Some of the world's workers are not living a bare subsistence existence.

𝐀 𝐛𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐬𝐮𝐛𝐬𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐞𝐱𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐞𝐧𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐝𝐨𝐧'𝐭 𝐝𝐢𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐫𝐞𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐞, 𝐰𝐡𝐲 𝐠𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦 𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞? 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐯𝐢𝐥𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐱𝐢𝐦 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐝, 𝐜𝐮𝐫𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐥𝐲 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐚𝐬 𝐧𝐞𝐨-𝐥𝐢𝐛𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐦.

𝐁𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐜 𝐜𝐚𝐩𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐦, 𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐩𝐩𝐞𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐚 𝐰𝐞𝐥𝐟𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐫𝐠𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐥𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐦𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐬, 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐚 𝐠𝐥𝐨𝐛𝐚𝐥 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐜𝐞 𝐞𝐧𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐧 𝐞𝐱𝐜𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐬𝐮𝐩𝐩𝐥𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐥𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐝𝐫𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐚𝐠𝐞𝐬 𝐝𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐦𝐮𝐦.

𝐏𝐞𝐫𝐟𝐞𝐜𝐭, 𝐢𝐭'𝐬 𝐠𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐨𝐥𝐝 𝐝𝐚𝐲𝐬.

𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐢𝐡𝐞𝐝 𝐦𝐢𝐝𝐝𝐥𝐞 𝐜𝐥𝐚𝐬𝐬, 𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐝𝐢𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐞𝐧?

𝐈𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐧.

Francis Fukuyama talked of the "end of history" and "liberal democracy".

Liberal democracy was the bringing together of two mutually exclusive ideas.

Economic liberalism – that enriches the few and impoverishes the many.

Democracy – that requires the support of the majority.

Trying to bring two mutually exclusive ideas together just doesn't work.

The ideas of "Economic Liberalism" came from Milton Freidman and the University of Chicago. It was so radical they first tried it in a military dictatorship in Chile, it wouldn't be compatible with democracy. It took death squads, torture and terror to keep it in place, there was an ethnic cleansing of anyone who still showed signs of any left wing thinking.

It was tried in a few other places in South America using similar techniques. It then did succeed in a democracy but only by tricking the people into thinking they were voting for something else, severe oppression was needed when they found out what they were getting.

It brings extreme inequality and widespread poverty everywhere it's tested, they decide it's a system that should be rolled out globally. It's just what they are looking for.

𝐆𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐧𝐞𝐰𝐬 𝐢𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐬 𝐚𝐬 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐝.

𝟐𝟎𝟏𝟒 – "𝟖𝟓 𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐚𝐬 𝐰𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐭𝐡𝐲 𝐚𝐬 𝐩𝐨𝐨𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐡𝐚𝐥𝐟 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝"

𝟐𝟎𝟏𝟔 – "𝐑𝐢𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝟔𝟐 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐚𝐬 𝐰𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐭𝐡𝐲 𝐚𝐬 𝐡𝐚𝐥𝐟 𝐨𝐟 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝'𝐬 𝐩𝐨𝐩𝐮𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧"

𝟐𝟎𝟏𝟕 – 𝐖𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝'𝐬 𝐞𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐬𝐚𝐦𝐞 𝐰𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐭𝐡 𝐚𝐬 𝐩𝐨𝐨𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝟓𝟎%

𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐠𝐥𝐨𝐛𝐚𝐥 𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐮𝐧𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐩𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐟𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐢𝐫 𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐬.

𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐩𝐨𝐩𝐮𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐬 𝐠𝐨𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐢𝐧 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭?

𝐍𝐚𝐨𝐦𝐢 𝐊𝐥𝐞𝐢𝐧'𝐬 "𝐒𝐡𝐨𝐜𝐤 𝐃𝐨𝐜𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐞" 𝐜𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐨𝐥𝐨𝐠𝐲 𝐢𝐧 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐧𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬."
Post by Batman11@ZH

Reply
Mitch Ritter , February 4, 2017 at 4:14 pm

Would a for-profit chain of local newspapers whose business model and advertising is built on serving the Portland Business Alliance and Chamber of Commerce interests hire or keep on staff any kind of investigative journalistic team or even an individual columnist\calumnist like recently deceased VILLAGE VOICE early 1980's TRUMP SWAMP WHISTLE-BLOWER WAYNE BARRET (RIP)?
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/19/business/media/wayne-barrett-dead-village-voice-columnist.html

What socio-econ OUTCOMES have resulted in even PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP 's outsourcing to a non-profit InvestigateWest journalistic venture and beginning a series that seems historic in these parts as the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS series by dead investigative journalist GARY WEBB in the years after Iran-Contra Scandal to uncover the bid-net of BUSINESS and that was shortly thereafter taken down off the web under pressure by the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS .

Here's our story, for this twice-a-week Business Serving newspaper group anyway. Get yer Huzzahs in fast before all trace of the findings of this Moonlighting Civil Servant who got the docs via PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST SEARCHES on her own dime and has embarrased the 1-Party so-called PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATIC BLUE PARTY MACHINE in OREGON beginning with ORACLE LLC Lawsuit-Surrendering ATTORNEY GENERAL Ellen Rosenblum and up to the Governor Kate Brown neither of whom in long careers in State Government in jobs tasked with auditing ever reviewed these findings:

http://portlandtribune.com/uej/343021-222631-moonlighting-ex-reporters-work-aids-investigation

http://portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/343183-222766-the-high-cost-of-being-black-in-multnomah-county

http://portlandtribune.com/politics/unequal-justice/342537

Keep on doing,
Punching way above your weight PAMPLIN PAPERS
making a mockery of outside money-owned OREGONIAN
and the so-called alternative weeklies who only make news hole
available for Lifestyle features on the new Wellness Spa, Tattoo Parlor or Booze\Gourmet venture

Mitch Ritter\Paradigm Shifters
Lay-Low Studios, Ore-Wa
Media Discussion Group

Reply
Freda Miller , February 4, 2017 at 10:01 pm

Thanks for the links, Mitch. For an economically disadvantaged group to be assessed so much more in penalties for minor infractions makes inequality even worse.

Reply

TCOMES have resulted in even PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP 's outsourcing to a non-profit InvestigateWest journalistic venture and beginning a series that seems historic in these parts as the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS series by dead investigative journalist GARY WEBB in the years after Iran-Contra Scandal to uncover the bid-net of BUSINESS and that was shortly thereafter taken down off the web under pressure by the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS .

Here's our story, for this twice-a-week Business Serving newspaper group anyway. Get yer Huzzahs in fast before all trace of the findings of this Moonlighting Civil Servant who got the docs via PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST SEARCHES on her own dime and has embarrased the 1-Party so-called PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATIC BLUE PARTY MACHINE in OREGON beginning with ORACLE LLC Lawsuit-Surrendering ATTORNEY GENERAL Ellen Rosenblum and up to the Governor Kate Brown neither of whom in long careers in State Government in jobs tasked with auditing ever reviewed these findings:

http://portlandtribune.com/uej/343021-222631-moonlighting-ex-reporters-work-aids-investigation

http://portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/343183-222766-the-high-cost-of-being-black-in-multnomah-county

http://portlandtribune.com/politics/unequal-justice/342537

Keep on doing,
Punching way above your weight PAMPLIN PAPERS
making a mockery of outside money-owned OREGONIAN
and the so-called alternative weeklies who only make news hole
available for Lifestyle features on the new Wellness Spa, Tattoo Parlor or Booze\Gourmet venture

Mitch Ritter\Paradigm Shifters
Lay-Low Studios, Ore-Wa
Media Discussion Group

Freda Miller , February 4, 2017 at 10:01 pm

Thanks for the links, Mitch. For an economically disadvantaged group to be assessed so much more in penalties for minor infractions makes inequality even worse.

[Feb 01, 2017] If enacted, the the Destination-Based Cash Flow Tax would likely lead to lengthy litigation at the World Trade Organization

Feb 01, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne : January 22, 2017 at 08:09 PM , 2017 at 08:09 PM
http://econospeak.blogspot.com/2017/01/auerbachs-tax-and-clone-wars.html

January 22, 2017

Auerbach's Tax and the Clone Wars

Menzie Chinn * introduces a new asset to economist blogging. Joel Trachtman ** provides an excellent discussion of whether the Destination-Based Cash Flow Tax violates WTO rules concluding that it does. He adds:

"If enacted, the plan would likely lead to lengthy litigation at the World Trade Organization. A (likely) ruling that the tax is an income tax, and is applied in a discriminatory manner, would mean that exempting exports would be considered an illegal subsidy and taxes on imports an illegal tariff. This could lead to trade sanctions against the U.S. and open the door to counter sanctions and the start of a trade war."

President Trump strikes me as someone who could care less about WTO rules. And starting a trade war fits his grand design of governance. As Yoda noted:

"Begun the clone war has"

President Trump is Lord Palpatine.

* http://econbrowser.com/archives/2017/01/econofact-bringing-facts-and-data-to-policy-debates

** http://econofact.org/house-gop-tax-plan-aims-to-boost-competitiveness-might-also-violate-trade-law

-- PGL

[Feb 01, 2017] Is Global Equality the Enemy of National Equality?

Feb 01, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Dani Rodrik:

Is Global Equality the Enemy of National Equality? : The question in the title is perhaps the most important question we confront, and will continue to confront in the years ahead. I discuss my take in this paper .
Many economists tend to be global-egalitarians and believe borders have little significance in evaluations of justice and equity. From this perspective, policies must focus on enhancing income opportunities for the global poor. Political systems, however, are organized around nation states, and create a bias towards domestic-egalitarianism.
How significant is the tension between these two perspectives? Consider the China "trade shock." Expanding trade with China has aggravated inequality in the United States, while ameliorating global inequality. This is the consequence of the fact that the bulk of global inequality is accounted for by income differences across countries rather than within countries.
But the China shock is receding and other low-income countries are unlikely to replicate China's export-oriented industrialization experience. So perhaps the tension is going away?
Not so fast. The tension is even greater somewhere else: Relaxing restrictions on cross-border labor mobility would have an even stronger positive effect on global inequality, at the cost of adverse effects at the lower end of labor markets in rich economies. On the other hand, international labor mobility has some advantages compared to further liberalizing international trade in goods.
I discuss these issues and more here .


Mr. Bill : , January 22, 2017 at 12:39 PM

Well said, Dani.

Adam Smith never sited poverty, environmental intransigents, and malliable governments as a desireable " comparative advantage". Quite the opposite.

TrumpisaJew : , January 22, 2017 at 12:43 PM
The export model was a credit bubble illusion. It just wasn't sustainable, it was a lie. Now China has massive capital flight.
anne : , January 22, 2017 at 01:56 PM
http://rodrik.typepad.com/Is%20Global%20Equality%20the%20Enemy%20of%20National%20Equality.pdf

January, 2017

Is Global Equality the Enemy of National Equality?
By Dani Rodrik

Abstract

The bulk of global inequality is accounted for by income differences across countries rather than within countries. Expanding trade with China has aggravated inequality in some advanced economies, while ameliorating global inequality. But the "China shock" is receding and other low-income countries are unlikely to replicate China's export-oriented industrialization experience. Relaxing restrictions on cross-border labor mobility might have an even stronger positive effect on global inequality. However it also raises a similar tension. While there would likely be adverse effects on low-skill workers in the advanced economies, international labor mobility has some advantages compared to further liberalizing international trade in goods. I argue that none of the contending perspectives -- national-egalitarian, cosmopolitan, utilitarian -- provides on its own an adequate frame for evaluating the consequences.

[ An excellent and necessary paper for which I am grateful. Now for another reading. ]

Mr. Bill -> anne... , January 22, 2017 at 03:56 PM
What is excellent about it ? Please explain.
anne -> Mr. Bill... , January 22, 2017 at 04:09 PM
http://rodrik.typepad.com/Is%20Global%20Equality%20the%20Enemy%20of%20National%20Equality.pdf

January, 2017

Is Global Equality the Enemy of National Equality?
By Dani Rodrik

Whether one thinks the last quarter century has been good or bad for equity depends critically on whether one takes a national or global perspective. Within nations, inequality has typically risen in rich and poor nations alike. (Latin American countries, where we observe the highest levels of inequality in the world, were the only ones that significantly bucked the trend.) When commentators talk about inequality, this is usually what they have in mind. But there is another way of looking at inequality, which is to disregard national borders and focus on the distribution of income across all households in the world. Analyzed in this way global inequality actually fell sharply over the same period, thanks in large part to the very rapid growth of China and India, the world's two largest developing economies. In fact, this transformation has been so momentous that the contours of the global distribution of income have changed drastically. The two humps in the distribution – reflecting the all-too recent reality of a world divided into two clear segments, one small and rich, the other large and poor – have disappeared, with an emergent global "middle class" filling out the valley between the two humps (Figure 1).

The bulk of global income equality today is accounted for by income gaps between countries, rather than within them. This explains why economic growth in countries like China and India has a significant positive effect on global equality, even when inequality rises domestically in those countries, as it has done substantially in China's case.

To drive home the importance of between-country gaps, I sometimes ask my audience the following question: would you rather be rich in a poor country, or poor in a rich country? I tell them to assume they care only about their own income and purchasing power....

anne -> Mr. Bill... , January 22, 2017 at 04:22 PM
Among the excellent aspects, the question is raised as to what development means for relatively poor countries in which growth even when significant for a time shuts out much of a population; what has to be sacrificed by the fortunate for growth to be inclusive and as such sustainable; after all among the poorer countries growth has been decidedly subject to disruption for decades now; supposing trade is to be limited as a driver of growth, what then?

Add then to these questions in reading.

Think -> anne... , January 22, 2017 at 05:21 PM
Thank you, Anne. You seem to adhere to a reality that says that the US is an illegitimate society.
Think -> Think... , January 22, 2017 at 05:32 PM
Personally, I love the USA. Especially being able to shoot my mouth off.

Hell. i don't know if its right or wrong.

JohnH -> anne... , January 22, 2017 at 06:32 PM
Eight billionaires have as much wealth as half the world's population.
http://events.tbo.com/news/world/these-8-billionaires-are-as-rich-as-half-the-worlds-population-oxfam-says/2309727

I would have to conclude that the bulk of global inequality is accounted for by income differences between the 0.1% and the bottom 95%.

Ashok Hegde -> JohnH... , January 24, 2017 at 07:59 PM
Ridiculous.

If people with no wealth continue to procreate at high rates, of course inequality will only grow. The real issue here is population growth. The poor are replicating at high rates, and the wealthy do not. This accounts for the growth of so much of this 'natural' inequality.

DrDick : , January 22, 2017 at 04:31 PM
There is a major problem with Rodrik's piece. Between country inequality has been declining steadily since the 1990s, while within country inequality has been increasing since the 1980s. As I keep saying, the only real beneficiaries of globalization have been the wealthy of the world.

http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/policy/wess/wess_bg_papers/bp_wess2013_svieira1.pdf

https://www.postkeynesian.net/downloads/working-papers/PKWP1303.pdf

https://unu.edu/media-relations/releases/global-income-inequality-unu-wider-press-release.html#info

Think -> DrDick... , January 22, 2017 at 04:40 PM
Well, I agree with you, singing to the choir. My Dad raised seven on the union wage. How can I convince the folks of this simple fact ?
anne -> Think... , January 22, 2017 at 06:06 PM
My Dad raised seven on the union wage. How can I convince the folks of this simple fact?

[ By carefully explaining how this came to pass, the history of family told in context of the times is important. ]

Think -> anne... , January 23, 2017 at 01:23 AM
Well, my dear, the truth is so simple that it eludes us. If American families have enough money, they will succeed.

My Dad was part of the cohort from WW2. They came back and were not about to succumb to those who did so little.I remember, during a strike, him going out with a bat to put an end to the company running scabs. They beat the hell out of them.

Some things are worth fighting for.

DrDick -> Think... , January 23, 2017 at 07:25 AM
Bull. We are of the same generation and the 1950s was a period of almost unprecedented prosperity and upward mobility. Several factors drove this. First was the GI Bill, with free college and low cost home loans for vets. Second was the emergence or expansion of several industries which created a high demand for skilled labor and technical professionals (electronics, aerospace, petrochemicals, etc.). Third was massive government infrastructure investment, like the interstate highway system. Finally, strong unions fighting for the interests of the workers. Violence and bigotry help no one and the Tangerine Turd in the White House will do nothing good for working people.
Kaleberg : , January 22, 2017 at 05:00 PM
The problem is that every nation that has ever developed in terms of productive capacity and increased living standards on this here earth of ours has done so by erecting some type of barrier. There really is no other way, at least not one that has been demonstrated to work. The barriers may take different forms and be more or less penetrable, but they remain. Before the turbine and diesel engines, transportation could be considered a barrier, but it is not much of a barrier today.

One of the big problems we have nowadays is trying to solve problems that are basically too big to be solved, let alone solved simplistically. The nation state, for all its myriad faults, was a driving force for development and our current level of wealth. It was a powerful counter to the multi-nationalism of the feudal era which had an international upper class that was favored over the actually productive urban and trading classes. Encouraging multi-national corporations and coddling world-wide elites by trying to provide them the benefits of development without its political costs has been a formula for disaster.

realpc : , January 22, 2017 at 06:39 PM
Nationalism is natural. You either have nations or you have one big all-powerful world government.

Caring about your own nation first is common sense. Incredible that Trump even has to say it. But in this crazy political environment, it has to be said.

If you don't put yourself first, you will stop existing. If you don't put your nation first, it will stop existing.

All software developers understand modular design. Nature is designed modularly, and human society is part of nature.

We have nations because we are part of nature.

Sure you can love the whole world if you want. But if you care more about the rest of the world than your own nation, you are nuts. And yes, it is normal to be nuts these days.

DrDick -> realpc... , January 23, 2017 at 07:27 AM
"Nationalism is natural"

Proving once again that you are an idiot who knows nothing. Nationalism is an artificial construct which only emerges in the late 18th-early 19th centuries, and does not spread widely until the late 19th-early 20th centuries.

river -> DrDick... , January 23, 2017 at 12:34 PM
I don't know the history between you two, and realpc may in fact be an idiot, but what he said above hardly proves that he is an idiot.

"nationalism is an artificial construct?" What does that even mean? I presume it means something like what is talked about here: http://ostrovletania.blogspot.com/2010/01/are-nations-artificial-or-natural.html

http://www.nebraskastudies.org/0500/frameset_reset.html?http://www.nebraskastudies.org/0500/stories/0503_0106.html

So here is some quick google information about native american tribes who fought over limited resources. I wonder if that was an artificial construct as well? Or if one tribe fought other tribes to help their own families out. I wonder if a starving neanderthal would share the meat off of a recent kill with a neanderthal not part of his tribe? Would that be an artificial construct? Surely Germany came into existence in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, but before that, the groups that became Germany were just as nationalistic as they were after they became Germany . . . they just defined their nation in more limited terms.

DrDick -> river... , January 23, 2017 at 01:02 PM
*sigh*
People pay me good money to teach them about this stuff, but I do not think either of you could pass the entrance exam. Read Benedict Anderson, "Imagined Communities", or the works of E. J. Hobsbawm and T. O. Ranger on nationalism to start with. The truth is that mobile foragers(what all humans were until about 20,000 years ago) are not really very territorial. See the work of Brian Ferguson on the anthropology of warfare.

https://books.google.com/books?id=CDAWBQAAQBAJ&pg=PA152&lpg=PA152&dq=hunter+gatherers+not+very+territorial&source=bl&ots=uqmsMIK3Jb&sig=HlrZ1Wr6nPGzsGId__be2XfR9Z4&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj_j625k9nRAhUY0mMKHU0cDggQ6AEIGjAA#v=onepage&q=hunter%20gatherers%20not%20very%20territorial&f=false

river -> DrDick... , January 23, 2017 at 01:41 PM
Sorry, I am just a stupid engineer, and make sure that the building that you live and work in will stand up in an earthquake, yet, I am probably too stupid to ever know what you know. But that said, I didn't know that I am stupid, so I will probably ask a question that will make a genius like yourself roll their eyes in disgust that I was ever awarded a degree from an american university . . . but I don't have time to read four different authors on the subject of a simple blog post, so I am going to ask it anyways . . . you said that nationalism is an artificial construct that only came around about 200 years ago, and I came back with some ideas about, if that were the case, then why did different indian tribes battle over scarce resources (and also simply assumed that ancient humans behaved very similar to native american tribes). You rebutted that by insulting my intelligence, pointing me to four obscure academic authors (if I was as cool and as smart as Good Will Hunting, I am sure I would have read and remembered all the authors that you are pointing me to already, but alas, I am not), and then said that up until 20,000 years ago, there was surprisingly little conflict among people. So, what is it, was nationalism something that came about 20,000 years ago, or was it something that came about 200 years ago. And did indian tribes wage wars against each other? If they did, is that a form of nationalism, or is it different? If it is different, explain how.

IF you are not smart enough to be able to answer these simple questions that support what you have asserted, then I would suggest that you don't go on message boards and insult the intelligence of others!

anne : , January 22, 2017 at 08:09 PM
http://econospeak.blogspot.com/2017/01/auerbachs-tax-and-clone-wars.html

January 22, 2017

Auerbach's Tax and the Clone Wars

Menzie Chinn * introduces a new asset to economist blogging. Joel Trachtman ** provides an excellent discussion of whether the Destination-Based Cash Flow Tax violates WTO rules concluding that it does. He adds:

"If enacted, the plan would likely lead to lengthy litigation at the World Trade Organization. A (likely) ruling that the tax is an income tax, and is applied in a discriminatory manner, would mean that exempting exports would be considered an illegal subsidy and taxes on imports an illegal tariff. This could lead to trade sanctions against the U.S. and open the door to counter sanctions and the start of a trade war."

President Trump strikes me as someone who could care less about WTO rules. And starting a trade war fits his grand design of governance. As Yoda noted:

"Begun the clone war has"

President Trump is Lord Palpatine.

* http://econbrowser.com/archives/2017/01/econofact-bringing-facts-and-data-to-policy-debates

** http://econofact.org/house-gop-tax-plan-aims-to-boost-competitiveness-might-also-violate-trade-law

-- PGL

anne -> anne... , January 22, 2017 at 08:10 PM
Nicely done.
Tom aka Rusty : , January 23, 2017 at 07:09 AM
Rodrik seems to spend less time with math models and more time engaging with reality.

Perhaps a model for other economists?

Robert C Shelburne : , January 23, 2017 at 09:10 AM
Another good article by Rodrik but a weakness of his analysis is that welfare is assumed to be based upon real income and not relative income with ones "group". Most analyses of welfare find that relative income is quite important. Obviously if one assumes that one's reference group is the world, then the problem goes away; but empirically this is not the case. Assuming that welfare is strongly affected by relative income with a group which is smaller than the world, then global equality is no longer welfare maximizing. Those interested in these issues might be interested in Robert Shelburne, A Utilitarian Analysis of Trade Liberalization, available as a UN working paper.
river : , January 23, 2017 at 11:05 AM
Much like how the biggest environmentalist is the one who already has her house built, the economists safely in their ivory tower and comfortable with their tenured positions in academia were more than happy to volunteer the American working class to give up some of their wealth so that people living in extreme property in the developing world could have slightly better positions. I am glad to see that this is what you guys argued for with all of your "free trade" agreements that you pushed for over the last several decades. Sadly, this is exactly what led us to Trump as president.
reason -> river... , January 24, 2017 at 01:48 AM
Their models told them precisely that some people would suffer and others gain, but also that with appropriate redistribution everybody could gain. But appropriate redistribution was never forthcoming. Time for a national dividend.
river -> reason ... , January 24, 2017 at 01:20 PM
Appropriate redistribution will NEVER be forthcoming. It is so easily demonized, and people don't want redistributed income. They want jobs!

This is why the Democrats lost. And frankly, this is the whole point of democracy.

[Feb 01, 2017] WTO is very clear that income taxes cannot discriminate to favour exports

Notable quotes:
"... While the WTO process would grind on, protectionist acts by other nations would be licensed immediately. ..."
Feb 01, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Peter K. -> Peter K.... February 01, 2017 at 11:33 AM , 2017 at 11:33 AM

Larry Summers:

"Third, the tax change will harm the global economy in ways that reverberate back to America. It will be seen by other countries and the World Trade Organisation as a protectionist act that violates US treaty obligations.

Proponents may argue that it should be legal because it is like a value added tax, but the WTO is very clear that income taxes cannot discriminate to favour exports.

While the WTO process would grind on, protectionist acts by other nations would be licensed immediately."

http://larrysummers.com/2017/01/08/us-tax-reform-is-vital-but-trumps-plan-is-flawed/

[Jan 30, 2017] Trivializing problems that comfortable people call attention to is just a variation of Be thankful you have anything at all. which, at the risk of overusing the phrase, is bullshit.

Notable quotes:
"... I agree with much of what James F writes but one thing that doesn't sit right with me about him commentary is his implication that if your complaint isn't about an immediate threat to life and limb then your complaint is frivolous. That's bullshit. Immediate threats to life and limb require immediate attention but once those threats are dealt with then what? ..."
Jan 30, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Dan Kervick : , January 28, 2017 at 06:38 AM
Two items for your reading pleasure:
Chris G -> Dan Kervick... , January 28, 2017 at 07:08 AM
+1 for Frank's piece. "Meh." to James F's. His crankiness, while justifiable, doesn't go anywhere.

Also, to say "Obama was defeated in the Massachusetts senatorial campaign [in 2009, the special election to replace Kennedy]." is to fundamentally misunderstand that race.

Coakley was a decent AG but utterly inept at connecting with voters. Brown couldn't win a battle of wits with a golden retriever but he was perceived as a nice guy. (Whether he actually is a nice guy is open to debate.)

Brown's victory wasn't a repudiation of Obama; it was a repudiation of Coakley.

Chris G -> Chris G ... , January 28, 2017 at 08:21 AM
I agree with much of what James F writes but one thing that doesn't sit right with me about him commentary is his implication that if your complaint isn't about an immediate threat to life and limb then your complaint is frivolous. That's bullshit. Immediate threats to life and limb require immediate attention but once those threats are dealt with then what?

Trivializing problems that "comfortable people" call attention to is just a variation of "Be thankful you have anything at all." which, at the risk of overusing the phrase, is bullshit. Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comforted but be self-aware enough to realize that whatever your position it is it may change.

PS James F writes:

"We [people in flyover country] provide commodities like food and coal and oil and metals."

Providing coal and oil may be a near-term necessity but it's not doing anyone - "comfortable people", "deplorables" or otherwise - any long-term favors. That you have acute concerns which you need to deal with is not an excuse to turn a blind eye to your impact on the world. It may be a reason but it is not an excuse.

Julio -> Chris G ... , January 28, 2017 at 11:41 PM
I agree with your take on both articles.

On the Mass race, i think the failure of Democrats to fight with all their guns for the 60th Senate seat was a major failure. They were not willing to send their big guns to say "we cannot afford a 40th Republican, no matter how nice he is".

[Jan 23, 2017] Give Trump a Chance

From amazon review of his book In the Jaws of the Dragon "Anyone who has read "The World is Flat" should also read "In The Jaws Of The Dragon" to understand both sides of the issues involved in offshoring. Eamon Fingleton clearly defines the differences between the economic systems in play in China and Japan and the United States and how those differences have damaged the United States economy. The naive position taken by both the Republicans and the Democrats that offshoring is good for America is shown to be wrong because of a fundamental lack of knowledge about who we are dealing with. Every member of Congress and the executive branch should read this book before ratifying any more trade agreements. The old saying of the marketplace applies: Take advantage of me once, shame on you. Take advantage of me twice, shame on me."
Notable quotes:
"... Similar miscommunication probably helps explain the European media's unreflective scorn for Donald Trump. Most European commentators have little or no access to the story. They have allowed their views to be shaped largely by the American press. ..."
"... That's a big mistake. Contrary to their carefully burnished self-image of impartiality and reliability, American journalists are not averse to consciously peddling outright lies. This applies even in the case of the biggest issues of the day, as witness, for instance, the American press's almost unanimous validation of George Bush's transparently mendacious case for the Iraq war in 2003. ..."
"... Most of the more damning charges against Trump are either without foundation or at least are viciously unfair distortions. Take, for instance, suggestions in the run-up to the election that he is anti-Semitic. In some accounts it was even suggested he was a closet neo-Nazi. Yet for anyone remotely familiar with the Trump story, this always rang false. After all he had thrived for decades in New York's overwhelmingly Jewish real estate industry. Then there was the fact that his daughter Ivanka, to whom he is evidently devoted, had converted to Judaism. ..."
"... In appointing Jared Kushner his chief adviser, he has chosen an orthodox Jew (Kushner is Ivanka's husband). Then there is David Friedman, Trump's choice for ambassador to Israel. Friedman is an outspoken partisan of the Israeli right and he is among other things an apologist for the Netanyahu administration's highly controversial settlement of the West Bank. ..."
"... As is often the case with Trumpian controversies, the facts are a lot more complicated than the press makes out. ..."
"... So far, so normal for the 2016 election campaign. But it turned out that Kovaleski was no ordinary Trump-hating journalist. He suffers from arthrogryposis, a malady in which the joints are malformed. For Trump's critics, this was manna from heaven. Instead of merely accusing the New York real estate magnate of exaggerating a minor, if troubling, sideshow in U.S.-Arab relations, they could now arraign him on the vastly more damaging charge of mocking someone's disability. ..."
"... In any case in responding directly to the charge of mocking Kovaleski's disability, Trump offered a convincing denial. "I would never do that," he said. "Number one, I have a good heart; number two, I'm a smart person." ..."
"... other much discussed Trumpian controversies such as his disparaging remarks about Mexicans and Muslims. In the case of both Mexican and Muslims, an effort to cut back immigration is a central pillar of Trump's program and his remarks, though offensive, were clearly intended to garner votes from fed-up middle Americans. ..."
"... In reality, as the Catholics 4 Trump website has documented, the media have suppressed vital evidence in the Kovaleski affair. ..."
Jan 23, 2017 | www.unz.com
Battlefield communications in World War I sometimes left something to be desired. Hence a famous British anecdote of a garbled word-of-mouth message. As transmitted, the message ran, "Send reinforcements, we are going to advance." Superior officers at the other end, however, were puzzled to be told: "Send three and four-pence [three shillings and four-pence], we are going to a dance!"

Similar miscommunication probably helps explain the European media's unreflective scorn for Donald Trump. Most European commentators have little or no access to the story. They have allowed their views to be shaped largely by the American press.

That's a big mistake. Contrary to their carefully burnished self-image of impartiality and reliability, American journalists are not averse to consciously peddling outright lies. This applies even in the case of the biggest issues of the day, as witness, for instance, the American press's almost unanimous validation of George Bush's transparently mendacious case for the Iraq war in 2003.

Most of the more damning charges against Trump are either without foundation or at least are viciously unfair distortions. Take, for instance, suggestions in the run-up to the election that he is anti-Semitic. In some accounts it was even suggested he was a closet neo-Nazi. Yet for anyone remotely familiar with the Trump story, this always rang false. After all he had thrived for decades in New York's overwhelmingly Jewish real estate industry. Then there was the fact that his daughter Ivanka, to whom he is evidently devoted, had converted to Judaism.

Now as Trump embarks on office, his true attitudes are becoming obvious – and they hardly lean towards neo-Nazism.

In appointing Jared Kushner his chief adviser, he has chosen an orthodox Jew (Kushner is Ivanka's husband). Then there is David Friedman, Trump's choice for ambassador to Israel. Friedman is an outspoken partisan of the Israeli right and he is among other things an apologist for the Netanyahu administration's highly controversial settlement of the West Bank. Trump even wants to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This position is a favourite of the most ardently pro-Israel section of the American Jewish community but is otherwise disavowed as insensitive to Palestinians by most American policy analysts.

Many other examples could be cited of how the press has distorted the truth. It is interesting to revisit in particular the allegation that Trump mocked a disabled man's disability. It is an allegation which has received particular prominence in the press in Europe. But is Trump really such a heartless ogre? Hardly.

As is often the case with Trumpian controversies, the facts are a lot more complicated than the press makes out. The disabled-man episode began when, in defending an erstwhile widely ridiculed contention that Arabs in New Jersey had publicly celebrated the Twin Towers attacks, Trump unearthed a 2001 newspaper account broadly backed him up. But the report's author, Serge Kovaleski, demurred. Trump's talk of "thousands" of Arabs, he wrote, was an exaggeration.

Trump fired back. Flailing his arms wildly in an impersonation of an embarrassed, backtracking reporter, he implied that Kovaleski had succumbed to political correctness.

So far, so normal for the 2016 election campaign. But it turned out that Kovaleski was no ordinary Trump-hating journalist. He suffers from arthrogryposis, a malady in which the joints are malformed. For Trump's critics, this was manna from heaven. Instead of merely accusing the New York real estate magnate of exaggerating a minor, if troubling, sideshow in U.S.-Arab relations, they could now arraign him on the vastly more damaging charge of mocking someone's disability.

Trump's plea that he hadn't known that Kovaleski was handicapped was undermined when it emerged that in the 1980s the two had not only met but Kovaleski had even interviewed Trump in Trump Tower. That is an experience I know something about. I, like Kovaleski, once interviewed Trump in Trump Tower. The occasion was an article I wrote for Forbes magazine in 1982. If Trump saw my by-line today, would he remember that occasion 35 years ago? Probably not. The truth is that Trump, who has been a celebrity since his early twenties, has been interviewed by thousands of journalists over the years. A journalist would have to be seriously conceited – or be driven by a hidden agenda – to assume that a VIP as busy as Trump would remember an occasion half a lifetime ago.

In any case in responding directly to the charge of mocking Kovaleski's disability, Trump offered a convincing denial. "I would never do that," he said. "Number one, I have a good heart; number two, I'm a smart person." Setting aside point one (although to the press's chagrin, many of Trump's acquaintances have testified that a streak of considerable private generosity underlies his tough-guy exterior), it is hard to see how anyone can question point two. In effect Trump is saying he had a strong self-interest in not offending the disabled lobby let alone their millions of sympathisers.

After all it was not as if there were votes in dissing the disabled. This stands in marked contrast to other much discussed Trumpian controversies such as his disparaging remarks about Mexicans and Muslims. In the case of both Mexican and Muslims, an effort to cut back immigration is a central pillar of Trump's program and his remarks, though offensive, were clearly intended to garner votes from fed-up middle Americans.

In reality, as the Catholics 4 Trump website has documented, the media have suppressed vital evidence in the Kovaleski affair.

For a start Trump's frenetic performance bore no resemblance to arthrogryposis. Far from frantically flailing their arms, arthrogryposis victims are uncommonly motionlessness. This is because relevant bones are fused together. As Catholics 4 Trump pointed out, the media should have been expected to have been chomping at the bit to interview Kovaleski and thus clinch the point about how ruthlessly Trump had ridiculed a disabled man's disability.

The website added: "If the media had a legitimate story, that is exactly what they would have done and we all know it. But the media couldn't put Kovaleski in front of a camera or they'd have no story."

Catholics 4 Trump added that, in the same speech in which Trump did his Kovaleski impression, he offered an almost identical performance to illustrate the embarrassment of a U.S. general with whom he had clashed. In particular Trump had the general wildly flailing his arms. It goes without saying that this general does not suffer from arthogryposis or any other disability. The common thread in each case was merely an embarrassed, backtracking person. To say the least, commentators in Europe who have portrayed Trump as having mocked Kovaleski's disability stand accused of superficial, slanted reporting.

All this is not to suggest that Trump does not come to the presidency unencumbered with baggage. He is exceptionally crude – at least he is in his latter-day reality TV manifestation (the Trump I remember from my interview in 1982 was a model of restraint by comparison and in particular never used any expletives). Moreover the latter-day Trump habit of picking Twitter fights with those who criticize him tends merely to confirm a widespread belief that he is petty and thin-skinned.

Many of his pronouncements moreover have been disturbing and his abrasive manner will clearly prove on balance a liability in the White House. That said, the press has never worked harder or more dishonestly to destroy a modern American leader.

Let's give him the benefit of the doubt, therefore, as he sets out to make America great again. The truth is that American decline has gone much further than almost anyone outside American industry understands. Trump's task is a daunting one.

Eamonn Fingleton is an expert on America's trade problems and is the author of In Praise of Hard Industries: Why Manufacturing, Not the Information Economy, Is the Key to Future Prosperity (Houghton Mifflin, Boston). A version of this article appeared in the Dublin Ireland Sunday Business Post.

America's fate looks dicey in the showdown with the Chinese juggernaut, warns this vigorous jeremiad. Fingleton (In Praise of Hard Industries) argues that China's "East Asian" development model of aggressive mercantilism and a state-directed economy "effortlessly outperforms" America's fecklessly individualistic capitalism

[Jan 22, 2017] Is Global Equality the Enemy of National Equality

Notable quotes:
"... You can't get something from nothing but, believe it or not, the money is there, somewhere to make $10 jobs into $20. Bottom 45% of earners take 10% of overall income; down from 20% since 1980 (roughly -- worst be from 1973 but nobody seems to use that); top 1% take 20%; double the 10% from 1980. ..."
"... Top 1% share doubled -- of 50% larger pie! ..."
"... One of many remedies: majority run politics wont hesitate to transfer a lot of that lately added 10% from the 1% back to the 54% who now take 70% -- who can transfer it on down to the 45% by paying higher retail prices -- with Eisenhower level income tax. In any case per capita income grows more than 10% over one decade to cover 55%-to-45% income shifting. ..."
"... Not to mention other ways -- multiple efficiencies -- to get multiple-10%'s back: squeezing out financialization; sniffing out things like for-profit edus (unions providing the personnel quantity necessary to keep up with society's many schemers; snuffing out $100,000 Hep C treatments that cost $150 to make (unions supplying the necessary volume of lobbying and political financing; less (mostly gone) poverty = mostly gone crime and its criminal justice expenses. ..."
"... IOW, labor unions = a normal country. ..."
Jan 22, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Denis Drew : January 22, 2017 at 02:01 PM
Simple, adequate if not perfect -- but adequate -- answer -- in any rate the only answer by now -- to losing manufacturing jobs to outsourcing or automation:

Doubling of per capita income since 1968 -- when fed min wage was $11 -- means the labor market will support; means the ultimate consumer will pony up for a high enough price: to allow most jobs (e.g., stacking shelves at WalMart) to pay $20 (jobs that now pay $10).

THE MONEY IS THERE SOMEWHERE

You can't get something from nothing but, believe it or not, the money is there, somewhere to make $10 jobs into $20. Bottom 45% of earners take 10% of overall income; down from 20% since 1980 (roughly -- worst be from 1973 but nobody seems to use that); top 1% take 20%; double the 10% from 1980.

Top 1% share doubled -- of 50% larger pie!

One of many remedies: majority run politics wont hesitate to transfer a lot of that lately added 10% from the 1% back to the 54% who now take 70% -- who can transfer it on down to the 45% by paying higher retail prices -- with Eisenhower level income tax. In any case per capita income grows more than 10% over one decade to cover 55%-to-45% income shifting.

Not to mention other ways -- multiple efficiencies -- to get multiple-10%'s back: squeezing out financialization; sniffing out things like for-profit edus (unions providing the personnel quantity necessary to keep up with society's many schemers; snuffing out $100,000 Hep C treatments that cost $150 to make (unions supplying the necessary volume of lobbying and political financing; less (mostly gone) poverty = mostly gone crime and its criminal justice expenses.

IOW, labor unions = a normal country.

ALSO HEALTH CARE IS GROWING BY LEAPS AND BOUNDS AND CAN TAKE UP MANUFACTURING'S SLACK.

Males need to be less afraid of formerly "feminine" rolls like nurse. Was in urgent-care walk in last week -- nurses or something like: one, big guy with dagger into skull tattoo on one forearm, "RESPECT" on other. Other looked very male too. Health care conveniently for labor market spread evenly everywhere -- hopefully to be covered by gov (next Dem Congress).

HERE'S HOW TO UNION-UP

America should feel perfectly free to rebuild labor union density one state at a time -- making union busting a felony. Republicans will have no place to hide.

Suppose the 1935 Congress passed the NLRA(a) intending to leave any criminal sanctions for obstructing union organizing to the states. Might have been because NLRB(b) conducted union elections take place local by local (not nationwide) and Congress could have opined states would deal more efficiently with home conditions -- or whatever. What extra words might Congress have needed to add to today's actual bill? Actually, today's identical NLRA wording would have sufficed perfectly.

Suppose, again, that under the RLA (Railroad Labor Act -- covers railroads and airlines, FedEx) -- wherein elections are conducted nationally -- that Congress desired to forbid states criminalizing the firing of organizers -- how could Congress have worded such a preemption (assuming it was constitutionally valid)? Shouldn't matter to us. Congress did not!

Note well: it is not mostly the organizer's job loss to be punished; it is much more the interference with all employees' bargaining power -- working them for less.

For more musings on what and how else to dump the Trump boys by banging loudly and everywhere on the labor union drum, see here (work permanently in progress): http://ontodayspage.blogspot.com/2016/12/wet-backs-and-narrow-backs-irish.html

Ann; you know often I do 4,000-5,000 spam mails -- mostly journalists, state legislators, unions -- if I get one or two click-backs of something of my own that's good.

This one I only sent out maybe 2,000 -- concentrated mostly on Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota -- and this week got an unheard of 80 click-backs on this link (hopefully some looked at the blog too).

So, maybe something's stirring. So try to relax -- all in fun. :-) Planning to blanket every state -- may take couple of months.

anne -> Denis Drew ... , January 22, 2017 at 02:15 PM
I will always support your work, even if I complain.
anne -> Denis Drew ... , January 22, 2017 at 02:17 PM
http://ontodayspage.blogspot.com/2016/12/wet-backs-and-narrow-backs-irish.html

December 16, 2016

Wet backs and narrow backs (Irish immigrants' native born kiddies)
By Denis Drew

[Jan 21, 2017] NYT Says Davos Elite Are Concerned Because Public Doesn't Buy Their Lies Anymore

Jan 20, 2017 | cepr.net

The New York Times reported * that the people at the gathering of the super rich at Davos are concerned because the population of major democracies no longer buy the lies they tell to justify upward redistribution of income. It told readers:

"At cocktail parties where the Champagne flows, financiers have expressed bewilderment over the rise of populist groups that are feeding a backlash against globalization....

"The world order has been upended. As the United States retreats from the promise of free trade, China is taking up the mantle....

"The religion of the global elite - free trade and open markets - is under attack, and there has been a lot of hand-wringing over what Christine Lagarde of the International Monetary Fund has declared a 'middle-class crisis.' "

Of course the Davos elite do not have a religion of free trade. They are entirely happy with every longer and stronger patent and copyright protections, which is a main goal of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other recent trade pacts.

The Davos elite also have no objections to protectionist measures, like the U.S. ban on foreign doctors who have not completed a U.S. residency program. This protectionist barrier adds as much as $100 billion a year (@ $700 per family) to the country's health care bill.

Since these measures redistribute income upward to people like them, the Davos elite is perfectly happy with them. They only object to protectionist measures which are intended to help ordinary workers.

The concern in Davos is that the public in western democracies no longer buys the lie that they are committed to the public good rather than lining their pockets. It is nice that the NYT is apparently trying to assist the elite by asserting that they have an interest in "free trade," but it is not likely to help their case much.

Yeah, I am plugging my book, "Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer" ** (it's free).

* https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/19/business/dealbook/world-economic-forum-davos-finance.html

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

-- Dean Baker Reply Saturday, January 21, 2017 at 06:33 AM likezkova said in reply to anne... Not only the population of major democracies no longer buy the neoliberal lies they used to tell to justify upward redistribution of income.

They now have the right wing alternative to both "soft" (Clinton) neoliberal party (which used Clinton "they will vote for us anyway tactic since 90th) and "hard" neoliberal party, which treated conservatives with the same medicine.

And that what bother the neoliberal elite most, as those guys can easily get out of control and hand a couple of dozen "masters of the universe" on the lamp posts for all good they did for the country.

That's why intelligence agencies tries this "soft coup" against Trump recently. What they achieved remains to be seen, but probably not a capitulation on the Trump "party" side.

Wedge issues such as same sex marriage, which was used a smoke screen for a decade or so lost its effectiveness.

Neoliberal MSM are now viewed as professional liars and presstitutes, which they always were.

This is probably the very easy signs of the systemic crisis of neoliberalism, plain and simple.

Reply Saturday, January 21, 2017 at 07:54 AM

libezkova said in reply to anne...

http://www.unz.com/article/political-sciences-theory-of-everything-on-the-2016-us-election/

== quote ==

The invisible rulers of the US establishment were revealed by Professor C. Wright Mill in his article titled, The Structure of Power in American Society (The British Journal of Sociology, March 1958), in which he explains how, "the high military, the corporation executives, the political directorate have tended to come together to form the power elite of America."

He describes how the power elite can be best described as a "triangle of power," linking the corporate, executive government, and military factions: "There is a political economy numerously linked with military order and decision. This triangle of power is now a structural fact, and it is the key to any understanding of the higher circles in America today."

The 2016 US election, like all other US elections, featured a gallery of pre-selected candidates that represented the three factions and their interests within the power elite. The 2016 US election, however, was vastly different from previous elections. As the election dragged on the power elite became bitterly divided, with the majority supporting Hilary Clinton, the candidate pre-selected by the political and corporate factions, while the military faction rallied around their choice of Donald Trump.

During the election campaign the power elite's military faction under Trump confounded all political pundits by outflanking and decisively defeating the power elite's political faction. In fact by capturing the Republican nomination and overwhelmingly defeating the Democratic establishment, Trump and the military faction not just shattered the power elites' political faction, within both the Democratic and Republican parties, but simultaneously ended both the Clinton and Bush dynasties.

During the election campaign the power elite's corporate faction realised, far too late, that Trump was a direct threat to their power base, and turned the full force of their corporate media against Trump's military faction, while Trump using social media bypassed and eviscerated the corporate media causing them to lose all remaining credibility.

As the election reached a crescendo this battle between the power elite's factions became visible within the US establishment's entities. A schism developed between the Defense Department and the highly politicized CIA. This schism, which can be attributed to the corporate-deep-state's covert foreign policy, traces back to the CIA orchestrated "color revolutions" that had swept the Middle East and North Africa.

[Jan 21, 2017] http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/nyt-says-davos-elite-are-concerned-because-public-doesn-t-buy-their-lies-anymore

Jan 21, 2017 | cepr.net

January 20, 2017

NYT Says Davos Elite Are Concerned Because Public Doesn't Buy Their Lies Anymore

The New York Times reported * that the people at the gathering of the super rich at Davos are concerned because the population of major democracies no longer buy the lies they tell to justify upward redistribution of income. It told readers:

"At cocktail parties where the Champagne flows, financiers have expressed bewilderment over the rise of populist groups that are feeding a backlash against globalization....

"The world order has been upended. As the United States retreats from the promise of free trade, China is taking up the mantle....

"The religion of the global elite - free trade and open markets - is under attack, and there has been a lot of hand-wringing over what Christine Lagarde of the International Monetary Fund has declared a 'middle-class crisis.' "

Of course the Davos elite do not have a religion of free trade. They are entirely happy with every longer and stronger patent and copyright protections, which is a main goal of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other recent trade pacts.

The Davos elite also have no objections to protectionist measures, like the U.S. ban on foreign doctors who have not completed a U.S. residency program. This protectionist barrier adds as much as $100 billion a year (@ $700 per family) to the country's health care bill.

Since these measures redistribute income upward to people like them, the Davos elite is perfectly happy with them. They only object to protectionist measures which are intended to help ordinary workers.

The concern in Davos is that the public in western democracies no longer buys the lie that they are committed to the public good rather than lining their pockets. It is nice that the NYT is apparently trying to assist the elite by asserting that they have an interest in "free trade," but it is not likely to help their case much.

Yeah, I am plugging my book, "Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer" ** (it's free).

* https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/19/business/dealbook/world-economic-forum-davos-finance.html

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

-- Dean Baker Reply Saturday, January 21, 2017 at 06:33 AM likezkova said in reply to anne... Not only the population of major democracies no longer buy the neoliberal lies they used to tell to justify upward redistribution of income.

They now have the right wing alternative to both "soft" (Clinton) neoliberal party (which used Clinton "they will vote for us anyway tactic since 90th) and "hard" neoliberal party, which treated conservatives with the same medicine.

And that what bother the neoliberal elite most, as those guys can easily get out of control and hand a couple of dozen "masters of the universe" on the lamp posts for all good they did for the country.

That's why intelligence agencies tries this "soft coup" against Trump recently. What they achieved remains to be seen, but probably not a capitulation on the Trump "party" side.

Wedge issues such as same sex marriage, which was used a smoke screen for a decade or so lost its effectiveness.

Neoliberal MSM are now viewed as professional liars and presstitutes, which they always were.

This is probably the very easy signs of the systemic crisis of neoliberalism, plain and simple.

Reply Saturday, January 21, 2017 at 07:54 AM

libezkova said in reply to anne...

The invisible rulers of the US establishment were revealed by Professor C. Wright Mill in his article titled, The Structure of Power in American Society (The British Journal of Sociology, March 1958), in which he explains how, "the high military, the corporation executives, the political directorate have tended to come together to form the power elite of America."

He describes how the power elite can be best described as a "triangle of power," linking the corporate, executive government, and military factions: "There is a political economy numerously linked with military order and decision. This triangle of power is now a structural fact, and it is the key to any understanding of the higher circles in America today."

The 2016 US election, like all other US elections, featured a gallery of pre-selected candidates that represented the three factions and their interests within the power elite. The 2016 US election, however, was vastly different from previous elections. As the election dragged on the power elite became bitterly divided, with the majority supporting Hilary Clinton, the candidate pre-selected by the political and corporate factions, while the military faction rallied around their choice of Donald Trump.

During the election campaign the power elite's military faction under Trump confounded all political pundits by outflanking and decisively defeating the power elite's political faction. In fact by capturing the Republican nomination and overwhelmingly defeating the Democratic establishment, Trump and the military faction not just shattered the power elites' political faction, within both the Democratic and Republican parties, but simultaneously ended both the Clinton and Bush dynasties.

During the election campaign the power elite's corporate faction realised, far too late, that Trump was a direct threat to their power base, and turned the full force of their corporate media against Trump's military faction, while Trump using social media bypassed and eviscerated the corporate media causing them to lose all remaining credibility.

As the election reached a crescendo this battle between the power elite's factions became visible within the US establishment's entities. A schism developed between the Defense Department and the highly politicized CIA. This schism, which can be attributed to the corporate-deep-state's covert foreign policy, traces back to the CIA orchestrated "color revolutions" that had swept the Middle East and North Africa.

[Jan 21, 2017] Political sciences Theory of Everything on the 2016 US Election - The Unz Review

Notable quotes:
"... "the high military, the corporation executives, the political directorate have tended to come together to form the power elite of America." ..."
"... He describes how the power elite can be best described as a "triangle of power," linking the corporate, executive government, and military factions: "There is a political economy numerously linked with military order and decision. This triangle of power is now a structural fact, and it is the key to any understanding of the higher circles in America today." ..."
"... During the election campaign the power elite's military faction under Trump confounded all political pundits by outflanking and decisively defeating the power elite's political faction. ..."
"... At the time this was the highest level internal US intelligence confirmation of the theory that western governments fundamentally see the Islamic State as their own tool for regime change in Syria. The military faction began a steady stream of "one-sided" leaks to Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh who published one article after another that undermined the political (Obama administration) and corporate (CIA and intelligence) factions of the power elite, while painting the military faction in a positive light. ..."
"... The first article entitled Whose Sarin? was published on 19 December, 2013 and concerned the East Ghouta sarin gas attack of August 21, 2013. Hersh documents a clear campaign within the power elite's military faction to "foot-drag" and hopefully block the planned US retaliation for crossing President Obama's "red line": "[S]ome members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were troubled by the prospect of a ground invasion of Syria as well as by Obama's professed desire to give rebel factions non-lethal support. In July, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, provided a gloomy assessment, telling the Senate Armed Services Committee in public testimony that 'thousands of special operations forces and other ground forces' would be needed to seize Syria's widely dispersed chemical warfare arsenal, along with 'hundreds of aircraft, ships, submarines and other enablers'." ..."
"... A cornered Obama welcomed a draft UN resolution calling on the Assad government to get rid of its chemical arsenal. The political faction's step-down pleased many senior military officers, explains Hersh: "One high-level special operations adviser told me that the ill-conceived American missile attack on Syrian military airfields and missile emplacements, as initially envisaged by the White House, would have been 'like providing close air support for al-Nusra'." ..."
"... General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs had irritated many in the Obama administration by repeatedly warning Congress over the summer of the danger of American military involvement in Syria. The military faction also had the advantage of a British intelligence report of a sample of sarin, recovered by Russian military intelligence operatives, proving it was not from the Syrian army. Further suspicions were aroused within the military faction when more than ten members of the al-Nusra Front were arrested in southern Turkey with two kilograms of sarin. Hersh quotes his internal military source: "'We knew there were some in the Turkish government,' a former senior US intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, told me, 'who believed they could get Assad's nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria – and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.'" ..."
"... Further revelations included how the Obama administration, through the CIA, had by early 2012 created a "rat line", a back channel highway into Syria, used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya via southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to jihadists, some of them affiliated with Al-Qaeda. ..."
"... Hersh's source explains how a Senate Intelligence Committee report on the assault by a local militia on the American consulate and a nearby undercover CIA facility in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of the US ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three others in September 2012, revealed a secret agreement for the "rat line" reached in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdoğan administrations: "By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi's arsenals into Syria." ..."
"... After Washington abruptly ended the CIA's role in the transfer of arms from Libya the "rat line" continued and became more ominous: "'The United States was no longer in control of what the Turks were relaying to the jihadists,' the former intelligence official said. Within weeks, as many as forty portable surface-to-air missile launchers, commonly known as manpads, were in the hands of Syrian rebels." ..."
Jan 21, 2017 | www.unz.com

The corporate-deep-state theory

In a recent UNZ article titled: Political science's "theory of everything" a concise map of the US establishment, both the visible and invisible government was mapped. Based on this map a theory emerged that showed how the visible government has been subverted by an invisible unelected government that was described as a corporate-deep-state. The levels of the US establishment were identified as a power elite conspiratorial leadership overseeing a corporatocracy and directing a deep state that has gradually subverted the visible US government and taken over the "levers of power."

The power elite

The invisible rulers of the US establishment were revealed by Professor C. Wright Mill in his article titled, The Structure of Power in American Society (The British Journal of Sociology, March 1958), in which he explains how, "the high military, the corporation executives, the political directorate have tended to come together to form the power elite of America."

He describes how the power elite can be best described as a "triangle of power," linking the corporate, executive government, and military factions: "There is a political economy numerously linked with military order and decision. This triangle of power is now a structural fact, and it is the key to any understanding of the higher circles in America today."

The 2016 US election, like all other US elections, featured a gallery of pre-selected candidates that represented the three factions and their interests within the power elite. The 2016 US election, however, was vastly different from previous elections. As the election dragged on the power elite became bitterly divided, with the majority supporting Hilary Clinton, the candidate pre-selected by the political and corporate factions, while the military faction rallied around their choice of Donald Trump.

During the election campaign the power elite's military faction under Trump confounded all political pundits by outflanking and decisively defeating the power elite's political faction. In fact by capturing the Republican nomination and overwhelmingly defeating the Democratic establishment, Trump and the military faction not just shattered the power elites' political faction, within both the Democratic and Republican parties, but simultaneously ended both the Clinton and Bush dynasties.

During the election campaign the power elite's corporate faction realised, far too late, that Trump was a direct threat to their power base, and turned the full force of their corporate media against Trump's military faction, while Trump using social media bypassed and eviscerated the corporate media causing them to lose all remaining credibility.

As the election reached a crescendo this battle between the power elite's factions became visible within the US establishment's entities. A schism developed between the Defense Department and the highly politicized CIA. This schism, which can be attributed to the corporate-deep-state's covert foreign policy, traces back to the CIA orchestrated "color revolutions" that had swept the Middle East and North Africa.

The covert invasion of Syria

A US Pentagon, DIA report, formerly classified "SECRET//NOFORN" and dated August 12, 2012, was circulated widely among various government agencies, including CENTCOM, the CIA, FBI, DHS, NGA, State Dept., and many others.

Astoundingly, the declassified report states that for "THE WEST, GULF COUNTRIES, AND TURKEY [WHO] SUPPORT THE [SYRIAN] OPPOSITION THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF ESTABLISHING A DECLARED OR UNDECLARED SALAFIST PRINCIPALITY IN EASTERN SYRIA (HASAKA AND DER ZOR), AND THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE SUPPORTING POWERS TO THE OPPOSITION WANT, IN ORDER TO ISOLATE THE SYRIAN REGIME ".

The document shows that as early as 2012, US intelligence predicted the rise of the Salafist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), but instead of clearly delineating the group as an enemy, the report envisions the terror group as a US strategic asset.

At the time this was the highest level internal US intelligence confirmation of the theory that western governments fundamentally see the Islamic State as their own tool for regime change in Syria. The military faction began a steady stream of "one-sided" leaks to Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh who published one article after another that undermined the political (Obama administration) and corporate (CIA and intelligence) factions of the power elite, while painting the military faction in a positive light.

Whose sarin?

The first article entitled Whose Sarin? was published on 19 December, 2013 and concerned the East Ghouta sarin gas attack of August 21, 2013. Hersh documents a clear campaign within the power elite's military faction to "foot-drag" and hopefully block the planned US retaliation for crossing President Obama's "red line": "[S]ome members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were troubled by the prospect of a ground invasion of Syria as well as by Obama's professed desire to give rebel factions non-lethal support. In July, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, provided a gloomy assessment, telling the Senate Armed Services Committee in public testimony that 'thousands of special operations forces and other ground forces' would be needed to seize Syria's widely dispersed chemical warfare arsenal, along with 'hundreds of aircraft, ships, submarines and other enablers'."

A cornered Obama welcomed a draft UN resolution calling on the Assad government to get rid of its chemical arsenal. The political faction's step-down pleased many senior military officers, explains Hersh: "One high-level special operations adviser told me that the ill-conceived American missile attack on Syrian military airfields and missile emplacements, as initially envisaged by the White House, would have been 'like providing close air support for al-Nusra'."

The Red Line and the Rat Line

The second article titled The Red Line and the Rat Line was published on 17 April, 2014 and explains why Obama delayed and then relented on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya: "The answer lies in a clash between those in the administration (political faction) who were committed to enforcing the red line, and military leaders who thought that going to war was both unjustified and potentially disastrous."

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs had irritated many in the Obama administration by repeatedly warning Congress over the summer of the danger of American military involvement in Syria. The military faction also had the advantage of a British intelligence report of a sample of sarin, recovered by Russian military intelligence operatives, proving it was not from the Syrian army. Further suspicions were aroused within the military faction when more than ten members of the al-Nusra Front were arrested in southern Turkey with two kilograms of sarin. Hersh quotes his internal military source: "'We knew there were some in the Turkish government,' a former senior US intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, told me, 'who believed they could get Assad's nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria – and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.'"

Further revelations included how the Obama administration, through the CIA, had by early 2012 created a "rat line", a back channel highway into Syria, used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya via southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to jihadists, some of them affiliated with Al-Qaeda.

Hersh's source explains how a Senate Intelligence Committee report on the assault by a local militia on the American consulate and a nearby undercover CIA facility in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of the US ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three others in September 2012, revealed a secret agreement for the "rat line" reached in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdoğan administrations: "By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi's arsenals into Syria."

After Washington abruptly ended the CIA's role in the transfer of arms from Libya the "rat line" continued and became more ominous: "'The United States was no longer in control of what the Turks were relaying to the jihadists,' the former intelligence official said. Within weeks, as many as forty portable surface-to-air missile launchers, commonly known as manpads, were in the hands of Syrian rebels."

The Killing of Osama bin Laden

The third article titled The Killing of Osama bin Laden was published on 17 April, 2014. The Obama administration needed a public relations win on the eve of his second term election and according to Hersh's military source: "'the killing of bin Laden was political theatre designed to burnish Obama's military credentials.'"

Hersh's article goes on to systematically debunk the Obama administration's entire clumsy cover story while implicating the Saudis and Pakistanis who financed and protected Osama bin Laden. He goes on to reveal that once he had outlived his usefulness, to the Pakistanis, he was traded to the Americans who murdered him in cold blood and tossed his mutilated body parts over the Hindu Kish mountains.

The article further reveals how the Senate Intelligence Committee's long-delayed report on CIA torture, released in December 2013 concluded that the CIA lied systematically about the effectiveness of its torture programme in gaining intelligence that would stop future terrorist attacks in the US.

Military to Military

Hersh's fourth article titled Military to Military was published on 7 January 2016, and details how an exasperated military faction continued to repeat warnings that the fall of the Assad regime would lead to Libyan style chaos and, potentially, to Syria's takeover by jihadi extremists. They were continuously ignored by both the political faction and the intelligence services: "[A]lthough many in the American intelligence community were aware that the Syrian opposition was dominated by extremists the CIA-sponsored weapons kept coming General Dempsey and his colleagues on the Joint Chiefs of Staff kept their dissent out of bureaucratic channels, and survived in office. General Michael Flynn did not. 'Flynn incurred the wrath of the White House by insisting on telling the truth about Syria,' said Patrick Lang, a retired army colonel who served for nearly a decade as the chief Middle East civilian intelligence officer for the DIA. 'He thought truth was the best thing and they shoved him out. He wouldn't shut up.' Flynn told me his problems went beyond Syria. 'I was shaking things up at the DIA – and not just moving deckchairs on the Titanic. It was radical reform. I felt that the civilian leadership did not want to hear the truth. I suffered for it, but I'm OK with that.'"

Hersh's paper further highlights a rebellion under the leadership of Joint Chiefs of Staff that was then led by General Martin Dempsey. He began to send a flow of US intelligence through allied militaries to the Syrian Arab Army and he orchestrated a deliberate plan to downgrade the quality of the arms being supplied to the rebels by the CIA. The military's indirect pathway to Assad disappeared with Dempsey's retirement in September 2015. The political faction then replaced Dempsey, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs, with General Joseph Dunford who advocated a "hard line" on Russia.

The power elite's military faction realised that radical reform could not begin until the military faction had full political support behind them.

Rise of the Generals

In the 2016 US election Trump with the full weight of the military faction behind him pulled off a stunning victory against the entire political faction – defeating both the Democratic and Republican Party machines – and the corporate media.

The cornerstone of the corporatocracy, the Wall Street lobby, due to the sheer amount of fiat petrodollar based money it generates, and the influence it has over the US establishment was officially dethroned. The locus of power within the power elite had suddenly and dramatically shifted from Wall St to the Pentagon.

Although the situation is very fluid on the eve of the Trump presidency a map highlighting the US establishment entities supporting either Trump or his defeated opponent Clinton can be arguably mapped below.

Trump quickly named security hardliners including past and present generals and FBI officials, to key security and intelligence positions while the corporate media accused Trump of having a starry-eyed fascination with the brass of America's losing wars.

Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who was forced from his position as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014, will be President-elect Donald Trump's national security adviser. Army retired Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg will be serving in a supporting capacity to Flynn as chief of staff of the National Security Council (NSC).

Trump selected retired General James Mattis to lead the Department of Defense. Mattis, a documented war criminal , had helped cover up the 2005 Haditha massacre of 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians by US soldiers. His soldiers also directly committed war crimes in the US sieges of Fallujah in 2004, when his forces not only used white phosphorus but fired on and killed up to 5,000 innocent civilians. General Mattis has called for a "new security architecture for the Mideast built on sound policy Iran is a special case that must be dealt with as a threat to regional stability, nuclear and otherwise." On a positive Mattis also got Trump to reconsider his stance on torture stating, "'I've never found it to be useful."

General John Kelly, another long-serving Marine with a reputation for bluntness, has been picked to head the Department of Homeland Security. He is the most senior US officer to have lost a child in the "war on terror". His son Robert, a first lieutenant in the marines, was killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2010. He therefore strongly opposed efforts by the Obama administration to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, claiming that the remaining detainees were "all bad boys," both guilty and dangerous.

And in selecting career military men like Flynn, Mattis and Kelly as his senior civilian advisers on military matters, Trump is in essence strengthening defense while creating rival intelligence entities that will remain loyal to his military faction.

Meanwhile Big Oil's Rex Tillerson - the former CEO of world's largest oil company, ExxonMobil - is to be Secretary of State. He has a two-decade relationship with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, who awarded Tillerson the Order of Friendship in 2013.

Mindful of others who defied the US establishment, Trump's supporters delivered an ominous warning to rival power elite factions that should Trump be assassinated then a civil war would follow. In reality an assassination in today's climate, without the support of the corporatocracy's now discredited media, would usher in martial law and further ensconce the military faction within their seat of power.

Playing chess like Putin

Trump and his military faction appear to greatly admire Putin personally, and in September 2016 during the NBC Commander-in-Chief Forum Trump stated: "I will tell you that, in terms of leadership, he's getting an 'A' and our president is not doing so well." Trump's military faction, unlike the other two factions sees Russia as more of a partner than an adversary and he is deeply committed to reorienting American foreign policy in a pro-Russian direction.

Trump knows Putin's history well and appears intent on following in his footsteps. Putin took office by striking a deal with Russia's political elite to protect former Russian President Yeltsin and his family from prosecution in exchange for Putin becoming Prime Minister and later President.

Then on July 28, 2000, after they had funded his election campaign, Vladimir Putin gathered the 18 most powerful businessmen (corporatocracy) in Russia and denounced the corporate elite as creators of a corrupt state. During the transition from Communism in the 1990s these oligarchs – the majority Jewish – had taken control of every single lever of power in Russia including the central bank, the mass media and even the Kremlin.

In a second meeting on January 24, 2001, Vladimir Putin met with 21 leading oligarchs and stressed that the Russian state had no plans to re-nationalize the economy, but added that they should have "a feeling of responsibility [to] the people and the country" and asked them to donate $2.6 million to a fund he was setting up to help families of soldiers wounded or killed in action.

True to his word the oligarchs that complied were allowed to keep the money they had looted from the Russian people. Those that didn't comply, like Berezovsky and Gusinsky, Russia's two most infamous and hated oligarchs, were gradually pushed out, and in some cases even imprisoned.

After defeating the oligarchs and gaining control of their media Putin then began to methodically cleanse the Russian government and the Kremlin of corporate influence.

Corporatocracy

Professor Jeffry Sachs calls the US corporate conspiracy The Rigged Game in which the political system has come to be controlled by powerful corporate interest groups – the "corporatocracy" – who dominate the policy agenda. Sachs explains how "[a] healthy economy is a mixed economy, in which government and the marketplace both play their role. Yet the federal government has neglected its role for three decades."

President Trump appears to have taken a page from Sach's book and, even before taking office, is signalling that his government will not neglect its role.

During an interview with Fortune on April 19, 2016, Donald Trump explicitly explained how he planned on taking back the economic "levers of power" from Wall Street's Federal Reserve by supporting: "proposals that would take power away from the Fed, and allow Congress to audit the U.S. central bank's decision making."

On December, 6, 2016 it was the military industrial complex's Boeing that felt the brunt of his attack when President-elect Donald Trump called for the scrapping of multi-billion dollar plans for Boeing to build a new Air Force One, calling the costs "ridiculous and totally out of control." He then followed this up on December 12, 2016, when he took on the Lockheed Martin by attacking the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter on Twitter, saying the cost of the next-generation stealth plane is "out of control," stating: "Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th."

In an early December interview with TIME ahead of his selection as TIME's Person of the Year, Trump railed against the Healthcare lobby when he stated that he doesn't "like what's happened with drug prices" and that he will "bring down" the cost of prescription medication.

Even earlier, on January 2016, at Liberty University, Trump had startled Silicon Valley when he promised to punish companies that offshore production by placing tariffs on their imports coming back to the US: "We're going to get Apple to build their damn computers and things in this country instead of in other countries."

The Big Oil lobby, initially ambivalent, now appears to have put its weight behind Trump. There are signs that the Big Oil lobby may have fallen out with the corporatocracy over the economic sanctions on Russia and access to its vast untapped oil fields, as well as Saudi Arabia's two years of flooding the global market with cheap crude in order to drive oil prices down and economically damage the Russian economy. This policy had made both US shale oil and US energy independence unsustainable.

While the corporatocracy will survive, the days of crony capitalism appear to be coming to an end.

The death of neoliberalism

The Trump election, much like Brexit before it, signals an entirely new development not witnessed since the shift towards neoliberalism under President Reagan over 40 years ago. Trump has promised to end the neoliberal, hyper-globalisation ideology in which the interests of the working class have been sacrificed in favour of the corporatocracy that has been encouraged to invest around the world depriving Americans of their jobs.

The global financial crisis of 2008, the worst since the great depression of 1931, saw Wall Street bailed out by the taxpayers while the responsible bankers were not prosecuted for their crimes. Under the Obama administration this was further compounded by rejecting bailouts for homeowners, oversee growing inequality, militarisation, covert operations and the facilitating of overseas war crimes.

Meanwhile, nine years on, the neoliberal practice of quantitative easing has failed to revive the economic patient who remains on "life support." This after effect of the global financial crisis has served to undermine the peoples' faith and trust in the competence of the power elite's political faction and the corporate media. Trump's ascendency thus signals the beginning of the end of the neoliberal era.

Trumps promise to, "Put America first," pulls the plug on neoliberalism's economic life support and imposes a new era of economic nationalism. The military faction will abandon unfettered capitalism, free trade agreements and globalisation in favour of de-globalisation, economic nationalism, rebuilding of infrastructure, the middle class and manufacturing.

The table below is fluid but is based on current policy details, revealed by Trump, and details how the current neoliberal policies may gradually shift to policies of economic nationalism.

Government departments Masses' Policies Neo-Liberal Policies Economic nationalism Policies Corporatocracy lobbies
Dept. of State Establishment of friendly relations with other nations. Maintenance of the petrodollar through the support of compliant authoritarian nations or covert funding of unstable extremists to overthrow non-compliant nations Maintenance of the petrodollar through the support of compliant authoritarian nations. Multilateral approach of working with Russia while continuing to isolate China and Iran Wall Street-Washington complex
Dept. of the Treasury Lower and fairer tax system that incentivises workers and savers Financialisation, corporate subsidies, tax loopholes and overseas tax havens. nationalisation, cutting of corporate subsidies, closing of tax loopholes and overseas tax havens.
Dept. of Commerce Open trade and protection of key industries "Free" trade Agreements (Inc. TTP & TTIP), Economic sanctions protectionism, tariffs, economic sanctions
Dept. of Justice Universal human rights, equal justice and fair trials Non-prosecution of criminal bank leaders, with prosecution of deep state whistle blowers. Prosecution of corporate crime, Non-prosecution of military and police crimes, continued prosecution of deep state whistle blowers.
Dept. of Housing & Urban Development Affordable and easily accessible housing. Financialisation, housing speculation and homelessness. Removal of "red tape", opening up of land for building
Dept. of Defense Security and Defense of citizens against foreign enemies Maintenance of the petrodollar, full spectrum dominance, exceptionalism, war on terrorism and the militarization of foreign policy . Maintenance of the petrodollar, full spectrum dominance, multi-polarity, war on terrorism military-industrial complex
Dept. of Veterans Affairs Support and subsidies for veterans Cheap outsourced care facilities and abandoned veterans. Renationalisation of care facilities and housing, medical and mental care for war veterans.
Dept. of Transport Electric vehicles, subsidised transport and easily accessible transportation grid. Subsidised car-centric policies and urban planning. Subsidised car-centric policies and urban planning. Big Oil-transport-military complex
Dept. of Energy Environmental protection, reliable and nationalised mostly renewable energy supply. Subsidised fossil fuel energy dependence and debunking of climate change. Subsidised fossil fuel energy dependence and debunking of climate change.
Dept. of the Interior Management and conservation federal land and natural resources. Waiving of environmental protection, access for sea lanes, pipelines, mining and resource extraction. Waiving of environmental protection, access for sea lanes, pipelines, mining and resource extraction.
Dept. of Health & Human Services Subsidised and universal Healthcare. mandatory healthcare and privatisation. privatised healthcare Healthcare industry
Dept. of Homeland Security Security and Privacy. Mass Surveillance and copyright enforcement. Mass Surveillance Silicon Valley
Dept. of Agriculture Healthy, nutritious and affordable food. Food monopolisation and dependence through patented GMOs. Breaking up of monopolies, increased competition. Big Ag (Monsanto)
Dept. of Education Subsidised and universal education. Class-based privatisation and outsourcing. Increased investment in education. Organised Labor
Dept. of Labor Jobs and decent wages. Outsourcing, mass immigration to lower wages, commodification of Labor, deregulation, deindustrialisation, under employment and unemployment. Reshoring, border controls to boost wages, return of skilled labor, reregulation, reindustrialisation, full employment, lower taxes All lobbies

Monetary hegemony strategy

The power elite's monetary hegemony petrodollar strategy will remain unchanged under Trumps' military faction. However, Trump's foreign policy signals the end of America's unipolar moment, the period that was called the "new world order" by George Bush after the collapse of the former USSR and the US's 1991 Gulf War victory.

It took the actions of former rogue CIA operatives, called Al Qaeda, to give the US an excuse to invade and conquer key economic chokepoints and geopolitical pivot nations, in the heart of the world's oil reserves that would give the power elite global economic and military dominance. These power elite plans were given to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the time, and documented in a memo that a puzzled senior staff officer showed to General Wesley Clark:"[W]e're going to take out seven countries in five years , starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran."

The Republican-led neoconservative "war on terror" phase, that took place from 2001 to 2011, symbolised the overt US invasion, occupation and destruction of primarily Afghanistan and Iraq. When worldwide condemnation combined with Iraqi military resistance proved too great, the power elite were forced to switch to more covert means.

Under the new Obama administration, a Democratic-led, CIA-orchestrated "Arab Spring" took place from 2011-2016 and symbolised the covert invasion of Libya and Syria using reconstituted terrorist death squads. The power elite had not only used the 9/11 attack conducted by elements of their rogue terrorist death squads to invade Iraq and Afghanistan, but they were now going to reconstitute a compliant group of the same terrorists and use them to covertly invade Libya and Syria.

With the Syrian government's capture of Aleppo in late 2016, it became apparent to all observers that both the overt and covert US invasions were soundly defeated primarily by heroic resistance forces in Iraq and Syria, respectively.

With the barbaric US invasions blunted, the Trump administration now represents a rear-guard attempting to hold onto key nations in the heart of the world's global energy reserves and maintain the US's petrodollar monetary hegemony backing, while Trump transitions his economy from a financial to an industrial economy. Trump will thus continue to secure the GCC nations, especially Saudi Arabia, provided they reign in their terrorist death squads, plaguing the Middle East. Israel will also be fully supported and used to maintain the current Middle Eastern stalemate against Iran.

It is however Trump's détente with Russia that is truly significant as it signals the end of the unipolar "new world order." Russia will once again be allowed its own "sphere of influence." This will most likely see Crimean reunification accepted the return of economically plundered Ukraine to Russian influence and the Russian presence in Syria acknowledged.

In return the military faction wants to desperately break up the tripartite strategic Eurasian team of Russia-China-Iran. The military faction wants Russia to help block China's rise in the South China Sea and to contain Iran. The military faction appears to have been inspired by documented war criminal, Henry Kissinger, who at the Primakov lecture in February 2016 stated: "The long-term interests of both countries call for a world that transforms the contemporary turbulence and flux into a new equilibrium which is increasingly multipolar and globalized ..Russia should be perceived as an essential element of any new global equilibrium, not primarily as a threat to the United States." Draining the swamp?

For the first time in memory the US establishment, consisting of the visible US Government and the invisible corporate-deep-state that has subverted it, have had a dramatic schism. Contrary to corporate media hand-wringing, the 2016 US election for the masses was never about a choice for Trump over Clinton, it was in reality a choice of, the same united power elite maintaining the same US establishment under President select Clinton, versus a divided power elite led by Trump's military faction.

This seminal moment represents a change of both US strategy and tactics that have been used to maintain the US's economic and military power.

Strategically, while the power elite have finally abandoned America's unipolar moment, they will now maintain the US as a multipolar global hegemon receiving its petrodollar tribute. Their plans are to finally grant Russia, but not China, its own "sphere of influence" and to cleave it away from its Eurasian and Middle Eastern allies.

Economically and tactically neoliberalism, as an ideology, is now officially dead. The power elite's corporatocracy (corporate faction) will be tamed and replaced by a protectionist, localised, rebuilding of America's manufacturing base.

While not exactly "draining the swamp," the new Trump administration plans on "fencing off some of the alligators" that have devoured so many innocents during 40 years of neoliberalism at home and militarism abroad.

To listen to a podcast by the author explaining how the political science's "theory of everything" may help to predict the new Trump administration select the following link:

https://www.patreon.com/posts/around-empire-5-7795251?utm_campaign=postshare&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter

[Jan 19, 2017] Davos without Donald Trump is like Hamlet without the prince

From comments: "Saying Davos without Trump is like Hamlet without the prince implies a dignity about the event which is rather far fetched. More like the Dark Side without Darth Vader ... trouble is, Davos ain't fiction." "The biggest cabal of sociopathic criminals the world has ever known."
Notable quotes:
"... This is not new. Klaus Schwab, the man who founded the World Economic Forum in the early 1970s, warned as long ago as 1996 that globalisation had entered a critical phase. "A mounting backlash against its effects, especially in the industrial democracies, is threatening a very disruptive impact on economic activity and social stability in many countries," he said. ..."
"... Schwab's warning was not heeded. There was no real attempt to make globalisation work for everyone. Communities affected by the export of jobs to countries where labour was cheaper were left to rot. The rewards of growth went disproportionately to a privileged few. Resentment quietly festered until there was a backlash. For Schwab, Brexit and Trump are a bitter blow, a repudiation of what he likes to call the spirit of Davos. ..."
"... It would be wrong, however, to imagine that business is terrified at the prospect of a Trump presidency. Boardrooms rather like the idea of a big cut in US corporation tax. They favour deregulation. They purr at plans to spend more on infrastructure. Wall Street is happy because it thinks the new president will mean stronger growth and higher corporate earnings. ..."
"... 'Policy decisions-not God, nature, or the invisible hand-exposed American manufacturing workers to direct competition with low-paid workers in the developing world. Policymakers could have exposed more highly paid workers such as doctors and lawyers to this same competition, but a bipartisan congressional consensus, and presidents of both parties, instead chose to keep them largely protected.' ..."
"... Good article by the way. Recommend others to read. Thanks. ..."
"... Stop trying to shackle every conservative to the desperate and ugly views of the few. Deplorables and their alt-right kin, are so small in number. We ought keep an eye on the Deplorables but little else ... they're politically insignificant. I wish you'd stop trying to throw the average Republican voter into the basket of bigoted, racist rednecks. It's deplorable! ..."
"... Saying Davos without Trump is like Hamlet without the prince implies a dignity about the event which is rather far fetched. More like the Dark Side without Darth Vader ... trouble is, Davos ain't fiction. ..."
"... Why would Daniel go into the lion's den? Trump is committed to stopping the excesses of the "swamp rats" most of whom are at Davos. The world will be turned on its head in 2017; it is going to be interesting to watch the demise of those at the top of the pyramid. ..."
"... What exactly is the "Spirit of Davos" then? A bunch of fat, rich elderly men and their hangers-on troughing themselves to the point of bursting on fine wines and gourmet food, while paying lip-service to the poor? ..."
"... One question for Davos might be: how are you going to resolve differences between the vast majority of people who exist as national citizens, and the multinational elite? It's not a new question. ..."
"... Multinationals, corporate and individuals, can dodge the taxes which pay for services we all rely on but especially citizens. ..."
"... Davos is not restricting attendance to high office bearers. Trump could have gone, had he wanted to, or he could have sent one of his family/staff - that's how Davos works. ..."
"... Bilderberg is by invitation, as far as I know, Davos by application and paying a high membership, plus fee. But the fact he is not represented could be a good sign if it means that the focus is on solving domestic issues as opposed to spending so much time and resources on international ones. ..."
"... My own take on the annual Davos circus is as follows:. It is a totally useless conclave and has never achieved anything tangible since its inception. ..."
"... This gives an excellent opportunity for those who hold so-called "numbered" or other secret bank accounts in the proverbially secretive Swiss banks to have their annual tete-a-tete with their bankers and carry out whatever maintenance has to be done to their bank accounts. After all, in tiny Switzerland, it is only a hop from one town to another. No one will miss you if you are not visible for a day or two. If any nosy taxman back home asks: "What was the purpose of your visit to Switzerland?", one can say with a straight face: "Oh, I was invited to be a keynote speaker at Davos to talk about the increasing income disparity in the world and on what steps to take to mitigate it."! ..."
"... I think globalisation is inhumane. Someone calculated that if labour were to follow capital flows we would see one third of the globe move around on a constant basis. One son in Cape Town a daughter in New York and a brother in Tokyo. It's not how human societies operate we are group animals like herds of cows. We need to be firmly rooted in order to build functioning and humane societies. That is the migration aspect of globalization the other aspect is the complete destruction of diverse cultures. ..."
Jan 19, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Trump's influence can also be felt in other ways. The manner in which he won the US election, tapping in to deep-seated anger about the unfair distribution of the spoils of economic growth, has been noted. There is talk in Davos of the need to ensure that globalisation works for everyone.

This is not new. Klaus Schwab, the man who founded the World Economic Forum in the early 1970s, warned as long ago as 1996 that globalisation had entered a critical phase. "A mounting backlash against its effects, especially in the industrial democracies, is threatening a very disruptive impact on economic activity and social stability in many countries," he said.

Schwab's warning was not heeded. There was no real attempt to make globalisation work for everyone. Communities affected by the export of jobs to countries where labour was cheaper were left to rot. The rewards of growth went disproportionately to a privileged few. Resentment quietly festered until there was a backlash. For Schwab, Brexit and Trump are a bitter blow, a repudiation of what he likes to call the spirit of Davos.

It would be wrong, however, to imagine that business is terrified at the prospect of a Trump presidency. Boardrooms rather like the idea of a big cut in US corporation tax. They favour deregulation. They purr at plans to spend more on infrastructure. Wall Street is happy because it thinks the new president will mean stronger growth and higher corporate earnings.

In Trump's absence, it has been left to two senior members of the outgoing Obama administration – his vice-president, Joe Biden, and secretary of state John Kerry – to fly the US flag.

Just as significantly, Xi Jinping is the first Chinese premier to attend Davos and has made it clear that, unlike Trump, he has no plans to resile from international obligations. The sense of a changing of the guard is palpable.

missuswatanabe

It's the way globalisation has been managed for the benefit of the richest in the developed world that has been bad for the masses rather than globalisation itself.

I thought this was an interesting, if US-centric, perspective on things:

'Policy decisions-not God, nature, or the invisible hand-exposed American manufacturing workers to direct competition with low-paid workers in the developing world. Policymakers could have exposed more highly paid workers such as doctors and lawyers to this same competition, but a bipartisan congressional consensus, and presidents of both parties, instead chose to keep them largely protected.'

http://bostonreview.net/forum/dean-baker-globalization-blame

Sunny Reneick -> missuswatanabe

Good article by the way. Recommend others to read. Thanks.

Paul Paterson -> ConBrio

Decent, hardworking Americans facing social and economic insecurity, whether on the right or left, ought to be the focus. We need to deal with the concerns of the average citizen, however it is they vote. Fringe groups don't serve our attention given tbe very real problems the country faces.

Stop trying to shackle every conservative to the desperate and ugly views of the few. Deplorables and their alt-right kin, are so small in number. We ought keep an eye on the Deplorables but little else ... they're politically insignificant. I wish you'd stop trying to throw the average Republican voter into the basket of bigoted, racist rednecks. It's deplorable!

What we should concern ourselves with is the very real social and economic insecurity felt by many in red states and blue states alike. Those decent and hardworking Americans, regardless of party, are joined in much. Deplorables aren't the average Republican voter and didn't win Trump an election - they are too few to win much of anything.

What you keep referring to as Deplorables are decent Americans seeking change and socioeconomic justice. You are mixing up citizens who happen to vote for the GOP withbwhite nationalist scum. How dare you tar all conservatives with the hate monger brush!

Spunky325 -> Paul Paterson

Actually, before taking office, Trump strong-armed Ford and GM into putting more money in their American plants, instead of moving more production to Mexico. He's also questioned cost-overruns on Air Force One and several military projects which is causing companies to back off. I can't think of another American president who has felt it was important to keep jobs in America or who has questioned military spending. Good for him!

Paul Paterson -> Spunky325

You've made it quite clear "you can't think" as you've bought into the ruse. The question is why are you so boastful about it? Trump's policies are even seen by economists on the right as creating staggering levels of debt, creating more economic inequality and unlikely to increase jobs.

Among many flaws, they point out tax proposals that hurt the poor and middle class to such a degree it almost seems targeted. This is the same economic plot that has failed working Americans repeatedly. You folks are getting caught up in a time share pitch and embracing policy that has little chance to help the average American - however it is they vote. It isn't supposed to but y'all are asleep at the wheel.

DrBlamm0

Saying Davos without Trump is like Hamlet without the prince implies a dignity about the event which is rather far fetched. More like the Dark Side without Darth Vader ... trouble is, Davos ain't fiction.

johhnybgood

Why would Daniel go into the lion's den? Trump is committed to stopping the excesses of the "swamp rats" most of whom are at Davos. The world will be turned on its head in 2017; it is going to be interesting to watch the demise of those at the top of the pyramid.

bilyou

What exactly is the "Spirit of Davos" then? A bunch of fat, rich elderly men and their hangers-on troughing themselves to the point of bursting on fine wines and gourmet food, while paying lip-service to the poor?

Maybe Trump just decided to trough it at his tower and avoid hanging out with a grotesque bunch of insufferable see you next Tuesdays.

Ricardo_K

One question for Davos might be: how are you going to resolve differences between the vast majority of people who exist as national citizens, and the multinational elite? It's not a new question.

Multinationals, corporate and individuals, can dodge the taxes which pay for services we all rely on but especially citizens.

James Patterson

Xi's statements on a trade war are completely self serving. But his assertions that he is against protectionism and unfair trading practices is laughably hypocritical. China refuses to let any Silicon Valley Internet company one inch past the Great Firewall. Under his direction the CCP has imposed draconian regulations, which change by the week, on American Companies operating in China making fair competition with local Chinese companies impossible.

The business climate in China is reprehensible. The CCP has resorted to extortion, requiring that U.S. tech companies share their most sensitive trade secrets and IP with Chinese state enterprises or get barred from conducting business there. Sadly, U.S. companies entered China with high expectations and invested hundreds of millions of dollars in factories, labs and equipment. This threat has caused many CEO's to sacrifice their company's long term viability by transferring their most closely guarded technological advances to China or face the loss their entire investment in China. Even so, multinationals are beginning the Chinese exodus led by those with less financial exposure soon to be followed by companies like Apple despite significant economic ties.

True, most people believe a 'trade war' with China means America is the defacto loser because of dishonest reporting. The truth is that America's economic exposure to China is extremely limited. U.S. exports to China represent only 7% of America's total exports worldwide; which in turn accounts for less than 1% of total U.S. GDP (Wells Fargo Economics Group 2015). Most of America's exports to China are raw materials, which can be redirected to other markets with some effort. So even if China blocked all U.S. exports tomorrow, America's economy could absorb the blow with minimal damage. This presents the U.S. government with a wide range of options to deal with China's many trade infractions and unfair practices as aggressively or punitively as it wishes.

europeangrayling

Poor Davos attendees. You feel for them at their fancy alpine Bilderberg. It's like the meeting of the mafia organizations, if the mafia became legal and respected now and ran the world economy. And I don't think those economic royalists at Davos miss Trump, Trump was a small fish compared to the Davos people. They make Trump look like a dishwasher.

They are just pissed Trump came out against the TPP and those globalist 'free trade' deals, and doesn't want more regime change maybe. They like everything else about Trump's policies, the big tax cuts, environmental and banking deregulations galore, it's like Reagan 2.0, without the 'free trade'. But they really want that 'free trade' though, those guys are used to getting everything. Imagine if Bernie won, they would really hate that guy, he is also against the TPPs and trade, and for less war, and against everything else they are used to. And that's good, if those honorable brilliant Davos gentleman don't like you, that's not a bad thing.

soundofthesuburbs -> soundofthesuburbs

With secular stagnation we should all be asking why is economics so bad?

Keynesian redistributive capitalism went out with Margaret Thatcher and inequality has been rising ever since (there is a clue there for the economists amongst us).

How did these new ideas rise to prominence?

"There Is No Nobel Prize in Economics

It's awarded by Sweden's central bank, foisted among the five real prizewinners, often to economists for the 1% -- and the surviving Nobel family is strongly against it."

"The award for economics came almost 70 years later-bootstrapped to the Nobel in 1968 as a bit of a marketing ploy to celebrate the Bank of Sweden's 300th anniversary." Yes, you read that right: "a marketing ploy."

Today's economics rose to prominence by awarding its economists Nobel Prizes that weren't Nobel Prizes.

No wonder it's so bad.

Global elites can use all sorts of trickery to put their ideas in place, but economics is economics and if doesn't reflect how the economy operates it won't work.

Secular stagnation – what more evidence do we need?

HauptmannGurski -> bcarey

Davos is not restricting attendance to high office bearers. Trump could have gone, had he wanted to, or he could have sent one of his family/staff - that's how Davos works.

Bilderberg is by invitation, as far as I know, Davos by application and paying a high membership, plus fee. But the fact he is not represented could be a good sign if it means that the focus is on solving domestic issues as opposed to spending so much time and resources on international ones.

Meanwhile, alibaba's Jack Ma said in Davos that the US had spent many trillions on wars in the last 30 years and neglected their own infrastructure. Money is for people, or some such like, he said. Just mentioning it here, because the MSM tend to dislike running this kind of remark.

Rajanvn -> HauptmannGurski

My own take on the annual Davos circus is as follows:. It is a totally useless conclave and has never achieved anything tangible since its inception.

Did it, in any way, with all the stars in the financial galaxy gathered in one place, warn against the 2008 global financial meltdown? The real reason why so many moneybags congregate at a place which would be shunned by all who have no affinity for snow sports may be, according to my own reckoning, may not be that innocent and may even be quite sinister.

This gives an excellent opportunity for those who hold so-called "numbered" or other secret bank accounts in the proverbially secretive Swiss banks to have their annual tete-a-tete with their bankers and carry out whatever maintenance has to be done to their bank accounts. After all, in tiny Switzerland, it is only a hop from one town to another. No one will miss you if you are not visible for a day or two. If any nosy taxman back home asks: "What was the purpose of your visit to Switzerland?", one can say with a straight face: "Oh, I was invited to be a keynote speaker at Davos to talk about the increasing income disparity in the world and on what steps to take to mitigate it."!

Roland33

I think globalisation is inhumane. Someone calculated that if labour were to follow capital flows we would see one third of the globe move around on a constant basis. One son in Cape Town a daughter in New York and a brother in Tokyo. It's not how human societies operate we are group animals like herds of cows. We need to be firmly rooted in order to build functioning and humane societies. That is the migration aspect of globalization the other aspect is the complete destruction of diverse cultures.

If everyone drives Toyota and everyone drinks Starbucks we lose the diversity of culture that people claim they find so valuable. And replaces it with a mono-culture of Levi jeans and McDonalds. Wealth inequality is really something that can be reduced if you look various countries score higher in this regard than others while still being highly successful market economies but I think money is secondary to the displacement and alienation that come with the first two aspects of globalisation. I find it strange that it is now the right that advocates reversing these neoliberal trends and the left that seems to champion it. I was conscious during the 90's and anti-globalisation was clearly a left wing issue. For whatever reason the left just leaves room for the right to harvest the grapes of wrath they warned about many years ago. Don't blame the "populist" right ask why the left left them the space.

[Jan 18, 2017] The main argument Ive heard/read against UBI is that getting money without working is immoral and it should be to everyone according to his work .

Jan 18, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Julio -> Peter K.... The main argument I've heard/read against UBI is that getting money without working is immoral and it should be "to everyone according to his work".

Aside from the obvious contradictions here (we accept heirs getting money without working; and how do you measure anyone's work anyway?), I think this makes an assumption that everything we have is what we produce.

The fact is that most of what we have is inherited collectively. Even the most successful "job creator" types like Steve Jobs inherit a gigantic cart that they move a few inches forward.

This is not just concrete material wealth, but institutional wealth also, which we all contribute to continually. Every person that wakes up in the morning and accepts that problems with his neighbor should be resolved in court and not with a gun, is contributing to maintaining that inheritance.

From this perspective, a UBI that reflects your country's wealth is an inherited right.

This unstated assumption underlies many of our current debates. E.g. why does an American worker have the right to a Us-standard wage?

Reply Monday, January 16, 2017 at 11:15 AM RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to Julio ... , January 16, 2017 at 12:01 PM
Well said.
anne -> Julio ... , January 16, 2017 at 12:26 PM
Nicely presented.

[Jan 18, 2017] Marcy Wheeler On Fake News

Notable quotes:
"... By Marcy Wheeler, an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial. Originally published at emptywheel ..."
"... The Count of Monte-Cristo ..."
"... I believe it was Chomsky who said that the print media has content and filler, the content is the advertising and the filler is everything else. ..."
"... As advertising revenues have gone down, the print media may be looking for a new operating funds, maybe from wealthy owners (Bezos, Carlos Slim) paying for their views to be featured, maybe from US government hidden funding to "counter fake news" that is contrary to the story the elite wants told. ..."
"... If there is a feedback loop in the mainstream media, it is very slow and does not correct errors to result in lasting reform. ..."
"... The Times promoted the Iraq war and then had the Bill Keller retrospective "we got it wrong" years later. ..."
"... Then the Times moved onto promoting military action in Libya, the Ukraine and Syria. ..."
Jan 16, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Yves here. Marcy points out how what is considered to be "news" has changed greatly over time, and that the requirement that news be objective is recent and marketing-driven.

This essay covers a great deal of important ground. I'd like to add one topic, which is the role of propaganda. Even though organizations have done all sorts of evangelizing, the use of the media and social networks of the day for that purpose is relatively recent. Alex Carey in his book Taking the Risk Out of Democracy dates it to the early 1900s. One early, successful campaign led by the National Association of Manufacturers, already a leader in campaigning against organized labor, was to counter the backlash against immigration, which was then seen as a threat to American values and communities. One of their initiatives was institutionalizing "Americanization Day," later rebranded as "Independence Day."

As we've discussed before, the first full-bore government-sponsored propaganda campaign took place in World War I. The Creel Committee, an agency of the Federal government officially called the Committee on Public Information used all the communication vehicles of its day, not just newspapers. An overview from Wikipedia:

The committee used newsprint, posters, radio, telegraph, cable and movies to broadcast its message. It recruited about 75,000 "Four Minute Men," volunteers who spoke about the war at social events for an ideal length of four minutes, considering that the average human attention span was judged at the time to be four minutes. They covered the draft, rationing, war bond drives, victory gardens and why America was fighting. It was estimated that by the end of the war, they had made more than 7.5 million speeches to 314 million people in 5,200 communities. They were advised to keep their message positive, always use their own words and avoid "hymns of hate." For ten days in May 1917, the Four Minute Men were expected to promote "Universal Service by Selective Draft" in advance of national draft registration on June 5, 1917.

The CPI staged events designed for specific ethnic groups. For instance, Irish-American tenor John McCormack sang at Mount Vernon before an audience representing Irish-American organizations. The Committee also targeted the American worker and, endorsed by Samuel Gompers, filled factories and offices with posters designed to promote the critical role of American labor in the success of the war effort.

The CPI's activities were so thorough that historians later stated, using the example of a typical midwestern American farm family, that

Every item of war news they saw-in the country weekly, in magazines, or in the city daily picked up occasionally in the general store-was not merely officially approved information but precisely the same kind that millions of their fellow citizens were getting at the same moment. Every war story had been censored somewhere along the line- at the source, in transit, or in the newspaper offices in accordance with 'voluntary' rules established by the CPI.

The Creel Committee was able to turn America from being firmly pacifist to being eager to fight the evil Germans in a mere 18 months. In Serbia, a concerted propaganda campaign was able to turn public polls radically in a mere six weeks.

In other words, the hysteria about fake news appears to be members of the officialdom realizing that their traditional propaganda channels don't work because too many people get information on the Internet, and they can no longer orchestrate a Mighty Wurlitzer of unified opinion. This may seem obvious but surprisingly few people are willing to say that in simple terms. The reflex of government opinion managers and their media allies is to shut down or delegitimate offending outlets. But there are too many, not just in the US but overseas, for them to do that other than by severely curtailing Internet publication. Are they prepared to go the route of the Chinese government in terms of restricting foreign access and censoring domestic writers? That's the end game if they are serious about stopping what TPTB deems to be "fake news".

By Marcy Wheeler, an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial. Originally published at emptywheel

I've been getting into multiple Twitter fights about the term "fake news" of late, a topic about which I feel strongly but which I don't have time to reargue over and over. So here are the reasons I find the term "fake news" to be counterproductive, even aside from the way Washington Post magnified it with the PropOrNot campaign amidst a series of badly reported articles on Russia that failed WaPo's own standards of "fake news."

Most people who use the term "fake news" seem to be fetishizing something they call "news." By that, they usually mean the pursuit of "the truth" within an editor-and-reporter system of "professional" news reporting. Even in 2017, they treat that term "news" as if it escapes all biases, with some still endorsing the idea that "objectivity" is the best route to "truth," even in spite of the way "objectivity" has increasingly imposed a kind of both-sides false equivalence that the right has used to move the Overton window in recent years.

I've got news (heh) for you America. What we call "news" is one temporally and geographically contingent genre of what gets packaged as "news." Much of the world doesn't produce the kind of news we do, and for good parts of our own history, we didn't either. Objectivity was invented as a marketing ploy. It is true that during a period of elite consensus, news that we treated as objective succeeded in creating a unifying national narrative of what most white people believed to be true, and that narrative was tremendously valuable to ensure the working of our democracy. But even there, "objectivity" had a way of enforcing centrism. It excluded most women and people of color and often excluded working class people. It excluded the "truth" of what the US did overseas. It thrived in a world of limited broadcast news outlets. In that sense, the golden age of objective news depended on a great deal of limits to the marketplace of ideas, largely chosen by the gatekeeping function of white male elitism.

And, probably starting at the moment Walter Cronkite figured out the Vietnam War was a big myth, that elite narrative started developing cracks.

But several things have disrupted what we fetishize as news since them. Importantly, news outlets started demanding major profits, which changed both the emphasis on reporting and the measure of success. Cable news, starting especially with Fox but definitely extending to MSNBC, aspired to achieve buzz, and even explicitly political outcomes, bringing US news much closer to what a lot of advanced democracies have - politicized news.

And all that's before 2002, what I regard as a key year in this history. Not only was traditional news struggling in the face of heightened profit expectations even as the Internet undercut the press' traditional revenue model. But at a time of crisis in the financial model of the "news," the press catastrophically blew the Iraq War, and did so at a time when people like me were able to write "news" outside of the strictures of the reporter-and-editor arrangement.

I actually think, in an earlier era, the government would have been able to get away with its Iraq War lies, because there wouldn't be outlets documenting the errors, and there wouldn't have been ready alternatives to a model that proved susceptible to manipulation. There might eventually have been a Cronkite moment in the Iraq War, too, but it would have been about the conduct of the war, not also about the gaming of the "news" process to create the war. But because there was competition, we saw the Iraq War as a journalistic failure when we didn't see earlier journalistic complicity in American foreign policy as such.

Since then, of course, the underlying market has continued to change. Optimistically, new outlets have arisen. Some of them - perhaps most notably HuffPo and BuzzFeed and Gawker before Peter Thiel killed it - have catered to the financial opportunities of the Internet, paying for real journalism in part with clickbait stories that draw traffic (which is just a different kind of subsidy than the family-owned project that traditional newspapers often relied on, and these outlets also rely on other subsidies). I'm pretty excited by some of the journalism BuzzFeed is doing right now, but it's worth reflecting their very name nods to clickbait.

More importantly, the "center" of our national - indeed, global - discourse shifted from elite reporter-and-editor newspapers to social media, and various companies - almost entirely American - came to occupy dominant positions in that economy. That comes with the good and the bad. It permits the formulation of broader networks; it permits crisis on the other side of the globe to become news over here, in some but not all spaces, it permits women and people of color to engage on an equal footing with people previously deemed the elite (though very urgent digital divide issues still leave billions outside this discussion). It allows our spooks to access information that Russia needs to hack to get with a few clicks of a button. It also means the former elite narrative has to compete with other bubbles, most of which are not healthy and many of which are downright destructive. It fosters abuse.

But the really important thing is that the elite reporter-and-editor oligopoly was replaced with a marketplace driven by a perverse marriage of our human psychology and data manipulation (and often, secret algorithms). Even assuming net neutrality, most existing discourse exists in that marketplace. That reality has negative effects on everything, from financially strapped reporter-and-editor outlets increasingly chasing clicks to Macedonian teenagers inventing stories to make money to attention spans that no longer get trained for long reads and critical thinking.

The other thing to remember about this historical narrative is that there have always been stories pretending to present the real world that were not in fact the real world. Always. Always always always. Indeed, there are academic arguments that our concept of "fiction" actually arises out of a necessary legal classification for what gets published in the newspaper. "Facts" were insults of the king you could go to prison for. "Fiction" was stories about kings that weren't true and therefore wouldn't get you prison time (obviously, really authoritarian regimes don't honor this distinction, which is an important lesson in their contingency). I have been told that fact/fiction moment didn't happen in all countries, and it happened at different times in different countries (roughly tied, in my opinion, to the moment when the government had to sustain legitimacy via the press).

But even after that fact/fiction moment, you would always see factual stories intermingling with stuff so sensational that we would never regard it as true. But such sensational not-true stories definitely helped to sell newspapers. Most people don't know this because we generally learn a story via which our fetishized objective news is the end result of a process of earlier news, but news outlets - at least in the absence of heavy state censorship - have always been very heterogeneous.

As many of you know, a big part of my dissertation covered actual fiction in newspapers. The Count of Monte-Cristo , for example, was published in France's then equivalent of the WSJ. It wasn't the only story about an all powerful figure with ties to Napoleon Bonaparte that delivered justice that appeared in newspapers of the day. Every newspaper offered competing versions, and those sold newspapers at a moment of increasing industrialization of the press in France. But even at a time when the "news" section of the newspaper presented largely curations of parliamentary debates, everything else ran the gamut from "fiction," to sensational stuff (often reporting on technology or colonies), to columns to advertisements pretending to be news.

After 1848 and 1851, the literary establishment put out alarmed calls to discipline the literary sphere, which led to changes that made such narratives less accessible to the kind of people who might overthrow a king. That was the "fictional narrative" panic of the time, one justified by events of 1848.

Anyway, if you don't believe me that there has always been fake news, just go to a checkout line and read the National Enquirer, which sometimes does cover people like Hillary Clinton or Angela Merkel. "But people know that's fake news!" people say. Not all, and not all care. It turns out, some people like to consume fictional narratives (I have actually yet to see analysis of how many people don't realize or care that today's Internet fake news is not true). In fact, everyone likes to consume fictional narratives - it's a fundamental part of what makes us human - but some of us believe there are norms about whether fictional narratives should be allowed to influence how we engage in politics.

Not that that has ever stopped people from letting religion - a largely fictional narrative - dictate political decisions.

So to sum up this part of my argument: First, the history of journalism is about the history of certain market conditions, conditions which always get at least influenced by the state, but which in so-called capitalist countries also tend to produce bottle necks of power. In the 50s, it was the elite. Now it's Silicon Valley. And that's true not just here! The bottle-neck of power for much of the world is Silicon Valley. To understand what dictates the kinds of stories you get from a particular media environment, you need to understand where the bottle-necks are. Today's bottle-neck has created both what people like to call "fake news" and a whole bunch of other toxins.

But also, there has never been a time in media where not-true stories didn't comingle with true stories, and at many times in history the lines between them were not clear to many consumers. Plus, not-true stories, of a variety of types, can often have a more powerful influence than true ones (think about how much our national security state likes series like 24). Humans are wired for narrative, not for true or false narrative.

Which brings us to what some people are calling "fake news" - as if both "fake" and "news" aren't just contingent terms across the span of media - and insisting it has never existed before. These people suggest the advent of deliberately false narratives, produced both by partisans, entrepreneurs gaming ad networks, as well as state actors trying to influence our politics, narratives that feed on human proclivity for sensationalism (though stories from this year showed Trump supporters had more of this than Hillary supporters) served via the Internet, are a new and unique threat, and possibly the biggest threat in our media environment right now.

Let me make clear: I do think it's a threat, especially in an era where local trusted news is largely defunct. I think it is especially concerning because powers of the far right are using it to great effect. But I think pretending this is a unique moment in history - aside from the characteristics of the marketplace - obscures the areas (aside from funding basic education and otherwise fostering critical thinking) that can most effectively combat it. I especially encourage doing what we can to disrupt the bottle-neck - one that happens to be in Silicon Valley - that plays on human nature. Google, Facebook, and Germany have all taken initial steps which may limit the toxins that get spread via a very American bottle-neck.

I'm actually more worried about the manipulation of which stories get fed by big data. Trump claims to have used it to drive down turnout; and the first he worked with is part of a larger information management company. The far right is probably achieving more with these tailored messages than Vladimir Putin is with his paid trolls.

The thing is: the antidote to both of these problems are to fix the bottle-neck.

But I also think that the most damaging non-true news story of the year was Bret Baier's claim that Hillary was going to be indicted, as even after it was retracted it magnified the damage of Jim Comey's interventions. I always raise that in Twitter debates, and people tell me oh that's just bad journalism not fake news. It was a deliberate manipulation of the news delivery system (presumably by FBI Agents) in the same way the manipulation of Facebooks algorithms feeds so-called fake news. But it had more impact because more people saw it and people may retain news delivered as news more. It remains a cinch to manipulate the reporter-and-editor news process (particularly in an era driven by clicks and sensationalism and scoops), and that is at least as major a threat to democracy as non-elites consuming made up stories about the Pope.

I'll add that there are special categories of non-factual news that deserve notice. Much stock reporting, especially in the age of financialization, is just made up hocus pocus designed to keep the schlubs whom the elite profit off of in the market. And much reporting on our secret foreign policy deliberately reports stuff the reporter knows not to be true. David Sanger's recent amnesia of his own reporting on StuxNet is a hilarious example of this, as is all the Syria reporting that pretends we haven't intervened there. Frankly, even aside from the more famous failures, a lot of Russian coverage obscures reality, which discredits reports on what is a serious issue. I raise these special categories because they are the kind of non-true news that elites endorse, and as such don't raise the alarm that Macedonian teenagers making a buck do.

The latest panic about "fake news" - Trump's labeling of CNN and Buzzfeed as such for disseminating the dossier that media outlets chose not to disseminate during the election - suffers from some of the same characteristics, largely because parts of it remain shrouded in clandestine networks (and because the provenance remains unclear). If American power relies (as it increasingly does) on secrets and even outright lies, who's to blame the proles for inventing their own narratives, just like the elite do?

Two final points.

First, underlying most of this argument is an argument about what happens when you subject the telling of true stories to certain conditions of capitalism. There is often a tension in this process, as capitalism may make "news" (and therefore full participation in democracy) available to more people, but to popularize that news, businesses do things that taint the elite's idealized notion of what true story telling in a democracy should be. Furthermore, at no moment in history I'm aware of has there been a true "open" market for news. It is always limited by the scarcity of outlets and bandwidth, by laws, by media ownership patterns, and by the historically contingent bottle-necks that dictate what kind of news may be delivered most profitably. One reason I loathe the term "fake news" is because its users think the answer lies in non-elite consumers or in producers and not in the marketplace itself, a marketplace created in and largely still benefitting the US. If "fake news" is a problem, then it's a condemnation of the marketplace of ideas largely created by the US and elites in the US need to attend to that.

Finally, one reason there is such a panic about "fake news" is because the western ideology of neoliberalism has failed. It has led to increased authoritarianism, decreased qualify of life in developed countries (but not parts of Africa and other developing nations), and it has led to serial destabilizing wars along with the refugee crises that further destabilize Europe. It has failed in the same way that communism failed before it, but the elites backing it haven't figured this out yet. I'll write more on this (Ian Walsh has been doing good work here ). All details of the media environment aside, this has disrupted the value-laden system in which "truth" exists, creating a great deal of panic and confusion among the elite that expects itself to lead the way out of this morass. Part of what we're seeing in "fake news" panic stems from that, as well as a continued disinterest in accountability for the underlying policies - the Iraq War and the Wall Street crash and aftermath especially - enabled by failures in our elite media environment. But our media environment is likely to be contested until such time as a viable ideology forms to replace failed neoliberalism. Sadly, that ideology will be Trumpism unless the elite starts making the world a better place for average folks. Instead, the elite is policing discourse-making by claiming other things - the bad true and false narratives it, itself, doesn't propagate - as illegitimate.

"Fake news" is a problem. But it is a minor problem compared to our other discursive problems.

0 0 8 1 0 This entry was posted in Banana republic , Guest Post , Media watch , New McCarthyism , Politics , Social values , Surveillance state on January 16, 2017 by Yves Smith .
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Subscribe to Post Comments 19 comments epynonymous , January 16, 2017 at 6:51 am

Saw some fake TV today.

Episode 2 of the new gameshow "The Wall", which features up to ~$12 Million in possible prizes, they cheat the very first question.

Confirm it for yourself. The 'couple' (the game is for 'couples) is a military family. The hot-shot helo-pilot doesn't know who won the tortise and the hare.

He screams, the hare! And presses the button in plain sight.

Never-the-less he is rewarded a win. His wife later cannot tell the nicknames of the F-16 and the F-18 apart for 100% sure.

https://www.ohow.co/secret-%C9%A2oogle-com-trump-spam-google-analytics/

Also, a link which I can only guess details spammers who spam and then offer a solution to their spamming.

epynonymous , January 16, 2017 at 6:53 am

Once upon a time, the search string "I have a secret fake" in Google would return lone string of a book where a lone voice in the wilderness put in print that the whole show was 'managed.'

A sophisticated re-viewing shows it to have been 'faked' this is all back in the 50's. It's coming back, but two years after my last research on this, the same search string only gave me the above link to . what?

epynonymous , January 16, 2017 at 7:51 am

The tortise wins. Correction: The show's later episodes (just watched) reveal that answers in transit can be changed. So this is no repeat of 'Card Sharks' (Time magazine complicity included.)

It's awkward when nobody quite knows what exactly the rules are and the prize is so high.

It's going to be a weird week.

JTMcPhee , January 16, 2017 at 10:50 am

Let us remember Charles "The Genius Of All Time" Van Doren, and his skyrocket fame (what's the end point of a skyrocket's trajectory, again?) in the Great Quiz Show Manipulation of the '50s and early '60s, this story link from the NYT in 2008 kind of lifts some of the corners of the curtain that the Bernaysian manipulators hide behind, "After 49 years, Charles Van Doren talks," http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/21/opinion/21iht-edbeam.1.14660467.html

"For evil to triumph, all that is required is for a few good people to remain silent," or some such sh!t.

And there's this, on another YUUUGE cultural phenom, "The $64,000 Question," which was one of those "quiz" game shows my parents and us kids sat mesmerized watching, with visions of "free money" dancing in our peabrains, and which "program" (what a wonderful meme-name for what "media" does to us mopes) pure deceit and buzz-building on a par with state Lotteries: "The American Experience: The $64,000 Question," http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/quizshow/peopleevents/pande06.html (note that this was from PBS, in 1999, before the Reagan Rot had really gained a full head of steam).

Once again, the popular interpretation and infusion and internalization of "information" displaying and relating, "those who have eyes, let them see," the unhappy sicknesses of a pleasure-and-greed-driven human infestation gets it all wrong, finds no wisdom leading out of the cave, turns possible insights into just more grist for the Bernaysian mills to roll out

"Jerr-Y! Jerr-Y! Jerr-Y!" "And in the room the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo "

epynonymous , January 16, 2017 at 7:06 am

Just because I'm really on a tear, has anyone seen the Late Show where Colbert spends 12 minutes on Trump 'Golden Shower' rumors?

The piece even runs mainstream TV headlines about a "rift" between Trump and the intelligence agencies while never explaining a thing.

The inside angle on such 'rumors' (Russian rumors, I presume looking at you DNC ) is fit to be reported as fact in this case.

jabawocky , January 16, 2017 at 7:49 am

'In other words, the hysteria about fake news appears to be members of the officialdom realizing that their traditional propaganda channels don't work because too many people get information on the Internet, and they can no longer orchestrate a Mighty Wurlitzer of unified opinion.'

Bang on Yves. And I would add that if you run a propaganda machine, and are a little paranoid, any 'unauthorised' story on the web looks like someone else's propaganda.

Its wrong to put all this down to internet news however. Adam Curtis' 'Bitter Lake' is a must-see on this topic. Just like in 1980s Soviet Union where the stories of Russian greatness were so obviously contradicted by the experience of ordinary Russians of a failing state, the fakery of the war on terror propaganda has worn away our trust in the Mighty Wurlitzer. Curtis linked the cultural collapse of the Soviet Union intrinsically to the failure of the war in Afghanistan and the mirror it held up to the supposed values of Soviet Society, as trumpeted by their version of the Mighty Wurlitzer. And maybe he's right.

1933 Germany, 1989 Sovient Union, 2016 USA. All three stemmed from failures of the Mighty Wurlitzer. The big question is whether we will long for it back.

Clive , January 16, 2017 at 8:44 am

One for Curtis hardcore fans only (he really stretched his already tenuous hold on the conventions of documentary making in this one) but his latest, HyperNormalisation , takes the themes you refer to in your comment above and expands on them to explain how we got to Fake News.

Well worth a watch, if you can access it.

lyman alpha blob , January 16, 2017 at 8:23 am

Same as it ever was.

To go a little farther back, this book Infamous Scribblers about what passed as journalism back in the 18th century is a good read.

equote , January 16, 2017 at 8:38 am

http://www.dallasnews.com/business/stock-market/2017/01/16/will-public-company-go-way-dodo-bird

This doesn't read like fake news, but I would like to read nakedcapitalism's views on the trend, if it exists, and the implications for society etc.

NotTimothyGeithner , January 16, 2017 at 9:14 am

The last CEO of the company, a publicly traded company, where my dad worked before the sale to GE told my dad that in the future companies can't go public if they don't want to work for Wall Street wolves. This was around '95. Dad still goes to company reunions. Those weirdos liked their jobs.

Of course, the longer trend is business formation related. The Internet and social media booms are over, and those were the new IPOs of the last 20 years. The ends of growth are the real issues.

David , January 16, 2017 at 8:54 am

I don't think anybody is "fetishizing news," but whilst its true that there's a far greater variety of information sources today, and many of them are not subject to the pressures of conventional media, the implication that somehow the overall level of "truth" has gone up is not sustainable. If anything it's probably gone down. Those of us of a certain age remember a time when there were far more newspapers than today, when ownership was spread much more widely, and where newspapers had a lot more staff and were under a lot less commercial pressure than is the case now. You could, and did, allow for political bias, and it was possible, though not common, for blatant untruths to be published. But that was more difficult than it is today, because the barriers to entry were much higher, and the total media space was much smaller.
I also think its unfair to blame the problem solely on the effects of neoliberalism, damaging as those have been. Journalists themselves have to bear some of the blame. In the 1990s, it became fashionable to deride objectivity (mere "objectivity, a white, patriarchal western concept) as an objective of journalism. Because total objectivity was impossible, it was said, you shouldn't even try. And as a number of journalists at the time argued "you can't be objective between good and evil." The same people who lied about WMD in Iraq in 2002 had already lied about Bosnia a decade before, were to lie about Darfur a few years later and are busy lying about Syria, the Ukraine and "free trade" today. In each case, the argument is the same: the service of a higher moral principle. I've even heard it argued that Trump is such a terrible human being that journalists have not only a right but an actual duty to print anything that might cause him harm. To the extent that you abandon the demand that journalists should do their professional best to be as accurate as possible, and you see "news" itself as a contested, contingent term, it's hard to rationally criticise the actors in any of these episodes.

Vatch , January 16, 2017 at 9:37 am

What were the lies about Bosnia and Darfur?

dontknowitall , January 16, 2017 at 9:41 am

Interesting essay I am not mollified by reading that Google, Facebook and Germany are uniting to defeat 'fake news' and then remembering the recent rumors (fake news?) that Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook, is considering running for President so what happens when the bottle-neck king also runs the nation, or is even just thinking of it (Zuckerberg finding God recently comes to mind), when most voters are getting their news from their Facebook news feeds ? Would something mildly critical of Mark Zuckerberg survive 'fake' news review ?

Also, just because China has a walled garden doesn't save them from a torrent of local fake news. In the US the current business model of the internet news is actually a greater danger to democracy and that is the automated binning of consumers into narrow categories (right, left, techie etc) from which they find it hard to stray, if they even think of it, and so it makes it hard for a reader to see in his newsfeed countervailing news or analysis, people thus get polarized. The effort to find different/opposing opinions is not painless and quite by design. This trap has to be broken.

Quality education of the population and freer access to information are greater defenses of democracy and freedom the any Facebook designed filter.

susan the other , January 16, 2017 at 9:42 am

great essay. Makes me think there is some bedrock reality beneath all the noise that keeps us rational enough to survive. All forms of life display good judgment; practicality. So do we. So I'm not very concerned that we might be pants-less without an ideology to shroud all the embarrassing craziness. I'm encouraged by that prospect.

Disturbed Voter , January 16, 2017 at 9:54 am

Sheep get slaughtered I choose not to be a sheep. I had no choice in the 60s, when I had three oligopoly networks to choose from. With the Internet, I am my own reporter. This is more like how the printing press destroyed the Catholic Church. I make my own narrative, I don't let anyone else do it for me. Facts are few and far between, but they are just signposts on my own superhighway which I build myself. Are my beliefs factual? Are they for anyone? That was a rhetorical question. People who think their beliefs are The Truth are maniacs.

Altandmain , January 16, 2017 at 10:11 am

This whole "fake news" business is all about suppressing dissent, as others have noted.

The media tried to coronate Clinton. With falling advertising revenues in some cases, and decreasing trust in the mainstream media, they have begun to panic. They know that the people realize that they are the Pravda of plutocracy.

At the same time, the alternative media has grown with the Internet. It has reached growing members and allowed people to see the truth.

Counterpunch had a good article on this one:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/01/13/why-ridiculous-official-propaganda-still-works/

The reason why propaganda like "fake news" exists is to create a false narrative that can be repeated that people can believe in. The other of course is to force people to comply or face professional and financial consequences.

The thing is, I think that we've reached the limits of propaganda. Inequality has reached an extent that the myth that America is a meritocracy has failed, while efforts to force the American people to accept war have been faced with opposition.

Altandmain , January 16, 2017 at 10:56 am

One more point I should repeat. Perhaps a blatant example: Fox News has been making fake news for years and yet nobody called it out.

That's because it served the interests of the very rich. That's what this is all about.

John Wright , January 16, 2017 at 10:12 am

What is unsurprising is that the media does signal what the insiders want/plan to do.

I was in a library that had some old bound Life Magazines and decided to see what the Life covered just prior to the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

There was an article about a Midwest congressmen who was visiting his district, who knew his constituents did not want to go to war, but seemed to see the US entry into war likely.

Even Hollywood got into the act, as the Sergeant York (American WWI hero) 1941 movie was released on July 2, 1941, well before Pearl Harbor.

There seems to be little penalty for journalists getting it wrong, for example Tom Friedman, Nicholas Kristof, and Michael Gordon of the Times still have jobs after their "let's promote the Iraq War effort".

Judith Miller was the lone sacrificial lamb.

Some of them even re-write history, as sanctimonious Nicholas Kristof, while recently pimping for the USA's involvement in Syria (on humanitarian grounds, of course), pushed a "trust me on Syria" story by asserting his prior wisdom in his alleged strong opposition to the Iraq war.

Yet I archived an August 27, 2002 column in which he wrote:

"Iraq may well be different. President Bush has convinced me that there is no philosophical reason we should not overthrow the Iraqi government, given that Iraqis themselves would be better off, along with the rest of the world. But Mr. Bush has not overcome some practical concerns about an invasion."

What about ethical concerns, Kristof?

I believe it was Chomsky who said that the print media has content and filler, the content is the advertising and the filler is everything else.

As advertising revenues have gone down, the print media may be looking for a new operating funds, maybe from wealthy owners (Bezos, Carlos Slim) paying for their views to be featured, maybe from US government hidden funding to "counter fake news" that is contrary to the story the elite wants told.

If there is a feedback loop in the mainstream media, it is very slow and does not correct errors to result in lasting reform.

The Times promoted the Iraq war and then had the Bill Keller retrospective "we got it wrong" years later.

Then the Times moved onto promoting military action in Libya, the Ukraine and Syria.

The Times recently had an "Obama regrets Libya" retrospective, what other "we got it wrong" retrospectives will occur in the future?

Jamie , January 16, 2017 at 10:20 am

In the third paragraph Marcy begins talking about objectivity and then shifts to denigrating "objectivity" without a word about what the scare quotes mean to her. Now I understand that the language used by an oppressive system can itself be oppressive. But if "objectivity" omitted women and people of color, well, clearly that's bad, but what does that have to do with objectivity?

Maybe I'm just too old and out of touch to get the post modern project to dismantle objectivity and replace it with self-centered wishful thinking. But without objectivity, we would never have seen the civil rights movement or the rise of feminism in the sixties.

I was still very young during the civil rights movement so I won't talk about what I don't really know first hand, but the rise of feminism took place in the prime of my passionate youth. What many middle class women were experiencing in the '50s was a complete isolation in the suburbs and a feeling (due largely to rampant blaming the victim) that all the problems of their lives were their own personal problems. It was not until politically active women began to share their experiences in consciousness raising groups that they discovered that they were not alone in their experiences i.e. that many of their so-called personal problems were objectively imposed upon the entire group of women by the oppressive society. That is, these were not personal problems at all, they were socially constructed problems that effected all women to some degree. Without objectivity there could be no oppression theory, consciousness raising groups are transformed into support groups, oppression theory becomes psychology, and the oppression of women is dissolved into nothing more than the personal problems of individual women. Don't throw out the baby with the bath water.

[Jan 16, 2017] Bloomberg -- eminent fake news producer

Jan 16, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
Central Intelligence Agency Director William Colby comment about the media - YouTube
Church Committee Hearings CIA William Colby 1975 - YouTube
A History of CIA Media Manipulation - YouTube

Here is what Bloomberg peddled for news yesterday.

Donald Trump's advisers have told U.K. officials that the incoming president's first foreign trip will be a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin , potentially in Reykjavik within weeks of taking office, the Sunday Times reported. Trump plans to begin working on a deal to limit nuclear weapons, the newspaper said, without providing details. It cited an unidentified source for the summit plans, and added that Moscow is ready to agree to the meeting , based on comments from officials at the Russian embassy in London. The paper, citing an unidentified adviser to Trump, told the Times that the president-elect, who will be sworn in on Jan. 20, will meet with Putin at a neutral venue "very soon." In eyeing Iceland's capital, Trump's team may be hoping to recreate the optics of a Reagan-era nuclear agreement. Former President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, then general secretary of the Soviet Union's Communist Party, held a two-day summit in Reykjavik in October 1986 to work on what eventually became a major nuclear disarmament treaty between the two superpowers in 1987. Trump's transition team didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Did the media just make up this story out of thin air in an attempt to further deride Trump? I must admit, only in a bizarre world, such as the one created by the left for the left, is holding meetings with a military super power in the attempts to normalize relations and preserve peace considered a bad thing. Alas, we are living in an era of war, where the military industrial complex works overtime to control useful idiots to foment anger and sway public opinion towards (you guessed it) MOAR WAR. This story was likely leaked by team Trump on purpose, in order to make the media look like jackass fools. By leaking falsehoods to an ornery and invective media, Trump keeps them on their toes and makes them second guess anything they hear coming out of his quarters, an effective disinformation strategy used to fool an enemy during a time of war.

Content originally generated at iBankCoin.com

espirit -> pparalegal , Jan 15, 2017 7:59 PM

Strange feeling that pressure put on Trump to divest association with Putin / Russia by U.S. intelligence community / MSM, is moar than meets the eye fact sheet. Threats, veiled or otherwise appear to be perceived deterrents by those in D.C. who would shun any illumination into their illegal and corrupt activities, thus a Trump / Putin alliance could very well expose many conspiritors.

Vlad the Impaler is coming to town.

I imagine Putin has some dirt on a lot of DC SwampCreatures©. (Marvel issue #27)

Be very afraid of the light, mofo's.

pparalegal , Jan 15, 2017 7:45 PM

Brilliant. This guy is good. All that will be left of the talking parrots and pretend news media empires will be 18 year old interns translating his tweets and asking John Lewis for comments to go with Obama's daily preaching to the flock. The leftover time will be filled with protesters burning tires and viagra commercials.

Hollywood screen writers take note.

TeethVillage88s -> dexter_morgan , Jan 15, 2017 6:19 PM

Timely work by the fly. Guy is on top of it.

-

"Did the media just make up this story out of thin air in an attempt to further deride Trump? I must admit, only in a bizarre world, such as the one created by the left for the left, is holding meetings with a military super power in the attempts to normalize relations and preserve peace considered a bad thing. Alas, we are living in an era of war, where the military industrial complex works overtime to control useful idiots to foment anger and sway public opinion towards (you guessed it) MOAR WAR."

- Hope there are forensics on this work of fiction

rwe2late , Jan 15, 2017 12:55 PM

Too bad the reported visit is fake.

As I had posted, it would be a good idea to defuse the situation O-Bomb-A and his NATO

underlings have made in Europe. The danger of a sudden escalated military conflict is real

(deliberate, inadvertant, or contrived).

So now, I guess, Trump will meet first with the bosses of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the 'City of London'.

TeethVillage88s -> rwe2late , Jan 15, 2017 6:29 PM

Since 1989 the Political Elite and Corporate Elite don't care who the enemy is as long as there is an Enemy.

- Except hands off Israel, and don't support Palestine - And Except for Saudi Arabia - And Except for UK, Canada, Mexico, Aus, EU... but we don't mind fucking with NATO Countries Politics using Operation Gladio type Strategy of Tension or shipping in Millions of Refugees from M.E. - And well there are 7-8 countries we want to collapse and maybe Venezuela and Argentina and Brazil

Yup, this is foreign policy and your foreign policy tax dollars at work.

rudyspeaks , Jan 15, 2017 12:06 PM

The MSM is not now, and has never been, "liberal" let alone,"left wing". It's owned by 5 groups of right-wing billionaires (4 families, Murdochs, Luces, Disneys and Redstones, and Comcast). When Georgie W was lying us into the Iraq war-crime they supported the war push with a full-blown media "narrative" of its inevidebility plus a 4-to1 ratio of rightwing liars (Bush, Rice, Cheney, etc) to people telling the truth. Still, as my conservative friends noted, foreign interventions and "nation-building" are anathema to the conservative cause. Thus, rather than tar them with Bush's failures, I realized that W's administration was simply a group of hypocrites, rich thugs, intent on serving their wealthy patrons. May I suggest, after 8 years of the same hypocracy from the Obama administration, the same dynamic holds. "Liberals", real "left wing people" (I include myself) would never call for martial law (thanks, Rosy!), any more than they'd support war-crime invasions (see "Libya", "Ukraine", "Syria") or right-wing coups (see "Honduras"). Let's let up on the labels, folks. We're all up against a force that has demonstrated NO IDEOLOGY above and beyond enriching their own tiny, wealthy cabal. WE is all we got.

TeethVillage88s -> heuvosYbacon , Jan 15, 2017 6:49 PM

I'm not sure barfinmymouth has got it, but you do get it.

Corruption has peaked and we have to start disassembly.

- Time to destroy powerful political aparati. - Time to reform, Term Limits, money in politics, unlimited money in politic, Lobbying, Foreign Lobbying, Foreign Agents in the USA, PACs, Think Tanks, Foundations,... the Very Heart of English Corruption which it's adherents run around supporting... Money is not free speech... Corruption of Media and Oligopolies in General are not Freedom, Liberty or Free Speech

Reorganization in the USA is now required,... organizations have to be down-sized

jeff montanye -> The Management , Jan 15, 2017 2:13 PM

my favorite phrase was "left wing militarist war mongers."

the snowflakes can't take much heat themselves, and go into teary rages at the insults halloween costumes visit on various underclass ethnic groups, but are only too ready to send a hail of explosive death on poor, brown people defending their lands from the empire.

one million dead? three? not enough apparently.

http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/unworthy-victims-western-wars-have-...

El Oregonian -> WhyDoesItHurtWhen iPee , Jan 15, 2017 7:17 PM

"In a time of universal deceit; tellng the truth is a revolutionary act" -George Orwell

[Jan 15, 2017] Rising inequality, an unfair political system, and a government that spoke for the people while acting for the elites after the 2008 financial crisis created ideal conditions for a candidate like Donald Trump.

Notable quotes:
"... Rising inequality, an unfair political system, and a government that spoke for the people while acting for the elites after the 2008 financial crisis created ideal conditions for a candidate like Donald Trump. American leaders who have mismanaged the process of globalization have only themselves to blame for the coming era. ..."
"... Obama/Reid/Pelosi set the table for Trump... ..."
Jan 15, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
JohnH : January 14, 2017 at 08:34 AM
..."Rising inequality, an unfair political system, and a government that spoke for the people while acting for the elites after the 2008 financial crisis created ideal conditions for a candidate like Donald Trump. American leaders who have mismanaged the process of globalization have only themselves to blame for the coming era."

https://www.project-syndicate.org/onpoint/the-age-of-trump-by-joseph-e-stiglitz-2017-01?barrier=accessyef

Obama/Reid/Pelosi set the table for Trump...

anne -> JohnH... , January 14, 2017 at 08:52 AM

The words are an advertisement for a collection of articles, not a quote from the article by Joseph Stiglitz.
JohnH -> anne... , January 14, 2017 at 09:12 AM
You may be right...but here's a more damning quote directly from Stiglitz' piece:

"US President Barack Obama saved not only the banks, but also the bankers, shareholders, and bondholders. His economic-policy team of Wall Street insiders broke the rules of capitalism to save the elite, confirming millions of Americans' suspicion that the system is, as Trump would say, "rigged."

Obama/Reid/Pelosi set the table for Trump...

Peter K. -> JohnH... , January 14, 2017 at 09:57 AM
"You may be right..."

She is right. You were dishonest or mistaken about attributing it to Stiglitz. The authors don't write those little summation paragraphs at the beginning.

Peter K. -> JohnH... , January 14, 2017 at 08:54 AM
"American leaders who have mismanaged the process of globalization..."

Didn't Stiglitz get the memo? The prog neolibs are blaming automation.

[Jan 14, 2017] Neocon chickenhawks as closet Napoleons with huge sense of inferiority

Notable quotes:
"... Those chickenhawk neocons like Hillary, Kagan or Michael Leeden do not want to die, they want that somebody else died for them implementing their crazy imperial ambitions. ..."
"... The primary aim of official propaganda is to generate an "official narrative" that can be mindlessly repeated by the ruling classes and those who support and identify with them. This official narrative does not have to make sense, or to stand up to any sort of serious scrutiny. Its factualness is not the point. The point is to draw a Maginot line, a defensive ideological boundary, between "the truth" as defined by the ruling classes and any other "truth" that contradicts their narrative. ..."
Jan 14, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne -> New Deal democrat... January 14, 2017 at 08:16 AM

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/16/books/review/napoleon-a-life-by-andrew-roberts.html

November 16, 2014

'Napoleon: A Life,' by Andrew Roberts

By DUNCAN KELLY

On July 22, 1789, a week after the storming of the Bastille in Paris, Napoleon Bonaparte wrote to his older brother, Joseph, that there was nothing much to worry about. "Calm will return. In a month." His timing was off, but perhaps he took the misjudgment to heart because he spent the rest of his life trying to bring glory and order to France by building a new sort of empire. By the time he was crowned emperor on Dec. 2, 1804, he could say, "I am the Revolution." It was, according to the historian Andrew Roberts's epically scaled new biography, "Napoleon: A Life," both the ultimate triumph of the self-made man, an outsider from Corsica who rose to the apex of French political life, and simultaneously a "defining moment of the Enlightenment," fixing the "best" of the French Revolution through his legal, educational and administrative reforms. Such broad contours get at what Napoleon meant by saying to his literary hero Goethe at a meeting in Erfurt, "Politics is fate."

Napoleon didn't mean fatalism by this, rather that political action is unavoidable if you want personal and national glory. It requires a mastery of fortune, and a willingness to be ruthless when necessary. If this sounds Machiavellian, that's because it is - Machiavelli's arguments about politics informed Napoleon's self-consciousness, whether in appraising fortune as a woman or a river to be tamed and harnessed, or assuming that in politics it is better to be feared than loved. Such views went hand in hand with the grand visions of politics outlined in the ancient histories and biographies Napoleon revered as a young man. "Bloodletting is among the ingredients of political medicine" was Napoleon's cool if brutal reminder of an ever-present item on his exhausting schedule.

His strategy always included dashing off thousands of letters and plans, in a personal regime calling for little sleep, much haste and a penchant for being read to while taking baths so as not to waste even a minute. He compartmentalized ruthlessly, changing tack between lobbying for more shoes and brandy for the army at one minute, to directing the personal lives of his siblings or writing love letters to the notorious Josephine at another; here ensuring extravagant financial "contributions" from those whom he had vanquished, there discussing the booty to send back to Paris, particularly from the extraordinary expedition in Egypt where his "savants had missed nothing." The personal and the political ran alongside each other in his mind.

Yet when his longtime collaborator but fair-weather political friend, the diplomat Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand, suggested that Napoleon try to make those he conquered learn to love France, Napoleon replied that this was an irrelevance. "Aimer: I don't really know what this means when applied to politics," he said. Still, if grand strategy and national interest lay behind foreign affairs, there were nevertheless personal rules of conduct to uphold. Talleyrand was a party to Napoleon's strategy since supporting his coup d'état against the French Directory in 1799. That was O.K. And by short-selling securities he made millions for himself. But he was called out by Napoleon and dismissed as vice grand elector when found facing both ways politically at a crucial moment.

Napoleon understood those temptations because he was also flexible enough to tilt toward the winning side, regularly supporting any form of local religion that could help him militarily. Nonetheless, Roberts's Napoleon is a soldier, statesman and "bona fide intellectual," who rode his luck for longer than most intellectuals in politics ever do....

Duncan Kelly teaches political thought at the University of Cambridge.

libezkova -> anne... , January 14, 2017 at 10:25 AM
" "Bloodletting is among the ingredients of political medicine" "

Those chickenhawk neocons like Hillary, Kagan or Michael Leeden do not want to die, they want that somebody else died for them implementing their crazy imperial ambitions.

kthomas -> libezkova... , January 14, 2017 at 11:48 AM
Russian troll?
libezkova -> kthomas... , -1
I like the way you are thinking about this issue my totally brainwashed friend (sorry Anne ;-)

Your remark just confirms the power of official propaganda machine

http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/01/13/why-ridiculous-official-propaganda-still-works

== quote ==

The primary aim of official propaganda is to generate an "official narrative" that can be mindlessly repeated by the ruling classes and those who support and identify with them. This official narrative does not have to make sense, or to stand up to any sort of serious scrutiny. Its factualness is not the point. The point is to draw a Maginot line, a defensive ideological boundary, between "the truth" as defined by the ruling classes and any other "truth" that contradicts their narrative.

The current "Russian hacking" hysteria is a perfect example of how this works. No one aside from total morons actually believes this official narrative (the substance of which is beyond ridiculous), not even the stooges selling it to us. This, however, is not a problem, because it isn't intended to be believed it is intended to be accepted and repeated, more or less like religious dogma.

ilsm -> libezkova...
US press is a propaganda mill.

The DNC is not the "US election", therefore how can hacking the DNC be a serious issue?

Then they give front page to Mr. Lewis who says a deceitful line that 'Russians made Clinton lose'. Nothing in the hack changed my observation that she is a war monger in wall st's employ.

They print and broadcast the lines fed. Lines which have no basis in truth.

If you think of what is said you have to conclude that criminals should have privacy and those digging perpetrate harm when the "leaks" exposed truths the public is not supposed to know.

If the average American could think and get a few facts they would conclude there is no democracy because the things they know are not true.

Saturday, January 14, 2017 at 05:11 PM
libezkova -> ilsm...

MSM is an executive arm of "deep state" propaganda machine.

http://carlbernstein.com/magazine_cia_and_media.php

== quote ==

During the 1976 investigation of the CIA by the Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Senator Frank Church, the dimensions of the Agency's involvement with the press became apparent to several members of the panel, as well as to two or three investigators on the staff.

...Thus, contrary to the notion that the CIA insidiously infiltrated the journalistic community, there is ample evidence that America's leading publishers and news executives allowed themselves and their organizations to become handmaidens to the intelligence services. "Let's not pick on some poor reporters, for God's sake," William Colby exclaimed at one point to the Church committee's investigators. "Let's go to the managements. They were witting." In all, about twenty‑five news organizations including those listed at the beginning of this article) provided cover for the Agency.

== end of quote ==

This is not about DNC hacking. Hacking is just a smokescreen. The real game is to prevent any change in the USA foreign policy, especially in Syria and toward Russia. That's why they tried this "soft coup" against Trump. That's why NYT, CNN, etc published all those dirty stories.

Also many CIA bureaucrats do not want to be sent from bloated Washington headquarters to distant lands to do what they are supposed to do -- collect intelligence, not to engage is domestic politics (and they were fully engaged on the side of Hillary).

ilsm -> kthomas..., January 14, 2017 at 03:30 PM

Preparation and objects make one lucky.

Americans are remiss in ignoring Napoleon, many of his students, etc.

libezkova is worth reading.

The problem with HRC, Kagan or Leeden is they thought a new American century was strategy, then silled a lot of snake oil.

ilsm said... , January 14, 2017 at 06:08 AM
The past year we have had two war parties tilt for the White House. Neither has strategy, both morally bankrupt!

http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/pacificaviet/riversidetranscript.html

Rev Martin Luther King at Riverside Church in NYC Apr 1967.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> ilsm... , January 14, 2017 at 01:03 PM
[Awesome, Dude. THX. Should be mandatory reading for everyone that votes or expresses political opinion in the US. As inappropriate as it is to cherry pick anything from this marvelous speech/sermon out of context to its entirety, this one tidbit really stood out:] "... There's something strangely inconsistent about a nation and a press that will praise you when you say, Be non-violent toward Jim Clark, but will curse and damn you when you say, "Be non-violent toward little brown Vietnamese children. There's something wrong with that press!..."
ilsm -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , January 14, 2017 at 03:34 PM

I wonder had I read it as a young man would I have the courage to accept it the way I do now after I have made all the wrong decisions.

He opened my eyes nearly as much as my friend Bob who had been an SF advisor at the province level and confirmed everything written about the corruption and plundering of the RVN government.

MLK was incredibly aware of the truth on the ground in Vietnam.

[Jan 14, 2017] The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy Christopher Lasch

Jan 14, 2017 | www.amazon.com
William H. Panning on December 6, 2016 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A tour de force that helps readers understand their country, and culture and how they evolved

" Readers of Chris Hayes' "Twilight of the Elites: America after Meritocracy" may recognize some common themes here. But Lasch presented his far more complete and prescient descriptions of our situation some eighteen years earlier. When I read Hayes' book, some months before Trump's nomination, I immediately recommended to all my liberal friends that they read it. But now, after reading Lasch's even more nuanced critique, I see the work of an incredibly perceptive intellectual whose perceptions and analyses are far more nuanced and comprehensive. This is the kind of work that we once expected the best academics to produce, intended for a broad audience.

Tidewater on March 13, 2016 Format: Paperback

Not exactly a "revolt"

" This is a good, not great, book. It covers a lot of fascinating territory, including extended treatment of Orestes Brownson's critiques of Horace Mann on universal education, and Walter Lippman's disputes with John Dewey on "public opinion." Esoteric, to say the least.

Rather than a review, I offer as a counterweght Walter A. McDougall's weighty history, "Throes of Democracy." A heck of a lot was going on in the 19th century American political scene, and McDougall fills in a lot of the blanks, including the significance of Herman Melville's "Confidence Man," and the utter callousness and greed exhibited by the founders of many of the various "western" states.

I found Lasch, even with his often admirable critical analyses, a bit too comfortable in his academic perch dealing with the mixed legacies of the 19th and early 20th century. Note also: his use of the word "democracy" badly needed defining, as did "revolt," more like an unfriendly takeover IMHO.

[Jan 12, 2017] Kahn is completely clueless as for origin of rumors

What a completely naive, completely pseudoscientific nonsense. The guy is completely clueless about driving forces of rumors.: it is the distrust to the official channels that drives them
Notable quotes:
"... Think of headlines such as "Elvis is Alive". This is an old example of fake news. ..."
"... "Fake News" has no social consequences in cases #1 or case #4. Case #3 will feature no strategic element. This is just Tiebout sorting in ideological space. For example, climate change deniers say the world isn't warming and climate deniers go to this website and read this and the echo continues. ..."
"... What is it about the demanders that they don't recognize the "fake news" when they read it? Are they dumb? Are they eager to see stories that confirm their prior worldview? What is the source of this heterogeneity parameter related to their "susceptibility" to be infected? ..."
"... Most of the time what people believes is not truth. Fake news is pervasive. ..."
"... I choose to believe the fake news from WikiLeaks before I believe the fake news from Langley. It is all fake. Through the Looking Glass! Who are the traitors? ..."
"... Though it's impossible for an average U.S. citizen to know precisely what the U.S. intelligence community may have in its secret files, some former NSA officials who are familiar with the agency's eavesdropping capabilities say Washington's lack of certainty suggests that the NSA does not possess such evidence. ..."
"... For instance, that's the view of William Binney, who retired as NSA's technical director of world military and geopolitical analysis and who created many of the collection systems still used by NSA. ..."
"... Binney, in an article co-written with former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, said, "With respect to the alleged interference by Russia and WikiLeaks in the U.S. election, it is a major mystery why U.S. intelligence feels it must rely on 'circumstantial evidence,' when it has NSA's vacuum cleaner sucking up hard evidence galore. What we know of NSA's capabilities shows that the email disclosures were from leaking, not hacking." ..."
"... However, Clapper's own credibility is suspect in a more relevant way. In 2013, he gave false testimony to Congress regarding the extent of the NSA's collection of data on Americans. Clapper's deception was revealed only when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked details of the NSA program to the press, causing Clapper to apologize for his "clearly erroneous" testimony. ..."
"... "Clapper's own credibility is suspect". Fool me once shame on you...fool me twice shame on me. How long did the national security state really think it could get away with their BS? ..."
"... Well, they've owned every president since Reagan; they own all the think tanks; they own 90% of congress; they own all the major media; they endow all the "elite" private universities - why shouldn't they think they could get away with it? ..."
"... Kahn is completely clueless. The main driving force behind the spread of rumors (which now are called "fake news") is the distrust of the official channels. Yes, it is a sign of sickness of the social organism, but only in a sense that fish rots from the top. And actually the same forces that facilitate spread of rumors push people to alternative news channels: official channels are viewed too compromised. So nobody believe anything published in them, even if they publish truth. libezkova -> libezkova... January 08, 2017 at 06:59 AM Tamotsu Shibutani viewed rumors as a process of collective problem-solving in ambiguous situations. His old book "Improvised News: A Sociological Study of Rumor"(1966) had received some press in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and it should be studied now too. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0672511487 It is a much deeper study than incoherent thoughts of Professor Kahn on the topic. You might be surprised by the relevance of his work to current neoliberal MSM crusade against rumors. They feel that they lost trust and now are losing relevance; and they are adamant to do something to reverse this process. But they are barking to the wrong tree. ilsm -> libezkova... Truth is a rare commodity. The "press" in the US has always been owned. In the 1830's it was owned by slave holders in one section and factory owners in another. One opposed to tariffs and the central government growing strong from manufactures. The other for tariffs and weakening the slave economy which funded the anti tariff regime. It is rarely 'news' it is indoctrination. ..."
"... The press in the usa was always "owned" but at one time it was far more socialized/regulated than it was today: (1) Our government stopped trust-busting media conglomerates. (2) The fairness doctrine was gutted and repealed. (3) Right wing political appointees were placed in leadership roles at the CPB (PBS and NPR) and opened them to funding by large corporations. ..."
"... Obvious propaganda and distortion should be illegal in much the same way financial fraud is (should be) illegal. ..."
"... "Normal people" in a neoliberal society, like "normal people" in the USSR are those who are adapted to life in official "fake news" aquarium, created by neoliberal MSM. And resigned to this, because they value the society they live in and can't image any alternative. Remember Matrix. ..."
"... Yurchak's Master-idea is that the Soviet system was an example of how a state can prepare its own demise in an invisible way. It happened in Russia through unraveling of authoritative discourse by Gorbachev's naive but well-meaning shillyshallying undermining the Soviet system and the master signifiers with which the Soviet society was "quilted" and held together. ..."
"... This could a cautionary tale for America as well because the Soviet Union shared more features with American modernity than the Americans themselves are willing to admit. ..."
"... The Soviet Union wasn't "evil" in late stages 1950-1980s. The most people were decent. The Soviet system, despite its flaws, offered a set of collective values. There were many moral and ethical aspects to Soviet socialism, and even though those values have been betrayed by the state, they were still very important to people themselves in their lives. ..."
"... These values were: solidarity, community, altruism, education, creativity, friendship and safety. Perhaps they were incommensurable with the "Western values" such as the rule of law and freedom, but for Russians they were the most important. ..."
"... Yurchak demolishes the view that the only choices available to late Soviet citizens were either blind support (though his accounts of those figures who chose this path are deeply chilling) or active resistance, while at the same time showing how many of the purported values of Soviet socialism (equality, education, friendship, community, etc) were in fact deeply held by many in the population. ..."
"... his basic thesis is that, for most Soviet people, the attitude toward the authorities was "They pretend to make statements that corresponded to reality, and we pretend to believe them." ..."
"... People were expected to perform these rituals, but they developed "a complexly differentiating relationship to the ideological meanings, norms, and values" of the Soviet state. "Depending on the context, they might reject a certain meaning, norm or value, be apathetic about another, continue actively subscribing to a third, creatively reinterpret a fourth, and so on." (28-29) ..."
"... The result was that, as the discourse of the late Soviet period ossified into completely formalist incantations (a process that Yurchak demonstrates was increasingly routinized from the 1950s onwards), Soviet citizens participated in these more for ritualistic reasons than because of fervent belief, which in turn allowed citizens to fill their lives with other sources of identity and meaning. ..."
"... All of which is to say that the book consists of a dramatic refutation of the "totalitarianism" thesis, demonstrating that despite the totalitarian ambitions of the regime, citizens were continually able to carve out zones of autonomy and identification that transcended the ambitions of the Authoritative discourse. ..."
"... "And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace." ..."
"... Then review Orwell. See who decides what is "justice"! The US became prosecutor, lawyer, jury and executioner anywhere it pleased, to anybody who could not fight back. ..."
"... Yes exactly, from the ashes into the fire. As bad as the official channels sometimes can be, the unofficial are much worse. The 30 years of Faux news and "think tanks" has done a lot more long-term harm to society than most people realize. ..."
"... Just like trying to determine the lesser of two evils in political campaigns. Oh, I forgot! Most politicians' official positions are just lies anyway...as we know from Obama's 2008 campaign and his subsequent behavior. ..."
Jan 08, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

The Economics of Fake News Environmental and Urban Economics

I see that Paul Krugman is talking abou t the consequences of Fake News so I will enter this market and supply some thoughts. I will define fake news as stories that are "juicy" but not true.

Think of headlines such as "Elvis is Alive". This is an old example of fake news.

... ... ...

There are four cases to consider.

"Fake News" has no social consequences in cases #1 or case #4. Case #3 will feature no strategic element. This is just Tiebout sorting in ideological space. For example, climate change deniers say the world isn't warming and climate deniers go to this website and read this and the echo continues.

I believe that Dr. K is mainly concerned with Case #2. What % of all suspect stories fall into this category? Dr. K has a cynical model in mind in which sophisticated agents (think of Trump and Putin) manipulate the gullible public with messages and then the Facebook and Internet accelerate this information throughout the system as it infects billions and influences real events.

Case #2 raises some deep issues, I will state them as questions;

1. What is it about the demanders that they don't recognize the "fake news" when they read it? Are they dumb? Are they eager to see stories that confirm their prior worldview? What is the source of this heterogeneity parameter related to their "susceptibility" to be infected?

2. In public health, we quarantine those who may spread contagion. Is Dr. K. calling for a messaging quarantine of the "susceptible people" or is he proposing ending free speech for those who spread the contagion?

3. If there is objective reality, do those who are susceptible to "fake news" update their beliefs as this reality changes over time?

4. In a world featuring heterogeneous news consumers, and profit maximizing news sellers what are pareto improving government interventions? When I taught at the Fletcher School, one student suggested that there should be a constitutional amendment requiring people to watch the PBS News Hour each night.

5. In a world featuring heterogeneous news consumers, and Russian propagandist news suppliers, what are pareto improving government interventions for the nations that Russia is targeting with this news? So, the U.S is fighting a war on terror ---- will we now open up a "second front" as we start a "war on foreign propaganda"?

6. Why has "fake news" become an issue now? What is it about 2016? Has Facebook made communication "too cheap"? Has Russia recognized this opportunity and increased its supply of fake news? In the old days, Pravda was filled with such news.

... ... ...

ilsm : January 08, 2017 at 04:30 AM

On Kahn's analysis of fake news.

Most of the time what people believes is not truth. Fake news is pervasive.

ilsm -> ilsm... , January 08, 2017 at 04:54 AM
On Assange:

https://www.yahoo.com/news/wikileaks-criticizes-obama-administration-in-rather-ironic-way-173523707.html

The guys who leak documents for a living pointing out the establish leaks them to sway opinion!

I choose to believe the fake news from WikiLeaks before I believe the fake news from Langley. It is all fake. Through the Looking Glass! Who are the traitors?

RGC -> ilsm... , January 08, 2017 at 06:03 AM
US Report Still Lacks Proof on Russia 'Hack' , January 7, 2017
................
Though it's impossible for an average U.S. citizen to know precisely what the U.S. intelligence community may have in its secret files, some former NSA officials who are familiar with the agency's eavesdropping capabilities say Washington's lack of certainty suggests that the NSA does not possess such evidence.

For instance, that's the view of William Binney, who retired as NSA's technical director of world military and geopolitical analysis and who created many of the collection systems still used by NSA.

Binney, in an article co-written with former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, said, "With respect to the alleged interference by Russia and WikiLeaks in the U.S. election, it is a major mystery why U.S. intelligence feels it must rely on 'circumstantial evidence,' when it has NSA's vacuum cleaner sucking up hard evidence galore. What we know of NSA's capabilities shows that the email disclosures were from leaking, not hacking."

There is also the fact that both WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and one of his associates, former British Ambassador Craig Murray, have denied that the purloined emails came from the Russian government. Going further, Murray has suggested that there were two separate sources, the DNC material coming from a disgruntled Democrat and the Podesta emails coming from possibly a U.S. intelligence source, since the Podesta Group represents Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments.

In response, Clapper and other U.S. government officials have sought to disparage Assange's credibility, including Clapper's Senate testimony on Thursday gratuitously alluding to sexual assault allegations against Assange in Sweden.

However, Clapper's own credibility is suspect in a more relevant way. In 2013, he gave false testimony to Congress regarding the extent of the NSA's collection of data on Americans. Clapper's deception was revealed only when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked details of the NSA program to the press, causing Clapper to apologize for his "clearly erroneous" testimony.
....................
https://consortiumnews.com/2017/01/07/us-report-still-lacks-proof-on-russia-hack/

JohnH -> RGC...
"Clapper's own credibility is suspect". Fool me once shame on you...fool me twice shame on me. How long did the national security state really think it could get away with their BS?

Well, they've owned every president since Reagan; they own all the think tanks; they own 90% of congress; they own all the major media; they endow all the "elite" private universities - why shouldn't they think they could get away with it?

libezkova -> ilsm... , January 08, 2017 at 06:20 AM

Kahn is completely clueless. The main driving force behind the spread of rumors (which now are called "fake news") is the distrust of the official channels.

Yes, it is a sign of sickness of the social organism, but only in a sense that fish rots from the top.

And actually the same forces that facilitate spread of rumors push people to alternative news channels: official channels are viewed too compromised. So nobody believe anything published in them, even if they publish truth.

libezkova -> libezkova... January 08, 2017 at 06:59 AM

Tamotsu Shibutani viewed rumors as a process of collective problem-solving in ambiguous situations.

His old book "Improvised News: A Sociological Study of Rumor"(1966) had received some press in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and it should be studied now too.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0672511487

It is a much deeper study than incoherent thoughts of Professor Kahn on the topic.

You might be surprised by the relevance of his work to current neoliberal MSM crusade against rumors. They feel that they lost trust and now are losing relevance; and they are adamant to do something to reverse this process. But they are barking to the wrong tree.

ilsm -> libezkova...
Truth is a rare commodity. The "press" in the US has always been owned. In the 1830's it was owned by slave holders in one section and factory owners in another. One opposed to tariffs and the central government growing strong from manufactures. The other for tariffs and weakening the slave economy which funded the anti tariff regime. It is rarely 'news' it is indoctrination.

Peace and freedom are not valued in the US or many other places.

yuan -> ilsm.. .
The press in the usa was always "owned" but at one time it was far more socialized/regulated than it was today: (1) Our government stopped trust-busting media conglomerates. (2) The fairness doctrine was gutted and repealed. (3) Right wing political appointees were placed in leadership roles at the CPB (PBS and NPR) and opened them to funding by large corporations.

Obvious propaganda and distortion should be illegal in much the same way financial fraud is (should be) illegal.

libezkova -> ilsm... January 08, 2017 at 11:09 AM
"It is rarely 'news' it is indoctrination."

Exactly. That's why those people who question MSM coverage, and who try to get the "second opinion" on the current events from blogs, and other alternative channels are considered to be traitors.

Neoliberal MSMs are major producer of fake news as in foreign coverage they are guided by State Department talking points. What they are adamantly against is "somebody else" fake news. They want full monopoly on coverage.

What they trying to tell us during this McCarthyism compaign is the following: "Unapproved, rogue fake news of questionable origin are evil, only State Department approved fakes are OK".

This is another, slightly more interesting, variant of "political correctness" enforcement in a given society.

"Normal people" in a neoliberal society, like "normal people" in the USSR are those who are adapted to life in official "fake news" aquarium, created by neoliberal MSM. And resigned to this, because they value the society they live in and can't image any alternative. Remember Matrix.

There is a special term for the psychological condition of the large part of the USSR population who adapted to live such an "artificial, fake reality" and even may protest if they are provided with a more objective picture as this created a cognitive dissonance. It is Stockholm Syndrome. The condition common among the members of "high demand" cults.

The same happened in the USA. This neoliberal ideological captivity with its own set of myths and falsehood reminds me USSR Bolshevism ideology, which was an official, dominant ideology for Soviet people. Indoctrination was obligatory.

The net results was the same as now in the USA -- the dead ideology burdens, like a nightmare, the minds of the living.

As Marx noted: "history repeats itself, the first as tragedy, then as farce"

Alexei Yurchak's 2006 book "Everything was Forever, Until it was No More: The Last Soviet Generation" called this condition of ideological Stockholm syndrome "hypernormalization"

https://www.amazon.com/Everything-Forever-Until-More-Formation/dp/0691121176

He argues that during the last 20 or so years of the Soviet Union, everyone in the USSR knew the system wasn't working, but as no one has real alternative and both politicians and citizens were resigned to pretending that the can should be kicked down the road. A typical attitude of Hillary supporters.

This "constant pretending" was accepted as normal behavior and the fake reality thus created was accepted as necessary evil, nessesary for normal functining of the society. The whole society reminded me large "high demand" cult from which members can't escape.

While Yurchak called this effect "hypernormalisation." in reality this probably should be called "ideological Stockholm syndrome". Stockholm syndrome is a psychological condition that causes hostages to develop sympathetic sentiments towards their captors, often sharing their opinions and acquiring romantic feelings for them as a survival strategy during captivity.

Looking at events over the past few years, one would notice that the neoliberal society is experiencing the same psychological condition.

Here are a couple of insightful reviews of the book

== quote ==

Igor Biryukov on November 1, 2012

A cautionary tale

In America there was once a popular but simplistic image of the Soviet Russia as the Evil Empire destined to fall, precisely because it was unfree and therefore evil. Ronald Reagan who advocated it also once said that the Russian people do not have a word for "freedom". Not so fast -- says Alexei Yurchak.

He was born in the Soviet Union and became a cultural anthropologist in California. He employs linguistic structural analysis in very interesting ways. For him, the Soviet Union was once a stable, entrenched, conservative state and the majority of Russian people -- actually myself included -- thought it would last forever. But the way people employ language and read ideologies can change. That change can be undetectable at first, and then unstoppable.

Yurchak's Master-idea is that the Soviet system was an example of how a state can prepare its own demise in an invisible way. It happened in Russia through unraveling of authoritative discourse by Gorbachev's naive but well-meaning shillyshallying undermining the Soviet system and the master signifiers with which the Soviet society was "quilted" and held together.

According to Yurchak "In its first three or four years, perestroika was not much more than a deconstruction of Soviet authoritative discourse".

This could a cautionary tale for America as well because the Soviet Union shared more features with American modernity than the Americans themselves are willing to admit.

The demise of the Soviet Union was not caused by anti-modernity or backwardness of Russian people.

The Soviet experiment was a cousin of Western modernity and shared many features with the Western democracies, in particular its roots in the Enlightenment project.

The Soviet Union wasn't "evil" in late stages 1950-1980s. The most people were decent. The Soviet system, despite its flaws, offered a set of collective values. There were many moral and ethical aspects to Soviet socialism, and even though those values have been betrayed by the state, they were still very important to people themselves in their lives.

These values were: solidarity, community, altruism, education, creativity, friendship and safety. Perhaps they were incommensurable with the "Western values" such as the rule of law and freedom, but for Russians they were the most important.

For many "socialism" was a system of human values and everyday realities which wasn't necessarily equivalent of the official interpretation provided by the state rhetoric.

Yurchak starts with a general paradox within the ideology of modernity: the split between ideological enunciation, which reflects the theoretical ideals of the Enlightenment, and ideological rule, which are the practical concerns of the modern state's political authority. In Soviet Union the paradox was "solved" by means of dogmatic political closure and elevation of Master signifier [Lenin, Stalin, Party] but it doesn't mean the Western democracies are immune to totalitarian temptation to which the Soviet Union had succumbed.

The vast governmental bureaucracy and Quango-state are waiting in the shadows here as well, may be ready to appropriate discourse.

It is hard to agree with everything in his book. But it is an interesting perspective.

... ... ...

Nils Gilmanon April 23, 2014

A brilliant account of the interior meaning of everyday life for ordinary soviet citizens

Just loved this -- a brilliant study of how everyday citizens (as opposed to active supporters or dissidents) cope with living in a decadent dictatorship, through strategies of ignoring the powerful, focusing on hyperlocal socialities, treating ritualized support for the regime as little more than an annoying chore, and withdrawal into subcultures.

Yurchak demolishes the view that the only choices available to late Soviet citizens were either blind support (though his accounts of those figures who chose this path are deeply chilling) or active resistance, while at the same time showing how many of the purported values of Soviet socialism (equality, education, friendship, community, etc) were in fact deeply held by many in the population.

While his entire account is a tacit meditation on the manifold unpleasantnesses of living under the Soviet system, Yurchak also makes clear that it was not all unpleasantness and that indeed for some people (such as theoretical physicists) life under Soviet socialism was in some ways freer than for their peers in the West. All of which makes the book function (sotto voce) as an explanation for the nostalgia that many in Russia today feel for Soviet times - something inexplicable to those who claim that Communism was simply and nothing but an evil.

The theoretical vehicle for Yurchak's investigation is the divergence between the performative rather than the constative dimensions of the "authoritative discourse" of the late Soviet regime. One might say that his basic thesis is that, for most Soviet people, the attitude toward the authorities was "They pretend to make statements that corresponded to reality, and we pretend to believe them."

Yurchak rightly observes that one can neither interpret the decision to vote in favor of an official resolution or to display a pro-government slogan at a rally as being an unambiguous statement of regime support, nor assume that these actions were directly coerced. People were expected to perform these rituals, but they developed "a complexly differentiating relationship to the ideological meanings, norms, and values" of the Soviet state. "Depending on the context, they might reject a certain meaning, norm or value, be apathetic about another, continue actively subscribing to a third, creatively reinterpret a fourth, and so on." (28-29)

The result was that, as the discourse of the late Soviet period ossified into completely formalist incantations (a process that Yurchak demonstrates was increasingly routinized from the 1950s onwards), Soviet citizens participated in these more for ritualistic reasons than because of fervent belief, which in turn allowed citizens to fill their lives with other sources of identity and meaning.

Soviet citizens would go to cafes and talk about music and literature, join a rock band or art collective, take silly jobs that required little effort and thus left room for them to pursue their "interests." The very drabness of the standardizations of Soviet life therefore created new sorts of (admittedly constrained) spaces within which people could define themselves and their (inter)subjective meanings. All of which is to say that the book consists of a dramatic refutation of the "totalitarianism" thesis, demonstrating that despite the totalitarian ambitions of the regime, citizens were continually able to carve out zones of autonomy and identification that transcended the ambitions of the Authoritative discourse.

ilsm -> libezkova ... Sunday, January 08, 2017 at 12:20 PM

You should read the whole of Obama's Nobel peace prize lecture:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-acceptance-nobel-peace-prize

"And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace."

Then review Orwell. See who decides what is "justice"! The US became prosecutor, lawyer, jury and executioner anywhere it pleased, to anybody who could not fight back.

JohnH -> yuan... January 08, 2017 at 12:08 PM

yuan never had the pleasure of watching the mainstream media promote the official Kool-Aid during the Vietnam War...until the lies finally became untenable.

DeDude -> libezkova... January 08, 2017 at 11:38 AM

"the same forces that facilitate spread of rumors push people to alternative news channels: official channels are viewed too compromised"

Yes exactly, from the ashes into the fire. As bad as the official channels sometimes can be, the unofficial are much worse. The 30 years of Faux news and "think tanks" has done a lot more long-term harm to society than most people realize.

Being a knowledgeable person who spend half a lifetime studying a subject, seems to be worse than being a regular ignorant guy confidently pulling stuff out of his ass. We are living in interesting times.

JohnH -> DeDude...

"As bad as the official channels sometimes can be, the unofficial are much worse." Wow! Trying to judge the more credible liar.

Just like trying to determine the lesser of two evils in political campaigns. Oh, I forgot! Most politicians' official positions are just lies anyway...as we know from Obama's 2008 campaign and his subsequent behavior.

[Jan 12, 2017] Many Areas of Appalachia and Mississippi Delta Have Lower Life Expectancy Than Bangladesh

Notable quotes:
"... "A lot of the inequality in the U.S. comes from rent seeking. It comes from firms and industry seeking special protection or special favors from the government To the very considerable extent that inequality is generated by rent seeking, we could sharply reduce inequality itself if rent seeking were to be somehow reduced." ..."
"... "In all areas of economics, the rules of the game are critical-that is emphasized by the fact that similar economics exhibit markedly different patterns of distribution, market income, and after tax and transfers income. This is especially so in an innovation economy, because innovation gives rise to rents-both from IPR and monopoly power. Who receives those rents is a matter of policy, and changes in the IPR regime have led to greater rents without having any effects on the pace of innovation," said Stigltz. ..."
"... Other than the loss of income, he said, "many men in the Rust Belt in Appalachia have lost meaningful work and are unable to find another. People want work that provides them with some agency-they want a chance to prosper, to have the satisfaction of succeeding in something. They would also appreciate the experience of developing in the course of a career, to have self expression through imagining and creating new things. The good jobs in manufacturing offered these men the prospect of some learning, some challenges, and some attendant promotions. The bottom-rung jobs in retailing services that these men are forced to take do not. In losing their good jobs, then, these men were losing the meaning of their very lives. The rise of suicide and drug related deaths among Americans might be evidence of just that sense of loss." ..."
"... The last four decades of slow growth in the U.S., said Phelps, fit Alvin Hansen's definition of secular stagnation "to a tee." Phelps traced the roots of this secular stagnation, characterized by slower growth and loss of innovation, to a "corporatist ideology that had come to permeate the government at all levels" starting with the 1960s, and has "replaced the individualist ideology supporting capitalism" ever since. ..."
"... The gap between the elite professionals and the heartlands is so wide than only someone with unimpeachable credentials like his might penetrate their Panglossian bubble. ..."
"... I am not optimistic that the greed can be punctured ..."
"... Honestly, greed might just be so thoroughly baked into the makeup of base instinct that it is unreachable. My Father reminds me regularly that males are intrinsically sexually competitive, which drives them to acquire territory, resources, and access to females at whatever the cost. To ask humans not to be greedy is to be tinkering with deep biological drives tied to successful reproduction. ..."
"... The last thirty years have been all about "firms and industry seeking special protection or special favors from the government" while everyone has been talking about the opposite thing, "free markets". Why has it taken so long to notice this? ..."
"... "Eat People" ..."
"... The elites should worry the day when the mob turns from destructive introspection, to directed agency at an external foe. That foe being the rent seekers and economic manipulators of injustice. Propaganda and monopoly violence don't last forever, and the hysterical response of the bourgeoisie to this possibility is what we are witnessing. ..."
Jan 12, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Trump's unexpected Presidential win appears to have delivered a wake-up call to the economics discipline. At a major industry conference, the annual Allied Social Sciences Associations meeting, a blue-chip panel of four Nobel Prize winners, Angus Deaton, Joe Stiglitz, Roger Myerson and Edmund Phelps, was in surprising agreement that capitalism had become unmoored and in its current form was exacerbating inequality. These may seem like pedestrian observations, but the severity of the critique, as reported in the Pro-Market blog , was striking.

No video of the panel is available yet; I hope one is released soon and will post it if/when that happens.

Tellingly, even though the panelists also included a fall in innovation, globalization and secular stagnation as contributing to inequality, the discussion focused on rent-seeking.

Deaton was blistering by the normally judicious standards of the academy. Recall that he and his wife Anne Case performed the landmark study, published at the end of 2015, that showed that the death rate had increased among less educated middle aged whites, due largely to addiction and suicides . Thus the plight of economic losers is more vivid to Deaton than his peers, and he sees the disastrous human cost as a direct result of rent-seeeking and untrammeled monopolies. Key extracts :

"A lot of the inequality in the U.S. comes from rent seeking. It comes from firms and industry seeking special protection or special favors from the government To the very considerable extent that inequality is generated by rent seeking, we could sharply reduce inequality itself if rent seeking were to be somehow reduced."

While some forms of inequality could be linked to progress and innovation, said Deaton, inequality in the U.S. does not stem from creative destruction. "A lot of the inequality in the U.S. is not like this. It comes from rent seeking. It comes from firms and industry seeking special protection or special favors from the government," he said.

Deaton highlighted a particularly salient example of rent seeking: the American health care system which, he said, "seems optimally designed for rent seeking and very poorly designed to improve people's health."

Deaton outflanked Stiglitz on the left. Stiglitz argued that taxes could help reduce inequality, in concert with other policies to curb rent extraction:

"In all areas of economics, the rules of the game are critical-that is emphasized by the fact that similar economics exhibit markedly different patterns of distribution, market income, and after tax and transfers income. This is especially so in an innovation economy, because innovation gives rise to rents-both from IPR and monopoly power. Who receives those rents is a matter of policy, and changes in the IPR regime have led to greater rents without having any effects on the pace of innovation," said Stigltz.

Deaton begged to differ:

"I don't think that rent seeking, which is incredibly profitable, is very sensitive to taxes at all. I don't think taxes are a good way of stopping rent seeking. People should deal with rent seeking by stopping rent seeking, not by taxing the rich," he said.

Deaton is clearly outraged by how opiate manufacturers (meaning Purdue Pharma) have profited by killing poor whites:

"There are around 200 thousand people who have died from the opioid epidemic, were victims of iatrogenic medicine and disease caused by the medical profession, or from drugs that should not have been prescribed for chronic pain but were pushed by pharmaceutical companies, whose owners have become enormously rich from these opioids," said Deaton, who later advocated for a single-payer health care system in the U.S., saying: "I am a great believer in the market, but I think we need a single-payer health care system. I just don't see any other sensible way to address it in this country."

Mind you, the Case/Deaton study, despite its shattering findings, got front page treatment and then the press and pundits moved on to the next hot news tidbit. Matt Stoller had a tweetstorm yesterday on this issue, related to the impending revamping, which almost certainly means further crapification, of Obamacare. You can read the whole tweetstorm staring here . These were the linchpin of his argument:

... ... ...

Edmund Phelps, who leans conservative but is know for being eclectic, echoed Deaton's observations:

Other than the loss of income, he said, "many men in the Rust Belt in Appalachia have lost meaningful work and are unable to find another. People want work that provides them with some agency-they want a chance to prosper, to have the satisfaction of succeeding in something. They would also appreciate the experience of developing in the course of a career, to have self expression through imagining and creating new things. The good jobs in manufacturing offered these men the prospect of some learning, some challenges, and some attendant promotions. The bottom-rung jobs in retailing services that these men are forced to take do not. In losing their good jobs, then, these men were losing the meaning of their very lives. The rise of suicide and drug related deaths among Americans might be evidence of just that sense of loss."

The last four decades of slow growth in the U.S., said Phelps, fit Alvin Hansen's definition of secular stagnation "to a tee." Phelps traced the roots of this secular stagnation, characterized by slower growth and loss of innovation, to a "corporatist ideology that had come to permeate the government at all levels" starting with the 1960s, and has "replaced the individualist ideology supporting capitalism" ever since.

Even though the panelists disagreed somewhat on remedies, all were troubled by Trump's policy proposals However, it's still telling that even if protectionism might not be a great remedy (or would have to be applied surgically to yield meaningful net gains, something Trump's team appears unwilling to game out), the group seemed constitutionally unable to accept that globalization had made the working classes in the US worse off even when that is exactly what the Samuelson-Stopler theorem predicted. For instance:

Phelps, for instance, criticized Trump's assertion that job and income losses among the American working class were caused by trade and not by losses of innovation, and the President-elect's "assumption that supply-side measures to boost after-tax corporate profits will bring generally heightened incomes and employment to America," which he said runs the risk of explosion in public debt and a deep recession.

The most hazardous, said Phelps, "is the assumption that by bullying corporations, such as Ford, and stepping in to aid other corporations, such as Google, the Trump administration can achieve various objectives that will widely boost employment."

Nevertheless, the very fact that a panel like this didn't even dispute the claim that rent-seeking was the biggest contributor to the big jump in inequality is in and of itself a big step forward.

I wish Deaton would go a speaking tour of wealthy Democratic Party enclaves or become regular on NPR (assuming the tote-bag carrying classes did not swiftly demand his removal). The gap between the elite professionals and the heartlands is so wide than only someone with unimpeachable credentials like his might penetrate their Panglossian bubble.

Synoia , January 12, 2017 at 5:14 am

The gap between the elite professionals and the heartlands is so wide than only someone with unimpeachable credentials like his might penetrate their Panglossian bubble.

Either these words, although I am not optimistic that the greed can be punctured, or class violence, coupled with a decline and fall of Continental empire.

The US is the only remaining 19th century empire, all the others have fallen to self-determination, and the EU appears to be falling apart for the same reasons.

I Have Strange Dreams , January 12, 2017 at 5:44 am

I am not optimistic that the greed can be punctured

That is it in a nutshell. Greed. One destructive emotion has been elevated as the guiding principle for our Western societies. The fail is baked into the cake. We are monkeys with nuclear weapons and Donald Trump is the new leader of the Free World™. What could possibly go wrong?

knowbuddhau , January 12, 2017 at 9:01 am

> We are monkeys with nuclear weapons.

Monkeys have tails. We're naked apes with nukes.

Jane Goodall reported on a chimp who hit on the novel tactic of banging fuel cans together to achieve alpha status. The noise scared his competitors witless. He didn't know what the cans were, what they were for, or what they held, but it worked anyway. For a little while.

There's a lesson in there somewhere.

Art Eclectic , January 12, 2017 at 12:18 pm

Honestly, greed might just be so thoroughly baked into the makeup of base instinct that it is unreachable. My Father reminds me regularly that males are intrinsically sexually competitive, which drives them to acquire territory, resources, and access to females at whatever the cost. To ask humans not to be greedy is to be tinkering with deep biological drives tied to successful reproduction.

Fiver , January 12, 2017 at 3:01 pm

Except we have millions upon millions of individual instances of US men over whom greed holds no power, and scores of historical societies and even today a handful of countries so constituted and evolved over time that there simply is no comparison on a scale of 'greed' with what goes on in the US.

Greed obviously has a biological basis, as does everything else humans do, but culture is quite capable of virtually erasing it.

UserFriendly , January 12, 2017 at 5:40 am

The webcast of the nobel pannel is here:
https://www.aeaweb.org/webcasts/2017/nobels.php

But if you guys find a copy of this panel, also mentioned in the pro market article, please post it.

"The Vested Interests Versus Rational Public Policy: Economists as Public Intellectuals," Stiglitz and Baker, along with James K. Galbraith of University of Texas at Austin, Stephanie Kelton from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and Lawrence Mishel from the Economic Policy Institute discussed competition, trade, consumer protections, and how to reach effective public policy. "We need to rewrite the rules of the market economy," said Stiglitz during the same panel.

ian , January 12, 2017 at 5:48 am

The last thirty years have been all about "firms and industry seeking special protection or special favors from the government" while everyone has been talking about the opposite thing, "free markets". Why has it taken so long to notice this?

Left in Wisconsin , January 12, 2017 at 12:19 pm

Very effective propaganda and a complicit MSM. I will say it again: spend a day or two at any statehouse in the country and you will see that the ENTIRE business of government is doing favors for business people and their lobbyists. The notion that business people are in favor of small or non-activist government is a big lie.

Which gets to a point that seems to get glossed over even by the better economists – that corporate "investment" in lobbying generally has a way better ROI than real investment, often times on the order of 1000-to-1 (for specific tax breaks).

I don't get what Deaton is saying about rent-seeking. Surely the return of the 90% tax bracket for high incomes and estates would put a dent into modern rent-seeking. When he says, "People should deal with rent seeking by stopping rent seeking, not by taxing the rich," what kind of policies is he talking about? Does he mean single payer, and extended that kind of economic organization to other industries? Once you get outside health care, that seems kind of radical for an economist.

ambrit , January 12, 2017 at 6:23 am

The Mississippi Delta is just north of where we live. The "rent seeking" is mixed up with Paternalism. Each feeds off of the other. What we have seen in our multi year search for affordable living space has been an unending stream of overpriced habitats, and insularity.

The Paternalism encourages an ethos of exploitation, the rent seeking finances it. At root, all these "base" motivations are "rational." Thus, any "rational" critique undergirds the edifice of selfishness.

A corollary of this is that any significant change requires a clean break with the past. An irrational ideology needs must arise, if only for long enough to nurture a radical change. As with the present American experience, an absurd excess is needed, and is looming. It sounds hardhearted, but a cleansing fire must purge the dross from out the gold of the nations soul. Before we allow horrified sentiment to deter us from this course, we must remember that the present system is itself the embodiment of hardheartedness. Why else do many cultures have a myth of a Phoenix in their socio-cultural tool kit? It has happened before. It will happen again.

As someone more erudite than myself likes to say; "Kill it with fire."

PlutoniumKun , January 12, 2017 at 6:27 am

My only worry is that when mainstream economists start accepting the problem of rent seeking, their solution is usually 'better, freer markets'. Its this logic which did so much damage to the national electricity networks of Europe and the UK railway system and (my personal bugbear), the domestic waste collection system in Europe. There is sometimes a fine distinction between highly regulated markets which benefit both private companies and the consumer (for example, in electricity generation and distribution), and manipulated regulated markets which benefit only the seller, such as with medicines.

cocomaan , January 12, 2017 at 9:24 am

Plus, from what I am gathering from the summary, statements about how it was innovation that destroyed jobs and not globalization seem to ignore the fact that the retraining and skills reeducation that's supposed to happen after "disruption" has become rent seeking.

Education has become a massive, government controlled, rent seeking operation in the form of student loans. Anyone seeking to better themselves with education now has become a victim.

Are taxes going to solve that, according to Stiglitz? As you say, is it going to be a "freer markets" solution? I don't know.

Art Eclectic , January 12, 2017 at 12:29 pm

Innovation destroyed jobs because Silicon Valley investors realized that corporations would pay HUGE dollars for new processes that eliminated people. Human labor is an enormous cost, not just in wages but in support (that useless HR team), benefits, and worst of all – pensions. The goal of the modern corporation is to reduce head count, not to make better and more innovative products/services. Once the investment community clued in on that, it was all about finding new ways to eliminate jobs.

Andy Kessler's book "Eat People" is all about this topic.

Normal , January 12, 2017 at 6:43 am

I'm not an economist but even I can see that trade can increase average income while decreasing incomes at the bottom of the distribution. Am I missing the point or are the Nobel laureates missing it?

Do they think that some new industry will appear by magic to fill the void?

Kat , January 12, 2017 at 6:48 am

Wow! If this is what it takes to capture the attention of the American elites then I think this society needs to think really hard about what's up with it.

KurtisMayfield , January 12, 2017 at 6:57 am

I wish Deaton would go a speaking tour of wealthy Democratic Party enclaves or become regular on NPR (assuming the tote-bag carrying classes did not swiftly demand his removal). The gap between the elite professionals and the heartlands is so wide than only someone with unimpeachable credentials like his might penetrate their Panglossian bubble.

You are never going to get the 10% to admit that their lifestyles are not possible without the underlying economic conditions described at this website. All you have to do is look at Massachusetts and see what "liberalism" has become there to understand this. The NIMBYism is rampant, and the isolation of minorities and people of other classes is so obvious that no one can deny that it happens. Most of the employment is so dependent on the rent seeking (Education, Biotech and Pharma, Technology, Medical) that there is no way that they could be convinced of another way.

Carolinian , January 12, 2017 at 8:48 am

I believe you are right and the hysteria after the recent election demonstrates this resistance to change (even if in the current case it may turn out to be bad change). The whole rationale of our so-called democracy is to allow change at the top without resorting to violence which is why attacks on the democratic process itself are the most sinister. Therefore the most interesting story of 2016 may not be the dreary two year slog itself but what happened afterwards. One comes to suspect that large portions of the "progressive" left have even less interest in democracy than the Republicans do. If only those pesky proles could be kept down the comfortable middle class of Boston could rest easy.

It's probably true that only when those middle class professionals themselves start to feel economic pain that we will see more enthusiasm for leveling and social cohesion. A crash in the stock market might do it or–god forbid–riots and chaos but it doesn't seem like there's a painless way out.

allan , January 12, 2017 at 8:31 am

Deaton highlighted a particularly salient example of rent seeking: the American health care system which, he said, "seems optimally designed for rent seeking and very poorly designed to improve people's health."

There is rent seeking even within sectors. Yesterday's Links had an article about large layoffs at one of the premier academic cancer centers, driven by losses due to overruns in implementing an electronic health records system.
Sh*t flows to the bottom and money floats to the top.

Norb , January 12, 2017 at 8:55 am

The elites should worry the day when the mob turns from destructive introspection, to directed agency at an external foe. That foe being the rent seekers and economic manipulators of injustice. Propaganda and monopoly violence don't last forever, and the hysterical response of the bourgeoisie to this possibility is what we are witnessing.

We need a new term or word for the class of people dedicated to the spread of inequality. The terms bourgeoisie, corporatists, capitalists, and fascists have been rendered ineffectual in raising the consciousness of working people to their plight. Occupy brought the 1% into consciousness, but there still is a lingering faith that somehow the business community can provide the necessities for a good life, if only "something" can be done to "free" their creative potential. My take on the Fake News phenomenon is yet another phase to keep the working population even more confused and misdirected. It is a strategy to double down on propaganda. Propaganda questioning the validity of propaganda.

In America, the psychic health of the nation is coming into question. Leadership that can provide a vestige of calm amid the rising storm brought about by economic uncertainty will easily gain followers. The crisis of leadership is daily becoming more acute.

Maybe a better strategy would be to come up with a new term for the 80% ruthlessly exploited by the current system. A new term is needed because all others have been corrupted into impotence.

Eclair , January 12, 2017 at 9:53 am

"In American, the psychic health of the nation is coming into question."

We are confused, in denial, projecting furiously Freud would have a field-day exploring our cognitive dissonance. All this 'fake news' has begun to undermine our vision of ourselves as 'the exceptional nation;' our mental pictures of soldiers handing out candy bars to starving child refugees have morphed into drone operators taking out toddlers at wedding parties.

We have elders preaching the American virtues of 'self reliance,' 'personal responsibility,' and the dangers of being coddled by an inefficient nanny state, while enjoying the benefits of a guaranteed monthly social security check deposited into their bank accounts, and having their hip replacements and open heart surgeries paid for by Medicare.

We are still entranced by our national narrative of 'go west, young man,' with acres of fertile prairie and lush coastal valleys ours for the taking; all we need to follow is our sacred 'work ethic' and success will be ours. Well, all the land is posted 'Private' and the water is in the process of being purchased by faceless corporate entities. And the native Americans, whose land we stole, are pissed and getting organized.

Spot on, Norb. We need new words, a new national narrative, a new vision of where we are, what crimes we committed to get here, how we have managed to bring the planet to the brink of destruction and, finally, how we can salvage what remains and forge a new identity, a better and more sustainable story.

Until then, the next few years (decades?) will be messy. But filled with promise.

Brian , January 12, 2017 at 10:16 am

The Webcast is up: https://www.aeaweb.org/webcasts/2017/nobels.php

oho , January 12, 2017 at 10:31 am

for all of the Media/Academia Left's obsession w/identity politics, the issues facing poor, rural African-Americas are forgotten and "uncool" to address-just as with Appalachian whites.

sad.

flora , January 12, 2017 at 10:35 am

Over several months many commenters have said something like the following: there can't be any real deflation because prices keep going up. Food, health care, rents, etc. If there's deflation why aren't prices coming down?

My opinion is you can have real deflation *and* increasing prices at the retail level if those prices are determined by monopoly pricing power – price jacking and uncontrolled rent seeking, which is what I think we have now. Iinstead of lowering prices for the little guy deflation increases the profits for the monopolists and rentiers through lowered base costs for them coupled with higher selling prices for customers, plus fees and other purely extractive costs. Monopolists and rentiers have deformed various markets in a way such that deflation *and* higher selling/access prices can co-exist, imo.

Great post. Thanks

flora , January 12, 2017 at 11:00 am

Longer comment lost in modland. Shorter: It's possible to have both deflation and rising sale prices if monopolists and rentiers are setting the sale price. imo.

Great post. Thanks.

Paul Whittaker , January 12, 2017 at 11:18 am

I keep hearing the idea that innovation can provide jobs: algorithms and robots consume many more than they produce, AI is taking jobs from insurance agents in Japan, all seem to point the other way. So the response is a basic minimum income, but with so much wealth off shored to tax havens and the rest building bombs to replace the ones being dropped daily, where do the experts see the money coming from? Sooner or later the mass' will have to stop buying the glossy widgets which pays for the yachts and mansions.

dbk , January 12, 2017 at 11:53 am

Yves, thanks very much for this. Speaking for myself, I'd really appreciate more posts/guest posts on this and related topics.

I'm currently reading Joe Bageant's Deer Hunting with Jesus, which addresses the desperation of small-town northern Virginia – I knew Bageant's work (had read his essays), but the book is great. Separate chapters, btw, on the mortgage scam in his hometown (for trailers, for heavens' sake) and on the health care system and how that's working out in rural Virginia (it's not, and it's a national disgrace).

Also apropos, yesterday I followed a post/thread on LGM (I know a few commenters here also follow them, I'm a big Erik Loomis fan). Post here: http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2017/01/the-philosophy-of-the-new-gilded-age#comments

It riffed off a piece by some person called Ben Shapiro, who was venting about health care being a consumer product (he compared it to buying expensive furniture). I think I finally realized that there are some people whose understanding of the value of human life and the basic rights of man differ so much from my own that the divide cannot be bridged, ever. (He also sort of compared sb who needs medical treatment but can't afford it to stealing bread. Made me wonder if he and his physician-wife had recently caught a production of Les Miserables.) I was so appalled at his thinking I couldn't even comment on the post.

I can't see how rent-seeking is to be reduced given the incoming regime, which appears to me to be filled with rent-seekers of the highest order.

It's heartening to see renowned economists identifying these issues (poverty/unemployment/increasing morbidity-mortality rates) as a genuine crisis – which it is, and it's only going to get worse; in a few years, it won't be the lower and middle classes that are affected, but the white-collar professional classes as well (i.e. the top 10%).

But as my Dad used to say, it's somehow "a day late and and a dollar short" – the Dems should have been addressing this crisis years ago – if a humble citizen-observer like this commenter saw it as a serious issue ten years ago, why didn't the professional policy guys?

juliania , January 12, 2017 at 12:27 pm

I wouldn't just credit the Trump candidacy for shining the light on rent seekers, but kudos to Yves for hosting economists who have also done this, among them Michael Hudson and (to a lesser degree) Bill Black.

At the risk of seeming un-intellectual, I confess to having been also enlightened by library reading the works of John Grisham – his theme is often how lawyers profit or do not profit from big pharma medications that are introduced with great fanfare only to be discovered as the cause of injury and/or death a few miles down the road. At which point the victims are rounded up by low-income lawyers seeking a big windfall. One only has to be aware of certain tv commercials to realize this is still happening, and it happens to low income people for the most part. In the novels they are always the ultimate victims, no matter what the outcome of the lawsuits. The money changes hands, but the poor get shafted.

dbk , January 12, 2017 at 1:42 pm

juliana – I like Grisham a lot, too; the fact that he is himself a native of the "poor south" (Arkansas, Mississippi) lends a gritty realism to his novels. More members of the credentialed classes should read him, maybe they'd understand what's happening in the heartland better.

sleepy , January 12, 2017 at 2:02 pm

I've never much cared for his legal thrillers, but I was really impressed by his semi-autobiographical novel, "A Painted House" set in rural east Arkansas in the 50s. My mother was from a small farm in that area and I grew up not far away in Memphis and visited east Arkansas often as a kid in the 50s and 60s. I am Grisham's age and the novel was spot on in my experience

PKMKII , January 12, 2017 at 1:26 pm

Thinking out loud here, so take with a grain of salt: could IPR-related rents be fixed by switching the "carrot" from monopoly on the IP to tax credits? Instead of "You are the only one that gets to sell this for X years, unless others pay you a fee," the creator of the IP gets a tax credit equal to a certain % of sales and/or profits that others make from use of said IP. This would, of course, be a non-transferable right to the credit; some company cannot come along and buy it out from the creator, nor can it be passed along to next of kin. Creator gets compensation, consumers avoid the artificial rent cost, and by opening up the IP to the market, competition and refinements can begin immediately.

flora , January 12, 2017 at 3:14 pm

shorter: current Bangladesh life expectancy is: males – ~ 70, females – ~73, total – ~71, world rank – 99th.

The declining life expectancy for too many rural US populations, especially for females, is caused by increased deaths in the 45-55 age range. Fewer are reaching the age of 60 or 70. Ergo, these areas have lower than Bangladesh's overall life expectancy. These early US deaths are numerous enough to lower the overall life expectancy of the US cohort, which is shocking.

flora , January 12, 2017 at 3:22 pm

adding: while the lowered overall US life expectancies are still above overall Bangladesh's, in US counties with these large increased death rates in the 45-55 age cohort the the counties life expectancy is lower than Bangladesh. There are so many of these US counties and such a large percentage of the population that the overall US life expectancy has tilted down.

UserFriendly , January 12, 2017 at 4:53 pm

And all of them with such a low median household income.
http://geof.red/m/4rv

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , January 12, 2017 at 5:13 pm

If the life expectancy of someone born in 2016 is, say, 80, that assumes the eco-system, that is the planet, is still around in 2096.

That's not a bad assumption.

Less safe is the assumption is that it will be as hospitable as it has been in the last 80 years.

My question, I guess, is, do they factor in Global Warming in calculating life expectancies?

mrheem , January 12, 2017 at 2:34 pm

I suggest reading 'Deep South' by Paul Theroux for a scorching look at the day-to-day life of the denizens of this area. That it might, in some areas, be compared to the 'Third World' is, tragically, a compliment. How can these conditions exist in the richest country in the world? And how can one be an American and tolerate this?

Tim , January 12, 2017 at 3:23 pm

What were the economic conditions in Cambodia prior to Pol Pot and the killing fields? I'm too young, but I that seemed to be a more modern tail of the 90% taking out the top 10%.

There has to be some shred of truth to drive people to eliminate an entire swath of their population along economic lines only.

DOY , January 12, 2017 at 3:34 pm

Agree that this panel is very good news.

But the term "rent seeking" doesn't have much punch. To a moderately well educated reader, It sounds like something we would all do in a "capitalistic" system and therefore, in some sense, rational, and exempt from the jaundiced, deep consideration it deserves.

I believe that much of what ails us in the larger effort to make changes in (what's left of) the Republic, is our more or less universal aversion to using the proper vocabulary to address how one goes about "rent seeking," which is to engage in wholesale, long term and systematic bribery of public officials who can (and will) enshrine our sought for "market" advantages.

When did "bribery" morph into "campaign finance"? There may have been a time and place in American history when there could be fine distinctions, maybe even legitimate distinctions, drawn between the two, but today? Any trip to "the Hill" or our state legislatures, to advocate for a policy or law-unsupported by a major league checkbook-will convince a person that the Congress, etc. has devolved into a massive "system" for soliciting money in exchange for agreeing to vote against the public interest.

In short, I'd like to advocate that we bring back bribery into the "civic lexicon." The sooner the better.

Binky , January 12, 2017 at 4:24 pm

In a post-Reagan/Bush environment the third way Democrats simply adopted what seemed moderate in relation to the zeitgeist. The failure of all those poor rural people to pick up and move to where the jobs were is a choice which they must have rationally assessed the cost/benefit of and made decisions as autonomous adults.

Their failure to educate and train for the jobs of the future was a choice. They were warned. Like we are being warned now that we are redundant or soon to be, replaceable by peasants from abroad or algorithms at home. I don't think we are going to get the Star Trek economy. I think we are getting the Logan's Run, Aldous Huxley, Eloi vs. Morlock economy.

Winston , January 12, 2017 at 5:52 pm

When factories left NE for Midwest, what did NE do about that rust belt? Nothing! Still festering. When factories left MW for South what did MW do?

You should stop scapegoating foreigners. The problem lies within.

[Jan 09, 2017] Monopsony Takes Center Stage -

Jan 09, 2017 | promarket.org

In October, the Council of Economic Advisors released a report about monopsony in the labor market. That alone was rather astonishing-employer power and its consequences for labor market outcomes has been a distinctly minority concern in the economics profession for quite a while, notwithstanding mounting evidence of its importance coming from a number of subfields .

For that agenda to gain a hearing at the apex of economic policy-making is evidence of the shifting ground in matters of public economic debate. It is also reminiscent of the last time inequality was so high: then, as now, it sparked a sea change in the economics profession, including both the mainstreaming of labor exploitation as a subject of economic research and the founding of the American Economic Association .

The key arguments in the CEA's paper draw on the evidence of rising inequality in firm-specific wages I referred to in my last ProMarket post . A key determinant of earnings is which firm a worker can gain access to, and a strategy for consolidating earnings at the top of the income distribution is outsourcing labor to subordinate firms so the circle of workers who get paid by the most profitable ones narrows to high earners, who are thus earning more than they have in a century. Interfirm inequality and firm-specific wages are canonical evidence of an uncompetitive labor market. After all, if workers were able to move freely between firms, that should equalize the pay workers of similar experience and education obtain across firms within an industry or geography.

And yet, the further into the labor market you drill down , to workers in narrowly defined skill and experience groups, the more residual inequality is apparent-until you take into account the firms where they work.

Declining labor mobility is further evidence of monopsony, especially given that it seems to be driven by the declining arrival rate of outside job offers and flattening earnings-tenure profiles . In my article on the subject with Mike Konczal , we showed that declining 'dynamism' is not driven by restrictions on labor supply like occupational licensing, but rather by slack labor demand-the classic symptom of monopsony power. And the consequences are concerning: not just rising inequality, but stagnant earnings over the course of careers and declining entrepreneurship and employment growth at young firms.

The CEA brief focuses on the most obvious manifestations of unequal power in the labor market to come to light in recent years: noncompete clauses, which have extended their reach into sectors where they once were unknown. To teachers in charter schools , for example, which otherwise pride themselves on introducing competition into public education. Evidence suggests noncompete clauses deter worker job search , which is critical for wage gains over the course of a career. And they are imposed by employers even where they are legally unenforceable -in other words, the threat is what matters, and unlike in a competitive labor market, these restrictions on worker autonomy are not compensated by higher wages or any other compensating differential. The very fact that they are used and affect behavior where they have no legal basis is evidence for monopsony, because that implies wage and compensation indeterminacy within an employment match.

The CEA brief also draws attention to the mere fact of concentration in the economy in general and in the share of employment in the largest firms. But those summary statistics in fact bely the reality of labor market monopsony, because there is a wage premium attached to the largest firms-though that premium has been declining for the lowest-paid workers , suggesting that the threat of outsourcing labor is disciplining the wage demands of workers at the greatest risk of being outsourced. Some suggest the fact of a large-firm wage premium is prima facie evidence against monopsony, but that interpretation ignores the strategic behavior around who gets to be part of the firm and who is pushed out. Studies of labor outsourcing events show that they do little other than reduce wages-thus employer power manifests precisely by excluding workers from firm-earnings premia.

The brief also brings up the issue of occupational licensing, which the CEA covered in a previous report and which adds a similar anticompetitive flavor to the labor market as monopsony. The problem is that it goes in the opposite direction: the supposed threat of occupational licensing is that it accrues too much power to incumbent, licensed workers, increasing their wages at the expense of employers and would-be competitors. My aforementioned paper presents evidence against occupational licensing as having a major impact on the labor market-very possibly because the larger problem of monopsony counteracts its effects.

[Jan 09, 2017] Labor Market Monopsony

Notable quotes:
"... reduced competition can also give employers power to dictate wages-so- called "monopsony" power in the labor market. ..."
"... While monopoly in product markets and monopsony in labor markets can be related and share some common causes, the latter has some distinct causes and policy implications. ..."
"... This issue brief explains how monopsony, or wage-setting power, in the labor market can reduce wages, employment, and overall welfare ..."
Jan 09, 2017 | www.whitehouse.gov
A growing literature has documented several indicators of declining] competition in the United States, and economists have begun to explore the links between these trends and rising income inequality (Furman and Orzag 2015). While recent discussions have highlighted rising concentration among producers and monopoly pricing in sellers markets (The Economist 2016), reduced competition can also give employers power to dictate wages-so- called "monopsony" power in the labor market.

While monopoly in product markets and monopsony in labor markets can be related and share some common causes, the latter has some distinct causes and policy implications.

This issue brief explains how monopsony, or wage-setting power, in the labor market can reduce wages, employment, and overall welfare...

[Jan 08, 2017] People from wealthier families have better social connections, allowing them to stay in jobs while not performing at par, or be hired into higher level positions as a favor to somebody.

Jan 08, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
rayward : , January 07, 2017 at 05:16 AM
Fund Managers: Do fund managers from less wealthy families have better performance (as compared to fund managers from wealthier families) because they have higher competence levels (the implication of the study supported by Taylor) or because they are willing to take on more risk (the implication of being less wealthy). I find the latter explanation more convincing: those growing up in wealthy families learn capital preservation, while those growing up in families with less wealth learn capital creation. Or not. Today, so-called alternative investments have become the norm, even (or especially) among not for profits, made famous by Yale's David Swensen. But Swensen was following a trend, a trend established among very wealthy families who pooled their wealth in search of higher returns necessitated by an increasing number of heirs to support. What otherwise rational people forget is that only in Lake Wobegon can everyone be above average. Everyone chasing the elusive higher return requires an increasing level of risk; hence, the emphasis on higher asset prices (i.e., speculation) and the risk of financial crises.
cm -> rayward... , January 07, 2017 at 10:09 AM
I don't know specifically for fund managers, but generally people from wealthier families have better social connections, allowing them to stay in jobs while not performing at par, or be hired into higher level positions as a favor to somebody.

That doesn't necessarily mean they are better or worse, only that they get better observed outcomes.

Somebody not well connected will probably be fired more quickly for underperforming or committing a blunder, and find it more difficult to be hired or promoted into "visible" positions to begin with.

cm -> The People's Pawn... , January 07, 2017 at 10:09 AM
"how to mirror the cultural cues of customers and hiring managers"

I generally recognize these cues (of the genuinely cultural as well as the "probing/confirming social status differential" type - and perhaps not their meaning but their presence), but I have always found it difficult to tell the point where it goes from politeness and reasonable accommodation to servility, flattery, and general phoniness. So I have stayed more conservative in the "mirroring" or matching, which is of course not doing me any favors.

And social behaviors are not necessarily "not rational" just because they cannot be described succinctly in a formal theory.

Most social behaviors are about determining (assuming the presence of "cheaters" or "posers") whether the other side is trustworthy, in the sense of conforming to expectations and being able to deliver their part of a transaction. This requires that they are complex and not easily formalized, so they cannot be easily gamed by calculating manipulators.

Primates are basically tribal, with trustworthiness being strongly associated with group-belonging.

[Jan 04, 2017] Murdochs courtship of Blair finally pays off

Notable quotes:
"... IN JULY 1995, Tony Blair flew halfway round the world to cement his relationship with Rupert Murdoch at a News Corporation conference. Introducing him, the media tycoon joked: "If the British press is to be believed, today is all part of a Blair-Murdoch flirtation. If that flirtation is ever consummated, Tony, I suspect we will end up making love like two porcupines - very carefully." ..."
Jan 04, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne -> anne... , January 04, 2017 at 11:20 AM
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/murdochs-courtship-of-blair-finally-pays-off-1144087.html

February 10, 1998

Murdoch's courtship of Blair finally pays off
By Fran Abrams and Anthony Bevins

IN JULY 1995, Tony Blair flew halfway round the world to cement his relationship with Rupert Murdoch at a News Corporation conference. Introducing him, the media tycoon joked: "If the British press is to be believed, today is all part of a Blair-Murdoch flirtation. If that flirtation is ever consummated, Tony, I suspect we will end up making love like two porcupines - very carefully."

For Mr Blair, the relationship bore fruit when he was elected with the key support of the Sun. But Mr Murdoch had to wait until yesterday for full satisfaction when No 10 launched a passionate attack on his critics after the Lords passed an anti-Murdoch amendment to the Competition Bill.

A year earlier, few Labour MPs would have believed such a scene was possible....

[Jan 04, 2017] Tony Atkinson has died

Notable quotes:
"... Inequality: What can be done? ..."
Jan 04, 2017 | crookedtimber.org
2017 started off badly, with the death of Tony Atkinson – the most important economist working on inequality, poverty (in affluent societies), the economics of the welfare state, and 'optimal taxation'. Academics who have known Atkinson have lost one of the most humane, wise and gentle of their colleagues, who was genuinely caring about other people in his work as well as in his interactions with them.

The world at large has lost a wise welfare economist who was the Godfather of modern inequality analysis and therefore (and for other reasons) should have received the Nobel Prize . Without his work, inequality metrics and knowledge on social security mechanisms wouldn't be what they are now; he continued working on normative welfare economics throughout the decades in which it wasn't fashionable at all (I am not sure it is fashionable again, but at least I hope that the recent hugely popular and influential work by Thomas Piketty has improved the status of inequality analysis among economists.)

Atkinson's work on how to effectively protect the poor and decrease inequalities will be badly needed in the years to come, so luckily he has left us a goldmine of scholarly papers and academic books, including most recently Inequality: What can be done? which doesn't require an economics degree to be understood.

For Thomas Piketty's obituary of Atkinson, see here .

Tabasco 01.03.17 at 11:08 pm Yes he should have won the Nobel and others less deserving won it the past 5-10 years when he could have won it. But that's the way it goes. It's a nice obit by Piketty. I liked how he called Atkinson, "a citizen of, respectively, the United Kingdom, Europe, and the world", which is a direct shot as the Euro nationalists and their enablers.

A slightly odd note was Piketty's use of the euphemism, "a long illness", which many obit writers use when they mean cancer, but can't bring themselves to write the c-word. It's odd coming from Piketty who normally doesn't mince his words.

Tom 01.04.17 at 12:39 am ( 5 )

Am I reading too much into the fact that the Financial Times published an obituary before the Guardian did ('has yet done' at the time of my comment)?

derrida derider 01.04.17 at 2:14 am A sad loss of someone who, as Piketty notes, centred his work around the insight that economics was before all else a branch of applied moral philosophy. And at a personal level the epitome of an old fashioned scholar and a gentleman.

[Jan 04, 2017] Passing of Anthony B. Atkinson

Notable quotes:
"... Shares of Upper Income Groups in Income and Savings ..."
"... The Distribution of Personal Wealth in Britain ..."
"... Les hauts revenus en France au 20 e siècle ..."
Jan 04, 2017 | blog.lemonde.fr
Thomas Piketty

Anthony B. Atkinson passed away in the morning of January 1st 2017, at the age of 72, after a long illness. This leaves us with an invaluable loss.

Anthony " Tony " Atkinson occupies a unique place among economists. During the past half-century, in defiance of prevailing trends, he placed the question of inequality at the center of his work while demonstrating that economics is first and foremost a social and moral science.

Tony was born in 1944 and published his first book in 1969. Between 1969 and 2016, he wrote over forty books and more than 350 scholarly articles . They have brought about a profound transformation in the broader field of international studies of inequality, poverty and the distribution of income and wealth. Since the 1970s, he has also written major theoretical papers, devoted in particular to the theory of optimal taxation. Atkinson was always interested in practical issues of public policy and social justice, and understood that marrying theoretical analysis with a careful look at the actual data was the most powerful way to make progress.

Atkinson's most important and profound work has to do with the historical and empirical analysis of inequality, carried out within a theoretical frame that he deploys with impeccable mastery and utilizes with caution and moderation. With his distinctive approach, at once historical, empirical, and theoretical; with his extreme rigor and his unquestioned probity; with his ethical reconciliation of his roles as researcher in the social sciences and citizen of, respectively, the United Kingdom, Europe, and the world, Atkinson has himself for decades been a model for generations of students and young researchers.

Together with Simon Kuznets, Atkinson single-handedly originated a new discipline within the social sciences and political economy: the study of historical trends in the distribution of income and wealth. Of course, the question of distribution and long-term trends already lay at the heart of nineteenth-century political economy, particularly in the work of Thomas Malthus, David Ricardo, and Karl Marx. But these writers could draw only upon limited data, and were frequently obliged to limit themselves to purely theoretical speculation.

It was not until the second half of the twentieth century and the research of Kuznets and Atkinson that analyses of distribution of income and wealth could actually be based on historical sources. In his 1953 masterwork, Shares of Upper Income Groups in Income and Savings , Kuznets combined the first systematic records of American national income and property (records that he himself had helped to create) and the data produced by the federal income tax (established in 1913, in the aftermath of a prolonged political battle), to establish the very first historical account of year-by-year income distribution.

In 1978, in The Distribution of Personal Wealth in Britain , a fundamental book (co-written with Allan Harrison), Atkinson outstripped and overtook Kuznets: he made systematic use of British probate records from the 1910s to the 1970s to analyze in magisterial fashion the extent to which different economic, social, and political forces can help us understand the developments observed in the distribution of wealth, a distribution that was particularly under scrutiny during this period of exceptional turbulence. As compared to Kuznets' book, which was mostly concerned with the construction of the statistical database, Atkinson's book goes a step further, in the sense that it better articulates the data collection with the historical and theoretical analysis.

All subsequent work on historic trends in income and wealth inequality to a certain extent follow in the wake of Kuznets's and Atkinson's groundbreaking studies. In particular, the " World Wealth and Income Database " ( WID.world ) can be viewed as a mere continuation of the Atkinson-Kuznets agenda.

At a more personal level, I was very fortunate to meet Tony when I was a young student at the London School of Economics in the fall of 1991. His many advices, always delivered with infinite care and kindness, had a decisive impact on my trajectory. Soon after I published Les hauts revenus en France au 20 e siècle , in 2001, I had the chance to benefit from his enthusiastic support. Tony was the first reader of my historical work on inequality in France and immediately took up the British case (where historical income data had not been exploited yet) as well as a number of other countries. Together, we edited two thick volumes that came out in 2007 and 2010, covering twenty countries in all. These works are at the origin of the database WID.world , and also of my 2014 book " Capital in the 21st century ", which could not have existed without the support of Tony.

Leaving aside his historic and pioneering writings, Atkinson has been for decades one of the leading international specialists doing comparative investigations on the measurement of inequality and poverty in contemporary society. He has also been the tireless architect of projects for international cooperation on these subjects.

In his most recent book published in 2015, Inequality: What Can Be Done? -wholly focused on a plan of action- he provided us with the broad outlines of a new radical reformism based on his many decades of research analyzing inequality and public policy. Witty, elegant, profound, this book brings us the finest blend of what political economy and British progressivism