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[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.

[Aug 05, 2019] Something about Department of Homeland Security

Actually KGB is an abbreviation for the "Committee for State Security" --
Aug 05, 2019 | www.unz.com

Viral Architect , says: July 29, 2019 at 9:51 am GMT

[Aug 04, 2019] We see that the neoliberal utopia tends imposes itself even upon the rulers.

Highly recommended!
Aug 04, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

"Thus we see how the neoliberal utopia tends to embody itself in the reality of a kind of infernal machine, whose necessity imposes itself even upon the rulers. Like the Marxism of an earlier time, with which, in this regard, it has much in common, this utopia evokes powerful belief - the free trade faith - not only among those who live off it, such as financiers, the owners and managers of large corporations, etc., but also among those, such as high-level government officials and politicians, who derive their justification for existing from it.

For they sanctify the power of markets in the name of economic efficiency, which requires the elimination of administrative or political barriers capable of inconveniencing the owners of capital in their individual quest for the maximisation of individual profit, which has been turned into a model of rationality. They want independent central banks.

And they preach the subordination of nation-states to the requirements of economic freedom for the masters of the economy, with the suppression of any regulation of any market, beginning with the labour market, the prohibition of deficits and inflation, the general privatisation of public services, and the reduction of public and social expenses."

Pierre Bourdieu, L'essence du néolibéralisme

[Aug 03, 2019] Why Trump hates regulations

Trump converted himself from a "billionaire for working people" into Evil Orange Clown (TM) in less then 3 years.
Aug 03, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Tomonthebeach , August 3, 2019 at 1:40 pm

Trump clearly hates being regulated, as do most bus billionaire cronies. They want to drill for oil on the White House lawn if there is potential. They would mine sulfur from Old Faithful if it was profitable.

[Jul 26, 2019] Is the Left now ready for a counterattack in order to exterminate the neoliberal-far-right authoritarian beast

Notable quotes:
"... There's a curious alliance occurring between right-wing authoritarianism and neoliberalism, which is very very troubling. ..."
"... When the neoliberal ethic was first being proposed, it was very much being proposed to the generation of 68 and saying to that generation, 'Look, you want individual liberty and freedom. OK, we'll give it to you in this neoliberal form, which is a very political, economic form, and you have to forget other issues, like social justice and the like.' So, it seeped its way into the discourse of much of the Left and this creates a sort of tolerance for some neoliberal practices. ..."
"... The first revolt against the neoliberal order was Seattle, which was the anti-globalization movement and then all of the picketing of the IMF and G20's meetings. At that point, the ruling class has started to say 'well this could get out of hand, we need a government structure that's gonna sit on these people and do it really, really hard.' ..."
"... So, when Occupy Wall Street came along, which was a fairly small and fairly innocent kind of movement, Wall Street got paranoid. And basically summoned the New York mayor at the time - who was the Wall Street character Bloomberg - to say 'squash these people.' And so, at this point, the perpetuation of the neoliberal order starts to become more and more guaranteed by state authoritarianism and neoconservatism. Which now, has morphed a little bit into this kind of right-wing populism. ..."
"... Indeed, in the early 70s, right after the 1968 movement and when neoliberalism starts to become the dominant ideology, the Left retreated and retired from the idea of a collective struggle. ..."
Jul 25, 2019 | failedevolution.blogspot.com

David Harvey speaks with Greg Wilpert and describes how neoliberalism neutralized the Left in the early 70s and why now there is a peculiar alliance between neoliberalism and right-wing authoritarianism.

As Harvey points out:

There's a curious alliance occurring between right-wing authoritarianism and neoliberalism, which is very very troubling.

When the neoliberal ethic was first being proposed, it was very much being proposed to the generation of 68 and saying to that generation, 'Look, you want individual liberty and freedom. OK, we'll give it to you in this neoliberal form, which is a very political, economic form, and you have to forget other issues, like social justice and the like.' So, it seeped its way into the discourse of much of the Left and this creates a sort of tolerance for some neoliberal practices.

Neoliberalism has a very clever way of turning things around and blaming the victim. And we saw that in the foreclosures of the housing and all this kind of stuff. Many people who were foreclosed upon, didn't blame the system. What they blamed was themselves.

When Clinton came in promising all kinds of benefits and gave us all these neoliberal reforms, at that point, people kind of said 'you know, this is not really working for me, and what's more, there's something going on here which is not right.'

The first revolt against the neoliberal order was Seattle, which was the anti-globalization movement and then all of the picketing of the IMF and G20's meetings. At that point, the ruling class has started to say 'well this could get out of hand, we need a government structure that's gonna sit on these people and do it really, really hard.'

So, when Occupy Wall Street came along, which was a fairly small and fairly innocent kind of movement, Wall Street got paranoid. And basically summoned the New York mayor at the time - who was the Wall Street character Bloomberg - to say 'squash these people.' And so, at this point, the perpetuation of the neoliberal order starts to become more and more guaranteed by state authoritarianism and neoconservatism. Which now, has morphed a little bit into this kind of right-wing populism.

So, in a sense the neoliberal order is being perpetuated by this authoritarian shift. And that should give the Left a good possibility to mount a counter-attack in certain parts of the world.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/KvPNOp97x-k

Indeed, in the early 70s, right after the 1968 movement and when neoliberalism starts to become the dominant ideology, the Left retreated and retired from the idea of a collective struggle.

As Adam Curtis describes in his film, HyperNormalisation :

The extraordinary thing was that no one opposed the bankers. The radicals and the Left wingers who, ten years before, had dreamed of changing America through revolution, did nothing. They had retreated and were living in abandoned buildings in Manhattan. The singer Patti Smith later described the mood of disillusion that had come over them. "I could not identify with the political movements any longer," she said. "All the manic activity in the streets. In trying to join them, I felt overwhelmed by yet another form of bureaucracy." What she was describing was a rise of a new, powerful individualism that could not fit with the idea of collective political action. Instead, Patti Smith and many others became a new kind of individual radical, who watched the decaying city with a cool detachment. They didn't try to change it. They just experienced it.

So, the critical question today is whether the time has come for the Left to revive and exterminate the neoliberal/far-right authoritarian beast.

[Jul 13, 2019] The return of Weimar Berlin - Lawlessness, Inequality, Extremism, Divisiveness and Crime

Notable quotes:
"... You hypocrites! You build monuments for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our ancestors , we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of His messengers ..."
"... this entire Russian collusion meme seems as though it is an hysterical reaction to the spin put out by the Clinton political faction and their neoliberal enablers after their shocking loss in the 2016 Presidential election. ..."
"... the financial corruption and private pilfering using public power, money laundering and the kind of soft corruption that is rampant amongst our new elite is all there ..."
"... We are reassured and misled by the same kinds of voices that have always served the status quo and the monied interests, the think tanks, the so-called 'institutes,' and the web sites and former con men who offer a constant stream of thinly disguised propaganda and misstatements of principle and history. We are comforted by their lies. ..."
"... We wish to strike a deal with the Lord, and a deal with the Devil -- to serve both God and Mammon as it suits us. It really is that cliché. And it is so finely woven into the fabric of our day that we cannot see it; we cannot see that it is happening to us and around us. ..."
"... It has always been so, especially in times of such vanity and greed as are these. Then is now. There is nothing new under the sun. And certainly nothing exceptional about the likes of us in our indulgent self-destruction. ..."
Feb 13, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

"He drew near and saw the city, and he wept for it saying, 'If you had only recognized the things that make for peace. But now you are blinded to them. Truly, the days will come when your enemies will set up barriers to surround you, and hem you in on every side. Then they will crush you into the earth, you and your children. And they will not leave one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the way to your salvation.'"

Luke 19:41-44

"You hypocrites! You build monuments for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of His messengers.'"

Matthew 23:29-30

...the results of the Senate GOP finding no evidence of 'collusion' with Russia by the Trump Administration to influence the results of the presidential election..

This last item is not surprising, because this entire Russian collusion meme seems as though it is an hysterical reaction to the spin put out by the Clinton political faction and their neoliberal enablers after their shocking loss in the 2016 Presidential election.

Too bad though, because the financial corruption and private pilfering using public power, money laundering and the kind of soft corruption that is rampant amongst our new elite is all there. And by there we mean on both sides of the fence -- which is why it had to take a back seat to a manufactured boogeyman.

... ... ...

There is a long road ahead before we see anything like a resolution to this troubling period in American political history.

We look back at other troubled periods and places, and either see them as discrete and fictional, a very different world apart, or through some rosy lenses of good old times which were largely benign and peaceful. We fail to see the continuity, the similarity, and the commonality of a dangerous path with ourselves. As they did with their own times gone by. Madness blinds its acolytes, because they wish it so. They embrace it to hide their shame.

We are reassured and misled by the same kinds of voices that have always served the status quo and the monied interests, the think tanks, the so-called 'institutes,' and the web sites and former con men who offer a constant stream of thinly disguised propaganda and misstatements of principle and history. We are comforted by their lies.

People want to hear these reassuring words of comfort and embrace it like a 'religion,' because they do not wish to draw the conclusions that the genuine principles of faith suggest (dare we say command in this day and age) in their daily lives. They blind themselves by adopting a kind of a schizoid approach to life, where 'religion' occupies a discrete, rarefied space, and 'political or economic philosophy' dictates another set of everyday 'practical' observances and behaviors which are more pliable, and pleasing to our hardened and prideful hearts.

We wish to strike a deal with the Lord, and a deal with the Devil -- to serve both God and Mammon as it suits us. It really is that cliché. And it is so finely woven into the fabric of our day that we cannot see it; we cannot see that it is happening to us and around us.

And so we trot on into the abyss, one exception and excuse and rationalization for ourselves at a time. And we blind ourselves with false prophets and their profane theories and philosophies.

As for truth, the truth that brings life, we would interrupt the sermon on the mount itself, saying that this sentiment was all very well and good, but what stocks should we buy for our portfolio, and what horse is going to win the fifth at Belmont? Tell us something useful, practical! Oh, and can you please fix this twinge in my left shoulder? It is ruining my golf game.

"Those among the rich who are not, in the rigorous sense, damned, can understand poverty, because they are poor themselves, after a fashion; they cannot understand destitution. Capable of giving alms, perhaps, but incapable of stripping themselves bare, they will be moved, to the sound of beautiful music, at Jesus's sufferings, but His Cross, the reality of His Cross, will horrify them. They want it all out of gold, bathed in light, costly and of little weight; pleasant to see, hanging from a woman's beautiful throat."

Léon Bloy

No surprise in this. It has always been so, especially in times of such vanity and greed as are these. Then is now. There is nothing new under the sun. And certainly nothing exceptional about the likes of us in our indulgent self-destruction.

Are you not entertained?

[Jul 06, 2019] It always seems very odd to me that so many people who think like that profess to be Christian. 'Poverty equals moral failure' is the complete opposite of what Jesus Christ got into so much trouble for saying.

Notable quotes:
"... The idea of the 'American dream' seems to have morphed into a nasty belief that if you're poor it's your own fault. You didn't 'want it enough'. You must be secretly lazy and undeserving, even if you're actually working three jobs to survive, or even if there are no jobs. ..."
"... It always seems very odd to me that so many people who think like that profess to be Christian. 'Poverty equals moral failure' is the complete opposite of what Jesus Christ got into so much trouble for saying. ..."
Jul 06, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

zephirine -> josephinireland

The idea of the 'American dream' seems to have morphed into a nasty belief that if you're poor it's your own fault. You didn't 'want it enough'. You must be secretly lazy and undeserving, even if you're actually working three jobs to survive, or even if there are no jobs.

This view has taken hold in the UK too, where the tabloids peddle the view that anyone who claims state benefits must be a fraud. But at least, people here and in mainland Europe have the direct experience of war within living memory and we understand that you can lose everything through no fault of your own. In the US, even when there's a natural disaster like Katrina it seems to be the poor people's fault for not having their own transport and money to go and stay somewhere else.

It always seems very odd to me that so many people who think like that profess to be Christian. 'Poverty equals moral failure' is the complete opposite of what Jesus Christ got into so much trouble for saying.

[Jul 02, 2019] Yep! The neolibs hate poor people and have superiority complex

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Both neoliberal-driven governments and authoritarian societies share one important factor: They care more about consolidating power in the hands of the political, corporate and financial elite than they do about investing in the future of young people and expanding the benefits of the social contract and common good. ..."
"... Michael Yates (economist) points out throughout his book 'The Great Inequality', capitalism is devoid of any sense of social responsibility and is driven by an unchecked desire to accumulate capital at all costs. As power becomes global and politics remains local, ruling elites no longer make political concessions to workers or any other group that they either exploit or consider disposable. ..."
"... At bottom, neoliberals believe in a social hierarchy of "haves" and "have nots". They have taken this corrosive social vision and dressed it up with a "respectable" sounding ideology which all boils down to the cheap labor they depend on to make their fortunes. ..."
"... The ugly truth is that cheap-labour conservatives just don't like working people. They don't like "bottom up" prosperity, and the reason for it is very simple. "Corporate lords" have a harder time kicking them around. ..."
Apr 10, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

Originally from: Seven signs of the neoliberal apocalypse - Van Badham - Opinion - The Guardian

slorter, 27 Apr 2018 01:37

Both neoliberal-driven governments and authoritarian societies share one important factor: They care more about consolidating power in the hands of the political, corporate and financial elite than they do about investing in the future of young people and expanding the benefits of the social contract and common good.

Michael Yates (economist) points out throughout his book 'The Great Inequality', capitalism is devoid of any sense of social responsibility and is driven by an unchecked desire to accumulate capital at all costs. As power becomes global and politics remains local, ruling elites no longer make political concessions to workers or any other group that they either exploit or consider disposable.

At bottom, neoliberals believe in a social hierarchy of "haves" and "have nots". They have taken this corrosive social vision and dressed it up with a "respectable" sounding ideology which all boils down to the cheap labor they depend on to make their fortunes.

The ugly truth is that cheap-labour conservatives just don't like working people. They don't like "bottom up" prosperity, and the reason for it is very simple. "Corporate lords" have a harder time kicking them around.

Once you understand this about the cheap-labor conservatives, the real motivation for their policies makes perfect sense. Remember, cheap-labour conservatives believe in social hierarchy and privilege, so the only prosperity they want is limited to them. They want to see absolutely nothing that benefits those who work for an hourly wage.

You also need to remember that voting the coalition out, which you need to do, will not necessarily give you a neoliberal free zone; Labor needs to shed some the dogma as well.

bryonyed -> slorter , 27 Apr 2018 01:41

Yep! The neolib scum hate poor people and have complexes of deservedness.

[Jun 30, 2019] Life Expectancy Falters In The UK Slow Death But Fast Profits For The Agrochemical Sector by Colin Todhunter

Notable quotes:
"... "We are being poisoned by weedkiller and other pesticides in our food and weedkiller sprayed indiscriminately on our communities. The media remain silent." ..."
"... Mason notes that the agency repeatedly failed to hold Monsanto accountable for its role in the pollution (a role that Monsanto denied from the outset) and consistently downplayed the dangers of the chemicals themselves. ..."
"... In a report prepared for the agency and the local authority in 2005 but never made public, the sites contain at least 67 toxic chemicals. Seven PCBs have been identified, along with vinyl chlorides and naphthalene. The unlined quarry is still leaking, the report says: ..."
"... Apart from these events in Wales, Mason outlines the overall toxic nature of Monsanto in the UK. For instance, she discusses the shockingly high levels of weedkiller in packaged cereals. Samples of four oat-based breakfast cereals marketed for children in the UK were recently sent to the Health Research Institute, Fairfield, Iowa, an accredited laboratory for glyphosate testing. Dr Fagan, the director of the centre, says of the results: ..."
"... "These results are consistently concerning. The levels consumed in a single daily helping of any one of these cereals, even the one with the lowest level of contamination, is sufficient to put the person's glyphosate levels above the levels that cause fatty liver disease in rats (and likely in people). ..."
"... Another study notes neurotransmitter changes in rat brain regions following glyphosate exposure. The highlights from that study indicate that glyphosate oral exposure caused neurotoxicity in rats; that brain regions were susceptible to changes in CNS monoamine levels; that glyphosate reduced 5-HT, DA, NE levels in a brain regional- and dose-related manner; and that glyphosate altered the serotoninergic, dopaminergic and noradrenergic systems. ..."
"... "Our children are growing up exposed to a toxic cocktail of weedkillers, insecticides, and fungicides. It's on their food and in their water, and it's even doused over their parks and playgrounds. Many governments insist that our standards of protection from these pesticides are strong enough. But as a scientist and a lawyer who specialises in chemicals and their potential impact on people's fundamental rights, I beg to differ. Last month it was revealed that in recommending that glyphosate – the world's most widely-used pesticide – was safe, the EU's food safety watchdog copied and pasted pages of a report directly from Monsanto , the pesticie's manufacturer. Revelations like these are simply shocking. ..."
"... At that stage, PCBs, DDT, chlordane, lindane, aldrin, dieldrin, endrin, toxaphene, heptachlor, dioxin, atrazine+ and dacthal were shown to be EDCs. Many of these residues are found in humans in the UK. ..."
"... Of course, the chickens are now coming home to roost for Bayer, which bought Monsanto. Mason refers to attorneys revealing Monsanto's criminal strategy for keeping Roundup on the market and the company being hit with $2 billion verdict in the third 'Roundup trial'. ..."
"... Attorney Brent Wisner has argued that Monsanto spent decades suppressing science linking its glyphosate-based weedkiller product to cancer by ghost-writing academic articles and feeding the EPA "bad science". He asked the jury to 'punish' Monsanto with a $1 billion punitive damages award. On Monday 13 May, the jury found Monsanto liable for failure to warn claims, design defect claims, negligence claims and negligent failure to warn claims. ..."
"... "Perhaps more ominously for Bayer, Monsanto also faces cascading scientific evidence linking glyphosate to a constellation of other injuries that have become prevalent since its introduction, including obesity, depression, Alzheimer's, ADHD, autism, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, kidney disease, and inflammatory bowel disease, brain, breast and prostate cancer, miscarriage, birth defects and declining sperm counts. Strong science suggests glyphosate is the culprit in the exploding epidemics of celiac disease, colitis, gluten sensitivities, diabetes and non-alcoholic liver cancer which, for the first time, is attacking children as young as 10. ..."
"... Rosemary Mason shows that the health of the UK populations already lags behind other countries in Western Europe. She links this to the increasing amounts of agrochemicals being applied to crops. If the UK does a post-Brexit deal with the US, we can only expect a gutting of environmental standards at the behest of the US and its corporations and much worse to follow for the environment and public health. ..."
Jun 30, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Colin Todhunter via Counterpunch.org,

A special report in the Observer newspaper in the UK on 23 June 2019 asked the question: Why is life expectancy faltering? The piece noted that for the first time in 100 years, Britons are dying earlier. The UK now has the worst health trends in Western Europe.

Aside from the figures for the elderly and the deprived, there has also been a worrying change in infant mortality rates. Since 2014, the rate has increased every year: the figure for 2017 is significantly higher than the one in 2014. To explain this increase in infant mortality, certain experts blame it on 'austerity', fewer midwives, an overstrained ambulance service, general deterioration of hospitals, greater poverty among pregnant women and cuts that mean there are fewer health visitors for patients in need.

While all these explanations may be valid, according to environmental campaigner Dr Rosemary Mason, there is something the mainstream narrative is avoiding. She says:

"We are being poisoned by weedkiller and other pesticides in our food and weedkiller sprayed indiscriminately on our communities. The media remain silent."

The poisoning of the UK public by the agrochemical industry is the focus of her new report – Why is life expectancy faltering: The British Government has worked with Monsanto and Bayer since 1949 .

What follows are edited highlights of the text in which she cites many official sources and reports as well as numerous peer-reviewed studies in support of her arguments. Readers can access the report here .

Toxic history of Monsanto in the UK

Mason begins by offering a brief history of Monsanto in the UK. In 1949, that company set up a chemical factory in Newport, Wales, where it manufactured PCBs until 1977 and a number of other dangerous chemicals. Monsanto was eventually found to be dumping toxic waste in the River Severn, public waterways and sewerage. It then paid a contractor which illegally dumped thousands of tons of cancer-causing chemicals, including PCBs, dioxins and Agent Orange derivatives, at two quarries in Wales – Brofiscin (80,000 tonnes) and Maendy (42,000 tonnes) – between 1965 and 1972.

Monsanto stopped making PCBs in Anniston US in 1971 because of various scandals. However, the British government agreed to ramp up production at the Monsanto plant in Newport. In 2003, when toxic effluent from the quarry started leaking into people's streams in Grosfaen, just outside Cardiff, the Environment Agency – a government agency concerned with flooding and pollution – was hired to clean up the site in 2005.

Mason notes that the agency repeatedly failed to hold Monsanto accountable for its role in the pollution (a role that Monsanto denied from the outset) and consistently downplayed the dangers of the chemicals themselves.

In a report prepared for the agency and the local authority in 2005 but never made public, the sites contain at least 67 toxic chemicals. Seven PCBs have been identified, along with vinyl chlorides and naphthalene. The unlined quarry is still leaking, the report says:

"Pollution of water has been occurring since the 1970s, the waste and groundwater has been shown to contain significant quantities of poisonous, noxious and polluting material, pollution of waters will continue to occur."

The duplicity continues

Apart from these events in Wales, Mason outlines the overall toxic nature of Monsanto in the UK. For instance, she discusses the shockingly high levels of weedkiller in packaged cereals. Samples of four oat-based breakfast cereals marketed for children in the UK were recently sent to the Health Research Institute, Fairfield, Iowa, an accredited laboratory for glyphosate testing. Dr Fagan, the director of the centre, says of the results:

"These results are consistently concerning. The levels consumed in a single daily helping of any one of these cereals, even the one with the lowest level of contamination, is sufficient to put the person's glyphosate levels above the levels that cause fatty liver disease in rats (and likely in people). "

According to Mason, the European Food Safety Authority and the European Commission colluded with the European Glyphosate Task Force and allowed it to write the re-assessment of glyphosate. She lists key peer-reviewed studies, which the Glyphosate Task Force conveniently omitted from its review, from South America where GM crops are grown. In fact, many papers come from Latin American countries where they grow almost exclusively GM Roundup Ready Crops.

Mason cites one study that references many papers from around the world that confirm glyphosate-based herbicides like Monsanto's Roundup are damaging to the development of the foetal brain and that repeated exposure is toxic to the adult human brain and may result in alterations in locomotor activity, feelings of anxiety and memory impairment.

Another study notes neurotransmitter changes in rat brain regions following glyphosate exposure. The highlights from that study indicate that glyphosate oral exposure caused neurotoxicity in rats; that brain regions were susceptible to changes in CNS monoamine levels; that glyphosate reduced 5-HT, DA, NE levels in a brain regional- and dose-related manner; and that glyphosate altered the serotoninergic, dopaminergic and noradrenergic systems.

Little wonder, Mason concludes, that we see various degenerative conditions on the rise. She turns her attention to children, the most vulnerable section of the population, and refers to the UN expert on toxicity Baskut Tuncak. He wrote a scathing piece in the Guardian on 06/11/2017 on the effects of agrotoxins on children's health:

"Our children are growing up exposed to a toxic cocktail of weedkillers, insecticides, and fungicides. It's on their food and in their water, and it's even doused over their parks and playgrounds. Many governments insist that our standards of protection from these pesticides are strong enough. But as a scientist and a lawyer who specialises in chemicals and their potential impact on people's fundamental rights, I beg to differ. Last month it was revealed that in recommending that glyphosate – the world's most widely-used pesticide – was safe, the EU's food safety watchdog copied and pasted pages of a report directly from Monsanto , the pesticie's manufacturer. Revelations like these are simply shocking.

" Exposure in pregnancy and childhood is linked to birth defects, diabetes, and cancer. Because a child's developing body is more sensitive to exposure than adults and takes in more of everything – relative to their size, children eat, breathe, and drink much more than adults – they are particularly vulnerable to these toxic chemicals. Increasing evidence shows that even at "low" doses of childhood exposure, irreversible health impacts can result.

" In light of revelations such as the copy-and-paste scandal, a careful re-examination of the performance of states is required. The overwhelming reliance of regulators on industry-funded studies, the exclusion of independent science from assessments, and the confidentiality of studies relied upon by authorities must change."

Warnings ignored

It is a travesty that Theo Colborn's crucial research in the early 1990s into the chemicals that were changing humans and the environment was ignored. Mason discusses his work into endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), man-made chemicals that became widespread in the environment after WW II.

In a book published in 1996, 'The Pesticide Conspiracy', Colborn, Dumanoski and Peters revealed the full horror of what was happening to the world as a result of contamination with EDCs.

At the time, there was emerging scientific research about how a wide range of man-made chemicals disrupt delicate hormone systems in humans. These systems play a critical role in processes ranging from human sexual development to behaviour, intelligence, and the functioning of the immune system.

At that stage, PCBs, DDT, chlordane, lindane, aldrin, dieldrin, endrin, toxaphene, heptachlor, dioxin, atrazine+ and dacthal were shown to be EDCs. Many of these residues are found in humans in the UK.

Colborn illustrated the problem by constructing a diagram of the journey of a PCB molecule from a factory in Alabama into a polar bear in the Arctic. He stated:

"The concentration of persistent chemicals can be magnified millions of times as they travel to the ends of the earth... Many chemicals that threaten the next generation have found their way into our bodies. There is no safe, uncontaminated place. "

Mason describes how EDCs interfere with delicate hormone systems in sexual development. Glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor and a nervous system disruptor. She ponders whether Colborn foresaw the outcome whereby humans become confused about their gender or sex.

She then discusses the widespread contamination of people in the UK. One study conducted at the start of this century concluded that every person tested was contaminated by a cocktail of known highly toxic chemicals that were banned from use in the UK during the 1970s and which continue to pose unknown health risks: the highest number of chemicals found in any one person was 49 – nearly two thirds (63 per cent) of the chemicals looked for.

Corruption exposed

Mason discusses corporate duplicity and the institutionalised corruption that allows agrochemicals to get to the commercial market. She notes the catastrophic impacts of these substances on health and the NHS and the environment.

Of course, the chickens are now coming home to roost for Bayer, which bought Monsanto. Mason refers to attorneys revealing Monsanto's criminal strategy for keeping Roundup on the market and the company being hit with $2 billion verdict in the third 'Roundup trial'.

Attorney Brent Wisner has argued that Monsanto spent decades suppressing science linking its glyphosate-based weedkiller product to cancer by ghost-writing academic articles and feeding the EPA "bad science". He asked the jury to 'punish' Monsanto with a $1 billion punitive damages award. On Monday 13 May, the jury found Monsanto liable for failure to warn claims, design defect claims, negligence claims and negligent failure to warn claims.

Robert F Kennedy Jr., another attorney fighting Bayer in the courts, says Roundup causes a constellation of other injuries apart from Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma:

"Perhaps more ominously for Bayer, Monsanto also faces cascading scientific evidence linking glyphosate to a constellation of other injuries that have become prevalent since its introduction, including obesity, depression, Alzheimer's, ADHD, autism, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, kidney disease, and inflammatory bowel disease, brain, breast and prostate cancer, miscarriage, birth defects and declining sperm counts. Strong science suggests glyphosate is the culprit in the exploding epidemics of celiac disease, colitis, gluten sensitivities, diabetes and non-alcoholic liver cancer which, for the first time, is attacking children as young as 10.

In finishing, Mason notes the disturbing willingness of the current UK government to usher in GM Roundup Ready crops in the wake of Brexit. Where pesticides are concerned, the EU's precautionary principle could be ditched in favour of a US-style risk-based approach, allowing faster authorisation.

Rosemary Mason shows that the health of the UK populations already lags behind other countries in Western Europe. She links this to the increasing amounts of agrochemicals being applied to crops. If the UK does a post-Brexit deal with the US, we can only expect a gutting of environmental standards at the behest of the US and its corporations and much worse to follow for the environment and public health.


Sinophile , 54 minutes ago link

If a chemical is deadly to a plant, it could not possibly be deadly to anything else. Right?

******* idiots. This comment section is full of ******* idiots.

Check out this clip from the CBC:

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

Anyway, it ain't just glyphosates. We live in a toxic world today. They sicken us with their chemicals and then reap profit from their pharmaceuticals used to treat our symptoms. Never a cure. No profit in that. Keep us alive and sick and using their pharmaceuticals to mask the symptoms. Die before you can collect SS. That's the plan.

Stormblessed , 1 hour ago link

Noise. People live for roughly 80 years, big deal. That's way longer than in the '50's or earlier.

kbohip , 4 hours ago link

Blaming glyphosate, which has been used for decades for a decline in life expectancy that began only in 2014 doesn't make any sense. If glyphosate really was that cancer causing, it would have led to a decline decades ago I would think. That being said, I have a bunch of hard to kill weeds in my backyard (not in the lawn) that I want to get rid of. One in particular is a real problem as it's not actually a weed but a plant that was put in before I moved here. It can't easily be pulled or even touched by my weed eater as it has a poison inside that burns the skin and lungs. I intend to use glyphosate if I have to, but I'm open to other suggestions from people here that would also get the job done.

AGuy , 3 hours ago link

" If glyphosate really was that cancer causing, it would have led to a decline decades ago I would think. "

Monasanto was just stupid to claim Glyphosate didn't have an pontential toxic properties. It would have just been wise to put on the label: "Do not ingest or inhale, May contain toxic and carcinogens. where protective gloves and clothing when handling. Do not apply near streams, ponds or other sources of fresh water."

If someone gets sick, they are not liable or have limited liability.

" I intend to use glyphosate if I have to, but I'm open to other suggestions from people here that would also get the job done. "

Just use protective clothing & gloves when handling what ever herbicide you use. Avoid spraying in a way that you might inhale or get exposure. FWIW: I have a hogweed growing on my property. Way too dangerous to touch of get near. I am going try using Glyphosate to kill it, if that does do it, I try another herbicide.

Hogweed is very dangerous: Like poison ivy only about 1000 times worse. Even lightly touching it can cause very nasty skin lesions. Herbicide is the only safe way to get rid of it.

Ignore This , 4 hours ago link

Weedkiller is killing people because ... we said so!
But what if it isn't weedkiller? What if it is plastic bottles or food preservative or over the counter pain remedies? We would never know because ZH says it's weed killer. It could be a combination of many things. Since this is affecting people in their late 80's, anything that generation was exposed to in the past 80 years could be to blame including during World War II. I realize that rational thought is frowned upon on ZH but have a little skepticism. This is the Internet after all.

delmar Jackson , 5 hours ago link

Roundup was sold to farmers for 30 years as a safe way to help harvest their crops and reduce the growth of mold which can be much more toxic then many man made chemicals. I am less worried about monsanto than I am drug overdoses that are killing over 70,000 people a year. Instead of bombing Iran we need to bomb China and mexico for all of the death causing drugs they have imported into our country. Over a quarter of a million people are dead from drugs like heroin and fentanyl in the last 4 years.

AGuy , 3 hours ago link

" Roundup was sold to farmers for 30 years as a safe way to help harvest their crops and reduce the growth of mold which can be much more toxic then many man made chemicals. "

Nope, its used as a herbicide to kill everything before they plant a crop so the weeds don't compete with the crop.

" I am less worried about monsanto than I am drug overdoses that are killing over 70,000 people a year. "

ODs aren't as terrible as food\water contamination. Any sane person will not abuse opioids. Look at this way: there are 70K less people living on welfare or some other gov't subsidy. However Food\Water contamination is a big deal since its difficult for even the sanest people to avoid it. OD is usually a life choice, Food\Water contamination is not.

Xena fobe , 7 hours ago link

Same in the US. Lowered standard of living. Mass migrations and elite 1% burdening the poor and middle class.

[Jun 29, 2019] The Forever War Is So Normalized That Opposing It Is Isolationism by Caitlin Johnstone

Notable quotes:
"... More importantly, Ryan's campaign using the word "isolationism" to describe the simple common sense impulse to withdraw from a costly, deadly military occupation which isn't accomplishing anything highlights an increasingly common tactic of tarring anything other than endless military expansionism as strange and aberrant instead of normal and good. ..."
"... Under our current Orwellian doublespeak paradigm where forever war is the new normal, the opposite of war is no longer peace, but isolationism. This removal of a desirable opposite of war from the establishment-authorised lexicon causes war to always be the desirable option. ..."
"... A few months after Bush's address, Antiwar 's Rich Rubino wrote an article titled " Non-Interventionism is Not Isolationism ", explaining the difference between a nation which withdraws entirely from the world and a nation which simply resists the temptation to use military aggression except in self defense. ..."
"... "Isolationism dictates that a country should have no relations with the rest of the world," Rubino explained. "In its purest form this would mean that ambassadors would not be shared with other nations, communications with foreign governments would be mainly perfunctory, and commercial relations would be non-existent." ..."
"... "A non-interventionist supports commercial relations," Rubino contrasted. "In fact, in terms of trade, many non-interventionists share libertarian proclivities and would unilaterally obliterate all tariffs and custom duties, and would be open to trade with all willing nations. In addition, non-interventionists welcome cultural exchanges and the exchange of ambassadors with all willing nations." ..."
"... "A non-interventionist believes that the U.S. should not intercede in conflicts between other nations or conflicts within nations," wrote Rubino. "In recent history, non-interventionists have proved prophetic in warning of the dangers of the U.S. entangling itself in alliances. The U.S. has suffered deleterious effects and effectuated enmity among other governments, citizenries, and non-state actors as a result of its overseas interventions. The U.S. interventions in both Iran and Iraq have led to cataclysmic consequences." ..."
"... Calling an aversion to endless military violence "isolationism" is the same as calling an aversion to mugging people "agoraphobia". ..."
"... Another dishonest label you'll get thrown at you when debating the forever war is "pacifism". "Some wars are bad, but I'm not a pacifist; sometimes war is necessary," supporters of a given interventionist military action will tell you. They'll say this while defending Trump's potentially catastrophic Iran warmongering or promoting a moronic regime change invasion of Syria, or defending disastrous US military interventions in the past like Iraq. ..."
"... All Wars Are Evil. Period. "Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy." – Henry Kissinger ..."
"... Can you imagine Jesus firing a machine gun at a group of people? Can you picture Jesus in an F-16 lobbing missiles at innocents? ..."
"... instead of getting us out of Syria, Trump got us further in. Trump is driving us to ww3. ..."
"... funny how people, fresh from the broken promises "build that wall" etc, quickly forget all that and begin IMMEDIATELY projecting trustworthiness on yet ANOTHER candidate. I'Il vote for Tulsi when she says no more Israeli wars for America. ..."
"... if there's even a small chance Tulsi can get us out of the forever wars i will be compelled to vote for her, as Trump clearly has no intention on doing so. yes, it is that important ..."
"... As for this next election? Is Ron Paul running as an independent? No? Well then, 'fool me once...' Don't get me wrong: I hope Gabbard is genuine and she's absolutely right to push non-interventionism...but the rest of her platform sucks. There's also the fact that she's a CFR member ..."
"... Just as they did with Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, and Pat Buchanan, the MSM and the swamp have already effectively buried Gabbard. It's unlikely that she'll make the next debate cut as the DNC and MSM will toss her out. ..."
"... All the MSM is talking about post-debates, even on Faux Noise, is Harris's race-baiting of old senile Biden. ..."
Jun 29, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

After getting curb stomped on the debate stage by Tulsi Gabbard, the campaign for Tim "Who the fuck is Tim Ryan?" Ryan posted a statement decrying the Hawaii congresswoman's desire to end a pointless 18-year military occupation as "isolationism".

"While making a point as to why America can't cede its international leadership and retreat from around the world, Tim was interrupted by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard," the statement reads.

"When he tried to answer her, she contorted a factual point Tim was making  --  about the Taliban being complicit in the 9/11 attacks by providing training, bases and refuge for Al Qaeda and its leaders. The characterization that Tim Ryan doesn't know who is responsible for the attacks on 9/11 is simply unfair reporting. Further, we continue to reject Gabbard's isolationism and her misguided beliefs on foreign policy . We refuse to be lectured by someone who thinks it's ok to dine with murderous dictators like Syria's Bashar Al-Assad who used chemical weapons on his own people."

Ryan's campaign is lying. During an exchange that was explicitly about the Taliban in Afghanistan, Ryan plainly said "When we weren't in there, they started flying planes into our buildings." At best, Ryan can argue that when he said "they" he had suddenly shifted from talking about the Taliban to talking about Al Qaeda without bothering to say so, in which case he obviously can't legitimately claim that Gabbard "contorted" anything he had said. At worst, he was simply unaware at the time of the very clear distinction between the Afghan military and political body called the Taliban and the multinational extremist organization called Al Qaeda.

More importantly, Ryan's campaign using the word "isolationism" to describe the simple common sense impulse to withdraw from a costly, deadly military occupation which isn't accomplishing anything highlights an increasingly common tactic of tarring anything other than endless military expansionism as strange and aberrant instead of normal and good.

Under our current Orwellian doublespeak paradigm where forever war is the new normal, the opposite of war is no longer peace, but isolationism. This removal of a desirable opposite of war from the establishment-authorised lexicon causes war to always be the desirable option.

This is entirely by design. This bit of word magic has been employed for a long time to tar any idea which deviates from the neoconservative agenda of total global unipolarity via violent imperialism as something freakish and dangerous. In his farewell address to the nation , war criminal George W Bush said the following:

"In the face of threats from abroad, it can be tempting to seek comfort by turning inward. But we must reject isolationism and its companion, protectionism. Retreating behind our borders would only invite danger. In the 21st century, security and prosperity at home depend on the expansion of liberty abroad. If America does not lead the cause of freedom, that cause will not be led."

A few months after Bush's address, Antiwar 's Rich Rubino wrote an article titled " Non-Interventionism is Not Isolationism ", explaining the difference between a nation which withdraws entirely from the world and a nation which simply resists the temptation to use military aggression except in self defense.

"Isolationism dictates that a country should have no relations with the rest of the world," Rubino explained. "In its purest form this would mean that ambassadors would not be shared with other nations, communications with foreign governments would be mainly perfunctory, and commercial relations would be non-existent."

"A non-interventionist supports commercial relations," Rubino contrasted. "In fact, in terms of trade, many non-interventionists share libertarian proclivities and would unilaterally obliterate all tariffs and custom duties, and would be open to trade with all willing nations. In addition, non-interventionists welcome cultural exchanges and the exchange of ambassadors with all willing nations."

"A non-interventionist believes that the U.S. should not intercede in conflicts between other nations or conflicts within nations," wrote Rubino. "In recent history, non-interventionists have proved prophetic in warning of the dangers of the U.S. entangling itself in alliances. The U.S. has suffered deleterious effects and effectuated enmity among other governments, citizenries, and non-state actors as a result of its overseas interventions. The U.S. interventions in both Iran and Iraq have led to cataclysmic consequences."

Calling an aversion to endless military violence "isolationism" is the same as calling an aversion to mugging people "agoraphobia". Yet you'll see this ridiculous label applied to both Gabbard and Trump, neither of whom are isolationists by any stretch of the imagination, or even proper non-interventionists. Gabbard supports most US military alliances and continues to voice full support for the bogus "war on terror" implemented by the Bush administration which serves no purpose other than to facilitate endless military expansionism; Trump is openly pushing regime change interventionism in both Venezuela and Iran while declining to make good on his promises to withdraw the US military from Syria and Afghanistan.

Another dishonest label you'll get thrown at you when debating the forever war is "pacifism". "Some wars are bad, but I'm not a pacifist; sometimes war is necessary," supporters of a given interventionist military action will tell you. They'll say this while defending Trump's potentially catastrophic Iran warmongering or promoting a moronic regime change invasion of Syria, or defending disastrous US military interventions in the past like Iraq.

This is bullshit for a couple of reasons. Firstly, virtually no one is a pure pacifist who opposes war under any and all possible circumstances; anyone who claims that they can't imagine any possible scenario in which they'd support using some kind of coordinated violence either hasn't imagined very hard or is fooling themselves. If your loved ones were going to be raped, tortured and killed by hostile forces unless an opposing group took up arms to defend them, for example, you would support that. Hell, you would probably join in. Secondly, equating opposition to US-led regime change interventionism, which is literally always disastrous and literally never helpful, is not even a tiny bit remotely like opposing all war under any possible circumstance.

Another common distortion you'll see is the specious argument that a given opponent of US interventionism "isn't anti-war" because they don't oppose all war under any and all circumstances. This tweet by The Intercept 's Mehdi Hasan is a perfect example, claiming that Gabbard is not anti-war because she supports Syria's sovereign right to defend itself with the help of its allies from the violent extremist factions which overran the country with western backing. Again, virtually no one is opposed to all war under any and all circumstances; if a coalition of foreign governments had helped flood Hasan's own country of Britain with extremist militias who'd been murdering their way across the UK with the ultimate goal of toppling London, both Tulsi Gabbard and Hasan would support fighting back against those militias.

The label "anti-war" can for these reasons be a little misleading. The term anti-interventionist or non-interventionist comes closest to describing the value system of most people who oppose the warmongering of the western empire, because they understand that calls for military interventionism which go mainstream in today's environment are almost universally based on imperialist agendas grabbing at power, profit, and global hegemony. The label "isolationist" comes nowhere close.

It all comes down to sovereignty. An anti-interventionist believes that a country has the right to defend itself, but it doesn't have the right to conquer, capture, infiltrate or overthrow other nations whether covertly or overtly. At the "end" of colonialism we all agreed we were done with that, except that the nationless manipulators have found far trickier ways to seize a country's will and resources without actually planting a flag there. We need to get clearer on these distinctions and get louder about defending them as the only sane, coherent way to run foreign policy.

* * *

The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website , which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported , so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook , following my antics on Twitter , throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal , purchasing some of my sweet merchandise , buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone , or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers . For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I'm trying to do with this platform, click here . Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I've written) in any way they like free of charge.

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Vitor , 31 minutes ago link

It's like someone being labeled anti-social for stopping to bully and pick up fights.

Aussiekiwi , 49 minutes ago link

"If America does not lead the cause of freedom, that cause will not be led."

Fascinating belief, has he been to Libya lately, perhaps attended an open air slave Market in a country that was very developed before the US decided to 'free' it.

Quivering Lip , 57 minutes ago link

Until Tulsi pimp slapped that Ryan guy I never heard of him. I would imagine I'll never here about him in another 2 months.

Toshie , 1 hour ago link

yeah , keep at it US Govt ;- keep fighting those wars overseas on behalf the 5th foreign column.

Keep wasting precious lives ,and the country's wealth while foreign rising powers like China are laughing all the way to the bank.

may you live in interesting times !

onasip123 , 1 hour ago link

War forever and ever, Amen.

Dr Anon , 1 hour ago link

When we weren't there, they flew planes into our buildings?

Excuse me mutant, but I believe we paid Israel our jewtax that year like all the others and they still flew planes into our buildings. And then danced in the streets about it. Sick people.

thisguyoverhere , 1 hour ago link

All Wars Are Evil. Period. "Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy." – Henry Kissinger

Picture if you will Jesus. Seriously? Can you imagine Jesus firing a machine gun at a group of people? Can you picture Jesus in an F-16 lobbing missiles at innocents?

Do you see Jesus piloting a drone and killing Muslims, other non-believers, or anyone for that matter? Can you picture Jesus as a sniper?

Impossible.

Dougs Decks , 2 hours ago link

Soooo,,, If my favorite evening activity, is to sit on the front porch steps, while the dog and the cats run around, with my shotgun leaning up next to me,,, Is that Isolationist, or Protectionist,,,

Brazen Heist II , 2 hours ago link

You know the system is completely broken when they want to silence/kill/smear anybody talking sense and peace.

vienna_proxy , 2 hours ago link

and isis are referred to as freedom fighters

Herdee , 2 hours ago link

The CIA and MI6 staged all the fake chemical incidents in Syria as well as the recent one in England. False Flags.

ardent , 2 hours ago link

What America needs is to get rid of all those Jewish Zionist Neocons leading us into those forever wars.

ALL MidEast terrorism and warmongering are for APARTHEID Israhell.

vienna_proxy , 2 hours ago link

instead of getting us out of Syria, Trump got us further in. Trump is driving us to ww3. we can't do **** if we're glazed over in a nuclear holocaust. maybe Tulsi is lying through her teeth, but i am so pissed Trump went full neocon

Wild Bill Steamcock , 2 hours ago link

"Won't Get Fooled Again"- The Who

JD Rock , 2 hours ago link

funny how people, fresh from the broken promises "build that wall" etc, quickly forget all that and begin IMMEDIATELY projecting trustworthiness on yet ANOTHER candidate. I'Il vote for Tulsi when she says no more Israeli wars for America.

vienna_proxy , 2 hours ago link

she did slam Netanyahu

WillyGroper , 2 hours ago link

saying & doing are different animals. she's powerless. more hope n chains.

KnightsofNee , 2 hours ago link

www.tulsigabbard.org

If you read her positions on various issues, a quick survey shows that she supports the New Green Deal, more gun control (ban on assault rifles, etc.), Medicare for all. Stopped reading at that point.

White Nat , 2 hours ago link

We refuse to be lectured by someone who thinks it's ok to dine with murderous dictators like Syria's Bashar Al-Assad who used chemical weapons on his own people.

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State. ~ Joseph Goebbels

New_Meat , 2 hours ago link

- Edward Bernays, relative of Sigmund Fraud, propagandist for Woodrow Wilson.

Back then, being a "propagandist" held no stigma nor antipathy.

fify

Debt Slave , 1 hour ago link

The better educated among us know exactly as to who Goebblels was referring to. Even a dullard should be able to figure out who benefits from all of our Middle East adventures.

LOL123 , 3 hours ago link

"Under our current Orwellian doublespeak paradigm where forever war is the new normal, the opposite of war is no longer peace, but isolationism. "

Under military might WAS the old world order... Under the new world order the strength is in cyber warfare .

If under technology the profiteers can control the masses through crowd control ( which they can-" Department of Defense has developed a non-lethal crowd control device called the Active Denial System (ADS) . The ADS works by firing a high-powered beam of 95 GHz waves at a target that is, millimeter wavelengths. Anyone caught in the beam will feel like their skin is burning.) your spending power ( they can through e- commetce and digital banking) and isolation cells called homes ( they can through directed microwaves from GWEN stations).... We already are isolated and exposed at the same time.

That war is an exceptable means of engagement as a solution to world power is a confirmation of the psychological warfare imposed on us since the creation of our Nation.

Either we reel it in and back now or we destroy ourselves from within.

"

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.

Abraham Lincoln

vienna_proxy , 2 hours ago link

if there's even a small chance Tulsi can get us out of the forever wars i will be compelled to vote for her, as Trump clearly has no intention on doing so. yes, it is that important

metachron , 2 hours ago link

Idiot, Tulsi is a sovereign nationalist on the left. You have just never seen one before. If you were truly anti-globalist you'd would realize left and right are invented to divide us. The politics are global and national, so wake the **** up

Hurricane Baby , 3 hours ago link

Actually, I don't see where a few decades of US isolationism would be all that bad.

Fred box , 3 hours ago link

""War Is the U.S. Racket!"" They are not good at it, there "great at it". My entire life 63yrs,they been fighting someone or something. When times where rough in the 1800s,Hell! they fought themselves(Civil War. As I said b4 No one seems to ask, Where does the gold go of the vanquished foe? Truly Is A Well Practiced Racket.

Malleus Maleficarum , 3 hours ago link

Good article with several salient points, thought I would ask "what's wrong with a little isolationism?" Peace through internal strength is desirable, but good fences make good neighbors and charity begins at home!

The gradual twisting of language really is one of most insidious tactics employed by the NWO Luciferians. I think we'd all like to see the traitorous Neocons gone for good. Better yet, strip them of their American citizenship and ill-gotten wealth and banish them to Israel. Let them earn their citizenship serving in a front-line IDF rifle company.

As for this next election? Is Ron Paul running as an independent? No? Well then, 'fool me once...' Don't get me wrong: I hope Gabbard is genuine and she's absolutely right to push non-interventionism...but the rest of her platform sucks. There's also the fact that she's a CFR member and avowed gun-grabber, to boot. Two HUGE red flags!

She almost strikes me as a half-assed 'Manchurian Candidate.' So, if she's elected (a big 'if' at this point) I ask myself 'what happens after the next (probably nuclear) false flag?' How quickly will she disavow her present stance on non-interventionism? How quickly and viciously will the 2nd Amendment be raped? Besides, I'm not foolish enough to believe that one person can turn the SS Deep State away from it's final disastrous course.

dunlin , 2 hours ago link

What's cfr? Duck duck gives lots of law firms.

tardpill , 2 hours ago link

council on foreign relations

tardpill , 2 hours ago link

the whos who of globalist satanists..

Sinophile , 32 minutes ago link

Mal, she is NOT a CFR member. You are misinformed.

Justapleb , 3 hours ago link

These word games were already in use looong ago. Tulsi Gabbard is using Obama's line about fighting the wrong war. She would have taken out Al Qaeda, captured Bin Laden, and put a dog leash on him. So that she could make a green economy, a new century of virtue signalling tyranny. No thanks.

Smi1ey , 3 hours ago link

Great article.

Go Tusli!

Go Caitlin!

I am Groot , 3 hours ago link

You beat me to that. Thanks for saving my breath.

Rule #1 All politcians lie

Rule #2 See Rule #1

Boogity , 3 hours ago link

Just as they did with Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, and Pat Buchanan, the MSM and the swamp have already effectively buried Gabbard. It's unlikely that she'll make the next debate cut as the DNC and MSM will toss her out.

All the MSM is talking about post-debates, even on Faux Noise, is Harris's race-baiting of old senile Biden.

I went to some of the so-called liberal websites and blogs and the only mention of Gabbard is in the context of her being a Putin stooge. This combined with the fact that virtually all establishment Republicans are eager to fight any war for Israel clearly shows that it will take something other than the ballot box to end Uncle Scam's endless wars.

[Jun 27, 2019] Private Equity and Institutional Investor Owned UK Utility Engaged in Massive Fraud, Regulatory Evasions, Worker Coercion

Notable quotes:
"... The result has been a disaster for consumers, the environment and the condition of the infrastructure which was sold off as a result of the privatization. Wikipedia provides a helpful list of the past history of awful, depressing headlines the company has generated: ..."
Jun 27, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Of all the inhabitants of the Little Shop of Horrors that is neoliberalism, surely the most gruesome cohort must be privatization of monopoly public services. And then within this best-worst category, privatization of potable water and wastewater treatment utilities can't be anything other than an outright winner of this ugly competition.

Where I live in southern England, the Thatcher administration – who else? – privatized the previously state-owned company which has a monopoly, as all water supply and sewage treatment inevitably requires, on providing potable water and treating wastewater which flows into the sewer system and eventually, via treatment plants, back into the watercourses.

The result has been a disaster for consumers, the environment and the condition of the infrastructure which was sold off as a result of the privatization. Wikipedia provides a helpful list of the past history of awful, depressing headlines the company has generated:

In 2007 Southern Water was fined £20.3 million for 'deliberate misreporting' and failing to meet guaranteed standards of service to customers. Southern Water Chief Executive Les Dawson said: "Today's announcement draws a line under a shameful period in the company's history".

In 2011 Southern Water Ltd was fined £25,000 when sewage flooded into Southampton water.

The company was ordered to pay £10,000 in fines and costs after sewage seeped into a stream at Beltinge in Kent.

A leak of sewage from Southern Water's plant at Hurstpierpoint pumping station, West Sussex, lead to fines and costs of £7,200 in 2011.

Southern Water was fined £50,000 in April 2011 for two offences relating to unscreened discharges into Langstone Harbour, Hampshire, between November 2009 and April 2010.

In June 2010 Southern Water was fined £3,000 after it admitted polluting 2 km of a Sussex stream with raw sewage, killing up to a hundred brown trout and devastating the fish population for the second time in five years. Crawley Magistrates' Court heard that the Environment Agency received calls from members of the public after dead fish were seen in the Sunnyside Stream in East Grinstead on 30 August 2009.

In November 2014 Southern Water were fined £500,000 and agreed to pay costs of £19,224 at Canterbury Crown Court after an Environment Agency investigation found that untreated sewage was discharged into the Swalecliffe Brook, polluting a 1.2 kilometre stretch of the watercourse and killing local wildlife. (www.gov.uk/government/news)

In December 2016 Southern Water was fined a record £2,000,000 for flooding beaches in Kent with raw sewage, leaving them closed to the public for nine days. The Environment Agency called the event "catastrophic", while the judge at Maidstone crown court said that Southern Water's repeat offending was "wholly unacceptable " . The company apologised unreservedly, as it did when fined £200,000 in 2013 for similar offences. Due to health concerns, Thanet district council was forced to close beaches for nine consecutive days, including the Queen's diamond jubilee bank holiday weekend. (The Guardian, 19 December 2016)

You would have thought, perhaps in hope rather than realism, that after this deluge of crap (literally), Southern Water (and their investors) might have, if you'll forgive the pun, wondered if it wasn't time to clean up their act. If so, you'd be, uncharacteristically for Naked Capitalism readers, rather naive. Southern Water has made their previous civil violations look like a spot of mustard on a necktie.

Southern Water was fined by the regulators here £126M on June 25th, which sounds a lot but is in reality in slap on the wrists territory in view of their latest misconduct.

Before delving into the details of that, to provide some context, the utility is the usual PE-orchestrated financial-engineering asset-sweating systematical reduction of a former public service to a hollowed out husk.

Here's the ownership structure, as explained by Southern Water :

Southern Water is owned by a consortium, which came together

Clive again, momentarily interrupting the flow, like a blocked sewer. The use of language there is almost an art form. "came together". Did they all hook up on Tinder or something? Not a bit of it. The "consortium" was a Private Equity instigated lash up of yield-hungry investors chasing, like everyone else these days, above-average rates of return. Why didn't they simply buy chunks of the publicly-traded equity tranches of the company to give themselves exposure to this particular asset class (public utilities)? Because this wouldn't have given them sufficient leverage and control over the institution to do their financial raping and pillaging. Back, reluctantly, to Southern Water

in 2007 solely for this purpose.

The consortium members are shareholders in Greensands Holdings Limited, the top holding company. [ ]

The Greensands consortium members comprise a mixture of infrastructure investment funds, pension funds and private equity. The infrastructure funds are managed by JP Morgan Asset Management, UBS Asset Management and Hermes Investment Management.

The pension funds are represented by JP Morgan Asset Management, UBS Asset Management, Hermes Investment Management and Whitehelm Capital or are self-managed. Cheung Kong Infrastructure and The Li Ka Shing Foundation are direct investors.

What have these fine upstanding custodians of our water supply been up to, then? Lying, cheating, bullying and polluting. Ofwat, the UK water industry regulator, started peering more closely at Southern Water in 2018. They didn't like the look of what they saw .

A board which was asleep at the wheel:

Water resources management plan and market information

What we found

Overall, we had serious concerns in key areas of this assessment such as options costing, Board involvement, assurance and leakage reduction presentation. The draft water resources management plan option costs were not presented clearly and a limited description of assurance was provided for both the plan and market information table. The late provision of the market information and the time taken to update option cost information did not provide confidence in the company's management of this data. The leakage reduction target, a key plan metric, was not consistently presented in the plan and there was no evidence of Board involvement or sign off.

Our assessment: serious concerns

A company that deliberately obfuscated the regulators:

What we found

[ ] We currently have four open cases – an enforcement case, a sewer requisition case and two requests to appoint an arbitrator.

[ ]

In terms of the enforcement case, we do not consider that the company has met our expectations and we have serious concerns. This is based on Southern Water not responding fully to our requests for information (for example, by providing documents with missing pages and/or text), not responding in a timely manner and providing relevant information that was unclear. This has affected our ability to rely on the information provided and has required us to take steps to seek further clarifications and grant extensions to previous deadlines for responses, impacting our ability to progress the investigation as quickly and efficiently as we would have liked.

Our assessment: serious concerns

These failings led the regulator to conduct a much wider-reaching inquiry. The full regulatory report has to be read in its entirety to convey the awfulness that went on. But edited highlights, or maybe that should be low-lights, were:

・Falsification of regulatory reporting for effluent discharge quality to avoid fines:

In summary, as a consequence of now restating past WwTW performance data, we have calculated that Southern Water has avoided price review penalties in past years amounting to a total of £75 million (in 2017-18 prices). This has arisen as a direct consequence of the practices in place within the company to implement ANFs at its WwTW (Clive: Waste-water Treatment Works) over 2010 to 2017. The total amount of avoided price review penalties reflects the restated figures that Southern Water has now provided about the numbers of WwTW that were potentially non-compliant with permit conditions relating to final effluent quality.

・Deliberate attempts at evasion -- government agencies monitor water treatment plants but the operator predicted when the inspections and sampling was due and intentionally halted to flow from treatment plants ("Artificial No Flow or ANF" events) so there was no output to sample:

The Sampling Compliance Report provides evidence (mostly in the form of email extracts between employees of Southern Water between 2010 and 2017), of staff anticipating the timing of planned OSM (Clive: On Site Monitoring) samples across numerous WwTW, in order to ensure that no effluent was available for sampling purposes. This deliberate practice (which took place through a number of different methods) of creating an artificial "no flow" event (described as an "Artificial No Flow or ANF") meant that a sample under the OSM regime could not be taken thus ensuring that the sample (and as a consequence the relevant WwTW) would be deemed as being compliant with permit conditions. As a result of this manipulation, a false picture of Southern Water's WwTW performance (and how this was being achieved) was provided internally within the company, to the Environment Agency (Clive: the UK's equivalent of the EPA, similarly gutted, but that's another story for another time ) and to Ofwat

・They even took waste water discharges away by tanker so nothing could be measured at the outfall pipes.

Staff then used the knowledge about sample dates to put in place ANFs. This included, for example, through the improper use of tankering (i.e. by tankering wastewater from one WwTW to another to cause an ANF). Another method included 'recirculating' effluent within a WwTW again to ensure there was no final effluent available for sampling.

・Senior management hassled and pressured employees to obfuscate performance measures.

The report also highlighted occasions where employees felt pressured by senior managers to create ANFs.

・The whistleblowing policy for employees actually started with a big red frightener threatening dismissal for using the wrongdoing reporting mechanisms:

Southern Water has acknowledged in its Action Plan that there were deficiencies in its organisational culture which prevented employees from being comfortable with speaking out about inappropriate or non-compliant behaviours. This included having in place ineffective whistleblowing processes which resulted in no staff coming forward to report their concerns despite certain staff being obviously uncomfortable about the implementation of ANFs and feeling pressured to act in an improper manner (as evidenced by emails we have seen that are referenced in the Sampling Compliance Report).

The whistleblower policy Southern Water had in place at the time included on its first page and highlighted in bold the following text: "Should any investigation conclude that the disclosure was designed to discredit another individual or group, prove to be malicious or misleading then that worker concerned would become the subject of the Disciplinary Procedure or even action from the aggrieved individual."

By pretending that waste water being discharged into watercourses was of a higher quality than it was, the investors pocketed profits that should have gone on infrastructure improvements and staffing to enable treatment plants to be safely operated and checked effectively.

Criminal investigations are pending . But we've seen this movie many times before. Protected by the best corporate lawyers money (public consumers' money, that is) can buy, a defence shield of auditors, layers of management on whom the blame can be pinned and a complex legal argument which has to be constructed to a high evidence threshold allowing jurors to be thrown off the scent to a degree that a reasonable doubt emerges, we shouldn't hold our breaths.

So we're left with the penalties imposed. Unfortunately there's less here than meets the eye initially from the headline figure. From the regulatory report:

This is a notice of Ofwat's intention to issue Southern Water with a financial penalty amounting to £37.7 million reduced exceptionally to £3 million for significant breaches of its licence conditions and its statutory duties. This is on the basis that Southern Water has undertaken to pay customers about £123 million over the next five years, some of which is a payment of price review underperformance penalties the company avoided paying in the period 2010 to 2017 and some of which is a payment to customers for the failures set out in this notice, paid in lieu of a penalty.

This means the regulator reduced the up-front cost (which would have come out of the profits for fiscal 2019-20 in one hit) for an arrangement which allows Southern Water eee-zee payment terms and to spread the cost over five years through a customer rebate initiative. And some of the rebate is itself merely penalties which would have been levied if the wrongdoing -- environmental pollution and missed targets for waste processing quality -- had been identified at the time. They are trying to bribe me with my own money.

The whole sorry saga shows how the entire publicly-overseen but privately-owned regulated utility model is completely broken. The system is a sitting-duck for gaming and, at best, the issues are uncovered well after the fact. If ever.

There is, however, a final failsafe currently still in place. Water quality standards in the EU are mandated by EU Directive with redress available through the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). A Member State government can be fined and ordered to implement better oversight and governance of the utilities. Thus, any temptation which the U.K. government might succumb to, to "fix" problems like those entrenched in Southern Water by slackening off the potable and wastewater standards, are prohibited by the threat of EU / CJEU referral.

The U.K. government has promised that, post-Brexit, environmental protections will be "equivalent or better than" those specified in the EU Directive. I -- and similarly cynical readers -- might well harbour a few doubts about that.


Westken Tim , June 27, 2019 at 6:25 am

Mmm. I can't help but think that non-government ownership is not (necessariliy) the problem, but PE (an industry that has made a lot of people rich in the last 20y by pricing the same asset off ever-lower discount rates) certainly is.
Government ownership often results in unaccountable, faceless monopolies (I'm old enough to remember British Rail, which felt that it was an entirely acceptable plan to raise fares to push travellers off rail and onto the roads when the trains got too full) and the "taking private" of steady-state utility businesses, with cashflows that were "ripe" for securitisation and other smoke and mirrors moves, pushed accountability back into the dark ages.
There have been a number of cases of assets like this bought by JVs of PE and public pension plans. I wonder, were the latter just solicited to make the actions of the former look more respectable ?

lyman alpha blob , June 27, 2019 at 1:02 pm

The government certainly doesn't always do a bang up job with everything it controls, but when the government runs things, citizens at least theoretically have some recourse.

When a private corporation runs it, citizens can, literally in the case above, eat s**t.

PlutoniumKun , June 27, 2019 at 6:29 am

There is, however, a final failsafe currently still in place. Water quality standards in the EU are mandated by EU Directive with redress available through the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). A Member State government can be fined and ordered to implement better oversight and governance of the utilities. Thus, any temptation which the U.K. government might succumb to, to "fix" problems like those entrenched in Southern Water by slackening off the potable and wastewater standards, are prohibited by the threat of EU / CJEU referral.

I do believe that the combination of Water Quality Framework Directives , along with the Habitats and Birds Directives , are a major 'hidden' driver behind the people behind Brexit. These Directives are written in such a way as to provide almost no wiggle room for national regulators to escape hitting hard quantitative targets for water and habitat improvements. The Fracking industry is a very significant example – the Water Frame Work Directive also sets standards for groundwater, and its exceptionally difficult for the industry to meet the standards of proof that they will not degrade the quality of these water bodies. The ECJ is dominated by judges from northern European jurisdictions, which tend to take a far more 'literal' approach to Directives and their associated national laws and regulations. They provide zero room to massage failures to hit targets.

Escaping those Directives will be worth billions to those two industries at the very least. Well worth shoving a bit of money to the various campaigns. There are plenty of other industries that likewise feel they will benefit from what will be an upcoming bonfire of the Regulations.

Clive , June 27, 2019 at 8:37 am

I think too that the wriggle-room on water quality -- wastewater especially, potable is generally not something that anyone would risk meddling with; well, unless you live in Flint, Michigan, anyway -- has not escaped the notice of or despicable elites here.

The temptation by government to play along, grant "temporary" "exemptions" in response to industry whining, sorry, lobbying, will prove difficult to resist, more than ever when the U.K. government will be in a position to know that its word is final (it can simply make new laws if it decides it doesn't like the old ones).

Will the U.K. as a society end up doing the right thing, or simply backsliding and acquiescence because it's just easier? At least in the short term. I wish I had a definitive answer to that one. Ask me again when we know for sure, although I suspect you'll have to dig me up and open the coffin first.

Susan the other` , June 27, 2019 at 10:16 am

International racketeering. First they hide the real "persons of interest" within a consortium of consortiums of funds of funds – much like some special purpose "vehicle" for wealthy investors – and then they lobby governments bye gaslighting them, saying 'We can do this economically and efficiently' and you are clearly running our of money, so sell this water district to us and we'll get it back on track.' Right. Makes me wonder if Bojo and his cronies are heavy into waste management. Pun intended.

pretzelattack , June 27, 2019 at 6:34 am

almost too depressing to read. thanks, though.

The Rev Kev , June 27, 2019 at 6:37 am

I can only see a change when laws are adjusted so that executives can face actual jail time. Spending a few months, if not a few years, in HMP Berwyn or HMP Bronzefield would definitely not look good on either a resume or on LinkedIn so would concentrate their minds wonderfully about the hazards of breaking laws. Till then, any penalties are merely costs-of-doing -business and so are not a great risk.

EoH , June 27, 2019 at 10:15 am

Prison time for top executives and board members. Real cash on the nail fines, to be paid in lump sums. Right to recover bonuses and distributions made to shareholders. Forfeiture of company ownership to the Crown. For starters.

Jesper , June 27, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Limited liability is a privilege not a right and if the terms for limited liability isn't fulfilled then the limited liability can, in some countries under certain conditions, become unlimited liability. An example, trading while insolvent in Sweden (in Swedish, as the laws are in Swedish and only concerns Sweden then it is unlikely to be found in many other languages):

https://home.kpmg/se/sv/home/nyheter-rapporter/2017/11/se-news-kontrollbalansrakning-ett-skydd-mot-personligt-betalningsansvar.html

In practice it seems to only happen for smaller companies .

Craig H. , June 27, 2019 at 11:18 am

How do you put people who sat around a conference table in a corporation committee meeting in jail? The entire process is designed and perfected to evade responsibility. Anytime I see something like this I class it as a complete fluke:

Former head of Volkswagen could face 10 years in prison

Is that scumbag really behind bars? I suspect it is total fake news.

Ignacio , June 27, 2019 at 8:16 am

While I was reading this I was feeling increasingly obfuscated by the similarities I find in the publicly-owned privately-managed sewage and waste plants in Madrid. I can easily understand the frustration of the regulator with managers opacity. Imagine how bored must I be sometimes, that I annually take a look at the reports that the managers of those plants produce. These are rubbish reports. You have to spend a lot of time, first trying to understand the real meaning of some concepts, second to gather the truly relevant variables in order to assess the real performance of the plants.

I have to say that the situation in Spain must be worse than in the UK because regulators, if they exist, never come up with auditing results, not to mention noticing misconducts. We are miles away from being able to even fine those misconducts of which only a few have been brougth to the public by NGOs.

Ignacio , June 27, 2019 at 12:21 pm

Interestingly the former progressive Major of Madrid Carmena, now replaced with conservatives in alliance with xenophobe populists, ordered the first audit (i believe it is the first) of the waste treatment plant, a huge facility called Valdemingómez. I guess that the current Major, whose name I don't want to recall, will hide audit results to the public given that his party set years ago the current model for waste management.

Tom Stone , June 27, 2019 at 10:20 am

Corporate motto "Eat shit and die".

Susan the other` , June 27, 2019 at 10:32 am

Good waste management/recycling is going to be the industry of the future. Instead of being publicly contrite about their excessive wealth, the Billionaires should all focus their resources on fixing what will otherwise be an overwhelming mess. We will all be, as the military says, "Overtaken by events" someday soon unless we get on top of this. Pollution, garbage and sewage are the byproducts of our irresponsibility. Coupled with overpopulation. Not good. Andrew Carnegie donated his money away on good things. Every little town in America was a beneficiary, with a "Carnegie Library" among other things. But it made us all laugh out loud when San Francisco named its new water treatment facility the "George W. Bush Sewage and Water Treatment Facility" (or stg. like that). Unfortunately, the joke is really on us unless we start demanding improvements and responsibility. The problem is already almost too big to fix, Houston.

Joe Well , June 27, 2019 at 10:52 am

I knew an English guy circa 1999 who was then 35 years old and a hard Thatcherite in his opinions (didn't do any actual political activism, of course) because the previous Labour governments had ruined everything to the point that the country had to go to the IMF. He was no fan of the NHS, either. NHS-reimbursed dentists had done a ton of unnecessary fillings on him and his young friends as children. Worse, NHS doctors had misdiagnosed a life-threatening illness for years until American emergency room doctors did a bunch of expensive tests and cured him.

I wonder what he would have to say 20 years later now that the faults of privatization on both sides of the Atlantic have been laid bare?

I don't think there is any alternative to constant watchdogging and activism by the general public.

Cal2 , June 27, 2019 at 12:45 pm

Sewage treatment is part of health care. Places without adequate sewage treatment suffer rampant diseases in potable water, fish, animals and people exposed to it. Sewage treatment facilities are the only example of publicly run health care in the U.S. Each homeowner, and renter, pays a certain amount for it and it is handled to scientific standards without a profit motive.

dk , June 27, 2019 at 12:58 pm

+100
And well done Clive.

[Jun 26, 2019] Book Review John Patrick Leary's Keywords The New Language of Capitalism

Jun 26, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Late last year, I linked to a review of John Patrick Leary's Keywords: The New Language of Capitalism (Haymarket Books), and put it on my list of "one more book to read." And now I've finally gotten around to it! Which is no reflection on the book, or its cover; merely on my own scattered-brained schedule.

Leary describes (page 180) the genesis of Keywords as follows:

The project began when I was walking through a downtown Chicago food court with Lara Cohen and Christine Evans, complaining at length about how the word "innovation" seemed to be everywhere.

Who among us! More:

Christine suggested that instead of just getting mad, I make some small effort at getting even by writing up my criticisms this turned into a blog chronicling the other terms that celebrated profit and the rule of the market with guileless enthusiasm. This book is the product of her suggestion. Lara has been the first reader of virtually everything in book and its most important critic.

"Getting even" is certainly a strange motivation for starting a blog! MR SUBLIMINAL [snort!] And, after the usual list of thank-yous that befit an Acknowledgements section, this:

Thank you to my Wayne State students for your hopeful example of a generation unimpressed by the promises of an innovation economy.

Let us, indeed, hope! Here is the list of terms that Leary, er, curated; I am sure, readers, that many will provoke a thrill -- or shudder -- of recognition in you all:

Table 1: Leary's Word List

Accountability Grit
Artisanal Hack
Best practices Human capital
Brand Innovation
Choice Leadership
Coach Lean
Collaboration Maker
Competency Market
Conversation Meritocracy
Content Nimble
Creative Outcome
Curator Passion
Data Pivot
Design Resilience
Disruption Robust
DIY Share
Ecosystem Smart
Empowerment Solution
Engagement Stakeholder
Entrepreneur Sustainable
Excellence Synergy
Fail Thought leader
Flexible Wellness
Free

Continuing along with those who have not run screaming from the room: From Leary's list, I have picked three words: Our favorite, innovation , and then market , and smart . I'll provide an extract of the definition of each term, followed by a brief comment. I'll conclude with some remarks on the book as a whole.

Innovation

From page 114 et seq.:

For most of its early life, "innovation" was a pejorative, used to denounce false prophets and political dissidents. Thomas Hobbes used innovator in the seventeenth century as a synonym for a vain conspirator [Joseph Schumpeter], in his 1911 book The Theory of Economic Development used "innovation" to describe capitalism's tendnecy toward tumult and and transformation. He understood innovation historically, as a process of economic transformation, but for him this historical process relied upon a creative, private agent to carry it out [T]he entrepreneur. s

Other than mystifying creativity [another term] itself -- which now looks like an intuitive blast of inspiration, like a epiphany, and less like work -- "innovation" gives creativity a specific professional, class dimension. It almost always applies to white-collar and profit-seeking activities Rarely do we hear of the innovative carpenter, plumber, or homemaker .

The innovator is a model capitalist citizen for our times. But the object of most innovations today is more elusive [than in the days of Bell and Edison]: you can touch a telephone or a phonograh, but who can lay hands on an Amazon algorithm, a credit default swap, a piece of proprietary Uber code, or an international free trade agreement? As an intangible, individualistic, yet strictly white-collar trait, innovation reframes the cruel fortunes of an unequal global economy as the logical products of a creative, visionary brilliance. In this new guise, the innovator retains both a touch of the prophet and the hint of the confidence man.

That's the stuff to give the troops! I especially like the part about innovative plumbing; after all, potable water and indoor plumbing have probably saved more lives than all the Lords of Silicon Valley combined! However, I could wish for the class analysis to be sharpened with respect to finance: For credit default swaps, to the executives (not just "white collar" workers) who committed accounting control fraud; for Uber, the executive crooks and liars who run the never-to-be profitable business. The intangibles are listed without being categorized in terms of political economy.

Market

From page 132 et seq.:

The market is both a widely dispersed metaphor of exchange and an economic term often used a a shorthand for capitalist forms of exchange, especially when modified by the word free [another term].

The word's oldest meaning is its simplest: "A place where trade is conducted," a meaning that appears in Old English as far back as the twelfth century. This spatial menaing of the market place obviously persists in farmer's markets, stock markets, and supermarkets, but today the market is something more abstract. The most recent definition given by the OED is "the competive free market; the operation of supply and demand." Its first example of this usage comes from 1970, at the rough beginning of the neoliberal era .

When politicians speak of "market forces" they presume their autonomy; we are creatures of the market rather than the other way around. [But] in key moments of recent economic history -- the United States Troubled Asset Relief Program, the European austerity measures to enforce "market discipline" on Greece -- market autonomy is nowhere to be seen

A synonym for exchange, whether intellectual or economic, an ontological feature of human social, an implacable natural force, or a cybernetic network reliant on a strong state: The market can be whatever you need it to be.

Once again, I would quarrel with the financial detail of the glossary item; the Treasury's TARP, at $700 billion, was dwarfed by the real bailout outlay from the Fed , which has been estimated at $7.7 (Bloomberg) to $29 trillion (Levy Institute). Further, European austerity measures damaged not only Greece, but the EU's entire southern tier, most definitely including Italy and Spain. Finally -- although this may seem like a debater's point -- if "market" can be "whatever you need it to be," then why can't the left repurpose it? Leary himself instances the Communist Party of the USA's ludicrous coinage of "the marketplace of ideas"; on the editorial pages of the New York Times, no less!) So "market" may be malleable, but it's not that malleable. Why?

Smart

Finally, from page 158 et seq.:

Smart, used as an adjective modifying a technology, connotes an efficeint, clean, orderly pragmatism . Smartness just works . Smart technologies, from munitions to ID cards to refrigerators to mattresses, usually do one of three related things, and often all three: they allow (or require) a user to remotely access a computer-linked network, they generate data [a term] about that user, and they act autonomously, or seem to do so . In addition, smart means moderr. The six thousand dollar smart refrigerator that tells you when you're out of milk shows that the key to a smart technology isn't whether it is, in fact, a wise idea. To be smart is simply to belong ti the new age, . Smart therefore presumes the political neutrality of the technologies we use.

I think Leary could have leaned a little harder on how crapified most "smart" technology is; readers will be familiar with the material we periodically post on the Internet of Sh*t. More centrally, I'm a bit stunned that Leary has limited smart to technology, foregoing the opportunity to perform a class analysis, as Thomas Frank did in Listen, Liberal! . From page 22:

Professionals are a high-status group, but what gives them their lofty position is learning, not income. They rule because they are talented, because they are smart . A good sociological definition of professionalism is "a second hierarchy" -- second to the main hierarchy of money, that is -- "based on credentialed expertise

presumed to be politically neutral, exactly as smart technology is. I think expanding the glossary to "smart" in Frank's sense would have enriched the book. (Frank goes on to use "smart" throughout the book, with varying degrees of scorn and derision; used without irony, it's a veritable tocsin of bad faith.)

Conclusion

Leary's Keywords is definitely stimulating and well worth a read (and at $16.00, within reach for most). At the very least, you should run a mile from any public figure -- whether executive or politician -- who takes the words listed in Leary's keywords (see Table 1) seriously.

My criticism takes the form of Table 2, which is the list of terms from the great Raymond Williams, whose book, also entitled Keywords ( PDF ), was published in 1977, in the Eoneoliberal Period, and which Leary describes as a "classic". Here are the terms defined by Williams:

Table 2: Williams' Word List

Aesthetic Exploitation Originality
Alienation Family Peasant
Anarchism Fiction Personality
Anthropology Folk Philosophy
Art Formalist Popular
Behaviour Generation Positivist
Bibliography Genetic Pragmatic
Bourgeois Genius Private
Bureaucracy Hegemony Progressive
Capitalism History Psychologica
Career Humanity Racial
Charity Idealism Radical
City Ideology Rational
Civilization Image Reactionary
Class Imperialism Reader's
Collective Improve Realism
Commercialism Individual References
Common Industry Reform
Communication Institution Regional
Communism Intellectual Representative
Community Interest Revolution
Consensus Isms Romantic
Consumer Jargon Science
Conventional Labour Select
Country Liberal Sensibility
Creative Liberation Sex
Criticism Literaturw Socialist
Culture Man Society
Democracy Management Sociology
Determine Masses Standards
Development Materialism Status
Dialect Mechanical Structural
Dialectic Media Subjective
Doctrinaire Mediation Taste
Dramatic Medieval Technology
Ecology Modern Theory
Educated Monopoly Tradition
Elite Myth Unconscious
Empirical Nationalist Underprivileged
Equality Native Unemployment
Ethnic Naturalism Utilitarian
Evolution Nature Violence
Existential Notes Wealth
Experience Ordinary Welfare
Expert Organic Western
Work

If you compare the tables, you will see that Williams' list of keywords is both more abstract and more powerful, although some that we would expect to see today ("identity," "rentier") are missing. Of course, it's extremely unfair of me to make compare Leary's and Williams' lists in this way; in fact, I admonish others not to complain that the author did not write a book about penguins, when the author plainly intended to write a book about crows. Leary promised a "field guide to the capitalist present, and he has delivered. Nevertheless, it would be nice to have a second edition of Keywords , written with Leary's clarity, knowledgeability, and verve, and containing more powerful terms[1], most of which have been erased. Starting, perhaps, with "class."

NOTES

[1] To be fair, Leary writes (page 5): "The words in my collection are generally more specific to the contemporary moment. They can also be understood as blockages -- that is, they are the words we use when we aren't calling things by their proper name. William's collection has "management" and "labor"; this one has "leadership" and "human capital." Tacklage is, I suppose, what happens, in addition to blockage, if some prole of an analyst uses the wrong (that is, the right) words. That said, can the truth be reverse engineered out of bullshit? One for the judges.


Tom , June 25, 2019 at 7:38 pm

What happened to " vibrant "? Did it go out of fashion?

Plenue , June 25, 2019 at 7:45 pm

Have you considered audio books? We already know you listen to podcasts.

Carolinian , June 25, 2019 at 8:02 pm

What, no "muscular"? Hillary probably like muscular because it made her sound more threatening. Nikki Haley took up the same gig with her stilletto heels.

flora , June 25, 2019 at 8:36 pm

Thanks for this post. Leary's list looks like TED talk word cloud, imo. Ad speak. ha.

I don't know if Williams' word list was based on ad speak of the 1970s. Maybe not.

Many of Williams' words place people in relation to each other or to the society, within society. Not getting that same larger society idea from the words in Leary's ad speak list; it's more 'rational man' alone against the world. Maybe that's the essence of ad speak. "Army of one." "Be all YOU can be." etc.

Or now: Be all the smart, innovative, creative, nimble, passionate leader YOU can be." ;)

a different chris , June 25, 2019 at 9:25 pm

>Continuing along with those who have not run screaming from the room

After the first couple words I averted my eyes and scrolled madly. So I'm still here!

Socal Rhino , June 25, 2019 at 9:30 pm

I think I've seen powerpoint presentations composed of just those words, almost.

"Cadence" is one i do not see here.

Lambert Strether Post author , June 26, 2019 at 12:46 am

Power corrupts. PowerPoint corrupts absolutely.

Steve Ruis , June 26, 2019 at 8:35 am

If you just coined this phrase, you are brilliant, sir! If not thanks for passing it along.

hunkerdown , June 26, 2019 at 10:08 am

Edward Tufte, 2003. Still brilliant.

Lambert Strether Post author , June 26, 2019 at 10:33 am

I am not 100% certain of this; everybody should read Tufte's ESSAY:
THE COGNITIVE STYLE OF POWERPOINT: PITCHING OUT CORRUPTS WITHIN
, but the exact quote does not appear in there. The quote does occur in Tufte's 2003 Wired essay , but as a deck beneath the headline, and not in the body of the article. Therefore, I am not sure whether Tufte coined the phrase, or some anonymous editor. Can any readers clarify?

Lambert Strether Post author , June 26, 2019 at 10:28 am

I should have added the cite, but I was in a rush. However, this quote should be propagated as widely as possible.

JEHR , June 26, 2019 at 10:51 am

+1

ShamanicFallout , June 25, 2019 at 10:23 pm

I like 'leverage' and 'drive'. I hear that a lot. Like 'leveraging innovation to drive sales'. So smart!

Lambert Strether Post author , June 26, 2019 at 12:42 am

Man, I hate that usage of "drive." To be fair, the nice thing is that you can leverage sales to drive innovation, too.

Tom , June 26, 2019 at 9:49 am

To leverage sth. means to use it, afaict.

There's something taboo about use . Even reasonable people will prefer usage over use .

Amfortas the hippie , June 25, 2019 at 10:25 pm

please include in yer Language things like this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbWRfBZY-ng

for those who need it spelled out:
https://www.thenation.com/article/we-cant-make-it-here/

"And that's how it is
That's what we got
If the president wants to admit it or not
You can read it in the paper
Read it on the wall
Hear it on the wind
If you're listening at all
Get out of that limo
Look us in the eye
Call us on the cell phone
Tell us all why"

read the whole fucking thing.
https://genius.com/James-mcmurtry-we-cant-make-it-here-anymore-lyrics

more than ten years ago.
things are much worse, now
LISTEN

Hopelb , June 26, 2019 at 12:10 am

They play this on wyep quite often and I am always thankful that my daughter is familiar with it because of that.

Susan the other` , June 25, 2019 at 10:34 pm

Thank you Lambert. You manage to keep me sane. This exposure to and of nonsense is very timely now. In the end all we have is a set of words which allow us to trust each other. We need to find them.

LifelongLib , June 25, 2019 at 10:58 pm

Most of Leary's list is familiar from events I occasionally attended as a government IT specialist. "Wellness" overlaps with what I call the language of therapy (don't know the "correct" term) e.g. "conversation", "healing" which if anything is even more grating

The Rev Kev , June 25, 2019 at 11:00 pm

Never thought about it before but in the use of the word 'market' today, it is like it is trying to replace the word 'society' and how it was used before. Is that what Thatcher meant? That there was no society but a 'market' instead?

Alfred , June 25, 2019 at 11:43 pm

I'd say yes, exactly.

ShamanicFallout , June 25, 2019 at 11:22 pm

I was just thinking that maybe we need rehabilitate the phrase (which appears in some famous document which we in theory revere) 'promote the general welfare'. This connotes of course citizenship, commons, community. Everything that we desperately need.

Arizona Slim , June 26, 2019 at 9:02 am

Nowadays, "community" really means something that you pay for. Or, if you're not paying for it, well, you're the product.

Take, for example, online groups. They're often called communities. You may have to pay to belong, but if you don't, the data that you and your fellow "members" produce is being sold and resold.

In the offline world, there are businesses that refer to their customers as members. And what are they members of? Well, my dear, that is a community.

So, add these two words to the list of words that need to be taken outside and shot:

Community
Member

Alfred , June 25, 2019 at 11:40 pm

Sounds like a great book; anyhow a superb post. I'd have liked to see what Mr Leary has to say about 'associate' (noun; see also employee [archaic]) and service (noun; as in "software as a service"). Perhaps also "industry" (as in "the payday loans industry") – which now I think has senses that Williams could not have imagined. Oh, and why not "Crapification?" On a more serious note, there is "Inequality." (Hat tip to Tom, above, for the peerless "Vibrant.")

Hopelb , June 26, 2019 at 12:05 am

I love you Lambert. Thanks for always sharing your unearthed treasures.

dbk , June 26, 2019 at 4:27 am

Perhaps worth adding: "gig economy," "[education/health care, etc.] reform."

Yesterday I read a story in the NYT ["Love" section, formerly "Weddings"] about an Instagram "Influencer couple."

Some terms are euphemisms; others are buzzwords for the increasing privatization / shrinking of public space/services/goods (what was once known in some circles as the "theft of the commons," but hey, I'm old).

Such terms deserve to be called out repeatedly, with their actual meaning helpfully provided in (). Thus "ed reformers" (i.e. privatizers through various means such as ESAs, ETCs, vouchers) or "right to work," which I finally decided to define as "right to fire at will." Far-right think tanks are great sources of such terms; the bills ALEC writes for state legislatures are, too.

My own special bugbear is "grit" (someone who still demonstrates faith in the system which has betrayed them).

OTOH, such words are helpful in identifying the ideological perspective an author is coming from.

Jack Lifton , June 26, 2019 at 4:54 am

I was wondering where the use of the phrase, "We need to have a conversation about " In place of " we should discuss" or "let's talk about" came from. I find it " to be a given" that anything that Kamala Harris says is meaningless noise these days. She seems to have acquired this mea!y mouth way of avoiding taking a position after only a short time in the Senate. She's well on her way to being permanently inconsequential.

Lambert Strether Post author , June 26, 2019 at 10:08 am

"We need to" or "you need to" is one of my pet peeves, because of the power-tripping assumption that my interlocutor gets to determine my needs (all for the greater good , of course! Always for the good!)

herman_sampson , June 26, 2019 at 6:54 am

Need to add "competition": the competitors implied are other businesses but what management means are their own employees.

La Peruse , June 26, 2019 at 6:56 am

Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard was both pilloried and held in uncertain awe for his contribution to the English lexicon of 'incentivising', as in 'incentivising and rewarding hard work'.

Lambert Strether Post author , June 26, 2019 at 10:07 am

Or "prioritize." By which I mean "center." (A supplementary glossary for the non-profit industrial complex would be welcome.)

Steve H. , June 26, 2019 at 7:18 am

Etymology shows that word meanings can change and even invert over time. Floyd Merrell looked at the poetics of ambiguity, where 1:1 is unambiguous, 1:2 can have two meanings (a dog growling may be warning or playing), to n:n where meaning is entirely contextual.

There are people, and places, and objects which have changed in affect for me, usually through an aversive experience. We see this with words; for example, 'socialist' will always carry resonances of fascism since Adolph called his thing 'National Socialism'. As useful as 'class' is it, carries Marxist overtones, which causes reflexive affect for some. 'Well' carries positive connotation in some evangelical circles.

Words can get stink on them from dogwhistles. Will you argue about old words, or avoid quagmires with Smart Innovative people by creating clever and fresh new words with less historical accretion? That's what Shakespeare did and we're still looking at him four hundred years later. As a friend said to me in a conversation about demented mothers, "You've got to let'em go." You can still love them, but if they control the conversation, there madness lies.

Svante , June 26, 2019 at 8:04 am

All the BEST werds?

I'm guessing: aside from acceptance, involvement & touch from loving, comforting, equanamous parents (community integration amongst disparate peers), the sociopathic/ somatic neuroses evinced in this addiction to euphamism, platitude and obfuscatory pleonasm as glib, off-handed, day-to-day BS subterfuge, reflects cytokine imbalances, resulting from unresolved childhood trauma and fast-food diets, deficient in pre-biotics? Not enough roughage, huh?

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507254/

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/7b7xz9/the-unbearable-neurosis-of-the-modern-eater

Alexandra , June 26, 2019 at 8:28 am

The ones that turn my stomach the most are "influencer," "maker," and "ask" as a noun (as in, "Hey, I know it's a big ask, but I'm gonna need you to come in on Saturday "). Oh! And also "content" used to mean information. A friend who is a university professor said the administration are now referring to faculty as "content distributors." Barf.

Lambert Strether Post author , June 26, 2019 at 10:05 am

> A friend who is a university professor said the administration are now referring to faculty as "content distributors."

First thing we do, let's kill all the college administrators. Or take away their titles, perks, and money, which will do worse than kill them.

bob , June 26, 2019 at 10:11 am

Take away their drivers, leave them stranded and entitled.

https://www.syracuse.com/syracuse-university/2019/06/ex-su-chancellor-sorry-after-yelling-im-the-chancellor-at-cops-video.html

Mael Colium , June 26, 2019 at 8:28 am

Ever had a conversation with a Teacher? Oh excuse me; an "educator" LOL. They use so many sucky phrases and words that you can't even remember what the discussions were about in the first place. It's bad enough in secondary schools but now in pre-school (early learning centres) you need an interpretation booklet to make any sense of what your child is up to in the damn place. I must confess that my MBA taught me a whole bunch of weasel words and obscure terminology so that my management reports were rarely tested for veracity. And therein lies the issue. Words were once used to impart knowledge, whereas now, as the article alludes to, words and phrases are redesigned and reoriented to avoid, obfuscate, marginalise, confuse etc you get the picture.. Look no further than your local politician for tricky word speak – it makes Trump's burbling seem almost sensible by contrast. At least we know what a pussy is now!

JCC , June 26, 2019 at 8:42 am

Here is one left off the list: handcrafted

I took a trip last weekend to Palm Springs, CA. and Laughlin, NV. and everywhere I went I was inundated with offers for "handcrafted" margaritas and coffees and various food stuffs.

It is right up there with artisanal.

Arizona Slim , June 26, 2019 at 9:07 am

No need to order this book from the Evil River, aka Amazon. Here's the publisher's page:

https://www.haymarketbooks.org/books/1227-keywords

HomoSapiensWannaBe , June 26, 2019 at 9:09 am

They left out "sound", as in "sound science," which is, of course, "science" which supports profit seeking.

For example, "Pesky environmental regulations are an undue, unfair burden on business, and aren't backed by sound science."

Ka-Ching!

Barry Fay , June 26, 2019 at 9:13 am

I´m thinking "going forward" belongs in this discussion as well!

Lambert Strether Post author , June 26, 2019 at 10:10 am

Thanks for being part of our team.

Wukchumni , June 26, 2019 at 9:54 am

Words are what you make of them.

Lambert Strether Post author , June 26, 2019 at 10:03 am

"Men make their own history vocabulary, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living."

Mike Mc , June 26, 2019 at 10:18 am

21st century version(s) of this classic:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Devil%27s_Dictionary

[Jun 23, 2019] Theory and practice of neoliberalism

Notable quotes:
"... Friedrich von Hayek, one of the creed's most revered economic gurus, spent his productive years railing against government old age pension and medical insurance schemes. When he became old and infirm, he signed on for both social security and medicare. ..."
Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com

murielbelcher , 6 Mar 2012 09:40

Friedrich von Hayek, one of the creed's most revered economic gurus, spent his productive years railing against government old age pension and medical insurance schemes. When he became old and infirm, he signed on for both social security and medicare.

Love it. When push comes to shove all those ideologies and beliefs crumble into the dust of practical needs. Another individual who cloaked the self-interest of the rich and powerful into some kind of spurious ideology.

George wrote a rather good article about Von Hayek a few years ago I seem to remember.

[Jun 23, 2019] It never stops to amaze me how the US neoliberals especially of Republican variety claims to be Christian

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Republicanism and true Christianity are mutually exclusive. There is nothing for them to quote. Sharing your wealth? Giving to the poor? Egalitarianism? Loving your neighbour? The Good Samaritan? ..."
"... Best to pretend that Christianity is about extreme right wing economic policy (and fascist social mores), even though it is the opposite. ..."
"... And Tea Partiers like Ayn Rand? The most anti-Christian and anti-American lunatic you can find? The corporate agenda and Wall Street interests trump everything else. No news there. ..."
"... A lot of these people describe themselves as Christian, makes you wonder which part of Jesus' message they loved more, the part that said the poor should rot without help, or the part where he said violence was justified and the chasing of wealth is to be lauded. ..."
Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com

JohannesL , Mar 6, 2012

It never stops to amaze me how the American Republican Right claims to be Christian. Have you noticed that they NEVER quote the words of Jesus Christ? I don't blame them, Republicanism and true Christianity are mutually exclusive. There is nothing for them to quote. Sharing your wealth? Giving to the poor? Egalitarianism? Loving your neighbour? The Good Samaritan?

Dirty words all. Best to pretend that Christianity is about extreme right wing economic policy (and fascist social mores), even though it is the opposite.

If Jesus came to the US today, he would not like Republicans and they would not like him. Santorum, Palin, Limbaugh etc. would strap him to the electric chair and pull the lever if they could, no doubt.

And Tea Partiers like Ayn Rand? The most anti-Christian and anti-American lunatic you can find? The corporate agenda and Wall Street interests trump everything else. No news there.

acorn7817 -> PeaceGrenade , 6 Mar 2012 06:21

The most bizarre aspect of the rights infatuation with Ayn Rand is that she was an ardent Atheist who's beliefs are diametrically opposite to those of Jesus & the Bible.

A lot of these people describe themselves as Christian, makes you wonder which part of Jesus' message they loved more, the part that said the poor should rot without help, or the part where he said violence was justified and the chasing of wealth is to be lauded.

richmanchester -> anindefinitearticle , 6 Mar 2012 05:40

"the only way you're gonna be able to sleep at night (and go to heaven in the afterlife) is to believe that the system has some moral justification based on the laws of nature"

I think this is one of the drivers in the shift from Catholicism to Protestanism, especially in Northern Europe.

For Medieval Catholics everyone was where God had put them, so the rich were rich and the poor poor as part of Gods plan, and anyone trying to change it was going against God.

Which is handy if you are a Baron or Bishop living the high life surrounded my thousands of starving peasants (having armed retainers also helped).

Come the industrial revolution and the rise of the business and trade classes that's not so appealing, so now God rewards the virtuous and hard working, who naturally rise to the top.

[Jun 23, 2019] Communism and neoliberalism were never as far apart as people imagined. Two sides of a coin. A theological dispute.

Apr 11, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

twiglette , 11 Apr 2019 05:13

Communism and neoliberalism were never as far apart as people imagined. Two sides of a coin. A theological dispute.

[Jun 23, 2019] The Right have been absolutely brilliant at media control and obfuscation.

Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com

macfeegal , 6 Mar 2012 03:56

Another very informative article from one of the few writers with any sense of having a 'finger on the pulse.'

It's sad that it's taken over 30 years for the real shaping influences behind the current system to be identified and discussed outside the boundaries of a few university conferences.

The Right have been absolutely brilliant at media control and obfuscation. Their gurus have been camouflaged and the whole process of influencing Reagan and Thatcher's governments from the late 1970's has escaped exactly the kind of scrutiny that George gives Rand.

We might also investigate the influence of John Nash's (A Beautiful Mind) 'Gameplay' experiments in a similar fashion along with the economic gurus who followed Hayek so slavishly.

It has been known for years that the neo liberal project was designed not just to under mine democracy and convert people into passive cloned market junkies, but to put an end to the whole of the Enlightenment Project, which perhaps naively saw human development,. growth and other human qualities totally savaged and defeated by this poisonous evil, which emulates all the worst aspects of Fascism without the flags and theatre.

Sadly, this is not a 'this is happening' phenomenon; it's a 'this has happened phenomenon.' The taint and viral effect of its impact on uk and usa political structures has already caused major damage. All three major political parties in the uk have for 30 years subscribed to its tenets though they were no doubt not presented in such a flagrant form as Rand's writing.

How problematic is it to now look at the polity and rescue it from such a major ideological shift? Certainly, the major parties cannot shuck off the cape of their key beliefs after promoting Right wing ideologies for so long, and the traditional Left is no more.

However, it is good to see some pithy journalism that goes to the heart of the matter - those of us who have been pleading for less x factor celebrity worshipping of politicians can at least feel as though this shifts the spectrum to real and significant issues that have affected the lives of everyone for so long.

Spot on George; one of your best.

[Jun 23, 2019] These submerged policies obscure the role of government and exaggerate that of the market. As a result, citizens are unaware not only of the benefits they receive, but of the massive advantages given to powerful interests, such as insurance companies and the financial industry.

Highly recommended!
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

Kikinaskald , 6 Mar 2012 14:14

I wonder how many would continue to worship at the shrine of Ayn Rand if they knew that towards the end of her life she signed on for both Medicare and social security.

In case nobody mentioned this book before, which is relevant to the theme:

The Submerged State by Suzanne Mettler

From the Amazon book description:

These submerged policies, Mettler shows, obscure the role of government and exaggerate that of the market. As a result, citizens are unaware not only of the benefits they receive, but of the massive advantages given to powerful interests, such as insurance companies and the financial industry. Neither do they realize that the policies of the submerged state shower their largest benefits on the most affluent Americans, exacerbating inequality.

[Jun 23, 2019] The return of fundamentalist nationalism is arguably a radicalized form of neoliberalism

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... 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. ..."
"... The market is no longer an enabler of private enterprise, but something more like a medieval religion, conferring ultimate authority on a demagogue. ..."
"... 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. ..."
"... 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. ..."
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

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.

Pinkie123 -> economicalternative , 12 Apr 2019 02:57

Yes, the EU is an ordoliberal institution - the state imposing rules on the market from without. Thus, it is not the chief danger. The takeover of 5G, and therefore our entire economy and industry, by Huawei - now that would be a loss of state sovereignty. But because Huawei is nominally a corporation, people do not think about is a form of governmental bureaucracy, but if powerful enough that is exactly what it is.
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.
subtropics , 11 Apr 2019 13:51
Neoliberalism allows with impunity pesticide businesses to apply high risk toxic pesticides everywhere seriously affecting the health of children, everyone as well as poisoning the biosphere and all its biodiversity. This freedom has gone far too far and is totally unacceptable and these chemicals should be banished immediately.
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.

[Jun 23, 2019] Two things characterize neo-liberalism. Deception and repression of labor.

Apr 11, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

mi Griffin , 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.

[Jun 19, 2019] America s Suicide Epidemic

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... A suicide occurs in the United States roughly once every 12 minutes . What's more, after decades of decline, the rate of self-inflicted deaths per 100,000 people annually -- the suicide rate -- has been increasing sharply since the late 1990s. Suicides now claim two-and-a-half times as many lives in this country as do homicides , even though the murder rate gets so much more attention. ..."
"... In some states the upsurge was far higher: North Dakota (57.6%), New Hampshire (48.3%), Kansas (45%), Idaho (43%). ..."
"... Since 2008 , suicide has ranked 10th among the causes of death in this country. For Americans between the ages of 10 and 34, however, it comes in second; for those between 35 and 45, fourth. The United States also has the ninth-highest rate in the 38-country Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Globally , it ranks 27th. ..."
"... The rates in rural counties are almost double those in the most urbanized ones, which is why states like Idaho, Kansas, New Hampshire, and North Dakota sit atop the suicide list. Furthermore, a far higher percentage of people in rural states own guns than in cities and suburbs, leading to a higher rate of suicide involving firearms, the means used in half of all such acts in this country. ..."
"... Education is also a factor. The suicide rate is lowest among individuals with college degrees. Those who, at best, completed high school are, by comparison, twice as likely to kill themselves. Suicide rates also tend to be lower among people in higher-income brackets. ..."
"... Evidence from the United States , Brazil , Japan , and Sweden does indicate that, as income inequality increases, so does the suicide rate. ..."
"... One aspect of the suicide epidemic is puzzling. Though whites have fared far better economically (and in many other ways) than African Americans, their suicide rate is significantly higher . ..."
"... The higher suicide rate among whites as well as among people with only a high school diploma highlights suicide's disproportionate effect on working-class whites. This segment of the population also accounts for a disproportionate share of what economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton have labeled " deaths of despair " -- those caused by suicides plus opioid overdoses and liver diseases linked to alcohol abuse. Though it's hard to offer a complete explanation for this, economic hardship and its ripple effects do appear to matter. ..."
"... Trump has neglected his base on pretty much every issue; this one's no exception. ..."
Jun 19, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Yves here. This post describes how the forces driving the US suicide surge started well before the Trump era, but explains how Trump has not only refused to acknowledge the problem, but has made matters worse.

However, it's not as if the Democrats are embracing this issue either.

BY Rajan Menon, the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Professor of International Relations at the Powell School, City College of New York, and Senior Research Fellow at Columbia University's Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. His latest book is The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention Originally published at TomDispatch .

We hear a lot about suicide when celebrities like Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade die by their own hand. Otherwise, it seldom makes the headlines. That's odd given the magnitude of the problem.

In 2017, 47,173 Americans killed themselves. In that single year, in other words, the suicide count was nearly seven times greater than the number of American soldiers killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars between 2001 and 2018.

A suicide occurs in the United States roughly once every 12 minutes . What's more, after decades of decline, the rate of self-inflicted deaths per 100,000 people annually -- the suicide rate -- has been increasing sharply since the late 1990s. Suicides now claim two-and-a-half times as many lives in this country as do homicides , even though the murder rate gets so much more attention.

In other words, we're talking about a national epidemic of self-inflicted deaths.

Worrisome Numbers

Anyone who has lost a close relative or friend to suicide or has worked on a suicide hotline (as I have) knows that statistics transform the individual, the personal, and indeed the mysterious aspects of that violent act -- Why this person? Why now? Why in this manner? -- into depersonalized abstractions. Still, to grasp how serious the suicide epidemic has become, numbers are a necessity.

According to a 2018 Centers for Disease Control study , between 1999 and 2016, the suicide rate increased in every state in the union except Nevada, which already had a remarkably high rate. In 30 states, it jumped by 25% or more; in 17, by at least a third. Nationally, it increased 33% . In some states the upsurge was far higher: North Dakota (57.6%), New Hampshire (48.3%), Kansas (45%), Idaho (43%).

Alas, the news only gets grimmer.

Since 2008 , suicide has ranked 10th among the causes of death in this country. For Americans between the ages of 10 and 34, however, it comes in second; for those between 35 and 45, fourth. The United States also has the ninth-highest rate in the 38-country Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Globally , it ranks 27th.

More importantly, the trend in the United States doesn't align with what's happening elsewhere in the developed world. The World Health Organization, for instance, reports that Great Britain, Canada, and China all have notably lower suicide rates than the U.S., as do all but six countries in the European Union. (Japan's is only slightly lower.)

World Bank statistics show that, worldwide, the suicide rate fell from 12.8 per 100,000 in 2000 to 10.6 in 2016. It's been falling in China , Japan (where it has declined steadily for nearly a decade and is at its lowest point in 37 years), most of Europe, and even countries like South Korea and Russia that have a significantly higher suicide rate than the United States. In Russia, for instance, it has dropped by nearly 26% from a high point of 42 per 100,000 in 1994 to 31 in 2019.

We know a fair amount about the patterns of suicide in the United States. In 2017, the rate was highest for men between the ages of 45 and 64 (30 per 100,000) and those 75 and older (39.7 per 100,000).

The rates in rural counties are almost double those in the most urbanized ones, which is why states like Idaho, Kansas, New Hampshire, and North Dakota sit atop the suicide list. Furthermore, a far higher percentage of people in rural states own guns than in cities and suburbs, leading to a higher rate of suicide involving firearms, the means used in half of all such acts in this country.

There are gender-based differences as well. From 1999 to 2017, the rate for men was substantially higher than for women -- almost four-and-a-half times higher in the first of those years, slightly more than three-and-a-half times in the last.

Education is also a factor. The suicide rate is lowest among individuals with college degrees. Those who, at best, completed high school are, by comparison, twice as likely to kill themselves. Suicide rates also tend to be lower among people in higher-income brackets.

The Economics of Stress

This surge in the suicide rate has taken place in years during which the working class has experienced greater economic hardship and psychological stress. Increased competition from abroad and outsourcing, the results of globalization, have contributed to job loss, particularly in economic sectors like manufacturing, steel, and mining that had long been mainstays of employment for such workers. The jobs still available often paid less and provided fewer benefits.

Technological change, including computerization, robotics, and the coming of artificial intelligence, has similarly begun to displace labor in significant ways, leaving Americans without college degrees, especially those 50 and older, in far more difficult straits when it comes to finding new jobs that pay well. The lack of anything resembling an industrial policy of a sort that exists in Europe has made these dislocations even more painful for American workers, while a sharp decline in private-sector union membership -- down from nearly 17% in 1983 to 6.4% today -- has reduced their ability to press for higher wages through collective bargaining.

Furthermore, the inflation-adjusted median wage has barely budged over the last four decades (even as CEO salaries have soared). And a decline in worker productivity doesn't explain it: between 1973 and 2017 productivity increased by 77%, while a worker's average hourly wage only rose by 12.4%. Wage stagnation has made it harder for working-class Americans to get by, let alone have a lifestyle comparable to that of their parents or grandparents.

The gap in earnings between those at the top and bottom of American society has also increased -- a lot. Since 1979, the wages of Americans in the 10th percentile increased by a pitiful 1.2%. Those in the 50th percentile did a bit better, making a gain of 6%. By contrast, those in the 90th percentile increased by 34.3% and those near the peak of the wage pyramid -- the top 1% and especially the rarefied 0.1% -- made far more substantial gains.

And mind you, we're just talking about wages, not other forms of income like large stock dividends, expensive homes, or eyepopping inheritances. The share of net national wealth held by the richest 0.1% increased from 10% in the 1980s to 20% in 2016. By contrast, the share of the bottom 90% shrank in those same decades from about 35% to 20%. As for the top 1%, by 2016 its share had increased to almost 39% .

The precise relationship between economic inequality and suicide rates remains unclear, and suicide certainly can't simply be reduced to wealth disparities or financial stress. Still, strikingly, in contrast to the United States, suicide rates are noticeably lower and have been declining in Western European countries where income inequalities are far less pronounced, publicly funded healthcare is regarded as a right (not demonized as a pathway to serfdom), social safety nets far more extensive, and apprenticeships and worker retraining programs more widespread.

Evidence from the United States , Brazil , Japan , and Sweden does indicate that, as income inequality increases, so does the suicide rate. If so, the good news is that progressive economic policies -- should Democrats ever retake the White House and the Senate -- could make a positive difference. A study based on state-by-state variations in the U.S. found that simply boosting the minimum wage and Earned Income Tax Credit by 10% appreciably reduces the suicide rate among people without college degrees.

The Race Enigma

One aspect of the suicide epidemic is puzzling. Though whites have fared far better economically (and in many other ways) than African Americans, their suicide rate is significantly higher . It increased from 11.3 per 100,000 in 2000 to 15.85 per 100,000 in 2017; for African Americans in those years the rates were 5.52 per 100,000 and 6.61 per 100,000. Black men are 10 times more likely to be homicide victims than white men, but the latter are two-and-half times more likely to kill themselves.

The higher suicide rate among whites as well as among people with only a high school diploma highlights suicide's disproportionate effect on working-class whites. This segment of the population also accounts for a disproportionate share of what economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton have labeled " deaths of despair " -- those caused by suicides plus opioid overdoses and liver diseases linked to alcohol abuse. Though it's hard to offer a complete explanation for this, economic hardship and its ripple effects do appear to matter.

According to a study by the St. Louis Federal Reserve , the white working class accounted for 45% of all income earned in the United States in 1990, but only 27% in 2016. In those same years, its share of national wealth plummeted, from 45% to 22%. And as inflation-adjusted wages have decreased for men without college degrees, many white workers seem to have lost hope of success of any sort. Paradoxically, the sense of failure and the accompanying stress may be greater for white workers precisely because they traditionally were much better off economically than their African American and Hispanic counterparts.

In addition, the fraying of communities knit together by employment in once-robust factories and mines has increased social isolation among them, and the evidence that it -- along with opioid addiction and alcohol abuse -- increases the risk of suicide is strong . On top of that, a significantly higher proportion of whites than blacks and Hispanics own firearms, and suicide rates are markedly higher in states where gun ownership is more widespread.

Trump's Faux Populism

The large increase in suicide within the white working class began a couple of decades before Donald Trump's election. Still, it's reasonable to ask what he's tried to do about it, particularly since votes from these Americans helped propel him to the White House. In 2016, he received 64% of the votes of whites without college degrees; Hillary Clinton, only 28%. Nationwide, he beat Clinton in counties where deaths of despair rose significantly between 2000 and 2015.

White workers will remain crucial to Trump's chances of winning in 2020. Yet while he has spoken about, and initiated steps aimed at reducing, the high suicide rate among veterans , his speeches and tweets have never highlighted the national suicide epidemic or its inordinate impact on white workers. More importantly, to the extent that economic despair contributes to their high suicide rate, his policies will only make matters worse.

The real benefits from the December 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act championed by the president and congressional Republicans flowed to those on the top steps of the economic ladder. By 2027, when the Act's provisions will run out, the wealthiest Americans are expected to have captured 81.8% of the gains. And that's not counting the windfall they received from recent changes in taxes on inheritances. Trump and the GOP doubled the annual amount exempt from estate taxes -- wealth bequeathed to heirs -- through 2025 from $5.6 million per individual to $11.2 million (or $22.4 million per couple). And who benefits most from this act of generosity? Not workers, that's for sure, but every household with an estate worth $22 million or more will.

As for job retraining provided by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the president proposed cutting that program by 40% in his 2019 budget, later settling for keeping it at 2017 levels. Future cuts seem in the cards as long as Trump is in the White House. The Congressional Budget Office projects that his tax cuts alone will produce even bigger budget deficits in the years to come. (The shortfall last year was $779 billion and it is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2020.) Inevitably, the president and congressional Republicans will then demand additional reductions in spending for social programs.

This is all the more likely because Trump and those Republicans also slashed corporate taxes from 35% to 21% -- an estimated $1.4 trillion in savings for corporations over the next decade. And unlike the income tax cut, the corporate tax has no end date . The president assured his base that the big bucks those companies had stashed abroad would start flowing home and produce a wave of job creation -- all without adding to the deficit. As it happens, however, most of that repatriated cash has been used for corporate stock buy-backs, which totaled more than $800 billion last year. That, in turn, boosted share prices, but didn't exactly rain money down on workers. No surprise, of course, since the wealthiest 10% of Americans own at least 84% of all stocks and the bottom 60% have less than 2% of them.

And the president's corporate tax cut hasn't produced the tsunami of job-generating investments he predicted either. Indeed, in its aftermath, more than 80% of American companies stated that their plans for investment and hiring hadn't changed. As a result, the monthly increase in jobs has proven unremarkable compared to President Obama's second term, when the economic recovery that Trump largely inherited began. Yes, the economy did grow 2.3% in 2017 and 2.9% in 2018 (though not 3.1% as the president claimed). There wasn't, however, any "unprecedented economic boom -- a boom that has rarely been seen before" as he insisted in this year's State of the Union Address .

Anyway, what matters for workers struggling to get by is growth in real wages, and there's nothing to celebrate on that front: between 2017 and mid-2018 they actually declined by 1.63% for white workers and 2.5% for African Americans, while they rose for Hispanics by a measly 0.37%. And though Trump insists that his beloved tariff hikes are going to help workers, they will actually raise the prices of goods, hurting the working class and other low-income Americans the most .

Then there are the obstacles those susceptible to suicide face in receiving insurance-provided mental-health care. If you're a white worker without medical coverage or have a policy with a deductible and co-payments that are high and your income, while low, is too high to qualify for Medicaid, Trump and the GOP haven't done anything for you. Never mind the president's tweet proclaiming that "the Republican Party Will Become 'The Party of Healthcare!'"

Let me amend that: actually, they have done something. It's just not what you'd call helpful. The percentage of uninsured adults, which fell from 18% in 2013 to 10.9% at the end of 2016, thanks in no small measure to Obamacare , had risen to 13.7% by the end of last year.

The bottom line? On a problem that literally has life-and-death significance for a pivotal portion of his base, Trump has been AWOL. In fact, to the extent that economic strain contributes to the alarming suicide rate among white workers, his policies are only likely to exacerbate what is already a national crisis of epidemic proportions.


Seamus Padraig , June 19, 2019 at 6:46 am

Trump has neglected his base on pretty much every issue; this one's no exception.

DanB , June 19, 2019 at 8:55 am

Trump is running on the claim that he's turned the economy around; addressing suicide undermines this (false) claim. To state the obvious, NC readers know that Trump is incapable of caring about anyone or anything beyond his in-the-moment interpretation of his self-interest.

JCC , June 19, 2019 at 9:25 am

Not just Trump. Most of the Republican Party and much too many Democrats have also abandoned this base, otherwise known as working class Americans.

The economic facts are near staggering and this article has done a nice job of summarizing these numbers that are spread out across a lot of different sites.

I've experienced this rise within my own family and probably because of that fact I'm well aware that Trump is only a symptom of an entire political system that has all but abandoned it's core constituency, the American Working Class.

sparagmite , June 19, 2019 at 10:13 am

Yep It's not just Trump. The author mentions this, but still focuses on him for some reason. Maybe accurately attributing the problems to a failed system makes people feel more hopeless. Current nihilists in Congress make it their duty to destroy once helpful institutions in the name of "fiscal responsibility," i.e., tax cuts for corporate elites.

dcblogger , June 19, 2019 at 12:20 pm

Maybe because Trump is president and bears the greatest responsibility in this particular time. A great piece and appreciate all the documentation.

Svante , June 19, 2019 at 7:00 am

I'd assumed, the "working class" had dissappeared, back during Reagan's Miracle? We'd still see each other, sitting dazed on porches & stoops of rented old places they'd previously; trying to garden, fix their car while smoking, drinking or dazed on something? Those able to morph into "middle class" lives, might've earned substantially less, especially benefits and retirement package wise. But, a couple decades later, it was their turn, as machines and foreigners improved productivity. You could lease a truck to haul imported stuff your kids could sell to each other, or help robots in some warehouse, but those 80s burger flipping, rent-a-cop & repo-man gigs dried up. Your middle class pals unemployable, everybody in PayDay Loan debt (without any pay day in sight?) SHTF Bug-out bags® & EZ Credit Bushmasters began showing up at yard sales, even up North. Opioids became the religion of the proletariat Whites simply had much farther to fall, more equity for our betters to steal. And it was damned near impossible to get the cops to shoot you?

Man, this just ain't turning out as I'd hoped. Need coffee!

Svante , June 19, 2019 at 7:55 am

We especially love the euphemism "Deaths O' Despair." since it works so well on a Chyron, especially supered over obese crackers waddling in crusty MossyOak™ Snuggies®

https://mobile.twitter.com/BernieSanders/status/1140998287933300736
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=apxZvpzq4Mw

DanB , June 19, 2019 at 9:29 am

This is a very good article, but I have a comment about the section titled, "The Race Enigma." I think the key to understanding why African Americans have a lower suicide rate lies in understanding the sociological notion of community, and the related concept Emil Durkheim called social solidarity. This sense of solidarity and community among African Americans stands in contrast to the "There is no such thing as society" neoliberal zeitgeist that in fact produces feelings of extreme isolation, failure, and self-recriminations. An aside: as a white boy growing up in 1950s-60s Detroit I learned that if you yearned for solidarity and community what you had to do was to hang out with black people.

Amfortas the hippie , June 19, 2019 at 2:18 pm

" if you yearned for solidarity and community what you had to do was to hang out with black people."
amen, to that. in my case rural black people.
and I'll add Hispanics to that.
My wife's extended Familia is so very different from mine.
Solidarity/Belonging is cool.
I recommend it.
on the article we keep the scanner on("local news").we had a 3-4 year rash of suicides and attempted suicides(determined by chisme, or deduction) out here.
all of them were despair related more than half correlated with meth addiction itself a despair related thing.
ours were equally male/female, and across both our color spectrum.
that leaves economics/opportunity/just being able to get by as the likely cause.

David B Harrison , June 19, 2019 at 10:05 am

What's left out here is the vast majority of these suicides are men.

Christy , June 19, 2019 at 1:53 pm

Actually, in the article it states:
"There are gender-based differences as well. From 1999 to 2017, the rate for men was substantially higher than for women -- almost four-and-a-half times higher in the first of those years, slightly more than three-and-a-half times in the last."

jrs , June 19, 2019 at 1:58 pm

which in some sense makes despair the wrong word, as females are actually quite a bit more likely to be depressed for instance, but much less likely to "do the deed". Despair if we mean a certain social context maybe, but not just a psychological state.

Ex-Pralite Monk , June 19, 2019 at 10:10 am

obese cracker

You lay off the racial slur "cracker" and I'll lay off the racial slur "nigger". Deal?

rd , June 19, 2019 at 10:53 am

Suicide deaths are a function of the suicide attempt rate and the efficacy of the method used. A unique aspect of the US is the prevalence of guns in the society and therefore the greatly increased usage of them in suicide attempts compared to other countries. Guns are a very efficient way of committing suicide with a very high "success" rate. As of 2010, half of US suicides were using a gun as opposed to other countries with much lower percentages. So if the US comes even close to other countries in suicide rates then the US will surpass them in deaths. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_methods#Firearms

Now we can add in opiates, especially fentanyl, that can be quite effective as well.

The economic crisis hitting middle America over the past 30 years has been quite focused on the states and populations that also tend to have high gun ownership rates. So suicide attempts in those populations have a high probability of "success".

Joe Well , June 19, 2019 at 11:32 am

I would just take this opportunity to add that the police end up getting called in to prevent on lot of suicide attempts, and just about every successful one.

In the face of so much blanket demonization of the police, along with justified criticism, it's important to remember that.

B:H , June 19, 2019 at 11:44 am

As someone who works in the mental health treatment system, acute inpatient psychiatry to be specific, I can say that of the 25 inpatients currently here, 11 have been here before, multiple times. And this is because of several issues, in my experience: inadequate inpatient resources, staff burnout, inadequate support once they leave the hospital, and the nature of their illnesses. It's a grim picture here and it's been this way for YEARS. Until MAJOR money is spent on this issue it's not going to get better. This includes opening more facilities for people to live in long term, instead of closing them, which has been the trend I've seen.

B:H , June 19, 2019 at 11:53 am

One last thing the CEO wants "asses in beds", aka census, which is the money maker. There's less profit if people get better and don't return. And I guess I wouldn't have a job either. Hmmmm: sickness generates wealth.

[Jun 16, 2019] The Neoliberal Rearguard: The potshot intelligentsia take aim at the far left

Jun 16, 2019 | dissidentvoice.org

by Jason Hirthler / June 14th, 2019

Once declared by The New York Times to be, "the most important intellectual alive," a quote it surely regrets, prolific gadfly Noam Chomsky has said that, "Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media." How true. However, the same dictator might find the sloppy, often incoherent work of that uniform press to be a problem in need of a solution, especially at a time when it finds itself assaulted on all sides by alternative media. The mainstream finds itself desperately waging rearguard actions as it stumbles beyond the shadow of respectability. As it retreats into a shell of reactionary conformity, the mainstream has become a parody of itself. Once, its propaganda was well-crafted and replete with nuance and high-quality dissimulation, such that the average American reader could be duped regardless of his or her preconceived notions.

That is no longer the case. The demise of authority in the mainstream is thanks largely to the relentless round-the-clock news cycle and a deep bias in favor of sound bytes and sensationalism. How ironic that the collapse of faith in western media is caused by its own relentless fealty to profitability. The corporate press has now become, for vast segments of the population, a transparently deceitful congeries of second-rate pseudo-journalists who traffic in base fictions at the behest of elite capital. Meanwhile, ranks of first-rate independent journalists now dot the coarse hide of the staggering beast of the mainstream, more woodpeckers than parasites, slowly penetrating the dense carapace of falsehood that coarsens the consciousness of western citizenry. Only relentless infusions of capital are keeping the beast alive. Quantitative easing for the propaganda class.

If you want a nice index of the abysmal depths to which modern political discourse has sunk, there are dozens of pristine examples on YouTube. In fact, the site is in some sense a junk-strewn wasteland of western cultural debris, each piece of trash boasting thousands of views. I recently watched an episode of the BBC's, "The Daily Politics", now mercifully discontinued after 15 years of spreading disinformation disguised as "in depth" coverage of political events. Last July, just before being shuttered for good,, the show hosted the communist Aaron Bastani. (Perhaps this was another effort to align Labour's Jeremy Corbyn with the fraudulent effigies of Stalin and Mao.)

This show is a particularly good example of what happens when a freethinker is for some reason permitted time on a mainstream network and utters viewpoints that are well outside the Overton Window of acceptable opinion. The airing of such thinkers is not, as most suspect, an example of an open press, but rather a calculated effort to censor unacceptable ideas. On a psychological level, it serves the same purpose of unifying the herd as burning witches did in the medieval epoch. There is some sort of malign catharsis in communal attacks on ideological enemies. Just look at the vicious historical Hindu violence against minority Muslims in India. Communalism, they call it. In any event, this collection of pseudo-journalists, arrayed around a table in comfortable chairs, was an especially nice representation of the idiocy of our current political dialogue. Four neoliberals had to be brought on to collectively mock, browbeat, and quiz the good-natured YouTube host of "The Bastani Factor" on his bizarre communist politics.

Theater of the Absurd

The stage is set by show producers when they cast a giant image of a yellow hammer and sickle against a vast background of red (gulag blood, no doubt). This farcical backdrop covers half the set. The "guest" Bastani is first mocked for handing out a t-shirt that says, "I'm literally a communist." Then he is asked by moderator Jo Coburn, a haughty establishment tool with a penchant for constant interruptions, whether or not Bastani is simply whitewashing "a murderous ideology."

After Bastani finishes describing communism for the panel, Laura Hughes of the highly esteemed Financial Times declares that she felt like she'd just sat through her high school history class all over again, and that what was really needed was, "a new word" other than communism, since the latter was obviously so freighted with capitalist propaganda (she didn't exactly say that). Political pundit and Tory Matthew Parris then jumps in to say he's perfectly comfortable with the current word, and that Marx was perfectly clear about what he meant by it. Hughes gazes at Parris, nodding with a condescending smile, before Coburn leaps in to ask again about the supposedly nine million slaughtered at the hands of Stalin's purges, gulags, and induced famines. Parris laughs uncomfortably and defensively remarks, "Well, I'm not a communist!" But the bloodthirsty Coburn isn't satisfied. Is understanding communism not, in effect, trivializing its crimes? Parris then confirms for all and sundry that the practice of communism will most certainly require mass slaughter.

Coburn jumps back to Bastani, asking whether it requires violence. Rather than say it requires the seizure of property from the ruling class, and that this act might inspire violent resistance, as it did from the kulaks following the Bolshevik revolution, Bastani attempts to smooth it all over with an anecdote from the 14th century, which appeases no one and distracts everyone. Here another conservative journalist, Suzanne Evans, declares, in reference to the disturbing t-shirt, to say, "I'm literally a communist" is tantamount to saying, "I'm literally a fascist." Hughes bounces up and down in her chair and reminds the panel that communism "didn't work!" She then reiterates her call for "a new word." Someone then asks whether Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would wear Bastani's communist t-shirt, prompting Bastani to point out that Corbyn isn't actually a communist. Evans smugly replies, "He's 90 percent a communist" (to guffaws in the gallery).

Parris has by this point recovered from the dreadful insinuation that he was a tankie. He then announces that one of the main problems with communism, aside from the mass slaughter, is that it still has a "student Che Guevara mystique about it." This insight is met with knowing nods and throaty growls from the panel. He then bafflingly adds that free marketers (like himself) "haven't been robust enough in defending what we believe in." Bastani might have noted that a century of nonstop laissez faire propaganda from the business press should surely have squelched a few noisy gangs of undergrads in Che t-shirts. Alas, the show then dribbled to a close, everyone declining the offer of the t-shirt as though it were smallpox-infested blanket from colonial times.

The comments section beneath the YouTube video was largely sympathetic to Bastani, but in places typically descended into an intra-communist debate about what communism actually is, with one ideologue insisting that, "The USSR was not remotely Marxist!" Several naysayers chimed in with the usual boilerplate about how everything we enjoy today is a product of capitalism and how capitalism is "by far" the best system ever conceived for human prosperity, etc. As usual, the capitalists take credit for everything except the death toll.

Punching Back

Unfortunately, this is garden variety stuff on mainstream television. One hardly utters a non-mainstream perspective before opposition pundits have their hackles up and are firing off stock phrases about the glories of the free market. There are numberless responses to this kind of commercial pablum, of which a handful come to mind.

First, no one is saying capitalism isn't a great engine of material production. Even Marx praised it on that count. But we should never tire of pointing out that capitalism isn't about markets; it's the division of resources between capital and labor, the latter of which get brutally exploited by the former. As for markets, there were plenty of slave markets in the ancient world, and plenty of markets under feudalism, and there have been plenty of markets in socialist economies. Second, the numerous social advances made in the US were made in spite of capitalism, not because of it. It's not as though the franchise, the eight-hour work day, or the social safety net were commodities distributed by profit-seeking capitalists in some magically humane laissez faire agora.

Third, the Soviet Union was a demonstrable success, achieving some remarkable industrial gains during just the Thirties alone, before western jackals watched while the Nazi Wehrmacht rolled into Russia, and was finally unraveled by pro-western factions within the Soviet state. The German Democratic Republic is another example of a profoundly different, and generally more humane, kind of social organization, that is continuously given the short shrift by ideologues hurling their "Stasi state" jibes into the bristling ether of social media. Fourth, we'd have never even begun to exit the Great Recession of 2008 without China's command economy, with its various socialist aims and government controlled production.

Fifth, no one bothers to investigate the propaganda surrounding communism, referred to in this awful BBC show as a "murderous ideology". The purge and gulag and famine death figures were popularly disseminated largely by Robert Conquest, a British propagandist, and are suspect at best, and at worst fraudulent. The majority of the left won't even go there for fear of crossing the threshold into pariah status, and being thrust into that burgeoning cultural pen of actual socialists and communists. Sixth, there are thought to be some 20 million people since the end of WWII who have died at the hands of imperial capitalism, and its unquenchable thirst for new markets. Those figures are not likely to be falsified, at least partially because they are not the product of a ferociously anti-Communist propaganda system, but rather independent alternative journalists without a bourgeois mandate to romanticize neoliberalism and demonize communism. Nor are those numbers likely to stall; the implacable drive for hegemony promises much more slaughter, with many more million brown men, women, and children adding to the figures, plenty of them doubtless LGBTQ+ and trans. Seventh, India, for instance, is hardly better off than it was before the capitalist invasion by Britain. Same goes for the Congo or anyplace else capital has reached for market access. Life in the metropole is considerably different than life in the ransacked provinces.

Eighth, when you argue for the current system, you're arguing for a capitalist oligarchy in which 1 percent of humanity controls more than half the world's wealth, and 30 percent control 95 percent of the wealth, leaving 70 percent of the world's population to support itself on 5 percent of the world's resources, access to which are nevertheless being hotly contested by capital. Ninth, recent studies have shown marked rises in suicides as neoliberal austerity takes hold in the metropole itself, while hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers have taken their own lives thanks to neoliberal structural reforms in a story that provoked meager interest in western capitals. Tenth, it's been conclusively shown that we are heading into the sixth mass extinction event in history, produced by capitalist industrialization. Yet almost all of us are in denial, either as Republicans hastily summoning their liberal conspiracy talking points, or as neoliberal Democrats who still cling to the meager thread of the Obama era and the Paris Accords, as if Obama and Paris were really going to address climate change the way it needs to be addressed.

Alas, these responses might have short-circuited the hive mind of the BBC panel. Facts, hurled into a pandemonium of deceits, can have that effect. Of course, Bastani was shuttled away before any of these considerations were tabled, the benighted doxies of imperialism happy to have had another go at the far left before decamping for their next bourgeois dinner party, anxious to don their own 'most important intellectual' attire and regale placid peers of the intelligentsia with tales of ideology run amuck.

Jason Hirthler is a writer, political commentator, and veteran of the communications industry. He has written for many political communities. He is the recent author of Imperial Fictions , a collection of essays from between 2015-2017. He lives in New York City and can be reached at jasonhirthler@gmail.com . Read other articles by Jason .

This article was posted on Friday, June 14th, 2019 at 8:23pm and is filed under Capitalism , Communism/Marxism/Maoism , Corporate media , Media , Media Bias , Social media .

[Jun 11, 2019] Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism by Quinn Slobodian

The author is a very fuzzy way comes to the idea that neoliberalism is in essence a Trotskyism for the rich and that neoliberals want to use strong state to enforce the type of markets they want from above. That included free movement of capital goods and people across national borders. All this talk about "small government" is just a smoke screen for naive fools.
Similar to 1930th contemporary right-wing populism in Germany and Austria emerged from within neoliberalism, not in opposition to it. They essentially convert neoliberalism in "national liberalism": Yes to free trade by only on bilateral basis with a strict control of trade deficits. No to free migration, multilateralism
Notable quotes:
"... The second explanation was that neoliberal globalization made a small number of people very rich, and it was in the interest of those people to promote a self-serving ideology using their substantial means by funding think tanks and academic departments, lobbying congress, fighting what the Heritage Foundation calls "the war of ideas." Neoliberalism, then, was a restoration of class power after the odd, anomalous interval of the mid-century welfare state. ..."
"... Neoliberal globalism can be thought of in its own terms as a negative theology, contending that the world economy is sublime and ineffable with a small number of people having special insight and ability to craft institutions that will, as I put it, encase the sublime world economy. ..."
"... One of the big goals of my book is to show neoliberalism is one form of regulation among many rather than the big Other of regulation as such. ..."
"... I build here on the work of other historians and show how the demands in the United Nations by African, Asian, and Latin American nations for things like the Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources, i.e. the right to nationalize foreign-owned companies, often dismissed as merely rhetorical, were actually existentially frightening to global businesspeople. ..."
"... They drafted neoliberal intellectuals to do things like craft agreements that gave foreign corporations more rights than domestic actors and tried to figure out how to lock in what I call the "human right of capital flight" into binding international codes. I show how we can see the development of the WTO as largely a response to the fear of a planned -- and equal -- planet that many saw in the aspirations of the decolonizing world. ..."
"... The neoliberal insight of the 1930s was that the market would not take care of itself: what Wilhelm Röpke called a market police was an ongoing need in a world where people, whether out of atavistic drives or admirable humanitarian motives, kept trying to make the earth a more equal and just place. ..."
"... The culmination of these processes by the 1990s is a world economy that is less like a laissez-faire marketplace and more like a fortress, as ever more of the world's resources and ideas are regulated through transnational legal instruments. ..."
Mar 16, 2018 | www.amazon.com

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Harvard University Press (March 16, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0674979524
ISBN-13: 978-0674979529

From introduction

...The second explanation was that neoliberal globalization made a small number of people very rich, and it was in the interest of those people to promote a self-serving ideology using their substantial means by funding think tanks and academic departments, lobbying congress, fighting what the Heritage Foundation calls "the war of ideas." Neoliberalism, then, was a restoration of class power after the odd, anomalous interval of the mid-century welfare state.

There is truth to both of these explanations. Both presuppose a kind of materialist explanation of history with which I have no problem. In my book, though, I take another approach. What I found is that we could not understand the inner logic of something like the WTO without considering the whole history of the twentieth century. What I also discovered is that some of the members of the neoliberal movement from the 1930s onward, including Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises, did not use either of the explanations I just mentioned. They actually didn't say that economic growth excuses everything. One of the peculiar things about Hayek, in particular, is that he didn't believe in using aggregates like GDP -- the very measurements that we need to even say what growth is.

What I found is that neoliberalism as a philosophy is less a doctrine of economics than a doctrine of ordering -- of creating the institutions that provide for the reproduction of the totality [of financial elite control of the state]. At the core of the strain I describe is not the idea that we can quantify, count, price, buy and sell every last aspect of human existence. Actually, here it gets quite mystical. The Austrian and German School of neoliberals in particular believe in a kind of invisible world economy that cannot be captured in numbers and figures but always escapes human comprehension.

After all, if you can see something, you can plan it. Because of the very limits to our knowledge, we have to default to ironclad rules and not try to pursue something as radical as social justice, redistribution, or collective transformation. In a globalized world, we must give ourselves over to the forces of the market, or the whole thing will stop working.

So this is quite a different version of neoliberal thought than the one we usually have, premised on the abstract of individual liberty or the freedom to choose. Here one is free to choose but only within a limited range of options left after responding to the global forces of the market.

One of the core arguments of my book is that we can only understand the internal coherence of neoliberalism if we see it as a doctrine as concerned with the whole as the individual. Neoliberal globalism can be thought of in its own terms as a negative theology, contending that the world economy is sublime and ineffable with a small number of people having special insight and ability to craft institutions that will, as I put it, encase the sublime world economy.

To me, the metaphor of encasement makes much more sense than the usual idea of markets set free, liberated or unfettered. How can it be that in an era of proliferating third party arbitration courts, international investment law, trade treaties and regulation that we talk about "unfettered markets"? One of the big goals of my book is to show neoliberalism is one form of regulation among many rather than the big Other of regulation as such.

What I explore in Globalists is how we can think of the WTO as the latest in a long series of institutional fixes proposed for the problem of emergent nationalism and what neoliberals see as the confusion between sovereignty -- ruling a country -- and ownership -- owning the property within it.

I build here on the work of other historians and show how the demands in the United Nations by African, Asian, and Latin American nations for things like the Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources, i.e. the right to nationalize foreign-owned companies, often dismissed as merely rhetorical, were actually existentially frightening to global businesspeople.

They drafted neoliberal intellectuals to do things like craft agreements that gave foreign corporations more rights than domestic actors and tried to figure out how to lock in what I call the "human right of capital flight" into binding international codes. I show how we can see the development of the WTO as largely a response to the fear of a planned -- and equal -- planet that many saw in the aspirations of the decolonizing world.

Perhaps the lasting image of globalization that the book leaves is that world capitalism has produced a doubled world -- a world of imperium (the world of states) and a world of dominium (the world of property). The best way to understand neoliberal globalism as a project is that it sees its task as the never-ending maintenance of this division. The neoliberal insight of the 1930s was that the market would not take care of itself: what Wilhelm Röpke called a market police was an ongoing need in a world where people, whether out of atavistic drives or admirable humanitarian motives, kept trying to make the earth a more equal and just place.

The culmination of these processes by the 1990s is a world economy that is less like a laissez-faire marketplace and more like a fortress, as ever more of the world's resources and ideas are regulated through transnational legal instruments. The book acts as a kind of field guide to these institutions and, in the process, hopefully recasts the 20th century that produced them.


Mark bennett

One half of a decent book

3.0 out of 5 stars One half of a decent book May 14, 2018 Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase This is a rather interesting look at the political and economic ideas of a circle of important economists, including Hayek and von Mises, over the course of the last century. He shows rather convincingly that conventional narratives concerning their idea are wrong. That they didn't believe in a weak state, didn't believe in the laissez-faire capitalism or believe in the power of the market. That they saw mass democracy as a threat to vested economic interests.

The core beliefs of these people was in a world where money, labor and products could flow across borders without any limit. Their vision was to remove these subjects (tariffs, immigration and controls on the movement of money) from the control of the democracy-based nation-state and instead vesting them in international organizations. International organizations which were by their nature undemocratic and beyond the influence of democracy. That rather than rejecting government power, what they rejected was national government power. They wanted weak national governments but at the same time strong undemocratic international organizations which would gain the powers taken from the state.

The other thing that characterized many of these people was a rather general rejection of economics. While some of them are (at least in theory) economists, they rejected the basic ideas of economic analysis and economic policy. The economy, to them, was a mystical thing beyond any human understanding or ability to influence in a positive way. Their only real belief was in "bigness". The larger the market for labor and goods, the more economically prosperous everyone would become. A unregulated "global" market with specialization across borders and free migration of labor being the ultimate system.

The author shows how, over a period extending from the 1920s to the 1990s, these ideas evolved from marginal academic ideas to being dominant ideas internationally. Ideas that are reflected today in the structure of the European Union, the WTO (World Trade Organization) and the policies of most national governments. These ideas, which the author calls "neoliberalism", have today become almost assumptions beyond challenge. And even more strangely, the dominating ideas of the political left in most of the west.

The author makes the point, though in a weak way, that the "fathers" of neoliberalism saw themselves as "restoring" a lost golden age. That golden age being (roughly) the age of the original industrial revolution (the second half of the 1800s). And to the extent that they have been successful they have done that. But at the same time, they have brought back all the political and economic questions of that era as well.

In reading it, I started to wonder about the differences between modern neoliberalism and the liberal political movement during the industrial revolution. I really began to wonder about the actual motives of "reform" liberals in that era. Were they genuinely interested in reforms during that era or were all the reforms just cynical politics designed to enhance business power at the expense of other vested interests. Was, in particular, the liberal interest in political reform and franchise expansion a genuine move toward political democracy or simply a temporary ploy to increase their political power. If one assumes that the true principles of classic liberalism were always free trade, free migration of labor and removing the power to governments to impact business, perhaps its collapse around the time of the first world war is easier to understand.

He also makes a good point about the EEC and the organizations that came before the EU. Those organizations were as much about protecting trade between Europe and former European colonial possessions as they were anything to do with trade within Europe.

To me at least, the analysis of the author was rather original. In particular, he did an excellent job of showing how the ideas of Hayek and von Mises have been distorted and misunderstood in the mainstream. He was able to show what their ideas were and how they relate to contemporary problems of government and democracy.

But there are some strong negatives in the book. The author offers up a complete virtue signaling chapter to prove how the neoliberals are racists. He brings up things, like the John Birch Society, that have nothing to do with the book. He unleashes a whole lot of venom directed at American conservatives and republicans mostly set against a 1960s backdrop. He does all this in a bad purpose: to claim that the Kennedy Administration was somehow a continuation of the new deal rather than a step toward neoliberalism. His blindness and modern political partisanship extended backward into history does substantial damage to his argument in the book. He also spends an inordinate amount of time on the political issues of South Africa which also adds nothing to the argument of the book. His whole chapter on racism is an elaborate strawman all held together by Ropke. He also spends a large amount of time grinding some sort of Ax with regard to the National Review and William F. Buckley.

He keeps resorting to the simple formula of finding something racist said or written by Ropke....and then inferring that anyone who quoted or had anything to do with Ropke shared his ideas and was also a racist. The whole point of the exercise seems to be to avoid any analysis of how the democratic party (and the political left) drifted over the decades from the politics of the New Deal to neoliberal Clintonism.

Then after that, he diverts further off the path by spending many pages on the greatness of the "global south", the G77 and the New International Economic Order (NIEO) promoted by the UN in the 1970s. And whatever many faults of neoliberalism, Quinn Slobodian ends up standing for a worse set of ideas: International Price controls, economic "reparations", nationalization, international trade subsidies and a five-year plan for the world (socialist style economic planning at a global level). In attaching himself to these particular ideas, he kills his own book. The premise of the book and his argument was very strong at first. But by around p. 220, its become a throwback political tract in favor of the garbage economic and political ideas of the so-called third world circa 1974 complete with 70's style extensive quotations from "Senegalese jurists"

Once the political agenda comes out, he just can't help himself. He opens the conclusion to the book taking another cheap shot for no clear reason at William F. Buckley. He spends alot of time on the Seattle anti-WTO protests from the 1990s. But he has NOTHING to say about BIll Clinton or Tony Blair or EU expansion or Obama or even the 2008 economic crisis for that matter. Inexplicably for a book written in 2018, the content of the book seems to end in the year 2000.

I'm giving it three stars for the first 150 pages which was decent work. The second half rates zero stars. Though it could have been far better if he had written his history of neoliberalism in the context of the counter-narrative of Keynesian economics and its decline. It would have been better yet if the author had the courage to talk about the transformation of the parties of the left and their complicity in the rise of neoliberalism. The author also tends to waste lots of pages repeating himself or worse telling you what he is going to say next. One would have expected a better standard of editing by the Harvard Press. Read less 69 people found this helpful Helpful Comment Report abuse

Jesper Doepping
A concise definition of neoliberalism and its historical influence

5.0 out of 5 stars A concise definition of neoliberalism and its historical influence November 14, 2018 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase Anybody interested in global trade, business, human rights or democracy today should read this book.

The book follow the Austrians from the beginning in the Habsburgischer empire to the beginning rebellion against the WTO. However, most importantly it follows the thinking and the thoughts behind the building of a global empire of capitalism with free trade, capital and rights. All the way to the new "human right" to trade. It narrows down what neoliberal thought really consist of and indirectly make a differentiation to the neoclassical economic tradition.

What I found most interesting is the turn from economics to law - and the conceptual distinctions between the genes, tradition, reason, which are translated into a quest for a rational and reason based protection of dominium (the rule of property) against the overreach of imperium (the rule of states/people). This distinction speaks directly to the issues that EU is currently facing.

Jackal
A historian with an agenda

3.0 out of 5 stars A historian with an agenda October 22, 2018 Format: Hardcover Author is covering Mises, Hayek, Machlup in Vienna. How to produce order once the Habsburg empire had been broken after 1918? They pioneered data gathering about the economy. However, such data came to be used by the left as well. This forced the people mentioned to become intellectual thinkers as opposed to something else(??). I like how the author is situating the people in a specific era, but he is reading history backwards. The book moves on, but stays in Central Europe. Ordocapitalism followed after Hitler. It was a German attempt to have a both strong state and strong by market, which given Europe's fragmentation required international treaties. This was seen as a way to avoid another Hitler. Later, international organisations like IMF and TWO became the new institutions that embedded the global markets. The book ends in the 90s. So in reading history backwards, the author finds quotations of Mises and Hayek that "prove" that they were aiming to create intellectual cover for the global financial elite of the 2010s.

Nevertheless, the book is interesting if you like the history of ideas. He frames the questions intelligently in the historical context at the time. However a huge question-mark for objectivity. The book is full of lefty dog whistles: the war making state, regulation of capitalism, reproducing the power of elites, the problem [singular] of capitalism. In a podcast the author states point blank "I wanted the left to see what the enemy was up too". I find it pathetic that authors are so blatantly partisan. How can we know whether he is objective when he doesn't even try? He dismissively claims that the neoliberal thinkers gave cover to what has become the globalist world order. So why should we not consider the current book as intellectual cover for some "new left" that is about to materialise? Maybe the book is just intellectual cover for the globalist elite being educated in left-wing private colleges.

[Jun 05, 2019] Taking a long view it was very astute and cleverly conceived plan to to present counter-revolution as revolution; progress as regress; the new order 1980- (i.e., neoliberalism) was cool, and the old order 1945-1975 (welfare-capitalism) was fuddy-duddy.

Highly recommended!
Jun 05, 2019 | off-guardian.org

Francis Lee says May 5, 2019

Taking a long view it was very astute and cleverly conceived plan to to present counter-revolution as revolution; progress as regress; the new order 1980- (i.e., neoliberalism) was cool, and the old order 1945-1975 (welfare-capitalism) was fuddy-duddy.

Thus:

Capital controls = fuddy duddy Capital Account liberalisation = cool Worker's Rights = fuddy duddy Flexible Labour markets = cool World Peace -- fuddy duddy War = Cool National Sovereignty = fuddy duddy Globalization = Cool Social Mobility = fuddy duddy Inequality = cool Respect for elections/referenda = fuddy-duddy Flexible referenda/elections = cool Social solidarity = fuddy-duddy Rampant nihilistic invidualism = cool Respect for human rights and the UN International Law = fuddy-duddy Blatant Imperialism = cool

And so the agenda goes on. Counter-revolution qua revolution

[Jun 05, 2019] Trump Admin's Latest Rail Safety Rollback Sets up Industry to Make Its Own Rules

Jun 05, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

May 31, 2019 by Jerri-Lynn Scofield By Justin Mikulka, a freelance writer, audio and video producer living in Trumansburg, NY. Originally published at DeSmog Blog

This week, the Trump administration's Department of Transportation (DOT) withdrew another rail safety recommendation originally proposed during the Obama administration. In the process, the agency made quite clear that it has no plans to further regulate the rail industry, especially the dangerous and continued transportation of oil and ethanol in unsafe tank cars.

The latest proposed rule to be withdrawn would have required two-person crews on trains. Supporters of this rule argue that two-person crews are safer because the job of operating a train is too demanding for one person, new technologies are making the job more complex, and fatigue becomes a more serious issue with only one crew member. Since 2017, the Trump administration has already repealed a regulation requiring modern brakes for oil trains and canceled a plan requiring train operators to be tested for sleep apnea.

In announcing this decision, the DOT's Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) stated it was "providing notice of its affirmative decision that no regulation of train crew staffing is necessary or appropriate for railroad operations to be conducted safely at this time."

Buried on page 21 of the 25 page document explaining the decision, the FRA spells out the broader department attitude toward rail safety:

"DOT's approach to achieving safety improvements begins with a focus on removing unnecessary barriers and issuing voluntary guidance, rather than regulations that could stifle innovation."

As we've documented on DeSmog before , that translates to removing existing safety requirements and allowing the rail industry to volunteer when and how to improve safety. When the head of the FRA is a former rail company CEO , corporate capture of the U.S.regulatory system should come as no surprise. The rail industry's main opposition to this rule is that it will increase costs while claiming it will not improve safety. This is the same basic argument used to support the industry's opposition to other safety regulations.

FRA Overriding States' Rights to Regulate Rail Safety

North Dakota oil train. Credit: Jerry and Pat Donaho , CC BY-ND2.0

In addition, this FRA memo contained several statements clarifying that not only will the agency back off of regulating rail safety, it also will use the power of "pre-emption" to make sure states can't fill the resulting regulatory gaps either.

As we have explained before , rail companies are essentially only accountable to federal regulators (should they choose to regulate) due to a legal doctrine known as "pre-emption," which exempts interstate rail companies from observing local or state laws where they operate.

This is important in this instance because several states have passed laws regarding train crew staffing, and other states are considering such regulation. The FRA notes in detail these state efforts and then says that its decision not to regulate crew size preempts any such rules at the state level:

"FRA intends this notice of withdrawal to cover the same subject matter as the state laws regulating crew size and therefore expects it will have preemptive effect."

The document goes on to cite Supreme Court case law in an attempt to justify this approach and then reiterates the point in its final line, saying that "no regulation of train crew staffing is appropriate and that FRA intends to negatively preempt any state laws concerning that subject matter."

On December 31, 2013, part of the tank car pileup and residual fire resulting from the train collision near Casselton, North Dakota. Credit: National Transportation Safety Board , public domain

With this document, the FRA likely is setting up a precedent to follow for regulating the volatility and vapor pressure of crude oil transported by rail. DeSmog has covered in detail the issue of oil volatility , which appears to be the key for turning oil trains into "bomb trains," as rail operators have dubbed them.

The last remaining rail safety proposal on the books from the Obama administration concerns the vapor pressure of oil in rail tank cars, but that was proposed in 2017 and the DOT website lists the status of this proposed rule as "undetermined."

Meanwhile, the state of Washington has passed a law regulating the vapor pressure of oil for rail transport. This law is being challenged by North Dakota -- the source of many of the bomb trains involved in fiery accidents, including the Lac-Mégantic, Canada, disaster that killed 47 people in 2013 and helped inspire the proposed rule requiring two-person crews that the Trump adminstration just withdrew this week.

Based on the FRA's strategy with the rail staffing rule, expect to see the Trump administration withdraw the proposed regulation on oil vapor pressure and say this move preempts Washington state's law.

me title=

A Case Study in the Corporate Capture of American Regulation

The FRA's decision to withdraw the train crew rule is a great case study of a failed regulatory system in America.

The public is supposed to have a say in the regulatory process via the public comment process. In this case, approximately 1,500 comments supported the regulation -- including comments from members of Congress -- and 39 opposed it. The opposition highlighted by the DOT was from rail lobbying groups the Association of American Railroads and the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association. While the public can have its say, it may not have any impact in the current regulatory process.

The FRAdocument also notes that the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC reviewed the issue but "was unable to reach consensus on any recommendation." RSAC was established by the FRA but is dominated by industry members, including the Association of American Railroads and the American Petroleum Institute , the latter of which is the nation's largest oil lobby and has repeatedly misrepresented basic facts about crude oil volatility and rail transport.

This advisory committee doesn't have the membership to make an independent recommendation that goes against its members' interests.

Screen shot of RSAC members from the Federal Railroad Administration website.

Another key point in the FRA's withdrawal decision is that it claims there is no evidence that two-person crews are safer than single-person crews on trains. The agency cites industry-funded studies, which make this claim and say the regulation would "greatly reduce U.S.railroads' ability to control operating costs." Because the FRAitself does not collect data on the use and safety of single-person crews versus two-person crews, it can't provide any information one way or the other.

The one clear scenario where two-person crews increase safety is in accident situations, a point made by many commenters and acknowledged by the FRA. In the 2013 BNSF oil train derailment and explosion in Casselton, North Dakota , crew members were able to separate many of the oil tank cars from the rest of the train, likely preventing a much larger oil spill and fire (which were still large). The FRA argues that while this is true, the same role can be played by first responders:

"While FRA acknowledges the BNSF key train crew performed well, potentially saving each other's lives, it is possible that one properly trained crewmember, technology, and/or additional railroad emergency planning could have achieved similar mitigating actions."

Despite making this assertion, the agency provided no evidence of how these alternatives are possible. In the case of oil train accidents, there are no examples of first responders arriving in time to do anything other than back away from the often-explosive trains and let them burn.

In the case of Casselton, the city fire chief Tim McLean said, "I'm glad the crew made it out of the engine because I don't know if we would have been able to get in there and get them." Casselton's first responders were working to evacuate the city, not deal with the exploding train cars.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/FLfOQcmD868

'Keeping their Profits'

Two years ago, I wrote about the Trump administration's and Congress's plans to de-regulate the oil-by-rail industry , and featured a quote from Rep. Bill Shuster, who championed finding ways to "allow the railroad industry to keep more of their profits" at a hearing on pipeline and rail regulations .

With rail companies now comfortably positioned to self-regulate under the Trump administration, the industry can continue its long (and, at times, bloody ) history of putting profits over safety. The Department of Transportation's latest move makes this approach official government policy.

On July 9, 2014, 350 Sacramento joins California Assemblymember Roger Dickinson for an oil-by-rail protest at the Federal Railroad Administration. Credit: Stand , CC BY 2.0


VietnamVet , May 31, 2019 at 3:45 am

Mile long trains manned by one crew member are accidents waiting to happen. This will kill and maim people. Commercial airliners have a two-person cockpit crews for a good reason. An improperly tied down train by the sole engineer killed 43 in Canada. A conductor not calling out signals and signs contributed to killing three in Amtrak's 2017 Talgo crash onto I-5 in Washington State. A single engineer is subject to fatigue and distraction with no one to snap them out of it. A second crew member can check for problems, set brakes, and switch tracks while the engineer stays on board the running locomotive. This is solely a safety issue.

Each new death will be on the corporations and regulators pushing this to increase their profits. If promulgated, they deserve jail time for manslaughter with the next inevitable death.

The Rev Kev , May 31, 2019 at 5:35 am

If the two-driver rule is being withdrawn, then I see one major reason for this. Those companies must be planning on using autonomous trains down the track, so to say. The driver would then become more a monitor than a driver and perhaps be done away with altogether due to the fact that the job would be too fatiguing for a single driver. This is happening elsewhere. Here in Oz, the Rio Tito Group has been using autonomous trains since last July to transport iron ore using its "AutoHaul" system. Last I heard, they were running about three dozen of these robot trains a day. Here is a short clip showing the initial run-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSMl1O9xxp4

Of course there are two major differences between Oz and the US with the use of these trains if the US brings them in. The ones in Oz go through the Pilbara and from that film clip, you can see that it is pretty barren country people-wise. An autonomous train in the US would run through a lot of small towns and perhaps cities. The ones in the US would also be transporting oil and that film clip from Casselton, North Dakota shows what happens when they go bump. The ones in Oz are use for transporting iron ore and after intense internet research, I have found that there is no situation in which they will ever explode in a train crash/derailment.

Jeremy Grimm , May 31, 2019 at 12:55 pm

I think you're right about the a plan to replace human drivers with autonomous trains monitored by a human. I didn't realize human train drivers [R.R. engineers?] were so very expensive that using one instead of two and eventually one 'monitor' instead of one driver were such a great savings. Are the railroad companies going to be indemnified against accident risks in some other pending deregulations? Maybe they could contract out for the train-monitors and hang any accident risk on fly-by-night contracting firms and any train-monitor who is so lucky as to survive an accident. What of the rails? I road trains cross-country last year and a lot of the ride was wavy and bumpy. How smart are the autonomous trains?

Synoia , May 31, 2019 at 4:07 pm

How smart are the autonomous trains?

Smart enough to do precisely what management tells them to do.

Edward , May 31, 2019 at 7:00 am

"Because the FRAitself does not collect data on the use and safety of single-person crews versus two-person crews, it can't provide any information one way or the other."

Other countries might have studied this question.

This sounds like what happened with Boeing and the FAA. Now all we need is for the railroad CEO's to have backgrounds in the military-industrial complex.

Svante , May 31, 2019 at 7:01 am

I'm waiting for 15-20 cars full of dilute bitumen to derail & explode directly across from Manhattan. There're ALWAYS bomb trains shunted alongside AMTRAK's NE Corridor where 130mph Acela are passing 80-90mph trains on decrepit infrastructure. Just waiting to happen, like any shithole kleptocracy.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.northjersey.com/amp/1492902002

https://static01.nyt.com/images/2015/05/14/us/sub14TRAIN/sub14TRAIN-superJumbo.jpg?quality=90&auto=webp

Edward , May 31, 2019 at 7:10 am

"I'm waiting for 15-20 cars full of dilute bitumen to derail & explode directly across from Manhattan."

Hopefully next to a Trump property. Is this rule actually going to save the train companies money? How expensive are these accidents? Perhaps the real question is how many CEO bonuses can be milked from this rule.

Svante , May 31, 2019 at 7:30 am

Well, we've been TOLD, there'll be another (fracked PA CNG fired?) power plant going into North Bergen, we hear trains across the Hudson all night. Heavy cars, here, usually means tankers, heading to NJ refineries? I was in Huston with Texas Eastern's GREAT old inspection boss when they blew up part of Edison, NJ. A failed tie-in weld, cracked by a backhoe or something, in cold weather. They had windows breaking up here, in the UWS? A 36″ line, rolled at Bethlehem/ Steelton, or some damn thing? Shit happens? Don't live in a valley!

Ptb , May 31, 2019 at 8:10 am

Score one for Warren Buffet

anarcheopteryx , May 31, 2019 at 10:20 am

One of the more irritating indirect developments from this is that people can now say that 1) we are still reliant on oil 2) that oil needs to be transported 3) trains clearly aren't safe as a means of transportation 4) therefore pipelines are a better idea. It's gussied-up NIMBYism because pipelines usually don't travel through highly populated areas and only destroy the local environment for decades/centuries upon leaking rather than killing people directly. Obviously I'm all for tanker cars not exploding in the middle of communities, but I'm also not a great fan of the long-term loss of fresh water and the exporting of negative consequences to poor/rural/indigenous people.

Carolinian , May 31, 2019 at 12:34 pm

This is similar to this morning's glyphosate issue. Once again, where is Congress? The administration enforces the laws but Congress is supposed to oversee. To busy fretting over Mueller?

Jeremy Grimm , May 31, 2019 at 1:16 pm

Where is Congress? Gathering campaign contributions everyone and assuring a lucrative job for later. The administration enforces the laws and Congress oversees that process with the same careful attention to the public good we enjoy from the administration's efforts. Mueller is purely for entertainment.

It isn't bad enough that we face multiple threats to our future, endless wars, nuclear war, Climate Chaos, resource depletion, crumbling infrastructure Neoliberalism seems intent on constructing as much fragility as possible into our already fragile Society.

Synoia , May 31, 2019 at 4:08 pm

And determining when we go to war ..Right?

Svante , June 1, 2019 at 1:25 pm

The Legislature, (especiallyTHIS Executive), Judiciary & Media are at work, as most of us knew by draft age. Trump is the Boogieman this time, like Obama & Shrub before him. He's distracting the 10% Pussyhat hordes as Barack did with CNBC/ FOX's totally spontaneous baggers. Poisoned air, water, food: RussiaRussiaRussia; National Healthcare including longterm homecare & price/quality control on meds: RussiaRussiaRussia; Run-away global warming, worse than anticipated: RussiaRussiaRussia; Police shooting down folks in their motor vehicles or home, at WILL, without repercussions You guessed it: RussiaRussiaRussia! Thi IS their job!

https://www.gq.com/story/democratic-leadership-base

[May 27, 2019] To deny debate.. they simply engineer language

Notable quotes:
"... put some trigger words than inhibit zombies brains: racist, antisemite, populist, fascist, white, sexist, ..."
"... There can be no debates without first pointing out objective reality (factual observations). Long logical expositions often turn out to be dissimulation.. ..."
"... Objective reality, based on history, suggests that human beings are irrational at best, and depraved at worst. The issue is not one of swaying folks, it's one of asking them to place themselves in the shoes of their opponents. ..."
May 27, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Julot_Fr , 10 hours ago link

To deny debate.. they simply engineer language.. and put some trigger words than inhibit zombies brains: racist, antisemite, populist, fascist, white, sexist, ...

Scipio Africanuz , 10 hours ago link

There can be no debates without first pointing out objective reality (factual observations). Long logical expositions often turn out to be dissimulation..

Objective reality, based on history, suggests that human beings are irrational at best, and depraved at worst. The issue is not one of swaying folks, it's one of asking them to place themselves in the shoes of their opponents.

It's not about religion either, but about what's been proven to work, and what's not worked. Neither is it about winning arguments, that's just ego stroking.

What it's about, is how to get along even when there's disagreement on issues, and that requires the maturity to first, acknowledge when one may be wrong, questioning one's assumptions, and allowing others their beliefs provided it reduces or prevents harm to others.

Concisely, the core issue is about the minimization of harm to others, especially conscious harm. Everything else is just details. Expositions that rely extensively on theory are dissimulations, stories, short stories, are way more effective especially when they're relatable.

Technical expositions are for professional debaters (academics), stories are for people, those who truly wish to get along..

Assumptions exist to be questioned, cheers...

[May 18, 2019] Americans are good at Doublethink.

Notable quotes:
"... You point out that our entertainment industry focuses its plots on strong leaders, and Good Guys vs Bad Guys, and we definitely internalize that, especially when our overlords want to demonize another country, and use our entertainment-induced perspective as a shortcut. ..."
"... But, at the same time, on another level, Americans understand that the president is a puppet and must obey orders, or have his brains blown out in bright daylight, in the town square. ..."
"... We hold both these views simultaneously, hence, as Orwell called it, Doublethink. ..."
May 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

wagelaborer , May 17, 2019 6:33:45 PM | link

Jen @25. Americans are good at Doublethink.

You point out that our entertainment industry focuses its plots on strong leaders, and Good Guys vs Bad Guys, and we definitely internalize that, especially when our overlords want to demonize another country, and use our entertainment-induced perspective as a shortcut.

They tell us that the leader of the targeted country is a Bad Guy and we must kill the people in order to save them. And Americans nod and comply. Except for the 5% that prefers peace, and they argue that the leader is not a Bad Guy, so we shouldn't kill the people to save them.
No American ever thinks to argue international law or basic morality, we just argue about the plot lines.

But, at the same time, on another level, Americans understand that the president is a puppet and must obey orders, or have his brains blown out in bright daylight, in the town square.

We hold both these views simultaneously, hence, as Orwell called it, Doublethink.

[May 17, 2019] Shareholder Capitalism, the Military, and the Beginning of the End for Boeing

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Like many of its Wall Street counterparts, Boeing also used complexity as a mechanism to obfuscate and conceal activity that is incompetent, nefarious and/or harmful to not only the corporation itself but to society as a whole (instead of complexity being a benign byproduct of a move up the technology curve). ..."
"... The economists who built on Friedman's work, along with increasingly aggressive institutional investors, devised solutions to ensure the primacy of enhancing shareholder value, via the advocacy of hostile takeovers, the promotion of massive stock buybacks or repurchases (which increased the stock value), higher dividend payouts and, most importantly, the introduction of stock-based pay for top executives in order to align their interests to those of the shareholders. These ideas were influenced by the idea that corporate efficiency and profitability were impinged upon by archaic regulation and unionization, which, according to the theory, precluded the ability to compete globally. ..."
"... "Return on Net Assets" (RONA) forms a key part of the shareholder capitalism doctrine. ..."
"... If the choice is between putting a million bucks into new factory machinery or returning it to shareholders, say, via dividend payments, the latter is the optimal way to go because in theory it means higher net returns accruing to the shareholders (as the "owners" of the company), implicitly assuming that they can make better use of that money than the company itself can. ..."
"... It is an absurd conceit to believe that a dilettante portfolio manager is in a better position than an aviation engineer to gauge whether corporate investment in fixed assets will generate productivity gains well north of the expected return for the cash distributed to the shareholders. But such is the perverse fantasy embedded in the myth of shareholder capitalism ..."
"... When real engineering clashes with financial engineering, the damage takes the form of a geographically disparate and demoralized workforce: The factory-floor denominator goes down. Workers' wages are depressed, testing and quality assurance are curtailed. ..."
May 17, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

The fall of the Berlin Wall and the corresponding end of the Soviet Empire gave the fullest impetus imaginable to the forces of globalized capitalism, and correspondingly unfettered access to the world's cheapest labor. What was not to like about that? It afforded multinational corporations vastly expanded opportunities to fatten their profit margins and increase the bottom line with seemingly no risk posed to their business model.

Or so it appeared. In 2000, aerospace engineer L.J. Hart-Smith's remarkable paper, sardonically titled "Out-Sourced Profits – The Cornerstone of Successful Subcontracting," laid out the case against several business practices of Hart-Smith's previous employer, McDonnell Douglas, which had incautiously ridden the wave of outsourcing when it merged with the author's new employer, Boeing. Hart-Smith's intention in telling his story was a cautionary one for the newly combined Boeing, lest it follow its then recent acquisition down the same disastrous path.

Of the manifold points and issues identified by Hart-Smith, there is one that stands out as the most compelling in terms of understanding the current crisis enveloping Boeing: The embrace of the metric "Return on Net Assets" (RONA). When combined with the relentless pursuit of cost reduction (via offshoring), RONA taken to the extreme can undermine overall safety standards.

Related to this problem is the intentional and unnecessary use of complexity as an instrument of propaganda. Like many of its Wall Street counterparts, Boeing also used complexity as a mechanism to obfuscate and conceal activity that is incompetent, nefarious and/or harmful to not only the corporation itself but to society as a whole (instead of complexity being a benign byproduct of a move up the technology curve).

All of these pernicious concepts are branches of the same poisoned tree: " shareholder capitalism ":

[A] notion best epitomized by Milton Friedman that the only social responsibility of a corporation is to increase its profits, laying the groundwork for the idea that shareholders, being the owners and the main risk-bearing participants, ought therefore to receive the biggest rewards. Profits therefore should be generated first and foremost with a view toward maximizing the interests of shareholders, not the executives or managers who (according to the theory) were spending too much of their time, and the shareholders' money, worrying about employees, customers, and the community at large. The economists who built on Friedman's work, along with increasingly aggressive institutional investors, devised solutions to ensure the primacy of enhancing shareholder value, via the advocacy of hostile takeovers, the promotion of massive stock buybacks or repurchases (which increased the stock value), higher dividend payouts and, most importantly, the introduction of stock-based pay for top executives in order to align their interests to those of the shareholders. These ideas were influenced by the idea that corporate efficiency and profitability were impinged upon by archaic regulation and unionization, which, according to the theory, precluded the ability to compete globally.

"Return on Net Assets" (RONA) forms a key part of the shareholder capitalism doctrine. In essence, it means maximizing the returns of those dollars deployed in the operation of the business. Applied to a corporation, it comes down to this: If the choice is between putting a million bucks into new factory machinery or returning it to shareholders, say, via dividend payments, the latter is the optimal way to go because in theory it means higher net returns accruing to the shareholders (as the "owners" of the company), implicitly assuming that they can make better use of that money than the company itself can.

It is an absurd conceit to believe that a dilettante portfolio manager is in a better position than an aviation engineer to gauge whether corporate investment in fixed assets will generate productivity gains well north of the expected return for the cash distributed to the shareholders. But such is the perverse fantasy embedded in the myth of shareholder capitalism.

Engineering reality, however, is far more complicated than what is outlined in university MBA textbooks. For corporations like McDonnell Douglas, for example, RONA was used not as a way to prioritize new investment in the corporation but rather to justify disinvestment in the corporation. This disinvestment ultimately degraded the company's underlying profitability and the quality of its planes (which is one of the reasons the Pentagon helped to broker the merger with Boeing; in another perverse echo of the 2008 financial disaster, it was a politically engineered bailout).

RONA in Practice

When real engineering clashes with financial engineering, the damage takes the form of a geographically disparate and demoralized workforce: The factory-floor denominator goes down. Workers' wages are depressed, testing and quality assurance are curtailed. Productivity is diminished, even as labor-saving technologies are introduced. Precision machinery is sold off and replaced by inferior, but cheaper, machines. Engineering quality deteriorates. And the upshot is that a reliable plane like Boeing's 737, which had been a tried and true money-spinner with an impressive safety record since 1967, becomes a high-tech death trap.

The drive toward efficiency is translated into a drive to do more with less. Get more out of workers while paying them less. Make more parts with fewer machines. Outsourcing is viewed as a way to release capital by transferring investment from skilled domestic human capital to offshore entities not imbued with the same talents, corporate culture and dedication to quality. The benefits to the bottom line are temporary; the long-term pathologies become embedded as the company's market share begins to shrink, as the airlines search for less shoddy alternatives.

You must do one more thing if you are a Boeing director: you must erect barriers to bad news, because there is nothing that bursts a magic bubble faster than reality, particularly if it's bad reality.

The illusion that Boeing sought to perpetuate was that it continued to produce the same thing it had produced for decades: namely, a safe, reliable, quality airplane. But it was doing so with a production apparatus that was stripped, for cost reasons, of many of the means necessary to make good aircraft. So while the wine still came in a bottle signifying Premier Cru quality, and still carried the same price, someone had poured out the contents and replaced them with cheap plonk.

And that has become remarkably easy to do in aviation. Because Boeing is no longer subject to proper independent regulatory scrutiny. This is what happens when you're allowed to " self-certify" your own airplane , as the Washington Post described: "One Boeing engineer would conduct a test of a particular system on the Max 8, while another Boeing engineer would act as the FAA's representative, signing on behalf of the U.S. government that the technology complied with federal safety regulations."

This is a recipe for disaster. Boeing relentlessly cut costs, it outsourced across the globe to workforces that knew nothing about aviation or aviation's safety culture. It sent things everywhere on one criteria and one criteria only: lower the denominator. Make it the same, but cheaper. And then self-certify the plane, so that nobody, including the FAA, was ever the wiser.

Boeing also greased the wheels in Washington to ensure the continuation of this convenient state of regulatory affairs for the company. According to OpenSecrets.org , Boeing and its affiliates spent $15,120,000 in lobbying expenses in 2018, after spending, $16,740,000 in 2017 (along with a further $4,551,078 in 2018 political contributions, which placed the company 82nd out of a total of 19,087 contributors). Looking back at these figures over the past four elections (congressional and presidential) since 2012, these numbers represent fairly typical spending sums for the company.

But clever financial engineering, extensive political lobbying and self-certification can't perpetually hold back the effects of shoddy engineering. One of the sad byproducts of the FAA's acquiescence to "self-certification" is how many things fall through the cracks so easily.

[Apr 29, 2019] Let's rename Boeing to BidenAir

Apr 29, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Late Introvert , , April 28, 2019 at 9:19 pm

I noticed that Boeing is incorporated in the great state of Delaware. Ah-hem.

dearieme , , April 29, 2019 at 11:46 am

Oh well, change their name to BidenAir.

[Apr 29, 2019] Ralph Nader Calls Out Boeing for 737 MAX Lack of Airworthiness, Stock Buybacks, and Demands Muilenburg Resign by Lambert Strether

Apr 28, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Ralph Nader has published an open letter to Dennis A. Muilenburg, current CEO of Boeing, which is worth reading in full . There's a personal connection :

[Nader's] niece, 24-year-old Samya Stumo, was among the 157 victims of an Ethiopian Airlines flight crash last month, less than six months after a flight on the same aircraft, the Boeing 737 Max 8, crashed in Indonesia.

Nader comments, in Stumo's obituary in the Berkshire Eagle :

"She was compassionate from the get-go. She'd be 8 years old and she'd get a pail of hot water and go to her great-grandmother and soak her feet and rub her feet and dry them. She was always that way."

Clifford Law has brought suit on behalf of the Stumo family in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. From the complaint :

Blinded by its greed, BOEING haphazardly rushed the 737 MAX 8 to market, with the knowledge and tacit approval of the United States Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA"), while BOEING actively concealed the nature of the automated system defects. Numerous decisions by BOEING's leadership substantially contributed to the subject crash and demonstrate BOEING's conscious disregard for the lives of others, including but not limited to BOEING's role in: designing an aircraft with a powerful automated flight control system [the MCAS] susceptible to catastrophic failure in the event a single defective sensor; failing to properly inform pilots of the existence of the new flight control system and educate and train them in all aspects of its operation; failing to properly address the new system in the aircraft's flight manual; refusing to include key safety features as standard in the aircraft rather than optional upgrades; delivering 737 MAX aircraft with a version of the flight control system that was materially different from the version presented to the FAA during certification; and failing to take appropriate action after BOEING learned that the 737 MAX aircraft was not performing as intended or safety, as was made tragically clear with the crash of Lion Air Flight JT 610.

BOEING's decision to put profits over safety is further evident in BOEING's repeated claims that the 737 MAX 8 is so similar to its earlier models that it does not require significant retraining for those pilots familiar with the older generation of 737s.

All pretty much conventional wisdom at this point! The suit also calls for exemplary (punitive) damages ; I've embedded the complaint at the end of the post, in case any readers care to dig into it. I'm not going to examine the case in this post; rather, I'm going to focus on three items from Naders letter that I think advance the story: His framing for 737 MAX airworthiness; his highlighting of Boeing's stock buybacks; and his call for Boeing CEO Muilenburg's defenestration.

Nader on 737 MAX Airworthiness

From Nader's letter :

Aircraft should be stall-proof, not stall-prone.

(Stalling, in Nader's telling, being the condition the defective MCAS system was meant to correct.) Because aircraft that are aerodynamicallly unstable, llke fighter jets, have ejection seats! Now, a pedant would point out that Nader means commercial aircraft , but as readers know, I eschew pedantry in all contexts. That said, Nader manages to encapsulate the problem in a single sentence (using antithesis , isocolon , and anaphora ). Now, we have pilots in the commentariat who will surely say whether Nader's formulation is correct, but to this layperson it seems to be. From 737 MAX, a fan/geek site, on the business and technical logic of the MCAS system :

The LEAP engine nacelles are larger and had to be mounted slightly higher and further forward from the previous NG CFM56-7 engines to give the necessary ground clearance. This new location and larger size of nacelle cause the vortex flow off the nacelle body to produce lift at high AoA [Angle of Attack]. As the nacelle is ahead of the C of G, this lift causes a slight pitch-up effect (ie a reducing stick force) which could lead the pilot to inadvertently pull the yoke further aft than intended bringing the aircraft closer towards the stall. This abnormal nose-up pitching is not allowable under 14CFR §25.203(a) "Stall characteristics". Several aerodynamic solutions were introduced such as revising the leading edge stall strip and modifying the leading edge vortilons but they were insufficient to pass regulation. MCAS was therefore introduced to give an automatic nose down stabilizer input during elevated AoA when flaps are up.

Nader on Stock Buybacks

From Nader's letter , where he is addressing Muilenberg ("you") directly:

Boeing management's behavior must be seen in the context of Boeing's use of its earned capital. Did you use the $30 billion surplus from 2009 to 2017 to reinvest in R&D, in new narrow-body passenger aircraft? Or did you, instead, essentially burn this surplus with self-serving stock buybacks of $30 billion in that period? Boeing is one of the companies that MarketWatch labelled as "Five companies that spent lavishly on stock buybacks while pension funding lagged."

Incredibly, your buybacks of $9.24 billion in 2017 comprised 109% of annual earnings . As you well know, stock buybacks do not create any jobs. They improve the metrics for the executive compensation packages of top Boeing bosses [ka-ching]. Undeterred, in 2018, buybacks of $9 billion constituted 86% of annual earnings .

To make your management recklessly worse, in December 2018, you arranged for your rubberstamp Board of Directors to approve $20 billion more in buybacks. Apparently, you had amortized the cost of the Indonesian Lion Air crash victims as not providing any significant impact on your future guidance to the investor world.

Holy moley, that's real money! Nader's detail on the stock buybacks (see NC here , here , and here ) interested me, because it bears on Boeing's 2011 decision not to build a new narrow-body aircraft in 2011. I summarized the decision-making back in March:

(2) Choice of Airframe : The Air Current describes the competitive environment that led Boeing to upgrade the 737 to the 737 MAX, instead of building a new plane:

Boeing wanted to replace the 737. The plan had even earned the endorsement of its now-retired chief executive. "We're gonna do a new airplane," Jim McNerney said in February of that same year. "We're not done evaluating this whole situation yet, but our current bias is to not re-engine, is to move to an all-new airplane at the end of the decade." History went in a different direction. Airbus, riding its same decades-long incremental strategy and chipping away at Boeing's market supremacy, had made no secret of its plans to put new engines on the A320. But its own re-engined jet somehow managed to take Boeing by surprise. Airbus and American forced Boeing's hand. It had to put new engines on the 737 to stay even with its rival .

Why? The earlier butchered launch of the 787:

Boeing justified the decision thusly: There were huge and excruciatingly painful near-term obstacles on its way to a new single-aisle airplane. In the summer of 2011, the 787 Dreamliner wasn't yet done after billions invested and years of delays. More than 800 airplanes later here in 2019, each 787 costs less to build than sell, but it's still running a $23 billion production cost deficit. . The 737 Max was Boeing's ticket to holding the line on its position -- both market and financial -- in the near term. Abandoning the 737 would've meant walking away from its golden goose that helped finance the astronomical costs of the 787 and the development of the 777X.

So, we might think of Boeing as a runner who's tripped and fallen: The initial stumble, followed by loss of balance, was the 787; with the 737 MAX, Boeing hit the surface of the track.

So, Dennis. How's that workin' out for ya? How does the decision not to build a new plane look in retrospect? Ygeslias writes in Vox, in April:

Looking back, Boeing probably wishes it had just stuck with the "build a new plane" plan and toughed out a few years of rough sales, rather than ending up in the current situation. Right now the company is, in effect, trying to patch things up piecemeal -- a software update here, a new warning light there, etc. -- in hopes of persuading global regulatory agencies to let its planes fly again.

What Nader's focus on stock buybacks shows, is that Boeing had the capital to invest in developing a new plane . From Bloomberg in 2019 :

For Boeing and Airbus, committing to an all-new aircraft is a once-in-a-decade event. Costs are prohibitive, delays are the norm and payoff can take years to materialize. Boeing could easily spend more than $15 billion on the NMA, according to Ken Herbert, analyst with Canaccord Genuity, and Airbus may be forced into a clean-sheet design if sales take off.

The sales force has been fine-tuning the design with airlines for at least five years, creating a "will it or won't it?" drama around the decision on whether to make the plane, known internally at Boeing as the NMA, for new, middle-of-market airplane.

Now, it is true that the "huge and excruciatingly painful near-term obstacles" referred to by the Air Current are sales losses that Boeing would incur from putting a bullet into it's cash cow, the 737, before it turned into a dog (like now?). Nevertheless, Beoing was clearly capable, as Yglesias points put, of "tough[ing]out a few years of rough sales." So what else was "excruciatingly painful"? Losing the stock buybacks (and that sweet, sweet executive compensation). Readers, I wasn't cynical enough. I should have given consideration to the possibility that Muilenburg and his merry men were looting the company!

Nader on Muilenburg

Finally, from Nader's letter :

Consider, in addition, the statement of two Harvard scholars -- Leonard J. Marcus and Eric J. McNulty, authors of the forthcoming book, You're It: Crisis, Change, and How to Lead When it Matters Most. These gentlemen did not achieve their positions by using strong language. That is why, the concluding statement in their CNN article on March 27, 2019, merits your closer attention:

"Of course, if Boeing did not act in good faith in deploying the 737 Max and the Justice Department's investigation discovers Boeing cut corners or attempted to avoid proper regulatory reviews of the modifications to the aircraft, Muilenburg and any other executives involved should resign immediately. Too many families, indeed communities, depend on the continued viability of Boeing."

These preconditions have already been disclosed and are evidentially based. Your mismanagement is replete with documentation, including your obsession with shareholder value and executive compensation. There is no need to wait for some long-drawn out, redundant inquiry. Management was criminally negligent, 346 lives of passengers and crew were lost. You and your team should forfeit your compensation and should resign forthwith.

All concerned with aviation safety should have your public response.

I can't find anything to disagree with here. However, I'll quote from commenter Guido at Leeham News, March 29, 2019 :

What I don't understand: Muilenburg was the CEO when the MCAS code was implemented. Muilenburg was the CEO when Boeing "tweaked" the certification of the B737Max. It was the Boeing management that decided, that the B737Max must under no circumstances trigger simulator training for pilots.

Muilenburg has for sure not written the code for MCAS by himself, but as the CEO he is responsible for the mess. He is responsible, that the first version of MCAS was cheap and fast to implement, but not safe. It was basically Muilenburg, who allowed a strategy, that was basically: Profits and Quickness before safety. Muilenburg has the responsibility for 346 dead people. You can't kill 346 people with your new product and still be the highly paid CEO of the company. There have to be consequences.

Why are there no calls, that Muilenburg must step down?

Nader has now issued such a call. As [lambert preens modestly] did Naked Capitalism on March 19 .

Conclusion

Wrapping up, Muilenberg has plenty of other lawsuits to worry about :

However, a search of court documents and news reports shows the company is facing at least 34 claims from victims' families and one claim seeking class certification on behalf of shareholders. The claims allege Boeing is responsible for losses after installing an unsafe anti-stall system, called "MCAS" (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), on its 737 Max 8 planes, suspected to have played a role in both crashes. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said it was "apparent" the system had been activated in both crashes.

Added to the uncertainty of potential expenses for Boeing are pending regulator probes. The U.S. Justice Department initiated a criminal investigation into Boeing's Federal Aviation Administration certification, as well as how it marketed its 737 Max 8 planes. The U.S. Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General is also conducting an inquiry.

On April 9, the lawsuit seeking class certification was brought on behalf of shareholders who purchased Boeing stock between January 8, 2019 and March 21, 2019. The proposed class period covers a time frame beginning after the Lion Air crash, and extending beyond the Ethiopian Airlines crash, when Boeing's stock experienced a steep decline.

But then again, Muilenberg may know -- or think -- that Boeing, as a national champion, is too big to fail. So, if Boeing gracefully exits from the commercial aviation business, it may find the warm embrace of government contracting more comfortable. Perhaps that's why propaganda like this suddenly started showing up in my Twitter feed:

me title=

I suppose it's too much to ask that the CEO of a too-big-to-fail company be asked to resign, even if he did kill a lot of people. But if Nader can do with the 737 MAX, at the end of his career, what he did with the Corvair ("a one-car accident") , when he was coming up, everybody except for a cabal of looters and liars in Boeing's Chicago C-suite will be a lot better off. So we can hope.

APPENDIX 1: The Rosy Scenario

From Ask the Pilot :

I keep going back to the DC-10 fiasco in the 1970s.

In 1974, in one of the most horrific air disasters of all time, a THY (Turkish Airlines) DC-10 crashed after takeoff from Orly Airport outside Paris, killing 346 people. The accident was traced to a faulty cargo door design. (The same door had nearly caused the crash of an American Airlines DC-10 two years earlier.) McDonnell Douglas had hurriedly designed a plane with a door that it knew was defective, then, in the aftermath of Paris, tried to cover the whole thing up. It was reckless, even criminal. Then, in 1979, American flight 191, also a DC-10, went down at Chicago-O'Hare, killing 273 -- to this day the deadliest air crash ever on U.S. soil -- after an engine detached on takeoff. Investigators blamed improper maintenance procedures (including use of a forklift to raise the engine and its pylon), and then found pylon cracks in at least six other DC-10s, causing the entire fleet to be grounded for 37 days. The NTSB cited "deficiencies in the surveillance and reporting procedures of the FAA," as well as production and quality control problems at McDonnell Douglas.

That's two of history's ten deadliest air crashes, complete with design defects, a cover-up, and 619 dead people. And don't forget the 737 itself has a checkered past, going back to the rudder problems that caused the crash of USAir flight 427 in 1994 (and likely the crash of United flight 585 in 1991). Yet the DC-10, the 737, and America's aviation prestige along with them, have persevered. If we survived the those scandals we can probably manage this. I have a feeling that a year from now this saga will be mostly forgotten. Boeing and its stock price will recover, the MAX will be up and flying again, and on and on we go.

This is how it happens.

Maybe. But in 1974, the United States was commercial aviation. Airbus had launched its first plane, the A300 , only in 1972. We were also an imperial hegemon in a way we are not now. For myself, I can't help noticing that it was Boeing's takeover of a wretched, corrupt McDonnell Douglas -- the famous reverse takeover -- that ultimately turned Boeing from an engineering company into a company driven by finance. With resulits that we see.

APPENDIX 2: The Stumo Complaint

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ChristopherJ , April 28, 2019 at 4:20 pm

The fact that the CEO and the Board have not resigned just shows everyone that they lack all the essential characteristics of human beings.
Stock buybacks should be illegal. Profits should only be distributed via dividends or reinvested. The fact that companies can do this shows how corrupted our governments are.
The rest of the world may forget this one. I won't and there are millions like me who will never step aboard a boeing plane again.
The only thing that will save this company now is the US govt, which is likely.

JBird4049 , April 28, 2019 at 5:00 pm

Boeing's management is not going to jail and likely will keep their jobs. The deaths of over three hundred people means nothing. They are not even American and probably only middle class so they don't have connections to use. The "American" company Boeing has both money and connections.

Money gives you rights and if you don't have it, you are not even a human being.

Just look at 2008. The Vampiric Octopus called Wall Street was saved by the Feds with almost no one going to jail, or even criminally prosecuted. The exceptions of an innocent small community bank in NYC and some low level employees of a very few loan companies. The entire planetary economy came to with in hours of freezing and then collapsing. Millions of Americans lost homes, often through questionably legal foreclosures, with many millions more losing their jobs.

Nothing going to change and I wish I could believe otherwise.

DHG , April 28, 2019 at 5:33 pm

So I should just fire up my own money press then as should everyone else Money was invented as a limiter by the ancient church then adopted by governments.. Money isnt necessary to live and it will b thrown overboard soon enough.

Plenue , April 28, 2019 at 9:03 pm

"Money was invented as a limiter by the ancient church then adopted by governments"

Er, what?

JBird4049 , April 28, 2019 at 11:42 pm

I think money as a concept arose in Sumer about 6-7 thousand years ago with the clay receipts given by the temple of the local city's patron god for livestock and grain stored there.

But my knowledge of money's history is limited. If anyone wants to correct or clarify, please do.

animalogic , April 29, 2019 at 5:34 am

Might be wrong but think (if my memory of Gerber serves) you refer to credit/debt. Actual money (coin) I think arose along side the use of large scale Armies (armies are both highly mobile & inherently amorphous -- ie people come & go, die, are wounded, loot must be traded etc, all of which is difficult in the absence of currency)

The Rev Kev , April 28, 2019 at 8:37 pm

Stock buybacks were once illegal because they are a type of stock market manipulation. But then Reagan got in and wanted to do his banker buddies a favour-

https://mavenroundtable.io/theintellectualist/news/stock-buybacks-were-once-illegal-why-are-they-legal-now-sHh6HZjtyk2styG-qLgnQg/

To think that Boeing has Ralph Nader of all people on their case. With apologies to Liam Neeson, Nader might be saying to Muilenberg right now: "If you are looking for (forgiveness), I can tell you I don't have (forgiveness). But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you go now, that'll be the end of it."
That sounds like good advice that.

drumlin woodchuckles , April 28, 2019 at 9:03 pm

Re-outlawing the "Stock Buyback" would be one useful reNew The Deal reform. Outlawing compensation in stocks, options, or etc. of any kind except money would be another useful Newer Deal reform. Both together would force-multiply each other's effect.

I hope the four Old Real Democrats have people reading these threads and taking any possibly-good ideas back to headquarters. I hope the New Catfood Democrats and their people aren't spying or eavesdropping on these threads.

JerryDenim , April 28, 2019 at 4:52 pm

Wow. Great post Lambert and nice job Mr Nader!

I love how Nader brings stock buy-backs into his letter and basically connects the dots from a recklessly designed aircraft system full circle to an indictment of our current shareholder value system of capitalism and its perverse incentive structure which includes safety shortcuts and runaway executive compensation. Such a perfect case study for this site!

I think Nader really should beat the drum heavily on the perverse incentive structure at Boeing and how executives shortchanged safety to grab more money for themselves because that's an easy story for a jury to understand. I see where Nader is going with the inherently "stall prone" aerodynamic design stuff, and he's not wrong, but I think he may be treading on dangerous ground. Automatic stabilizer trimming systems designed to overcome the negative aerodynamic attributes of the new 737 Max wing/engine design is a confusing rabbit hole for the lay person. Boeing attorneys and expert witnesses may be able to twist the jury's head into a pretzel on this issue. The debate and discussion here concerning process, decision making, design philosophy etc at Boeing has generally been of very high quality, but has a tendency to go off the rails when the discussion dives too deeply into the subject matter of aerodynamics and aircraft systems. I could see the same dynamic playing out in the courtroom. Nader is the master class-action consumer advocacy attorney not me, but I think he should go heavy buybacks and whistle blower warnings while avoiding unforced errors arguing over the not-so-important point of whether or not the 737 Max crashed because it was stall prone or because it was too stall adverse. Two brand new Boeings crashed, people died, Boeing was greedy, Boeing was hasty, the MCAS trim system was garbage and probably criminal. He's got a slam dunk case arguing the MCAS trim system with a single point of failure was poorly designed and recklessly conceived, I think he should just stick to that and the greed angle and avoid the stall prone vs. stall adverse debate. I wish him luck.

Darius , April 28, 2019 at 10:19 pm

They screwed up the plane design then thought an extra layer of software would ameliorate the problem enough. It sucks but it's probably just good enough. Seems pretty simple.

Darius , April 28, 2019 at 10:40 pm

They effed up the hardware and thought they could paper it over with more software. But at least the shareholders and executives did well.

Alex V , April 29, 2019 at 1:15 am

As JerryDenim touched on, a good defense lawyer would probably be able to defeat this argument in front of a jury. There are too many examples of successful and safe commercial aircraft with aerodynamic compromises (the hardware, as you call it) that use software fixes to overcome these limitations. The focus in this case would need to be on the implementation of that software and how criminal neglect occurred there.

JerryDenim , April 29, 2019 at 3:31 am

Boeing's attorneys are going to try and make any lawsuits a question of why the airplanes ultimately crashed. I hate to spoil it for anyone, but I can tell you Boeing's attorneys are going to blame it all on the pilots. Airlines and airplane manufactures always do. Nothing new. Dead pilots can't defend themselves, their families don't have millions in the bank and they aren't going to be placing any billion dollar aircraft orders in the future. If anyone has read my frequently maligned comments, you already know the line of attack. Not following the runaway trim procedures and overspeeding the aircraft with takeoff thrust set. That's why Nader or anyone else pursuing Boeing would do well to sidestep the "why did two Boeing 737 Max Jets crash" question and stick to the details surrounding the horribly flawed MCAS trim system and the Boeing corporate greed story. Steer clear of the pilots' actions and the potentially confusing aerodynamics of modern jetliners, keep the focus squarely on the MCAS trim system design process and executive greed.

animalogic , April 29, 2019 at 5:55 am

Anyone prosecuting Boeing will have to deal with Boeing's defence, which as noted, will play up the commoness of such technical compromises. I do wonder whether Boeing will go after the pilots, though.
Any pilots argument naturally raises Boeing's negligence re : training, flight manuals & communication. The prosecution case will naturally play up the greed aspect as cause/motivation/
context for the crashes & Boeing's direct responsibility /negligence.

Alex V , April 29, 2019 at 7:49 am

The defense would likely also pull in the airlines and FAA as targets for liability, as both have some responsibility for these matters. Attacking the FAA would be fodder for the de-regulators (Privatize it! Government is incompetent!). The airlines would complain that competition forces them to cut costs, and that they meet all of the (gutted) legal requirements.

Alex V , April 29, 2019 at 1:44 am

I agree with focusing on the greed aspect. Nader's letter has some technical errors such as stating the engines were tilted (they were moved horizontally and vertically, not rotated) that show he hasn't fully understood the details. It doesn't help that many of the changes made to the 737 MAX from previous generations are actually quite subtle, and can't really be discussed individually for this context. It is the sum of these changes that made it an extremely deadly aircraft.

Norb , April 29, 2019 at 8:55 am

The other failure/business feature is the concept of modularity. The software designed to fix the aerodynamic complexities is broken down into modular components, and then sold off as "options". Once again greed sabotages the system. Modularity is a great way to gouge customers and lock in higher profits. The level of technical competence needed to properly evaluate what modules are essential complicates the outcome. But then again, this can be rationalized as a feature not a bug. Blame for failure can be passed around- the customer should have purchased the entire package.

The runaway externalities emanating from the current form of capitalism as practiced in the US must be reigned in. Voluntary compliance to some sort of moral code is useless- worse than useless in that corrupt operators can hide behind lame excuses for failure.

The bigger problem is that Government regulations could solve these problems quickly, as in throwing people in jail and confiscating their property. A strong argument can be made for ill-gotten gains. I surely would vote for that if given the chance. Deal drugs and you can loose your home. What about conscious business decisions
leading to harm?

You need a strong force external to these business concerns for this to happen. The separation of government and business. Business should operate at the will of the government. When the government is run with the wellbeing of the people foremost, then issues like crashing planes can be rectified.

When the interests of business and government merge, then what you have is fascism. American fascism will have a happy face. These unfortunate problems of crashing planes and polluted environments will trundle along into the future. Billionaires will continue to accumulate their billions while the rest of us will trundle along.

But one day, trundling along won't be an option. Maybe only outsiders to the US system can see this clearly.

Ray Duray , April 28, 2019 at 7:07 pm

You ask: "So when the original 737 was designed, did the engineers have the option of using these larger engines? Did they decline to do so because it was a flawed design?"

The larger engines currently in use on the 737 Max 8 were not designed until recently. They did not decline because the current engine wasn't even invented.

Here's an abbreviated design history: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_737#Engines

Edward , April 28, 2019 at 7:31 pm

I guess what I am wondering is if the original designers of the 737 had the option of designing a more powerful engine similar to that used in the 737 MAX but declined to do so. No doubt engine technology has advanced during the 50 years since the first 737's were built. Could the engineers 50 years ago have designed engines like those on the 737 MAX? If so, what were there reasons for not doing so?

I also have a second question. I have been told that stalling can be prevented by placing small wings at the front of an airplane. Would such a design have resolved the problems with the 737 MAX?

Plenue , April 28, 2019 at 9:14 pm

Fifty years of technological improvement, yes. The new engines aren't more powerful, they're more fuel efficient. Airbus had put more fuel efficient engines on its planes, so Boeing rushed new engines of its own into service to compete.

But they're really too large to be mounted on the 737; they mess up the center of gravity. MCAS was a janky software fix to solve a fundamental hardware problem, because Boeing didn't want to design a new plane.

And it didn't want to lose money by requiring airlines to retrain pilots, it sold the plane with the new engines as being exactly the same as the old, a painless upgrade.

Alex V , April 29, 2019 at 4:48 am

Canards, as the small wings at the front of aircraft are sometimes called, would likely not have been a fix in this case. There are some light aircraft that use these for stall prevention by utilizing the aerodynamic properties of the wing. Since a stall (absence of lift) is often caused by the nose of aircraft being too high, you can design the canard so that it stalls before the main wing. Thus it's difficult for the whole plane to stall, since the nose will sink when the canard loses lift first and returns the plane to a more appropriate attitude. An example here:

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

And explanation of canards here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canard_(aeronautics)

In high performance aircraft canards are used to increase maneuverability by providing another control surface.

We generally don't see them in commercial aircraft for a few reasons:

These are of course all very coarse generalizations – engineering is all about making technical and economic trade-offs.

A radical example of what can be accomplished by a combination of aerodynamics and software is the B-2 bomber – only one main wing, no tail or canards. I know, it has ejection seats but I sincerely doubt any aeronautical engineer has ever sat down and thought, "Hm, well, that's a sketchy design, but screw it, they can just eject if I messed up".

Edward , April 29, 2019 at 9:56 am

Thanks for this clear explanation. Would it make sense to locate the canards on the cockpit roof?

Alex V , April 29, 2019 at 10:44 am

Possibly, here's an example, although these fold as well:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tupolev_Tu-144

There have been many concept aircraft that also had them mounted high.

Edward , April 29, 2019 at 1:58 pm

So would Boeing have to design a new plane to use canards? It would probably require the 737 MAX pilots to have new training. Boeing also seemed to want to hide the instability problem and the canards would be visual evidence for the problem.

Synoia , April 28, 2019 at 7:14 pm

The 737 Was designed in the '60. High bypass turbo fan engines had yet to be developed then. Upgrading the 737 is like adding a plug in hybrid engine to a Ford F100.

Alex V , April 29, 2019 at 4:19 am

The original 737 was designed to be quite low to the ground, to allow for easier boarding in an era before widespread jetway use (models have even been offered with integrated pull out boarding stairs), and to allow for more accessible servicing.

This worked well with the engines of the time, which were often low bypass turbofans, and thus smaller in diameter. This combination of height and engines made sense for the market it was designed.

Most modern commercial engines are high bypass turbofans, and therefore larger in diameter. The move to larger fan diameters has been enabled by advances in materials, manufacturing technology, and simulation software, with the goal of increasing engine power and efficiency.

Another factor influencing the engine size that can be used without extensive redesign is the landing gear operation. Because it folds towards the centerline of the plane, and into pockets in the bottom of the fuselage, there is a limit on how long it can be before it becomes too long and each side would collide with the other. And one would need to redesign the wing box structure to accommodate the moved wheels.

VietnamVet , April 28, 2019 at 6:24 pm

Exactly. This is a textbook case of the looting of America.

The $30 billion dollars made by cutting costs including quality inspection, using an existing airframe, tax cuts and ignoring safety went directly to stock buybacks that benefited stockholders and C-suite compensation.

Just like 2008 Boeing is "too big to fail and jailing the executives would cause it to collapse". Unless Americans demand an end to the corruption and the restoration of the rule of law; the plundering will continue until there is nothing left to live on. Boeing could have designed two brand new safe airliners with that cash that would have provided jobs and efficient transportation into the future but instead the money went into the pockets of the connected rich and killed 346 people.

JBird4049 , April 28, 2019 at 8:39 pm

What really gets me is that ultimately that would have given the fools more money because the orders would have kept on coming and probably increase, which would mean more profit and more compensation for everyone. Of course that would have taken a few years instead of immediately. So now the compensation is going to crash. Oh wait! They will just sell again to themselves, strip the company, and sell the nameplate still affixed to some ruin.

I am starting to understand why the Goths had no resistance when in Italy and during the sack the city of Rome. Centuries earlier the Republic and then the Empire routinely raised multiple armies and dealt with catastrophes both natural and man made. At the end, not only could they not readily create an another army, they could not repair the aqueducts. Like we are becoming, Rome became a hollow shell.

drumlin woodchuckles , April 28, 2019 at 9:09 pm

And probably the only stockholders who even benefited would be the individual or family-dynasty rich stockholders who own many thousands to millions of shares of a particular stock at a time. It takes ownership of that many shares for a tiny benefit-per-share to add up to thousands or millions of tiny little benefits-per-share.

People with pensions or 401ks or whatever may well involuntarily "own" 2 or 3 or maybe 10 shares "apiece" of Boeing. But they derived no benefit from the tiny little benefit per share this maneuver gained for the shares.

ChrisPacific , April 28, 2019 at 7:13 pm

Re: appendix 3, over-steer is counter-intuitive as hell. Once it's underway you have to steer left during a right turn and vice versa. I have watched race drivers do it (very skillfully) at the track, but there is no way I would want to be in a car that did that in a pressure or potential accident situation without a lot of training beforehand.

dearieme , April 28, 2019 at 7:19 pm

"your obsession with shareholder value": shareholder value is not being attended to if the company is driven into the ground by virtue of its planes being driven into the ground.

Clearly the definition of "shareholder value" that these bozos use is as defective as their engineering decision-making.

Hang a few of them pour encourager les autres . And hang a few of the regulators who thought it would be a dandy idea to let the firm regulate itself.

drumlin woodchuckles , April 28, 2019 at 9:11 pm

And hang a few of the lawmakers and lawbuyers who legislatively de-budgeted and money-starved FAA into this " turn it over to the plane-makers" corner as well.

Late Introvert , April 28, 2019 at 9:19 pm

I noticed that Boeing is incorporated in the great state of Delaware. Ah-hem.

dearieme , April 29, 2019 at 11:46 am

Oh well, change their name to BidenAir.

oaf , April 28, 2019 at 9:15 pm

There is another case of air disaster often referred to in what is known as *Human Factors* training a L-1011 which *descended* into the glades; while the crew tried to sort out a problem with a light bulb. I suggest familiarizing with it for perspective. (not to exonerate Boeing; just to encourage keeping an open mind)

JerryDenim , April 29, 2019 at 3:09 am

Ahhh, the infamous Captain Buddy. Immortal tyrant of early CRM training fame

Lambert's mention of the DC-10 and it's fatally flawed, explosive decompressing cargo door sent me down a hole of DC-10 disasters and accident reports. Some of those DC-10 incidents like America Airlines flight 96 could have been major tragedies but were saved by level heads and airmanship that by today's standards would be considered exceptional. The AA 96 crew landed safely with no fatalities after an explosive decompression, a partially collapsed floor and severely compromised flight controls. The crew had to work together and use non-standard asymmetrical thrust and control inputs to overcome the effects of a stuck, fully deflected rudder and a crippled elevator. The pilots of the ill fated United flight 232, another DC-10, are celebrated exemplars of the early CRM case studies, both crew members and a United DC-10 instructor pilot who happened to be occupying the jumpseat all worked together to heroically crash land their horribly stricken craft in Sioux City Iowa with only partial aileron control and assymetrical thrust to control the airplane. No elevator, no rudder control. A good number of passengers perished but most lived. Those pilots in the two instances I mentioned were exceptional, and they had to resort to exceptional means to control their aircraft, but in light of airmanship of that caliber from just a few decades ago, it blows my mind that in 2019 the mere suggestion that professional airline pilots should probably still be capable of moving the thrust levers during a trim emergency is somehow controversial enough to expose oneself to charges of racism and bias?! Different times indeed.

Boeing 737 Max aside, airplanes seem to be a lot safer these days than they were in the 1970's and 80's. Widespread acceptance and adoption of CRM/TEM has made personalities like Captain Buddy and many bad cockpit automation practices relics from the past, but automation itself still looks to be increasingly guilty of deskilling professional pilot ranks. In light of that trend, it's a really good thing passenger jets in 2019 are more reliable than the DC-10 and easier to land than the MD-11.

The Rev Kev , April 29, 2019 at 12:53 am

Two more links on the saga of the 737 MAX-

"The Boeing 737 Max crashes show that 'deteriorating pilot skills' may push airlines to favor Airbus" at https://www.businessinsider.com/boeing-737-max-crashes-deteriorating-pilot-skills-airbus-2019-4/?r=AU&IR=T

"Southwest and FAA officials never knew Boeing turned off a safety feature on its 737 Max jets, and dismissed ideas about grounding them" at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/boeing-737-max-safety-features-disable-southwest-grounding-discussions-2019-4

JerryDenim , April 29, 2019 at 3:55 am

Deteriorating pilot skills. Yep. Now you're getting it. Problem is, more automation equals more pilot skill degradation. Everything is just peachy with highly automated "idiot proof" airplanes until something breaks, then who is supposed to fly the plane if the pilots can't? The flight attendants? Whoever is sitting in 1A? Airbus airplanes malfunction too, as documented in a number of well publicized disasters and not-so-well publicized near disasters, so while this may be an effective marketing pitch to an airline executive not able or not willing to pay for highly skilled, experienced pilots, it's not a solution to a pilot skill crisis. Long term, it makes the situation worse.

The Rev Kev , April 29, 2019 at 10:05 am

Personally I believe in training the hell out of pilots because if I get into a plane, I want a pilot at the controls and not an airplane-driver. I would bet that even I could be trained to fly an aircraft where most of the functions are automated but when things go south, that is when you want a pilot in control. Training is expensive but having an ill-trained pilot in the cockpit is even more expensive.

Alex V , April 29, 2019 at 1:09 am

A thought . A completely fresh plane design is not necessarily safer. There is aways a trade off between innovation and proven reliability. It is surprisingly rare for an entirely new aircraft family to be introduced without at least one problem that threatens (but does not always take) lives.

tim , April 29, 2019 at 3:28 am

787 and 737 MAX are not the only problems Boeing have had.

The 737 NG (Next Generation) airplane using composite materials for the aircraft body, was also outsourced, The idea was that the Body parts would be built to exacting specifications, so they could be connected at the stage of final assembly. However, the sub-contractor couldn't live up to the specifications, so Boeing had to manually re-drill holes to connect the fuselage parts.

Not long after we had a series of crashes, where the fuselage broke up into its parts, something almost never seen before in airplanes.

youtube documentary from Australian SBS News:

Alex V , April 29, 2019 at 6:29 am

For clarity, the 737 NG does not have a composite fuselage.

http://www.b737.org.uk/production.htm

skippy , April 29, 2019 at 5:37 am

Umm the investors and market demanded the executive suite too engage in such behavior or suffer the consequences aka hyper reporting et al.

oaf , April 29, 2019 at 9:18 am

There are other Human Factors at play; regarding pilot ability Measuring ability by simply looking at *hours flown* (often referred to as *experience*) is misleading. Relevant details might include just what types of experience. It is possible to get airline positions *ab initio*, or in-house, if you will (with 500 hours, (IIRC) OR:
Prospective pilots from private sector, or military, may be more likely to have diverse backgrounds; including Flight Instructor background, Upset Recovery training; Aerobatic flying; and Glider or sailplane background. These are not necessarily prerequisites for airline hires. Do they make a difference? in emergencies???

The change in Part 135 minimums for non ab-initio applicants has done little or nothing to improve safety. It did financially squeeze some very competent and capable career minded pilots out of the pipeline to the left front seat. (thanks chuck.)(f.u.) His feel-good legislation:*We're doing something about it!*

James McRitchie , April 29, 2019 at 9:22 am

It isn't just Boeing that is using share buybacks to goose CEO pay. Shareholders of American Express have an opportunity to vote to Deduct Impact of BuyBacks on Pay. See American Express 2019 Proxy Vote Recommendations

DJG , April 29, 2019 at 9:25 am

And lest we forget what a good corporate citizen Boeing is now that it has moved to Chicago to take advantage of the many, errrrr, advantages:

https://chicagoist.com/2017/04/28/boeing_pays_just_01_of_its_profits.php

Carolinian , April 29, 2019 at 10:03 am

But, but Nader made Al Gore lose in 2000. Good to see him out of the shadows (he has a podcst BTW).

While Boeing deserves every form of condemnation and Muilenberg should resign I do think the facts that were all laid out in that should-be-Pulitzer-winning Seattle Times series are being stretched a bit. The problem seems to be, not that the plane is prone to fall out of the sky, but that its handling characteristics differ from the earlier, ubiquitous, 737 models. MCAS is the defective part, and Boeing will pay plenty

tempar555510 , April 29, 2019 at 10:22 am

' But, but Nader made Al Gore lose in 2000. ' Please elucidate .

Tom , April 29, 2019 at 12:23 pm

Florida's presidential election in 2000 was expected to be close and likely to be decisive in the electoral college vote. Nader was a fairly popular third-party candidate for president in that election. Many supporters of Gore over Bush pleaded for Nader to exit that race and ask his supporters to vote for Gore. He did neither. In the end the margin of Bush's win in Florida was tiny, if it existed at all, so there was reason to be angry at Nader, as I was at the time, since if he had quit the race in that state, Gore would very likely have become president instead of Bush.

If you're into counterfactual teleology then you might say Nader's stubborn vanity therefore led to the Iraq and Afghan wars. I don't but it's worth being aware that some people do.

GF , April 29, 2019 at 1:52 pm

I can't find the link right now; but, it stated that after close study, most of the voters who voted for Nadar would not have voted for Gore and would have just sat out the election resulting in an even more pronounced victory for Bush. Gore's defeat came from his inability to win his home state of TN.

Carolinian , April 29, 2019 at 12:25 pm

Should have included the /sarc tag.

EoH , April 29, 2019 at 12:24 pm

Concurrence and causation are not the same.

The claim ignores other factors. Gore's lackadaisical campaign, for one, and its poor response to the BushCheney campaign's misuse of the legal system to stop the Florida recount.

It's not Gore's fault the Supreme Court's conservative majority chose to not let the FL supreme court determine what FL law means, and chose to decide the election itself. But his response to the Florida debacle was weak, like his campaign. That might be one reason so many people voted for Nader. That's on Al and on BushCheney.

Nels Nelson , April 29, 2019 at 11:42 am

Some additional information and clarification about the Corvair.

The Corvair had a rear mounted engine and rear wheel drive. This is a poor design from a handling perspective as the rear weight bias produces a pendulum effect making the Corvair prone to oversteer. This tendency was exacerbated by the Corvair's swing axle independent rear suspension with its inherent camber changes as the wheel moved up and down. These characteristics of the Corvair were deadly in that while cornering if you let off the accelerator, the engine brakes the rear wheels creating a condition called "throttle lift oversteer". Under this situation the counterintutive reaction should be to put your foot on the accelerator and not the brakes. Some of you may recall that comedian Ernie Kovacs was killed when his Corvair spun off the road in wet weather and hit a utility pole.

A paradox here is that the Porsche 911 has a design very similar to the Corvair, rear wheel drive, rear mounted engine and rear weight bias and is praised for its handling. The Corvair was sometimes referred to as a poor man's 911. It too was prone to severe and violent oversteer if the throttle was lifted while cornering but in the case of the 911 it was expected that the driver know that while cornering your foot stayed on the accelerator. As the horsepower of 911s increased over the years the tendency to oversteer was tamed by fitting larger tires on the rear wheels. With the advent of technologies like antilock braking systems ,traction control and advanced computers employing torque vectoring to control vehicle stablity, cars today do have their versions of MCAS and the Porsche can be referred to as a triumph of engineering over design.

marku52 , April 29, 2019 at 3:27 pm

The 911 had pivots at both ends of the stub axles. It would lift throttle oversteer (boy would it lift throttle oversteer -lots of fun if you knew what you were doing), but it would not do the jacking rear-end lift that the corvair (pivots only at the differential end of the half shaft) would do.

Oddly, the VW bug had the exact same layout but Ralph never went after it.

EoH , April 29, 2019 at 12:15 pm

Nader is right to point out the design flaws, which seem to have the potential to cascade into failure.

The new engine nacelles create unusual lift. Being placed forward of the center of lift, that causes the nose of the aircraft to rotate vertically upward. If uncorrected, that would cause the aircraft inappropriately to rise in altitude and/or to approach a stall.

The nacelle-induced lift increases with an increase in engine thrust. That increases speed and/or reduces the time the pilot has to react and to correct an inappropriate nose-up attitude.

Boeing seemed unable to correct that design problem through changes in the aircraft's shape or control surfaces. It corrected it, instead, by having the computer step in to fly the aircraft back into the appropriate attitude. Works when it works.

But Boeing seems to have forgotten a CompSci 101 problem: shit in, shit out. If the sensors feeding the computer report bad data, the computer will generate a bad solution. Boeing also seems to have designed the s/w to reset after manual attitude correction by the pilot, forcing a correction loop the pilots would not always win.

Boeing elected not to inform aircraft purchasers or their flight crews of their automated fix to their new aircraft's inherent instability problem. Murphy's Law being what it is – if something can go wrong, it will – the pilots should have been made aware of the recommended fix so that when something went wrong it, they would have a chance of fixing it with a routine response.

Boeing elected not to do that. In the short run, it avoided the need for expensive additional pilot training. In the long run, Boeing would have hoped to increase sales. When hoping for the best, it is normal practice to plan for the worst. Boeing seems not to have done that either.

The Heretic , April 29, 2019 at 4:41 pm

All this talk of CEO and top managment resignation . honestly they probably don't care. They have made millions, if not tens of millions of dollars on bonuses; they can retire once they walk out the door. To change the behaviour of the C-suite you must affect the C-suite directly, charge convict them with at least criminal negligence or worse.. A drunk driver who causes the accident will most likley go to jail if someone dies in the accident, how come a CEO and his mgmt team, can wilfully go against decades of engineering and aviation best practices that are codified, and still only have to resign??

Pat , April 29, 2019 at 7:07 pm

Reality check. Even with all this news . BA closed at:

$379.05 29 April 2019
$342.79 31 August 2018

Yeap the stock price is up from before the crashes. There are good reasons for the Boeing board to be indifferent – there is no punishment.

[Apr 28, 2019] Boeing Didn't Tell Southwest Or FAA That It Had Disabled Critical Safety Alerts On 737 MAX

Notable quotes:
"... The article also discusses how some frontline FAA safety inspectors wanted to ground the MAXes until the "AoA Disagree" indicators were re-enabled, but were overridden by higher-ups who insisted that it was not a primary safety feature. ..."
Apr 28, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Zachary Smith , Apr 28, 2019 3:58:25 PM | link

Here is a headline from a couple of days ago:

FAA could clear Boeing 737 MAX to fly again within weeks

Yes, the very last country to pull the 737-MAX out of use is going to be the first to put it back. There is some serious money being lost by Boeing and the Airlines, and they want to put a stop to it. This is all about millions and millions of Benjamins, for "they" are taking a shortct to save even more money.

A draft report by an FAA-appointed board of pilots, engineers and other experts concluded that pilots only need additional computer-based training to understand MCAS, rather than simulator time.

Simulators are EXPENSIVE, so the plan is to give the pilots a joystick and a computer, and maybe throw in some lectures and videos of other pilots using a real flight simulator. Are you ready to rush to reserve a flight?

This isn't a bad deal just for the flight crews and passengers, but the pure stench of it is contaminating other arenas. A Denier site I'm not going to link has managed to leverage the lack of regulator oversight by the FAA to lots of other places.

Planes, Automobiles, Bicycles, Homes, Hospitals, Schools, and Sidewalks Can All Be Made Unsafe by Mad Science, Rush to Market, and Corrupt Regulators

They don't include "vaccines" in that list because their readers understand perfectly well that if the FAA is a crap agency, why not the FDA as well? Much as I hate to admit it, the Deniers didn't have to break a sweat to score these perfectly valid points.

Does anyone imagine Volkswagen could have gotten away with all those years of cheating on their emissions if the regulators had been doing their jobs?

How did China get away with shipping that cancer-causing blood pressure medicine to the US for so many years? It's safe to assume some bored "regulator" was just waving the stuff on past without doing a single test.

This is going to cost us. I'm out of links, but here is a headline to consider.

Russia's Irkut aircraft manufacturer has posted the first video of a direct flight by its MS-21-300 airliner from Irkutsk to Ulyanovsk-Vostochny Airfield.

The brand-new Russian passenger craft is designed to transport up to 211 people over a distance of 6,400 kilometres.

There are competitors out there, and they can't be fended off by "sanctions" forever. Allowing unwatched & unregulated companies to run amok is going to hurt us all in the long term.

S , Apr 28, 2019 5:21:07 PM | link

There is a brand new Boeing piece at Naked Capitalism.

Ralph Nader Calls Out Boeing for 737 MAX Lack of Airworthiness, Stock Buybacks, and Demands Muilenburg Resign

Boeing management's behavior must be seen in the context of Boeing's use of its earned capital. Did you use the $30 billion surplus from 2009 to 2017 to reinvest in R&D, in new narrow-body passenger aircraft? Or did you, instead, essentially burn this surplus with self-serving stock buybacks of $30 billion in that period? Boeing is one of the companies that MarketWatch labelled as "Five companies that spent lavishly on stock buybacks while pension funding lagged. "

Feathering the Corporate Nest while stiffing the workers. Just what Wall Street loves. "Ugly" at Boeing isn't a 'skin deep' issue - it's that way clear to the bone!

Zachary Smith | Apr 28, 2019 4:28:00 PM

Boeing Didn't Tell Southwest Or FAA That It Had Disabled Critical Safety Alerts On 737 MAX

The article also discusses how some frontline FAA safety inspectors wanted to ground the MAXes until the "AoA Disagree" indicators were re-enabled, but were overridden by higher-ups who insisted that it was not a primary safety feature.

[Apr 27, 2019] Hate speach and neoliberal concept of utility

The concept of hate speech is a form of censorship, but censorship is not 'one size fit all" phenomenon. Something is is justified and even necessary. Sometimes it is just a demonstration of raw political power ("Might makes right") and suppressing of the dissent.
In any case the neoliberal interpretation of "hurt feelings" as justification for censorship is open to review.
Notable quotes:
"... It’s the greatest power of an ideology that it can seep into the worldview of those who claim to oppose it. ..."
Apr 27, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

I’m reading another article about debates over free speech on campus, this time at Williams College, an elite school in the northwestern corner of Massachusetts. A faculty petition asks to formalize and tighten the college’s policy on free speech by adopting the Chicago Principles, which state that “concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable those ideas may be to some members of our community.” Over three hundred students, however, have signed a counterpetition arguing that speech which harms minorities should not be allowed.

... ... ...


Peter Dorman

I fear my post was overly subtle. Let me be more explicit and see if that helps. My argument was not about “free speech versus social justice warriors” or anything of the sort. It was about a relatively new response to politics I saw first hand at Evergreen and have read about at other institutions.

I lived through the experience of hearing activists protesting against emails and statements at public meetings on the grounds they (the activists) were being subjected to emotional distress. Even more remarkably, no one else openly questioned the basis on which this argument rested. The whole tenor of discussion had shifted, and the line between public and private had apparently been redrawn such that the private criterion of “how does this make me feel” could be employed as a reason to suppress, or at least discourage, political action.

It struck me that this was the characteristic shift of neoliberalism, reinterpreting the public sphere as simply another venue for applying the hedonic calculus of individual pleasure/pain. (Virginia-style public choice theory does something similar but in a very different way.) I grant that much more was entailed at Evergreen, just as neoliberalism entails far more than this one characteristic; nevertheless, the it-makes-me-feel-bad argument for narrowing the public sphere is historically new—yes?—and coincides with the more general neoliberal view that “the political is personal”.

Our feelings of personal well-being become political criteria of what is right and wrong for the community, just as our political agency is reduced to personal choice. (What am I not supposed to buy? What is the right language for me to use when talking to someone of identity X?)

I don’t want to add more to the stew, but one further point is relevant. The stories, all of them, that have been disseminated about what happened at Evergreen during 2017 and the runup to those events are incomplete if not simply false. This includes the testimony of Bret Weinstein, who is factually correct about the direct experiences he underwent but has no clue about the forces and interests that instigated them. Suffice it to say that the faculty and perhaps students of the political left were mostly bystanders in this imbroglio. (Anecdotal evidence: my radical students were not involved, and my students who were involved were not the radicals.)

They may have taken sides after the event, but the conflict was not about leftism, Marxism, radicalism or even social justice in any substantive sense. That’s worth pointing out because it provides a further dimension to the argument I made in my post. No significant political change was either proposed during or eventuated from the 2017 protests, except the ongoing dismantling of some of the college’s more experimental features in the face of a devastating budget crisis.

I am trying to understand how an ostensibly political event could be so deeply anti-political. There are structural aspects I haven’t brought up and don’t have time or space for: who did what and through what institutional mechanisms, etc. In this post I am simply trying to identify some of the underlying assumptions behind the rhetoric.

Jeremy Grimm , April 26, 2019 at 3:50 pm

This post makes an interesting encapsulation of Neoliberalism: “life is an accumulation of moments of utility and disutility”. I am not convinced this formulation is sufficient to characterize Neoliberalism. How well would this formulation distinguish between Neoliberals and Epicures?

“Although Epicureanism is a form of hedonism insofar as it declares pleasure to be its sole intrinsic goal, the concept that the absence of pain and fear constitutes the greatest pleasure, and its advocacy of a simple life, make it very different from “hedonism” as colloquially understood.” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epicureanism]

Is ‘utility’ greatly different than ‘pleasure’ as Epicures frame that word?

I do like the last sentence of the post: “It’s the greatest power of an ideology that it can seep into the worldview of those who claim to oppose it.”...

Jeremy Grimm , April 26, 2019 at 4:57 pm

The topic of free speech per se free speech was excellently covered by Howard Zinn in his talk “Second Thoughts on the First Amendment”. [I received a copy of the mp3 of this speech as a premium from my contribution to Pacifica Radio WBAI. The lowest price mp3 or written transcript for the speech was at https://www.alternativeradio.org/products/zinh006/ transcript for $3 or mp3 download for $5.]

Zinn’s speech made it clear that free speech was no simple matter contained within the meaning of the words ‘free speech’. There are questions of the intent of speech — the effects of a speech … bad feelings? … inciting a riot — capacity for speech that spreads fear … spreading unwarranted panic the classic yelling “Fire” in a crowded building — questions of the forum? There is free speech on a street corner and free speech on television, and they differ greatly in kind, and there is defamatory and slanderous speech.

...The equation between speech and money our ‘Supremes’ made is little short of the complete debasement of the Supreme Court as a forum of jurisprudence. The ‘prudence’ must be expunges from any characterizations of their judgements FAVORABLE or otherwise. The Supreme Court does not interpret the laws of the land. Like our Legislatures they are ‘bought’ and ‘bot’ to the whims of money.


Adam Eran April 26, 2019 at 7:06 pm

I’d suggest the dispute is theological. Everyone wants a “higher power” to bless their particular approach. The neoliberal preference for comparing measurable effects, scoring them as costs or benefits, is the standard MBA religion. Why if you can’t measure it, it mustn’t exist!

The whole approach doesn’t require too much thinking, and has the imprimatur of “science” and “reason” both… Excellent gods, all. Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years makes a good case for the way our confusion of monetary with ethical comparisons has managed to bamboozle humanity for literally thousands of years. You see rich people deserve their wealth. They are good, and you can tell by the amount of money they have. See!

Code Name D, April 26, 2019 at 7:14 pm

Some speech has as its primary purpose making others suffer, through insult or instigating fear, and has little or no persuasive intent. That’s hate speech, and I don’t see a problem with curtailing it.

The problem is just about anything “becomes” “hate speach” as a means of censorship. Calling out Isrial’s influence on US politics becomes antisimitism. Being critical of Hillary is misogany. Hell, not liking Campain Marvel is an example of hate speach. Recently negative reviews of the movie were removed from Rotten Tomatos as an example.

You might imagin that a line could be drawn some where. But when ever you draw that line, it always migrates over time.

Sound of the Suburbs , April 27, 2019 at 6:58 am

Neoliberalism destroys itself, don't panic. A ridiculous economic model was rolled out globally that had no long term future. The standard debt fuelled growth model of neoliberalism. The UK:

https://cdn.opendemocracy.net/neweconomics/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2017/04/Screen-Shot-2017-04-21-at-13.53.09.png

Japan, UK, US, Euro-zone and China: At 25.30 mins you can see the super imposed private debt-to-GDP ratios.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAStZJCKmbU&list=PLmtuEaMvhDZZQLxg24CAiFgZYldtoCR-R&index=6

China has seen their Minsky Moment coming and the debt fuelled growth model can no longer be used. Adair Turner took over at the FSA when Lehman Brothers collapsed and this gave him the incentive to find out what was going on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCX3qPq0JDA

Adair Turner has looked at the situation prior to the crisis where advanced economies were growing by 4 – 5%, but the debt was rising at 10 – 15%. This always was an unsustainable growth model; it had no long term future.

After 2008, the emerging markets adopted the unsustainable growth model and they too have now reached the end of the line. We are trying to maintain an economic model that never had a long term future as it only worked by adding more and more debt in an unsustainable way. The debt didn't grow with GDP. How can banks grow GDP with bank credit?

The UK: https://cdn.opendemocracy.net/neweconomics/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2017/04/Screen-Shot-2017-04-21-at-13.53.09.png

Before 1980 – banks lending into the right places that result in GDP growth (business and industry, creating new products and services in the economy)

After 1980 – banks lending into the wrong places that don't result in GDP growth (real estate and financial speculation)

What happened in 1979?

The UK eliminated corset controls on banking in 1979 and the banks invaded the mortgage market and this is where the problem starts.

This is the key to a sustainable economic model that has a long term future as debt and GDP rise together.

Steve Ruis , April 27, 2019 at 8:57 am

I have a problem with any argument based upon hurt feelings. Just what the heck are "hurt feelings?" How do we tell when someone is sincere or faking said? How do we tell when someone is emotionally fragile? How do we tell when someone has distorted values (But Hitler is my hero!)? How do we shock college students out of their complacency? How do we challenge them with new ideas? Are we to stop talking about the theory of evolution because someone's religious sensibilities are offended?

Having said that it is my generation that jettisoned good manners and we are now suffering the affects of that. The foundation of communication is knowing your audience and how much information that can receive at a time and some forgoe any consideration of that effect to make a controversy where there is none. And political free speech is absolutely necessary if we are to be a country that governs ourselves.

The Heretic , April 27, 2019 at 2:41 pm

The free exchange of ideas, and the evolution of ideas via exposure of new facts and interpretations and disagreements is vitally important; all progress comes from this. However fake news, bullshit arguments, and its long lasting effects cannot be underestimated. An easy example of is the 'the measles vaccine causes autism' bullshit debacle, which both caused numerous children and adults to now needlessly contract measles and more importantly, caused ordinary people to doubt the integrity of the medical professionals, and even science in general.. the discussion needs to expand from between speaker and the hurt listener, to third parties who are listening, who may or may not have their agendas, but whose opinion can be shifted based on the debate.

Btw, tobacco industry bullshit, climate change denial bullshit, are other huge sources of untruth which has polluted the discussions of today

We need to have a discussion/teaching on how we can again have truthful debate, however painful, and be able to distinguish from bald lies , false narratives or bullshit which unfortunately clouds many debates.

We need to accept that the truth exists and that we must seek to discern it. We need a deep discussion on what is truth and how to search for it and understand it, realizing that although the truth exists, that one person's perception and experience of it may differ from that of Another persons. And we need this discussion and skill set to be widely distributed, in a sense like a mental vaccine to help combat against the Bullshit virus that pervades the discussion today.

martell , April 27, 2019 at 3:01 pm

I too have noticed a shift in rhetoric. A recent incident at my own institution comes to mind. A letter appeared in the student newspaper complaining about an awards ceremony for university athletes. Apparently, a male tennis player of color had given a speech in which he thanked the university for having provided him with the opportunity to sleep with lots of white women. The author of the letter of complaint, a female student-athlete of color who'd attended the ceremony, claimed that this made her feel "unsafe," and wondered why the university president, who was in attendance, had not put a stop to the offending speech. In the course of the discussion which followed publication of the letter, no university official publicly questioned whether the complaining student should have felt afraid in that setting (an awards ceremony on a university campus with hundreds of people, including the university president, in attendance). No university official publicly questioned whether feelings of fear, reasonable or not, are grounds for stopping a speech. Some faculty members did however create a circular letter supporting the complaining student and at least strongly suggesting official punitive actions against the offending student and his coaches. Debate then focused on whether his coaches should be fired.

Note that in this case the feelings in question are not just any unpleasant feelings. The problem with the offending speech was not that it provoked anger or sorrow. The problem was that it made her afraid. So, I'm skeptical of the explanation for the shift in rhetoric offered above, the one having to do with neoliberal habits of thought. Its not specific enough.

Peter Dorman , April 27, 2019 at 5:36 pm

Thanks for giving me a chance to take up a tangent I left out of the post in the interest of curtailing sprawl. The safety version of the I-feel-bad argument is interesting.

Here is one interpretation, very provisional. Despite its increasing popularity, the general claim that certain types of political debate or social expression should be off limits because it makes me feel uncomfortable has an uncertain status. Institutions don't have an explicit obligation to promote the moment-to-moment subjective well-being of participants. (Even neoliberal approaches to governance, like cost-benefit analysis, avoid this by basing their justification on postulates that identify current and prospective "utility", however dicey they may be in practice.)

Into the breach jumps the safety trope. Institutions do have an obligation to protect the safety of those they include and touch. Movements against rape and domestic violence as well as pathological police violence have invoked this responsibility, and rightly so. And student movements, in an apparent effort to establish a parallel, have expressed the feeling-bad argument as feeling-unsafe.

The problem, as you point out, is the difference between feeling and being unsafe. I'm not in a position to question whether you feel bad (I'm sure I would have felt furious if I had been in the awards ceremony you describe and heard a predatory remark like the athlete's), but I can question whether you really are as unsafe as you claim. (I agree with your point about the objective safety of being in the awards audience.) The catch, however, is that there is another cultural trope at work, the conflation of belief and knowledge. This is now firmly ensconced in the worldview of much of the left, or "left" as I would put it. It underlies the doctrine of positionality, transforming it from a version of ideology theory (which I respect) to an epistemology (which is preposterous). Come to think of it, its failure to admit the enormous sphere of intersubjectivity, the portion of reality we share and is subject to the rules of evidence, has a sort of neoliberal (specifically Hayekian) tinge to it.

So no, you don't get to say, "Actually, you are quite safe here." There is no shared reality to examine that could possibly overrule someone's feeling that they are unsafe. I have had this exact conversation with several students, but I also see versions of it in the popular media and even in a lot of "scholarly" work. The mantra of those faculty and administrators supporting (or in some cases collaborating with) protesters at Evergreen was "listen to the students", as if what we hear -- and yes, of course we should listen to them -- was thereby the factual state of the college we had to respond to. It's also a reason why about a tenth of the student body, which excluded many or most of the radicals (see above), had to be referred to as "the students". The "subjective perception = reality" formulation is incoherent in the face of competing, incompatible subjective perceptions.

There's always more, but I should stop here.

[Apr 27, 2019] Why despite widespread criticism, neoliberalism remains the dominant politico-economic theory amongst policy-makers both in the USA and internationally

Highly recommended!
Apr 27, 2019 | angrybearblog.com

My reading is that the core psychological principle of neoliberalism, that life is an accumulation of moments of utility and disutility, is alive and well within certain sectors of the "left". A speech (or email or comment at a meeting) should be evaluated by how it makes us feel, and no one should have the right to make us feel bad.

Not sure about this "utility/disutility" dichotomy (probably you mean market fundamentalism -- belief that market ( and market mechanisms) is a self regulating, supernaturally predictive force that will guide human beings to the neoliberal Heavens), but, yes, neoliberalism infected the "left" and, especially, Democratic Party which was converted by Clinton into greedy and corrupt "DemoRats' subservient to Wall Street and antagonistic to the trade unions. And into the second War Party, which in certain areas is even more jingoistic and aggressive then Republicans (Obama color revolution in Ukraine is one example; Hillary Libya destruction is another; both were instrumental in unleashing the civil war on Syria and importing and arming Muslim fundamentalists to fight it).

It might make sense to view neoliberalism as a new secular religion which displaced Marxism on the world arena (and collapse of the USSR was in part the result of the collapse of Marxism as an ideology under onslaught of neoliberalism; although bribes of USSR functionaries and mismanagement of the economy due to over centralization -- country as a single gigantic corporation -- also greatly helped) .

Neoliberalism demonstrates the same level of intolerance (and actually series of wars somewhat similar to Crusades) as any monotheistic religion in early stages of its development. Because at this stage any adept knows the truth and to believe in this truth is to be saved; everything else is eternal damnation (aka living under "authoritarian regime" ;-) .

And so far there is nothing that will force the neoliberal/neocon Torquemadas to abandon their loaded with bombs jets as the tool of enlightenment of pagan states ;-)

Simplifying, neoliberalism can be viewed an a masterfully crafted, internally consistent amalgam of myths and pseudo theories (partially borrowed from Trotskyism) that justifies the rule of financial oligarchy and high level inequality in the society (redistribution of the wealth up). Kind of Trotskyism for the rich with the same idea of Permanent Revolution until global victory of neoliberalism.

That's why neoliberals charlatans like Hayek and Friedman were dusted off, given Nobel Prizes and promoted to the top in economics: they were very helpful and pretty skillful in forging neoliberal myths. Especially Hayek. A second rate economist who proved to be the first class theologian .

Promoting "neoliberal salvation" was critical for the achieving the political victory of neoliberalism in late 1979th and discrediting and destroying the remnants of the New Deal capitalism (already undermined at this time by the oil crisis)

Neoliberalism has led to the rise of corporate (especially financial oligarchy) power and an open war on labor. New Deal policies aimed at full employment and job security have been replaced with ones that aim at flexibility in the form of unstable employment, job loss and rising inequality.

This hypotheses helps to explain why neoliberalism as a social system survived after its ideology collapsed in 2008 -- it just entered zombie stage like Bolshevism after WWII when it became clear that it can't achieve higher standard of living for the population then capitalism.

Latest mutation of classic neoliberalism into "national neoliberalism" under Trump shows that it has great ability to adapt to the changing conditions. And neoliberalism survived in Russia under Putin and Medvedev as well, despite economic rape that Western neoliberals performed on Russia under Yeltsin with the help of Harvard mafia.

That's why despite widespread criticism, neoliberalism remains the dominant politico-economic theory amongst policy-makers both in the USA and internationally. All key global neoliberal global institutions, such as the G20, European Union, IMF, World bank, and WTO still survived intact and subscribe to neoliberalism. .

Neoliberalism has led to the rise of corporate (especially financial oligarchy) power and an open war on labor. New Deal policies aimed at full employment and job security have been replaced with ones that aim at flexibility in the form of unstable employment, job loss and rising inequality.

This hypotheses helps to explain why neoliberalism as a social system survived after its ideology collapsed in 2008 -- it just entered zombie stage like Bolshevism after WWII when it became clear that it can't achieve higher standard of living for the population then capitalism.

Latest mutation of classic neoliberalism into "national neoliberalism" under Trump shows that it has great ability to adapt to the changing conditions.

that's why despite widespread criticism, neoliberalism remains the dominant politico-economic theory amongst policy-makers both in the USA and internationally. All key global neoliberal global institutions, such as the G20, European Union, IMF, World bank, and WTO still survived intact and subscribe to neoliberalism. .

[Apr 25, 2019] Mish Boeing 737 Max Unsafe To Fly, New Scathing Report By Pilot, Software Designer

Apr 25, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk,

A pilot with 30 years of flying experience and 40 years of design experience rips decisions made by Boeing and the FAA.

Gregory Travis, a software developer and pilot for 30 years wrote a scathing report on the limitations of the 737, and the arrogance of software developers unfit to write airplane code.

Travis provides easy to understand explanations including a test you can do by sticking your hand out the window of a car to demonstrate stall speed.

Design shortcuts meant to make a new plane seem like an old, familiar one are to blame.

This was all about saving money. Boeing and the FAA pretend the 737-Max is the same aircraft as the original 737 that flew in 1967, over 50 years ago.

Travis was 3 years old at the time. Back then, the 737 was a smallish aircraft with smallish engines and relatively simple systems. The new 737 is large and complicated.

Boeing cut corners to save money. Cutting corners works until it fails spectacularly.

Aerodynamic and Software Malpractice

Please consider How the Boeing 737 Max Disaster Looks to a Software Developer . Emphasis is mine.

The original 737 had (by today's standards) tiny little engines, which easily cleared the ground beneath the wings. As the 737 grew and was fitted with bigger engines, the clearance between the engines and the ground started to get a little um, tight.

With the 737 Max, the situation became critical. The engines on the original 737 had a fan diameter (that of the intake blades on the engine) of just 100 centimeters (40 inches); those planned for the 737 Max have 176 cm. That's a centerline difference of well over 30 cm (a foot), and you couldn't "ovalize" the intake enough to hang the new engines beneath the wing without scraping the ground.

The solution was to extend the engine up and well in front of the wing. However, doing so also meant that the centerline of the engine's thrust changed. Now, when the pilots applied power to the engine, the aircraft would have a significant propensity to "pitch up," or raise its nose. This propensity to pitch up with power application thereby increased the risk that the airplane could stall when the pilots "punched it"

Worse still, because the engine nacelles were so far in front of the wing and so large, a power increase will cause them to actually produce lift, particularly at high angles of attack. So the nacelles make a bad problem worse.

I'll say it again: In the 737 Max, the engine nacelles themselves can, at high angles of attack, work as a wing and produce lift. And the lift they produce is well ahead of the wing's center of lift, meaning the nacelles will cause the 737 Max at a high angle of attack to go to a higher angle of attack. This is aerodynamic malpractice of the worst kind.

It violated that most ancient of aviation canons and probably violated the certification criteria of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. But instead of going back to the drawing board and getting the airframe hardware right, Boeing relied on something called the "Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System," or MCAS.

It all comes down to money , and in this case, MCAS was the way for both Boeing and its customers to keep the money flowing in the right direction. The necessity to insist that the 737 Max was no different in flying characteristics, no different in systems, from any other 737 was the key to the 737 Max's fleet fungibility. That's probably also the reason why the documentation about the MCAS system was kept on the down-low.

Put in a change with too much visibility, particularly a change to the aircraft's operating handbook or to pilot training, and someone -- probably a pilot -- would have piped up and said, "Hey. This doesn't look like a 737 anymore." And then the money would flow the wrong way.

When the flight computer trims the airplane to descend, because the MCAS system thinks it's about to stall, a set of motors and jacks push the pilot's control columns forward. It turns out that the Elevator Feel Computer can put a lot of force into that column -- indeed, so much force that a human pilot can quickly become exhausted trying to pull the column back, trying to tell the computer that this really, really should not be happening .

MCAS is implemented in the flight management computer, even at times when the autopilot is turned off, when the pilots think they are flying the plane. I n a fight between the flight management computer and human pilots over who is in charge, the computer will bite humans until they give up and (literally) die . Finally, there's the need to keep the very existence of the MCAS system on the hush-hush lest someone say, "Hey, this isn't your father's 737," and bank accounts start to suffer.

Those lines of code were no doubt created by people at the direction of managers.

In a pinch, a human pilot could just look out the windshield to confirm visually and directly that, no, the aircraft is not pitched up dangerously. That's the ultimate check and should go directly to the pilot's ultimate sovereignty. Unfortunately, the current implementation of MCAS denies that sovereignty. It denies the pilots the ability to respond to what's before their own eyes.

In the MCAS system, the flight management computer is blind to any other evidence that it is wrong, including what the pilot sees with his own eyes and what he does when he desperately tries to pull back on the robotic control columns that are biting him, and his passengers, to death.

The people who wrote the code for the original MCAS system were obviously terribly far out of their league and did not know it. How can they can implement a software fix, much less give us any comfort that the rest of the flight management software is reliable?

So Boeing produced a dynamically unstable airframe, the 737 Max. That is big strike No. 1. Boeing then tried to mask the 737's dynamic instability with a software system. Big strike No. 2. Finally, the software relied on systems known for their propensity to fail (angle-of-attack indicators) and did not appear to include even rudimentary provisions to cross-check the outputs of the angle-of-attack sensor against other sensors, or even the other angle-of-attack sensor. Big strike No. 3.

None of the above should have passed muster. It is likely that MCAS, originally added in the spirit of increasing safety, has now killed more people than it could have ever saved. It doesn't need to be "fixed" with more complexity, more software. It needs to be removed altogether .

Numerous Bad Decisions at Every Stage

Ultimately 346 people are dead because of really bad decisions, software engineer arrogance, and Boeing's pretense that the 737 Max is the same aircraft as 50 years ago.

It is incredible that the plane has two sensors but the system only uses one. A look out the window was enough to confirm the sensor was wrong.

Boeing also offered "cheap" versions of the aircraft without some controls. The two crashed flights were with the cheaper aircraft.

An experienced pilot with adequate training could have disengaged MACS but in one of the crashed flights, the pilot was desperately reading a manual trying to figure out how to do that.

Flight Stall Test

If you stick you hand out the window of a car and your hand is level to the ground. You have a low angle of attack. There is no lift. Tilt your hand a bit and you have lift. Your arm will rise.

When the angle of attack on the wing of an aircraft is too great the aircraft enters aerodynamic stall. The same thing happens with your hand out a car window.

At a steep enough angle your arm wants to flop down on the car door.

The MACS software overrides what a pilot can see by looking out the window.

Useless Manuals

If you need a manual to stop a plane from crashing mid-flight, the manual is useless. It's already too late. The pilot had seconds in which to react. Yet, instead of requiring additional training, and alerting pilots of the dangers, Boeing put this stuff in a manual.

This was necessary as part of the pretense that a 737 is a 737 is a 737.


Swamidon , 2 minutes ago link

In my day Pilot's were repeatedly cautioned not to fly the aircraft to the scene of an accident since nobody survives a high speed crash or a stall. Non-pilots can vote me down but the proper action at the second the pilot lost control of his aircraft that close to the ground should have been to pull power, drop flaps, and make a soft field landing that some passengers would have survived.

wide angle tree , 2 minutes ago link

Sure it's a flying turd, but it will be back in the air soon. The CEO can spew buzzwords at the speed of sound. The FAA will approve any fix Boeing pukes forth cause nobody has the moral courage to stand in the way of making the big money.

I Write Code , 8 minutes ago link

I saw that article in Spectrum and while it makes some points about software development he mixes it up with generic claims way beyond his expertise. Editors at Spectrum should be fired.

Hope Copy , 10 minutes ago link

Cirrus Jet got grounded due to this MACS problem.. This CODE is all over the place and probably in AIRBUS also [(.. I'm betting that it was stolen from AIRBUS] Computer controlled fly by wire is death-in-a-box as it can always be hacked.

arby63 , 17 minutes ago link

Scary stuff there.

paul20854 , 18 minutes ago link

Boeing thinks it will fix the problem with its "MCAS" software. While it may do so on paper, there remains the problem of the weight distribution of engines, cargo and fuel which is placing the center of gravity behind the center of pressure for this modified aircraft during flight near the stall point. That problem is faulty aerodynamics. Any aircraft that is inherently aerodynamically unstable should never be flown in a commercial setting. Ground them all. Fire the stupid fools who allowed this beast to fly, including those at the FAA. And finally, sell your Boeing stock.

N3M3S1S , 12 minutes ago link

Sell your Boeing Stock FIRST

Born2Bwired , 19 minutes ago link

Recommend reading entire missive which was sent to me by a retired Aircraft Captain this morning.

ZH link didn't work for me.

https://spectrum.ieee.org/aerospace/aviation/how-the-boeing-737-max-disaster-looks-to-a-software-developer.amp.html

The guy is a very clear writer and explains things quite well.

edit: looks like there is now a sign in wall that wasn't there from my tablet.

Scaliger , 20 minutes ago link

Wing fences (see: wikipedia, for photos) are the only solution to the Leading Edge Extension,

that the upwards and wider jet engine cowling imposes.

This extension causes the wing stall problem.

Wing fences improve the longitudinal flow, on the expense of lateral flow,

thus delay border layer separation, thus curb wing stall.

robertocarlos , 38 minutes ago link

There's a picture of a man who jet skied over Niagara Falls. He wore a parachute but it failed to open in time. I think he needed more height.

jewish_master , 42 minutes ago link

Glorified Tesla.

oobilly , 43 minutes ago link

Single point failure designed into the plane isnt much of a business plan.

piavpn , 46 minutes ago link

Just remember to fart well.

Have a nice farty day.

robertocarlos , 49 minutes ago link

It's a POS and they are going to ram it down our throats in July. If you have to fly then you have to take this plane.

Ohanzee , 40 minutes ago link

Not really. Don't fly with Boeing.

Aubiekong , 52 minutes ago link

Hiring engineers for diversity and not for ability has consequences...

bluskyes , 39 minutes ago link

.gov gravy requires diversity

arby63 , 10 minutes ago link

Can you say EEO. That's causing all sorts of issues throughout the economy--especially in manufacturing.

[Apr 22, 2019] Boeing s 737 Max Debacle The Result of a Dangerously Pro-Automation Design Philosophy

Notable quotes:
"... "One of the problems we have with the system is, why put a system like that on an airplane in the first place?" said Slack, who doesn't represent any survivors of either the Lion Air or Ethiopia Airlines crashes. "I think what we're going to find is that because of changes from the (Boeing 737) 800 series to the MAX series, there are dramatic changes in which they put in controls without native pitch stability. It goes to the basic DNA of the airplane. It may not be fixable." ..."
"... But it's also important that the pilots get physical feedback about what is going on. In the old days, when cables connected the pilot's controls to the flying surfaces, you had to pull up, hard, if the airplane was trimmed to descend. You had to push, hard, if the airplane was trimmed to ascend. With computer oversight there is a loss of natural sense in the controls. There is only an artificial feel, a feeling that the computer wants the pilots to feel. And sometimes, it doesn't feel so great. ..."
"... An airplane approaching an aerodynamic stall cannot, under any circumstances, have a tendency to go further into the stall. This is called "dynamic instability," and the only airplanes that exhibit that characteristic -- fighter jets -- are also fitted with ejection seats. ..."
"... The airframe, the hardware, should get it right the first time and not need a lot of added bells and whistles to fly predictably. This has been an aviation canon from the day the Wright brothers first flew at Kitty Hawk. ..."
"... When the flight computer trims the airplane to descend, because the MCAS system thinks it's about to stall, a set of motors and jacks push the pilot's control columns forward. It turns out that the flight management computer can put a lot of force into that column -- indeed, so much force that a human pilot can quickly become exhausted trying to pull the column back, trying to tell the computer that this really, really should not be happening. ..."
"... MCAS is implemented in the flight management computer, even at times when the autopilot is turned off, when the pilots think they are flying the plane. In a fight between the flight management computer and human pilots over who is in charge, the computer will bite humans until they give up and (literally) die ..."
"... Like someone with narcissistic personality disorder, MCAS gaslights the pilots. And it turns out badly for everyone. "Raise the nose, HAL." "I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that." ..."
"... Travis also describes the bad business incentives that led Boeing to conceptualize and present the 737 Max as just a tweak of an existing design, as opposed to being so areodynamically different as to be a new plane .and require time-consuming and costly recertification. To succeed in that obfuscation, Boeing had to underplay the existence and role of the MCAS system: ..."
"... Travis also explains why the FAA allows for what amounts to self-certification. This practice didn't result from the usual deregulation pressures, but from the FAA being unable to keep technical experts from being bid away by private sector players. Moreover, the industry has such a strong safety culture (airplanes falling out of the sky are bad for business) that the accommodation didn't seem risky. ..."
"... The 737 Max saga teaches us not only about the limits of technology and the risks of complexity, it teaches us about our real priorities. Today, safety doesn't come first -- money comes first, and safety's only utility in that regard is in helping to keep the money coming. The problem is getting worse because our devices are increasingly dominated by something that's all too easy to manipulate: software ..."
Apr 22, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Even though Boeing is scrambling to fix the software meant to counter the 737 Max's increased propensity to stall as a result of the placement of larger, more fuel=efficient engines in a way that reduced the stability of the plane in flight, it's not clear that this will be adequate in terms of flight safety or the public perception of the plane. And even though the FAA is almost certain to sign off on Boeing's patch, foreign regulators may not be so forgiving. The divergence we've seen between the FAA and other national authorities is likely to intensify. Recall that China grounded the 737 Max before the FAA. In another vote of no confidence, even as Boeing was touting that its changes to its now infamous MCAS software, designed to compensate for safety risks introduced by the placement of the engines on the 737 Max, the Canadian air regulator said he wanted 737 Max pilots to have flight simulator training, contrary to the manufacturer's assertion that it isn't necessary. Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that American Airlines is developing 737 Max flight simulator training .

But a fundamental question remains: can improved software compensate for hardware shortcomings? Some experts harbor doubts. For instance, from the Spokane Spokesman-Review :

"One of the problems we have with the system is, why put a system like that on an airplane in the first place?" said Slack, who doesn't represent any survivors of either the Lion Air or Ethiopia Airlines crashes. "I think what we're going to find is that because of changes from the (Boeing 737) 800 series to the MAX series, there are dramatic changes in which they put in controls without native pitch stability. It goes to the basic DNA of the airplane. It may not be fixable."

"It is within the realm of possibility that, if much of the basic pitch stability performance of the plane cannot be addressed by a software fix, a redesign may be required and the MAX might not ever fly," [aviation attorney and former NASA aerospace engineer Mike] Slack said.

An even more damming take comes in How the Boeing 737 Max Disaster Looks to a Software Developer in IEEE Spectrum (hat tip Marshall Auerback). Author Greg Travis has been a software developer for 40 years and a pilot. He does a terrific job of explaining the engineering and business considerations that drove the 737 Max design. He describes why the plane's design is unsound and why the software patch in the form of MCAS was inadequate, and an improved version is unlikely to be able to compensate for the plane's deficiencies.

Even for those who have been following the 737 Max story, this article has background that is likely to be new. For instance, to a large degree, pilots do not fly commercial aircraft. Pilots send instructions to computer systems that fly these planes. Travis explains early on that the As Travis explains:

In the 737 Max, like most modern airliners and most modern cars, everything is monitored by computer, if not directly controlled by computer. In many cases, there are no actual mechanical connections (cables, push tubes, hydraulic lines) between the pilot's controls and the things on the wings, rudder, and so forth that actually make the plane move ..

But it's also important that the pilots get physical feedback about what is going on. In the old days, when cables connected the pilot's controls to the flying surfaces, you had to pull up, hard, if the airplane was trimmed to descend. You had to push, hard, if the airplane was trimmed to ascend. With computer oversight there is a loss of natural sense in the controls. There is only an artificial feel, a feeling that the computer wants the pilots to feel. And sometimes, it doesn't feel so great.

Travis also explains why the 737 Max's engine location made the plane dangerously unstable:

Pitch changes with power changes are common in aircraft. Even my little Cessna pitches up a bit when power is applied. Pilots train for this problem and are used to it. Nevertheless, there are limits to what safety regulators will allow and to what pilots will put up with.

Pitch changes with increasing angle of attack, however, are quite another thing. An airplane approaching an aerodynamic stall cannot, under any circumstances, have a tendency to go further into the stall. This is called "dynamic instability," and the only airplanes that exhibit that characteristic -- fighter jets -- are also fitted with ejection seats.

Everyone in the aviation community wants an airplane that flies as simply and as naturally as possible. That means that conditions should not change markedly, there should be no significant roll, no significant pitch change, no nothing when the pilot is adding power, lowering the flaps, or extending the landing gear.

The airframe, the hardware, should get it right the first time and not need a lot of added bells and whistles to fly predictably. This has been an aviation canon from the day the Wright brothers first flew at Kitty Hawk.

Travis explains in detail why the MCAS approach to monitoring the angle of attack was greatly inferior to older methods .including having the pilots look out the window. And here's what happens when MCAS goes wrong:

When the flight computer trims the airplane to descend, because the MCAS system thinks it's about to stall, a set of motors and jacks push the pilot's control columns forward. It turns out that the flight management computer can put a lot of force into that column -- indeed, so much force that a human pilot can quickly become exhausted trying to pull the column back, trying to tell the computer that this really, really should not be happening.

Indeed, not letting the pilot regain control by pulling back on the column was an explicit design decision. Because if the pilots could pull up the nose when MCAS said it should go down, why have MCAS at all?

MCAS is implemented in the flight management computer, even at times when the autopilot is turned off, when the pilots think they are flying the plane. In a fight between the flight management computer and human pilots over who is in charge, the computer will bite humans until they give up and (literally) die

Like someone with narcissistic personality disorder, MCAS gaslights the pilots. And it turns out badly for everyone. "Raise the nose, HAL." "I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that."

Travis also describes the bad business incentives that led Boeing to conceptualize and present the 737 Max as just a tweak of an existing design, as opposed to being so areodynamically different as to be a new plane .and require time-consuming and costly recertification. To succeed in that obfuscation, Boeing had to underplay the existence and role of the MCAS system:

The necessity to insist that the 737 Max was no different in flying characteristics, no different in systems, from any other 737 was the key to the 737 Max's fleet fungibility. That's probably also the reason why the documentation about the MCAS system was kept on the down-low.

Put in a change with too much visibility, particularly a change to the aircraft's operating handbook or to pilot training, and someone -- probably a pilot -- would have piped up and said, "Hey. This doesn't look like a 737 anymore."

To drive the point home, Travis contrasts the documentation related to MCAS with documentation Cessna provided with an upgrade to its digital autopilot, particularly warnings. The difference is dramatic and it shouldn't be. He concludes:

In my Cessna, humans still win a battle of the wills every time. That used to be a design philosophy of every Boeing aircraft, as well, and one they used against their archrival Airbus, which had a different philosophy. But it seems that with the 737 Max, Boeing has changed philosophies about human/machine interaction as quietly as they've changed their aircraft operating manuals.

Travis also explains why the FAA allows for what amounts to self-certification. This practice didn't result from the usual deregulation pressures, but from the FAA being unable to keep technical experts from being bid away by private sector players. Moreover, the industry has such a strong safety culture (airplanes falling out of the sky are bad for business) that the accommodation didn't seem risky. But it is now:

So Boeing produced a dynamically unstable airframe, the 737 Max. That is big strike No. 1. Boeing then tried to mask the 737's dynamic instability with a software system. Big strike No. 2. Finally, the software relied on systems known for their propensity to fail (angle-of-attack indicators) and did not appear to include even rudimentary provisions to cross-check the outputs of the angle-of-attack sensor against other sensors, or even the other angle-of-attack sensor. Big strike No. 3.

None of the above should have passed muster. None of the above should have passed the "OK" pencil of the most junior engineering staff, much less a DER [FAA Designated Engineering Representative].

That's not a big strike. That's a political, social, economic, and technical sin .

The 737 Max saga teaches us not only about the limits of technology and the risks of complexity, it teaches us about our real priorities. Today, safety doesn't come first -- money comes first, and safety's only utility in that regard is in helping to keep the money coming. The problem is getting worse because our devices are increasingly dominated by something that's all too easy to manipulate: software

I believe the relative ease -- not to mention the lack of tangible cost -- of software updates has created a cultural laziness within the software engineering community. Moreover, because more and more of the hardware that we create is monitored and controlled by software, that cultural laziness is now creeping into hardware engineering -- like building airliners. Less thought is now given to getting a design correct and simple up front because it's so easy to fix what you didn't get right later .

It is likely that MCAS, originally added in the spirit of increasing safety, has now killed more people than it could have ever saved. It doesn't need to be "fixed" with more complexity, more software. It needs to be removed altogether.

There's a lot more in this meaty piece . Be sure to read it in full.

And if crapification by software has undermined the once-vanuted airline safety culture, why should we hold out hope for any better with self-driving cars?


Fazal Majid , April 22, 2019 at 2:11 am

Automation is not the issue. Boeing cutting corners and putting only one or two angle of attack sensors is. Just like a man with two clocks can't tell the time, if one of the sensors malfunctions, the computer has no way of knowing which one is wrong. That's why Airbus puts three sensors in its aircraft, and why Boeing's Dreamliner has three computers with CPUs from three different manufacturers to get the necessary triple redundancy.

Thus this is really about Boeing's shocking negligence in putting profits above safety, and the FAA's total capture to the point Boeing employees did most of the certification work. I would add the corrosion of Boeing's ethical standards was completely predictable once it acquired McDonnell-Douglas and became a major defense contractor.

Yves Smith Post author , April 22, 2019 at 8:08 am

I beg to differ since it looks like you didn't read the article in full, as a strongly recommended. The article has a section on the cost of fixing hardware problems versus software problems. Hardware problems are enormously costly to fix.

The plane has a hardware problem resulting from Boeing not being willing to risk having to recertify a fuel efficient 737. So rather than making the plane higher off the ground (new landing gear, which other articles indicate was a non-starter since it would lead to enough other changes so as to necessitate recertification) and trying to fix a hardware problem with software. That has two knock-on problems: it's not clear this will ever be adequate (not just Travis' opinion) and second, it's risky given the software industry's propensity to ship and patch later. Boeing created an additional problem, as Travis stresses, by greatly underplaying the existence of MCAS (it was mentioned after page 700 in the documentation!) and maintaining the fiction that pilots didn't need simulator training, which some regulators expect will be the case even after the patch.

You also miss the point the article makes: the author argues (unlike in banking), the FAA coming to rely on the airlines for certification wasn't a decision they made, but an adaptation to the fact that they could no longer hire and retain the engineers they needed to do the work at the FAA on government pay scales. By contrast, at (say) the SEC, you see a revolving door of lawyers from plenty fancy firms. You have plenty of "talent" willing to work at the SEC, but with bad incentives.

Susan the other` , April 22, 2019 at 10:57 am

Thank you for reviewing this. 700+ pages! I thought it was paywalled bec. so slow to download. The resistance to achieving fuel efficiency is front and center these days. One thing I relate it to is the Macron attitude of punishing the fuel consumer to change the market. Cart before horse. When the FAA sent down fuel efficiency requirements it might have been similarly preemptive, now in hindsight. There should have been legislation and regulation which adjusted the profitability of the airline industry via better tax breaks or regulations against aggressive competition. The safety of airlines would have been upheld if the viability of the company were protected. So even domestic protectionism when it comes to safety. And in so doing, the FAA/congress could also have controlled and limited airline use which tries to make up in volume for all the new costs it incurs. It's a serious problem when you are so carefree as a legislator that you let the free market do it. What a mess. Quality is the first thing to go.

foppe , April 22, 2019 at 11:41 am

reminds me of what was said about risk departments inside banks -- deliberately lowly paid, so that anyone with skills would move on or easily be hired away. Was it you? Bill Black? Luyendijk? I don't remember. Either way..

Marley's dad , April 22, 2019 at 11:45 am

I did read the article completely and I was an aircraft commander of a C-141A during the Viet Nam war and I am a degreed electrical engineer.

Having flown the C-141A for several thousand hours I am very familiar with the aircraft pitching up almost uncontrollably. A favorite trick that C -141 flight instructors pulled on pilots new to aircraft was to tell the student pilot to "go around" (for the first time during his training) on an approach. The student pilot followed the flight manual procedure and started to raise the nose while advancing the throttles to full power. However, what wasn't covered in the flight manual was the fact that a HUGE trim change occurred when the engines went from near idle to full power. To regain control, it took both hands (arms) to move the yoke away from your chest while running nose down trim. While you were doing this the airplane was trying to stand on its tail. On the other hand none of us ever forgot the lesson.

The C-141 was not fly by wire; however all control surfaces were equipped with hydraulic assist and "feel springs" to mimic control feel without the hydraulics. The feel springs for the elevators must have been selected using a human subject like Arnold Schwarzenegger because (in my opinion) they were much stronger than necessary. The intent was to prevent the pilots from getting into excessive angles of pitch, which absolutely would occur if you weren't prepared for it on a "go around".

What Fazal & V have said is basically correct. The max has four angle of attack vanes. The MAIN problem was that Boeing decided to go cheap and only connect one of the vanes to the MCAS. If they had connected two, the MCAS would be able to determine that one of them was wrong and disconnect itself. That would have eliminated the pitch down problem that caused the two crashes.

Connecting that second AOA vane would not have created any certification issues and would have made Boeing's claim about the "Max" being the "same" as previous versions much closer to the truth. Had they done that we wouldn't be talking about this.

Another solution would have been to disable the MCAS if there was significant counter force on the yoke applied by the pilot. This has been used on autopilot systems since the 1960's. But not consistently. The proper programming protocol for the MCAS exists and should have been used.

I agree that using only one AOA vane and the programming weren't the only really stupid things that Boeing did in this matter. Insufficient information and training given to the pilots was another.

flora , April 22, 2019 at 12:05 pm

Yes.
second, it's risky given the software industry's propensity to ship and patch later.
-this is one of the main themes in the Dilbert cartoon strip.

the author argues (unlike in banking), the FAA coming to rely on the airlines for certification wasn't a decision they made, but an adaptation to the fact that they could no longer hire and retain the engineers they needed to do the work at the FAA on government pay scales.

-That's what happens when you make 'government small enough to drown in a bathtub' , i.e. starve of the funds necessary to do a good job.

My 2¢ . Boeing's decision to cut manufacturing corners AND give the autopilot MCAS system absolute control might have been done (just a guess here, based on the all current the 'self-driving' fantasies in technology ) to push more AI 'self-drivingness' into the airplane. (The 'We don't need expensive pilots, we can use inexpensive pilots, and one day we won't need pilots at all' fantasy.) Imo, this makes the MCAS system, along with the auto AI self-driving systems now on the road no better than beta test platforms And early beta test platforms, at that.

It's one thing when MS or Apple push out a not quite ready for prime time OS "upgrade", then wait for all the user feedback to know where it the OS needs more patches. No one dies in those situations (hopefully). But putting not-ready for prime time airplanes and cars on the road in beta test condition to get feedback? yikes . my opinion.

Anarcissie , April 22, 2019 at 3:31 pm

It is interesting that a software bug that appears in the field costs very roughly ten times as much as one caught in QA before being released, yet most managements continue to slight QA in favor of glitzy features. I suppose that preference follows supposed customer demand.

WestcoastDeplorable , April 22, 2019 at 2:14 pm

It's not only the 737 Max that endangers Boeing's survival; it's this:

https://www.aljazeera.com/investigations/boeing787/

15 workers at their N. Charleston SC assembly plant were asked if they would fly on the plane they build there; 10 said NO WAY!

Alex V , April 22, 2019 at 3:23 am

Boeing, the FAA, and the airlines seriously screwed up the introduction of this aircraft so badly it cost lives. The article by Travis is however written by someone out of his depth, even though he has more familiarity with aircraft and software than the average person. There are numerous factual errors and misrepresentations, which many commenters (with more detailed knowledge of the subjects) on the article point out. One of the principles of aviation safety is to identify and fix failures without finger pointing, in order to encourage a culture of openness and cooperation. The tone of the article takes the opposite approach while trying to argue from (undeserved) authority. I agree with his critique that these incidents are a result capitalism run amok – that should, in my opinion, be separate from a discussion of the technical problems and how to fix them.

Thuto , April 22, 2019 at 4:51 am

If Boeing had adhered to that cardinal principle of openness, there might be no failure to fix via "a culture of openness and cooperation". These catastrophic failures were a result of Boeing not being open with its customers about the safety implications of its redesign of the 737 Max and instead choosing the path of obfuscation to sell the idea of seamless fleet fungibility to airlines.

Knifecatcher , April 22, 2019 at 5:00 am

Looking through the comments the complaints about the article seemed to be in one of three areas-

– Questioning the author's credentials (you're just a Cessna pilot!)
– Parroting the Boeing line that this was all really pilot error
– Focusing on some narrow technical element to discredit the article

The majority of comments were in agreement with the general tenor of the piece, and the author engaged politely and constructively with some of the points that were brought up. I thought the article was very insightful, and sometimes it does take an outsider to point out that the emperor has no clothes.

I'd like to see a reference for your assertion that the "principles of aviation safety" preclude finger pointing. Unless I'm very much mistaken the whole purpose of an FAA accident investigation is to determine the root cause, identify the responsible party, and, yes, point fingers if necessary.

Alex V , April 22, 2019 at 5:57 am

This is one example:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crew_resource_management

The general point I was trying to make, perhaps poorly worded, is that the only goal is to identify the problem and fix it, and not to focus primarily on assigning blame as vigorously as possible. Mistakes occur for many reasons – some of them nefarious, some not. Excessive finger pointing, especially before a full picture of what went wrong has been developed, fosters a tendency to coverups and fear, in my opinion.

Regarding your other points, the technical details are vital to understand clearly in almost any aviation incident, as there is never one cause, and the chain of events is always incredibly complex. Travis' analysis makes the answers too easy.

skippy , April 22, 2019 at 6:23 am

From what I understand the light touch approach was more about getting people to honestly divulge information during the investigation period, of which, assisted in determining cause.

I think you overstate your case.

Alex V , April 22, 2019 at 6:58 am

This "light touch" approach is used throughout the aviation industry, all the way from initial design to aircraft maintenance, as the purpose is to make sure that anyone, no matter the rank or experience, can bring up safety concerns before incidents occur without fear of repercussions for challenging authority. It's likely that this cornerstone of aviation culture was ignored at too many points along the way here.

I am not defending Boeing, the FAA, or the airlines. Serious, likely criminal, mistakes were made by all.

I however take issue with Travis' approach of assigning blame this early and vigorously while making errors in explaining what happened. He especially attacks the the development process at Boeing, since software is his speciality, although he makes no claims as to having worked with real time or avionics software, aside from using products incorporating it. These are quite different types of software from normal code running a website or a bank. He does not, and can not, know what occurred when the code was written, yet makes significant declarations as to the incompetence of the engineers and coders involved.

If he were leading the investigation, I believe the most likely outcome would be pushback and coverup by those involved.

flora , April 22, 2019 at 12:19 pm

It's likely that this cornerstone of aviation culture was ignored at too many points along the way here.

I am not defending Boeing, the FAA, or the airlines. Serious, likely criminal, mistakes were made by all.

I however take issue with Travis' approach of assigning blame this early

I don't disagree with your description of how it used to be. However, since the FAA has reduced its regulatory role, and by extension given aircraft manufactures more leash to run with ideas that shouldn't be followed, we're left with the situation that large, potentially crippling tort lawsuits are one of the only checks left on manufacturer stupidity or malfeasance. Think of the Ford Pinto bolt-too-long-causing-gas-tank-explosions case. If the FCC won't make manufacturers think twice when internal engineers say 'this isn't a good idea, isn't a good design', maybe the potential of a massive lawsuit will make them think twice.

And this is where we get into pointing the finger, assigning blame, etc. I'm assuming there are good engineers at Boeing who warned against these multiple design failure and were ignored, the FCC was see-no-evil here-no-evil, and the MCAS went forward. Now come the law suits. It's the only thing left to 'get Boeing's attention'. I don't know if Travis' is too early. It's likely there's been plenty of chatter among the Boeing and industry engineers already. imo.

charles 2 , April 22, 2019 at 3:35 am

Training a pilot is building a very complicated automation system : what kind of thought process do you expect within the short timeframe (few minutes) of a crisis in a cockpit ? Kant's critique of pure reason ?Somehow people seem more comfortable from death coming from human error (I.e. a bad human automation system) that death coming from a design fault, but a death is a death

The problem is not automation vs no automation, it is bad corner-cutting automation vs good systematic and expensive automation. It is also bad integration between pilot brain based automation and system automation, which also boils out to corner cutting, because sharing too much information about the real behaviour of the system (if only it is known accurately ) increases the complexity and the cost of pilot training.

Real safety comes from proven design (as in mathematical proof). It is only achievable on simple systems because proofing is conceptually very hard. A human is inevitably a very complex system that is impossible to proof, therefore, beyond a certain standard of reliability, getting the human factor out of the equation is the only way to improve things further. we are probably close to that threshold with civil aviation.

Also, I don't see anywhere in aircraft safety statistics any suggestion of "crapification" of safety see https://aviation-safety.net/graphics/infographics/Fatal-Accidents-Per-Mln-Flights-1977-2017.jpg Saying that the improvement is due only the better pilot training and not to more intrinsically reliable airplanes is a stretch IMHO.

Similarly, regarding cars, the considerable improvement in death per km travelled in the last 30 years cannot be attributed only to better drivers, a large part comes from ESP and ABS becoming standard (see https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/811182 ). If this is not automation, what is ?

Yves Smith Post author , April 22, 2019 at 7:57 am

It looks as if you didn't read the piece. The problem, which the author makes explicit, is the "ship now, patch later" philosophy that is endemic in software design.

And it would be better to look at flight safety stats within markets. You have great swathes of the emerging world starting to fly on airplanes during this period. I'm not saying the general trend isn't correct, but I would anticipate it's to a significant degree attributable to the maturation of emerging economy air systems. For instance, I flew on Indonesia's Garuda in the early 1990s and was told I was taking a safety risk; I'm now informed that it's a good airline. Similarly, in the early 1980s I was doing business in Mexico, and the McKinsey partner I was traveling with (who as a hobby read black box transcripts from plane crashes) was very edgy on the legs of our travels when we had to use AeroMexico (as in he'd natter on in a way that was very out of character for a typical older WASP-y guy, he was close to white knuckle nervous).

Marley's dad , April 22, 2019 at 10:28 am

Garuda's transition from "safety risk" to "good airline" was an actual occurrence. At one point Garuda and all other Indonesian air lines were prohibited from flying in the EU because of numerous crashes that were the result of management issues, that forced the airline(s) to change their ways.

Darius , April 22, 2019 at 10:11 am

ABS is an enhancement. MCAS is a kludge to patch up massive weaknesses introduced into the hardware by a chain of bad decisions going back almost 20 years.

Boeing should have started designing a new narrow-body when they cancelled the 757 in 2004. Instead, they chose to keep relying on the 737. The end result is MCAS and 300+ deaths.

Harrold , April 22, 2019 at 11:16 am

I'm not sure Boeing can design a fresh aircraft any more.

Olga , April 22, 2019 at 4:17 am

"There are numerous factual errors and misrepresentations, which many commenters (with more detailed knowledge of the subjects) on the article point out."
Not sure why anyone would mis-characterise comments. The first comment points out a deficiency, and explains it. There was only one other commenter, who alleged errors – but without explaining what those could be. He was later identified by another person as a troll. Almost all other comments were complimentary of the article. So why make the above assertion?

Yves Smith Post author , April 22, 2019 at 7:43 am

We have a noteworthy number of newbie comments making poorly-substantiated digs at the Spectrum IEEE piece. We've also seen this sort of non-organic-looking response when we've put up pro-union pieces when political fights were in play, like Wisconsin's Scott Walker going after unions.

AEL , April 22, 2019 at 9:29 am

Travis does indeed play fast and loose with a number of things. For example, his 0-360 engine does *not* have pistons the size of dinner plates (at a 130mm bore it isn't even the diameter of a particularly large saucer). MCAS is a stability augmentation system not stall prevention system and the 737 MAX wasn't "unstable" it was insufficiently stable. The 737 trim system acts on the stabilizer not the elevator (which is a completely different control surface). etc.

For the most part, it doesn't affect the thrust of his arguments which are at a higher level. However it does get distracting.

Harrold , April 22, 2019 at 11:19 am

"the 737 MAX wasn't "unstable" it was insufficiently stable"

The passengers are not "dead", they are insufficiently alive.

Olga , April 22, 2019 at 12:00 pm

Thank you – I was beginning to wonder what the difference was between unstable and insufficiently stable. Not that this is a subject to make jokes about.

JBird4049 , April 22, 2019 at 1:50 pm

Not that this is a subject to make jokes about.

Yeah, but sometimes the choice is to laugh or cry, and after constantly going WTF!?! every time I read about this horror, even mordantly grim humor is nice.

Walt , April 22, 2019 at 2:30 pm

Yes, stabilizer trim on the 737 acts on the horizontal stabilizer, not the elevator or "pilots' control columns."

As a former "73" pilot, I too find the author's imprecision distracting.

ChristopherJ , April 22, 2019 at 5:21 am

Investigators pipe up, but my understanding of a proper investigation is: a. find out what happened; b. find out why the incident occurred; c. what can be done to prevent.

The public opinion has already sailed I think, against the company. If negligent, adverse-safety decisions were made, the head people should be prosecuted accordingly.

Yet, I feel this isn't going to happen despite the reality that billions of humans never want to fly a boeing jet again. Why would you risk it? Toast and deservedly imho

Ape , April 22, 2019 at 5:35 am

"Agile" "use-case driven" software development: very dangerous, takes the disruptive, crappification approach (under some hands) of trying to identify the minimum investment to hit the minimal requirements, particularly focusing on an 80/20 Pareto rule distribution of efforts.

Which may be good enough for video delivery or cell-phone function, but not for life-critical or scientifically-critical equipment

JeffC , April 22, 2019 at 12:59 pm

Many people here are assuming Boeing uses modern software-development methodology in spite of flaws that make such an approach iffy in this field. Why assume that?

When I worked, many years ago now, as a Boeing software engineer, their software-development practices were 15 years behind the rest of the world. Part of that was sheer caution and conservatism re new things, precisely because of the safety culture, and part of it was because they did not have many of the best software people. They could rarely hire the best in part because cautious, super-conservative code is boring. Their management approach was optimized to get solid systems out of ordinary engineers with a near incomprehensible number of review and testing steps.

Anyone in this audience worked there in software recently? If not, fewer words about how they develop code might be called for. Yes, the MCAS system was seriously flawed. But we do not have the information to actually know why.

False Solace , April 22, 2019 at 1:40 pm

> Anyone in this audience worked there in software recently? If not, fewer words about how they develop code might be called for.

4/16 Links included a lengthy spiel from Reddit via Hacker News by a software engineer who worked at Boeing 10 years ago (far more recently than you) which detailed the horrors of Boeing's dysfunctional corporate culture at length. This is in addition to many other posts covering the story from multiple angles.

NC has covered this topic extensively. Maybe try familiarizing yourself with their content before telling others to shut up.

JeffC , April 22, 2019 at 2:32 pm

Excuse me? Are ad hominem attacks fine now? I didn't tell anyone to "shut up" or contradict the great amount of good reporting on Boeing's management dysfunction.

I just pointed out that at one time, yes way back there, there was a logic to it and that the current criticism here of its software-development culture in particular seems founded on a combination of speculation and general disgust with the software industry.

Whatever else I am or however wrong I may sometimes be, I am an engineer, and real engineers look for evidence.

NN , April 22, 2019 at 5:50 am

Moving the engines in itself didn't introduce safety risks, this tendency to nose up was always there. The primary problem is Boeing wanted to pretend MAX is the same plane as NG (the previous version) for certification and pilot training purposes. Which is why the MCAS is black box deeply hardwired into the control systems and they didn't tell pilots about it. It was supposed to be invisible, just sort of translating layer between the new airframe and pilots commanding it as the old one.

And this yearning for pre-automation age, for directly controlling the surfaces by cables and all, is misguided. People didn't evolve for flying, it's all learned the hard way, there is no natural way to feel the plane. In fact in school they will drill into you to trust the instruments and not your pedestrian instincts. Instruments and computers may fail, but your instincts will fail far more often.

After all 737 actually is old design, not fly by wire. And one theory of what happened in the Ethiopian case is that when they disengaged the automatic thing, they were not able to physically overcome the aerodynamic forces pushing on the plane. So there you have your cables & strings operated machine.

Yves Smith Post author , April 22, 2019 at 7:40 am

I don't see basis for your assertion about safety risks given the counter-evidence in the form of the very existence of the MCAS software. Every article written on it points out it was to prevent the possibility of the plane stalling out when "punching up". And as the article describes, there were two design factors, the placement of the engines and the nacelles, which led to it generating too much lift in certain scenarios.

And your argument regarding what happened when the pilot turned off the autopilot is yet another indictment of Boeing's design. This is not "Oh bad pilots," this is "OMG, evidence of another Boeing fuckup." This is what occurred when the pilots disabled MCAS per instructions.

Have you not heard of purely mechanical systems that allow for the multiplication of force? It's another Boeing design defect that the pilots couldn't operate the flight stabilizer when the plane was under takeoff stresses. That's a typical use case! And it was what Boeing told pilots to do and it didn't work! From Reuters (apparently written before the black box detail revealed that the pilots could not control the stabilizers):

Boeing pointed to long-established procedures that pilots could have used to handle a malfunction of the anti-stall system, regardless of whether the pilots knew MCAS existed.

That checklist tells pilots to switch off the two stabilizer trim cutout switches on the central console, and then to adjust the aircraft's stabilizers manually using trim wheels.

And that's one of they should worry about most, since that's one of highest risk times for flight, and the plane should have been engineered with that scenario in mind. This raises the possibility that the inability of the pilots to handle the plane manually in takeoff also somehow resulted from the changes to the aerodynamics resulting from the placement of the bigger engines.

This is his argument about how the reliance on software has led to undue relaxation of good hardware design principles:

The original FAA Eisenhower-era certification requirement was a testament to simplicity: Planes should not exhibit significant pitch changes with changes in engine power. That requirement was written when there was a direct connection between the controls in the pilot's hands and the flying surfaces on the airplane. Because of that, the requirement -- when written -- rightly imposed a discipline of simplicity on the design of the airframe itself. Now software stands between man and machine, and no one seems to know exactly what is going on. Things have become too complex to understand.

NN , April 22, 2019 at 9:08 am

I'll cite the original article:

Pitch changes with power changes are common in aircraft. Even my little Cessna pitches up a bit when power is applied. Pilots train for this problem and are used to it.

Again, the plane already had the habit of picthing up and the changes didn't add that. The question isn't if, but how much and what to do about it. Nowhere did I read MAX exceeds some safety limits in this regard. If Boeing made the plane to physically break regulations and tried to fix it with software then indeed that would be bad. However, I'm not aware of that.

As for the Ethiopian scenario, I was talking about this article . It says when they tried manual, it very well could be beyond their physical ability to turn the wheels and so they were forced to switch electrical motors back on, but that also turned up MCAS again. In fact it also says this seizing up thing was present in the old 737 design and pilots were trained to deal with it, but somehow the plane become more reliable and training for this failure mode was dropped. This to me doesn't look like good old days of aviation design ruined by computers.

JerryDenim , April 22, 2019 at 5:57 pm

You should read the Ethiopian Government's crash preliminary crash report. Very short and easy to read. Contains a wealth of information. Regarding the pilot's attempt to use the manual trim wheel, according to the crash report, the aircraft was already traveling at 340 knots indicated airspeed, well past Vmo or the aircraft's certified airspeed when they first attempted to manually trim the nose up. It didn't work because of the excessive control forces generated by high airspeeds well beyond the aircraft's certification. I'm not excusing Boeing, the automated MCAS nose down trim system was an engineering abomination, but the pilots could have made their lives much easier by setting a more normal thrust setting for straight and level flight, slowing their aircraft to a speed within the normal operating envelope, then working their runaway nose-down pitch emergency.

none , April 22, 2019 at 6:21 am

I didn't like the IEEE Spectrum piece very much since the author seemed to miss or exaggerate some issues, and also seemed to confuse flying a Cessna with being expert about large airliners or aerospace engineering. The title says "software engineer" but at the end he says "software executive". Executive doesn't always mean non-engineer but it does mean someone who is full of themselves, and that shows through the whole article. The stuff I'm seeing from actual engineers (mostly on Hacker News) is a little more careful. I'm still getting the sense that the 737 MAX is fundamentally a reasonable plane though Boeing fucked up badly presenting it as a no-retraining-needed tweak to the older 737's.

There's some conventional wisdom that Boeing's crapification stems from the McDonnell merger in 1997. Boeing, then successful, took over the failing and badly managed McDonnell. The crappy McDonnell managers then spent the next years pushing out the Boeing managers, and subsequently have been running Boeing into the ground. I don't know how accurate that is, but it's a narrative that rings true.

Yves Smith Post author , April 22, 2019 at 7:20 am

You are misrepresenting the Hacker News criticisms, and IMHO they misrepresent the piece. They don't question his software chops. And if you really knew the software biz, "software executive" often = developer who built a company (and that includes smallish ones). The guy OWNS a Cessna, which means he's spent as much on a plane as a lot of people spend on a house. If he was a senior manager as you posit, that means at large company, and no large company would let an employee write something like this. He's either between gigs or one of the top guys in a smallish private company where mouthing off like this won't hurt the business. Notice also his contempt for managers in the article).

He's also done flight simulator time on a 757, and one commentor pointed out that depending on the simulator, it could be tantamount to serious training, as in count towards qualifying hours to be certified to fly a 757.

They do argue, straw manning his piece, that he claims the big failure is with the software. That in fact is not what the article says. It says that the design changes in the 737 Max made it dynamically unstable, which is an unacceptable characteristic in any plane, no matter what size. He also describes at length the problem of relying on only one sensor as an input to the MCAS and how that undermined having the pilots be able to act as a backup .by looking at each other's instrumentation results.

The idea that he's generalizing from a Cessna is absurd. He describes how Cessnas have the pilot having greater mechanical control than jets like the 737. He describes how the pilots read the instrument results from each side of the plane, something which cannot occur in a Cessna, a single pilot plane. He refers to the Cessna documentation to make the point that the norm is to over-inform pilots as to how changes in the software affect how they operate the plane, not radically under-inform them as Boeing did with the 737 Max.

As to the reasonableness of Travis' concerns, did you miss that a former NASA engineer has the same reservations? Are you trying to say he doesn't understand how aircraft hardware works?

Alex V , April 22, 2019 at 8:02 am

A few points:

He owns a 1978 Cessna 172 , goes for about $70K, so not quite house prices, more like a nice Tesla, whose drive by wire systems he seems to trust far more for some reason.

In regard to "dynamic instability" being unacceptable, this is a red herring. Most modern airliners rely on flight characteristic augmentation systems in normal operation, trim systems being the most common. Additionally, there are aircraft designed to be unstable (fighters) but rely on computers to fly them stably, to greatly increase manoeuvrability.

In regard to Cessnas being single pilot planes, the presence of flight controls on both sides of the cockpit would somewhat bring into question this assertion .? Most 172s do however have only one set of instrumentation. When operating with two pilots (as with let's say a student pilot and instructor) you would still have the issue of two pilots trying to agree on possibly faulty readings from one set of non-redundant instruments.

Yves Smith Post author , April 22, 2019 at 8:27 am

No, it's a 1979 Cessna, and you don't know when he bought it and how much use it had, since price is significantly dependent on flight hours. The listings I show it costs over $100K. A quick Google search says a plane with a new feel is closer to $300K. Even $100K in equity is more than most people put down when buying a house

He also glides, and gliders often own or co-own their gliders.

The author acknowledges your point re fighters. Did you miss that he also says they are the only planes where pilots can eject themselves from the aircraft? Arguing from what is acceptable for a fighter, where you compromise a lot on other factors to get maneuverability, to a commercial jet is dodgy.

Alex V , April 22, 2019 at 9:39 am

According to the registration it became airworthy in 1978, so perhaps that is the model year.

https://uk.flightaware.com/resources/registration/N5457E

Regarding fighters and instability, I'm not the one that stated it's "an unacceptable characteristic in any plane, no matter the size".

I am completely on Travis' side when it comes to the issues with culture and business that brought on these incidents. Seeing however that these affected and overrode good engineering, I believe it's vitally important that the engineering is discussed as accurately as possible. Hence my criticism of the piece.

Yves Smith Post author , April 22, 2019 at 1:08 pm

Had you looked at prices as you claimed to, Cessnsa 172s specify the year in the headline description. 1977 v. 1978 v 1979 on a page I got Googling for 1979.

You are now well into the terrain of continuing to argue for argument sake.

PlutoniumKun , April 22, 2019 at 8:34 am

I agree with you that the article is good and the criticisms I've read seem largely unmerited (quite a few of those btl on that article are clearly bad faith arguments), but just to clarify:

That in fact is not what the article says. It says that the design changes in the 737 Max made it dynamically unstable, which is an unacceptable characteristic in any plane, no matter what size.

My understanding (non-engineer, but long time aviation nerd) is that many aircraft, including all Airbus's are dynamically unstable and use software to maintain stability. The key point I think that the article makes is that there is a fundamental difference between designing hardware and software in synchronicity to make a safe aircraft (i.e Airbus), and using software as a fudge to avoid making hard decisions when the hardware engineers find they can't overcome a problem without spending a fortune in redesigns.

Hard engineering 'fudges' are actually really common in aircraft design – little bumps or features added to address stability problems encountered during testing – an example being the little fore planes on the Tupolev 144 supersonic airliner. But it seems Boeing took a short cut with its approach and a lot of people paid for this with their lives. Only time will tell if it was a deep institutional failure within Boeing or just a flaw caused by a rushed roll-out.

I've personal experience of a catastrophic design flaw (not one that could kill people, just one that could cost hundreds of millions to fix) which was entirely down to the personal hang-ups of one particular project manager who was in a position to silence internal misgivings. Of course, in aircraft design this is not supposed to happen.

Thuto , April 22, 2019 at 6:21 am

I'm reminded of the famous "software is eating the world" quote by uber VC Marc Andreessen. He posits that in an era where Silicon valley style, software led disruption stalks every established industry, even companies that "make things" (hardware) need a radical rethink in terms of how they see themselves. A company like Boeing, under this worldview, needs to think of itself as a software company with a hardware arm attached, otherwise it might have its lunch eaten by a plucky upstart (to say nothing of Apple or Google) punching above its weight.

It's not farfetched to imagine an army of consultants selling this "inoculate yourself from disruption" thinking to companies like Boeing and being taken seriously. With Silicon valley's obsession with taking humans out of the loop (think driverless cars/trucks, operator-less forklifts etc) one wonders whether these accidents will highlight the limitations of technology and halt the seemingly inexorable march towards complex automation reducing pilots to cockpit observers coming along for the ride.

jonst , April 22, 2019 at 6:41 am

so perhaps Trump lurched blindly into the truth?

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/03/12/trump-says-planes-too-complex-after-crash-of-boeing-jet-in-ethiopia.html

WobblyTelomeres , April 22, 2019 at 7:30 am

"native pitch stability"

Let me guess. The author prolly flies a Cessna 172. [checks article]. Yep.

The 172 is one of the most docile and forgiving private planes ever. Ignore that my Mom flew hers into a stand of trees.

Yves Smith Post author , April 22, 2019 at 8:32 am

Ad homimem and therefore logically invalid. Plus reading comprehension problem. The "native pitch stability" comment was from Mike Slack, a former NASA engineer, and not Travis, the Cessna owner.

Mel , April 22, 2019 at 9:39 am

I think that the point is that there are aircraft that don't take over the controls and dive into the ground. It's possible to have these kinds of aircraft. These kinds of aircraft are good to have. It's like an existence proof.

Octopii , April 22, 2019 at 8:28 am

No, not dangerously pro-automation. More like dangerously stuck in the past, putting bandaids on a dinosaur to keep false profits rolling in. AF447 could be argued against excessive automation, but not the Max.

tegnost , April 22, 2019 at 9:13 am

i think they are real profits. And the automation that crashed two planes over a short time span and it wasn't excessive? Band aids on what was one of the safest planes ever made (how many 737's crashed pre 737 max? the hardware problem was higher landing gear along with engines that were larger and added lift to the plane. MCAS was intended to fix that. It made it worse. I won't be flying on a MAX.

Carolinian , April 22, 2019 at 8:29 am

Thanks for the article but re the above comments–perhaps that 737 pilot commenter should weigh in because some expert commentary on this article is badly needed. My impression from the Seattle Times coverage is that the MCAS was not implemented to keep the plane from falling out of the sky but rather to finesse the retraining issue. In other words a competent pilot could handle the pitch up tendency with no MCAS assist at all if trained or even informed that such a tendency existed. And if that's the case then the notion that the plane will be grounded forever is dubious indeed.

Yves Smith Post author , April 22, 2019 at 8:44 am

This isn't quite correct, and I suggest you read the article in full.

The issue isn't MCAS. It is that MCAS was to compensate for changes in the planes aerodynamics that were so significant that it should arguably have been recerttified as being a different plane. That was what Boeing was trying to avoid above all Former NASA engineer Mike Slack makes that point as well. Travis argues that burying the existence of MCAS in the documentation was to keep pilots from questioning whether this was a different plane:

It all comes down to money, and in this case, MCAS was the way for both Boeing and its customers to keep the money flowing in the right direction. The necessity to insist that the 737 Max was no different in flying characteristics, no different in systems, from any other 737 was the key to the 737 Max's fleet fungibility. That's probably also the reason why the documentation about the MCAS system was kept on the down-low.

Put in a change with too much visibility, particularly a change to the aircraft's operating handbook or to pilot training, and someone -- probably a pilot -- would have piped up and said, "Hey. This doesn't look like a 737 anymore." And then the money would flow the wrong way.

Carolinian , April 22, 2019 at 9:30 am

I think you just said what I said. My contention is that the only reason the plane could ever be withdrawn is that the design is so inherently unstable that this extra gizmo–the MCAS–was necessary for it to fly. Whereas it appears the MCAS was for marketing purposes and if it had never been added to the plane the two accidents quite likely may never have happened–even if Boeing didn't tell pilots about the pitch up tendency.

But I'm no expert obviously. This is just my understanding of the issue.

Darius , April 22, 2019 at 11:48 am

From what I've read at related links in the last week, a significant element is common type rating. Manufacturers don't have to go through expensive recertification if their modifications are minor enough, earning a common type rating. Thus, the successive incarnations of the 737 over the decades.

I'm only a layman, but a citizen who tries to stay informed and devours material on this topic. The common type rating merry go round needs to stop. It seems at least that a new engine with a different position that alters the basic physics of the plane shouldn't qualify for common type rating, which should be reserved only for the most minor of modifications.

barrisj , April 22, 2019 at 12:30 pm

As one who has followed the entirety of the MAX stories as detailed by the Seattle Times aviation reporters, it all comes back to "first principles": a substantive change in aerodynamics by introduction of an entirely new pair of engines should have required complete re-engineering of the airframe. We know that Boeing eschewed that approach, largely for competitive and cost considerations, and subsequently tried to mate the LEAP engines to the existing 737 airframe by installing the MCAS, amongst other design "tweaks", i.e., "kludging" a fix. Boeing management recognized that this wouldn't be the "perfect" aircraft, but with the help of a compliant FAA and a huge amount of "self-assessment", got the beast certified and airborne -- -- until the two crashes, that is. Whether the airlines and/or the flying public will ever accept the redo of MCAS and other ancillary fixes is highly problematic, as the entire concept was flawed from the kick-off.
Also, it should be mentioned in passing that even the LEAP engines are having some material-wear issues:
https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/cfm-reviews-fleet-after-finding-leap-1a-durability-i-442669/

b , April 22, 2019 at 8:46 am

Th IEEE Spectrum piece is somewhat reasonable but the author obvious lacks technical knowledge of the 737. He also does not understand why MCAS was installed in the first place.

For example:
– "However, doing so also meant that the centerline of the engine's thrust changed. Now, when the pilots applied power to the engine, the aircraft would have a significant propensity to "pitch up," or raise its nose.
– The MAX nose up tendency is a purely aerodynamic effect. The centerline of the thrust did not change much.

– "MCAS is implemented in the flight management computer, "
– No. It is implemented in the Flight Control Computer of which there are two. (There is only on FMC unit.)

-" It turns out that the Elevator Feel Computer can put a lot of force into that column -- "
– The Elevator Feel unit is not a computer but a deterministic hydraulic-mechanical system.

– "Neither such [software] coders nor their managers are as in touch with the particular culture and mores of the aviation world as much as the people who are down on the factory floor, "
– The coders who make the Boeing and Airbus systems work are specialized in such coding. Software development for aircrafts It is a rigid formularized process which requires a deep understanding of the aviation world. The coders appropriately implement what the design engineers require after the design review confirmed it. Nothing less, nothing more.

and more than a dozen other technical misunderstandings and mistakes.

If the author would have read some of the PPRUNE threads on the issue or asked an 737 pilot he would have known all this.

Senator-Elect , April 22, 2019 at 10:35 am

This.

Harrold , April 22, 2019 at 11:28 am

And yet the fact remains that the 737MAX is grounded world wide and costing Boeing and airlines millions every day.

Yves Smith Post author , April 22, 2019 at 1:11 pm

Given what has happened with Boeing manufacture (787s being delivered with tools and bottles rattling around in them), you have no basis for asserting how Boeing does software in practice these days.

And you have incontrovertible evidence of a coding fail: relying on only one sensor input when the plane had more than one sensor. I'm sorry, I don't see how you can blather on about safety and coders supposedly understanding airplanes with that coded in.

JeffC who actually worked at Boeing years ago and said the coding was conservative (lots of people checked it) because they were safety oriented but also didn't get very good software engineers, since writing software at Boeing was boring.

johnf , April 22, 2019 at 9:05 am

I still have some trouble blaming the 737 losses, ipso facto, on using automation to extend an old design. There are considerably more complex aircraft systems than MCAS that have been reliably automated, and building on a thoroughly proven framework usually causes less trouble than suffering the teething problems of an all new design.

At the risk of repeating the obvious, a basic principle of critical systems, systems which must be reliable, is that they can not suffer from single point failures. You want to require at least two independent failures to disturb a system, whose combined probability is so low that other, unavoidable failure sources predominate, for example, weather or overwhelming, human error.

This principle extends to the system's development. The design and programming of a (reliable) critical system can not suffer from single point failures. This requires a good many, skilled people, paying careful attention to different, specific stages of the process. Consider a little thing I once worked on: the indicator that confirms a cargo door is closed, or arguably, that is neither open nor unlatched. I count at least five levels of engineers and programmers, between Boeing and the FAA, that used to validate, implement and verify the work of their colleagues, one or more levels above and/or below: to insure the result was safe.

I bet what will ultimately come out is that multiple levels of the validation and verification chain have been grievously degraded ("crapified") to cut costs and increase profits. The first and last levels for a start. I am curious and will ask around.

Darius , April 22, 2019 at 11:58 am

The MAX isn't a proven framework. Boeing fundamentally altered the 737 design by shifting the position of the engines. The MCAS fudge doesn't fix that.

The Rev Kev , April 22, 2019 at 9:10 am

My own impression is that there seems to be a clash between three separate philosophies at work here. The first is the business culture of Boeing which had supplanted Boeing's historical aviation-centric ways of doing things in aircraft design. The bean-counters & marketing droids took over, outsourced aircraft construction to such places as non-union workshops & other countries, and thought that cutting corners in aircraft manufacture would have no long-term ill effects. The second philosophy is that of software design that failed to understand that the software had to be good to go as it was shipped and had little understanding of what happens when you ship beta-standard software to an operational aircraft in service. This was to have fatal consequences. The third culture is that of the pilots themselves which seek to keep their skills going in an aviation world that wants to turn them into airplane-drivers. If there is any move afoot to have self flying aircraft introduced down the track, I hope that this helps kill it.
Boeing is going to take a massive financial hit and so it should. Heads should literally roll over this debacle and it did not help their case when they went to Trump to keep this plane flying in the US without thought as to what could have happened if a US or Canadian 737 MAX had augured in. The biggest loser I believe is going to be the US's reputation with aviation. The rest of the aviation world will no longer trust what the FAA says or advise without checking it themselves. The trust of decades of work has just been thrown out the door needlessly. Even in the critical field of aircraft crash investigation, the US took a hit as Ethiopia refused the demands that the black boxes be sent to the US but sent them instead to France. That is something that has flown under the radar. This is going to have knock-on effects for decades to come.

Susan the other` , April 22, 2019 at 11:56 am

Beginning to look like a trade war with the EU. airbus, boeing, vw, US cars; but haven't seen Japan drawn into this yet. Mercedes Benz is saying EV cars are nonsense, they actually create more pollution than diesel engines and they are recommending methane gasoline (that sounds totally suicidal), and hydrogen power. Hydrogen has always sounded like a good choice, so why no acclaim? It can only be the resistance of vested interests. The auto industry, like the airline industry, is frantically trying to externalize its costs. Maybe we should all just settle down and do a big financial mutual insurance company that covers catastrophic loss by paying the cost of switching over to responsible manufacturing and fuel efficiency. Those corporations cooperate with shared subsidiaries that manufacture software to patch their bad engineering – why not a truce while they look for solutions?

voislav , April 22, 2019 at 9:34 am

The whole 737 development reminds me of a story a GM engineer told me. Similarly to the aviation industry, when GM makes modifications to an existing part on a vehicle, if the change is small enough the part does not need to be recertified for mechanical strength, etc. One of the vehicles he was working on had a part failure in testing, so they looked at the design history of the part. It turns out that, similarly to 737, this was a legacy part carried over numerous generations of the vehicle.

Each redesign of the vehicle introduced some changes, they needed to reroute some cabling, so they would punch a new hole through the part. But because the change was small enough the engineering team had the option of just signing off on the change without additional testing. So this went on for years, where additional holes or slits were made in the original part and each change was deemed to be small enough that no recertification was necessary. The cumulative change from the original certification was that this was now a completely different part and, not surprisingly, eventually it failed.

The interesting part of the story was the institutional inertia. As all these incremental changes were applied to the part, nobody bothered to check when was the last time part was actually tested and what was the part design as that time. Every step of the way everybody assumed their change is small enough not to cause any issue and did not do any diligence until a failure occured.

Which brings me back to the 737, if I am not mistaken, 737 MAX is, for certification purposes, considered an iteration of the original 737. The aircraft though is very different than the original, increased wingspan (117′ vs 93′), length (140′ vs. 100′). 737 NG is similarly different.

So for me the big issue with the MAX is the institutional question that allowed a plane so different from the original 737 certification to be allowed as a variant of the original, without additional pilot training or plane certification. Upcoming 777X has the same issue, it's a materially different aircraft (larger wingspan, etc.) that has a kludge (folding wingtips) to allow it to pass as a variant of the original 777. It will be interesting to see, in the wake of the MAX fiasco, what treatment does the 777X get when it comes to certification.

Susan the other` , April 22, 2019 at 12:35 pm

The FAA needs to be able to follow these tweaks. Maybe we citizens need a literal social contract that itemizes what we expect our government to actually do.

Matthew G. Saroff , April 22, 2019 at 9:35 am

There are also allegations of shoddy manufacturing on the 787 at Boeing's South Carolina (union busting) facility .

BTW, I do not believe that the problems are insoluble, or as a result of a design philosophy, but rather it is a result of placing sales over engineering.

There are a number of aerodynamic tweaks that could have dealt with this issue (larger horizontal tail comes to mind, but my background is manufacturing not aerodynamics), but this would require that pilots requalify for a transition between the NG and the MAX, which would likely mean that many airlines would take a second look at Airbus.

Carolinian , April 22, 2019 at 10:37 am

Your link was fully discussed in yesterday's Links.

cm , April 22, 2019 at 10:41 am

Yeah, that was a fascinating (and scary) article. Worth reading!

vomkammer , April 22, 2019 at 9:41 am

We should avoid blaming "software" or "automation" for this accident. The B737 MAX seems to be a case of "Money first, safety second" culture, combined with insufficent regulatory control.

The root of the B737 MAX accidents was an erroneous safety hazard assessment: The safety asessment (and the FAA) believed the MCAS had a 0.6 authority limit. This 0.6 limit meant that an erroneous MCAS function would only have limited consequences. In the safety jargon, its severity was classifed as "Major", instead of "Catastrophic".

After the "Major" classification was assigned, the subsequente design decions (like using a single sensor, or perhaps insufficient testing) are acceptable and in line with the civil aviation standards.

The problem is that the safety engineer(s) failed to understand that the 0.6 limit was self-imposed by the MCAS software, not enforced by any external aircraft element. Therefore, the MCAS software could fail in such a way that it ignored the limit. In consequence, MCAS should have been classifed "Catastrophic".

Everybody can make mistakes. We know this. That is why these safety assessments should be reviewed and challenged inside the company and by the FAA. The need to launch the MAX fast and the lack of FAA oversight resources surely played a greater role than the usage of software and automation.

oaf , April 22, 2019 at 9:46 am

Yves: Thanks for this post; it has (IMO) a level-headed perspective. It is not about assigning *blame*, it is about *What, Why, and How to Prevent* what happened from re-occurring. Blame is for courts and juries. Good luck finding jurors who are not predisposed; due to relentless bombardment with parroted misinformation and factoids.

YY , April 22, 2019 at 10:13 am

I wonder how often MCAS kicked in on a typical 737MAX flight, in situation where the weather vane advising of angle attack was working as per normal. Since we are excluding the time when auto-pilot is working and also the time when the flaps are down, there is only a very small time window immediately after take off. I would venture to guess that the MCAS would almost always adjust the plane at least once. This is once too many, if one is to believe that the notion of design improvement includes improvement in aerodynamic behavior. The fact that MCAS could only be overridden by disabling the entire motor control of the trim suggests that the MCAS feature is absolutely necessary for the thing to fly without surprise stalls. There is no excuse in a series of a product for handling associated with basic safety becoming worse with a new model. Fuel efficiency is laudable and a marketable thing, but not when packaged together with the bad compromise of bad flight behavior. If the fix is only by lines of code, they really have not fixed it completely. We know they are not going to be able to move the engines or the thrust line or increase the ground clearance of the plane so the software fix will be sold as the solution. While it probably does not mean that there will be more planes being trimmed to crash into the ground, it does make for some anxiety for future passengers. Loss of sales would not be a surprise but more of a surprise will be the deliveries that will be completed regardless.

Alex V , April 22, 2019 at 10:34 am

MCAS was intended to rarely if ever activate. It is supposed to nudge the aircraft to a lower angle of attack if AoA is getting high to cause instability in certain parts of the flight envelope. An overly aggressive takeoff climb would be an example. Part of the problem is that a faulty AoA sensor resulted in the system thinking it was at this extreme case, repeatedly, and in a way that was difficult for the pilots to identify since they had not been properly trained and the UX was badly implemented.

YY , April 22, 2019 at 10:52 am

Yes I've heard that. But do not believe it, given how it is implemented. So I really would like to know how it behaves in non-catastrophic situations. If so benign, why not allow it to turn off without turning off trim controls? Did not the earlier 737's not need this feature?

Alex V , April 22, 2019 at 2:19 pm

In a non-catastrophic situation, and if functioning correctly, it's my understanding it would felt by the flight crew as mild lowering of the nose by the system. This is is to keep the plane from increasing angle of attack, which could lead to a stall or other instability.

It's my understanding MCAS should be treated as a separate system from the trim controls, although they both control the pitch of the stabilator. Trim controls are generally not "highly dynamic", in that the system (or pilot) sets the trim value only occasionally based primarily on things like the aircraft weight distribution (this could however change during a flight as fuel is burned, for example). MCAS on the other hand, while monitoring AoA continuously in flight modes where it is activated only kicks in to correct excessive inputs from the pilots, or as a result of atmospheric disturbances (wind shear would be one possible cause of excessive AoA readings).

Neither trim nor MCAS are required to manually fly the plane safely if under direct pilot control and the the pilot is fully situationally aware.

Earlier 737s did not need this feature due to different aerodynamic properties of the plane. They however still have assistive features such as stick shakers to help prevent leaving the normal flight envelope.

Some technical details here:

http://www.b737.org.uk/mcas.htm

Alex V , April 22, 2019 at 2:47 pm

I've read a bit more in regard to allowing MCAS to turn off without turning off trim, I have no idea why it was implemented as it was, since previous 737s allow separate control of trim and MCAS. More here:

https://feitoffake.wordpress.com/2019/04/06/overview-of-many-failures-by-boeing-in-designing-the-boeing-737-max/

This however still doesn't change the fact that neither is required to fly the plane, given proper training and communication, both of which were criminally lacking.

John , April 22, 2019 at 10:13 am

IBG, YBG corporate decisions by people who will probably never fly in these planes, complete regulatory capture and distract with the little people squabbling over technical details. In China there would probably already have been a short trial, a trip to the river bank, a bullet through the head, organ harvesting for the corporate jocks responsible. Team Amrika on the way down.

Synoia , April 22, 2019 at 10:27 am

On the subject of software, the underlying issue of ship and patch later is because the process of software is full of bad practice.

Two examples, "if" and "new".

If is a poor use of a stronger mechanism, FSMs, or Finite State Machines.
'new' is a mechanism that leads to memory leaks, and crashes.

I developed some middleware to bridge data between maineframs and Unix systems that ran 7×24 for 7 years continuously without a failure, because of FSMs and static memory use.

Anarcissie , April 22, 2019 at 5:14 pm

The problem of poor quality in software, like poor quality in almost anything else, is not technological.

BillC , April 22, 2019 at 10:50 am

In an email to me (and presumably to all AAdvantage program members) transmitted at 03:00 April 17 UTC ( i.e. , 11 PM April 16 US EDT), American Airlines states that it is canceling 737 MAX flights through August 19 (instead of June 5 as stated by the earlier newspaper story cited in this post).

Eliminating introductory and concluding paragraphs that are marketing eyewash (re. passenger safety and convenience), the two payload paragraphs state in their entirety:

To avoid last-minute changes and to accommodate customers on other flights with as much notice as possible before their travel date, we have made the decision to extend our cancellations for the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft through August 19, 2019, while we await recertification of the MAX.

While these changes impact only a small portion of our more than 7,000 departures each day this summer, we can plan more reliably for the peak travel season by adjusting our schedule now. Customers whose upcoming travel has been impacted as a result of the schedule change are being contacted by our teams.

I'm surprised this has not already appeared in earlier comments. Anybody else get this?

Yves Smith Post author , April 22, 2019 at 1:13 pm

Will update, thanks!

Peak BS , April 22, 2019 at 11:24 am

Now do Tesla & their bs Tesla Autonomy Investor Day please.

It appears to have it all from beta testing several ton vehicles on public roads, (like BA's beta testing of the MAX) to regulatory capture( of NTSB, & NTHSA as examples) and a currently powerful PR team.

Apparently they're going to show off their "plan" how one will be able to use their Tesla in full autonomous mode while every other OEM sez it can't be done by the end of this year let alone within a couple decades as the average person perceives autonomous driving.

Watch it live here at 11am PCT: https://livestream.tesla.com

737 Pilot , April 22, 2019 at 2:05 pm

First of all, I didn't read the article, so I'm not going to critique it. There were some comments in the excerpt that Yves provided that I think require some clarification and/or correction.

The 737 is not a fly-by-wire (FBW) aircraft. There are multiple twisted steel control cables that connect the flight control in the cockpit to the various control surfaces. The flight controls are hydraulically assisted, but in case of hydraulic (or electric) failure, the cable system is sufficient to control the aircraft.

In both the 737NG and the MAX, there are automation functions that can put in control inputs under various conditions. Every one of these inputs can be overridden by the pilot.

In the case of the recent MAX accidents, the MCAS system put in an unexpected and large input by moving the stabilizer. The crews attempted to oppose this input, but they did so mostly by using elevator input (pulling back on the control column). This required a great deal of arm strength which they eventually could not overcome. However, if either pilot had merely used the strength of their thumb to depress the stabilizer trim switch on the yoke, they could have easily opposed and cancelled out whatever input MCAS was trying to put in. Why neither pilot took this fairly basic measure should be one of the key areas of investigation.

These comments are not intended in any way to exonerate Boeing, the FAA, and the compromises that went into the MAX design. There is a lot there to be concerned about. However, we are not dealing with a case of an automation system that was so powerful and autonomous that pilots could not override what it was trying to do.

marku52 , April 22, 2019 at 5:13 pm

Bjorn over at Leeham had this analysis:
"the Flight Crew followed the procedures prescribed by FAA and Boeing in AD 2018-23-51. And as predicted the Flight Crew could not trim manually, the trim wheel can't be moved at the speeds ET302 flew."

In other words, the pilots followed the Boeing recommended procedure to turn off the automatic trim, but at the speeds they were flying and the large angle that MCAS has moved the stabilizer to, the trim wheels were bound up and could not be moved by human effort.

https://leehamnews.com/2019/04/05/bjorns-corner-et302-crash-report-the-first-analysis/

They then turned electric trim on to try to help their effort, and MCAS put the nose down again.

Also: Did no one ever test the humans factors of this in a simulator? At HP, when we put out a new printer, we had human factors bring in average users to see if using our documentation, they could install the printer.

It is mind-blowing to me that Boeing and the FAA can release an Air Worthiness Directive (The fix after the Lion crash) that was apparently never simulator tested to see if actual humans could do it.

stevelaudig , April 22, 2019 at 2:50 pm

The bureaucratic decision-making model is the same as that which gifted us with the Challenger 'accident' which was no accident.

ChrisPacific , April 22, 2019 at 4:13 pm

None of the above should have passed muster. None of the above should have passed the "OK" pencil of the most junior engineering staff, much less a DER [FAA Designated Engineering Representative].

That's not a big strike. That's a political, social, economic, and technical sin .

This is the thing that has been nagging me all along about this story. The "most junior engineering staff" thing is not an exaggeration – engineers get this drilled into them until it's part of their DNA. I read this and immediately thought that it points to a problem of culture and values (a point I was pleased to see the author make in the next paragraph). Bluntly, it tells us that the engineers are not the ones running the show at Boeing, and that extends even to safety critical situations where their assessment should trump everything.

One of two things needs to happen as a result of this. Either Boeing needs to return to the old safety first culture, or it needs to go out of business. If neither happens, we are going to see a lot more planes falling out of the sky.

VietnamVet , April 22, 2019 at 7:15 pm

I want to reemphasize that all airplane crashes are a chain of events; if one event does not occur there are no causalities. Lion Air flight should never have flow with a faulty sensor. But afterwards when the elevator jackscrew was found in the full nose down position that forced the plane to dive into the Java Sea, Boeing and FAA should have grounded the fleet until a fix was found. The deaths in Ethiopia are on them. The November 2018 737-8 and -9 Airworthiness Directive was criminally negligent. Without adequate training the Ethiopian Airline pilots were overwhelmed and not could trim the elevator after turning off the jackscrew electric motor with the manual trim control due to going too fast with takeoff thrust from start to finish. With deregulation and the end of government oversight, the terrible design of the 737 Max is solely on Boeing and politicians who deregulated certification. Profit clearly drove corporate decisions with no consideration of the consequences. This is popping up consistently now from VW to Quantitative Easing, or the restart of the Cold War. Unless the FAA requires pilot and copilot simulator training on how to manually trim the 737 Max with all hell breaking loose in the cockpit, the only recourse for customers is to boycott flying Boeing. Ultimately the current economic system that puts profit above all else must end if humans are to survive.

[Apr 22, 2019] Claims of Shoddy Production Draw Scrutiny to a Second Boeing Jet

Apr 22, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , April 21, 2019 at 01:21 AM

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/20/business/boeing-dreamliner-production-problems.html

April 20, 2019

Claims of Shoddy Production Draw Scrutiny to a Second Boeing Jet
By Natalie Kitroeff and David Gelles

Workers at a 787 Dreamliner plant in South Carolina have complained of safety lapses, echoing broader concerns about the company.

Boeing is facing questions about rushed production on another jet, the 737 Max, which was involved in two deadly crashes.

ilsm -> anne... , April 21, 2019 at 04:02 AM
The Air Force has delayed delivery of new KC 46's, a B767 rigged to refuel other airplanes for "quality" issues.

[Apr 16, 2019] Boeing has called its 737 Max 8 'not suitable' for certain airports

Apr 16, 2019 | www.latimes.com

Before last month's crash of a flight that began in Ethiopia, Boeing Co. said in a legal document that large, upgraded 737s "cannot be used at what are referred to as 'high/hot' airports."

At an elevation of 7,657 feet -- or more than a mile high -- Addis Ababa's Bole International Airport falls into that category. High elevations require longer runways and faster speeds for takeoff.

[Apr 15, 2019] Trump Says You cannot break the laws of physics and then fix them with software.

Apr 15, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

remove Share link Copy Trump would have been better off Tweeting something like...

"The safety of the flying public worldwide is of the utmost importance to all of us. I have been in constant contact with Boeings CEO and have complete confidence that the improvements they are making will make the 737MAX one of the safest planes ever built. No 737 MAX will take to the skies that I would not put my own family member on".

Not everything is about BRANDING

play_arrow 4 play_arrow 3 Reply Report

DrBrown314 , 22 minutes ago link

See the problem with the max is it will never be safe. What boeing did was try and put a square peg in a round hole. To save costs both in certification and pilot training boeing decided to just take the 737 airframe and put bigger more fuel efficient engines on it so they wouldn't loose market share to airbus. That was a stupid mistake. The bigger engines hung so low they had to mount them higher and more forward thus creating aerodynamic issues. The new engine mounting causes air flow disruption over the inner wing during climb out. That is why they messed with the mcas. You cannot break the laws of physics and then fix them with software. Sorry that will never work.

Cobra Commander , 40 minutes ago link

Boeing is still delivering the 73NG and should make an offer to the airlines to replace each MAX order 1 for 1 with a 737-800 or -900 at cost. The traveling public will have immediate confidence, the airlines can fill schedules, and Boeing can clean house on the MAX "leadership" team.

Cobra!

[Apr 10, 2019] Boeing Sued For Defrauding Shareholders After Fatal Crashes

Notable quotes:
"... Boeing "effectively put profitability and growth ahead of airplane safety and honesty" by rushing the 737 MAX to market without "extra" or "optional" safety features - a practice that has outraged the company's critics - as it feared ceding market share to Airbus SE. Moreover, Boeing failed to disclose a conflict of interest surrounding its 'regulatory capture' of the FAA, which was revealed to have outsourced much of the approval process for the 737 MAX to Boeing itself. ..."
"... Of course, this shareholder lawsuit is only the tip of the legal iceberg for Boeing. The company will likely face a blizzard of lawsuits filed by family members of those killed during the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes, the first of which has already been filed. ..."
Apr 10, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Boeing shareholders who lost money selling their stock after the Ethiopian Airlines crash are suing the company for concealing unflattering material information from the public, defrauding shareholders in the process, Reuters reports.

The class-action lawsuit, filed in Chicago, is seeking damages after the March 10 crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 wiped $34 billion off Boeing's market cap within two weeks. But if true, the crux of the lawsuit might have broader repercussions for the company as it tries to convince regulators to lift a grounding order that has kept the Boeing 737 MAX 8 grounded since mid-March.

In essence, the suit alleges that the company concealed safety concerns about the 737 MAX and its anti-stall software following the Lion Air crash in October that killed 189 people, but did nothing to alert the public or correct the issue.

Boeing "effectively put profitability and growth ahead of airplane safety and honesty" by rushing the 737 MAX to market without "extra" or "optional" safety features - a practice that has outraged the company's critics - as it feared ceding market share to Airbus SE. Moreover, Boeing failed to disclose a conflict of interest surrounding its 'regulatory capture' of the FAA, which was revealed to have outsourced much of the approval process for the 737 MAX to Boeing itself.

Lead plaintiff Richard Seeks bought 300 Boeing shares in early March and sold them at a loss after the shares dumped more than 12% in the weeks after the second crash, which would have left him with a loss between $15,000 and $20,000. The lawsuit seeks damages for Boeing investors who bought the company's shares from Jan. 8 to March 21. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg and CFO Gregory Smith have also been named as defendants.

Of course, this shareholder lawsuit is only the tip of the legal iceberg for Boeing. The company will likely face a blizzard of lawsuits filed by family members of those killed during the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes, the first of which has already been filed.

Though its shares have recovered from their post-grounding lows, they have hit another bout of turbulence this week after the company announced that it would slash production of the 737 MAX by 20%, before announcing that its aircraft orders in Q1 fell to 95 from 180 a year earlier.


Know thy enemy , 2 hours ago link

Having grown up in Seattle within 15 miles of Plant 2 on Boeing Field, I know a lot about The Boeing Company. I went to private high school with Bill Boeing III and during college had a great summer job at Troy Laundry delivering shop towels and uniforms to all of the Boeing plants in the region.

I used to laugh because, when I drove the laundries 20ft UPS style box van through those enormous sliding doors into Everett's 747 Plant to deliver fresh laundry and pickup soiled's, I would spend the next 4-hours driving around 'inside' the building. I got to know dozens of workers by name, who 'worked the line'.

After college, more than 20% of my graduating class went to work at 'the lazy B' as it was commonly known. Not me. I went into sales and started selling computers.....to Boeing and the FAA.

As the size my computer sales territory was increased to include the entire West Coast I began to fly Boeing aircraft almost everyday for 10-years. and on-board those aircraft I met and flew with many Boeing executives.

One day I happened to sit next the 'current' Boeing HR director, and after getting to know him confided that I frequently smoked marijuana after work. To which he replied, "I would gladly have the 15% of our work force that are alcoholics, or into hard drugs smoke pot because it's effects are short-term but when people come to work 'hung-over or jacked-up' that is when bad **** happens and mistakes are made".

Even though, I had been 'on the line' and met many Boeing employees I had not realized until that moment the seriousness of what he was saying. The HR guy went on to say, that they 'had to have redundancy at every step in the construction process to ensure bad workmanship didn't make it into the final product'.

Fast forward 20-years; and Boeing airplanes are falling from the sky......and it's not a surprise to me.

IronForge , 3 hours ago link

BA are better off ending the 737MAX; and replacing Orders with another Model Line.

Shockwave , 2 hours ago link

The legacy 737 "NG" is a solid aircraft, and its still being produced down the same build lines as the MAX. Just the previous generation. That plane drove the vast majority of Boeings sales. It woulndt be hard to scale down MAX production and just go back to producing the NG, but they wont do that.

They'll fix the MAX and move on, and as long as no more crashes occur, eventually the public will forget.

JustPastPeacefield , 56 minutes ago link

Thats a hard sell to airlines when the competing plane has a 15% lower operating cost.

silverer , 3 hours ago link

The FED can't let the stock price fall on a company of that size, so the FED trading desk will lend assistance. There is a certain evil in this, because the stock deserves to fall, and when it doesn't, it has the effect of vindicating the company for the events that occurred. This is why free markets should never be meddled with. It's actually immoral.

CatInTheHat , 3 hours ago link

This is utterly predictable and something I've already said repeatedly: Boeing did not tell pilots or its customers about the mechanism. Boeing is criminally liable for the MURDER of 300+ people. Families will sue and cancellations will follow.

Then this:

"In essence, the suit alleges that the company concealed safety concerns about the 737 MAX and its anti-stall software following the Lion Air crash in October that killed 189 people, but did nothing to alert the public or correct the issue.

Boeing "effectively put profitability and growth ahead of airplane safety and honesty"

Pilots complained about the problem and were IGNORED.

This is good to see. Boeing needs to be held accountable for MURDER. But instead Trump slaps tariffs on the competitor, AIRBUS, to pay for Boeing's criminality.

This will not stop companies choosing AIRBUS and its good safety record over a bunch of psychopathic murderers. If Boeing had put safety first, it's competitor would not be picking up business..ironic...

3-fingered_chemist , 3 hours ago link

I still don't understand the point of the MCAS. Clearly it causes the plane to do a face plant into the ground. However, like in that one situation where the jump seat pilot knew to turn it off, the plane flew fine. Boeing says the MCAS is to prevent the plane from stalling at steep angles of attack, but the plane seems to stay in the air better without it. So which is it? The fact is the Boeing neglected to put it in the manual suggests it was done on purpose. The fact that they sold a version with no redundancy to the AOC sensor seems to be have done on purpose. Since Boeing is basically an arm of the DOD, the question should be who was on the flights that crashed? That's the missing link in this debacle.

ArtOfIgnorance , 3 hours ago link

Check out " moonofalabama.org ", very good explanation, plus some further links to pilot forums.

From what I understand, the pilots get into some sort of "catch 22"....even if they switch of the MACS, they are doomed.

I'm not I anyway in the flying biz, but work in power generating control systems, and funny enough, use quite a lot of Rosemount sensors in ex areas. They are good sensors, but always use two in mission critical operations.

Why Boeing opted for just one, really blows my mind.

What would an extra sensor cost, 10.000USD?, altogether with new software..bla-bla.

Now look what this is costing them.

Well, this is what happens when MBA bean counters take over a former proud engineering company.

Tragic.

Urban Roman , 3 hours ago link

From what I understand, the pilots get into some sort of "catch 22"....even if they switch of the MACS, they are doomed.

Sort of like that. The flight surface is controlled by a big screw. Normally an electric motor spins the nut that drives the screw up and down. The switch cuts out the motor, and they have hand cranks to move the screw. But in this last crash, the too-clever-by-half software system had already run the screw all the way to the 'nose down' end, and it would have taken them several minutes of hand cranking to get it back to the center position. They didn't have several minutes, and the motor is capable of driving the screw the other way. Since the problem was intermittent (software kicks in on a time interval), they were hoping it would behave for a few seconds, and switched the motor back on. It didn't.

On a side note, the Airbus does not have these hand-crank controls. Everything is run by the computer -- so if anything goes wrong, the pilot must 'reason' with the computer to correct it. . . "Sorry Dave, I can't do that".

Well, this is what happens when MBA bean counters take over a former proud engineering company.

This reminds me of Feynman's analysis of what went wrong with the Space Shuttle Challenger. The engineers said the O-rings would be too stiff and brittle, and the launch should wait until it warmed up a bit. But a delay was costing the shuttle program a million dollars a minute, or whatever.

Feynman explained that the early space program was run by the pocket-protector guys with slide rules. And it worked. But over time the management had been replaced by people whose careers depended on influencing other people and not on matter, energy, and materials.

Shockwave , 2 hours ago link

Another thing, the pilots had commanded full throttle and never throttled back during the whole ordeal. So when they killed the trim motor, they couldn't overcome the aerodynamic force on the stab to move the trim screw back into position.

Apparently they could have got the trim corrected ENOUGH to make a difference if they could have moved it more easily, but at the speeds they were going, the airspeed over the stab was too high to manually move the screw fast enough to make a difference.

jerry-jeff , 1 hour ago link

another interesting point is that the system is deactivated when flaps are selected...only works when aircraft is in 'clean' config.

Shockwave , 1 hour ago link

Interesting. Did not know that.

Shockwave , 2 hours ago link

Sort of. When you kill the electric trim motor, you have to use a manual wheel to adjust trim. The issue came that their airspeed was so high that the load on the stab made it nearly impossible to move without the electric motor.

They had been at full throttle from rotation until they hit the dirt. The pilot had told the copilot to throttle back but it got lost in the chaos somewhere and never happened.

So when they killed the trim motor and tried to move it manually, they had to overcome all the aerodynamic force on the stab, and they just couldnt do it at those airspeeds without the electric motor to overcome the force.

MilwaukeeMark , 3 hours ago link

The bigger the fuselage the bigger the engines needed. The bigger the engines needed the more forward on the wing they go to keep from scraping on the ground. The more forward on the wing the more unbalanced then plane became. They've stretch a frame which was developed in the 60's beyond its original design.

MilwaukeeMark , 4 hours ago link

The executives who oversaw the fiasco that is now Boeing, long ago parachuted out with multi million dollar pensions and stock options while their Seattle workers had their pensions slashed. They're now assembling Dreamliners in NC with off the street non unionized labor, former TacoBell and Subway workers. They moved their Corp headquarters to Chicago away from where the actual work was being performed to pursue the "work" of stock buy backs and cozying up to the FAA. All the above a recipe for disaster. A perfect mirror of how the 1/10th of 1% operate in the Oligarchy we call America.

thunderchief , 4 hours ago link

Boeing is in full on crisis mode because of the 737 Max fiasco.

Anything else they say or do is pure show and fraud.

The are not to far from losing the entire narrowbody airline market, pretty much the meat and bones of Airline production.

Today Airbus still has the A-320 neo, and Russia and China are chomping at the bit with the MC21 and C919, all far more advanced and superior than a 1960's designed stretched pulled and too late 737 .

If Boeing loses market share and the narrow body airline market, shame on the USA.

This will become a text book expample of the fall of a nation and empire.

How can a Company like Boeing have technology like the B2 and everything the DOD gives them and lose the international market for narrowbody airliners..

To call this a national disgrace is a compliment to Boeing and the US aerospace industies complete disregard and hubris in such an important component of worldwide aviation.

This in not a sad chapter for Boeing, its sad for the USA

south40_dreams , 4 hours ago link

Boeing is headquartered in Shitcago, how fitting

wally_12 , 3 hours ago link

Don't forget K-Cars, Vega, Pinto, Aztec etc. Auto industry has the type of idiots as Boeing.

Government bailout on the horizon.

south40_dreams , 3 hours ago link

Not bailout, coverup and lots and lots of lipstick will be applied to this pig

IronForge , 2 hours ago link

BeanCounters, Parasitoids, and Bells-WhistlesMktg Types Running an Aerospace/Aviation Engineering and Defense Tech Conglomerate into the Ground - Literally.

Civil Aviation Div "Jumped the Shark" the moment they passed on a redesigned Successor to the 737 Base Model in the mid 2000s and decided to strap on Larger Engines and GunDeck the Revision and Certifications.

So Sad Too Bad. No Sympathies for BA.

Catullus , 4 hours ago link

Failure to disclose regulatory capture is a tough one. Do you issue an 8K on that one? Maybe bury it in the 10K in risk statements

"We maintain several regulatory relationships that will rubber stamp approvals for our aircraft. In the event of a major safety violation, those cozy relationships could be exposed and we be found to not only be negligent, but also nefariously so through regulatory capture."

You bought an airline manufacturer that had a malfunction. There's plenty of people to blame, but it's part of the business you own.

boooyaaaah , 4 hours ago link

Question?
Are the millennials too dishonest for freedom

Free markets, free exchange of ideas and information

The truth shall set you free

Arrow4Truth , 2 hours ago link

They have no comprehension of freedom, which translates to, they are incapable of seeing the truth. The indoctrination has worked swimmingly.

haley's_vomit , 4 hours ago link

Nikki 'luvsNetanyahu' Haley is Boeing's 'rabidjew' answer to their "look! up in the sky! it's Silverstein's Air Force"

[Apr 10, 2019] Boeing's 737 Max 1960s Design, 1990s Computing Power and Paper Manuals

Apr 10, 2019 | www.nytimes.com

The 737 Max is a legacy of its past, built on decades-old systems, many that date back to the original version. The strategy, to keep updating the plane rather than starting from scratch, offered competitive advantages. Pilots were comfortable flying it, while airlines didn't have to invest in costly new training for their pilots and mechanics. For Boeing, it was also faster and cheaper to redesign and recertify than starting anew.

But the strategy has now left the company in crisis, following two deadly crashes in less than five months. The Max stretched the 737 design, creating a patchwork plane that left pilots without some safety features that could be important in a crisis -- ones that have been offered for years on other planes. It is the only modern Boeing jet without an electronic alert system that explains what is malfunctioning and how to resolve it. Instead pilots have to check a manual.

The Max also required makeshift solutions to keep the plane flying like its ancestors, workarounds that may have compromised safety. While the findings aren't final, investigators suspect that one workaround, an anti-stall system designed to compensate for the larger engines, was central to the crash last month in Ethiopia and an earlier one in Indonesia.

"They wanted to A, save money and B, to minimize the certification and flight-test costs," said Mike Renzelmann, an engineer who worked on the Max's flight controls. "Any changes are going to require recertification." Mr. Renzelmann was not involved in discussions about the sensors.

... ... ...

On 737s, a light typically indicates the problem and pilots have to flip through their paper manuals to find next steps. In the doomed Indonesia flight, as the Lion Air pilots struggled with MCAS for control, the pilots consulted the manual moments before the jet plummeted into the Java Sea, killing all 189 people aboard.

"Meanwhile, I'm flying the jet," said Mr. Tajer, the American Airlines 737 captain. "Versus, pop, it's on your screen. It tells you, This is the problem and here's the checklist that's recommended."

Boeing decided against adding it to the Max because it could have prompted regulators to require new pilot training, according to two former Boeing employees involved in the decision.

The Max also runs on a complex web of cables and pulleys that, when pilots pull back on the controls, transfer that movement to the tail. By comparison, Airbus jets and Boeing's more modern aircraft, such as the 777 and 787, are "fly-by-wire," meaning pilots' movement of the flight controls is fed to a computer that directs the plane. The design allows for far more automation, including systems that prevent the jet from entering dangerous situations, such as flying too fast or too low. Some 737 pilots said they preferred the cable-and-pulley system to fly-by-wire because they believed it gave them more control.

In the recent crashes, investigators believe the MCAS malfunctioned and moved a tail flap called the stabilizer, tilting the plane toward the ground. On the doomed Ethiopian Airlines flight, the pilots tried to combat the system by cutting power to the stabilizer's motor, according to the preliminary crash report.

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Once the power was cut, the pilots tried to regain control manually by turning a wheel next to their seat. The 737 is the last modern Boeing jet that uses a manual wheel as its backup system. But Boeing has long known that turning the wheel is difficult at high speeds, and may have required two pilots to work together.

In the final moments of the Ethiopian Airlines flight, the first officer said the method wasn't working, according to the preliminary crash report. About 1 minute and 49 seconds later, the plane crashed, killing 157 people.

Steve Lovelien Waukesha,WI 25m ago

The Seattle Times published what I consider a devastating article a few Sundays ago. It highlighted the depth to which Boeing and the FAA cut corners on the certification of the Max, more specifically the characterization of the impact of a failure of the new MCAS system. This allowed them to utilize the cheaper single sensor AOA vane instead of 2 or 3. The aircraft also got delivered with the MCAS system applying many more nose down units of trim than what was published in the certification process. Topping it off was the failure of Boeing to disclose to its customers that the MCAS system was installed or what abnormal or emergency procedures would accompany the system.


Catalin Iasi 2h ago

True, there are two kinds of pilots, and some are better. BUT no pilot should be put in a critical situation by bad and rushed design. What was Boeing thinking? `Yes, there is slight chance that things can go wrong... but if the pilot is experienced, if the weather is fine, if the FO is focused (and so on...) they will surely make it.' Why taking that risk? They should design a plane that even a drunk pilot can handle.
AeroEngineer Toronto 2h ago
The MCAS moves the entire horizontal tail (aka horizontal stabilizer) not just "a tail flap called the stabilizer". Normal stabilizer trim also moves the whole horizontal stabilizer. Presumably the "flap" being referred to here, incorrectly, is the elevator, a flight control surface on the trailing edge of the horizontal tail, which is control by pulling and pushing the flight control column. Both horizontal stabilizer trim and elevator affect the pitch (nose up, nose down) of the aircraft. Typically, horizontal stabilizer trim is used to maintain a particular attitude (e.g. level flight in cruise) without requiring the pilot to continously apply significant forces to the control column, which is tiring. When MCAS engages it effectively is attempting to "cancel out" the pilot's elevator command (pulling back on the control column to bring the nose up by ) by moving the horizontal stabilizer to counteract the pilots action (rotating the the horizontal stabilizer so that it's leading edge points down).
Tony Boston 2h ago
Boeing should have gone with a clean sheet of paper design. Look at the Airbus A220, previously known as Bombardier C Series. It has nearly similar seating, yet it carries less fuel, but has a longer range than the MAX8. Modern wing design. Heck, Boeing should have just bought Bombardier 10 years ago. Now they are in the arms of Airbus.
Ed N Southbury,CT 2h ago
Why doesn't BA just trash the entire max8 program and become a subcontractor for A320s instead? After all there is a demand for 5000 aircraft that now will not be fulfilled. Boeing management should be put on trial for criminal negligence.
Jim Mooney Apache Junction, AZ 2h ago
Finally, a comprehensive report that doesn't go on and on about software. The problem was a mechanical and training one, and instead of fixing the problems, the Bean Counters took over and went on the cheap.

[Apr 08, 2019] Deregulation, financialization and Boeing crashes

Notable quotes:
"... The problem was that the marketing department has been totally divorced from production and works as instructed by the financiers in Chicago whose concern is only for the next quarter's profits. ..."
Apr 08, 2019 | www.wsws.org

niveb -> Mcomment, 4 days ago

The safety violations and regulatory blindness in this case appear to be so flagrant that it is difficult to believe that any engineers would not have advised against selling the 'plane.'

The problem was that the marketing department has been totally divorced from production and works as instructed by the financiers in Chicago whose concern is only for the next quarter's profits.

Had the corporation been publicly owned the compulsion to put a flawed and dangerous 'plane into the air would have been greatly mitigated -- one imagines that as soon as it was deemed operational massive bonuses were paid out to key individuals. Which is incidentally something that ought to be revealed if there is a proper trial.

So far as democratic control-workers management- is concerned is there any doubt that the views and opinions of those who built and tested the Max would have made it impossible for the psychopath financiers to sell the 'product' in an unsafe condition?

[Apr 08, 2019] Trump deadly deregulation

Apr 04, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , April 05, 2019 at 01:50 PM

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/04/opinion/trump-deadly-deregulation.html

April 4, 2019

Donald Trump Is Trying to Kill You: Trust the pork producers; fear the wind turbines. By Paul Krugman

There's a lot we don't know about the legacy Donald Trump will leave behind. And it is, of course, hugely important what happens in the 2020 election. But one thing seems sure: Even if he's a one-term president, Trump will have caused, directly or indirectly, the premature deaths of a large number of Americans.

Some of those deaths will come at the hands of right-wing, white nationalist extremists, who are a rapidly growing threat, partly because they feel empowered by a president who calls them "very fine people."

Some will come from failures of governance, like the inadequate response to Hurricane Maria, which surely contributed to the high death toll in Puerto Rico. (Reminder: Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens.)

Some will come from the administration's continuing efforts to sabotage Obamacare, which have failed to kill health reform but have stalled the decline in the number of uninsured, meaning that many people still aren't getting the health care they need. Of course, if Trump gets his way and eliminates Obamacare altogether, things on this front will get much, much worse.

But the biggest death toll is likely to come from Trump's agenda of deregulation -- or maybe we should call it "deregulation," because his administration is curiously selective about which industries it wants to leave alone.

Consider two recent events that help capture the deadly strangeness of what's going on.

One is the administration's plan for hog plants to take over much of the federal responsibility for food safety inspections. And why not? It's not as if we've seen safety problems arise from self-regulation in, say, the aircraft industry, have we? Or as if we ever experience major outbreaks of food-borne illness? Or as if there was a reason the U.S. government stepped in to regulate meatpacking in the first place?

Now, you could see the Trump administration's willingness to trust the meat industry to keep our meat safe as part of an overall attack on government regulation, a willingness to trust profit-making businesses to do the right thing and let the market rule. And there's something to that, but it's not the whole story, as illustrated by another event: Trump's declaration the other day that wind turbines cause cancer.

Now, you could put this down to personal derangement: Trump has had an irrational hatred for wind power ever since he failed to prevent construction of a wind farm near his Scottish golf course. And Trump seems deranged and irrational on so many issues that one more bizarre claim hardly seems to matter.

But there's more to this than just another Trumpism. After all, we normally think of Republicans in general, and Trump in particular, as people who minimize or deny the "negative externalities" imposed by some business activities -- the uncompensated costs they impose on other people or businesses.

For example, the Trump administration wants to roll back rules that limit emissions of mercury from power plants. And in pursuit of that goal, it wants to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from taking account of many of the benefits from reduced mercury emissions, such as an associated reduction in nitrogen oxide.

But when it comes to renewable energy, Trump and company are suddenly very worried about supposed negative side effects, which generally exist only in their imagination. Last year the administration floated a proposal that would have forced the operators of electricity grids to subsidize coal and nuclear energy. The supposed rationale was that new sources were threatening to destabilize those grids -- but the grid operators themselves denied that this was the case.

So it's deregulation for some, but dire warnings about imaginary threats for others. What's going on?

Part of the answer is, follow the money. Political contributions from the meat-processing industry overwhelmingly favor Republicans. Coal mining supports the G.O.P. almost exclusively. Alternative energy, on the other hand, generally favors Democrats.

There are probably other things, too. If you're a party that wishes we could go back to the 1950s (but without the 91 percent top tax rate), you're going to have a hard time accepting the reality that hippie-dippy, unmanly things like wind and solar power are becoming ever more cost-competitive.

Whatever the drivers of Trump policy, the fact, as I said, is that it will kill people. Wind turbines don't cause cancer, but coal-burning power plants do -- along with many other ailments. The Trump administration's own estimates indicate that its relaxation of coal pollution rules will kill more than 1,000 Americans every year. If the administration gets to implement its full agenda -- not just deregulation of many industries, but discrimination against industries it doesn't like, such as renewable energy -- the toll will be much higher.

So if you eat meat -- or, for that matter, drink water or breathe air -- there's a real sense in which Donald Trump is trying to kill you. And even if he's turned out of office next year, for many Americans it will be too late.

ilsm -> anne... , April 05, 2019 at 03:56 PM
"uninsured" in the for profit system is a terrible measure!

US health outcomes in relation to OEDC remains sad.

point -> anne... , April 05, 2019 at 07:19 PM
One wonders how when expected deaths are 1/x and activity is x, then the product does not mean 1 expected death, and then ordinary legal consequences.
mulp -> anne... , April 06, 2019 at 03:25 AM
Trump does not want to go back to the 50s when government policy was to greatly increase costs by paying more workers more, while driving down prices, and elinimating rents and scarcity profits.

Trump wants to kill jobs that are paid, but force work that is unpaid.

Well, if you means 1850, by the 50s, that's when Trump would have excelled by raping his slaves to create more workers he would force to work, probably Brazil style, worked to death to cut costs, based on continued enslavement of slaves, ie, no ban on slave imports after 1808.

JohnH -> anne... , April 06, 2019 at 03:39 PM
Trump may be trying to kill us...but do Democrats have a plan to save us? So far, I can discern no coherent message or plan from corrupt, comatose Democrats other than 'Trump is guilty [of something or other.]
mulp -> JohnH... , April 07, 2019 at 03:11 PM
You are simply rejecting Democrats calls to reverse policies since 1970 to MAGA as failed liberal policies because its not new, never tried before, and not free.

The growth of the 50s and 60s was too costly, requiring people to work, save, and pay ever rising prices, taxes, and living costs.

You want economics where you can buy a million dollar home for $50,000 and have schools funded by modest property taxes on million dollar homes, but with low tax rates on houses assessed at $40,000.

TANSTAAFL

The only way working class families get better off is by paying higher costs.

Zero sum.

Christopher H. said in reply to anne... , April 07, 2019 at 11:00 AM
The Jungle was written about Chicago and Chicago just elected 5 (possibly 6) socialists to the City Council (which is made up of 50 total alderman).

Chicago also elected a black lesbian mayor but she's not that progressive.

I guess Krugman would dismiss this all as "purity" politics.

https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/andre-vasquex-democratic-socialist-pat-oconnor-40th-ward-aldermanic-election/

04/05/2019, 05:37pm

Meet the democratic socialist who sent Rahm's floor leader packing

By Mark Brown

There's never been a Chicago politician who quite fits the profile of Andre Vasquez, the former battle rapper and current democratic socialist who just took down veteran 40th Ward Ald. Patrick O'Connor, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's city council floor leader.

That probably scares some people.

But those folks might want to nod to the wisdom of the 54 percent of voters in the North Side ward who waded through an onslaught of attack ads and concluded they have nothing to fear from the 39-year-old AT&T account manager, his music or his politics.

I stopped by Vasquez's campaign office to satisfy my own curiosity about this new breed of aldermen. Vasquez will be part of a Chicago City Council bloc of at least five, probably six democratic socialists who, if nothing else, will alter the debate on a range of issues.

Vazquez said he understands democratic socialism as "just injecting a healthy dose of democracy in a system we already have.

"Where we see the influence of big money and corporations in our government, where we see the corruption in the council, where we see elected officials as bought and paid for, to me, democratic socialism is providing a counterbalance," he said.

Vasquez also reminded me that generalizing about democratic socialists is as foolish as generalizing about Democrats.

"I think even within democratic socialism there's such a spectrum of different folks, right? I tend to be a counterbalance to some of the louder stuff, the louder hardcore, what some would view as extreme," said Vasquez, noting that he sometimes takes flak within democratic socialist circles because he's never read Marx and doesn't "bleed rose red."

"Everyone's got their part to play," he said. "Somebody's going to be the loud one in the room because you need that kind of impetus to move things forward. And someone's got to be the one who's making deals on legislation. You can't have ideological fights and think you're going to come up with solutions."

Though Vasquez prefers the dealmaker role, his background suggests he also could get loud if the occasion demanded.

Until he decided it was time to do something else with his life around 2010, Vasquez was a battle rapper who performed under the stage name Prime. He had enough success to pay the bills for a while, touring nationally and appearing on MTV's "Direct Effect" and HBO's "Blaze Battle."

For old people like me who are unclear on the concept (begging the pardon of the rest of you), battle rapping involves performers trading insults in rhyme put to music.

"Then, imagine you have a crowd around you," Vasquez explained. "And now people are cheering you on, and the insults are getting more vicious and intricate, and it becomes a sporting match. Right? So, in that arena, you're getting heralded for how well you can insult the person in front of you while rhyming and improvising all as this stream of consciousness is coming out."

I suggested a battle rap might occasionally be just the antidote to the drudgery of a council meeting, but Vasquez wasn't amused.

The problem with battle rapping, as 40th Ward voters were reminded ad nauseam during the runoff campaign, is that the genre relies heavily on crude insults invoking disrespectful terms for women and LGBTQ individuals.

"The issue is toxic masculinity plagues everything," said Vasquez, who obliquely fronted an apology for his past verbal misdeeds early in the campaign -- and more directly when hit with a barrage of negative mailers detailing a greatest hits of his transgressions.

A lesser candidate would have been toast at that point, but Vasquez had girded himself in advance through his door-to-door organizing.

By then, enough 40th Ward residents knew who Vasquez really was -- the son of Guatemalan immigrants, a city kid from the neighborhoods who had become a family guy with two young kids and a late-discovered talent for politics -- that they couldn't be scared off.

Vasquez, who lives in Edgewater, was introduced to politics when he felt the Bern in 2014 and volunteered for Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. A left-leaning community group, Reclaim Chicago, then recruited Vasquez to expand upon his organizing talents -- and taught him how to build a classic grassroots campaign.

The result is a new Latino alderman in a ward where fewer than one-fifth of the voters are Latino. And a Democratic Socialist representing a ward previously ruled by Emanuel's floor leader.

"I'm not trying to plant a flag," Vasquez said. "I'm trying to make sure that people can live here and not be forced out."

Christopher H. said in reply to Christopher H.... , April 07, 2019 at 11:02 AM
"Vasquez, who lives in Edgewater, was introduced to politics when he felt the Bern in 2014 and volunteered for Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. A left-leaning community group, Reclaim Chicago, then recruited Vasquez to expand upon his organizing talents -- and taught him how to build a classic grassroots campaign."

I like the centrists like Krugman and liberals here like EMike who dismiss Bernie as a cult of personality. No he's spurring local organizing which doesn't revolve around him.

mulp -> Christopher H.... , April 07, 2019 at 03:34 PM
Will Bernie as president build walls around big cities like Chicago, build iron Curtains, to keep the rich inside these cities where all their wealth is taxed away every year, and they are prevented from moving to the towns outside Chicago city limits?

[Apr 04, 2019] Neoliberals are no Christians

Apr 04, 2019 | www.unz.com

Anja Böttcher , says: April 3, 2019 at 7:56 am GMT

@Anon You are no Christians. USAism and all radical Protestantism is abusing the surface of Christianity for satanic anti-Christianity.

There is no Christianity but what is rooted in the old and everlasting Church of which Christ is the Head in the Holy Spirit, as laid in apostle's hands and transferred by Church fathers.

Christianity is genuinely collectivist, it has nothing to do with the perverted individualism of Anglosaxon background and does not agree with the inherent nihilistic energy of capitalism.

... ... ...

[Apr 03, 2019] Bad News For Boeing Preliminary Report Shows Anti-Stall Software Sealed Flight ET302's Fate

Apr 03, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Bad News For Boeing: Preliminary Report Shows Anti-Stall Software Sealed Flight ET302's Fate

by Tyler Durden Wed, 04/03/2019 - 08:06 251 SHARES

Thought it hasn't been publicly released yet, a preliminary report on the circumstances that caused flight ET302 to plunge out of the sky just minutes after takeoff was completed earlier this week, and some of the details have leaked to Reuters and the Wall Street Journal. And for Boeing shareholders, the findings aren't pretty.

Appearing to contradict Boeing's insistence that procedures for deactivating its MCAS anti-stall software were widely disseminated, and that pilots at airlines around the world had been trained on these procedures, WSJ reported that the pilots of ET302 successfully switched off MCAS as they struggled to right the plane after the software had automatically tipped its nose down. As they struggled to right the plane, the pilots ended up reactivating the software, while trying a few other steps from their training, before the plane began its final plunge toward a field outside Addis Ababa, where the ensuing crash killed all 157 people on board.

Though the pilots deviated from Boeing's emergency checklist as they tried to right the plane, investigators surmised that they gave up on the procedures after they failed to right the plane. But when MCAS reengaged, whether intentionally, or on accident, it pushed the nose of the plane lower once again.

The pilots on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 initially reacted to the emergency by shutting off power to electric motors driven by the automated system, these people said, but then appear to have re-engaged the system to cope with a persistent steep nose-down angle. It wasn't immediately clear why the pilots turned the automated system back on instead of continuing to follow Boeing's standard emergency checklist, but government and industry officials said the likely reason would have been because manual controls to raise the nose didn't achieve the desired results.

After first cranking a manual wheel in the cockpit that controls the same movable surfaces on the plane's tail that MCAS had affected, the pilots turned electric power back on, one of these people said. They began to use electric switches to try to raise the plane's nose, according to these people. But the electric power also reactivated MCAS, allowing it to continue its strong downward commands, the people said.

Reuters , which was also the recipient of leaks from investigators, offered a slightly different version of events. It reported that MCAS was reengaged four times as pilots scrambled to right the plane, and that investigators were looking into the possibility that the software might have reengaged without prompting from the pilots.

After the Lion Air crash that killed 189 people back in October, Boeing and the FAA published a bulletin reminding pilots to follow the emergency procedures to deactivate the software if a faulty sensor - like the one that is believed to have contributed to the Lion Air crash - feeds erroneous data to the system.

The data show the pilots maneuvered the plane back upward twice before deactivating the software. But between the two reports, one detail is made abundantly clear. The software's reengagement is what doomed everybody aboard. That is an unequivocally bad look for Boeing, which has been deflecting questions about the software's bugs, and gaps in the dissemination of its training materials, while working on an update that the company says will make the software less reliant on automated systems.

ersl , 3 hours ago link

The aviation industry has been trying to make the human pilots obsolete, just as in so many industries. But they all do their, these days, their R & D on the job. Recall the Amazon Robot that went berserk recently. The idea is to rid all industry of people progressively so that they can end up not needing people at all. They'll end up with nothing. Some how they think that if they take people out then profits will be assured, which is actually psychotic. They have had remote auto pilot for 7 decades now. They can bring down any aircraft at will, and do so regularly. They can shut down or affect engines remotely, or alter the actions as is imbedded into just about all new machinery, other than knives, forks and spoons. Yet they still need consumers and workers to create hedged exchange to profit from. That is the dilemma industry owners are facing, that without pesky people they are doomed as much as the doom they are creating for even their own off spring = psychosis.

[Mar 23, 2019] Boeing Crapification 737 MAX Play-by-Play, Regulatory Capture, and When Will CEO Muilenburg Become the Sacrificial Victim by Lambert Strether

Notable quotes:
"... By Lambert Strether of Corrente . ..."
"... "It's a very, very serious investigation into basically, was there fraud by Boeing in the certification of the 737 MAX 8 ?" Arthur Rosenberg, an aviation attorney who is representing six families whose relatives died in the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes, explained. ..."
"... Rosenberg expects the criminal probe to question whether Boeing fully disclosed to the FAA the engineering of the 737 Max 8's MCAS flight control system, called MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), during the plane's certification process. The flight control system was designed to prevent the plane from stalling. ..."
"... Unfortunately for Boeing and the passengers its crashed aircraft were carrying, the MCAS system was very poorly implemented. ..."
"... The single sensor was the result of regulatory capture, not to say gaming; see below. ..."
"... Black box data retrieved after the Lion Air crash indicates that a single faulty sensor -- a vane on the outside of the fuselage that measures the plane's "angle of attack," the angle between the airflow and the wing -- triggered MCAS multiple times during the deadly flight, initiating a tug of war as the system repeatedly pushed the nose of the plane down and the pilots wrestled with the controls to pull it back up, before the final crash. ..."
"... Regulatory Capture : Commercial aircraft need to be certified by the FAA before launch. The Washington Post labels today's process "self-certification": ..."
"... In practice, one Boeing engineer would conduct a test of a particular system on the Max 8, while another Boeing engineer would act as the FAA's representative , signing on behalf of the U.S. government that the technology complied with federal safety regulations, people familiar with the process said. ..."
"... (Note that a 10-year-old process would have begun in the Obama administration, so the regulatory process is bipartisan.) I understand that " safety culture " is real and strong, but imagine the same role-playing concept applied to finance: One bankers plays the banker, and the other banker plays Bill Black, and after a time they switch roles . Clearly a system that will work until it doesn't. More: ..."
"... The process was occurring during a period when the Transportation Department's Office of Inspector General was warning the FAA that its oversight of manufacturers' work was insufficient. ..."
"... The FAA, citing lack of funding and resources, has over the years delegated increasing authority to Boeing to take on more of the work of certifying the safety of its own airplanes. ..."
"... Alert readers will note the similarity to the Neoliberal Playbook , where government systems are sabotaged in order to privatize them, but in this case regulatory capture seems to have happened "by littles," rather than out of open, ideological conviction (as with the UKs's NHS, or our Post Office, our Veteran's Administration, etc.). ..."
"... Several FAA technical experts said in interviews that as certification proceeded, managers prodded them to speed the process. Development of the MAX was lagging nine months behind the rival Airbus A320neo. Time was of the essence for Boeing . ..."
"... In this atmosphere, the System Safety Analysis on MCAS, just one piece of the mountain of documents needed for certification, was delegated to Boeing . ..."
"... It should be clear at this point that the central claims of Muilenburg's letter are false. ..."
"... The self-certification debacle that allowed MCAS to be released happened on Muilenburg's watch and is already causing Boeing immense reputational damage, and a criminal case, not to mention the civil cases that are surely coming, will only increase that damage. Mr. Market, the Beltway, and even Trump, if his trade deals are affected, will all soon be bellowing for a sacrificial victim. Muilenburg should recognize the inevitable and gracefully resign. Given his letter, it looks unlikely that he will do the right thing. ..."
"... Beyond that ultimate problem is the ultimate regulatory problem: regulatory capture of the FAA by the airline companies. As a result, the FAA represents "its customers" the airplane makers, not the public users and customers. This is like the banks capturing the Fed, the Justice Dept. and Treasury to promote their own interests by claiming that "self-regulation" works. Self-regulation is the polite word for fraudulent self-indulgence. ..."
"... I would be surprised if the European Airbus competitors do not mount a campaign to block the 737-Max's from landing, and insisting that Boeing buy them back. This gives Airbus a few years to grab the market for these planes. ..."
"... This probably will throw Trump's China trade fight into turmoil, as China was the first country to ground the 737-Max's and is unlikely to permit their recovery without a "real" federal safety oversight program. Maybe Europe, China and other countries henceforth will each demand that their own public agencies certify the plane, so as to represent users and stakeholders, not only stockholders. ..."
"... The moral: Neoliberalism Kills. ..."
"... Rule #2 of Neoliberalism: Go die. ..."
"... > "Maybe Europe, China and other countries henceforth will each demand that their own public agencies certify the plane." ..."
"... As if the 737 MAX were the chlorinated chicken of aircraft. ..."
"... "This gives Airbus a few years to grab the market for these planes." ..."
"... Regulatory capture is rampant throughout the economy. Boeing self-certification being delegated by the FAA is not unlike the situation with electric transmission utilities. ..."
"... that is subject to both FERC and NERC regulation. ..."
"... In hindsight Boeing would have perhaps been better off to leave off the MCAS altogether and depend on pilot retraining to cover the altered handling. ..."
"... Reports I've read indicates that Boeing ignored even the clearly inadequate certification. "Documentation provided to the FAA claims that the MCAS system can only adjust the horizontal tail on the plane by 0.6 degrees out of a maximum of five-degrees of nose-down movement. But that limit was later increased to 2.5-degrees of nose-down movement. Boeing didn't communicate the change from 0.6-degrees to 2.5-degrees until after Lion Air." ..."
"... Boeing could also be liable for damages due to 737 groundings and due to delays in delivery of contracted planes. ..."
"... The analogy has been made between this the 737 MAX story and the Tylenol story. J&J got out in front of the problem and saved the product (and their company). Boeing's problem is of that order, and Muilenberg -- that letter! -- seems incapable of understanding that; insular, arrogant. One more reason to fire the dude toot sweet. If he comes out of his next review with a raise -- Everything Is Like CalPERS™ -- consider shorting Boeing ..."
"... Allowing this to happen seems the ultimate in short term thinking by Boeing. US manufacturers have always had an advantage over competitors because the FAA was held in such high regard worldwide that it was the de facto world safety regulatory body – every country followed its lead. But this chipping away of its authority has led to a near fatal loss of faith, and will no doubt lead to European and Asian regulatory authorities being strengthened. And no doubt commercial realities will mean they will look much more closely at US manufactured aircraft if there is some benefit to their own manufacturers. ..."
"... The Times thinks Boeing is too big to fail. Without a blockbuster Max, I don't see how Boeing maintains its current status in the industry. ..."
"... I also think they have been completely afflicted by the defense contractor mentality. ..."
"... Yes, the famous McDonnell-Douglas reverse takeover , where financial engineers inserted their sucking mandibles into an actual ..."
"... Note that Muilenberg came up through the defense side of the company not the commercial aircraft side. He may simply not have been equipped to understand FAA regulation at any deep level, hence the rot that finally surfaced. ..."
"... The tragedy is that corporate media in pursuit of profits will keep us up to date but will never mention the 6 or 8 minutes of terror for the 346 souls aboard the two flights. They will cover the criminal negligence trial if there are ever indictments. But, the news reports never will say that neoliberalism, deregulation, and privatization are the root causes of the deaths. ..."
"... Boeing also clearly did not know its customers . It should be engineering for the sort of pilots who are going to be hired by Lion Air, or any rapidly expanding airline in what we used to all the Third World. Hegemony, it seems, makes you insular and provincial. ..."
"... "The FAA, citing lack of funding and resource": I don't suppose I'll survive to see any arm of government not blame lack of funds for its boneheaded or corrupt incompetence. ..."
"... That's how I feel. The tech doc department at Boeing sounds like a horrible place to work; MBAs or their goons telling you all the time to do stuff you know is wrong. It's not surprising people were willing to talk to the Seattle Times; I bet there are more people. (Hey, Seattle Times! How about people testing the 737 MAX in simulators (assuming this is done)). ..."
"... Interestingly, and maybe relevant to the problem of confusion for the pilots, is that Boeing has had another automatic trim-modifier operating on its 737s for some time, the speed-trim system (STS): ..."
"... This system also modifies the stabilizer position during manual flight. Like MCAS, it was brought in to improve stability under certain flight conditions (the reasons for which are far beyond my knowledge). There is an indication that the pilots on the flight before the Lion Air crash misinterpreted MCAS actions for STS behavior. ..."
"... authority would revert to the pilot ..."
"... How many years ago did Wall Street take over the fortunes of the company? Why did they move their headquarters from their birthplace of Seattle to Chicago? Why did they start assembling planes in South Carolina and China? Was it to improve aviation safety? Or, to allow the profiteering parasites to feed off the carcass of the company? ..."
"... President Trump, here's a reelection tip: "Today I am declaring that all American registered aircraft flying in American airspace must be maintained in the U.S." ..."
"... Amazingly, Trump seems to have done OK on this. First, he didn't cave to Muilenberg's (insane, goofy, tone-deaf) request to keep the 737 flying; then he frames the issue as complexity (correct, IMNSHO), and then he manages to nominate a Delta CEO as head of the FAA . ..."
"... we're seeing signs that a crapification process has begun on the safety side in this industry. (It has been proceeding for years on the service/amenities side.) ..."
"... Considering the fact that all these 737s are grounded as no airline trust them to not kill a plane load of passengers and crew, this is a really big deal. Putting aside the technical and regulatory issues, the fact is that the rest of the world no longer trusts the US in modern aviation so what we have here is a trust issue which is an even bigger deal. ..."
"... Loss or at least wobbliness of imperial hegemony, like. It's not just the aircraft, it's US standards-setting bodies, methods, "safety culture," even -- dare we say it -- English as the language of aviation. French is no longer the language of diplomacy, after all, though it had a good run. ..."
"... Because markets. Neoliberalism puts everything up for sale. Including regulation. Oversimplifying absurdly: And so you end up with the profit-driven manufacturer buying the regulator, its produce killing people, and the manufacturer canceling its future profits. That's what the Bearded One would call a contradiction.* ..."
"... know your customer ..."
"... Like you, I am a retired software engineer, so I have followed an aviation blog discussion of this issue quite closely since it emerged as a probable software and system design failure. As the blog is open to all, its signal-to-noise ratio is pretty low, but it seems not too difficult for any technically-minded person to separate the wheat from the chaff. My current understanding, which I believe others here are in a position to correct, if necessary: ..."
"... this story is really fascinating and seems to be true a sign of the times. ..."
"... The Post's article on the FAA and Regulatory Capture is incomplete. The process for the FAA (and probably MANY government agencies) started under Reagan, did not revert to safety under Clinton (make government smaller and all that), and then accelerated under Bush II in 2005 (not a bi-partisan time). In particular, big changes to the FAA were made in 2005 that were executive in nature and did not require Congressional approval. CF: https://www.seattletimes.com/business/delegating-aircraft-safety-assessments-to-boeing-is-nothing-new-for-the-faa/ ..."
Mar 20, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Lambert Strether of Corrente .

At some point in the future, I'd like to do failure matrix for the pathways to misfortune ( example of such a matrix here ) that precipitated two deadly Boeing 737 MAX crashes on take-off in five months , but I don't feel that I have enough information yet. (I'm not unsympathathetic to the view that the wholesale 737 MAX grounding was premature on technical grounds , but then trade and even geopolitical factors enter in, given that Boeing is a "national champion.") We do not yet have results from the cockpit voice and flight data recorders of either aircraft, for example. But what we do know is sufficiently disturbing -- a criminal investigation into Boeing had already been initiated after the Lion Air crash, but before the Ethiopian Airlines crash -- that I think it's worthwhile doing a play-by-play on the causes of the crashes, so far as we can know them. About that criminal investigation :

According to the Wall Street Journal, a Washington D.C. grand jury issued a March 11 subpoena requesting emails, correspondence, and other messages from at least one person involved in the development of the aircraft.

"It's a very, very serious investigation into basically, was there fraud by Boeing in the certification of the 737 MAX 8 ?" Arthur Rosenberg, an aviation attorney who is representing six families whose relatives died in the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes, explained.

"Nobody knows the answer to that yet," Rosenberg cautioned, adding that he had not yet seen the Justice Department's subpoena and therefore could not know its full scope.

Rosenberg expects the criminal probe to question whether Boeing fully disclosed to the FAA the engineering of the 737 Max 8's MCAS flight control system, called MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), during the plane's certification process. The flight control system was designed to prevent the plane from stalling.

Bloomberg comments :

A possible criminal investigation during an aircraft accident investigation is highly unusual . While airline accidents have at times raised criminal issues, such as after the 1996 crash of a ValuJet plane in the Florida Everglades, such cases are the exception.

Before we get to the play-by-play, one more piece of background: CEO Dennis Muilenburg's latest PR debacle, entitled " Letter from Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg to Airlines, Passengers and the Aviation Community ." The most salient material:

Safety is at the core of who we are at Boeing, and ensuring safe and reliable travel on our airplanes is an enduring value and our absolute commitment to everyone. This overarching focus on safety spans and binds together our entire global aerospace industry and communities. We're united with our airline customers, international regulators and government authorities in our efforts to support the most recent investigation, understand the facts of what happened and help prevent future tragedies. Based on facts from the Lion Air Flight 610 accident and emerging data as it becomes available from the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident, we're taking actions to fully ensure the safety of the 737 MAX. We also understand and regret the challenges for our customers and the flying public caused by the fleet's grounding.

Boeing has been in the business of aviation safety for more than 100 years, and we'll continue providing the best products, training and support to our global airline customers and pilots. This is an ongoing and relentless commitment to make safe airplanes even safer .

Soon we'll release a software update and related pilot training for the 737 MAX that will address concerns discovered in the aftermath of the Lion Air Flight 610 accident.

Fine words. Are they true? Can Boeing's "commitment to everyone to ensure " safe and reliable travel" really be said to be "absolute"? That's a high bar. Let's see!

I've taken the structure that follows from a tweetstorm by Trevor Sumner (apparently derived from a Facebook post by his brother-law, Dave Kammeyer ). However, I've added topic headings, changed others, and helpfully numbered them all, so you can correct, enhance, or rearrange topics easily in comments (or even suggest new topics). Let me also caveat that this is an enormous amount of material, and time presses, so this will not be as rich in links as I would normally like it to be. Also note that the level of abstraction for each topic varies significantly: From "The Biosphere" all the way to "Pilot Training." A proper failure matrix would sort that out.

* * *

(1) The Biosphere : The 737 MAX story beings with a customer requirement for increased fuel efficiency. This is, at bottom, a carbon issue (and hence a greenhouse gas issue , especially as the demand for air travel increases, especially in Asia). New biosphere-driven customer demands will continue to emerge as climate change increases and intensifies, and hence the continued 737 MAX-like debacles should be expected, all else being equal. From CAPA – Centre for Aviation :

The main expected impacts of climate change on aviation result from changes in temperature, precipitation (rain and snow), storm patterns, sea level and wind patterns. In addition, climate change is expected to lead to increased drought, impacts on the supply of water and energy, and changes in wildlife patterns and biodiversity. Consequences for aviation include reduced aircraft performance, changing demand patterns, potential damage to infrastructure, loss of capacity and schedule disruption.

All of these factors will affect aircraft design, manufacturing, maintenance, and use, stressing the system.

(2) Choice of Airframe : The Air Current describes the competitive environment that led Boeing to upgrade the 737 to the 737 MAX, instead of building a new plane:

Boeing wanted to replace the 737. The plan had even earned the endorsement of its now-retired chief executive. We're gonna do a new airplane," Jim McNerney said in February of that same year. "We're not done evaluating this whole situation yet, but our current bias is to not re-engine, is to move to an all-new airplane at the end of the decade." History went in a different direction. Airbus, riding its same decades-long incremental strategy and chipping away at Boeing's market supremacy, had made no secret of its plans to put new engines on the A320. But its own re-engineered jet somehow managed to take Boeing by surprise. Airbus and American forced Boeing's hand. It had to put new engines on the 737 to stay even with its rival .

Why? The earlier butchered launch of the 787:

Boeing justified the decision thusly: There were huge and excruciatingly painful near-term obstacles on its way to a new single-aisle airplane. In the summer of 2011, the 787 Dreamliner wasn't yet done after billions invested and years of delays. More than 800 airplanes later here in 2019, each 787 costs less to build than sell, but it's still running a $23 billion production cost deficit. .

The 737 Max was Boeing's ticket to holding the line on its position "both market and financial" in the near term. Abandoning the 737 would've meant walking away from its golden goose that helped finance the astronomical costs of the 787 and the development of the 777X.

So, we might think of Boeing as a runner who's tripped and fallen: The initial stumble, followed by loss of balance, was the 787; with the 737 MAX, Boeing hit the surface of the track.

(3) Aerodynamic Issues : The Air Current also describes the aerodynamic issues created by the decision to re-engine the 737:

Every airplane development is a series of compromises, but to deliver the 737 Max with its promised fuel efficiency, Boeing had to fit 12 gallons into a 10 gallon jug. Its bigger engines made for creative solutions as it found a way to mount the larger CFM International turbines under the notoriously low-slung jetliner. It lengthened the nose landing gear by eight inches, cleaned up the aerodynamics of the tail cone, added new winglets, fly-by-wire spoilers and big displays for the next generation of pilots. It pushed technology, as it had done time and time again with ever-increasing costs, to deliver a product that made its jets more-efficient and less-costly to fly.

In the case of the 737 Max, with its nose pointed high in the air, the larger engines "generating their own lift" nudged it even higher. The risk Boeing found through analysis and later flight testing was that under certain high-speed conditions both in wind-up turns and wings-level flight, that upward nudge created a greater risk of stalling. Its solution was MCAS , the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System control law that would allow for both generations of 737 to behave the same way. MCAS would automatically trim the horizontal stabilizer to bring the nose down, activated with Angle of Attack data. It's now at the center of the Lion Air investigation and stalking the periphery of the Ethiopian crash.

(4) Systems Engineering : Amazingly, there is what in a less buttoned-down world that commercial aviation would be called a Boeing 737 fan site, which describes the MCAS system in more technical terms :

MCAS was introduced to counteract the pitch up effect of the LEAP-1B engines at high AoA [Angle of Attack]. The engines were both larger and relocated slightly up and forward from the previous NG CFM56-7 engines to accomodate their larger diameter. This new location and size of the nacelle causes it to produce lift at high AoA; as the nacelle is ahead of the CofG [Center of Gravity] this causes a pitch-up effect which could in turn further increase the AoA and send the aircraft closer towards the stall. MCAS was therefore introduced to give an automatic nose down stabilizer input during steep turns with elevated load factors (high AoA) and during flaps up flight at airspeeds approaching stall.

Unfortunately for Boeing and the passengers its crashed aircraft were carrying, the MCAS system was very poorly implemented. Reading between the lines (I've helpfully labeled the pain points):

Boeing have been working on a software modification to MCAS since the Lion Air accident. Unfortunately although originally due for release in January it has still not been released due to both engineering challenges and differences of opinion among some federal and company safety experts over how extensive the changes should be.

Apparently there have been discussions about potentially adding [A] enhanced pilot training and possibly mandatory [B] cockpit alerts to the package. There also has been consideration of more-sweeping design changes that would prevent [C] faulty signals from a single sensor from touching off the automated stall-prevention system.

[A] Pilot training was originally not considered necessary, because MCAS was supposed to give 737 MAX the same flight characteristics as earlier 737s; that's why pilots weren't told about it. (This also kept the price low.) [B] Such alerts exist now, as part of an optional package, which Lion did not buy. [C] The single sensor was the result of regulatory capture, not to say gaming; see below.

(The MCAS system is currently the system fingered as the cause of both the Lion Air and Ethiopian crashes; we won't know for sure until the forensics are complete. Here, however, is the scenario for an MCAS-induced crash :

Black box data retrieved after the Lion Air crash indicates that a single faulty sensor -- a vane on the outside of the fuselage that measures the plane's "angle of attack," the angle between the airflow and the wing -- triggered MCAS multiple times during the deadly flight, initiating a tug of war as the system repeatedly pushed the nose of the plane down and the pilots wrestled with the controls to pull it back up, before the final crash.

(5) Regulatory Capture : Commercial aircraft need to be certified by the FAA before launch. The Washington Post labels today's process "self-certification":

The FAA's publication of pilot training requirements for the Max 8 in the fall of 2017 was among the final steps in a multiyear approval process carried out under the agency's now 10-year-old policy of entrusting Boeing and other aviation manufacturers to certify that their own systems comply with U.S. air safety regulations.

In practice, one Boeing engineer would conduct a test of a particular system on the Max 8, while another Boeing engineer would act as the FAA's representative , signing on behalf of the U.S. government that the technology complied with federal safety regulations, people familiar with the process said.

(Note that a 10-year-old process would have begun in the Obama administration, so the regulatory process is bipartisan.) I understand that " safety culture " is real and strong, but imagine the same role-playing concept applied to finance: One bankers plays the banker, and the other banker plays Bill Black, and after a time they switch roles . Clearly a system that will work until it doesn't. More:

The process was occurring during a period when the Transportation Department's Office of Inspector General was warning the FAA that its oversight of manufacturers' work was insufficient.

Four years after self-certification began, fires aboard Boeing's 787 Dreamliner jets led to the grounding of the fleet and a wave of questions about whether self-certification had affected the FAA's oversight.

Why "self-certification"? Investigative reporting from the Seattle Times -- the article is worth reading in full -- explains:

The FAA, citing lack of funding and resources, has over the years delegated increasing authority to Boeing to take on more of the work of certifying the safety of its own airplanes.

Alert readers will note the similarity to the Neoliberal Playbook , where government systems are sabotaged in order to privatize them, but in this case regulatory capture seems to have happened "by littles," rather than out of open, ideological conviction (as with the UKs's NHS, or our Post Office, our Veteran's Administration, etc.).

(6) Transfer of Authority to Boeing : In the case of the 737 Max, regulatory capture was so great that certification authority was transferred to Boeing. In order to be certified, a "System Safety Analysis" for MCAS had to be performed. The Seattle Times :

The safety analysis:

Understated the power of the new flight control system, which was designed to swivel the horizontal tail to push the nose of the plane down to avert a stall. When the planes later entered service, MCAS was capable of moving the tail more than four times farther than was stated in the initial safety analysis document.

Failed to account for how the system could reset itself each time a pilot responded, thereby missing the potential impact of the system repeatedly pushing the airplane's nose downward. Assessed a failure of the system as one level below "catastrophic."

But even that "hazardous" danger level should have precluded activation of the system based on input from a single sensor -- and yet that's how it was designed.

So who certified MCAS? Boeing self-certified it. Once again The Seattle Times :

Several FAA technical experts said in interviews that as certification proceeded, managers prodded them to speed the process. Development of the MAX was lagging nine months behind the rival Airbus A320neo. Time was of the essence for Boeing .

"There wasn't a complete and proper review of the documents," the former engineer added. "Review was rushed to reach certain certification dates."

In this atmosphere, the System Safety Analysis on MCAS, just one piece of the mountain of documents needed for certification, was delegated to Boeing .

(I'm skipping a lengthy discussion of even more technical detail for MCAS, which includes discrepancies between what Boeing self-certified, and what the FAA thought that it had certified, along with the MCAS system acting like a ratchet, so it didn't reset itself, meaning that each time it kicked in, the nose was pitched down even lower. Yikes. Again, the article is worth reading in full; if you've ever done tech doc, you'll want to scream and run.)

(7) Political Economy : This tweet is especially interesting, because even I know that Muddy Waters Research is a famous short seller:

MuddyWatersResearch ‏ Verified account @ muddywatersre Mar 18

What's the result? Two $ BA planes have been grounded: 787 and Max. Last FAA grounding of a type of plane was 1979. In the case of the Max, FAA outsourced more than planned bc BA was 9 months behind Airbus 320neo 3/4 2 replies 4 retweets 19 likes

This is a great example of real short-termism by a corporate. It's clearly in $ BA LT interest to have robust cert system, but those chickens come home to roost years later, allowing mgmt to meet ST expectations. BTW, semi-annual reporting would do NOTHING to fix this mentality. 4

And here we are! There are a myriad of other details, but many of them will only prove out once the black boxes are examined and the forensics are complete.

* * *

It should be clear at this point that the central claims of Muilenburg's letter are false. I understand that commercial aviation is a business, but if that is so, then Muilenburg's claim that Boeing's commitment to safety is "absolute" cannot possibly be true; indeed, the choice to re-engine the 737 had nothing to do with safety. Self-certification makes Boeing "a judge in its own cause," and that clearly contradicts Muilenburg's absurd claim that "safety" -- as opposed to profit -- "is at the core of who we are."

The self-certification debacle that allowed MCAS to be released happened on Muilenburg's watch and is already causing Boeing immense reputational damage, and a criminal case, not to mention the civil cases that are surely coming, will only increase that damage. Mr. Market, the Beltway, and even Trump, if his trade deals are affected, will all soon be bellowing for a sacrificial victim. Muilenburg should recognize the inevitable and gracefully resign. Given his letter, it looks unlikely that he will do the right thing.


John A , , March 19, 2019 at 4:34 pm

Maybe they should have appointed aviation expert Nikki Haley to the Boeing board earlier.

Yikes , , March 19, 2019 at 4:35 pm

Sacrificial Victims were spread over land and sea in Kenya and Indonesia. Muilenburg and Obbie The Wan both are the criminals who profit.

dcrane , , March 19, 2019 at 4:36 pm

That should be "five months" not "five weeks" in the first sentence. Lion Air crashed on 29 October 2018.

Howard Beale IV , , March 19, 2019 at 4:39 pm

IIRC, one of the big constraints that was leveled was the need to keep the 737, regardless of version, into the same height relative to all other generations of the 737, whereas Airbus kept their height a lot higher than the 737.

If you look at many 737's over the years, some of the engine's nacelles were flat at the bottom to accommodate larger engine. Why? Boeing kept the height the same in order to maintain built-in stairs that, with virtually all airports having adjustable jetways, was basically redundant.

When you compare an A320xeo against a B737, you'll find that the Airbus rides higher when it comes to the jetways.

Michael Hudson , , March 19, 2019 at 4:42 pm

It seems to me that the Boeing 737-Max with the heavier, larger fuel-saving engines is so unbalanced (tilting over and then crashing if not "overridden" by a computer compensation) that it never should have been authorized in the first place.

When Boeing decided to add a much larger engine, it should have kept the airplane in balance by (1) shifting it forward or backward so that the weight did not tip the plane, and (2) created a larger landing-gear base so that the large engines wouldn't scrape the ground.

The problem was that Boeing tried to keep using the old chassis with the larger engines under the wings – rather than changing the wings, moving them forward or aft, and expanding the plane to permit a more appropriate landing gear.

The computer system has been blamed for not being a "smart enough" workaround to tell the plane not to plunge down when it already is quite close to the ground – with no perception of altitude, not to mention double-checking on the wind speed from both sensors.

Beyond that ultimate problem is the ultimate regulatory problem: regulatory capture of the FAA by the airline companies. As a result, the FAA represents "its customers" the airplane makers, not the public users and customers. This is like the banks capturing the Fed, the Justice Dept. and Treasury to promote their own interests by claiming that "self-regulation" works. Self-regulation is the polite word for fraudulent self-indulgence.

I would be surprised if the European Airbus competitors do not mount a campaign to block the 737-Max's from landing, and insisting that Boeing buy them back. This gives Airbus a few years to grab the market for these planes.

This probably will throw Trump's China trade fight into turmoil, as China was the first country to ground the 737-Max's and is unlikely to permit their recovery without a "real" federal safety oversight program. Maybe Europe, China and other countries henceforth will each demand that their own public agencies certify the plane, so as to represent users and stakeholders, not only stockholders.

The moral: Neoliberalism Kills.

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 19, 2019 at 5:13 pm

Rule #2 of Neoliberalism: Go die.

> "Maybe Europe, China and other countries henceforth will each demand that their own public agencies certify the plane."

As if the 737 MAX were the chlorinated chicken of aircraft.

* * *

I'm not sure about redesigning the wing and the landing gear. That might be tantamount to designing a new plane. (I do know that the landing gear is so low because the first 737s needed to accommodate airports without jetways, and so there may be other facets of the design that also depend on those original requirements that might have to be changed.)

Synoia , , March 19, 2019 at 7:45 pm

Correct – redesign the wing = new plane.

Cal2 , , March 19, 2019 at 7:45 pm

Rule #3 of Neoliberalism:

Their profits = Your cancer, which presents even more profit taking. I.e. Bayer makes the carcinogenic pesticides AND the chemotherapy drugs.

Carey , , March 20, 2019 at 10:19 am

Precisely this. Thank you.

John Zelnicker , , March 19, 2019 at 7:46 pm

@Michael Hudson
March 19, 2019 at 4:42 pm
-- -- -

"This gives Airbus a few years to grab the market for these planes."

That would be great for Mobile as the Airbus A320neo is assembled here.

Octopii , , March 20, 2019 at 7:38 am

And provides time for the A220 to ramp up in Mobile as well. Not a direct competitor for the 737 but a very good airplane developed by Bombardier.

Carey , , March 20, 2019 at 11:20 am

Also, the MC-21 is in final testing now; still using Western engines, for the moment. One to watch, maybe.

Which is worse - bankers or terrorists , , March 20, 2019 at 4:17 am

Engineering logs seem to indicate that larger landing gear cannot be added without re-engineering the plane.

115 kV , , March 20, 2019 at 8:15 am

Regulatory capture is rampant throughout the economy. Boeing self-certification being delegated by the FAA is not unlike the situation with electric transmission utilities.

After the 2003 northeast & Canada blackout, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005. It directed FERC to create an "electric reliability organization". Previously there were voluntary organizations set up after the 1966 blackout to establish operating standards in the industry. One of them was the North American Electric Reliability Council which morphed into the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) in 2006.

NERC is headquartered in Atlanta and employs hundreds of people. The standards setting generally takes place in NERC Committees and Subcommittees and sometimes from FERC itself. These are typically packed with industry people, with a patina of diversity that includes some governmental types and large industrial consumers. Let it suffice to say the electric transmission industry itself largely sets the rules how it operates.

Now consider the article in yesterday's NYT " How PG&E Ignored California Fire Risks in Favor of Profits ". The transmission circuit featured in the article (the Caribou-Palermo line) that caused the destruction of Paradise is a transmission line that is subject to both FERC and NERC regulation. As described in the article the circuit had many previous failures and was well beyond its design life.

However, both FERC and NERC have a laser focus on "market players" (think Enron or JP Morgan) and system operations (e.g., prevent collapses like the blackout of 2003). AFIK, neither FERC or NERC have prescriptive standards for routine maintenance or inspection and replacement (i.e., very expensive capital replacement that was not done on the Caribou-Palermo line), these are left to the discretion of the transmission owner. While substantive information about electric reliability is maintained by industry trade groups and submitted to FERC, what is available to the public is generally useless and subjected to scrubbing and polishing (often under the guise of Critical Energy Infrastructure Information).

We can see how self-policing work, can't we??? Rent-seeking market players can arbitrage markets, inflating prices consumers pay and make billions in profits, while California burns.

The neglectful rot in California is endemic in the industry as a whole.

A little bit of dignity , , March 19, 2019 at 4:47 pm

How about seppuku for the entire top management?

Robert Hahl , , March 20, 2019 at 7:14 am

If an airplane crashes in the forest, and no American were killed, did it make a sound?

Carolinian , , March 19, 2019 at 5:07 pm

That Seattle Times investigative story is indeed very good and a rare instance of newspaper writers troubling to carefully and cogently explain a technical issue.

In hindsight Boeing would have perhaps been better off to leave off the MCAS altogether and depend on pilot retraining to cover the altered handling.

One reason they may not have was that crash several years ago of a commuter plane in upstate NY where the plane started to stall and the confused pilot pulled up on the controls rather than making the airplane dive to regain speed. Still one has to believe that no automation is better than badly designed or malfunctioning automation.

allan , , March 19, 2019 at 5:31 pm

"depend on pilot retraining to cover the altered handling"

IANAP, but maybe the problem is that "nose up" situations can go south very quickly. For those with the stomach for it, there are videos on youtube of the 747 freighter that went nose up at Bagram a few years ago (perhaps due to loose cargo shifting backwards on takeoff). It was over very quickly.

ChrisPacific , , March 19, 2019 at 5:37 pm

Yes, I was impressed with it. Unfortunately the investigation precludes Boeing from responding as they did indicate they would have had something to say about it otherwise. But the analysis looks pretty cut and dried:

  1. Boeing underestimated the risk rating for the sensor, excluding the possibility of a catastrophic failure as occurred in the two incidents to date;
  2. Boeing also failed to implement the redundancy that would have been required even for their lower risk rating;
  3. Manual correction by the pilot as a possible risk mitigation was constrained by the fact that pilots weren't trained on the new system due to commercial factors.

Fixing any one of those three issues would have averted the disasters, although #3 is pretty precarious as you're relying on manual pilot actions to correct what is a clear systems defect at that point.

It sounds like #1 was partly because they failed to account for all the scenarios, like repeat activation raising the risk profile in certain circumstances. This is very easy to do and a robust review process is your best defense. So we could add the tight timelines and rushed process as a contributing factor for #1, and probably the others as well.

XXYY , , March 20, 2019 at 12:08 pm

People who work on accident investigation would probably agree on 2 things:

So while there is much to be profitably learned by investigating everything here, an effective "fix" may be surprisingly (or suspiciously) small in scope. There will be much clamoring for the whole plane to be resigned or scrapped, for better or worse.

anon in so cal , , March 19, 2019 at 6:28 pm

The Colgan crash, whose pilot, Renfrew, was chatting with the co-pilot below the allowed altitude? And who had apparently lied about his background, and had a pay-to-play pilot's license?

I think the Air France Airbus 447 also had a high-altitude stall (due to a faulty air speed sensor) and needed its nose pushed down, not up (which the copilots didn't realize).

Also, very informative article / OP, thanks for posting.

Synoia , , March 19, 2019 at 7:47 pm

MCAS was added to change the behavior of the plane from to tend to stall as speed increases. That is stall and crash, because such a high speed stall makes polit recovery very, very difficult.

In addition the MCAS driven amount of elevator change was initially 0.6 to 2.5, which indicates the 0.6 increment was found to be too low.

Carolinian , , March 19, 2019 at 8:07 pm

Well they are planning to keep it but

According to a detailed FAA briefing to legislators, Boeing will change the MCAS software to give the system input from both angle-of-attack sensors.

It will also limit how much MCAS can move the horizontal tail in response to an erroneous signal. And when activated, the system will kick in only for one cycle, rather than multiple times.

Boeing also plans to update pilot training requirements and flight crew manuals to include MCAS.

–Seattle Times

So apparently the greater elevator setting is not so necessary that they are not willing to reduce it. Also the max power setting would normally be on take off when the pilots are required to manually fly the plane.

Synoia , , March 20, 2019 at 12:12 pm

It is about speed, not power. I presume that MCAS was developed to solve a problem, nose up behaviour.

Carey , , March 20, 2019 at 10:28 am

Yes, that was an excellent Seattle times piece. Surprising to see that kind of truth-telling and, especially, *clarity* in an MSM piece these days. So what's the angle?

voislav , , March 19, 2019 at 5:48 pm

Reports I've read indicates that Boeing ignored even the clearly inadequate certification. "Documentation provided to the FAA claims that the MCAS system can only adjust the horizontal tail on the plane by 0.6 degrees out of a maximum of five-degrees of nose-down movement. But that limit was later increased to 2.5-degrees of nose-down movement. Boeing didn't communicate the change from 0.6-degrees to 2.5-degrees until after Lion Air."

Apparently this was done after simulations showed that 0.6 degrees was inadequate and the new 2.5 degree setting was not extensively tested before the planes were rolled out. IANAL, but this may be a serious problem for Boeing. Boeing could also be liable for damages due to 737 groundings and due to delays in delivery of contracted planes.

Big question is how 737 issues will affect 777X rollout, due at the end of the year. If 777X certification is called into question, this may cause further delays and put it at a further disadvantage against A350.

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 3:17 am

The 777 has been a great plane. Let's all pray the MBAs didn't fuck it up, too.

If I were Boeing, I'd have a team looking into the 777 certification process right now. And I'd set up a whistleblower line (so the Seattle Times doesn't get to the story first).

The analogy has been made between this the 737 MAX story and the Tylenol story. J&J got out in front of the problem and saved the product (and their company). Boeing's problem is of that order, and Muilenberg -- that letter! -- seems incapable of understanding that; insular, arrogant. One more reason to fire the dude toot sweet. If he comes out of his next review with a raise -- Everything Is Like CalPERS™ -- consider shorting Boeing

Chris , , March 20, 2019 at 1:35 pm

Thanks, Lambert, for post and comments. I don't know if this angle has been covered or explored: the relatively new way that Boeing now "manufactures" "tests" and "assembles" parts of its planes. I had dinner with new acquaintance, Boeing engineer for decades (I live near a plant in WA state). For the last few years, this engineer is stationed half year in Russia annually to oversee assembly there. In this newish, more profitable manufacturing system for Boeing, the parts come in from around the world with sketchy quality control, are then assembled by Russian workers this engineer (and other Boeing employees sent from States) supposedly oversees. But the engineer doesn't speak Russian and has too little access to translators .Needless to say, this engineer is planning an exit as soon as possible. Having grown up in WA state for 60 years with neighbors/friends who were Boeing engineers, assemblers, line workers, etc it makes me heart sick to see the current decimation of talent, rigor and wages with additional far-flung assembly factories (Russia with few translators?! who knew?). Might these manufacturing/assemblying "improvements" also be a contributing factor in these terrifying woes for Boeing?

PlutoniumKun , , March 19, 2019 at 5:57 pm

Thanks for this Lambert, fantastically informative and interesting post.

Self regulation only works when liability is transferred with it – over example, in construction whereby certification by the engineers or architects designing the building are also taking on liability in the event something goes wrong. It seems unlikely that this is the situation with Boeing.

Allowing this to happen seems the ultimate in short term thinking by Boeing. US manufacturers have always had an advantage over competitors because the FAA was held in such high regard worldwide that it was the de facto world safety regulatory body – every country followed its lead. But this chipping away of its authority has led to a near fatal loss of faith, and will no doubt lead to European and Asian regulatory authorities being strengthened. And no doubt commercial realities will mean they will look much more closely at US manufactured aircraft if there is some benefit to their own manufacturers.

Airbus will no doubt try to take advantage – just as Boeing (with some justification) tried to focus attention on the Air France Airbus loss which was attributed at least in part to excessive automation. China is pushing hard with its new Comac aircraft, but they seem to be poorly regarded worldwide (only Chinese airlines are buying). The Canadians have missed their chance with the Bombadier C-series.

JBird4049 , , March 19, 2019 at 6:07 pm

The more I read of this the more baffling it is. What was there stopping Boeing from just highlighting the changes and installing an easy manual override instead of this hidden change with effectively no way to permanently do so? Especially when in crisis mode? One could make a case of no extra training needed so long as the pilot knows about it and can easily turn it off.

Darius , , March 19, 2019 at 6:30 pm

I didn't see this before I posted my response. A more concise statement of my thoughts. This plus more robust redundant sensors. Penny wise and pound foolish.

The Times thinks Boeing is too big to fail. Without a blockbuster Max, I don't see how Boeing maintains its current status in the industry.

Synoia , , March 19, 2019 at 7:52 pm

One could make a case of no extra training needed so long as the pilot knows about it and can easily turn it off.

That's the expensive re-certification Boeing wanted to avoid.

Robert Hahl , , March 20, 2019 at 7:52 am

That would entail simulator training, that would entail modifying the simulators and the curriculum.

Darius , , March 19, 2019 at 6:22 pm

I am leaning towards thinking the kludgy design of the 727 Max could have been rolled out with no major problems if Boeing had been up front about design changes, made a robust and conservative MCAS, fully at the command of the pilot, and provided ample training for the new aircraft.

They still could have saved billions on the airframe. They would have had to acknowledge the significant modifications to the airlines with the attendant training and other costs and delays. They would have lost some sales. They still would have been far ahead of Airbus and light years ahead of where they are now.

I also think they have been completely afflicted by the defense contractor mentality.

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 3:08 am

> I also think they have been completely afflicted by the defense contractor mentality.

Yes, the famous McDonnell-Douglas reverse takeover , where financial engineers inserted their sucking mandibles into an actual engineering culture. The merger took place in 1997, 22 years ago, which is not so long, really. Note also that the finance guys drove the decision to outsource as much 787 manufacturing as possible , which creates headaches for real engineering, so the initial stumble with the 787 that led to the 737 fall is down to them, too.

Note that Muilenberg came up through the defense side of the company not the commercial aircraft side. He may simply not have been equipped to understand FAA regulation at any deep level, hence the rot that finally surfaced.

VietnamVet , , March 19, 2019 at 6:50 pm

The 737 Max crashes and Brexit are the chickens coming home to roost. NC is a treasure for your coverage of both.

Clearly upper management in Chicago only knows short term finance. Boeing stuck with old fashion hydraulic controls in the 737 but faced with an unacceptable flight characteristics of the larger more efficient engines added a fly-by-wire system to compensate for it.

The criminal charges are that besides being a faulty design (it relies on one fragile exposed sensor that if out of position keeps triggering dives until switched off) but Boeing hid it and self-certified that it was safe. Adding a discrepancy warning and position indicator for the two independent flight sensors to the cockpit video display is an extra cost feature.

Neither of the planes that crashed had the added safety display. All are cost saving measures. Finally, if a faulty sensor triggers dives, the pilot at the controls is busy with both hands on the yoke forcing the airplane to stay in the air with stall and proximity warnings are sounding. The second pilot also must realize what's going on, immediately turn off the electricity to the screw jack motor and manually turn the stabilizer trim wheel to neutral.

You can't learn this on an iPad. Both pilots should practice it together in a Flight Simulator. If the co-pilot was experienced, unlike the one in the Ethiopian crash; just maybe, they could have survived the repeated attempts by the airplane to dive into the ground on takeoff.

The tragedy is that corporate media in pursuit of profits will keep us up to date but will never mention the 6 or 8 minutes of terror for the 346 souls aboard the two flights. They will cover the criminal negligence trial if there are ever indictments. But, the news reports never will say that neoliberalism, deregulation, and privatization are the root causes of the deaths.

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 3:01 am

> if a faulty sensor triggers dives, the pilot at the controls is busy with both hands on the yoke forcing the airplane to stay in the air with stall and proximity warnings are sounding. The second pilot also must realize what's going on, immediately turn off the electricity to the screw jack motor and manually turn the stabilizer trim wheel to neutral. You can't learn this on an iPad. Both pilots should practice it together in a Flight Simulator. If the co-pilot was experienced, unlike the one in the Ethiopian crash; just maybe, they could have survived the repeated attempts by the airplane to dive into the ground on takeoff.

That's what I mean by horrid UI/UX. Might as well as both pilots to pat their heads and rub their tummies in synch. And since the two pilots have to both understand what's going on, we've multiplied the chances for failure.

Boeing also clearly did not know its customers . It should be engineering for the sort of pilots who are going to be hired by Lion Air, or any rapidly expanding airline in what we used to all the Third World. Hegemony, it seems, makes you insular and provincial.

EoH , , March 20, 2019 at 4:54 pm

Added cost, "mandatory" safety feature. Does not seem to square with the [soon to be former?] CEO's apology-industry written claim to be committed to absolute safety.

You can't make this stuff up.

dearieme , , March 19, 2019 at 7:03 pm

"The FAA, citing lack of funding and resource": I don't suppose I'll survive to see any arm of government not blame lack of funds for its boneheaded or corrupt incompetence.

But the bigger picture: suppose the FAA is to do its job properly. From where is it going to recruit its staff?

Smaller picture: it doesn't really matter whether the cocked-up MCAS killed all those people or not. Even if it's innocent of the charge, the account of its development and application is a horror story.

Bigger picture: what other horrors have been hidden by Boeing?

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 2:48 am

> the account of its development and application is a horror story.

That's how I feel. The tech doc department at Boeing sounds like a horrible place to work; MBAs or their goons telling you all the time to do stuff you know is wrong. It's not surprising people were willing to talk to the Seattle Times; I bet there are more people. (Hey, Seattle Times! How about people testing the 737 MAX in simulators (assuming this is done)).

Sounds like the MBAs in Chicago have been busy planting land mines everywhere. Somebody stepped on this one; there are others.

oaf , , March 19, 2019 at 7:05 pm

The unfortunate pilots were made test pilots; the unsuspecting passengers: Guinea pigs. Lab rats. And paid for the privilege. Some others may share this opinion. Change one little thing? Chaos Theory Rules. Same with weather/climate; folks. That rant is for later.

oafstradamus

dcrane , , March 19, 2019 at 7:08 pm

Boeing stuck with old fashion hydraulic controls in the 737 but faced with an unacceptable flight characteristics of the larger more efficient engines added a fly-by-wire system to compensate for it.

Interestingly, and maybe relevant to the problem of confusion for the pilots, is that Boeing has had another automatic trim-modifier operating on its 737s for some time, the speed-trim system (STS):

https://leehamnews.com/2019/02/01/bjorns-corner-pitch-stability-part-7/

This system also modifies the stabilizer position during manual flight. Like MCAS, it was brought in to improve stability under certain flight conditions (the reasons for which are far beyond my knowledge). There is an indication that the pilots on the flight before the Lion Air crash misinterpreted MCAS actions for STS behavior.

Synoia , , March 19, 2019 at 7:55 pm

Safety is at the core of who we are at Boeing

Yes, after money.

drumlin woodchuckles , , March 19, 2019 at 8:08 pm

At what point does "crapification" become insufficient to describe Boeing's product and process here? At what point do we have to speak of " ford-pintofication"?

barrisj , , March 19, 2019 at 8:15 pm

OK, I'm told to resubmit my crib re: "Boeing options" from the ZeroHedge "tweetstorm" by Trevot Sumner, and include a link got it:

Economic problem. Boeing sells an option package that includes an extra AoA vane, and an AoA disagree light, which lets pilots know that this problem was happening. Both 737MAXes that crashed were delivered without this option. No 737MAX with this option has ever crashed

https://mobile.twitter.com/trevorsumner/status/1106934369158078470

Ooops! "Options package"? Wait, a "package" that in the interim corrects a potentially catastrophic mfg. defect and airlines have to pay for it? Whoa, here's your late capitalism in play.

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 2:45 am

> Boeing sells an option package that includes an extra AoA vane, and an AoA disagree light

This is one of the details I could not get to (and we don't 100% know this is an issue until the forensics are done. Right now, we have narrative. Truly excellent narrative to be sure -- if only we thought of government the same way as pilots think of their aircraft! -- but narrative nonetheless).

Let me see if I have this right. Pilots, chime in!

"Authority" is one of the big words in this discussion; MCAS takes authority away from the pilot (and can do in such a drastic fashion as to crash the plane). Worse, the default case is that it can do so on the basis of a single sensor reading. In a design appropriate to the consequences for failure (i.e., a different design from that described in the "System Safety Analysis" that Boeing self-certified) MCAS would take readings from two sensors, and if they disagreed, authority would revert to the pilot . That's a general principle at Boeing, and so it's reasonable for pilots to assume that they retain authority of MCAS has not told them they don't have it any more.

Hence, the disagree light, which tells the pilots to take back authority because the sensors are confused. However, I think there are UI/UX issues with that, given that the 737 cockpit is extremely noisy and pilots have a lot to do on take-off. So a light might not be the answer. (The light also strikes me as a kludge; first, MCAS feels to me like a kludge, in that we're making the aircraft flyable only through software.* Fine for fighter jets, which can be inherently unstable, but perhaps not so fine for commercial aircraft? Then we have a second kludge, a light to tell us that the first kludge has kicked in. I dunno.)

NOTE * However, it's also true that automation affects flight characteristics all the time. So I'm not sure how savage to make this indictment.

rowlf , , March 20, 2019 at 6:00 am

The AOA indication is Service Bulletin 737-31-1650 (there may be others) and is on the both Pilot Flight Displays (PFDs). Pilots would likely abort a takeoff if they saw the indication come on before getting airborne.

California Bob , , March 19, 2019 at 8:20 pm

In hindsight, it appears Boeing should have made Mulally CEO. He appears to be competent.

Cal2 , , March 19, 2019 at 8:25 pm

"Boeing has been in the business of aviation safety for more than 100 years, "

How many years ago did Wall Street take over the fortunes of the company? Why did they move their headquarters from their birthplace of Seattle to Chicago? Why did they start assembling planes in South Carolina and China? Was it to improve aviation safety? Or, to allow the profiteering parasites to feed off the carcass of the company?

I want to fly on Boeing planes put together by well paid members of the Seattle Machinists Union, not low wage peons. Let's not even mention the maintenance of American aircraft in China and El Salvador.

https://www.bizjournals.com/chicago/news/2018/04/20/southwest-airlines-should-have-inspected-engines.html

President Trump, here's a reelection tip: "Today I am declaring that all American registered aircraft flying in American airspace must be maintained in the U.S."

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 2:32 am

> President Trump, here's a reelection tip:

> "Today I am declaring that all American registered aircraft flying in American airspace must be maintained in the U.S."

Amazingly, Trump seems to have done OK on this. First, he didn't cave to Muilenberg's (insane, goofy, tone-deaf) request to keep the 737 flying; then he frames the issue as complexity (correct, IMNSHO), and then he manages to nominate a Delta CEO as head of the FAA .

And your suggestion is very good one. I wonder if he could do that by executive order? And I wonder how many grey-beards would come off the golf courses to help out? I bet a lot.

oaf , , March 19, 2019 at 8:47 pm

The aircraft is NOT CRAP!!! However. It should have been flown A WHOLE LOT MORE before receiving certification.

*Real* test pilots should have their a–es on the line ; operating for a lot more hours at *the edge of the envelope*, as it is known. Stability should be by design; not software*patch*. Patch this!

What portion of its' MCAS system flight testing was in computer simulation? Like the so-called Doppler Radar; which *magically* predicts what the future will bring; while the experts pitch it as fact? And make life-or-death decisions on the theoretical data???
Rush to market; markets rule. We can die.

dcrane , , March 19, 2019 at 9:19 pm

The aircraft is NOT CRAP!!!

Agreed, but I think we're seeing signs that a crapification process has begun on the safety side in this industry. (It has been proceeding for years on the service/amenities side.)

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 2:25 am

> The aircraft is NOT CRAP!!!

Didn't say it was. The headline reads "Boeing Crapification," not "737 Crapification."

That said, the 737 clearly has issues, as Boeing itself knew, since if they'd had their druthers, they would have launched a new plane to replace it. See point #2.

> What portion of its' MCAS system flight testing was in computer simulation?

That is a very good question. If I understand the aerodynamics issues aright, MCAS would be most likely to kick in at takeoff, which raises a host of UI/UX issues because the pilots are very busy at that time. So was MCAS not tested in the simulators? If so, how on earth was a scenario that included sensor failure not included? It may be that there are more issues with Boeing's engineering process than the documentation issues raised by the Seattle Times, though those are bad enough.

Ron D , , March 20, 2019 at 4:18 pm

I say the 737-whatever is a flying Turd, and always has been. It has a bad wing design which means it has to fly nose up compared to other models( I always remember that when going to the restroom while going somewhere on one). And because of its poor design it has to takeoff and land at higher speeds. So when flying into someplace like Mexico City it can be quite a harrowing experience, and the smell of cooking brakes is relatively normal.

Boeing never should have let go of the 757. Now that was a good plane that was simply ahead of its time.

The Rev Kev , , March 19, 2019 at 8:53 pm

Considering the fact that all these 737s are grounded as no airline trust them to not kill a plane load of passengers and crew, this is a really big deal. Putting aside the technical and regulatory issues, the fact is that the rest of the world no longer trusts the US in modern aviation so what we have here is a trust issue which is an even bigger deal.

We now know that the FAA does not audit the work done for these aircraft but the airlines themselves do it. It cannot be just Boeing but the other aircraft manufacturers as well. Other countries are going to be asking some very hard questions before forking over their billions to a US aircraft manufacturer in future. Worse is when Ethiopia refused to hand over the black boxes to the US but gave them instead to a third party.

That was saying that based on how you treated the whole crash, we do not trust you to do the job right and not to change some of the results. It has been done before, ironically enough by France who the Ethiopians gave the black boxes to. And when you lose trust, it takes a very long time to gain it back again – if ever. But will the changes be made to do so? I would guess no.

notabanker , , March 19, 2019 at 9:44 pm

But if the discount foreign airlines had just trained their pilots and paid for the non-crashintothegroundat500mph upgrade, all of this could have been avoided.

The Rev Kev , , March 20, 2019 at 12:55 am

Do you think that there was an app for that?

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 2:23 am

> we have here is a trust issue which is an even bigger deal

Loss or at least wobbliness of imperial hegemony, like. It's not just the aircraft, it's US standards-setting bodies, methods, "safety culture," even -- dare we say it -- English as the language of aviation. French is no longer the language of diplomacy, after all, though it had a good run.

Because markets. Neoliberalism puts everything up for sale. Including regulation. Oversimplifying absurdly: And so you end up with the profit-driven manufacturer buying the regulator, its produce killing people, and the manufacturer canceling its future profits. That's what the Bearded One would call a contradiction.*

NOTE * There ought to be a way to reframe contradiction in terms of Net Present Value which would not be what we think it is, under that model.

Synoia , , March 19, 2019 at 10:05 pm

Thank you Lambert, this is very complete.

Can Boeing survive? Yes, as a much smaller company. What is upsetting to me, is that the Boeing management has sacrificed thousands of Jobs.

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 2:10 am

> Thank you Lambert, this is very complete.

I wish it were as complete as it should be! There are a ton of horrid details about sensors, the UI/UX for the MCAS system, 737 cockpit design, decisions by the marketing department, and training and maintenance for Asian airlines that I just couldn't get to. (Although most of those presume that the forensics have already been done.) But I felt that dollying back for the big picture was important to. Point #1 is important, in that all the factors that drove the 737 decision making are not only still in place, they're intensifying, so we had better adjust our systems (assuming Boeing remains a going concern -- defenestrating Muilenberg would be an excellent way to show we accept the seriousness of customer and international concern).

Bill Smith , , March 19, 2019 at 10:56 pm

Bloomberg is reporting that : "The Indonesia safety committee report said the plane had had multiple failures on previous flights and hadn't been properly repaired."

And the day before when the same plane had the problem that killed everyone the next day: "The so-called dead-head pilot on the earlier flight from Bali to Jakarta told the crew to cut power to the motor driving the nose down, according to the people familiar, part of a checklist that all pilots are required to memorize."

Lambert Strether Post author , , March 20, 2019 at 2:14 am

There's an enormous expansion of air travel in Asia. The lower end -- not flag -- carriers like Lion Air and also Air Asia are in that business to be cheap ; they're driven by expansion and known to be run by cowboys.

That said, know your customer . I would translate this into an opportunity for Boeing to sell these airlines a service package for training their ground operations. But it seems that cutting costs is the only thing the MBAs in Chicago understand. Pilots, pipe up!

Bill Smith , , March 20, 2019 at 7:13 am

Pilot training and requirements are in the hands of the country, not Boeing. If the story that the copilot of the Ethiopian Airlines plane had only 200 hours of experience that is astounding.

In the US that requirement is 1500 hours. In addition most US airlines would require more than that. And then they slot 'beginning' pilots for flights in good (better) weather as high minimums pilot.

Bill Smith , , March 20, 2019 at 7:17 am

"sell these airlines a service package" That won't help an airline that is in the business to be cheap. The Indonesia airplane was repeatedly reported for problems in prior days/flights that was never fixed.

Basil Pesto , , March 20, 2019 at 2:42 am

indeed I was just about to mention this same story. The link is here: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-19/how-an-extra-man-in-cockpit-saved-a-737-max-that-later-crashed?utm_campaign=news&utm_medium=bd&utm_source=applenews

and this quote makes an interesting follow-on to the thread yesterday with 737 Pilot (which Lambert linked to in the first paragraph here):

"The combination of factors required to bring down a plane in these circumstances suggests other issues may also have occurred in the Ethiopia crash, said Jeffrey Guzzetti, who also directed accident investigations at FAA and is now a consultant.

"It's simply implausible that this MCAS deficiency by itself can down a modern jetliner with a trained crew," Guzzetti said."

Setting aside Mr Guzzetti's background (dismissing his claim here as tendentious right off the bat would strike me as uncharitable), and without wishing to exculpate anyone, it does lend some credence to the idea that Ethiopia Airlines may have some contributory negligence here, staffing the flight with such an inexperienced first officer.

JBird4049 , , March 20, 2019 at 12:25 pm

Setting aside Mr Guzzetti's background (dismissing his claim here as tendentious right off the bat would strike me as uncharitable), and without wishing to exculpate anyone, it does lend some credence to the idea that Ethiopia Airlines may have some contributory negligence here, staffing the flight with such an inexperienced first officer.

One can often point to inexperience, incompetence, stupidity, incompetence or just bad luck when some disaster happens, but Boeing counted on perfect performance from flight crews to successfully work with a workaround needed for other workarounds that needed perfect performance to not catastrophically fail. I know enough about complexity that you cannot depend on perfection because something will always fail.

BillC , , March 20, 2019 at 7:25 am

Your excellent summary lacks some MCAS details that are not widely reported by the general-audience press.

Like you, I am a retired software engineer, so I have followed an aviation blog discussion of this issue quite closely since it emerged as a probable software and system design failure. As the blog is open to all, its signal-to-noise ratio is pretty low, but it seems not too difficult for any technically-minded person to separate the wheat from the chaff. My current understanding, which I believe others here are in a position to correct, if necessary:

A. The requirement for MCAS apparently emerged very late in the MAX's development, when it became clear that the upper cowling around the larger engines, being moved up and forward with respect to earlier 737 versions, adds nose-up force as the angle of attack (AoA) approaches the upper limits of the MAX's operating envelope because at such angles, the cowling itself generates lift beyond that of the wing.

B. As perceived by a pilot flying manually (not on autopilot), this added nose-up force makes it easier to pull back on the control column ("stick"), increasing the AoA further. This is like a car running off the asphalt onto a muddy shoulder: the steering wheel wants to turn the wrong way (toward the ditch) rather than the right way (back on the road).

C. An FAA regulation prohibits certification of an aircraft that presents the pilot with changing stick forces near stall that nudge the pilot toward the wrong reaction, 14 CFR 25.203(a) , IIRC (unfortunately, I can't find the original blog citation).

D. MCAS was put in place to satisfy this certification requirement -- not to automagically correct stalls without pilot action.

E. Other means of meeting this requirement exist, ranging from an airframe redesign that avoids the extra nose-up effect of the larger repositioned engines down to a "stick pusher" that increases the force a pilot would need to pull the stick back further in this situation.

F. Any of the other options would negate one or both of the MAX's chief selling points: little cost or schedule impact to Boeing (in a rush to meet the Airbus 320 NEO challenge) and to its customers ("No new flight crew training necessary, because to the pilot, the MAX feels just like its 737 predecessors.") That is, all the other options introduce new hardware to a completed design and the more fundamental changes could require new type certification.

G. The easiest fix was pure software: at high indicated AoA, under manual control, and with flaps up, automatically rotate the horizontal stabilizer a little bit nose-down, which increases the pressure needed to pull the stick back (nose-up). No need to tell the pilot about this in training or real time, since it's just to make MAX feel like any other 737.

H. The design presented for certification described a single small rotation. Testing showed this was insufficient to provide the tactile feedback necessary for certification in all cases, so the software fix was obvious: if the trigger conditions still hold after a 5 sec. pause, do it again.

I. Apparently nobody asked at that point, "What if the AoA indication is stuck high?" We're under schedule and cost pressure, so who wants to complexify things by (1) adding additional sanity-checking to the aircraft's AoA computations or (2) limiting how many times we add a little bit of nose-down.

J. When these details combine with a consistently erroneous AoA reading, MCAS can -- if not repeatedly countermanded or disabled and manually reversed -- eventually rotate the horizontal stabilizer to its maximum nose-down position, where it was found in both recent incidents, IIRC.

Even if the pilots figure out that's what's happening amid a cacophony of seemingly contradictory instrument readings and warnings (stick-shaker, trim wheel clacking, alarm chimes, and synthesized voices), the pilots still have to (1) cut power to the electrical trim systems and (2) restore the required trim, which may then require as many as 50 manual turns of a trim wheel. If you're near the ground, time is short

A minority of commenting pilots assert that any competently trained cockpit crew should be able to identify MCAS misbehavior quickly and power off automatic trim per the same checklist that was prescribed for "runaway automatic trim" on every 737 variant, MAX included. Most seem to agree that with aircraft control difficulties, multiple alarms, and disagreement among the pilot's and first officer's airspeed and AoA readings almost from the moment of takeoff (not yet officially confirmed), an MCAS-commanded runaway trim event may feel very different from the runaway trim flavors for which pilots have had simulator training, making problem identification difficult even given knowledge of the earlier Lion Air incident.

I imagine most software developers and engineers have seen cost/schedule pressures lead to short cuts. If their life was at stake, I doubt that many would think self-certification that such a project complies with all relevant safety requirements is a good idea.

ShamanicFallout , , March 20, 2019 at 12:59 pm

Thank you for that. And just 'wow'. I don't really know anything about aircraft/flying but this story is really fascinating and seems to be true a sign of the times. I guess we'll know what the current 'temperature' is out there when the fallout (civil liability, criminal liability, plane orders cancelled/ returned, etc) manifests. If Boeing skates, we'll know we've got a long way to go.

Cheryl from Maryland , , March 20, 2019 at 8:15 am

The Post's article on the FAA and Regulatory Capture is incomplete. The process for the FAA (and probably MANY government agencies) started under Reagan, did not revert to safety under Clinton (make government smaller and all that), and then accelerated under Bush II in 2005 (not a bi-partisan time). In particular, big changes to the FAA were made in 2005 that were executive in nature and did not require Congressional approval. CF: https://www.seattletimes.com/business/delegating-aircraft-safety-assessments-to-boeing-is-nothing-new-for-the-faa/

drfrank , , March 20, 2019 at 9:22 am

Yes, but. Part of what we are seeing in this case is a rush to judgement based on less than full evidence and analysis, and so prejudices and ideological positions (which I share actually) are plainly to be seen (and perhaps worth analyzing). "Crapification," says the headline.

Yet, I cannot say that I disagree with BA's business decisions as such in a highly competitive environment as regards the tradeoffs in the development of the MAX and there is a certain absurdity in the idea that Boeing would knowingly take a high reputational risk, in an industry where failure is front page news (contrast banking or pharma failures).

I have no reason to believe that an FAA fully in charge of all aspects of certification would have prevented these crashes, as banking and drug regulators have not kept us safe either. What seems worthy of note is that neither the airlines that buy the product nor the foreign aviation regulators nor pilots' associations do their own testing and certification, in an area where more redundancy would be good. Nor is there any kind of private third party watchdog testing, like a Moody's or S&P, evaluating potentially toxic products and services for a price.

Finally, I suppose we have to ask ourselves why the price of the stock is holding up fairly well even as the news flow on these tragedies is helping the short sellers. Lest we forget that Boeing is the 5th largest defense contractor in the US.

oaf , , March 20, 2019 at 10:01 am

Is engine throttle automated in the flight regime where these accidents occurred? Or are the pilots controlling power? Is the lag in thrust response interacting with the MCAS in an unanticipated way? Aerodynamic lift of nacelles is mentioned several times; there is another lift factor relating to the thrust angle; which is not necessarily aligned with the fuselage axis in flight. Departure procedures often require speed limits and altitude changes; so it is likely multiple power demand levels get set through takeoff and climb until cruise altitude is reached. Does Autopilot/Flight Director integrate with MCAS; or are they independent systems? Even without touching flight controls; power changes affect pitch forces. I am wondering if consequences of manual power changes on an otherwise automated departure were adequately investigated in the certification of the MCAS. Please excuse my ignorance of these details.

oaf , , March 20, 2019 at 11:18 am

Regulatory elements that have been getting attention include the use of *standard* weights for passengers; IIRC, 170 lbs for US (and possibly ICAO) passengers comes to mind . Many aircraft accidents have an element of disregard for proper weight distribution, either accidental, or negligent. For instance: Tail-heavy bad! Intentional loading outside of subsequently approved C.G. and/or max weight limits is a common, if not ubiquitous part of determining certification limits.There is a safety factor in the certificated limits; but banking on this; using estimates; is proven risky or disastrous when actual weights, and distribution thereof, is uncertain. Cargo with false weight values could also occur. One might find incentive to claim lower weights than actual to save on freight charges. How many 170 lb passengers do you know? I am not familiar with scales being used to check aircraft weight and balance before takeoff; only calculations; based on formulas and charts.
Scales ARE USED during certain maintenance procedures; for airworthiness certificates; and following certain modifications.

Jack , , March 20, 2019 at 11:50 am

Here is an interesting article by a professional pilot blogger Patrick Smith. He calls the 737, "the Frankenplane", and traces its history all the way back to the 707 in 1959. According to Smith, "We wonder if the 737 MAX even needed to exist in the first place. Somewhere deep down, maybe the heart of this whole fiasco is Boeing's determination to keep the 737 line going, variant after variant, seemingly forever. I'm not saying this is the reason for what happened in Indonesia or Ethiopia, but the whole 737 program just seems misguided and unnecessary. Instead of starting from scratch with a new airframe, they took what was essentially conceived as a regional jet in the mid-1960s, and have pushed and pushed and pushed the thing -- bigger and bigger engines, fancier avionics and more seats -- into roles it was never intended for. The "Frankenplane," I call it.
See the article here .
As a pilot myslef, I feel the airlines have a lot to answer for as well. Their constant "dumbing down" of pilots, which comes from making pilots work long hours for low pay, results in pilots not being the best of the best. And training is a cost to airlines. Training doesn't result in revenue. Better to have the pilots actually flying, hence Boeing selling this new version of the 737 as not requiring further training. But, training and practice is everything in flying. Flying a plane is actually a relatively easy skill to acquire. Most people can learn to fly a trainer in 5 hours or so. Most people solo (fly the plane without an instructor) with only 10-20 hours of instruction. It takes a lot longer to learn how to drive a car for most people (45 hours is the average). So it really isn't that difficult .until something goes WRONG. That is when the training kicks in. An often quoted flying truism, is that flying is "99% boredom and 1% stark terror". What happened with these two crashes is that you had some inexperienced pilots who were not fully trained on the systems (a lot of that blame goes to Boeing). When things start going wrong, information overload can easily occur if you have not been properly trained, even with two pilots.

Carey , , March 20, 2019 at 1:44 pm

Maybe this is the link mentioned above:

http://www.askthepilot.com/ethiopian-737max-crash/

allan , , March 20, 2019 at 11:57 am

"you had some inexperienced pilots"

The captain, Yared Getachew, had more than 8,000 hours of flying under his belt.
(It is true that the first officer only had 200.)

You have to wonder how the average US commercial pilot would have done under the circumstances.

(Reply to Jack at 11:50 am)

EoH , , March 20, 2019 at 3:15 pm

Thanks for that correction. We can expect a deluge of blame-the-other-guy PR from the aircraft manufacturer and certification agencies. Billions are on the line for Boeing if a cascade of judgments it made materially contributed to these crashes. The usual strategic corporate bankruptcy might follow. I presume Boeing is considered much TBTF by the USG.

JerryDenim , , March 20, 2019 at 12:19 pm

Great job summarizing and connecting dots Lambert. I might add one more bullet point though. Items #5 and #6 were aided, abetted and perhaps somewhat necessitated by 'ye ole NeoLiberal playbook' you spoke of, but more specifically, the current regulatory FAA/Boeing milieu is attributable to years of budget cuts and strategically applied austerity. The old Grover Norquist, ' not destroyed, but small and weak enough to be drowned in a shallow bath' saw. Exact same thing we've witnessed with other formally effective regulators like the EPA, the SEC or the IRS.

I remember having a conversation with an FAA maintenance inspector, an old timer, about ten years ago. He looked to be upwards of seventy, and he told me he was eight years beyond eligibility for a full retirement. He informed me that a few years back he was supervising a team of ten people that was now down to two. Their positions had been cut outright or eliminated after they resigned or transferred when the remaining positions were made miserable by the increased workload and bureaucratic headaches. The inspector said he had not retired yet because he knew he would not be replaced and he felt the work was important. I asked him if his department was atypical and he said it was not. Same thing, across the board, with the exception of the executive level desk jobs in DC and Oklahoma City. Readers can draw their own conclusions but when it comes to funding Federal regulators, I believe you should never attribute anything to incompetence that you could attribute to malice.

No doubt Neo-Liberal ideologues in high places pushing the corrosive "customer/client" model of regulating along with the requisite deference and obsequious to industry played a large role as well.

"Chickens coming home to roost" Indeed.

EoH , , March 20, 2019 at 2:44 pm

I understand the published materials to boil down to this possible scenario:

To remain competitive and profitable, Boeing needed to improve the fuel efficiency and flight characteristics of a mainstay medium-haul aircraft. Instead of designing a new aircraft, it modified an existing airframe. Among other changes, it added more powerful engines, new lift and control surfaces, and enhanced computerized controls.

The modified Max aircraft **did not** fly like the earlier version. That meant Boeing would have to disclose information about those changes. It would need to train pilots in them, in how to integrate new protocols into existing ones, and in what to do if the enhanced computer controls malfunctioned, requiring the pilot to regain manual control.

These steps could have increased cost and time to market, might have involved new certifications, and might have reduced sales. Boeing appears to have relied on enhanced computer flight controls to avoid them.

The newly enhanced computerized controls meant that the computer would do more of the actual flying – the part that was different from the pre-Max version – and the pilot less. It gave the pilot the virtual – but not real – experience of flying the older aircraft, obviating the need, in Boeing's judgment, for additional disclosures and training. That worked except when it didn't. (See, driverless car development.)

One possible failure mode derives from the Max's reliance on a single sensor to detect its angle of attack, the aircraft's nose-up or nose-down deviation from level flight. Reliance on a single sensor would make it harder to detect and correct a fault. (Boeing's version of commitment to "absolute" safety.)

In these two crashes, the sensor may have given a faulty reading, indicating that the aircraft's nose was higher than it should have been for that stage of flight, an attitude that risked a stall. The programmed response was to drop the nose and increase power. A normal reaction to a real stall, this response can become catastrophic when unexpected or when the pilot cannot correct it.

In both crashes, it appears that the pilot did attempt to correct the computer's error. Doing so, however, reset the automated control, leading the computer to reread the faulty sensor to mean "stall." It again dropped the nose and increased speed. The pilot recorrected the error in what would become a deadly loop, a tug of war that ended in a powered dive into the ground.

Seal , , March 20, 2019 at 3:52 pm

This is like #Immelt at #GE

VietnamVet , , March 20, 2019 at 4:17 pm

What is interesting is what comes next. The FAA was drowned in the bath tub along with the EPA, FDA, SEC, etc. It doesn't have the money or staff to recertify the 737 Max. An incompetent Administration that is interested only in extracting resources is in charge. It is clear that Boeing hid the changes to save money and time. Adding a warning indicator that the flight sensors are not in the correct position to the pilot's display, including it in the preflight checklist, plus flight training would have prevented the Indonesian crash. But these changes would have raised questions on the adequacy of the new flight critical system and may have delayed certification overseas. It is easy to overlook problems if your paycheck is at risk. The Boeing managers who pushed this through deserve jail time for manslaughter.

Canada said it will recertify the 737 Max before it flies in their airspace. China won't recertify the Max until the Trump Trade War is over. Also, a delay boosts their replacement airliner. If Chicago and DC paper this over like the 2008 Great Recession; the final nails will have been hammered into the coffin of the hegemon. Trust is gone

[Mar 21, 2019] Neoliberalism at 30,000 Feet

Mar 21, 2019 | jacobinmag.com

hen United Airlines flight 1462 made an unexpected landing in Chicago last month, it was not due to mechanical issues, weather conditions, or flight logistics, but a battle over legroom in the aisles. As one passenger tried to recline her seat and another used a $20 device called a Knee Defender to prevent the occupant ahead of him from leaning back, the battle over personal space descended into a scuffle. The pilot opted to make an additional stop to remove the unruly passengers.

Flight 1462 hasn't been alone. Not just the random dispute of irate travelers, similar flights have been diverted because of the airlines' frenzied drive to wring as much money out of customers as possible. Airlines are increasingly cramming more passengers onto each flight, termed "densification," and regularly overbooking flights. Any aspect of a flight that was once provided free of charge -- from a checked bag to a complementary drink to using a credit card to pay for a ticket -- can now be charged à la carte.

So relentless has this nickel and diming been that when news reports claimed the discount airline Ryan Air was about to start charging for in-flight bathroom use, many people took them seriously. But the story wasn't true -- it was all a ploy for free press from a company unwilling to pay for advertising, help disabled passengers, or provide ice for drinks.

Such frugality is only one of the problems wrought by airline deregulation. If the greatest benefit of deregulation has been that more people can afford to fly, it has come at the cost of increased tumult within the industry and reduced pay for workers.

Before the airlines were deregulated under President Jimmy Carter, the Civil Aeronautics Bureau (CAB) maintained flight pricing structures, airport gate access, and flight paths. There were rules that stipulated which airlines could compete in which market and what prices they could charge. Loosening restrictions meant abandoning the CAB and its pricing structures, and allowing an unmediated flow of competition.

With fewer restrictions, upstart fly-by-night airlines could compete against major airlines like American/US Airways, United, Delta, Alaskan, and Hawaiian Airways. Such competition, conservative and liberal advocates claimed, would bring down flight costs, providing more savings and convenience to the customer.

But allowing this level of competition also unleashed chaos. While the discount airlines would win over passengers for a time by offering flights half as expensive, the major airlines would respond by slashing their prices in an attempt to drive the upstarts out of business.

By drastically reducing ticket costs, the major airlines would take on an unsustainable amount of debt that, combined with the loss of business to the new entrants, would lead to layoffs or bankruptcy. Pension funds were then raided and labor contracts voided to pay for the price wars. With each airline company collapse, thousands of employees were laid off, decimating union membership.

To compete, the legacy airlines also drove down the salaries of their pilots, and cut benefits and vacation time. Besides a reduction in compensation, a two-tiered pay system has been set up with decent pay for incumbent pilots and markedly low wages for new entrants. Starting salaries for pilots are now as low as $15,000 a year, even as CEO pay rises inexorably. Remarking on a career in which he had seen his pay cut in half and his pension eliminated, captain Sully Sullenberger told the BBC in 2009 that he did not know "a single professional pilot who wants his or her children to follow in their footsteps."

While unions were still strong in the industry, they were constantly embroiled in bitter labor disputes. Between the voided contracts and the hemorrhaging membership caused by regular bankruptcy, they were left fighting to maintain wage standards in an unnecessarily competitive industry.

The only way discount airlines could offer such low prices was by paying their workers less, using less experienced pilots and sometimes non-unionized labor, offering fewer frills, and running spartan operations that only serviced a handful of routes with a single type of jet liner (thus simplifying pilot and mechanic training). Instead of a single union representing employees across the industry -- typified by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which represented a majority of pilots -- some discount airlines maintained relationships with offshoot unions with smaller membership rolls and less leverage.

The discount airlines also depended on secondary, class-B airports that charged less in landing fees. But those discounts eventually disappeared when the secondary airports no longer needed to cut their fees to attract business.

To maintain their dominance over the market, the major airlines shifted from a direct city-to-city flight standard to the hub-and-spoke system of today. The hub-and-spoke setup allowed large centralized airports like Dallas-Ft. Worth and Atlanta to be ruled by a single company that determines which flights can use which terminals and at what cost.

While the hub-and-spoke system has some benefits, it's largely inefficient, dependent as it is on multi-stage connecting flights. Combined with the need to cut costs, it would also cause longer airport delays as planes were left waiting on the tarmac to make sure all passengers from connecting flights made it aboard. A single delay in a connecting flight could throw passengers' itineraries askew, leaving them stuck in a random airport overnight.

The major airlines used other tricks to keep out nascent airlines. They paid off travel agents and travel reservation sites to give preference to their particular airline. They introduced frequent flier miles to maintain brand allegiance.

Upstart discount airlines like Southwest were able to survive the vicious price wars by leaning on quality of service and direct flights, but most did not. The list of companies that were liquidated, temporarily or permanently, as a result is impressively long considering what it takes to start an airline: America West, PanAm, TransWorld, Western, Piedmont, Frontier, Northwest, National, Texas International, People Express, ValuJet, Air Florida, Eastern, Braniff, Skytrain, Pacific Southwest, Western Pacific, and many more.

Once bankrupt, the major airlines then bought the upstarts, creating an effective oligopoly. So much for competition.

Already on a spending spree during the heady years of the 1990s dot-com boom, buying up failed companies only saddled major airlines with more debt. While most people assume that the airlines had to be bailed out in 2001 because of the decrease in traffic after the September 11 attacks, it was also because the airlines were insolvent from previous financial problems, largely as a result of the price wars.

The actions of the major airlines may seem ruthless, but they were largely protecting their position in a deregulated industry that allowed the discount airlines to undercut labor standards just to offer cheaper prices to customers. They were defending themselves from disruption.

Considering the skill, education, and investment needed to maintain a safe and reliable airline, it is not exactly a business that needs to be disrupted. Running an airline is labor intensive, and it only turns a profit at random intervals. There's little money to be skimmed off.

With profit margins so thin, tickets on a half-empty flight have to cost twice as much as a fully booked one. Which is why, for a time, smaller cities that weren't necessarily travel hubs bore the brunt of deregulation. Routes that weren't fully booked experienced skyrocketing flight costs, which, for small-town travelers, was a huge disincentive to fly.

The bilking of transportation costs to and from smaller cities after a run of chaotic competition is eerily similar to what happened during the railway mania of the 1800s. Investors rushed to build rail lines everywhere and anywhere while money was flush. But once cash became tight, the rail industry used their monopoly power to charge exorbitant prices for anybody trying to ship in and out of smaller towns like Cincinnati. Such predatory pricing is what led to transportation regulation in the first place.

Since the 2001 airline bailout, things have calmed down a bit. It no longer costs $600 to fly from New York to Pittsburgh. Fewer discount airlines are entering the market, and the handful that are still in operation work with the major airlines on various routes (e.g. "flight provided by Frontier"). The price wars have settled to a quiet struggle played out on online travel registration websites like Kayak.com and Hipmunk.com, which have wholly replaced the job of travel agents.

But for airlines, the lower revenue from cheaper tickets has to be made up somewhere, and convenience may be the easiest element to remove. Airlines are pushing petty indignities on passengers and flight attendants by way of a million miscellaneous charges. Half the time, the discounts saved by cheaper tickets from deregulation are recouped in add-on fees. Eventually airlines may just offer extra-saver flights devoid of the most basic accommodations and simply force passengers who can't afford first-class seats to be stacked in the cargo hold like cord wood.

So what's the alternative? The airline industry is close to being a natural monopoly, there's little reason to foster competition. Indeed, the industry would benefit from nationalization or a well-regulated public option. At the very least, more regulation is necessary.

Without subsidization and some rules about flight costs, there is little incentive for the airline industry to provide affordable flights to locations that aren't fully booked. The irony is that we already subsidize airline travel. It just occurs through bailouts and bankruptcies after each airline has fought tooth and nail for market dominance. Public funds wind up paying for a wasteful, inefficient system characterized by irrational, destructive competition.

Through regulation or more aggressive means, it's quite possible to ensure good wages and working conditions and safe, affordable, reliable service -- all without blackout dates, three layovers, or all-out battles for legroom.

[Mar 21, 2019] With Personal Connection to Crash, Ralph Nader Takes on Boeing - WSJ

Mar 21, 2019 | www.wsj.com

He has long been a vocal critic of the Federal Aviation Administration, saying the agency lacks the resources and willpower to aggressively police airlines and manufacturers.

Mr. Nader said Boeing may be exposed to civil and possibly criminal liability. After the first fatal crash in October -- a Lion Air flight that crashed into the Java Sea minutes after takeoff -- company officials "were put on notice about the problem" with an automated stall-prevention system that can misfire and override pilot commands by repeatedly pushing down an aircraft's nose, he said.

The Justice and Transportation Departments are scrutinizing Boeing's dealings with the FAA over safety certifications, people familiar with the matter have said.

... ... ...

Mr. Nader has expressed his concerns to lawmakers and former regulators, and called for congressional hearings. Before the U.S. grounded the planes last week, he championed the idea of a sweeping boycott of all versions of 737 MAX aircraft. He also has stressed the importance of having Mr. Muilenburg, Boeing's CEO, testify on Capitol Hill about safety issues with the fleet.

Criticizing Boeing's original design of the automated flight-control feature, dubbed MCAS, Mr. Nader said it reflected a misguided view driven by engineering overconfidence and called it "the arrogance of the algorithms."

[Mar 18, 2019] Journalists who are spies

Highly recommended!
Can you trust the BBC news? How many journalists are working for the security services?
Notable quotes:
"... Can you trust the BBC news? How many journalists are working for the security services? ..."
"... "Most tabloid newspapers - or even newspapers in general - are playthings of MI5." ..."
"... Bloch and Fitzgerald, in their examination of covert UK warfare, report the editor of "one of Britain's most distinguished journals" as believing that more than half its foreign correspondents were on the MI6 payroll. ..."
"... The heart of the secret state they identified as the security services, the cabinet office and upper echelons of the Home and Commonwealth Offices, the armed forces and Ministry of Defence, the nuclear power industry and its satellite ministries together a network of senior civil servants. ..."
"... As "satellites" of the secret state, their list included "agents of influence in the media, ranging from actual agents of the security services, conduits of official leaks, to senior journalists merely lusting after official praise and, perhaps, a knighthood at the end of their career". ..."
"... Stephen Dorril, in his seminal history of MI6, reports that Orwell attended a meeting in Paris of resistance fighters on behalf of David Astor, his editor at the Observer and leader of the intelligence service's unit liasing with the French resistance. ..."
Mar 03, 2006 | www.nytimes.com

Can you trust the BBC news? How many journalists are working for the security services? The following extracts are from an article at the excellent Medialens

http://www.medialens.org/alerts/06/060303_hacks_and_spooks.php

HACKS AND SPOOKS

By Professor Richard Keeble

And so to Nottingham University (on Sunday 26 February) for a well-attended conference...

I focus in my talk on the links between journalists and the intelligence services: While it might be difficult to identify precisely the impact of the spooks (variously represented in the press as "intelligence", "security", "Whitehall" or "Home Office" sources) on mainstream politics and media, from the limited evidence it looks to be enormous.

As Roy Greenslade, media specialist at the Telegraph (formerly the Guardian), commented:

"Most tabloid newspapers - or even newspapers in general - are playthings of MI5."

Bloch and Fitzgerald, in their examination of covert UK warfare, report the editor of "one of Britain's most distinguished journals" as believing that more than half its foreign correspondents were on the MI6 payroll.

And in 1991, Richard Norton-Taylor revealed in the Guardian that 500 prominent Britons paid by the CIA and the now defunct Bank of Commerce and Credit International, included 90 journalists.

In their analysis of the contemporary secret state, Dorril and Ramsay gave the media a crucial role. The heart of the secret state they identified as the security services, the cabinet office and upper echelons of the Home and Commonwealth Offices, the armed forces and Ministry of Defence, the nuclear power industry and its satellite ministries together a network of senior civil servants.

As "satellites" of the secret state, their list included "agents of influence in the media, ranging from actual agents of the security services, conduits of official leaks, to senior journalists merely lusting after official praise and, perhaps, a knighthood at the end of their career".

Phillip Knightley, author of a seminal history of the intelligence services, has even claimed that at least one intelligence agent is working on every Fleet Street newspaper.

A brief history

Going as far back as 1945, George Orwell no less became a war correspondent for the Observer - probably as a cover for intelligence work. Significantly most of the men he met in Paris on his assignment, Freddie Ayer, Malcolm Muggeridge, Ernest Hemingway were either working for the intelligence services or had close links to them.

Stephen Dorril, in his seminal history of MI6, reports that Orwell attended a meeting in Paris of resistance fighters on behalf of David Astor, his editor at the Observer and leader of the intelligence service's unit liasing with the French resistance.

The release of Public Record Office documents in 1995 about some of the operations of the MI6-financed propaganda unit, the Information Research Department of the Foreign Office, threw light on this secret body - which even Orwell aided by sending them a list of "crypto-communists". Set up by the Labour government in 1948, it "ran" dozens of Fleet Street journalists and a vast array of news agencies across the globe until it was closed down by Foreign Secretary David Owen in 1977.

According to John Pilger in the anti-colonial struggles in Kenya, Malaya and Cyprus, IRD was so successful that the journalism served up as a record of those episodes was a cocktail of the distorted and false in which the real aims and often atrocious behaviour of the British intelligence agencies was hidden.

And spy novelist John le Carré, who worked for MI6 between 1960 and 1964, has made the amazing statement that the British secret service then controlled large parts of the press – just as they may do today.

In 1975, following Senate hearings on the CIA, the reports of the Senate's Church Committee and the House of Representatives' Pike Committee highlighted the extent of agency recruitment of both British and US journalists.

And sources revealed that half the foreign staff of a British daily were on the MI6 payroll.

David Leigh, in The Wilson Plot, his seminal study of the way in which the secret service smeared through the mainstream media and destabilised the Government of Harold Wilson before his sudden resignation in 1976, quotes an MI5 officer: "We have somebody in every office in Fleet Street"

Leaker King

And the most famous whistleblower of all, Peter (Spycatcher) Wright, revealed that MI5 had agents in newspapers and publishing companies whose main role was to warn them of any forthcoming "embarrassing publications".

Wright also disclosed that the Daily Mirror tycoon, Cecil King, "was a longstanding agent of ours" who "made it clear he would publish anything MI5 might care to leak in his direction".

Selective details about Wilson and his secretary, Marcia Falkender, were leaked by the intelligence services to sympathetic Fleet Street journalists. Wright comments: "No wonder Wilson was later to claim that he was the victim of a plot". King was also closely involved in a scheme in 1968 to oust Prime Minister Harold Wilson and replace him with a coalition headed by Lord Mountbatten.

Hugh Cudlipp, editorial director of the Mirror from 1952 to 1974, was also closely linked to intelligence, according to Chris Horrie, in his recently published history of the newspaper.

David Walker, the Mirror's foreign correspondent in the 1950s, was named as an MI6 agent following a security scandal while another Mirror journalist, Stanley Bonnet, admitted working for MI5 in the 1980s investigating the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

Maxwell and Mossad

According to Stephen Dorril, intelligence gathering during the miners' strike of 1984-85 was helped by the fact that during the 1970s MI5's F Branch had made a special effort to recruit industrial correspondents – with great success.

In 1991, just before his mysterious death, Mirror proprietor Robert Maxwell was accused by the US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh of acting for Mossad, the Israeli secret service, though Dorril suggests his links with MI6 were equally as strong.

Following the resignation from the Guardian of Richard Gott, its literary editor in December 1994 in the wake of allegations that he was a paid agent of the KGB, the role of journalists as spies suddenly came under the media spotlight – and many of the leaks were fascinating.

For instance, according to The Times editorial of 16 December 1994: "Many British journalists benefited from CIA or MI6 largesse during the Cold War."

The intimate links between journalists and the secret services were highlighted in the autobiography of the eminent newscaster Sandy Gall. He reports without any qualms how, after returning from one of his reporting assignments to Afghanistan, he was asked to lunch by the head of MI6. "It was very informal, the cook was off so we had cold meat and salad with plenty of wine. He wanted to hear what I had to say about the war in Afghanistan. I was flattered, of course, and anxious to pass on what I could in terms of first-hand knowledge."

And in January 2001, the renegade MI6 officer, Richard Tomlinson, claimed Dominic Lawson, the editor of the Sunday Telegraph and son of the former Tory chancellor, Nigel Lawson, provided journalistic cover for an MI6 officer on a mission to the Baltic to handle and debrief a young Russian diplomat who was spying for Britain.

Lawson strongly denied the allegations.

Similarly in the reporting of Northern Ireland, there have been longstanding concerns over security service disinformation. Susan McKay, Northern editor of the Dublin-based Sunday Tribune, has criticised the reckless reporting of material from "dodgy security services". She told a conference in Belfast in January 2003 organised by the National Union of Journalists and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission: "We need to be suspicious when people are so ready to provide information and that we are, in fact, not being used." (www.nuj.org.uk/inner.php?docid=635)

Growing power of secret state

Thus from this evidence alone it is clear there has been a long history of links between hacks and spooks in both the UK and US.

But as the secret state grows in power, through massive resourcing, through a whole raft of legislation – such as the Official Secrets Act, the anti-terrorism legislation, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and so on – and as intelligence moves into the heart of Blair's ruling clique so these links are even more significant.

Since September 11 all of Fleet Street has been awash in warnings by anonymous intelligence sources of terrorist threats.

According to former Labour minister Michael Meacher, much of this disinformation was spread via sympathetic journalists by the Rockingham cell within the MoD.

A parallel exercise, through the office of Special Plans, was set up by Donald Rumsfeld in the US. Thus there have been constant attempts to scare people – and justify still greater powers for the national security apparatus.

Similarly the disinformation about Iraq's WMD was spread by dodgy intelligence sources via gullible journalists.

Thus, to take just one example, Michael Evans, The Times defence correspondent, reported on 29 November 2002: "Saddam Hussein has ordered hundred of his officials to conceal weapons of mass destruction components in their homes to evade the prying eyes of the United Nations inspectors." The source of these "revelations" was said to be "intelligence picked up from within Iraq". Early in 2004, as the battle for control of Iraq continued with mounting casualties on both sides, it was revealed that many of the lies about Saddam Hussein's supposed WMD had been fed to sympathetic journalists in the US, Britain and Australia by the exile group, the Iraqi National Congress.

Sexed up – and missed out

During the controversy that erupted following the end of the "war" and the death of the arms inspector Dr David Kelly (and the ensuing Hutton inquiry) the spotlight fell on BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan and the claim by one of his sources that the government (in collusion with the intelligence services) had "sexed up" a dossier justifying an attack on Iraq.

The Hutton inquiry, its every twist and turn massively covered in the mainstream media, was the archetypal media spectacle that drew attention from the real issue: why did the Bush and Blair governments invade Iraq in the face of massive global opposition? But those facts will be forever secret.

Significantly, too, the broader and more significant issue of mainstream journalists' links with the intelligence services was ignored by the inquiry.

Significantly, on 26 May 2004, the New York Times carried a 1,200-word editorial admitting it had been duped in its coverage of WMD in the lead-up to the invasion by dubious Iraqi defectors, informants and exiles (though it failed to lay any blame on the US President: see Greenslade 2004). Chief among The Times' dodgy informants was Ahmad Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress and Pentagon favourite before his Baghdad house was raided by US forces on 20 May.

Then, in the Observer of 30 May 2004, David Rose admitted he had been the victim of a "calculated set-up" devised to foster the propaganda case for war. "In the 18 months before the invasion of March 2003, I dealt regularly with Chalabi and the INC and published stories based on interviews with men they said were defectors from Saddam's regime." And he concluded: "The information fog is thicker than in any previous war, as I know now from bitter personal experience. To any journalist being offered apparently sensational disclosures, especially from an anonymous intelligence source, I offer two words of advice: caveat emptor."

Let's not forget no British newspaper has followed the example of the NYT and apologised for being so easily duped by the intelligence services in the run up to the illegal invasion of Iraq.

~

Richard Keeble's publications include Secret State, Silent Press: New Militarism, the Gulf and the Modern Image of Warfare (John Libbey 1997) and The Newspapers Handbook (Routledge, fourth edition, 2005). He is also the editor of Ethical Space: The International Journal of Communication Ethics. Richard is also a member of the War and Media Network.

[Mar 18, 2019] Doublethink and Newspeak Do We Have a Choice by Greg Guma

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... In Orwell's imagination, society was ruled in the future by Big Brother. It wasn't a computer, but rather the collective expression of the Party. But not like the Republicans; this Party was an autonomous bureaucracy and advanced surveillance state interested only in perpetuating itself as a hierarchy. In this dystopia, "the people" had become insignificant, without the power of "grasping that the world could be other than it is." ..."
"... Concepts like freedom were perverted by a ruthless Newspeakperpetuated by the Party through the media. A Goodthinker was someone who followed orders without thinking. Crimestop was the instinctual avoidance of any dangerous thought, and Doublethink was the constant distortion of reality to maintain the Party's image of infallibility. ..."
"... Writing in 1948, Orwell was projecting what could happen in just a few decades. By most measures, even 70 years later we're not quite there yet. But we do face the real danger that freedom and equality will be seriously distorted by a new form of Newspeak, a Trumpian version promoted by the administration and its allies through their media. We already have Trumpian Goodthinkers -- the sychophantic surrogates who follow his lead without thinking, along with Crimestop -- the instinctual avoidance of "disloyal" thought, and Doublethink -- the constant distortion of reality to maintain Trump's insatiable ego and image of infallibility. Orwellian ideas are simply resurfacing in a post-modern/reality TV form. ..."
"... As community life unravels and more institutions fall into disrepute, media have become among of the few remaining that can potentially facilitate some social cohesion. Yet instead they fuel conflict and crisis. It's not quite Crimestop, but does often appeal to some of the basest instincts and produce even more alienation and division. ..."
"... In 1980, Ralph Nader called the race for president at that time -- between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan -- a choice between mediocrity and menace. It was funny then, but now we can see what real menace looks like. Is Trump-ism what Orwell warned us about? Not quite, though there are similarities. Like Trump, you can't talk to Big Brother. And he rarely gives you the truth, only doublespeak. But Trump is no Big Brother. More like a Drunk Uncle with nukes. ..."
"... Security is tight and hard to avoid, on or offline. There are cameras everywhere, and every purchase and move most people make is tracked by the state. Still, there are four bombings in the first week of the Games. There is also another kind of human tragedy. Four runners collapse during preliminary rounds as a result of a toxic mix -- heat and pollution. ..."
"... Greg Guma is the Vermont-based author of Dons of Time, Uneasy Empire, Spirits of Desire, Big Lies, and The People's Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution. ..."
"... This article was originally published by Greg Guma: For Preservation & Change . ..."
Aug 21, 2017 | www.globalresearch.ca
Region: USA Theme: Media Disinformation , Police State & Civil Rights

More people are becoming alienated, cynical, resentful or resigned, while too much of mass and social media reinforces less-than-helpful narratives and tendencies. The frog's in the frying pan and the heat is rising.

On the big screens above us beautiful young people demonstrated their prowess. We were sitting in the communications center, waiting for print outs to tell us what they'd done before organizing the material for mass consumption. Outside, people were freezing in the snow as they waited for buses. Their only choice was to attend another event or attempt to get home.

The area was known as the Competition Zone, a corporate state created for the sole purpose of showcasing these gorgeous competitors. Freedom was a foreign idea here; no one was more free than the laminated identification card hanging around your neck allowed.

Visitors were more restricted than anyone. They saw only what they paid for, and had to wait in long lines for food, transport, or tickets to more events. They were often uncomfortable, yet they felt privileged to be admitted to the Zone. Citizens were categorized by their function within the Organizing Committee's bureaucracy. Those who merely served -- in jobs like cooking, driving and cleaning -- wore green and brown tags. They could travel between their homes and work, but were rarely permitted into events. Their contact with visitors was also limited. To visit them from outside the Zone, their friends and family had to be screened.

Most citizens knew little about how the Zone was actually run, about the "inner community" of diplomats, competitors and corporate officials they served. Yet each night they watched the exploits of this same elite on television.

The Zone, a closed and classified place where most bad news went unreported and a tiny elite called the shots through mass media and computers, was no futuristic fantasy. It was Lake Placid for several weeks in early 1980 -- a full four years before 1984.

In a once sleepy little community covered with artificial snow, the Olympics had brought a temporary society into being. Two thousand athletes and their entourage were its royalty, role models for the throngs of spectators, townspeople and journalists. This convergence resulted in an ad hoc police state, managed by public and private forces and a political elite that combined local business honchos with an international governing committee. They dominated a population all too willing to submit to arbitrary authority.

Even back then, Lake Placid's Olympic "village" felt like a preview of things to come. Not quite George Orwell's dark vision, but uncomfortably close.

In Orwell's imagination, society was ruled in the future by Big Brother. It wasn't a computer, but rather the collective expression of the Party. But not like the Republicans; this Party was an autonomous bureaucracy and advanced surveillance state interested only in perpetuating itself as a hierarchy. In this dystopia, "the people" had become insignificant, without the power of "grasping that the world could be other than it is."

Concepts like freedom were perverted by a ruthless Newspeakperpetuated by the Party through the media. A Goodthinker was someone who followed orders without thinking. Crimestop was the instinctual avoidance of any dangerous thought, and Doublethink was the constant distortion of reality to maintain the Party's image of infallibility.

Writing in 1948, Orwell was projecting what could happen in just a few decades. By most measures, even 70 years later we're not quite there yet. But we do face the real danger that freedom and equality will be seriously distorted by a new form of Newspeak, a Trumpian version promoted by the administration and its allies through their media. We already have Trumpian Goodthinkers -- the sychophantic surrogates who follow his lead without thinking, along with Crimestop -- the instinctual avoidance of "disloyal" thought, and Doublethink -- the constant distortion of reality to maintain Trump's insatiable ego and image of infallibility. Orwellian ideas are simply resurfacing in a post-modern/reality TV form.

Our fast food culture is also taking a long-term toll. More and more people are becoming alienated, cynical, resentful or resigned, while too much of mass and social media reinforces less-than-helpful narratives and tendencies. The frog's in the frying pan and the heat is rising.

Much of what penetrates and goes viral further fragments culture and thought, promoting a cynicism that reinforces both rage and inaction. Rather than true diversity, we have the mass illusion that a choice between polarized opinions, shaped and curated by editors and networks, is the essence of free speech and democracy. In reality, original ideas are so constrained and self-censored that what's left is usually as diverse as brands of peppermint toothpaste.

When the Bill of Rights was ratified, the notion that freedom of speech and the press should be protected meant that the personal right of self-expression should not be repressed by the government. James Madison, author of the First Amendment, warned that the greatest danger to liberty was that a majority would use its power to repress everyone else. Yet the evolution of mass media and the corporate domination of economic life have made these "choicest privileges" almost obsolete.

As community life unravels and more institutions fall into disrepute, media have become among of the few remaining that can potentially facilitate some social cohesion. Yet instead they fuel conflict and crisis. It's not quite Crimestop, but does often appeal to some of the basest instincts and produce even more alienation and division.

In general terms, what most mass media bring the public is a series of images and anecdotes that cumulatively define a way of life. Both news and entertainment contribute to the illusion that competing, consuming and accumulating are at the core of our aspirations. Each day we are repeatedly shown and told that culture and politics are corrupt, that war is imminent or escalating somewhere, that violence is random and pervasive, and yet also that the latest "experts" have the answers. Countless programs meanwhile celebrate youth, violence, frustrated sexuality, and the lives of celebrities.

Between the official program content are a series of intensely packaged sales pitches. These commercial messages wash over us, as if we are wandering in an endless virtual mall, searching in vain for fulfillment as society crumbles.

In 1980, Ralph Nader called the race for president at that time -- between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan -- a choice between mediocrity and menace. It was funny then, but now we can see what real menace looks like. Is Trump-ism what Orwell warned us about? Not quite, though there are similarities. Like Trump, you can't talk to Big Brother. And he rarely gives you the truth, only doublespeak. But Trump is no Big Brother. More like a Drunk Uncle with nukes.

So, is it too late for a rescue? Will menace win this time? Or can we still save the environment, reclaim self-government, restore communities and protect human rights? What does the future hold?

It could be summer in Los Angeles in 2024, the end of Donald Trump's second term. The freeways are slow-moving parking lots for the Olympics. Millions of people hike around in the heat, or use bikes and cycles to get to work. It's difficult with all the checkpoints, not to mention the extra-high security at the airports. Thousands of police, not to mention the military, are on the lookout for terrorists, smugglers, protesters, cultists, gangs, thieves, and anyone who doesn't have money to burn or a ticket to the Games.

Cash isn't much good, and gas has become so expensive that suburban highways are almost empty.

Security is tight and hard to avoid, on or offline. There are cameras everywhere, and every purchase and move most people make is tracked by the state. Still, there are four bombings in the first week of the Games. There is also another kind of human tragedy. Four runners collapse during preliminary rounds as a result of a toxic mix -- heat and pollution.

... ... ...

Greg Guma is the Vermont-based author of Dons of Time, Uneasy Empire, Spirits of Desire, Big Lies, and The People's Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution.

This article was originally published by Greg Guma: For Preservation & Change .

[Mar 18, 2019] The Why are the media playing lapdog and not watchdog – again – on war in Iraq?

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... General Electric, the world's largest military contractor, still controls the message over at the so-called "liberal" MSNBC. MSNBC's other owner is Comcast, the right wing media conglomerate that controls the radio waves in every major American Market. Over at CNN, Mossad Asset Wolf Blitzer, who rose from being an obscure little correspondent for an Israeli Newspaper to being CNN's Chief "Pentagon Correspondent" and then was elevated to supreme anchorman nearly as quickly, ensures that the pro-Israeli Message is always in the forefront, even as the Israeli's commit one murderous act after another upon helpless Palestinian Women and Children. ..."
"... Every single "terrorism expert", General or former Government Official that is brought out to discuss the next great war is connected to a military contractor that stands to benefit from that war. Not surprisingly, the military option is the only option discussed and we are assured that, if only we do this or bomb that, then it will all be over and we can bring our kids home to a big victory parade. I'm 63 and it has never happened in my lifetime--with the exception of the phony parade that Bush Senior put on after his murderous little "First Gulf War". ..."
"... The Generals in the Pentagon always want war. It is how they make rank. All of those young kids that just graduated from our various academies know that war experience is the only thing that will get them the advancement that they seek in the career that they have chosen. They are champing at the bit for more war. ..."
"... the same PR campaign that started with Bush and Cheney continues-the exact same campaign. Obviously, they have to come back at the apple with variations, but any notion that the "media will get it someday" is willfully ignorant of the obvious fact that there is an agenda, and that agenda just won't stop until it's achieved-or revolution supplants the influence of these dark forces. ..."
"... The US media are indeed working overtime to get this war happening ..."
"... In media universe there is no alternative to endless war and an endless stream of hyped reasons for new killing. ..."
"... The media machine is a wholly owned subsidiary of the United States of Corporations. ..."
"... Oh, the greatest propaganda arm the US government has right now, bar none, is the American media. It's disgraceful. we no longer have journalists speaking truth to power in my country, we have people practicing stenography, straight from the State Department to your favorite media outlet. ..."
"... But all that research from MIT, from the UN, and others, has been buried by the American media, and every single story on Syria and Assad that is written still refers to "Assad gassing his own people". It's true, it's despicable, and it's just one example of how our media lies and distorts and misrepresents the news every day. ..."
Oct 10, 2014 | The Guardian
BradBenson, 10 October 2014 6:14pm
The American Public has gotten exactly what it deserved. They have been dumbed-down in our poor-by-intention school systems. The moronic nonsense that passes for news in this country gets more sensational with each passing day. Over on Fox, they are making the claim that ISIS fighters are bringing Ebola over the Mexican Border, which prompted a reply by the Mexican Embassy that won't be reported on Fox.

We continue to hear and it was even reported in this very fine article by Ms. Benjamin that the American People now support this new war. Really? I'm sorry, but I haven't seen that support anywhere but on the news and I just don't believe it any more.

There is also the little problem of infiltration into key media slots by paid CIA Assets (Scarborough and brainless Mika are two of these double dippers). Others are intermarried. Right-wing Neocon War Criminal Dan Senor is married to "respected" newsperson Campbell Brown who is now involved in privatizing our school system. Victoria Nuland, the slimey State Department Official who was overheard appointing the members of the future Ukrainian Government prior to the Maidan Coup is married to another Neo-Con--Larry Kagan. Even sweet little Andrea Mitchell is actually Mrs. Alan Greenspan.

General Electric, the world's largest military contractor, still controls the message over at the so-called "liberal" MSNBC. MSNBC's other owner is Comcast, the right wing media conglomerate that controls the radio waves in every major American Market. Over at CNN, Mossad Asset Wolf Blitzer, who rose from being an obscure little correspondent for an Israeli Newspaper to being CNN's Chief "Pentagon Correspondent" and then was elevated to supreme anchorman nearly as quickly, ensures that the pro-Israeli Message is always in the forefront, even as the Israeli's commit one murderous act after another upon helpless Palestinian Women and Children.

Every single "terrorism expert", General or former Government Official that is brought out to discuss the next great war is connected to a military contractor that stands to benefit from that war. Not surprisingly, the military option is the only option discussed and we are assured that, if only we do this or bomb that, then it will all be over and we can bring our kids home to a big victory parade. I'm 63 and it has never happened in my lifetime--with the exception of the phony parade that Bush Senior put on after his murderous little "First Gulf War".

Yesterday there was a coordinated action by all of the networks, which was clearly designed to support the idea that the generals want Obama to act and he just won't. The not-so-subtle message was that the generals were right and that the President's "inaction" was somehow out of line-since, after all, the generals have recommended more war. It was as if these people don't remember that the President, sleazy War Criminal that he is, is still the Commander in Chief.

The Generals in the Pentagon always want war. It is how they make rank. All of those young kids that just graduated from our various academies know that war experience is the only thing that will get them the advancement that they seek in the career that they have chosen. They are champing at the bit for more war.

Finally, this Sunday every NFL Game will begin with some Patriotic "Honor America" Display, which will include a missing man flyover, flags and fireworks, plenty of uniforms, wounded Vets and soon-to-be-wounded Vets. A giant American Flag will, once again, cover the fields and hundreds of stupid young kids will rush down to their "Military Career Center" right after the game. These are the ones that I pity most.

BaronVonAmericano , 10 October 2014 6:26pm
Let's be frank: powerful interests want war and subsequent puppet regimes in the half dozen nations that the neo-cons have been eyeing (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan). These interests surely include industries like banking, arms and oil-all of whom make a killing on any war, and would stand to do well with friendly governments who could finance more arms purchases and will never nationalize the oil.

So, the same PR campaign that started with Bush and Cheney continues-the exact same campaign. Obviously, they have to come back at the apple with variations, but any notion that the "media will get it someday" is willfully ignorant of the obvious fact that there is an agenda, and that agenda just won't stop until it's achieved-or revolution supplants the influence of these dark forces.

IanB52, 10 October 2014 6:57pm

The US media are indeed working overtime to get this war happening. When I'm down at the gym they always have CNN on (I can only imagine what FOX is like) which is a pretty much dyed in the wool yellow jingoist station at this point. With all the segments they dedicate to ISIS, a new war, the "imminent" terrorist threat, they seem to favor talking heads who support a full ground war and I have never, not once, heard anyone even speak about the mere possibility of peace. Not ever.

In media universe there is no alternative to endless war and an endless stream of hyped reasons for new killing.

I'd imagine that these media companies have a lot stock in and a cozy relationship with the defense contractors.

Damiano Iocovozzi, 10 October 2014 7:04pm

The media machine is a wholly owned subsidiary of the United States of Corporations. The media doesn't report on anything but relies on repeating manufactured crises, creating manufactured consent & discussing manufactured solutions. Follow the oil, the pipelines & the money. Both R's & D's are left & right cheeks of the same buttock. Thanks to Citizens United & even Hobby Lobby, a compliant Supreme Court, also owned by United States of Corporations, it's a done deal.

ID5868758 , 10 October 2014 10:20pm
Oh, the greatest propaganda arm the US government has right now, bar none, is the American media. It's disgraceful. we no longer have journalists speaking truth to power in my country, we have people practicing stenography, straight from the State Department to your favorite media outlet.

Let me give you one clear example. A year ago Barack Obama came very close to bombing Syria to kingdom come, the justification used was "Assad gassed his own people", referring to a sarin gas attack near Damascus. Well, it turns out that Assad did not initiate that attack, discovered by research from many sources including the prestigious MIT, it was a false flag attack planned by Turkey and carried out by some of Obama's own "moderate rebels".

But all that research from MIT, from the UN, and others, has been buried by the American media, and every single story on Syria and Assad that is written still refers to "Assad gassing his own people". It's true, it's despicable, and it's just one example of how our media lies and distorts and misrepresents the news every day.

[Mar 17, 2019] Yes, Minister was a neoliberal attack on government as such. It set the entrepreneurial political hero/leader against the corrupt civil service

Notable quotes:
"... Yes, Minister was a neoliberal attack on government as such. It set the "entrepreneurial" political hero/leader against the corrupt "civil service". ..."
"... Following this line of reasoning, it seems to me that the US military establishment has been in decline ever since the Pentagon was built and the temporary Navy Dept. buildings erected on the National Mall were razed ..."
"... Being that the Pentagon opened in 1943 and the buildings on the Mall were razed in 1970, which roughly coincides with our costly imperial adventures in Korea and Vietnam, I think Parkinson's Law #6 is dead on here. ..."
Apr 27, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Chris , April 27, 2017 at 3:48 pm

Years ago, while working in an Australian state public service department, we considered 'Yes Minister' to be a documentary, and used it amongst ourselves as training material.

Lambert Strether Post author , April 27, 2017 at 4:26 pm

My favorite episode is "Jobs for the Boys." My favorite line: "Great courage of course. But whatever possessed you?"

https://books.google.co.id/books?id=VBkkymt32CgC

(Messing about with the VPN to get the full page )

RUKidding , April 27, 2017 at 5:11 pm

Indeed. I have used it as such, myself! Not snark.

A most excellent book and series. Should be required viewing.

witters , April 27, 2017 at 8:19 pm

Yes, Minister was a neoliberal attack on government as such. It set the "entrepreneurial" political hero/leader against the corrupt "civil service". It made the latter the "deep state", thereby tainting forever the welfare state as an evil hidden conspiracy that (mysteriously) pandered to the meritocratically worthless. If that is what you mean by "Deep State" then you can have it.

Huey Long , April 27, 2017 at 3:21 pm

It is now known that a perfection of planned layout is achieved only by institutions on the point of collapse . [P]erfection of planning is a symptom of decay. During a period of exciting discovery or progress there is no time to plan the perfect headquarters. The time for that comes later, when all the important work has been done. Perfection, we know, is finality; and finality is death.

Following this line of reasoning, it seems to me that the US military establishment has been in decline ever since the Pentagon was built and the temporary Navy Dept. buildings erected on the National Mall were razed.

Being that the Pentagon opened in 1943 and the buildings on the Mall were razed in 1970, which roughly coincides with our costly imperial adventures in Korea and Vietnam, I think Parkinson's Law #6 is dead on here.

[Mar 14, 2019] Boeing 737 Max an artificial intelligence event by James Thompson

Mar 14, 2019 | www.unz.com

Conventional wisdom is that it is too early to speculate why in the past six months two Boeing 737 Max 8 planes have gone down shortly after take off, so if all that follows is wrong you will know it very quickly. Last night I predicted that the first withdrawals of the plane would happen within two days, and this morning China withdrew it. So far, so good. (Indonesia followed a few hours ago).

Why should I stick my neck out with further predictions? First, because we must speculate the moment something goes wrong. It is natural, right and proper to note errors and try to correct them.(The authorities are always against "wild" speculation, and I would be in agreement with that if they had an a prior definition of wildness). Second, because putting forward hypotheses may help others test them (if they are not already doing so). Third, because if the hypotheses turn out to be wrong, it will indicate an error in reasoning, and will be an example worth studying in psychology, so often dourly drawn to human fallibility. Charmingly, an error in my reasoning might even illuminate an error that a pilot might make, if poorly trained, sleep-deprived and inattentive.

I think the problem is that the Boeing anti-stall patch MCAS is poorly configured for pilot use: it is not intuitive, and opaque in its consequences.

By the way of full disclosure, I have held my opinion since the first Lion Air crash in October, and ran it past a test pilot who, while not responsible for a single word here, did not argue against it. He suggested that MCAS characteristics should have been in a special directive and drawn to the attention of pilots.

I am normally a fan of Boeing. I have flown Boeing more than any other plane, and that might make me loyal to the brand. Even more powerfully, I thought they were correct to carry on with the joystick yoke, and that AirBus was wrong to drop it, simply because the position of the joystick is something visible to pilot and co-pilot, whereas the Airbus side stick does not show you at a glance how high the nose of the plane is pointing.

http://www.unz.com/jthompson/fear-of-flying-and-safety-of-gruyere/

Pilots are bright people, but they must never be set a badly configured test item with tight time limits and potentially fatal outcomes.

The Air France 447 crash had several ingredients, but one was that the pilots of the Airbus A330-203 took too long to work out they were in a stall. In fact, that realization only hit them very shortly before they hit the ocean. Whatever the limitations of the crew (sleep deprived captain, uncertain co-pilot) they were blinded by a frozen Pitot air speed indicator, and an inability to set the right angle of attack for their airspeed.

For the industry, the first step was to fit better air speed indicators which were less likely to ice up. However, it was clear that better stall warning and protection was required.

Boeing had a problem with fitting larger and heavier engines to their tried and trusted 737 configuration, meaning that the engines had to be higher on the wing and a little forwards, and that made the 737 Max have different performance characteristics, which in turn led to the need for an anti-stall patch to be put into the control systems.

It is said that generals always fight the last war. Safety officials correct the last problem, as they must. However, sometimes a safety system has unintended consequences.

The key of the matter is that pilots fly normal 737s every day, and have internalized a mental model of how that plane operates. Pilots probably actually read manuals, and safety directives, and practice for rare events. However, I bet that what they know best is how a plane actually operates most of the time. (I am adjusting to a new car, same manufacturer and model as the last one, but the 9 years of habit are still often stronger than the manual-led actions required by the new configuration). When they fly a 737 Max there is a bit of software in the system which detects stall conditions and corrects them automatically. The pilots should know that, they should adjust to that, they should know that they must switch off that system if it seems to be getting in the way, but all that may be steps too far, when something so important is so opaque.

What is interesting is that in emergencies people rely on their most validated mental models: residents fleeing a burning building tend to go out their usual exits, not even the nearest or safest exit. Pilots are used to pulling the nose up and pushing it down, to adding power and to easing back on it, and when a system takes over some of those decisions, they need to know about it.

After Lion Air I believed that pilots had been warned about the system, but had not paid sufficient attention to its admittedly complicated characteristics, but now it is claimed that the system was not in the training manual anyway. It was deemed a safety system that pilots did not need to know about.

This farrago has an unintended consequence, in that it may be a warning about artificial intelligence. Boeing may have rated the correction factor as too simple to merit human attention, something required mainly to correct a small difference in pitch characteristics unlikely to be encountered in most commercial flying, which is kept as smooth as possible for passenger comfort.

It would be terrible if an apparently small change in automated safety systems designed to avoid a stall turned out have given us a rogue plane, killing us to make us safe.


Anatoly Karlin , says: Website March 11, 2019 at 2:36 pm GMT

Pilots are used to pulling the nose up and pushing it down, to adding power and to easing back on it, and when a system takes over some of those decisions, they need to know about it.

I have read that Boeing kept MCAS out of the limelight as otherwise the 737 MAX would need to be certified as a new plane and airlines would need to do $$$ pilot retraining, making their product less competitive.

James Thompson , says: Website March 11, 2019 at 3:09 pm GMT
@Anatoly Karlin Interesting. It is certainly hard to understand why MCAS was shrouded in secrecy, when it was potentially lethal.
Captain 737 , says: March 11, 2019 at 7:38 pm GMT
Interesting response from a "by-stander", who compares a sophisticated aircraft with a new model car !!!

As an experienced captain on 737s (not the MAX) I say, let the investigation begin; and let us not have by-standers giving their penny worth. A normal 737 . is there also an abnormal 747 or 777 or 787, or a 737 ??

Pilots carry the can . but, are the most respected profession in the world. What ever happened, let the investigation decide the outcome, and not the "un-trained" (is there such a term !!!!).

If one takes a look at the (released to date) information about the Lion Air crash – "unreliable airspeeds" (the airspeed indicator is providing erroneous information during a critical phase of flight (like climb out after take-off)) could have been the cause of that aircraft crash – not AI.

A simple explanation – the airspeed indicator is "unreliable", as one moment the indication is under-speed, then overspeed, followed by under-speed, and so it goes; like a yoyo going up and down; the indicated speed is erroneous and the pilots cannot rely on what is presented on the airspeed indicator. Pilots, according to the Boeing Training Manual, are trained to handle unreliable airspeeds – the key is to fly the plane based solely on pitch attitude and thrust (there are memory items for unreliable airspeed occurrences, along with the reference items in aircraft's Quick Reference Handbook – the QRH (Boeing term) is the pilots "bible" for any issues and problems when the aircraft is in the air !! ).

The point of the above paragraph is to enlighten the 'un-trained' as to not speculate too soon with ideas and a "hypothesis" of what may have happened, until the knowledgeable ones – the aircraft manufacturer (probably being the most knowledgable), the country's aviation authority, the engine manufacturer, and (dear I say) the FAA (the Yanks just cannot help themselves delving into other countries' affairs; when for 9/11 not one minutes was spent by anyone (FAA, Boeing, no one) investigating the so-called crashes of four aircraft – on one day, within one and a half hours of each other, and in the most protected airspace in the world (got the hint !!) – I have digressed, though for reason .. have completed their investigations.

I can assure you that no pilot wants to crash a plane we (pilots) all want to live to 100, and beyond.

Humans make mistakes, but technology needs humans to correct technology's mistakes. Boeing build reliable and trustworthy aircraft; pilots undertake their duties in a safe and controlled manner (according to training and aircraft manufacturer stipulated standards); but errors happen – and the investigator is there to establish what happened, so that these do not happen again. Unfortunately, it is just possible that the cause of the first MAX accident is the same as the second. But, let the knowledgable ones determine that fact – and let me, and us, not speculate.

AI in the MAX hhmmmmm – let Boeing release that information, before we start speculating again (on AI – is an auto pilot AI; the B737 I fly has two auto pilots; is that double AI ??).

To the rest of the travelling public – airline travel remains, and has been, the safest form of transport for decades. I am confident that the status quo will remain.

Time will reveal the answers to these two accidents, when the time is right – when the investigators (for both) have concluded their deliberations.

My guess is, the majority of people will have forgotten these two MAX events (but, for those who have lost loved ones), as some other crisis/event will have occurred in their lives and/or in the world.

Dieter Kief , says: March 11, 2019 at 7:38 pm GMT
@Anatoly Karlin

737 MAX would need to be certified as a new plane and airlines would need to do $$$ pilot retraining, making their product less competitive.

Short sighted businessmen – Nothing lasts for long

Joni Mitchell – – – Chinese Cafè on Wild Things Run Fast

The Anti-Gnostic , says: Website March 11, 2019 at 7:45 pm GMT
I think the problem is that the Boeing anti-stall patch MCAS is poorly configured for pilot use: it is not intuitive, and opaque in its consequences.

I think that's the case with a lot of current technology. Human factors and tactileness don't seem to get much weight in current engineering.

Simply Simon , says: March 12, 2019 at 12:26 am GMT
@Captain 737 I respect your analysis especially coming from a seasoned 737 captain. I have over 5,000 flying hours in single and twin-engine, conventional and jet, all military. I have not flown since 1974 so the advances in auto-pilot technology are beyond my comprehension. My question to you is simple–I think. If the aircraft took off in VFR conditions I assume the pilots knew the pitch attitude all during the takeoff phase. Is there no way to manually overpower the auto-pilot once the pilots knew the pitch attitude was dangerously high or low?
kauchai , says: March 12, 2019 at 2:37 am GMT
If this is a made in china airplane, the empire would mobilize the whole world to ground the entire fleet. The diatribes, lies, cruel sick jokes, lawsuits, etc, etc, would fly to the heavens.

But NO, this is an empire plane. Designed, built and (tested?) in the heart of the empire. And despite the fact that more than 300 people had died, IT IS STILL SAFE to fly!

LOL! LOL!

Anonymous [414] Disclaimer , says: March 12, 2019 at 3:41 am GMT
Quite a short and to-the-point article, although the link to "artificial intelligence" is tenuous at best.

What is sold as Artificial Intelligence nowadays is massive statistical processing in a black box (aka as "Neural Network Processing"), it's not intelligent. The most surprising fact is that it works so well.

Neural Networks won't be in high-assurance software soon. No-one knows what they really do once configured (although there are efforts underway to attack that problem ). They are impossible to really test or design to specification. Will someone underwrite that a system incorporating them does work? Hardly. You may find them in consumer electronics, research, "self driving cars" that never really self-drive without surprises and possibly bleeding edge military gear looking for customers or meant to explode messily anyway.

But not in cockpits. (At least I hope).

Check out this slideshow about the ACAS-X Next Generation Collision Airborne Collision Avoidance System. It has no neural network in sight, in fact if I understand correctly it doesn't even have complex decision software in-cockpit: it's all decision tables precomputed from a high-level, understandable description (aka. code, apparently in Julia) to assure safe outcome in a fully testable and simulatable approach.

In this accident, we may have a problem with the system, as opposed to with the software. While the software may work correctly and to specification (and completely unintelligently) the system composed of software + human + physical machinery will interact in interesting, unforeseen, untested ways, leading to disaster. In fact the (unintelligent software + human) part may disturbingly behave like those Neural Networks that are being sold as AI.

Anonymous [414] Disclaimer , says: March 12, 2019 at 4:16 am GMT
A disquieting item on your morning cereal box:

https://www.stripes.com/news/us/boeing-cited-by-pentagon-over-quality-concerns-going-back-years-1.522343

https://www.stripes.com/news/air-force/air-force-won-t-accept-any-more-boeing-tankers-until-manufacturing-process-is-cleaned-up-1.571108

Anonymous [427] Disclaimer , says: March 12, 2019 at 4:46 am GMT
@Anatoly Karlin I'm guessing that it would require a change in the TCDS and possibly a different type rating, which would be anathema for sales.

I'm a little airplane person, not a big airplane person (and the 737 is a Big Airplane even in its smallest configuration) but I know there have been several instances where aircraft had changes that required that pilots of the type have a whole different type rating, even though the changes seemed minor. I'm guessing airlines are training averse and don't want to take crews off revenue service beyond what is statutorily required. The margins in airline flying are apparently much leaner now than in the glory days.

I never approved of allowing fly by wire in commercial airliners, I never even really liked the idea of FADEC engine control (supervisory DEC was fine) because a classical advantage of gas turbines (and diesels) was that they could run in an absolutely electrically dead environment once lit. Indeed, the J-58 (JT11-D in P&W parlance) had no electrical system to speak of beyond the instrumentation: it started by mechanical shaft drive and ignited by triethyl borane chemical injection. The Sled could make it home on needle-ball and alcohol compass, and at least once it did. Total electrical failure in any FBW aircraft means losing the airplane. Is the slight gain in efficiency worth it? I'm told the cables, pulleys, fairleads and turnbuckles add 200 pounds to a medium size airliner, the FBW stuff weighs 80 or so.

The jet transports we studied in A&P school had a pitot head and static port on either side of the flight deck and the captain and F/O had inputs from different ones, though IIRC the altimeter and airspeed were electrically driven from sensors at the pitot head or inboard of it. I have a 727 drum-pointer (why are three pointer altimeters even legal anymore??) altimeter and it has no aneroids, just a couple of PCBs full of TTL logic and op amps and a DB style connector on the back. Do crews not cross check airspeed and altitude or is there no indicator to flag them when the two show something different?

Also, not being a jet pilot myself, my understanding is that anyone with T-38 experience is forever after thinking in terms of AOA and not airspeed per se, because that airplane has to be flown by AOA in the pattern, and classically a lot of airline pilots had flown Talons. Is there no AOA indicator in the 737? Flying in the pattern/ILS would make airspeed pretty dependent on aircraft weight, and on a transport that can change a lot with fuel burn, do they precisely calculate current weight from a totalizer and notate speeds needed? (I presume airliners don't vary weight other than fuel burn, not being customarily in the business of throwing stuff out of the airplane, although they used to fly jumpers out of a chartered 727 at the parachute meet in Quincy)

dearieme , says: March 12, 2019 at 12:00 pm GMT
@Captain 737 Why are you pretending to be a pilot, and a pompous one at that?
dearieme , says: March 12, 2019 at 12:06 pm GMT
Many problems in the world arise because many computing people reckon themselves very clever when they are merely rather clever. And often they combine what cleverness they have with a blindness about humans and their ways. I shouldn't be at all surprised if programmers at Boeing decided that they always knew better than pilots and doomed the planes accordingly.

I saw recently an expression that made me grin: "midwits". It describes rather well many IT types of my acquaintance.

dearieme , says: March 12, 2019 at 12:51 pm GMT
Another human cost of midwittery:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6797193/More-500-village-postmasters-wrongly-hounded-stealing-millions-system.html

Fabian Forge , says: March 12, 2019 at 4:55 pm GMT
@fish And that's the problem, as Mr. Kief also points out. The individuals at the decision making level (let's call them "executives") don't or can't think that far ahead, at least when the corporation they run is concerneed.

It really is a time-preference problem.

Fabian Forge , says: March 12, 2019 at 5:06 pm GMT
@dearieme One corollary is that the Midwits take such joy in their cleverness that they assume their wit has value in and of itself. This is most evident when they design clever solutions to invented problems. Billions of dollars of venture capital have been set on fire in that way, when technical and financial midwittery combine.
Dieter Kief , says: March 12, 2019 at 10:55 pm GMT
@Andrei Martyanov It's almost nitpicking. But – James Thompson says it above: The MCAS in this Boing model 737 MAX 8 is used to cover up a basic construction flaw. This has undoubtedly worked for quite some time – but it came with a risk. And this risk might turn out to have caused numerous deaths. In this case, if it will turn out, that the MACS system didn't do what it was supposed to do and thus caused numerous deaths – will this then be looked upon as a problem of the application of artificial intelligence? Yes, but not only . It was a combination of a poorly built (constructed) airliner and software, which might not have been able to compensate for this flawed construction under all conditions.

It's cheaper to compensate via software – and this might (might) turn out to be a rather irresponsible way to save money. But as I said: Even in this case, the technical problem would have to be looked upon as twofold: Poor construction plus insufficient software compensation. I'd even tend to say, that poor construction would then be the main (=basic) fault. With the zeitgeisty (and cheap!) software-"solution" for this poor construction a close second.

Eagle Eye , says: March 12, 2019 at 11:25 pm GMT
@Captain 737 Curiously, this is "Captain 737″'s first and only comment here.

It's almost as if Boeing hired a high-priced PR firm whose offerings include pseudonymous online "messaging" to "shape opposition perceptions" etc. Note the over-obvious handle. (Just like globalist shills like to pretend to be regular blue-collar guys in small fly-over towns.)

By their words shalt ye know them.

PREDICTION: In 3-4 years, we will "discover" a long paper trail of engineers warning early on about the risk of hastily kludging a half-assed anti-stall patch MCAS onto a system that had undergone years of testing and refinement WITHOUT the patch.

Only somebody PAID not to see the problem could fail to perceive that this means that as so altered, the ENTIRE SYSTEM goes back to being technically immature.

Anonymous [427] Disclaimer , says: March 13, 2019 at 12:00 am GMT
@Dieter Kief What "basic construction flaw" are we discussing here? The 737 airframe is pretty well established and has a good record-there have been incidents but most have been well dealt with.
Dieter Kief , says: March 13, 2019 at 12:39 am GMT
@Anonymous I've read today, that in the aviation world there is a consensus, that what James Thompson says in his article is right:
"Boeing had a problem with fitting larger and heavier engines to their tried and trusted 737 configuration, meaning that the engines had to be higher on the wing and a little forwards, and that made the 737 Max have different performance characteristics, which in turn led to the need for an anti-stall patch to be put into the control systems."

– A German engineer wrote in a comment in the Berlin daily Die weLT, this construction flaw makes the 737 MAX 8 something like a flying traktor . He concluded, that Boing proved, that you can make a tractor fly, alright. But proper engineering would have looked otherwise – and would for sure had come at a higher cost.
(The different performance charactersitics mentioned by James Thompson is an extraordinarily nice way to express, that the 737 MAX 8 is a tad more likely to stall, just because of the very design-changes, the bigger turbines made necessary. And this is a rather nasty thing to say about an airplane, that a new design made it more likely to stall! ).

Sparkon , says: March 13, 2019 at 1:54 am GMT
@Anonymous

What "basic construction flaw" are we discussing here? The 737 airframe is pretty well established and has a good record.

I 'm not so sure about the good record, and I too suspect the underlying problem is the 737 itself – the entire 737 airframe and avionics.

Worst crash record

LET 410 – 20
Ilyushin 72 – 17
Antonov AN-1 – 17
Twin Otter – 18
CASA 212 – 11
DC-9/MD80 – 10
B737-100 / 700 – 10
Antonov 28 – 8
Antonov 32- 7
Tupolev 154- 7

[a/o 2013 – my bold]

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/news/Least-safe-aircraft-models-revealed/

The 737 family is the best selling commercial airliner series in history with more than 10,000 units produced. However, this airplane in its various configurations has had many crashes since it first entered service in 1968.

[Mar 04, 2019] Communitarianism or Populism: The Ethic of Compassion and the Ethic of Respect

This is overview of the course...
Notable quotes:
"... Instead of serving as a counter weight to the market, then, the family was invaded and undermined by the market. The sentimental veneration of motherhood, even at the peak of its influence in the late nineteenth century, could never quite obscure the reality that unpaid labour bears the stigma of social inferiority when money becomes the universal measure of value. ..."
"... Commercial television dramatizes in the most explicit terms the cynicism that was always implicit in the ideology of the marketplace. The sentimental convention that the best things in life are free has long since passed into oblivion. Since the best things clearly cost a great deal of money, people seek money, in the world depicted by commercial television, by fair means or foul. ..."
"... Throughout the twentieth century liberalism has been pulled in two directions at once: toward the market and (not withstanding its initial misgivings about government) toward the state. On the one hand, the market appears to be the ideal embodiment of the principle-the cardinal principle of liberalism-that individuals are the best judges of their own interests and that they must therefore be allowed to speak for themselves in matters that concern their happiness and well-being. But individuals cannot learn to speak for themselves at all, much less come to an intelligent understanding of their happiness and well-being, in a world in which there are no values except those of the market. Even liberal individuals require the character-forming discipline of the family, the neighbourhood, the school, and the church, all of which (not just the family) have been weakened by the encroachments of the market. ..."
"... The market notoriously tends to universalize itself. It does not easily coexist with institutions that operate according to principles antithetical to itself: schools and universities, newspapers and magazines, charities, families. Sooner or later the market tends to absorb them all. It puts an almost irresistible pres sure on every activity to justify itself in the only items it recognizes: to become a business proposition, to pay its own way, to show black ink on the bottom line. It turns news into entertainment, scholarship into professional careerism, social work into the scientific management of poverty. Inexorably it remodels every institution in its own image. ..."
"... In the attempt to restrict the scope of the market, liberals have therefore turned to the state. But the remedy often proves to be worse than the disease. The replacement of informal types of association by formal systems of socialization and control weakens social trust, undermines the willingness both assume responsibility for one's self and to hold others accountable for their actions destroys respect for authority and thus turns out to be self-defeating. Neighbourhoods, which can serve as intermediaries between the family and the larger world. Neighbourhoods have been destroyed not only by the market-by crime and drugs or less dramatically by suburban shopping malls-but also by enlightened social engineering. ..."
"... "The myth that playgrounds and grass and hired guards or supervisors are innately wholesome for children and that city streets, filled with ordinary people, are innately evil for children, boils down to a deep contempt for ordinary people." In their contempt planners lose sight of the way in which city streets, if they are working as they should, teach children a lesson that cannot be taught by educators or professional caretakers: that "people must take a modicum of public responsibility for each other even if they have no ties to each other." When the corner grocer or the locksmith scolds a child for running into the street, the child learns something that can't be learned simply by formal instruction. ..."
"... The crisis of public funding is only one indication of the intrinsic weakness of organizations that can no longer count on informal, everyday mechanisms of social trust and control. ..."
Jan 13, 2017 | www.theworkingcentre.org

If terms like "populism" and "community" figure prominently in political discourse today, it is because the ideology of the Enlightenment, having come under attack from a variety of sources, has lost much of its appeal. The claims of universal reason are universally suspect. Hopes for a system of values that would transcend the particularism of class, nationality, religion, and race no longer carry much conviction. The Enlightenment's reason and morality are increasingly seen as a cover for power, and the prospect that the world can he governed by reason seems more remote than at any time since the eighteenth century. The citizen of the world-the prototype of mankind in the future, according to the Enlightenment philosophers-is not much in evidence. We have a universal market, but it does not carry with it the civilizing effects that were so confidently expected by Hume and Voltaire. Instead of generating a new appreciation of common interests and inclinations-if the essential sameness of human beings everywhere-the global market seems to intensify the awareness of ethnic and national differences. The unification of the market goes hand in hand with the fragmentation of culture.

The waning of the Enlightenment manifests itself politically in the waning of liberalism, in many ways the most attractive product of the Enlightenment and the carrier of its best hopes. Through all the permutations and transformations of liberal ideology, two of its central features have persisted over the years: its commitment to progress and its belief that a liberal state could dispense with civic virtue. The two ideas were linked in a chain of reasoning having as its premise that capitalism had made it reason able for everyone to aspire to a level of comfort formerly accessible only to the rich. Henceforth men would devote themselves to their private business, reducing the need for government, which could more or less take care of itself. It was the idea of progress that made it possible to believe that societies blessed with material abundance could dispense with the active participation of ordinary citizens in government.

After the American Revolution liberals began to argue-in opposition to the older view that "public virtue is the only foundation of republics," in the words of John Adams -- that proper constitutional checks and balances would make it advantageous even for bad men to act for the public good," as James Wilson put it. According to John Taylor, "an avaricious society can form a government able to defend itself against the avarice of its members" by enlisting the "interest of vice ...on the side of virtue." Virtue lay in the "principles of government," Taylor argued, not in the "evanescent qualities of individuals." The institutions and "principles of a society may be virtuous, though the individuals composing it are vicious."

Meeting minimal conditions

The paradox of a virtuous society based on vicious individuals, however agree able in theory, was never adhered to very consistently. Liberals took for granted a good deal more in the way of private virtue than they were willing to acknowledge. Even to day liberals who adhere to this minimal view of citizenship smuggle a certain amount of citizenship between the cracks of their free- market ideology. Milton Friedman himself admits that a liberal society requires a "minimum degree of literacy and knowledge" along with a "widespread acceptance of some common set of values." It is not clear that our society can meet even these minimal conditions, as things stand today, but it has always been clear, in any case, that a liberal society needs more virtue than Friedman allows for.

A system that relies so heavily on the concept of rights presupposes individuals who respect the rights of others, if only because they expect others to respect their own rights in return. The market itself, the central institution of a liberal society, presupposes, at the very least, sharp-eyed, calculating, and clearheaded individuals-paragons of rational choice. It presupposes not just self interest but enlightened self-interest. It was for this reason that nineteenth-century liberals attached so much importance to the family. The obligation to support a wife and children, in their view, would discipline possessive individualism and transform the potential gambler, speculator, dandy, or confidence man into a conscientious provider. Having abandoned the old republican ideal of citizenship along with the republican indictment of luxury, liberals lacked any grounds on which to appeal to individuals to subordinate private interest to the public good.

But at least they could appeal to the higher selfishness of marriage and parenthood. They could ask, if not for the suspension of self-interest, for its elevation and refinement. The hope that rising expectations would lead men and women to invest their ambitions in their offspring was destined to be disappointed in the long run. The more closely capitalism came to be identified with immediate gratification and planned obsolescence, the more relentlessly it wore away the moral foundations of family life. The rising divorce rate, already a source of alarm in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, seemed to reflect a growing impatience with the constraints imposed by long responsibilities and commitments.

The passion to get ahead had begun to imply the right to make a fresh start whenever earlier commitments became unduly burden some. Material abundance weakened the economic as well as the moral foundations of the "well-'ordered family state" admired by nineteenth-century liberals. The family business gave way to the corporation, the family farm (more slowly and painfully) to a collectivized agriculture ultimately controlled by the same banking houses that had engineered the consolidation of industry. The agrarian uprising of the 1870s, 1880s, and l890s proved to be the first round in a long, losing struggle to save the family farm, enshrined in American mythology, even today, as the sine qua non of a good society but subjected into practice to a ruinous cycle of mechanization, indebtedness, and overproduction.

The family invaded

Instead of serving as a counter weight to the market, then, the family was invaded and undermined by the market. The sentimental veneration of motherhood, even at the peak of its influence in the late nineteenth century, could never quite obscure the reality that unpaid labour bears the stigma of social inferiority when money becomes the universal measure of value.

In the long run women were forced into the workplace not only because their families needed extra income but because paid labour seemed to represent their only hope of gaining equality with men. In our time it is increasingly clear that children pay the price for this invasion of the family by the market. With both parents in the workplace and grandparents conspicuous by their absence, the family is no longer capable of sheltering children from the market. The television set becomes the principal baby-sitter by default. Its invasive presence deals the final blow to any lingering hope that the family can provide a sheltered space for children to grow up in.

Children are now exposed to the out side world from the time they are old enough to be left unattended in front of the tube. They are exposed to it, moreover, in a brutal yet seductive form that reduces the values of the marketplace to their simplest terms. Commercial television dramatizes in the most explicit terms the cynicism that was always implicit in the ideology of the marketplace. The sentimental convention that the best things in life are free has long since passed into oblivion. Since the best things clearly cost a great deal of money, people seek money, in the world depicted by commercial television, by fair means or foul.

Throughout the twentieth century liberalism has been pulled in two directions at once: toward the market and (not withstanding its initial misgivings about government) toward the state. On the one hand, the market appears to be the ideal embodiment of the principle-the cardinal principle of liberalism-that individuals are the best judges of their own interests and that they must therefore be allowed to speak for themselves in matters that concern their happiness and well-being. But individuals cannot learn to speak for themselves at all, much less come to an intelligent understanding of their happiness and well-being, in a world in which there are no values except those of the market. Even liberal individuals require the character-forming discipline of the family, the neighbourhood, the school, and the church, all of which (not just the family) have been weakened by the encroachments of the market.

The market notoriously tends to universalize itself. It does not easily coexist with institutions that operate according to principles antithetical to itself: schools and universities, newspapers and magazines, charities, families. Sooner or later the market tends to absorb them all. It puts an almost irresistible pres sure on every activity to justify itself in the only items it recognizes: to become a business proposition, to pay its own way, to show black ink on the bottom line. It turns news into entertainment, scholarship into professional careerism, social work into the scientific management of poverty. Inexorably it remodels every institution in its own image.

Weakening social trust

In the attempt to restrict the scope of the market, liberals have therefore turned to the state. But the remedy often proves to be worse than the disease. The replacement of informal types of association by formal systems of socialization and control weakens social trust, undermines the willingness both assume responsibility for one's self and to hold others accountable for their actions destroys respect for authority and thus turns out to be self-defeating. Neighbourhoods, which can serve as intermediaries between the family and the larger world. Neighbourhoods have been destroyed not only by the market-by crime and drugs or less dramatically by suburban shopping malls-but also by enlightened social engineering.

The main thrust of social policy, ever since the first crusades against child labour, has been to transfer the care of children from informal settings to institutions designed specifically for pedagogical and custodial purposes. Today this trend continues in the movement for daycare, often justified on the undeniable grounds that working mothers need it but also on the grounds that daycare centers can take advantage of the latest innovations in pedagogy and child psychology. This policy of segregating children in age-graded institutions under professional supervision has been a massive failure, for reasons suggested some time ago by Jane Jacobs in The Death and Life of Great American Cities, an attack on city planning that applies to social planning in general.

"The myth that playgrounds and grass and hired guards or supervisors are innately wholesome for children and that city streets, filled with ordinary people, are innately evil for children, boils down to a deep contempt for ordinary people." In their contempt planners lose sight of the way in which city streets, if they are working as they should, teach children a lesson that cannot be taught by educators or professional caretakers: that "people must take a modicum of public responsibility for each other even if they have no ties to each other." When the corner grocer or the locksmith scolds a child for running into the street, the child learns something that can't be learned simply by formal instruction.

What the child learns is that adults unrelated to one another except by the accident of propinquity uphold certain standards and assume responsibility for the neighbourhood. With good reason, Jacobs calls this the "first fundamental of successful city life," one that "people hired to look after children cannot teach because the essence of this responsibility is that you do it without being hired."

Neighbourhoods encourage "casual public trust," according to Jacobs. In its absence the everyday maintenance of life has to be turned over to professional bureaucrats. The atrophy of informal controls leads irresistibly to the expansion of bureaucratic controls. This development threatens to extinguish the very privacy liberals have always set such store by. It also loads the organizational sector with burdens it cannot support. The crisis of public funding is only one indication of the intrinsic weakness of organizations that can no longer count on informal, everyday mechanisms of social trust and control.

The taxpayers' revolt, although itself informed by an ideology of privatism resistant to any kind of civic appeals, at the same time grows out of a well-founded suspicion that tax money merely sustains bureaucratic self-aggrandizement

The lost habit of self-help

As formal organizations break down, people will have to improvise ways of meeting their immediate needs: patrolling their own neighbourhoods, withdrawing their children from public schools in order to educate them at home. The default of the state will thus contribute in its own right to the restoration of informal mechanisms of self-help. But it is hard to see how the foundations of civic life can be restored unless this work becomes an overriding goal of public policy. We have heard a good deal of talk about the repair of our material infrastructure, but our cultural infrastructure needs attention too, and more than just the rhetorical attention of politicians who praise "family values" while pursuing economic policies that undermine them. It is either naive or cynical to lead the public to think that dismantling the welfare state is enough to ensure a revival of informal cooperation-"a thousand points of light." People who have lost the habit of self-help, who live in cities and suburbs where shopping malls have replaced neighbourhoods, and who prefer the company of close friends (or simply the company of television) to the informal sociability of the street, the coffee shop, and the tavern are not likely to reinvent communities just because the state has proved such an unsatisfactory substitute. Market mechanisms will not repair the fabric of public trust. On the contrary the market's effect on the cultural infrastructure is just as corrosive as that of the state.

A third way

We can now begin to appreciate the appeal of populism and communitarianism. They reject both the market and the welfare state in pursuit of a third way. This is why they are so difficult to classify on the conventional spectrum of political opinion. Their opposition to free-market ideologies seems to align them with the left, but 'their criticism of the welfare state (whenever this criticism becomes open and explicit) makes them sound right-wing. In fact, these positions belong to neither the left nor the right, and for that very reason they seem to many people to hold out the best hope of breaking the deadlock of current debate, which has been institutionalized in the two major parties and their divided control of the federal government. At a time when political debate consists of largely of ideological slogans endlessly repeated to audiences composed mainly of the party faithful, fresh thinking is desperately needed. It is not likely to emerge, however, from those with a vested interest in 'the old orthodoxies. We need a "third way of thinking about moral obligation," as Alan Wolfe puts it, one that locates moral obligation neither in the state nor in the market but "in common sense, ordinary emotions, and everyday life."

Wolfe's plea for a political program designed to strengthen civil society, which closely resembles the ideas advanced in The Good Society by Robert Bellah and his collaborators, should be welcomed by the growing numbers of people who find themselves dissatisfied with the alternatives defined by conventional debate. These authors illustrate the strengths of the communitarian position along with some of its characteristic weaknesses. They make it clear that both the market and the state presuppose the strength of "non-economic ties of trust and solidarity" as Wolfe puts it. Yet the expansion of these institutions weakens ties of trust and thus undermines the preconditions for their own success. The market and the "job culture," Bellah writes, are "invading our private lives," eroding our "moral infrastructure" of "social trust." Nor does the welfare state repair the damage. "The example of more successful welfare states ... suggests that money and bureaucratic assistance alone do not halt the decline of the family" or strengthen any of the other "sustaining institutions that make interdependence morally significant." None of this means that a politics that really mattered-a politics rooted in popular common sense instead of the ideologies that appeal to elites-would painlessly resolve all the conflicts that threaten to tear the country apart. Communitarians underestimate the difficulty of finding an approach to family issues, say, that is both profamily and profeminist.

That may be what the public wants in theory. In practice, however, it requires a restructuring of the workplace designed to make work schedules far more flexible, career patterns less rigid and predictable, and criteria for advancement less destructive to family and community obligations. Such reforms imply interference with the market and a redefinition of success, neither of which will be achieved without a great deal of controversy.

Back to Course Content

[Feb 26, 2019] It would seem that many of the Trotskyites of the past have now become neocons favouring capitalism and imperialist military intervention under guise of human rights promotion, as have some other communists

Notable quotes:
"... It would seem that many of the Trotskyites of the past have now become neocons favouring capitalism and imperialist military intervention under guise of "human rights" promotion, as have some other communists. ..."
Feb 26, 2019 | www.unz.com

Digital Samizdat , says: February 26, 2019 at 1:03 pm GMT

@Commentator Mike Today's system is a hybrid of a late finance-stage global capitalism and cultural–not economic–Marxism. Instead of class struggle, we have identity politics. Instead of the ownership of the means of production, we have tranny bathrooms.

So the right-wingers (like Peter Hitchens) who say that 'Marxism won' are half right culturally, not economically. What causes all the confusion (among the libertarian types especially) is that capitalism in reality does not in any way resemble how it ought to work according to libertarian theories and never did. But when you point out to them that capitalism never worked in practice to begin with, they answer: 'But true capitalism has never even been tried!' And of course, they're right. 'True' capitalism (i.e., what libertarian theory calls capitalism) really never has been tried, and for exactly the same reason that perpetual motion machines have never been tried either: they're impossible.

None of which means I'm a 'pure' socialist. I'm open to mixed-economies and new experiments. I usually characterize myself more as a national socialist, mostly to differentiate myself from the 'world revolution' Trotskyite socialists who now predominate on the far-left.

That means I also take some inspiration from some fascists and national-syndicalists, although I don't regard any of them as holy writ, either.

In my opinion, the number one success factor for a civilization is not what theory it professes, but rather who controls it. Theories will always have to be modified to suit the circumstances; but the character of a people is much harder to change.

China's prospering because it's controlled by Chinese engineers; our civilization is suffocating because it's controlled by Jew-bankers and Masonic lawyers. Get rid of them first, and we can debate monetary theory till we're blue in the face.

Commentator Mike , says: February 26, 2019 at 4:01 pm GMT

@Digital Samizdat

I think that applying the old concepts of Marxism is no longer possible in the west since there is hardly a genuine proletariat as a proper class any more with the deindustrialisation and the transfer of major industries to China and other Asian and Latin American countries.

On the other hand the lumpenproletariat has grown and will grow further with greater automation in industry.

Many more people are now unemployed, underemployed, in service industries, part-time and temporary jobs, or ageing old age pensioners and retirees.

With the greater atomisation of the individual, break up of families, greater mobility, the concept of classes rooted long-term in their communities seems less applicable. You could say most of the global proletariat is now in China.

It would seem that many of the Trotskyites of the past have now become neocons favouring capitalism and imperialist military intervention under guise of "human rights" promotion, as have some other communists.

Paul Edward Gottfried's "The Strange Death of Marxism" seems to offer some explanations but is not of much use in developing a new activism capable of taking on the system or providing a more viable alternative.

RobinG , says: February 26, 2019 at 4:29 pm GMT
@Commentator Mike

classical concepts of socialism and capitalism, and left and right politics

The left/right concept is no longer valid. For one thing, of what use is a $15. minimum wage (apparently a standard "left" plank) if there aren't any jobs? Take a look at Andrew Yang. At least he is posing the right questions.

Andrew Yang's Pitch to America – We Must Evolve to a New Form of Capitalism

[Feb 26, 2019] Neoliberalism by Julie Wilson

Highly recommended!
The book adhere to "classic" line of critique of neoliberalism as a new "secular religion" ( the author thinking is along the lines of Gramsci idea of "cultural hegemony"; Gramsci did not use the term 'secular religion" at all, but this close enough concept) that deified the market. It stress the role of the state in enforcing the neoliberalism.
Oct 09, 2017 | www.amazon.com

skeptic on October 8, 2017

A solid book on neoliberal ideology and neoliberal rationality. Highly recommended

The book adhere to "classic" line of critique of neoliberalism as a new "secular religion" ( the author thinking is along the lines of Gramsci idea of "cultural hegemony"; Gramsci did not use the term 'secular religion" at all, but this is close enough concept) that deified the market. It stresses the role of the state in enforcing the neoliberal ideology much like was the case with Bolsheviks in the USSR:

Gramsci's question is still pressing: How and why do ordinary working folks come to accept a system where wealth is produced by their collective labors and energies but appropriated individually by only a few at the top? The theory of hegemony suggests that the answer to this question is not simply a matter of direct exploitation and control by the capitalist class. Rather, hegemony posits that power is maintained through ongoing, ever-shifting cultural processes of winning the consent of the governed, that is, ordinary people like you and me.

According to Gramsci, there was not one ruling class, but rather a historical bloc, "a moving equilibrium" of class interests and values. Hegemony names a cultural struggle for moral, social, economic, and political leadership; in this struggle, a field -- or assemblage -- of practices, discourses, values, and beliefs come to be dominant. While this field is powerful and firmly entrenched, it is also open to contestation. In other words, hegemonic power is always on the move; it has to keep winning our consent to survive, and sometimes it fails to do so.
Through the lens of hegemony, we can think about the rise of neoliberalism as an ongoing political project -- and class struggle -- to shift society's political equilibrium and create a new dominant field. Specifically, we are going to trace the shift from liberal to neoliberal hegemony. This shift is represented in the two images below.

Previous versions of liberal hegemony imagined society to be divided into distinct public and private spheres. The public sphere was the purview of the state, and its role was to ensure the formal rights and freedoms of citizens through the rule of law. The private sphere included the economy and the domestic sphere of home and family.

For the most part, liberal hegemony was animated by a commitment to limited government, as the goal was to allow for as much freedom in trade, associations, and civil society as possible, while preserving social order and individual rights. Politics took shape largely around the line between public and private; more precisely, it was a struggle over where and how to draw the line. In other words, within the field of liberal hegemony, politics was a question of how to define the uses and limits of the state and its public function in a capitalist society. Of course, political parties often disagreed passionately about where and how to draw that line. As we'll see below, many advocated for laissez-faire capitalism, while others argued for a greater public role in ensuring the health, happiness, and rights of citizens. What's crucial though is that everyone agreed that there was a line to be drawn, and that there was a public function for the state.

As Figure 1.1 shows, neoliberal hegemony works to erase this line between public and private and to create an entire society -- in fact, an entire world -- based on private, market competition. In this way, neoliberalism represents a radical reinvention of liberalism and thus of the horizons of hegemonic struggle. Crucially, within neoliberalism, the state's function does not go away; rather, it is deconstructed and reconstructed toward the new' end of expanding private markets.

This view correlates well with the analysis of Professor Wendy Brown book "Undoing the Demos" and her paper "Neoliberalism and the End of Liberal Democracy" (pdf is freely available)

In this sense neoliberalism are just "Trotskyism for the rich" with the same utopian dream of global neoliberal revolution, but much more sinister motives. And is as ruthless in achieving its goals, if necessary bring neoliberal "regime change" on the tips of bayonets, or via 'cultural revolutions".

If we follow the line of thinking put forward by Professor Philip Mirowski's in his book "Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown," we can say that neoliberals essentially "reverse-engineered" Bolsheviks methods of acquiring and maintaining political power, replacing "dictatorship of proletariat" with the "dictatorship of financial oligarchy".

I would say more: The "professional revolutionary" cadre that were the core of Bolshevik's Party were replaced with well paid, talented intellectual prostitutes at spe