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Key Myths of Neoliberalism

News Neoliberalism Neoliberalism Bookshelf Recommended Links Neoliberal rationality The neoliberal myth of human capital Neoclassical Pseudo Theories and Crooked and Bought Economists as Fifth Column of Financial Oligarchy Scapegoating and victimization of poor and unemployed
Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult Neoliberal "New Class" as "creative class" Small government smoke screen Invisible Hand Hypothesys: The Theory of Self-regulation of the Markets Shareholder value scam "Starving the beast" bait and switch Universal quantification  Deification of market
Neoliberalism's Myth on Benefits of Free Trade Neoliberal concept of freedom Financization of everything in sight Mathiness Rational expectations scam Numbers racket and "Potemkin numbers" Free Markets Newspeak The Great Transformation
Neoliberal "New Class" as variant of Soviet Nomenklatura Techno-fundamentalism Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult Greed Is King - What We Learned Managerialism Deception as an art form Machiavellism Mayberry Machiavellians
Neoliberalism as secular religion, "idolatry of money"  Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism Over-consumption of Luxury Goods as Market Failure Globalization of Financial Flows Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich Libertarian Philosophy Greenspan humor Etc

A critical look on the role of myths in the neoliberal society was undertaken by Robert Bonomo in his artcile We're All Zombies ( The Unz Review  Feb 23, 2015). He compare behaviour of financial oligarchy in  the neoliberal society with the behaviour of zombies:

The great psychologist and mystic Carl Jung was asked if a myth could be equated to a collective dream and he answered this way, “A myth…is the product of an unconscious process in a particular social group, at a particular time, at a particular place. This unconscious process can naturally be equated with a dream. Hence anyone who ‘mythologizes,’ that is, tells myths, is speaking out of this dream.”

Many of the themes in our popular culture are conscious story telling devices with the definite purpose of social engineering/control, but others seem to just emerge from the collective unconscious like the stuff of dreams.

For example  essential quality of the zombie myth is its unquenchable hunger. No amount of flesh and blood seems able to quench the longing to consume live human flesh. Modern man has a similar problem -- no amount of money, sex, gadgets, job titles, drugs, entertainment, pornography, art, religion or gurus seem able to quench our thirst. We live in constant hunger. If we equate the zombie ‘hunger’ for flesh to the human desire for money, the comparison becomes almost uncanny. Most adult humans spend most of their day either making money or spending it while being constantly bombarded with propaganda/advertising to keep them hungry.

From the most humble street vendor to the billionaires on CNBC, no one seems to ever have enough money. Zombies need to eat live human flesh and money is at its core, human labor. Our craving for money is really the craving for the work of others, for the sweat and blood of millions to furnish us with unlimited amounts of food and consumer goods.

The vast majority of Westerners have ceased to create anything tangible. Only one in five Americans actually produce anything. Eating what one produces on a farm or trading manufactured goods for food connects us to life. But when people spend ten hours hours a day in an office looking at a computer screen and two hours in traffic, somehow eating, and living, become abstract. What are we actually doing to create the food , heat, and the shelter we need?

Modern man is almost entirely without out any practical skills. He doesn’t know how to grow food, hunt animals or build a house. He uses all sorts of electronic tools whose core technologies he doesn’t really understand and which he doesn’t have the slightest idea how to fix.

This set of circumstances is a recent development in human history, beginning in the 18th century and growing exponentially in the last 30 years during the information revolution. We are helpless slaves to technologies we don’t understand and to media that programs us to believe all sorts of propaganda designed to keep us from actually thinking critically.

Neoliberals created amazingly elaborate set of myths. Which are enforced via universities and MSM very effectivly. Both in quality of myths and the quility of indoctibation they are successfully competing with Marxism and Trotskyism. Like Bolsheviks they creates its special "Neoliberal-Speak" a language for indoctrinated, much like "Marxism-speak" in the USSR. 

We will list only some of the most popular neoliberal myths. Among them


Our work will be guided by a shared belief that market  principles, open trade and investment regimes, and effectively regulated financial markets foster the dynamism, innovation, and entrepreneurship that are essential for economic growth, employment, and poverty reduction. […]

We recognize that these reforms will only be successful if grounded in a commitment to free market  principles, including the rule of law, respect for private  property, open trade and investment, competitive markets, and efficient, effectively regulated financial systems. These  principles are essential to economic growth and  prosperity and have lifted millions out of poverty, and have significantly raised the global standard of living. 

Recognizing the necessity to improve financial sector regulation, we must avoid over-regulation that would hamper economic growth and exacerbate the contraction of capital flows, including to developing countries. We underscore the critical importance of rejecting  protectionism and not turning inward in times of financial uncertainty.

-Declaration from the G-20 Washington Summit 2008

 

Amid the burgeoning financial crisis, the Group of Twenty (G-20) met in 2008 for the Washington Summit, attended by then President Rodríguez Zapatero of the ruling Socialist party (PSOE), where the world’s wealthiest nations called for concerted international cooperation to reform the financial sector, favorable to reviving global flows of capital.

The many points identified in the declaration (the need to strengthen transparency and accountability, enhance regulation, promote integrity in the financial markets, reform international financial institutions, and foster prudential oversight and risk management), may have been a legible indicator that the world’s leading economic  powers were coming to terms with the responsibility of unethical business practices and systemic flaws, among other factors, in the successive tumbling of international markets in a domino effect ( Declaration of the Summit ).

Yet, despite the different nuances of  policy positions in the European Union at large, political and financial powers have upheld structural reform  as the basis from which to pursue deeper austerity measures and labor reforms that favor precarity, thereby dismantling the welfare state and social rights in Spain under the aegis of neoliberal reform. In the neoliberal policies of the EU, reducing the deficit by cutting public expenditures on social measures (on public healthcare, education, pensions, social  programs, and so on) while leaving others untouched (investments in private enterprise, the military, national security programs, and so on) has been expressed, and indeed imposed, as part of the only  solution to the crisis in Spain, as elsewhere. According to this logic, as the G-20 declaration asserts, greater competition, private investments, and the surveillance and tempered regulation of the free market. In sum, free market activity with minimal state intervention, as deemed necessary equate directly to greater opportunity, entrepreneurship, and prosperity that deliver poverty reduction and a higher standard of living on a global scale. And yet, in extensive literature on the effects of neoliberal policies in general and of austerity in particular, nothing could be farther from the social reality experienced by world populations, as these reforms have correlated to greater inequality, unrest, disease, and mortality.

 In the forging of its myth, neoliberal policies are asserted by the G-20 as providing a better quality of life for all. On what bases is the claim made that a higher standard of living follows naturally from austerity and the "flexibilization" of labor, among other neoliberal reforms? Myth, writes Roland Barthes, bears an ideological mechanics that  ‘naturalizes’ its constructed character in order to assert and legitimize itself as truth. Exemplified in

Barthes’ reading of a magazine photograph in which a soldier of African descent salutes the French flag, myth produces a sleight of hand here, forged from an image of colonial subservience to the French Empire that collapses the signified into a signifier

These reforms have proved historically “damaging [to] the welfare of the common people in those countries, causing enormous suffering,” writes Vicenç Navarro. “[T]hese policies had consequences for the welfare and quality of life of ordinary people, creating death, disease, and social unrest” (“The IMF’s Mea Culpa?”).

Also see  Basu and Stuckler; Blyth; Harvey,  A Brief History of Neoliberalism ; and Lustig and her contributors, to name a few.  by reducing its connotative meaning into a self-evident truth: “that France is a great Empire, that all her sons, without any color discrimination, faithfully serve under her flag, and that there is no better answer to the detractors of an alleged colonialism than the zeal shown by this Negro [ sic] in serving his so-called oppressors” ( Mythologies  116). By attributing the constructed character of presumptions to nature, myth may  become an accomplice to legitimize power relations by forging an alibi. Here, to the ‘natural order’  of the cultural (and ethnic) ‘ superiority ’ of the metropolis  and its right to (military) rule over the colonial subject, demonstrated in the subordinate’s allegiance to the empire. In this sense, as in Barthes’ s reading, myth may adopt or invert the arguments of its opposition, despite the lack of veracity in its production of meanings or claims. “Myth is a value, truth is no guarantee for it; nothing prevents it from being a  perpetual alibi: it is enough that its signifier has two sides for it always to have an ‘elsewhere’ at its disposal”—  an elsewhere  which Barthes locates in the empire’s  benevolent intentions as its alibi to implicit racial subordination and colonial oppression (123). Thereby myth becomes indisputable material if its alibi is taken literally, at once  passing itself off as a natural order that has always been and that bears a malleable disposition to be appropriated in further myth-making, say, in Barthes’ s reading, at the service of imperial power and its legitimacy of rule. Let us return then to the assertion that neoliberal governmentality delivers greater good on a global scale.

The myth that neoliberalism produces poverty reduction and social wellbeing for all has become an alibi for the dismantling of the welfare state in Spain and with it, an accomplice to the dismantling of social rights, on the one hand, and to the channeling of state coffers into private interests to the benefit of banks, financial institutions, and private business, on the other. Such a polemic has been flagged by economist Vicenç Navarro, who argues that Spain’s ‘ oft’ multi-billion euro  bailout from the European Central Bank (ECB) does not alleviate the crisis of credit-lending in Spain, as this capital is destined for Spanish banks to pay off interest on loans from European financial institutions abroad, while the Spanish state incurs this burden of debt, on the one hand, and must also adopt austerity policies to dismantle social welfare programs, on the other (“The Euro Is Not in Trouble”). Public funds, in other words, are redirected to private interests in neoliberal practice at the expense of labor

“If I focus on a full signifier, in which I clearly distinguish the meaning and the form, and consequently  the distortion which the one imposes on the other, I undo the signification of the myth, and I receive the latter as an imposture” (128). See Roland Barthes,

 Mythologies

As Navarro notes, the ECB and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have placed conditions on Spain’s eligibility to receive financial assistance by urging the government to pursue measures that would increase the flexibility of labor, reduce public expenditures on pensions, and  privatize the welfare state — in sum, to deepen neoliberal reforms (“The Euro Is Not in Trouble”).

One form of what David Harvey calls the “accumulation by dispossession” of capital, these measures entail the “reversion to the private domain of common property rights won through past class struggles (the right to a state pension, to welfare, or to national health care),” which often, if not exclusively, benefit the greatest fortunes at the expense of social  programs (“The ‘New’ Imperialism” 75).

That is, where the private accumulation of capital reaches its limits of projected growth, the sustainability of a given enterprise must be secured through dispossession, through takeovers, expropriation, the payment of private debts from public funds, and so on. However, one should not presume that these reforms are adopted coercively alone, as government officials in Spain’s predominant left and right parties (PSOE and PP, respectively) have welcomed likeminded policies, historically, in order to meet the accords for Spain’s adhesion to the European Union after the Maastricht Treaty of 1992.

Amid neoliberal governance, contemporary times have witnessed the rise of new transnational actors and financial players. The state, in other words, experiences a crisis of sovereignty for its accentuated lack of autonomous decision-making on fiscal and labor matters, in which government officials and policy-makers often succumb to corporate, banking, and financial interests beyond the state, and sometimes do so voluntarily. This circumstance is not new, however, nor is it unique to Spain. In the 1970s, foreign credit lending from financial institutions in the United States would wield powerful leverage to reshape strategically the economic policies of indebted countries.

 As David Harvey notes, after Mexico was pushed into default on its debt to New York financial institutions in 1982-84, this circumstance provided the test case for the IMF and United States government to work in concert to demand neoliberal reforms of Mexico towards greater labor flexibility  (the deregulation of labor protections for workers), free market laws, and privatization (, 28-31). Echoing the test case of Mexico, today the European Commission (EC), the IMF, and the ECB, known popularly as the Troika, have urged the European member states of intervened economies to pursue further neoliberal “structural adjustments”


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Old News ;-)

[Sep 28, 2020] The apparent problems with the the US "management elite": the hired managerial class is both very stupid and very self-serving

Sep 28, 2020 | www.unz.com

Beckow says: September 26, 2020 at 6:58 pm GMT 200 Words ↑ @PetrOldSack

If it is about ' surplus populations ' – and I agree that is a strong motivation for the elites – why are they super-charging import of the additional surplus population from the Third World?

The corona panic is not helping, unless this is only Phase 1. Tanking the economy will most likely result in a much weaker control of the population – the draconian new rules won't make much difference because they can never be draconian enough. Tens of millions without work is a prescription for chaos – it has always been.

One explanation that I find possible is ' inertia ' – the rulers are stuck, the hired managerial class is both very stupid and very self-serving. What we see is helpless inertia and a slow slide, but no plan or even coherent thought.

The members of the ruling class seem lost and helpless (' tear it down so we can rebuilt it better ' is a weird refrain used by Macron, Trudeau and now Biden). The real story could be that there is nobody behind the curtain, no ideas, and inertia rules.


PetrOldSack , says: September 26, 2020 at 7:14 pm GMT

@The Alarmist hat we need to get the global population back below one billion, because every action they have taken lately seems designed to lead to means to achieve that end.

To keep with the Saker, "the elites have gone mad", at government level, the public puppets mostly do not know what they are doing. A level deeper, the few bet on chaos, improvise, but at the least have some sort of quality goal: induce chaos to mask the causes of the necessary culling of the surplus populations. At the level of the middle class, and populus, the former are suicidal, the latter as always in the history of mankind, do not even grasp the situation they are in.

, JasonT , says: September 26, 2020 at 9:44 pm GMT
@Beckow much difference because they can never be draconian enough."

Corona panic leads to mandatory vaccinations.
Mandatory vaccinations leads to implantation of biochip.
Biochip sends and receives signals to/from 5G network.
Signals between biochips and AI through 5G network track everyone who has the chip, does not allow troublemakers to buy/sell thereby starving them, and in extreme cases, signals from 5G network to biochips kills/disables troublemakers.

The rules do not need to be draconian. In fact, no overt 'rules' are needed at all because people will learn through pain what they are allowed to do.

[Sep 23, 2020] How Globalization Destroyed the Western Middle Class

Notable quotes:
"... "Another chasm opened between middle-class Westerners and their wealthy compatriots. Here, too, the middle class lost ground. It seemed that the wealthiest people in rich countries and almost everybody in Asia benefited from globalization, while only the middle class of the rich world lost out in relative terms. These facts supported the notion that the rise of "populist" political parties and leaders in the West stemmed from middle-class disenchantment. ..."
Sep 23, 2020 | www.blacklistednews.com

HOW GLOBALIZATION DESTROYED THE WESTERN MIDDLE CLASS Published: September 15, 2020
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SOURCE: INSIGHT HISTORY

The world is becoming more equal but largely at the expense of middle-class Westerners, according to a recent paper by Branko Milanovic , a Stone Center Senior Scholar and a Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics. Milanovic's paper was published in Foreign Affairs, the publication of the think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and was titled: The World Is Becoming More Equal, Even as Globalization Hurts Middle-Class Westerners . Broadly speaking, globalization is the process of increased " worldwide integration of the economic, cultural, political, religious, and social systems" of the globe, producing an increased flow of goods, capital, labour, and information, across national borders. It was a process that gained steam particularly in the mid-1980s, with globalization having the greatest transformative impact on life since the Industrial Revolution .

Milanovic's paper starts by arguing that the world became more equal between the end of the Cold War and 2007/08 financial crisis, a period of high globalization. During this period however, globalization weakened the middle class in the West. As Milanovic writes :

"The results highlighted two important cleavages [or divisions]: one between middle-class Asians and middle-class Westerners and one between middle-class Westerners and their richer compatriots. In both comparisons, the Western middle class was on the losing end. Middle-class Westerners saw less income growth than (comparatively poorer) Asians, providing further evidence of one of the defining dynamics of globalization: in the last 40 years, many jobs in Europe and North America were either outsourced to Asia or eliminated as a result of competition with Chinese industries. This was the first tension of globalization: Asian growth seems to take place on the backs of the Western middle class."

Milanovic continues :

"Another chasm opened between middle-class Westerners and their wealthy compatriots. Here, too, the middle class lost ground. It seemed that the wealthiest people in rich countries and almost everybody in Asia benefited from globalization, while only the middle class of the rich world lost out in relative terms. These facts supported the notion that the rise of "populist" political parties and leaders in the West stemmed from middle-class disenchantment. "

Milanovic goes on to note that in an updated paper that looks at incomes in 130 countries from 2008 to 2013-14, the first tension of globalization holds true: in that, the incomes of the non-Western middle class grew more than the incomes of the middle class in the West. The impact of globalization on the Western middle class is imperative to understand. Globalization is a process that has produced winners and losers , and the Western middle class has been the greatest loser.

In my opinion, any system that weakens the middle class in any country should be seen as counterproductive. Having a strong middle class is one of the most important tenets in building a strong, prosperous, and stable society. The middle class serves as the bedrock of any country: those who comprise the middle-class work hard, pay taxes, and buy goods. A true solution to poverty in underdeveloped countries would create more prosperity for everyone, not take prosperity from one region and redirect it into another. This so-called solution creates at least as many problems as it supposedly solves.

Globalization has produced, and will seemingly continue to produce, a global standardization of wealth in many ways. For those special interests who are in the process of creating a global system, an economic uniformity across the globe is advantageous for the creation of this one-world system.

Sources

Globalization Definition, Oxford Reference - https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803095855259

MÜNCHAU , W. (24 April, 2016) The revenge of globalisation's losers, Financial Times https://www.ft.com/content/a4bfb89a-0885-11e6-a623-b84d06a39ec2

Milanovic, B. (28 Aug. 2020) The World Is Becoming More Equal, Even as Globalization Hurts Middle-Class Westerners. Foreign Affairs https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2020-08-28/world-economic-inequality

Milanovic, B. (13 May, 2016) Why the Global 1% and the Asian Middle Class Have Gained the Most from Globalization, Harvard Business Review https://hbr.org/2016/05/why-the-global-1-and-the-asian-middle-class-have-gained-the-most-from-globalization

Vanham, P. (17 Jan. 2019) A brief history of globalization, World Economic Forum https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/01/how-globalization-4-0-fits-into-the-history-of-globalization/

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

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

Chetan Murthy 07.06.20 at 6:45 am (
48
)

likbez @ 39:

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

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

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

MisterMr 07.06.20 at 8:21 am ( 49 )

Two points:

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

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

Orange Watch 07.06.20 at 5:40 pm (
59
)

Chetan Murthy@48:

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

MisterMr@49:

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

MisterMr 07.07.20 at 12:06 pm (
76
)

Orange Watch 59

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

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

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

Orange Watch 07.08.20 at 11:01 pm (
105
)

steven t johnson@98:

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

Gorgonzola Petrovna 07.09.20 at 10:13 am (
113
)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

steven t johnson@98:

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

[Jul 08, 2020] A note on the "professional-managerial class,

Notable quotes:
"... The notion that socioeconomic status is the difference between working and middle classes strikes me as more convenient to obscurantists than useful to serious analysis. Even worse, true SES is better defined by the acceptability of marriage partners. (This brings up religion, by the way, meaning Sunday segregation is an overlooked phenomenon in discussions of systemic racism.) In particular, in dealing with so-called working class people, the issue of property, particularly home ownership, seems to be sharply pertinent. This is true in the form of privilege, such as interest mortgage deduction and property tax rates. (Yes, I know this is not an acceptable use of the term "privilege" but this actually means something, so there.) ..."
"... Most of all, many people live in de facto one party systems, where elections don't make much difference. Much of this country would be more usefully understood I think as more like Mexico or the Philippines, where caciques and landed families tend to run things. The factional struggles play out in the struggles for nominations of the ruling party, while the Outs play catchup in the Out Party, whatever it may be called. The larger part of the people have no political vehicle at all, therefore are largely disengaged. ..."
"... Lastly, on the OP, I'm not at all convinced the near collapse of the stock market and the international credit system last winter, which prompted the reversal of all efforts by the Fed to "normalize" the financial system, wasn't the beginning of the economic consequences we face. And that the pandemic is simply the gust of wind that toppled the house of cards. ..."
Jul 08, 2020 | crookedtimber.org

Originally from: The Economic Consequences of the Pandemic -- Crooked Timber

steven t johnson 07.08.20 at 2:12 pm ( 98 )

A note on the "professional-managerial class," if you don't mind?

Generally a professional is a small businessman. A clergyman may not be able to sell his practice but a doctor or a lawyer can. But clergy have even greater powers over who gets to compete than the AMA or the Bar do.

As for managers, those with an individually negotiated contract, especially those that include things like stock options, golden parachutes, etc. seem to me to be in an entirely different, well, class, than most others.

Academics who have an agent have a different situation than those who don't. Even so-called police unions have enough influence over policies and budgets (as near as I can tell) that the Fraternal Order of Police, or the Police Benevolent Association are more like the Bar than a trade union. I suggest "professional-managerial class" is not enough a genuine thing to be useful at all.

The notion that socioeconomic status is the difference between working and middle classes strikes me as more convenient to obscurantists than useful to serious analysis. Even worse, true SES is better defined by the acceptability of marriage partners. (This brings up religion, by the way, meaning Sunday segregation is an overlooked phenomenon in discussions of systemic racism.) In particular, in dealing with so-called working class people, the issue of property, particularly home ownership, seems to be sharply pertinent. This is true in the form of privilege, such as interest mortgage deduction and property tax rates. (Yes, I know this is not an acceptable use of the term "privilege" but this actually means something, so there.)

And other issues such as decline in property values, tax rates, school districts, are pertinent to individuals deciding what their "wallets" are doing. The question for many is, what's going to happen for their families in the long run, not just this quarter's profits. The fact that most people don't make profits is even more relevant in my opinion. (Yes, Obamacare was something of a redistribution the biggest since Shrub added prescription benefits. This kind of reasoning tells us Nixon was a liberal president!)

Most of all, many people live in de facto one party systems, where elections don't make much difference. Much of this country would be more usefully understood I think as more like Mexico or the Philippines, where caciques and landed families tend to run things. The factional struggles play out in the struggles for nominations of the ruling party, while the Outs play catchup in the Out Party, whatever it may be called. The larger part of the people have no political vehicle at all, therefore are largely disengaged.

On the subject of change, change from time is remorseless, invincible but usually invisible. It is always today, which is pretty much like yesterday, and tomorrow is pretty much like today, but the changes still come, despite the plans of a changer. This is true despite the seeming invulnerability to time of all manner of habits, from the imperial measures to the QWERTY keyboard. The idea that all sorts of things may be so simply because they were and there hasn't been enough of a conscious decision by the majority to re-arrange such things may deflate exaggerated ideas of agency. But it's so.

Lastly, on the OP, I'm not at all convinced the near collapse of the stock market and the international credit system last winter, which prompted the reversal of all efforts by the Fed to "normalize" the financial system, wasn't the beginning of the economic consequences we face. And that the pandemic is simply the gust of wind that toppled the house of cards.

[Jun 23, 2020] It is shocking to see such a disgusting piece of human garbage like Joe Biden get so many working class voters to vote for him. Biden has never missed a chance to stab the working class in the back in service to his wealthy patrons.

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... From wiping out the ability of regular folks to declare bankruptcy (something supported by our founding fathers who were NOT socialists), to shipping our industrial base to communist China (which in less enlightened days would have been termed treason), to spending tens of trillions of dollars bailing out and subsiding the big banks (that's not a misprint), to supporting "surprise medical billing," to opening the borders to massive third-world immigration so that wages can be driven down and reset and profits up (As 2015 Bernie Sanders pointed out), Backstabbing Joe Biden is neoliberal scum pure and simple. ..."
"... It's astonishing that so many people will just blindly accept what they are told, that Biden is. "moderate." Biden is so far to the right, he makes Nixon look like Trotsky. ..."
"... Joe Biden is a crook and a con man. He has been lying his whole life. Claimed in his 1988 Campaign to have got 3 degrees at college and finished in top half of his class. Actually only got 1 degree & finished 76th out of 85 in his class. ..."
Mar 03, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

TG , Mar 3 2020 22:02 utc | 56

Yet another circus. The proles get to scream and holler, and when all is done, the oligarchy gets the policies it wants, the public be damned. Our sham 'democracy' is a con to privatize power and socialize responsibility.

Although it is shocking to see such a disgusting piece of human garbage like Joe Biden get substantial numbers of people to vote for him. Biden has never missed a chance to stab the working class in the back in service to his wealthy patrons.

The issue is not (for me) his creepiness (I wouldn't much mind if he was on my side), nor even his Alzheimer's, but his established track record of betrayal and corruption.

From wiping out the ability of regular folks to declare bankruptcy (something supported by our founding fathers who were NOT socialists), to shipping our industrial base to communist China (which in less enlightened days would have been termed treason), to spending tens of trillions of dollars bailing out and subsiding the big banks (that's not a misprint), to supporting "surprise medical billing," to opening the borders to massive third-world immigration so that wages can be driven down and reset and profits up (As 2015 Bernie Sanders pointed out), Backstabbing Joe Biden is neoliberal scum pure and simple.

It's astonishing that so many people will just blindly accept what they are told, that Biden is. "moderate." Biden is so far to the right, he makes Nixon look like Trotsky. Heck, he makes Calvin Coolidge look like Trotsky.

Mao , Mar 3 2020 22:01 utc | 55

Ian56:

Joe Biden is a crook and a con man. He has been lying his whole life. Claimed in his 1988 Campaign to have got 3 degrees at college and finished in top half of his class. Actually only got 1 degree & finished 76th out of 85 in his class.

[VIDEO]

https://twitter.com/Ian56789/status/1234914227963518977

[Jun 21, 2020] How Workers Can Win the Class War Being Waged Against Them by Richard D. Wolff

Notable quotes:
"... Mass unemployment will bring the United States closer to less-developed economies. Very large regions of the poor will surround small enclaves of the rich. Narrow bands of "middle-income professionals," etc., will separate rich from poor. Ever-more rigid social divisions enforced by strong police and military apparatuses are becoming the norm. Their outlines are already visible across the United States. ..."
"... In this context, U.S. capitalism strode confidently toward the 21st century. The Soviet threat had imploded. A divided Europe threatened no U.S. interests. Its individual nations competed for U.S. favor (especially the UK). China's poverty blocked its becoming an economic competitor. U.S. military and technological supremacy seemed insurmountable. ..."
"... Amid success, internal contradictions surfaced. U.S. capitalism crashed three times. The first happened early in 2000 (triggered by dot-com share-price inflation); next came the big crash of 2008 (triggered by defaulting subprime mortgages); and the hugest crash hit in 2020 (triggered by COVID-19). ..."
"... Second, we must face a major obstacle. Since 1945, capitalists and their supporters developed arguments and institutions to undo the New Deal and its leftist legacies. They silenced, deflected, co-opted, and/or demonized criticisms of capitalism. ..."
"... Third, to newly organized versions of a New Deal coalition or of social democracy, we must add a new element. We cannot again leave capitalists in the exclusive positions to receive enterprise profits and make major enterprise decisions. ..."
Jun 19, 2020 | www.counterpunch.org

Organized labor led no mass opposition to Trump's presidency or the December 2017 tax cut or the failed U.S. preparation for and management of COVID-19. Nor do we yet see a labor-led national protest against the worst mass firing since the 1930s Great Depression. All of these events, but especially the unemployment, mark an employers' class war against employees. The U.S. government directs it, but the employers as a class inspire and benefit the most from it.

Before the 2020 crash, class war had been redistributing wealth for decades from middle-income people and the poor to the top 1 percent. That upward redistribution was U.S. employers' response to the legacy of the New Deal. During the Great Depression and afterward, wealth had been redistributed downward. By the 1970s, that was reversed. The 2020 crash will accelerate upward wealth redistribution sharply.

With tens of millions now a "reserve army" of the unemployed, nearly every U.S. employer can cut wages, benefits, etc. Employees dissatisfied with these cuts are easily replaced. Vast numbers of unemployed, stressed by uncertain job prospects and unemployment benefits, disappearing savings, and rising household tensions, will take jobs despite reduced wages, benefits, and working conditions. As the unemployed return to work, most employees' standards of consumption and living will drop.

Germany, France, and other European nations could not fire workers as the United States did. Strong labor movements and socialist parties with deep social influences preclude governments risking comparable mass unemployment; it would risk deposing them from office. Thus their antiviral lockdowns keep most at work with governments paying 70 percent or more of pre-virus wages and salaries.

Mass unemployment will bring the United States closer to less-developed economies. Very large regions of the poor will surround small enclaves of the rich. Narrow bands of "middle-income professionals," etc., will separate rich from poor. Ever-more rigid social divisions enforced by strong police and military apparatuses are becoming the norm. Their outlines are already visible across the United States.

Only if workers understand and mobilize to fight this class war can the trends sketched above be stopped or reversed. U.S. workers did exactly that in the 1930s. They fought -- in highly organized ways -- the class war waged against them then. Millions joined labor unions, and many tens of thousands joined two socialist parties and one communist party. All four organizations worked together, in coalition, to mobilize and activate the U.S. working class.

Weekly, and sometimes daily, workers marched across the United States. They criticized President Franklin D. Roosevelt's policies and capitalism itself by intermingling reformist and revolutionary demands. The coalition's size and political reach forced politicians, including FDR, to listen and respond, often positively. An initially "centrist" FDR adapted to become a champion of Social Security, unemployment insurance, a minimum wage, and a huge federal jobs program. The coalition achieved those moderate socialist reforms -- the New Deal -- and paid for them by setting aside revolutionary change.

It proved to be a good deal, but only in the short run. Its benefits to workers included a downward redistribution of income and wealth (especially via homeownership), and thereby the emergence of a new "middle class." Relatively well-paid employees were sufficient in number to sustain widespread notions of American exceptionalism, beliefs in ever-rising standards of working-class living across generations, and celebrations of capitalism as guaranteeing these social benefits. The reality was quite different. Not capitalists but rather their critics and victims had forced the New Deal against capitalists' resistance. And those middle-class benefits bypassed most African Americans.

The good deal did not last because U.S. capitalists largely resented the New Deal and sought to undo it. With World War II's end and FDR's death in 1945, the undoing accelerated. An anti-Soviet Cold War plus anti-communist/socialist crusades at home gave patriotic cover for destroying the New Deal coalition. The 1947 Taft-Hartley Act targeted organized labor. Senate and House committees spearheaded a unified effort (government, mass media, and academia) to demonize, silence, and socially exclude communists, socialists, leftists, etc. For decades after 1945 -- and still now in parts of the United States -- a sustained hysteria defined all left-wing thought, policy, or movement as always and necessarily the worst imaginable social evil.

Over time, the New Deal coalition was destroyed and left-wing thinking was labeled "disloyal." Even barely left-of-center labor and political organizations repeatedly denounced and distanced themselves from any sort of anti-capitalist impulse, any connection to socialism. Many New Deal reforms were evaded, amended, or repealed. Some simply vanished from politicians' knowledge and vocabulary and then journalists' too. Having witnessed the purges of leftist colleagues from 1945 through the 1950s, a largely docile academic community celebrated capitalism in general and U.S. capitalism in particular. The good in U.S. society was capitalism's gift. The rest resulted from government or foreign or ideological interferences in capitalism's wonderful invisible hand. Any person or group excluded from this American Dream had only themselves to blame for inadequate ability, insufficient effort, or ideological deviancy.

In this context, U.S. capitalism strode confidently toward the 21st century. The Soviet threat had imploded. A divided Europe threatened no U.S. interests. Its individual nations competed for U.S. favor (especially the UK). China's poverty blocked its becoming an economic competitor. U.S. military and technological supremacy seemed insurmountable.

Amid success, internal contradictions surfaced. U.S. capitalism crashed three times. The first happened early in 2000 (triggered by dot-com share-price inflation); next came the big crash of 2008 (triggered by defaulting subprime mortgages); and the hugest crash hit in 2020 (triggered by COVID-19). Unprepared economically, politically, and ideologically for any of them, the Federal Reserve responded by creating vast sums of new money that it threw at/lent to (at historically low interest rates) banks, large corporations, etc. Three successive exercises in trickle-down economic policy saw little trickle down. No underlying economic problems (inequality, excess systemic debts, cyclical instability, etc.) have been solved. On the contrary, all worsened. In other words, class war has been intensified.

What then is to be done? First, we need to recognize the class war that is underway and commit to fighting it. On that basis, we must organize a mass base to put real political force behind social democratic policies, parties, and politicians. We need something like the New Deal coalition. The pandemic, economic crash, and gross official policy failures (including violent official scapegoating) draw many toward classical social democracy. The successes of the Democratic Socialists of America show this.

Second, we must face a major obstacle. Since 1945, capitalists and their supporters developed arguments and institutions to undo the New Deal and its leftist legacies. They silenced, deflected, co-opted, and/or demonized criticisms of capitalism. Strategic decisions made by both the U.S. New Deal and European social democracy contributed to their defeats. Both always left and still leave employers exclusively in positions to (1) receive and dispense their enterprises' profits and (2) decide and direct what, how, and where their enterprises produce. Those positions gave capitalists the financial resources and power -- politically, economically, and culturally -- repeatedly to outmaneuver and repress labor and the left.

Third, to newly organized versions of a New Deal coalition or of social democracy, we must add a new element. We cannot again leave capitalists in the exclusive positions to receive enterprise profits and make major enterprise decisions. The new element is thus the demand to change enterprises producing goods and services. From hierarchical, capitalist organizations (where owners, boards of directors, etc., occupy the employer position) we need to transition to the altogether different democratic, worker co-op organizations. In the latter, no employer/employee split occurs. All workers have equal voice in deciding what gets produced, how, and where and how any profits get used. The collective of all employees is their own employer. As such an employer, the employees will finally protect and thus secure the reforms associated with the New Deal and social democracy.

We could describe the transition from capitalist to worker co-op enterprise organizations as a revolution. That would resolve the old debate of reform versus revolution. Revolution becomes the only way finally to secure progressive reforms. Capitalism's reforms were generated by the system's impacts on people and their resulting demands for change. Capitalism's resistances to those reforms -- and undoing them after they happened -- spawned the revolution needed to secure them. In that revolution, society moves beyond capitalism itself. So it was in the French Revolution: demands for reform within feudal society could only finally be realized by a social transition from feudalism to capitalism.

This article was produced by Economy for All , a project of the Independent Media Institute. Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: Richard D. Wolff

Richard Wolff is the author of Capitalism Hits the Fan and Capitalism's Crisis Deepens . He is founder of Democracy at Work .

[Jun 19, 2020] The Police Weren t Created to Protect and Serve. They Were Created to Maintain Order. A Brief Look at the History of Police

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... It's a commonplace to say the primary job of police is to "protect and serve," but that's not their goal in the way it's commonly understood -- not in the deed, the practice of what they daily do, and not true in the original intention, in why police departments were created in the first place. "Protect and serve" as we understand it is just the cover story. ..."
"... Urban police forces in America were created for one purpose -- to "maintain order" after a waves of immigrants swept into northern U.S. cities, both from abroad and later from the South, immigrants who threatened to disturb that "order." The threat wasn't primarily from crime as we understand it, from violence inflicted by the working poor on the poor or middle class. The threat came from unions, from strikes, and from the suffering, the misery and the anger caused by the rise of rapacious capitalism. ..."
"... What's being protected? The social order that feeds the wealthy at the expense of the working poor. Who's being served? Owners, their property, and the sources of their wealth, the orderly and uninterrupted running of their factories. The goal of police departments, as originally constituted, was to keep the workers in line, in their jobs, and off the streets. ..."
"... In most countries, the police are there solely to protect the Haves from the Have-Nots. In fact, when the average frustrated citizen has trouble, the last people he would consider turning to are the police. ..."
"... Jay Gould, a U.S. robber baron, is supposed to have claimed that he could hire one half of the working class to kill the other half. ..."
"... I spent some time in the Silver Valley of northern Idaho. This area was the hot bed of labor unrest during the 1890's. Federal troops controlled the area 3 separate times,1892, 1894 and 1899. Twice miners hijacked trains loaded them with dynamite and drove them to mining company stamping mills that they then blew up. Dozens of deaths in shoot outs. The entire male population was herded up and placed in concentration camps for weeks. The end result was the assassination of the Governor in 1905. ..."
"... Interestingly this history has been completely expunged. There is a mining museum in the town which doesn't mention a word on these events. Even nationwide there seems to be a complete erasure of what real labor unrest can look like.. ..."
"... Straight-up fact: The police weren't created to preserve and protect. They were created to maintain order, [enforced] over certain subjected classes and races of people, including–for many white people, too–many of our ancestors, too.* ..."
Jun 18, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Yves here. Tom mentions in passing the role of Pinkertons as goons for hire to crush early labor activists. Some employers like Ford went as far as forming private armies for that purpose. Establishing police forces were a way to socialize this cost.

By Thomas Neuberger. Originally published at DownWithTyranny!

One version of the "thin blue line" flag, a symbol used in a variety of ways by American police departments , their most fervent supporters , and other right-wing fellow travelers . The thin blue line represents the wall of protection that separates the orderly "us" from the disorderly, uncivilized "them" .

[In the 1800s] the police increasingly presented themselves as a thin blue line protecting civilization, by which they meant bourgeois civilization, from the disorder of the working class.
-- Sam Mitrani here

It's a commonplace to say the primary job of police is to "protect and serve," but that's not their goal in the way it's commonly understood -- not in the deed, the practice of what they daily do, and not true in the original intention, in why police departments were created in the first place. "Protect and serve" as we understand it is just the cover story.

To understand the true purpose of police, we have to ask, "What's being protected?" and "Who's being served?"

Urban police forces in America were created for one purpose -- to "maintain order" after a waves of immigrants swept into northern U.S. cities, both from abroad and later from the South, immigrants who threatened to disturb that "order." The threat wasn't primarily from crime as we understand it, from violence inflicted by the working poor on the poor or middle class. The threat came from unions, from strikes, and from the suffering, the misery and the anger caused by the rise of rapacious capitalism.

What's being protected? The social order that feeds the wealthy at the expense of the working poor. Who's being served? Owners, their property, and the sources of their wealth, the orderly and uninterrupted running of their factories. The goal of police departments, as originally constituted, was to keep the workers in line, in their jobs, and off the streets.

Looking Behind Us

The following comes from an essay published at the blog of the Labor and Working-Class History Association, an academic group for teachers of labor studies, by Sam Mitrani, Associate Professor of History at the College of DuPage and author of The Rise of the Chicago Police Department: Class and Conflict, 1850-1894 .

According to Mitrani, "The police were not created to protect and serve the population. They were not created to stop crime, at least not as most people understand it. And they were certainly not created to promote justice. They were created to protect the new form of wage-labor capitalism that emerged in the mid to late nineteenth century from the threat posed by that system's offspring, the working class."

Keep in mind that there were no police departments anywhere in Europe or the U.S. prior to the 19th century -- in fact, "anywhere in the world" according to Mitrani. In the U.S., the North had constables, many part-time, and elected sheriffs, while the South had slave patrols. But nascent capitalism soon created a large working class, and a mass of European immigrants, "yearning to be free," ended up working in capitalism's northern factories and living in its cities.

"[A]s Northern cities grew and filled with mostly immigrant wage workers who were physically and socially separated from the ruling class, the wealthy elite who ran the various municipal governments hired hundreds and then thousands of armed men to impose order on the new working class neighborhoods ." [emphasis added]

America of the early and mid 1800s was still a world without organized police departments. What the Pinkertons were to strikes , these "thousands of armed men" were to the unruly working poor in those cities.

Imagine this situation from two angles. First, from the standpoint of the workers, picture the oppression these armed men must have represented, lawless themselves yet tasked with imposing "order" and violence on the poor and miserable, who were frequently and understandably both angry and drunk. (Pre-Depression drunkenness, under this interpretation, is not just a social phenomenon, but a political one as well.)

Second, consider this situation from the standpoint of the wealthy who hired these men. Given the rapid growth of capitalism during this period, "maintaining order" was a costly undertaking, and likely to become costlier. Pinkertons, for example, were hired at private expense, as were the "thousands of armed men" Mitrani mentions above.

The solution was to offload this burden onto municipal budgets. Thus, between 1840 and 1880, every major northern city in America had created a substantial police force, tasked with a single job, the one originally performed by the armed men paid by the business elites -- to keep the workers in line, to "maintain order" as factory owners and the moneyed class understood it.

"Class conflict roiled late nineteenth century American cities like Chicago, which experienced major strikes and riots in 1867, 1877, 1886, and 1894. In each of these upheavals, the police attacked strikers with extreme violence, even if in 1877 and 1894 the U.S. Army played a bigger role in ultimately repressing the working class. In the aftermath of these movements, the police increasingly presented themselves as a thin blue line protecting civilization , by which they meant bourgeois civilization, from the disorder of the working class. This ideology of order that developed in the late nineteenth century echoes down to today – except that today, poor black and Latino people are the main threat, rather than immigrant workers."

That "thin blue line protecting civilization" is the same blue line we're witnessing today. Yes, big-city police are culturally racist as a group; but they're not just racist. They dislike all the "unwashed." A recent study that reviewed "all the data available on police shootings for the year 2017, and analyze[d] it based on geography, income, and poverty levels, as well as race" revealed the following remarkable pattern:

" Police violence is focused overwhelmingly on men lowest on the socio-economic ladder : in rural areas outside the South, predominately white men; in the Southwest, disproportionately Hispanic men; in mid-size and major cities, disproportionately black men. Significantly, in the rural South, where the population is racially mixed, white men and black men are killed by police at nearly identical rates."

As they have always been, the police departments in the U.S. are a violent force for maintaining an order that separates and protects society's predator class from its victims -- a racist order to be sure, but a class-based order as well.

Looking Ahead

We've seen the violence of the police as visited on society's urban poor (and anyone else, poor or not, who happens to be the same race and color as the poor too often are), and we've witnessed the violent reactions of police to mass protests challenging the racism of that violence.

But we've also seen the violence of police during the mainly white-led Occupy movement (one instance here ; note that while the officer involved was fired, he was also compensated $38,000 for "suffering he experienced after the incident").

So what could we expect from police if there were, say, a national, angry, multiracial rent strike with demonstrations? Or a student debt s trike? None of these possibilities are off the table, given the economic damage -- most of it still unrealized -- caused by the current Covid crisis.

Will police "protect and serve" the protesters, victims of the latest massive transfer of wealth to the already massively wealthy? Or will they, with violence, "maintain order" by maintaining elite control of the current predatory system?

If Mitrani is right, the latter is almost certain.


MK , June 19, 2020 at 12:31 am

Possible solutions? One, universal public works system for everyone 18-20. [Avoiding armed service because that will never happen, nor peace corp.] Not allow the rich to buy then or their children an out. Let the billionaires children work along side those who never had a single family house or car growing up.

Two, eliminate suburban school districts and simply have one per state, broken down into regional areas. No rich [or white] flight to avoid poor systems. Children of differing means growing up side by side. Of course the upper class would simply send their children to private schools, much as the elite do now anyway.

Class and privilege is the real underlying issue and has been since capital began to be concentrated and hoarded as the article points out. It has to begin with the children if the future is to really change in a meaningful way.

timbers , June 19, 2020 at 8:06 am

I would add items targeted as what is causing inequality. Some of these might be:

1). Abolish the Federal Reserve. It's current action since 2008 are a huge transfer of wealth from us to the wealthy. No more Quantitative Easing, no Fed buying of stocks or bonds.

2). Make the only retirement and medical program allowed Congress and the President, Social Security and Medicare. That will cause it to be improved for all of us.

3). No stock ownership allowed for Congress folk while serving terms. Also, rules against joining those leaving Congress acting as lobbyists.

4). Something that makes it an iron rule that any law passed by Congress and the President, must equally apply to Congress and the President. For example, no separate retirement or healthcare access, but have this more broadly applied to all aspects of legislation and all aspects of life.

MLTPB , June 19, 2020 at 11:11 am

Abolish the Fed and/or abolish the police?

Inbetween, there is

Defund Wall Street
Abolish banking
Abolish lending
Abolish cash
Defund fossil fuel subsidies

Etc.

Broader, more on the economic side, and perhaps more fundamental???

TiPs , June 19, 2020 at 8:34 am

I think you'd also have to legalize drugs and any other thing that leads creation of "organized ciminal groups." Take away the sources that lead to the creation of the well-armed gangs that control illegal activities.

David , June 19, 2020 at 9:32 am

Unfortunately, legalising drugs in itself, whatever the abstract merits, wouldn't solve the problem. Organised crime would still have a major market selling cut-price, tax-free or imitation drugs, as well, of course, as controlled drugs which are not allowed to be sold to just anybody now. Organised crime doesn't arise as a result of prohibitions, it expands into new areas thanks to them, and often these areas involve smuggling and evading customs duties. Tobacco products are legal virtually everywhere, but there's a massive criminal trade in smuggling them from the Balkans into Italy, where taxes are much higher. Any time you create a border, in effect, you create crime: there is even alcohol smuggling between Sweden and Norway. Even when activities are completely legal (such as prostitution in many European countries) organised crime is still largely in control through protection rackets and the provision of "security."

In effect, you'd need to abolish all borders, all import and customs duties and all health and safety and other controls which create price differentials between states. And OC is not fussy, it moves from one racket to another, as the Mafia did in the 1930s with the end of prohibition. To really tackle OC you'd need to legalise, oh, child pornography, human trafficking, sex slavery, the trade in rare wild animals, the trade in stolen gems and conflict diamonds, internet fraud and cyberattacks, and the illicit trade in rare metals, to name, as they say, but a few. As Monty Python well observed, the only way to reduce the crime rate (and hence the need for the police) is to reduce the number of criminal offences. Mind you, if you defund the police you effectively legalise all these things anyway.

km , June 19, 2020 at 11:48 am

I dunno, ending Prohibition sure cut down on the market for bootleg liquor. It's still out there, but the market is nothing like what it once was.

Most people, even hardcore alcoholics, aren't going to go through the hassle of buying rotgut of dubious origin just to save a few dimes, when you can go to the corner liquor store and get a known product, no issues with supply 'cause your dealer's supplier just got arrested.

For that matter, OC is still definitely out there, but it isn't the force that it was during Prohibition, or when gambling was illegal.

As an aside, years ago, I knew a guy whose father had worked for Meyer Lansky's outfit, until Prohibition put him and others out of a job. As a token of his loyal service, the outfit gave him a (legal) liquor store to own and run.

David , June 19, 2020 at 12:09 pm

Yes, but in Norway, for example, you'd pay perhaps $30 for a six-pack of beer in a supermarket, whereas you'd pay half that to somebody selling beers out of the back of a car. In general people make too much of the Prohibition case, which was geographically and politically very special, and a a stage in history when OC was much less sophisticated. The Mob diversified into gambling and similar industries (higher profits, fewer risks). These days OC as a whole is much more powerful and dangerous, as well as sophisticated, than it was then, helped by globalisation and the Internet.

rob , June 19, 2020 at 12:25 pm

I think ending prohibitions on substances, would take quite a bite out of OC's pocketbook. and having someone move trailers of ciggarettes of bottles of beer big deal. That isn't really paying for the lifestyle.and it doesn't buy political protection. An old number I saw @ 2000 . the UN figured(guess) that illegal drugs were @ 600 billion dollars/year industry and most of that was being laundered though banks. Which to the banking industry is 600 billion in cash going into it's house of mirrors. Taking something like that out of the equation EVERY YEAR is no small thing. And the lobby from the OC who wants drugs kept illegal, coupled with the bankers who want the cash inputs equals a community of interest against legalization
and if the local police forces and the interstate/internationals were actually looking to use their smaller budgets and non-bill of rights infringing tactics, on helping the victim side of crimes then they could have a real mission/ Instead of just abusing otherwise innocent people who victimize no one.
so if we are looking for "low hanging fruit" . ending the war on drugs is a no brainer.

flora , June 19, 2020 at 1:36 am

Thanks for this post.

"What's being protected? The social order that feeds the wealthy at the expense of the working poor. " – Neuberger

In the aftermath of these movements, the police increasingly presented themselves as a thin blue line protecting civilization, by which they meant bourgeois civilization, from the disorder of the working class. – Mitrani

I think this ties in, if only indirectly, with the way so many peaceful recent protests seemed to turn violent after the police showed up. It's possible I suppose the police want to create disorder to frighten not only the protestors with immediate harm but also frighten the bourgeois about the threate of a "dangerous mob". Historically violent protests created a political backlash that usually benefited political conservatives and the wealthy owners. (The current protests may be different in this regard. The violence seems to have created a political backlash against conservatives and overzealous police departments' violence. ) My 2 cents.

John Anthony La Pietra , June 19, 2020 at 2:20 am

Sorry, but the title sent my mind back to the days of old -- of old Daley, that is, and his immortal quote from 1968: "Gentlemen, let's get the thing straight, once and for all. The policeman isn't there to create disorder; the policeman is there to preserve disorder."

Adam1 , June 19, 2020 at 7:39 am

LOL!!! great quote. Talk about saying it the way it is.

It kind of goes along with, "Police violence is focused overwhelmingly on men lowest on the socio-economic ladder: in rural areas outside the South, predominately white men; in the Southwest, disproportionately Hispanic men; in mid-size and major cities, disproportionately black men. Significantly, in the rural South, where the population is racially mixed, white men and black men are killed by police at nearly identical rates."

I bang my head on the table sometimes because poor white men and poor men of color are so often placed at odds when they increasingly face (mostly) the same problems. God forbid someone tried to unite them, there might really be some pearl clutching then.

rob , June 19, 2020 at 8:07 am

yeah, like Martin Luther King's "poor people's campaign". the thought of including the poor ,of all colors .. just too much for the status quo to stomach.
The "mechanism" that keeps masses in line . is one of those "invisible hands" too.

run75441 , June 19, 2020 at 8:23 am

Great response! I am sure you have more to add to this. A while back, I was researching the issues you state in your last paragraph. Was about ten pages into it and had to stop as I was drawn out of state and country. From my research.

While not as overt in the 20th century, the distinction of black slave versus poor white man has kept the class system alive and well in the US in the development of a discriminatory informal caste system. This distraction of a class level lower than the poorest of the white has kept them from concentrating on the disproportionate, and growing, distribution of wealth and income in the US. For the lower class, an allowed luxury, a place in the hierarchy and a sure form of self esteem insurance.

Sennett and Cobb (1972) observed that class distinction sets up a contest between upper and lower class with the lower social class always losing and promulgating a perception amongst themselves the educated and upper classes are in a position to judge and draw a conclusion of them being less than equal. The hidden injury is in the regard to the person perceiving himself as a piece of the woodwork or seen as a function such as "George the Porter." It was not the status or material wealth causing the harsh feelings; but, the feeling of being treated less than equal, having little status, and the resulting shame. The answer for many was violence.

James Gilligan wrote "Violence; Reflections on A National Epidemic." He worked as a prison psychiatrist and talked with many of the inmates of the issues of inequality and feeling less than those around them. His finding are in his book which is not a long read and adds to the discussion.

A little John Adams for you.

" The poor man's conscience is clear . . . he does not feel guilty and has no reason to . . . yet, he is ashamed. Mankind takes no notice of him. He rambles unheeded.

In the midst of a crowd; at a church; in the market . . . he is in as much obscurity as he would be in a garret or a cellar.

He is not disapproved, censured, or reproached; he is not seen . . . To be wholly overlooked, and to know it, are intolerable ."

likbez, June 19, 2020 at 3:18 pm

That's a very important observation.

Racism, especially directed toward blacks, along with "identity wedge," is a perfect tool for disarming poor white, and suppressing their struggle for a better standard of living, which considerably dropped under neoliberalism.

In other words, by providing poor whites with a stratum of the population that has even lower social status, neoliberals manage to co-opt them to support the policies which economically ate detrimental to their standard of living as well as to suppress the protest against the redistribution of wealth up and dismantling of the New Deal capitalist social protection network.

This is a pretty sophisticated, pretty evil scheme if you ask me. In a way, "Floydgate" can be viewed as a variation on the same theme. A very dirty game indeed, when the issue of provision of meaningful jobs for working poor, social equality, and social protection for low-income workers of any color is replaced with a real but of secondary importance issue of police violence against blacks.

This is another way to explain "What's the matter with Kansas" effect.

John Anthony La Pietra, June 19, 2020 at 6:20 pm

I like that one! - and I have to admit it's not familiar to me, though I've been a fan since before I got to play him in a neighboring community theater. Now I'm having some difficulty finding it. Where is it from, may I ask?

run75441, June 20, 2020 at 7:56 am

JAL:

Page 239, "The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States."

Read the book "Violence: Reflections of A National Epidemic" . Not a long read and well documented.

Carla , June 19, 2020 at 12:39 pm

MLK Jr. tried, and look what happened to him once he really got some traction. If the Rev. William Barber's Poor People's Campaign picks up steam, I'm afraid the same thing will happen to him.

I wish it were only pearl-clutching that the money power would resort to, but that's not the way it works.

JacobiteInTraining , June 19, 2020 at 9:20 am

Yeah – that quote struck me too, never seen it before. At times when they feel so liberated to 'say the quiet part out loud', then as now, you know the glove is coming off and the vicious mailed fist is free to roam for victims.

Those times are where you know you need to resist or .well, die in many cases.

That's something that really gets me in public response to many of these things. The normal instinct of the populace to wake from their somnambulant slumber just long enough to ascribe to buffoonery and idiocy ala Keystone Cops the things so much better understood as fully consciously and purposefully repressive, reactionary, and indicating a desire to take that next step to crush fully. To obliterate.

Many responses to this – https://twitter.com/oneunderscore__/status/1273809160128389120 – are like, 'the police are dumb', 'out of touch', 'a lot of dumb gomer pyles in that room, yuk yuk yuk'. Or, 'cops/FBI are so dumb to pursue this antifa thing, its just a boogieman' thinking that somehow once the authorities realize 'antifa' is a boogieman, their attitudes towards other protesters will somehow be different 'now that they realize the silliness of the claims'.

No, not remotely the case – to a terrifyingly large percentage of those in command, and in rank & file they know exactly where it came from, exactly how the tactics work, and have every intention of classifying all protesters (peaceful or not) into that worldview. The peaceful protesters *are* antifa in their eyes, to be dealt with in the fully approved manner of violence and repression.

km , June 19, 2020 at 11:56 am

In most countries, the police are there solely to protect the Haves from the Have-Nots. In fact, when the average frustrated citizen has trouble, the last people he would consider turning to are the police.

This is why in the Third World, the only job of lower social standing than "policeman" is "police informer".

cripes , June 19, 2020 at 3:35 am

The anti-rascist identity of the recent protests rests on a much larger base of class warfare waged over the past 40 years against the entire population led by a determined oligarchy and enforced by their political, media and militarized police retainers. This same oligarchy, with a despicable zeal and revolting media-orchestrated campaign–co-branding the movement with it's usual corporate perpetrators– distorts escalating carceral and economic violence solely through a lens of racial conflict and their time-tested toothless reforms. A few unlucky "peace officers" may have to TOFTT until the furor recedes, can't be helped.

Crowding out debt relief, single payer health, living wages, affordable housing and actual justice reform from the debate that would benefit African Americans more than any other demographic is the goal.

The handful of Emperors far prefer kabuki theater and random ritual Seppuku than facing the rage of millions of staring down the barrel of zero income, debt, bankruptcy, evictions and dispossession. The Praetorians will follow the money as always.

I suppose we'll get some boulevards re-named and a paid Juneteenth holiday to compensate for the destruction 100+ years of labor rights struggle, so there's that..

Boatwright , June 19, 2020 at 7:51 am

Homestead, Ludlow, Haymarket, Matewan -- the list is long

Working men and women asking for justice gunned down by the cops. There will always be men ready to murder on command as long as the orders come from the rich and powerful. We are at a moment in history folks were some of us, today mostly people of color, are willing to put their lives on the line. It's an ongoing struggle.

MichaelSF , June 19, 2020 at 12:18 pm

Jay Gould, a U.S. robber baron, is supposed to have claimed that he could hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.

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

rob , June 19, 2020 at 7:58 am

So how can a tier of society(the police) . be what a society needs ? When as this story and many others show how and why the police were formed. To break heads. When they have been "the tool" of the elite forever. When so many of them are such dishonest, immoral, wanna be fascists. And the main direction of the US is towards a police state and fascists running the show . both republican and democrat. With technology being the boot on the neck of the people and the police are there to take it to the streets.

Can those elusive "good apples" turn the whole rotten barrel into sweet smelling apple pie? That is a big ask.

Or should the structure be liquidated, sell their army toys. fill the ranks with people who are not pathological liars and abusers and /or racists; of one sort or another. Get rid of the mentality of overcompensation by uber machismo. and make them watch the andy griffith show. They ought to learn that they can be respected if they are good people, and that they are not respected because they seek respect through fear and intimidation.

Is that idiot cry of theirs, .. the whole yelling at you; demanding absolute obedience to arbitrary ,assinine orders, really working to get them respect or is it just something they get off on?

When the police are shown to be bad, they strike by work slowdown, or letting a little chaos loose themselves. So the people know they need them So any reform of the police will go through the police not doing their jobs . but then something like better communities may result. less people being busted and harassed , or pulled over for the sake of a quota . may just show we don't need so much policing anyway. And then if the new social workers brigade starts intervening in peoples with issues when they are young and in school maybe fewer will be in the system. Couple that with the police not throwing their family in jail for nothing, and forcing them to pay fines for breaking stupid laws. The system will have less of a load, and the new , better cops without attitudes will be able to handle their communities in a way that works for everyone. Making them a net positive, as opposed to now where they are a net negative.
Also,

The drug war is over. The cops have only done the bidding of the organized criminal elements who make their bread and butter because of prohibition.

Our representatives can legally smoke pot , and grow it in their windowboxes in the capital dc., but people in many places are still living in fear of police using possession of some substance,as a pretext to take all their stuff,throw them in jail. But besides the cops, there are the prosecutors . they earn their salaries by stealing it from poor people through fines for things that ought to be legal. This is one way to drain money from poor communities, causing people to go steal from others in society to pay their court costs.

And who is gonna come and bust down your door when you can't pay a fine and choose to pay rent and buy your kids food instead . the cops. just doing their jobs. Evil is the banality of business as usual

Tom Stone , June 19, 2020 at 8:20 am

The late Kevin R C O'Brien noted that in every case where the Police had been ordered to "Round up the usual suspects" they have done so, and delivered them where ordered. It did not matter who the "Usual suspects" were, or to what fate they were to be delivered. They are the King's men and they do the King's bidding.

The Rev Kev , June 19, 2020 at 10:10 am

To have a reasonable discussion, I think that it should be recognized that modern police are but one leg of a triad. The first of course is the police who appear to seem themselves as not part of a community but as enforcers in that community. To swipe an idea from Mao, the police should move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea. Not be a patrolling shark that attacks who they want at will knowing that there will be no repercussions against them. When you get to the point that you have police arresting children in school for infractions of school discipline – giving them a police record – you know that things have gotten out of hand.

The next leg is the courts which of course includes prosecutors. It is my understanding that prosecutors are elected to office in the US and so have incentives to appear to be tough on crime"" . They seem to operate more like 'Let's Make a Deal' from what I have read. When they tell some kid that he has a choice of 1,000 years in prison on trumped up charges or pleads guilty to a smaller offence, you know that that is not justice at work. Judges too operate in their own world and will always take the word of a policeman as a witness.

And the third leg is the prisons which operate as sweatshops for corporate America. It is in the interest of the police and the courts to fill up the prisons to overflowing. Anybody remember the Pennsylvania "kids for cash" scandal where kids lives were being ruined with criminal records that were bogus so that some people could make a profit? And what sort of prison system is it where a private contractor can build a prison without a contract at all , knowing that the government (California in this case) will nonetheless fill it up for a good profit.

In short, in sorting out police doctrine and methods like is happening now, it should be recognized that they are actually only the face of a set of problems.

MLTPB , June 19, 2020 at 11:00 am

How did ancient states police? Perhaps Wiki is a starting point of this journey. Per Its entry, Police, in ancient Greece, policing was done by public owned slaves. In Rome, the army, initially. In China, prefects leading to a level of government called prefectures .

Pookah Harvey , June 19, 2020 at 10:54 am

I spent some time in the Silver Valley of northern Idaho. This area was the hot bed of labor unrest during the 1890's. Federal troops controlled the area 3 separate times,1892, 1894 and 1899. Twice miners hijacked trains loaded them with dynamite and drove them to mining company stamping mills that they then blew up. Dozens of deaths in shoot outs. The entire male population was herded up and placed in concentration camps for weeks. The end result was the assassination of the Governor in 1905.

Interestingly this history has been completely expunged. There is a mining museum in the town which doesn't mention a word on these events. Even nationwide there seems to be a complete erasure of what real labor unrest can look like..

rob , June 19, 2020 at 11:58 am

Yeah, labor unrest does get swept under the rug. Howard zinn had examples in his works "the peoples history of the United States" The pictched battles in upstate new york with the Van Rennselear's in the 1840's breaking up rennselearwyk . the million acre estate of theirs . it was a rent strike.

People remembering , we have been here before doesn't help the case of the establishment so they try to not let it happen.

We get experts telling us . well, this is all new we need experts to tell you what to think. It is like watching the footage from the past 100 years on film of blacks marching for their rights and being told.. reform is coming.. the more things change, the more things stay the same. Decade after decade. Century after century. Time to start figuring this out people. So, the enemy is us. Now what?

Carolinian , June 19, 2020 at 11:01 am

Doubtless the facts presented above are correct, but shouldn't one point out that the 21st century is quite different from the 19th and therefore analogizing the current situation to what went on before is quite facile? For example it's no longer necessary for the police to put down strikes because strike actions barely still exist. In our current US the working class has diminished greatly while the middle class has expanded. We are a much richer country overall with a lot more people–not just those one percenters–concerned about crime. Whatever one thinks of the police, politically an attempt to go back to the 18th century isn't going to fly.

MLTPB , June 19, 2020 at 11:15 am

Perhaps we are more likely to argue among ourselves, when genetic fallacy is possibly in play.

Pookah Harvey , June 19, 2020 at 11:37 am

" the 21st century is quite different from the 19th "

From the Guardian: "How Starbucks, Target, Google and Microsoft quietly fund police through private donations"

More than 25 large corporations in the past three years have contributed funding to private police foundations, new report says.

These foundations receive millions of dollars a year from private and corporate donors, according to the report, and are able to use the funds to purchase equipment and weapons with little public input. The analysis notes, for example, how the Los Angeles police department in 2007 used foundation funding to purchase surveillance software from controversial technology firm Palantir. Buying the technology with private foundation funding rather than its public budget allowed the department to bypass requirements to hold public meetings and gain approval from the city council.

The Houston police foundation has purchased for the local police department a variety of equipment, including Swat equipment, sound equipment and dogs for the K-9 unit, according to the report. The Philadelphia police foundation purchased for its police force long guns, drones and ballistic helmets, and the Atlanta police foundation helped fund a major surveillance network of over 12,000 cameras.

In addition to weaponry, foundation funding can also go toward specialized training and support programs that complement the department's policing strategies, according to one police foundation.

"Not a lot of people are aware of this public-private partnership where corporations and wealthy donors are able to siphon money into police forces with little to no oversight," said Gin Armstrong, a senior research analyst at LittleSis.

Maybe it is just me, but things don't seem to be all that different.

Bob , June 19, 2020 at 11:40 am

If we made America Great Again we could go back to the 18th century.

rob , June 19, 2020 at 12:11 pm

While it is true, this is a new century. Knowing how the present came to be, is entirely necessary to be able to attempt any move forward.
The likelihood of making the same old mistakes is almost certain, if one doesn't try to use the past as a reference.
And considering the effect of propaganda and revisionism in the formation of peoples opinions, we do need " learning against learning" to borrow a Jesuit strategy against the reformation, but this time it should embrace reality, rather than sow falsehoods.
But I do agree,
We have never been here before, and now is a great time to reset everything. With all due respect to "getting it right" or at least "better".
and knowing the false fables of righteousness, is what people need to know, before they go about "burning down the house".

Carolinian , June 19, 2020 at 12:42 pm

You know it's not as though white people aren't also afraid of the police. Alfred Hitchcock said he was deathly afraid of police and that paranoia informed many of his movies. Woody Allen has a funny scene in Annie Hall where he is pulled over by a cop and is comically flustered. White people also get shot and killed by the police as the rightwingers are constantly pointing out.

And thousands of people in the streets tell us that police reform is necessary. But the country is not going to get rid of them and replace police with social workers so why even talk about it? I'd say the above is interesting .not terribly relevant.

Mattski , June 19, 2020 at 11:37 am

Straight-up fact: The police weren't created to preserve and protect. They were created to maintain order, [enforced] over certain subjected classes and races of people, including–for many white people, too–many of our ancestors, too.*

And the question that arises from this: Are we willing to the subjects in a police state? Are we willing to continue to let our Black and brown brothers and sisters be subjected BY such a police state, and to half-wittingly be party TO it?

Or do we want to exercise AGENCY over "our" government(s), and decide–anew–how we go out our vast, vast array of social ills.

Obviously, armed police officers with an average of six months training–almost all from the white underclass–are a pretty f*cking blunt instrument to bring to bear.

On our own heads. On those who we and history have consigned to second-class citizenship.
Warning: this is a revolutionary situation. We should embrace it.

*Acceding to white supremacy, becoming "white" and often joining that police order, if you were poor, was the road out of such subjectivity. My grandfather's father, for example, was said to have fled a failed revolution in Bohemia to come here. Look back through history, you will find plenty of reason to feel solidarity, too. Race alone cannot divide us if we are intent on the lessons of that history.

[Jun 19, 2020] A discriminatory informal caste system that racism create was used by neoliberals for supression of white working poor protest against deteriorating standard of living and cooping them to support economic policies of redistribution of wealth up, directly against them

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... While not as overt in the 20th century, the distinction of black slave versus poor white man has kept the class system alive and well in the US in the development of a discriminatory informal caste system. ..."
"... a class level lower than the poorest of the white has kept them from concentrating on the disproportionate, and growing, distribution of wealth and income in the US. ..."
"... It was not the status or material wealth causing the harsh feelings; but, the feeling of being treated less than equal, having little status, and the resulting shame. ..."
"... In other words, by providing poor whites with a stratum of the population that has even lower social status, neoliberals manage to co-opt them to support the policies which economically ate detrimental to their standard of living as well as to suppress the protest against the redistribution of wealth up and dismantling of the New Deal capitalist social protection network. ..."
"... This is a pretty sophisticated, pretty evil scheme if you ask me. In a way, “Floydgate” can be viewed as a variation on the same theme. A very dirty game indeed, when the issue of provision of meaningful jobs for working poor, social equality, and social protection for low-income workers of any color is replaced with a real but of secondary importance issue of police violence against blacks. ..."
Jun 19, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

run75441 June 19, 2020 at 8:23 am

...A while back, I was researching the issues you state in your last paragraph. Was about ten pages into it and had to stop as I was drawn out of state and country.

From my research.

While not as overt in the 20th century, the distinction of black slave versus poor white man has kept the class system alive and well in the US in the development of a discriminatory informal caste system.

This distraction of a class level lower than the poorest of the white has kept them from concentrating on the disproportionate, and growing, distribution of wealth and income in the US.

For the lower class, an allowed luxury, a place in the hierarchy and a sure form of self esteem insurance.

Sennett and Cobb (1972) observed that class distinction sets up a contest between upper and lower class with the lower social class always losing and promulgating a perception amongst themselves the educated and upper classes are in a position to judge and draw a conclusion of them being less than equal.

The hidden injury is in the regard to the person perceiving himself as a piece of the woodwork or seen as a function such as "George the Porter."

It was not the status or material wealth causing the harsh feelings; but, the feeling of being treated less than equal, having little status, and the resulting shame.

The answer for many was violence.

James Gilligan wrote "Violence; Reflections on A National Epidemic." He worked as a prison psychiatrist and talked with many of the inmates of the issues of inequality and feeling less than those around them. His finding are in his book which is not a long read and adds to the discussion.

A little John Adams for you.

"The poor man's conscience is clear . . . he does not feel guilty and has no reason to . . . yet, he is ashamed. Mankind takes no notice of him. He rambles unheeded.

In the midst of a crowd; at a church; in the market . . . he is in as much obscurity as he would be in a garret or a cellar.

He is not disapproved, censured, or reproached; he is not seen . . . To be wholly overlooked, and to know it, are intolerable."

likbez June 19, 2020 1:25 pm
That’s a very important observation. Racism, especially directed toward blacks, along with “identity wedge,” is a perfect tool for disarming poor white, and suppressing their struggle for a better standard of living, which considerably dropped under neoliberalism.

In other words, by providing poor whites with a stratum of the population that has even lower social status, neoliberals manage to co-opt them to support the policies which economically ate detrimental to their standard of living as well as to suppress the protest against the redistribution of wealth up and dismantling of the New Deal capitalist social protection network.

This is a pretty sophisticated, pretty evil scheme if you ask me. In a way, “Floydgate” can be viewed as a variation on the same theme. A very dirty game indeed, when the issue of provision of meaningful jobs for working poor, social equality, and social protection for low-income workers of any color is replaced with a real but of secondary importance issue of police violence against blacks.

This is another way to explain “What’s the matter with Kansas” effect.

[Jun 16, 2020] How Woke Politics Keeps Class Solidarity Down by GREGOR BASZAK

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Anti-racism as an ideology serves a perfect function for corporations that ultimately take workers for granted. ..."
"... Today, we find Lincoln statues desecrated . Neither has the memorial to the 54th Massachusetts Infantry , one of the first all-black units in the Civil War, survived the recent protests unscathed. To many on the left, history seems like the succession of one cruelty by the next. And so, justice may only be served if we scrap the past and start from a blank slate. As a result, Lincoln's appeal that we stand upright and enjoy our liberty gets lost to time. ..."
"... Ironically, this will only help the cause of Robert E. Lee -- and the modern corporations who rely on cheap, inhumane labor to keep themselves going. ..."
"... Before black slaves did this work, white indentured servants had. (An indentured servant is bound for a number of years to his master, i.e. he can't pack up and leave to find a new opportunity elsewhere.) ..."
"... But in the eyes of the Southern slavocracy, the white laboring poor of the North also weren't truly human. Such unholy antebellum figures as the social theorist George Fitzhugh or South Carolina Senator James Henry Hammond urged that the condition of slavery be expanded to include poor whites, too. Their hunger for a cheap, subservient labor source did not stop at black people, after all. ..."
"... Always remember Barbara Fields's formula: The need for cheap labor comes first; ideologies like white supremacy only give this bleak reality a spiritual gloss. ..."
"... Michael Lind argues in his new book The New Class War that many powerful businesses in America today continue to rely on the work of quasi indentured servants. Hungry for unfree, cheap workers, corporations in Silicon Valley and beyond employ tens of thousands of foreign workers through the H-2B visa program. These workers are bound to the company that provided them with the visa. If they find conditions at their jobs unbearable, they can't switch employers -- they would get deported first. In turn, this source of cheap labor effectively underbids American workers who could do the same job, except that they would ask for higher pay. ..."
"... We're getting turned into rats. Naturally, this is no fertile soil for solidarity. And with so many jobs precarious and subcontracted out on a temporary basis, there is preciously little that most workers can do to fight back this insidious managerial control. Free labor looks different. ..."
"... It's hard to come out of the 2020 primaries without realizing that the corporations that run our mainstream media will do anything to protect their right to abuse cheap labor. ..."
"... At this point in history, to the extent that black people suffer any meaningful oppression at all, its down to disproportionate poverty rates, not their racial background. ..."
"... I agree one hundred percent with your take on Biden. Let me add something else: he is a war hawk who not only voted for the Iraq war but used his position as the chairman of an important committee to promote it. ..."
"... Because of slavery alot of bad political policy was incorporated in the founding documents. If a police officer is about to wrongly arrest you because you are black , you do not care if his hatred stems from 400 years of discrimination against blacks. Rather you care that he won't kill you in this encounter because of his racism. ..."
"... Baszak believes racism has no life of its own, it exists only as a tool of the bosses. This is vulgar Marxism. At least since the decades after Bacon's Rebellion ended in 1677, poor whites have invested in white supremacy as a way of boosting their social status. Most Southern families owned no slaves, yet most joined the Civil War cause. ..."
"... They made a movie that beautifully touches this in the 1970s with Harvey Keitel and Richard Pryor called " Blue Collar ." ..."
"... "That's exactly what the company wants: to keep you on their line," says Smokey, the coolest and most strategically minded of the crew. "They'll do anything to keep you on their line. They pit the lifers against the new boys, the old against the young, the black against the white -- everybody -- to keep us in our place." ..."
"... The core thesis in this piece is the animating foundation of The Hill's political talk show "Rising." Composed of a populist Bernie supporter (Krystal Ball) and populist conservative (Saagar Enjeti) as hosts, they frequently highlight the purpose of woke cultural battles is to distract everyone for their neoliberal economic models ..."
Jun 16, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Anti-racism as an ideology serves a perfect function for corporations that ultimately take workers for granted.

Former injured Amazon employees join labor organizers and community activists to demonstrate and hold a press conference outside of an Amazon Go store to express concerns about what they claim is the company's "alarming injury rate" among warehouse workers on December 10, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

On April 2, 1865, in the dying days of the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln wandered the streets of burnt out Richmond, the former Confederate capital. All of a sudden, Lincoln found himself surrounded by scores of emancipated men and women. Here's how the historian James McPherson describes the moving episode in his magisterial book Battle Cry of Freedom :

Several freed slaves touched Lincoln to make sure he was real. "I know I am free," shouted an old woman, "for I have seen Father Abraham and felt him." Overwhelmed by rare emotions, Lincoln said to one black man who fell on his knees in front of him: "Don't kneel to me. That is not right. You must kneel to God only, and thank Him for the liberty you will enjoy hereafter."

Lincoln's legacy as the Great Emancipator has survived the century and a half since then largely intact. But there have been cracks in this image, mostly caused by questioning academics who decried him as an overt white supremacist. This view eventually entered the mainstream when Nikole Hannah-Jones wrote misleadingly in her lead essay to the "1619 Project" that Lincoln "opposed black equality."

Today, we find Lincoln statues desecrated . Neither has the memorial to the 54th Massachusetts Infantry , one of the first all-black units in the Civil War, survived the recent protests unscathed. To many on the left, history seems like the succession of one cruelty by the next. And so, justice may only be served if we scrap the past and start from a blank slate. As a result, Lincoln's appeal that we stand upright and enjoy our liberty gets lost to time.

Ironically, this will only help the cause of Robert E. Lee -- and the modern corporations who rely on cheap, inhumane labor to keep themselves going.

***

The main idea driving the "1619 Project" and so much of recent scholarship is that the United States of America originated in slavery and white supremacy. These were its true founding ideals. Racism, Hannah-Jones writes, is in our DNA.

Such arguments don't make any sense, as the historian Barbara Fields clairvoyantly argued in a groundbreaking essay from 1990. Why would Virginia planters in the 17th century import black people purely out of hate? No, Fields countered, the planters were driven by a real need for dependable workers who would toil on their cotton, rice, and tobacco fields for little to no pay. Before black slaves did this work, white indentured servants had. (An indentured servant is bound for a number of years to his master, i.e. he can't pack up and leave to find a new opportunity elsewhere.)

After 1776 everything changed. Suddenly the new republic claimed that "all men are created equal" -- and yet there were millions of slaves who still couldn't enjoy this equality. Racism helped to square our founding ideals with the brute reality of continued chattel slavery: Black people simply weren't men.

But in the eyes of the Southern slavocracy, the white laboring poor of the North also weren't truly human. Such unholy antebellum figures as the social theorist George Fitzhugh or South Carolina Senator James Henry Hammond urged that the condition of slavery be expanded to include poor whites, too. Their hunger for a cheap, subservient labor source did not stop at black people, after all.

Always remember Barbara Fields's formula: The need for cheap labor comes first; ideologies like white supremacy only give this bleak reality a spiritual gloss.

The true cause of the Civil War -- and it bears constant repeating for all the doubters -- was whether slavery would expand its reach or whether "free labor" would reign supreme. The latter was the dominant ideology of the North: Free laborers are independent, self-reliant, and eventually achieve economic security and independence by the sweat of their brow. It's the American Dream. But if that is so, then the Civil War ended in a tie -- and its underlying conflict was never really settled.

***

Michael Lind argues in his new book The New Class War that many powerful businesses in America today continue to rely on the work of quasi indentured servants. Hungry for unfree, cheap workers, corporations in Silicon Valley and beyond employ tens of thousands of foreign workers through the H-2B visa program. These workers are bound to the company that provided them with the visa. If they find conditions at their jobs unbearable, they can't switch employers -- they would get deported first. In turn, this source of cheap labor effectively underbids American workers who could do the same job, except that they would ask for higher pay.

America's wealth rests on this mutual competition between workers -- some nominally "free," others basically indentured -- whether it be through unjust visa schemes or other unfair managerial practices.

Remember that the next time you read a public announcement by the Amazons of this world that they remain committed to "black lives matter" and similar identitarian causes.

Fortunately, very few Americans hold the same racial resentments in their hearts as their ancestors did even just half a century ago. Rarely did we agree as much than when the nation near unanimously condemned the death of George Floyd at the hands of a few Minneapolis police officers. This is in keeping with another fortunate trend: Over the last 40 years, the rate of police killings of young black men declined by 79% percent .

But anti-racism as an ideology serves a perfect function for our corporations, even despite the evidence that people in this country have grown much less bigotted than they once were: As a management tool, anti-racism sows constant suspicion among workers who are encouraged to detect white supremacist sentiments in everything that their fellow workers say or do.

We're getting turned into rats. Naturally, this is no fertile soil for solidarity. And with so many jobs precarious and subcontracted out on a temporary basis, there is preciously little that most workers can do to fight back this insidious managerial control. Free labor looks different.

And so, through a surprising back door, the true cause for which Robert E. Lee chose to betray his country might still be coming out on top, whether we remove his statues or not -- namely, the steady supply to our ruling corporations of unfree workers willing to hustle for scraps.

It's time to follow Abraham Lincoln's urging and get off our knees again. We should assert our rights as American citizens to live free from economic insecurity and mutual resentment. The vast majority of us harbor no white supremacist views, period. Instead, we have so many more things in common, and we know it.

Another anecdote from the last days of the Civil War, also taken from Battle Cry of Freedom, might prove instructive here: The surrender of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865 essentially ended the Civil War. The ceremony was held with solemn respect for Lee, though one of Grant's adjutants couldn't help himself but have a subtle dig at Lee's expense:

After signing the papers, Grant introduced Lee to his staff. As he shook hands with Grant's military secretary Ely Parker, a Seneca Indian, Lee stared a moment at Parker's dark features and said, "I am glad to see one real American here." Parker responded, "We are all Americans."

Gregor Baszak is a PhD Candidate in English at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a writer. His articles have appeared in Los Angeles Review of Books, Public Books, Spectator USA, Spiked, and elsewhere. Follow Gregor on Twitter at @gregorbas1.


Megan S 15 hours ago

It's a bit off-topic but this is a big reason I supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Primary this year, he was the only candidate talking about how businesses demand that cheap labor, illegal labor, replace American labor. For this, the corporate media called him a racist, an anti-semite, a dangerous radical. None of his opponents aside from Elizabeth Warren had anything to run on aside from pseudo-woke touchy-feely bs. And somehow, with the media insisting that Joe Biden was the only one who could beat Trump, we ended up with the one candidate who was neither good on economics, good for American workers, or offering platitudes about wokeness.

It's hard to come out of the 2020 primaries without realizing that the corporations that run our mainstream media will do anything to protect their right to abuse cheap labor.

JonF311 Victor_the_thinker 8 hours ago

Racism is very real. If it weren't it couldn't be used to "divide and conquer" the working calss. we can walk and chew gum and the same time: oppose racism, and also oppose exploitive labor practices.

Bureaucrat Victor_the_thinker an hour ago • edited

What kind of polemic, unsupported statement is "black fast food workers are the ones who gave us the fight for $15"? How about it was a broad coalition of progressives (of all colors)? Moreover, $15 minimum wage is a poor, one-size-fits-all band-aid that I doubt even fits ONE scenario. Tackling the broader shareholder capitalism model of labor arbitrage (free trade/mass immigration), deunionization, and monopolistic hurdles drafted by corporations is where it actually matters. And on that, we are seeing the inklings of a populist left-right coalition -- if corporate-funded race hustlers could only get out of the way.

Bureaucrat JonF311 2 hours ago • edited

That's the problem. We CAN'T chew gum and walk at the same time. Every minute focusing on racial friction is a minute NOT talking about neoliberal economics. What's the ratio of air time, social media discussion, or newspaper inches are devoted to race vis-a-vis the economic system that has starved the working class -- which is disproportionately black and brown? 10 to 1? 100 to 1? 1000 to 1? If there are no decent working class jobs for young black and brown men, then it makes it nearly impossible to raise families. Let's be clear: Systemic racism is real, but it is far less impactful than economic injustices and family dissolution.

Selvar Victor_the_thinker 33 minutes ago • edited

Class really isn't the primary issue for black people.

That's a frankly ridiculous statement. At this point in history, to the extent that black people suffer any meaningful oppression at all, its down to disproportionate poverty rates, not their racial background. No one--except a few neurotic, high-strung corporate HR PMC types--cares about "microaggressions". Even unjust police shootings of blacks are likely down to class and not race--despite the politically correct narrative saying otherwise.

Putting racial identity politics as an equal (or even greater) priority than class-based solidarity creates an absurd system where an upper-middle class black woman attending Yale can act as if a working class white man is oppressing her by not acknowledging his "white privilege", and not bowing to her every demand. It's utterly delusional to think that sort of culture is going to create a more just or equal world.

joeo Megan S 9 hours ago shiva

Biden is a Rorschach test, people see whatever they want in a party apparatchik. Trump has been Shiva, the destroyer of the traditional Republican party. How else do you explain the support among Multi-Billionaires for the Democratic party. Truly ironic.

Jessica Ramer Megan S 8 hours ago

I agree one hundred percent with your take on Biden. Let me add something else: he is a war hawk who not only voted for the Iraq war but used his position as the chairman of an important committee to promote it. I understand that he still wants to divide Iraq into three separate countries--a decision for Iraqis to make and not us. If we try to implement that policy, it would doubtless lead to more American deaths--to say nothing of Iraqi deaths.

So not only is he not good for American workers, he is not good for the American soldier who is disproportionately likely not to be from the elite classes but rather from the working and lower-middle class.

The only other Democratic candidate who opposed war-mongering besides Sanders was Tulsi Gabbard. I watched CNN commentary after a debate in which she participated. While the other participants received lots of commentary from CNN talking heads. she got almost nothing. She was featured in a video montage of candidates saying "Trump"; other than that, she was invisible in the post-debate analysis.

Megan S Jessica Ramer 7 hours ago

I don't know how far it travelled outside of Democratic primary voters, but I recall Biden's campaign saying that they were planning to be sort of a placeholder that would pass the torch to the next generation. He's insinuated that he only wants to serve one term and saw jumping into the race as the only way to beat Trump. Not the most exciting platform for the Democrats to run on.

As depressing as this primary was, it's good to see that the rising generation of Democrats was resistant to platitudes and demanded actual policy proposals.

Shame the party elders fell for the same old tricks yet again. I just hope that once there are more of us, we can have a serious policy debate in both major parties about free trade, immigration, inequality. The parties' voters aren't all that far apart on economics, yet neither of us is being given what we want. Whichever party sincerely takes a stand for the American working class stands to dominate American politics for a generation.

kouroi Megan S 5 hours ago

"Shame the party elders fell for the same old tricks yet again."

Oops, they tripped, poor oldies, not good in keeping their balance, eh?!

Bureaucrat Megan S 2 hours ago • edited

The problem with Biden's "placeholder" comments is that he specifically mentioned it for Pete Buttigeig, the McKinsey-trained career opportunist who believes in his bones the same neoliberal economics and interventionist foreign policies as the last generation. Same bad ideas, new woke packaging.

Megan S Bureaucrat 2 hours ago

On the bright side, young people despise Buttigieg and his attempt to cast us all as homophobic didn't really catch on outside of corporate media.

Bureaucrat Megan S an hour ago

Kamala Harris and Susan Rice, both tops on the VP list, will do just fine in place of Buttigieg - he's slated to revive TPP as the new USTR cabinet lead.

kouroi 14 hours ago

And just like that Mr. Baszak has become the second favorite writer here at TAC, after Mr. Larison...

stephen pickard 9 hours ago

Because of slavery alot of bad political policy was incorporated in the founding documents. If a police officer is about to wrongly arrest you because you are black , you do not care if his hatred stems from 400 years of discrimination against blacks. Rather you care that he won't kill you in this encounter because of his racism.

To me, I have always thought that America's original sin was slavery. Its stain can not be completely wiped out.

And I further believe that if Native Americans would have enslaved the newly arrived Europeans, and remained the ruling majority, white people would be discriminated against today.

So the problem is not that white people are inherently evil, or other races are inherently good. It is that because of slavery black people are bad, white people are good.

As a nation we have never been able to wash out the stain completely. Never will. Getting closer to the promised land is the best we are going to do. Probably take another 400 years.

In everyday encounters no one cares how discrimination began, just treat me like you want to be treated. Pretty simple.

Randolph Bourne 2 hours ago

"As a management tool, anti-racism sows constant suspicion among workers who are encouraged to detect white supremacist sentiments in everything that their fellow workers say or do."

The author does not offer one smidgen of proof that any company uses antiracism to divide workers. It might be plausible that it's happened, but Baszak has no data at all.

Over the last 40 years, the rate of police killings of young black men declined by 79% percent.

You think this is an accident? It came about through intense pressure on the police to stop killing Black people -- exactly the sort of racial emphasis the author seems to be decrying. Important to note that the non-fatal mistreatment has remained high.

The need for cheap labor comes first; ideologies like white supremacy only give this bleak reality a spiritual gloss

Baszak believes racism has no life of its own, it exists only as a tool of the bosses. This is vulgar Marxism. At least since the decades after Bacon's Rebellion ended in 1677, poor whites have invested in white supremacy as a way of boosting their social status. Most Southern families owned no slaves, yet most joined the Civil War cause. The psychological draw of racism, its cultural strength, are obviated by Barszak. And I bet Barbara Fields does not consider racism an epiphenomenon of economics.

Bureaucrat 2 hours ago

They made a movie that beautifully touches this in the 1970s with Harvey Keitel and Richard Pryor called "Blue Collar."

"That's exactly what the company wants: to keep you on their line," says Smokey, the coolest and most strategically minded of the crew. "They'll do anything to keep you on their line. They pit the lifers against the new boys, the old against the young, the black against the white -- everybody -- to keep us in our place."

Bureaucrat an hour ago

The core thesis in this piece is the animating foundation of The Hill's political talk show "Rising." Composed of a populist Bernie supporter (Krystal Ball) and populist conservative (Saagar Enjeti) as hosts, they frequently highlight the purpose of woke cultural battles is to distract everyone for their neoliberal economic models -- a system that actually has greater deleterious impact on black communities.

This video is one recent example of what you'll rarely see in mainstream media:

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

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

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

Krystal Ball exposes the delusion of the American dream.

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

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

Owen Cousino , 4 days ago

Debt-free is the new American dream

poppaDehorn , 4 days ago

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

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

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

[Jun 02, 2020] It didn t happen overnight by Ken Melvin

Under neoliberalism (and generally under any form of capitalism without countervailing force) the wages tend to deteriorate to the starvation level
Jun 02, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

Sound too familiar? Sometime in the late 80s (??) Americans began to see day labors line up at Home Depot and Lowe's lots in numbers not seen since The Great Depression. Manufacturing Corporations began subbing out their work to sub-contractors, otherwise known as employees without benefits; Construction Contractors subbed out construction work to these employees without benefits; Engineering Firms subbed out engineering to these employees without benefits; Landscapers' workers were now sub-contractors/independent contractors; Here, in the SF Bay Area, time and again, we saw vans loads of undocumented Hispanics under a 'Labor Contractor' come in from the Central Valley to build condos; the white Contractor for the project didn't have a single employee; none of the workers got a W-2. Recall watching, sometime in the 90s (??), a familiar, well dressed, rotund guest from Wall Street, on the PBS News Hour, forcefully proclaiming to the TV audience:

American workers are going to have to learn to compete with the Chinese; Civil Service employees, factory employees, are all going to have to work for less

All this subcontracting, independent contractors, was a scam, a scam meant to circumvent paying going wages and benefits, to enhance profit margins; a scam that transferred more wealth to the top. Meanwhile back at The Ranch, after the H1B Immigration Act of 1990, Microsoft could hire programmers from India for one-half the cost of a citizen programmer. Half of Bill Gates' fortune was resultant these labor savings; the other half was made off those not US Citizens. Taking a cue, Banks, Bio-Techs, some City and State Governments began subcontracting out their programming to H1Bs. Often, the subcontractors/labor contractors (often themselves immigrants) providing the programmers, held the programmers' passports/visas for security.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, friends of Bush/Cheney made fortunes on clean up contracts they subbed out for next to nothing; the independent/subcontractor scam was now officially governmentally sanctioned.

By about 2000 we began to hear the term gig-workers applied to these employees without benefits. Uber appeared in 2007 to be followed by Lift. Both are scams based on paying less than prevailing wages, on not providing worker benefits,

These days, the nightly news, when talking about the effect of the pandemic on the populace in America, shows footage of Food Banks in California with lines 2! miles long. Many of those waiting in these lines didn't have a real job before; they were gig-workers; they can't apply for Unemployment Benefits. It is estimated that 1.6 million American workers (1% of the workforce) are gig-workers; they don't have a real job. That 1% is in addition to the 16 million American workers (10% of the workforce) that are independent contractors. Of the more than 40 million currently unemployed Americans, some 17 million are either gig-workers or subcontractors/independent contractors. All of these are scams meant to transfer more wealth to the top. All of these are scams with American Workers the victims; scams, in a race to the bottom.


Denis Drew , May 31, 2020 10:51 am

Ken,

Read this by the SEIU counsel Andrew Strom -- and tell me what you think:
https://onlabor.org/why-not-hold-union-representation-elections-on-a-regular-schedule/

Democrats in the so called battle ground states would clean up at the polls with this. Why do you think those states strayed? It was because Obama and Hillary had no idea what they really needed. Voters had no idea what they SPECIFICALLY needed either -- UNIONS! They had been deunionized so thoroughly for so long that they THEMSELVES no long knew what they were missing (frogs in the slowly boiling pot).

In 1988 Jesse Jackson took the Democratic primary in Michigan with 54% against Dukakis and Gephardt. Obama beat Wall Street Romney and red-white-and-blue McCain in Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan. But nobody told these voters -- because nobody seems to remember -- what they really needed. These voter just knew by 2016 that Democrats had not what they needed and looked elsewhere -- anywhere else!

Strom presents an easy as can be, on-step-back treatment that should go down oh, so smoothly and sweetly. What do you think?

ken melvin , May 31, 2020 1:04 pm

Denis

Thanks for your comment and the link. Wow! Where to start, huh?

SEIU was a player from the get go, but I don't want to go there just now.

Before Reagan, there was the first rust belt move to the non-union south. Why was the south so anti-union? I think this stuff is engendered from infancy and most of us are incapable of thinking anew when it comes to stuff our parents 'taught' us. MLK was the best thing that ever happened to the dirt-road poor south, yet they hated him and they hated the very unions that might have lifted them up. They did seem to take pleasure in the yanks' loss of jobs.

I think the Reagan era was prelude to what is going on now, i.e., going backward while yelling whee look at me go. No doubt, Reagan turned union members against their own unions. But, the genesis of demise probably lay with automation and the early offshoring to Mexico. By Reagan, the car plants were losing jobs to Toyota and Honda and automation. By 1990, car plants that had previously employed 5,000, now automated, produced more cars employing only 1200. At the time, much of the nation's wealth was still derived from car production.

Skipping forward a bit, the democrats blew it for years with all their talk about the 'middle-class' without realizing it was the 'disappearing middle-class'. They ignored the poor working-class vote and lost election after election.

I've come to not like the term labor, think it affords capital an undeserved status, though much diminished, I think thought all workers would be better off in a union. Otherwise, as we are witnessing, there is no parity between workers and wealth; we are in a race to the bottom with the wealth increasingly go to the top.

ken melvin , May 31, 2020 1:15 pm

Matthew – thanks for your comment

I think that we are into a transition (about 45 yrs into) as great as the industrial revolution. We, as probably those poor souls of the 18th and 19th centuries did, are floundering, unable to come to terms with what is going on.

I also think that those such as the Kochs have a good grasp of what is going on and are moving to protect themselves and their class.

ken melvin , May 31, 2020 1:21 pm

EMichael, thanks for the comment

Are you implying that the politicians are way behind the curve? If so, I think that you are right.

Let me share what I was thinking last night about thinking:

Descartes' problem was that he desperately wanted to make philosophy work within the framework of his religion, Catholicism. Paul Krugman desperately wants to make economics all work within the Holy Duality of Capitalism and Free Markets. Even Joe Stiglitz can't step out of this text. All things being possible, it is possible that either could come up with a solution to today's economic problems that would fit within the Two; but the odds are not good. Better to think anew.

We see politicians try and try to find solutions for today's problems from within their own dogmas/ideologies. Even if they can't, they persist, they still try to impose these dogmas/ideologies in the desperate hope they might work if only applied to a greater degree. How else explain any belief that markets could anticipate and respond to pandemics? That markets could best respond to housing demand?

  1. Interesting and fine writing.
anne , May 31, 2020 1:49 pm

https://twitter.com/paulkrugman/status/1267060950026326018

Paul Krugman @paulkrugman

Glad to see Noah Smith highlighting this all-too-relevant work by the late Alberto Alesina 1/

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-05-30/racism-is-the-biggest-reason-u-s-safety-net-is-so-weak

Racism Is the Biggest Reason the U.S. Safety Net Is So Weak
Harvard economist Alberto Alesina, who died last week, found that ethnic divisions made the country less effective at providing public goods.

7:50 AM · May 31, 2020

The Alesina/Glaeser/Sacerdote paper on why America doesn't have a European-style welfare state -- racism -- had a big impact on my own thinking 2/

https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/glaeser/files/why_doesnt_the_u.s._have_a_european-style_welfare_state.pdf

For a long time anyone who pointed out that the modern GOP is basically a party that serves plutocratic ends by weaponizing white racism was treated as "shrill" and partisan. Can we now admit the obvious? 3/

  1. a long, long time. Possibly forever.
anne , May 31, 2020 1:56 pm

https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/glaeser/files/why_doesnt_the_u.s._have_a_european-style_welfare_state.pdf

September, 2001

Why Doesn't the United States Have a European-Style Welfare State?
By Alberto Alesina, Edward Glaeser and Bruce Sacerdote

Abstract

European countries are much more generous to the poor relative to the US level of generosity. Economic models suggest that redistribution is a function of the variance and skewness of the pre-tax income distribution, the volatility of income (perhaps because of trade shocks), the social costs of taxation and the expected income mobility of the median voter. None of these factors appear to explain the differences between the US and Europe. Instead, the differences appear to be the result of racial heterogeneity in the US and American political institutions. Racial animosity in the US makes redistribution to the poor, who are disproportionately black, unappealing to many voters. American political institutions limited the growth of a socialist party, and more generally limited the political power of the poor.

rick shapiro , May 31, 2020 2:07 pm

This dynamic is not limited to low-skill jobs. I have seen it at work in electronics engineering. When I was a sprat, job shoppers got an hourly wage nearly twice that of their company peers, because they had no benefits or long-term employment. Today, job shoppers are actually paid less than company engineers; and the companies are outsourcing ever more of their staffing to the brokers.
Without labor market frictions, the iron law of wages drives wages to starvation levels. As sophisticated uberization software eliminates the frictions that have protected middle class wages in the recent past, we will all need to enlist unionization and government wage standards to protect us.

ken melvin , May 31, 2020 2:29 pm

Rick

The big engineering offices of the 70s were decimated and worse by the mid-90s; mostly by the advent of computers w/ software. One engineer could now do the work of 10 and didn't need any draftsman.

rick shapiro , May 31, 2020 2:40 pm

I was speaking of engineers with equal skill in the same office. Many at GE Avionics were laid off, and came back as lower paid contract employees.

[Jun 02, 2020] So we're going to tell our soldiers that we're redeploying them from the Middle East to the midwest? What do we think they're going to say, 'yeah, sure, no problem?' Guess again."

Trump's threat to deploy the military here is an excessive and dangerous one. Mark Perry reports on the reaction from military officers to the president's threat:
Jun 02, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Senior military officer on Trump statement: "So we're going to tell our soldiers that we're redeploying them from the Middle East to the midwest? What do we think they're going to say, 'yeah, sure, no problem?' Guess again."

-- Mark Perry (@markperrydc) June 2, 2020

Earlier in the day yesterday, audio has leaked in which the Secretary of Defense referred to U.S. cities as the "battlespace." Separately, Sen. Tom Cotton was making vile remarks about using the military to give "no quarter" to looters. This is the language of militarism.

It is a consequence of decades of endless war and the government's tendency to rely on militarized options as their answer for every problem. Endless war has had a deeply corrosive effect on this country's political system: presidential overreach, the normalization of illegal uses of force, a lack of legal accountability for crimes committed in the wars, and a lack of political accountability for the leaders that continue to wage pointless and illegal wars. Now we see new abuses committed and encouraged by a lawless president, but this time it is Americans that are on the receiving end. Trump hasn't ended any of the foreign wars he inherited, and now it seems that he will use the military in an llegal mission here at home.

Megan San hour ago

The military is the only American institution that young people still have any real degree of faith in, it will be interesting to see the polls when this is all over with.

[Jun 02, 2020] Cornel West America Is A Failed Social Experiment, Neoliberal Wing Of Democratic Party Must Be Fought

See also End of empire Blueprint or scramble — RT Renegade Inc. Of the many important interviews you've done, this is one of the most important and best.
Notable quotes:
"... our culture so market-driven, everybody for sale, everything for sale, you can't deliver the kind of really real nourishment for soul, for meaning, for purpose. ..."
"... The system cannot reform itself. We've tried black faces in high places ..."
"... You've got a neoliberal wing of the Democratic party that is now in the driver's seat with the collapse of brother Bernie and they really don't know what to do because all they want to do is show more black faces -- show more black faces. ..."
"... So when you talk about the masses of black people, the precious poor and working-class black people, brown, red, yellow, whatever color, they're the ones left out and they feel so thoroughly powerless, helpless, hopeless, then you get rebellion. ..."
May 29, 2020 | www.realclearpolitics.com
Dr. Cornel West said on Friday we are witnessing the failed social experiment that is the United States of America in the protests and riots that have followed the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. West told CNN host Anderson Cooper that what is going on is rebellion to a failed capitalist economy that does not protect the people. West, a professor, denounced the neoliberal wing of the Democratic party that is all about "black faces in high places" but not actual change. The professor remarked even those black faces often lose legitimacy because they ingriatiate themselves into the establishment neo-liberal Democratic party.

"I think we are witnessing America as a failed social experiment," West said. "What I mean by that is that the history of black people for over 200 and some years in America has been looking at America's failure, its capitalist economy could not generate and deliver in such a way people can live lives of decency. The nation-state, it's criminal justice system, it's legal system could not generate protection of rights and liberties."

From commentary delivered on CNN Friday night:

DR. CORNEL WEST: And now our culture so market-driven, everybody for sale, everything for sale, you can't deliver the kind of really real nourishment for soul, for meaning, for purpose.

So when you get this perfect storm of all these multiple failures at these different levels of the American empire, and Martin King already told us about that...

The system cannot reform itself. We've tried black faces in high places. Too often our black politicians, professional class, middle class become too accommodated to the capitalist economy, too accommodated to a militarized nation-state, too accommodated to the market-driven culture of celebrities, status, power, fame, all that superficial stuff that means so much to so many fellow citizens.

And what happens is we have a neofascist gangster in the White House who doesn't care for the most part. You've got a neoliberal wing of the Democratic party that is now in the driver's seat with the collapse of brother Bernie and they really don't know what to do because all they want to do is show more black faces -- show more black faces.

But often times those black faces are losing legitimacy too because the Black Lives Matter movement emerged under a black president, a black attorney general, and a black Homeland Security [Secretary] and they couldn't deliver.

So when you talk about the masses of black people, the precious poor and working-class black people, brown, red, yellow, whatever color, they're the ones left out and they feel so thoroughly powerless, helpless, hopeless, then you get rebellion.

... ...

[Jun 02, 2020] There is increasing evidence that certain gangs and other nefarious outside agitators are engaged in deliberate property damage and vandalism during the recent protests against police brutality--demonstrating that they are trying to hijack these protests

Organized crime in the USA is not a myth and its connections to law enforcement also is not a myth. They are ideal provocateurs for riots. Also they want their piece of action too ;-)
Jun 02, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
ak74 , Jun 2 2020 0:49 utc | 132
News Flash!!!

There is increasing evidence that certain gangs and other nefarious outside agitators are engaged in deliberate property damage and vandalism during the recent protests against police brutality--demonstrating that they are trying to hijack these protests and are not sincerely concerned about the issue of racism against African Americans/minorities in the US or police repression.

I wonder if William Barr or the American Regime will now finally declare these groups as "terrorists"?

Police at Protests All Over the Country Caught Destroying Property

https://libya360.wordpress.com/2020/06/01/police-at-protests-all-over-the-country-caught-destroying-property/

[Jun 02, 2020] Two goons who work at a fancy nightclub (aka Mob Headquarters) and one ends up dead. Smells like a mob hit; ordered and paid for by who is the right question

Jun 02, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Trailer Trash , Jun 1 2020 19:10 utc | 37

It is my informal observation that riots tend to collapse from exhaustion after about three days. That's not happening this time, as every new day sees more and more house arrest orders (called "curfew", a nice antiseptic term) across the country.

Current events bring to mind the 1933 failed fascist coup d'etat exposed by General Smedley "War is a Racket" Butler. Instead of organizing half a million war veterans by the VFW, today's "Business Plot" organizers would have at their disposal one million already trained and equipped paramilitary police forces.

In such a scenario there is no reason for local cops to know who is pulling strings; all they have to do is follow orders, which they are more than willing to do, especially with commanders giving them football-style pep talks before going out to break heads.

It's well-documented that the spooks have been trying to get rid of Trump since the election, first with "Russia-gate", then arresting and/or driving out all his trusted staff, then the impeachment. Why should anyone think the spooks have given up? How many times did they try to kill Castro?

If the idea that a spook-led coup d'etat is in progress really has merit (I have "medium confidence"), it will be enforced by the police, not the Army or even National Guard units. So far, Guard units have not fired on protesters and many are not armed. I strongly suspect the army is not reliable, and commanders know it :

In Denver, Guard troops are carrying nonlethal weapons, including batons, tasers, and pepper spray. "They were fully embedded with Denver PD," said Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael Loh, Colorado's adjutant general. "The Denver police chief Paul Pazen said if we have to use deadly force and I want my police officers to do it , and I want you to be in support."

National Guard are recruited with boatloads of TV ads all promoting how Guardsmen are used to help their neighbors during natural disasters. Those ads never feature Guardsmen facing down or shooting angry protesters, and Guardsmen want to believe they are there "to help". The police, however, are under no such illusions and affirm their willingness to kill civilians every time they strap on their side-arm.

If Guardsmen get itchy trigger fingers and shoot civilians without orders, well that just happens sometimes, not a big deal. But if commanders give the order to shoot and they don't, that is a huge crisis which I assume commanders would want to avoid.

--------
From the BBC timeline :

During this attempt [to put Floyd in the patrolcar], at 20:19, Mr Chauvin pulled Mr Floyd out of the passenger side, causing him to fall to the ground, the report said.

He lay there, face down, still in handcuffs.

This suggests he was pulled out of the car by Chauvin for the express purpose of killing him. His cool demeanor is striking. He knows he is openly killing Floyd while being filmed but remains confident he is protected.

Two goons who work at a fancy nightclub (aka Mob Headquarters) and one ends up dead. Smells like a mob hit; ordered and paid for by who is the right question.


Alpi , Jun 1 2020 20:28 utc | 55

The death of George Floyd was ruled a HOMICIDE by independent autopsy.

https://www.rt.com/usa/490441-george-floyd-died-asphyxia-neck/

This report, combined with the fact that Derek Chauvin knew and worked with the victim, makes this homicide premeditated or at the very least a 2nd degree murder.

The fact that the other officers did not intervene makes them complicit in the act and should be brought up on manslaughter charges and accessory to commit murder.

Charging the other officers will help slightly in tamping down the riots, although it may be too late. The wheels have been placed in motion and this is morphing into something bigger than George Floyd.

RJPJR , Jun 1 2020 20:33 utc | 57
Look closely at the film of the end of the murder when the ambulance came for the victim:

https://twitter.com/littllemel/status/1266393141906726912

First responders immediately examine the victim for any signs of life, and they come prepared with equipment to resuscitate the victim if possible. Not these men.

They got out of the ambulance and moved in fast, picked up his body like it was a huge sack of potatoes, and THREW him on to the gurney. Obviously, they knew that he was dead, knew that he was supposed to be dead.

They were NOT first responders in any sense, but openly armed and uniformed policemen.

Consider...

[Jun 02, 2020] As the world watches the US being confronted with massive riots, looting, chaos and heightened violence, US officials, instead of reflecting on the systematic problems in their society that led to such a crisis, have returned to their old 'blame game' against left-wingers, 'fake news' media and 'external forces....

Jun 02, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Jun 1 2020 17:14 utc | 15

It's True how this analysis sees and describes what's occurring within the Outlaw US Empire, more than validating Cornel West's assessment, except it misses the major component--Class--while seeing lizard's list:

"As the world watches the US being confronted with massive riots, looting, chaos and heightened violence, US officials, instead of reflecting on the systematic problems in their society that led to such a crisis, have returned to their old 'blame game' against left-wingers, 'fake news' media and 'external forces....'

"[O]bservers see a weak, irresponsible and incompetent leadership navigating the country into a completely opposite direction, with all-out efforts to deflect public attention from its own failure.

"Mass protests erupted in a growing numbers of cities in the US over the weekend, and at least 40 cities have imposed curfews, while the National Guard has been activated in 14 states and Washington DC, according to US media reports ... [P]rotests across the country continued into a sixth straight night.

"More Americans have slammed the US president for inciting hatred and racism, and US officials, who turn a blind eye to the deep-seated issues in American society, including racial injustice, economic woes and the coronavirus pandemic, began shifting the blame to the former US president, extremists, and China for inflaming the social unrests."

Blaming Chinese, Russians and/or Martians isn't going to help Trump. Without doing a thing, Biden has risen to a lead of 8-10% in the most recent polling. Trumps many mistakes have dug him a hole that now seems to be collapsing in upon him. He's cursed worse than Midas as everything he attempts turns out a big negative and only worsens the situation.

[Jun 02, 2020] How you define "oppression" ?

Jan 03, 2020 | crookedtimber.org

soru 12.31.19 at 6:39 pm 21 ( 21 )

The problem is in how you define "oppression".

For example if you take a marxian definition of l class, it means people who don't own the means of production, that easily means the bottom 80% of the population. However a large part of this group is usually considered middle class, and is not really seen as oppressed.

I don't think this is right; unlike 'exploited', Marx doesn't use the word 'oppression' in any technical or unusual way, just in it's usual sense.

So a prosperous middle class person in a liberal democracy is not oppressed. A Marxist would merely point out that they would be in a more capitalist society; one without a universal franchise that requires the rich to seek political allies.

people of the working class don't feel they are working class, but rather identify as blue collars

If you look into the actual details of vote tallies; you find more or less the precise opposite. There are a key block of people who, objectively speaking, earn most of their income from stocks that they own, in the form of pension funds. Up until recently, this block was the victim of false consciousness; they identified as something like 'blue collar', based on the jobs they used to do, and the communities they they used to belong to. As of the last few elections, political activity by the Republicans and Tories has managed to overcome that, so they now vote based on their objective class interests. Those who rely on a small lump of capital have mostly the same class interests as those in possession of more; fewer environmental regulations, lower minimum wages, and so forth.

Meanwhile, most of the current working class don't get to vote, because they lack citizenship in the countries in question.

[Jun 01, 2020] Riots underline the need for systemic social change. An end to vulture capitalism which has caused most of the problems associated with extreme income inequity.

Jun 01, 2020 | www.unz.com

Nancy O'Brien Simpson , says: Show Comment June 1, 2020 at 2:09 pm GMT

@mark green It is interesting how both sides think they know the other side. Liberals think that Deplorables are redneck Nascar people with zero education. Rightists think the left are deluded commie pinkos, radical queers and pink pussy hatted idiots.

To help with your education I have protested the death of George Floyd in Cincinnati for two days. The protests were mostly young persons and half were white. About two thousand were in our park yesterday to hear speeches. The speeches were about systemic social change. An end to vulture capitalism which has caused most of the problems associated with extreme income inequity.

Also, an end to the endless insane wars fought for profit and American hegemony in places we do not belong. No one is horrified at the violence, we are surprised it did not begin sooner. Desperate people act in desperate ways. The system needs to change.

[Jun 01, 2020] Class struggle and the reaction of the neoliberal society to riots in the USA

Notable quotes:
"... It's also true that the oligarchy will continue to preserve the system it's created in the U.S. through all available means, using its militarized police forces as its loyal street level enforcers. Change would happen very quickly if enough police turned and join with the "mobs". ..."
Jun 01, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

by lizard

hauled from a comment

I think this relevant to how fractured the discourse is. it's a repost from my litter watering hole.

I know it's going to be difficult to accept what I'm about to say because people get very invested in their chosen narratives, but it's important that you at least be exposed to the notion that it's all true.

It's true that now is the time to realize what's at stake, but instead of acting collectively for our mutual benefit, the cognitive challenge of accepting that all these things can be true at the same time will keep us tied to one of these things to the exclusion of all the others.

It's hard work, I know. But I have faith in you.

Posted by b on June 1, 2020 at 16:08 UTC | Permalink

this analysis sees and describes what's occurring within the Outlaw US Empire, more than validating Cornel West's assessment, except it misses the major component--Class--while seeing lizard's list:

"As the world watches the US being confronted with massive riots, looting, chaos and heightened violence, US officials, instead of reflecting on the systematic problems in their society that led to such a crisis, have returned to their old 'blame game' against left-wingers, 'fake news' media and 'external forces....'

"[O]bservers see a weak, irresponsible and incompetent leadership navigating the country into a completely opposite direction, with all-out efforts to deflect public attention from its own failure.

"Mass protests erupted in a growing numbers of cities in the US over the weekend, and at least 40 cities have imposed curfews, while the National Guard has been activated in 14 states and Washington DC, according to US media reports ... [P]rotests across the country continued into a sixth straight night.

"More Americans have slammed the US president for inciting hatred and racism, and US officials, who turn a blind eye to the deep-seated issues in American society, including racial injustice, economic woes and the coronavirus pandemic, began shifting the blame to the former US president, extremists, and China for inflaming the social unrests."

Blaming Chinese, Russians and/or Martians isn't going to help Trump. Without doing a thing, Biden has risen to a lead of 8-10% in the most recent polling. Trumps many mistakes have dug him a hole that now seems to be collapsing in upon him. He's cursed worse than Midas as everything he attempts turns out a big negative and only worsens the situation.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 1 2020 17:14 utc | 15

It's also true that the oligarchy will continue to preserve the system it's created in the U.S. through all available means, using its militarized police forces as its loyal street level enforcers. Change would happen very quickly if enough police turned and join with the "mobs". Otherwise any positive change in the prevailing structure will be extremely incremental if at all, and will be resisted at every level until it collapses because there is nothing left worth to exploit.

Posted by: krypton | Jun 1 2020 17:24 utc | 18


Posted by: Noirette | Jun 1 2020 17:26 utc | 19

Imho the present protests, social 'unrest,' in the USA will just die out as usual, nothing will be accomplished - what are the politcal demands? zero.. - on to the next chapter of misery and oppression.

Posted by: Noirette | Jun 1 2020 17:26 utc | 19

Indeed, and there was no other goal by stirring up these protest to the public murder of Floyd in plain daylight, after decades of deideologization of the US masses by brainwashing through US education system, TV, Hollywood, and so on.

Provocate the poor masses to find no way than to emotionally revolt through a brute action broadcasted to the four corners of the US through the media, to then show the rightful protesters as disorganized anarchist riotters without any vison or idea ( with unestimable help by white supremacists and cops infiltrated, and even by rich blonde boys stealing surf boards as if there was no tomorrow...)so as to show the middle and upper classes that this will be the aspect of the country in case socialist policies would be put in practice. This is to appeal once again, and possibly the last one, to the greedy individualist allegevd "winner" to once more vote against its own interest, as after the elections all what would not be looted by the poor would be looted by the state. Then it will come the gnashing of teeth and regrets on not having suppoorted those poor people when they were being murdered in the streets.

But, may be, some would even be grateful of being quirurgically robed by the state ( thorugh their bank accounts and propieties value going down the hole...) instead of by these obviously majority of needed people....needed at least of respect....

Posted by: H.Schmatz | Jun 1 2020 17:42 utc | 20

"Antifa" only shows up and exists when it is needed, then magically disappears; same as Ali Queada and ISIS ...

This!

<> <> <> <> <>

Reposting my earlier comment on the Open Thread:

ZH reports that 6 people have died in the protests. Dozens of protesters and police have been injured. Tens of millions of dollars in property damage, police overtime, and cost of the likely spread of coronavirus ('second wave' now being blamed on the protesters).

All because the authorities will not appropriately charge the killers of George Floyd.

Instead, Trump and MSM turn the focus to "antifa". How convenient. MSM says nothing of the killing of 26-year old Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia weeks before and the attempted cover-up of his killing.

How many more have to die before the authorities act appropriately? How much more destruction and silent spread of coronavirus?

<> <> <> <> <>

The protesters say that a manslaughter charge against Chauvin is an injustice. Chauvin was a veteran officer who KNEW WHAT HE WAS DOING when he remained on Floyd for more than 3 minutes after he had become non-responsive.

The protesters say that the other officers are accessories to murder because they did nothing to stop it.

Every reasonable person understands that the protesters have valid points. I would say that there's a consensus that Chauvin should be charged with Second-degree murder and the other officers charged as accessories. But the authorities drag their feet - while America burns.

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jun 1 2020 17:44 utc | 21

Posted by: Lozion | Jun 1 2020 17:49 utc | 22

a)refrain from looting and that specifically the the small properties is a stupidity that will backfire quickly!
b) the demonstrations leaders must organize their own security
squads to prevent provocateurs from outside.
Fm these tasks the 1st one is rather difficult to reach, yes.The second one is much easier.

Posted by: augusto | Jun 1 2020 16:43 utc | 6

[May 29, 2020] It s not a civil war until the *other* civilians start shooting at the rioters

May 29, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Richard Steven Hack , May 29 2020 13:54 utc | 18

It's not a civil war until the *other* civilians start shooting at the rioters. At this point, it's just the usual police repression.

Now given that thousands of people who previously never owned a firearm have now acquired them - although it is unclear how many of them will be concealed carriers, given the variance in state laws - it's only a matter of time before some people start shooting. Like the Korean shop owners in LA notably did during the Rodney King riots IIRC.

But it won't be a civil war until a significant number of people on both sides are actually shooting.

There's a guy named Selco Begovic who survived the civil war in Bosnia. He writes articles for prepper Web sites and he has book out. He has vividly described conditions of life in a civil war. Most people in the US are not going to handle that sort of thing well. Try this one as it pertains to b's post.

How the SHTF in Bosnia: Selco Asks Americans, "Does this sound familiar?"

Trisha , May 29 2020 15:02 utc | 32

The true enemies of humanity are corporations, so the violence is not a "civil war", but revolt. Along those lines, it's not "looting" but sabotage. And the "police" are not peace-keepers but militarized enforcers.

It's a complete waste of time engaging in electoral "politics." Politicians are corporate whores doing their master's bidding, as are the "police."

Thanks b, for another incisive post.

Nemesiscalling , May 29 2020 16:07 utc | 44
Blacks occupy a disproportionate piece of those in poverty.

Poverty breeds a lot of different evils and many of them are self-defeating cycles.

... ... ...

karlof1 , May 29 2020 21:26 utc | 90
Just finished listening to the latest interview given by Michael Hudson , "Defining a Tyrant," whose focus is on the necessity of applying debt forgiveness to those residing within the Outlaw US Empire as the economic affects of COVID-19 will be much worse than we've already seen. Those who want to get to the current moment can begin listening at the 40 minute mark (yes, it's just audio). You'll need to note that the unemployment numbers as I've been writing for awhile now are greatly understated, although the host Gary Null does allude to that reality as NYC itself is emptying out--imagine Wall Street sitting in the middle of a ghost metropolis. As you'll learn, Trump's MAGA Mantra is 100% hollow without enacting a wide ranging debt write-off--even if factories could be put back into business, the Outlaw US Empire's economy would still remain very uncompetitive because of the issue of debt service and privatized health care--issues I've written about before.

And so the main topic: Civil War. Or, is it? Reality demands it be named Class War, for that's what it is in reality. Hudson maps out how its done and by whom while naming the abettors. The Popular Forces number 280 million, not including those too young/old/infirm to bear arms. The Forces of Reaction minus the paid forces of coercion number well under 100,000. Even adding in police and military, it's still 280 million to perhaps 10 million. And even if only half of the 280 million stand up, that's 140 million. The rallying cry ought to be It's better to die standing up for your rights versus groveling on your knees. Too bad all of the above's too large for one Tweet.

willie , May 29 2020 21:31 utc | 91
The way they provoked the violence on smashing shop windows with forehammer is exactly what was witnessed inParis when apparent "black block" types did the same and then got back in their policevan.
I note that in France Riot police is clad in robocop armour and that this armour is a weapon in itself,it deshumanizes the man inside to himself,and to others.A strike of his arm is much more powerful than if he were dressed as your american cop on patrol,probably they give them steroid or something to be able to move rapidly with all the weight.They must feel like the Hulk!

Now it would be a sign of peaceful government if just any political party would make a ban on those outfits.

vinnieoh , May 29 2020 21:51 utc | 93
So the medical examiner concluded that there was no evidence of choking or suffocation, and instead was the result of his "restraint" exacerbating underlying conditions, and suggesting there was the possibility of intoxication or drugs, which is the basis for the pre-determination that Chauvin will only be charged with 3rd degree murder, which of course they'll try to whittle down to manslaughter (the coincidental charge.)

Let me see if I've got this straight: a man that is being restrained by the neck, who eventually dies from no other action, who repeatedly pleads that "I can't breath," who onlookers see and record that the man can not in fact breath, and the medical examiner finds no evidence of choking or strangulation.

Further, Officer Chauvin, in close physical contact with the eventual corpse of his victim, must surely have felt the life ebbing from George Floyd. No way no how this mother fucker gets charged with anything other than 1st degree murder. His accomplices get charged with accessory to 1st degree murder.

Dr Wellington Yueh , May 29 2020 21:59 utc | 97
Note to peaceful protestors: CAPTURE THE PROVOCATEUR!!!!!

If you see somebody doing this shit, don't wag your finger at him, get that fucker and firmly-but-peacefully eject him from the crowd.

CitizenX , May 29 2020 22:10 utc | 102
Do yourself a favor and read-

"War is a Racket" -Smedley Butler 1933
"Beyond Vietnam - Time to Break the Silence" -MLK 1967
"Art Truth and Politics" -Harold Pinter 2005

What has changed in 100 yrs of uSSa Empire? Foreign policy? Domestic policy?
Economic policy? All have become worse.

The u$$a Regime lies, cheats, steals, rapes, murders, tortures, overthrows, bombs,
invades, destroys, and loots with impunity Global wide.
How a citizen of this Rogue nation can feel good about that is beyond hypocrisy.

This Regime and the humans behind this sickening system must be replaced.
The Military Surveilance Police state must end. The Humans behind this system must be replaced
by any means necessary. Both the safety of the world and domestically rely on their removal.

When finished "Entertaining Ourselves to Death" and coming to terms with the truly Evil nature of the human beings operating and supporting this system- perhaps you will becomea full human being. Get Up Stand Up.

The difference between ignorance and delusions are substantial.
Ignorance being the lack of knowledge. Delusion being the presence of false
knowledge. Where do you stand?

I don't need protection from the police.
But We ALL need protection FROM the police state.
Will you fight to defend yourself, your family, your neighbor or fellow human being
against a cruel vile corrupt system? Selfishness and greed are no excuse for complacency.
What is worth defending- your property or your virtues?

I have long been disgusted by the u$$a regimes domestic and foreign policies. Which means I have long been disgusted by my fellow citizens (human beings) which support and operate this vile system.

Revolution-
Complacency and passive complicit citizens Or values, humaneness and justice?

Where do you stand? When do you stand for a meaningful life of society?

lysias , May 29 2020 22:24 utc | 106
The white working and lower middle classes will not support violent rioting by blacks over a black issue. This is not a way to start a revolution.

What's more, the latest reporting I read in the Washington Post is that Floyd initially resisted arrest. The early reporting that he did not resist arrest was apparently incorrect.

Moreover, the medical evidence suggests that he died not from asphyxiation or a broken neck, but because of comorbidities.

Floyd had a lengthy criminal record.

If you want a revolution in the U.S., wait a month or two until there are mass evictions.

H.Schmatz , May 29 2020 22:30 utc | 108
It seems that the revolution will not happen after all, just has been declared curfew...

This is a warning to anybody who would dare to revolt against the coming misery conditions of life while the oligarchs continue enriching themselves and looting every penny available.

This is a secondary gain from the pandemic, as we were accustomed to multiple declared state of alarm throughout the world, they thinks that going a step further would not cause any shock....

There have been equally violent revolts in France and Chile continuously during the past year, and in France again in the banlieus, and then curfew was not declared...

This is the land of the free....There you have your fascist state turning on yourselves...
When they came for the Venezuelans, seized their assets and embassies, I did nothing; when they came for the Iranians and murdered Soleimani, I said nothing; when they came for the communists in the Odessa House of Unions, I did not move a finger; when they slaughtered people at the four cardinal points of the world, I did continue living my "American Dream" as if the thing would not go with me...until I did awaken to find myself in the same nightmare....

https://twitter.com/edukabak/status/1266055032883023872/photo/1

Do you think that were not for the riots of the last nights, Chauvin would had been detained and charged?

Richard Steven Hack , May 29 2020 22:50 utc | 112
I've suggested in the past that civil war was unlikely in the US because that would requires a significant percentage of the electorate to actually take sides and shoot someone - and most of the population is so anti-gun these days that such a scenario was unlikely, especially over political issues that aren't usually considered as *directly* adversely affecting most of the population, at least in their minds. It would also require some direct organization on both sides and I don't see anyone capable of that on the national scene.

What I can easily see happening, however, is the sort of multi-city, large-scale rioting that occurred in the Sixties and in other parts of the world, leading to a declaration of martial law in at least some, possibly many, larger cities, if not nation-wide (a lot of rural areas would likely not be affected.) Economic issues and issues of social repression are usually the causes of large-scale violence historically in most countries. Most "political" issues usually boil down to either ethnic or economic or repression issues.

The US doesn't have really that much ethnic issues, except in the Southwest over Latino immigration. The US has racial, economic and repression issues, however. Most of the time they just simmer, with local limited outbreaks of violence. But in cases of blatant repression, or under severe economic pressure, they can explode into wider-scale violence.

And we've got both on the horizon. The impact of the pandemic (and the government's clueless response, thanks to Trump and previous Presidents) on the economy is likely to produce extreme economic pressure, especially on the middle class and the poor. Adding the extreme militarization of the US police over the last several decades, and this is a recipe for large-scale violence that continues for more than a few days or a week. Once police over-reaction and the appearance of the National Guard to control rioting results in the sort of deaths like in the well-known Kent State incident, then like in Ukraine we could start to see cops and National Guard fatalities from snipers. Next we could see things like the 1985 Philadelphia police bombing of the MOVE headquarters and the use of armed drones (Connecticut has a law banning armed drones - but not for police.) The next step beyond that is curfew, and the next step beyond that is martial law.

The next step beyond that is not civil war - it's explicit fascism. And that ends in revolution - which then usually recycles into either more fascism or "modified: fascism (see France in the 1800's.)

Bottom line: It's not going to get better. One of the many things preppers have been warning against is national repression. They warned against natural disasters like hurricanes and no one listened until Katrina. They warned against pandemics and no one listened - until today. They've been warning against national repression - like the Selco article I linked to. Better listen this time.

The US government has been preparing for some time:
Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown

Maybe you should: How To Prepare for Civil Unrest: 30 Steps You Can Take Now

[May 23, 2020] Coronavirus had shown Brezhnev socialism and the US neoliberalism are never as far apart as people imagined

Highly recommended!
May 23, 2020 | discussion.theguardian.com

Comment edited for clarity

Bolsheviks put ideology above and before the people needs; Neoliberals put capital above people. Neoliberals are the next-worst thing after Boslheviks (although nobody can match Bolsheviks as for excesses including Stalin terror) .

That's why both now in the USA and in the USSR before the dissolution we have a lot of "death of despair" That said, why would anybody trust neolibral pols ?

twiglette , 11 Apr 2019 05:13

Coronavirus had shown Brezhnev socialism and the US neoliberalism were never as far apart as people imagined. Two sides of a coin. A theological dispute.

[May 23, 2020] Who are serfs

Money quote: ""Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd." -- that's definition of a serf -- a neoliberal serf
I feel a lot of people just use the term neoliberalism as a term of a specific abuse of labor via debt slavery. .
May 23, 2020 | discussion.theguardian.com

TenTribesofTexas , 11 Apr 2019 01:15

2 simple points that epitomize neo liberalism.

1. Hayek's book 'The Road to Serfdom' uses an erroneous metaphor. He argues that if we allow gov regulation, services and spending to continue then we will end up serfs. However, serfs are basically the indentured or slave labourers of private citizens and landowners not of the state. Only in a system of private capital can there be serfs. Neo liberalism creates serfs not a public system.

2. According to Hayek all regulation on business should be eliminated and only labour should be regulated to make it cheap and contain it so that private investors can have their returns guaranteed. Hence the purpose of the state is to pass laws to suppress workers.

These two things illustrate neo-liberalism. Deception and repression of labour.

marshwren , 10 Apr 2019 22:29
As a matter of semantics, neo-liberalism delivered on the promise of freedom...for capitalists to be free of ethical accountability, social responsibility, and government regulation and taxes. And people can't understand why i'm a socialist.

[May 23, 2020] Neoliberalism promised freedom instead it delivers stifling control by George Monbiot

Highly recommended!
From comments: " neoliberalism to be a techno-economic order of control, requiring a state apparatus to enforce wholly artificial directives. Also, the work of recent critics of data markets such as Shoshana Zuboff has shown capitalism to be evolving into a totalitarian system of control through cybernetic data aggregation."
"... By rolling back the state, neoliberalism was supposed to have allowed autonomy and creativity to flourish. Instead, it has delivered a semi-privatised authoritarianism more oppressive than the system it replaced. ..."
"... Workers find themselves enmeshed in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy , centrally controlled and micromanaged. Organisations that depend on a cooperative ethic – such as schools and hospitals – are stripped down, hectored and forced to conform to suffocating diktats. The introduction of private capital into public services – that would herald a glorious new age of choice and openness – is brutally enforced. The doctrine promises diversity and freedom but demands conformity and silence. ..."
"... Their problem is that neoliberal theology, as well as seeking to roll back the state, insists that collective bargaining and other forms of worker power be eliminated (in the name of freedom, of course). So the marketisation and semi-privatisation of public services became not so much a means of pursuing efficiency as an instrument of control. ..."
"... Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd. The bureaucratic quantification of public administration goes far beyond an attempt at discerning efficacy. It has become an end in itself. ..."
Notable quotes:
"... By rolling back the state, neoliberalism was supposed to have allowed autonomy and creativity to flourish. Instead, it has delivered a semi-privatised authoritarianism more oppressive than the system it replaced. ..."
"... Workers find themselves enmeshed in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy , centrally controlled and micromanaged. Organisations that depend on a cooperative ethic – such as schools and hospitals – are stripped down, hectored and forced to conform to suffocating diktats. The introduction of private capital into public services – that would herald a glorious new age of choice and openness – is brutally enforced. The doctrine promises diversity and freedom but demands conformity and silence. ..."
"... Their problem is that neoliberal theology, as well as seeking to roll back the state, insists that collective bargaining and other forms of worker power be eliminated (in the name of freedom, of course). So the marketisation and semi-privatisation of public services became not so much a means of pursuing efficiency as an instrument of control. ..."
"... Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd. The bureaucratic quantification of public administration goes far beyond an attempt at discerning efficacy. It has become an end in itself. ..."
"... The other point to be made is that the return of fundamentalist nationalism is arguably a radicalized form of neoliberalism. ..."
"... Therefore, neoliberal hegemony can only be perpetuated with authoritarian, nationalist ideologies and an order of market feudalism. In other words, neoliberalism's authoritarian orientations, previously effaced beneath discourses of egalitarian free-enterprise, become overt. ..."
"... The market is no longer an enabler of private enterprise, but something more like a medieval religion, conferring ultimate authority on a demagogue. Individual entrepreneurs collectivise into a 'people' serving a market which has become synonymous with nationhood. ..."
Apr 10, 2019 | www.theguardian.com

Thousands of people march through London to protest against underfunding and privatisation of the NHS. Photograph: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Images M y life was saved last year by the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, through a skilful procedure to remove a cancer from my body . Now I will need another operation, to remove my jaw from the floor. I've just learned what was happening at the hospital while I was being treated. On the surface, it ran smoothly. Underneath, unknown to me, was fury and tumult. Many of the staff had objected to a decision by the National Health Service to privatise the hospital's cancer scanning . They complained that the scanners the private company was offering were less sensitive than the hospital's own machines. Privatisation, they said, would put patients at risk. In response, as the Guardian revealed last week , NHS England threatened to sue the hospital for libel if its staff continued to criticise the decision.

The dominant system of political thought in this country, which produced both the creeping privatisation of public health services and this astonishing attempt to stifle free speech, promised to save us from dehumanising bureaucracy. By rolling back the state, neoliberalism was supposed to have allowed autonomy and creativity to flourish. Instead, it has delivered a semi-privatised authoritarianism more oppressive than the system it replaced.

Workers find themselves enmeshed in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy , centrally controlled and micromanaged. Organisations that depend on a cooperative ethic – such as schools and hospitals – are stripped down, hectored and forced to conform to suffocating diktats. The introduction of private capital into public services – that would herald a glorious new age of choice and openness – is brutally enforced. The doctrine promises diversity and freedom but demands conformity and silence.

Much of the theory behind these transformations arises from the work of Ludwig von Mises. In his book Bureaucracy , published in 1944, he argued that there could be no accommodation between capitalism and socialism. The creation of the National Health Service in the UK, the New Deal in the US and other experiments in social democracy would lead inexorably to the bureaucratic totalitarianism of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

He recognised that some state bureaucracy was inevitable; there were certain functions that could not be discharged without it. But unless the role of the state is minimised – confined to defence, security, taxation, customs and not much else – workers would be reduced to cogs "in a vast bureaucratic machine", deprived of initiative and free will.

By contrast, those who labour within an "unhampered capitalist system" are "free men", whose liberty is guaranteed by "an economic democracy in which every penny gives a right to vote". He forgot to add that some people, in his capitalist utopia, have more votes than others. And those votes become a source of power.

His ideas, alongside the writings of Friedrich Hayek , Milton Friedman and other neoliberal thinkers, have been applied in this country by Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron, Theresa May and, to an alarming extent, Tony Blair. All of those have attempted to privatise or marketise public services in the name of freedom and efficiency, but they keep hitting the same snag: democracy. People want essential services to remain public, and they are right to do so.

If you hand public services to private companies, either you create a private monopoly, which can use its dominance to extract wealth and shape the system to serve its own needs – or you introduce competition, creating an incoherent, fragmented service characterised by the institutional failure you can see every day on our railways. We're not idiots, even if we are treated as such. We know what the profit motive does to public services.

So successive governments decided that if they could not privatise our core services outright, they would subject them to "market discipline". Von Mises repeatedly warned against this approach. "No reform could transform a public office into a sort of private enterprise," he cautioned. The value of public administration "cannot be expressed in terms of money". "Government efficiency and industrial efficiency are entirely different things."

"Intellectual work cannot be measured and valued by mechanical devices." "You cannot 'measure' a doctor according to the time he employs in examining one case." They ignored his warnings.

Their problem is that neoliberal theology, as well as seeking to roll back the state, insists that collective bargaining and other forms of worker power be eliminated (in the name of freedom, of course). So the marketisation and semi-privatisation of public services became not so much a means of pursuing efficiency as an instrument of control.

Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd. The bureaucratic quantification of public administration goes far beyond an attempt at discerning efficacy. It has become an end in itself.

Its perversities afflict all public services. Schools teach to the test , depriving children of a rounded and useful education. Hospitals manipulate waiting times, shuffling patients from one list to another. Police forces ignore some crimes, reclassify others, and persuade suspects to admit to extra offences to improve their statistics . Universities urge their researchers to write quick and superficial papers , instead of deep monographs, to maximise their scores under the research excellence framework.

As a result, public services become highly inefficient for an obvious reason: the destruction of staff morale. Skilled people, including surgeons whose training costs hundreds of thousands of pounds, resign or retire early because of the stress and misery the system causes. The leakage of talent is a far greater waste than any inefficiencies this quantomania claims to address.

New extremes in the surveillance and control of workers are not, of course, confined to the public sector. Amazon has patented a wristband that can track workers' movements and detect the slightest deviation from protocol. Technologies are used to monitor peoples' keystrokes, language, moods and tone of voice. Some companies have begun to experiment with the micro-chipping of their staff . As the philosopher Byung-Chul Han points out , neoliberal work practices, epitomised by the gig economy, that reclassifies workers as independent contractors, internalise exploitation. "Everyone is a self-exploiting worker in their own enterprise."

The freedom we were promised turns out to be freedom for capital , gained at the expense of human liberty. The system neoliberalism has created is a bureaucracy that tends towards absolutism, produced in the public services by managers mimicking corporate executives, imposing inappropriate and self-defeating efficiency measures, and in the private sector by subjection to faceless technologies that can brook no argument or complaint.

Attempts to resist are met by ever more extreme methods, such as the threatened lawsuit at the Churchill Hospital. Such instruments of control crush autonomy and creativity. It is true that the Soviet bureaucracy von Mises rightly denounced reduced its workers to subjugated drones. But the system his disciples have created is heading the same way.

George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist


Pinkie123 , 12 Apr 2019 03:23

The other point to be made is that the return of fundamentalist nationalism is arguably a radicalized form of neoliberalism. If 'free markets' of enterprising individuals have been tested to destruction, then capitalism is unable to articulate an ideology with which to legitimise itself.

Therefore, neoliberal hegemony can only be perpetuated with authoritarian, nationalist ideologies and an order of market feudalism. In other words, neoliberalism's authoritarian orientations, previously effaced beneath discourses of egalitarian free-enterprise, become overt.

The market is no longer an enabler of private enterprise, but something more like a medieval religion, conferring ultimate authority on a demagogue. Individual entrepreneurs collectivise into a 'people' serving a market which has become synonymous with nationhood.

A corporate state emerges, free of the regulatory fetters of democracy. The final restriction on the market - democracy itself - is removed. There then is no separate market and state, just a totalitarian market state.

glisson , 12 Apr 2019 00:10
This is the best piece of writing on neoliberalism I have ever seen. Look, 'what is in general good and probably most importantly what is in the future good'. Why are we collectively not viewing everything that way? Surely those thoughts should drive us all?
economicalternative -> Pinkie123 , 11 Apr 2019 21:33
Pinkie123: So good to read your understandings of neoliberalism. The political project is the imposition of the all seeing all knowing 'market' on all aspects of human life. This version of the market is an 'information processor'. Speaking of the different idea of the laissez-faire version of market/non market areas and the function of the night watchman state are you aware there are different neoliberalisms? The EU for example runs on the version called 'ordoliberalism'. I understand that this still sees some areas of society as separate from 'the market'?
economicalternative -> ADamnSmith2016 , 11 Apr 2019 21:01
ADamnSmith: Philip Mirowski has discussed this 'under the radar' aspect of neoliberalism. How to impose 'the market' on human affairs - best not to be to explicit about what you are doing. Only recently has some knowledge about the actual neoliberal project been appearing. Most people think of neoliberalism as 'making the rich richer' - just a ramped up version of capitalism. That's how the left has thought of it and they have been ineffective in stopping its implementation.
economicalternative , 11 Apr 2019 20:42
Finally. A writer who can talk about neoliberalism as NOT being a retro version of classical laissez faire liberalism. It is about imposing "The Market" as the sole arbiter of Truth on us all.
Only the 'Market' knows what is true in life - no need for 'democracy' or 'education'. Neoliberals believe - unlike classical liberals with their view of people as rational individuals acting in their own self-interest - people are inherently 'unreliable', stupid. Only entrepreneurs - those close to the market - can know 'the truth' about anything. To succeed we all need to take our cues in life from what the market tells us. Neoliberalism is not about a 'small state'. The state is repurposed to impose the 'all knowing' market on everyone and everything. That is neoliberalism's political project. It is ultimately not about 'economics'.
Pinkie123 , 11 Apr 2019 13:27
The left have been entirely wrong to believe that neoliberalism is a mobilisation of anarchic, 'free' markets. It never was so. Only a few more acute thinkers on the left (Jacques Ranciere, Foucault, Deleuze and, more recently, Mark Fisher, Wendy Brown, Will Davies and David Graeber) have understood neoliberalism to be a techno-economic order of control, requiring a state apparatus to enforce wholly artificial directives. Also, the work of recent critics of data markets such as Shoshana Zuboff has shown capitalism to be evolving into a totalitarian system of control through cybernetic data aggregation.


Only in theory is neoliberalism a form of laissez-faire. Neoliberalism is not a case of the state saying, as it were: 'OK everyone, we'll impose some very broad legal parameters, so we'll make sure the police will turn up if someone breaks into your house; but otherwise we'll hang back and let you do what you want'. Hayek is perfectly clear that a strong state is required to force people to act according to market logic. If left to their own devices, they might collectivise, think up dangerous utopian ideologies, and the next thing you know there would be socialism. This the paradox of neoliberalism as an intellectual critique of government: a socialist state can only be prohibited with an equally strong state. That is, neoliberals are not opposed to a state as such, but to a specifically centrally-planned state based on principles of social justice - a state which, to Hayek's mind, could only end in t totalitarianism. Because concepts of social justice are expressed in language, neoliberals are suspicious of linguistic concepts, regarding them as politically dangerous. Their preference has always been for numbers. Hence, market bureaucracy aims for the quantification of all values - translating the entirety of social reality into metrics, data, objectively measurable price signals. Numbers are safe. The laws of numbers never change. Numbers do not lead to revolutions. Hence, all the audit, performance review and tick-boxing that has been enforced into public institutions serves to render them forever subservient to numerical (market) logic. However, because social institutions are not measurable, attempts to make them so become increasingly mystical and absurd. Administrators manage data that has no relation to reality. Quantitatively unmeasurable things - like happiness or success - are measured, with absurd results.

It should be understood (and I speak above all as a critic of neoliberalism) that neoliberal ideology is not merely a system of class power, but an entire metaphysic, a way of understanding the world that has an emotional hold over people. For any ideology to universalize itself, it must be based on some very powerful ideas. Hayek and Von Mises were Jewish fugitives of Nazism, living through the worst horrors of twentieth-century totalitarianism. There are passages of Hayek's that describe a world operating according to the rules of a benign abstract system that make it sound rather lovely. To understand neoliberalism, we must see that it has an appeal.

However, there is no perfect order of price signals. People do not simply act according to economic self-interest. Therefore, neoliberalism is a utopian political project like any other, requiring the brute power of the state to enforce ideological tenets. With tragic irony, the neoliberal order eventually becomes not dissimilar to the totalitarian regimes that Hayek railed against.

manolito22 -> MrJoe , 11 Apr 2019 08:14
Nationalised rail in the UK was under-funded and 'set up to fail' in its latter phase to make privatisation seem like an attractive prospect. I have travelled by train under both nationalisation and privatisation and the latter has been an unmitigated disaster in my experience. Under privatisation, public services are run for the benefit of shareholders and CEO's, rather than customers and citizens and under the opaque shroud of undemocratic 'commercial confidentiality'.
Galluses , 11 Apr 2019 07:26
What has been very noticeable about the development of bureaucracy in the public and private spheres over the last 40 years (since Thatcher govt of 79) has been the way systems are designed now to place responsibility and culpability on the workers delivering the services - Teachers, Nurses, social workers, etc. While those making the policies, passing the laws, overseeing the regulations- viz. the people 'at the top', now no longer take the rap when something goes wrong- they may be the Captain of their particular ship, but the responsibility now rests with the man sweeping the decks. Instead they are covered by tying up in knots those teachers etc. having to fill in endless check lists and reports, which have as much use as clicking 'yes' one has understood those long legal terms provided by software companies.... yet are legally binding. So how the hell do we get out of this mess? By us as individuals uniting through unions or whatever and saying NO. No to your dumb educational directives, No to your cruel welfare policies, No to your stupid NHS mismanagement.... there would be a lot of No's but eventually we could say collectively 'Yes I did the right thing'.
fairshares -> rjb04tony , 11 Apr 2019 07:17
'The left wing dialogue about neoliberalism used to be that it was the Wild West and that anything goes. Now apparently it's a machine of mass control.'

It is the Wild West and anything goes for the corporate entities, and a machine of control of the masses. Hence the wish of neoliberals to remove legislation that protects workers and consumers.

[May 21, 2020] Covid-19 Straw Breaks Free Trade Camel's Back

Notable quotes:
"... After claiming that "economists have argued for centuries that trade is good for the economy as a whole", Goldberg has also noted that "trade generates winners and losers", with many losing out, and urges acknowledging "the evidence rather than trying to discredit it, as some do." Following Samuelson and others, she recommends compensating those negatively effected by trade liberalization, claiming "sufficient gains generated by open trade that the winners can compensate the losers and still be better off" without indicating how this is to be done fairly. ..."
"... "Free" trade means removing regulations and tariffs. As Michael Hudson reminds us, in Classical economics, it used to mean free of the unproductive burdens of the rentiers. ..."
"... There's a growing realisation on our continent that outsiders aren't going to lead us to the promised land. ..."
"... This redistribution never happens, the rich get richer in a role reversal of "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today". Any attempt to have the rich share the hamburger is greeted with a "not now!" and a assurance that if the rich stop continuously getting richer at this particular point in time then everything will collapse. ..."
"... The best understanding of what is going on in Africa I got from Jared Diamond – book, "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed". And for background – "Guns, Germs, and Steel". Global climate heating is going to destroy Africa, already is. The usual story, no water, no forests, too much heat and humidity. It's a terrible reckoning. And largely not of their making. ..."
May 20, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a former economics professor, who was Assistant Director-General for Economic and Social Development, Food and Agriculture Organization, and who received the Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought in 2007. Originally published by Inter Press Service

Economic growth is supposed to be the tide that lifts all boats. According to the conventional wisdom until recently, growth in China, India and East Asian countries took off thanks to opening up to international trade and investment.

Such growth is said to have greatly reduced poverty despite growing inequality in both sub-continental economies and many other countries. Other developing countries have been urged to do the same, i.e., liberalize trade and attract foreign investments.

Doha Round 'Dead in Water'

However, multilateral trade negotiations under World Trade Organization (WTO) auspices have gone nowhere since the late 1990s, even with the so-called Doha Development Round begun in 2001 as developing countries rallied to support the US after 9/11.

After the North continued to push their interests despite their ostensible commitment to a developmental outcome, the Obama administration was never interested in completing the Round, and undermined the WTO's functioning, e.g., its dispute settlement arrangements, even before Trump was elected.

To be sure, the Doha Round proposals were hardly 'developmental' by any standards, with most developing countries barely benefitting, if not actually worse off following the measures envisaged, even according to World Bank and other studies.

GVC miracle?

According to the World Bank's annual flagship World Development Report (WDR) 2020 on Trading for Development in the Age of Global Value Chains , GVCs have been mainly responsible for the growth of international trade for two decades from the 1990s.

GVCs now account for almost half of all cross-border commerce due to 'multiple counting', as products cross more borders than ever. Firms' creative book-keeping may also overstate actual value added in some tax jurisdictions to minimize overall tax liability.

WDR 2020 claims that GVCs have thus accelerated economic development and even convergence between North and South as fast-growing poor countries have grown more rapidly, closing the economic gap with rich countries.

Automation, innovative management, e.g., 'just-in-time' (JIT), outsourcing, offshoring and logistics have dramatically transformed production . Labour processes are subject to greater surveillance, while piecework at home means self-policing and use of unpaid household labour.

WDR 2020 Out of Touch

WDR 2020 presumes trends that no longer exist. Trade expansion has been sluggish for more than a decade, at least since the 2008 global financial crisis when the G20 of the world's largest economies and others adopted protective measures in response.

GVC growth has slowed since, as economies of the North insisted on trade liberalization for the South, while abandoning their own earlier commitments as the varied consequences of economic globalization fostered reactionary jingoist populist backlashes.

Meanwhile, new technologies involving mechanization, automation and other digital applications have further reduced overall demand for labour even as jobs were 'off-shored'. Trump-initiated trade policies and conflicts have pressured US and other transnational corporations to 'on-shore' jobs after decades of 'off-shoring' .

Nonetheless, WDR 2020 urges developing countries to bank on GVCs for growth and better jobs. Success of this strategy depends crucially on developed countries encouraging 'offshoring', a policy hardly evident for well over a decade!

As the last World Bank chief economist , albeit for barely 15 months, Yale Professor Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg recently agreed , "the world is retreating from globalization". "Protectionism is on the rise -- industrialized countries are less open to imports from developing countries. In addition, there is by now a lot of competition".

The Covid-19 crisis has further encouraged 'on-shoring' and 'chain shortening', especially for food, medical products and energy. Although the Japanese and other governments have announced such policies, ostensibly for 'national security' and other such reasons, Goldberg has nonetheless reiterated the case for GVCs in Covid-19's wake .

Trade Does Not Lift All Boats

After claiming that "economists have argued for centuries that trade is good for the economy as a whole", Goldberg has also noted that "trade generates winners and losers", with many losing out, and urges acknowledging "the evidence rather than trying to discredit it, as some do." Following Samuelson and others, she recommends compensating those negatively effected by trade liberalization, claiming "sufficient gains generated by open trade that the winners can compensate the losers and still be better off" without indicating how this is to be done fairly.

Compensation and redistribution require transfers which are typically difficult to negotiate and deliver at low cost. Tellingly, like others, she makes no mention of international transfers, especially for fairly redistributing the unequal gains from trade among trading partners.

Interestingly, she also observes, "There are plenty of examples, especially in African countries, where wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few even when the tide rises, only very few boats rise. Growth doesn't trickle down and doesn't improve the lot of the poor."

Unlikely Pan-Africanist

After decades of World Bank promotion of the 'East Asian miracle' for emulation by other developing countries, especially in Africa, Greek-born American Goldberg insists that what worked for growth and poverty reduction in China will not work in Africa today.

Echoing long time Bank critics, she argues, "If trade with rich countries is no longer the engine of growth, it will be more important than ever to rely on domestic resources to generate growth that does trickle down and translates to poverty reduction."

Instead, as if supporting some contemporary pan-Africanists, she argues, "Africa needs to rely on itself more than ever. The idea that export-led industrialization as it happened in China or East Asia is going to lead growth in Africa becomes less and less plausible".

She argues that "the African market is a very large market with incredible potential. It has not been developed yet. So, regional integration might be one path forward. Rather than opting for global integration, which may be very hard to achieve these days when countries are retreating from multilateralism, it might be more feasible to push for regional trade agreements and create bigger regional markets for countries' goods and services".

Acknowledging "We are still a very long way from there because most countries are averse to this idea -- they see their neighbors as competitors rather than countries they can cooperate with", not seeming to recognize the historical role of the Bank and mainstream trade economists in promoting the 'free trade illusion' and discrediting pan-Africanism.


chuck roast , May 20, 2020 at 9:01 am

hear him, and hear him
Econospeak at its best. Filled with cliches and "on the one hand(s)." This articles perfectly describes why social distancing can ultimately be a boon to mankind. This fellow Sundaram can self isolate at home and still get a paycheck. He can begin puttering about in his garden and start growing his own food. Eventually, he will find this activity to be far more rewarding than cogitating on the various cost and benefits of the international value chains, and will be spending more and more time in his garden. UBI will kick in. He will decide to disengage from "globalization" and being a public nuisance and adopt this new, socially beneficial lifestyle permanently. By doing "piecework at home" he will add to real gross domestic product, and he, the economy and the rest of the planet will be immeasurably improved.

The Historian , May 20, 2020 at 10:49 am

Good analysis. But part of my confusion with this article started with the headline: "Covid-19 Straw Breaks Free Trade Camel's Back"

What free trade? Nothing in the article discusses free trade and I doubt that there has ever been free trade for a very long time. Is this more Econospeak?

I do agree with the author that the way trading is done now, however he defines it, has not risen all boats.

Amfortas the hippie , May 20, 2020 at 1:33 pm

Regarding the existence of "Free Trade"
I watched this in real time when Nafta passed(i was agin it, and voted for Perot accordingly, both times)
I knew a middle class mexican american guy father of a friend of mine. His business, pre-Nafta, was going to his extended familia's ranch/farm(100 acres) in Tamaulipas, and returning with fruits and veggies and vanilla and a whole bunch of "junk" like that metal yard art and terra cotta birdbaths and such.
had a dually pickup and a 20 foot trailer.
Post Nafta, this was suddenly illegal he wasn't part of the Club, and went to work as a cook along side me and his son.
since that time, I've heard essentially the same story from numerous mexican american folks who used to do similar stuff.
nafta killed that small time cross border trade and the only "Freedom" involved was for the Maquiladora-owners, US Welfare Corn Corporations and the Cartels.
anecdata, of course, but still
if "they" were really for "free trade", they'd allow me to legally sell a frelling egg or tomato or grow some weed, for that matter(high demand, low quality unstable supply).

Susan the other , May 20, 2020 at 2:24 pm

I voted for ross perot too. I even went across the street and talked to my neighbors – the last time I did that – as they always say, it's like staring into the eyes of a chicken – oh so "liberal" at the time – To them Ross Perot was just an insufferable hick. But I loved the guy. And he was right. I think he lived in the same neighborhood as little George in Dallas – but Ross didn't want us to spread our resources too thin whereas little George saw MidEast oil as our best security. So now that that has blown up, it's regionalism v. globalism. It's a brake on turbo trade. It's not a fix. We don't want to be lulled into thinking we've achieved something like a trade balance and an environmental balance – that will take a century – and only if we stop fibbing to ourselves.

Bsoder , May 20, 2020 at 3:28 pm

I worked for Ross, for a while post GM (1987). I liked him very much, although we fought quite a bit. Mostly, I agreed with his public policy outlook, when I didn't and it came up I told him. He didn't surround himself with the wights that the Orange Menace does. Striking -he was very loyal to people in his orbit. NAFTA had protections for labor, unions, & the environment they just never were enforced. There must be some 'law' that says anything neoliberal turns into a racket over time, so it was with NAFTA.

Left in Wisconsin , May 20, 2020 at 4:53 pm

The NAFTA protections for workers were just hand waves. Lance Compa, who is at Cornell, ran the US office trying to get the labor provisions (weak as they were) enforced. As I recall, they were never able to bring even a single case forward.

Adam Eran , May 20, 2020 at 2:32 pm

"Free" trade means removing regulations and tariffs. As Michael Hudson reminds us, in Classical economics, it used to mean free of the unproductive burdens of the rentiers.

As for NAFTA, one might figure shipping a bunch of subsidized Iowa corn down to Mexico would impair the income of Mexican farmers.. The NAFTA treaty compensates the big ones.

Corn is only arguably the most important food crop in the world. The little (uncompensated by NAFTA) Mexican farmers were only keeping the disease resistance and diversity of the corn genome alive with the varieties they grew .But they weren't making any money for Monsanto So they were hung out to dry and migration to "Gringolandia" increased dramatically not all of it "legal."

In the wake of NAFTA, not only did Mexico experience capital flight (remember the Clinton administration's $20 billion bank bailout?), Mexico's real median income declined 34%. (Source: Ravi Batra's Greenspan's Fraud ).

One has to go back to the Great Depression to find that kind of decline in the U.S. Of course that provoked no great migration Oh wait! The Okies!

Imagine the Okies exiting the dust bowl to go to California where they would be caged, separated from their families, and ultimately shipped back to Oklahoma, where they would either be very miserable or even starve. That's what we've been doing to the Mexican refugees U.S. actions created never mind the fact that U.S. military and political attacks on its southern neighbors have been going on for literally centuries. (Between 1798 and 1994, the U.S. is responsible for 41 changes of government south of its borders).

Incidentally, the Harvard-educated neoliberal, Carlos Salinas Gotari, the Mexican president who signed NAFTA, was so despised he had to spend at least the initial years of his retirement in Ireland.

It's not for nothing that the guys who stand up to the Yanquis (Castro!) are heroes in the South.

taunger , May 20, 2020 at 6:47 am

It's amazing how economists can focus solely on economic activity, and the thought that something like climate change or politics might make their pronouncements useless isn't even rebutted.

John Wright , May 20, 2020 at 11:54 am

This reference: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-co2-isnt-falling-more-during-a-global-lockdown/

Has that one of the Covid-19 lockdown effects has been a fall in expected incremental CO2 added to the atmosphere in 2020 relative to 2019:

"Forecasters expect emissions to fall more than 5% in 2020, the greatest annual reduction on record. But it's still short of the 7.6% decline that scientists say is needed every year over the next decade to stop global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.*.

Yes, the earth's climate is one of the uncompensated losers of the world's current system of economic growth.

Economists seem to be forever optimizing for the GDP measure, while giving lip service to "uncompensated losers" such as workers and the earth's climate.

TomDority , May 20, 2020 at 8:16 am

Me, being a cynic and all – I thought the way trade worked in the real world (not the one described by well paid economists) was a multi step process

1) target developing country by undermining their core farming, self sustaining activity and export industries through cheap importation of grains and crops and other goods – thus making it impossible for locals to survive through their own industry

2) simultaneous loans (investment) to the country (economic aid) and corruption of political leaders designed to enable step three

3) Whence said country is indebted – force country to export whatever (mineral) wealth onto a glutted market to pay back its debts – this is easily done as the labor component is ripe for the picking/ fleecing

4) crush the country into economic austerity for as long as it takes to enslave its citizens and grab everything of value from the country

5) pretend that the IMF etc did such a great job – but the countries people (victims) or government did not do enough and must take care of themselves better

The Rev Kev , May 20, 2020 at 9:58 am

I think that you covered the Standard Operation Procedure here in better detail than I could. I would only add to point 2) that the bankers will go to these local leaders and show them how to hide their money and help them set up accounts in a place like the Caymans as part of the service.

And if that economist wants to find where all of Africa's wealth is going, he might want to start in the City of London and New York first.

David , May 20, 2020 at 8:43 am

I share the general sense of confusion. I'm not quite sure what the point of this essay is. It's full of wild generalisations like:
"According to the conventional wisdom until recently, growth in China, India and East Asian countries took off thanks to opening up to international trade and investment."
I don't think that's ever been conventional wisdom for Japan, Korea and China, for example, whose economies were (and in part still are) highly protected. Industrialisation in those countries was not "export-led".
It also confuses "trade" in the old sense, of countries importing things they couldn't produce and exporting what they could, with "trade" in the new sense of moving stuff around the world largely for financial reasons. Trade in the classic sense may have benefited the country as a whole (though this is debatable) but trade in the current sense was never intended to. Likewise I hadn't heard that globalisation had fostered a "jingoist backlash" – jingoism after all means aggressive calls for war. But then the whole article is clumsily written and badly constructed.
And the idea that Africa should rely on itself is fair enough, but runs counter to every piece of advice given to Africa since independence: remember, the World Bank master plan was for African countries to grow cash-crops for export to generate cash for industrial development? We know how that worked out. And yes the African market has enormous potential but it's desperately lacking in infrastructure, which makes trade between eve adjacent nations desperately difficult. You need to fix that first.

Thuto , May 20, 2020 at 4:37 pm

There's a growing realisation on our continent that outsiders aren't going to lead us to the promised land. The obstacles to effective intra-african trade that you identify will have to be cleared before Africa's potential can be realised, and as an African I have to believe they will be, challenging as that will be.

The overthrow of Omar Al Bashir in Sudan has shown that people in Africa are agitating for real, lasting changing, liberation from the rule of corrupt leaders and true, not pseudo independence from the West and increasingly China as well.

Other leaders have taken notice of this, as have ordinary citizens across the continent. It will take time, ther'll probably be a few false starts, we'll wobble a bit but in the end I believe we'll get there.

a different chris , May 20, 2020 at 9:24 am

"trade generates winners and losers", with many losing out, and urges acknowledging "the evidence rather than trying to discredit it, as some do."

I don't known who "discredits" it.

What I see is that everybody important acknowledges it, but does squat about it. This redistribution never happens, the rich get richer in a role reversal of "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today". Any attempt to have the rich share the hamburger is greeted with a "not now!" and a assurance that if the rich stop continuously getting richer at this particular point in time then everything will collapse.

The poor, of course, ain't got until this mythical "Tuesday".

HotFlash , May 20, 2020 at 11:23 am

"the African market has enormous potential"

Indeed! Very few Africans have IoT sous-vide sticks yet, or Smart doorbells. I'll bet they are way behind on fast fashion, too. Vast market to sell them things no-one needs and that wreck the earth on credit . Just gotta get those roads built so Jeff can deliver stuff to them in 2 days.

Bsoder , May 20, 2020 at 3:39 pm

The best understanding of what is going on in Africa I got from Jared Diamond – book, "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed". And for background – "Guns, Germs, and Steel". Global climate heating is going to destroy Africa, already is. The usual story, no water, no forests, too much heat and humidity. It's a terrible reckoning. And largely not of their making.

[May 21, 2020] How free trade actually works

May 21, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

TomDority , , May 20, 2020 at 8:16 am

Me, being a cynic and all – I thought the way trade worked in the real world (not the one described by well paid economists) was a multi step process

1) target developing country by undermining their core farming, self sustaining activity and export industries through cheap importation of grains and crops and other goods – thus making it impossible for locals to survive through their own industry

2) simultaneous loans (investment) to the country (economic aid) and corruption of political leaders designed to enable step three

3) Whence said country is indebted – force country to export whatever (mineral) wealth onto a glutted market to pay back its debts – this is easily done as the labor component is ripe for the picking/ fleecing

4) crush the country into economic austerity for as long as it takes to enslave its citizens and grab everything of value from the country

5) pretend that the IMF etc did such a great job – but the countries people (victims) or government did not do enough and must take care of themselves better

The Rev Kev , , May 20, 2020 at 9:58 am

I think that you covered the Standard Operation Procedure here in better detail than I could. I would only add to point 2) that the bankers will go to these local leaders and show them how to hide their money and help them set up accounts in a place like the Caymans as part of the service.

And if that economist wants to find where all of Africa's wealth is going, he might want to start in the City of London and New York first.

[May 15, 2020] The Illusion of 'Free Markets' and 'Free Trade' by George D. O'Neill

There is a cost and "True cost". The latter is often hidden and might higher the the cost.
Notable quotes:
"... The Price Mechanism Theory only works well when there is honest and accurate information to understand the true costs, but our leadership is corrupt and has not been honest with us. In order to protect both American interests and American citizens, it is important to develop mechanisms to fully understand the consequences of many of our policies and who is making them. Who ..."
May 15, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Our elites have been responding to incentives which are beneficial to their institutions, and China, but detrimental to America.

A shell of a piano in the lobby of the Lee Plaza Hotel. The decades-long decline of the U.S. automobile industry is acutely reflected in the urban decay of Detroit, the city lovingly referred to as Motor City. (Photo by Timothy Fadek/Corbis via Getty Images) George D. O'Neill Jr. We have come to a point in our nation's public discourse where there is a widespread realization that many of the economic policies pursued and promoted by our political, business and media elites have failed us in multiple ways. We have heard our trade policies called "Free Trade" and "Free Market", but those statements were often dishonest.

When crafting these agreements, our elites have been responding to incentives which are beneficial to their institutions but detrimental to the well-being of American citizens.

... ... ...

The same is true for manufacturing businesses. The closing of a factory has huge costs for a neighborhood: unemployed people. Not just those from the factory, but the people who work at companies which supply goods and services to that factory. The consequences of a factory closing cascades through the economy. The tax base for that neighborhood is also eroded, which reduces the community's ability to maintain and deliver essential services and support civic institutions.

We cannot just turn off a factory like a light switch and turn it back on at will when the Chinese decide to raise their prices at a later date.

None of this takes into account the quality of the goods that we receive. We have just become aware that more than 90% of our pharmaceutical antibiotics are manufactured in China. When you hear of the big drug recalls, keep in mind many of them are from China, which is famous for ubiquitous and flagrant corruption as well as a disregard for quality control. Do we really know if our antibiotics are safe?

Now, back to our leadership, which we have relied on to guide our nation. Their incentives often lead them to make choices which do not benefit the American people. The Chinese have famously made generous deals with a sitting vice-president's son and a Secretary of State's stepson that likely insured high level government silence about their predatory practices. The Chinese have purchased important media assets, such as the largest film distribution company in America and inked lucrative media deals with huge media companies to purchase silence about their predatory behavior. The same is true with many other industries.

... ... ...

The Price Mechanism Theory only works well when there is honest and accurate information to understand the true costs, but our leadership is corrupt and has not been honest with us. In order to protect both American interests and American citizens, it is important to develop mechanisms to fully understand the consequences of many of our policies and who is making them. Who is making the decisions is often just as important as what is being decided.

George D. O'Neill, Jr., an artist, is the founder of The Committee for Responsible Foreign Policy and a board member of The American Ideas Institute, the parent of The American Conservative. Mr. O'Neill has been in the mining industry for more than four decades. He and his wife reside in Florida.


Kessler 20 hours ago

Correct. The so called "free markets & trade" worked in conditions after WWII, when US goverment used it's military and political influence to set up favorable economic & trade conditions for US. It's an utopian vision, that has nothing to do with real world.
MPC 19 hours ago • edited
It's important to recognize that it's not realistic to do all manufacturing in America, at least in the short term. We consume too much. Before the virus, we were already running on all cylinders as employment was concerned and have been for a few years.

There is a significant difference however in our trade dependencies being on China, versus Japan, Mexico, Vietnam, or India. The former is a geopolitical rival, the latter are not. In fact, laying groundwork to move more of our trade to the latter builds up China's regional rivals at the expense of China, and at comparatively less expense to us.

It's not healthy for a future multipolar world for such a capable power projector as China to be so disproportionately profiting from declining hegemon America.

The Coolie MPC 10 hours ago • edited
If you think the hallowing of the US economy with it increasing wage inequalities, outsized wealth allocation to financial sectors, increasingly political divisions, etc. is because CHINA BAD, then you are no different than the other corporate profiteers who dug us in this hole in the first place. This is how the corporatists are trying to avoid blame for their fundamentalist policies over the past four decades. They lash out, "It's only the BAD Chinese, everything will be better if we just move it to Vietnam/Bangladesh/Ethiopia."
MPC The Coolie 10 hours ago • edited
You ascribe things to me that have nothing to do with what I said. The Chinese are not bad, just a competitor, and China is not responsible for America's own choices.

You're just replacing one utopian thinking about free trade, with another about economic protectionism. The world doesn't fit neatly around ideological dogma.

Until you square America's overconsumption you have to tolerate trade deficits. You can make strategic choices about where they come from at least. Free traders were not honest about impacts on domestic industry. Domestic protectionism is not being honest about the fact that for it to succeed, consumption of imported goods, and some domestic, to free up capacity to import substitute, has to tank, without the prospect of enough domestic production happening to replace them, and certainly not at anything like the price levels that exist currently.

In the long run overconsumption should be attacked. Strategic, mutually beneficial trade relationships will still exist. In the short run we should be more careful about the source of trade deficits. Overconsumption will not be solved overnight. But that's not a neat campaign slogan.

The Coolie MPC 8 hours ago
I don't disagree with the problems of an over-consumption reliant economy, which prefers we purchase new TVs every 3 years, smartphones every 2 years, and 3 new winter coats every season. But it's a huge fallacy to imagine that reallocating production to Vietnam or Bangladesh will reduce China's power. Who will be creating those factories? Sorry, Chinese investment. Where will the logistics chain need to connect? Sorry, all roads will lead to China - both for its 1.4 billion consumer and their ability to control the higher end of the manufacturing. When will they demand China's inclusion in a grouping like TPP? Sorry, within 1-2 years of signing that supposed "Keep China Out" agreement. Guess whose economies will be even more reliant on China? You guessed it, all those supposed U.S. allies who want no part in global decoupling.
Wally 17 hours ago • edited
It was ok to let low margin manufacturing move offshore because Americans were going to move up the value chain. These other countries, like China, would develop their economy, lift a few billion people out of poverty, and transform themselves into beacons of freedom and democracy across the developing world. The globalists told us this over and over again. China (and India) would make our plastic junk and we would sell them financial products and services like credit default swaps and make a killing!

And that's how it worked out. The bankers made out. No one cared about the displaced factory workers because it was their own fault they weren't smart enough to become Wall Street masters of the universe. Buying American, we were told way back in the 80s by Saint Ronald Reagan was a scam to support corrupt unions and lazy management. How dare they demand, for example, that Japanese car makers locate here in the US. We should just let them import what they want and let Ford go bankrupt. Union busting was more important than anything else.

MPC Wally 11 hours ago
What you want with trade is to keep it somewhat balanced, and watch employment. To continue the example Japan exports roughly twice to us what we export to them. Ideally that'd be more even, but who is going to make more products to export to Japan, or produce Japanese products here? You'll have to fight for workers already being employed elsewhere. And many on the right probably would not like the idea of more immigrants to help staff production, or to free up Americans to staff it.

America does suck up too many talented people into well paid jobs that do little to advance us, but certainly not enough to correct the trade imbalances of every country we trade with. Probably not even Japan whose imbalance is a tiny fraction of China's.

America's trade imbalances are a collaboration between foreign producers seeing opportunities, domestic elites seeing major profit, but most importantly Americans themselves whose consumption impulses are so, so lucrative. Americans cannot make all the stuff that Americans want right now. Enter immigrants. Enter outsourcing. Enter major trade deficits. People profit on the exchange, but this is a setup that America collectively has voted for with its wallet, over and over again.

kouroi MPC 10 hours ago
Also America makes/made products that other people don't want. From 2 by 4 lumber in inches and feet, when the rest of the world is in metric system, to oversize fridges and pick-up trucks that do not fit in the European or Japanese size houses and roads.
Kent 16 hours ago
"Deliver a good product at a price and quality acceptable to the customer."

LOL. Obviously a failed businessman. The purpose is to put your customer's money in your pocket. If your customer is making a profit off of your product, raise the price. If the customer balks and buys from a different vendor, buy all the vendors. Create a monopoly. Once you have a monopoly, stop paying whiney American workers who expect decent pay and respect, and have Chinese slaves make your product. The purpose of the "Free Market" is not about price. It's about maximizing shareholder value. It's not about creating good jobs, America or any of that other nostalgia from the pre-Free Market days.

It's about liberty. The liberty of the property and capital owning class to keep their wealth (their wealth is the same thing as your labor), in their hands and away from you and your stupid government's grubby, unwashed hands.

FND Kent 15 hours ago
The ideal market conditions result in happy customers and profitable businesses. Its true that ideal market conditions often don't prevail when a monopoly is created. But what makes it even worse is when government enables those conglomerates to become even larger by making it impossible for small businesses to compete due to onerous regulations and gobbletygook tax loopholes gained by conglomerate lobbyists.

I believe the economic policies based on the dominant economic theory in Germany is the best approach for a solid, competitive economy. That theory is Ordo-liberalism, which allows government to make sure a proper legal environment for the economy exists to maintain a healthy level of competition through measures that adhere to market principles.

The Ordo-liberalists believe if the state does not take active measures to foster competition, firms with monopoly power will emerge, which will not only subvert the advantages offered by the market economy, but also possibly undermine good government, since strong economic power can be transformed into political power. We have seen this happen in the US and it is BIPARTISAN. In fact some of the worst examples of unholy alliances between corporations and government come from the Dem side of the aisle.

joeo 14 hours ago
The open markets, open borders policy has been good for the elite but detrimental for the US. Millions of immigrants were let in as the jobs they could perform were outsourced to China and Asia in general. Consumer electronics,textiles,steel, appliances, automotive and manufacturing of all sorts were allowed to leave. Not everyone can be a coder, work on Wall Street, for the Government or Academia. This same elite is aghast at the rise of Trump, what else could anyone have reasonably expected?
Harry Huntington 14 hours ago
The problem is Milton Friedman was wrong about central planning. Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations was written when communication systems were poor, so localized information was better. With modern data collection, "big data" analysis, AI and other such tools central planning exists and works. We call the winners in that planning world companies like Walmart and Amazon. We also know that central planning in the US worked with less than perfect data. The War Production Board in the US in WWII did allocate production of all those things necessary to manufacture Milton Friedman's needle (or more likely a cotter pin). There were imperfections but we let those run over into the consumer segment of goods. Flash forward to today, the "free market" is the myth used to convince average American to allow hedge funds, private equity, and companies like Bain Captial ship their jobs overseas. Especially as we move to robots, there is no reason to import any manufactured goods. Likewise, those pesky environmental rules we have? There is no reason we don't apply those rules to things people seek to sell in the US market--meaning we could make an importer prove goods were manufactured according to US standards. Health and safety standards are not sources of "comparative advantage" in free market theories.
kouroi Harry Huntington 10 hours ago
And this is why the Chinese, Russians, Indians, Iranians, Japanese, Europeans, Koreans, don't want their economies run from Wall Street and carefully control the shares owned by outsiders.
Tradcon 13 hours ago • edited
I think on the topic of "planning" its important to clarify. Some call any government intervention an example of "central planning" while others apply that term only to Soviet-style Gosplan. Either way the "Knowledge Problem", while true to an extent, is incomplete. The fact of the matter is we don't need to know everything about the market to make correct decisions regarding what economic goals we want to set, and there is a scale, a difference, between something like the American System and Gosplan. Julius Krein's article in the American Compass was excellent, I'll link it below. One need only look to the success of the East Asian Tigers or to the US from 1791-1965 (dates vary) to see the success of a healthy sort of developmentalist "planning". Not all planning has to be adverse to private business, the most successful types are done in conjunction with it. There will be imperfections whether the government is involved or not, the fact that imperfections will exist or that mistakes might be made is no excuse for inaction, especially when that inaction leads to the situation we're currently in regarding pharmaceuticals.

https://americancompass.org...

kouroi Tradcon 10 hours ago
How about all the externalities that an unregulated free-market tends to forget?
Tradcon kouroi 5 hours ago
Yes Krein goes into that. A market does not take into account national security.
kouroi Tradcon 2 hours ago
Yes, interesting article. I liked how quickly in the article it started talking about risk and the important role government has in mitigating that risk.

What is also missing from this entire discussion about free markets, which is essential and it is eschewed or pooh-pooed or entirely not acknowledged by libertarians and conservatives alike (not that progressive / liberals talk about it), is what is the role of representative democracy in steering how economy (which is a means to an end, not an end to itself) should work, what is the role of government, and who's really the sovereign (We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.....).

Is the government by the people and for the people or it isn't? Are there proper mechanisms in place to oversee how well operations are conducted by government, according to approved budgets? Is government supposed to do forecasting and crystal balling solely by using think tank reports or should have internal professional and knowledgeable analysts doing this work (I swear on the constitution of the US to serve, etc., etc, etc.).

All this rabbit hole over which libertarians and conservatives starting with Reagan have been pooping on. Nixon nowadays, or Eisenhower wouldn't be accepted by Republicans, nor FDR by Democrats... And talking about free markets and democracy, it is puzzling to have just a duopoly entrenched in the marketplace of political ideas in the US. Everything else is literally killed.

HistoryProf 12 hours ago
It's too easy to just blame corrupt elites and therefore let the system itself completely off the hook. Any system that allows for a small number of private entities to twist everything to their personal advantage is a system with major structural flaws. The essential core of the problem is that any system pursued too rigidly and ideologically will lead to short-sighted decisions that ultimately lead to perverse and absurd outcomes.Offshoring most of our manufacturing wasn't a corrupt decision made by a small cabal of villains. It was a logical, yet ultimately destructive, result of blind and unthinking pursuit of pure "free trade."

Imagine a society (like the U.S.) to be like an organism with a heart, lungs, brain, limbs, etc. Now imagine that each part of the body is told to maximize its own benefit without any concern for the organism as a whole.

Those in charge of the brain say "We function better with more blood flow, so let's block off blood flow to the arms and legs so that we get more. Great idea!" Now the organism's brain is doing great, but its arms and legs wither and die.

"We are benefiting from the increased blood flow too," says the lungs, "but the heart just isn't producing enough for us to really flourish." What if we outsource blood pumping to an external entity that promises us more volume? So now the heart dies and what is left of the organism is now hooked to an external machine to keep it alive.

"Why do we have to rely on an inefficient mouth and teeth to give us our source material?" chimes the stomach. "How about a feeding tube to give us cheaper and faster raw materials?" Etc etc etc.

On and on it goes with some parts doing great from their perspective, but with the overall organism being hollowed out and weakened.

The best type of economic system in a country is a mixed one that blends together capitalism with some degree of central thinking and planning (egads, heresy!) about how decisions could adversely affect the long term health of the country as a whole.

kouroi HistoryProf 10 hours ago
Nice comparison. Are you letting us think and believe that one part of the body ends up thinking that is in fact totally independent and can leave all the rest wither and die? With deep psychopathic tendencies, that filters all the stimuli and the information received from the body, except its own?

No wonder revolutions happen...

Inn caritas 12 hours ago
"Libertarianism" was never about liberty: it's just swapping the dictatorship of the state for the dictatorship of the market.
Egyptsteve Inn caritas 9 hours ago
Libertarianism: Let me smoke my weed, have my gay sex, and don't make me pay any taxes.
L RNY 11 hours ago
The communists had said that capitalism would sell the seeds of its own destruction. Our elites came up with free trade but chose to ignore that free trade was merely a facade to export jobs and import goods with them skimming the profit. They chose to ignore all the financial (and political) machinations like currency rigging, state subsidies, forced state sharing or ownership of technology when off shored to China, they choise to ignore prison labor and others. This isnt about free trade or free markets because there is no such thing. Every nation has a different social welfare system, medical system, tax system, copyright and patent system, system of legal bribery and payoff, etc and each is meant to tip the scales of free markets and free trade to their advantage (and in the case of China a technological and monopolistic and militaristic advantage). We are now at a point where the game and the cards have been revealed though the Democrats have been profiting for so long that they want to keep the game going with the Chinese and other foreign nations (its easy money to line their pockets and their campaign funds since they dont have to listen to their constituents diverse views...they just need to manage them and listen to Chinese demands). Id say the american citizenry is boiling mad and arent far away from boiling over but we shall see where it goes or if it goes anywhere. To date Trumps restrictions on immigration and his trade deals are better than the nonexistent policies of the democrats but they are will woefully catering to the elites and lacking in spine and substance to do as Trump promised.
kouroi L RNY 10 hours ago
I think prison labour is more relevant and widespread in the US rather than China. China has all the political interest to provide work for all the free multitudes teaming in their cities and countryside, why to give that to prisoners?

Same as the story with the Uighur camps. Just seen recently a Reuters article on the Russian vessel arriving in Germany to finish laying down the NS2 pipeline, with satellite pictures, etc. Just a ship. However, there was no picture provided to the world to show the massive developments required to house 1 million people, not one, and I looked.

Sorry, just a pet peeve of mine to see statements that don't stand close scrutiny.

Mario Diana 8 hours ago • edited
The Price Mechanism Theory only works well when there is honest and accurate information to understand the true costs [ ]

You're conflating the economic with the political. There is nothing wrong with Mises' work on prices and how they coordinate an advanced, widely distributed, division-of-labor economy. It works in the "macro" as well as the "micro" -- because that is an artificial distinction (something Mises could tell you about, too).

The fallacy is imagining that economic theory is the be-all-end-all. When people think that, they ignore political considerations and consequences, to the detriment of society at large. The bottom line is there is nothing wrong with free trade among free countries in a peaceful world. The political situation of the present world, however, demands a somewhat more modified approach. If these are the "true costs" you're talking about, fine. But you've expressed it in such a way as to muddy the waters of what is an honest and accurate economic theory.

Amicus Brevis Mario Diana 2 hours ago • edited
That is because he doesn't understand what really happened in China. If you read this thread you also see many theories. They are all based on preconceptions and not actually reading about what happened China after the gang of four were ousted. They understand the consequences and they theorize about the cause. But they don't have to theorize. There is an actual history.

China was not selling cheap products to the United States until about three decades after the job transfers started and it was almost already done by then. The truth is, China had nothing to export but its labor. It did that by letting American and other companies set up in China for exploitative wages and protected them by denying its people any rights. They then built products under American management and training. The products were then shipped back to the US as "Chinese" products. But they really were American products made in China. The companies here were not protecting China. They were protecting themselves directly. The jobs transfer was not an unfortunate side effect. It was the whole point. China had nothing to trade. Mao had destroyed the economy.

Steveb 7 hours ago
I recall a long time ago when there was a documentary on this topic and one of the workers from a electric appliance manufacturing facility was interviewed. They were complaining about the Chinese manufactures taking over their product line with cheaper products and causing layoffs at the plant. The moderator asked them where they shopped, they replied "Walmart". When the moderator pointed out that Walmart was the leader in offshoring to get cheaper products, like the appliances they made, they just stared.

You are going to somehow have to make Americans pay more for the same thing they can get cheaper from China. Who is going to do that? Not going to be those workers you are trying to protect, they don't have the money to do that. Price is king to them, it is only those snobby liberal types that can afford to do that.

Lets say you manage to get our factory worker to buy 1 expensive American shirt instead of 3 cheap Chinese shirts for the same price. They are not going to get 3 times the life out of that shirt so they are in the hole for that purchase.

Lets say you are really persuasive and the workers really do change, what about all the rest of the people that were employed in the retail and supply chain? What are they going to do? You just put them out of business. You are just deciding to move around who is unemployed.

What about the exporters? Do you really think that China is going to buy American products if you don't buy theirs? How did Trumps trade war work out? Have we won yet? As I recall it cost the average consumer between 500 and 1000 dollars by the time all the tariffs were applied and the farmers and ranchers in the Midwest that exported there are now on government welfare because they could not sell their products. His new "deal" was panned by economists as being nothing more than a minor cosmetic change, the same as the updated NAFTA deal that really changed little.

It is fun to blame the elites but it is a bit simplistic as the american workers have not had a problem sacrificing a few other workers to save some of their own money. If you want to change that you are going to have to start at the bottom and work up.

− +

Gregtown Tradcon 5 hours ago

It should be mentioned that the cheap clothing we buy is rarely made in China. China has leveled up and no longer makes the general crap people buy. The shirt cheap t-shirt I'm wearing was made in Vietnam.
aha! 4 hours ago
A free market with foreign governments is an impossibility. We would have to know every single that is happening within their government and that will never happen. Indeed our internal free market is fading away due to cronyism and secrecy within our own governments. Tax breaks to lure businesses to your state are anti-free market (not to mention the taxes still have to be paid, by the people who are already there). Tax breaks and subsidies to companies already in your state (like windmills and solar panels) are anti-free market. So the conclusion that I draw is the Democrat and Republican parties are imbeciles and crooks and both parties must be destroyed.
Amicus Brevis 3 hours ago • edited
If you believe economic efficiency is the primary value, you would say, "if the Chinese are stupid enough to sell us products below their costs, we should be happy to take advantage of their stupidity." True enough .

But it is not true that is what is happening. It never happened. Chinese invited American companies to manufacture in China. China was selling labor. Not products. It had no products to sell. But when the American companies in China use Chinese labor to manufacture American products the products come to America marked "made in China". But all that the Chinese really sold was cheap labor without rights .

The second thing to know is that the Chinese forbid American companies to use their own brand names in China. They had to create Chinese companies that are 51% Chinese owned but wholly American managed with Chinese management in training. The Americans operated as if they were at home. The only difference is that they had Chinese under studies and the line workers were Chinese. The American companies didn't care because they were making money hand over foot. So when they spoke of "free trade" we were selling out America workers and bringing home cheap goods that our public loved. This was called globalism. That was phase one.

In the second stage, the Chinese quietly reminded the Americans that these were Chinese companies and it was time to begin to promote their Chinese understudies. The Americans didn't care because they still maintained control from America. And they could always find spots for the management back home. But from the Chinese point of view, they now had American technology in Chinese companies, run by Chinese. The technology was now theirs.

They felt free to grow their businesses with wholly owned and controlled subsidiaries since they now owned the technology. This was when the American companies began to scream about intellectual property. They cared because the interests of the rich were now being hurt. When they were stealing American jobs, that was Ok. Only then did our government see a problem. Shipping American jobs overseas is globalism, but shipping patents and copyrights is not. Globalism was always a con. It never existed. It was simply a smokescreen to exploit cheap, unprotected labor in the developing world. They knew from the start that it was not good for America. It was not a discovery. They didn't care because it made them rich.

Fletcher an hour ago
Though I largely agree with the premise of this article the assumptions latent in mr. O'Neill's thinking specifically the US government has to do anything in reflection to the Chinese Communist politburo misses the point of freedom and property rights, in an economy free of the regulatory burden that the oligarchs in pose on the market through their governmental collusion not to mention the tax burden that helps to maintain the shipping lanes to China the American manufacturer will be fine. It should also be said for me environmental point of view free of state protection the perpetrators of mountaintop removal coal mining,glyphosate manufacture etc. Would find themselves much more vulnerable to civil lawsuit/tort law.

[May 14, 2020] Libertarians who are extraordinarily sensitive to the least legal limitation on negative freedom are usually completely immune to the idea that structural features of capitalist society are coercive and freedom-limiting

May 14, 2020 | crookedtimber.org

Anarcho 05.06.20 at 3:18 pm 5

"Libertarians who are extraordinarily sensitive to the least legal limitation on negative freedom are usually completely immune to the idea that structural features of capitalist society are coercive and freedom-limiting. "

I think you will discover that those who coined the term libertarian (libertarie) which the propertarians knowning stole in the 1950s are well aware of those structural features -- as Proudhon argued, property is both theft and despotism.:

http://anarchism.pageabode.com/afaq/160-years-libertarian

Please don't let these defenders of private tyranny continue their abuse of the good left-wing word libertarian.

[May 11, 2020] What is the neoliberal freedom exactly? Freedom to be replaced by a machine, without any forward thinking plan by society? Freedom to be hungry? Freedom to rampage and kill others?

May 11, 2020 | www.unz.com

Ilya G Poimandres , says: Show Comment May 9, 2020 at 6:01 am GMT

@onebornfree Anti what freedom exactly? Freedom to be replaced by a machine, without any forward thinking plan by society? Freedom to be hungry? Freedom to rampage and kill others?

This American freedom is an ideology on par with the nihilistic ideology of ISIS. It is an embrace of materialism through Epicurianism. Why exactly is this freedom to crave endlessly, superior to the freedom the CCP aims for its people – freedom from destitution?

You say they are enslaved, but they would say you are enslaved. You say that society enslave their individuality, they would say your individualism enslaved your society.

Any chance of finding a balanced middle ground? Cause the Chinese are closer to it atm.

[May 07, 2020] Neoliberal society does not fare well in any large scale epidemic: The neoliberal dogma of "Freedom for the nihilistic narcissistic ego individual over everything else" lead to anto-social behaviour -- many people today willingly prefer to rake risk and to go to concerts and beer gardens than to deny themselves those small joys in favor of their compatriots

May 07, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

DontBelieveEitherPr. , May 6 2020 19:21 utc | 2

Well, you were indeed right. And your reporting better than most if not all MSM articles written by other laymen. And all without any professional experience. Just by trusting in scientific methods, data and knowledge, instead of making a conspiracy out of thin air.
In those times, that is an amazing achievement.

But when i hear how few people are tested, when i hear of multiple deaths in my circle of people, and see the society unable to unite against such a threat, i dont have much hope for how this will go on.
The last 4 sentences say everything about our western societies, including us Germans.
The only profiteers are the rich, toilet paper and noodle merchants, and politicians (who now race each other in opening up BEER GARDENS and CONCERTS with 100 people).


Many people today willingly prefer to go to concerts and beer gardens than to deny themselves those small joys in favor of their compatriots.
Our society is doom. The neoliberal dogma of "Freedom for the nihilistic narcissistic ego individual over everything else" destroyed what was left of it.

bevin , May 6 2020 19:21 utc | 3

Here Lee, look at this series of reports: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/05/06/nurs-m06.html

"..At one New York City nursing home, the Isabella Geriatric Center in Manhattan's Washington Heights, nearly 100 of its 705 residents have died..."

"..In Medfield, Massachusetts, north of Boston, COVID-19 has killed 54 residents over the past four weeks at the Courtyard Nursing Care Center. An additional 117 residents and 42 employees have tested positive for the virus..."

" A shocking 84 residents have died at the facility since the virus outbreak. Eighty-one employees have tested positive for the coronavirus.

"... deaths at the Soldiers' Home were initially hidden from both the mayor of Holyoke and local health officials, who only became aware of the developing situation when employees at the facility reached out to them. Staff said management at the facility refused to provide them with PPE and instructed them to crowd patients together from multiple wards into a single ward as a solution to staffing shortages due to infections..."

"..A particularly gruesome discovery took place in mid-April when police found 17 corpses piled up at the Subacute and Rehabilitation Center in Andover, New Jersey. The bodies were stacked in a small morgue designed to hold a maximum of four bodies. The more than 2,000 deaths of staff and residents in New Jersey's long-term facilities account for about 40 percent of the state's coronavirus-related deaths."

There's more much more. And not just from the United States either.

[May 05, 2020] Governments are developed to establish justice, ensure tranquility, provide for the common defense, and promote the general welfare. Without these no market is possible. There is no "free market" without government.

May 05, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

jadan , May 5 2020 12:29 utc | 153

William Gruff | May 5 2020 10:46 utc | 144

Markets are created and managed by government, Mr. Gruff. Governments are developed to establish justice, ensure tranquility, provide for the common defense, and promote the general welfare. Without these no market is possible. There is no "free market" without government.

[May 03, 2020] "Pleonexia, sometimes called pleonexy, originating from the Greek , is a philosophical concept which roughly corresponds to greed, covetousness, or avarice, and is strictly defined as 'the insatiable desire to have what rightfully belongs to others', suggesting what Ritenbaugh describes as 'ruthless self-seeking and an arrogant assumption that others and things exist for one's own benefit'"

May 03, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , May 1 2020 18:22 utc | 63

Pleonexia is a concept I introduced into a discussion of a similar topic about 2 or so years ago on this board as being at the root for the decline and fall of the Outlaw US Empire. Here's what Wiki says about it at the link:

"Pleonexia, sometimes called pleonexy, originating from the Greek πλεονεξία, is a philosophical concept which roughly corresponds to greed, covetousness, or avarice, and is strictly defined as ' the insatiable desire to have what rightfully belongs to others ', suggesting what Ritenbaugh describes as ' ruthless self-seeking and an arrogant assumption that others and things exist for one's own benefit '" [My Emphasis]

That trait's shared by all Imperialist nations all of which arose based on the same Greco-Roman foundations or learned those traits from them as in the case of the Japanese. Indeed, that such traits aren't recognized speaks to the illiteracy of those rising to or placed in leadership positions as they seem to be totally unaware of the numerous lessons within Greek and Roman literature/culture--lessons known by the Founders and others 250 years ago when to be considered educated you had to know Greek, Latin, and their classical literature. As Walter says, it's a Greek Tragedy; but the play began in the last quarter of the 19th Century as has also been written about.

Those running the Outlaw US Empire seem oblivious to the wall they're about to run the nation into, or we might say it's a cliff that will take the nation into the abyss. The G-20 determined last year that a new global currency to conduct commerce was required to replace the dollar. A short discussion and linking of articles occurred on that topic yesterday between me and Likklemore. Bevin insisted we discuss the failure of Capitalism and what needs to come next as its replacement. I've advocated the need for a steady-state socialist system as the new global political-economy. As I reported, a prominent Singaporean in promoting his newest book wrote in The Economist that the advent of the pandemic marks the start of the Asian Century thanks to the gross Moral Failure of the West and the Outlaw US Empire as its lead nation.

How does a group of people get cured of Pleonexia? It's likely way too late for the current crop of oligarchs; but what of their heirs who were presumably schooled in similar fashion to their elders, and their progeny? I'm with Hudson in that their wealth must be written down close to zero, and the new system emplaced will not allow a repetition. Meanwhile, someone needs to get busy writing about the current Tragedy such that future generations can learn its lessons so they're not repeated.

[Apr 27, 2020] Pandemic Exposes Liberalism's Free Trade, Open Borders Road To National Suicide by Martin Sieff

Notable quotes:
"... Countries that have allowed their domestic industry to decay have found they cannot now produce the crucial equipment they need, from respirators to gas masks. Countries with strong manufacturing bases like China, or with a prudent nationalist sense of preparing ahead for emergencies like Russia, have done far better. The shortage of respirators in Britain has become more than a national scandal: It is a national shame. That is another inexorable consequence of the pernicious doctrine of Free Trade. ..."
"... While half the counties in the United States remain so far virtually free of the virus, infections have soared in most major metropolitan areas, especially in so-called Sanctuary cities. Invariably these centers are ruled by liberal Democrats where illegal immigrants congregate. ..."
"... the ruling elites of the West have mindlessly embraced Open Borders and Free Trade ..."
"... Russia suffered the full horrors of the merciless laissez-faire, unregulated Free Market policies of the liberal West in the 1990s. Boris Yeltsin never woke up to the catastrophe that Bill Clinton and Larry Summers were inflicting on his country. ..."
"... National social responsibility has succeeded where the crazed, simplistic theories of Adam Smith, David Ricardo and Ayn Rand all palpably failed. ..."
"... The ravages of Liberalism – its Open Borders and Free Markets – have already stripped the West of all its defenses, social, demographic, industrial and economic. ..."
"... open border free trade globalism was an EPIC scam foisted on us ..."
"... Liberals have been selling out American workers for decades, and getting personally wealthy the whole time. Bill, Hillary, Barack, now Joe. ..."
"... This is not a coincidence. The worst part is how they profess to care so much about the underprivileged, unless that person is a worker put out of a job by imports. What a bunch of sleaze balls. ..."
"... NWO Billionaire Globalists have imposed this nightmare on the USA and other citizens of the Western world. ..."
Apr 27, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Martin Sieff via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Open Borders and Free Trade induce national suicide slowly and gradually, without the victims waking up to what is going on until it is too late. But the coronavirus has brought home with global clarity that human societies need governments and regulated borders for their own survival.

The bottom line is clear, societies that have had open borders to previous major centers of infection and transmission, like Iran and Italy which kept open strong flows of people to and from China in the early stages of pandemic, suffered exceptionally badly.

Countries obsessed with maintaining liberal values and open borders like France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the U.S. also suffered disproportionately.

Countries that have allowed their domestic industry to decay have found they cannot now produce the crucial equipment they need, from respirators to gas masks. Countries with strong manufacturing bases like China, or with a prudent nationalist sense of preparing ahead for emergencies like Russia, have done far better. The shortage of respirators in Britain has become more than a national scandal: It is a national shame. That is another inexorable consequence of the pernicious doctrine of Free Trade.

I documented this history in some detail in my 2012 book " That Should Still Be Us ".

There, I showed how even the French Revolution of 1789 was in fact triggered by the catastrophic Free Trade Treaty that hapless King Louis XVI approved with England only three years before. It led immediately to the worst economic depression in French history which triggered revolution. In three years, liberal Free Trade succeeded in destroying a society that had flourished for a thousand years and the most powerful state Europe had known since the fall of the Roman Empire.

In his classic television series and accompanying book "How the Universe Changed", the great British broadcaster and historian James Burke showed how the discipline of statistics was responsible for discovering the way the cholera bacteria spread through contaminated water in 19th Century London, then the largest urban area ever experienced.

Today, we see a similar pattern in the spread of the coronavirus: While half the counties in the United States remain so far virtually free of the virus, infections have soared in most major metropolitan areas, especially in so-called Sanctuary cities. Invariably these centers are ruled by liberal Democrats where illegal immigrants congregate. They are the places where the values and consequences of Free Trade and Open Borders most clearly flourish. And they ar ealso the places where the terrifying costs of those policies are most evident as well. The chickens have come home to roost.

Countries like Russia and China itself, which have reacted most quickly and decisively to shut down international and domestic travel, have been able to keep their numbers of infections and rates of spread down.

In Europe, by contrast, the impact of the virus has been appalling, The European Union has been as useless as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio,. Pro-EU liberal national leaders like President Emmanuel Macron in France and the venerable Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany (Berlin's version of Nancy Pelosi) just sat back in bemused silence till it was too late. In Italy and Spain, the political splintering of societies has woefully added to the chaos.

This is in fact a very old lesson indeed: The ruling elites of the world should not have had to relearn it.

But for more than 225 years, the ruling elites of the West have mindlessly embraced Open Borders and Free Trade. Yet these have always been mere assertions of prejudice and mindless faith: They have never been proven to be true in any scientific manner.

Instead, when we look at the factual evidence of economic history over the past two centuries, it has always been the case that developing industrial societies which protect their manufactures behind strong tariff barriers flourish with enormous foreign trade and balance of payments surpluses. Then the living standards of their people soar.

In contrast, free market societies too powerless, or just too plain dumb to protect their economic borders get swamped by cheap manufactures and their domestic industries get decimated. This was the case with liberal free market Britain caught between the rising Protectionist powers of the United States, Japan and Germany for the next century.

It has been true for the decline of American industry since the 1950s, the more the United States embraced global free trade, the more its own domestic manufactures and their dependent populations suffered. This never bothered the liberal intellectual elites of the East and West Coast at all. It still doesn't. Having inflicted lasting ruin and despair on hundreds of millions of people for generations, they despise their victims as "deplorables" for crying out in pain and seeking to end the disastrous policies.

Russia suffered the full horrors of the merciless laissez-faire, unregulated Free Market policies of the liberal West in the 1990s. Boris Yeltsin never woke up to the catastrophe that Bill Clinton and Larry Summers were inflicting on his country. Over the past two decades, Russia's recovery from that Abyss under President Vladimir Putin has been miraculous. National social responsibility has succeeded where the crazed, simplistic theories of Adam Smith, David Ricardo and Ayn Rand all palpably failed.

The coronavirus pandemic therefore should serve as a wake up call to the peoples of the West, what Thomas Jefferson memorably called "A Fire Bell in the Night." They need to start following Russia's examples of self reliance, prudent preparation and maintaining strong borders.

The ravages of Liberalism – its Open Borders and Free Markets – have already stripped the West of all its defenses, social, demographic, industrial and economic.

The West is out of time: The Audit of Pandemic has been taken, and the reckoning is now due.


xxx

best thing that trump ever did was to hire navarro to shape the nationalist econ policies

open border free trade globalism was an EPIC scam foisted on us

they are doing the same to the kids right now with their globalist warming claptrap

xxx

Liberals have been selling out American workers for decades, and getting personally wealthy the whole time. Bill, Hillary, Barack, now Joe.

This is not a coincidence. The worst part is how they profess to care so much about the underprivileged, unless that person is a worker put out of a job by imports. What a bunch of sleaze balls.

xxx

There is nothing "compassionate" about open borders. It is a total myth / scam. Stealing a country's right to free association and control of its own borders is the ULTIMATE betrayal.

NWO Billionaire Globalists have imposed this nightmare on the USA and other citizens of the Western world. No different then the kings & dictators of the past these tyrants control our lives like we are slaves. True compassion would entail (among other things) exporting commerce, jobs & freedom to every corner of the globe. It's becoming more obvious everyday why this is never even discussed. Globalism is about spreading tyranny & poverty not freedom & wealth. Open borders is a one way ticket to Hell. 💀 Time to rise up and stop this national suicide.

xxx

Liberals will still be only concerned with racism and global rights instead of border security. Nothing trumps that for them. Not even death. How it's possible for us to be racist again 1.5B Chinese when we are the vast minority compared to them is something that liberals have yet to explain to me.

[Apr 15, 2020] While personal freedom is largely illusory, it seems to me that one has a contractual right to expect good parents, good teachers, good bosses and so forth. That's a legalistic constitutional right to exchange the individual's right to violence in exchange for protection

Apr 15, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Walter , Apr 15 2020 12:35 utc | 177

Personal freedom is largely illusory. One spends most of ones life under the control of others, parents, teachers, bosses, officers, cops, judges, jailers, or sleeping. I wonder if it's a "right" at all.

However, it seems to me that one has a contractual right to expect good parents, good teachers, good bosses and so forth. That's a legalistic constitutional right to exchange the individual's right to violence in exchange for protection. A contact. Individuals sometimes retain a fraction...the right to self-defense...but this is very limited, and dicey too.

And - especially - one, everyone, does have a natural right to demand Justice, fairness, and to be left alone. This is a Natural Right. It comes from the outside, from God, if you like. Dogs and horses, for example express themselves, and kick and bite and krap on your desk, if they're seriously mislead, (mistreated) Man also has the natural right.

So, Personal freedom seems to be an imprecise term, and seems to have at least two, probably several, manifestations.

[Apr 15, 2020] Personal freedom is not an unlimited right. Diana Johnstone has given a convincing argument for its limits. One's freedom and rights end where they infringe on the freedom and rights of others

Apr 15, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Personal freedom is not an unlimited right. Diana Johnstone has given a convincing argument for its limits. One's freedom and rights end where they infringe on the freedom and rights of others:

[V]irtually all key aspects of any civilized society go contrary to the absolutism of individual rights. Every civilized society has some sort of legal system, some basic rules that everyone is expected to follow. Most civilized societies have a public education and (except for the United States) a public health insurance system designed to benefit the whole population. These elements of civilization include constraints on individual freedom.

The benefits to each individual of living in a civilized society make these constraints acceptable to just about everybody. The health of the individual depends on the health of the community, which is why everyone in most Western countries accepts a single payer health insurance system. The only exception is the United States, where the egocentricities of Ayn Rand are widely read as serious thought.

It is without doubt that masks are helpful to limit the spreading of the epidemic. An infected person begins to spread viruses by breathing, talking, singing or coughing on day 2 after the infection. Only on day 5 or 6 will the symptoms of the disease set in. Some people will never feel symptoms but can still infect others usually up to day 10 after the infection.

Masks stop the viruses one sheds from reaching other persons. They do this effectively.

Posted by b on April 14, 2020 at 18:12 UTC | Permalink

[Mar 28, 2020] Free market and wage arbitrage

Mar 28, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Kessler 11 hours ago

I'd add another consideration.

Let's say Bob can make 10 high-quality wigets per hour, while Jim can make 8 medium-quality wigets per hour. Bob gets paid 100$, while Jim gets paid 50$. Bob is more efficient and productive worker. But he will be fired and replaced by Jim, because Jim's cost of labor is lower. In this case market will eliminate the more productive worker in favor of a less productive one.

Now, within one nation this difference in wages will be very unlikely and quickly adjusted by the market. But between nations, Jim could be living in a poor country, where he can afford to survive on 50$, while Bob lives in a rich country with high rents and high product costs, so he'd barely get by on 100$.

So, how much of the global trade is increasing overall value due to local advantages and how much is just shifting value from some people in favor of others? And shouldn't we favor the first and minimize the second?

tz1 10 hours ago
We did test the antifragility.

Warnings like this have been happening over the past decade, and there are books (Poorly made in China) showing each part of the threat.

Each time, it was "Interview with a Zombie" with someone from NR, or Cato, or Mises, or even here, gurgling "Freeeeee Traaaade; Laaaazeeeee Faaaaire".

Trade has frictional costs. The shipping between the Ricardian tautological countries is not free. If it costs $10,000 to send the products to the destination, there is no comparitive advantage. Nature provides barriers.

But even worse, there is NO free trade, just regulatory arbitrage. Lets say you need to open a factory. You can:

1. Open it here and wait for the swarms of agents from OSHA, EEOC, EPA, IRS, etc. to harrass you and eat out your substance, and your workers to be treated like people, and have to get loans from an often hostile banking system that prefers wall street ETFs. An implacable bunch of socialists and SJWs that think Capitilists are evil and capitalism must be destroyed or just people on power trips will constantly try to close you down and bankrupt you personally and throw you in prison.

2. Open it in China where they will kick farmers off the land and build it for you, and staff it with disposable workers and you can just dump pollution into the local stream. There will be the customary cultural cronyism and corruption, but that's what a consultant is for (Poorly made in china, whats wrong with China). But it is the symbiont that wants to keep the host healthy so there will be the most blood to skim.

3. Open it in Mexico where it also has different customs than China, but the crony corruption is still far easier to deal with and less expensive than the Destroyer Obamabots.

john 7 hours ago
Capitalism is really good at optimizing for lowest cost, it is really bad at dealing with "externalities" like a once in a hundred year global pandemic. Governments should take the "long view" well at least 4-5 years at a time. Corporations look at things more quarter to quarter.
Jorge Morales Meoqui 3 hours ago
As Nassim Taleb in his book Antifragile, the two authors are making a straw men argument with regard to David Ricardo.

I don't blame them. They are repeating what is written in most economics textbooks about the theory of comparative advantage. How they should know that this textbook theory is based on a misinterpretation of Ricardo's famous numerical example. (See here: https://dx.doi.org/10.2139/...

Ricardo did not assume that prices would remain stable, nor did he recommended that a nation should specialise in one major industry or that no two agents should specialise in the same industry. Depending on a single supplier is indeed a risky bet, but that is not what their original case for free trade recommended. On the contrary, it was meant to be a remedy against national and foreign monopolies.

Many lessons can be learned from the present crisis. To make countries less vulnerable or fragile to pandemics like COVID-19, we need robust public health care systems that covers all its residents. The health care system needs to have excess capacities (hospital beds, medical personal, ) and sufficient stocks (masks, ventilators, ) to handle the significant increase in the number of patients during pandemics. We need more international cooperation, coordination and solidarity, not less. So the exact opposite of protectionism and national solo efforts.

[Mar 28, 2020] Contrary to free-market catechism, the pursuit of profit frequently runs contrary to the public's well-being

Mar 28, 2020 | www.unz.com

obwandiyag , says: Show Comment March 27, 2020 at 5:32 pm GMT

"Contrary to free-market catechism, the pursuit of profit frequently runs contrary to the public's well-being. This is especially true in an industry devoted to inventing and manufacturing health-giving and life-saving drugs."

https://jacobinmag.com/2020/3/gilead-orphan-drug-remdesivir-coronavirus

The free market is for chumps and the parasties who feed on them.

[Mar 28, 2020] On disappearance of certain drugs

Highly recommended!
Mar 28, 2020 | www.unz.com

obwandiyag , says: Show Comment March 26, 2020 at 9:03 pm GMT

They have every right to suppress cures and raise prices.

It's the free market. Don't you people get it?

Realist , says: Show Comment March 27, 2020 at 11:51 am GMT
@obwandiyag

They have every right to suppress cures and raise prices.

It's the free market. Don't you people get it?

Sadly that's what the free market means to the wealthy and powerful.

Oracle , says: Show Comment March 27, 2020 at 2:43 pm GMT
More activity on the dark, unethical side of capitalism. There's an entire history of it, opium wars, Atlantic slave trade, pornography, control of political agents through pedophilia. The list does go on and strangely enough it's usually the same actors.

[Mar 23, 2020] If you'd ever tried to set up a business here in the UK, you'd realise pretty quickly that you are under complete and utter control of the government in every aspect

Mar 23, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

TJ , Mar 22 2020 20:57 utc | 74

@1 vk

If you'd ever tried to set up a business here in the UK, you'd realise pretty quickly that you are under complete and utter control of the government in every aspect and they own your business by dint of the taxes and the loans you have to take out from their banker friends, we have soft communism because the government owns you but pretends not to. Magna Carta is dead and it's only possible resuscitation would be a Runnymede 2 Electric Boogaloo.

[Mar 22, 2020] Mask piracy among neoliberal nations: Wonderful show of world-wide solidarity

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... 1) Pompeo and Grenell reportedly arguing that coronavirus has created window of opportunity for a direct strike on a weak and divided Iran. ..."
"... Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisian has criticized the #UK for not delivering millions of masks #Iran bought in preparations ahead of #Covid19 outbreak. The London govt. refused to deliver them citing US sanctions! Note that Germany took supplies meant for Switzerland, The US via the Italian Mafia (I suppose) gets masks from Bergamo. etc. ..."
Mar 21, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Stonebird , Mar 21 2020 21:25 utc | 31

I just think that the US "Intelligence" and most of the US Administration just haven't got it. I suppose when you are waiting for the "rapture" anything that can add to the chaos is to be included.

1) Pompeo and Grenell reportedly arguing that coronavirus has created window of opportunity for a direct strike on a weak and divided Iran. They were arguing about the severity of the strike.

2) Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisian has criticized the #UK for not delivering millions of masks #Iran bought in preparations ahead of #Covid19 outbreak. The London govt. refused to deliver them citing US sanctions! Note that Germany took supplies meant for Switzerland, The US via the Italian Mafia (I suppose) gets masks from Bergamo. etc. Wonderful show of world-wide solidarity.

Pompeo should hold his "rapture" in his hot little hand and .....

[Mar 21, 2020] Tulsi Gabbard says insider traders should be 'investigated prosecuted,' as Left and Right team up on profiteering senator

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... "better prepared than ever ..."
"... "akin to the 1918 pandemic." ..."
"... "Congress/staff who dumped stocks after private briefings on impending coronavirus epidemic should be investigated and prosecuted for insider trading," ..."
"... "Members of Congress should not be allowed to own stocks." ..."
"... "stomach churning," ..."
"... "For a public servant it's pretty hard to imagine many things more immoral than doing this," ..."
"... "Richard Burr had critical information that might have helped the people he is sworn to protect. But he hid that information and helped only himself." ..."
"... "If you find out about a nation-threatening pandemic and your first move is to adjust your stock portfolio you should probably not be in a job that serves the public interest," ..."
"... "calling for immediate investigations" ..."
"... "for possible violations of the STOCK Act and insider trading laws." ..."
"... Think your friends would be interested? Share this story! ..."
Mar 21, 2020 | www.rt.com

In a rare moment of bipartisanship, commenters from all sides have demanded swift punishment for US senators who dumped stock after classified Covid-19 briefings. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has called for criminal prosecution. As chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) has received daily briefings on the threat posed by Covid-19 since January. Burr insisted to the public that America was ready to handle the virus, but sold up to $1.5 million in stocks on February 13, less than a week before the stock market nosedived, according to Senate filings . Immediately before the sale, Burr wrote an op-ed assuring Americans that their government is "better prepared than ever " to handle the virus.

Also on rt.com Liberal icon Sean Penn wants a 'compassionate' army deployment to fight Covid-19

After the sale, NPR reported that he told a closed-door meeting of North Carolina business leaders that the virus actually posed a threat "akin to the 1918 pandemic." Burr does not dispute the NPR report.

In a tweet on Saturday, former 2020 presidential candidate and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard called for criminal investigations. "Congress/staff who dumped stocks after private briefings on impending coronavirus epidemic should be investigated and prosecuted for insider trading," she wrote.

"Members of Congress should not be allowed to own stocks."

Congress/staff who dumped stocks after private briefings on impending coronavirus epidemic should be investigated & prosecuted for insider trading (the STOCK Act). It is illegal & abuse of power. Members of Congress should not be allowed to own stocks. https://t.co/rbVfJxrk3r

-- Tulsi Gabbard 🌺 (@TulsiGabbard) March 21, 2020

Burr was not the only lawmaker on Capitol Hill to take precautions, it was reported. Fellow Intelligence Committee member Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and her husband sold off more than a million dollars of shares in a biotech company five days later, while Oklahoma's Jim Inhofe (R) made a smaller sale around the same time. Both say their sales were routine.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia) attended a Senate Health Committee briefing on the outbreak on January 24. The very same day, she began offloading stock, dropping between $1.2 and $3.1 million in shares over the following weeks. The companies whose stock she sold included airlines, retail outlets, and Chinese tech firm Tencent.

She did, however, invest in cloud technology company Oracle, and Citrix, a teleworking company whose value has increased by nearly a third last week, as social distancing measures forced more and more Americans to work from home. All of Loeffler's transactions were made with her husband, Jeff Sprecher, CEO of the New York Stock Exchange.

Meanwhile, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York) and Ilhan Omar (Minnesota) have joined the clamor of voices demanding punishment. Ocasio-Cortez described the sales as "stomach churning," while Omar reached across the aisle to side with Fox News' Tucker Carlson in calling for Burr's resignation.

I am 💯 with him on this 😱 https://t.co/Gbi3i2BagY

-- Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) March 20, 2020

"For a public servant it's pretty hard to imagine many things more immoral than doing this," Carlson said during a Friday night monolog. "Richard Burr had critical information that might have helped the people he is sworn to protect. But he hid that information and helped only himself."

As of Saturday, there are nearly 25,000 cases of Covid-19 in the US, with the death toll heading towards 300. Now both sides of the political aisle seem united in disgust at the apparent profiteering of Burr, Loeffler, and Feinstein.

Right-wing news outlet Breitbart savaged Burr for voting against the STOCK Act in 2012, a piece of legislation that would have barred members of Congress from using non-public information to profit on the stock market. At the same time, a host of Democratic figures - including former presidential candidates Andrew Yang and Kirsten Gillibrand - weighed in with their own criticism too.

"If you find out about a nation-threatening pandemic and your first move is to adjust your stock portfolio you should probably not be in a job that serves the public interest," Yang tweeted on Friday.

If you find out about a nation-threatening pandemic and your first move is to adjust your stock portfolio you should probably not be in a job that serves the public interest.

-- Andrew Yang🧢 (@AndrewYang) March 20, 2020

Watchdog group Common Cause has filed complaints with the Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Senate Ethics Committee "calling for immediate investigations" of Burr, Loeffler, Feinstein and Inhofe "for possible violations of the STOCK Act and insider trading laws."

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!

[Mar 21, 2020] Tucker Senator Burr sold shares after virus briefing

Highly recommended!
Mar 21, 2020 | www.youtube.com

Bowhead31 , 5 hours ago

The problem is these people no longer see themselves as public servants.

Maria Summers , 6 hours ago

The Georgia Senator is just as guilty as the rest of them, regarding "Insider Trading".

shane passey , 3 hours ago

She's a crook just like the rest of the politicians. They say they be there for the people. But they're really there to make themselves rich

[Mar 21, 2020] Don't forget our congress critter Senator Kelly Loeffler

Mar 21, 2020 | caucus99percent.com

@supenau

who make profits as well. I cannot remember exactly when insider trading for them became legal but it should be no surprise to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention that they're ALL doing it. That is one reason, at least in my semi-educated opinion, they did not go after Trump for emoluments during Shampeachment, because THEY ALL DO IT.

That goes all the way to the White House, no doubt.

Marie on Sat, 03/21/2020 - 10:28am

Looks as if the crisis profiteers were on top of it:

Think about this:

Weeks before you had any inkling you were going to lose your job, was selling off millions of stocks -- and *buying* stock in a teleworking company.

-- Robert Reich (@RBReich) March 20, 2020

[Mar 13, 2020] Free trade suddenly seems like a dangerous fantasy, as nations start putting their own people first

Mar 13, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

It may one day be said that the coronavirus delivered the death blow to the New World Order, to a half-century of globalization, and to the era of interdependence of the world's great nations.

Tourism, air travel, vacation cruises, international gatherings, and festivals are already shutting down. Travel bans between countries and continents are being imposed. Conventions, concerts, and sporting events are being canceled. Will the Tokyo Olympics go forward? If they do, will all the anticipated visitors from abroad come to Japan to enjoy the games?

Trump has issued a one-month travel ban on Europe.

As for the "open borders" crowd, do Democrats still believe that breaking into our country should no longer be a crime, and that immigrants arriving illegally should be given free health care, a proposition to which all the Democratic debaters raised their hands?

The ideological roots of our free trade era can be traced to the mid-19th century, when its great evangelist, Richard Cobden, rose at Free Trade Hall in Manchester on January 15, 1846, and rhapsodized: "I see in the Free Trade principle that which shall act on the moral world as the principle of gravitation in the universe -- drawing men together, thrusting aside the antagonism of race, and creed, and language, and uniting us in the bonds of eternal peace."

In the pre-Trump era, Republicans held hands with liberal Democrats in embracing NAFTA, GATT, the WTO, and most favored nation trade privileges for China.

In retrospect, was it wise to have relied on China to produce essential parts for the supply chains of goods vital to our national security? Does it appear wise to have moved the production of pharmaceuticals and lifesaving drugs for heart disease, strokes, and diabetes to China? Does it appear wise to have allowed China to develop a virtual monopoly on rare earth minerals crucial to the development of weapons for our defense?

In this coronavirus pandemic, people now seem to be looking for authoritative leaders and nations seem to be looking out for their own peoples first. Would Merkel today invite a million Syrian refugees into Germany no matter the conditions under which they were living?

Is not the case now conclusive that we made a historic mistake when we outsourced our economic independence to rely for vital necessities upon nations that have never had America's best interests at heart?

Which rings truer today? We are all part of mankind, all citizens of the world. Or that it's time to put America and Americans first!

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever. To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.


EdMan 11 hours ago

Wiping out the NWO and discrediting globalism's the silver lining to the dark cloud of the coronavirus.
IanDakar EdMan 8 hours ago
Which leaders have been speaking of ways to reverse the ways of globalism and how close are they to obtaining power? This is going to require a changing of the elites fro mthe ones who are and will continue to push this form of globalism to the ones that are willing to switch to a new system.

(there will always be an elite. It's just a question of which ones you let wield power as not all of them are the type that we carry.)

AlexanderHistory X 8 hours ago
Unfortunately a ton of people are still espousing open borders globalism. This includes a large number of visible elites, the vast majority, in fact.
The best thing that could happen is that those who espouse such dangerous ideas are held to account by nature. Let them get sick with the Wu flu, let them be unable to attain medication because China has restricted exports to us. Let's see what they think after they have finally begun to experience the ramifications of their ideological thinking.
Awake and Uttering a Song AlexanderHistory X 3 hours ago
The elites will ALWAYS have access to medication they need. Most of them will NEVER "experience ramifications" in any way more than minor inconveniences.
Don Quijote 6 hours ago
Considering that you can get from New York City to Tokyo in under 24 hours, and that there are no major city on the Planet that cannot be reached from the lower forty-eight in under 48 hours, how do you intend to reverse globalism? Ban airplanes, telephones and the internet-based communications?

Because short of that, Globalism is here to stay.

[Mar 10, 2020] Neoliberalism the ideology at the root of all our problems by George Monbiot

Highly recommended!
Under neoliberalism inequality is recast as virtuous. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve: Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations and redefines citizens as consumers
Notable quotes:
"... Imagine if the people of the Soviet Union had never heard of communism. The ideology that dominates our lives has, for most of us, no name. Mention it in conversation and you'll be rewarded with a shrug. Even if your listeners have heard the term before, they will struggle to define it. Neoliberalism: do you know what it is? ..."
"... Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007‑8, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness , the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump . ..."
"... Inequality is recast as virtuous. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve. ..."
"... Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that "the market" delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning. ..."
"... We internalise and reproduce its creeds. The rich persuade themselves that they acquired their wealth through merit, ignoring the advantages – such as education, inheritance and class – that may have helped to secure it. The poor begin to blame themselves for their failures, even when they can do little to change their circumstances. ..."
"... Never mind structural unemployment: if you don't have a job it's because you are unenterprising. Never mind the impossible costs of housing: if your credit card is maxed out, you're feckless and improvident. Never mind that your children no longer have a school playing field: if they get fat, it's your fault. In a world governed by competition, those who fall behind become defined and self-defined as losers. ..."
"... Among the results, as Paul Verhaeghe documents in his book What About Me? are epidemics of self-harm, eating disorders, depression, loneliness, performance anxiety and social phobia. ..."
"... It may seem strange that a doctrine promising choice should have been promoted with the slogan 'there is no alternative' ..."
"... Where neoliberal policies cannot be imposed domestically, they are imposed internationally, through trade treaties incorporating " investor-state dispute settlement ": offshore tribunals in which corporations can press for the removal of social and environmental protections. When parliaments have voted to restrict sales of cigarettes , protect water supplies from mining companies, freeze energy bills or prevent pharmaceutical firms from ripping off the state, corporations have sued, often successfully. Democracy is reduced to theatre. ..."
"... Neoliberalism was not conceived as a self-serving racket, but it rapidly became one ..."
"... Another paradox of neoliberalism is that universal competition relies upon universal quantification and comparison. The result is that workers, job-seekers and public services of every kind are subject to a pettifogging, stifling regime of assessment and monitoring, designed to identify the winners and punish the losers. The doctrine that Von Mises proposed would free us from the bureaucratic nightmare of central planning has instead created one. ..."
"... When you pay an inflated price for a train ticket, only part of the fare compensates the operators for the money they spend on fuel, wages, rolling stock and other outlays. The rest reflects the fact that they have you over a barrel . ..."
"... Those who own and run the UK's privatised or semi-privatised services make stupendous fortunes by investing little and charging much. In Russia and India, oligarchs acquired state assets through firesales. In Mexico, Carlos Slim was granted control of almost all landline and mobile phone services and soon became the world's richest man. ..."
"... Financialisation, as Andrew Sayer notes in Why We Can't Afford the Rich , has had a similar impact. "Like rent," he argues, "interest is ... unearned income that accrues without any effort". ..."
"... Chris Hedges remarks that "fascist movements build their base not from the politically active but the politically inactive, the 'losers' who feel, often correctly, they have no voice or role to play in the political establishment". When political debate no longer speaks to us, people become responsive instead to slogans, symbols and sensation . To the admirers of Trump, for example, facts and arguments appear irrelevant. ..."
"... Like communism, neoliberalism is the God that failed. But the zombie doctrine staggers on, and one of the reasons is its anonymity. Or rather, a cluster of anonymities. ..."
"... The invisible doctrine of the invisible hand is promoted by invisible backers. Slowly, very slowly, we have begun to discover the names of a few of them. We find that the Institute of Economic Affairs, which has argued forcefully in the media against the further regulation of the tobacco industry, has been secretly funded by British American Tobacco since 1963. We discover that Charles and David Koch , two of the richest men in the world, founded the institute that set up the Tea Party movement . We find that Charles Koch, in establishing one of his thinktanks, noted that "in order to avoid undesirable criticism, how the organisation is controlled and directed should not be widely advertised". ..."
"... The anonymity of neoliberalism is fiercely guarded. ..."
"... Neoliberalism's triumph also reflects the failure of the left. When laissez-faire economics led to catastrophe in 1929, Keynes devised a comprehensive economic theory to replace it. When Keynesian demand management hit the buffers in the 70s, there was an alternative ready. But when neoliberalism fell apart in 2008 there was ... nothing. This is why the zombie walks. The left and centre have produced no new general framework of economic thought for 80 years. ..."
"... What the history of both Keynesianism and neoliberalism show is that it's not enough to oppose a broken system. A coherent alternative has to be proposed. For Labour, the Democrats and the wider left, the central task should be to develop an economic Apollo programme, a conscious attempt to design a new system, tailored to the demands of the 21st century. ..."
Apr 16, 2016 | www.theguardian.com

Financial meltdown, environmental disaster and even the rise of Donald Trump – neoliberalism has played its part in them all. Why has the left failed to come up with an alternative? @GeorgeMonbiot

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

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

Inequality is recast as virtuous. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.

So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom even recognise it as an ideology. We appear to accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a kind of biological law, like Darwin's theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power.

Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that "the market" delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.

Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.

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

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

See also Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us by Paul Verhaeghe, Sep 24, 2014

Among the results, as Paul Verhaeghe documents in his book What About Me? are epidemics of self-harm, eating disorders, depression, loneliness, performance anxiety and social phobia. Perhaps it's unsurprising that Britain, in which neoliberal ideology has been most rigorously applied, is the loneliness capital of Europe . We are all neoliberals now.

***

The term neoliberalism was coined at a meeting in Paris in 1938. Among the delegates were two men who came to define the ideology, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Both exiles from Austria, they saw social democracy, exemplified by Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and the gradual development of Britain's welfare state, as manifestations of a collectivism that occupied the same spectrum as nazism and communism.

In The Road to Serfdom , published in 1944, Hayek argued that government planning, by crushing individualism, would lead inexorably to totalitarian control. Like Mises's book Bureaucracy , The Road to Serfdom was widely read. It came to the attention of some very wealthy people, who saw in the philosophy an opportunity to free themselves from regulation and tax. When, in 1947, Hayek founded the first organisation that would spread the doctrine of neoliberalism – the Mont Pelerin Society – it was supported financially by millionaires and their foundations.

With their help, he began to create what Daniel Stedman Jones describes in Masters of the Universe as "a kind of neoliberal international": a transatlantic network of academics, businessmen, journalists and activists. The movement's rich backers funded a series of thinktanks which would refine and promote the ideology. Among them were the American Enterprise Institute , the Heritage Foundation , the Cato Institute , the Institute of Economic Affairs , the Centre for Policy Studies and the Adam Smith Institute . They also financed academic positions and departments, particularly at the universities of Chicago and Virginia.

As it evolved, neoliberalism became more strident. Hayek's view that governments should regulate competition to prevent monopolies from forming gave way – among American apostles such as Milton Friedman – to the belief that monopoly power could be seen as a reward for efficiency.

Something else happened during this transition: the movement lost its name. In 1951, Friedman was happy to describe himself as a neoliberal . But soon after that, the term began to disappear. Stranger still, even as the ideology became crisper and the movement more coherent, the lost name was not replaced by any common alternative.

At first, despite its lavish funding, neoliberalism remained at the margins. The postwar consensus was almost universal: John Maynard Keynes 's economic prescriptions were widely applied, full employment and the relief of poverty were common goals in the US and much of western Europe, top rates of tax were high and governments sought social outcomes without embarrassment, developing new public services and safety nets.

But in the 1970s, when Keynesian policies began to fall apart and economic crises struck on both sides of the Atlantic, neoliberal ideas began to enter the mainstream. As Friedman remarked, "when the time came that you had to change ... there was an alternative ready there to be picked up". With the help of sympathetic journalists and political advisers, elements of neoliberalism, especially its prescriptions for monetary policy, were adopted by Jimmy Carter's administration in the US and Jim Callaghan's government in Britain.

It may seem strange that a doctrine promising choice should have been promoted with the slogan 'there is no alternative'

After Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan took power, the rest of the package soon followed: massive tax cuts for the rich, the crushing of trade unions, deregulation, privatisation, outsourcing and competition in public services. Through the IMF, the World Bank, the Maastricht treaty and the World Trade Organisation, neoliberal policies were imposed – often without democratic consent – on much of the world. Most remarkable was its adoption among parties that once belonged to the left: Labour and the Democrats, for example. As Stedman Jones notes, "it is hard to think of another utopia to have been as fully realised."

***

It may seem strange that a doctrine promising choice and freedom should have been promoted with the slogan "there is no alternative". But, as Hayek remarked on a visit to Pinochet's Chile – one of the first nations in which the programme was comprehensively applied – "my personal preference leans toward a liberal dictatorship rather than toward a democratic government devoid of liberalism". The freedom that neoliberalism offers, which sounds so beguiling when expressed in general terms, turns out to mean freedom for the pike, not for the minnows.

Freedom from trade unions and collective bargaining means the freedom to suppress wages. Freedom from regulation means the freedom to poison rivers , endanger workers, charge iniquitous rates of interest and design exotic financial instruments. Freedom from tax means freedom from the distribution of wealth that lifts people out of poverty.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Naomi Klein documented that neoliberals advocated the use of crises to impose unpopular policies while people were distracted. Photograph: Anya Chibis/The Guardian

As Naomi Klein documents in The Shock Doctrine , neoliberal theorists advocated the use of crises to impose unpopular policies while people were distracted: for example, in the aftermath of Pinochet's coup, the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina, which Friedman described as "an opportunity to radically reform the educational system" in New Orleans .

Where neoliberal policies cannot be imposed domestically, they are imposed internationally, through trade treaties incorporating " investor-state dispute settlement ": offshore tribunals in which corporations can press for the removal of social and environmental protections. When parliaments have voted to restrict sales of cigarettes , protect water supplies from mining companies, freeze energy bills or prevent pharmaceutical firms from ripping off the state, corporations have sued, often successfully. Democracy is reduced to theatre.

Neoliberalism was not conceived as a self-serving racket, but it rapidly became one

Another paradox of neoliberalism is that universal competition relies upon universal quantification and comparison. The result is that workers, job-seekers and public services of every kind are subject to a pettifogging, stifling regime of assessment and monitoring, designed to identify the winners and punish the losers. The doctrine that Von Mises proposed would free us from the bureaucratic nightmare of central planning has instead created one.

Neoliberalism was not conceived as a self-serving racket, but it rapidly became one. Economic growth has been markedly slower in the neoliberal era (since 1980 in Britain and the US) than it was in the preceding decades; but not for the very rich. Inequality in the distribution of both income and wealth, after 60 years of decline, rose rapidly in this era, due to the smashing of trade unions, tax reductions, rising rents, privatisation and deregulation.

The privatisation or marketisation of public services such as energy, water, trains, health, education, roads and prisons has enabled corporations to set up tollbooths in front of essential assets and charge rent, either to citizens or to government, for their use. Rent is another term for unearned income. When you pay an inflated price for a train ticket, only part of the fare compensates the operators for the money they spend on fuel, wages, rolling stock and other outlays. The rest reflects the fact that they have you over a barrel .

In Mexico, Carlos Slim was granted control of almost all phone services and soon became the world's richest man. Photograph: Henry Romero/Reuters

Those who own and run the UK's privatised or semi-privatised services make stupendous fortunes by investing little and charging much. In Russia and India, oligarchs acquired state assets through firesales. In Mexico, Carlos Slim was granted control of almost all landline and mobile phone services and soon became the world's richest man.

Financialisation, as Andrew Sayer notes in Why We Can't Afford the Rich , has had a similar impact. "Like rent," he argues, "interest is ... unearned income that accrues without any effort". As the poor become poorer and the rich become richer, the rich acquire increasing control over another crucial asset: money. Interest payments, overwhelmingly, are a transfer of money from the poor to the rich. As property prices and the withdrawal of state funding load people with debt (think of the switch from student grants to student loans), the banks and their executives clean up.

Sayer argues that the past four decades have been characterised by a transfer of wealth not only from the poor to the rich, but within the ranks of the wealthy: from those who make their money by producing new goods or services to those who make their money by controlling existing assets and harvesting rent, interest or capital gains. Earned income has been supplanted by unearned income.

Neoliberal policies are everywhere beset by market failures. Not only are the banks too big to fail, but so are the corporations now charged with delivering public services. As Tony Judt pointed out in Ill Fares the Land , Hayek forgot that vital national services cannot be allowed to collapse, which means that competition cannot run its course. Business takes the profits, the state keeps the risk.

The greater the failure, the more extreme the ideology becomes. Governments use neoliberal crises as both excuse and opportunity to cut taxes, privatise remaining public services, rip holes in the social safety net, deregulate corporations and re-regulate citizens. The self-hating state now sinks its teeth into every organ of the public sector.

Perhaps the most dangerous impact of neoliberalism is not the economic crises it has caused, but the political crisis. As the domain of the state is reduced, our ability to change the course of our lives through voting also contracts. Instead, neoliberal theory asserts, people can exercise choice through spending. But some have more to spend than others: in the great consumer or shareholder democracy, votes are not equally distributed. The result is a disempowerment of the poor and middle. As parties of the right and former left adopt similar neoliberal policies, disempowerment turns to disenfranchisement. Large numbers of people have been shed from politics.

Chris Hedges remarks that "fascist movements build their base not from the politically active but the politically inactive, the 'losers' who feel, often correctly, they have no voice or role to play in the political establishment". When political debate no longer speaks to us, people become responsive instead to slogans, symbols and sensation . To the admirers of Trump, for example, facts and arguments appear irrelevant.

Judt explained that when the thick mesh of interactions between people and the state has been reduced to nothing but authority and obedience, the only remaining force that binds us is state power. The totalitarianism Hayek feared is more likely to emerge when governments, having lost the moral authority that arises from the delivery of public services, are reduced to "cajoling, threatening and ultimately coercing people to obey them".

***

Like communism, neoliberalism is the God that failed. But the zombie doctrine staggers on, and one of the reasons is its anonymity. Or rather, a cluster of anonymities.

The invisible doctrine of the invisible hand is promoted by invisible backers. Slowly, very slowly, we have begun to discover the names of a few of them. We find that the Institute of Economic Affairs, which has argued forcefully in the media against the further regulation of the tobacco industry, has been secretly funded by British American Tobacco since 1963. We discover that Charles and David Koch , two of the richest men in the world, founded the institute that set up the Tea Party movement . We find that Charles Koch, in establishing one of his thinktanks, noted that "in order to avoid undesirable criticism, how the organisation is controlled and directed should not be widely advertised".

The nouveau riche were once disparaged by those who had inherited their money. Today, the relationship has been reversed

The words used by neoliberalism often conceal more than they elucidate. "The market" sounds like a natural system that might bear upon us equally, like gravity or atmospheric pressure. But it is fraught with power relations. What "the market wants" tends to mean what corporations and their bosses want. "Investment", as Sayer notes, means two quite different things. One is the funding of productive and socially useful activities, the other is the purchase of existing assets to milk them for rent, interest, dividends and capital gains. Using the same word for different activities "camouflages the sources of wealth", leading us to confuse wealth extraction with wealth creation.

A century ago, the nouveau riche were disparaged by those who had inherited their money. Entrepreneurs sought social acceptance by passing themselves off as rentiers. Today, the relationship has been reversed: the rentiers and inheritors style themselves entre preneurs. They claim to have earned their unearned income.

These anonymities and confusions mesh with the namelessness and placelessness of modern capitalism: the franchise model which ensures that workers do not know for whom they toil ; the companies registered through a network of offshore secrecy regimes so complex that even the police cannot discover the beneficial owners ; the tax arrangements that bamboozle governments; the financial products no one understands.

The anonymity of neoliberalism is fiercely guarded. Those who are influenced by Hayek, Mises and Friedman tend to reject the term, maintaining – with some justice – that it is used today only pejoratively . But they offer us no substitute. Some describe themselves as classical liberals or libertarians, but these descriptions are both misleading and curiously self-effacing, as they suggest that there is nothing novel about The Road to Serfdom , Bureaucracy or Friedman's classic work, Capitalism and Freedom .

***

For all that, there is something admirable about the neoliberal project, at least in its early stages. It was a distinctive, innovative philosophy promoted by a coherent network of thinkers and activists with a clear plan of action. It was patient and persistent. The Road to Serfdom became the path to power.

Neoliberalism, Locke and the Green party | Letters Read more

Neoliberalism's triumph also reflects the failure of the left. When laissez-faire economics led to catastrophe in 1929, Keynes devised a comprehensive economic theory to replace it. When Keynesian demand management hit the buffers in the 70s, there was an alternative ready. But when neoliberalism fell apart in 2008 there was ... nothing. This is why the zombie walks. The left and centre have produced no new general framework of economic thought for 80 years.

Every invocation of Lord Keynes is an admission of failure. To propose Keynesian solutions to the crises of the 21st century is to ignore three obvious problems. It is hard to mobilise people around old ideas; the flaws exposed in the 70s have not gone away; and, most importantly, they have nothing to say about our gravest predicament: the environmental crisis. Keynesianism works by stimulating consumer demand to promote economic growth. Consumer demand and economic growth are the motors of environmental destruction.

What the history of both Keynesianism and neoliberalism show is that it's not enough to oppose a broken system. A coherent alternative has to be proposed. For Labour, the Democrats and the wider left, the central task should be to develop an economic Apollo programme, a conscious attempt to design a new system, tailored to the demands of the 21st century.

George Monbiot's How Did We Get into This Mess? is published this month by Verso. To order a copy for £12.99 (RRP £16.99) ) go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99.

Topics Economics

[Mar 09, 2020] One day, Americans will fully understand , with horrible consequences, that not every single human transaction must revolve around making a few people obscenely rich

Mar 09, 2020 | www.unz.com

TKK , says: Show Comment March 9, 2020 at 5:06 pm GMT

@Commentator Mike In America, you are on your own.

At international arrivals in Atlanta, the overwhelmingly black TSA staff are not taking temps by infrared or taking any pro active measures. If they are, it was hidden from me. It seems- obtuse- to constantly harp on the catastrophe that is AA hires- but there it is.

Its the busiest airport in the world, BTW.

A sinister side note; Delta offered me an $83 upgrade for first class when I went in to delay another trip. It's a $6000 ticket to fly first class. My total would have been a little over $500. Dangling the carrot as everyone cancels.

One day, Americans will fully understand , with horrible consequences, that not every single human transaction must revolve around making a few people obscenely rich.

[Mar 03, 2020] "Predatory capitalism", which clearly describes what neoliberalism is.

Highly recommended!
Mar 03, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

chu teh , Mar 4 2020 0:50 utc | 80

Tonymike | Mar 3 2020 18:08 utc | 26

re ... Your house foreclosed upon by shady bank: naked capitalism, .0001% paid on interest savings: naked capitalism, poor wages: naked capitalism, dangerous workplace: naked capitalism, etc. ...

"naked capitalism" is not a clear description. Consider using "predatory capitalism", which clearly describes what it is.

Here's the Wiki dictionary definition:

Predatory--

1. relating to or denoting an animal or animals preying naturally on others.
synonyms: predacious, carnivorous, hunting, raptorial, ravening;
Example: "predatory birds".

2. seeking to exploit or oppress others.
synonyms: exploitative, wolfish, rapacious, greedy, acquisitive, avaricious
Example: "I could see a predatory gleam in his eyes"

Note where the word comes from:
The Latin "praedator", in English meaning "plunderer".

And "plunderer" helps the reader understand and perhaps recognize what is happening.

Every plunderer understands.

[Mar 02, 2020] Under the rule of a repressive [neoliberal] oligarchy, freedom can be made into a powerful instrument of domination

Mar 02, 2020 | www.truthdig.com

In "One-Dimensional Man , " Marcuse revealed the fundamental truth of modern Western capitalism: "Under the rule of a repressive whole, liberty can be made into a powerful instrument of domination . Free election of masters does not abolish the masters or the slaves. Free choice among a wide variety of goods and services does not signify freedom if these goods and services sustain social controls over a life of toil and fear -- that is, if they sustain alienation." It does not matter at all whether millions of people recognize their alienation, often blissfully unaware that their "needs" are not their own but merely produced through their superficially pleasant submission. The corporate state continues largely unchallenged.

[Feb 19, 2020] During the stagflation crisis of the 1970s, a "neoliberal revolution from above" was staged in the USA by "managerial elite" which like Soviet nomenklatura (which also staged a neoliberal coup d' tat) changed sides and betrayed the working class

Highly recommended!
This was an outright declaration of "class war" against working-class voters by a "university-credentialed overclass" -- "managerial elite" which changed sides and allied with financial oligrchy. See "The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Managerial Elite" by Michael Lind
Notable quotes:
"... By canceling the class compromise that governed the capitalist societies after World War II, the neoliberal elite saws the seed of the current populist backlash. The "soft neoliberal" backbone of the Democratic Party (Clinton wing) were incapable of coming to terms with Hillary Clinton's defeat -- the rejection of the establishment candidate by the US population and first of all by the working class. The result has been the neo-McCarthyism campaign and the attempt to derail Trump via color revolution spearheaded by Brennan-Obama factions in CIA and FBI. ..."
Feb 19, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

likbez , February 19, 2020 12:31 pm

Does not matter.

It looks like Bloomberg is finished. He just committed political suicide with his comments about farmers and metal workers.

BTW Bloomberg's plan is highly hypocritical -- like is Bloomberg himself.

During the stagflation crisis of the 1970s, a "neoliberal revolution from above" was staged in the USA by "managerial elite" which like Soviet nomenklatura (which also staged a neoliberal coup d'état) changed sides and betrayed the working class.

So those neoliberal scoundrels reversed the class compromise embodied in the New Deal.

The most powerful weapon in the arsenal of the neoliberal managerial class and financial oligarchy who got to power via the "Quiet Coup" was the global labor arbitrage in which production is outsourced to countries with lower wage levels and laxer regulations.

So all those "improving education" plans are, to a large extent, the smoke screen over the fact that the US workers now need to compete against highly qualified and lower cost immigrants and outsourced workforce.

The fact is that it is very difficult to find for US graduates in STEM disciplines a decent job, and this is by design.

Also, after the "Reagan neoliberal revolution" ( actually a coup d'état ), profits were maximized by putting downward pressure on domestic wages through the introduction of the immigrant workforce (the collapse of the USSR helped greatly ). They push down wages and compete for jobs with their domestic counterparts, including the recent graduates. So the situation since 1991 was never too bright for STEM graduates.

By canceling the class compromise that governed the capitalist societies after World War II, the neoliberal elite saws the seed of the current populist backlash. The "soft neoliberal" backbone of the Democratic Party (Clinton wing) were incapable of coming to terms with Hillary Clinton's defeat -- the rejection of the establishment candidate by the US population and first of all by the working class. The result has been the neo-McCarthyism campaign and the attempt to derail Trump via color revolution spearheaded by Brennan-Obama factions in CIA and FBI.

See also recently published "The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Managerial Elite" by Michael Lind.

One of his quotes:

The American oligarchy spares no pains in promoting the belief that it does not exist, but the success of its disappearing act depends on equally strenuous efforts on the part of an American public anxious to believe in egalitarian fictions and unwilling to see what is hidden in plain sight.

[Feb 19, 2020] On Michael Lind's "The New Class War" by Gregor Baszak

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... To writer Michael Lind, Trump's victory, along with Brexit and other populist stirrings in Europe, was an outright declaration of "class war" by alienated working-class voters against what he calls a "university-credentialed overclass" of managerial elites. ..."
"... Lind cautions against a turn to populism, which he believes to be too personality-centered and intellectually incoherent -- not to mention, too demagogic -- to help solve the terminal crisis of "technocratic neoliberalism" with its rule by self-righteous and democratically unaccountable "experts" with hyperactive Twitter handles. Only a return to what Lind calls "democratic pluralism" will help stem the tide of the populist revolt. ..."
"... Many on the left have been incapable of coming to terms with Hillary Clinton's defeat. The result has been the stifling climate of a neo-McCarthyism, in which the only explanation for Trump's success was an unholy alliance of "Putin stooges" and unrepentant "white supremacists." ..."
"... To Lind, the case is much more straightforward: while the vast majority of Americans supports Social Security spending and containing unskilled immigration, the elites of the bipartisan swamp favor libertarian free trade policies combined with the steady influx of unskilled migrants to help suppress wage levels in the United States. Trump had outflanked his opponents in the Republican primaries and Clinton in the general election by tacking left on the economy (he refused to lay hands on Social Security) and right on immigration. ..."
"... Then, in the 1930s, while the world was writhing from the consequences of the Great Depression, a series of fascist parties took the reigns in countries from Germany to Spain. To spare the United States a similar descent into barbarism, President Franklin D. Roosevelt implemented the New Deal, in which the working class would find a seat at the bargaining table under a government-supervised tripartite system where business and organized labor met seemingly as equals and in which collective bargaining would help the working class set sector-wide wages. ..."
"... This class compromise ruled unquestioned for the first decades of the postwar era. It was made possible thanks to the system of democratic pluralism, which allowed working-class and rural constituencies to actively partake in mass-membership organizations like unions as well as civic and religious institutions that would empower these communities to shape society from the ground up. ..."
"... But then, amid the stagflation crisis of the 1970s, a "neoliberal revolution from above" set in that sought to reverse the class compromise. The most powerful weapon in the arsenal of the newly emboldened managerial class was "global labor arbitrage" in which production is outsourced to countries with lower wage levels and laxer regulations; alternatively, profits can be maximized by putting downward pressure on domestic wages through the introduction of an unskilled, non-unionized immigrant workforce that competes for jobs with its unionized domestic counterparts. By one-sidedly canceling the class compromise that governed the capitalist societies after World War II, Lind concludes, the managerial elite had brought the recent populist backlash on itself. ..."
"... American parties are not organized parties built around active members and policy platforms; they are shifting coalitions of entrepreneurial candidate campaign organizations. Hence, the Democratic and Republican Parties are not only capitalist ideologically; they are capitalistically run enterprises. ..."
"... In the epigraph to the book, Lind cites approvingly the 1949 treatise The Vital Center by historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. who wrote that "class conflict, pursued to excess, may well destroy the underlying fabric of common principle which sustains free society." Schlesinger was just one among many voices who believed that Western societies after World War II were experiencing the "end of ideology." From now on, the reasoning went, the ideological battles of yesteryear were settled in favor of a more disinterested capitalist (albeit New Deal–inflected) governance. This, in turn, gave rise to the managerial forces in government, the military, and business whose unchecked hold on power Lind laments. The midcentury social-democratic thinker Michael Harrington had it right when he wrote that "[t]he end of ideology is a shorthand way of saying the end of socialism." ..."
"... A cursory glance at the recent impeachment hearings bears witness to this, as career bureaucrats complained that President Trump unjustifiably sought to change the course of an American foreign policy that had been nobly steered by them since the onset of the Cold War. In their eyes, Trump, like the Brexiteers or the French yellow vest protesters, are vulgar usurpers who threaten the stability of the vital center from polar extremes. ..."
Jan 08, 2020 | lareviewofbooks.org

A FEW DAYS AFTER Donald Trump's electoral upset in 2016, Club for Growth co-founder Stephen Moore told an audience of Republican House members that the GOP was "now officially a Trump working class party." No longer the party of traditional Reaganite conservatism, the GOP had been converted instead "into a populist America First party." As he uttered these words, Moore says, "the shock was palpable" in the room.

The Club for Growth had long dominated Republican orthodoxy by promoting low tax rates and limited government. Any conservative candidate for political office wanting to reap the benefits of the Club's massive fundraising arm had to pay homage to this doctrine. For one of its formerly leading voices to pronounce the transformation of this orthodoxy toward a more populist nationalism showed just how much the ground had shifted on election night.

To writer Michael Lind, Trump's victory, along with Brexit and other populist stirrings in Europe, was an outright declaration of "class war" by alienated working-class voters against what he calls a "university-credentialed overclass" of managerial elites. The title of Lind's new book, The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Managerial Elite , leaves no doubt as to where his sympathies lie, though he's adamant that he's not some sort of guru for a " smarter Trumpism ," as some have labeled him.

Lind cautions against a turn to populism, which he believes to be too personality-centered and intellectually incoherent -- not to mention, too demagogic -- to help solve the terminal crisis of "technocratic neoliberalism" with its rule by self-righteous and democratically unaccountable "experts" with hyperactive Twitter handles. Only a return to what Lind calls "democratic pluralism" will help stem the tide of the populist revolt.

The New Class War is a breath of fresh air. Many on the left have been incapable of coming to terms with Hillary Clinton's defeat. The result has been the stifling climate of a neo-McCarthyism, in which the only explanation for Trump's success was an unholy alliance of "Putin stooges" and unrepentant "white supremacists."

To Lind, the case is much more straightforward: while the vast majority of Americans supports Social Security spending and containing unskilled immigration, the elites of the bipartisan swamp favor libertarian free trade policies combined with the steady influx of unskilled migrants to help suppress wage levels in the United States. Trump had outflanked his opponents in the Republican primaries and Clinton in the general election by tacking left on the economy (he refused to lay hands on Social Security) and right on immigration.

The strategy has since been successfully repeated in the United Kingdom by Boris Johnson, and it looks, for now, like a foolproof way for conservative parties in the West to capture or defend their majorities against center-left parties that are too beholden to wealthy, metropolitan interests to seriously attract working-class support. Berating the latter as irredeemably racist certainly doesn't help either.

What happened in the preceding decades to produce this divide in Western democracies? Lind's narrative begins with the New Deal, which had brought to an end what he calls "the first class war" in favor of a class compromise between management and labor. This first class war is the one we are the most familiar with: originating in the Industrial Revolution, which had produced the wretchedly poor proletariat, it soon led to the rise of competing parties of organized workers on the one hand and the liberal bourgeoisie on the other, a clash that came to a head in the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Then, in the 1930s, while the world was writhing from the consequences of the Great Depression, a series of fascist parties took the reigns in countries from Germany to Spain. To spare the United States a similar descent into barbarism, President Franklin D. Roosevelt implemented the New Deal, in which the working class would find a seat at the bargaining table under a government-supervised tripartite system where business and organized labor met seemingly as equals and in which collective bargaining would help the working class set sector-wide wages.

This class compromise ruled unquestioned for the first decades of the postwar era. It was made possible thanks to the system of democratic pluralism, which allowed working-class and rural constituencies to actively partake in mass-membership organizations like unions as well as civic and religious institutions that would empower these communities to shape society from the ground up.

But then, amid the stagflation crisis of the 1970s, a "neoliberal revolution from above" set in that sought to reverse the class compromise. The most powerful weapon in the arsenal of the newly emboldened managerial class was "global labor arbitrage" in which production is outsourced to countries with lower wage levels and laxer regulations; alternatively, profits can be maximized by putting downward pressure on domestic wages through the introduction of an unskilled, non-unionized immigrant workforce that competes for jobs with its unionized domestic counterparts. By one-sidedly canceling the class compromise that governed the capitalist societies after World War II, Lind concludes, the managerial elite had brought the recent populist backlash on itself.

Likewise, only it can contain this backlash by returning to the bargaining table and reestablishing the tripartite system it had walked away from. According to Lind, the new class peace can only come about on the level of the individual nation-state because transnational treaty organizations like the EU cannot allow the various national working classes to escape the curse of labor arbitrage. This will mean that unskilled immigration will necessarily have to be curbed to strengthen the bargaining power of domestic workers. The free-market orthodoxy of the Club for Growth will also have to take a backseat, to be replaced by government-promoted industrial strategies that invest in innovation to help modernize their national economies.

Under which circumstances would the managerial elites ever return to the bargaining table? "The answer is fear," Lind suggests -- fear of working-class resentment of hyper-woke, authoritarian elites. Ironically, this leaves all the agency with the ruling class, who first acceded to the class compromise, then canceled it, and is now called on to forge a new one lest its underlings revolt.

Lind rightly complains all throughout the book that the old mass-membership based organizations of the 20th century have collapsed. He's coy, however, about who would reconstitute them and how. At best, Lind argues for a return to the old system where party bosses and ward captains served their local constituencies through patronage, but once more this leaves the agency with entities like the Republicans and Democrats who have a combined zero members. As the third-party activist Howie Hawkins remarked cunningly elsewhere ,

American parties are not organized parties built around active members and policy platforms; they are shifting coalitions of entrepreneurial candidate campaign organizations. Hence, the Democratic and Republican Parties are not only capitalist ideologically; they are capitalistically run enterprises.

Thus, they would hardly be the first options one would think of to reinvigorate the forces of civil society toward self-rule from the bottom up.

The key to Lind's fraught logic lies hidden in plain sight -- in the book's title. Lind does not speak of "class struggle ," the heroic Marxist narrative in which an organized proletariat strove for global power; no, "class war " smacks of a gloomy, Hobbesian war of all against all in which no side truly stands to win.

In the epigraph to the book, Lind cites approvingly the 1949 treatise The Vital Center by historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. who wrote that "class conflict, pursued to excess, may well destroy the underlying fabric of common principle which sustains free society." Schlesinger was just one among many voices who believed that Western societies after World War II were experiencing the "end of ideology." From now on, the reasoning went, the ideological battles of yesteryear were settled in favor of a more disinterested capitalist (albeit New Deal–inflected) governance. This, in turn, gave rise to the managerial forces in government, the military, and business whose unchecked hold on power Lind laments. The midcentury social-democratic thinker Michael Harrington had it right when he wrote that "[t]he end of ideology is a shorthand way of saying the end of socialism."

Looked at from this perspective, the break between the postwar Fordist regime and technocratic neoliberalism isn't as massive as one would suppose. The overclass antagonists of The New Class War believe that they derive their power from the same "liberal order" of the first-class peace that Lind upholds as a positive utopia. A cursory glance at the recent impeachment hearings bears witness to this, as career bureaucrats complained that President Trump unjustifiably sought to change the course of an American foreign policy that had been nobly steered by them since the onset of the Cold War. In their eyes, Trump, like the Brexiteers or the French yellow vest protesters, are vulgar usurpers who threaten the stability of the vital center from polar extremes.

A more honest account of capitalism would also acknowledge its natural tendencies to persistently contract and to disrupt the social fabric. There is thus no reason to believe why some future class compromise would once and for all quell these tendencies -- and why nationalistically operating capitalist states would not be inclined to confront each other again in war.

Gregor Baszak is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His Twitter handle is @gregorbas1.

Stourley Kracklite 20 days ago • edited ,

Reagan was a free-trader and a union buster. Lind's people jumped the Democratic ship to vote for Reagan in (lemming-like) droves. As Republicans consolidated power over labor with cheap goods from China and the meth of deficit spending Democrats struggled with being necklaced as the party of civil rights.
The idea that people who are well-informed ought not to govern is a sad and sick cover story that the culpable are forced to chant in their caves until their days are done, the reckoning being too great.

[Feb 01, 2020] You think it's bad now, look where we're going

Feb 01, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Batman11 , 4 hours ago link

You think it's bad now, look where we're going.

We stepped onto an old path that still leads to the same place.

1920s/2000s – neoclassical economics, high inequality, high banker pay, low regulation, low taxes for the wealthy, robber barons (CEOs), reckless bankers, globalisation phase

1929/2008 – Wall Street crash

1930s/2010s – Global recession, currency wars, trade wars, austerity, rising nationalism and extremism

1940s – World war.

We forgot we had been down that path before.

[Feb 01, 2020] Freedom in the neo-liberal lexicon means freedom of the strong to predate on the weak. Free Trade is a particular example of this.

Feb 01, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Tim Glover , Jan 31 2020 19:07 utc | 9

Freedom in the neo-liberal lexicon means freedom of the strong to predate on the weak. Free Trade is a particular example of this. A rational person must expect the UK to be brutally savaged in dealing with the EU, US and China.

@1, It is true that at present not having a Mediterranean coast is an advantage. But an optimist might hope that the defeat of the US in Eurasia will bring new peace along the Belt and Road, and Africa and the ME will see the greatest boom.

[Jan 30, 2020] An excellent question, "who benefits", clearly it's not everybody. "Profitable for whom", "rights for whom", "safe for whom", "justice for whom"

Jan 30, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Biloximarxkelly , Jan 30 2020 19:30 utc | 84

Human. Beings. Doing Earth Life. There is no separation in our species, except that, a disconnect occurred. Who, When, What, Where, and How did the disconnect become an all powerful power? Acting as though the species Human isn't. The tap root "dis~ease" (disconnect) must be eradicated/ healed/ rejoining our species into oneness, again. Top~bottom junk yard dogs is barbaric.

Bemildred , Jan 30 2020 20:01 utc | 89

Posted by: charliechan | Jan 30 2020 19:36 utc | 85

An excellent question, "who benefits", clearly it's not everybody. "Profitable for whom", "rights for whom", "safe for whom", "justice for whom". If the answer is not "everybody", it's bullshit. What's good for corporations is not what is good for people. We are infested with economic parasites who blather on about how they are taking "care" of us and giving us "choices".

[Jan 25, 2020] Rabobank What If... The Protectionists Are Right And The Free Traders Are Wrong by Michael Every

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Yet it took until 1860 for the UK to fully embrace free trade, and even then the unpalatable historical record is that during this 'golden age', the British: Destroyed the Indian textile industry to benefit their own cloth manufacturers; Started the Opium Wars to balance UK-China trade by selling China addictive drugs; Ignored the Irish Potato Famine and continued to allow Irish wheat exports; Forced Siam (Thailand) to open up its economy to trade with gunboats (as the US did with Japan); and Colonized much of Africa and Asia. ..."
"... Regardless, the first flowering of free trade collapsed back into nationalism and protectionism - bloodily so in 1914. Free trade was tried again from 1919 - but burned-out even more bloodily in the 1930s and 1940s. After WW2, most developed countries had moderately free trade - but most developing countries did not. We only started to re-embrace global free trade from the 1990s onwards when the Cold War ended – and here it is under stress again. In short, only around 100 years in a total of 5,000 years of civilization has seen real global free trade, it has failed twice already, and it is once again coming under pressure. ..."
"... Of course, this doesn't mean liked-minded groups of countries with similar-enough or sympathetic-enough economies and politics should avoid free trade: clearly for some states it can work out nicely - even if within the EU one could argue there are also underlying strains. However, it is a huge stretch to assume a one-size-fits-all free trade policy will always work best for all countries, as some would have it. That is a fairy tale. History shows it wasn't the case; national security concerns show it can never always be the case; and Ricardo argues this logically won't be the case. ..."
Jan 25, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

"When I used to read fairy tales, I fancied that kind of thing never happened, and now here I am in the middle of one!" (Alice in Wonderland, Chapter 4, The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill)

Submitted by Michael Every of Rabobank

2020 starts with markets feeling optimistic due to a US-China trade deal and a reworked NAFTA in the form of the USMCA. However, the tide towards protectionism may still be coming in, not going out.

The intellectual appeal of the basis for free trade, Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage, where Portugal specializes in wine, and the UK in cloth, is still clearly there. Moreover, trade has always been a beneficial and enriching part of human culture. Yet the fact is that for the majority of the last 5,000 years global trade has been highly-politicized and heavily-regulated . Indeed, global free-trade only began following the abolition of the UK Corn Laws in 1846, which reduced British agricultural tariffs, brought in European wheat and corn, and allowed the UK to maximize its comparative advantage in industry.

Yet it took until 1860 for the UK to fully embrace free trade, and even then the unpalatable historical record is that during this 'golden age', the British:

As we showed back in ' Currency and Wars ', after an initial embrace of free trade, the major European powers and Japan saw that their relative comparative advantage meant they remained at the bottom of the development ladder as agricultural producers, an area where prices were also being depressed by huge US output; meanwhile, the UK sold industrial goods, ran a huge trade surplus, and ruled the waves militarily. This was politically unsustainable even though the UK vigorously backed the intellectual concept of free trade given it was such a winner from it.

Regardless, the first flowering of free trade collapsed back into nationalism and protectionism - bloodily so in 1914. Free trade was tried again from 1919 - but burned-out even more bloodily in the 1930s and 1940s. After WW2, most developed countries had moderately free trade - but most developing countries did not. We only started to re-embrace global free trade from the 1990s onwards when the Cold War ended – and here it is under stress again. In short, only around 100 years in a total of 5,000 years of civilization has seen real global free trade, it has failed twice already, and it is once again coming under pressure.

What are we getting wrong? Perhaps that Ricardo's theory has major flaws that don't get included in our textbooks, as summarized in this overlooked quote

"It would undoubtedly be advantageous to the capitalists of England [that] the wine and cloth should both be made in Portugal [and that] the capital and labour of England employed in making cloth should be removed to Portugal for that purpose." Which is pretty much what happens today! However, Ricardo adds that this won't happen because "Most men of property [will be] satisfied with a low rate of profits in their own country, rather than seek a more advantageous employment for their wealth in foreign nations," which is simply not true at all! In other words, his premise is flawed in that:

As Ricardo's theory requires key conditions that are not met in reality most of the time, why are we surprised that most of reality fails to produce idealised free trade most of the time? Several past US presidents before Donald Trump made exactly that point. Munroe (1817-25) argued: " The conditions necessary for Free Trade's success - reciprocity and international peace - have never occurred and cannot be expected ". Grant (1869-77) noted "Within 200 years, when America has gotten out of protection all that it can offer, it too will adopt free trade".

Yet arguably we are better, not worse, off regardless of these sentiments – so hooray! How so? Well, did you know that Adam Smith, who we equate with free markets, and who created the term "mercantile system" to describe the national-protectionist policies opposed to it, argued the US should remain an agricultural producer and buy its industrial goods from the UK? It was Founding Father Alexander Hamilton who rejected this approach, and his "infant industry" policy of industrialization and infrastructure spending saw the US emerge as the world's leading economy instead. That was the same development model that, with tweaks, was then adopted by pre-WW1 Japan, France, and Germany to successfully rival the UK; and then post-WW2 by Japan (again) and South Korea; and then more recently by China, that key global growth driver. Would we really be better off if the US was still mainly growing cotton and wheat, China rice and apples, and the UK was making most of the world's consumer goods? Thank the lack of free trade if you think otherwise!

Yet look at the examples above and there is a further argument for more protectionism ahead. Ricardo assumes a benign global political environment for free trade . Yet what if the UK and Portugal are rivals or enemies? What if the choice is between steel and wine? You can't invade neighbours armed with wine as you can with steel! A large part of the trade tension between China and the US, just as between pre-WW1 Germany and the UK, is not about trade per se: for both sides, it is about who produces key inputs with national security implications - and hence is about relative power . This is why we hear US hawks underlining that they don't want to export their highest technology to China, or to specialize only in agricultural exports to it as China moves up the value-chain. It also helps underline why for most of the past 5,000 years trade has not been free. Indeed, this argument also holds true for the other claimed benefit of free trade: the cross-flow of ideas and technology. That is great for friends, but not for those less trusted.

Of course, this doesn't mean liked-minded groups of countries with similar-enough or sympathetic-enough economies and politics should avoid free trade: clearly for some states it can work out nicely - even if within the EU one could argue there are also underlying strains. However, it is a huge stretch to assume a one-size-fits-all free trade policy will always work best for all countries, as some would have it. That is a fairy tale. History shows it wasn't the case; national security concerns show it can never always be the case; and Ricardo argues this logically won't be the case.

Yet we need not despair. The track record also shows that global growth can continue even despite protectionism, and in some cases can benefit from it. That being said, should the US resort to more Hamiltonian policies versus everyone, not just China, then we are in for real financial market turbulence ahead given the role the US Dollar plays today compared to the role gold played for Smith and Ricardo! But that is a whole different fairy tale...

[Jan 19, 2020] Internal Boeing Emails Claim 777X Shares MAX Problem

Jan 19, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Tillyoudrop , 49 seconds ago link

Greed is good, greed is right, greed works.

Neochrome , 2 minutes ago link

sacrificing the safety of the planes to drive sales higher

Good thing we sentence people to life in jail for shoplifting couple of t-shirts, safety restored.

VodkaInKrakow , 12 minutes ago link

Financialization killed Boeing. All those MBA's who dreamed up outsourced supply-chains for the Dreamliner. Thought they were going to make a lot of money through savings.

Silly rabbit MBA's... if you don't spend money? You don't make money.

MBA graduates are f*cking useless retards trained in only one system: FAILURE.

What sank McDonald Douglas - bought out by Boeing? Is the same bullsh*t that is ruining Boeing. Boeing kept a lot of board member & management failures around from McDonald Douglas. Poisoned the Boeing culture.

Bounder , 14 minutes ago link

How many of you remember all the McDonald Douglas passenger jet success stories? There wasnt any - the whole mgmt of MD was to to strip out every possible cost and maximize very profit at the expense of the end customer and the government - and these are the guys who bought Boeing - and then made the first step of moving the headquarters to chicago. Guess which party gave lots and lots of government boondoggles to MD?

VodkaInKrakow , 10 minutes ago link

Damn. Wish I would have read your comment.

I had a Polish executive tell me how proud they were as they were about to hire an American executive who graduated with an MBA.

That is, until I asked him... "Have you checked what happened to the previous companies that he worked at?"

So the Polish executive did just that. This led to a ban on hiring any American MBA. Turns out, the American MBA worked at companies, all of which FAILED.

Though, somehow, despite a track record of working at failed companies? The American was still quite well off.

VodkaInKrakow , 1 minute ago link

Boeing is a symbol of American reliability that reflected hugely upon American manufacturing.

Well, WAS a symbol of American reliability. Which casts doubt upon American manufacturing.

Confidence in American manufacturing quality is in GRAVE DOUBT. Which leads to people seeking their products elsewhere.

The US business leadership consists of crapification.

fedslayer , 20 minutes ago link

Ok but what's the alternative?

If the parts meet specifications, get the lowest price.

If you don't, you will have executives drop-shipping parts. That's what i would do.

If you don't go with the lowest-price, executives like me will rob you blind.

east of eden , 16 minutes ago link

The ******* alternative you stupid ******* americunt is already in the air. They are labelled Airbus A220 and A230, otherwise known as Bombardier CS200 and CS300 and they are sold out 15 years in advance.

VodkaInKrakow , 4 minutes ago link

That was part of the problem. The parts from Boeing's foreign suppliers MET SPECIFICATIONS.

That is, until they went to assemble the Dreamliner. Where parts did not fit together.

You see, Boeing found out LONG, LONG AGO... that it was necessary to have manufacturing close to design. That way, when parts that "met specifications" did not fit? The engineers and machinists were there to correct deficiencies. Thus leading to reliable planes that were fit together very well. Only THEN could Boeing could assemble parts in other locations and mate them together.

This never happened with the Dreamliner. Quadrupled costs. The Dreamliner only exists thanks to taxpayer subsidies through the ExIm Bank. The Dreamliner WILL NEVER BE PROFITABLE. Accounting gimmicks make it appear as if Boeing makes money on the Dreamliner.

Bay Area Guy , 28 minutes ago link

Amazing that in less than a generation, we go from "if it's not Boeing, I'm not going" to wondering what the next Boeing screw-up will be and how many will be killed as a result.

The existing 777 is a fantastic plane and, other than pilot error (Asiana at SFO), a missile attack (Malaysia 17) and some unknown (but apparently not mechanical) issue (Malaysia 370), the 777 has been the safest plane around.

Ignorance is bliss , 1 hour ago link

American executives are incentivized to manipulate their company's stock. So they squeeze the workforce and cut everything to the bone. That's why Boeing, GM, and other household names are crashing.

According to economist William Lazonick, Boeing spent $43.1 billion on stock buybacks from 2013 to 2019, raising the company's stock price to a record high just 10 days before the second crash of its 737 MAX. Boeing CEO Muilenburg collects most of his pay through stock or compensation based on financial metrics. Yet the company reportedly avoided spending the estimated $7 billion it would have needed to engineer a safer plane. Less than 10 years after a public sector bailout, GM has spent $10.6 billion on stock buybacks, while engaging in layoffs and plant closures. That amounts to $221,308 for each of the 47,897 active UAW members currently on strike at GM. Walmart spent $9.2 billion on stock buybacks from August 2018 to July 2019, which, by my calculations, could have been used to give a raise of roughly $5/ hour to each of its 1 million hourly workers instead.

Illegal , 56 minutes ago link

Boeing should have been spending all its supposed profits on R&D. The other problem is the military side of the business is grossly corrupt. Remember the blowup over Air Force 1?

flyonmywall , 24 minutes ago link

Yep. Stock buybacks.

This is what happens when the Federal Reserve lets the financial cat out the bag, and pump up the stock market to the tune of 35-60 billion every 3 days, because some hedge funds "could" fail and topple the financial system.

If multiple entities are now too important and could topple the financial system if they failed, the Fed has massively screwed up.

aldol11 , 1 hour ago link

In 1991 a Boeing purchaser told me that he would give us a contract if we transferred 51% of the shares to a minority.

This is God's truth

He added that when he could not find minority businesses that would make components according to specifications, he would buy stuff from minority owned businesses and not use it but store it in warehouses around the country indefinitely. this in order to meet a quota of 20% purchases from minority owned businesses mandated by the Feds for all government suppliers.

I can just imagine how bad the discrimination is now.

Svastic , 1 hour ago link

Good grief. Look at Boeing's board of directors anyway.

https://www.boeing.com/company/general-info/corporate-governance.page

These are politically connected animals who feed from the trough of government pork barrel a.k.a taxpayer money. Exactly what has Nikki Haley achieved in her life, except for being a pathological liar?

These animals were responsible for our reckless fiscal deficits and looming debt bombs which will soon come crashing down. Kinda good metaphor for Boeing.

BidnessMan , 46 minutes ago link

All former CFOs and politicians ( civilian and military - only political types in the military get stars ). No evidence of any engineering expertise. Sad for a once-proud global leader.

moseybear , 1 hour ago link

In the "investor economy", there is no morality. EVERYTHING is "commoditized". Even you .. your DNA. A pricetag hovers over your head like a dialog bubble. Bean counters can incorporate your morbidity and mortality into mathematical equations showing investors why cutting costs and saving 0.01% is worthy of investment. While 911 was the paradigm shift for Rights ... the Lehman "crisis" was its own "911" -- the death of the labor economy ... and rise of the "investor economy". Nobody works, trading time for dollars. They "invest" Why work? Investors can kill without being held personally responsible. They only risk their fiat capital. You die.

[Jan 16, 2020] The US strategy is to control your economy in order to force you to sell your most profitable industrial sectors to US investors, to force you to invest in your industry only by borrowing from the United States.

Jan 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Daniel , Jan 16 2020 21:18 utc | 36

There is a lot of talk here and in comment sections at forums about how the American Empire is going to collapse soon due to its blunders and Russia and China gaining military superiority over it. This kind of talk is a type of magical thinking and has no basis in reality. The United States' most potent weapon isn't military, it's economic, and through it the US government controls the world. That weapon is the US Dollar and ever since Nixon took it off the gold standard it has been used to further the Empire's imperial hold on the global economy. The economist Michael Hudson in an article called A Note To China (link at bottom) explains how this works:
The U.S. strategy is to control your economy in order to force you to sell your most profitable industrial sectors to US investors, to force you to invest in your industry only by borrowing from the United States.

So the question is, how do China, Russia, Iran and other countries break free of this U.S. dollarization strategy?

There are a lot of articles on alt.media sites about how China and Russia are de-dollarizing their economies in order to resist, and eventually end, the US domination of the global economy that is preventing them from maintaining independent economic policies that benefit their citizens rather than global elites and US central bankers.

Russia managed to put a stop to overt US economic imperialism after the looting spree in the post-Soviet 1990s decimated Russia's ability to provide for its citizens and degraded the country's ability to maintain economic independence. But it still ultimately got caught in the neoliberal trap. Hudson again:

Yet Russia did not have enough foreign exchange to pay domestic ruble-wages or to pay for domestic goods and services. But neoliberal advisors convinced Russia to back all Ruble money or domestic currency credit it created by backing it with U.S. dollars. Obtaining these dollars involved paying enormous interest to the United States for this needless backing. There was no need for such backing. At the end of this road the United States convinced Russia to sell off its raw materials, its nickel mines, its electric utilities, its oil reserves, and ultimately tried to pry Crimea away from Russia.

China, Hudson argues, by accepting the advice of American and IMF/World Bank economic "experts" and through Chinese students schooled in American universities in American neoliberal theory is in great danger of falling into the same trap.

The U.S. has discovered that it does not have to militarily invade China. It does not have to conquer China. It does not have to use military weapons, because it has the intellectual weapon of financialization, convincing you that you need to do this in order to have a balanced economy. So, when China sends its students to the United States, especially when it sends central bankers and planners to the United States to study (and be recruited), they are told by the U.S. "Do as we say, not as we have done."

He concludes that:

The neoliberal plan is not to make you independent, and not to help you grow except to the extent that your growth will be paid to US investors or used to finance U.S. military spending around the world to encircle you and trying to destabilize you in Sichuan to try to pry China apart.

Look at what the United States has done in Russia, and at what the International Monetary Fund in Europe has done to Greece, Latvia and the Baltic states. It is a dress rehearsal for what U.S. diplomacy would like to do to you, if it can convince you to follow the neoliberal US economic policy of financialization and privatization.

De-dollarization is the alternative to privatization and financialization.

Loosening the Empire's hold on economic and geopolitical affairs and moving to a multipolar world order is a tough slog and the Empire will use everything it can to stop this from happening. But at the moment even countries under American sanctions and surrounded by its armies, with the possible exception of Iran, aren't really fighting back. That's a bitter pill for many to swallow but wishful thinking isn't going to change the world. After all, the new world has to be imagined before it can appear and right now it's still global capitalism all the way down.

Link to article: https://michael-hudson.com/2020/01/note-to-china/

The article in full, and Hudson's work generally, is well worth reading. He is one of only a few genuinely anti-imperialist economists and he is able to explain in layman's terms exactly how the US-centric global economy is a massive scam designed to benefit US empire at the rest of the world's expense.



Ian2 , Jan 16 2020 22:03 utc | 39

I was thinking about winston2's comment in the previous thread. A good way for China and Russia to respond is to go after those in the MIC; the CEO, lobbyists, financiers, etc... If they follow the money and take them out, I suspect we all would see a dramatic turn of events. No need to publicize their early retirement. Make it messy and public but not to the point of taking out innocents.
Patroklos , Jan 16 2020 22:20 utc | 40
@ Daniel | Jan 16 2020 21:18 utc | 36

Yes, Michael Hudson is excellent, mostly because he's rare economist, that is, one who begins from the premise that the 'economy' is a set of historically-situated and specific modes of exchange and forms of human relations. Aristotle located what we call the economy in ethics and politics; we follow the fairytales of neo-classical economics and global capital by imagining that it has some scientific autonomy from human social relations. Marx was right in following Aristotle's insight by critiquing the very idea of an autonomous economy, which the chief ideological fiction of late capitalism. Sam Chambers and Ellen Meiksens-Wood are also excellent critics of this obstacle to reimagining a viable alternative to the economy as it is propagated by the US neoliberal global apparatus.

Inkan1969 , Jan 16 2020 22:34 utc | 42 S , Jan 16 2020 22:37 utc | 43
@Daniel #36:
The United States' most potent weapon isn't military, it's economic, and through it the US government controls the world. That weapon is the US Dollar and ever since Nixon took it off the gold standard it has been used to further the Empire's imperial hold on the global economy.

But at the moment even countries under American sanctions and surrounded by its armies, with the possible exception of Iran, aren't really fighting back.

The dynamics of Russian reserves composition tell us that Russia is fighting back:

                    % Reserves
Date       Dollar  Euro  Yuan Other  Gold
30.06.2017   46.3  25.1   0.1  12.4  16.1
30.09.2017   46.2  23.9   1.0  12.2  16.7
31.12.2017   45.8  21.7   2.8  12.5  17.2
31.03.2018   43.7  22.2   5.0  11.9  17.2
30.06.2018   21.8  32.0  14.7  14.7  16.8
30.09.2018   22.6  32.1  14.4  14.3  16.6
31.12.2018   22.7  31.7  14.2  13.3  18.1
31.03.2019   23.6  30.3  14.2  13.7  18.2
30.06.2019   24.2  30.6  13.2  12.9  19.1
vk , Jan 16 2020 22:50 utc | 44
@ Posted by: Daniel | Jan 16 2020 21:18 utc | 36

Exclude me from this squad. I's always from the opinion that the USA would collapse slowly, i.e. degenerate/decay. I won't repeat my arguments again here so as to spare people who already know me the repetition.

However, consider this: when 2008 broke out, some people thought the USA would finally collapse. It didn't - in great part, because the USG also thought it could collapse, so it acted quickly and decisively. But it cost a lot: the USA fell from its "sole superpower" status, and, for the first time since 1929, the American people had to fell in the flesh the side effects of capitalism. It marked the end of the End of History, and the realization - mainly by Russia and China - that the Americans were not invincible and immortals. It may have marked the beginning of the multipolar era.

--//--

The world (bar China) never recovered from 2008. Indeed, world debt has grown to another record high:

Global debt hits a record high in 2019 at 322% of GDP, or $267trn

The world governments - specially the governments from the USA, Japan and Europe - absorbed private debt (through purchase of rotten papers and through QE) so the system could be saved. But this debt didn't disappear, instead, it became public debt. What's worse: private debt has already spiked up, and already is higher than pre-2008 levels. The Too Big To Fail philosophy of the central banks only bought them time.

--//--

Extending my previous link (from the previous Open Thread) about money laundering:

No tax and chill: Netflix's offshore network

The global TV subscription streaming company, Netflix made $1.2bn in profits in 2018, of which $430m was shifted into tax havens, reports Tax Watch UK.

The estimated revenue from UK subscribers was about $860m, but most of this was booked offshore in a tax haven Dutch subsidiary. Netflix claims its UK parent company got only $48m in revenue. When the costs of Netflix UK productions were put against this, Netflix was able to avoid paying any tax at all to the UK government. Indeed, it received tax reliefs for productions in the UK from the government.

Ghost Ship , Jan 16 2020 23:10 utc | 45
Why nobody should go to Moscow fuck with Russia.

A simple question requires a simple answer. Russia's defence expenditure in PPP terms is probably in excess of $180 billion per year which buys a shedload of "capable military equipment".

Bob , Jan 16 2020 23:26 utc | 46
8 On can only hope that the "Gharles De Gaulle" get destroyed and that the french military at least take some initiative to get rid of Macron.
karlof1 , Jan 16 2020 23:40 utc | 47
It should be noted that the point Hudson's trying to make in his "Note to China" is to warn China of what if faces by using historical examples. As S points out @43, Russia's Ruble is very sound and its dollar and T-Bill holdings are extremely low. The message to China and the entire SCO community is to cease supporting the Outlaw US Empire's military by supporting its balance of payments by buying T-Bills. The sooner the SCO community, or just the core nations, can produce a new currency for use in trade, the sooner a crisis can be created within the Outlaw US Empire--essentially by turning the "intellectual weapon of financialization" against the global rogue nation foe.

[Jan 08, 2020] Deification of questionable metrics is an objective phenomenon that we observe under neoliberalism

Jan 08, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

.

  1. likbez , January 8, 2020 4:00 am

    @run75441 January 7, 2020 5:45 pm

    In my golden days, I did manufacturing throughput analysis, cost modeled parts, and reviewed component and transportation distribution. I am curious. Forget all that neoliberal stuff . . .

    Ohh, those golden days 😉

    Measurement has its place and is the cornerstone of science, but it is not equal to pattern recognition. And when applied to social phenomena with their complexity it is more often a trap, rather then an insight.

    You need to understand that.

    Deification of questionable metrics is an objective phenomenon that we observe under neoliberalism.

    A classic example of deification of a questionable metric under neoliberalism is the "cult of GDP" ("If the GDP Is Up, Why Is America Down?") See , for example

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/nov/24/metrics-gdp-economic-performance-social-progress

    Also see a rather interesting albeit raw take on the same ("Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell." ) at:

    http://casinocapitalism.info/Skeptics/Financial_skeptic/Casino_capitalism/Number_racket/gdp_is_a_questionable_measure_of_economic_growth.shtml

    For example, many people discuss stagnation of GDP growth in Japan not understanding here we are talking about the country with shrinking population. And adjusted for this factor I am not sure that it not higher then in the USA (were it is grossly distorted by the cancerous growth of FIRE sector).

    So while comparing different years for a single country might make some limited sense, those who blindly compare GDP of different countries (even with PPP adjustment) IMHO belong to a modern category of economic charlatans. Kind of Lysenkoism, if you wish

    That tells you something about primitivism and pseudo-scientific nature of neoliberal economics.

    We also need to remember the "performance reviews travesty" which is such a clear illustration of "cult of measurement" abuses that it does not it even requires commentary. Google has abolished numerical ratings in April 2014.

    Recently I come across an interesting record of early application of it in AT&T at Brian W Kernighan book UNIX: A History and a Memoir at late 60th, early as 70th.

[Jan 02, 2020] The Purpose Of Life Is Not Happiness: It s Usefulness Happiness as an achievable goal is an illusion, but that doesn t mean happiness itself is not attainable by Darius Foroux

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... "The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well." ..."
"... Recently I read Not Fade Away by Laurence Shames and Peter Barton. It's about Peter Barton, the founder of Liberty Media, who shares his thoughts about dying from cancer. ..."
Aug 22, 2019 | getpocket.com

For the longest time, I believed that there's only one purpose of life: And that is to be happy. Right? Why else go through all the pain and hardship? It's to achieve happiness in some way. And I'm not the only person who believed that. In fact, if you look around you, most people are pursuing happiness in their lives.

That's why we collectively buy shit we don't need, go to bed with people we don't love, and try to work hard to get approval of people we don't like.

Why do we do these things? To be honest, I don't care what the exact reason is. I'm not a scientist. All I know is that it has something to do with history, culture, media, economy, psychology, politics, the information era, and you name it. The list is endless.

We are who are.

Let's just accept that. Most people love to analyze why people are not happy or don't live fulfilling lives. I don't necessarily care about the why .

I care more about how we can change.

Just a few short years ago, I did everything to chase happiness.

But at the end of the day, you're lying in your bed (alone or next to your spouse), and you think: "What's next in this endless pursuit of happiness?"

Well, I can tell you what's next: You, chasing something random that you believe makes you happy.

It's all a façade. A hoax. A story that's been made up.

Did Aristotle lie to us when he said:

"Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence."

I think we have to look at that quote from a different angle. Because when you read it, you think that happiness is the main goal. And that's kind of what the quote says as well.

But here's the thing: How do you achieve happiness?

Happiness can't be a goal in itself. Therefore, it's not something that's achievable. I believe that happiness is merely a byproduct of usefulness. When I talk about this concept with friends, family, and colleagues, I always find it difficult to put this into words. But I'll give it a try here. Most things we do in life are just activities and experiences.

Those things should make you happy, right? But they are not useful. You're not creating anything. You're just consuming or doing something. And that's great.

Don't get me wrong. I love to go on holiday, or go shopping sometimes. But to be honest, it's not what gives meaning to life.

What really makes me happy is when I'm useful. When I create something that others can use. Or even when I create something I can use.

For the longest time I foud it difficult to explain the concept of usefulness and happiness. But when I recently ran into a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, the dots connected.

Emerson says:

"The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well."

And I didn't get that before I became more conscious of what I'm doing with my life. And that always sounds heavy and all. But it's actually really simple.

It comes down to this: What are you DOING that's making a difference?

Did you do useful things in your lifetime? You don't have to change the world or anything. Just make it a little bit better than you were born.

If you don't know how, here are some ideas.

That's just some stuff I like to do. You can make up your own useful activities.

You see? It's not anything big. But when you do little useful things every day, it adds up to a life that is well lived. A life that mattered.

The last thing I want is to be on my deathbed and realize there's zero evidence that I ever existed.

Recently I read Not Fade Away by Laurence Shames and Peter Barton. It's about Peter Barton, the founder of Liberty Media, who shares his thoughts about dying from cancer.

It's a very powerful book and it will definitely bring tears to your eyes. In the book, he writes about how he lived his life and how he found his calling. He also went to business school, and this is what he thought of his fellow MBA candidates:

"Bottom line: they were extremely bright people who would never really anything, would never add much to society, would leave no legacy behind. I found this terribly sad, in the way that wasted potential is always sad."

You can say that about all of us. And after he realized that in his thirties, he founded a company that turned him into a multi-millionaire.

Another person who always makes himself useful is Casey Neistat . I've been following him for a year and a half now, and every time I watch his YouTube show , he's doing something.

He also talks about how he always wants to do and create something. He even has a tattoo on his forearm that says "Do More."

Most people would say, "why would you work more?" And then they turn on Netflix and watch back to back episodes of Daredevil.

A different mindset.

Being useful is a mindset. And like with any mindset, it starts with a decision. One day I woke up and thought to myself: What am I doing for this world? The answer was nothing.

And that same day I started writing. For you it can be painting, creating a product, helping elderly, or anything you feel like doing.

Don't take it too seriously. Don't overthink it. Just DO something that's useful. Anything.

Darius Foroux writes about productivity, habits, decision making, and personal finance. His ideas and work have been featured in TIME, NBC, Fast Company, Inc., Observer, and many more publications. Join his free weekly newsletter.

More from Darius Foroux

This article was originally published on October 3, 2016, by Darius Foroux, and is republished here with permission. Darius Foroux writes about productivity, habits, decision making, and personal finance.

Join his newsletter.


[Jan 01, 2020] "Maximizing shareholder is the holy grail of all capitalist enterprises" is self-destuctive and anti-social as it is equlent to local optimizatin of a complex social system

Jan 01, 2020 | www.unz.com

anarchyst , says: December 19, 2019 at 3:56 pm GMT

@Dutch Boy rk, employees need to make an adequate wage. Unfortunately, this premise does not exist in today's business climate.

Henry Ford openly criticized those of the "tribe" for manipulating wall street and banksters to their own advantage, and was roundly (and unjustly) criticized for pointing out the TRUTH.

Catholic priest, Father Coughlin did the same thing and was punished by the Catholic church, despite his popularity and exposing the TRUTH of the American economy and the outsider internationalists that ran it . . . and STILL run it.

Our race to the bottom will not be without consequences. A great realignment is necessary (and is coming) . .

[Dec 29, 2019] The Loss of Fair Play

Dec 27, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
This site regularly discusses the rise of neoliberalism and its consequences, such as rising inequality and lower labor bargaining rights. But it's also important to understand that these changes were not organic but were the result of a well-financed campaign to change the values of judges and society at large to be more business-friendly. But the sacrifice of fair dealing as a bedrock business and social principle has had large costs.

We've pointed out how lower trust has increased contracting costs: things that use to be done on a handshake or a simple letter agreement are now elaborately papered up. The fact that job candidates will now engage in ghosting, simply stopping to communicate with a recruiter rather than giving a ritually minimalistic sign off, is a testament to how impersonal hiring is now perceived to be, as well as often-abused workers engaging in some power tit for tat when they can.

But on a higher level, the idea of fair play was about self-regulation of conduct. Most people want to see themselves as morally upright, even if some have to go through awfully complicated rationalizations to believe that. But when most individuals lived in fairly stable social and business communities, they had reason to be concerned that bad conduct might catch up with them. It even happens to a small degree now.

Greg Lippmann, patient zero of toxic CDOs at Deutsche Bank, was unable to get his kids into fancy Manhattan private schools because his reputation preceded him. But the case examples for decades have gone overwhelmingly the other way. My belief is that a watershed event was the ability of Wall Street renegade, and later convicted felon Mike Milken, to rehabilitate himself spoke volumes as to the new normal of money trumping propriety.

Another aspect of the decline in the importance of fair dealing is the notion of the obligations of power, that individuals in a position of authority have a duty to

The abandonment of lofty-sounding principles like being fair has other costs. We've written about the concept of obliquity, how in complex systems, it's not possible to chart a simple path though them because it's impossible to understand it well enough to begin to do so. John Kay, who has made a study of the issue and eventually wrote a book about it , pointed out as an illustration that studies of similarly-sized companies in the same industry showed that ones that adopted nobler objectives did better in financial terms than ones that focused on maximizing shareholder value.

Our Brexit regulars wound up talking about these issues as part of a UK election post mortem. Hoisted from e-mail. First from David:

Around the time of the cold dawn of Friday 13 December, I began to ask myself why the whole grisly Brexit business had turned out so differently to what I, and many others, had expected. Now it's true that politics is unpredictable, but in 2015, any satirist worthy of their name would surely not have dared to imagine a sequence of events so bizarre as that which actually happened. And of course we can all be wrong, but I was basing my judgements not only on a lifetime of watching politicians at play, but also on the well-understood general principles of how politics, and especially international politics, operates.

The conclusion I came to involves conceding that, yes, politics is unpredictable, yes we all make wrong calls from time to time, but there's something more profound than that. Simply put, the traditional rules and procedures of British politics have stopped applying. It's not now possible to count on the British system for planning, forethought, rationality, strategy, tactical sense, political sense, common sense or any other kind of sense.

Consider. Cameron's referendum promise was an error of judgement, but it could have been handled very differently even so. I'd assumed that there would be some kind of threshold (55% perhaps), and some provision for a later stage of reflection and time-wasting.

I assumed that the government would be wary of the possible result, and try to de-dramatise the referendum campaign.

I assumed that Remain would do a reasonably competent job, underlining the positive benefits of EU membership.

I assumed that the result, if it was "leave" would be the beginning of a long process of reflection and discussion. A Royal Commission, or something, would be set up, with several years to work out what kind of future relationship there should be with the EU. Bits of the UK most affected (agriculture for example) would be consulted in depth. Discreet soundings would be made throughout Europe to see what our partners might accept. Only after all this was done would it be time to press the Art 50 button.

At that point, I assumed, the UK would be well prepared and, in the traditional manner, have working papers and draft treaty language to propose as soon as the negotiations started. All aspects (including NI) would have been at least thought of.

I assumed that the Cabinet would have agreed a fairly detailed set of objectives and negotiating guidelines to give to the UK delegation, fine-tuned in the light of first reactions from partners.

I assumed that the Cabinet would have agreed fallback positions and some idea of what the Tories, and Parliament, would accept.

Literally none of this was true.

Now we're not talking rocket-science here. Yes, the UK system was once pretty Rolls-Royce, but the kind of list I've given above would have seemed obvious to any middle-level functionary of any medium-sized country. Actually achieving all of it is not necessarily easy, but at least you can make a serious attempt: there are important stakes involved.

So what does this imply for the future?

Well, things are getting worse, not better. The Cabinet hasn't even begun to think yet about the future relationship. Some of them probably think Brexit is all over. I don't think there's any agreement even about the vaguest outlines of this future relationship, which means that it could be months before any political objectives emerge, if they ever do.

Which is to say that we are in for another year of Keystone Cops diplomacy, with the stakes if anything even greater.

From Clive:

Your thought-process sounds like my trains of thought. And when I think those sorts of thoughts, I think that I'm a remnant or a bygone era. Which I am.

What disappeared from that world was playing fair. Everyone played fair, or, at least, playing fair was a bedrock than you could drift away from, but, sooner or later, you fell back on it.

There will be a lot of casualties until our societies get to the stage where they can rediscover fairness. I bought a book from a second hand bookstore about the founding of the EEC, from 1978 I think the copyright said it was. When I read it, it's like it was written by some long-since vanished ancient civilisation. There were honourable intentions, strategies to deliver them, honest evaluations of emerging problems and, above all, a shared shouldering of responsibility to resolve them equitably. There was a sense of pride which leaps off the pages not at what had been achieved, but at what the prevailing culture intended to achieve. The book went on about the European ideal -- and didn't think it was in any danger of naivety.

That world has vanished -- and it's not coming back any time soon.

Brexit was a reaction to that. We can't fix it, think a majority of the U.K. population, and we're not even going to try. This is why Leave has progressed the way it has. The last thing the Leave majority (or maybe the smidge over 50% who think Leave is the best option) want to do is try to return to the failed common-cause based solutions. Johnson has no intention whatsoever of anything other than the lightest of lightweight FTAs -- or even no FTA. Anything more would be an anathema to the Thatcher-esque approach the Conservatives have on remaking UK society by severing all EU ties. This isn't really Thatcherism -- a common misconception. It's the sort of response which Thatcher would have devised, had she been placed in the same position, so is easily confused.

So this isn't some unplanned, accidental stumbling along to an unexpected surprise conclusion. It is, rather, a laser like focus on an intended destination.

Anyone expecting some great effort or thought-process to be applied by the U.K. to salvaging a relationship with the EU will be disappointed. In effect, they'd be asking for the U.K. to spend time and resources saving something that isn't, in the U.K.'s prevailing worldview, worth saving. The EU has been nothing but a bother, so the thinking goes, what's the point in trying to flog the dead horse that is the European ideal? What did it ever do for us, anyway..?

Brexit is just a here's-one-we-made-earlier example of a long-term global trend. If humanism -- or fairness as I reduced it to earlier -- makes a comeback, it might all be fixable. In the meantime, prepare for an increasingly atomised, separatist world.

Vlade's response:

I'd like to agree with you. Except I believe you're idealising it. The world was never playing fair – but it did cooperate more, because the US needed the Europe more in the cold war than it does now (when it's more of a rival, definitely in Trumps' eyes). Hell, the Soviet Block cooperated – except it didn't really, it did what the SU told it to. But it definitely didn't play fair. It did follow the rules, because the cost of breaking them was seen as too high (US was terrified I believe of France and Italy doing a deal with the SU). At least to me, following the rules and playing fair are distinct.

It's possible that the western society was more fair before 90s, I can't know. But again, I suspect that a lot of it was almost a self-protection against the SU and "communism", which disappeared in the 80s., but possibly started disappearing even in 70s (when you live with some danger for a while, you get oblivious to it).

I do think that the Brexit was a reaction to the word that was. But I disagree that it was really the EU specific reaction, as in "the EU is the source of all this". It played the part, but the underlying reasons were IMO much more varied than the EU – where I have doubts many of the people there really understood in any way, except as an externality you can rail against.

You get the crawing for the world-that-was in the US, and it doesn't have any EU. You get it in Russia, and it has the EU and the US, or, if you want, "the West" which puts conveniently both of them together.

The world as most people knew it is coming apart, and chances are it will get worse (and who knows it it ever gets better). In times like those, people want the world-that-was. Sometimes it can actually be a force for good, like after WW2 in "the west". Except even there it wasn't the world-that-was, but more of the world-we-want (on both sides of the iron curtain, there was a reason why the communist regimes were, at least initially, strongly supported by the populace). But wanting the world-that-was was also what brought Nazis and Fascist into the power.

And PlutoniumKun's:

A key casualty of neoliberalism was corporatism in its more benign form. It used to be that policy was made in the early hours in those proverbial smoke filled rooms where different groups at least made some type of attempt at compromise. This is still a feature of many countries and sectors, but I think its significant that the rot is most advanced in the neolib early adopters. It's not just the formal art of making compromises, it's the simple force of human contact when people in the same room together. It's unfortunate I think that the UK joined the EU just as it lost interest in being run by civil servants having endless meetings with sectoral interest groups. This is a core reason I think why the UK never really engaged with the EU, even if in the short term its engagement was quite effective (essentially bullying other countries into getting its way on issues like agriculture and competition policy).

But as we've discussed before, the long term destruction of the British civil service has in many ways been just as stupid, and just as damaging, as the long term destruction of Britain's manufacturing base. In both cases, the reasons have been ideological, not pragmatic.

Outsiders I think see it more clearly. I was travelling in Asia for a while and I was really surprised at how casually people would discuss what they see as the once admired anglosphere fall apart. Most Asians in my experience viewed Britain with a mixture of distrust and some awe and admiration. Now the commonest response seems to be a shrug of the shoulder or just plain schadenfreude.

This bodes particularly badly for the UK's trade negotiators when they start face to face meetings. They will be a little like late 19th Century Russia or Turkey -seen as a country who's only right to be at the top table is due to history, not present circumstances. The gradual retreat of the US from the eastern Pacific is pretty much seen as a done deal, everyone is frantically scrambling to ensure they are not caught on the hop. I'm a great believer that the true indicator of what a country sees as its future can be seen in what it spends its military budget on. Every major Asian country is spending serious cash on domestically sourced air superiority, long distance strike capability, in addition to A2AD for its brown water coasts.

There are many parts of the world where the 'old ways' are still pretty much intact – much of Europe still likes the EU and the way it works and vaguely corporatist/social democratic ways of doing things. Its easy to get carried away with stories of austerity and decay, but when I travel in Europe much of it (including countries like Spain and Portugal) look pretty good and no more or less full of discontent than they ever were. Much of northern Europe and individual countries like Portugal are doing very well indeed, and France has been defying the naysayers for as long as I've been reading English language economics papers and magazines. Its not clear to me that the foment in those countries – even in France – is much worse than its been in any given post war decade. There are cycles within cycles for these things. Ireland is, all things considered, booming economically and culturally content, austerity a long forgotten problem for most people.

What we are seeing is the postponed breakdown of the traditional centre left and rights. The wipeout of traditional left wing parties has been much commented upon, but less obvious is the breakdown of the old Christian Democrat/centre right tradition in much of Europe and other parts of the world in favour of a more libertarian/populist/nationalist form. It's just that the change has tended to be more within parties, while the left is always more fissiparous.

I think the left is slowly, very slowly, reformulating along lines closer to the older anarchy tradition, as seen by the rise of Green Parties – but it will take time before a more grassroots, collaborationist form of left wing politics really starts to make a difference. I think the libertarian/neolib wing of the right is being well and truly wiped out by the more ruthless nationalistic (I hate to use the F word) tradition. The transformation of the Tory party into an English nationalist party with a focus on serving its new working class/lower middle class base has been carried out with quite remarkable speed. The Tory business class will come to deeply regret its silence over the internal revolution that took place post the Brexit vote.

All this of course is within the context of slowing growth and a rapid climate deterioration. All bets are off in significant parts of the world as the fires rage. The only certainty about climate change is that there will be completely unforeseen negative impacts.


BillC , December 27, 2019 at 4:40 am

4th 'graph is truncated.

Massinissa , December 27, 2019 at 2:32 pm

The fourth paragraph is still incomplete at the time of this comment.

Ignacio , December 27, 2019 at 5:28 am

"Remove fairness from society and you create the conditions for revolt"

This is a quote from a march article by Ben Felton on fairness and brexit.

Ignacio , December 27, 2019 at 5:37 am

Sorry, I forgot to say that this was one of these think-provoking posts that I like so much.
In a loosing fairness world, what is the proper personal conduct one must follow? Go with the trend, or try to keep the old-style way as much as you can?

I would expect the whole spectrum of answers to this question. Fortunately, there will always be some people that put fairness forefront.

Eustache de Saint Pierre , December 27, 2019 at 7:07 am

" Fortunately, there will always be some people that put fairness forefront "

Yes Ignacio but I do hope youngsters don't become embittered by a world that is certainly a lot harsher for them than it was for me 40 odd years ago.

After a year of fighting to get money from those who have plenty of it, am now working on a transatlantic commission for a wealthy guy from Colorado, who has actually shocked me with his fairness – particularly as I was worried about the possible downsides of getting into such a far flung relationship.

He has actually kept my head above water while am waiting for a large long overdue payment from a public institution that I almost wish privatisation on for their lack of effort in addressing the situation.

I had a great Christmas trying to play Santa without the suit, with the best bit being the giant full facial smile received from one of those likely old beyond her years Roma women selling " The Big Issue " as she sat as if clinging to the wall in the pouring rain.

Winston Smith , December 27, 2019 at 7:41 am

I hope everyone at NC is having a fine Holiday can anyone post the link to some of the videos explaining neoliberalism posted at NC a short while ago? Can't seem to find them. Thanks

flora , December 27, 2019 at 7:49 am

This video is a pretty good intro.

https://larspsyll.wordpress.com/2019/12/19/neoliberalism-2/

Winston Smith , December 27, 2019 at 9:19 am

Yes that's it! Thanks.

Carla , December 27, 2019 at 2:54 pm

I've just tried, for the second time, to watch that video. For me, it is too quickly paced to be effective, or even informative -- and mind you, like other NC regulars, I KNOW this stuff. IMO, Nancy MacLean's "Democracy in Chains" does a much better job. Yes, it takes more than 26 minutes to read -- but I think understanding what has happened to the world over the last 75 to 80 years SHOULD take more than 26 minutes.

flora , December 27, 2019 at 3:27 pm

Yes, it is quick paced. I had to do the pause-rewind-replay this or that bit, pause-rewind-replay steps several times to get what was being said. Too much condensed info for me to take in all at once.

inode_buddha , December 27, 2019 at 8:14 am

Thank you, Yves. This post is about exactly the sort of thing that keeps me up at night. Frankly I spend a lot of time mourning for what our society used to be, and the notion that nobody has the backbone to do the right thing regardless.

I spend my share of time in conversation with many people in the upper/middle class, business leaders and Conservatives in particular. The entire thinking is, "Losers cry about being fair, winners go home and bang the Prom Queen". [paraphrased]

I always ask them if this is the kind of society they want to live in, and raise their kids in. It is lizard brain, writ large.

Anyway, I just want to say "thank you" for all your efforts as a beacon in the darkness. It is comforting to know that someone else also can see.

DHG , December 27, 2019 at 8:47 am

They dont have the backbone as we are deep into the "time of the end" where the love of the greater number will cool off, they will be lovers of money and themselves, and the list goes on. This system of things is all Satans and its on the verge of being extinguished forever.

Synoia , December 27, 2019 at 8:22 am

What disappeared from that world was playing fair. Everyone played fair, or, at least, playing fair was a bedrock than you could drift away from, but, sooner or later, you fell back on it.

Was it "fair" or was it Because the Soviet Block offered an alternative, purportedly Communism but what appears to me as totalitarianism. The alternative to the Communist block had to appear more appealing for the players to gain advantage in the great game.

With the Communist block gone, do we now just see the reality, and whatever accommodation was made to have the Western/US based system more appealing has now changed. How is the US' system viewed in Latin America? As "fair?"

When the British Empire controlled much of the world, was it "fair"? I was a part of that, and I could not describe it as "fair".

In the British Empire's demolition the US played a good part of being "fair," but it was "fair" only if it advanced the US' interests. An example of this is the forgiveness of War Loans. Germany, on the Soviet systems' door step had war debts forgiven. The UK, which paid a huge penalty for fighting the wars received no such favor for its "special relationship" with the US, coupled with a not-so-polite demand to dismantle the British Empire (aka Self Determination).

I perceive the world's governing system not in terms of left and right, but as the surface of a sphere, with the the horizontal axis being changing from "free" to "totalitarian" which can be approached from the political left or the right, and the vertical axis varying from market based (neoliberal) to centrally controlled, and any country is always being affected by words or threats to slide from one point on the sphere along some rhumbh line to another point.

Katniss Everdeen , December 27, 2019 at 8:25 am

The idea of "fairness" is one of those things that used to be a lot more clear in the past than it seems to be today. In general, the rules were the rules, and anyone who decided to play accepted them. A level and "fair" playing field, with the same rules for everyone, was what determined the "winner," and made "winning" legitimate.

But lately society has apparently decided to determine the "winners" first, and change the rules to match the desired outcome. That approach has wreaked havoc with the concept of "fairness."

Everybody gets a trophy for "participation." Eliminate the electoral college because hillary didn't win it. Pretend that biological males are actually women because that's how they "self-identify," and let them "compete" against biological women instead of those with the same chromosomes.

You can't have "fairness" without rules, and playing fast and loose with the rules means you can never tell who the cheaters are.

flora , December 27, 2019 at 8:51 am

Thanks for this post. It seems like many of the economic and democratic govt and even social rules once reliably enforced by laws and custom have become mere suggestions. The idea of rules or fair play that existed from, say, the 1930's – 1980's, in the US now seem entirely overtaken by a sort of modern, re-invigorated, social Darwinism, a once rightly discredited moral theory. imo.

shinola , December 27, 2019 at 11:15 am

Ah, yes – the self-licking ice cream cone of social Darwinism. Something to the effect of:

"I won the roll of the die because I deserve to. The fact that I used a loaded die & you didn't just proves that you are a born loser."

flora , December 27, 2019 at 1:08 pm

Everything old is new again, unfortunately. Neoliberalism is like the old social Darwinism dressed up in newer, erudite, clothes. Substitute today's words 'the market' for yesterday's words 'the strongest and fittest' and you have a pretty close 1:1 match. Misapplying Darwin's studies in biology to sociology.

The following text was written for school kids' history class. It's a quick read.

http://www.american-historama.org/1881-1913-maturation-era/social-darwinism.htm

shinola , December 27, 2019 at 3:16 pm

Thanks! Good overview of the subject.

Davenport , December 27, 2019 at 3:06 pm

And way before Darwinianism, at the dawn of capitalism, we had the Puritans.

According to their doctrine, if you were wealthy it was because you were favoured by God. If you weren't wealthy, God didn't intend you to be. In every era, the selfish and the greedy have a justification.

Nothing to do with the fact that you stitched up your fellow countrymen by enclosing common land and kicking those that had used it for generations off their means of self subsistence.

Frank Little , December 27, 2019 at 9:31 am

Your comment about the courts role in eroding a sense of fairness and, by extension, trust in the system called to mind the courts' role in maintaining the vast US prison system. The Supreme Court was recently considering a case filed from a pro se prisoner and Justice Sotomayor referenced a secret policy within the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals of denying all petitions filed by pro se prisoners for thirteen years without even so much as glancing at the briefs. The policy only came to light when an employee of the court referenced it in their note before committing suicide, apparently out of guilt.

The Fifth Circuit happens to include Louisiana, which has the highest incarceration rate of any state. Eventually the policy was reversed, but in practice I'm sure most filings from pro se petitioners in prison are met with a similar lack of interest and consideration. Perhaps there are good reasons to dismiss some filings quickly given the large backlogs and legal rumors and nonsense that makes it way through prisons.

However, the courts remain the last best hope for prisoners in trying to overturn wrongful convictions or address abuse at the hands of prison officials, at least for now. If the courts are happy to deny these people fair consideration for efficiency's sake unless they can secure outside counsel you can bet this abuse and neglect will continue. Maybe that sounds like a fine trade-off to those in power now, but the long-term effect is the erosion of trust and confidence in the system beyond just those directly affected.

Steve Ruis , December 27, 2019 at 9:42 am

Another consequence of the loss of fair play is a termination of the phenomenon that many workers, especially white collar workers, wanted to believe that their employer was trustworthy and, as a consequence, they trusted their employer at a higher level that is or was warranted. This trust was mis-placed to some extent but served as a bulwark when relationships between employee and employer became strained.

I wonder now, whether this is still the case. It seems not to be. Granted employers have earned their employees distrust or, at a bare minimum, lack of trust that formerly was granted (due to wishful thinking).

Pelham , December 27, 2019 at 10:44 am

I know exactly what you're talking about. Before I was laid off, I watched as many colleagues were shown the door. Oddly from a trust perspective, most of these people were vastly more talented and experienced than the employees who continued to keep their jobs. (Though, of course, from a strictly shareholder perspective, their high pay levels justified their dismissal.)

So from the canned employees' point of view, after years of awards, high praise and affirmation from management, the fact that they were being hustled out the door (sometimes literally) amounted to a profound betrayal of trust. And you could see it in the look of shock on many of their faces.

When my time came, I had absorbed the lesson and had completely detached my ego from my work, no longer taking any pride in what I did for a living. And I never will again as long as I'm working for someone else, even an employer who in the moment is kind and appreciative. They can turn on you in a heartbeat, and for the flimsiest of reasons.

James , December 27, 2019 at 3:47 pm

Or, we are all temporary employees, whether we know it or not.

Carolinian , December 27, 2019 at 9:46 am

Just to add in impeachment (prexit?), it once was considered a big deal that Nixon lied ("the coverup is worse than the crime"). And lying was at the center of the Clinton impeachment. But that's less true with the current dispute and perhaps that's because the impeachers themselves are shamelessly lying. The truth no longer seems to matter to anyone as long as a fairy tale "narrative" can be found to substitute. Perhaps it's not so much that the world has become more evil or selfish but that modern society has a serious reality problem. People still understand fairness but simply pretend they are being fair as long as nobody is challenging their narrative (see Amazon post today). And that may be because we are saturated with media that are all too willing to tell us what we want to hear.

Thank goodness for NC where some of us come–and for a long time–to find out the truth. Perhaps it's not just a coincidence that many of those who hang out here seem to be older–old enough to remember a time when truth mattered.

Off The Street , December 27, 2019 at 10:57 am

A little more patience, but not too much, is needed in awaiting the inevitable and continuing sunlight disinfectant applied to so many top level employees of the FBI, DOJ, their institutions and other malefactors in other branches. When, not if, that day arrives, when perp walks, trials, sentencing, mea culpas and much feckless deflection and gnashing of teeth occur, then will there be some perception of a symbolic return to the fairness that was once felt by much of the country. The preponderance of evidence, not punditry or spin, points to likely criminal convictions, ruined careers and discredited institutions. Repairing those institutions, and regaining public trust will be difficult given the inertia and FUD residues that have built up, but we do have a country at stake for all of us.

There are many other aspects of the justice system that need review and reform, as noted by other commenters. Without some highly publicized changes to those institutions to restore some initial and fundamental element of trust, then people both in the US and abroad will have doubts about the Rule of Law. Most people do not want to have a country where that statue of a blindfolded justice has to peek to see who is trying to tip the scales.

The Rev Kev , December 27, 2019 at 9:49 am

The main word used here is fairness but what we are really talking about is justice. It does not matter what country or culture that we are talking about, we all know when we are being treated fairly, or justly, and when we are suffering an injustice. An example? Two people have a meal together when one reaches over and helps themselves to the food on the other person's plate. That sort of unfairness can get you killed in some places. But likely that feeling of unfairness or injustice is universal.

And here is the crux of neoliberalism. It picks sinners and losers – deliberately – and abandons those they deem to be losers. But it does not do so on the basis of worth but on what it perceives to be worth which is why a college sports coach or administrator can earn millions while a professor earns peanuts. If anything, there is a strong streak of Social Darwinism to this as a justification to who these "winners" are. But most of us can think of people in business, sports, politics, etc. who in reality aren't worth two bits based on their performance.

The result for the UK? Those designated the losers who were abandoned, policed and watched by the winners saw their chance to strike back at them by picking Leave in the Brexit campaign. Life was not good for them and it was not going to get any better and so they decided to make a choice to deny the winners something that they valued – Remain. There is not a doubt in my mind that if these people had not been abandoned but had been able to share in the success of the country, then they too would have chosen Remain. You saw the same with the Trump vote in 2016 in the US. And this is only the first installment.

Rory , December 27, 2019 at 1:43 pm

I think the insight in your last paragraph, more than any other single factor, explains Donald Trump's electoral success in 2016 and identifies who his "base" really are.

upstater , December 27, 2019 at 10:16 am

The court system is perhaps the best example of how Fair Play has been degraded in the US.

For 20+ years we ran a small mom-and-pop consulting business for large companies, all Fortune-500. We did highly technical work with such efficiency and economies of scale providing industry standings and granular decision support, the companies themselves or McKinsey-types could never come close to doing a similar product. At least until an industry association, facilitated by a customer decided to steal misappropriate our intellectual property and produce a knock-off product. This happened even though we offered to collaborate with the industry association and had a "good" contract prohibiting stealing misappropriation.

Let it suffice to say that a mom-and-pop consulting business is at serious disadvantage as soon as you get a lawyer and file a lawsuit in federal court. The defense attorneys were given a blank check by their members and spent high 7 figure sums trying to pulverize us. By the time the thing was winding down, we were paying our attorneys our of our retirement account. I understand that in the UK and EU things are even more stacked against plaintiffs.

While 98% of federal civil cases and tossed out or settled, we ended up with a 3 week trial. The defendants team had 3 partners, an IT person and paralegal from a national firm in court at all times, plus 3 people working locally at rented office space. We had a mid-size regional firm represent us -- it was not cheap.

What strikes us most is the defendants seemed to be on home turf from the get-go with the court. There were YEARS of delays and all sorts of spurious filings and even a counterclaim based on fiction. This is standard procedure. Further, it was a highly technical case and we performed thousands of hours of work to refine the details for the lawyers and jury to understand. The defendants had unlimited resources to obfuscate and confuse, which they did masterfully. The majority of evidentiary ruling were in favor of the defendants. It was a huge upward struggle.

What is even worse is there is zero incentive for defendants not to lie mis-remember facts. Our lead attorney told us in 25 years of litigation practice he had never seen or heard of a sanction, much less prosecution, for perjury. In fact some of these liars were promoted and rewarded for their courtroom performance.

This whole process took 5 years. We "won"; the jury didn't buy the industry's arguments. But our business was destroyed, we've been blacklisted and any residual value a business with 20+ years of stable income was destroyed. The industry group pays their staff handsomely (its just added to your monthly bill) and while a few people were pushed aside, the main perps remain and are well compensated. They plod along with a garbage imitation, but the associations membership executives don't care -- there is no third party assessment of their performance -- they grade their own performance now.

Needless to say, we are tired, disgusted and cynical. But glad we won and that it is over. I would not do it again

Anonymous 2 , December 27, 2019 at 10:36 am

Very sorry to hear your story. That sucks.

It reminds me a bit of the Phone Hacking trial in the UK. Peter Jukes has a good book on it – Beyond Contempt. The mismatch between the resources available to the News International people and those available to the British Government was risible. As a result News International was effectively in control of the proceedings almost from start to finish, though the Crown was able to get Coulson as there was incriminating evidence against him in writing.

Yes there may well have been perjury as well and the police seemed as I recall to have been very slow to get to a farm where there were reports that major bundles of paper were going on to a bonfire. Hugh Grant, when he taped a journalist, was told that 20% of Metropolitan Police officers had been bribed by the press. Wonder if that had anything to do with it?

And yet many Britons still think that the UK is a pretty straight place ..so much more honest than those foreign countries.

Carolinian , December 27, 2019 at 1:40 pm

Maybe they should just keep out Murdoch.

Have recently watched series The Loudest Voice about Fox News. They make Murdoch look like an avuncular figure in order to heighten the villainy of Ailes but of course you don't let the organ grinder off the hook so as to blame the monkey. No Rupert no Fox News and perhaps no current version of the NYT that acts like Fox News.

Off The Street , December 27, 2019 at 3:59 pm

You can watch the thinly-disguised Succession for more of a look at the Murdochesque world.

Adam Eran , December 27, 2019 at 1:26 pm

Thanks for the summary of the courts' action as a millstone around the neck of honest commerce, and my sympathy for your loss.

It's worth remembering this kind of thing has consequences too. Fred Koch patented the basic refining processes to turn crude oil into useful products, then the Rockefellers' refineries essentially stole those processes (used them without paying patent royalties) in their refineries. Koch sued .and *lost*! A few years later it came out that the Rockefellers bribed the judge and Koch re-sued and won but at what cost? And ever after Koch and his offspring came after the government whose courts were so corrupt.

The lament about declining standards is as old as the Pharaohs–read Howard Zinn's People's History of the U.S. which exposes the New World's history of venality–but recent events seem to be sounding the depths of the most profound dishonesty. It's gotten bad enough that political economist Mark Blythe talks about the positive impact a disaster like the Climate catastrophe would have in breaking up this cabal of evil.

Fíréan , December 27, 2019 at 2:16 pm

Your story reminds me of Florida inventor Steve Morton's case against copyright theft being closed down and covered up by then-FBI Director Mueller and then-Attorney General Eric Holder. Definitely a good example of unfairness at the top of the system.

For further information on Morton's case and story a good search engine for "Steve Morton" , " Fincantieri ", " Mueller", " Holder" , "Comey" , ought bring up an outlet covering said situation.

Otherwise, for starters, i offer you a link : https://truepundit.com/mueller-holder-shut-down-fbi-investigation-of-stolen-u-s-stealth-defense-technology-implicating-lockheed-martin-while-comey-was-lockheeds-top-lawyer/

Pleased to read that You "won" Your case.

Robert Gray , December 27, 2019 at 10:27 am

from PK:

> The gradual retreat of the US from the eastern Pacific is pretty much seen as a done deal,
> everyone is frantically scrambling to ensure they are not caught on the hop.

Not sure I understand this. Eastern Pacific? What retreat?

Off The Street , December 27, 2019 at 4:01 pm

PK likely meant western Pacific .
Dragon territory, East Asia, still at war with Oceania.

Wukchumni , December 27, 2019 at 10:34 am

Wall*Street is often described as a casino, but in reality most every house of chance has a security exchange commission of it's own, making sure that there is no cheating, and fair play on both sides of the green felt jungle, and should a dealer in it's employ be caught in an act of larceny, they'll be arrested toot suite.

When Wall*Street was paid off on losing wagers a dozen years ago, fair play lost it's luster and has only become more meaningless in it's absence.

Summer , December 27, 2019 at 10:36 am

Neoliberalism is insidious.
So now, that austerity from the EZ and the like minded hasn't been all that bad?
Absolutely insidious!

Palinurus , December 27, 2019 at 10:40 am

"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. . . . corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."
-- U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864
(letter to Col. William F. Elkins)

"These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert to fleece the people, and now that they have got into a quarrel with themselves, we are called upon to appropriate the people's money to settle the quarrel."
speech to Illinois legislature, Jan. 1837.

Jeremy Grimm , December 27, 2019 at 1:00 pm

I find your Lincoln quotes curious. I thought Lincoln that after splitting wood for rail supports Lincoln made his name and money as a lawyer arguing cases for the large rail road corporations. If so, the quote you provided seems much like Eisenhower's speech on the Military Industrial Complex.

ambrit , December 27, 2019 at 1:18 pm

"Lincoln made his name and money as a lawyer "
How better to learn about the 'real' machinations of the ruling elites? What Lincoln did with that 'education' was what made him famous, not the education itself.

Trent , December 27, 2019 at 3:07 pm

Something tells me the A Lincoln we've been taught about prob wasn't the real A Lincoln

Vegetius , December 27, 2019 at 10:42 am

Societal trust is impossible under conditions of imposed Multiculturalism. The sooner progressives figure this out, the better off we will all be.

flora , December 27, 2019 at 11:12 am

The word 'multiculturalism' has a range of meanings, both sociological and political. You need clearly define your meaning of the word. As it is, your assertion is vague, imo.

ambrit , December 27, 2019 at 11:15 am

I imagine that the operative word in his or her comment is "imposed." That implies an 'authority' that can dictate to everyone else. Such a state of affairs would be the opposite of what I grew up imagining "progressivism" was.

flora , December 27, 2019 at 11:24 am

Yes. "Imposed". I mistook the 'who' for the 'what'. Thanks.

Summer , December 27, 2019 at 12:06 pm

What are the conditions imposed?
Because as much of a problem as people have with the idea of "cancel culture" there still is the flip side that people aren't going to continue to let themselves be treated like garbage.

ambrit , December 27, 2019 at 12:55 pm

The ultimate 'problem' in all this is the perennial one of who controls the resources, or, as Marx and Engels put it, the means of production.
People will be "treated like garbage" for as long as 'garbage' is all that is available to them. In an extremely unequal society, as the modern Wast has evolved into, once some threshold of resource 'ownership' is crossed, the only feasible method of redressing the balance seems to be outright revolt and warfare. Except for the example of Cincinnatus in the Roman Republic period, (See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucius_Quinctius_Cincinnatus ) who knows of a time when concentrated power ever voluntarily gave up any significant portion of their powers?
Inequality is inherently unfair.

JTMcPhee , December 27, 2019 at 1:47 pm

People do interesting and sometimes beautiful things with garbage:

"Landfill Harmonic: Paraguay's Recycled Orchestra," https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/witness/2019/12/landfill-harmonic-paraguay-recycled-orchestra-191225143800657.html

Summer , December 27, 2019 at 4:02 pm

The previously "imposed upon" know all about it

ambrit , December 27, 2019 at 10:49 am

With the site admin's forbearance.
We encountered the 'ground level' fruits of the loss of the ethos of fairness yesterday.
Phyl was told to see the "Pain Management Practice," an independent section of the local medical apparat in order to 'manage' her use of the pain meds she was prescribed for her amputation. So far, so good. The appointment is for two o'clock. Show up at one thirty o'clock to fill out paperwork. Due to a tight schedule and other impediments, we show up at the office at a quarter to two o'clock. The receptionist nurses, who sit at a desk behind an armoured glass partition, tell us that we are late and must reschedule the appointment for two weeks later. At which time, Phyllis begins to argue. This is normal behaviour with her when confronted with 'unfair' conditions. One of the receptionists relents somewhat and goes back into the back room and consults with someone.
She returns and declares; "No exceptions are allowed. You are late and that is that."
Phyl replies: "You can see my problem. Are you going to be rigid?"
Receptionist; "The best I can do for you is two weeks off."
Phyl; "Is there anything sooner?"
Receptionist; "Do you want the appointment or not? We have work to do here!"
Me, sotto voice to Phyl; "We will get nowhere with this bunch. Take the next appointment and we'll see what we can do later."
Phyl; "All right."
As we left the waiting room, one of the two patients sitting there was visibly trying not to laugh. The other patient got up and helped open the large glass door so I could maneuver the wheelchair out into the hallway.
The point of all this, (besides an apologetically admitted venting on my part,) is that this medical establishment has opted for a rigid and formalized rules based imposition of authority in place of any sort of fairness or flexibility in dealing with their clients. (I use the word client in it's original [?] Roman sense.) Speaking with several of our neighbors yesterday I have discovered that this sort of rigidity in scheduling is becoming more common around here.
One of the main features of fairness, at the least in medical situations is the belief that the patients deserve some leeway in their treatment at the hands of 'officials.' This new experience of ours highlights the emerging ethos that the system is paramount now. The patients are now there for the convenience of the providers, and their stockholders. Fairness has now officially been banned.
I was going to make a remark about this system change being an example of late stage capitalism, but just realized that formalism and inflexibility are hallmarks of late stage anything.
'Fairness,' however one defines it is a function of flexibility. 'Fairness' shows the desire and ability to think out complex situations and move to balanced outcomes. All 'actors' in the social situation are considered and dealt with in some semblance of a socially supportive ethos. Communitarian at root, this has been, as is mentioned several times above, replaced by an atomistic and minimalist pseudo philosophy. The foregoing because a strategy of adherence to a rigid and simplistic set of rules in social situations is a rejection of thought and reflection. "I was just following orders." Does that sound familiar?
Alas, I fear that "things" are going to get much worse in the times ahead, for everyone.
Thanks for your indulgence.

Elizabeth , December 27, 2019 at 5:09 pm

Ambrit, I am so sorry you and Phyl have to deal with humans utterly lacking in compassion and human decency. If think if this happened to me, I would argued forcefully – screamed- which would have probably had me removed from the office or banished from the practice. This kind of treatment from people who are dealing with patients who need help just makes my blood boil. Unfortunately, I think this kind of treatment towards others is a side effect of living in an unfair/unjust society. Many people's hearts become bitter and hardened ( like I'm suffering and I don't care if you suffer too). The dark world we live in now is cold hearted and full of tears. My heart goes out to you and Phyl and all others who are suffering because of this.

ambrit , December 27, 2019 at 5:36 pm

Thanks Elizabeth. The Home Health nurse this morning didn't want to believe our tale. She finally suggested that we complain directly to the top level of the Medical Organization that this practice is a part of. I'm going to try that Monday. As a side note, the Physical Therapist this afternoon mentioned that the nurses are stymied because absolutely no pain med scrips are written on Fridays. (I found it hard to credit, but reflection seemed to prove her correct.) This is evidently not just a function of the doctors wanting Fridays off, but a conscious policy on the part of the local medical establishment. [Your only recourse would be to admit yourself in to the Emergency Room I was told. Hmmm . what's the most expensive part of a Hospital practice? You guessed it!]
My favourite aspect of the "visit" to the Pain Management Office was the presence of the armoured glass partition between the Lobby and the receptionist's desk. This assumes that someone in the physical office planning stage anticipated a high potential for violence in that office. {I wonder why?}
I was tempted to let Phyl scream her head off, but remembered the presence of a uniformed 'Security Person' in the building lobby. The two behind the glass partition looked like, and acted like the sort who would love to smack an unruly 'client' down. /Bored and smug would be how I summed up how the two women appeared.\
Luckily, Phyl is already tapering off her drugs usage, so, there is a small cushion with which to maneuver around this unholy edifice of Mammon.

katiebird , December 27, 2019 at 6:02 pm

I wonder if Phyllis's doctor could refer her to another clinic, one a little more compassionate to people in pain? (Couldn't they let you finish the paperwork while you wait in that little room for the always late doctor?)

This story has me enraged for Phyllis and also you. I am so sorry. Two weeks. The audacity. Making her wait even a day! (I am almost crying in frustration. So very sorry)

Anarcissie , December 27, 2019 at 11:57 am

While I definitely agree that ruling classes have deteriorated remarkably over the last few decades, I don't think the old days were very fair either. Fairness is of interest -- in fact, it's crucially important -- in a society composed of people who are more or less equal and autonomous. It's a way to get along without a lot of conflict and risk. In an highly unequal society, like those of the US and the UK, it's much less valuable than access to the levers of power. You don't have to get along with those you can crush or brush aside. As the scene here in the US continues to deteriorate, I expect concepts like fairness and justice to seem more and more quaint to the movers and shakers and fixers, until finally the general system breaks down completely. It's anybody's guess what will succeed that.

JimTan , December 27, 2019 at 12:59 pm

I think this loss of fair play is partly because many have realized that fortunes can be made simply by gaining exceptions to established rules and laws. There have always been exceptions, here and there, but our situation now is there are exceptions to established rules everywhere. Companies can now simply lobby for some exclusive benefit or to ignore some law that everyone else must follow, and then collect a risk free guaranteed profit for essentially doing nothing.

Many large firms use these exceptions in the form of legal protections not available to their competitors to both attain and maintain their competitive advantage. These protections include ignoring existing laws, profiting from illegal businesses where profits exceed fines, and profiting from exclusive U.S. government subsidies not available to competitors. The banking and drug industry are notorious for routinely engaging in illegal practices that generate profits which far exceed the fines that regulators impose when these firms are caught. Preferential government subsidies that benefit a single company in an industry are now also acceptable business strategy as companies like Amazon can obtain confidential agreements with the U.S. Post office to ship packages for at least half of what UPS and FedEx would charge for the same deliveries. A subsidy like this contributes to the many reasons that its competitors are driven into bankruptcy, and probably explains why Amazon's retail business loses money everywhere except in the U.S.

Many small firms, especially tech unicorns in their early days, use these exceptions in the same way. Amazon started as a small company that would sell mail-order books in a way that allowed it to avoid sales tax. Early Uber investors were probably attracted by a belief that government will look the other way while it made cab rides cheaper by ignoring local taxi regulation, then transferring all its business costs to its drivers, and then collecting a substantial fee for each of taxi fare. AirBnB started as a small company whose rent would also ignore local hotel regulations, zoning laws, health laws to prevent public health hazards, and fire safety codes. Small drug companies like Turing Pharmaceuticals can simply acquire patents for drugs with no substitute and then raise prices by 5,456%.

The problem is that too many of these risk free 'rent seeking' opportunities can overwhelm an economy filled with corporations who are all chasing the highest risk adjusted rate of return. When there are too many of these rent seeking opportunities in an economy then its companies will select only these risk-less rent seeking strategies, while abandoning all riskier but socially productive profit strategies like the pursuit of new breakthroughs, product innovations, design quality, superior service, and product reliability. A related negative outcome which you hint at with 'fair play' is most of these rents offer particular exclusions from laws designed to protect society like those prohibiting consumer or investor fraud, prohibiting worker exploitation, ensuring consumer safety, and maintaining financial market stability.

So an economy with systemic rent seeking often incentivizes its corporations to abandon their socially productive profit strategies, and then replace them with risk-less 'rent' strategies where profit comes from ignoring laws that protect our society from fraud, exploitation, and economic disruption.

smoker , December 27, 2019 at 1:05 pm

Thanks for this.

Jeff Bezos was the first thing that popped into my mind. The Technocracy –with no room for humanity, where the masses serve as hosts for 24/7 parasites – the second.

In this neck of the woods,Silicon Valley, the infestation of unfairness reflects itself everywhere, particularly in the homelessness. Cars, the way they're driven, and how they are judged, are also a perfect example. You can see it in very pricey new model cars with dangerously blinding LED lights as the norm (which an insane National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has yet to address after over a decade of complaints); so called demon light headlight adaptations which make the car appear like a predatory night stalker in one's rearview mirror; and disturbing personalized license plates, saw one the other day that said MALWARE. And then there's the judgment by vehicle. After having lived where I am for over a decade, was asked by a new neighbor, in a brand new vehicle, if I needed directions, as if I was lost, when I stopped to speak with another neighbor in my not clunker looking, almost 20 year old car. It cut me to the bone, as words can.

Small businesses are increasingly losing their shirts and being shut down due to amoral commercial property owners; Amazon; Google, Facebook and Apple Campuses ™; and corrupt mayors and city council members' neighborhood planning ™.

The Silicon Valley CalTrain commuter line just had its 16th pedestrian fatality of the year in early December (a thirty two year old female youth therapist), and a hospitalized, attempted 17th fatality, 9 days later; despite ever increasing rail vigilance. Meanwhile the Local News™ keeps alluding to track improvements versus addressing the now tangible despair. It's all gut rending and no surprise that Santa Clara County led California in negative migration between 2018 – 2019. Unfortunately many were left with no means to even leave, and/or couldn't leave their loved ones who needed them..

The age old term walking in another person's shoes – implying looking beyond oneself, treating others fairly, and not taking ones luck in life as an indicator that they're worthier people – seems utterly lost on many who are doing well and wish the millions of 'losers' would disappear from their sight.

Off The Street , December 27, 2019 at 1:48 pm

Who will be the new Wright Patman?
Who will be the new Sal Pecora?
Prior generations provided guidance on how to identify and call out unfairness, and get meaningful results, for the benefit of the citizenry.

Summer , December 27, 2019 at 1:54 pm

Fair play won't be arriving much less "coming back."
Talk to the "algorithm."

Louis Fyne , December 27, 2019 at 1:55 pm

With absolutely 100% respect to the original posters and their points, I'd side w/Vlade and argue that there are some serious rose-tinted glasses being worn.

Yes, (in my opinion) there was an era of "fair play" .but this was a flash-in-the-pan consequence of WWII. As rightfully the bottom 95% earned their just desserts after years of sacrifice for their country and rescuing the elites from the literal existential threat of authoritarianism.

Now we're merely reverting to the time immemorial-style of 'every person for themselves' social ruthlessness. sadly.

JTMcPhee , December 27, 2019 at 5:03 pm

As I recall, the elites were in no danger from authoritarianism in the 1900s. Au contraire, they profited at every turn from the acts of authoritarianism. Prescott Bush and other business leaders (sic) did business with the Nazis and Fascists, and even with the Japanese imperium. These days, platforms and algorithms setvup by the Elites of this time loot and pollute and accelerate the many races to the bottom.

Good thing for that "life force" that when the last Elite human (possibly the last human of any sort) dies, there will be other species already carving out niches of precedence and preference It hurts, a little, to know we won't be missed

Susan the Other , December 27, 2019 at 2:38 pm

This post is a tad deceptive. It sounds like a review of neoliberalism and all that has happened since c. 1980 when in fact it is now The Question. What is fair play/ What is/was fair play and how do we create it going forward. Now that there can be no growth, very little manufacturing and no labor unions as we once knew them. Automation and an elite class of oligarchs and their functionaries are taking over. States/Nations still have their constitutions but they are creating internal conflict as the old ways disappear back into what Varoufakis calls a new feudalism. Like upstart above, however, I have only experienced fair play in the courts, never in economic situations. But then I'm old, b. 1946, and female. So I'm keeping an open mind as best I can, like the above clips from David, Clive, Vlade and PK. One thing to add from the FR24 Debate on good regulation – it was pointed out by one panelist that regulations are stricter in the EU for going into business, but on a "horizontal" basis. Whereas it is easy to go into Bz in the US, all you need are vertical connections. I took this to describe the fact that many corporations are monopolies. But connections are few and far between. And lurking in the wings, as we all know, is climate change. The new discussion about societal collapse has started. Now would be an excellent time to interject the concept of fair play. I am optimistic because there is a basic, rock solid strength in fair play that might serve to make it a survivor.

Oregoncharles , December 27, 2019 at 2:40 pm

I've mentioned before that my father, an investment manager who retired around the time Yves started, made a similar point prospectively. Background: he ran a smallish private firm in Indiana, but it gave him rather wide exposure, including in a large industrial firm, plus direct investments, besides the stock market.. Plus, my mother inherited a (then) good-sized farm that was operated by a tenant.

His comment was that a culture of honesty saved a lot of money, otherwise spent on guarding your interests, watching the watchers, hiring lawyers, etc. His firm shied away from investing in anything with a hint of shadiness.

This is merely confirmatory of Yves' point, but from a different point of view and from before the cultural changes (aka crapification) her post goes over.

And come to think, a younger relative who is a corporate lawyer told us, from her contemporary experience, that handshake agreements are NOT a good idea. They tend to lead to her getting involved, and she ain't cheap, nor are the consequences predictable.

I would add that I think human institutions, like human beings, have a life cycle, so to a great extent the vagaries of, say, Brexit are a result of predictable senescence. Not that you want to experience the down side, as we seem to be doing.

Off The Street , December 27, 2019 at 4:05 pm

Your word is your bond.
Another old-fashioned saying that might yet make a comeback, starting with some undergrad research paper on forgotten sayings of, say, the mid-20th century.

Chris , December 27, 2019 at 2:45 pm

On the opening mention of recruiters and employees ghosting I'd like to add a few thoughts of how different things are in that regard.

We're now all supposed to be part of some social network or another because we need to get our names out there and grow our networks. Those services then turn around and pelt you with emails and phone calls non-stop if you're whatever flavor of the moment they deem desirable. They also don't give you the time of day if they decide you're not. And those services have tried to evolve new tools to prevent you turning them away or ignoring them. Emails with "decision required" and polls and notices that seem to imply if you don't respond they'll kick you off. That's problem since any boss can fire you for any reason at any time. And they definitely mention that you're not being polite or fair by not responding to an email conversation you didn't initiate for a job position you didn't inquire about on a service you didn't ask them to use.

I have a job I like so I was really annoyed that one recruiter on Indeed couldn't take no for an answer and demanded I tell them why I wasn't going to permit them to sell my resume to a potential job opening. I don't understand why we're supposed to be at everyone else's beck and call and they don't have to respond to even polite overtures from us.

So it's more than just fair play seems to be missing in our society right now. It's that whatever echoes of fairness exist are used to abuse the people who believe in them. They steal your time, your attention, your professional connections, anything they can. Then they complain about you not responding. That's another facet of this that I really don't like.

Mikerw0 , December 27, 2019 at 3:52 pm

There is so much one can say on this topic. Unfortunately, I am increasingly pessimistic and of the view that nothing will really change until we suffer a true calamity as was the case in the past.

An oversimplifying example. My father was a combat veteran from the Korean War, having been just a little young to serve in WWII. There was a clear sense of inter-relationship in this generation. They experienced the depths of the depression and the massive loss of life and destruction of WWII. My dad eventually became the COO of one of the most powerful financial services firms in the US. His generation of leaders would never have considered the (1) levels of compensation relative employees as appropriate, (2) becoming predators on their customers, they prized their customer relationships, (3) using the firms balance sheet to gamble at the casino in a heads they win, tails you lose game. It simply wasn't in their DNA. They had suffered too much to jeopardize shared prosperity and general welfare.

When my father took early retirement he had a unique resume and was offered very serious positions of prestige and power, with high levels of compensation. He turned them all down, as did his piers, as they violated an inherent code of ethics and fairness that they didn't need to articulate it was just their from their shared sacrifices earlier in life.

In my experiences on Wall Street, both as a banker and as a CFO of firms, this would be anathema.

My only source of hope is that our daughter's generation, she is 27, sees this for what it is. They fully understand that our society is failing and eschew the loss of fairness on multiple levels. They consciously avoid politics and participation, not out of laziness, but because they see our leaders (both political and business) as fundamentally corrupt. She and her friends have no interest in voting for a neo-liberal (e.g., Biden, Buttagieg, etc.) who is just better behaved than Trump. They are well educated, have gone to excellent schools, and want something more from life than a high paying Wall Street job.

We see so much goodness in them, yet worry that it will take a global war or financial collapse leading to depression to reset our society.

Off The Street , December 27, 2019 at 4:13 pm

Reagan pocketed a huge, at the time, $2,000,000 speaking fee. That provided the imprimatur that cashing in was okey-dokey. Later grifters looked on with amusement pondering the blood, sweat, toil and tears of others that led to their own book and speaking shakedown deals with multiples of that fee in laundered money.

Jeremy Grimm , December 27, 2019 at 5:21 pm

Two assertions in this post caught my eye:
Firms "that adopted nobler objectives did better in financial terms than ones that focused on maximizing shareholder value."

I believe firms that adopted nobler objectives -- may -- have done better over the long-term than firms that focused on maximizing shareholder value but next I wonder about how well the managers did in the short-term [perhaps even the long-term after correcting for the differences in the qualities and abilities of the management] in each type of firm. I suppose mediocre managers did very much better when "focused on maximizing shareholder value". Before engaging the relatively long read of the linked post discussing details of the study which the main post refers to -- I also wonder how the referenced study deals with immoral acts which are not quite clearly immoral -- like outsourcing. Over the long-run outsourcing is bad for a country, bad for the resilience of a firm, and bad for the firm over the long-run before we are dead. However, I believe many of the firms that "adopted nobler objectives" -- and remained steadfast to them -- were driven out of business by price competition.

The second assertion:
"Another aspect of the decline in the importance of fair dealing is the notion of the obligations of power, [w]hat individuals in a position of authority have a duty to."

In regard to this assertion, I immediately recalled Machiavelli's "the Prince". Many of the ideas of noblesse oblige were anchored in the power and authority of the Catholic [Universal] Church. Though in conflict with a God Chosen Monarch -- noblesse oblige operated to attach similar moral authority to the Aristocratic Classes. In my Youth I thought of Machiavelli as completely unmoral. Later when I learned more about his life and actions I realized his "Prince" unveiled the unmoral reality behind the operations of monarchical and aristocratic actions. Neoliberalism has succeeded in stripping all moral coverings from power and through the efforts of an extremely well-funded Thought-Collective and propaganda machine it has divorced thinking about morality from power -- except as a thin fig-leaf. Most significantly it has exalted Power and its co-worker Wealth to positions of 'moral goodness'. Fair dealing in the Neoliberal moral universe is a slogan without content to fool those unaware and/or unwilling to 'see'.

I also feel much of the nostalgia for noblesse oblige and critique of the Neoliberal Age may originate from the residual conflicts and cross-envies between 'Old'-money and 'New'-money. Old-money has already forgotten the immoral origins of its wealth.

Much of this post is related to Brexit -- something I avoided study of or comment upon and still little understand. I excuse myself as someone squeamish about traffic accidents and train wrecks though powerful feelings of sadness overwhelm me.

The heart of this post resides in the ancient question of the tie between morality and its enforcement -- the question for how you would act given a "cloak of invisibility" which is a prop for posing concrete questions about how you might act without the constraints of dealing with any of the moral consequences or implications of your acts. I may be a fool -- but I believe most all of Humankind believes in Justice [and acts Justly] -- the Justice which I believe The Rev Kev equates to 'fairness' -- which is a much weaker word. But I also believe there are a certain number of individuals who do not care about Justice and the Neoliberal Thought Collective has somehow transformed this indifference ['disregard' -- 'disdain for'] Justice into a moral imperative and belittled Justice as a throw-back to benighted times past.

We live in DarkTimes when the very worst among us claim the most and worse still brand themselves as praise-worthy while using their colossally disproportionate Power and Wealth to squelch criticism and amplify their accolades often self-accolades through their wholly owned Media.

[Dec 24, 2019] Christmas in Flyover Land - Kunstler

Notable quotes:
"... It's a Wonderful Life ..."
"... we have sent the factories to distant lands and eliminated your jobs, and all the meaning and purpose in your lives -- and cheap stuff from Asia is your consolation prize. Enjoy ..."
"... Homelessness in America runs way deeper than just the winos and drug addicts living on the big city sidewalks. ..."
Dec 24, 2019 | kunstler.com

All the people of America, including the flyovers, are responsible for the sad situation we're in: this failure to reestablish a common culture of values most people can subscribe to and use it to rebuild our towns into places worth caring about. Main Street, as it has come to be, is the physical manifestation of that failure. The businesses that used to occupy the storefronts are gone, except for second-hand stores. Nobody in 1952 would have believed this could happen. And yet, there it is: the desolation is stark and heartbreaking.

Even George Bailey's "nightmare" scene in It's a Wonderful Life depicts the supposedly evil Pottersville as a very lively place, only programmed for old-fashioned wickedness: gin mills and streetwalkers. Watch the movie and see for yourself.

Pottersville is way more appealing than 99 percent of America's small towns today, dead as they are.

The dynamics that led to this are not hard to understand. The concentration of retail commerce in a very few gigantic corporations was a swindle that the public fell for.

Enthralled like little children by the dazzle and gigantism of the big boxes, and the free parking, we allowed ourselves to be played.

The excuse was "bargain shopping," which actually meant we have sent the factories to distant lands and eliminated your jobs, and all the meaning and purpose in your lives -- and cheap stuff from Asia is your consolation prize. Enjoy

The "bones" of the village are still standing but the programming for the organism of a community is all gone: gainful employment, social roles in the life of the place, confidence in the future. For a century starting in 1850, there were at least five factories in town. They made textiles and later on, paper products and, in the end, toilet paper, ironically enough. Yes, really.

They also made a lot of the sod-busting steel ploughs that opened up the Midwest, and cotton shirts, and other stuff. The people worked hard for their money, but it was pretty good money by world standards for most of those years.

It allowed them to eat well, sleep in a warm house, and raise children, which is a good start for any society. The village was rich with economic and social niches, and yes, it was hierarchical, but people tended to find the niche appropriate to their abilities and aspirations -- and, believe it or not, it is better to have a place in society than to have no place at all, which is the sad situation for so many today.

Homelessness in America runs way deeper than just the winos and drug addicts living on the big city sidewalks.


BackRowHeckler December 22, 2019 at 10:50 pm #

It seems there's a major political party exactly working against a common American culture. They jeer at the thought of it. It seems to be the main platform, above all else.

Brh

Log in to Reply
Walter B December 23, 2019 at 3:23 pm #

It is a major party alright BRH, but it is no so much political as it is economic and socially stratified. They are opulent, self consumed and greedy as hell (literally). There can only be so many parasites sucking the lifeblood out of any herd of servant beasts, and they can only suck so long on their hosts before the poor beasts fall over and die. And that is the tipping point, where we lose enough life blood that we can no longer stand upright, but drop to the deck and are consumed. It is the classic Goose that laid the Golden Egg fairy tale being acted out in real life and coming to a neighborhood near you soon. Log in to Reply

sunburstsoldier December 22, 2019 at 11:22 pm #

Beautiful, thoughtful post Jim, yet to be honest it fills me with a sense of anxiety, and this is simply because the catastrophic events you forecast, although for the better in the long run (as they will compel a return to a world made by hand, or the recovery of human scale) will nonetheless bring much suffering to a lot of people ( including my own family). I would personally like to believe there is another way a more sustainable civilization could be attained than on the heels of societal collapse. I do believe the world is full of mystery, and that life itself is a series of unfolding miracles we lack the capacity to comprehend due to our limited perspective. Yet perhaps you are right and some type of collapse is inevitable before a new beginning can be made. If such be the case, as individuals we will be compelled to tap into inner potentials that will needed to meet the approaching apocalypse, potentials which currently lie dormant and undeveloped. Maybe in the process of doing so we will recover our wholeness as well.

[Dec 21, 2019] Trump administration sanction companies involved in laying the remaining pipe, and also companies involved in the infrastructure around the arrival point.

Highly recommended!
Dec 21, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Watcher x Ignored says: 12/13/2019 at 6:27 am

The new US defense bill, agreed on by both parties, includes sanctions on executives of companies involved in the completion of Nordstream 2. This is companies involved in laying the remaining pipe, and also companies involved in the infrastructure around the arrival point.

This could include arrest of the executives of those companies, who might travel to the United States. One of the companies is Royal Dutch Shell, who have 80,000 employees in the United States.

Hightrekker x Ignored says: 12/13/2019 at 12:28 pm
So much for the "Free Market".
Hickory x Ignored says: 12/12/2019 at 11:28 pm
Some people believe 'the market' for crude oil is a fair and effective arbiter of the industry supply and demand. But if we step back an inch or two, we all can see it has been a severely broken mechanism during this up phase in oil. For example, there has been long lags between market signals of shortage or surplus.

Disruptive policies and mechanisms such as tariffs, embargo's, and sanctions, trade bloc quotas, military coups and popular revolutions, socialist agendas, industry lobbying, multinational corporate McCarthyism, and massively obese debt financing, are all examples of forces that have trumped an efficient and transparent oil market.

And yet, the problems with the oil market during this time of upslope will look placid in retrospect, as we enter the time beyond peak.
I see no reason why it won't turn into a mad chaotic scramble.
We had a small hint of what this can look like in the last mid-century. The USA responded to military expansionism of Japan by enacting an oil embargo against them. The response was Pearl Harbor. This is just one example of many.
How long before Iran lashes out in response to their restricted access to the market?
People generally don't respond very calmly to involuntary restriction on food, or energy, or access to the markets for these things.

[Dec 08, 2019] 'Free World'? What exactly does that mean? What does 'Freedom' mean? I 'freely' admit I simply have no idea what people mean when they urgently bleat words like that at me.

Dec 08, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Ant. , Dec 5 2019 18:32 utc | 39

In Uncle Sam Land, "freedom" has two meanings. Rich people are free to do as they like. The rest of us are free to live under a bridge and starve.

We do have one right: The Right To Obey.

The whole society is organized around obedience, and the purpose of public education is to make sure every one obeys. Modern schools are more accurately called "day prisons", with all the cameras, metal detectors, armed police, isolation rooms, etc. I wonder how many people realize that "lockdown" is straight out of the criminal prison system, and is now a regular occurrence for little kids.

Ant. , Dec 5 2019 18:32 utc | 39

@33 vk

'Free World'? What exactly does that mean? What does 'Freedom' mean? I 'freely' admit I simply have no idea what people mean when they urgently bleat words like that at me.

To me, freedom applies to an action. You are free to do this, or you are free to do that. Which is, of course, actions that are constrained or allowed by various laws passed by local, state, federal and/or international entities. I would suppose that the amount of freedom you have depends on haw many laws have been passed in your own country to criminalize various activities.

Has anyone done such an analysis, to define which countries have limited their citizens behaviour? Simplistically, which countries have written the most laws?

I'll be willing to bet they are the 'democracies' that are most bellicose about protecting 'freedoms'. Let's face facts, politicians just love to keep passing laws, otherwise they have no reason to exist. I unreasonably think there should be another superior law, that any government should only be able to have so many laws. If they want to have yet another one, take some other law away. Otherwise 'freedoms' are just being chipped away at, constantly.

'Freedom', as a thing unto and onto itself, seems a completely meaningless concept. I keep wondering why politicians aren't asked what they are talking about when they roar about 'freedom' as a general term.

Trailer Trash , Dec 5 2019 19:51 utc | 53
>What does 'Freedom' mean? >

[Dec 07, 2019] While neoliberal talk much about the redistribution of wealth we need to talk more about its creation. And that involves the state.

Notable quotes:
"... "There's a whole neoliberal agenda," she said, referencing the received free-market wisdom that cutting public budgets spurs economic growth. "And then the way that traditional theory has fomented it or not contested it -- there's been kind of a strange symbiosis between mainstream economic thinking and stupid policies." ..."
"... Dr. Mazzucato takes issue with many of the tenets of the neoclassical economic theory taught in most academic departments: its assumption that the forces of supply and demand lead to market equilibrium, its equation of price with value and -- perhaps most of all -- its relegation of the state to the investor of last resort, tasked with fixing market failure. She has originated and popularized the description of the state as an "investor of first resort," envisioning new markets and providing long-term, or "patient," capital at early stages of development. ..."
"... Emphasizing to policymakers not only the importance of investment, but also the direction of that investment -- "What are we investing in?" she often asks -- Dr. Mazzucato has influenced the way American politicians speak about the state's potential as an economic engine. In her vision, governments would do what so many traditional economists have long told them to avoid: create and shape new markets, embrace uncertainty and take big risks. ..."
Dec 07, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , November 28, 2019 at 12:05 PM

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/26/business/mariana-mazzucato.html

November 26, 2019

Meet the Leftish Economist With a New Story About Capitalism
Mariana Mazzucato wants liberals to talk less about the redistribution of wealth and more about its creation. Politicians around the world are listening.
By Katy Lederer

Mariana Mazzucato was freezing. Outside, it was a humid late-September day in Manhattan, but inside -- in a Columbia University conference space full of scientists, academics and businesspeople advising the United Nations on sustainability -- the air conditioning was on full blast.

For a room full of experts discussing the world's most urgent social and environmental problems, this was not just uncomfortable but off-message. Whatever their dress -- suit, sari, head scarf -- people looked huddled and hunkered down. At a break, Dr. Mazzucato dispatched an assistant to get the A.C. turned off. How will we change anything, she wondered aloud, "if we don't rebel in the everyday?"

Dr. Mazzucato, an economist based at University College London, is trying to change something fundamental: the way society thinks about economic value. While many of her colleagues have been scolding capitalism lately, she has been reimagining its basic premises. Where does growth come from? What is the source of innovation? How can the state and private sector work together to create the dynamic economies we want? She asks questions about capitalism we long ago stopped asking. Her answers might rise to the most difficult challenges of our time.

In two books of modern political economic theory -- "The Entrepreneurial State" (2013) and "The Value of Everything" (2018) -- Dr. Mazzucato argues against the long-accepted binary of an agile private sector and a lumbering, inefficient state. Citing markets and technologies like the internet, the iPhone and clean energy -- all of which were funded at crucial stages by public dollars -- she says the state has been an underappreciated driver of growth and innovation. "Personally, I think the left is losing around the world," she said in an interview, "because they focus too much on redistribution and not enough on the creation of wealth."

Her message has appealed to an array of American politicians. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts and a presidential contender, has incorporated Dr. Mazzucato's thinking into several policy rollouts, including one that would use "federal R & D to create domestic jobs and sustainable investments in the future" and another that would authorize the government to receive a return on its investments in the pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Mazzucato has also consulted with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, and her team on the ways a more active industrial policy might catalyze a Green New Deal.

Even Republicans have found something to like. In May, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida credited Dr. Mazzucato's work several times in "American Investment in the 21st Century," his proposal to jump-start economic growth. "We need to build an economy that can see past the pressure to understand value-creation in narrow and short-run financial terms," he wrote in the introduction, "and instead envision a future worth investing in for the long-term."

Formally, the United Nations event in September was a meeting of the leadership council of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, or S.D.S.N. It's a body of about 90 experts who advise on topics like gender equality, poverty and global warming. Most of the attendees had specific technical expertise -- Dr. Mazzucato greeted a contact at one point with, "You're the ocean guy!" -- but she offers something both broad and scarce: a compelling new story about how to create a desirable future.

'Investor of first resort'

Originally from Italy -- her family left when she was 5 -- Dr. Mazzucato is the daughter of a Princeton nuclear physicist and a stay-at-home mother who couldn't speak English when she moved to the United States. She got her Ph.D. in 1999 from the New School for Social Research and began working on "The Entrepreneurial State" after the 2008 financial crisis. Governments across Europe began to institute austerity policies in the name of fostering innovation -- a rationale she found not only dubious but economically destructive.

"There's a whole neoliberal agenda," she said, referencing the received free-market wisdom that cutting public budgets spurs economic growth. "And then the way that traditional theory has fomented it or not contested it -- there's been kind of a strange symbiosis between mainstream economic thinking and stupid policies."

Dr. Mazzucato takes issue with many of the tenets of the neoclassical economic theory taught in most academic departments: its assumption that the forces of supply and demand lead to market equilibrium, its equation of price with value and -- perhaps most of all -- its relegation of the state to the investor of last resort, tasked with fixing market failure. She has originated and popularized the description of the state as an "investor of first resort," envisioning new markets and providing long-term, or "patient," capital at early stages of development.

In important ways, Dr. Mazzucato's work resembles that of a literary critic or rhetorician as much as an economist. She has written of waging what the historian Tony Judt called a "discursive battle," and scrutinizes descriptive terms -- words like "fix" or "spend" as opposed to "create" and "invest" -- that have been used to undermine the state's appeal as a dynamic economic actor. "If we continue to depict the state as only a facilitator and administrator, and tell it to stop dreaming," she writes, "in the end that is what we get."

As a charismatic figure in a contentious field that does not generate many stars -- she was recently profiled in Wired magazine's United Kingdom edition -- Dr. Mazzucato has her critics. She is a regular guest on nightly news shows in Britain, where she is pitted against proponents of Brexit or skeptics of a market-savvy state.

Alberto Mingardi, an adjunct scholar at the libertarian Cato Institute and director general of Istituto Bruno Leoni, a free-market think tank, has repeatedly criticized Dr. Mazzucato for, in his view, cherry-picking her case studies, underestimating economic trade-offs and defining industrial policy too broadly. In January, in an academic piece written with one of his Cato colleagues, Terence Kealey, he called her "the world's greatest exponent today of public prodigality."

Her ideas, though, are finding a receptive audience around the world. In the United Kingdom, Dr. Mazzucato's work has influenced Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, and Theresa May, a former Prime Minister, and she has counseled the Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon on designing and putting in place a national investment bank. She also advises government entities in Germany, South Africa and elsewhere. "In getting my hands dirty," she said, "I learn and I bring it back to the theory."

The 'Mission Muse'

During a break at the United Nations gathering, Dr. Mazzucato escaped the air conditioning to confer with two colleagues in Italian on a patio. Tall, with a muscular physique, she wore a brightly colored glass necklace that has become something of a trademark on the economics circuit. Having traveled to five countries in eight days, she was fighting off a cough.

"In theory, I'm the 'Mission Muse,'" she joked, lapsing into English. Her signature reference is to the original mission to the moon -- a state-spurred technological revolution consisting of hundreds of individual feeder projects, many of them collaborations between the public and private sectors. Some were successes, some failures, but the sum of them contributed to economic growth and explosive innovation.

Dr. Mazzucato's platform is more complex -- and for some, controversial -- than simply encouraging government investment, however. She has written that governments and state-backed investment entities should "socialize both the risks and rewards." She has suggested the state obtain a return on public investments through royalties or equity stakes, or by including conditions on reinvestment -- for example, a mandate to limit share buybacks.

Emphasizing to policymakers not only the importance of investment, but also the direction of that investment -- "What are we investing in?" she often asks -- Dr. Mazzucato has influenced the way American politicians speak about the state's potential as an economic engine. In her vision, governments would do what so many traditional economists have long told them to avoid: create and shape new markets, embrace uncertainty and take big risks.

... ... ...

Earlier in the day, she pointed at an announcement on her laptop. She had been nominated for the first Not the Nobel Prize, a commendation intended to promote "fresh economic thinking." "Governments have woken up to the fact the mainstream way of thinking isn't helping them," she said, explaining her appeal to politicians and policymakers. A few days later, she won.

Paine -> Paine ... , December 02, 2019 at 08:47 AM
Socialize corporate net cash flow
joe -> anne... , December 05, 2019 at 08:12 AM
Then she would advocate free banking, like Selgin. Better more efficient banking is a huge and profitable investment for government.

So before the leftwards jump on her idea of investment, start here and explain why suddenly, making finance more efficient for everyone is a bad idea.

Or ask our knee jerkers, before they jump on her ideas with all their delusions, why not invest in dumping the primary dealer system? That is obviously inefficient and generates the ATM costs we pay. Why not remove that with a sound investment f some sort?

Everything is through the eye of the beholder, for lelftwards it is the wonder of central planning, for the libertariaturds it is about efficiency via decentralization.

Then comes meetup, and waddya know, each side brings a 200 page insurance contract they want guaranteed before any efficiency changes are made. The meeting selects business as normal. We will select business as normal, our economists will approve.

Mr. Bill -> anne... , December 05, 2019 at 06:21 PM
" the way society thinks about economic value"

I am thrilled / s at the feeling of fulfillment I, well, feel, that an academic deems the obvious. It definitely, indicates that we are approaching, wokeness !

Economists are beginning to evolve, again, almost, but not quite capturing the curl of the real time world.

Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , December 05, 2019 at 06:31 PM
" There's a whole neoliberal agenda," she said, referencing the received free-market wisdom that cutting public budgets spurs economic growth. "And then the way that traditional theory has fomented it or not contested it -- there's been kind of a strange symbiosis between mainstream economic thinking and stupid policies."

That is a deep vision that needs to be unpacked. My impression of traditional theory is that it discourages the neoliberal, market deism.

[Dec 07, 2019] The death of free markets under neoliberalism. Monopolization unhinged

Dec 07, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

Fred C. Dobbs , December 04, 2019 at 06:12 AM

The death of free markets
https://www.bostonglobe.com/2019/11/29/opinion/death-free-markets/?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe

Shaul Amsterdamski - November 29, 2019

In 2012, when economist Thomas Philippon was looking into some data, something odd caught his attention.

His homeland, France, was undergoing another revolution, although a much different one: a revolution in the country's telecommunication market. A new mobile operator, Free, had entered the market and disrupted it almost overnight. The new operator slashed prices, offering plans that hadn't been seen before in France.

France's three legacy mobile operators were forced to react and drop their own prices. It didn't help. In only three months, Free's market share reached 4 percent. At the end of the following year, its market share tripled. Today, Free controls 15 to 16 percent of the market, making it France's third largest mobile operator. (If you add the six virtual operators to the mix -- meaning companies who lease broadband space -- you'll get a total of 10 different mobile operators in a country with a population one-fifth the size of the United States.)

"Digging deeper into that crystallized everything for me," says Philippon. "It was an oligopoly based on three legacy carriers that lobbied very hard to prevent anybody from getting a fourth (mobile) license. For 10 years they were successful. But then, in 2011, the regulator changed and gave a license [to] Free. It wasn't a technological change or a change in consumers' taste. It was purely a regulatory decision."

For French consumers, this one decision changed everything. Instead of paying $55 for a 1-gigabyte plan, the new prices for much better plans cost half that. And prices continued to drop. Today, a Free 60-gigabyte plan costs only $12.

But Philippon wasn't just interested in what the new competition in the French telecom industry said about French markets. Having lived in the United States since 1999, he compared the French telecom revolution to the American market. The numbers blew his mind. While in France the number of mobile operators was rising, in the US the number was getting smaller (and that number might even decline further, if the planned Sprint-T-Mobile merger goes through).

The result was a huge price gap between the two countries.

"France went from being much more expensive to much cheaper in two years," he says. "The change in price was drastic -- a relative price move of 50 percent. In such a big market with gigantic firms, that's a big change. And it was not driven by technology, it was driven by pro-competition regulation." He immediately adds, just to emphasize the irony: "It happened in France of all places, a country that historically had a political system that made sure there wasn't too much competition. This is not the place where we expected this kind of outcome."

The opposite was very surprising too: The level of competition in the United States, the role model of free-market democracy, was declining.

Philippon, an acclaimed professor of finance at the New York University Stern School of Business, kept pulling that thread. He gathered an overwhelming amount of data on various markets, took a few steps back to look at the big picture, and then identified a pattern. The result is "The Great Reversal," his recent book, in which he explores and explains when, why, and how, as his subtitle puts it, "America Gave Up on Free Markets."

The telecom story is just one of many examples Philippon provides throughout the book of non-competitive US markets, in which most or all of the power is concentrated in the hands of a few big companies. It's a situation that makes it almost impossible for new competitors to enter and lower prices for consumers. The airline market is another example, as is the pharmaceutical industry, the banking system, and the big tech companies such as Google and Facebook, who have no real competition in the markets they operate in.

The book's main argument has a refreshing mix of both right- and left-leaning economic thinking. It goes like this: During the last 20 years, while the European Union has become much more competitive, the United States has become a paradise for monopolies and oligopolies -- with a few players holding most of the market share. As US companies grew bigger, they became politically powerful. They then used their influence over politicians and regulators, and their vast resources, to skew regulation in their favor.

The fight over net neutrality, to name one example, demonstrates it well.

"Guess who lobbied for that? It's a simple guess -- the people who benefited from it, the ISP's [internet service providers]. And they are already charging outrageous prices, twice as high [as] any other developed country," Philippon says.

This growing concentration of power in the hands of a few has affected everything and everyone. It has inflated prices because consumers have fewer options. Wages are stagnant because less competition means firms don't have to fight over workers. Financial investment in new machinery and technology has plummeted because when companies have fewer competitors they lose the incentive to invest and improve. It has driven CEO compensation up, and workers' compensation down. It has caused a spike in inequality, which in turn has ignited social unrest.

If all of this is too much to wrap your head around, Philippon puts a price tag on it: $5,000 per year. That's the price the median American household pays every year for the lost competition. That's the cost of the United States becoming a Monopoly Land.

How did this happen? According to Philippon, it's a story with two threads. The European side of this story happened almost by mistake. The American side, on the contrary, was no coincidence.

When the European Union was formed in the early 1990s, there was a lot of suspicion between the member states, namely France and Germany. (Two World Wars tend to have that effect.) This mistrust birthed pan-European regulators who enjoyed an unprecedented amount of freedom, more powerful than any of the member countries' governments.

"We did that mostly because we didn't really trust each other very much," he says. Now, 20 years later, "it turns out that this system we created is just a lot more resilient towards lobbying and bad influences than we thought."

At the same time in the United States, the exact opposite was happening. Adopting a free-market approach, regulators and legislators chose not to intervene. They didn't block mergers and acquisitions, and let big companies get bigger.

This created a positive feedback loop: As companies grew stronger, the regulators got weaker, and more dependent on the companies they are supposed to regulate. Tens of millions of dollars were channeled into lobbying. The Supreme Court's Citizens United decision gave corporate money even more political influence.

At some point, big companies started using regulation itself to prevent new competitors from entering the market.

The result wasn't free markets, but "the opposite -- market capture," says Philippon, referring to a situation in which the regulator is so weak it depends completely on the companies it regulates to design regulation.

Philippon is not the only one who's making these claims. A group of economists from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business holds a similar view. They are called Neo-Brandeisian, after the late Justice Louis Brandeis, who, a century ago, fought to broaden antitrust laws. They believe the big tech companies, for example, managed to rig the system, and fly under current antitrust regulation. They think it is time to break them apart.

But not everyone agrees with Philippon's narrative or his conclusions. Economists like Edward Conard, author of "The Upside of Inequality," thinks Philippon's claim that big companies are evidence of less competition is upside down. According to his criticism, it's exactly the opposite: These companies became big and powerful because they innovate and give a lot of value to consumers. He also argues that the conclusion that Europe is more competitive and innovative than the United States is preposterous, given that the biggest tech companies are American, not European.

Philippon addresses this counterclaim in his book. The United States is one giant market of English speakers. Theoretically, if you have a good idea for a new product and you can finance it, you have more than 300 million potential users on day one. In the EU, on the other hand, there are 28 countries, with residents who speak 24 different languages. It's not as simple.

Philippon, who by the age of 40 was named one of the top 25 promising economists by the International Monetary Fund, also differentiates himself from the Chicago school of thought in one important way: He's not dogmatic, he's pragmatic. Instead of a one-size-fits-all solution to the problem, he suggests a more nuanced approach. This is exactly what makes his case both unique and somewhat tricky to grasp. His approach is neither right nor left.

"The idea that free markets and government intervention are opposites, that's bogus. So half of me agrees with the Chicago School and half disagrees," he says.

"But if you think that you can get to a free market without any scrutiny by the government, that's crazy. That's simply untrue empirically. We need to make entry easier to increase competition, that's the objective," he says. "And the way to do so sometimes means more government intervention."

OK, but how do you do that? According to Philippon, each case is different.

"In some cases it will be by more intervention. Like maybe force Facebook to break from WhatsApp. And sometimes it will be by less intervention. Kill a bunch of regulations and requirements for small companies," he says.

The first idea, at least, has caught a lot of public attention during the last year, and has been a talking point of the presidential campaigns of Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg was recorded saying that if Warren wins, it will "suck for us." Warren's plan for the big tech companies, for example, includes "reversing mergers," which means uncoupling WhatsApp and Instagram from Facebook. Her plan would also forbid Amazon being both a marketplace and a vendor at the same time.

But can any of these interventions actually happen? And if so, what would they mean for American consumers? Those are more complicated questions.

If big tech companies were broken up, Philippon estimates that the average American consumer won't be affected financially.

"Since people don't pay these companies directly, it won't change the bottom line for the middle class, it won't have a big impact on people's disposable income," he says.

What would have a tremendous impact on Americans' lives and income is to keep on going beyond the big tech companies. "We should go after the big ticket items -- telecom, transport, energy, and healthcare. That's where you want action, but there is much less bipartisan support for that," he says.

Something similar to the French telecom revolution is still far from happening in the United States, but the fact that the 2020 campaign is already pushing competition-promoting ideas back into the public discourse is a reason for cautious optimism, according to Philippon. Nevertheless, he warns, we should not let this mild optimism mislead us.

"Free markets are like a public good: It is in nobody's interest to protect them. Consumers are too dispersed and businesses love monopolies," he says. "So to take free markets for granted, that's just stupid."

(Shaul Amsterdamski is senior economics editor
for Kan, Israel's public broadcasting corporation.)

(Hmmm. Our largest monthly bill is for 'telecom',
from Comcast, for TV, phone & internet service.
There's no competitive offering in our town.)

RC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs... , December 04, 2019 at 10:16 AM
"...Our largest monthly bill is for 'telecom',
from Comcast, for TV, phone & internet service..."

[I got the same information from the service tech doing the annual clean and test on my propane fireplace insert yesterday, in reference to his parents though. They were on Verizon Fios for cable. He thought they should dump cable for a web-TV solution and just use cell phones. Their bill was over $400/month. Mine is a little over $200/month for the same service, which in both cases includes land line. In my zip code Verizon does not bundle Fios with mobile. The only difference that I know is that we have neither any premium channels nor DVR boxes and I assume that his parents must have both to run up a bill that high. When we pony up for Fios Gb, then at least for three years our bill will fall below $100/month, then return to a higher monthly yet if we do not take another new contract after that upgrade contract ends. Verizon only makes new contracts when new services are added or upgraded. Customers get next to no benefit for loyalty/retention. We have both Verizon and Comcast available in our area. I have had both in my present home at different times, but hate Comcast for failures on their part to provide tall vehicle clearance to pass down my driveway until forced to do so by the power company whose poles they must use and for a duplicate billing error where they billed me for two separate addresses and put me into collections for the one that I never resided at since I never saw that bill or knew of it prior to the first collections call.]

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to RC (Ron) Weakley... , December 06, 2019 at 11:32 AM
(Bernie to the rescue!)

Bernie Sanders unveils plan to boost broadband
access, break up internet and cable titans
https://cnb.cx/34TzaQw
CNBC - Jacob Pramuk - Dec 6

Bernie Sanders unveiled a plan Friday to expand broadband internet access as part of a push to boost the economy and reduce corporate power over Americans.

In his sprawling "High-Speed Internet for All" proposal, the Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate calls to treat internet like a public utility. His campaign argues that the internet should not be a "price gouging profit machine" for companies such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon.

Sanders' plan would create $150 billion in grants and aid for local and state governments to build publicly owned broadband networks as part of the Green New Deal infrastructure initiative. The total would mark a massive increase over current funding for broadband development initiatives. The proposal would also break up what the campaign calls "internet service provider and cable monopolies," stop service providers from offering content and end what it calls "anticompetitive mergers."

Sanders and his rivals for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination have pushed to boost high-speed internet access for rural and low-income Americans, saying it has become a necessity to succeed in school and business. The self-proclaimed democratic socialist has unveiled numerous plans to root out corporate influence as he runs near the top of a jammed primary field. ...

im1dc -> Fred C. Dobbs... , December 04, 2019 at 05:07 PM
Aa excellent article that brings no new ideas to the debate but updates the debate to today.

One thing economist Thomas Philippon did not mention is that voters must turn out the elected and get new ones who will vote to create more and vigorous competition instead of oligopoly.

That is in my Equality, frequently shared here:

Economics = Politics
and
Politics = Economics

[Dec 07, 2019] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/26/business/mariana-mazzucato.html

Notable quotes:
"... "There's a whole neoliberal agenda," she said, referencing the received free-market wisdom that cutting public budgets spurs economic growth. "And then the way that traditional theory has fomented it or not contested it -- there's been kind of a strange symbiosis between mainstream economic thinking and stupid policies." ..."
"... Dr. Mazzucato takes issue with many of the tenets of the neoclassical economic theory taught in most academic departments: its assumption that the forces of supply and demand lead to market equilibrium, its equation of price with value and -- perhaps most of all -- its relegation of the state to the investor of last resort, tasked with fixing market failure. She has originated and popularized the description of the state as an "investor of first resort," envisioning new markets and providing long-term, or "patient," capital at early stages of development. ..."
Dec 07, 2019 | www.nytimes.com

November 26, 2019

Meet the Leftish Economist With a New Story About Capitalism
Mariana Mazzucato wants liberals to talk less about the redistribution of wealth and more about its creation. Politicians around the world are listening.
By Katy Lederer

Mariana Mazzucato was freezing. Outside, it was a humid late-September day in Manhattan, but inside -- in a Columbia University conference space full of scientists, academics and businesspeople advising the United Nations on sustainability -- the air conditioning was on full blast.

For a room full of experts discussing the world's most urgent social and environmental problems, this was not just uncomfortable but off-message. Whatever their dress -- suit, sari, head scarf -- people looked huddled and hunkered down. At a break, Dr. Mazzucato dispatched an assistant to get the A.C. turned off. How will we change anything, she wondered aloud, "if we don't rebel in the everyday?"

Dr. Mazzucato, an economist based at University College London, is trying to change something fundamental: the way society thinks about economic value. While many of her colleagues have been scolding capitalism lately, she has been reimagining its basic premises. Where does growth come from? What is the source of innovation? How can the state and private sector work together to create the dynamic economies we want? She asks questions about capitalism we long ago stopped asking. Her answers might rise to the most difficult challenges of our time.

In two books of modern political economic theory -- "The Entrepreneurial State" (2013) and "The Value of Everything" (2018) -- Dr. Mazzucato argues against the long-accepted binary of an agile private sector and a lumbering, inefficient state. Citing markets and technologies like the internet, the iPhone and clean energy -- all of which were funded at crucial stages by public dollars -- she says the state has been an underappreciated driver of growth and innovation. "Personally, I think the left is losing around the world," she said in an interview, "because they focus too much on redistribution and not enough on the creation of wealth."

Her message has appealed to an array of American politicians. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts and a presidential contender, has incorporated Dr. Mazzucato's thinking into several policy rollouts, including one that would use "federal R & D to create domestic jobs and sustainable investments in the future" and another that would authorize the government to receive a return on its investments in the pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Mazzucato has also consulted with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, and her team on the ways a more active industrial policy might catalyze a Green New Deal.

Even Republicans have found something to like. In May, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida credited Dr. Mazzucato's work several times in "American Investment in the 21st Century," his proposal to jump-start economic growth. "We need to build an economy that can see past the pressure to understand value-creation in narrow and short-run financial terms," he wrote in the introduction, "and instead envision a future worth investing in for the long-term."

Formally, the United Nations event in September was a meeting of the leadership council of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, or S.D.S.N. It's a body of about 90 experts who advise on topics like gender equality, poverty and global warming. Most of the attendees had specific technical expertise -- Dr. Mazzucato greeted a contact at one point with, "You're the ocean guy!" -- but she offers something both broad and scarce: a compelling new story about how to create a desirable future.

'Investor of first resort'

Originally from Italy -- her family left when she was 5 -- Dr. Mazzucato is the daughter of a Princeton nuclear physicist and a stay-at-home mother who couldn't speak English when she moved to the United States. She got her Ph.D. in 1999 from the New School for Social Research and began working on "The Entrepreneurial State" after the 2008 financial crisis. Governments across Europe began to institute austerity policies in the name of fostering innovation -- a rationale she found not only dubious but economically destructive.

"There's a whole neoliberal agenda," she said, referencing the received free-market wisdom that cutting public budgets spurs economic growth. "And then the way that traditional theory has fomented it or not contested it -- there's been kind of a strange symbiosis between mainstream economic thinking and stupid policies."

Dr. Mazzucato takes issue with many of the tenets of the neoclassical economic theory taught in most academic departments: its assumption that the forces of supply and demand lead to market equilibrium, its equation of price with value and -- perhaps most of all -- its relegation of the state to the investor of last resort, tasked with fixing market failure. She has originated and popularized the description of the state as an "investor of first resort," envisioning new markets and providing long-term, or "patient," capital at early stages of development.

In important ways, Dr. Mazzucato's work resembles that of a literary critic or rhetorician as much as an economist. She has written of waging what the historian Tony Judt called a "discursive battle," and scrutinizes descriptive terms -- words like "fix" or "spend" as opposed to "create" and "invest" -- that have been used to undermine the state's appeal as a dynamic economic actor. "If we continue to depict the state as only a facilitator and administrator, and tell it to stop dreaming," she writes, "in the end that is what we get."

As a charismatic figure in a contentious field that does not generate many stars -- she was recently profiled in Wired magazine's United Kingdom edition -- Dr. Mazzucato has her critics. She is a regular guest on nightly news shows in Britain, where she is pitted against proponents of Brexit or skeptics of a market-savvy state.

Alberto Mingardi, an adjunct scholar at the libertarian Cato Institute and director general of Istituto Bruno Leoni, a free-market think tank, has repeatedly criticized Dr. Mazzucato for, in his view, cherry-picking her case studies, underestimating economic trade-offs and defining industrial policy too broadly. In January, in an academic piece written with one of his Cato colleagues, Terence Kealey, he called her "the world's greatest exponent today of public prodigality."

Her ideas, though, are finding a receptive audience around the world. In the United Kingdom, Dr. Mazzucato's work has influenced Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, and Theresa May, a former Prime Minister, and she has counseled the Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon on designing and putting in place a national investment bank. She also advises government entities in Germany, South Africa and elsewhere. "In getting my hands dirty," she said, "I learn and I bring it back to the theory."

The 'Mission Muse'

During a break at the United Nations gathering, Dr. Mazzucato escaped the air conditioning to confer with two colleagues in Italian on a patio. Tall, with a muscular physique, she wore a brightly colored glass necklace that has become something of a trademark on the economics circuit. Having traveled to five countries in eight days, she was fighting off a cough.

"In theory, I'm the 'Mission Muse,'" she joked, lapsing into English. Her signature reference is to the original mission to the moon -- a state-spurred technological revolution consisting of hundreds of individual feeder projects, many of them collaborations between the public and private sectors. Some were successes, some failures, but the sum of them contributed to economic growth and explosive innovation.

Dr. Mazzucato's platform is more complex -- and for some, controversial -- than simply encouraging government investment, however. She has written that governments and state-backed investment entities should "socialize both the risks and rewards." She has suggested the state obtain a return on public investments through royalties or equity stakes, or by including conditions on reinvestment -- for example, a mandate to limit share buybacks.

Emphasizing to policymakers not only the importance of investment, but also the direction of that investment -- "What are we investing in?" she often asks -- Dr. Mazzucato has influenced the way American politicians speak about the state's potential as an economic engine. In her vision, governments would do what so many traditional economists have long told them to avoid: create and shape new markets, embrace uncertainty and take big risks.

Inside the conference, the news was uniformly bleak. Pavel Kabat, the chief scientist of the World Meteorological Organization, lamented the breaking of global temperature records and said that countries would have to triple their current Paris-accord commitments by 2030 to have any hope of staying below a critical warming threshold. A panel on land use and food waste noted that nine species account for two-thirds of the world's crop production, a dangerous lack of agricultural diversity. All the experts appeared dismayed by what Jeffrey Sachs, the S.D.S.N.'s director, described as the "crude nationalism" and "aggressive anti-globalization" ascendant around the world.

"We absolutely need to change both the narrative, but also the theory and the practice on the ground," Dr. Mazzucato told the crowd when she spoke on the final expert panel of the day. "What does it mean, actually, to create markets where you create the demand, and really start directing the investment and the innovation in ways that can help us achieve these goals?"

Earlier in the day, she pointed at an announcement on her laptop. She had been nominated for the first Not the Nobel Prize, a commendation intended to promote "fresh economic thinking." "Governments have woken up to the fact the mainstream way of thinking isn't helping them," she said, explaining her appeal to politicians and policymakers. A few days later, she won. Reply Thursday, November 28, 2019 at 12:05 PM

[Dec 06, 2019] The Myth of Shareholder Primacy by Sahil Jai Dutta

Notable quotes:
"... "Fifty years of shareholder primacy," wrote the Financial Times, "has fostered short-termism and created an environment of popular distrust of big business." ..."
"... The rise of stock options to compensate corporate managers entrenched shareholder value by aligning the interests of managers and shareholders. Companies began sacrificing productive investments, environmental protections, and worker security to ensure shareholder returns were maximised. The fear of stock market verdicts on quarterly reports left them no choice. ..."
"... This account fits a widespread belief that financiers and rentiers mangled the postwar golden era of capitalism. More importantly, it suggests a simple solution: liberate companies from the demands of shareholders. Freed from the short-term pursuit of delivering shareholder returns, companies could then return to long-term plans, productive investments, and higher wages. ..."
"... In the 1960s, a group of firms called the conglomerates were pioneering many of the practices that later became associated with the shareholder revolution: aggressive mergers, divestitures, Leverage buy-outs (LBOs), and stock repurchasing. ..."
"... These firms, such as Litton Industries, Teledyne and LTV revolutionised corporate strategy by developing new techniques to systematically raise money from financial markets. They wheeled and dealed their divisions and used them to tap financial markets to finance further predatory acquisitions. Instead of relying on profits from productive operations, they chased speculative transactions on financial markets to grow. ..."
"... With fortunes to be made and lost, no manager could ignore the stock market. They became increasingly concerned with their position on financial markets. It was in this context that corporate capitalism first spoke of the desire to 'maximise shareholder value'. While sections of the corporate establishment were put on the defensive, the main reason for this was not that shareholders imposed their preferences on management. Instead, it was competitor managers using the shareholder discourse as a resource to expand and gain control over other firms. Capital markets became the foundation of a new form of financialised managerial power. ..."
"... Third, the notion of shareholder primacy helped to offload managerial responsibility. An amorphous and often anonymous 'shareholder pressure' became the explanation for all manner of managerial malpractice. Managers lamented the fact they had no choice but to disregard workers and other stakeholders because of shareholder power. Rhetorically, shareholders were deemed responsible for corporate problems. Yet in practice, managers, more often than not, enrolled shareholders into their own projects, using the newly-formed alliance with shareholders to pocket huge returns for themselves. ..."
"... Amorphous? Anonymous? Anybody who faced one of Milken's raiders, or paid Icahn's Greenmail, would disagree. Nelson Putz, er, Peltz just forced P&G to start eating into the foundation of the business to feed his greed. There's nothing amorphous or anonymous about activist shareholders, especially when they take over a company and start carving it up like a Thanksgiving turkey. ..."
"... Corporations are artificial creations of the state. They exist in their current form under a complex series of laws and regulations, but with certain privileges, such as Limited Liability Corporations. It is assumed that these creatures will enhance economic activity if they are given these privileges, but there is no natural law, such as gravity, that says these laws and regulations need to exist in their current form. They can be changed at will be legislatures. ..."
"... The semantics of "shareholder primacy" are problematic. The word "shareholder" in this formula echoes the kind problems that whirl around a label like "farmer". ..."
"... I believe "shareholder primacy" is just one of many rhetorical tools used to argue for the mechanisms our Elites constructed so they could loot Corporate wealth. There is no misunderstanding involved. ..."
"... This fits within a Marxist analysis as the material conditions spurred the ideological justifications of the conditions, not the ideology spurring the conditions. ..."
"... I think about stock markets as separate from companies and I'm wrong. Each of the stock exchanges I have heard of started off when 4-5 local companies invested a few thousand each in renting a building and a manager to run an exchange hoping it would attract investment, promote their shares and pay for itself. ..."
Nov 06, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Sahil Jai Dutta, a lecturer in political economy at the University of Goldsmiths, London and Samuel Knafo, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of International Relations at the University of Sussex. Originally published at the PERC blog

In the late 1960s, a young banker named Joel Stern was working on a project to transform corporate management. Stern's hunch was that the stock market could help managers work out how their strategies were performing. Simply, if management was effective, demand for the firm's stock would be high. A low price would imply bad management.

What sounds obvious now was revolutionary at the time. Until then profits were the key barometer of success. But profits were a crude measure and easy to manipulate. Financial markets, Stern felt, could provide a more precise measure of the value of management because they were based on more 'objective' processes, beyond the firm's direct control. The value of shares, he believed, represented the market's exact validation of management. Because of this, financial markets could help managers determine what was working and what was not.

In doing this, Stern laid the foundation for a 'shareholder value' management that put financial markets at the core of managerial strategy.

Stern would probably never have imagined that these ideas would 50 years later be castigated as a fundamental threat to the future of liberal capitalism. In recent times everyone from the Business Roundtable group of global corporations, to the Financial Times , to the British Labour Party has lined up to condemn the shareholder ideology.

"Fifty years of shareholder primacy," wrote the Financial Times, "has fostered short-termism and created an environment of popular distrust of big business."

It is not the first time Stern's creation has come under fire. A decade ago Jack Welsh, former CEO of General Electric declared shareholder value " probably the dumbest idea in the world ". And 15 years before then, British political commentator Will Hutton, among others, found paperback fame with his book The State We're In preaching much the same message.

To critics, the rise of shareholder value is a straightforward story , that has been told over and over again. Following a general crisis of postwar profitability in the late 1970s, corporate managers came under fire from disappointed shareholders complaining about declining returns. Shareholder revolts forced managers to put market capitalisation first. The rise of stock options to compensate corporate managers entrenched shareholder value by aligning the interests of managers and shareholders. Companies began sacrificing productive investments, environmental protections, and worker security to ensure shareholder returns were maximised. The fear of stock market verdicts on quarterly reports left them no choice.

This account fits a widespread belief that financiers and rentiers mangled the postwar golden era of capitalism. More importantly, it suggests a simple solution: liberate companies from the demands of shareholders. Freed from the short-term pursuit of delivering shareholder returns, companies could then return to long-term plans, productive investments, and higher wages.

In two recent articles , we have argued that this critique of shareholder value has always been based on a misunderstanding. Stern and the shareholder value consultants did not aim to put shareholders first. They worked to empower management. Seen in this light, the history of the shareholder value ideology appears differently. And it calls for alternative political responses.

To better understand Stern's ideas, it is important to grasp the broader context in which he was writing. In the 1960s, a group of firms called the conglomerates were pioneering many of the practices that later became associated with the shareholder revolution: aggressive mergers, divestitures, Leverage buy-outs (LBOs), and stock repurchasing.

These firms, such as Litton Industries, Teledyne and LTV revolutionised corporate strategy by developing new techniques to systematically raise money from financial markets. They wheeled and dealed their divisions and used them to tap financial markets to finance further predatory acquisitions. Instead of relying on profits from productive operations, they chased speculative transactions on financial markets to grow.

These same tactics were later borrowed by the 1980s corporate raiders, many of which were in fact old conglomerators from the 1960s. The growing efficiency with which these raiders captured undervalued firms on the stock market and ruthlessly sold off their assets to finance further acquisitions put corporate America on alert.

With fortunes to be made and lost, no manager could ignore the stock market. They became increasingly concerned with their position on financial markets. It was in this context that corporate capitalism first spoke of the desire to 'maximise shareholder value'. While sections of the corporate establishment were put on the defensive, the main reason for this was not that shareholders imposed their preferences on management. Instead, it was competitor managers using the shareholder discourse as a resource to expand and gain control over other firms. Capital markets became the foundation of a new form of financialised managerial power.

These changes made the approach of management consultants championing shareholder value attractive. The firm founded by Stern and his business partner Bennett Stewart III took advantage of the situation. They sold widely their ideas about financial markets as a guideline for corporate strategy to firms looking to thrive in this new environment.

As the discourse and tools of shareholder value took hold, they served three distinct purposes. First, they provided accounting templates for managerial strategies and a means to manage a firm's standings on financial markets. The first and most famous metric for assessing just how much value was being created for shareholders was one Stern himself helped develop, Economic Value Added (EVA).

Second, they became a powerful justification for the idea that managers should be offered share options. This was in fact an old idea floated in the 1950s by management consultants such as Arch Patton of McKinsey as a means to top-up relatively stagnant managerial pay. Yet it was relaunched in this new context as part of the promise to 'align the interests of managers with shareholders.' Stock options helped managerial pay skyrocket in the 1990s, a curious fact for those who believe that managers were 'disciplined' by shareholders.

Third, the notion of shareholder primacy helped to offload managerial responsibility. An amorphous and often anonymous 'shareholder pressure' became the explanation for all manner of managerial malpractice. Managers lamented the fact they had no choice but to disregard workers and other stakeholders because of shareholder power. Rhetorically, shareholders were deemed responsible for corporate problems. Yet in practice, managers, more often than not, enrolled shareholders into their own projects, using the newly-formed alliance with shareholders to pocket huge returns for themselves.

Though shareholder demands are now depicted as the problem to be solved, the same reformist voices have in the past championed shareholders as the solution to corporate excesses. This was the basis for the hope around the ' shareholder spring ' in 2012, or the recent championing of activist shareholders as ' labour's last weapon' .

By challenging the conventional narrative, we have emphasised how it is instead the financialisation of managerialism , or the way in which corporations have leveraged their operations on financial markets, that has characterised the shareholder value shift. Politically this matters.

If shareholder demands are understood to be the major problem in corporate life, then the solution is to grant executives more space. Yet the history of shareholder value tells us that managers have been leading the way in corporate governance. They do not need shielding from shareholders or anyone else and instead need to be made accountable for their decisions. Critiques of shareholder primacy risk muddying the responsibility of managers who have long put their own interests first. Perhaps the reason why executives are now so ready to abandon shareholder primacy, is because it never really existed.


vlade , November 6, 2019 at 5:11 am

Uber. WeWork. Theranos. I rest my case.

notabanktoadie , November 6, 2019 at 5:51 am

Imagine if all corporations were equally owned by the entire population? Then shareholder primacy would just be representative democracy, no?

But, of course, corporations are not even close to being equally owned by the entire population and part of the blame must lie with government privileges for private credit creation whereby the need to share wealth and power with the entire population is bypassed – in the name of "efficiency", one might suppose.

But what good is the "efficient" creation of wealth if it engenders unjust and therefore dangerous inequality and levies noxious externalities?

Michael , November 6, 2019 at 7:59 am

"An amorphous and often anonymous 'shareholder pressure' became the explanation for all manner of managerial malpractice."

Amorphous? Anonymous? Anybody who faced one of Milken's raiders, or paid Icahn's Greenmail, would disagree. Nelson Putz, er, Peltz just forced P&G to start eating into the foundation of the business to feed his greed. There's nothing amorphous or anonymous about activist shareholders, especially when they take over a company and start carving it up like a Thanksgiving turkey.

Synoia , November 6, 2019 at 8:00 am

Shareholder primacy or Creditor Primacy? Creditors, or bond holders, appear to be the more powerful. Shareholders have no legal recourse to protect their "ownership." Bondholders do have legal recourse. Either way, many corporations more serve up their than serve their customers and the general public. There is this belief that if a corporation is profitable, that's good but does not include a public interest (for example Monsanto and Roundup.)

vlade , November 6, 2019 at 9:48 am

Managers used to fear the creditors more than shareholders, that's very much true.

But that has gone out of the window recently, as debt investors just chase return, so it's seller's world, and few of them (debt investors) want to take losses as they are much harder to recoup than before. So extend and pretend is well and alive.

In other words, one of the byproducts of QE is that the company management fears no-one, and is more than happy to do whatever they want.

The problem is the agency. If we assume that we want publicly traded companies (which IMO is not a given), the current incentives are skewed towards management paying themselves.

The problem with things like supervisory boards, even if they have high worker representation, is that those are few individuals, and often can be (directly or indirectly) corrupted by the management.

The "shares" incentive is just dumb, at least in the way it's currently structured. It literally gives only upside, and often even realisable in short/medium term.

d , November 6, 2019 at 4:23 pm

And thats how we got Boeing and PG&E. Just don't think thats the entire list, don't think there is enough room for that

rd , November 6, 2019 at 5:57 pm

Corporations are artificial creations of the state. They exist in their current form under a complex series of laws and regulations, but with certain privileges, such as Limited Liability Corporations. It is assumed that these creatures will enhance economic activity if they are given these privileges, but there is no natural law, such as gravity, that says these laws and regulations need to exist in their current form. They can be changed at will be legislatures.

This is why I despise the Citizens United decision which effectively gives these artificial creations the same rights as people. I don't believe that Thomas Jefferson would have found that to be "a self-evident truth." I think that Citizens United will be regarded as something akin to the Dred Scott decision a century from now.

Shareholder primacy is an assumption that hasn't been challenged over the past couple of decades, but can be controlled by society if it so desires.

Jeremy Grimm , November 6, 2019 at 11:12 am

The semantics of "shareholder primacy" are problematic. The word "shareholder" in this formula echoes the kind problems that whirl around a label like "farmer".

A shareholder is often characterized in economics texts as an individual who invests money hoping to receive back dividends and capital gains in the value and valuation of a company as it earns income and grows over time. Among other changes -- changes to the US tax laws undermined these quaint notions of investment, and shareholder.

The coincident moves for adding stock options to management's pay packet [threats of firing are supposed to encourage the efforts of other employees -- why do managers needs some kind of special encouragement?], legalizing share buybacks, and other 'financial innovations' -- worked in tandem to make investment synonymous with speculation and shareholders synonymous with speculators, Corporate raiders, and the self-serving Corporate looters replacing Corporate management.

This post follows a twisting road to argue previous "critique of shareholder value has always been based on a misunderstanding" and arrives at a new critique of shareholder value "challenging the conventional narrative." This post begins by sketching Stern's foundation for 'shareholder value' with the assertion imputed to him: "if management was effective, demand for the firm's stock would be high. A low price would imply bad management." The post then claims "What sounds obvious now was revolutionary at the time." But that assertion does not sound at all obvious to me. In terms of the usual framing of the all-knowing Market the assertion sounds like a tautology, built on a shaky ground of Neolilberal economic religious beliefs.

I believe "shareholder primacy" is just one of many rhetorical tools used to argue for the mechanisms our Elites constructed so they could loot Corporate wealth. There is no misunderstanding involved.

xkeyscored , November 6, 2019 at 12:07 pm

"But that assertion does not sound at all obvious to me."

I think you're severely understating this. I'd call it total [family blogging family blog]. As you go on to imply, it takes an act of pure faith, akin to religious faith in Dawkins' sense of belief in the face of evidence to the contrary, to assume or assert this nonsense, except insofar as it's tautological – if the purpose of management is to have a high share price, then obviously the latter reflects the effectiveness of the former.

Susan the Other , November 6, 2019 at 1:06 pm

Well, we're all stakeholders now. There probably isn't much value to merely being a shareholder at this point. First let's ask for a viable definition of "value" because it's pretty hard to financialize an undefined "value" and nobody can financialize an empty isolated thing like the word "management". Things go haywire.

What we can do with this seed of an idea is finance the preservation and protection of some defined value. And we can, in fact, leverage a healthy planet until hell freezes over. No problem.

PKMKII , November 6, 2019 at 2:07 pm

This fits within a Marxist analysis as the material conditions spurred the ideological justifications of the conditions, not the ideology spurring the conditions.

mael colium , November 6, 2019 at 5:15 pm

Easy to bust this open by legislating against limited liability. Corporates were not always limited liability, but it was promoted as a means to encourage formation of risky businesses that would otherwise never develop due to risk averse owners or managers. This was promoted as a social compact, delivering employment and growth that would otherwise be unattainable. Like everything in life, human greed overcomes social benefits.

Governments world wide would and should step up and regulate to regain control, rather than fiddling at the margins with corporate governance regulation. They won't, because powerful vested interests will put in place those politicians who will do their bidding. Another nail in the democracy coffin. The only solution will be a cataclysmic event that unites humanity.

RBHoughton , November 7, 2019 at 12:30 am

I think about stock markets as separate from companies and I'm wrong. Each of the stock exchanges I have heard of started off when 4-5 local companies invested a few thousand each in renting a building and a manager to run an exchange hoping it would attract investment, promote their shares and pay for itself.

I remember when one of the major components of the Hong Kong Exchange, Hutchison, had a bad year and really needed some black magic to satisfy the shareholders, the Deputy Chairman abandoned his daytime job and spent trading hours buying and selling for a fortnight to contribute something respectable for the annual accounts. Somebody paid and never knew it.

This was at the start of creative accounting and the 'anything goes' version of capitalism that the article connects with Litton Industries, Teledyne and LTV but was infecting the entire inner circle of the money.

[Dec 02, 2019] The Fake Myth of American Meritocracy by Barbara Boland

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... As part of the scam, parents would "donate" money to a fake charity run by Singer. The funds would then be laundered to either pay off an SAT or ACT administrator to take the exams or bribe an employee in college athletics to name the rich, non-athlete children as recruits. Virtually every scenario relied on multiple layers of corruption, all of which eventually allowed wealthy students to masquerade as "deserving" of the merit-based college slots they paid up to half a million dollars to "qualify" for. ..."
"... When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it. ..."
"... The conclusion of the study? We live in an oligarchy: ..."
Mar 15, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The college bribery scandal reveals an ugly truth: our society is unjust, dominated by a small elite. Actress Lori Loughlin, who has been implicated in the Operation Varsity Blues scandal. Credit: Featureflash Photo Agency/Shutterstock The most destructive and pervasive myth in America today is that we live in a meritocracy. Our elites, so the myth goes, earned their places at Yale and Harvard, on Wall Street and in Washington -- not because of the accident of their birth, but because they are better, stronger, and smarter than the rest of us. Therefore, they think, they've "earned" their places in the halls of power and "deserve" to lead.

The fervor with which so many believe this enables elites to lord over those worse off than they are. On we slumber, believing that we live in a country that values justice, instead of working towards a more equitable and authentically meritocratic society.

Take the Operation Varsity Blues scandal. On Tuesday, the FBI and federal prosecutors announced that 50 people had been charged in, as Sports Illustrated put it , "a nationwide college admissions scheme that used bribes to help potential students cheat on college entrance exams or to pose as potential athletic recruits to get admitted to high-profile universities." Thirty-three parents, nine collegiate coaches, two SAT/ACT exam administrators, an exam proctor, and a college athletics administrator were among those charged. The man who allegedly ran the scheme, William Rick Singer, pled guilty to four charges of racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the U.S., and obstruction of justice.

As part of the scam, parents would "donate" money to a fake charity run by Singer. The funds would then be laundered to either pay off an SAT or ACT administrator to take the exams or bribe an employee in college athletics to name the rich, non-athlete children as recruits. Virtually every scenario relied on multiple layers of corruption, all of which eventually allowed wealthy students to masquerade as "deserving" of the merit-based college slots they paid up to half a million dollars to "qualify" for.

Cheating. Bribery. Lying. The wealthy and privileged buying what was reserved for the deserving. It's all there on vivid display. Modern American society has become increasingly and banally corrupt , both in the ways in which "justice" is meted out and in who is allowed to access elite education and the power that comes with it.

The U.S. is now a country where corruption is rampant and money buys both access and outcomes. We pretend to be better than Russia and other oligarchies, but we too are dominated by a rich and powerful elite.

The average American citizen has very little power, as a 2014 study by Princeton University found. The research reviewed 1,779 public policy questions asked between 1981 and 2002 and the responses by different income levels and interest groups; then calculated the likelihood that certain policies would be adopted.

What they found came as no surprise: How to Fix College Admissions

A proposed policy change with low support among economically elite Americans (one-out-of-five in favor) is adopted only about 18 percent of the time, while a proposed change with high support (four-out-of-five in favor) is adopted about 45% of the time.

That's in stark contrast with policies favored by average Americans:

When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.

The conclusion of the study? We live in an oligarchy:

our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. [T]he preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.

The belief in the myth of merit hurts the smart kid with great grades who aced his SATs but was still rejected from Yale and Harvard. It hurts talented athletes who have worked their tails off for so many years. It hurts parents who have committed hundreds of school nights and weekends to their children. It hurts HR departments that believe degrees from Ivy League schools mean that graduates are qualified. It hurts all of us who buy into the great myth that America is a democratic meritocracy and that we can achieve whatever we want if only we're willing to expend blood, toil, sweat, and tears.

At least in an outright class system like the British Houses of Lords and Commons, there is not this farcical playacting of equal opportunity. The elites, with their privilege and titles, know the reason they are there and feel some sense of obligation to those less well off than they are. At the very least, they do not engage in the ritual pretense of "deserving" what they "earned" -- quite unlike those who descend on Washington, D.C. believing that they really are better than their compatriots in flyover country.

All societies engage in myth-making about themselves. But the myth of meritocracy may be our most pervasive and destructive belief -- and it mirrors the myth that anything like "justice" is served up in our courts.

Remember the Dupont heir who received no prison time after being convicted for raping his three-year-old daughter because the judge ruled that six-foot-four Robert Richards "wouldn't fare well in prison"? Or the more recent case of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who had connections to both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and faced a 53-page federal indictment for sex-trafficking over two dozens underage girls ? He received instead a sweetheart deal that concealed the extent of his crimes. Rather than the federal life imprisonment term he was facing, Epstein is currently on house arrest after receiving only 13 months in county jail. The lead prosecutor in that case had previously been reprimanded by a federal judge in another underage sex crimes case for concealing victim information, the Miami Herald reports .

While the rich are able to escape consequences for even the most horrific of crimes , the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Approximately 7 million people were under some form of correctional control by the end of 2011, including 2.2 million who were detained in federal, state, and local prisons and jails. One in every 10 black men in his thirties is in prison or jail, and one out of three black men born in 2001 can expect to go to prison in their lifetimes.

While black people make up only 13 percent of the population, they make up 42 percent of death row and 35 percent of those who are executed . There are big racial disparities in charging, sentencing, plea bargaining, and executions, Department of Justice reviews have concluded, and black and brown people are disproportionately found to be innocent after landing on death row. The poor and disadvantaged thereby become grist for a system that cares nothing for them.

Despite all this evidence, most Americans embrace a version of the Calvinist beliefs promulgated by their forebears, believing that the elect deserve their status. We remain confident that when our children apply to college or are questioned by police , they will receive just and fair outcomes. If our neighbors' and friends' kids do not, then we assure ourselves that it is they who are at fault, not the system.

The result has been a gaping chasm through our society. Lives are destroyed because, rather than working for real merit-based systems and justice, we worship at the altar of false promises offered by our institutions. Instead we should be rolling up our sleeves and seeing Operation Varsity Blues for what it is: a call to action.

Barbara Boland is the former weekend editor of the Washington Examiner . Her work has been featured on Fox News, the Drudge Report, HotAir.com, RealClearDefense, RealClearPolitics, and elsewhere. She's the author of Patton Uncovered , a book about General Patton in World War II. Follow her on Twitter @BBatDC .

MORE FROM THIS AUTHOR

The GOP's Laughable Call for a Balanced Budget Amendment Congress's "One Spending Bill to Rule Them All" is a Debt-Fueled Disgrace Hide 11 comments 11 Responses to The Myth of American Meritocracy

Collin March 15, 2019 at 1:46 pm

If conservatives are going to dance the graves of Aunt Beckie, the backlash is going to be big. Sure this is a 'scandal' but it seems these parents weren't rich enough to bribe their kids in college the right way, like Trumps and Kushner, and probably slightly duped into going along with this scheme. (It appears the government got the ring leader to call all defendants to get evidence they participated in a crime.)

Just wait until the mug shot of Aunt Beckie is on the internet and Olivia Jade does 60 minutes doing teary eyed interview of how much she loves her mother. And how many parents are stress that their kids will struggle in the global competitive economy.

Fran Macadam , , March 15, 2019 at 1:52 pm
I fully recall the days of getting government computing contracts. Once a certain threshold was reached, you discovered you had to hire a "lobbyist," and give him a significant amount of money to dole out to various gatekeepers in the bureaucracy for your contracts to be approved. That was the end of our government contracts, and the end was hastened by the reaction to trying to complain about it.
prodigalson , , March 15, 2019 at 1:56 pm
Great article, well done. More of this please TAC.
Kurt Gayle , , March 15, 2019 at 2:17 pm
Thank you, Barbara Boland, for "The Myth of American Meritocracy" and for linking ("Related Articles" box) to the 2012 "The Myth of American Meritocracy" by Ron Unz, then publisher of the American Conservative.

The 26,000-word Ron Unz research masterpiece was the opening salvo in the nation-wide discussion that ultimately led to the federal court case nearing resolution in Boston.

"The Myth of American Meritocracy -- How corrupt are Ivy League admissions?" by Ron Unz, The American Conservative, Nov 28, 2012:

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-myth-of-american-meritocracy/

Kurt Gayle , , March 15, 2019 at 2:18 pm
Barbara Boland "While black people make up only 13 percent of the population, they make up 42 percent of death row and 35 percent of those who are executed."

Ms. Boland: According to the US Department of Justice, African Americans [13 per cent of the population] accounted for 52.5% of all homicide offenders from 1980 to 2008.

JeffK , , March 15, 2019 at 2:46 pm
I agree with prodigalson. This is the type of article that TAC should uphold as a 'gold standard'. One reason I read, and comment on, TAC is that it offers thought provoking, and sometimes contrarian, articles (although the constant harping on transgender BS gets annoying).

America has always been somewhat corrupt. But, to borrow a phrase, wealth corrupts, and uber wealth corrupts absolutely.

As Warren Buffet says "There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning".

I have said it before, and I will say it again. During the next severe financial recession, if the rich are protected and coddled and everybody else is left to fend for themselves the ARs will come out of the closets when the sheriff comes to take the house or the pickup truck. My sense is that average Americans have had enough.

Imagine if the digital transfer of money was abolished. Imagine if everybody had to have their money in a local bank instead of on an account in one of the major banks. Imagine if Americans saw, day after day, armored vehicles showing up at local banks to offload sacks of currency that went to only a few individual accounts.

Instead, the elites get their financial statements showing an ever increasing pile of cash at their disposal. They see it, but nobody else does. But, if everybody physically saw the river of wealth flowing to the elites, I believe things would change. Fast. Right now this transfer of wealth is all digital, hidden from the view of 99.99% of Americans. And the elites, the banking industry, and the wealth management cabal prefer it that way.

Mike N in MA , , March 15, 2019 at 2:49 pm
You said it sister. Great article.

I am amazed by the media coverage of this scandal. Was anyone actually under the impression that college admissions were on the level before these Hollywood bozos were caught red handed?

BDavi52 , , March 15, 2019 at 2:49 pm
What total silliness!

No, the meritocracy is not dead; it's not even dying. It is, in fact, alive and well and the absolute best alternative to any other method used to separate wheat from chaff, cream from milk, diamonds from rust.

What else is there that is even half as good?

Are merit-based systems perfect? Heck, no. They've never been perfect; they will never be perfect. They are administered by people and people are flawed. Not just flawed in the way Singer, and Huffman are flawed (and those individuals are not simply flawed, they're corrupt) but flawed in the everyday kind of sense. Yes, we all have tendencies, biases, preferences that will -- inevitably -- leak into our selection process, no matter how objectively strict the process may be structured, no matter how rigorously fair we try to be.

So the fact that -- as with most things -- we can find a trace of corruption here that fact is meaningless. We can find evidence of human corruption, venality, greed, sloth, lust, envy (all of the 7 Deadly Sins) pretty much everywhere. But if we look at the 20M students enrolled in college, the vast majority are successfully & fairly admitted through merit-based filtering systems (which are more or less rigorous) which have been in place forever.

Ms. Boland tells us (with a straight face, no less) that "The U.S. is now a country where corruption is rampant and money buys both access and outcomes." But what does that even mean?

Certainly money can buy access and certainly money can buy outcomes. But that's what money does. She might as well assert that money can buy goods and services, and lions and tigers and bears -- oh my! Of course it can. Equally networks can 'buy' access and outcomes (if my best friend is working as the manager for Adele, I'm betting he could probably arrange my meeting Adele). Equally success & fame can buy access and outcomes. I'm betting Adele can probably arrange a meeting with Gwen Stefani .and both can arrange a meeting with Tom Brady. So what? Does the fact that money can be used to purchase goods & services mean money or the use of money is corrupt or morally degenerate? No, of course not. In truth, we all leverage what we have (whatever that may be) to get what we want. That's how life works. But the fact that we all do that does not mean we are all corrupt.

But yes, corruption does exist and can usually be found, in trace amounts -- as I said -- pretty much everywhere.

So is it rampant? Can I buy my way into the NBA or the NFL? If I go to Clark Hunt and give him $20M and tell him I want to play QB for the Chiefs, will he let me? Can I buy my way into the CEO's position at General Electric, Apple, Microsoft, Google, Sprint, Verizon, General Motors, Toyota or any of the Fortune 500? Heck, can I even buy my way into the Governor's mansion? To become the Mayor of Chicago? Or the Police Commissioner? No -- these things are not possible. But what I can buy is my presence on the media stage.

What happens after cannot be purchased.

So no, by any measure, corruption is not rampant. And though many things are, in fact, for sale -- not everything is. And no matter how much money I give anyone, I'm never gonna QB the Chiefs or play for the Lakers.

She tells us, "we are dominated by a rich and powerful elite." No, we're not. Most of us live our lives making the choices we want to make, given the means that each of us has, without any interference from any so-called "elite". The "elite" didn't tell me where to go to school, or where to get a job, or how to do my job, or when to have kids, or what loaf of bread to buy, or what brand of beer tastes best, or where to go on the family vacation. No one did. The elite obviously did not tell us who to vote for in the last presidential election.

Of course one of the problems with the "it's the fault of the elite" is the weight given institutions by people like Ms.Boland. "Oh, lordy, the Elite used their dominating power to get a brainless twit of a daughter into USC". Now if my kid were cheated out of a position at USC because the Twit got in, I'd be upset but beyond that who really cares if a Twit gets an undergraduate degree from USC or Yale .or Harvard .or wherever. Some of the brightest people I've known earned their degrees at Easter PolyTechnic U (some don't even have college degrees -- oh, the horror!); some of the stupidest have Ivy League credentials. So what?

Only if you care about the exclusivity of such a relatively meaningless thing as a degree from USC, does gaming the exclusivity matter.

She ends with the exhortation: "The result has been a gaping chasm through our society. Lives are destroyed because, rather than working for real merit-based systems and justice, we worship at the altar of false promises offered by our institutions. Instead we should be rolling up our sleeves and seeing Operation Varsity Blues for what it is: a call to action."

To do what, exactly?

Toss the baby and the bathwater? Substitute lottery selection for merit? Flip a coin? What?
Again the very best method is and always will be merit-based. That is the incentive which drives all of us: the hope that if we work hard enough and do well enough, that we will succeed. Anything else is just a lie.

Yes, we can root out this piece of corruption. Yes, we can build better and more rigorously fair systems. But in the end, merit is the only game in town. Far better to roll-up our sleeves and simply buckle down, Winsocki. There isn't anything better.

Sid Finster , , March 15, 2019 at 2:52 pm
Gee, and people wonder why the rubes think that the system is gamed, why the dogs no longer want to eat the dog food.
Jim Jatras , , March 15, 2019 at 3:22 pm
"While black people make up only 13 percent of the population, they make up 42 percent of death row and 35 percent of those who are executed. There are big racial disparities in charging, sentencing, plea bargaining, and executions, Department of Justice reviews have concluded, and black and brown people are disproportionately found to be innocent after landing on death row. The poor and disadvantaged thereby become grist for a system that cares nothing for them."

So to what degree are these "disparities" "disproportionate" in light of actual criminal behavior? To be "proportionate," would we expect criminal behavior to correlate exactly to racial, ethnic, sex, and age demographics of society as a whole?

Put another way, if you are a victim of a violent crime in America, what are the odds your assailant is, say, an elderly, Asian female? Approximately zero.

Conversely, what are the odds your assailant is a young, black male? Rather high, and if you yourself are a young, black male, approaching 100 percent.

Pam , , March 15, 2019 at 3:42 pm

Mostly thumbs up to this article. But why you gotta pick on Calvinism at the end? Anyway, your understanding of Calvinism is entirely upside down. Calvinists believe they are elect by divine grace, and salvation is something given by God through Jesus, which means you can't earn it and you most assuredly don't deserve it. Calvinism also teaches that all people are made in the image of God and worthy of respect, regardless of class or status. There's no "version" of Calvinism that teaches what you claim.

[Dec 02, 2019] The Myth of American Meritocracy by Ron Unz

Notable quotes:
"... Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother ..."
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... The Price of Admission ..."
"... And while I am not as focused on the poverty ve wealth dynamic. this century has revealed something very disappointing that you address. That the elites have done a very poor job of leading the ship of state, while still remaining in leadership belies such a bold hypocrisy in accountability, it's jarring. The article could actually be titled: "The Myth of the Best and the Brightest." ..."
"... They are teaching the elite how to drain all value from American companies, as the rich plan their move to China, the new land of opportunity. When 1% of the population controls such a huge portion of the wealth, patriotism becomes a loadstone to them. The elite are global. Places like Harvard cater to them, help train them to rule the world .but first they must remake it. ..."
"... In my high school, there were roughly 15 of us who had been advanced two years ahead in math. Of those, 10 were Jewish; only two of them had a 'Jewish' last name. In my graduate school class, half (7) are Jewish. None has a 'Jewish' last name. So I'm pretty dubious of the counting method that you use. ..."
"... Regarding the declining Jewish achievement, it looks like it can be primarily explained through demographics: "Intermarriage rates have risen from roughly 6% in 1950 to approximately 40–50% in the year 2000.[56][57] This, in combination with the comparatively low birthrate in the Jewish community, has led to a 5% decline in the Jewish population of the United States in the 1990s." ..."
"... Jewish surnames don't mean what they used to. And intermarriage rates are lowest among the low-performing and highly prolific Orthodox. ..."
"... A potentially bigger issue completely ignored by your article is how do colleges differentiate between 'foreign' students (overwhelmingly Asian) and American students. Many students being counted as "Asian American" are in reality wealthy and elite foreign "parachute kids" (an Asian term), dropped onto the generous American education system or into boarding schools to study for US entrance exams, qualify for resident tuition rates and scholarships, and to compete for "American" admissions slots, not for the usually limited 'foreign' admission slots. ..."
"... As some who is Jewish from the former Soviet Union, and who was denied even to take an entrance exam to a Moscow college, I am saddened to see that American educational admission process looks more and more "Soviet" nowadays. Kids are denied opportunities because of their ethnic or social background, in a supposedly free and fair country! ..."
"... Actually, Richard Feynman famously rejected genetic explanations of Jewish achievement (whether he was right or wrong to do so is another story), and aggressively resisted any attempts to list him as a "Jewish scientist" or "Jewish Nobel Prize winner." I am sure he would not cared in the slightest bit how many Jews were participating in the Physics Olympiad, as long as the quality of the students' work continued to be excellent. Here is a letter he wrote to a woman seeking to include him in a book about Jewish achievement in the sciences. ..."
"... It would be interesting to know how well "true WASPS" do in admissions. This could perhaps be estimated by counting Slavic and Italian names, or Puritan New England last names. I would expect this group to do almost as well as Jews (not quite as well, because their ability would be in the lower end of the Legacy group). ..."
"... The missing variable in this analysis is income/class. While Unz states that many elite colleges have the resources to fund every student's education, and in fact practice need-blind admissions, the student bodies are skewed towards the very highest percentile of the income and wealth distribution. SAT scores may also scale with parents' income as well. ..."
"... Having worked with folks from all manner of "elite" and not so elite schools in a technical field, the main conclusion I was able to draw was folks who went to "elite" colleges had a greater degree of entitlement. And that's it. ..."
"... My own position has always been strongly in the former camp, supporting meritocracy over diversity in elite admissions. ..."
"... The Reality of American Mediocrity ..."
"... The central test of fairness in any admissions system is to ask this simple question. Was there anyone admitted under that system admitted over someone else who was denied admission and with better grades and SAT scores and poorer ? If the answer is in the affirmative, then that system is unfair , if it is in the negative then the system is fair. ..."
"... Harvard ranks only 8th after Penn State in the production of undergrads who eventually get Doctorates in Science and Engineering. Of course Berkeley has the bragging rights for that kind of attribute. ..."
"... There is an excellent analysis of this article at The Occidental Observer by Kevin MacDonald, "Ron Unz on the Illusory American Meritocracy". The MSM is ignoring Unz's article for obvious reasons. ..."
"... Could it be that the goal of financial, rather than academic, achievement, makes many young people uninterested in competing in the science and math competitions sought out by the Asian students? I ..."
"... America never promised success through merit or equality. That is the American "dream." ..."
"... Anyone famliar with sociology and the research on social stratification knows that meritocracy is a myth; for example, if one's parents are in the bottom decile of the the income scale, the child has only a 3% chance to reach the top decile in his or her lifetime. In fact, in contrast to the Horatio Alger ideology, the U.S. has lower rates of upward mobility than almost any other developed country. Social classses exist and they tend to reproduce themselves. ..."
"... The rigid class structure of the the U.S. is one of the reasons I support progressive taxation; wealth may not always be inherited, but life outcomes are largely determined by the class position of one's parents. In this manner, it is also a myth to believe that wealth is an individual creation;most financially successful individuals have enjoyed the benefits of class privilege: good and safe schools, two-parent families, tutors, and perhaps most important of all, high expecatations and positive peer socialization (Unz never mentions the importants of peeer groups, which data show exert a strong causal unfluence on academic performance). ..."
"... And I would challenge Unz's assertion that many high-performing Asians come from impovershed backgrounds: many of them may undereport their income as small business owners. I believe that Asian success derives not only from their class background but their culture in which the parents have authority and the success of the child is crucual to the honor of the family. As they assimilate to the more individualist American ethos, I predict that their academic success will level off just as it has with Jews. ..."
"... All I can say is see a book: "Ivy League Fools and Felons"' by Mack Roth. Lots of them are kids of corrupt people in all fields. ..."
Dec 28, 2016 | www.unz.com
November 28, 2012 | The American Conservative •
Just before the Labor Day weekend, a front page New York Times story broke the news of the largest cheating scandal in Harvard University history, in which nearly half the students taking a Government course on the role of Congress had plagiarized or otherwise illegally collaborated on their final exam. [1] Each year, Harvard admits just 1600 freshmen while almost 125 Harvard students now face possible suspension over this single incident. A Harvard dean described the situation as "unprecedented."

But should we really be so surprised at this behavior among the students at America's most prestigious academic institution? In the last generation or two, the funnel of opportunity in American society has drastically narrowed, with a greater and greater proportion of our financial, media, business, and political elites being drawn from a relatively small number of our leading universities, together with their professional schools. The rise of a Henry Ford, from farm boy mechanic to world business tycoon, seems virtually impossible today, as even America's most successful college dropouts such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg often turn out to be extremely well-connected former Harvard students. Indeed, the early success of Facebook was largely due to the powerful imprimatur it enjoyed from its exclusive availability first only at Harvard and later restricted to just the Ivy League.

NetWealth During this period, we have witnessed a huge national decline in well-paid middle class jobs in the manufacturing sector and other sources of employment for those lacking college degrees, with median American wages having been stagnant or declining for the last forty years. Meanwhile, there has been an astonishing concentration of wealth at the top, with America's richest 1 percent now possessing nearly as much net wealth as the bottom 95 percent. [2]

This situation, sometimes described as a "winner take all society," leaves families desperate to maximize the chances that their children will reach the winners' circle, rather than risk failure and poverty or even merely a spot in the rapidly deteriorating middle class. And the best single means of becoming such an economic winner is to gain admission to a top university, which provides an easy ticket to the wealth of Wall Street or similar venues, whose leading firms increasingly restrict their hiring to graduates of the Ivy League or a tiny handful of other top colleges. [3] On the other side, finance remains the favored employment choice for Harvard, Yale or Princeton students after the diplomas are handed out. [4]

The Battle for Elite College Admissions

As a direct consequence, the war over college admissions has become astonishingly fierce, with many middle- or upper-middle class families investing quantities of time and money that would have seemed unimaginable a generation or more ago, leading to an all-against-all arms race that immiserates the student and exhausts the parents. The absurd parental efforts of an Amy Chua, as recounted in her 2010 bestseller Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother , were simply a much more extreme version of widespread behavior among her peer-group, which is why her story resonated so deeply among our educated elites. Over the last thirty years, America's test-prep companies have grown from almost nothing into a $5 billion annual industry, allowing the affluent to provide an admissions edge to their less able children. Similarly, the enormous annual tuition of $35,000 charged by elite private schools such as Dalton or Exeter is less for a superior high school education than for the hope of a greatly increased chance to enter the Ivy League. [5]

Many New York City parents even go to enormous efforts to enroll their children in the best possible pre-Kindergarten program, seeking early placement on the educational conveyer belt which eventually leads to Harvard. [6] Others cut corners in a more direct fashion, as revealed in the huge SAT cheating rings recently uncovered in affluent New York suburbs, in which students were paid thousands of dollars to take SAT exams for their wealthier but dimmer classmates. [7]

But given such massive social and economic value now concentrated in a Harvard or Yale degree, the tiny handful of elite admissions gatekeepers enjoy enormous, almost unprecedented power to shape the leadership of our society by allocating their supply of thick envelopes. Even billionaires, media barons, and U.S. Senators may weigh their words and actions more carefully as their children approach college age. And if such power is used to select our future elites in a corrupt manner, perhaps the inevitable result is the selection of corrupt elites, with terrible consequences for America. Thus, the huge Harvard cheating scandal, and perhaps also the endless series of financial, business, and political scandals which have rocked our country over the last decade or more, even while our national economy has stagnated.

Just a few years ago Pulitzer Prize-winning former Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Golden published The Price of Admission , a devastating account of the corrupt admissions practices at so many of our leading universities, in which every sort of non-academic or financial factor plays a role in privileging the privileged and thereby squeezing out those high-ability, hard-working students who lack any special hook.

In one particularly egregious case, a wealthy New Jersey real estate developer, later sent to Federal prison on political corruption charges, paid Harvard $2.5 million to help ensure admission of his completely under-qualified son. [8] When we consider that Harvard's existing endowment was then at $15 billion and earning almost $7 million each day in investment earnings, we see that a culture of financial corruption has developed an absurd illogic of its own, in which senior Harvard administrators sell their university's honor for just a few hours worth of its regular annual income, the equivalent of a Harvard instructor raising a grade for a hundred dollars in cash.

An admissions system based on non-academic factors often amounting to institutionalized venality would seem strange or even unthinkable among the top universities of most other advanced nations in Europe or Asia, though such practices are widespread in much of the corrupt Third World. The notion of a wealthy family buying their son his entrance into the Grandes Ecoles of France or the top Japanese universities would be an absurdity, and the academic rectitude of Europe's Nordic or Germanic nations is even more severe, with those far more egalitarian societies anyway tending to deemphasize university rankings.

EliteCommInc., November 28, 2012 at 11:09 am GMT

Well, legacy programs are alive and well. According to the read, here's the problem:

"The research certainly supports the widespread perception that non-academic factors play a major role in the process, including athletic ability and "legacy" status. But as we saw earlier, even more significant are racial factors, with black ancestry being worth the equivalent of 310 points, Hispanics gaining 130 points, and Asian students being penalized by 140 points, all relative to white applicants on the 1600 point Math and Reading SAT scale."

These arbitrary point systems while well intended are not a reflection of AA design. School lawyers in a race not be penalized for past practices, implemented their own versions of AA programs. The numbers are easy to challenge because they aren't based on tangible or narrow principles. It's weakneses are almost laughable. Because there redal goal was to thwart any real challenge that institutions were idle in addressing past acts of discrimination. To boost their diversity issues, asians were heavily recruited. Since AA has been in place a lot of faulty measures were egaged in: Quotas for quotas sake. Good for PR, lousy for AA and issues it was designed to address.

I think the statistical data hides a very important factor and practice. Most jews in this country are white as such , and as such only needed to change their names and hide behaviors as a strategy of surviving the entrance gauntlet. That segregation created a black collegiate system with it's own set of elite qualifiers demonstrates that this model isn't limited to the Ivy league.

That an elite system is devised and practiced in members of a certain club networks so as to maintain their elite status, networks and control, this is a human practice. And it once served as something to achieve. It was thought that the avenues of becoming an elite were there if one wanted to strive for it. Hard work, honesty, persistence, results . . . should yield X.

And while I am not as focused on the poverty ve wealth dynamic. this century has revealed something very disappointing that you address. That the elites have done a very poor job of leading the ship of state, while still remaining in leadership belies such a bold hypocrisy in accountability, it's jarring. The article could actually be titled: "The Myth of the Best and the Brightest."

I don't think it's just some vindictive intent. and while Americans have always known and to an extent accepted that for upper income citizens, normal was not the same as normal on the street. Fairness, was not the same jn practice nor sentiment. What may becoming increasing intolerant has been the obvious lack of accountability among elites. TARP looked like the elites looking out for each other as opposed the ship of state. I have read three books on the financials and they do not paint a pretty portrait of Ivy League leadership as to ethics, cheating, lying, covering up, and shamelessly passing the buck. I will be reading this again I am sure.

It's sad to think that we may be seeing te passing of an era. in which one aspired to be an elite not soley for their wealth, but the model they provided od leadership real or imagined. Perhaps, it passed long ago, and we are all not just noticing.
I appreciated you conclusions, not sure that I am comfortable with some of the solutions.

EliteCommInc. November 28, 2012 at 11:21 am GMT

Since I still hanker to be an elite in some manner, It is interesting to note my rather subdued response to the cheating. Sadly, this too may be an open secret of standard fair - and that is very very sad. And disappointing. Angering even.

Russell Seitz November 28, 2012 at 1:51 pm GMT

The shifting social demography of deans, house masters and admissions committees may be a more important metric than the composition of the student body, as it determines the shape of the curriculum, and the underlying culture of the university as a legacy in itself.

If Ron harrows the literary journals of the Jackson era with equal diligence. he may well turn up an essay or two expressing deep shock at Unitarians admitting too many of the Lord's preterite sheep to Harvard, or lamenting the rise of Methodism at Yale and the College of New Jersey.

Sean Gillhoolley November 28, 2012 at 3:06 pm GMT

Harvard is a university, much like Princeton and Yale, that continues based on its reputation, something that was earned in the past. When the present catches up to them people will regard them as nepotistic cauldrons of corruption.

Look at the financial disaster that befell the USA and much of the globe back in 2008. Its genesis can be found in the clever minds of those coming out of their business schools (and, oddly enough, their Physics programs as well).

They are teaching the elite how to drain all value from American companies, as the rich plan their move to China, the new land of opportunity. When 1% of the population controls such a huge portion of the wealth, patriotism becomes a loadstone to them. The elite are global. Places like Harvard cater to them, help train them to rule the world .but first they must remake it.

• Replies: @Part White, Part Native I agree, common people would never think of derivatives , nor make loans based on speculation
Rob in CT November 28, 2012 at 4:05 pm GMT

First, I appreciated the length and depth of your article.

Having said that, to boil it down to its essence:

Subconcious bias/groupthink + affirmative action/diversity focus + corruption + innumeracy = student bodies at elite institutions that are wildly skewed vis-a-vis both: 1) the ethnic makeup of the general population; and 2) the makeup of our top-performing students.

Since these institutions are pipelines to power, this matters.

I rather doubt that wage stagnation (which appears to have begun in ~1970) can be pinned on this – that part stuck out, because there are far more plausible causes. To the extent you're merely arguing that our elite failed to counter the trend, ok, but I'm not sure a "better" elite would have either. The trend, after all, favored the elite.

Anyway, I find your case is plausible.

Your inner/outer circle hybrid option is interesting. One (perhaps minor) thing jumps out at me: kids talk. The innies are going to figure out who they are and who the outies are. The outies might have their arrogance tempered, but the innies? I suspect they'd be even *more* arrogant than such folks are now (all the more so because they'd have better justification for their arrogance), but I could be wrong.

Perhaps more significantly, this:

But if it were explicitly known that the vast majority of Harvard students had merely been winners in the application lottery, top businesses would begin to cast a much wider net in their employment outreach, and while the average Harvard student would probably be academically stronger than the average graduate of a state college, the gap would no longer be seen as so enormous, with individuals being judged more on their own merits and actual achievements

Is a very good reason for Harvard, et al. to resist the idea. I think you're right that this would be a good thing for the country, but it would be bad for Harvard. I think the odds of convincing Harvard to do it out of the goodness of their administrators hearts is unlikely. You are basically asking them to purposefully damage their brand.

All in all, I think you're on to something here. I have my quibbles (the wage stagnation thing, and the graph with Chinese vs USA per capita growth come on, apples and oranges there!), but overall I think I agree that your proposal is likely superior to the status quo.

Bryan November 28, 2012 at 5:12 pm GMT

Don't forget the mess one finds after they ARE admitted to these schools. I dropped out of Columbia University in 2010.

You can "make it" on an Ivy-league campus if you are a conservative-Republican-type with all the rich country-club connections that liberals use to stereotype.

Or you can succeed if you are a poor or working-class type who is willing to toe the Affirmative Action party line and be a good "progressive" Democrat (Obama stickers, "Gay Pride" celebrations, etc.)

If you come from a poor or working-class background and are religious, or culturally conservative or libertarian in any way, you might as well save your time and money. You're not welcome, period. And if you're a military veteran you WILL be actively persecuted, no matter what the news reports claim.

It sucks. Getting accepted to Columbia was a dream come true for me. The reality broke my heart.

Anonymous November 28, 2012 at 5:33 pm GMT

Regarding the overrepresentation of Jewish students compared to their actual academic merit, I think the author overstates the role bias (subjective, or otherwise) plays in this:

1) , a likely explanation is that Jewish applicants are a step ahead in knowing how to "play the admissions game." They therefore constitute a good percentage of applicants that admission committees view as "the total package." (at least a higher percentage than scores alone would yield). Obviously money and connections plays a role in them knowing to say precisely what adcoms want to hear, but in any case, at the end of the day, if adcoms are looking for applicants with >1400 SATs, "meaningful" life experiences/accomplishments, and a personal statement that can weave it all together into a compelling narrative, the middle-upper-class east coast Jewish applicant probably constitutes a good percentage of such "total package" applicants. I will concede however that this explanation only works in explaining the prevalence of jews vs. whites in general. With respect to Asians, however, since they are likely being actively and purposefully discriminated against by adcoms, having the "complete package" would be less helpful to them.

2) Another factor is that, regardless of ethnicity, alumni children get a boost and since in the previous generation Jewish applicants were the highest achieving academic group, many of these lesser qualified jews admitted are children of alumni.

3) That ivy colleges care more about strong verbal scores than mathematics (i.e., they prefer 800V 700M over 700V 800M), and Jewish applicants make up a higher proportion of the high verbal score breakdowns.

4) Last, and perhaps more importantly we do not really know the extent of Jewish representation compared to their academic merit. Unlike admitted Asian applicants, who we know, on average, score higher than white applicants, we have no similar numbers of Jewish applicants. The PSAT numbers are helpful, but hardly dispositive considering those aren't the scores colleges use in making their decision information.

Scott McConnell November 28, 2012 at 5:39 pm GMT

@Bryan– Getting accepted to Columbia was a dream come true for me. The reality broke my heart.

I'm touched by this. I've spent tons of time at Columbia, a generation ago -- and my background fit fine -- the kind of WASP background Jews found exotic and interesting. But I can see your point, sad to say. There are other great schools -- Fordham, where my wife went to law school at night, has incredible esprit de corps - and probably, person for person, has as many lawyers doing good and interesting work as Columbia.

HAR November 28, 2012 at 6:10 pm GMT

"There are other great schools–Fordham, where my wife went to law school at night, has incredible esprit de corps - and probably, person for person, has as many lawyers doing good and interesting work as Columbia."

Someone doesn't know much about the legal market.

KXB November 28, 2012 at 6:18 pm GMT

"Tiffany was also rejected by all her other prestigious college choices, including Yale, Penn, Duke, and Wellsley, an outcome which greatly surprised and disappointed her immigrant father.88″

In the fall of 1990, my parents had me apply to 10 colleges. I had the profile of many Indian kids at the time – ranked in the top 10 of the class, editor of school paper, Boy Scouts. SAT scores could have been better, but still strong. Over 700 in all achievement tests save Bio, which was 670.

Rejected by 5 schools, waitlisted by 3, accepted into 2 – one of them the state univ.

One of my classmates, whose family was from Thailand, wound up in the same predicament as me. His response, "Basketball was designed to keep the Asian man down."

The one black kid in our group – got into MIT, dropped out after one year because he could not hack it. The kid from our school who should have gone, from an Italian-American family, and among the few who did not embrace the guido culture, went to Rennsealer instead, and had professional success after.

Anonymous November 28, 2012 at 6:39 pm GMT

As a University of Chicago alum, I infer that by avoiding the label "elite" on such a nifty chart we can be accurately categorized as "meritocratic" by The American Conservative.

Then again, this article doesn't even purport to ask why elite universities might be in the business of EDUCATING a wider population of students, or how that education takes place.

Perhaps, by ensuring that "the best" students are not concentrated in only 8 universities is why the depth and quality of America's education system remains the envy of the world.

a November 28, 2012 at 6:43 pm GMT

Two comments:

In my high school, there were roughly 15 of us who had been advanced two years ahead in math. Of those, 10 were Jewish; only two of them had a 'Jewish' last name. In my graduate school class, half (7) are Jewish. None has a 'Jewish' last name. So I'm pretty dubious of the counting method that you use.

Also, it's clear that there are Asian quotas at these schools, but it's not clear that Intel Science Fairs, etc, are the best way to estimate what level of talent Asians have relative to other groups.

I was curious so I google High School Poetry Competition, High School Constitution Competition, High School Debating Competition. None of the winners here seem to have an especially high Asian quotient. So maybe a non-technical (liberal arts) university would settle on ~25-30% instead of ~40% asian? And perhaps a (small) part of the problem is a preponderance of Asian applicants excelling in technical fields, leading to competition against each other rather than the general population? Just wonderin'

Weighty Commentary November 28, 2012 at 6:43 pm GMT

Regarding the declining Jewish achievement, it looks like it can be primarily explained through demographics: "Intermarriage rates have risen from roughly 6% in 1950 to approximately 40–50% in the year 2000.[56][57] This, in combination with the comparatively low birthrate in the Jewish community, has led to a 5% decline in the Jewish population of the United States in the 1990s."

Jewish surnames don't mean what they used to. And intermarriage rates are lowest among the low-performing and highly prolific Orthodox.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Jews#Demographics

Jewish birth rates have been falling faster than the white population, especially for the non-Orthodox:

"In contrast to the ongoing trends of assimilation, some communities within American Jewry, such as Orthodox Jews, have significantly higher birth rates and lower intermarriage rates, and are growing rapidly. The proportion of Jewish synagogue members who were Orthodox rose from 11% in 1971 to 21% in 2000, while the overall Jewish community declined in number. [60] In 2000, there were 360,000 so-called "ultra-orthodox" (Haredi) Jews in USA (7.2%).[61] The figure for 2006 is estimated at 468,000 (9.4%).[61]"

http://www.jewishdatabank.org/Reports/RecentTrends_Sheskin_2011.pdf

"a very low fertility rate of 1.9, of which 1.4 will be raised as Jews (2.15 is replacement rate)"

http://www.aish.com/jw/s/48899452.html

"As against the overall average of 1.86 children per Jewish woman, an informed estimate gives figures ranging upward from 3.3 children in "modern Orthodox" families to 6.6 in Haredi or "ultra-Orthodox" families to a whopping 7.9 in families of Hasidim."

These statistics would suggest that half or more of Jewish children are being born into these lower-performing groups. Given their very low intermarriage rates, a huge portion of the secular, Reform, and Conservative Jews must be intermarrying (more than half if the aggregate 43% intermarriage figure is right). And the high-performing groups may now be around 1 child per woman or lower, and worse for the youngest generation.

So a collapse in Jewish representation in youth science prizes can be mostly explained by the collapse of the distinct non-Orthodox Jewish youth.

Incidentally, intermarriage also produces people with Jewish ancestry who get classified as gentiles using last names or self-identification, reducing Jewish-gentile gaps by bringing up nominal gentile scores at the same time as nominal-Jewish scores are lowered.

Adam November 28, 2012 at 6:49 pm GMT

The center of power in this country being located in the Northeast is nothing new. Whether it be in it's Ivy League schools or the ownership of natural resources located in other regions, particularly the South, the Northeast has always had a disproportionate share of influence in the power structures, particularly political and financial, of this nation. This is one of the reasons the definition of "white" when reviewing ethnicity is so laughably inaccurate. There is a huge difference in opportunity between WASP or Jewish in the Northeast, for instance, and those of Scots Irish ancestory in the mountain south. Hopefully statistical analysis such as this can break open that stranglehold, especially as it is directly impacting a minority group in a negative fashion. Doing this exercise using say, white Baptists compared to other white subgroups, while maybe equally valid in the results, would be seen as racist by the very Ivy League system that is essentially practicing a form of racism.

Bryan November 28, 2012 at 6:50 pm GMT

Scott, thanks for your words of commiseration.

Yeah, my ultimate goal was to attend law school, and a big part of the heartbreak for me–or heartburn, the more cynical would call it–was seeing how skewed and absurd the admissions process to law school is.

I have no doubt that I could have eventually entered into a "top tier" law school, and that was a dream of mine also. I met with admissions officers from Duke, Harvard, Stanford, Fordham, etc. I was encouraged. I had the grades and background for it.

But–and I'm really not trying to sound corny 0r self-important here–what does it profit a man to gain the world and lose his soul? I really don't feel that I'm exaggerating when I say that that's exactly how it felt to me.

The best experience I had while In New York was working as an after-school programs administrator for P.S. 136, but that was only because of the kids. They'll be old and bitter and cynical soon enough.

At one point it occurred to me that I should have just started claiming "Black" as my ethnicity when I first started attending college as an adult. I never attended high-school so it couldn't have been disproved. I'm part Sicilian so I could pass for 1/4 African-American. Then I would have received the preference toward admission that, say, Michael Jordan's kids or Barack Obama's kids will receive when they claim their Ivy-league diplomas. I should have hid the "white privilege" I've enjoyed as the son of a fisherman and a waitress from one of the most economically-depressed states in America.

The bottom line is that those colleges are political brainwashing centers for a country I no longer believe in. I arrived on campus in 2009 and I'm not joking at all when I say I was actively persecuted for being a veteran and a conservative who was not drinking the Obama Kool-aid. Some big fat African-American lady, a back-room "administrator" for Columbia, straight-up threw my VA benefits certification in the garbage, so my money got delayed by almost two months. I had no idea what was going on. I had a wife and children to support.

The fact that technology has enabled us to sit here in real-time and correspond back-and-forth about the state of things doesn't really change the state of things. They are irredeemable. This country is broke and broken.

If Abraham Lincoln were born today in America he would wind up like "Uncle Teardrop" from Winter's Bone. Back then, in order to be an attorney, you simply studied law and starting trying cases. If you were good at it then you were accepted and became a lawyer. Today, something has been lost. There is no fixing it. I don't want to waste my time trying to help by being "productive" to the new tower of Babel or pretending to contribute.

Anonymous November 28, 2012 at 8:44 pm GMT

Perhaps only one thing you left out, which is especially important with regard to Jewish enrollment and applications at Ivy leagues, and other schools as well.
Jewish high school graduates actively look out for campuses with large Jewish populations, where they feel more comfortable.
I don't know the figures, but I believe Dartmouth, for example, has a much smaller Jewish population than Columbia, and it will stay that way because of a positive feedback loop. (i.e. Jews would rather be at Columbia than Dartmouth, or sometimes even rather be at NYU than Dartmouth). This explains some of the difference among different schools (and not solely better admission standards).

This is also especially relevant to your random lottery idea, which will inevitably lead to certain schools being overwhelmingly Asian, others being overwhelmingly Jewish, etc., because the percentage of applicants from every ethnicity is different in every school. This will necessarily eliminate any diversity which may or may not have existed until now.

TM says: • Website November 28, 2012 at 9:51 pm GMT

I like the lottery admissions idea a lot but the real remedy for the US education system would be to abandon the absurd elite cult altogether. There is not a shred of evidence that graduates of so-called elite institutions make good leaders. Many of them are responsible for the economic crash and some of them have brought us the disaster of the Bush presidency.

Many better functioning countries – Germany, the Scandinavians – do not have elite higher education systems. When I enrolled to University in Germany, I showed up at the enrollment office the summer before the academic year started, filled out a form (1), and provided a certified copy of my Abitur certificate proving that I was academically competent to attend University. I never wasted a minute on any of the admissions games that American middle class teenagers and their parents are subjected to. It would surely have hurt my sense of dignity to be forced to jump through all these absurd and arbitrary hoops.

Americans, due to their ignorance of everything happening outside their borders, have no clue that a system in which a person is judged by what "school" they attended is everything but normal. It is part of the reason for American dysfunction.

Luke Lea November 28, 2012 at 10:04 pm GMT

Since they are the pool from which tomorrow's governing elites will be chosen, I'd much rather see Ivy League student bodies which reflected the full ethnic and geographic diversity of the US. Right now rural and small town Americans and those of Catholic and Protestant descent who live in the South and Mid-West - roughly half the population - are woefully under-represented, which explains why their economic interests have been neglected over the last forty years. We live in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic representative democracy and our policy-making elites must reflect that diversity. Else the country will come apart.

Thus I recommend 'affirmative action for all' in our elite liberal arts colleges and universities (though not our technical schools). Student bodies should be represent 'the best and the brightest' of every ethnic group and geographical area of the country. Then the old school ties will truly knit our society together in a way that is simply not happening today.

A side benefit - and I mean this seriously - is that our second and third tier colleges and universities would be improved by an influx of Asian and Ashkenazi students (even though the very best would still go to Harvard).

Jack November 28, 2012 at 10:07 pm GMT

I believe that this article raises – and then inappropriately immediately dismisses – the simplest and most likely reason for the over-representation of Jewish students at Ivy League Schools in the face of their declining bulk academic performance:

They apply to those schools in vastly disproportionate numbers.

Without actual data on the ethnicity of the applicants to these and other schools, we simply cannot rule out this simple and likely explanation.

It is quite clear that a large current of Jewish American culture places a great emphasis on elite college attendance, and among elite colleges, specifically values the Ivy League and its particular cache as opposed to other elite institutions such as MIT. Also, elite Jewish American culture, moreso than elite Asian American culture, encourages children to go far away from home for college, considering such a thing almost a right of passage, while other ethnic groups tend to encourage children to remain closer. A high performing Asian student from, say, California, is much more likely to face familial pressure to stay close to home for undergrad (Berkeley, UCLA, etc) than a high performing Jewish student from the same high school, who will likely be encouraged by his or her family to apply to many universities "back east".

Without being able to systematically compare – with real data – the ethnicities of the applicants to those offered admission, these conclusions simply cannot be accepted.

Pat Boyle November 28, 2012 at 10:30 pm GMT

Different expectations for different races should worry traditional Americans.

If we become comfortable with different academic standards for Asians will we soon be expected to apply different laws to them also? Will we apply different laws or at least different interpretations of the same laws to blacks?

The association of East Asians with CalTech is now as strong as the association of blacks with violent crime. Can not race conscious jurisprudence be far behind?

Around a millenium ago in England it mattered to the court if you were a commoner or a noble. Nobles could exercise 'high justice' with impunity. They were held to different standards. Their testimony counted for more in court. The law was class concious.

Then we had centuries of reform. We had 'Common Law'. By the time of our revolution the idea that all were equal before the law was a very American kind of idea. We were proud that unlike England we did not have a class system.

Today we seem to be on the threshold of a similar sytem of privileges and rights based on race. Let me give an example. If there were a domestic riot of somekind and a breakdown of public order, the authorities might very well impose a cufew. That makes good sense for black male teens but makes little or no sense for elderly Chinese women. I can envision a time when we have race specific policies for curfews and similar measures.

It seems to be starting in schools. It could be that the idea of equality before the law was an idea that only flourished between the fifteenth century and the twenty first.

Anonymous November 28, 2012 at 11:06 pm GMT

"But filling out a few very simple forms and having their test scores and grades scores automatically forwarded to a list of possible universities would give them at least the same chance in the lottery as any other applicant whose academic skills were adequate."

They get a lot of applications. I am guessing they chuck about 1/2 or more due to the application being incomplete, the applicant did not follow instructions, the application was sloppy, or just obviously poor grades/test scores. The interview and perhaps the essay and recommendations are necessary to chuck weirdos and psychopaths you do not want sitting next to King Fahd Jr. So the "byzantine" application process is actually necessary to reduce the number of applicants to be evaluated.

Kelly November 28, 2012 at 11:15 pm GMT

I have a friend who went to Stanford with me in the early 80s. She has two sons who recently applied to Stanford. The older son had slightly better grades and test scores. The younger son is gay. Guess which one got in?

Anonymous November 28, 2012 at 11:31 pm GMT

Bryan,

If you were in Columbia's GS school, (or even if you were CC/SEAS/Barnard) you ought to reach out to some of on-campus and alumni veteran's groups. They can help you maneuver through the school. (I know there's one that meets at a cafe on 122 and Broadway) CU can be a lonely and forbidding place for anyone and that goes double for GSers and quadruple for veterans.

You ought to give it another go. Especially if you aren't going somewhere else that's better. Reach out to your deans and make a fuss. No one in the bureaucracy wants to help but you can force them to their job.

FN November 28, 2012 at 11:44 pm GMT

Mr. Unz, the issues of jewish/gentile intermarriage and the significance of jewish-looking names do indeed merit more consideration than they were given in this otherwise very enlightening article.

What would the percentage of jews in Ivy-League universities look like if the methodology used to determine the percentage of jewish NMS semifinalists were applied to the list of Ivy League students (or some available approximation of it)?

Ben K November 29, 2012 at 12:24 am GMT

For background: I'm an Asian-American who worked briefly in legacy admissions at an Ivy and another non-Ivy top-tier, both while in school (work-study) and as an alum on related committees.

Mendy Finkel's observations are spot on. Re: her 1st point, personal "presentation" or "branding" is often overlooked by Asian applicants. An admission officer at another Ivy joked they drew straws to assign "Night of a 1000 Lee's", so accomplished-but-indistinguishable was that group.

A few points on the Asian analysis:

1. I think this analysis would benefit from expanding beyond HYP/Ivies when considering the broader meritocracy issue. Many Asians esteem technical-leaning schools over academically-comparable liberal arts ones, even if the student isn't a science major. When I was in college in the 90′s, most Asian parents would favor a Carnegie Mellon or Hopkins over Brown, Columbia or Dartmouth (though HYP, of course, had its magnetic appeal). The enrollment percentages reflect this, and while some of this is changing, this is a fairly persistent pattern.

2. Fundraising is crucial. The Harvard Class of '77 example isn't the most telling kind of number. In my experience, Jewish alumni provide a critical mass in both the day-to-day fundraising and the resultant dollars. And they play a key role, both as givers and getters, in the signature capital campaign commitments (univ hospitals, research centers, etc.). This isn't unique to Jewish Ivy alumni; Catholic alumni of ND or Georgetown provide similar support. But it isn't clear what the future overall Asian commitment to the Ivy "culture of fundraising" will be, which will continue to be a net negative in admissions.

Sidenote: While Asians greatly value the particular civic good, they are uneasy with it being so hinged to an opaque private sector, in this case, philanthropy. That distinction, blown out a bit, speaks to some of the Republican "Asian gap".

3. I would not place too much weight on NMS comparisons between Asians and Jews. In my experience, most Asians treat the PSAT seriously, but many established Jews do not – the potential scholarship money isn't a factor, "NMS semifinalist" isn't an admissions distinction, and as Mendy highlighted, colleges don't see the scores.

On a different note, while the "weight" of an Ivy degree is significant, it's prestige is largely concentrated in the Northeast and among some overseas. In terms of facilitating access and mobility, a USC degree might serve you better in SoCal, as would an SMU one in TX.

And like J Harlan, I also hope the recent monopoly of Harvard and Yale grads in the presidency will end. No doubt, places like Whittier College, Southwest Texas State Teachers' College, and Eureka College gave earlier presidents valuable perspectives and experience that informed their governing.

But thank you, Ron, for a great provocative piece. Very well worth the read.

Anonymous November 29, 2012 at 12:28 am GMT

Hey Ron, your next article should be on the military academies, and all those legacies that go back to the Revolutionary War. How do you get into the French military academy, and do the cadets trace their family history back to the soldiers of Napoleon or Charles Martel or whatever?

M_Young November 29, 2012 at 1:46 am GMT

"Thus, there appears to be no evidence for racial bias against Asians, even excluding the race-neutral impact of athletic recruitment, legacy admissions, and geographical diversity."

Yes, at UCLA, at least up to 2004, Asian and white admits had nearly identical SATs and GPAs.

Further, it just isn't the case that Asians are so spectacular as people seem to think. Their average on the SAT Verbal is slightly less than whites, their average on SAT Writing is slightly more. Only in math do they have a significant advantage, 59 points or .59 standard deviation. Total advantage is about .2 over the three tests. Assuming that Harvard or Yale admit students at +3 standard deviations overall, and plugging the relative group quantiles +(3, 2.8) into a normal distribution, we get that .14% of white kids would get admitted, versus .26% of Asian kids. Or, 1.85 Asian kids for every one white kid.

But, last year 4.25 times as many whites as Asians took the SAT, so there still should be about 2.28 times as many white kids being admitted as Asians (4.25/1.85).

On GPA, whites and Asians are also pretty similar on average, 3.52 for Asians who took the SAT, 3.45 for whites who took the SAT. So that shouldn't be much of a factor.

Anonymous November 29, 2012 at 4:04 am GMT

I am a Cadet at the US Military Academy at West Point and generally pretty familiar with trans-national Academy admissions processes. There's an excellent comparative study of worldwide military academy admissions that was done in the late '90′s you might find interesting (IIRC it was done by a group in the NATO Defence College) and I think you will find that although soldiers are often proud of their family histories to a fault, it is not what controls entrance to the officer corps in most countries.

"Legacy" is definitely meaningless in US Military Academy admissions, although can be very helpful in the separate process of securing a political appointment to attend the Academy once accepted for admission and in an Army career. West Point is not comparable to the Ivy League schools in the country, because (ironically) the admissions department that makes those comparisons lets in an inordinate number of unqualified candidates and ensures our student body includes a wide range of candidates, from people who are unquestionably "Ivy League material" to those who don't have the intellect to hack it at any "elite" institution.

Prior the changes in admissions policies and JFK ordering an doubling of the size of the Corps of Cadets in the '60′s, we didn't have this problem. But, I digress. My point is, the Academy admissions system is very meritocratic.

Todd November 29, 2012 at 5:49 am GMT

Thank you for the great article.

I am a Jewish alum of UPenn, and graduated in the late 90s. That puts me almost a generation ago, which may be before the supposed Jewish decline you write about. I was in an 80%+ Jewish fraternity, and at least 2/3 of my overall network of friends at Penn was also Jewish. As was mentioned earlier, I have serious qualms with your methods for counting Jews based upon last name.

Based upon my admittedly non-scientific sample, the percentage of us who had traditionally Jewish last names was well under half and closer to 25%. My own last name is German, and you would never know I am Jewish based solely upon my name (nor would you based upon the surname of 3/4 of my grandparents, despite my family being 100% Jewish with no intermarriages until my sister).

By contrast, Asians are much easier to identify based upon name. You may overcount certain names like Lee that are also Caucasian, but it is highly unlikely that you will miss any Asian students when your criterion is last name.

Admittedly I skimmed parts of the article, but were other criterion used to more accurately identify the groups?

Interesting November 29, 2012 at 7:02 am GMT

Great article.

The Jewish presence is definitely understated by just looking at surnames. As is the American Indian.

My maternal grandfather was Ashkenazi and his wife was 1/2 Ashkenazi and 1/4 Apache. He changed his name to a Scots surname that matched his red hair so as to get ahead as a business man in 20s due to KKK and anti-German feelings at the time. Their kids had two PHDs and a Masters between them despite their parents running a very blue collar firm.

My surname comes from my dad and its a Scottish surname although he was 1/4 Cherokee. On that side we are members of the FF of Virignia. Altogether I am more Jewish and American Indian than anything else yet would be classified as white. I could easily claim to be
Jewish or Indian on admissions forms. I always selected white. I was NMSF.

Both my sister and I have kids. Her husband is a full blood Indian with a common English surname. One of my nieces made NMSF and another might. My sisters kids do not think of themselves as any race and check other.

My wife is 1/4 Indian and 3/4 English. My kids are young yet one has tested to an IQ in the 150s.

Once you get West of the Appalachians, there are a lot of mutts in the non-gentile whites. A lot of Jews and American Indians Anglicized themselves a generation or two ago and they are lumped into that group – as well as occupy the top percentile academically.

A Jew November 29, 2012 at 7:44 am GMT

Interesting article with parts I would agree with but also tinged with bias and conclusions that I would argue are not fully supported by the data.

I think more analysis is needed to confirm your conclusions. As others have mentioned there may be problems with your analysis of NMS scores. I think graduate admissions and achievements especially in the math and sciences would be a better measure of intellectual performance.

Now, I didn't attend an Ivy League school, instead a public university, mainly because I couldn't afford it or so I thought. I was also a NMS finalist.

But I always was of the opinion that except for the most exceptional students admission to the Ivies was based on the wealth of your family and as you mentioned there are quite a few affluent Jews so I imagine they do have a leg up. Harvard's endowment isn't as large as it is by accident.

It is interesting that you didn't discuss the stats for Stanford.

Lastly, I think your solution is wrong. The pure meritocracy is the only fair solution. Admissions should be based upon the entrance exams like in Asia and Europe.

There are plenty of options for those who don't want to compete and if the Asians dominate admissions at the top schools so be it.

Hopefully, all of this will be mute point n a few years as online education options become more popular with Universities specializing in graduate education and research.

Leon November 29, 2012 at 10:24 am GMT

Ron Unz on Asians (ie Asian Americans): "many of them impoverished immigrant families"

Why do you twice repeat this assertion. Asians are the wealthiest race and most of the wealthiest ethnic groups tracked by the Census Bureau, which includes immigrants.

A potentially bigger issue completely ignored by your article is how do colleges differentiate between 'foreign' students (overwhelmingly Asian) and American students. Many students being counted as "Asian American" are in reality wealthy and elite foreign "parachute kids" (an Asian term), dropped onto the generous American education system or into boarding schools to study for US entrance exams, qualify for resident tuition rates and scholarships, and to compete for "American" admissions slots, not for the usually limited 'foreign' admission slots.

Probably people from non-Asian countries are pulling the same stunt, but it seems likely dominated by Asians. And expect many more with the passage of the various "Dream Acts"

So American kids must compete with the offspring of all the worlds corrupt elite for what should be opportunities for US Americans.

Weighty Commentary November 29, 2012 at 12:03 pm GMT

New York PSAT data:

http://media.collegeboard.com/digitalServices/pdf/research/NY_12_05_02_01.pdf

In New York Asian-Americans make up 9.5%, whites 50.4%, Latinos 18.3% and African-Americans 15.7%.

California PSAT data:

http://media.collegeboard.com/digitalServices/pdf/research/CA_12_05_02_01.pdf

In California Asian-Americans make up 19.7% of PSAT takers, and whites make up 31.9%, with 37% Latino and 5.7% African-American.

Anonymous November 29, 2012 at 2:01 pm GMT

Am I the only one that finds the comparison of Asians (a race) to Jews (a religion) as basis for a case of discrimination completely flawed? I got in at Harvard and don't remember them even asking me what my religion was.

The value of diversity is absolutely key. I have a bunch of very good Asian friends and I love them dearly, but I don't believe a place like CalTech with its 40% demographics cannot truly claim to be a diverse place any more.

nooffensebut says: • Website Show Comment Next New Comment November 29, 2012 at 2:20 pm GMT

Regarding the SAT, we do know more than just differences of averages between whites and Asians. We have some years of score distributions . As recently as 1992, 1.2% of whites and 5.1% of Asians scored between 750 and 800 on the math subtest. As recently as 1985, 0.20% of whites and 0.26% of Asians scored in that range on the verbal/critical reading subtest.

On a different form of the writing subtest than is currently used, 5.0% of whites and 3.0% of Asians scored greater than 60 in 1985. We also know that, as the white-Asian average verbal/critical reading gap shrank to almost nothing and the average math gap grew in Asians' favor, the standard deviations on both for Asians have been much higher than every other group but have stayed relatively unchanged and have become, in fact, slightly lower than in 1985.

Therefore, Asians probably greatly increased their share of top performers.

Anonymous November 29, 2012 at 2:44 pm GMT

@Milton F.: "Perhaps, by ensuring that "the best" students are not concentrated in only 8 universities is why the depth and quality of America's education system remains the envy of the world."

Hardly. America's education system is "the envy" because of the ability for minorities to get placement into better schools, not solely for the education they receive. Only a very select few institutions are envied for their education primarily, 90% of the colleges and universities across the country are sub-standard education providers, same with high schools.

I would imagine you're an educator at some level, more than likely, at one of the sub-standard colleges or even perhaps a high school teacher. You're attempting to be defensive of the American education system, when in reality, you're looking at the world through rose colored glasses. Working from within the system, rather than from the private sector looking back, gives you extreme tunnel vision. That, coupled with the average "closed mindedness" of educators in America is a dangerous approach to advancing the structure of the American education system. You and those like you ARE the problem and should be taken out of the equation as quickly as possible. Please retire ASAP or find another career.

Rob Schacter November 29, 2012 at 3:37 pm GMT

Aside from the complete lack of actual ivy league admission data on jewish applicants, a big problem with unz's "jewish affirmative action" claim is how difficult such a policy would be to carry out in complete secrecy.

Now, it would be one thing if Unz was claiming that jews are being admitted with similar numbers to non-jewish whites, but in close cases, admissions staff tend to favor jewish applicants. But he goes much further than that. Unz is claiming that jews, as a group, are being admitted with lower SAT scores than non-jewish whites. Not only that, but this policy is being carried out by virtually every single ivy league college and it has been going on for years. Moreover, this preference is so pervasive, that it allows jews to gain admissions at many times the rate that merit alone would yield, ultimately resulting in entering classes that are over 20% Jewish.

If a preference this deep, consistent and widespread indeed exists, there is no way it could be the result of subjective bias or intentional tribal favoritism on the part of individual decision makers. It would have to be an official, yet unstated, admissions policy in every ivy league school. Over the years, dozens (if not hundreds) of admission staff across the various ivy league colleges would be engaging in this policy, without a single peep ever leaking through about Jewish applicants getting in with subpar SAT scores. We hear insider reports all the time about one group is favored or discriminated against (we even have such an insider account in this comment thread), but we hear nothing about the largest admission preference of them all.

Remember, admissions staffs usually include other ethnic minorities. I couldn't imagine them not wondering why jews need to be given such a big boost so that they make up almost a quarter of the entering class. Even if every member of every admissions committee were Jewish liberals, it would still be almost impossible to keep this under wraps.

Obviously, I have never seen actual admission numbers for Jewish applicants, so I could be wrong, and there could in fact be an unbreakable wall of secrecy regarding the largest and most pervasive affirmative action practice in the country. Or, perhaps, the ivy league application pool contains a disproportionate amount of high scoring jewish applicants.

Anonymous says: • Website Show Comment Next New Comment November 29, 2012 at 5:41 pm GMT

As some who is Jewish from the former Soviet Union, and who was denied even to take an entrance exam to a Moscow college, I am saddened to see that American educational admission process looks more and more "Soviet" nowadays. Kids are denied opportunities because of their ethnic or social background, in a supposedly free and fair country!

But this is just a tip of the iceberg. The American groupthink of political correctness, lowest common denominator, and political posturing toward various political/ethnic/religious/sexual orientation groups is rotting this country inside out.

Worse things are yet to come.

Julia November 29, 2012 at 6:13 pm GMT

"Similarly, Jews were over one-quarter of the top students in the Physics Olympiad from 1986 to 1997, but have fallen to just 5 percent over the last decade, a result which must surely send Richard Feynman spinning in his grave."

Actually, Richard Feynman famously rejected genetic explanations of Jewish achievement (whether he was right or wrong to do so is another story), and aggressively resisted any attempts to list him as a "Jewish scientist" or "Jewish Nobel Prize winner." I am sure he would not cared in the slightest bit how many Jews were participating in the Physics Olympiad, as long as the quality of the students' work continued to be excellent. Here is a letter he wrote to a woman seeking to include him in a book about Jewish achievement in the sciences.

Dear Miss Levitan:

In your letter you express the theory that people of Jewish origin have inherited their valuable hereditary elements from their people. It is quite certain that many things are inherited but it is evil and dangerous to maintain, in these days of little knowledge of these matters, that there is a true Jewish race or specific Jewish hereditary character. Many races as well as cultural influences of men of all kinds have mixed into any man. To select, for approbation the peculiar elements that come from some supposedly Jewish heredity is to open the door to all kinds of nonsense on racial theory.

Such theoretical views were used by Hitler. Surely you cannot maintain on the one hand that certain valuable elements can be inherited from the "Jewish people," and deny that other elements which other people may find annoying or worse are not inherited by these same "people." Nor could you then deny that elements that others would consider valuable could be the main virtue of an "Aryan" inheritance.

It is the lesson of the last war not to think of people as having special inherited attributes simply because they are born from particular parents, but to try to teach these "valuable" elements to all men because all men can learn, no matter what their race.

It is the combination of characteristics of the culture of any father and his father plus the learning and ideas and influences of people of all races and backgrounds which make me what I am, good or bad. I appreciate the valuable (and the negative) elements of my background but I feel it to be bad taste and an insult to other peoples to call attention in any direct way to that one element in my composition.

At almost thirteen I dropped out of Sunday school just before confirmation because of differences in religious views but mainly because I suddenly saw that the picture of Jewish history that we were learning, of a marvelous and talented people surrounded by dull and evil strangers was far from the truth. The error of anti-Semitism is not that the Jews are not really bad after all, but that evil, stupidity and grossness is not a monopoly of the Jewish people but a universal characteristic of mankind in general. Most non-Jewish people in America today have understood that. The error of pro-Semitism is not that the Jewish people or Jewish heritage is not really good, but rather the error is that intelligence, good will, and kindness is not, thank God, a monopoly of the Jewish people but a universal characteristic of mankind in general.

Therefore you see at thirteen I was not only converted to other religious views but I also stopped believing that the Jewish people are in any way "the chosen people." This is my other reason for requesting not to be included in your work.

I am expecting that you will respect my wishes.

Sincerely yours,

Richard Feynman

Ben K November 29, 2012 at 6:43 pm GMT

@Rob Schacter – your last point is basically spot-on. The Ivies are fairly unique in the high proportion of Jewish applicants. History, geographical bias, and self-selection all play a role. I think the overall preference distortion is probably not as wide as Unz claims, but you will see similar tilts at Stanford, Northwestern, etc. that reflect different preference distortions.

@Leon, two quick points.

1st – the census tracks by household, which generally overestimates Asian wealth. Many families have three generations and extended members living in one household (this reflects that many of them work together in a small family business).

2nd – most of the time, it's clear in the application (the HS, personal info, other residency info, etc.) which Asian applicants are Asian-American and which are "Parachute Kids". But the numbers are much smaller than one might think, and the implication depends on the school.

At Ivies, parachute kids (both Asian and not) tend to compete with each other in the application pool, and aren't substantially informing the broader admissions thesis in this article. I'm not saying that's right, just saying it's less material than we might think.

They more likely skew the admissions equation in great-but-not-rich liberal arts colleges (like Grinnell) and top public universities (like UCLA), which are both having budget crises and need full fare students, parachute or not. And for the publics, this includes adding more higher-tuition, out-of-state students, which further complicates assertions of just whose opportunities are being lost.

I will bring this back to fundraising and finances again, because the broader point is about who is stewarding and creating access: so long as top universities are essentially run as self-invested feedback loops, and position and resource themselves accordingly (and other universities have to compete with them), we will continue to see large, persistent discrepancies in who can participate.

Eric Rasmusen November 29, 2012 at 7:58 pm GMT

When I applied to Harvard College back in 1976, I was proud of my application essay. In it, I proposed that the US used the Israeli army as a proxy, just as the Russians were using the Cuban army at the time.
Alas, I wasn't admitted (I did get into Yale, which didn't require free-form essay like that).

This, of course, illustrates the point that coming from an Application Hell instead of from central Illinois helps a student know how to write applications. It also illustrates what might help explain the mystery of high Jewish admissions: political bias. Jews are savvier about knowing what admissions officers like to hear (including the black and Latino ones, who as a previous commentor said aren't likely to be pro-semite). They are also politically more liberal, and so don't have to fake it. And their families are more likely to read the New York Times and thus have the right "social graces" as we might call them, of this age.

It would be interesting to know how well "true WASPS" do in admissions. This could perhaps be estimated by counting Slavic and Italian names, or Puritan New England last names. I would expect this group to do almost as well as Jews (not quite as well, because their ability would be in the lower end of the Legacy group).


David in Cali November 29, 2012 at 8:16 pm GMT

The missing variable in this analysis is income/class. While Unz states that many elite colleges have the resources to fund every student's education, and in fact practice need-blind admissions, the student bodies are skewed towards the very highest percentile of the income and wealth distribution. SAT scores may also scale with parents' income as well.

Tuition and fees at these schools have nearly doubled relative to inflation in the last 25-30 years, and with home prices in desirable neighborhoods showing their own hyper-inflationary behavior over the past couple of decades (~15 yrs, especially), the income necessary to pay for these schools without burdening either the student or parents with a lot of debt has been pushed towards the top decile of earners. A big chunk of the upper middle class has been priced out. This could hit Asian professionals who may be self made harder than other groups like Jews who may be the second or third generation of relative affluence, and would thus have advantages in having less debt when starting their families and careers and be less burdened in financing their homes. Would be curious to see the same analysis if $$ could be controlled.


David in Cali November 29, 2012 at 8:19 pm GMT

I would also like to add that I am a late '80′s graduate of Wesleyan who ceased his modest but annual financial contribution to the school after reading The Gatekeepers.


Rebecca November 29, 2012 at 9:33 pm GMT

If I had a penny for every Jewish American I met (including myself) whose first and last name gave no indication of his religion or ethnicity, I'd be rich. Oh–and my brother and I have four Ivy League degrees between us.


Anonymous November 29, 2012 at 10:16 pm GMT

I almost clicked on a different link the instance I came across the word "elite" , but curiosity forced my hand.

Just yesterday my mom was remarking how my cousin had gotten into MIT with an SAT score far below what I scored, and she finished by adding that I should have applied to an ivy-league college after high school. I as always, reminded her, I'm too "black for ivy games".

I always worked hard in school, participated in olympiads and symposiums, and was a star athlete. When it came to applying for college I found myself startled when forced to "quantify" my achievements in an "application package". I did not do or engage in these activities solely to boost my chances of gaining admission into some elite college over similarly-hardworking Henry Wang or Jess Steinberg. I did these things because I loved doing them.

Sports after class was almost a relaxation activity for me. Participating in math olympiads was a way for me to get a scoop on advanced mathematics. Participating in science symposiums was a chance for me to start applying my theoretical education to solve practical problems.

The moment I realized I would have to kneel down before some admissions officer and "present my case", outlining my "blackness", athleticism, hard work, curiosity, and academic ability, in that specific order I should point, in order to have a fighting chance at getting admitted; is the moment all my "black rage" came out in an internal explosion of rebellion and disapproval of "elite colleges".

I instead applied to a college that was blind to all of the above factors. I am a firm believer that hard work and demonstrated ability always win out in the end. I've come across, come up against is a better way to put it, Ivy-league competition in college competitions and applications for co-ops and internships, and despite my lack of "eliteness" I am confident that my sheer ability and track record will put me in the "interview candidate" pool.

Finally, my opinion is: let elite schools keep doing what they are doing. It isn't a problem at all, the "elite" tag has long lost its meaning.


Anonymous November 29, 2012 at 10:52 pm GMT

The difficulty with using Jewish sounding last names to identify Jewish students works poorly in two ways today. Not only, as others have pointed out, do many Jews not have Jewish sounding last names, but there are those, my grandson for example, who have identifiably Jewish last names and not much in the way of Jewish background.


Anonymous November 29, 2012 at 11:34 pm GMT

Interesting reading. The article opens a deceptively simple statistical window into a poorly understood process - a window which I would guess even the key participants have never looked through. I especially appreciated the insights provided by the author's examination of Asian surname-frequencies and their over-representation in NMS databases.

Though this is a long and meticulously argued piece, it would have benefited from a more thorough discussion of the statistical share of legacies and athletic scholarships in elite admissions.

Perhaps, though, it would be better to focus on increasing meritocracy in the broader society, which would inevitably lead to some discounting of the value of educational credentials issued by these less than meritocratic private institutions.

It is precisely because the broader society is also in many key respects non-meritocratic that the non-meritocratic admissions practices of elite institutions are sustainable.


Anon November 29, 2012 at 11:50 pm GMT

Despite the very long and detailed argument, the writer's interpretation of a pro-Jewish admissions bias at Ivy-league schools is worryingly flawed.

First, he uses two very different methods of counting Jews: name recognition for counting various "objective" measures such as NMS semifinalists and Hillel stats for those admitted to Harvard. The first is most likely an underestimate while the latter very possibly inflated (in both cases especially due to the very large numbers of partially-Jewish students, in the many interpretations that has). I wonder how much of his argument would just go away if he simply counted the number of Jews in Harvard using the same method he used to count their numbers in the other cases. Would that really be hard to do?

Second, he overlooks the obvious two sources that can lead to such Asian/Jewish relative gaps in admissions. The first is the different groups' different focus on Science/Math vs. on Writing/Culture. It is very possible that in recent years most Asians emphasize the former while Jews the latter, which would be the natural explanation to the Caltech vs Harvard racial composition (as well as to the other stats). The second is related but different and it is the different group's bias in applications: the same cultural anecdotes would explain why Asians would favor applying to Caltech and Jews to Harvard. A natural interpretation of the data would be that Jews have learned to optimize for whatever criteria the Ivy leagues are using and the Asians are doing so for the Caltech criteria.

Most strange is the author's interpretation of how a pro-Jewish bias in admissions is actually put into effect: the application packets do not have the data of whether the applicant is Jewish or not, and I doubt that most admission officers figure it out in most cases. While it could be possible for admissions officers to have a bias for or against various types of characteristics that they see in the data in front of them (say Asian/Black/White or political activity), a systematic bias on unobserved data is a much more difficult proposition to make. Indeed the author becomes rather confused here combining the low education level of admissions officers, that they are "liberal arts or ethnic-studies majors" (really?), that they are "progressive", and that there sometimes is corruption, all together presumably leading to a bias in favor of Jews?

Finally, the author's suggestion for changing admittance criteria is down-right bizarre for a conservative: The proposal is a centralized solution that he aims to force upon the various private universities, each who can only loose from implementing it.

Despite the long detailed (but extremely flawed) article, I am afraid that it is more a reflection of the author's biases than of admissions biases.


Allan November 30, 2012 at 3:00 am GMT

Both the article and the comments are illuminating. My takeaways:

1) Affirmative action in favor of blacks and Hispanics is acknowledged.

2) Admissions officers in the Ivy League appear to limit Asian admissions somewhat relative to the numbers of qualified applicants.

3) They may also admit somewhat more Jewish applicants than would be warranted relative to their comparative academic qualifications. The degree to which this is true is muddled by the difficulty of identifying Jews by surnames, by extensive intermarriage, by changing demographics within the Jewish population, by geographic factors, and by the propensity to apply in the first place.

4) (My major takeaway.) White Protestants and Catholics are almost certainly the sole groups that are greatly under-represented relative to their qualifications as well as to raw population percentages.

5) This is due partly to subtle or open discrimination.

6) I would hypothesize that a great many of the white Protestants and Catholics who are admitted are legacies, star athletes, and the progeny of celebrities in entertainment, media, politics, and high finance. White Protestant or Catholic applicants, especially from the hinterlands, who don't fit one of these special categories–though they must be a very large component of Mr Unz's pool of top talent–are out of luck.

7) And everyone seems to think this is just fine.

The inner and outer ring idea seems to me an excellent one, though the likelihood of it happening is next to nil, both because some groups would lose disproportionate access and because the schools' imprimatur would be diminished in
value.

The larger point, made by several respondents, is that far too many institutions place far too much weight on the credentials conferred by a small group of screening institutions. The great advantage of the American system is not that it is meritocratic, either objectively or subjectively. It is that it is–or was–Protean in its flexibility. One could rise through luck or effort or brains, with credentials or without them, early in life or after false starts and setbacks. And there were regional elites or local elites rather than, as we increasingly see, a single, homogenized national elite. Success or its equivalent wasn't something institutionally conferred.

The result of the meritocratic process is that we are making a race of arrogant, entitled overlords, extremely skilled at the aggressive and assertive arts required to gain admission to, and to succeed in, a few similar and ideologically skewed universities and colleges; and who spend the remainder of their lives congratulating each other, bestowing themselves on the populace, and destroying the country.

No wonder we are where we are.


WG November 30, 2012 at 11:53 am GMT

This article is the product of careful and thoughtful research, and it identifies a problem hiding in plain sight. As a society, we have invested great trust in higher education as a transformative institution. It is clear that we have been too trusting.

That the admissions policies of elite universities are meritocratic is hardly the only wrong idea that Americans have about higher education. Blind faith in higher education has left too many people with largely worthless degrees and crushing student-loan debt.

Of course, the problems don't end with undergraduate education. The "100 reasons NOT to go to grad school" blog offers some depressing reading:

http://100rsns.blogspot.com/

The higher education establishment has failed to address so many longstanding internal structural problems that it's hard to imagine that much will change anytime soon.


candid_observer November 30, 2012 at 1:25 pm GMT

Jack above makes the following point:

"I believe that this article raises – and then inappropriately immediately dismisses – the simplest and most likely reason for the over-representation of Jewish students at Ivy League Schools in the face of their declining bulk academic performance:

They apply to those schools in vastly disproportionate numbers."

Here's the problem with that point. What Ron Unz demonstrates, quite effectively, is that today's Jews simply don't measure up to either their Asian or their White Gentile counterparts in terms of actual performance when they get into, say, Harvard. The quite massive difference in the proportions of those groups who get into Phi Beta Kappa renders this quite undeniable. What is almost certain is that policies that favored Asians and White Gentiles over the current crop of Jewish students would create a class of higher caliber in terms of academic performance.

If indeed it's true that Jews apply to Harvard in greater numbers, then, if the desire is to produce a class with the greatest academic potential, some appropriate way of correcting for the consequent distortion should be introduced. Certainly when it comes to Asians, college admissions committees have found their ways of reducing the numbers of Asians admitted, despite their intense interest in the Ivies.


candid_observer November 30, 2012 at 1:40 pm GMT

One way of understanding Unz's results here might be not so much that today's Jewish student is far less inclined to hard academic work than those of yesteryear, but rather that others - White Gentiles and Asians - have simply caught up in terms of motivation to get into elite schools and perform to the best of their abilities.

Certainly among members of the upper middle class, there has been great, and likely increasing, emphasis in recent years on the importance of an elite education and strong academic performance for ultimate success. This might well produce a much stronger class of students at the upper end applying to the Ivies.

It may be that not only the Asians, but upper middle class White Gentiles, are "The New Jews".


Howard November 30, 2012 at 5:11 pm GMT

I don't always agree with, Mr. Unz, but his expositions are always provocative and informative. As far as the criticisms of his data set go, he openly admits that they are less than ideal. However, the variances are so large that the margin of error can be excused. Jews are 40 TIMES more likely to be admitted to Harvard than Gentile whites. Asians are 10 times more likely. Of course, it could be possible that Jews, because of higher average IQs, actually produce 40 times as many members in the upper reaches of the cognitive elite.

Given Richard Lynn's various IQ studies of Jews and the relative preponderance of non-Jewish and Jewish whites in the population, however, whites ought to have a 7 to 1 representation vis-a-vis Jews in Ivy League institutions, assuming the IQ cutoff is 130. Their numbers are roughly equivalent instead.

Because Ivy League admissions have been a hotbed of ethnic nepotism in the past, it seems that special care should be taken to avoid these improprieties (or the appearance thereof) in the future. But no such safeguards have been put in place. David Brooks has also struck the alarm about the tendency of elites to shut down meritocratic institutions once they have gained a foothold: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/13/opinion/brooks-why-our-elites-stink.html?_r=1&ref=global-home

Clannish as the WASPs may have been, they were dedicated enough to ideals of fairness and equality that they opened the doors for their own dispossession. I predict that a new Asian elite will eventually eclipse our Jewish elite. Discrimination and repression can restrain a vigorously ascendant people but for so long. When they do, it will be interesting to see if this Asian cohort clings to its longstanding Confucian meritocratic traditions, embodied in the Chinese gaokao or if it too will succumb to the temptation, ever present in a multiethnic polity, of preferring ethnic kinsmen over others.

Does anyone know how a minority such as the Uighurs fares in terms of elite Chinese university admissions?


Daniel November 30, 2012 at 7:39 pm GMT

This may sound like special-pleading, but it's not clear that full-scale IQ measures are meaningful when assessing and predicting Jewish performance. Jewish deficits on g-loaded spatial reasoning task may reflect specific visuo-spatial deficits and not deficits in g. As far as I know, no one doubts that the average Jewish VIQ is at least 112 (and possibly over 120). This score may explain jewish representation which seems to exceed what would be projected by their full-scale iq scores. Despite PIQ's correllation to mathematical ability in most populations, we ought also remember that, at least on the WAIS, it is the VIQ scale that includes the only directly mathematical subtest. We should also note that Jewish mathematicians seem to use little visualization in their reasoning (cf. Seligman

That said, I basically agree that Jews are, by and large, coasting. American Jews want their children to play hockey and join 'greek life' and stuff, not sit in libraries . It's sad for those of us who value the ivory tower, but understandable given their stigmatiziation as a nerdish people.


Nick November 30, 2012 at 9:06 pm GMT

I wonder if it would be at all possible to assess the political biases of admissions counselors at these schools by assessing the rates at which applicants from red states are admitted to the elite universities. I suppose you would have to know how many applied, and those data aren't likely to exist in the public domain.


Alex November 30, 2012 at 9:47 pm GMT

One major flaw with this article's method of determining Jewish representation: distinctive Jewish surnames in no way make up all Jewish surnames. Distinctive Jewish surnames happen to be held by only 10-12% of all American Jews. In fact, the third most common American Jewish surname after Cohen and Levy is Miller. Mr. Unz' methodology does not speak well for itself, given that he's comparing a limited set of last names against a far more carefully scrutinized estimate.

I'm not suggesting his estimate of national merit scholars and the like is off by a full 90%, but he's still ending up with a significant undercount, possibly close to half. That would still mean Jews may be "wrongfully" over-represented are many top colleges and universities, but the disproportion is nowhere near as nefarious as he would suggest.


Ben K November 30, 2012 at 11:18 pm GMT

@Nick – the "red state" application and admission rates isn't useful data.

Short answer: There are many reasons for this, but basically, historical momentum and comfort play a much bigger role in where kids apply than we think. I assure you, far more top Nebraska HS seniors want to be a Cornhusker than a Crimson, even though many would find a very receptive consideration and financial aid package.

Long answer: 1st, although this article and discussion have been framed in broad racial/cultural terms, the mechanics of college admissions are mostly local and a bit like athletic recruiting – coverage (and cultivation) of specific regions and districts, "X" high school historically deliver "X" kinds of candidates, etc. So to the degree we may see broader trends noted in the article and discussion, some of that is rooted at the HS level and lower.

2nd, in "red states", most Ivy applicants come from the few blue or neutral districts. E.g.: the only 2 Utah HS's that consistently have applicants to my Ivy alma mater are in areas that largely mirror other high-income, Dem-leaning areas nationwide rather than the rest of Utah.

3rd, but, with some variation among the schools, the Ivy student body is more politically balanced than usually assumed. Remember, most students are upper-income, Northeastern suburban and those counties' Dem/Rep ratio is often closer to 55/45 than 80/20.

But to wrap up, ideology plays a negligible role in admissions generally (there's always an exception); they have other fish to fry (see below).

@soren in Goldman's post ( http://bit.ly/TrbJSB ) and other commenters here:

"Quota against Asians" is not entirely wrong, but it's too strong because it implies the forward intent is about limiting their numbers.

Put another way, Unz believes the Ivies are failing their meritocractic mission by over-admitting a group that is neither disadvantaged nor has highest technical credentials; and this comes at the expense of a group that is more often disadvantaged and with higher technical credentials. The Ivies would likely reply, "well, we define 'meritocractic mission' differently".

That may be a legitimate counter, but it's also what needs more expansion and sunlight.

But Unz' analysis has a broader causation vs correlation gap. Just because admissions is essentially zero-sum doesn't mean every large discrepancy in it is, even after allowing for soft biases. I've mentioned these earlier in passing, but here are just a couple other factors of note:

Admissions is accountable for selection AND marketing and matriculation – these are not always complementary forces. Essentially, you want to maximize both the number and distribution (racial, geographic, types of accomplishment, etc.) of qualified applicants, but also the number you can safely turn down but without discouraging future applications, upsetting certain stakeholders (specific schools, admissions counselors/consultants, etc.) or "harming" any data in the US News rankings. And you have a very finite time to do this, and – not just your competition, but the entire sector – is essentially doing this at the same time. You can see how an admissions process would develop certain biases over time to limit risks in an unpredictable, high volume market, even if rarely intended to target a specific group. Ivy fixation (but especially around HYP) is particularly concentrated in the Northeast – a sample from several top HS' across America (public and private) would show much larger application and matriculation variations among their top students than would be assumed from Unz's thesis. Different Ivies have different competitors/peers, which influences their diversity breakdowns – to some degree, they all co-compete, but just as often don't. E.g.: Princeton often overlaps with Georgetown and Duke, Columbia with NYU and Cooper Union, Cornell with SUNY honors programs because it has some "in state" public colleges, etc.

There's much more, of course, but returning to Unz's ethnographic thesis, I have this anecdote: we have two friends in finance, whose families think much of their success. The 1st is Asian, went to Carnegie Mellon, and is a big bank's trading CTO; the 2nd is Jewish, went to Wharton, and is in private equity.

Put another way, while both families shared a pretty specific vision of success, they differed a lot in the execution. The upper echelon of universities, and the kinds of elite-level mobility they offer, are much more varied than even 25 years ago. While the relative role of HYP in our country, and their soft biases in admission, are "true enough" to merit discussion, it's probably not the discussion that was in this article.


candid_observer November 30, 2012 at 11:23 pm GMT

Alex,

While you may have a point as to the difficulty in some cases of identifying a Jewish surname, the most important thing methodologically is that the criteria be performed uniformly if one is comparing Jewish representation today vs. that of other periods. I can't think, for example, of any reason that Cohens or Levys or Golds should be any less well represented today as opposed to many years ago if indeed there has not been an underlying shift in numbers of Jews in the relevant categories. (Nor, for that matter, should issues like intermarriage affect the numbers much here - for every mother whose maiden name is Cohen who marries a non-Jew with a non-Jewish surname, and whose half Jewish child will be counted as non-Jewish, there is, on average, going to be a man named Cohen who will marry a non-Jew, and whose half Jewish child will be counted as Jewish.)


Bud Wood November 30, 2012 at 11:43 pm GMT

One might suppose that all this "inequity" and "discrimination" matters if we're keeping score. However, seems to me that too much emphasis is typically placed on equality whereas real criteria in productive and satisfying lives are neglected. Kind'a like some people wanting bragging rights as much, if not more, than wanting positive reality.

I guess I just went about my way and lived a pretty god life (so far). Who knows?; maybe those "bragging rights" are meaningful.

Bud Wood
Grad – Stanford Elec Engrg.


Neil Schipper December 1, 2012 at 4:54 am GMT

Thought provoking article.

Ditto to many comments about the "last name problem", even if its correction weakens but doesn't invalidate the argument. (One imagines, chillingly, a new sub-field: "Jewish last name theory", seeking to determine proportionalities of classic names validated against member/donor lists of synagogues and other Jewish organizations.)

Regarding the 20% inner ring suggestion, it suffers from its harsh transition. Consider a randomized derating scheme: a random number between some lower bound (say 0.90) and 1.00 is applied to each score on the ranked applicant list.

The added noise provides warmth to a cold test scores list. Such an approach nicely captures the directive: "study hard, but it's not all about the grades".

By adjusting the lower bound, you can get whatever degree of representativeness relative to the application base you want.

That it's a "just a number" (rather than a complex subjectivity-laden labyrinth incessantly hacked at by consultants) could allow interesting conversations about how it could relate to the "top 1% / bottom 50%" wealth ratio. The feedback loop wants closure.


Alex December 1, 2012 at 6:12 am GMT

You missed my point, candid. A relatively small proportion of Jews, intermarried or otherwise, have distinctive Jewish names. I didn't make that 10-12% figure up. It's been cited in numerous local Jewish population studies and is used in part (but certainly far from whole) to help estimate those populations. It's also been significantly dragged down over the years as the Jewish population (and hence the surname pool) has diversified, not just from intermarriage, but in-migration from groups who often lack "distinctive Jewish surnames" such as Jews from the former Soviet Union. Consider also that for obvious reasons, Hillel, which maintains Jewish centers on most campus, has an incentive to over-report by a bit. Jewish populations on college campuses in the distant past were easier to gather, given that it was far less un-PC to simply point blank inquire what religious background applicants came from.

Again, I'm not saying there isn't a downward trend in Jewish representation among high achievers (which, even if one were to accept Unz's figures, Jews would still be triple relative to were they "should" be). But Unz has made a pretty significant oversight in doing his calculations. That may happen to further suit his personal agenda, but it's not reality.


Anonymous December 1, 2012 at 3:42 pm GMT

This is interesting, but I suspect mostly bogus, based on your not having a decent algorithm for discovering if someone's Jewish.

I'm not sure what exact mechanism you're using to decide if a name is Jewish, but I'm certain it wouldn't have caught anyone, including myself, in my father's side of the family (Sephardic Jews from Turkey with Turkish surnames), nor my wife's family, an Ellis Island Anglo name. Or probably most of the people in her family. And certainly watching for "Levi, Cohen and Gold*" isn't going to do anything.

And none of us have even intermarried!


conatus December 1, 2012 at 4:10 pm GMT

Isn't the point about Jewish over representation in the Ivy League about absolute numbers?

Yes the Jewish demographic has a higher IQ at 115 to the Goyishe Kop 100 but Jewish people are only 2% of the population so you have 6 million Jewish people vying with 200 million white Goys for admission to the Ivy League and future control of the levers of power. That is a 33 times larger Bell curve so the right tail of the Goys' Bell curve is still much larger than the Jewish Bell curve at IQ levels of 130 and 145, supposedly there are seven times more Goys with IQs of 130 and over 4 times more Goys with IQs of 145. So why the equality of representation, one to one, Jewish to white Goy in the Ivy Leagues?


Andrew says: • Website Show Comment Next New Comment December 1, 2012 at 6:29 pm GMT

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-phu-quoc-nguyen/asian-american-students_b_2173993.html I hope everyone can participate in gaining admittance and everyone can improve the system legally. Real repair is needed.


Amanda December 1, 2012 at 6:34 pm GMT

Russell K. Nieli on study by Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Radford (mentioned by Unz):

"When lower-class whites are matched with lower-class blacks and other non-whites the degree of the non-white advantage becomes astronomical: lower-class Asian applicants are seven times as likely to be accepted to the competitive private institutions as similarly qualified whites, lower-class Hispanic applicants eight times as likely, and lower-class blacks ten times as likely. These are enormous differences and reflect the fact that lower-class whites were rarely accepted to the private institutions Espenshade and Radford surveyed. Their diversity-enhancement value was obviously rated very low."

..


Scott Locklin says: • Website Show Comment Next New Comment December 1, 2012 at 10:09 pm GMT

Having worked with folks from all manner of "elite" and not so elite schools in a technical field, the main conclusion I was able to draw was folks who went to "elite" colleges had a greater degree of entitlement. And that's it.


Shlomo December 2, 2012 at 4:27 am GMT

If all of the author's suspicions are correct, the most noteworthy takeaway would be that Jewish applicants have absolutely no idea that they are being given preferential treatment when applying to Ivys.

Not that they think they are being discriminated against or anything, but no Jewish high school student or their parents think they have any kind of advantage, let alone such a huge one. Someone should tell all these Jews that they don't need to be so anxious!

Also, I know this is purely anecdotal but having gone to an ivy and knowing the numbers of dozens of other Jews who have also gone, I don't think I have ever witnessed a "surprise" acceptance, where someone got in with a score under the median.


Anonymous December 2, 2012 at 5:22 am GMT

I don't doubt for a minute that it's increasingly difficult for Asian students to get into so-called "elite" universities. Having grown up in that community, I know a lot of people who were pressured into applying at Harvard and Yale but ended up *gasp* going to a very good local school. My sarcasm aside, we can't really deny that having Harvard on your CV can virtually guarantee a ticket to success, regardless of whether or not you were just a C student. It happens.

But what worries me about that is the fact that I know very well how hard Asian families tend to push their children. They do, after all, have one of the highest suicide rates and that's here in the US. If by some means the Asian population at elite universities is being controlled, as I suspect it is, that's only going to make tiger mothers push their children even harder. That's not necessarily a good thing for the child's psyche, so instead of writing a novel here, I'll simply give you this link. Since the author brought up the subject of Amy Chua and her book, I think it's a pretty fitting explanation of the fears I have for my friends and their children if this trend is allowed to continue.

http://www.asianmanwhitewoman.com/jocelyn/editorial/tiger-mother-rebuttal-why-east-west-mothers-are-superior/


Anonymous December 2, 2012 at 9:16 pm GMT

to respond to Alice Zindagi
Asian American does not have higher suicide rate.

http://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/asian-american/suicide.aspx


Anonymous says: • Website Show Comment Next New Comment December 2, 2012 at 9:30 pm GMT

As a former admissions staff person at Princeton, I always sigh when I read articles on elite college admissions processes which build cases on data analysis but which fail to consult with admissions experts on the interpretation of that data.

I am neither an expert in sociology, nor am I a statistician, but I have sat in that chair, reading thousands of essays, and I have a few observations:

The most selective part of any college's admissions process is the part where students themselves decides whether or not to apply. Without data on the actual applicant sets, it is, at the least, misleading to attribute incongruities between the overall population's racial/ethnic/income/what-have-you characteristics and the student bodies' make-ups entirely to the admission decisions. The reality is that there is always a struggle in the admission offices to compensate for the inequities that the applicant pool itself delivers to their doorsteps. An experienced admission officer can tell you that applicants from cultures where academics and education are highly valued, and where the emphasis on a single test is quite high, will generally present with very high SAT scores. Race does not seem to be correlated, but immigrant status from such a culture is highly correlated. (This may partially explain Unz's observation of a "decline" in Jewish scores, although I also do not believe that the surname tool for determining which scores are "Jewish" holds much water.) One of the reasons that such students often fare less well in holistic application processes is that the same culture that produces the work ethic and study skills which benefit SAT performance and GPA can also suppress activities and achievement outside of the academic arena. Therefore, to say that these students are being discriminated against because of race is a huge assumption. The true questions is whether the students with higher test scores are presenting activity, leadership and community contributions comparable to other parts of the applicant pool which are "overrepresented". All of these articles seem to miss the point that a freshman class is a fixed size pie chart. Any piece that shrinks or grows will impact the other slices. My first thought upon reading Unz' argument that the Asian slice shrank was, "What other pieces were forced to grow?" Forced growth in another slice of the class is the more likely culprit for this effect, much more likely than the idea that all of the Ivies are systematically discriminating against the latest victim. I could go on and on, but will spare you! My last note is to educate Mr. Unz on what an "Assistant Director" is in college admissions. Generally that position is equivalent to a Senior Admission Officer (one step up from entry level Admission Officer), while the head of the office might be the Dean and the next step down from that would be Associate Deans (not Assistant Directors). So